Thursday, June 30, 2011

North Carolina weekend

Well, I did it! I ran away last Friday and drove to Wilmington, NC to visit Sharyn for four full days! What a great time was had by all.

The visit was a mix of family and friends (and friend's family...). Big brother Mike was in Florida with his daughter Jennifer so he decided to do a road trip and, 12 hours later, he was at Sharyn's. She happened not to be home when he arrived, so I told him to go into the house and hit the bar - which he did.

Mary probably getting ready to get into trouble - again
Sharyn's sister, Mary, whom I adore, was in town visiting her daughter (Mary) and her family. So, we had a huge, impromptu reunion of sorts. Mary came over Friday evening where we tottled off (with friend Phil who was also in town) to Big Daddy's - a beach bar where Mary's daughter (and my mom's caregiver for this past summer) Kelly worked. Let's just say that we descended in, apparently, droves and had a blast. We gave Kelly a run for her money behind the bar before waddling off to another bar to listen to some music and do what only we could consider 'dancing.' I remember a lot of swaying, but I'm not sure it was intentional....Mary ended up spending the night at Sharyn's - smart move.

Saturday morning found us all walking around the downtown Cape Fear area, perusing the stalls at the local farmer's market - one of the nicest ones I've ever seen. Bought a jar of peanuts steeped in hot pepper juice. There happened to be a hot pepper in there and, I'm not exactly sure whose idea it was but let's just say my mouth was in flames for a good 10 minutes. I tried to express to anyone who would listen to me babble that I wanted my tongue cut out. No takers. Won't do THAT again though...

Saturday night, Sharyn and Mike went over to Kathryn's house for a crab dinner while I stayed behind and wallowed in my own company. It's so very rare that I'm totally alone these days. I know there will come a day when I wish I wasn't alone but, for now, a rare break is so very good for my soul.

Sunday at 3:30 am found brother Mike hitting the road back to Florida. That's a guy who will drive a LONG way for a party! He was only in Wilmington two days - sheesh. I've been ditched by better...

So, Sunday, Sharyn and I loaded up the car with every modern convenience needed for a trip to the beach and set up shop right on the shore. Mary and Kathryn came to meet us and that's where the wrong turn happened. We'll just leave it at this - I've been thrown out of better places than the Oceanic pier. It could have been Sharyn giving me the finger for this picture, or perhaps it was Kathryn knocking over a full margarita, or maybe it was Mary being, well Mary (did you note, dear readers, that I was excluded from being a troublemaker? That's because I was the angel of the group, and tried my hardest to keep the other three under control. Alas, to no avail. We were cut off. Sucked.

Sunday night found Kelly coming over to Sharyn's house to visit. We sent her off to bring back food from Indochine (a fabulous Thai restaurant in Wilmington) and we settled in for some sofa sitting. When Kelly was 2, she climbed atop my convertible celica and had her picture taken - as I recall, she demanded that we take the picture. So, we put her back on a convertible (the mercedes this time) 19 years later and took some pics.

Monday morning found me and Gizmo winding our way back home. Great top down weather and some wonderful memories from the weekend. It's so good to have great friends.

The start of the trouble at the Oceanic Pier

I'm not sure what she was doing but it was going to get us in trouble...

Might have been after some ice was dropped on those below us...

Shortly before we were cut off

Sharyn's response to the waiter - this sealed our fate

Kathryn's still clinging to the last sip....

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Great day with Mom and friends

Had a wonderful day yesterday as Robin came by to drop off a sweater and ended up staying most of the day. We had a blast! Had to, of course, introduce her to the locals at La Mex where we ended up staying for hours. John came up with us for just a bit and then generously offered to go home to Gert-sit so we could stay out. Jeff took over that duty in the afternoon so John went down to the boat for a pool party at the marina.

Ladies day out continued with Bobbi meeting Robin and me at LM.

All in all, a great time was had.

Oh, too, mom reports that her knee is feeling a bit better. I can see a different in her walking speed - we've graduated from snail to turtle...

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Another outing with Gert and Carina!

I took Mom to a pain specialist yesterday to see if there was anything we could do to help her with her walking - her left knee is literally bone on bone. This is the result of standing on the cement floor at Town Hall for years upon years as she worked behind the counter. There were no ergonomics in 1958....

So, she ended up getting 4 shots in the knee which was not nearly as painful to watch as it was for her. I now understand mothers who cry when their baby gets an immunization. It almost killed me to be there, but I couldn't leave her alone. I still have marks in my hand from where she squeezed. Anyway, the injections consist of a steroid that is supposed to relieve the swelling and pain for up to 4 weeks. We'll see. We also got a new cream to try on her knee 4 times a day. I'm hoping something helps her as the poor thing barely tottles these days. She walks like a duck....

After our visit to the doctor, Gert was ready for a bourbon so off we went to the local hole in the wall, La Mex where Carina and I (and a host of the locals) propped her up on the barstool. She loves the freshly made salsa and chips and I meted out just 5 chips as was cautious of the salt. La Mex makes the things right there and doesn't add salt to the outside so we'll see what condition she's in this morning when she awakes. She downed those chips and snuck a few others before I moved the basket away. An hour later, I dropped Carina and Mom back off (thank you God for caregivers) and returned to my same seat, next to Miss Lowe and surrounded by the other locals. Had a lot of fun before heading home to my Mama.

Carina and I made up this recipe for a delicious low sodium chicken pot pie. Click HERE to see the recipe. Please leave me comments on the recipe page as that raises it up in rank and means more cash!

All in all, a successful day. 

Friday, June 17, 2011

Carina, Carina, Carina

What a joy it is to find someone like Carina to help with caregiving of Mom. Yesterday, Carina gave Mom a manicure AND a pedicure - who's the lucky one? Mom loves these treatments! Carina is trying to get me to rub stuff into Mom's feet every day but, hey, that's above and beyond my duties. I leave that to Carina for the 5 days a week she's here.

She's also a master at doing hair as can be seen from my great hairdo in the photo. And, although she runs behind me and puts my stuff away in places I'd never think of (like, um...the closet....), she's still a keeper. Love her dearly.

Mom's demeanor today is much different than yesterday - she's back 'on', at least for a bit. Before I put her to bed last night, I told her:

"You're not to get up until it's light out."

I know from experience that the best way to get something to sink into her brain is for her to repeat it, so, I asked her to do just that.

Her reply: 'You're not to get up until it's light out.' Slight problem.

So, I said, 'No, YOU'RE not to get up until it's light out.'

My red, white and true blue dessert shooter
She looks at me and says 'No, YOU'RE not to get up until it's light out' and then she cracked herownself right the hell up. She laughed and laughed at that. Sick little sense of humor the woman has....Good thing she's cute!

I'm starting a website to spotlight my dessert shooter articles. It will be up (one day in the near future) and will be I spent all day yesterday at the library working on the thing and, alas, didn't get so far.  John will help me this weekend. But, Carina and Mom have really enjoyed the fruits (or desserts...ha ha) of my labor. The pics below prove it!

Mom is a dessert shooter fan

Hot fudge sundae dessert shooter

Maybe I can put some weight on the poor child....

Thursday, June 16, 2011

On being played by a 94 year old...

So, as predicted, Mom woke up a 4:05am confused. I put her back to bed and patiently (?) explained that she couldn't get up when it was still dark out. Clapped my hands together, that was that, went back to bed.

45 minutes later, my rolling thunder is rolling again. Shoot. So, this time, I wasn't quite as patient (?) and went to see why she was up AGAIN. I reiterated that it was still dark out, it wasn't time to get up yet!

She looks at me and says "I need something to eat. I'm getting sick to my stomach." Shoot. Damn. Alright...

So, by the time she'd come downstairs and was rolling into the kitchen, I'd thought this through.

I said: "Since you're getting sick to your stomach, I'm not sure coffee will be so good for you."

I wish I'd had the camera to capture the look on her face. It was a bit of astonishment, a bit of "uh oh, this ploy backfired," and a bit of "what the hell do I do NOW?!"

I just laughed and gave her the cup of coffee and toast.

Being played by a 94 year old can be kind of amusing.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

June 15, 1941

June 15, 2011 would be my folk's 70th anniversary if Dad was still living; he died 65.5 years into their love relationship. But, to me, it's still their 70th anniversary today. In 2021, it would have been their 80th, etc. June 15th will always be a magical day for me as it was a magical day for them.

Mom woke up fairly chipper today so we took the opportunity to hit the road! Mom, Carina, and I had a wonderful day shopping down at Tyson's Corner. We went looking for some new gowns and robes for Mom, but couldn't find the robes we needed so left empty handed. But, we did what any good shoppers would do - we had lunch!

Carina and I settled Mom into Legal Seafoods where I quizzed the chef about the sodium content of the gazpacho (are you listening Linda?!). When he couldn't come up with any hard fast numbers, I did the next logical thing and called John to check from his computer. 5 minutes later, and we still didn't have the answer so I did the next logical thing - I gave Mom the gazpacho. 

There are some times when it's just worth it to take the risk. Mom loves gazpacho so I just told her that she had to drink more water when we got home (she didn't) but, all in all, the time out of the house with Mom is worth what the setback will be tomorrow - she'll probably wake up tomorrow confused, get a bit centered around 11 am and then drift back off. And, Carina and I will be there to catch her and center her back as much as we can.

This aging stuff is for the birds. It's a tough road to follow and even tougher to try and lead. I want so much for Mom to be comfortable and happy and, gosh, I hope she is. She is my treasure and will always be. I'm so lucky to have had the parents that I did; so few are as lucky.

I've rarely had a chance to really miss my Dad as I "married" Mom the day after Dad died. But there are times when I still feel him around me. I particularly feel him sometimes when I look in John's eyes and see the kindness there. John looks at me with the same love and respect that my Dad had for my Mom.

Could I possibly be any luckier? I know that John and I don't have anywhere near the longevity that Mom and Dad had but, then again, I know my Dad would does my Mom...I have no doubts of that...

It's up and down. Up and down.

I never quite know what state I'll find Mom in from moment to moment. This morning, she's about 65% there which is a vast improvement over the last 7 days when she was really not here much at all. Unfortunately, one of the side effects of aging is that these things happen. And, almost more unfortunately, it's difficult to make any plans at all as her mental faculties may wane from moment to moment; just because she's mostly 'here' right now doesn't mean that she'll be the same in an hour.

Mike called last night and happened to get her at exactly the right moment. She was just "Mom" again. There's a wild fire in Arizona and she was concerned to make sure that his family (in Tucson) was well. She put those thoughts together herself which clued me into the fact that she was on the way back, if only for a while.

I took the occasion to share a glass of Harvey's Bristol Cream Sherry with her. We clinked glasses, toasted to the future, and had a nice chat. Those moments are becoming increasingly special.

She's adapting (and even liking) her new bed. I love that she can get in and out of this bed on her own as I have it set to a low height. I've been sleeping in the guest room the last two nights to check on her so I'm lacking in my own mental faculties at the moment. Exhausted.

I'm in the process of setting up my own website. It will be I've already registered the name and now just have to figure out how to create the sucker. Should be interesting.

Carina and I spent about 10 minutes yesterday coming up with 2 new dessert shooters. Here's the article about the 4th of July Dessert Shooter - please leave me comments if you read it as that helps the article move up the ranks. Mom was the proud recipient of this particular treasure and ate every single drop. We also made a hot fudge sundae dessert shooter - Carina's first ever hot fudge sundae! She was amazed. That recipe will be coming.

While I'm at it, I updated a few lenses so give them a looksie (and a comment!) too:

Dessert Shooters - the new mini dessert craze
Dessert Shooter Custard Recipe

The pictures are of my gorgeous very significant other with his new car! Yes, we're "sportin'" again! Other pic is me at Angler's Inn on my 53rd birthday. Sporting a gorgeous new emerald necklace. I'm so very so very many ways...

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

More changes are here.

I finally wised up and got Mom's doctor to give me a prescription for a hospital bed. The benefit of this type of bed for my Mom is ease of getting in and out of bed by herself. Her old bed was too tall for her to easily scoot in but, with the hospital bed, it's much easier as I can set the height to about 10" from the ground (well, she's not that short!).

I checked her 3 times last night when she got up to use the commode. I stayed clear and watched her from the door. She easily got up and got back in bed on her own. Besides taking off her oxygen each time (which I replaced), she had a pretty good night. I'm hoping the bed continues to be a good thing as, one thing I've noticed is that, depending on the day, she might love or hate something which she loved or hated yesterday. I just have to stay patient through the 'hate' days and know she'll be fine with whatever changes I put in her path.

Carina and I tried hard to set up Mom's bedroom so there were few changes, except for the addition of the new bed. We did leave her old bed in the room for 1) her emotional comfort and 2) for me to sleep in if I should have to. Currently, I sleep in the "dog room" (aka, the guest room) which is right across the hall from Mom's room when I need to keep an eye on her.

Carina and I are hoping to get Mom out today to Bed, Bath and Beyond (which Mom loves) and maybe to one other stop (to be determined). It's going to be a gorgeous day over here and no reason at all not to hit the streets!

Been busy writing articles of Squidoo and am actually starting to make some money there. Just got my first half of my payout from eHow purchasing all of my articles which was a welcome addition to my PayPal account.

I'm trying to keep this Squidoo lens in the top 2000 - it just fell today to 2200 range. I'd appreciate my readers clicking the link and leaving me comments (that boosts ratings). Thanks!

Dessert Shooters - The new mini dessert craze

Anyway, here's some of my Squidoo articles dealing with the challenges of growing older (and caring for someone doing just that):

Causes of dementia in the elderly
Resources for Caregivers of Aging
Caring for the elderly. Birdwatching from a lazy boy recliner
Cooking a low sodium diet for the elderly
Senior Citizen Gift Ideas
Good Gifts For Caregivers

Sunday, June 12, 2011

And, AWAAAAY we went!

John and I actually got a night out on Friday night, thanks to Carina volunteering to spend the night with Mom. I took full advantage and left at 10 am when Carina came in - headed down to Solomon's Island where John joined me a few hours later (he had to work, poor sot...).

Somehow, I actually got to drive the Miata which is about the most fun I've had in a car for, well...awhile. John brought the Solara, top down, towing the jet ski - a set up that turns heads as he's just gorgeous and he has toys!

So, I settled into the room before John got there and had a few hours of just "me" time which is also very valuable as I rarely get away alone any longer. Had a great time all by my lonesome but, I will admit, I had a MUCH better time once John knocked on the door!

We immediately put the jetski in and off we went. Solomon's Island is at a point where the beautiful Patuxent River meets up with the Chesapeake Bay. The Patuxent was like glass on Friday (and most of Saturday too) so we tooled right on over to the Tiki bar where we bar hopped around this island for a bit and had a general fabulous time. There was an acoustic guitar guy playing at the Tiki bar, and, after sitting a spell and having a few Mai Tais, Alfonso (John's ex-dockmate) showed up and joined in the merriment. Alfonso's boat, the aptly named "Imagine", is docked right across from the Tiki bar. We miss him at Harrington Harbor but, boy, I can see why he swapped spots.

So, we bar hopped, caught up with an old friend, and had a wonderful time.

Saturday morning at 6 am found us downing coffee and breakfast before hitting the jetski again. We headed up the Patuxent for about 40 miles! It was so beautiful and very few people were on the river so it felt like it was all ours. Great Blue Herons, Anhingas, and Osprey were all looking for breakfast. So interesting to watch these beautiful birds dive from amazing heights and come up with fish.

Anyway, we had just an amazing ride. Did a few nice dips in the very warm river before heading back to check in with Alfonso again. Along the way, we buzzed good friend Kim who was down camping with her family at the Naval installation there. A quick wave later and we were off again!

Trailered the jet ski and headed up to John's marina to hit the pool before I had to come home. After an hour or so lazing in the pool, a huge thunderstorm came up so we raced back to the boat and took a wonderful nap as the skies opened up. Just 30 short minutes later, it was time for Cinderella to return to her normal life so I climbed into the Solara (no Miata ride this sad) and towed the jetski home. All in all, a great weekend.

A few pics to document this mini-vacation!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

John's 3D camera

Ok, so first, it was the 3D laptop that is really something! I mean, the picture on the computer monitor is so 3D it's a little freaky. So, the next logical purchase was a 3D camera. I can't WAIT to show this stuff to friends and family!

John shot a still photo of Killian and, in 3D, it looks like he's coming right through the monitor. As John says, Killian is sort of frozen in time as he is still but his head follows you wherever you move - reminds me of a picture of my Dad's grandmother (Sanasora) that we have. Back in the day (1800s), Jewish women wore wigs and looked very severe in photos. This particular photo used to hang in my Aunt Gertie's house and I think it was Ron who was scared to death of it. It now hangs in my foyer and is still a little creepy...

Anyway, with the 3D camera, the pictures sort of come alive as you move. It's very strange and interesting.

John's been taking some videos of Mom lately which is very sweet and will be nice to have in the future. It's kind of weird though as the 3D videos are like watching a miniature Gert. It's like you can touch her, Very weird indeed.

We're supposed to go to Mom's dentist today, but she's quite confused this morning so that trip is off. Not a problem though as I think she healed faster than I would have - no ramifications at all (or pain) from having the tooth root pulled last week. She's been brushing daily with flouride toothpaste in the hopes that we can keep the rest of her teeth in her head!

I just got a prescription for a hospital bed for Mom as she can't easily get into be alone which means I have to be up more at night. If Lori ain't happy, ain't no one happy and getting even less sleep than normal is not good for me. So, we should have that bed on Monday. It will be nice as it can be lowered or raised so it will work better for both of us.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The changes - they're a comin'

Mom's had a few bad "off" days the last 3 days. Not exactly sure why she's been mentally floundering as she's drinking her water, but I know she's in a fair amount of pain from her knee which can cause confusion also. I've been trying to be patient as I walk behind her at a snail's pace (it took us 10 minutes to get from the steps to the kitchen yesterday) but I find these changes frustrating, confusing and sad.

John though, has been a saint in the "Keep Gertie pink" campaign. He gently takes me aside and gives me small pep talks about how to accept these changes. He's got the best advice ever. He told me just yesterday that I need to remember that the woman I care for today is not the same as the woman I cared for yesterday, last week, last month, or last year. And, he's so true.

There are moments still though when she looks in my eyes and I know she is who she was. That sweet smile that comes over her face and her "I love you, Lori" let's me know that my mom (as I knew her) is still in there somewhere and still visits frequently.

So, the only thing I can really do is stick even closer, hug even more, tell her I love her as often as possible and practice patience, patience, patience.

As an interesting side note, I'm sitting on the deck with her right now writing as she's napping, waking, sipping her coffee, and napping again. I picked up yesterday's paper and, for lack of anything better to do, I read the horoscopes. I probably haven't done that in a year as I'm not a big believer in that stuff but, yesterday's were almost too spot on to ignore.

Here's my horoscope (Gemini):

A loved one's situation is complicated. Maybe there's some way to help that you haven't thought of yet. Try to imagine what you would like for yourself if you were in the same situation.

And here's Mom's (Scorpio):

As the sign of tranformation, you have a natural grace when it comes to making changes. Your secret is to concentrate on who you are becoming and let go of the rest.

Amen to both of those. Amen.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Outing with Mom

Well, yesterday was my birthday and it was a great day, all the way around! Scooped Mom up and Carina, Mom and I headed off to La Mex to meet up with Bobbi. Favorite bartender Mo was on board so we sat and chatted and had a cocktail for a few hours. Came home and got ready to be picked up by John for dinner at Angler's Inn. OMG! That place is still the best dinner around. Sat outside in their beautiful garden and had a great time. Delicious food and, more importantly, a delightful man by my side.

Life, dear readers, is good....Here's a few more fun pics:
I, of course, look like crap here but everyone else is darling

She's just too darn cute! It was a good day!

She's too darn cute too! What would I do without Carina?!

Steve is one of the locals - he's a huge fan of Gert's

Me and my very significant other in the backyard pre dinner

What an amazing man. I'm not sure what I did to get so lucky but I'm so glad he's the second half of my life...

Friday, June 3, 2011

Well, Gert's about as happy as can be...

Not only is Doris (the new caregiver) totally spoiling Mom, but, now, Carina is in on that game too (well, she always has been actually) but she's moving her game up a notch.

I came home 2 days ago to find Carina giving Mom a pedicure, including a nice soaking and massage. I told Mom not to expect this kind of treatment when they're not here.

Not a bad life if you can get it...

We're planning a girl's lunch out today. Carina, Mom and I are heading to my favorite watering hole, La Mex, as Mo, the bartender has specifically requested to see Mom. So, off we'll roll. Bobbi is coming up and Kimberly is going to try to make it too. Loads of fun.

I've got a caregiver until 11 pm so John and I will head out for some dinner and dancing fun tonight. Date night, here we come!

I've been writing more articles on Squidoo where the money is finally starting to come in. It's slow but steady at the moment and, with eHow no longer in the picture, it's the cream of the crop so far in replacing that residual income.

Here's my latest efforts. Please share these links as I need all the love I can get!

The Dukan Diet

Dessert Shooters - The new min...