Archive for February, 2011

February 27, 2011

I cleaned my bathroom with food!

Baking Soda, Apple Cider Vinegar, Lemon Juice.

Have I turned into some crazy earth mama? Yes, but that’s not the main reason I did it, the main reason is I’m cheap! Between working part-time and my husband starting his own business with a friend in 2009 our finances have never been leaner. So I have been learning to make the most out of the least and am always happy to report on great experiments in frugality. Yesterday I cleaned our monstrous shower with the ingredients listed above and it turned out quite well! And when Clara drank bath water last night I’m happy to report I didn’t cringe wondering how much chemical residue she just ingested.


February 25, 2011

I love her smile

Stevie Wonder wrote “Isn’t She Lovely” for his daughter, Aisha, and every time I look at this smile his words echo in my mind.

In between a crazy day of errands Tuesday I found a small slice if time to head out in the backyard with my mom and my daughter and snapped up these shots.



I love watching Clara interact with my mom because Clara is pure love. She has nothing but smiles and the cutest “c’mon” you have ever heard. Even when my mom is feeling blue, Clara can usually wrangle a smile out of her.  Years ago a therapist told me that I am a “people pleaser” (I’m sure many of you ladies out there have heard that before!) and it’s true. I thought it was something ingrained in me by years of watching my mom do somersaults trying to make everyone happy. But then I watch my daughter and wonder how much “people pleasing’ is in the genes. She is still learning to talk but willingly and excitedly helps me set the table (okay so the plates teeter precariously on the table edge), sweep the floor, and empty the dishwasher. Surely she is acting from pure nature not nurture, right?

Whatever it is, it is unconditional love in its sweetest form.

February 18, 2011

I used to be her favorite

While this blog was created for my mom, there are definitely plenty of other people in my life that warrant writing about, in particular my grandmother Rafi, my father’s mother.

Growing up we never called her grandma, just Rafi. That was probably attributed to my father’s tumultuous upbringing and my grandparent’s cool attitude towards affection. Anyway, I was my grandmother’s favorite, no doubts. Rafi always wanted a daughter but ended up with two sons. My father joked once that the only way his mother would love him was if he got a sex change… when her first grandchild was a girl, well, you can guess how much I was doted upon.

In recent years, however Rafi has also suffered with dementia, though unlike my mother, Rafi has what I like to call good old-fashioned senility. Remarkably she still lives on her own with regular visits from a caregiver, my dad, and my brother, and she is content to eat cake, watch the weatherchannel all day and generally be left alone. I used to visit her regularly but once I had children it became harder for me to pop over to her place. And when I did bring my kids to see her they usually started crying the minute she opened the door (she does bear a slight resemblance to a witch). My sporadic visits took their toll on our relationship, and the last time I visited her she screamed at me, “La drona, la drona!” (thief) and threw me out of her house! Two Christmases ago she hit me when I tried to get her to wash her hands, and at this point she has no idea who I am.  I pretend it doesn’t hurt but it does.

In the past few months my grandmother’s aggression has hit a 10 and her caregiver asked if there was anything we could do since she is tired of hiding the breakables when she visits (my grandmother likes to throw pots at people). I volunteered to look into it since I am persona non grata over at her place and want to help her out in some way.  Well, I am happy to report that after a month of discussion with doctors and a local hospice agency we finally have medication in hand; something that will hopefully calm her down and perhaps, if we are lucky, allow us to give her her first bath in two years. I’ll save the bathing discussion for another post….

So this morning my dad, my grandmother’s caregiver, and I will attempt to tame this wild woman, and maybe, just maybe I’ll be her favorite again.

February 15, 2011

I Saw a Ghost Yesterday

It was the ghost of Valentine’s future.

In the pile of mismatched socks, library books, and puzzle pieces that graces my dining room table sat a Ziploc bag of cards; I noticed them there about a week ago and assumed they were from my mother-in-law, Mary. I thought she had sent Valentines for the kids and my husband forgot to mention it. So yesterday I opened them up and was stunned to find they were signed Grandma Linda. It stopped me dead in my tracks to see they were from my mother. My mom cannot shop and can barely read these days but there in front of me were two cards with her distinctive signature addressed to my children.  It was as if the ghost of my true mom had visited to bring a little joy to my kids on Valentine’s Day.

It was beautiful.

In the end I must thank not a ghost but two angels I have for aunts. Turns out one of them bought the cards and the other coached my mom to sign them. Sometimes it’s the little things that I miss most, my mom’s handwriting, sentiments from a grandmother to her grandchildren, the thought of someone carefully selecting cards for a special occasion….

Thank you Aunt Dianne and Aunt Nancy and Happy Valentine’s Day!



February 12, 2011

I’m Terrified of Puke!

I should have known something was up when my daughter Clara refused her breakfast the other morning. I took her temperature but it was normal and she was perky and happy.

Skip ahead to the evening and both her and her brother are now hotter than coals on a flaming BBQ, burning up with fever! Oh no! Thus begins the dreaded sickness waiting game, will they or won’t they get worse…..and my personal phobia, will they or won’t they throw up?

Last year we had two major stomach bug incidents, one of which landed my poor son in urgent care with an IV drip for dehydration. Since then any sign of illness imparts severe dread in me, the memory of Alonzo lying pale and listless hooked up to an IV for three hours is still painful. Then two months ago both kids caught something again and it was ten, count ’em, ten days of off and on puking for my little ones…..I went through so much laundry I ran out of what I thought was an endless stash of blankets and towels.

So I stayed home from work yesterday to hopefully help the kids nip whatever it was in the bud and what do you know, they are feeling better!

Whew! Feel like I dodged a bullet!

February 9, 2011

I Left My Purse At Brats Brothers

Yesterday was a challenge.

One of the duties I have at my son’s preschool is to go out into the community and solicit donations for the annual fundraiser. Last Friday I called Brats Brothers about a possible donation and the owner told me to stop  in on Tuesday afternoon to talk more. Tuesdays my mom is with me.

So it’s about time to go over to Brats Brothers and I have the following caregiver dilemma: my dad is at a meeting, my brother can’t come over, and my husband is working on two deadlines… I take my mom and the kids and make the meeting, or go another time and risk looking flaky? My mom had been off and on crazy and emotional all day, so I hand her a small glass of wine, get the kids dressed, and decide to make the meeting.

We head over to Brats Brothers and the owner is amazing, not only is he willing to donate to our event, he whips us up a sample platter, AND it turns out he used to be an architect! So of course we hit it off, chatting about the state of the architectural business; meanwhile my kids are puttering around the restaurant and my mom is, well, at first she was smiling but after a couple minutes of me gabbing with the owner she is now scowling, at him!  I whisper to him that she has dementia and he smiles and tells me his father is also suffering with it.

Skip ahead a few minutes, we are waiting for the sample platter and my mom is now pacing the restaurant angrily. Between watching the kids and calming her down, I try to hold a conversation with the staff members so we don’t look like a freak show. At one point I take her outside to try to reason with her but she is on the verge of tears. Finally I go inside and ask if we can take the sample to go, and the owner understandingly says, “No problem!”. A minute later we hightail it out of there and I avoid a major mom meltdown in public.

We head back to the house and my dad has just come to pick my mom up, my husband is taking out the trash and asks me for something out of my purse…my purse, my purse it’s in the car, right? Uh, no…’s nowhere to be found so it must be, OMG at Brats Brothers! Haven’t I caused enough commotion there for one day? My son and I head back over there where my purse is waiting. Once again I explain about my mom and once again the owners are nice and understanding.

The point of this story? Even though things are stressful, most people have a lot of empathy (or sympathy) for our situation. That goes for strangers, co-workers, fellow families at my son’s school. I don’t know if secretly people are ready to run away from us but outwardly their show of support and understanding is amazingly comforting. Thank you!

BTW the brats were amazing!

February 7, 2011

I Love Being a Mommy!

Does life get any better than this? My husband was working a job and my parents were away for the weekend. I took the kids to the Americana to see a balloon twister we want to hire for my son’s preschool fundraiser. Needless to say, they loved the balloon creations…..And I loved watching them chase each other around with balloons.

This is what life is worth living for.

February 6, 2011

I Know They Mean Well….

I know people mean well when they give me advice or ask questions about my mom. I try to be open because I often don’t know the right thing to say to people in tough situations and have put my foot in my mouth enough times to get a taste of the pavement. But in all honesty there are a few questions/comments that drive me bananas.

I’ll post about the first one here, it goes something like this, “Beyond forgetting things, what else does Alzheimer’s do?” Hmmmmmmmmmm where to begin, forgetting what you did yesterday or what you had for lunch does seem harmless, but forgetting how to use the restroom, how to read, how to use a fork, how to even speak, well, it impairs your whole life.

At the beginning when my mom was just really forgetful we found a way to deal with the seemingly minute problems associated with memory loss. When she forgot to turn off the faucet and flooded the bathroom at work TWICE, we installed an automatic shut-off faucet, when she stored raw chicken in the fruit bowl, we politely threw it in the trash and cleaned up the sticky bowl. But as her condition progresses forgetting impairs every aspect of her life, she can’t dress herself, bathe herself, prepare food, put on a seatbelt or open a car door. And soon I know she will forget even the things she can do now, like call me by name, laugh, feed herself, draw…..

So while the question is well meaning, think through what you can do without any form of memory. You are pretty much left with nothing.

February 5, 2011

I Love A Quiet House

I love getting up early……Since I stayed up watching Inception with my husband last night I didn’t get up until 7:00 AM. Usually I like to get up at 5 AM; the house is quiet, the cat sits quietly in my lap , and I can get some semi-focused work done on my husband’s business, my pre-school fundraising job, and poke around a little on the internet.  Peace and quiet is rare around my house and I relish it!

February 3, 2011

I Yelled At My Mom Today

My mom was on a rampage today, restless, angry, impatient, mean to everyone around her. I usually try to humor her when she gets like this but even humor failed to bring a  smile to her face. My wonderful Aunt Nancy has been in town caring for my mom for about 10 days and was verbally abused pretty much the whole time. If you didn’t know my mom had EOAD you would throw her out of your house!

Anyway, I usually try to keep it together with her but when she was repeatedly mean to my three year old son I snapped. “Don’t you talk to my son like that! I draw the line there!” I hissed.  And she hushed up, for a few minutes anyway…..I felt very bad because it’s not her fault her mind is a mess and she is confused and angry. I don’t blame her. But my little boy doesn’t understand and the last thing I want is for him to grow up to remember his “Lita” as a mean old lady. After all this is the woman who never uttered a bad word about anybody, EVER when I was growing up. I mean it.

Dementia sucks.