Thursday, January 29, 2015

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

kitty on the back porch and food memories

(This blurry cell-phone pic was taken with Mom's phone.  
Apparently, I'm hopeless as a photographer.)

Just now there was an adorable kitty cat on the back porch.  Mommy and I heard it crying.  It reminded me of the time (way back in the day) when I heard Buffy crying out behind the garage, and I was positive that there was an abandoned baby back there.  Mom, however, told me that it was a cat.  I couldn't believe that a cat could sound so much like a human baby, but they can (at least to untrained ears).  It's probably a pretty good trick for a cat to know.  I wonder how many little girls over the course of the last few thousand years have hunted for the lost baby and found a cute little kitty instead.  After all, Buffy got a home where he was fed and loved because he sounded like a baby to me.

So, back to just now, we heard the cat crying and I looked out the window and saw it there, and I described it to Mom.  A little, black kitty cat with big yellow eyes.  "Oh, she's just tiny," I said to Mom.  Then I said, "Do you think I should scatter some food out there for her?"  And, Mom (the cat disliker) said, "It couldn't hurt anything." So, those babiesh cries must have softened her heart too.

In other news . . .

On Facebook one of our relatives is looking for a cake that her father remembers Aunt Maude baking.  (She called it Pan Cake.)  It's gotten me thinking about all the things that Mom used to make for us, and I want to try to collect up some of those recipes before our children's children are trying to get together birthday surprises and are frustrated because nobody knows how to make "Grandma's Chocolate Cake" anymore for some elderly grandchild who fondly remembers it.  I can just see my son, David, sending one of his daughters on the wild goose chase that Dick Randall's daughter is attempting.

I've been thinking of lots of things that I remember Mommy making:
Pancakes (even with corn in them)
Grandma's Chocolate Cake
Pickled Eggs
No-Bake Cookies
Cinnamon Rolls
Johnny Cake
Pea Salad
Hot Cocoa
Sun Tea
Fried Green Tomatoes
Mashed Potatoes
Baking Power Biscuits
Homemade Bread

Help me people.  What can you all remember?  Let's document before we all forget!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

quick happy post

She had such a good day today!  And, I started the day out by oversleeping.

I wonder if those few extra hours of uninterrupted sleep were just what she needed?

At any rate, she had a really good day.

She ate her homemade applesauce, her freshly ground Irish oatmeal, and drank her Boost.  She had a great Facetime conversation with Pete.  She read "Countryside" magazine (a gift from her sister Bonnie) in bed, and then a little later she walked 28 inches from the commode to her recliner.  She relaxed in the recliner.  First she read some of Charlotte's Web.  Then, she looked at Victoria magazine.  She had grilled cheese and scrambled eggs.  She had a relaxing evening with Stephan and me both sitting in there with her.  Then, she said she was ready to go to bed, and I helped her to bed. Then, I left her in there, listening to Little House in the Big Woods on the IPhone Pete sent her.

(I forgot to play the video Jeanie sent, but now I've got in reserve for tomorrow.)

Anyway, life was really good today.

Monday, January 26, 2015

couple blurry cell phone pics :-)

Well, I snapped a couple of pics in the last couple days - but, sadly, they were with my cell phone and the quality isn't so good with mine as with Mom's.  (I'm just used to mine and still learning how to use Mom's . . . )

I love this one because I actually got her SMILING!  She smiles quite a bit, but I'm not very fast at snapping the pics when the smiles are on her face.

In this one she's looking at a book about mothers.  She's in a little bit of an odd mood today. She was asking about her mother, wondering if she is alive.  It's hard to know what to say when she asks questions like that.  I usually say that we'll try and figure it out or something like that.  She sometimes gets really sad when I retell her once again that Grandma O'Connor is dead.

She's also been in an odd mood today because she is talking to the pictures in the book.  She is getting angry at them (a little) and asking them if they are going to say anything.  It's just hard to know how to respond to things like that.  I just let her be and didn't try to point out that the pictures aren't actually going to be able to talk back.  After all, they do seem to talk back to you on the TV, the computer, and the cell phone.  You can understand why she'd be confused.

It's hard to tell what's real.  (For all you Doctor Who fans out there, here's a quote that puts that into perspective):

This is from "Last Christmas"
The Doctor:  You know what the big problem is in telling fantasy and reality apart?
Ashley:  What?
The Doctor:  They're both ridiculous.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

love this

I love it when I go in there in the morning and Mommy is pretending to be asleep.

To me, that means that she is happy, and content, and wanting her lie a bed morning to last just a little longer.

Isn't that something wonderful?

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

possible mistake

I just went in a few seconds ago to say that it was time to get out that bed.  She's been awake since a little after ten, and it's almost one (I've got this three hour timer going in my head to keep things moving along.)

She's already had her applesauce and her oatmeal and a slice of homemade gingerbread in bed this morning.

When I went in the door, Mommy was reading the book she's been reading since last night.  (It's about Victorian family traditions.  It has lots of beautiful pictures.)  She asked me, "What year is this?"  And, I said, "It's 2015.  Today is January 21, 2015."  Then she said, "So that's why I'm like this," and she descended into one of the worst moods she's been in since she came here.

She was furious at me while I changed out her bedding, and she's still fuming in there.

I'm about to go with Jeanie's "put a comedy on the TV" idea that she gave me when something similar to this happened when Mom first came here.

The page she was looking at in the book was marked "January" -  I wonder if that's how her memory got jogged in that direction?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

quiet days

Not much to tell these last few days.  We've been working on getting our schedule more fixed and more workable for both of us.

I've started helping Mom onto the commode every morning again.  So, she goes from bed to commode to recliner to wheelchair (with dinner and a movie out in the other part of the house) to low upholstered chair to bed.  That's her daily journey.

We've been really good about having dinner together as a family.  Mom loves to eat in the kitchen and visit with everyone.  She loves watching movies with us as well.

I'm trying to have her get about three hours at each location (except for commode which is 30 minutes max) and bed which would be 24 hours daily if she could have her druthers.

We're also working on getting all her exercises in.  She doesn't like to exercise at all - even though it's really hardly any movement, she resists.  I tried to call them "stretching your legs and arms a little" and not using the term "exercise"  . . . I'm not sure if that made much difference.

Last night, we had fish (Swai) and I told mom that I was giving her cottage cheese instead of fish for her dinner since she didn't like fish, and she protested and told me that she did too like fish.  So I gave her some, and she ate every bit of it.

She says so many funny things.  She is always making us all smile.

Yesterday, Amanda helped her to get into her wheelchair, and after Mom had scooted herself back in the chair, Amanda asked, "Are you comfortable, Grandma?"  And Mom answered, "Better than that."
I'd like to make all her days and all the places she is "better" than comfortable.  What a wonderful way to be!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Read Aloud

Isn't it funny that with all the thousand million hours that Mommy must have spent reading to us as children, I can't find a single picture.  I wanted to put a long-ago picture of her reading to us to compliment the read aloud she just did on video for us today.  However, since I couldn't find one, I've gone with a picture of her with me in 1968.  Just know that from the time of the image above forward (and probably for a few months before this as well), she read and read and read to me and to all of us (as you know). And, she continues reading to us today.

Today while I was reading to her, she started reading to me, and I got a video of it for you all.

Click here to enjoy.

The Reading Mother 
I had a mother who read to me
Sagas of pirates who scoured the sea.
Cutlasses clenched in their yellow teeth;
"Blackbirds" stowed in the hold beneath.
I had a Mother who read me lays
Of ancient and gallant and golden days;
Stories of Marmion and Ivanhoe,
Which every boy has a right to know.
I had a Mother who read me tales
Of Gelert the hound of the hills of Wales,
True to his trust till his tragic death,
Faithfulness lent with his final breath.
I had a Mother who read me the things
That wholesome life to the boy heart brings-
Stories that stir with an upward touch.
Oh, that each mother of boys were such!
You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be --
I had a Mother who read to me.  (Strickland Gillilan)

Friday, January 16, 2015

Great day :-)

Lot's of times I say my prayers in Mom's room in the early morning before she wakes up.  It's warm, and quiet, and peaceful in there, and if there is music on, I don't think that my whispered prayers could disturb her sleep.  This morning, I was praying and dozing, and then waking up and praying some more, when Mom said, "I'm awake, and I'm feeling pretty good."  That was about 7:30 AM or so, unusually early for her.  So, I got up, brought her some applesauce with tylenol and vitamin crushed in it, and some other non-yucky applesauce to wash it down, and our day started.  She has been chipper all day!

Since she was getting her hair cut, it was necessary that we have a shower.  I've been putting off showers and just giving her sponge baths since she started to really fight me about the shower, but this morning she loved the shower again.  She held the hand-held sprayer and moved it around on herself.  It was nice experience.

After that, we dried her hair and waited for Nikki, my friend, who was coming to cut her hair.

Mom LOVES Nikki.  She asked me a couple minutes ago if I was here when "that lady" was here, and I said, "Yes, I was here," and Mom said, "She was really nice, wasn't she?"  And, I agreed that yes, she is very nice.  This is a huge compliment to Nikki that she made enough of an impression to remain in Mom's thoughts for several hours.

Mom's hair looks so good now!

The back is just darling.  It just waves about perfectly!

Isn't it amazing what a haircut can do to make a person look put together?

I just said to her, "Your hair looks great," and she said, "I know it does."


(edit addendum - plus Nikki trimmed my hair too, and even though she cut some off, it looks way longer to me in the mirror.  I keep going and looking at it again and again because it's so pretty. All this weight loss, and now a nice hair trim is turning me vain.)

Thursday, January 15, 2015


Well, I decided that she just might be in a funk and that a change of scene might bring her out of it, and so I turned the oven on with the door open in the kitchen, and moved the oil heater from the bathroom to make the kitchen as toasty warm as her bedroom - just in case she might be a little under the weather - and I wheeled her out to the kitchen for dinner.  (I did this after calling my prayer sisters and asking them to pray that if she's sick, I figure it out and not make her sicker . . . But, the evening went smoothly - I don't think she's sick.)

She had a wonderful dinner with David, and Stephan, and me (Amanda is at a dance lesson).  She wasn't interested in the meat or in the baked beans with cheese.  But, she ate plenty of the pea salad, and some Greek yogurt, and a cracker with salmon cream cheese (she only wanted one of those).  She also had another glass of water/cranberry juice and a fig newton.   After that she said that she couldn't eat any more, and that she'd had enough, but she still listened to all the conversation and laughed at Stephan's jokes he makes for her.

Example of Stephan's jokes that are special-made-for-mom:
He had a box of some kind of "human skull cupcake mix" in the cupboard from Halloween that was labeled something like "brains" or something like that, and he got that box out, and asked Mom why nobody wanted to eat them when he bought them special for us to eat.  She thought that was really funny.

After dinner, the kitchen started to cool down a little, (I'd turned off the oven just after I wheeled Mom in), and Mom said that maybe there was someplace else she could go.  So, I said, "I'll take you to all the places you can go, and then you pick where you want to be."  First I pointed to the bathroom, and I said, "That's the bathroom.  Do you want to go in there?"  And, she said, "NO!" with decision.  So, I wheeled her into the living room, and she said, "Whew! It's cold in here!"  And, I agreed.  Although, before Mom came to live with us the temperature in the living room was about as warm as our house ever got.  (We've got the thermostat set at 70', and it runs about 5' off, so the temp in there is probably about 65').  Then, we opened the door to her bedroom, and wheeled in there, and she said, "It's nice and warm in here," in a very happy voice.  And, I agree.  Stephan and I are sitting in here with her - enjoying the warm.  He's listening to his audio book with earbuds in, and I'm typing this blog up, and Mom's watching The Gospel of John  with deep interest. She's still sitting up in the wheelchair.

Mom's room is nice and cozy, and we're having a lovely evening in here with her.  I'm really glad that we took her "out" to dinner.


Feeling Nostalgic

Today, I'm thinking about Grandma Bailey (Sarah Mildred, because it's her birthday), and thinking about her made me nostalgic, so I started looking through the genealogy pictures that we've all shared back and forth, and I saw this one of Mommy.  As far as I know it might be the oldest pic of her we have.  The file is dated 1936 so she is probably about two years old here.

Also, it isn't a good day for mom so that makes me nostalgic for times past.  (Sad face).  She is really sore, and she doesn't want to get out of bed.  I'm nervous to give her too much tylenol, so I'm waiting until her normal 6 PM dose.

We did do her exercises in bed, and then when I tried to get her to put legs out she asked if she could just rest.  I think that since there is a cold going around, and some of us are sneezing and coughing, maybe Mom's fighting it off?  She keeps dozing and then waking for a few minutes and watching movies.  She's watched Mulan twice, and now she's watching The Gospel of John  for, I think the third time today.  She's been eating and drinking.  So, I think that she's not really sick, but maybe just fighting off something.

In the past, sometimes if I let her sleep a day when she is really tired, the next day she's in good shape.  I'm hoping that tomorrow will be a more active day.  And, we did do her exercises - that's something.

(Edit:  I've added a pic for you to see one of the things I've done today to chirk her up.  I hung up some of her Christmas prisms in the window - like PollyAnna did for Mrs. Snow)

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

day by day

Today, mom wants to sit in the upholstered chair.  Yesterday, she chose the recliner.

Here she is waiting until she feels ready to stand up.  Just to the left, outside the picture area is a the TV and she is watching Anastasia  while she waits.  She is bored of Gospel of John.  She gets so amazingly fixated on each thing and then she is done.  Completely done.  Fini.  She's done with that thing and it's time for me to locate a next fixation.  :-)  She keeps me on my toes.

A little later today, after she is sitting in the chair, we're going to look at Valentine's Day decoration.  The Christmas tree is down now, and I think that it was a little depressing for Mom to see it go.  Although, the room is much roomier now!

Happy Early Valentine's Day!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

The Pace of Life

Mom has been teaching me a lot about the pace of life.  So, Laurie, stop rushing.  Just enjoy each moment.

Can you all imagine that I am trying to relax? And, if Mommy wants to sit on the edge of the bed for a half hour before she stands up and uses the walker to go to the recliner, I'm learning that's okay.  Sitting up on the edge of the bed is a good place to be.  It's great for her core muscles to hold herself up like that, and maybe even more important than her core, she can go at her own pace.  Rushing at a terrific speed through life in order to get as much learned, and as much seen, and as much done as possible might not be the best way.  Whether it is or not, though, doesn't matter right now.  It isn't the way that Mom and I can do things at this moment.

Last night I watched a show where there was a really amazing line that I've taken to heart in this last month.  (I was learning it even before Danny Pink said it out loud.)  One character, Clara, asked another, Danny, something along the lines of, "How can you turn down an opportunity to go and have adventures, to see all kinds of new things?"  And Danny's response was something like, "I've already seen new things and had adventures.  I don't want to go far and experience new things.  I want to see the things that are close to me more clearly."  Isn't that beautiful?  He put what Mom has been teaching me this last month into a distilled couple sentences, making the thought clear.  I also am learning how important it is to see the things that are close to me more clearly.

One of the things I used to rush with mom was getting her bum moved all the way back into the recliner so she was all settled in and set to wait three hours until I changed her position again.  Well, now that I'm not rushing her from place to place, she gets the chance to be in charge a little more, and I've started letting her sit on the edge (not too close) of the recliner until she's ready to scooge herself back.  (She can do this.  So, why do I?  Because, I was always in a hurry.)

But, she likes to sit on the edge of the recliner.  She takes a long time to decide to scoot back, and yesterday she crossed her legs sitting there.  She looked so comfortable.  (My photography doesn't do her "comfort" justice.)

She's sitting there again today with her leg crossed.  It seems to me that any movements that she, herself, does with her body are going to help her retain mobility.  And, getting to cross your legs because your daughter isn't rushing you to sit back in your recliner is, maybe, a small blessing in Mom's life.

Also, this morning, I took a video while I was helping her get to the recliner.  You can click here to see it.   She's getting so much better at walking since the home care taught me what to do!  Enjoy!

(Edit:  Right at the very end Mommy asks if Lauralie, the doll, is going to talk to us.  :-)  You can hear her start asking that.  She makes me giggle.)

Friday, January 9, 2015

Gospel of John

Mom and I have been watching (over and over) this Gospel of John movie on Netflix.  I thought you all would enjoy a look at how much she is enjoying it.

I don't know if you can hear very well, but when I asked her if she liked the movie, she thought that I was talking about the movie I was recording with the camera.  She said she didn't think she'd look very good in it.  But, of course, as usual, she looks wonderful.

Click here

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Occupational therapy is coming to an end as well.

The occupational therapist just left, and she is also really pleased with Mom's progress.  So, unfortunately, she is also probably not going to keep coming to visit us.  Ah well.  I've learned so much from her that I think I won't have any trouble keeping on doing the things that she has been doing with Mom.  I guess the downside to doing well is that we are going to have to keep doing well without having someone come every day to show us how to do it.

On the occupational therapist's suggestion, I got Mom a little hairbrush, and she's been brushing her hair with it.  This is excellent for getting her arms up high and fighting the dementia which is trying to steal her ability to raise her arms above her head.

It's bitterly cold here today, and so I am spending most of the day in Mom's nice warm room with her.  The rest of the house is chilly.  (I've even got the bread in here raising because it is too cold in the kitchen.)

So far the day has been really good.  When the OT came, Mommy was sitting up in her recliner and had just finished rubbing hand lotion into her hands.  Her hands were still a little moist with lotion.  I was proud that we remembered to do that.  The OT suggested that rubbing hand lotion in was good finger exercise.  So, when she called me to say that she was in the vestibule (I knew she was coming today, but I didn't know when), I was so proud that she came in just as we were doing something that she'd given us for "homework."

Earlier today, we did the in-bed leg and arm exercises. Then, Mom informed me that she had no need to sit on the commode and instead of arguing - like I used to, I just let her stand up and walk (using her walker) the five feet or so to the recliner.  Messy pants are less stress than arguments.  She was able to stand and walk with minimal help from me.  Her new, shorter, walker is much easier for her to use.  Then instead of me pulling her bottom back in the recliner once she was sitting down, I let her sit on the edge for a while until she decided to scoot back herself.  And, she was able to do that on her own as well.  It just took her a long time to decide to do it. When the OT came, Mom stood up for her a few times (with the walker), and she did some hand squeezing exercises with small balls of yard.  She also buttoned some of the buttons on her sweater.  The OT showed me some additional exercises to do with Mom's arms to try to get more motion out of the them.

Mom's ring finger has been really bothering her a lot.  The ring is sometimes so tight that it gives her pain.  (I don't really think that she needs fluid pills again, but the ring does need to be sized larger.)  I've been asking the advice of each care provider about Mom's ring this week, and they all agree that it has to come off.  But, the OT today had the best advice of all about that.  There is a tool you can buy on Amazon for less than ten dollars called a ring cutter.  We are going to get that.  One person had suggested getting the snips from Stephan's toolbox - but I was too scared.  (Good thing too because she's on that Xaralto - what if I had cut her?!?)  The nurse thought that "maybe" we could get it off with oil, but I'd already tried that, and it didn't work.  Her knuckle is too enlarged from the arthritis.  Now that I know there is a proper tool, I'm very relieved.  The OT suggested that I call a jeweler and see if they'll loan me one - if I explain the situation. At any rate, once we get the ring cut off, we can get it sized to slip over that knuckle and be safe for her to wear.

Now, Mommy is reading Little House in the Big Woods along with an audio book on youtube while I type this up for you all, and we are both snug and cozy in this warm room.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Quick Update

Mom's doing so much better that the nurse discharged her today.  She will still get visits from the occupational therapist and from the aide who gives the sponge baths, but she doesn't need to see the nurse anymore - not even only once a week.  He said that her backside is completely healed, and that she looks great.  She probably will also be discharged from physical (not occupational) therapy as well at her next PT visit.

Yesterday, the physical therapist told me that her boss is going to come for an evaluation, but unless Mom is constantly improving - that is walking more and more and more - there isn't much the physical therapists can do.  That's why she'll probably be discharged from PT as well.  However, she is walking a lot more, and I'm pretty confident that if we keep doing the exercises we can keep her at this level for as long as she's able, and maybe she will even get more mobility.

So, next week, it will probably just be the aide and the occupational therapist coming to visit.  But, I'm not at all worried.  I feel so confident that I know what I need to do, and I know that if something goes wrong and she has any other trouble, there is help out there.

Mom had a really good day today.  She is done looking at pictures, at least for a while, after two days of constant picture gazing, and so I switched gears (Jeanie suggested that I move from thing to thing.)  Today, we watched "Annie" twice. (She wanted to watch more of it when it was over so I started it again.)  And then I found the Gospel of John on Netflix and we are watching that (for the third time) now.  She really likes it.  It is the KJV spoken through narration with live action on the screen.  So, you see what's happening even though you can't really hear what the actors are saying.  The Gospel is read straight through.  The actor they have playing Jesus is very unusual looking, and Mary is old and a little heavy, and the woman who is caught in the act of adultery where Jesus writes on the ground is not drop-dead-gorgeous or at least she's not made up to look that way (usually they pick a really doll-up actress for that role).  All the other actors are different than I'd expect as well.  So, it's a very different interpretation than usual, but it's really interesting to see the action while hearing the Scripture.  I like it.  I'm glad Mom wants to keep watching it.  Pretty soon I'll be very well versed in the Gospel of John.  However, Mom is sleeping through this playback.  I imagine that the narration is giving her pleasant dreams.  :-)

Monday, January 5, 2015

Mail Call :-)

Today, Mommy got a letter from Jeanie and a letter from her sister, Bonnie.

I'm a little frustrated this morning because she is refusing to get out of bed, but I decided to give her the mail and not wait with it.  (I thought that maybe she'd decide that getting out of bed was a good idea if she got a shot of happiness through the mail, but it didn't work like that.  She still is refusing to get out of bed.)

At any rate, if she's not out of bed by the time the occupational therapist gets here at 2:15, I'll have an ally in my camp.  Maybe she'll know what to say to encourage mom decide to get out of bed.

Until then, Click here to see the video of her looking at her mail.  Enjoy!  Hope you all have a wonderful day.

(Edit:  It is now after six, and except for a short break with the Occupational Therapist, mom has been rereading Aunt Bonnie's card and looking at the pictures from Jeanie ALL DAY LONG.  Every once in a while, she'll say to me:  "Look at this.  Did you see this before?" and she'll show me a picture or the card.  She is so happy.)

Saturday, January 3, 2015


See me trying out the walker in the parking lot :-)

Stephan Peters, THE most amazing second hand shop shopper, found this today for the bargain price of $4.99!  WOWZA! We'd adjusted Mom's walker as low as it could go, and it was still a few inches too tall.  Both her occupational therapist and her physical therapist have been checking to see if insurance would cover a shorter one, and this one is perfect.  No need to bother with begging Medicare anymore.  It is the exact same brand she had already, but it is little enough for the little person she has become.  In fact, it has to be adjusted up!  How cool is that?  I think it's pretty cool.

You can see that it is almost at my hip level - almost adjusted right for me in this picture.  Mom's hips are still higher than mine from the floor up because most of the shrinking she's dealing with is in her spine. Mom used to be about five feet tall, and she stood just a little bit taller than my four foot ten, but now she's about three or four inches shorter than I am.

Stephan moved the wheels from the front of the old walker onto the new after we got home, and she's already gone for a trial walk.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Catching Smiles

This video was taken the day after Christmas when Aunt Bonnie called mom.  The handset works amazingly well.  She seems very comfortable talking with it. (Thanks, Brian)

Whenever her sister calls, Mommy always smiles a lot while on the phone, and I was trying to get one of those images to share with you all.  However, instead of smiling while she was listening to her sister, Mom got distracted by me and the camera, but we got to see a smile anyway.

Click here to see it.

After I caught it on film, I left the room so she could talk without being distracted by me.  She probably smiled dozens of real smiles after I left, but at least we caught a nice smile and a laugh on the camera before that.  :-)