Monday Memories With My Mom

The Adventures of Caring for a Mom With Alzheimer's Disease
     As Thanksgiving nears, there continues to be much to be thankful for!!!  This past year has been one of peace for my mom.  In fact, thanks to the "Timehop" app, I realized it was a year ago today that my mom was hospitalized for a week (you can read more about that HERE).  The good news is that made me realize we have gone a full year without any further hospitalizations.  Also, there have been no significant changes in my mom's health.  She seems content and at peace with her current living situation in the memory care unit of her skilled nursing community.  The staff often shares stories with me on things my mom has said and done and all of them continue to tell me how they love her sense of humor!!!  For this, I am grateful as I think most of you know there were times I was unsure that my mom would make this adjustment.
     With my mom safe, content and at peace, it has also allowed me more time to spend with my kids and family these last few months...

      A visit with my mother-in-law two days before my daughter's high school commencement.  It was sad for me to realize my mom would be unable to attend, as I know she would have loved to.    

May 29, 2015
So.....we brought the commencement to my mom by doing a big family photo shoot with my my mom.  She had two grandchildren who both graduated from high school!!
 June 28, 2015
A visit with the daughters right before Megan (left) headed to Germany for a month.
June 25, 2015

I loved this day as it was my mom's one year anniversary of living at Canterbury on the Lake!!!  (You can see more about her move HERE.)  We had fun as there was also a "Happy Hour" celebration with singing, snacks and smoothies which my mom loved!!!. 

July 2, 2015
Granddaughter Kristin is a natural at caring for my mom. 
In fact, she now works in another assisted living community where she is a server
 in their dining room!!
August 17, 2015
Jacob was due for a visit!!!  He drove to see Grandma fresh from the Secretary of State office where he had just received his driver's learning permit!!!!  Good news -- we made it!!!!!
September 4, 2015
My mom was also thrilled to receive a card from her cousin Karen from Muskegon!!!
Card from Cousin Karen
Sometimes conversation is hard to come by -- so we take a selfie!!!!
October 2, 2015
...and, I must admit there are times when I very much miss the days when my mom could walk and visit "The Don" as she did when she was living at the American House.
A recent hair cut.  The "Before" is on the left and the "After the two on the right.  A little shorter than we wanted, but it will work!!!
This, my friends, is fresh from this morning's visit. 
I was pleased to see their "morning exercises" and they all seemed to enjoy it!!!
TODAY -- November 16, 2015
Complete with Video............
I will try to be better about sharing as I have received concerned phone calls from many of my mom's friends.  We remain thankful for each day and wish all of you
 a very nice and Happy Thanksgiving!!!!


(Sorta) Silent Sunday

     It's been awhile and life has been busy, but thought I would share that my mom has been doing fairly well and my daughter graduated from high school!!!
Today we visited my mom and Megan put on her cap and gown so I could get this picture. 
     On Wednesday, Megan leaves for Germany for a month and then heads to Michigan State University in the Fall with plans to study Education with a major in German.
     Lots more to blog about, but for now my focus is my family (and sometimes me)...
     Hope all is well with all of you -- I will check in soon!!!     

Adding this photo as an afterthought...  Don't really like photos of "me", but grateful that we were able to get this.



Monday Memories With My Mom

The Adventures of Caring for a Mom With Alzheimer's Disease
**From the Week of March 9th**
     I had a busy week as my husband went to Charleston, SC on a golf vacation and my kids had an extra busy week with Cinderella musical, golf tryouts, soccer tryouts, music festival, state competition practices, etc...  I finally got over to see my mom....  Our big "meltdown" has been in progress in Michigan this past week, and we really have made significant progress.  However, memories of year's past tell me it's never over for sure until May....  I parked near a sign that cautioned about ice, a piece of sidewalk that seemed to retain water and probably went from freezing to a puddle back and forth depending on the day...  This sign was a nice welcome!?

Once inside, I went in my mom's room to check on things.  I saw this cute little bunny sitting on her nightstand.  Another little collection of stuffed animals has started, much like she accumulated to her assisted living apartments, but not as many.

    Speaking of stuffed animals, I think someone was recently asking about Muffin...  My mom does not seem as attached to Muffin lately.  I have not heard her ask for her in a long time, and when I went to look I found one Muffin in her closet and the other here...

in the commons area. (Remember, we had two "Muffin" dogs so that if one was lost or in the wash, we would still have one.)   I would like to think that my mom is feeling more secure in her skilled nursing environment in recent months, and, perhaps, she does not "need" Muffin as much.  However, it is possible that she has kind of forgotten about Muffin.  I may see what the staff says about that. 
     I also went and looked by the blankets to see if there was another "fidget quilt".  There was, so I brought it over to my mom and while she was watching the movie, we talked about each item on the quilt.  There was a part of her that wanted to remove that little puppy from the quilt, so if any of you are ever thinking about making a fidget quilt, use strong thread and sew everything down well. 

It seems that my mom's love of television is back in full swing.  Many times, especially recently, I see many of the residents sitting near the nurses station by the bird cage, or the sun.  However, my mom was alone down by the television near her bedroom watching Father of the Bride 2.  She was awake...and watching.  She seemed pretty good and even stayed awake for the majority of my visit which was over an hour.  She was having what those familiar with Alzheimer's would call a "good day".  Her sense of humor was intact and when I commented about how funny Steve Martin was, she wholeheartedly agreed. 

While we were sitting, a man in a wheelchair (who can move himself around with his feet) kept stopping by and seemed to be doing "laps" around the floor.  His speed wasn't bad either, so every once in awhile he would stop and say something to us and then he would move on.  My mom was trying to understand him, but we could not and once he left my mom looked at me and shook her head to let me know she thought he was crazy!!??  It may not have been appropriate, but it made me laugh for a second because I knew that was a true reaction from my mom.
     I told my mom about the music competition my kids bands were participating in over the weekend and how both Megan and Jacob had solos during their performances.  She seemed impressed and asked how they did.  I said they did really well and that seemed to make her happy. 
     Then, as the movie was coming to an end, we were watching the scenes where the daughter and the mom both have their babies.  I could tell my mom loved seeing the close ups of the little babies and because one was a boy and one was a girl (like my twins, Jacob and Kristin) I said, look it is like the day Jacob and Kristin were born and we were all at the hospital.  Do you remember that?   She nodded and kept watching.  I could tell she remembered it, and I know it was one of her proudest days.  A minute later she repeated "there's Jacob and Kristin".  After some of the sleep, more quiet visits we've had lately, I felt good about this visit.

     So, although I did not come armed with a photo album as I intended, we did have a nice visit and was thankful my mom was having a "good day". 

Later, when my brother and niece visited, this is what she did when he said "smile"!!??
  She will do anything for a laugh, and she knows the grandkids sometimes think the more "inappropriate" the better....



Throwback Thursday - National Honor Society

     With my oldest daughter, Megan's, high school graduation fast approaching, there have been so many memories made along the way.  In a perfect world, I would blog them all (and I may still try!).  However, one of the many particularly proud moments was when we learned that Megan was being inducted into the National Honor Society.  Don't worry, I do not plan on turning this blog into a gloating fest, but I do want to document these memories (and I am her mom!).   
     Megan has always been a self-motivated student when it comes to learning.  She did not need constant reminding or motivation...or threats!!  Ha!  She set goals for herself, usually did not even share them with us, and strives for them on her own.  Make no mistake, her loving doting parents have supported her every step of the way, but we did not have to push her.  She pushed herself.  In fact, sometimes I think she may have pushed herself too hard, if you believe in such a thing. 
     As many of you know, schools these days definitely put their students on the fast track and expect much more than they did when I was in high school.  With this comes a lot of pressure.  Many days it is hard to watch your kids juggle so many things.  However, going the extra mile and volunteering in various areas of community service is one of the things I most admire.  Everything from helping run a Bingo game with senior citizens to raking countless bags of leaves for the elderly in the Fall.  These kids just keep going - even when they have to wake up for school by 6 am!!
     As some of you may know, each chapter of the NHS has their own requirements.  However, the minimal requirements are regulated by the National NHS.
Per the NHS National Constitution, all chapters' eligibility requirements must include, at minimum:
  • attending school in grades 10 through 12
  • maintaining a cumulative grade point average of 85 percent, B, 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale), or equivalent standard of excellence
  • demonstrating volunteer or service hours
  • preserving an excellent record of behavior in and out of school
  • participating in leadership roles in school and/or community activities  
     So, it is indeed, an "honor" to be part of the National Honor Society and to see people recognized for their hard work.  The parents and families were invited to the induction ceremony last spring, and it is inspiring to see what this group of young people has accomplished.  Their "futures so bright, they gotta wear shades"!!!! 
The Induction Ceremony

A Picture With the Outgoing NHS President and a Friend

Some Friends

Why do they always do this?

This Means We Are Done Taking Pictures...

Love Her!!
  Congratulations Megan!
Another proud parent moment you have given us in your 16 (plus) years!!


Monday Memories With My Mom

The Adventures of Caring for a Mom With Alzheimer's Disease
         When I arrived for a visit, I saw that my mom had this little "touch quilt" or "fidget quilt", I have heard them called, on her lap.  This was a small one, but it had a satin piece, a piece of lace, a rough patch, rick rack and a pocket sewn on.  I commented to one of the staff about them, and she showed me they had a few of them.  I am not sure if they are new or just something I've not seen before.  Either way, I was glad to see these as my mom's best friend, Jane, is a big quilter and my mom used to spend lots of time helping her make her quilts.  They would spend weeks in the summer in Northern Michigan buying fabric, piecing, ironing, sewing, and whatever else is involved in quilting.  I know it is a lot of work!!  They also had a tradition of attending a "quilt auction" every summer which I have also attended.  So, I have to think that this small touch quilt may have triggered some fond memories for my mom.

Especially when I looked close and saw the little details on the yellow fabric.  I commented to my mom that it was a lot like when she and Jane used to work on quilts.  My mom agreed.
     I like the idea of these fidget quilts.  I know for awhile we had kind of a "busy box" in my mom's old apartment.  Just a tin filled with odds and ends for her to rifle through and "fidget" with.  However, in this shared nursing environment, keeping track of the contents would be difficult.  That is why the idea of these various items and textures sewn on the quilt is appealing.  I found several examples of cute fidget quilts on the internet.  I believe there are some groups out there making these for Alzheimer's and dementia patients.  I like the idea of using some scraps of fabric and sewing notions and putting them together for something like this.  Helps beat the boredom and stimulates the senses and possibly some memories among other things.  Perhaps when I am retired, I can pay it forward and make some of these.  Seems like I may be able to handle it.  The only sewing machine I have is my mom's which is very old and very basic.  It is also still at my mom's condo.  It's also the only sewing machine I (used to) know how to work!!?  Hmmmm...  Clean the house, or start sewing!?
Photo Credit www.smokeybarn.com
    I think I really need to consider adjusting my schedule.  As I've mentioned before, it seems my best time to visit my mom always falls in the "after lunch" hours a/k/a "sleepy time".  I'm not sure when might be a better time to visit as the evenings I'm usually tied up with my kids.  I could try something around 10:00 am and see what happens, but there is almost always an activity scheduled at that time.  If I arrive too early it is shower, getting dressed and breakfast time, activity, lunch, nap, activity, nap, dinner...  I don't know.  Maybe my best bet is just being able to go outside and getting some fresh air, which hopefully will come sooner than later.  They also seem to keep the heat close to 80 degrees, so who wouldn't fall asleep -- makes me want to fall asleep, too!!! 
     Although the activity calendar is full, and I was told that earlier my mom had been watching Sound of Music in honor of the movie's 50th anniversary...
     I had a hard time getting much more than this out of the crowd...  I will hope for a more meaningful visit next time.  I will say I would rather find the residents sleeping in chairs than in bed all day.  They do have a routine there, and perhaps my mom is "too busy" for me!!??  Maybe the morning Sound of Music party got a little crazy and wiped everyone out.  I think I better think of some kind of entertainment to bring along next time I visit, perhaps some photos.  Either way, I know she appreciates my visits, and I remind myself that she is warm, safe and loved.

Sleepy, Sleepy, Sleepy and Sleepy...


Throwback Thursday - Date Night

 Detroit Detour, December 2013
     So, brace yourself as this is not the kind of thing you have seen on this blog very often!!   We went on a date called the DETROIT DETOUR!   Back in December, I came upon a Groupon (yes, that's sometimes how married people make plans) for something called the "Detroit Detour".  This was the description that drew me in...
Wine fans and beer hounds gather for an exciting afternoon, sampling some of downtown Detroit’s most dynamic dining establishments. Featuring 20 of Detroit’s hottest restaurants and lounges – including the Biergarten at Winter Magic at Campus Martius – offers patrons the opportunity to indulge in a variety of craft beers and carefully-selected wines, both paired with signature appetizers. Detroit Detour will offer continuous bus transportation between locations, a map to all of the food and beverage destinations offered and an unparalleled opportunity to discover the very best of Motown's burgeoning nightlife.
20 Premier bars and restaurants and a couple questionable joints. over 40 exquisite beer, wine and appetizer samples with continuous transportation to and from all locations:

     Sounds, good, right?  Plus, I believe the Groupon was like half off the normal price.  I want to say we paid like $40-$50 for both of us.  I actually think it was $40, and I love a good deal.  I booked it on a whim a couple days before the event and surprised my husband.
Sometimes we drank beer from nice glasses...

and some places provided nice plastic cups...

Early on we even took time out for a "selfie" on this rare occasion.

     Overall, I'd say it was a big hit, and it was fun dashing in and out of the cold to the various drinking establishments and hopping on the shuttle buses that took us around town.  We made it to about seven or eight of the places.  There was no way to make it to all of them in the time allotted.   A couple of establishments I had been to, but most I had not.  We purposely tried to go to the ones we had not been to before.  They also served small appetizers along the way using a ticket and wristband system. 
     People seemed to be having a good time along the way, and it was fun to chat with some of the other participants.  Mainly -- it was fun just to be out and about in the wintertime (and away from the kids) for a day!!!  No babysitter required! 

     One of the establishments we went to was across the street from this lovely graffiti shot below.  It was literally like this "secret" door hole in the wall type place and then you went down some stairs and were suddenly in this dance club kind of atmosphere.  Oh, to be young again!?

      The majority of the event was in the afternoon and the day was cold, but sunny.  I snapped this picture below as we were passing by.  If you know anything about Detroit, you know that our Coney Island restaurants are pretty well known.  The picture is of the two most popular coney restaurants in Detroit, right next door to each other.  Most people prefer either "American" or "Lafayette".  Personally, I'm a Lafayette girl, but I would be fine at either one.  Around here, we take coney restaurants for granted -- they're everywhere.  However, I remember my father-in-law, from Ohio, used to love going to the coney restaurants when he came to visit because they didn't have them.

    As a side note, I realized the timing of this whole "date" was meant to be.  The week I planned it II had just recently found an envelope in my mom's things while cleaning up her condo.  The envelope was marked "babysitting" and had over $100 in it.  I knew right away that it was the money we had given to my mom when she had watched our kids on various occasions.  We knew my mom could use the money and most times insisted on paying her for her time.  I decided the best thing to do would be to use that money on some kind of special date night for us.  The next day was when that "Groupon" came up...and there you have it! 
     As the afternoon went on, we were getting colder and colder as we occasionally walked to the different locations instead of waiting for the shuttle buses.  We were trying to squeeze in a couple more stops before the event was over.  After talking to some people, we soon realized that the "Sky Bar" was one of the best stops so we hustled to get there as our last stop.
     We were soooo glad we made it!  They offered some nice drinks, nice atmosphere and a great view of the City.  It was a great place to end our "Detroit Detour".
     Here you can see Comerica Park (home of the Detroit Tigers) in the background...in December!

Below is a shot of the City where you can see the Detroit River and then Canada on the other side.

Here you can see Ford Field (home of the Detroit Lions) in the background...

As it was ending, people were starting to clear out and we got this great seat with a view and relaxed for awhile.

     Detroit gets a bad reputation, but there are many fabulous things about it.  I hope by the time my kids have kids, it will be back to being the best it can be!!
     After a long day of running around "bar hopping" as though we were two "youngsters", we took a cab and settled in for a nice quiet dinner at Wolfgang Puck's located in the nearby MGM Grand Hotel and Casino. 

We weren't terribly hungry, so we just shared one of Wolfgang's yummy pizzas...
a little more vino... 

and a yummy dessert!!!!

     At dinner, I told my hubby, "Mr. Living" (ha!) about the babysitting money I had found my mom had tucked away in her drawer.  By the end of the night, I realized it did that money covered our entire fabulous date with just a couple dollars to spare, and I thought to myself "Thanks, Mom" -- we had a good time!!!!