Monday "Memories" With My Mom

The Adventures of Caring for a Mom With Alzheimer's Disease
     You might recall from a previous post that my mom seems to have a "gentleman friend" at her senior living facility.  Since then, I have been preparing myself for a visit with my mom where, quite possibly, I could walk in her apartment and find her new "gentleman friend" there with her!!??  So far, I have not "caught" them together in the dining room, hallway or apartment.
     However, when I visited last week I did get quite an earful from a few people.  To quote Daffy Duck (or was it Sylvester) "this is more serious than I thought". 
     First off, I went to the dining room while my mom and the residents were having lunch.  Upon visiting with one of my mom's new friends (who is the mother-in-law of one of my girlfriends), I found she had a lot to say.  We will call my mom's friend "D".  D feels responsible for my mom.  She is 88, but more "with it" mentally than my mom (remember, my mom is 68).  She expressed concern over the PDAs (public displays of affection for those who may not know) that my mom and her gentleman friend have been exhibiting.  She doesn't want my mom to get "hurt".  Of course, neither do I.  She is protective of my mom in a sweet way.  I assured her that she did not need to feel responsible for my mom, and reassured her that it would be difficult, if not impossible, to reason with my mom.
     Then, I ran into the housekeeping girls in my mom's apartment and the one girl wanted to be sure I was aware of my mom's "gentleman friend".  (What should I call him, anyway?)  So, we talked about it, and she said sometimes the families are the last to know.  She also shared some stories of the goings on that they are aware of.  (The staff could write a book, too.)
     Meanwhile, I noticed my mom still dines with her lady friends.  They have assigned seating.  Also, I noticed my mom came straight back to her apartment after lunch, so I know she wasn't with the "gentleman" after lunch.  However, all of this talk is/was making me feel a-w-k-w-a-r-d!!!  I sensed that some of the people there couldn't wait to make sure I knew my mom had this friend. 
    As luck would have it, the Executive Director of the facility was in the hallway on my way out.  She instinctively knew I was concerned about my mom's situation.  She assured me that it had not become a "problem", and that she would let me know if it was.  I like her and I think I have a good raport with her.  She was instrumental in getting my mom into the facility initially.
     I am realizing that the dynamics of the senior living facility are not unlike high school.  There are the "popular" men and women, the "couples", the principal (executive director), secretary (office manager), PE teacher (activities director), cafeteria (dining room), custodians (housekeeping), school nurses (medical team), etc.... 
     Aside from perhaps exhibiting some unnecessary PDAs and occasionally making a few others uncomfortable, I do not think my mom is the "Rizzo" (Grease) or "Pinky Tuscadero" (Happy Days) of her senior living facility -- I think she is trying to enjoy life while she can.

* If you are interested, please show your support to the Alzheimer's Association by signing a petition urging the President to issue a strong National Alzheimer’s Plan, backed by the resources to get it done.  If have ever dealt with this disease firsthand, I know you will sign.  For those who haven't, consider supporting this research to ensure that you never have your life turned upside down by this devastating disease.

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Dear Friend,
We are ready to make history, but is Washington ready to join us?
Right now, the Obama Administration is developing the first National Alzheimer’s Plan in the history of the United States.
Sign our Petition to the President
Since the passage and enactment of the National Alzheimer’s Project Act (NAPA) last January, millions of Americans like you have been eagerly waiting to see what commitment the Administration will make to fight this devastating disease.
Our families won’t forget the promises that leaders in Washington made to us as they agreed to create a National Alzheimer’s Plan. We now must ask the President to seize this opportunity to lead the fight against Alzheimer’s.
We are ready to make history. We need you to stand up and call for action. Please take a moment to support this historic effort.
Help ensure the White House remembers our families. Alzheimer’s can’t wait.
Robert Egge
Vice President, Public Policy
Alzheimer's Association

The Alzheimer's Association is the world’s leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer's care, support and research. Our mission is to eliminate Alzheimer's disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health. Our vision is a world without Alzheimer's disease.
Alzheimer's Association National Office 225 N. Michigan Ave., Fl. 17, Chicago, IL 60601
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Freebies 101

     It's been awhile, but time to share some of my latest "freebies".  As a review, I primarily follow the website http://www.hip2save.com/ which posts some really great deals as well as gives a heads up to some "freebies" out there such as sample sizes of shampoo, conditioner, new perfumes, vitamins, etc...all kinds of stuff.  You can check out some of other freebies under my "Deals" label found here
     Quick story, a month or so ago I signed up to have a coupon sent to me for a "free" box of John Frieda hair color.  Yesterday, I finally went to the store to get it since it expires soon.  The box was $12 and I got it for free (I'm going to color my mom's hair).  The cashier said "may I ask how you got that coupon"....so I told her...awesome!  I am not even close to being an extreme couponer, but I feel good saving a little bit here and there and I love getting my little "surprises" in the mail now and then. 
     You can see that Jake was happy about the free Wendy's t-shirts.  Apparently, the shirts are a big hit at school when he wears them...the kids think it's funny (even though they are too young to remember those original commercials, I think they saw them on You Tube).
So, check out my recent little stash of goodies, and consider joining in on the fun!!!


So What! Wednesday

It's SO WHAT! Wednesday and I'm linking up with Shannon at Life After I "Dew"
to tell you what I say "So What" to!  Here we go.... 
So WHAT if:

  •  I think if it's going to be cold out...it might as well snow (but I prefer sun 'n fun)
  • My dog is so smart, he knows I'm going somewhere as soon as I zip my makeup bag closed -- he gets in his crate (who's a good boy!?)
  • I've had some wacky rambling posts the last coupla days (oh well, sometimes I'm a wacky rambling girl!!)
  • I posted my excitement for Real Housewives and The Bachelor on Facebook Monday night and one of my friends gave me a scathing comment about how terrible those shows are...(I know, that's probably part of why I like them!)
  • I ordered myself some UGG slippers yesterday (that I don't really need) 'cause they were such a good deal (I can't pass up a deal)
  •  I got tears in my eyes when I happened to see Ashley Robles's audition on American Idol last night --- omg - goosebumps! (anyone see it?)
  • I stopped this post twice because I thought Shannon wasn't So Whating this week when I saw the words I am "foregoing SWW this week" on her blog....duh, I should slow down and read the whole post!
  • I'm on the way out the door so I'll have to end my "So Whats" now............
Sooooo....What are YOU saying
SO WHAT to this week????
 Link up...it's fun, you'll feel better, and I'd love to know!!


Getting "My" Groove Back...

    OK, I'm not even sure if I ever had a "groove", and I never saw the movie "How Stella Got Her Groove Back" (maybe I should).  However, I do feel like I'm a "work in progress" in getting my "groove" back...or finding my "new normal".  I think it's definitely past time to rediscover what I want to be doing with my life right now.  By that I mean having more of a schedule, balance, routine or whatever the magic word is.  To date, I have raised my kids into pretty neat middle and high school kids.  They are becoming (somewhat) more mature and independent.
     After those six months with my mom here, the craziest summer ever, hosting the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays...it's time.  I recently joked with my friend, Alyce, that I think I'm suffering from "post traumatic caregiver disorder".  What I mean by that is after spending so much time caring for my mom, I think I'm kind of in shock that I now have time to do things for...me.  
    Obviously, one "me" thing I do is this...blogging.  I enjoy it.  I started it just for "me".  Even still, is it really all for "me"?  Nope, part of it in hopes that my kids will have a way to look back and have these extra memories of time with Grandma, their soccer games, the piano recital, homecoming, vacations, etc...  Not just the photos, but with the stories to go along with them.
      I have been thinking a lot about how hard it is for me to justify doing things for just me.  I think a lot of moms struggle with this.  I know I am lucky to not "have to" work outside the home.  Don't get me wrong, I certainly could/should, but for now things are ok.  That said, working outside the house can be very rewarding and give you a true sense of independence and accomplishment and I do miss that part of it.
     This past weekend was a pretty good example of how "it's all about the kids".  Let's see, Friday night Kristin flew out the door shortly after arriving home from school...off to a sleepover at her girlfriends, my husband got home late, and we had pizza for dinner.  Saturday morning my husband had to do some work at the office (not typical) and did not get home until 4 pm.  Meanwhile, Kristin and her friend came back here Saturday morning and somehow talked me into the dreaded "double sleepover" meaning her friend was now spending Saturday night with us!!??  In the afternoon, Jacob headed with a friend to the Red Wings game and then a sleepover.  Megan had a woodwind quartet practice for a future competition, then needed to be picked up to go to her soccer game (which my husband did).  All the while, I was taking Kristin and her friend out to dinner and to the mall so they could work on spending their Christmas gift cards and gift money.  So, there I was on a Saturday night sitting outside of various stores (trying to let the 11 1/2 year olds feel independent and "cool").  She feels "cheated" because her big sister gets to go the mall more than her (which is not really true).  So, I escorted them to Aeropostale, dELiAs, Aerie, XXI Forever, Claires, Bath and Body Works, Love Culture and Pink!  I also let them pick what they wanted for dinner at the food court.  They had a blast.  They bought a few odds and ends and we were home by 9 pm for the sleepover at which time Megan peeled back in the door, took a quick shower after her soccer game.  THEN, she went back to her friends for a sleepover...  THEN, my husband picked her up at 9 am Sunday to head back for yet another 10am soccer game (thank you husband).  I stayed back and made ham and cheese omelets for the girls (by special request).  Finally, around 1pm the sleepover was over and Megan was back home.  Jacob was back home around 3pm.  So, with Sunday eve approaching, my middle schoolers suddenly "remembered" some homework they had (grrrrr...).  We told my little birdies they were all staying back in the nest Sunday evening and showering, practicing their instruments, doing their homework and doing some chores.  
     Interestingly, right now Jacob and Kristin are not even in any extracurriculars (by conscious choice).  Our only extra activity is Megan's soccer right now.  That is rare and we are liking that part.  What it does, however, is free up their time to "hang out" with friends (i.e. "the mall" and Red Wings game).
     Oh sure, in between shuffling kids in and out the door, we did some laundry, washed some dishes, dusted, vacuumed, washed some windows, etc...  However, as I was sitting outside each store at the mall (which I have never done before), I couldn't help but think there has to be more!!??  It sure would have been nice if me and my husband could have snuck in a date night instead of one of us being at a soccer game and the other at the mall.  Or, what if I was actually shopping for things for...me at the mall!?  Don't get me wrong, I would and have done just about anything for my kids.  Here lies part of the dilemma I find myself in.  It has been hinted to me by a few that I am "too available" to my kids.  Early on, I/we made a choice to walk away from my job and be a "stay at home mom".  Although I did go back to work on a part time basis a few of those years, I was still very much working around their school schedule and available to them.  
     Back to now, I am slowly remembering what it's like to have more time for me.  Maybe going back to work is in my future.  For now, I'm trying to find the balance of what makes "me" happy while still taking care of my kids, mom, husband and doggy.  It is so "cliche" that I hesitate to even share it.  Da Duh Dun......The suburban stay at home mom who has lost her identity -- she used to work outside the home, take better care of herself, and now she's forgotten how....(film at 11).
     So, if anyone is still reading and not sick of "me" using the "me" word....Have you ever lost your "groove"?  Any tips on how to get it back??


Monday "Memories" With My Mom

The Adventures of Caring for a Mom With Alzheimer's Disease
     Here we go again, and I've decided to add this little subtitle to my Monday posts so that someone who may stumble upon my blog, on a Monday, will understand that I am posting about my mom and this disease.
     One thing that has become more and more clear in hindsight is that you do not just wake up one day and have Alzheimer's Disease.  There are signs.  There are subtleties.  There are quirky things that happen.  There is frustration.  There is confusion.  There is nonsense.  There is eye rolling.  Some of this is by the person afflicted and some is also felt by their loved ones.
     In retrospect, these signs likely began to take root back in 1986 when my mom suffered a stroke which led to a cranial bypass.  (Someday I will elaborate on all of that.)  Once home, my mom's worst physical problem appeared to be the hair they had to shave from her head.  Little did we realize at the time that it would be the beginning of many cognitive issues.  The only thing I recall was that her reading and writing seemed to be slower and of lesser quality.  That seemed understandable considering the circumstances.
     I was no longer living with my mom and neither was my brother.  The day to day subtle changes that may have been noticed if we were around more were missed.  My parents are divorced so my mom was living alone.
   Fast forward (a couple decades) to now and I can honestly say that I am beginning to understand one of the more upsetting behaviors that can occur with dementia.  It is referred to as "hoarding" (although my mom likes to say she's a "pack rat').  No, her sink wasn't dirty.  She did not have dead animals in her house.  Items were not stacked to the ceiling.   However, the kitchen table was always loaded.  Kitchen counters were stacked with stuff.  Newspapers and magazines were stacked on the floors and furniture.  Things were not "normal".  I am not talking about normal "messes", I am talking long term never really throwing anything away and constantly buying unnecessary things and bringing them into the house. 
     It is difficult to understand, but I do have some compassion for those extreme hoarders you see on tv.  In my unprofessional opinion, they are sick.  There is usually some kind of huge "loss" that has occurred in their lives.  They need help.  They do not wake up one day and decide to save everything they've ever seen.  Also, cleaning the house is not always the answer.  We cleaned up at my mom's condo numerous times.  It was always short lived. 
     Thankfully, with my mom now in her senior living facility, we have eliminated virtually all of her "stuff" except the bare necessities.  She no longer drives, so there are no more shopping sprees.  Even so, with a kitchen that is barely used, a stove that we have shut off, and lots of empty cupboard space we still see signs of this disease.  When my mom went to retrieve some papers, we found that she was storing them in her unused dishwasher (see picture below).  When she brings fruit and yogurt back from the facility's dining room at breakfast every day.  Her mind is not working properly for sure. 
    So, in some ways, the "writing was on the wall" for a long time...or on the floors, or the tabletops, or the couch!?  Although I will never like it, I am learning to understand it. 

My mom's current refrigerator which we clean out every week or two

A Dishwasher...for storing, papers, snacks, towels?

My mom's previous condo...guess where she used to sit? 
(Don't worry, it's not like that anymore)
     I think when you can't remember where things are...you leave everything on the counter (so you can find it!?...or not!)


and the Award Goes to...

     I was so surprised late last night while reading one of my "most favoritest" blogs, The Pleasures Of My Life, that Kerri was nice enough to spread some bloggy happiness my way.  Apparently, she has passed the "Liebster Blog" award onto me in hopes of bringing some other bloggers my way. 
     This award is given to bloggers with less than 200 followers in the hopes that it will bring many new friends/followers.  Leibster is German and means 'dearest' or 'beloved' but it can also mean 'favorite'.  (I am also trying to light a small fire under some of my favorite bloggers who have not posted in the last week or two - ahem!!)

     The idea of the Leibster award is to bring attention to blogs with less than 200 followers.  So, in the spirit of good fun I am passing this award on to five other bloggers.  Please stop by and visit them.

The Rules are simple:1. Show your thanks to the blogger who gave you the award by linking back to them.

2. Reveal your five picks for the award and let them know (I prefer to surprise them!).

3. Post the award on your blog.

4. Bask in the love from the most supportive people on the blogshare-other bloggers.

5. Finally and the best rule of all..........have fun and spread the love!
My five picks for the Liebster award are:


Ich Liebe Deutschland!

     Occasionally, I check my blog "stats".  Even though my blog does not get much traffic, I was very excited to see that my second largest "audience" by country (after the USA) was......Germany!!!  Why was I excited?  Well, because our family has lots of German heritage.  Now although I realize that some most all of those readers from Germany probably stumbled on my blog by accident, I would like to think that maybe one of them sensed that we share some cultural similarities!!??  So, don't burst my bubble and just let me think that perhaps I've gone international.... ;)
     What are my German connections, you ask??  Or, what do we do to keep our German heritage alive?  Well, my great grandparents all came from Germany.  In fact, our family name on my mother's side is Haberstroh (sounds pretty German, right!?).  I make (or sometimes buy) Springerle cookies every Christmas.  We go to Frankenmuth (Michigan's Little Bavaria) at least twice a year.  We love and make the German dish Rouladen.  I took German 1 and 2 in high school.  We went to Germany on our honeymoon.  I love carbs.  My husband LOVES beer.
     Ok, so I realize some of the above may be a bit of a "stretch" as far as connecting me to Germany, but what it all means is that we do feel a connection to our German heritage.
     My husband and I have fond memories of our honeymoon when we traveled to Franfurt, Munich and Fussen.  We went on a Rhine River cruise and visited Castle Neuschwanstein...it was all quite beautiful!  We hope to take our kids there some day...oh, and my daughter is currently taking German in high school.  So there you have it -- a preview into my heritage.
I'd love to hear if any of you have similar stories, travels or even have some recipes to share!??
    Cheers and Auf Wiedersehn!!**


Springerle Cookies

Rouladen (yummy!)

Bier a/k/a Beer!
Castle Neuschwanstein

**A very special thank you to Kerri at The Pleasures of My Life for passing on her  
   "Liebster Blog" award.  Check her out...she's the best!  (I will share the love in my next post!)


Monday "Memories" With My Mom

Caring for a Mom With Alzheimer's Disease
     As I mentioned in last Monday's "Monday Memories With My Mom" post, the 9th was my mom's 68th birthday!!!  I had visited her the Friday before and realized she thought her birthday had already come and gone.  She also thought she was 69.  Her calendar had been flipped to March already, and on the day of her birthday she had written in "Lunch with Cindy".  Life with my mom is definitely like going on a roller coaster ride...there's anxiety, lots of patience and waiting, anticipation, laughs, excitement, and sometimes you just have an unsettled feeling.  Sometimes it's a brand new roller coaster -- and sometimes it's one that you have been on lots of times.
     She was shocked when I told her it was January and that she had not yet had her birthday.  I joked with her about all the money I could save on her present, and how we were planning on taking her out to dinner, etc...  
     My brother took my mom out on Saturday, but there was also confusion about that.  She called and told me her brother was taking her out to dinner.  I am now realizing that often when she is thinking "brother" she means my brother but says her brother's name.  
     On Sunday, me, my husband and kids all went to Grandma's and gave her some gifts, then took her out to dinner.  Usually, I order for her especially if the menu is large and it is a place we have never been to (which this was).  The kids get a kick out of grandma (and her confusion) and whether they admit it or not, there's a part of them that misses the dinners we used to have with her when she was living with us.  Almost every night, one of the kids will say, "remember when grandma....".  It's usually something pretty funny that she said or did.
     When our dinner came at the restaurant, my mom did not not realize we had not eaten yet.  She is so easily distracted, particularly when there is a lot of commotion all around.  We all enjoyed our dinner and then headed back to my mom's apartment for cake and ice cream.  There are so many fire sprinklers in her place, I was afraid the candles might set them off, but they didn't.  After singing "Happy Birthday" we chanted "are ya 10, are ya 20, are ya 30, etc...up to 60" and then my mom went all the way to 69..which is the age she has decided that she is, at least for now.
     In the end, we all had way too many laughs and a fun time.  Again, I am grateful that we are in a place where my mom can laugh at herself and we can laugh right along. 
In the end, she was grateful for a Happy Birthday and so were we!!

 Singing away and wishing herself a Happy Birthday!

Jacob, The Birthday Girl and Kristin (Mary) ;)


Monday "Memories" With My Mom

     One thing that has come up in the past month is that another male resident in my mom's senior living community has been showing extra attention to my mom.  His name is "Don".  The last name will be withheld to protect the innocent.  My mom had been remarking to me in phone calls, "did I tell you one of the guys here has the hots for me"??  (Yes, that is what she says...Lord help me!!)  I said, "oh really, did you tell him to get in line"?  To which she said, "pretty much".  (We laughed.)  This is the way me and my mom work.  I know my mom, and she loves to flirt...particularly now that her inhibitions have been significantly let down (or non-existent)!  I have verified the truth of this "male attention" from one of my mom's lady resident friends.
     As of yet, I don't think there is any reason to be overly concerned, but I am on alert.  I have watched numerous documentaries on Alzheimer's Disease and movies related to it.  It is not at all uncommon for a married spouse with Alzheimer's to be in an assisted living facility and develop an intimate relationship with a member of the opposite sex.  In fact, I distinctly remember one such story where the wife of a man with Alzheimer's routinely visited him and all the while her husband was holding hands with his new "lady friend".  There are many similar stories out there.  When you get right down to it, it is all so bittersweet.  The amount of understanding and compassion one would have to have to be ok with that for the sake of the other spouse is amazing. 
     Who would have thought that at my age I might have to possibly look out for my mom and make sure there is nothing inappropriate going on with the men in her life!!??  Can you say "awkward"!!  I guess I have no problem with innocent flirtations, affections, and the like, but knowing my mom and her inability to know right from wrong, I have to make sure things remain innocent.  In some weird way, I am happy for my mom if someone "likes" her.  Oh, and don't put it past me to literally "spy" on my mom.  I will simply peer over the balcony during one of their breakfasts or lunches and see what goes on.  Who knows, I may even take pictures.  I do not mean to make light of it all, but that's what we do around here to manage living with this disease my mom has.
     We'll see if what happens at American House...stays at American House!? Meanwhile, today is my mom's 68th birthday (she thinks she is 69), and I will be back next Monday with more news about that!!
  Happy Birthday, Mom!!!


Why We {Heart} American Express!!

     It is better to give than to receive.  I believe that -- I really do!  In fact, I LOVE gift giving...not just at Christmas time, but anytime.
     Well, I have a little story to share and it goes like this...  This year my husband and I decided to get all three of our kids an iPod Touch for their Christmas present from us.  They have been wanting one for years.  That would be their only gift from us (ok, we might have given them a couple of other little things), and when I saw a "better than Black Friday" deal on them at...Target I made my husband print out the coupons at work (I couldn't print them for some reason) and had him scurry on off to Target, which he did!!  Mission accomplished, and it was even a few weeks before Christmas.  We knew how excited and surprised the kids would be to get them (especially since we had always told them we were never going to get them one). 
     Do you know where this story is going?  So, Christmas morning we gave them each their gifts.  They were ecstatic, and I have to admit those iPod Touchs are pretty amazing little gadgets.  They downloaded apps, music, played games, texted, etc.
     Then there was the trip to Costco New Year's Eve day when all the kids went with my husband.  I was glad for the break and getting ready for a party.  After Costco, my husband came back in the door and said to me..."your daughter is in the driveway crying her eyes out...her iPod Touch screen is shattered"!!  My heart sank...I could not believe it.  Unbeknownst to me, she had brought it with her and when they got home it slid off the back seat of the car onto the floor of the car and shattered!!??  Less than a week old.  I did not need to lecture her about why she brought it in the first place.  Or remind her that the protective cases from Amazon had not arrived yet in the mail.  Or ask how it slid off the seat.  She is 14.  She knows.  She was devastated.  She knows my speech about expensive electronics, cell phones, laptops, iPods, Kindles, etc...  When they were younger we got them the Nintendo DS and constantly enforced them to be in a case any time it left the house.  We discouraged them leaving the house except for long car trips or special exceptions.  Now, at the ages of 11 and 14, I loosened my nagging and had expectations of them using their own best judgment.
     We went on the Apple website.  The prospects did not look good.  Accidental damage and liquid damage are not part of the warranty.  We took it to the Apple store and had to make an appointment and come back.  From what we had heard, though, the screen fix is half the cost of a new iPod.  Megan searched the internet for answers. 
     In the midst of all that, my husband recalled he had used his American Express card when he bought them.  We had heard many good things about their "embedded insurance" for accidental damage and theft.  He called and filed a "claim" on New Year's Day.  They said we should hear in a week or so.  Three days later we received a letter in the mail giving us a credit for the purchase!!!!!!!  We are soooo happy for Megan, for us and to have American Express there when we needed them.  We have never made a claim like that before.  Lesson learned.  The cases have since come in the mail (of course).  Megan hopes to be able to repair or replace her iPod Touch and will have to make up for any cost difference with her own money.
     In the meantime, thank you American Express for bringing the joy back to my daughter's Christmas and for being there when we needed you!!!!


If You Like Candy Canes...

Target Holiday Clearance 90%
     I don't know why I torture myself...it's obviously like a "challenge" for me.  I had a lot of success at Target's Summer Clearance sales, but this Holiday clearance has not been a winner for me.  I had promised myself to not even go looking until things were 70 percent off.  So, my first trip about a week ago was so disappointing I did not even blog about it, and I promised I would not go again...  Ahem, then yesterday somebody spotted a 90 percent Target, so....of course I went last night.  My Target was still 70 percent :(, no hidden deals in other aisles or nuthin'!
     Today, I went to a different Target near my mom's place.  It was 90 percent off.  However, I only got a few things.  I was disappointed that things like Christmas Yankee candles were only 50 percent off, and many gift sets were also only 50 percent.  Even the gift wrap tape that was ringing up as clearance, was not the full 90 percent off.  The merchandise was extremely picked over, so it was a scavenger hunt.  However, if you like candy canes...walk don't run...there were a ton and they are 90 percent off!!!!  Also, there were a few cute things left for young children, but I decided (although tempting) the clearance prices were not worth having another child...lol !!!
    So, if you see any of these ornaments decorating your Christmas present from me next year -- act surprised, ok!!????  No cute pillows, or clocks, dishes, towels, bakeware, etc...  Let me know if you had better 90 percent luck than I did, I will try not to be jealous!!

All of this for about $3...not bad...


iNeed iPad H-E-L-P!!

     I was lucky enough to get an iPad from my husband for Christmas.  We were not supposed to exchange gifts -- so, again, I look like a schmuck!  Of course, I am excited about it and all the convenience of having one, but now I'm hoping some of you techie bloggers can help a girl out!?
     I have not read one single direction and, frankly, do not plan to.  So far I think I'm ok with using email, Facebook, reading blogs, Googling, and normal basic computer stuff.  As of now, the only "apps" I have are Facebook, Words With Friends, The Weather Channel, Textfree, Angry Birds, and Bejeweled Blitz.  I believe that makes me a complete Apple loser!!  With soooo many apps out there, I am hoping some of you can recommend the best of the best.  I love to read magazines and newspapers.  I mean, I guess there's an app for everything so tell me the neat ones you have discovered.  Now don't laugh, but do people actually blog from their iPads and iPhones??  Seems difficult.  Is there a blogger app???  I'm so impatient sometimes, I don't want to research everything and read a bunch of mumbo jumbo...
     Also, as a former Executive Assistant, I personally can type waaaaaay faster on a traditional computer keyboard, and I don't think I want one of those funky keyboards that you can get for the iPad.
     Oh, and here's a funny one.  Even though I did know about Angry Birds being all the rage with the kids, etc..., I never actually played it.  So, one night when I was bored I downloaded the app and played it.  Not very successfully.  Several days later my kids saw me playing it and laughed as they showed me how you click on the birds to make them separate, etc...  I had noooo clue!  The only button I read on the screen is the word "PLAY"...again, I didn't read directions.  You would laugh if you knew how many tries it took me to get past level III-1 or whatever that was!  I'm pretty sure I have a three year old cousin who could easily beat me!!
     So, even though iAm extremely grateful for my nice gift, iRealize iMay not deserve it!  Oh, did I mention I got a pretty case for it??  (While I'm waiting to use my iPad to its' fullest potential, at least it will look cute.)  I will take any help or advice you can give this girl!!


Reality Check...

     After two pretty relaxing weeks with my kids home, and one with my husband home, today is back to life, back to reality!!  The kids are off to school, there's a soccer game tonight, and my husband is on his way out of town for business.  Me and my "favorite child" are having a hard time shifting gears.  Feeling a lot like the picture below...
Are you back into your routine??

The decorations are gone, the celebrating is done, and we are left with sweet Christmas memories!**

**This picture was actually taken when we were unpacking our decorations


Monday "Memories" With My Mom

     I missed last week's mom post because we were out of town the day after Christmas.  I almost hesitate to do an update since there is not too much that is new.  We went for a visit with her today and took down her Christmas tree, lights and a few other decorations.      
     As far as Christmas Eve, we were grateful that my mom was able to be at our family get together for the whole evening (I am never sure how she will react to the extra commotion of a big get together).  In fact, I would say she did a little better than Thanksgiving.  Possibly because everyone at our Christmas Eve was from her side of the family and perhaps having my in-laws at Thanksgiving was confusing to her.
     When I say she did okay, that does not mean there was not some inappropriate or odd behavior.  For instance, she wanted to give my dad (her ex-husband!) numerous kisses and hugs...not recalling those that had already been given.  She drank a ton of pop.  She stopped in the middle of fixing her dinner plate to talk and had no idea that she had not finished it or eaten.  She also had a very hard time focusing on eating.  That same thing happened at Thanksgiving.  I guess there are worse things than that!?  That said, I was rather distracted with kitchen work so maybe I missed some highlights with my mom or perhaps am becoming immune to some of the stuff she says and does!?
     On the positive side she was dressed and ready to go when I picked her up -- and she looked nice!  Of course, she was glad to see everyone, although she mentioned many times that she was disappointed one of her brothers made other plans and therefore was not with us.  In the past, my mom also used to put on her Santa hat every year and direct the gift giving process.  Although I had a Santa hat available just in case, she did not make mention of the past tradition or request her hat, which is obviously due to her dementia.  She also normally spends the night at my house Christmas Eve.  This would have been difficult for many reasons this year, and thankfully she did not ask about staying when it came time to bring her back to the senior living facility.
    Oh, and did I mention that my husband had the idea to be prepared for my mom's "wine request" this holiday.  We bought a bottle of non-alcoholic wine and when my mom requested her wine my husband happily gave her a glass.  It worked out so well, she even cut herself down to half a glass as the night went on!  Wink wink!  Sometimes ya gotta do what ya gotta do!!!
And there was peace on earth,


That's Right, It's 2012!!!!

    Wanted to take a minute and wish all of you a Happy New Year!!  I have to say so far, so good!!!  Thirteen hours into the new year and things are going smoothly here at home -- that's a good sign, right!? 
     Yesterday we took our Christmas tree down and our outdoor decorations which helps me focus on a fresh start into the new year (although it does make me sad because the holidays go by soooo fast!). 
     I thought I would share a quick glimpse into our New Year's Eve last night.  My husband and I actually went to a "grown up" party...no kids!!  My good friend, Alyce, and her husband hosted a terrific party with beautiful decorations, really nice people, and extremely yummy hors d'oeuvres and cocktails!!  Since I did not know everybody there, I didn't take many pictures.  We were the last to leave as it was really a "pre-party", and we were home by 10:30 pm in time to kiss our kids at midnight.  So, we got the best of both worlds.  (Oh how I miss the days when we used to change the clocks to midnight -- at 9 pm -- and put the kids to bed early!  I highly recommend it for the younger kids who can tell time.)
    I wish you all the very best in the new year and look forward to learning more about you and your 2012!!!

This invite was beautiful and very big...I blocked the details so you wouldn't show up ;)