Monday Memories With My Mom

The Adventures of Caring for a Mom With Alzheimer's Disease
      We were able to get my mom to what has always seemed to be her favorite holiday celebration of the year.  My cousin graciously hosted this year's Christmas Eve for about 30 of us this year.  Christmas Eve has been celebrated with my mom's side of the family since I can remember.  I picked up my mom a few hours before the party was to begin.  I had to have her change her clothes and tried to do her hair and put some makeup on her.  This was not too easy as I was also pressed for time and baking the potatoes to bring for the dinner.  However, we managed.  Kristin helped me.  When we first got there, she seemed to have no idea it was Christmas Eve.  In the car she asked repeatedly where we were going, who was having the party, and where her niece lives.  She has been there at least twice before.  
     Interestingly, when I stopped answering the questions and instead said, "I think you know the answer" she usually does then say the correct answer.  So, after exhausting other attempts at changing the conversation, I played a little game when the questions again started in the car on our way to the party later on.  When we asked her, my mom did in fact have the answers.  So, as you would with a younger child, I told her she was a smarty pants!  Well, she and my kids thought this was good stuff.  So, when I would say, "I think you know the answer you little smarty pants", she would then give the correct answer and a small celebration would take place.  I realize this may sound crazy (it is)...just trying to make the best of a difficult situation!
     Some good news...we got our White Christmas!!  Not as good...it was exactly at the time we were leaving the house.  The roads were icey and I was glad I had picked up my mom before the weather and roads and sidewalks got so bad.  Our 15 minute trip took almost 30 minutes.  Mom might have missed out if the timing had been different.
     My mom seemed okay during the party.  She spent most of her time talking at a table with her two brothers.  To be honest, I didn't stay with her the whole time.  In comparison to last year Christmas Eve,  I would say she was more subdued.  As far as I know, she did not ask for wine.  This was a big deal to her last year.  She appeared less talkative and probably more repetitive.  My kids reported her eating tons of cookies while sitting at the table!  (Ha - YOLO!)  I took her dinner away after she nibbled most of it.  As I said, all in all, I would say she was quieter than last year.  Maybe because last year it was at my house?  Maybe just because. Regardless, that is where she would want to be.
Present Opening Time
My Mom's Great Niece, Maddy (almost 2), Was Blowing A Kiss
 To My Mom (so cute) and I Happened to Catch the Action
     My brother had worked all day (he's a firefighter), so I felt bad having him take my mom home, but grateful he offered and for the break.  Funny story... when he was packing up his car to take her home, I asked if he had her walker.  He proudly said, "yep, it's already in the car".  (Yikes, say what??)  It was super slippery outside, my cousin's driveway is a hill, and my mom falls in her apartment without snow or obstacles...  I took a deep breath and said, "ok"!  I let it go. I could use a break and some help.  If I micro manage I will never get it!  Of course, I would never take my mom outside that way.  However, I reminded myself he is big strong fireman and tried to let it go.  His car wasn't even pulled closest to the door....  However, they did make it to the car without incident.  I did not watch!! 
     That was Christmas 2012 with mom...  On Christmas Day when I asked her if she had fun at the Christmas Eve party she said, "yes, weren't you invited"??  (Yes, mom, I was that girl who picked you up, got ya dressed, bought the presents, answered your questions and hesitantly sent you home with your son.)
     I know she enjoyed it...while she was in the moment!!



Oh, It's a Jolly Holiday at...Target

     I interrupt this otherwise relaxing holiday spent with family and friends to show you the small stash of goods I picked up at Target today...50 percent off clearance.
     My husband and I were out doing errands and visiting my mom.  I somehow talked him into popping into Target because it was...there.  I told him I would only look at holiday things.  Well, I combed through pretty well and here is the small stash I came up with.  I wasn't looking for anything specific.

From left to right:

     Tubes of jewel toned ornaments from dollar spot     1.00                   .30
     Star shaped ornament collections                             5.00                 2.50
     Goldfish crackers                                                       3.69                 1.54
     Snowflake paper punch                                           15.00                 7.50
     Wine chiller/ice bucket                                             20.00                 9.98
     Silver Star Tree Topper                                           10.00                 5.00
     Black/Silver sequined clutch purse                          16.99               11.88
     Jewel Toned tealight votives                                    10.00                 5.00
     Wilton Cookie Mold                                                    6.99                 3.49     
     Rudolph Sticky Notes                                                 1.00                   .30
     Colgate Winter Watermelon Toothpaste                    2.99                 1.49

     This particular Target was a little less picked over than "my" usual Target.  This is the first time I have ever seen a Wilton mold pan at clearance, but I probably do not usually go when things are 50 percent off...I prefer 70 percent or more.  I also like the clutch purse and wine chiller.  The shelves will clear much faster once the clearance hits 70 or more so you take your chances.  I was kinda proud I figured out the Goldfish were $1.54 --  I guess because Mr. Goldfish has a Santa hat on.  Many of my finds were on endcaps away from the normal clearance stuff.  It's fun...if you have young kids you can really clean up...as I did back in the day!! 
      One thing I discovered is that my husband is less seasoned in helping "scan" items for me than my kids.  My kids are great at running back and forth to the scanner.  I found out my husband was going to a scanner much further away than necessary (was wondering why it was taking so long, ha!).  He was not as "into" it as I had hoped.  He did, however, encourage a few of my frivolous purchases.
     Have you been out and about clearance shopping?  I might go back in a day or two...without kids/husbands!!!



Monday Memories With My Mom


Celebrating Christmas Eve with my family!!! 
Merry Christmas to all who have
shared a kind word and followed my story!!



Silent Sunday

The Christmas card photo a certain boy did NOT want us to use.......!!! 
The mom loves it!!!


Silence and Support...

Click here to donate

The organization is called The Newtown Youth and Family Services.   Here is the official description of the support service we are donating to:

"Newtown Youth and Family Services, Inc. is a licensed, non-profit, mental health clinic and youth services bureau dedicated to helping children and families achieve their highest potential. NYFS provides programs, services, activities, counseling, support groups and education throughout the Greater Newtown area.



Monday Memories With My Mom

The Adventures of Caring for a Mom With Alzheimer's Disease
     Thankfully, things have been fairly quiet on the mom front. My brother and I visit at least once a week, separately.   We have every intention of bringing my mom to our family Christmas Eve gathering to celebrate with her two brothers and their families.  It is something my mom has always looked forward to as have I.  On my recent visit I took time to check out each ornament on my mom's Christmas tree.  We leave the decorations on the tree so I have not looked at them individually in a long time. I  also took a few pictures of my mom by the tree.
     I was a little alarmed to see a large bruise on my mom's hand.  When asked, as always, she has no idea what happened.  Whatever it was, it had to be painful.  So frustrating...
     Then, I sat with her and we chatted.   After a few minutes, I realized my mom was having a pretty good day.   I can usually tell because I am not as anxious to leave!!  She thanked me for her watch and her Croc shoes and raved about them several times (these are not new).   She asked me if I saw Saturday Night Live and told me how funny it was.  She looked to see when her next blood pressure check would be. I asked if she was excited for Christmas Eve and and she said she was.  She asked whose house we would be going to...several times.

Mom and Her Two Brothers
      The days of my mom organizing the Secret Santa gift exchange are gone. Santa no longer visits the party like he did when I was a kid. I have taken over purchasing small gifts for her grandkids and her nieces and nephews kids.  Within the last five years, things have changed significantly, for my mom especially.   I wish she was more aware, but perhaps it is better that she is not.  I also wish I could get her involved more with something-- I'd love to be able to drop some gifts for her to wrap or ask her to make some simple slice and bake cookies.   However, none of that is to be so I try to remain grateful that she is still here armed with her sense of humor and always willing to "party"!!
     I asked her what she wanted for Christmas this year and she said, "peace and happiness".  Me too, mom.  Me, too!


All Of Us Grandkids, 1988

Megan Made This Years Ago, Seems To Have More Meaning Now

Me, My Brother and Our Beloved Dog...

Mysterious Injuries...


I {Heart} Christmas Music

     Friday night we had plans to attend the high school concert where Megan and all of the music groups would be performing.  Apparently, this is a concert that the school performs every other year, so it was our first one.  It is obvious a lot of work went into this concert!  There are virtually no breaks in the concert...it just flows from choir, to orchestra, to symphony band, etc. -- each segment overlapping with only a 15 minute intermission.
     The concert opened with a moment of silence for the families in Newtown, Connecticut.  For me, it was bittersweet to be there in the school watching the kids...yet knowing that many families were in the early raw stages of going through something so awful at the same time.
     Two solid hours of Christmas musical entertainment -- and it was awesome!!  The caliber of the talent these kids have is amazing -- sometimes you forget they are in high school.
     I hope you have a chance to grab some coffee, tea or hot chocolate and listen to part of the performances below!!
     We remain proud and enjoyed it very much!!!!!

Concert Band and Choir

Concert Orchestra

Symphony Band/Men's Glee Club

A Christmas Festival

Front Row, Third From Left = Megan

Carol of the Bells


Silent Sunday

The Spirit of Christmas...



O {Artificial} Christmas Tree!

     Well, like everyone, we've been busy preparing for the Christmas holiday along with our normal every day stuff.  The last couple of years, we have been toying with the idea of getting an artificial tree a/k/a "fake".
     I have really struggled with this, perhaps to the point of ridiculousness!!  I have never been a fan of the "fake" tree.  When I went away to college and came home for Christmas break, my parents had decided to go with the "fake" tree for the first time.  I created some drama over it.  I even went out and got a real tree by myself and took the "fake" one down and put up the real "live" tree.  Ha! 
     As I begin to settle into my older-wiser years, I have come to terms with the fact that there is a place for the "fake" tree.  After all, "fake" tree does not mean "fake" Christmas.  Like many things in life, the tree is symbolic and has little to do with the "real" reason for the season. 
     I also came to realize, I was spending as much time trying to find the perfect artificial tree as I had finding the perfect live tree.  How ironic?  So many times we had such a beautiful live tree...visitors would comment "that can't be real".  Fast forward to now, spending too much time finding the perfect artificial tree -- ya know, the one that doesn't look too perfect!!
      Oh, never mind all that, we ended up going to Lowes and seeing which tree looked best and just buying it -- it helped that it was on sale!!  So, that's what we did.  Oh, the drama. 
     In fact, there are many benefits to an artificial tree:  (1) No needles dropping; (2) No watering; (3) No allergies; (4) Easy Up/Easy Down; (5) No Bare Spots; (6) No Frost Bite Picking Out the Tree; (7) Your Can Bend Your Branch To Hold A Heavy Ornament!!  Well, you get the idea...
     I used to laugh when others would put their tree up the day after Thanksgiving...or sooner causing some to feel inferior for not being "on the ball".  Well, let me just say that when you already have the tree in a box it's a little less impressive than going out and cutting down your tree.  Now maybe I can be one of "those" early/annoying people!!
     After all that, we have embraced our new tree and so far this mom has no regrets?  How about you -- are you a forever "live" tree person or have you crossed over to the "other side"??
Linked up with Honey We're Home for the first time.  Check it out, spread some cheer and show your tree!!




Flashback Friday

     Me and my baby brother, Mike, many Christmases ago!!!!!! 
Yes, my mom even sewed my corduroy skirt and vest!!!  Jealous, right!!?? 



Monday Memories With My Mom

The Adventures of Caring for a Mom With Alzheimer's Disease
     It was a relatively quiet couple of weeks as far as my contact with my mom.  I stopped by a few times bringing some more supplies and to drop off three new long sleeved shirts Megan and I bought for her at Kohl's with my 30 percent off. 
     As happens many times, on one visit my timing brought me there at her lunch time.  I had just come from an appointment and decided not to interrupt her lunch.  This allowed me to do a quick tidy of the apartment and be in and out relatively quickly.  I thought my mom would call me once she saw the three new shirts I left laying on her couch.  I never heard from her.  I called the next day and she said, "oh, I hung them up".  I told her she should also wear them.  She said she "assumed" they were from me.   Well, ok.
     I also had the opportunity to stop over at my mom's previous condo to pick up a few things.  That condo and the work required to clean it out continues to hang heavy over my head.  It is not a one person job.  In addition to millions of other things, my mom has been "collecting" buttons since waaaay before Pinterest was around.  I decided to bring her collection home and made her a little button tree.  It's a little sloppy and not color coordinated, but I know she will like it -- especially when I tell her it's from her button collection and her pins.  So, I repurposed them -- it's the thought that counts, right?

      So, as I said, things were fairly quiet until a week ago Sunday, I was out shopping and my husband called and said the Medical Team had called to say my mom had fallen. I called them back, and they said they had found my mom on the living room floor when they went to get her for lunch. They said she seemed ok and she told them she was dizzy. She went to lunch after that. I asked them to keep an eye on her, etc... She always tells them "not to call me" because she doesn't want to worry me. Well, I need to know and, yes, it still worries me.   (Especially since I had plans to be a short distance away on a "girls night" that night -- and my brother was "up north" for the week -- as he often is.)  When I called her later she sounded fine. I did not even bring up the fall, but right away she said "I'm fine, I'm fine".  At least she remembered she had fallen!!?
      Well, then on Tuesday I got another call from the Med Team.  Apparently while my mom was doing her physical therapy, the therapist said she began taking unusual small walking steps.   She was also a bit agitated and her vitals were slightly elevated.  I told them she had done that before, "stutter steps".  When my mom first moved into the American House, this was happening with her.   I also told them my mom may have experienced a seizure. She has a small seizure condition in relation to her prior stroke and surgery. I made sure they checked her vitals again and checked her for stroke symptoms. My mom does take medication for all of these things.  Beyond that, there is not much that can be done except to make sure she is not having another stroke or unless it continues for a long period of time.  All of this has my nerves a bit shot because I never know when my mom will lose her ability to walk and things like this serve as a reminder.  Notice I said when, not if.  I am told this will happen.  Later, the Med Team called again and told me her walking was still questionable. They were going to have a skilled nurse check her out.   Whatever it was, it resolved itself and she is doing better.
     Still on that roller coaster ride of being a daughter and caregiver...and as a fan of roller coasters, this one is not my favorite.
Need a Little Christmas

Right This Very Minute

Christmas Wreath on Door

Angel to Watch Over My Mom...