Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Wedding Clothes and New Tricks

I can tell, until the wedding arrives, each and every day is going to have far too many things planned to actually accomplish! ::snort::

I booked us into an RV park up the highway for our next week. I called around looking for extended stay options. I think I've found a place in January - it's further away from the VA clinic than we want to be, and more money than we wanted to pay, but it's available.

The boys had Japanese tests today....they made 95% and 96%. Yep, I AM proud of them. Japanese is hard.

Stacia, Michael and I visited Mom G across town. Michael brought some things from her home that will make her stay here more comfortable.  We set a spell too.

Next, we headed to Valley River Center and bought Michael some wedding duds. They assure us they will be shipped to my moms in a week. I hope so - the wedding is in 11 days. They didn't have the size suit coat that he needs and recommended we get the pants and jacket together to make sure they match.
Poor Bella appears to have a foot growing from her head

Our final stop of the day (though it wasn't planned to be our final stop) was at BreZaak's. Our visit served three important purposes: 1. We needed to drop off a couple of cruise gifts with them, 2. We haven't seen Izaak yet on this trip and 3. Bella learned a new trick - she crawls FORWARD. We needed to see this new trick of our baby girl.

We got home in time for me to get veggie pot pie in the "oven" and for Michael to proof a paper for Arielle.

We did not make it to my parents. I did not get all the buckeyes dipped and another kind of cookie baked. We did not get any repairs or mods done here at the RV.

Dinner is done and the Veggie Pot Pie turned out PERFECT in the micro/convection. This renews my hope. It would seem I need to ignore the instructions in the manual about cooking time and lower temps and just use normal temps and times.  I may try the wedding Crack Brownies again.

But for tonight we are finally going to do that one thing that means Christmas season is here for us....we're going to watch The Muppet Christmas Carol. "Light the lamp, not the rat!"

Monday, December 05, 2016


Stacia and I made the centers for 12 dozen Buckeyes....tomorrow we'll dip them all.  

We also tried this Peanut Butter Cup Crack Brownie  recipe....and they are good...but as you can see my micro/convection oven never did BAKE the brownies. Grrr.....The kids still love them and I do think if I remembered to put the aluminum foil down and went and used a REAL oven - these have wedding potential.  I welcome any tips on baking with a micro/convection oven. The biscuits worked - didn't brown but DID bake. The pizza was doughy in the center. The brownies you can see....I have no oven. I need to figure this out.

I had a nice talk with one of the camp hosts. He stopped to see how Stacia and I were doing. I haven't a clue how he knew the guys were gone. He is a retired, disabled, Desert Storm Army vet. The guys are home! They accomplished a lot and brought things up Mom G needs for her unexpected stay in OR. Thank God for families...for the way it is working out that we need to get care in the same town where Michael's sister lives and we can still visit with Mom G. It will make this transition much easier for the kids.

Parkinson's Update

Some have read between the lines and sensed another plot adjustment in our ongoing saga.

Several months ago, the therapists Michael was referred to by the Motion Disorder Clinic in Portland, recommended they see him weekly and/or 2-3x a week. We explained that was impossible. We settled on monthly. Before our cruise the speech/swallowing therapist made clear she felt we were wasting a window of potential in fighting the progression of Michael's Parkinson's symptoms.  We understood, but saw no way out of our situation. We were needed in Crescent City.

I reported Michael's week at the VA last week - 5 appointments in 4 days. It was noted  some muscle tone was taking an unwanted turn. The physical therapist said she would be much happier to see Michael weekly. She feels he would benefit more at this point from more frequent torture in person.

 The  first of two  appointments with the speech therapist this week consisted of her spending 45 minutes explaining to us exactly WHY she felt so strongly Michael should be seen 2 - 3x a week and why she felt we needed to leave CA and stay in OR. He is already aspirating and having trouble with swallowing. This will progress. We can try to control the speed of progression with intensive therapy. If we wait 6 months, a year or two....well pureed food doesn't sound desirable...and once muscle tone or nerve function is lost - it's not replaced. She was very blunt and pointed. She told us we needed to think about MICHAEL and quit putting everyone else's needs first.

She asked, "Why is this decision so hard for you?"

We explained our family world view. We serve. Michael's career was about putting others above self. He does the same as a father and husband - a good one. It's not natural to begin to put yourself first in all decisions.

She finally pulled out the big guns - one several of these VA docs have pulled in the past year. "Chaplain, if someone came into your office and had a degenerative disease, was showing increasing symptoms and had a window to try to slow the progression....but was taking care of his mother...and still had children at home, was fairly young himself and was risking losing function that would not be regained,  what would you advise?"


Via Google Images
Michael puts it in river terms. Once the bank erodes, you'll never get the dirt back. By agreeing to this season of intense therapy we are reinforcing the remaining bank.....if we continue to ignore their recommendations, we will continue to watch the bank erode. Michael is too young for us to be willing to watch the bank erode without a fight!

We aren't sure how this is all going to work out, but we know we have to make the most of this window. We have to do what the docs have been encouraging. We have to make Michael's health our priority.

What this looks like in December is we're all up here in Oregon. Mom G is staying with Michael's sister.  We are busy with therapy (and  will only get busier), we plan to go visit with Mom G during the days. We have a wedding and Christmas. We're figuring this out as we go.

We have agreed we need to make a season of intensive therapy our priority right now.

We are currently in a county park. We are only allowed to stay here 14 days every 30 days. We are not finding a good spot for an extended stay, but we'll keep looking and we are set up to be able to live on the side of a road if need be for 16 days out of the month.πŸ˜‰  We leave this park on the 10th and are looking at local options.

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Settling in to the Season

After church Stacia and I had lunch with my parents, Lorri and CoRielle.  Dad went home, CoRielle went wedding shopping, Stacia and I took Mom and Lorri with us to Target. We had a few more "move in" items to take care of.....I'm looking for a basket/box/crate/something for the front end for shoes. I bought an under the bed storage thing, but I don't like the way it looks and will take it back and keep searching. We also bought a cartload of baking supplies for our upcoming wedding baking.  Christmas decorations and a new comforter set rounded out the shopping. I just can't live with ALL brown.  I think this works with the brown swirly window coverings....

We trimmed our "LIVE (as in rooted) tree,"  played with window clings and hung our little thrift store hats. LOL 

Need to find a candle...left the big front window blank 

THEN, we cuddled up on the couch with popcorn and watched Gilmore Girls until 1:30 a.m. We're done with Season 1.  We aren't overly fond of the "kissing parts," but we are enjoying it so far.  It was fun to be able to watch chick flicks.

Michael and the boys are BUSY down south and will be back tomorrow night.

Saturday, December 03, 2016

Girl Time

Last night Krista and CoRielle dropped by the RV.  Stacia went home early with Krista. They sent me this photo. Can you believe such a big, full tree for $20? Stacia had a blast decorating. 

Michael and CoRielle talked through the upcoming wedding ceremony.

This morning Arielle introduced Stacia to the world of janitors as they cleaned a local church. They also did a few wedding errands. While they were out, Krista made buckeyes and then she and Stacia went to their church's cookie exchange.

Michael and I had a wonderful lunch with his sister. We stopped by her house to pick up Mom G's car. Michael and the boys are running down to CA to pick up a few things for Mom and be sure the house  (and a neighbor's house we watch) are ready for the weeks we'll be up here.

Stacia and I drove around and looked at Christmas lights. 

Lots of friends have been surprised I've never seen a Gilmore Girls episode. Stacia and I are spending our quiet nights while the boys are gone watching Gilmore Girls. ::wink::

Friday, December 02, 2016

Bearded Gherkin

Beards are a serious matter in this family. The elder Gherkin males have grown them....which led to Nolan growing a "wow" beard at a young age. He ALWAYS passes for much older than his age. Alex is 14. He has been alternating between clean shaven - Duck Dynasty...

Today, Alex said he was going to go shave his beard....and I had a sudden realization.
"Alex, do you know how to trim your beard?" 

"Um, Nooo." 

"Would you like to trim it, rather than shave it all the way off." 

Yes, he would. 

Michael showed him the finer points and turned him loose. He's newly shorn and will be spiffy for the wedding. 

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Errands in a 38 ft Motor Home

Michael's  fifth and final appointment of the week at the Eugene VA Clinic. We really like his care team and this clinic. We were asked again if we'd acted on recommendation - we will, we will.

Michael is trying to do a few repairs.  We knew the drain in the bathroom was showing some rust. It is also leaking a bit. He bought a drain and it had an overflow and won't work. He's been looking all over town to find the drain that WILL work. We also needed to fill our propane tank - and it's attached to the motor home.  Appointments were over at 0900. We were relieved to have more time in Eugene, where we have a better chance of finding the parts we need. Off we went to 1. fill the tank and 2. check out a couple of RV parks as we can only stay here 14 days.

Doesn't everyone take along their Christmas tree in the kitchen sink when they run errands????

 We filled the propane tank, weighed the motor home now that we have everything in it, stopped and talked to the owners at a local RV park, I called several others while Michael ran into RV Supply, we also went to Camping World - neither place had the drain we need. He did get a new water filter for the kitchen sink. We were hoping it would increase the water pressure. It didn't, but the water tastes wonderful.

The kids made dinner.

They settled in to stream a Netflix flick. The new TV is wonderful. While they did this Michael and I hung the remaining photos et al. YES - I'm a military spouse at heart - you move; you organize and you hang the photos quickly. Day 5 and we're all settled, pictures hung....now we can work on the modifications and repairs.
Loving the living area
We found the kids relaxing when we finished..... 

Played Farkle - I won in my sleep again. Alex won the second game. 

We're ending the day with books....and plans for tomorrow, the first day without any appointments at the VA clinic.