Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Mom, mom!

Mom, mom!!

I may have made a little mess.

Come see!

Yes, a mess.

I am not sure how this happened.

It just happened.

I don't think it is too bad.

Let me check it from the other side.

Looks a little better from this side.

Maybe a little worse from up here.

How did all that paint come out of that little can?

I think I need a bath.

I love baths.

Mom can clean up the paint.

Funny, both my husband and son Jason saw him with the paint can. Both of them let him keep it because they didn't think he could open it! Yes, I gave them the look.  I also told them to take anything away from him that they thought could make a mess, assume that he could open it. As Jason and I were taking pictures John said that this wasn't the time for pictures. We both laughed and said that this was one of those big picture moments.  The damage has already been done.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Pooky Bear

Fifteen years ago my husband retired from Hawaii to his home state of Michigan. We lasted one year in Michigan.  The record breaking snow that they had that year was enough for this Texan!  While in Michigan we acquired a kitten. We have other cats but she has always been the sweetest one. She didn't snap at the kids when they pestered her.  She was a great supplier of voles, often leaving them in our bedroom. She was more fur than anything.

She has been slowly declining.  On Sunday I could tell that she was dying. I told the kids. I sat and hed her for part of the day. When I went to bed I laid her in a blanket thinking that I might have to go and put her down if she started to show distress. In the morning I checked on her and she had passed away in the night.

A lot has happened in those 15 years.  Several moves and several kids added to our home. They were good years that passed so quickly and Pooky Bear had a good life with not many health problems until recently.

I had some sad kids and lots of discussions.  We buried her in the backyard and said our farewells. I know it was time for her to go but I will miss the old days where she hung out on my desk and sat on any papers I needed.

Goodbye sweet Pooky Bear.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Welcome to Adulthood

Being an adult, no one realizes how difficult it is until you actually get there! We emphasis to our kids that they need to get a good education.  That it is very important. I have told all my kids that the responsibilities of adulthood are not as fun as it looks.  Yes, you can do whatever you want, and a big however, a big part of that is that you actually have to have money to do those fun things.  Actually, you have to have money for just the basics and then if you have any left over money you can have fun. 

In an effort to have them actually see these I developed a game for my kids, Welcome to Adulthood.

The kids did some research on jobs, take home pays, costs of certain activities. They were shocked that you don't get to take home all your paycheck and the costs of some things.

We discussed what some needs and wants were.  We wrote down costs for those items locally. We wrote down how much it is to have a pet and own a car.

Then I gave the kids their paychecks in cash. First they had to purchase the need items.  Then they got to the want items.  Michelle decided that she will move to an area with mass transportation so she won't need a car.  She tried to go without a cell phone but that didn't go well when she missed a call from work.

Periodically I would add wrinkles to their lives.  They got sick, had to do car repairs, forgot their moms birthday and many of those other annoyances in life that drain your bank account.

I showed them our bills. Talked about our income and how we got there. Talked about my jobs in college and how I lived broke. How you can do with less, but there is a point where you want to be comfortable.

By the end of the game they were all broke.  They didn't make it through the month. They wanted better jobs so that they could make more money. Then they wanted to play again and again. I am in the process of developing a game with cards that they turn over and such. I hope to finish it this week.

I am not sure if it will change their opinion of school and their education. I do know that it made them realize that their income directly effects what they can afford to do. They also know that they have to pay for water!

Thursday, January 21, 2016


Emma has been back in school for two days now. She is happy with her class placement and came home yesterday all excited about being back in the social space of school. At this time she says that it is easy and I imagine that it is.  What they are covering in math we already covered at home and in class last year.  I will be curious to see where how she does when they get to the point where she started seriously fighting me.

I have watched Larissa listening to Emma's excitement and wondered how she felt about it. Yesterday she said that it was strange not having Emma at home.  Today she told me that she wanted to go to school but can't.  I just listened and she told me that she can't do school all day.  She said that it gives her headaches and then she can't do homework when she gets home.  She feels tired all day and even recess is a struggle.

It saddens me that she wants to go but knows that medically she can't do it. I also worry for her future and holding down a job.

When John was gone for 3 weeks I had Larissa sleep with me.  I noticed that on days where there wasn't much activity she didn't have seizures. However, when anything new or exciting was going on she would have seizures at night.  When we went to the beach she had a lot of seizures to include in the car on the way home when she fell asleep. Her seizures are connected with her activity level. I don't know if that is a normal thing or not.  We are looking at other options and are considering changing neurologists. We have heard about a group in Charleston and are going to see if we can get a referral to go there.

Larissa has said that she wants to go to middle school when she gets to 6th grade so I talked with the school today. They said to deal with her math as though she has the accommodation to use a calculator for everything. I need to rethink my math curriculum and see what I need to change. I am not concerned about language arts although her spelling is erratic.  Sometimes she spells a word correct and then later spells it wrong. Sarah had a lot of trouble with her spelling but writes great today, the computer helps a lot with that.  I think that I need to have Larissa write more often on the computer.

Anthony had a blip in school where he stopped doing his work.  Once communication between the teacher and I improved Anthony buckled down and completed all his work. He seems to be holding his own in middle school. The level of support that he receives seems to be adequate for him at this time.  He has had some struggles with behavior but has turned that around. After his second write up I pulled all his Nike clothing thinking that might be a motivator for him to earn it back.  Yes, the pulling of all things Nike motivated him. His teacher reports that his little disrespectful comments, talking in class and such have all disappeared. He has earned all his Nike clothing back. It is funny what motivates some kids and nice when you find a motivator. He wants computer and PS4 time which were motivators for doing his assignments.

I wish that I could find a motivator for Michelle. She does not have any learning disabilities (she was tested).  However, she brings home some very low grades. She is very lazy about completing assignments. She has been working on a project at home and was shocked when I didn't accept her report that she completed in 10 minutes. She is doing a project on Nelson Mandela. I asked her a few questions which told me that she really had no idea what he did or even what apartheid was. I pointed out spelling errors, grammatical errors and where she needs to add some information. I helped her with spelling corrections and had her go read more.  She sat and cried and carried on. I just looked at her like "really". This is for a class that she is failing.  She has lost all electronics and is quite mad.  She knows what she has to do to earn them back. Sometimes I wonder if she wants held back or home schooled. She is failing two out of four classes. Her birthday is in July and she is in the 5th grade.  Larissa's birthday is two months later in September and she is in the 4th grade.

It is frustrating because we give her the tools, time, and help but she refuses to study or do her work well.  We have 4 kids in school, each with their own challenges.  We do not compare them because that is not fair. However, we want each child to do the best that they can. If the best that you can do is a C then we understand that. However, if we know that you can do A/B work and you are failing then there is a problem. Any motivation suggestions?

In an effort to show the kids the importance of an education I developed a game, Welcome to Adulthood.  More on that tomorrow.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Fairy Houses

We had some fun making fairy doll house with salt containers. Actually this project can be made with any tube.  The girls are eyeballing the oatmeal container.

The girls designed their doors and windows and I cut them out.  They were actually very easy to cut with a knife.

For the roof we used thin cardboard from items such a cereal boxes and such. I cut a circle about 1 1/2 inches bigger than the salt container size and then we cut up to the center and cut off a piece of cardboard. There is no exact measurement on this because they were all different.  We slid it together until each girl got the shape they wanted.  We then stapled it together.

At this point it is all about decoration. We covered our in felt but they could be painted or covered in any type of material.

After covering in felt we used small pointed scissors to cut out the windows and doors.

We put tea lights in them to light them up.  They did look pretty lit up but I need to add a caution here.  Those tea lights have those little button batteries that are dangerous to little ones when swallowed.  Benjamin grabbed one and was able to open it very quickly to get to the battery.  We are gathering up all our tea lights and putting them out of his reach.

Emma did some felting and then added some stickers.

Larissa cut out many small shapes of felt for hers.

She really enjoyed it and spent a lot of time designing hers.

With an opening cut in the back it becomes a mini playhouse.

Larissa worked on hers after Benjamin was in bed.

We used two types of glue.  When working with felt thicker glue is best. This Fabri-tac glue is expensive and smells awful but works great and dries quickly.

Tacky glue is cheaper but takes longer to dry.  
We didn't have any problems with it bleeding through the felt.

 Add a mini fairy doll for some play fun. Next we need some mini furniture.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Vascular Dementia

Years ago my mom had a huge stroke.  I have seen the MRI, there is a huge black area in her brain that was destroyed. Over the years she had other strokes in spite of the fact that her blood pressure is under control. With each stroke she loses a little more. I was told by a doctor that she has vascular dementia. Dementia that is brought on by the strokes. In some ways it is similar to Alzheimer's. Dementia is dementia after all.  However, the biggest difference is that while dementia from Alzheimer's is like a slope, dementia from vascular dementia is like steps.  You stabilize for a while and then have a small stroke and lose something followed by another period of stabilization. Sometimes you notice the stroke and sometimes you don't.

Sometimes I notice that my mom is more "off".  Lately I have noticed that she is losing  more abilities. She had a short period of time when her eating was off. This was followed by a day when she didn't want to drink. I was really worried then the next day she started back eating and drinking. However, she lost something, her ability to effectively use eating utensils.  Having the ability to feed herself was always an important skill for me. I can cook for her and provide for her, but feeding her all the time is difficult. If I just had my mom to take care of it would be fine, but I don't. She will eat finger foods so I have purchased a lot of health bars and such to supplement her meals.  My moms caregiver saw the same decline and stops by most week days at dinner time to help.  Dinner time is the hardest part of my day with the kids and I don't have time to feed her then.

Another concern I have is her stiffness.  She always pulls to her right in a fetal position. I massage her legs to get them straightened out and shift her but she always ends up in the fetal position. She doesn't have any bed sores but I worry that she isn't repositioned enough. From what I read this is a big issue in nursing homes so I don't feel that she would get better care in a nursing home. Actually I think that if she went to a nursing home at this time she wouldn't live long.

In spite of her slow decline she still has interactions with her family.  Benjamin loves playing with her and interacts with her in a loving way.  He helps with her care. He loves her.

Some days I doubt myself.  Some days I worry that what I do is not enough.  Some days I tire of being the caregiver. Yet, every day I get up and do what I have to do because that is who I am, my mom's daughter.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016


Noah entered this world at 9:43 pm weighing in at 7 lb 14 oz and 21 inches long. He is a beautiful baby and I was priviledged to be in the delivery room when he was born.

Kassi did a great job and had a beautiful delivery.

These two new parents are about to embark on the most wonderous adventure.

I love baby feet.

We are excited to have another grandchild and look forward to spoiling him rotten.  I imagine that one day he will get into trouble with Benjamin and Vaida. Such a blessing.