Winter Getaway, Part Two

Sedona, AZ
     One of my favorite parts of Arizona is Sedona (red rock country)!  Even though I am a white sand and palm tree kind of girl, I continue to be in awe of these beautiful rock formations and the history of their formation, etc...  Pretty amazing since I don't like history either.  Sedona must be a photographers dream as everywhere you look is like a postcard waiting to happen.  Speaking of photographers -- I am not one and unfortunately most of my pictures were overexposed from the bright sun!  Also, there was a lot of sunglass or squinting which doesn't make for the greatest pics...  (But there are worse things than too much sun, right?)
     Sedona is about a 1.5 or 2 hour drive north of Scottsdale, where we were staying.  This was my fourth time to Sedona and the kids second.  This time we finally made it to the Chapel of the Holy Cross which is where many people have told us of the excellent views of the rocks.  Since Sedona is north of Scottsdale, it was about 10 degrees cooler with temperatures in the 60s.
     The Chapel of the Holy Cross did not disappoint and has beautiful views and the chapel itself was a very spiritual place.  My favorite picture is the fourth one down taken from inside the chapel where you can see the contrast of the true red rock color through the tinted windows of the chapel and how different it looks through the entrance where the bright sun makes it difficult to see the true color.  I even bought a cross for my "wall of crosses" that I am starting.  (Although I would not consider myself deeply religious, I do think I'm a spiritual person.)
     Later, we had lunch at a yummy Mexican restaurant called Oaxaca which has a patio with nice views and, of course, good chips 'n salsa! 
     Then we checked out some of the many shops and made plans for our jeep tour into the mountains of the red rock -- stay tuned for that tomorrow!!


Me and the kids -- why the Angry Birds sweatshirt!? (oh well)

Love this picture!
click to see more
 I bought a cross like this...thought it looked Arizona-ish
(it's made of stone)

 People were laughing at us when they struck this pose!

 My "winter home" (wouldn't that be nice!?)


Winter Getaway 2012

The Airport - Lazy Pool Days - Dining Out    
     We were lucky enough to be able to plan a winter getaway this past week.  My kids were on "winter break" from school and we had 5 free vouchers from Delta so we decided to head back to sunny Arizona!!  The weather did not disappoint and we had a great and relaxing time!
     We arrived at DTW last Sunday morning a bit behind schedule.  If I can, I like to be sitting at or near the gate maybe a half hour before boarding.  When my husband calculated our departure time from the house, I don't think he was allowing for 5 people traveling instead of just himself.  Boarding was well underway when we arrived, but we made it nonetheless.
     Our beloved Goldendoodle, Lucky, had again been boarded at Canine College the day before.  Once my husband got there, he was told another virus was going through the kennel and so we hoped and prayed he would not end up sick like he did last year.  I consulted with our veterinarian for peace of mind.
     We had an uneventful direct flight into Phoenix.  Once we arrived, Jacob and I ran ahead to pick out our rental car (a black Nissan Pathfinder) while the others waited for our luggage.  I have a theory that virtually everyone from our flight heads directly to the rental car lot, and so by going ahead I ensure we get an SUV or crossover big enough for our family of 5 and luggage.  I think I was right, as 3 different people in the rental lot could not see me and Jake inside our tinted windows and tried to pick the same car we did.  Our next two choices were a Ford Flex (sorry, me no likey) or a white Jeep Cherokee that I loved, but was too small inside.  In other words, everyone goes for the bigger vehicles.  We almost had a guy loading his stuff in the trunk even after we started the car to scare people away.  Shortly after that, George and the girls caught up with us and the luggage.  I know, I'm crazy!!
     After stopping at Sweet Tomatoes for lunch (great soup and salad bar among other things), we headed to the Scottsdale Links Resort (check out the link for much better pictures than I took).  We again had a 2 bedroom condo with a pullout couch in the living room, kitchen, dining room, 2 baths, 2 flat screen tvs, laundry, and a balcony.  We love being able to have breakfast in the condo in the mornings, make and bring some lunch by the pool in the afternoons, and go out to dinner.  That's pretty much what we did most days.
     After checking into our room and getting settled in, we went to the grocery store to stock up our kitchen with breakfast and lunch foods for the week.  We also picked up some deli items for a lite dinner since we were not that hungry from our Sweet Tomatoes lunch.
     As we were in Arizona less than a year ago, this trip was designed to be much less "touristy" and much more "relaxing" (because I said so!).  This post focuses on a glimpse of the condo, the pool, and how we spent most days.  The temps were about 78-80 degrees which is about 8 degrees warmer than the "normal" temps at this time of year. 
     I am convinced the majority of people poolside at our resort were from Michigan.  Lots of Detroit Tiger shirts and hats and two ladies I chatted with separtely were both from Michigan.
     We ate dinners at the Yard House (great appetizers which we shared for dinner at happy hour prices, tons of beers on tap), Gordon Biersch (garlic fries), dessert from The Cheesecake Factory (my kids are obsessed), NYPD (New York Pizza Dept.) (awesome Soho Pizza Salad), Charleston's, and Pita Jungle.
     On the trip home we had to make a connection in MSP.  This time we allowed enough extra time to make our flight and my husband even got me bumped up to first class on the last leg home -- which is always a good thing!
     We arrived home about 1:30 am on Sunday safe and sound...to a snowy landscape and driveway.
     My next couple of posts will focus on the little day trips we did take in Arizona, but these lazy days in the sun were probably my favorite!!!



Monday "Memories" With My Mom

The Adventures of Caring for a Mom With Alzheimer's Disease
     I am posting on Sunday evening instead of Monday because of the significance of today for me...and my mom.
     One year ago today was a life changing day for us.  February 26, 2011 was the morning my mom was found at the bottom of her basement stairs by her neighbor.  Her head was cut open and she was bleeding.  Obviously she had fallen, but we will never know for sure how it happened or exactly how long she was there (although we know it was less than 12 hours).
     I think it was about 10:30 am when the call came.  I was in the shower getting ready for my goddaughter, Sarah's, wedding day.  Sarah is my BFF Nancy's daughter.  Kristin knocked on the bathroom door and said, "telephone, it's Aunt Melissa".  I told her I couldn't talk right now.  Kristin said, "she said it's an emergency".  (Ugh!  My heart sank...I knew it was about my mom.)  The EMT had tried to call me on my cell, but I didn't hear it.  Melissa is my brother's wife and my sister-in-law.  She told me what had happened.  Then the EMT called me and asked me about meds and a hospital of choice, etc.  My brother is a firefighter in the same city as my mom lived, so they know of my mom and my brother.  Thankfully, they transported her to a local Henry Ford Hospital.
     Obviously, I was upset and frantically told my family and kids.  They all wanted to come, so we went in two separate cars the 20 or so minutes to the hospital where my mom was in an ER room.  She was conscious, though disoriented.  She was bruised up and her head was bloody.  It was a weekend (Saturday) and it seemed like forever to get things going at the hospital.  I gave them the medical history, list of medications,, etc..  Slowly but surely they ran tests, took x-rays, etc...
     All the while, my brother was in northern Michigan a few hours away.  The wedding ceremony time was getting closer, I was not ready, and it would take at least 45 minutes to get there.  Knowing how badly I wanted to attend the wedding just added to the stress of an already stressful situation.
     Hours later we eventually confirmed they were going to admit my mom.  My sister-in-law offered to stay with her at the hospital so I could at least make it to the wedding reception as I did miss the ceremony.  It was soooo hard to be convinced I could leave my mom to go to the reception, but I did so badly want to go at least for a little while.  (Did I mention it was snowing and the roads were a little dicey, too?)
     Thanks to my sister-in-law and a neighbor who sat with my mom, I was able to have a bit of fun at the reception although still very worried about my mom and knowing how disoriented she was about where she was and what was happening  To this day, she still does not "remember" the fall or what happened.  She was in the hospital a week.  Lots of testing and care as she slowly gained some strength back.  This was also the beginning of my mom moving in with us for rehabilitation and physical and occupational therapy (and of blogging) as you can see here.

    During the week in the hospital my mom often thought she was in a hotel.  I cannot blame her, as she had her own private room which was as nice as many hotels.  She also developed a fascination for the four stained glass window panes that were above her door.  I am not sure, but I think they reminded her of her some glass in the home she grew up in.

    Fast forward to now...a year later.  Although my mom's physical health is much improved, her overall health is still not good.  Yet we remain grateful she is living contently in a safer environment at a senior living facility getting the help she needs with meals, medications, showering, laundry, housekeeping, she's on Medicaid...and she even has a "beau"!

 Two Girls Passing Time at the Hospital
(both extremely tired with no makeup on)
    Here I am -- freshly tanned from a week long vacation (vacation posts to follow), relaxed and watching the Oscars.  This was probably the first vacation in years I was not  too  worried about my mom.  In fact, the few times I called my mom from vacation, she basically blew me off by saying, "Don's here.  How are the kids?  Love you!."  That's about it.  I did not tell her of our vacation plans for fear of making her unnecessarily anxious. 
So much can happen in a year!

Yesterday my friend, Alyce, had a party for her mother-in-law (Grandma Frog)
at the American House.  It was her 88th birthday!  She has become a good friend to my mom. 
 (Alyce sent me this picture.)


The Weather is Here...

     Dear Friends,

Having a great time!  Wish you were here. (Any guesses where "here" is??)    Wanted to tell you, and my blog, that I will be updating you soon with our latest adventure.

If you can't wait (lol?), you will find a preview of a similar trip that we took starting here

Before I say goodbye, I can't help but quote my "friend", Jimmy Buffett...

"The Weather is Here, Wish you were Beautiful!!"

(You didn't really think I'd go through all those "natural beauty" extremes for nothing, did you!?)




Monday "Memories" With My Mom

     On Valentine's Day I somehow had scheduled a neurologist checkup for my mom.  I thought well, that will be nice, I can take her to lunch first since the appointment was at 1:45 pm.  Typically I call my mom from my car when I am on the way to get her.  This gives her about a half hour to "get ready".  Unfortunately, calendars and reminders that come much earlier than that she is not able to remember.
     I phoned her around noon and she did not answer.  I tried a few times (she does not have an answering machine - on purpose) and she still did not answer.  The only thing I could think of was that she had gone down to lunch too early (again).  Her lunch time is 1:00 pm.  It seems ridiculous to wait over an hour for your lunch, but many of the residents do as they have no sense of time and/or have nothing else to do so it becomes a social gathering.  (My brother (witty guy that he is) calls it "the holding tank"...the area where they sit waiting for their meal time.)
     So, in the interest of time, I went straight to the dining room to see if she was there...  Sure enough, she was sitting on a bench holding hands with........Don!!!!  She was (as she often is) shocked to see me.  I have to admit, my first reaction was, ugh now it's going to take forever to get out of here, go back to her apartment, get her coat, go to the restroom, etc....  But my very next reaction was....that is so cute, sitting there holding hands on Valentine's Day!  My mom reintroduced me to Don and I told her she had a doctor appointment.  I actually felt bad pulling her away from her little world with her gentleman friend.  I told him we would be back for sure by dinner time.
     Shortly after we got in the car, I noticed my mom acting strangely.  She likes to point out the various stores and points of interest as we drive along.  Sometimes she seems to know where we are, and sometimes not.  For whatever reason, on this trip she was repeating things twice.  For instance, "Oh, there's the mall...there's the mall."  "That would be nice.  That would be nice."  After it happened several times, I became slightly alarmed as I never recall this behavior before.  I decided it was good timing, as I would definitely bring it up with the neurologist.
     By the time we got going we were running a little too late to actually go for a sit down lunch.  I gave her the romantic choices of Arby's or McDonalds drive thru.  She chose good ol' McDonalds. 
    Also, interestingly, on the drive to the doctor my mom also said things like, "he will probably ask me who the President is.  I know...it's a democrat.  I didn't vote for him.  It's Barack Obama and his wife, the first lady, is Michelle."  She is not always able to quickly recall the current president, but I found it more than funny that someone with my mom's extreme memory issues has the wherewithal to anticipate the questions she would be asked by the neurologist.  I teased her and said, "maybe today he will ask some harder questions".  In my mind, my mom was able to "fool" her own doctors for quite a few years by hiding some of the signs of her early dementia.  So frustrating, but that's another story.
     We arrived about ten minutes too early and I remembered that there was a Walgreens in the same parking lot as her doctor's office.  As I did not yet have a Valentine's Day card for my husband, I wanted to run in and get one.  (This is probably the first time I have ever been at a drug store with all of the men, picking out a last minute card...lol!)  I then decided to ask my mom if she wanted to give a card to Don.  At first she quickly said, "no, noooo".  Then, she quickly said, "well yeah, that would be nice...that would be nice".  I told her it doesn't have to be "lovey dovey", and asked if she wanted me to go in and pick one out real quick.  She said, "sure". 
      I really didn't have much time, so I found a nice simple card that said "Happy Valentine's Day....From Me to You".  That seemed pretty non-committal! 
     Off to the doctor.  Had to wait a little longer than usual so I took some pictures to pass the  time.  I gave the doctor the heads up that my mom was prepared for his "who is the President" questioning.  She did know and even knew the date and correct year.  This is very rare.  I think being Valentine's Day tipped her off quite a bit.  After some of my reports of her small seizures, the doctor changed one of her seizure/anti-convulsive medications in light of my reports of a few incidents, including the repetition on the way to the appointment.  We will see how that works out.  Sometimes you just have to change things to keep up with this disease.  The repetition of her speech on the way could have even be anxiety related.
    We got back, and my mom was anxious to sign the Valentine card for Don.  She decided she would give it to him at dinner.  She put the card in the basket in her walker.  I went down to give the Medical Team her new prescription and information.  While I was in the lobby, it looked like they were getting ready to start another game activity.  I told my mom about the activity, and she practically knocked me over to get down there with her walker.  Too funny!  Time for me to get home!
     As if that wasn't enough, when I got home I told the kids about the card I got for Grandma to give to Don and how excited she was about it.  Kristin wanted to call Grandma and ask how Don liked the card.  I said, sure.  Shortly after chit chatting with Grandma, I could hear that Kristin was now speaking to.......Don himself!!!  He was in my mom's apartment when she Kristin called and my mom had him talk to her.  Kristin could barely contain herself.  We all got a big kick out of it.  The kids still can't believe that "Grandma has a boyfriend"!!
Happy Valentine's Day to Mom...and Don!!!

Waiting Patiently

Another tell tale sign... 
 I am told 2 watches is just her desperate attempt at trying to keep track of time.
Kristin is now chatting with Don...


Just Look...."Natural"

Recently, I've found myself in the high maintenance category...or as some people call it, a little pampering and taking care of myself.  Although I do get my hair done on a fairly regular basis (a/k/a when the grey becomes out of control), it is not as typical for me to take part in these other two activites...at least not these days.
In my old age, it's become harder and harder to "look natural"...lol!? 
Oh the drama of getting that "natural" color I was born with back in my hair.  So boring waiting around, too.  Thus, the picture taking.  You can only text and chit chat for so long.

Flatttering, I know...

No more grey!
I feel like I was the Founder of these tanning places...I literally used to spend about a third of my monthly salary tanning....back in the 80s and early 90s...to ge that "natural" glow
Xclusive Tan
Boom chicka wah wah!!
These beds have come a long way...built in fans, pillows, speakers, timers. 
Where have I been?

Nothing like a good old manicure and pedicure!!!
  Let's just say the girl earned her $$$$!!!
(Don't judge!!)

Hasta la vista, Baby!


Happy {Valentine's} Day...a/k/a Tuesday!

     Ahhh, Valentine's Day!?  I have mixed feelings about it.  Of course, I love....LOVE!  Definitely, it was a fun "holiday" when I was still in elementary and high school.  The parties, the carnation sales, and some surprises from boyfriends through the years.
     This is the first year I am officially done with classroom parties and putting together the millions of cute little favors, Valentine's cards and baked goods we had given out for over 10 years...from preschool to 5th grade!!  (Yes, I kinda miss it...and I kinda don't.)
     Fast forward to the married years...which is alotta years for me.  Before kids, sure there were cards and gifts and at least dinner out.  After kids, more cards than anything else.  Some assorted gifts.  For several years, my husband had flowers sent to me.  I believe it was via an email reminder from http://www.proflowers.com/.  Very nice flowers, and the first year or two were a lovely surprise.  Then, all I could think about was the expense of having flowers sent -- and how Costco has them much less expensive.  Yes, my practical nature sometimes gets the best of me.  I told him if he wants to ever get me flowers...get them from Costco (since it's the only store he goes to).
     So, here we are.  It's Tuesday.  I gave each of our kids gifts last night because I knew they would want to wear some of the things I got them.  A big gift bag full of several shirts from American Eagle (clearance, of course), some Red Vines (the big bag was at the Dollar Tree), a Detroit Tigers Fielder shirt for Jake along with an Angry Birds sweatshirt.  Also, some pink Vera Wang watches for my girls.  So far, I only have a card for my husband.  His birthday was Friday.  I just gave him a lot of stuff...and we ate out a couple of times over the weekend. 
     It got me thinking.  The way I would like is to spend Valentine's Day (at the risk of sounding cynical) isn't that much unlike the plan they recently discussed in last week's episode of ABC's "The Middle".  Love that show!  It went something like this:

(Scene opens with Mike and Frankie (the parents) taking down the Christmas Tree.  Frankie comments that Valentine's Day is the official end of Christmas.  Brick (their son) walks in and says he has to write a paper for school "On Love" and asks his parents what they are doing for Valentine's Day....)
Frankie:  We're not doing anything. right?
Mike:  I didn't plan anything, guess I could plan something... I will if you want me to!?
Frankie:  I guess... if you want to
Mike:  Do you wanna go to dinner or something
Frankie:  No lotta people... long wait...
Mike:  Movie?
Frankie:  We'll just fall asleep.  We can do that at home for free.  How 'bout we just stay home...we know we love each other.  We don't need to shower and put on control top panty hose to prove it!?
Mike:  And, since it's Valentine's I can bring home a bucket of chicken, unless you want candy or flowers or something...
Frankie:  ick..., waste of money.  Just the chicken is good.  We'll eat in our sweats and fall asleep in front of the TV!
Mike:  Sounds like a date!
Frankie:  Wait, you're gonna wanna watch sports...
Mike:  Separate rooms?
Frankie:  Done!  Bucket of chicken, sweats, TV, separate rooms!!
(High Fives)

Brick (the son):  Guess I'm hitting the internet...

     So, you see I have lowered my expectations.  I am not as high maintenance as I may have been at one time!!  LOL!!  I am thinking....everyone stays home (school night), fire in the fireplace, no cooking (but some kind of dinner...carryout?), candles (which I do anyway), and hopefully something good on tv!!??
    No matter what, I hope you spend your day filled with love!!! 


Monday "Memories" With My Mom

The Adventures of Caring for a Mom With Alzheimer's Disease
     Last Tuesday I took my mom to her first appointment with the podiatrist who sees residents at the American House.  Previously, my mom was going to a doctor who is located about 25 or 30 miles from where my mom is currently living.  Even though he is a really nice guy, I thought it was definitely worth checking out the more conveniently located doctor in her building.  Afterall, this is a podiatrist...not a neurologist.  I remember mentioning this new doctor to my mom at her last appointment and she was all for it and actually seemed amazed that there was a podiatrist right in her building.  I also remember being relieved because I thought she would say "but I really like Dr. Adas".  But she didn't.  In fact, she said, "yeah, it doesn't matter, let's go there next time".
     Fast forward to now, when I went to took her down the hall to the new podiatrist she started balking and saying "but what about Dr. Adas", etc....  I finally said, "really, are we going to do this now?".  I told her she was all for it before.  Of course, she had no recollection of that conversation.  In the end, she went down the hall willingly where we came upon about 3 other residents waiting for their turn (ugh!).  I was given the usual "new patient" paperwork to fill out.  Instead of playing "20 Questions" with my mom, I directed her to go see what they were doing in the lobby. 
     There was an "activity" going on for the residents.  Quickly, I heard "Mary, do you want to play?".  To which my mom said, "I don't know what you're doing".  Shortly thereafter I heard my mom clapping and cheering excitedly!  I chuckled to myself and later walked over to discover their game was...laundry basket basketball.  Three shots per turn.  I was impressed to see my mom easily get two out of three shots!  It was cute to see the residents cheering each other on and giving each other advice.  Don't let all the walkers and wheelchairs fool you...most of them "still got it" in the athletic department.  My mom's best friend there, Dorothy a/k/a "Grandma Frog" ended up winning!  (I think my mom woulda had a good chance if she had been there from the beginning ;).  The winner got TWO snacks...the rest of the participants received one!!  Good times!!
     Finally, it was our turn to see the podiatrist.  He quickly got my mom's nails and feet fixed up and we have now set up a monthly appointment where they will bring my mom down for her appointment, fix her up, and escort her back to her apartment.  What a relief that will be!  One less appointment for me to take her to.  Again, I am sooooooo thankful that things are going in a more positive direction!!  It is still hard to get used to having help come our way after needing it for sooooo long! 
     In other BREAKING NEWS...  Jacob and I stopped over for a quick visit last Sunday.  As we were halfway down the hall to my mom's apartment we came upon an older gentleman coming away from the direction of....my mom's apartment.  I recognized "him" right away.  It was my mom's gentleman friend, Don.  I said, "Hello, are you Don?" and he said "Yes!".  I said, (loudly), "Hello, I am Mary's daughter, Cindy, nice to meet you".  "Ohhh", he said and we shook hands.  Then, I introduced Jacob as "Mary's grandson".  As we had our hands full of stuff for my mom, we then parted ways.  He was very nice, but looked "older" up close.  When we go to my mom's apartment and told her who we had just "ran into", she was stunned and fascinated that I introduced myself.  I then had to retell the story at least five times during our half hour visit.  I also took the opportunity to indicate that it appeared we "just missed" him in her apartment.  To which she giggled and assured me it was all innocent....
     Let's just say, the bed was still made and the TV was on as loud as ever.  Another week, and things are good!

Laundry Basket Basketball, Anyone??

 And the winner is....Grandma Frog!!!
Enough games, Mom -- time for your doctor appointment!


A Lovely Quartet...of Teenage Girls

     Last Saturday, Megan and three of her friends competed at District Solo & Ensemble which was held at Hartland High School.  What the heck is that you say!?  According to the Michigan School Band and Orchestra Association, this is what it is:

Solo & Ensemble

Solo & Ensemble Festival is an opportunity for individual students from member schools to perform a selection of their choice for adjudication. District-level festivals are held in late January through mid-February.


Each student or group of students is evaluated by one judge and rated on a scale of 1 to 5 with 1 being the highest rating possible. Students or groups that earn a rating of 1 (or "Superior") are qualified for State Solo & Ensemble Festival which is held in March. The basic structure of State Solo & Ensemble Festival is the same as District, but the students are held to a higher standard. Soloists in grades 10 through 12 must perform Proficiency Exams which include scales and sight reading. Students and ensembles that are chosen for the Michigan Youth Arts Festival Honors Band, Orchestra, Soloists and Ensembles come from the highest rated events at the State Festival. Participating students that earn a rating of 1 or 2 at District or State Festivals are eligible to purchase medals.

     Megan at this point is too "chicken" to do a solo.  Last year she did a duet with one of her flute friends.  This year, they went with a quartet.  That's ok, I used to do the same thing when I was in school...no solos! 
     So they found their music, practiced individually and together a handful of times.  Arrived early to warm up for their scheduled performance time in front of the judge.  In the end, they played well and received a 1 rating (the highest)!!!  Yay!  Me and the other moms listened in.  While watching, I had to sit kind of behind Megan so that I/we did not get the "church giggles".  Yes, sometimes I am that immature.  Like say her clarinet "squeaks" during their performance.  Well, I would have one of two reactions.  Horrified...or...more likely -- uncontrollable laughter!  Thankfully, all went well.  The judge listened and afterwards gives suggestions and critiques and talks to them for about 10 minutes.  It is a great learning experience as well as good exposure - playing in front of a judge like that.   After waiting about 20 minutes, their rating is posted outside of the room where you performed.
    Their 1 rating qualifies them for the State competition in March.  Apparently, their high school band director is requiring them to pursue the State competition.  So, off they will go to compete at the State level.  Meanwhile, they will practice some more and try to perfect what was already a lovely quartet!
Nice work girls!!!!!!!!

They Came
They Warmed Up
They "Tuned"
They Sorta Tuned and Warmed Up Some More...

They Played "Summer Sketches" by Castle

They Received the Judge's Rating and Remarks

Division 1 Rating Blue Ribbon

Alexis, Madeline, Katie and (my) Megan
(and a forced smile for One of the Crazy Blogger Moms!!)