Friday, October 23, 2020

Clearing up a Misconception for Alaskans

 It is imperative to discuss this small issue before sharing anything further. It is sad some can be so mistaken, unenlightened even. THIS is NOT Winter. 

By the way of proof I offer these facts: 1. The calendar! It is OCTOBER.  October is fall. Have you never heard of Oktoberfest???  2. Yes, I do see the snow...but have you noticed the leaves ON TOP OF THE SNOW?  It is my contention if the leaves are on top of the snow - they are still falling and it is fall. If the leaves are UNDER the snow, I will admit winter is here....but not one single, solitary minute sooner. 

Alaskan Fall Colors

I have noticed Michael turned on our "winter" lights - why settle for Christmas lights when they can burn from mid-Oct to mid-Feb? I don't believe he turned them on because it's winter, I believe it's because he knows how I love them. 

With that settled, let's move on....Dad's OT came again today. The attitude WAS different. I think she'll always check charts before offering opinions in the future. I hope. In any event, she was much more agreeable and I was not on edge. Dad enjoyed the visit. She told me she believes our home is the best place for Dad to be and she just worries I am going to throw my back out. 

Stacia and I took Millie out for a nice fall romp in the snow. She LOVES it. 

Again - leaves on TOP of the snow - obviously Fall

Dad took a long, cozy, fall nap. 

Nolan and Alex both had the day off. Michael took them out for Bible study/lunch. 

Stacia and I watched MacGyver and ate Christmas crack. 

About the time Michael made it home Aaron showed up. They erected a tent, and are warming the ground up....concrete tomorrow? Ramp next week. 

Josiah called. He, Carrie and Olivia came out to share pizza with us. Krista has been at an ASIST Train the Trainer on base all week. She got home and added to the merriment. 

Dad was ready for bed when Cy and Crew left. It's been a fun day. He is feeling MUCH better.  He's been using the walker most of the day....

Take Care of Yourself Too

"Take care of yourself, too." 

Wise words, difficult to implement in this season. 😏

I have identified a few routines I preform for MY wellness....time with Jesus in the morning, working out, Bible study with Stacia, Zoom meeting focused on this crazy wellness journey I'm on, and really all those tea and lunch/church dates, were self-care for this extrovert.... Tea/lunch/church dates flew off the calendar immediately. A workout "routine" has been difficult to establish in this season. I need a chunk of time when someone else is interacting with Dad, or he is sleeping. At this point I simply grab whatever time I can as the day progresses - works well some days and not at all on others.  I've played with early workouts, as I can read my Bible later in the day....but the solitude, prayer, meditation when the household is up is a bit different.  Nothing is natural and easy just now. Basically, I need a day with MORE morning hours and less middle hours. πŸ˜‚I KNOW I have to get a grip on this. I have 2 diagnostic tests, a wisdom tooth removal, and labs which need scheduling, and have for months.  Every time I plan to run in and get labs, or make that mammogram appointment,  someone else has an appointment, or the day gets away from me. A wise friend told me (weeks ago) to commit to simply making one appointment a week...not going to it - just making it. I am stymied when they ask, "What is a good day and time for you?" 

There is no good day or time.πŸ½πŸ˜…πŸ½

I'm a morning person. I tend to go to the gym, schedule labs and doc appointments for the first appointment of the day.....but to do that now someone else has to be up with Dad - Michael is NOT a morning person and I don't want Stacia to handle Dad's morning "constitution."  

Nevertheless, I don't have to be at the top of the list, but I'd best get me ON THE LIST. 🐽

Arielle is good to ask me, "Have you gotten out of the house? What have you done for self-care?" 

I told her I take Alex to work at 0445. She seems to think doing something for another doesn't count as self-care. I'm going to have to contemplate that idea a bit more. I think it "could."  Or it could be both "for another" and "for me." 

In any event BIBLE STUDY OUT for Stacia and I surely counts as self-care. 

Michael got up at 0900 yesterday so Stacia and I could get out of the house for our Bible study. It was heavenly. It got me out. And intentional time with Stacia is on my priority list. Win/win. I appreciated him making this happen for us. 

I'm not 100% sure it fits the definition of  "selfish self-care." 🐽Maybe? 

BUT this certainly does! While Michael and I dealt with our missing checking account, Stacia got busy in the kitchen. She got out a letter from Krista and made... "Christmas Saltines" , "Fake Toffee..." I'm not sure what they are called. She read the letter and laughed, and then made the treat. She also put on CHRISTMAS MUSIC - blaring from the living room. 

She  invited me to self-care! I should have been "working the list," but I needed to sit. 

I got out one of my special birthday tea cups - Mom gave me beautiful cups once a year for years. 

Stacia made a 1/2 batch of SUGAR FREE goodness! We learned the sugar free chocolate and "sugar" tends to melt at a lower temp/time. 

Tea parties are always times of remembering for me - even when I invite others over and don't discuss the "pretties." The tablecloth is Mom G's. The tea cups are birthday cups from my Mom. The teaspoons are from Gram's silver. The platters of treats are from Japan. The teapot is my newest - a Christmas gift from my boyfriend in my favorite color. The drinks: hot chocolate mix I've made for gift giving. Stacia has taken on the job of keeping the jar full for every day family use. The tea - Sugar Free Chai. The recipe is from Louise, co-host at the Hospitality House at Travis AFB. It's a top secret recipe and reminds me of the bravery God birthed in me through the process of speaking at TWOC's retreat. I call it Hospitality Tea...sometimes, depending on the day, I call it Hospital Tea. EVERY element of this break is steeped in meaningful memories. 
Yes, SUGAR FREE and wonderful! Certainly NOT Calorie free. 

Stacia's tray of treats...still lots left as Benny and GG both ate the sugar free later in the day. I may have indulged in a bit more than my fair share too. πŸ˜›

As we sipped our cuppas, I shared memories of Gram's, Dad's Mom, Mom G, and Mom...we talked about character, personal holiness, and perseverance. We talked of women who left a legacy, a mark in our lives. I emerged with determination to leave a godly legacy as these women have for me. It was a refreshing break in the middle of the day. It's one of those "houseful" techniques I learned which serves me well in this season....Sleep or work when baby naps.... a tea break in the middle of a busy household is heavenly. It pulls us together, it centers and grounds us. 

Tea time certainly can be labeled as self-care. I was known to write about these breaks as "sanity breaks" back in the day when the house was full of preschoolers and young adults. 

This morning my 0530 zoom meeting was interrupted by the cow bell. It's been our dinner bell through the kids' growing up years when I discovered I preferred a resounding cow bell to yelling across the neighborhood for children. It sits on dad's nightstand now and gives him assurance he can be heard from anywhere in the house (or yard for that matter).  NOT THE ZOOM meeting....I began to slide into attitude and then I saw these photos ready to blog....ah, the memory of a tea party. Delightful self-care. Commitment to legacy. My heart is to walk this season well.  

A simple cuppa tea can open doors of conversation, relaxation, healing and refreshing. 

A simple cuppa tea can accomplish much! 

Thursday, October 22, 2020



"Baachan, you walked right past me!" 

"You're right, Benny, I did." 

Benny was shocked, and a bit indignant, I could walk right past him and not say a word. I knew it was time to set aside "the list" and play...because some things take making memories with a grandson. 

Today was the first day this week without a single scheduled health worker in our home. It was nice. I was able to get the floors mopped, a yummy dinner made, 2 appointments made for Dad, talk with the pharmacist about our ongoing struggles to sort out meds, cancel Rocket Lawyer,  Bible study with was a good day.  

Dad is feeling better. We discovered this means we need to be even more diligent about keeping eyes on him. I caught him somewhere between the bed/chair and the floor 3x today. At one point I just helped him slowly slide to the floor and we were thankful, once again, Michael is home to help get him off the floor. He voiced his fear we'll get tired of taking care of him. I assured him that isn't the case. I voiced my fear another fall will put him back in the hospital and we may not get him out. We WANT him to do all he can do, but at this point his legs are prone to give out unexpectedly (which is what happened all 3x) so it is wise to have someone nearby while he works to get stronger. He's  STILL recuperating from the last fall in the facility on Oct 4th. I would hate more falls to set him back again. We want him pain free to concentrate on getting stronger.  

Dad called Benny.....and this afternoon...look who showed up at our home! BenNEEEY...and Arielle too. LOL  The first order of the day was to help GG shave....GG saved this task to do with Benny. 

Next, I prodded GG into going outside on the deck. Soon, we'll be able to wheel him into the yard....but today he was content to watch from the deck. 

Snow in the boots - it gets to the best of us, Benny. 

"Should I? In the winter?"

"I think, yes!"

GG  lobbed a few snowballs...and here comes Benny, up the stairs, with a handful of snow. LOL He had so much fun nailing GG that he turned on all of us. 

 Getting "Honey and baby." 

He's excited to throw snow at me....and I was excited to catch a photo of the action. He has Baachan's full attention now. 

CoRielle went out last night to try to catch the Northern Lights. They didn't see any, but they saw some great stars. We don't see stars all summer/ has to be dark to enjoy the stars. It IS such a joy to note them shining again. Benny was impressed. He burst out, "God is AmAAAzing! But Papa made 3 of them." 

Yes, Papa, my boyfriend - the maker of stars, bridges and moose.  Papa worked on a few less impressive projects today. He dug out the pea gravel so our contractor can lay a pad and get a ramp built for us. 

He worked on the burn pile. 

WHO is this???? 

The wood-hauling season has begun. 

It seems the bank closed one of our checking accounts. Michael was verifying I was correct in thinking our account is missing. They are mailing us a check for the balance. None of it made sense to us. 

Stacia baked some goodies - while Christmas music blared through the house - another post to follow. Stacia has an adorable way of getting into her baking. I've always been able to tell what she is baking by checking out her! 

It was a great day....we ended the day with a rousing round of Farkle - WHICH I WON HANDILY!

I think in the future I will try to schedule these days with NO ONE coming in every Wednesday or's a nice breather in the midst of unplanned scheduling. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Dignity, Safety, Choices and Family Care

 Woo boy! It's cold out there! It's ice-scraping weather. It's so cold I have to warm the clasp on Millie's leash in my hand before I can open it.  

INSIDE, however, is toasty warm.  Michael began our first fire of the season last night and between the two of us tending to the sleep patterns in the home, we were able to keep the fire going as well. I do love a blaze in the morning.... In previous winters I sat in the rocking chair by the stove and enjoyed my cuppa tea and Scriptures. I had to move the rocker due to walker, wheel chair and oxygen concentrator...but the fire is still cheery. 

There is not a lot of fun and interesting things to blog about tonight...but I have been contemplating a few things, perhaps I'll just indulge myself and share my musings. 

Yesterday, Tuesday, Dad had an intake with home health physical therapy. It became apparent if I'd toughen up, he IS able to do more than I was requiring. LOL  The therapist ignored the faces and groans  I give in to.....and so today we used the walker more than the wheelchair. He didn't walk far, and always with one of us right there...he does tend to tire all of a sudden and would fall without us there to get between him and the floor...but it was huge progress. I am thankful for the PT's who will be in our home twice weekly. 

Today, Wednesday, a new OT came to the house. She had a different attitude than the others have had, this pulled out a different tone in my response.  I'm praying to walk in more love on Friday. She accused me of discounting Dad's pain and dignity...and quite frankly, this is just not true. 

She changed several things - which didn't make sense to me.  (Deleted another paragraph) I asked if she had access to others notes in Dad's records. She said she did.  If she had READ Dad's file before she came to see us, she should have seen  his history of falls, his underlying diagnosis of dementia, the fact I had called two of their nurses on Monday to discuss the pain Dad was expressing and what I'd been told to do about it, the fact a nurse and PT had both been out and inspected the care we are giving Dad and feel it is the best place for him to be.  She told me to change elements of Dad's care (use of gait belt, exercises, MEDS). 

She called 10 minutes after leaving. It seems she had NOT read Dad's file before the visit and I should keep doing what I was doing and Dad should not do any lifting over his head. (I have deleted another couple of paragraphs, we were aware of the limitations due to surgery).  I am hopeful the "tone" and "attitude" (of both of us) is different when she returns on Friday. We aren't sure dad needs OT - he simply needs to build strength to be independent. We considered telling the company we were waiving OT. In the end Dad felt it may be the only job she can get and we should give her another chance. ::snort::  Since I am already fighting the perception of being a trouble maker by removing Dad from the nursing facility early....I'll play nicely. 

I am noting trends as we walk through this season. For some "dignity" seems to be the priority in care for the elderly.  I agree. And yet,  dignity is defined by how THEY as a 30 - 50 yo would feel about the situation.  This is flawed as a 50 yo would not react the same as a 79 yo. Another key fact is NOT ALL ELDERS WILL FEEL THE SAME. Past experiences and expectations will come into play.  It seems to be the accepted norm in America, that it is more "dignified" to have strangers care for you than family. People take out policies to pay for long term nursing facility care. I get that and it is probably a wise move - but I think we've forgotten how generations before us cared for the elderly in America. As a child, I knew a few families who had grandparents living with them. Dignity matters.  Safety needs to be considered as well ....and I think safety is sacrificed for the sake of dignity, i.e. no restraints, daughters not taking care of fathers etc. 

Our choices are not the only choices and are certainly not a benchmark for choices other families make. However, we are NOT discounting Dad's desires or dignity. He wants to be home. He wants to be cared for by family rather than strangers. We chat with him about shared memories, we play games, we read the paper together, we follow politics together (oy vey - MERCY), we hug him, we help him. He needs 24/7 supervision. We arrange our sleep and waking schedules to provide it. He is able to do more and more for himself, but he needs someone in line of sight when he does these things. We are happy to provide this.  He needs to learn what is safe in his current condition. It IS caring and respecting of his dignity to help him learn those limitations...rather than let him suffer repeated falls. 

Independence. Honestly, I think for 30 - 50 yo this is a BIG DEAL. We do NOT want to rely on others - for anything.  Dad has been independent. He is happy to have family he can depend on in this season. 

I understand many in America would rather have strangers care for them than family....we are blessed  Dad has been exposed to many cultures, as have we. In every other country we have lived in the norm is to accept the elderly into your home unless it is absolutely not feasible to do so. Honoring your elders includes caring for them at the end of life.  To put them in the care of another, when you CAN provide the care, would be considered shameful and undignified. 

Yes, we bless dad. BUT Dad BLESSES US. We are being formed into the image of Christ as we interact as a family. 

Yes, having Dad here disrupts family rhythm. Yes, we've lost some space. Yes, it's work...but by enfolding Dad into our family, we've all grown. I'm a little less self-centered (and I dare say I'm not the only one). We've had the incredible blessing of our grandchildren knowing their GREAT grandfather. We learn patience and endurance as we watch dad deal with ever-changing health issues. We learn, sometimes, stubbornness is just plain needed. We learn forgiveness and restoration. We learn a bit more about what it means to, "Honor your Father and Mother."  Mary wanted to stay home - honoring meant moving to her town and caring for her. Dad was willing to move into our home. The heart to love and honor remains the same - the choices may look different. We learn to work closely with each other, to watch out for each other, and to care for each other.  As an example, Stacia had youth group tonight. Michael and I had a meeting.  Nolan and Alex are happy to forego sleep (work comes at 0430) on Wed nights to watch movies with GG.  We don't stay and visit, but get home so the guys can get to bed. We are learning new levels of cooperation and care for one another, as we care for Dad. 

Dad loves us, and we are able to give back that love. This season is a gift. I wish all his health care professionals could see the gift, rather than a set of protocols they've decided are "right" for all elderly. Dad is happy, loved, respected, valued, honored, and cared for - here in the midst of family. He is an integral part of our family unit. He brings value to our lives. We bring value to his. 

One "lesson" I've learned in the past week is how Mike's PD disability rating is a blessing in this season.  We could never provide the care Dad needs without both of us home. I've heard "it takes a village," and it does...but we should never discount the importance of the family unit in that village...or even the family unit as a village. 

OK - I DID delete many paragraphs...but this is where I am on this Wednesday night. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Just Tuesday

 I believe the highlight of my day was lumpia for dinner - the ultimate comfort food. 

Millie has been CRAZY today. She began barking early....I checked and she was moose watching. 

I got Dad settled in the bathroom and ran to take care of a few tasks. The barking got frantic. Do you see the problem? 

Her leash is caught under Dad's wheel! LOL  She also barked to let us know Aaron had dropped off lumber. She barked to alert us to the Physical Therapist, and there was lots of random barking when she wanted to get out in the snow, and when the woodpecker showed up.  

We woke to cold showers! It seems the OTHER water heater went out...Mike was able to get it started. One recent development is Stacia has a job! She works one afternoon a week (and the odd shift) at a local Greek Cafe. She needed to get to work today. Mike sat with Dad while she and I headed to the gym for WARM SHOWERS. Stacia is now the master of all sorts of new types of drinks. 

Dad was going down for a nap when I got home. I actually got a work out in!!! 

The PT was here today and put Dad through his paces.  The therapist agrees a realistic goal is for dad to walk independently with his walker....He loved my "motivational wall art." 

Um...we call that scribbling verses on a mirror.

Contrary to what I was told by previous social workers, if Dad is making rehab progress with his therapy Medicare will keep paying for it. The ball is in Dad's court. If he wants to improve, he'll have to work hard, but they'll pay to continue to work with him as long as he is improving.  I'm relieved to know he will not be cut off after 8 visits if there is still a possibility of improvement. 

OT comes tomorrow. 

Everyone was home for dinner. I'd forgotten to thaw any meat for dinner.  I DID have some freezer bits to pull out and we ended up with a meal of sorts. Krista is attending an ASIST train the trainer training at JBER this week. (Pretty impressive use of the root word train, don't you think?) This is a great opportunity for her as a reservist. 

That's about it for the day - nothing terribly interesting happening around here. LOL 

Monday, October 19, 2020

How Am I REALLY Doing?

 Several have asked me how I "really" am doing. 

This is a TOTALLY new season. I have enjoyed older children, the freedom to meet ladies for tea and lunch, the ability to take a day here and there and go play all day....I have abruptly left that season behind. 

I wasn't prepared for it to feel so overwhelming - but it's territory I remember. It's like those crazy, twilight days when  you bring your first newborn home and wonder, "What did we think we were doing to be trusted with a newborn?" One is on call 24/7 alert. Another depends deeply on you. Sleep is interrupted.  New routines have to be developed. Life begins to center around home.  One finds ways to entertain AT HOME and counts the minutes until a spouse or child comes home to help. ::snort:: 

In the same way, my sleep is short.  I cram every task I can into the hours when Dad naps. Until the ramp is built I really can't take Dad out, it is quite a bit of work to take him out right now anyway. My muscles ache as I do a lot of lifting to enable Dad to "stand" and "move."  I've not been able to accept invitations to play.   His discharge papers state he needs to receive 24/7 supervision.  Now, he was not in 24/7 line of sight in the center....

Millie loves to grab wood from the woodbox

We quickly realized the biggest fall danger dad has is his certainty he CAN walk.  The solution is simply to have someone with him when he is awake.  If  I duck out while he is reading the paper, he is apt to forget and decide he can walk "that little bit." I've caught him several times just as he began to fall.  Twice when grandkids were here he stood up without assistance. I love that - but still one of us needs to be near in case we are needed. He has horrendous bruises from all the falls he has taken.  The hope and prayer is he WILL eventually be able to walk around home, with no assistance other than a walker. Currently, he needs one of us to have him in our sight when he is awake.

I am perplexed. In all the scenarios discussed with the heart surgeon, Dad being unable to move without assistance wasn't mentioned. We continue to pray for Dad's complete recovery. He IS in better spirits here at home. I don't see an improved quality of life resulting from the quadruple bypass. I see the opposite...but he still has 3 1/2 months before he reaches the magical 6 month post-surgery mark. This is the point where they consider he will have reached the level of recovery we can expect.  

At home the evenings end with Farkle and MacGyver.  That beats the nursing center any night according to Dad. 

Yes, we're tired. Yes, the days are long. Yes, there are challenges. But this is family. We are blessed to have Dad at home. We are blessed to have such ready ministry at our fingertips. This matters too. 

And Then There Were Apples!

 This week there were apples!!!!  In the end there were 40 quarts of applesauce, 6 bags of dried apples,  3 bags of apple chips, and one tray of fruit roll ups. 

But first....there was this.

I have been waiting for apples on sale for .99, but I caved. I am not sure we're going to see them that cheap this year. These were YUMMY....and $1.79 a lb. I bought 5 cases - 100 lbs - $179 dollars....I didn't save a lot of money processing them myself...but they are all added sugar free. Dad likes to eat applesauce, Stacia and I use it in our oatmeal, and we replace oil with it as well in some baking recipes. 

I spent  12 hours on Friday making sauce and canning, canning, canning. I WILL FIND A SECOND CANNER BEFORE NEXT YEAR.  I also started a dehydrator load of fruit roll ups and apples drying.   Krista provided me a burst of energy when she got home and began helping....and then she got GG involved. 

Saturday and Sunday I finished the apple slices....we turned 4 cases into sauce and used 1 case for the rest.  One reason I caved on buying apples is the BOXES are great for storing our potato harvest.  But then I've not written about the garden or the big harvests this year yet.....

Note - this is the first time I used the Victorio Food Strainer. The waste spout broke. I've ordered a new part. I'm going to have to look for one with MEDAL parts...and the little motor to add to this is looking better all the time. Though I DID get a bit of an arm workout in. LOL 

Sunday, October 18, 2020

"Baby Snow"

Cory works on Sundays and Arielle and Benny often visit. I suspected, with the snow, they'd be over to play at Baachan's Playground. They made it home before the others got home from church. 

He noticed IMMEDIATELY GG's Mickey Mouse shirt. Score. GG wasn't so sure when I suggested he wear it today. I told him I bought it for him JUST for the grands who are all totally INTO Mickey. 

Dad acquired a stack of National Geographic Magazines during his time away. I put them in the front room and there are some amazing photos. Benny enjoyed looking at the photos...

He was quick to notice Baachan needed a little help. 

Benny went outside this morning and labeled the snow "Baby snow," but he did note it was cold. I meant to make it outside to play with them, but as often happens these days, something came up, one thing led to another and by the time I could break free....they were coming back inside. LOL  Thanks to Arielle for sharing some photos. 

Poor little guy had big emotions today. Mama began preparing his room for the addition of a new brother. Change can be hard for all of us. 

I was happy to have the outside visit today!