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.

Friday, May 6, 2016

If You give me a Paint Brush

Have you ever mentioned the word Painting or remodel to someone and the look of panic or disdain washes all over their face as they start backing away.  That is my Honey.   I love that a little paint can make a world of changes. I love to change things, move things around, dejunk... I get tired of the same old thing, but don't make changes often.  Honey doesn't like change.  He likes his food to taste the same each time, he does not like throwing things away because "we may need it someday"...
Before and Blah
Things have been a bit more than crazy and sad, but that will be for another post, but I made a promise in this post with this closure "Yes, if you give me a niggling of a dream, I'll run with it... More dreaming, improvements, and color to come!"  

Tile options
After tearing off the old useless wood shelf-like thing on the counter/backspash, we realized we needed to tile.  Checking out several chain home-improvement stores, we narrowed the choice to two tile options - cheap white subway or a more expensive stone type.  A friend told us about a tile store in town that offered lots of choices and was less expensive.  The difference was about $300, so we were thrilled to buy the tile we wanted for $175!
Tile done! 

After borrowing a tile saw, we spent a Saturday evening, cutting and installing the tile, we were tired, but oh so pleased. Honey did an awesome job doing all the cutting and lining each piece up.  It just changed everything and WOW!!!  We LOVE it!!!

Next step - paint... I have a sweet friend, Lora, owner of Tea for Two, whom I got to know when she was Youngest's occupational therapist. It's funny how God constantly shows us how small the world really is.  We got our sweet GSD, Lady from Lora, she painted a wall in each of our kids' rooms.  She is amazing talk to and be around.  I mentioned to her in a text that I was planning on doing some painting to transform my dream for my kitchen and asked if she knew anything about chalk paint... Well, one thing led to another and WALAH!!!  Over homemade pizza with her family, she listened, questioned, restated, and eventually a plan was formed.

Lora at work - teaching as she goes
The next morning, Lora and her momma arrived with paint brushes and inspiration.  I was a lot intimidated and unsure of the end result, but knew she has such enthusiasm, inspiration, vision, and a huge design to not just do it, but to teach others how to take a dream and transform it to reality.

Old teal Barn inspiration
Opening the gallon of Teal Lake paint was a bit scary, but I had my inspiration from a picture I saw at a friend's home. She explained the steps to achieve what I desired, showed me how to do each step and in a matter of two hours, I had a new kitchen color!  Honey was/is not too happy with the "missing" cabinet doors, but I like it.  I think every week, Honey ask me if I've found the cabinet doors.  I added a small TV in the corner, with a Roku device.  We don't use it much, but I like being able to watch Netflix or listen to music on it while I'm cooking.

Lora left me with some homework:
  1. distressing the remaining cabinets
  2.  installing new knobs
  3.  sewing new curtains
  4. painting Snack Shack
  5. Painting inside of cabinet doors 
  6. Curtains
  7. apply sealer on cabinets

I was able to knock all but painting the inside of the cabinet doors and sealing the paint job.

Snack Shack

Add caption

Before and after

The Before and after pix isn't the greatest, but I'm tickled with the results!  It makes me strive to keep the counters cleaned!  Thanks for stopping by and making it to the end of a LONG post.  I'm glad you came!
Message center

I wanted to add something to the side of the pantry - maybe a message board or place to display some pictures.  This is what I have at the moment, but I'm open to change.  What do you think?  We talked about doing some chicken wire, corkboard, chalkboard paint, whiteboard...  So I headed back to Pinterest for some searching.  Still not sure this is really what I want, but for the moment, this is it at this time.

What are the latest changes you've made in your home?  Where did you get your inspiration and how long did it take you to accomplish your vision?

Even though Lora did not ask or know that I'm adding this info, if you would like to talk to Lora about transforming an area in your home in 2 hours or less, you can contact her at loratoland@gmail.com.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Youngest's high school video

They tell you that your babies will grow in the blink of an eye.  You never quite believe it, especially if you are in the midst of diapers, potty training, school, and life.  Time seemingly passes slowly, yet somehow it is going at warp speed.  Here we are, on the brink of a new stage of life, with our toes to the line, ready to step over, yet reluctant.  Then it happens, and all the struggles, laughter, joy, and tears seem to fade for time as we rejoice that Youngest has graduated highschool... Poised on the edge for a new adventure of wherever God leads him.

I loved seeing the videos of the four that graduated on Saturday.  Much laughter and more than a few tears of remembering.  The videos, by no-means, define these kids that we have spent 18 years with as moms, teachers, chauffeur, etc,  They don't show the personalities and character developed and possessed by each, but rather a short time-warp glimpse of those first 18 years.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Creative play is so....

Is there something that makes you wish you had extra time to do?  Do you lose track of time because you're enjoying it?   If I had a choice, I would stay up most of the night to sew or do embroidery work. It is very relaxing for me and I do my best work at night, plus it's a great time to catch up on Netflix shows.  The house is quiet, no distractions of kids, housework, meals, or the "do-list".  Since Oldest has moved back home for his internship, he has taken over my sewing room and my time is limited there, but I do love it when I'm there.  

Last month I stayed up WAY too late working on some projects and don't regret the hours, though I was in zombie mode the next morning.  
Wallet front
First up, my new wallet.  I never can find one that I just love, so I made my own using a pattern from NapKitten on Etsy.  Though I have been sewing for over 39 years, this pattern was not the easiest to work through.  The instructions were not clear throughout, but after two days, I had a wallet I love!  Using my embroidery machine, I personalized it with Elegant Damask Monogram by Designs by JuJu and have my one-of-a-kind wallet I'm happy to use. It has two zipper pouches, two hidden pockets, 6 credit card size slots, and one could put the check-book in there as well if desired. All-said, I will use this pattern again to make my next wallet, with modifications. Possibly a place to hold a pen?
wallet inside
Wallet outside

back pocket for phone

Card holder
Next up, was a Mega Credit card holder using a pattern by Infarrantly Creative for those loyalty, gift, and other cards. With over 35 slots for cards and a pocket for coupons.  Now before you think I'm rolling in gift  and loyalty cards, I'm not, but I love the extra slots to organize a bit.  It's so much more handy than the tiny pouch I was using previously.
Card holder inside

Boxy Pouch
Each year for Christmas, I try to make something for the momma's whose children I care for during the day.  This year I settled on No Guts Boxy Pouches from Pattern Pile, though there are many different choices.  It was pretty simple once I made the first one and took some notes on my direction print-out.  I was thankful for a colored sewing tutorial to refer to on one section that was a bit muddy, even for me. I use plastic canvas between the lining and outer canvas fabric to help make it more sturdy and hold shape.  Was pleased with each one and would definitely use this pattern many times again. It's so simple that one could change the size a bit to make a larger or smaller pouch easily. 

Iphone/Ipad Stand
I did not have a stand to put my phone or iPad on except a flimsy cheap one from Staples (which works fine, but is slips and collapses, but after some searching I found this pattern on Factotum of Arts.  Instruction were simple and it went together quickly.  Filled it with rice and so it could double as a chunky heating pad if needed.  It had a ribbon at the top to hold the cord if charging is needed, but I've not used it yet.  All in all, I use it daily and like it.  I made mine a tad taller to accommodate a tablet.

Elvis Pillow case
Last, I made something for my Momma.  While browsing through Hobby Lobby, I spotted some Elvis material I'd not seen before.  I'm the last person to like Elvis, but my Momma is a HUGE fan.  Her room at the nursing home is filled with Elvis stuff.  I loved how colorful it was and that it had images of his younger years, which would be something my mom was recognize easier.  Pairing it with a bright yellow trim and black-deco for the trimmed cuff, this pillow case was perfect for her room.  She was happy to get it, though she didn't know what it was, the other residents were asking for me to make one for them!

I am really craving more creative sewing time, but home projects and work seems to have occupied me lately.  If I don't have some time soon, I'm going to start dreaming about it or rebel and stay up late again some weekend.  I do have some items for Hubby's nephew's new twins on my table waiting to be finished, but they are a surprise and will have to wait.

Would you care to share what  you like to do to relax?  Garden, reading, sewing, woodwork, cooking (oh, I really do love to cook, but it's just not the same with Only married now), or something else?   I look forward to hearing from you!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

If you Give me a hammer,

Have you read the book  If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by  Laura Numeroff and Felicia Bond?  It's about a mouse, when given a mere cookie an adventure ensures when he decides he needs something to go with it.  It's a classic children's book and my children loved it growing up.  I'm a bit like that mouse... 

When we bought our house back in 1994, we were moving from a 600 sq. ft. apartment with two children under the age of 18 months.   It seemed like a dream house to us, but little did we know it was our Money Pit.

 We found illegal wiring in the walls, the breaker box wasn't a box, but the individual breakers were sitting on a board in the attic, exposed to the insulation and junk.  The company that made the heater that the "builder" installed, was put out of business by the government 20 years before our house was even built, and it wouldn't heat our home and we constantly feared it would catch our home on fire.  The hot water heater was illegally installed and we constantly smelled gas. It didn't end there, but can you hear the money draining out of our account?  It was scary.   The builder, he passed away shortly after "finishing it", but we never found out why he was able to get away with so much. 
Tearing down the old
 One thing we loved was the space in the kitchen. I grew up in a home where the kitchen was the hub of the home and it was an important space for me.  Still is really.  I soon discovered that the  pantry was a wasted space.  Everything in the back of this deep cabinet was lost, like in a deep dark cave without light. I found some party decorations from Only's 1st birthday and a can of 2010 expired  cat food.  Yikes!!!  The small cabinet above the pantry was unused due to lack of easy access and many discussions have taken place with possible solutions.  
New and ready
Two years ago, I began dreaming and perusing Pinterest (so addicting to me) for ideas on how to change and improve it.  A good friend's husband is skilled with vision and ability, listened to what I wanted,  and approached about building it, two weeks ago.  He had it built in a matter of two days, and installed in one afternoon. I was giddy!!!

While it may not seem like a huge change, it was for us.  My pantry space was doubled! I suddenly have FULL access to all parts of the pantry!  I think our whole family loved walking by and smelling the new wood that wafted through the kitchen.  I spent that weekend cleaning the kitchen, rearranging, throwing out, organizing, and thinking. So with the "cookie" of the pantry,  I started looking through Pinterest again and contemplating more changes.
Ugly brown trim is gone

 I've not understood the reason for the wood trim on the backspash and cabinet and have wanted to tear it down for many years.  This last Saturday, while Honey was at work (see the logic behind this timing?), I rummaged around in his tools until I found what I needed and started banging away.  Took a while, but it's really gone.  Honey had to cut the trim in half that was behind the faucet to remove it, but it looks more open and clean!  We were amazed!

Well, the "cookie" of a new pantry, lead to the removal of the ugly wood trim, and then Honey said, "I suppose we need to..."   Yes, if you give me a niggling of a dream, I'll run with it... More dreaming, improvements, and color to come!  

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Burned and Broken Blessings

We were stumped.  Upon returning from Thanksgiving in TX, we found our dryer would not dry.  We were so thankful for the absolute beautiful sunny weather we had the two weeks - fabulous for hanging clothes out on the clothes line!  Love the way they smell - like summer in the winter.

We researched and figured out what we thought   needed to be fixed, ordered the parts, and still, it would not dry.  Not wanting to sink anymore money into our ancient dryer, we looked at a Dint and Ding store that some friends told us about. Found two basic dryers online that fit what we needed, but upon looking at them,  they were either hard to open or just didn't seem right.  Slowly drifting over to the other dryers, we spotted this baby, a  Maytag Maxima® Steam Electric Dryer with Large Capacity.  It was certainly not what we were looking for, but honestly, I loved the controls on the front and the totally top surface was flat.  It's the simple things in life. It's taller than our washer, but we know it's not going to live forever.

Barely making it home before the rain storm, Honey got it all ready, I ran to Lowes to get a longer connecting hose (I'm sure there is a more technical name, but this is all you get with me) for the steam feature, and plugged it in.

burned out dryer outlet
Old dryer plug 
NOTHING... Nada... Zip... Not working... Grrrr!  Being the resourceful guy he is, Honey decided to test the outlet and said it wasn't working.  Ugh!  Taking it apart, he discovered a horrible burned mess.  Some how, at some time, we either had a lightening strike or something and it was so scary!  Do you see it?  So back to Lowes for a new dryer outlet and tah-dah!!!

Threw a small load of shirts that needed to be ironed (but I didn't want to), put it on Refresh for the steam function, and oh, I'm LOVING this!!!  Wrinkle free! Oh, and it sings a little simple tune.  I'm so excited about the new dryer, that I put another load of clothes in the washer so I can dry them.

So, in the end, we are so incredibly thankful for God watching over us in the broken dryer, which lead us to the burned outlet, thus preventing a huge fire and loss of home.