Five Minute Friday – FINISH

Usually I immediately know what I will write about when I read the Five Minute Friday prompt…but not today.  Today I read it.  I was a bit sad by Lisa-Jo Baker’s announcement.  I suppose that blocked my immediate urge to write.  But I love FMF, so here I am, without an idea, but a timer set to write for 5 minutes on FINISH.

Together we can

GO:

There are lots of days when I say “I’m done!”  or as I say to the kids, “i dunn, i dunn, i all dunn” and we laugh.  It’s my cue to them that I am reaching a point of exasperation at whatever the day has brought.

It’s usually brought on by some classic Alzheimer’s behavior with mom.  The constant questioning.  The complaining.  And lately, the following me everywhere I go – especially to the bathroom…eek!  Some days I am patient as Job and some days I am anything but patient.

And as “dunn” as I might get from the annoying behavior that is nobody’s fault, I know I am definitely not ready to be FINISHED.  Last week a dear blog friend of mine had her caregiving days FINISH when her wonderful husband passed away.  It FINISHED.  Just like that.  And although she knows he is in a much better place.  He is healthy and healed again.  He is whole.  It still hurts.

It is rare that I waste any time wishing things were different than they are.  I don’t lament our lives or our circumstances.  But on those days when I am FINISHED…because I am tired.  Because I need to recharge.  Because I have let myself fall into a funk (and I know I shouldn’t).  Because I am plain ole feeling sorry for myself – I still know I am not ready for it to FINISH.

I am an only child.  I lost my Daddy way too early.  I don’t have a lot of blood relatives that I know very well.  It’s been me and mom for the last 20+ years.  And although I know when the time is here – I will be okay.  This week the word FINISH has taken on a much different meaning.

My heart is breaking for my friend Paula and making me so aware of how fast time goes by.  I hope it makes me kinder and more patient and treat each day, each minute as the gift that it is…

STOP

If you’ve never joined in on Five Minute Friday – you should!  It’s a rush of energy and random thoughts and a flurry of words and fingers on a keyboard.  Writer, dabbler, whatever – it’s worth way more than the 5 minutes you spend!

 

This Sounds Fun! Texas in a Box!

Kids in my kitchen! Peanut’s solution to “onion” eyes!

I must admit – I had planned to not commit to any cooking-baking type thing until after my kiddos had gone back to school.  Summer is just too much fun to have to stop and capture a recipe!  I love to cook and try new things and because I’m a bit scattered these days, I tend to have to make up a lot of recipes out of whatever I have on hand!  That does not mean I remember to take pictures or measure amounts or any of the things a good food blogger does!  And when the recipe turns out – I am bummed – because I can never make it quite the same way again!!!

BUT (you knew that was coming), I just popped by my friend Wendy’s site A Day in the Life on the Farm and saw this fun new blog swap – LOCAL FLAVORS and couldn’t resist!

My two best helpers!

I am not a native Texan, but man, do we have some wonderful flavors and products that pretty much scream TEXAS!!!  I have learned to cook a mean brisket, make the best carnitas and I believe I have perfected my guacamole since moving her 9 years ago!

Clearly, this Local Flavor Blog Swap was meant for me.  I so wish my friend Rachel had a blog – she is always sharing the most fun things from Washington State that she grows in her garden or picks up at the Farmer’s Market….but I digress!  Anyway, I’m excited to join in.  Excited to go shopping.  REALLY excited to see what comes in my package from my swap partner and have already convinced my daughter to be my photographer when it is time to capture my “show off” post!

So, fingers crossed that I can actually capture this enough to do it justice even at the end of summer surrounded by kids and friends and mom and her posse of home health workers!

Keep watching to see the big reveal!…and probably some clues as to what I’m sending off…I’m sure I won’t be able to resist sharing some shopping fun, Texas-style!!!

You should check this out and join in…I think it sounds like the best idea.  Thank you Chaotic Goddess Swaps .  I feel certain this is going to be fabulous fun!

One Word Wednesday – Faith

Another week of adventures with mom and our dance with Alzheimer’s.  We are getting back in the “home health” swing of things.  New lead nurse, new weekly nurse and new speech therapist, same aide and physical therapist.  I don’t love change, but God is good and as it turns out – so is a little bit of change!  I really liked all the new folks and they connected really well with mom.

All the appointments, a baseball tournament and a week-long ballet intensive have made it tough to get much down in writing.  And I missed it!!!

Dance Besties

 

Thank goodness for Wednesdays and my ritual of One Word Wednesday.  My daughters dance bestie helped pull our word this week since my poor son is at “Marine Week” of football conditioning camp…doesn’t that just sound intense!?

This week the prompt is FAITH.

 

 

FAITH

 

What a powerful word.  And for me, as a caregiver, a necessary part of every day.  Every hour, every minute, every second!  Faith is a place I can rest.  And right this minute…I can feel annoyance building up in me.  And just moment reflecting on the power of FAITH.  The gifts I have been given.  The knowledge that I am right where I am supposed to be.  The calm that comes in letting it all go to let God take over.  FAITH.

I wonder sometimes if I remember to rely on my FAITH enough?  Are there better techniques, reminders, prompts, ideas – things that you do?  If you have some time and some FAITH to spare – link up below and share how FAITH plays a part in your day, especially if you’re a caregiver to a mom, a spouse, a little one.  I’d love to read your stories.

Okay – it’s your turn….

 

Our Alzheimer’s Journey – in 2 minutes!

For those of you who have been with me for the past few months, you’ll remember that I was asked to be filmed and recorded as part of the United Way of Tarrant County campaign.  It was a surreal experience (feel free to take a minute to read about it here).

Yesterday, I got an e-mail from the fabulous Daryl at United Way sharing a link for the “finished product”!  I must admit, I am a bit uncomfortable watching me (a little airbrushing and thinning would have been nice!), but I am so proud of this.  I’m proud of my children.  I’m proud of my mom.  I proud of the wonderful crew that came to my house and managed to capture my dog, Sophie, being calm (she was so excited to have new company!) and making our home look so tidy!

But most of all – I am thankful.  Thankful for Teresa, my REACH counselor.  Thankful to the United Way for realizing the need for programs that support caregivers.  Thankful for the monthly meetings at the beginning of my journey that helped me navigate the difficult transition to full-time caregiver.

Please take 2 minutes to watch and share if you can – we need to continue to create awareness of the desperate need for resources and programs for caregivers.  Awareness and resources and programs for those living in the trenches with Alzheimer’s every single day.  A cure must remain a priority – but for my mom – it’s too late for a cure.  She needs experts and care and activities in our home.  She needs for me to get a break now and then so I can continue to be her world.

Oops!  Let me step down from my soapbox and share the video with you (how cool is it that the United Way has a You Tube channel!!!???)  And as always – thanks for stopping by!

Alzheimer’s Daily Blessings Top 10

I realized today as I was clapping my hands quietly and doing a little happy dance out of eyesight of mom that there are a few things I shoot for every day in the “small blessings” department.  Alzheimer’s may have taken away larger accomplishments and events, but there are still a few things that we can strive for to bring joy to mom’s day

10.  Any sort of successful bathroom visit (this is the nicest way I could think to phrase this) – it seems to make everyone happier than a bathroom visit should, but we’ll take it!

9.  Getting her to admire something she can hold in her hands – think tissue boxes (especially the ones made for children), cloth napkins in bright colors, herbs (mom loves to smell basil and run the leaves between her fingers).

8.  Getting her involved in any task – I bought 20 washcloths at the dollar store and I put them in most every dryer load so she can help me “fold the laundry”.  She never notices that she folds them over and over and over and we never use them.  She loves the warmth of them right out of the dryer as well!

7.  Magazines – some days it’s reading words in simple fonts, some days it’s looking at pictures.  Yesterday it was looking at bathing suits and making scandalous comments!!!

6.  American Ninja Warriors, believe it or not.  I DVR it and we watch it again and again.  Mom can’t follow story line, but she loves the falls and the bright neon colors that a lot of the athletes wear.  She can still comprehend the ‘danger’ of it and I think it’s exciting to her.

5.  Sophie.  Mom loves Sophie and when our fluffy dog goes over and lays her head on mom’s lap, I can see her visibly calm down and find some peace.  Joy, at our house, is a big white fluffy dog!

4.  Completing the morning or nighttime routine without too many prompts.  Some days it comes more naturally than others.  Keeping her hydrated and ‘on schedule’ really helps.  I also have patterns for laying out her toiletries and her clothes that seem to work.  She beams like a child who took their first step or learned to write their name in cursive!

3.  When she picks up a puzzle book voluntarily.  Mom used to be the queen of the crossword.  Some days they confuse her too badly and she hides them in the bottom of her basket.  But today, she picked one up, grabbed the pencil and promptly started working on it.  She peeks in the back to get the answers, but she fills in the letters on her own – so I think that counts!

2.  Mealtime.  When it’s 3 people or less, mom is at her best.  With a little bit of encouragement she will participate in the conversation.  This is when she eats the best too.  I can even sneak in a green bean or two…maybe even a bite of salad!

1.  Sweets.  The raptured sounds that mom makes when she is eating ice cream or a chocolate pop tart or a homemade cookie make life worth living.  My kids crack up, but they smile too.  Of course they use it as an excuse to enjoy a treat themselves – and they ooh and ahh right along with mom.

There you have it!  Daily Blessings, Alzheimer’s Edition!  It always helps to look for the bright side of things, wouldn’t you agree!?

Five Minute Friday – Bloom

Bloom where you are planted.  That’s a saying, right?  I feel like it is.  Something that was repeated throughout my childhood.  Bloom where you are planted.

It meant – whatever your circumstances – bloom.  Thrive.  Shine.  Be successful.  Make the most of it.  And apparently, it stuck.

I am a glass half full girl.  Always have been.  Always will be.  It’s genetic.  My daddy, my hero, was a glass flowing over guy.  One of 10 kids with an abusive father.  Both parents dead by the time he was 14.  Dropped out of school after the 8th grade.  In a county jail for petty theft (of food) by the time he was 16.  Lived with sibling after sibling after sibling because they were not wealthy and times were tough in the hills of West Virginia.

And yet, he landed on his feet as a leader in our community.  A beloved father, husband, brother, cousin, church member, community member, school booster, mentor and good, loyal, trusted friend to so many.  Not because of a lottery winning or settling for less.  But because he saw bounty and blessings everywhere he looked.

He saw the face of Jesus in every man and treated them as such.  He could find a silver lining in the darkest cloud.  And he taught me the power of positive thinking.

I suppose it was Daddy who told me time and again to “Bloom where I was planted”…although I am sure he added some hillbilly charm to the way he said it!

And that’s what I’m doing as I care for my mom.  Alzheimer’s may not be the soil I would have chosen to be planted in…but it is.  And I will bloom.  Hopefully, mom will too.  Hopefully my positive attitude will shine through and make these last stages of Alzheimer’s a brighter, happier place.

STOP

I’m linking up today with hundreds of other writers as a part of Lisa-Jo Baker and Five Minute Friday where she gives us a word prompt and we write.  No over-thinking, no editing, no second and third drafts – just 5 minutes of writing.  If you haven’t joined in before – you should check it out.  It’s a lovely way to spend 5 minutes with abandon on a Friday!

 

Om Nom Nom Nom Mom

We have a new thing – YIPPEE!  Just kidding.  It’s a new thing, but it’s not YIPPEE!  It’s aarrrgggghhhhhhhhhh.

Mom is obsessed with food.  She eats constantly.  And that is not an exaggeration.  Today, I fed her 11 times.  ELEVEN TIMES!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The food conversation begins as soon as breakfast ends.  The morning routine is too daunting and too upsetting and requires too much much concentration for her to focus on anything else.  But as soon as she is finished, she will come out of her room (without turning off the light), look right at the breakfast table laden with food and drink and ask when breakfast is.

Today she ate a huge breakfast – huge.  And I always pour her another half a cup of coffee to take into the living room so I can get the table cleared and the breakfast dishes done and my flowers watered.

But within the hour she is asking about food.  It usually begins with the “Have we had any breakfast?”  We did is my reply (with a smile).  “Did I eat?”  Yes you did (still smiling)  “Well I sure don’t remember eating…are you sure it was me?”  And so it goes.

She talks only of food – has she had any?  She is starving.  When is lunch, supper, breakfast?  She wonders aloud why no one came to get her for mealtime.  What she could have possibly been doing to cause her to miss breakfast.  And lunch.  And supper.

So I feed her.  All day long.  Truth is, I am thrilled that she has an appetite.  She lost over 20% of her body weight between her time in the hospital and the rehab facility.  She needs to gain it back.  She is tiny and frail and skin and bones.

The problem with feeding an Alzheimer’s patient is they honestly can’t remember.  If they’ve eaten.  When they last ate.  And mom has no ability to recognize hunger or full or anywhere in between.  And, for those of you who’ve read my blog for any amount of time…my mom is a Goldilocks.

So, not only do I have to feed her constantly – because if there is not a plate or bowl or napkin of food in front of her and we are not sitting down to a meal – she is talking about if she will ever eat again.  She expects a perfect portion…whatever that may be.

If I bring too much “Well, this is enough food to feed a $)#@ army” is the response.  If it’s too healthy or not enough she makes this guttural sound and mumbles under her breath about how awful or pitiful or unthoughtful it is until I finally give up and take it away.

And here’s the fun part – as soon as the food is gone – she starts to wonder aloud why she has this plate, bowl or napkin sitting in front of her.  And if you deal with Alzheimer’s you know – there is no point in telling her to just leave it there or set it on the table.  She won’t remember she asked or that you answered.  And it will continue on until you take the evil thing away.

So I take it away and bring it back with more food.  Because if she doesn’t have a plate of food in front of her, we have to talk about why she hasn’t eaten or how she is starving or when our next meal is.

And the cherry on top of all this food talk…food does not bring satisfaction or silence…the entire time she is eating, she talks about the food.  How wonderful it is or how awful it is, all accompanied by sounds.  Oohs and ahhs and humphs and lip smacking and clinking of spoons on bowls and the occasional slurp.

She’s gained 4 pounds since she got out of rehab – so have I!  Because let’s face it – mom’s other thing is “why aren’t you having any?” and if I don’t have something every time she eats then we get to talk about that too.  And it has to be the same thing…it is VERY IMPORTANT that we all have the same thing…someday I’ll have to share the Chicken Tender Envy story…but that’s for another day!

Until then…om nom nom nom nom … it’s the soundtrack of my life

The circle of life…via Dr. Seuss

Day 16 of #radicalselflovejuly – Favorite Quote.  I love quotes.  I used them in my work.  My trainings.  My communication.  As wallpaper and post-it note inspiration and in those cheap plastic frames from the dollar store.  But I’ve always had a favorite….from the QuoteMaster himself, Dr. Seuss!

And today, sitting beside my mom, holding her hand, I realized just how true this can be.  Truer than I ever dreamed.  So true it’s overwhelming.  But sweet and amazing and such an awesome responsibility.  I am my mother’s world.  Now that it’s small and confusing.  I make sense.  She may not know who I am, but she knows I belong to her.  And when her small world is scary, she knows I am comfort and security and shelter and nourishment and a hand to hold.

I wonder if God sent this quote to me so long ago to prepare me for this new caregiving life?  If He made it stand out and He made it strike a chord and He led me to print it out and put it in a frame and carry it in boxes with me from job to job and state to state and office to office?  Funny how it all comes back around…

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