Monday "Memories" With My Mom

"Some of us think holding on makes us strong; but sometimes it is letting go."
 ~ Herman Hesse

Moooo-ving Time!!!!
(Wish Us Luck On This Next Chapter!!!)

Details To Follow............


Creating a Calm...Before the Storm

     Here in the Midwest, we are not preparing for Hurricane Irene.  However, we are thinking of those of you who are and pray for your safety on the East Coast.
     Our family has been simply trying to have some last minute family/relaxation time ("calm") before summers end and the "storm", which in this case is sports, school, and a lot of transitions taking place at the same time.  We are grateful for the last few days, which have brought us closer together and will help us feel prepared for both the chaos and fun that lies ahead.
     Thanks to my brother and sister-in-law, Mike and Melissa, for taking care of my mom so we could get away for a few days!!

Love this picture of my Lucky "chillin' on the beach!

My Girls Insisted On This Picture of a Handstand in Lake Huron
(Four Legs and a Buoy)

Jacob After Surfing Lake Huron

Kristin Found Some Bubbles at Our Cottage


A Shopping High at Lowe's

     Today we were at Lowe's for some "stuff" for a little project we are working on (post to follow), and I stumbled on this little deal and thought I would share.  Call me "cheap", but I prefer "thrifty".  I have seen these lanterns around, but never wanted them bad enough to spend the money.  Until today......
     How could I resist  this price!!?  That's right, $1.50 each for these 11" lanterns (regularly $6 each).  I believe that's about 75% off.  I ended up buying 4 of them.  (Thanks for the added inspiration Ramblings of a Suburban Mom.)  Later, I also had to go to a different Lowe's for some supplies, and they had the same lanterns on clearance, but their clearance price was $3 at that location.  Not totally sure what I am going to do with them, but I have several ideas...  I love stumbling on deals, don't you?
     Do you think I should paint them?  What color, black?  Or should I leave them silver???  Red or white?  Decisions...decisions...

Grayson Lantern, Medium, Bronze finish

Pottery Barn, $39.50

Cedar Point = Good Times

      We are determined to sneak in some summer fun as a family this week before the kids head back to school.  So, we made a trip to Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio.  Around here, Cedar Point is BIG!  I went there virtually every year as a kid all the way through college years...and even once on a date with my now husband.  Then came marriage, careers, and having babies and not so much Cedar Point for some reason!?  Cedar Point has 75 rides, including 17 roller coasters, more rides than any park in the world!  We are lucky it's just 2 hours away from us.  The kids actually went last year with their dad and I stayed back because we had just got our puppy ("Lucky", the goldendoodle).  Megan also just went in June to Cedar Point for her 8th Grade Field Trip.  I have to say, I am a huge fan of "thrill rides" and love roller coasters, so I was excited it was my turn again!
We arrived shortly after 11 am which is when the park now opens (reduced hours this time of year, which was fine with us 'cause we didn't have to leave before dawn)  This picture was hard to take with my cell phone camera as we were whizzing on by!    

The Sky Ride is one good way of getting around and taking in some views of the park while mapping out your strategy!

This is the Raptor roller coaster (I think!)

A nice view of Sandusky Bay and Cedar Point

Practicing for future backseat driving!  The kids love "driving" these antique cars

Our first time at Chick-fil-A for Lunch

The Mine Ride Roller Coaster
a favorite with the kids! 

Camp Snoopy is an area for the younger kids
(and sometimes the older) 

Aside from the Iron Dragon and Shoot the Rapids, here was the granddaddy of the rides we went on -- The WindSeeker which just opened in 2011!  Here is how Cedar Point describes it: 
"Bordering the Cedar Point Beach, riders on the WindSeeker are treated to dramatic views of Cedar Point, Lake Erie and the Cedar Point Beach.  On WindSeeker, riders sit in open two-passenger swings with their feet dangling in the breeze.  The swings rotate around the 30-story center column as they slowly ascend the tower.  At the top, riders are nearly face-to-face with the very top of the Power Tower and almost as high as the first hill of the Millennium Force roller coaster."
My kids are in this picture somewhere as they start to go up...!!!
(I have to admit it was nerve racking watching all 3 of my precious kids ascend waaaay up high like that!!)
I rode this ride earlier in the day, before I knew about the cool lights at night!  It is intense being up that high with your feet dangling over Lake Erie!

 And Up! 

 AND UP!!!!!

I had to throw in this last picture even though it's totally dark out.  These people won that big gorilla stuffed animal and were in the process of tying it to the roof of their van for the drive back to Michigan!  Too funny!  (I asked if I could take a picture, 'cause I'm crazy like that!)


Ravioli - Kicked Up a Notch

     One thing I've learned from reading blogs is that it's a great way to share recipes.  Although I do have some recipes of my own, recently I found myself in a bind for a quick dinner and after looking in my freezer and seeing a couple half bags of frozen ravioli, I had a flashback to a recipe I saw over at Clover Lane.  I would have never thought to do this, but sometimes you just want your kids to eat without any moaning and groaning about the same ol' stuff. 
     It was good, and I even did a batch for the adults with some Lobster Ravioli I had.  Something different and pretty quick and easy!
2 TBS whole milk
1 egg
1 1/2 cups Italian seasoned bread crumbs
25 oz. package frozen cheese ravioli, thawed
3 cups of vegetable oil for frying
2 TBS parmesan cheese
1 jar of spaghetti sauce, for dipping

Thaw raviolis.  

Combine milk and egg in a small bowl.  Place breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese in another bowl.  Dip ravioli in milk mixture, and coat with breadcrumbs.

Heat sauce in a small pan for later.

In a large heavy frying pan, pour oil to depth of 2 inches.  Heat oil over medium heat until a small amount of breading sizzles and turns brown. Fry ravioli, a few at a time, until each side is golden.  Drain on paper towels.  Serve with heated sauce for dipping.  Enjoy!

Egg and Milk/Breadcrumbs and Parmesan Cheese

Don't Look - The Not-So-Healthy Part

The End Result = Yummy Dipped in Marinara/Spaghetti sauce!


Monday "Memories" With My Mom

Sometimes S'mores Can Be Bittersweet...
   Although last week's post indicated I would have an update on my mom and her current Medicaid/living situation, I had something I wanted to share in the meantime.  A recent "Aha Moment" (love you Oprah) I had.  Here it is.....
     On one of our recent "cooler" (not over 80 degrees) summer evenings we had a little impromptu bonfire in the backyard...just my husband, "Lucky", and J and K attended.  Megan was at camp and I stayed inside with my mom.  (It was late and the mosquitos were biting.)  My kids made s'mores outside and Jacob and Kristin brought one in for me and one for their Grandma.  My mom and I were pleasantly surprised.  My mom mentioned that they were as messy and good as when she was a Girl Scout.  My mom thanked them and repeated how good it was, many times!
     And then it hit me...  What if that was the last s'more my mom ever has...  She probably hasn't had one in years.  How sad that would be.  I don't know if and when she will be around for another one of our bonfires, and I doubt that they are very popular in senior living communities.  It made me want to give her as many as she wanted or wish that it was the prettiest, most perfectly served s'more ever...but it wasn't.  It was an unexpected surprise given to my mom by her 11-year-old granddaughter on a cool August night.  She sure did enjoy it!  Again a life lesson...what was really important was that she enjoyed it!  Just like life.  You don't need to remember what you did yesterday to enjoy the here and now... or even what you are going to do tomorrow.  You don't need to know whether you will ever have another (fill in the blank) or s'more.  Just enjoy the moment.  Savor it.  Be thankful for it.  Nobody really ever knows which s'more will be their last... 

     Often when I pick my mom up from her "Senior Club" she does not recall any of the details of her activities of the day.  She knows only one thing...that she had fun!!  She is living life in the moment right now, quite literally.  A couple of years ago I found it so odd when my mom would ask for lunch and I would tell her, "you already had lunch" and she would say "did I like it", and I would say "yes" and she would say "good".  How funny is that!!??  Now, it is not an odd conversation for us to have.  And, I am happy to tell her she enjoyed it.  Afterall, isn't that all that really matters. 
     Are you enjoying life here and now....in the moment!??  This is not the first time I have learned this lesson, nor will it be the last.  But more and more...things are becoming bittersweet and I have these moments of clarity and profoundness that I never had before.

Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, TODAY is a gift.
That is why it is called "The Present"...


By Robert J. Hastings

         TUCKED AWAY in our subconscious minds is an idyllic vision in which we see ourselves on a long journey that spans an entire continent. We're traveling by train and, from the windows, we drink in the passing scenes of cars on nearby highways, of children waving atcrossings, of cattle grazing in distant pastures, of smoke pouring from power plants, of row
upon row upon row of cotton and corn and wheat, of flatlands and valleys, of city skylines and village halls.

    But uppermost in our conscious minds is our final destination--for at a certain hour and on a given day, our train will finally pull into the station with bells ringing, flags waving, and bands playing. And once that day comes, so many wonderful dreams will come true. So restlessly, we pace the aisles and count the miles, peering ahead, waiting, waiting, waiting for the station.

    "Yes, when we reach the station, that will be it!" we promise ourselves. "When we're
eighteen. . . win that promotion. . . put the last kid through college. . . buy that 450SL
Mercedes-Benz. . . have a nest egg for retirement!"

    From that day on we will all live happily ever after.

    Sooner or later, however, we must realize there is no station in this life, no one earthly
place to arrive at once and for all. The journey is the joy. The station is an illusion--it
constantly outdistances us. Yesterday's a memory, tomorrow's a dream. Yesterday belongs to a history, tomorrow belongs to God. Yesterday's a fading sunset, tomorrow's a faint sunrise. Only today is there light enough to love and live.

    So, gently close the door on yesterday and throw the key away. It isn't the burdens of today that drive men mad, but rather regret over yesterday and the fear of tomorrow. Regret and fear are twin thieves who would rob us of today.

    "Relish the moment" is a good motto, especially when coupled with Psalm 118:24, "This is
the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it."

     So stop pacing the aisles and counting the miles. Instead, swim more rivers, climb more
mountains, kiss more babies, count more stars. Laugh more and cry less. Go barefoot oftener.  Eat more ice cream. Ride more merry-go-rounds. Watch more sunsets. Life must be lived as we go along. The station will come soon enough.


Ashley, Ashley, Ashley...

     Just watched Bravo's Real Housewives of New Jersey...  Ashley, if you're reading this (lol), I have to tell you that your attitude is every mother's worst nightmare.  Get the chip off your shoulder and be grateful for all that you have!!  Your poor little brothers don't need your drama around the house!! 
     Whose side are you on?  Team Ashley or Team Jacqueline????? 



Odds and Ends

     Time for some "Odds and Ends"...cleaning out the cell phone camera, no editing, just random pictures of some goings on...  :)

My daughter and her buddy Kaleigh hanging out in a box (leftover from our recent Furniture Fiasco)
(Apparently "tweens" still like boxes!)

A totally cute "Candy Cake" given to my kids by my good friend, Alyce!!

Kristin relaxing in the pool with her "noodle"!
(Just looking at her relaxes me!!)

Kristin (not relaxed like above) and her buddy Kaleigh hanging out at the local park!

Megan greeting her BFF, Alexis, who returned from 3 weeks in Europe!

AND, Jacob, who recently took it upon himself to "edge" our lawn!
(I love that little man!)


IKEA...A Good IDEA!!

     Recently, I finally made my first trip to my local IKEA.  To some of you, no big deal, right!?  Especially, if you are lucky enough to have had one nearby for awhile.  To me, it was a Bucket List item that I thought would get to on June 7, 2006 (the Grand Opening, I looked it up).  How is it that 5 years went by and I just finally got there?  I guess I knew it wasn't the kind of store where you "run in" or "stop by' (unless you live super close).  I am about 30 minutes away from our Michigan location.  I knew it would be an adventure...and I was right!
     My son went to work with his dad, my mom was at "Senior Club" for a few hours, so just me and my two girls headed out to IKEA.  When we arrived, we grabbed a map and headed upstairs where we were pretty sure the cafe was.  We arrived 10 minutes after they opened and had our Big Breakfast" that I had promised the girls.  It was a Tuesday and not terribly crowded.  I have to stop and tell you that I was so excited.  Not just about IKEA.  There have been only a couple of days all summer where I got to do something I wanted to do, and this was one of them.  Without bringing my mom, and knowing I had some time and didn't have to rush!  Sometimes, it's the little things.
     Now back to IKEA!  I just love the layout and "flow" of the store.  There is probably some marketing/technical name for it, but the only way I can describe it is that when you go through the showroom (which is pretty big), you don't really have to think.  Not once did I have to refer to the map or decide which way we should go or which areas we had already seen or not.  Somehow, you just kind of naturally progress from one area to the next, without missing anything.  It may sound insane, but that's how it felt.  All I kept thinking is "where has this store been all my life"!!  (Oh yeah, 30 minutes away!)   I wish IKEA was nearby when I was a newlywed...or just buying my first apartment or house!  Awesome and affordable! 
     Before I close, I have to tell you a secret!  Don't judge.  OK, probably the highlight of my trip was this....I LOVE their shopping carts!!  There, I said it!  No, I'm not even kidding.  When we returned downstairs to the area where you can really start making your purchases, I grabbed a cart.  Immediately, I knew this was not your ordinary shopping cart.  This cart has wheels that effortlessly turn 360 degrees...as if gliding on air!!  LOL!  I actually thought it was the best shopping cart I had ever had the privilege of using!!  Yep, I got giddy over a shopping cart....and I've pushed a lot of 'em in my day!  It can go sideways!!!!!!!!  Just sayin' !!!
     An overall fun experience!  Did I go there for anything in particular? (Not really.)  Did I buy some odds and ends?  (Of course! )  Am I going back with my husband/flat bed pusher? (Yes!)  Does he know it yet? (No!)  Am I bringing an emptier car next time? (Mmmm Hmmm!).  Do I think you should check it out?  (Yes!)
Anyone else out there giddy over IKEA?  I know at least one other blogger who is!

We're there!

Don't ya love the clean lines look to the cafe?

This is plate is called the "Big Breakfast" - Only $1.99
My daughter loves the Lingonberry Juice

My girls, taking in the morning sunny view!

My kids loved this huge sign
In the corner it says "not actual size"

I LOVE these shopping carts - see the wheels
I want to buy one and bring it with me everywhere...
especially the grocery store.  But I probably won't :(

A part of my loot...there is more but it's already "in use"
(and I was too lazy to retrieve it all)

When It Rains...It Pours!

     Part of that title is related to the fact that it is "pouring" rain here, right now, and we are under a Severe Thunderstorm Warning.  Thought I would drop a quick post to say...things have been extra busy again!  Kind of like the end of the school year, only in reverse.  I know I only have...8 followers (so sad!), so maybe nobody noticed that I have not posted in a few days!  I also know that everyone is busy...right now it's just "busier".
     I have a lot to blog about, and have been trying to take pictures along the way.  Here are some of the extra goings on that are slowing down my posting speed:
My computer is on the fritz
I am competing with 4 others for computer time/summer homework
Cameras are coming and going with different family members
We have vacation time scheduled soon but our plans are unsettled
I just found out my mom may be moving out of our house (soon)
M is registering for high school/pictures
J and K are registering for middle school/pictures
School clothes shopping
School supplies shopping
Homecoming(?) shopping
Husband working late a lot
Soccer is starting
Baseball is starting
Marching Band already started
Husband on a golf course right now...
Wait, did that say Husband on a golf course right now!??  (Grrrrrr.....)

I wish I could say things will settle down (September 6th), but I'm not so sure! 
"Calgon, take me away" (does anyone else remember that commercial)!


Summer List - Progress Report

    Time for a quick update on our Summer List.  Three weeks from today school starts for all three of my kids.  In June we made a list of some of the fun things we were hoping to do this summer.  Many of our goals have been met and checked off.  Several have been done, but perhaps not to the extent we had hoped for.  Yes, we've had sleepovers, but maybe not as many as we the kids would like.  We have hung out with some of our cousins, but would still like to try to meet up with the others, etc...
     The next few weeks are getting busier with fall sports and school activities picking back up.  However, we are hopeful that by the first day of school, we will be able to check the remainder of items off of our Summer List.  In fact, if all goes well, we will check one more thing off today! 
Stay tuned!
     How is your summer going?  Have you done all of the things you were hoping to do?


Monday "Memories" With My Mom

     Well, there has been some progress going on behind the scenes that I have been hesitant to write about for fear of putting some kind of jinx on  things.  In the almost six months that my mom has been living with us, I think I have been quite open and willing to admit that taking care of my mom, in addition to my three kids, big friendly dog, and my husband, is just too much.  I knew early on that the "honeymoon phase" of having my mom and my kids' grandma living with us would not last.  I was right.  My mom deserves more privacy, quiet time, senior recreation and the little independence she can still manage.  It is not safe for her to be left alone in our house.  With my mom having Alzheimer's Disease, she is not just living with us.  That would be one thing.  We are looking out for and caring for her around the clock.  Not just me, but my kids too.  We have to be sure she does not go near the basement stairs, eats properly, we give her medication, change bedding daily, give shower assistance, remind and direct on a number of things.  In addition, someone needs to stay home with her or we need to bring her everywhere we go.  Actually, I knew a lot of this before she moved in.  I having been wanting to place my mom in some kind of senior/assisted living situation for a few years now.  The problem always came down to finances.  These facilities are expensive to say the least.  You can't touch much around here for under $3,000/month, many are much more than that!  Unfortunately, my mom did not manage to save that kind of money over the years...not many people do. 
     I have had to have my kids stay home and watch out for grandma on many occasions this summer so that I could "pound the pavement" and try to find a suitable living situation for my mom.  There are many places out there.  In fact, there is an assisted living facility located practically in my backyard.  However, their monthly cost is well over the $3,000/month and not within our reach.  After networking with many people, going to a Caregiver Expo, contacting the Area Agency on Aging and working for awhile with A Place for Mom, I rather quickly narrowed my search to two nearby facilities.  After delving a little further, I learned that one of the two actually had a few "low income" apartments.  It is hard to think that she is now in a "low income" situation...but she is.  Through a long series of life events, not to mention the extra hard economic times, a divorce, her AD diagnosis and some poor financial decisions made along the way, we find that she is just about out of financial resources. 

     One particular senior living facility has an incredible Executive Director who has been sooo compassionate, resourceful and knowledgeable, helped me get things in motion to see what we could come up with in terms of financial assistance.  She put me in touch with the Area Agency on Aging who promptly set up an evaluation meeting with me and my mom.  About a month ago, a nurse and social worker came to my house and we thoroughly went over finances, medical information and they did some cognitive evaluations on my mom as well as listened to my concerns and input.  They were here for about three hours.  At the same time, we applied for Medicaid assistance. 
     Since then, I have been anxiously waiting for a determination from the Department of Human Services with regard to her Medicaid status.  I received a letter from them this past Friday.  Today I will again be touch with Area Agency on Aging and the senior living facility to help me interpret exactly what the letter means in terms of my mom's Medicaid status.  From what I can understand, she has been approved to receive Medicaid and I am hopeful that this will be the beginning of getting my mom in an appropriate living situation.  Things are finally moving in the right direction!
     I hope to have more specific and positive news next week!!


Freebies 101

     Well, it's that time again...time to share some of my latest "freebies" I have received in the last couple weeks.  It's pretty fun...and easy!  The only website I refer to for info on these savings is http://www.hip2save.com/.  Check out some of my previous freebie posts to get an idea of what you, too, could "score".  Part of the fun is forgetting what you requested until it suddenly arrives in your mailbox!!
     The last pictured freebie credit is going to my husband!!??  On my kids birthday in June they wanted to eat at Buffalo Wild Wings...long story short we waited a ridiculous amount of time for table (on a Wednesday) and never did get one...we finally left.  My husband (who NEVER has formally complained about anything) sent an email to BWW and received the gift certificate shown below in response.  That's good business, so they have "redeemed" themselves with us.  I'm counting it as a freebie.
     Are you a freebie girl, coupon clipper or deal seeker!!? 

Smells Good-Fresh!

Credit Card Sized Light Bulb

Breast Cancer Awareness Pin

Shout Wipe & Go for my purse!


Good stuff (I think I got this one before, too)

Remember, I'm a caregiver...

Staples had a coupon valid for 100 FREE Black & White
instant business cards ($19.99 value!)  Yes, I got them!

$30 Buffalo Wild Wings!