Thursday, June 30, 2016


Monday, I took Little K to VBS, knowing he would love all the fun activities and learning about Jesus.  On the way home, he stated "Jesus is mean!"
"Um, what are you talking about?  Jesus loves us and cares for us greatly!"
"Well, He told Zacheus that he couldn't play in the tree anymore and had to get out!" Little K stated.

Needless to say, we went back over that event and made sure he was clear on what really happened.


Day one and lego hand is forming
Two weeks ago, I had my first surgery for Carpal Tunnel.  Youngest has been so impressed with my Wolverine scar and my Lego positioned hand.  Not what I was thinking when he asked to see it, but the humor was welcome. 

I decided to watch some of my old DVR shows, after having carpal tunnel surgery two weeks ago.  I happen to be  watching one from Christmas  from the Hallmark Channel, when Youngest walked by and a Countdown to Christmas ad was playing.  "Are you kidding me Hallmark Channel!!!  It is not even the end of June!"
Paul and Tracy
Sunday, we attended a "sending off" to some dear young-at-heart, recently retired friends, Paul and Tracy, who are just the dearest.  Many people were there, telling stores, sharing a meal, and singing songs lead by Paul.  Tracy has been the biggest encourager to me in regards to surviving being a mom to boys, plus she loves to sew and do embroidery work on her machine.  I can't wait to hear of their new adventures as they travel the US.  There were not a lot of dry eyes, and my heart was aching a bit, but I'm thrilled for them.  After telling hugging Tracy, she looked at me and then at Youngest and laughed:
  "You know, the memory I will always laugh at with Youngest was during church.  He decided he wanted to sit with me during service, he must have been 3-4 years old.  Someone had made a hilarious comment during service and the auditorium was filled with so much laughter, but I looked down and he was completely stone faced.  So I asked him what was wrong and he said "I'm laughing inside my head."  I just lost it!  
I'd never heard that story before and was so thankful to hear it now.

Went to the Farmers Market this morning for some yummy corn and potatoes, and whileYoungest was buckling Little K back in his carseat... Little K said to him: "Don't mash my Peter." Lol!  Oh the joy of boys!!! 

Would you care to share a funny story that has happened lately?  Have you had a good belly laugh?  I'd love to hear it! 

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Update to a Privy

I've been itching to update the front bathroom (aka Kids' bathroom). Oldest had painted it many years ago and it looked like a teenage boy had painted it with a lack of finesse.  The week of my  hand surgery, I knew it was my only chance this summer. Our boys were at church camp, and Honey was spending a lot of time at work,  due to having to move to a different building before renovations begin.  I didn't tell them I was going to work on the bathroom, and since Honey never uses that bathroom, he had no idea!
removing backsplash
Monday, I began by ripping off an ugly wood shelf backspash trim (note the white spot) and brainstorming how to proceed.  Yes, I was going forward with no real concrete plan and leftover paint.  I wanted the walls to be an off white to lighten it up, but only had two cans of brown and white.  Mixed some brown to the white to achieve the cream I desired and painted away.  Next, was the issue of the ugly white space the back splash left, and with the leftover tile from our Kitchen reno, I decided to use it there.  I was a bit nervous at doing some tiling by myself, but knew Honey didn't have time, so I dove right in. It wasn't as hard as I thought it would be... 

 Of course, I still had Little K coming that week, so I worked between naps and downtime.  Sometimes he would play in the doorway as I worked.  As long as he was chattering away and playing in my sight, he was one happy kid.  His puppy, who comes with him (we absolutely love her), decided she needed to be in the middle of it as well. 
Little K
Hazel, the pup
There was a hole in the wall that Honey made to gain access to fix the water heater.  Spent three days spackeling and making that as smooth as possible.  That was hard for me, and Little K kept asking why I was putting pink stuff on the wall. 
Fixing a mess

a bit distressing
New pulls and knobs
Knowing the bathroom cabinets, trim, and door needed to be repainted, I mixed some of the white paint with the brown to achieve the right color, painted them and distressed them.  It takes no time at all and is really a bit of fun for me.  Just hope I got it right!  Only and I picked out drawer pulls and cabinet handles at Hobby Lobby on Monday, and hope to talk Honey into drilling the holes for me, since I can't lift over two pounds yet with my right hand. Shoot, I can't even brush my teeth with that hand yet! I'll update a picture once that is done.  Well, I attempted to find Honey's drill in the eh hem garage, but got frustrated with Honey's "keeper" side.  After a trip to the Farmer's Market for some fresh corn and potatoes from Crabtree Farms, we swung Lowes and I bought my own drill to keep in the house.  I'm pretty happy with my purchase and it was so easy to use.

Noticed when I was painting the walls, that the previous owner did NOT nail the trim boards on well and they easily came off.  Made for painting easier.  Now to ask Honey to add some nice trim that isn't so cheap and bulky.   It seems that Honey's Do List is growing steadily. 

framed Medicine cabinet

Last, I added an accent color to the mirror by using some of the left over paint from the kitchen reno and distressed it. Only thing left is to work on the light fixture over the sink area and the mirror frame for the small medicine cabinet. My dream for that, is to actually make it as a picture frame and take out the mirror since it is pretty useless in that corner. It may never happen, but it's a thought.
Distressed Mirror 

I love the distressed look, as it hides a multitude of imperfections and gives some character to an otherwise bland bathroom.  Boys came home from church camp that Friday and were totally shocked, but Honey  loves it.  Says it looks so much bigger and fresh, so all is well!

Monday, June 6, 2016

Ordinary Moments

Yep, I tried to eat a stick
Pulling a tractor
The weather during the last week of school was pretty nice, so we headed outside for some fun after naps.  I love watching the kids chase bubbles, pick clover and dandelions, and just play in the dirt. They do not really care that the toys are about 15 years old, but that they roll in the dirt.  With five kiddos to care for on most days, venturing outside is not always ideal, but watching them play makes it all worth it.  I love their laughter and dirty hands!  I do love my "mommas", as each is unique as her child.  Three are seasoned moms with an older child, and the others are learning that it's okay to say "no", set limits, routines are good, add some laughter and a few sweet teas, and all will be okay. Kinda...
Cutie Pie "L"

Honey and his supervisors
One of the "perks" of home ownership?  Searching for that hidden water pressure gauge installed back in 1994 that is now faulty and causing low water pressure.  I'm not sure who is more tired, the dogs watching us dig or Honey and I.    After digging for over an hour and only discovering some great fishing worms, a snake we accidentally cut in half, lots of mud, and only water pipes that seem to be going deeper into the ground, we gave up.   Guess we'll call the plumber tomorrow.

Wednesday, I got some contractor grade gravel to fill in the "pot holes" in our driveway.  It zapped my energy for the next few days, but it was worth it!  Do you have those projects that you put off, but desperately need to do?  This was one of them.  It was like riding a bucking horse pulling into our driveway!  
begging for attention
Poor Bandit is feeling the absence of Oldest, after he left for church camp and has desperately tried to distract me.  There are only so many times I can let the poor guy out for him to turn around and come back in.  I have a feeling he'll be sleeping close to me tonight!

Oldest and Youngest left for church camp today.  It's going to be a quiet week for us!  Honey has a ton going on at work with upcoming renovations and  moving to a temporary building this week.  Not sure I'll see him much.  This is my first summer in years to have some days off each week, as I will only have one child doing part time.  I'm so excited, but know my summer will get away from me quickly.

 Do you have any special projects/home improvements planned for the summer? do you have any projects you've been putting off?  Our list seems to be growing by the week, but I'm considering doing Rock, Paper, Scissors to determine which one to do first. I'm having carpal tunnel surgery on Thursday and will not be able to use my hand for two weeks,  so I'm leaning towards just painting the bathroom this week.

  • the house needs to be power washed and treated sealer applied
  • clean out the gutters (can I confess we have, eh hem, trees growing in ours
  • find that pesky water pressure gauge
  • get a DQ Blizzard 
  • replace the front door knob
  • dejunk
  • paint the kids' bathroom
  • fix treadmill
  • clean honey's new temporary office before Wednesday
  • take a nap
  • Kiltz paint the shed

Thanks for visiting today.  I'd love to hear about your latest project you want to accomplish this summer! 

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Momma and Alan Jackson

You've looked at your phone You know the moment... It has happened to most of us in the grocery store, a business, vehicle, waiting on hold on the phone, and a song comes on that you knew from childhood or younger years.  You may not have heard it for a very long time, but suddenly you are singing along, and not just in your head. Those lyrics are coming from your mouth.  Music has a way of getting into our hearts and brains and there is a reason for that, but more on that in a little bit. If I could, I would tell Mr. Alan Jackson how greatly his rendition of those older hymns have meant to my mom.  In the advanced stage of her fight, when the button on the CD player in her room is pushed, and his voice fills the room, she will visibly relax, her toes tap on the foot board of her bed, and in the if you wait just a bit, you will hear another voice joining him in song.   

It is a bit amazing, that in the midst of this alzhiemer's, my mom knew the words to many songs she sang growing up and even into her 30's, until just a few months ago.  When Mom entered the nursing home,  many of the CNA's on her hall put Elvis Presley music on a playlist on their phones because it was something that mom reacted positively to.  Her mood would become playful, she smiled, attempted to dance, and was happy.   Hmmm, there had to be something to this!!!  I began searching for music that would help calm her down when she became upset.  At first it was the classic oldies country from the 70's that had her tapping her toes and singing along - Patsy Cline, George Jones, Barbara Mandrell, Glen Campbell, Loretta Lynn, Charlie Rich, and more. Those were great, but we needed something for bedtime or when she was very agitated.  

Last year, one Sunday evening, during a special old-fashioned sing-a-long at church, I saw Momma relax, sing lyrics she shouldn't remember, and there was this peace.  I knew what I needed to do, find hymns that sounded just like that little country church in Niotaze that we grew up attending.  It took a few weeks of searching and listening, and one afternoon, I found an artist that sang as if he were in that church.  Just listening to him sing, I could close my eyes, feel those hard pews beneath me, those wooden floors creaking, pages shuffling, voices lifting as the pianist played from that old hymn book ...  How Great Thou Art,  Softly and Tenderly, Standing on the Promises, I Love to Tell The Story...
Precious Memories 
In the advanced stage of her fight, when the button on the CD player in her room is pushed, and his voice fills the room, she will visibly relax, her toes tap on the footboard of her bed, and in the if you wait just a bit, you will hear another voice joining him in song.  Lately, she is singing less, but she still recognizes the songs.  It is amazing to walk down the hall and hear various types of older hymns and songs floating through the hall.  The CNA's will testify that when it is stormy, or anxiety is high, they will put on the the Precious Memories CD and it calms the residents down.   Last week, as I entered the hall where Momma lives, I noticed one resident had her chair parked right outside of my Mom's room.  "Whatcha doing?" I asked as I walked by.
"I love your Momma's music and I sit here to hear it." she replied.   The CNA later told me that she does that frequently. 

Listening in the hospital
If I could, I would tell Mr. Alan Jackson how greatly his crooning of those older hymns have meant to my mom.  I would tell him how his soothing voice takes her back to that old country church, and somehow, the in deep inner-working of her diseased brain, she remembers those hymns.  Honestly, Momma doesn't know who Mr. Jackson is, she can barely recognize me when I visit her, but what she does know he is singing about the Jesus she loves.  While she may not know who Jesus is, but He still knows her.  What would I tell Mr. Jackson???  I would tell him Thank you for helping my Momma through her journey with Alzheimer's.   
So why does it work like this?  If you are curious, music is stored in a part of the brain that is not immediately harmed by the progression of Alzheimer's.  Read on for the more technical layperson's explanation. 
"Favorite music or songs associated with important personal events can trigger memory of lyrics and the experience connected to the music. Beloved music often calms chaotic brain activity and enables the listener to focus on the present moment and regain a connection to others.  Persons with dementia, Parkinson’s and other diseases that damage brain chemistry also reconnect to the world and gain improved quality of life from listening to personal music favorites."   Memory and

According to the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, when used in the right way, music can allow the patient to “shift mood, manage stress-induced agitation, stimulate positive interactions, facilitate cognitive function, and coordinate motor movements.  Music has power—especially for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. And it can spark compelling outcomes even in the very late stages of the disease.
Many Alzheimer's patients can remember and sing songs even in advanced stages, long after they've stopped recognizing names and faces. Dementia care homes often use music as recreation, since it brings patients pleasure. But beyond the entertainment value, there's growing evidence that listening to music can also help stimulate seemingly lost memories and even help maintain some cognitive functioning.  Alzheimer's Association
This wasn't the direction that I really wanted to go with this post, but I'm hoping that somehow, this might help someone else, whom is walking through Alzheimer's with a family member.     

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Wishy Weeds

I have long joked about our yard - the only thing we grow are weeds.  It's really not a joke.  That's what we grow, but I'm thankful they at least give the illusion of a grass filled yard.  Several times we have played around with the idea of using a weed killer and planting grass, but we didn't want to deal with a totally dirt yard.

Youngest at age two
One thing we do grow well are dandelions.  You would think we grow them professionally, but we actually have to credit God for that. 

One of the fondest memories I have of my children, is them attempting to blow the seeds from a dandelion that has gone to seed.  It is a simple childhood joy.  "Make a wish and blow!"

I love that wonder and joy, and decided to make a pillow after seeing one of my little charges do just that a few weeks ago.  It's his favorite thing to do when we go outside.  To watch him blow and then run like crazy chasing the seeds as they float merrily away in the wind. 
Using my embroidery machine with the dandelion design from Urban Threads, Honey Bee font from Designs by Juju, and Vintage Handwriting from Rivermill Designs, I was able to pull the on from my brain make it appear on cloth.  Simple invisible zipper on the back makes inserting the pillow form easier.  

So if you stop by my house, feel free topics a dandelion, make a wish, and become like a child again...  We need more wishy weeds...  It's all a matter of perspective. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Looking for the light...

My Momma
Sunday was Mother's Day and after lunch with Honey, Youngest and two friends, and a nap, I slipped out of the house to visit Mom.  Occasionally, Mom will get a few cards from friends back home and I try to read them to her when I visit. This time I went armed with a Braums Strawberry shake for her and a chocolate one for me, a birthday card for my brother that I wanted her to sign, and a pen.

Sometimes I dread going to see Mom.  Never knowing if I will see that light of recognition in her eyes or will I be a stranger?  Will she ignore me or hug me?  On the days that she does not know me, I don't stay long.  It's not that I want to, but she looses interest and ignores me.  I usually end up talking to the CNA (Certified Nurses Assistant) or watching whatever TV show is on at the moment.

That day, she was sitting at a table, clutching a cup that held the droplets of a Mighty Shake.  She has long since forgotten how to use utensils and her appetite is dropping, but there are these wonderful little high calorie shakes that she loves.  In fact, the nurses that give meds keep an extra one on hand when they go down my mom's section because she likes to sneak one from the med cart.  As I sat down, she was resting her head in her free hand.  I touched her hand, and she opened her eyes, peering at me.  "Hey Momma!  I'm your daughter."  Usually that's how I start and sometimes, after 10-15 minutes she may seem to know I'm someone she should know.

"Oh, it's you!  You're the first," she said referring to birth order, but I'm actually the second.  She looked beautiful in her floral blouse and purple dress pants and it caught me off guard.  She physically reminded me of the old Momma, before this disease took over and I had to fight the tears.  Lindsey, the CNA, had curled her hair and painted her nails a beautiful deep pink earlier.

She tried to make conversation, but the words are just not there.  Her brain, jumbled, only allowed a few words before she got that worried look on her face, and then she saw me.  Her hand lifted, brushing my hair back from my face. There was a light of recognition in her eyes.
 "Where is your husband?"
"He's at home mowing the yard."  She frowns as she tries to process this as she slurped her shake.  She watches as I take a drink of mine.
"What is that" she ask with interest, licking her lips.
"Oh it's a chocolate shake. Why don't you take a drink of yours?"  
A female resident sidles up next to Mom.  "She danced with me today.  She likes Elvis you know."
Do you have a man? Momma questioned.
Yes, I have a husband and kids," I answered pulling out my phone to show her pictures.  Somehow she knows that strange little device holds pictures and ask for it from time to time. I took the opportunity to take a picture of her, selfie style.
"Ew, who is that?", she asked pointing to herself on the screen.
"That's you, Momma.  Don't you look beautiful?"  She frowns. "Can you smile for me?"   She pauses, working her mouth, as if trying to remember how to smile.  Turning her face to me, she smiles and I snap the shot.  I never could get one of her looking straight at the camera. She kept sticking her tongue out at it.

Oh, the card you ask?  I attempted to put the pen in her hand and she fumbled  to grasp it.  The CNA got a scrap piece of paper to practice on.  I wrote the word MOM, so she could copy it, but she could not even do that.  The CNA suggested I do a hand-over-hand writing with her.  Momma asked what was it for and I told her it was for her son.  She looked worried because she didn't remember she had a son.
"I should do something..." she started.
"Oh, you already are!  See, you got this card for him!"

Dinner arrived and I moved her into the kitchen area where she eats, as a fellow resident passed out silverware and drinks.  She has a hard time concentrating when she sits out with the other residents and often, the CNA will feed her and her roommate in there. Veggie Soup and a tuna sandwich!  I couldn't believe it.  The kitchen is supposed to prepare only finger foods for her. Picking up the spoon, I drain as much liquid off and begin feeding her.  This isn't something I ever thought I would do and it wasn't the first time. It's not something I'm comfortable with.  I can feed little kids with no problem, but my brain balks at my momma being so incapacitated that she can't feed herself, nor recognize how to use utensils.  She pokes her finger in her soup and puts it in her mouth. I push the soup a little further away from her and she eyes my chocolate shake as I spoon some carrots into her mouth.  She eats most of it and I try to feed her roommate siting next to me.  She eats some and spits it out, which does this at every meal.  Finally she finishes most of the soup and she spies the sandwich, poking her finger in it and tasting it.  We sit for a while as I feed her bite size pieces of her sandwich. My phone lights up with a message from Honey, and I know I need to head out.  Her night time meds are kicking in and she will be too sleepy to care soon. I pour the rest of my shake into her cup and she grabs it immediately.
"Mmmm, that good,"   closing her eyes in pleasure.  It's the simple things really.

My chair scrapes the floor noisily as I get up and she looks at me with a panic.  "Momma, I have to go."
"Do you want to sleep in my room?" she ask.
"No, I have to get home and get ready for work tomorrow, but I will come back.  I always come back."  She sighs and kisses me with soupy, chocolate lips. I leave the room and she has already forgotten I was there.  I walk to the locked doors with tears pooling in my eyes, forcing myself to not look back....

Please don't get me wrong and say I'm such a good daughter.  I don't see it like that.  I struggle greatly with this disease and all it brings, what it does to the individual and their families.  There are days I know I should go see her and I piddle around, mentally making excuses.  I think of my friend back in KS who has moved in with her mom to care for her, leaving her family home.  I know the struggle she is going through.  It is real, raw, frustrating, heartbreaking, and exhausting.  I know the struggle of another friend whom is Driving hundreds of miles each weekend to be with his mom, as she journeys through this. I see their devotion, heartbreak, and dread.  I think of my cousin, who lost her mom, my aunt to this over seven years ago. I hear the kindness and wisdom in her voice and messages.  I no longer look around the corner to anticipate what is coming next - I can't.  It's one day, one visit, one tear at a time, holding on to any light that may come to her eyes.