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!!!!


Monday Memories With My Mom

The Adventures of Caring for a Mom With Alzheimer's Disease
    This week I was glad to see my mom seeming a little more like herself.  In fairness, I really think you have to take into consideration the long winter, the people and struggles she sees and experiences on a daily basis, and the fact that she has not been outside in months.  A definite recipe for some SAD (seasonal affective disorder). 
     I knew I wanted to get my mom's hair trimmed, so I made a last minute appointment at the salon in the building.  It seems to primarily cater to the "assisted living" part of the community, but I'm not sure what my other options really are and for now, it's okay.  You can probably barely tell her hair is trimmed, but I can. 

     Coincidentally, my brother sent me a text about ten minutes before I was going to head over to my mom's to tell me that he was also headed there.  He had the day off, but it was rare for him to go in the morning and even less common for both of us to be there at the same time (typically we try to spread the love by staggering our visits).  We had a chance to chat a bit while my mom was getting her hair styled and then we went down to the "Pub" area and he shared some of his recent Florida vacation photos with my mom.
     I have noticed this before, but my mom seems to enjoy listening to me and my brother talk.  She rarely has much to add, but once in awhile she does.  It's hard because I feel like we are ignoring her, but really it's just difficult for her to engage in the conversation, and she does seem to enjoy hearing about the things that she is able to understand.  (I just realized how my brother looks so tan next to my mom!)

     Recently, one of my mom's cousins contacted me to see how my mom was doing.  I do my best to keep her friends posted, but it is mainly through this blog.  I realized early on that I would not be able to keep in touch with everyone on her behalf the way she used to.  This cousin lives in northern Michigan and told me about some of the good memories she has shared with my mom through the years.  In the past, my mom has always been the bridge between me and her cousins, so without her being able to keep in touch with and make those more distant connections it can be difficult.  Her cousin, Karen, also fell victim to the "returned mail" problem that seems to be intermittently occurring at the senior living community.  I did try to contact the post office about it, and was told the right person would call me back.  Never did.  One of life's little frustrations!!  So, I hand delivered three cards to my mom from Karen that she sent to me.  My mom definitely remembered her cousin Karen and her husband and enjoyed the cards and the messages made her smile!!

     After the hair appointment, my brother had to leave, but I had planned to stay with my mom and read through the cards for awhile. 
     Not long after, it was time for her lunch.  It has been awhile since I have sat with her at lunchtime as I know I am a distraction.  To say she can be easily distracted is an understatement.  She is very interested in watching everyone else and not as interested in eating as I would like.  Most days, the staff prompts her and many of the others, but when I am there I do the prompting.  They asked her if she wanted chicken or macaroni and cheese.  She said macaroni and cheese.  Her plate had the mac and cheese, peas and a dinner roll which they buttered for her.  I thought she would dive right into the mac and cheese, but instead she went straight for the peas (which I didn't even know she liked).  The process was painstakingly slow and to say it was a miracle that the peas didn't fall off her fork would be an understatement.  I prompted her numerous times throughout her meal.  Although it was excruciatingly slow, I am grateful she does still eat and is able to feed herself.  Many of the residents barely eat at all despite the CNAs best efforts and "tricks" to get them to.  Oh, and a nice piece of spice cake was placed on the table out of my mom's reach.  Once I was convinced she had eaten all she was going to eat I gave her the cake.  Hmmmm, she was able to eat the cake at a much quicker pace!!!  Thank goodness for sweets and my mom's love of them!!
     As another side note, you may recall that I've been on quite the "Still Alice" movie bandwagon.  You can read more about that here.  As an update, I am absolutely thrilled to tell you the movie is now showing at the majority of my local theatres (check your local listings!).  It must have gotten picked up after the Academy Awards and perhaps thanks to Julianne Moore's Best Actress win!!!!  I immediately declared a Saturday morning matinee field trip to the theatre, this time with my husband and kids.  I just really wanted them to see it even though they have perhaps more real life experience with it than perhaps many people.  Jacob kept asking, "is it going to be sad"?  All I can say is it's realistic, despite only having the time to show a fraction of what living with Alzheimer's Disease is like. 
I am relieved the movie has finally made it to the local theatres, and am glad I had the opportunity to see it with my family!!