Yep, She Was the Queen...Kristin turned 13!!

    Yep, another birthday(s) in our family in June.  June was crazy busy!  It always is, but combined with the struggles we were having with my mom's care, grad parties, Father's Day, end of the school year and then my little big birthday, my head was spinning!! 
     Jacob and Kristin (my twins for those that don't know) had not had "real" kid birthday parties since they were 10.  I had promised them birthday parties when they turned 13 -- they did not forget!!!  Let's face it, 13 is a pretty big deal -- TEENAGERS!! 
     It's tricky trying to plan a kid's party in June...for all the reasons stated above.  Kids are busy these days, vacation plans, camps, family obligations, etc.  One thing Kristin knew for sure...and never backed down on -- she wanted a party "just like Megan's" 13th birthday party.  To be honest, I had just barely recovered from Megan's 13th -- and that was almost three years ago!!  This year, their birthday fell on a Saturday so we decided to take advantage of that.  My husband took the boys (post to follow) and I was in charge of the girly fun!
     In an effort to "make it her own", we chose a different mall and some of the details for Kristin's party, but the concept was the same.  It was a "Mall Madness" shopping, scavenger hunt, sleepover extravaganza!!! 
We decorated...  In fact, we even cleaned up quite a bit.  Funny thing about cleaning up -- not one mom or parent even got out of the car or came in my house to drop the girls off!!!  I did know all but one of the parents, but I still thought it was almost funny how quickly everyone was dropped off.  (Perhaps we all needed a break from our "teens"!!?)  I guess it's never a bad idea to have your house extra clean though!!
But not before the invites were drafted up sent out...

The favors were put together...

Then the real fun began!  We went directly to the mall, and our first order of business -- a scavenger hunt.  The girls went in teams, maps and cell phones in hand, and were off on a scavenger hunt until they completed the two-page worksheet of questions relating to all things in and about the mall and stores.  First one back with correct answers was declared the winner.  However -- in this Mall Madness scavenger hunt everyone's a winner!!!  Each of the girls received gift cards to three of the stores in the mall.  The only requirement -- they had to spend them right then and there -- shopping together! 


Thanks to some great sales and their own treasure hunting skills -- everyone was able to put their own nifty goodie bag together, and they had fun doing it!!!
Then off to Johnny Rockets for some burgers and fries, and a little embarrassing "Happy Birthday to You" tribute to Kristin by the waitstaff!!  They caught her off guard, and it was hilarious!! 



Hours later, it was back to our house for some cupcakes and relaxing...


THEN, we made a late night stop at Menchie's for some fro-yo and more good times!! 

Once the girls came back, it was time to open presents and to settle in for a movie -- Safe Haven.  Sometime after midnight, I was officially worn out and the girls were settled in.  So, I gave them some space...  When I woke up the next morning, I found a bunch of sleepy heads -- even the balloons were worn out!!!  It was after 10 am so I started putting together some breakfast -- yogurt, granola, bagels and cream cheese, fresh fruit and juice.  They still didn't wake up!  Finally, as the noon pickup time loomed closer, I got Kristin to stir and they gradually came and had some breakfast.  I guess the party went until at least 3am or so....  By all accounts, the girls had a great time and were very polite and thankful!  Kristin was over the moon happy with her day and sharing all of her favorite things with her friends!!!!!
That's what it was all about -- starting the teen years off with a happy-birthday-celebration!!!


Monday Memories With My Mom

The Adventures of Caring for a Mom With Alzheimer's Disease
    Boy, these weeks are just flying by...  It looks like my mom has made some progress on our little sort project we gave her.  Only time will tell if she keeps at it or not, but at least it's a change of pace for her.

     When I stopped by to check on her, I did this impromptu "selfie" shoot.  It was not easy.  My mom is so easily distracted...much like a kid.  In the middle of a photo my mom said "should we kiss?", and there ya have it -- not my best Academy Award winning pose, but my mom is full of surprises!!??
     This past Saturday, American House had their Summer Family Picnic.  We also went last year, and I remembered how much my mom enjoyed it.  I almost wasn't going to make it, but at the last minute the kids and I went over there a bit early.  I wanted to get a good shady table outside by the band for my mom.  Here is what our "wait" looked like.

        They don't let people in until lunch time.  I was lucky enough to grab a table right in front of the band.  My kids stayed with my mom and "the Don" who were already together waiting when we arrived.  The band is really quite good -- a jazzy Dixieland type of band.     

That Don...  Well, trust me, he is a spirited ol' fella!!!  He is funny and always clapping and commenting back to the band when they were talking to the guests.  I remember the same from last year, and it's hard to believe I am starting to gain experience in some of these "get togethers" and learning the personalities of some of the residents. 

and he called my mom "Honey" several times throughout the day...

So, I don't care what anyone says -- their companionship is a small blessing, despite some of the inconveniences it causes both of our families.

and my mom's love of food has not disappeared.  How handy is it to not remember that you already had two cookies...and a half of a hamburger...and part of a hot dog (that I was going to give the kids...)!!?? 

Their courtyard is very nice and it was a great day for a picnic.  The kids ate some lunch and then we had to go.  I felt comfortable leaving my mom and Don there to enjoy the music and food and fun!!  Much better than watching "Channel 4" all day!!

When I got home I was thinking how I'm not sure the staff was ever going to fix a plate of food for my mom or Don.  I waited a bit but then I got in line and did it for them.  I thought his daughter might be glad to know that he enjoyed the picnic as I figured she was not able to attend.  I decided to reach out and let her know he had a great time and I included a picture.  I was glad I did...

     Next up, my mom should be receiving a visit from an old neighbor friend from loooong ago.  I think this will make her happy and am looking forward to seeing her reaction.  Also on my agenda is sorting out some kind of prescription insurance changes that are happening which I do not understand much at all!!!  I hope I can sort it out and that my mom will continue to have the great coverage she has had in the past.
     Today, I also received some good news in the mail...
my mom's Medicaid continuation has been approved!!  For this, I remain grateful!! 



It Happened...She Got a J-O-B!!

     We have been strongly demanding encouraging Megan to get a job for at least the past year.  We have a nice assisted living facility located within walking distance of our house.  She has volunteered there for years as a Bingo helper, my kids used to trick or treat there when they were younger, they have had Girl Scout events there, and many of our neighbors have worked there at various times.  It was always the plan for this to be a first job largely due to the convenience, but working with the seniors seemed to me to be a nice bonus.  Let's face it, she has been around her fair share of seniors lately because of her grandma being at a similar senior facility and living with us previously.  Early on, I was disappointed to learn that her getting a job was not going to be something she was in a hurry to do.  So, since it seemed to be a bad word to my dear teen, I started spelling it in front of her..."When are you going to fill out that j-o-b application?" etc.  (There's a scene in the movie Daddy Day Care where Eddie Murphy says, I lost my j-o-b, and I thought it was a funny scene.  However, my kids don't think I am as funny.  But, I digress.)
     Truth is, the majority of kids in high school these days are super busy!  With a heavy class schedule and extra curricular activities and clubs, AP exams, etc..., there is little time to commit to a job.  At the same time, this girl also wants lots of things that cost money.  Clothes, movies, plays, school spirit wear, field trips, etc...  Finally, the Big Kahuna of field trips came along...the band is planning a trip to Hawaii next April.  She wants to go....badly!!!  You may recall she went to Disney World last April.  These trips are great experiences.  However, I think it is important that kids lose some of their "entitlement" issues with parents and actually learn to work for and appreciate what it takes to make a few dollars.  So, we told her if she wants to go to Hawaii she has to contribute towards the trip.
     Finally, that application that she picked up months ago got filled out and delivered.  Very quickly she got a call, went for an interview, got a drug test (yes, she passed!), filled out forms, and started working about a month ago.  Interestingly, even though she said "nobody she knows has a job", she knows several people from school who work there, too!!  Hmmmm... 
Sometimes teenagers only let you take pictures if you sneak them!!

Home From Her Interview
(Note the smudge marks all over my window from my dog's nose!!)

Back to Fill Out Paperwork
     She got the job as a server in the dining room.  Her uniform is black pants and a cute little tuxedo shirt with a bow.  The hours are good -- typically she works about three hours and is gone from about 3:15 - 6:45 pm.  First she worked three days in a row, for training.  Now she is in the groove and has her own tables to serve.  She has not complained much, but she is tired!!  Megan is also taking a Personal Fitness class for six weeks this summer from 8:00-11:30 am.  Because she is in band and takes a foreign language class, she cannot fit her personal fitness requirement into her normal school schedule.  Therefore, many of the kids are taking it in summer school.  And yes, we have to pay for that, too.  Some day, I will do a post on how much it costs to go to public school.  Because of the lack of funding these days, public schools cost waaaaaayyyy more than they did when I was a kid!!!  Oh, and I get to drive her there at 7:15 am...in a carpool.
     Although it is only a 5-7 minute walk, she has quickly learned to bum a few rides from us.  However, most of the time she will be walking.  I hope she learns to appreciate the value of the dollar, remains as responsible at work as she has been at school, develops a good work ethic, learns to work with a variety of people, and does it all with the grace, care and compassion I know she has!

     Me and her dad are proud that she has taken this on.  We know how busy she will be in the Fall and feel that if she gets into the swing of the job this summer, it will make it easier to balance her schedule in the Fall.  She has already had two "paydays" and have come up with a system of how much she will save for the trip per paycheck and how much she should use as spending money.  I'm trying not to think about how far away she will be -- Hawaii?? -- and focus on the great experience, memories made, and things she will learn visiting Pearl Harbor, the volcanoes, culture, geography, etc...  It seems fitting that her first real job (aside from babysitting), is at Independence Village...as this is yet another step towards my little baby girl becoming just that -- independent!!!!


Fifty...Something to Celebrate!!!

     So, here it is...the "I turned 50" post!!!  As I mentioned here early this year, we have several milestones in our family this year.  MY milestone was turning the big 5-0 -- ya know, the half century mark!!  Beware:  It can and, if you're lucky, WILL happen to you!!! 
     My husband, ("Mr. Living" - ha) was uncharacteristically interested in knowing how I wanted to celebrate the big day.  By that I mean, he asked me several times and would not accept my nonchalant vague answers.  Several months before my birthday, I did have visions of at least having some kind of "Girl's Night Out" or even a small party, but as the day got closer the reality of the timing being the end of the school year and all got the best of those ideas.  I told him I really didn't think I'd be able to pull off any kind of big celebration because everyone, including ourselves, were pretty booked up around my big day (June 13th). He persisted and ultimately asked me to make a guest list for a party. 
     I made a list, but he would not give me any details of what he had planned...just the time and date.  At first that seemed so "fun" and spontaneous, but as the party got closer I was nervous -- ya see, I am used to being the planner/in control!!?  Letting go and not knowing was hard!!
     My girlfriend, Lisa, (the power shopping fashionista) insisted on helping me find something to wear.  She LOVES to shop.  I don't mind shopping, but really don't like shopping for myself and don't really like shopping for clothes.  The trying on, the scouring the racks, the hoofing from store to store -- not really my thing!  (However, I do love a good clearance rack!)  A week or so before my big day, she told me she had like eight dresses for me to try...at her house...already purchased.  A personal shopper -- awesome!  I spent a few hours at her house modeling her finds and ultimately came up with this one! 
     Somehow, all of my favorite people managed to make it to the party which happened to be at my favorite restaurant, Diamond Jim Brady's!!!  Yay!!  My friends and family were there when we arrived and I was so excited and grateful!!!!  Although I am a little uncomfortable with all the attention being on me (my friends are laughing right now, but I REALLY am!!), I decided to embrace this occasion and the fact that everyone had taken the time to be there!!  

Me and My Brother, Mike!

With My Besties, Donna and Nancy!
Lisa** Stopped By Bearing Gifts a Couple Days Early

Kristin snapped this pic of me and hubby before the party...she's better at "selfies"
(we are not yellow)!

With my girlfriend, Nancy, and her hubby, Bill
Didn't Realize Until After the Party...Was My Husband Trying to
 tell me something with that beer selection!??
My favorite: The Boursin Chicken Caesar Salad!! 

With Donna and her husband Tom, a high school friend

My Cousin Stacey and Aunt Barbara
     Megan also put together a video of messages from friends and family sending birthday wishes to me!!  So, you see, I have a lot of nice memories from my birthday and I appreciate the efforts of everyone who made it to the party to help celebrate! 
The husband did good -- and no, I don't feel old!!!!!!


50 Pink Flamingos on Our Lawn
Compliments of My Daughters!!!

**Thanks to Lisa for taking most of the pictures at the party!!
***I doubt you will ever see this many pictures of me again -- yuck!


Monday Memories With My Mom

The Adventures of Caring for a Mom With Alzheimer's Disease

      Well, I took a few weeks off...and it's been busy.  I took care of the annual Medicaid forms that are always time consuming.  I am hoping no news is good news with that.  We count on the assistance that my mom receives and getting her on Medicaid was one of the best things that I ever did for her.
     Being summer and all, family life has been busy and I honestly have only managed to see my mom about once every 5-7 days or so.  I am encouraged that overall her services seem to have improved since my recent issues were brought to the attention of the Med Team.
     Honestly though, a couple of the times that I have dropped in for a visit with my mom, this is what I found....

My timing was off and more often than not she had managed to be in "The Don's" apartment for a visit.  I decided to leave well enough alone.  If she sees me she feels obligated to visit with me back in her apartment.  I would rather she spend the morning or afternoon having a companion than to visit with me for 15-20 minutes.  Besides, it gives me a chance to clean up my mom's apartment without her "supervision".
Another day we all dropped in on the way to the mall near my mom's place.  The kids found my mom having dinner in the dining room and were even able to join her (while I again threw stuff in the garbage cleaned up).  I spied them as I came down the stairs.

Grandma was looking pretty good and glad to see all of the kids, of course.  She's always good for a laugh or two!

After she ate dinner, we escorted her to the commons area for some evening entertainment.  This was right before Independence Day and patriotic songs were being performed.  The kids got a kick out of how quickly my mom joined in and became alert once the music started...even when she could hear it from the dining room.  She looked content and we felt comfortable leaving her there with the entertainment.

 I recently have been in communication with Arlene over at Momma and Me.  She is one of a handful of caregivers I have met through this blogging world and I am so grateful for that.  She "gets it" and always has great insights and suggestions.  Recently, she suggested my mom might be interested in sorting beads by color to keep her busy.  I thought I would give it a try, so we brought them over to her yesterday.  She is off to a good start.  I will see on my next visit if she stuck with it or not.  It is very difficult to come up with things for her to do besides watching tv.  Thanks for the suggestion, Arlene.  I'm sure Arlene wouldn't mind it if you popped over to her blog and gave your support.  Her mom has recently been placed in the care of Hospice and words of support are always nice at a time like this.

We told my mom a white lie...that Kristin needed help sorting these beads
by color for a craft project.  

     All in all, things have been going smoothly.  I am especially grateful that my mom made it through the 4th of July holiday weekend without any kind of injury, particularly since the last two years my mom has been hurt during that weekend.  Thankfully, I was able to enjoy some time "up north" with my family and did not receive any dreaded phone calls.
     In the next few weeks, I hope to again monitor even more closely how my mom is doing and confirm that her services are being provided to her in the way that I would expect.  By all appearances, things are going pretty well and for that I am grateful.