“…and aspire to live quietly…”

Simplify simplify simplify….it sounds so easy. We are constantly barraged with methods to simplify our lives. Methods on how to purge clothing. Ideas on how to clear clutter. Ways to work through all the paper that comes through the house on a regular basis. Ideas for organizing cupboards and pantries. How to do a better job of washing clothes and folding laundry. Ways to put your food in the freezer, or better ways to organize your spices. Pretty much anything you own can be organized better, and you can live with less.

Over a decade ago, we were forced to downsize. It was a big lesson in over-consumption. We had to get rid of so many of the things we thought we needed. Somehow we fit a very large house of two stories to a smaller, single story home. We purged and we crammed ourselves into that little house. And then we moved again, out of state. We let the movers move us that time. And then, we did a huge purge. We put our 2-story, 4 bedroom home into a 25-foot U-Haul truck and drove thousands of miles to our new residence. I am prayerful it is the very last time we move. Interestingly enough, we have left a lot in the garage in boxes. We are starting to enjoy simple and plain and comforting…less clutter on the walls, and far less all around us.

As we have grown and been married over the past 33 years, we have had children, and moved, and we have grown in the amount of cyber space we occupy. We didn’t intend to have this big presence on social media. We assumed what is private is private. It’s sort of like when your 3-year-old talks to strangers. There is no expectation of privacy, because they have not developed that privacy filter, yet. If you want to know what is going on in a family, seek out the youngest member and just engage them in conversation. No prompting is necessary. They spew all sorts of fun facts. And I believe that is what has happened with the Internet. We expected privacy. But inadvertently, we were those same 3-year-olds, who intermittently spewed far too much information.

I was recently perusing my social media accounts and I was amazed at the information I had given away. If you list places you are, places you live, dates, names of children, dates of different events (birthdays, weddings, graduations, etc.) along with indiscriminate photos that may accompany that information, you have given scammers all they need to acquire a new identity – using your information. There was a case where a mom took her son to get his driver’s license, only to discover he already had one – in his name, with his Social Security Number, but a different face. Someone had stolen his identity years prior, but the parents had no inkling. And that is frightening.

The internet is a tool, but it is not everything. The younger generation seems to inhabit the internet and cyber space more than reality. They date on their phones, and break up on their phones. They live through Snap Chat and Instagram. Facebook is slowly fading from the younger generation, because it’s being inhabited by their parents! These teens don’t want to “share” with mom or dad on Facebook, so they pop over to Snap Chat or Instagram and post away. I barely understand how to post this blog or add an article on Facebook. I have no idea how Instagram or Snap Chat even work. But I am learning about Facebook, at the least. I found out I had placed far too much of my information and that of my family, on the web. I am not stupid, and I know that I have no expectation of truly eliminating that information, but I am downsizing and purging as much as I can. The information that is out there is scary. One step internet identity experts tell you to do, to evaluate your media presence, is to just Google yourself.

After Googling myself, I just sat there, staring at the screen. So much information about myself. Names of my kids; places I have lived (even the addresses); places I had visited (which is why I do not ‘check in’ on my phone anymore) and even former employers. I did see three different obituaries for me, and that sort of freaked me out. Some of the basic information contained in them was about me – and not the other person who had died with my same name. It was a sobering exercise in how much the World Wide Web knows about me. And it made me feel very, very uncomfortable.

I have grown more and more fond of my alone time. I love spending time at home. I am embarking on a journey of cooking. A journey of learning to be a better cook. I am looking forward to puttering in our garden and using the foods we grow in my meals. I don’t want to think of some Google Earth camera floating in outer-space watching my activities while I garden. But I know Google has views of our homes from above, and you can zoom in to your street, and even see your car parked in the driveway. But with everything on the internet, now they can “open the door and walk in”…because they know ALL about us. Each keystroke is logged and notated. Key words are flagged and comments read. I am not being paranoid…the social  media giants have admitted they gather information on everyone. They claim it is for advertisers and to make our internet experience more personalized and easier to navigate. And that algorithm does that, I am sure. But after I sat and thought about it, I really want to wipe some of my information out. It belongs to me. Events and moments that are priceless, to me. As I said above, I love being at home. I love being quiet. I enjoy living in the midst of the wilderness, and yet close enough to town that I am not too isolated. I can determine my presence in my physical community. My home is my center. My family is my root. My faith is the glue.

“…and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you,  so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.” 1Thessalonians 4:11-12

And I think the internet is pulling us in and making us dependent. I no longer write checks. Everything is electronic. I rarely carry cash – I have my ATM card. We are becoming an online world. But I want to lessen my footprint while I can. Someday I may leave social media altogether (I have been threatening to do it for years) but for now, I think I am going to “cull the herd” with all my social media contacts – aka “friends.” I am going to keep only true friends. People I know. People in my regular social circle. My family. I am leaving sites and pages and groups. I am pulling up the drawbridge and filling the moat with water…for now. I just think it is getting far too invasive. And I sort of feel violated…and complicit. Those keystrokes are far too easy. Amazon 1-click is a perfect example. And it is only one example. These are just some thoughts on the internet. My kids live on their phones and on all these different media platforms. I am not naive, either. But I still think I want to pull back a little bit. Well, maybe a lot.

 

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“…is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace…”

So I am awake. I have been since 3:30am. I hate when my brain wakes me up. Well, and my stomach. LOL. The two work in tandem on sleepless nights. I had another panic attack. And it gets my stomach acids churning. I get up and put my oils on, waiting for the pain and acidic feeling to go away. I apply some lavender, as it is a calming scent and I can usually waft off to sleepy-land. Not today. Ugh. Sometimes I get overwhelmed and I just sort of freak out. I can feel them coming on and I have a pretty onerous chat with myself. I berate myself and tell myself how silly this whole thing is. That my health will suffer if I allow these episodes to continue. And I pray. I am rattling off parts of the Rosary; I am practically chanting the Jesus Prayer (Jesus, son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner). Today, I added some Geranium oil and I love the scent. It is called the “poor man’s rose” because rose oil is so expensive. But I find I rather like the scent…it is not as heady as rose. And I head to my recliner (called a “push back” because there are no handles on the sides) and plug in my new electric blanket. The winds are howling. The outdoor Christmas lights are just about to go on…and I try to settle in. I try to relax. I drink lots of water and it seems to help. I added Panaway on my tummy and it is helping, too. My kitty climbs up and wants to cuddle. I don’t want my mom to get up and see that I am awake, or she will be up for the day. Otherwise, she will toddle off to bed and be asleep for a few more hours. So every time I hear an odd noise, I shut my laptop. LOL. So sneaky of me.

And worrying is constant. I worry I am not enough. That I am choosing the wrong things to do. That I am letting people down. That I am overweight and need to drop 100 pounds, and I had the best intentions, and then ate some Oreos (also known as sugar crack). I am digging myself a hole and I am not sure why. The electric blanket sure is wonderful, and the tiredness I feel is pulling at me. But when I shut my laptop and try to doze off, my brain gets going again. And I am right back at my 3:30am panic. I have prayed for peace. I have sought peace. And it is elusive. They say that caregivers’ health declines with the person they are caring for, and quite often die early due to the stress. I can see that. But it is only a facet of my life. It is not my entire life. It is certainly isolating. But I had a wonderfully full day yesterday, filled with grandchildren and my kids, my mom, and laughter. We had fun. So why panic? Ugh.

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air: They do not sow or reap or gather into barns—and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his lifespan?

And why do you worry about clothes? Consider how the lilies of the field grow: They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his glory was adorned like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans pursue all these things, and your Heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Today has enough trouble of its own. (Luke 12:22-34)

And these words give me comfort. As I read them, I relaxed. The thing I know is that I am not in this alone. But as a stupid human, full of free will, I take it all on. More than I need to. The grass is here, then cut, and thrown into the furnace. It is gone. Like our worries. LOL. So easy to say; so hard to do. Yesterday, I wanted to feel carefree and not be a worrier. I died parts of my hair purple. And this time, it took. And after it was done, I was glad it was not permanent color. It is wacky and fun, silly and stupid. Like so many other decisions we make in split seconds and have to live with for years.  At least it is temporary color. LOL. Other choices have much further, long reaching consequences. And that is where I hit my wall. And where my worry turns into panic and sleepless nights and stomach upset. I am digging my own, early grave, and I need to break this cycle. Truly I do. My kitty is purring and digging in next to me. I am drowsy. Maybe I can do this sleep thing. I am going to try. I cannot add a single hour to my lifespan, as Luke reminds us above, by worrying. I need to engrave that on my heart, my mind, and my soul.

New year – new me – small victories, I think….

I am so not a New Year’s Resolution person. At all. I rarely make them because I have no follow-through. LOL. At least I KNOW that about myself.

Over the past year, after completing a Whole30 and feeling amazing, and then returning to feeling miserable, we discussed our health ad nauseam. We discussed our lives. We chatted about friends and family, moving, and recreation. We have decided that our health is completely dependent on how we feed ourselves, how we sleep, how we recreate, and who we have in our lives on a regular basis. Our faith is the centerpiece of all of this; the nexus we revolve around.

In one area in particular, it pretty much falls on my shoulders to make a positive, and permanent, change. And so I am embarking on healthy cooking. I was never taught how to cook. And so this year, I am challenging myself to learn to be a better cook. I joined this amazing cooking club called Food52. Their premise is we cook 52 weeks of the year (hence the name) and if you want to eat better, you need to cook better. I also joined their monthly cooking club. I am beyond excited. I am learning to put flavor and technique together, to give my family basic meals that are savory, healthy, and from local providers. I love their outlook. And I have met (and become friends with) some women who are amazing cooks. And one in particular who has inspired me. She knows who she is – at least I hope she does!! She took me to an amazing place where I walked among raw grains and some fresh spices. I walked out of there (okay, we sort of “scurried” because it was so cold!!) with a new NutriMill mixer. (It’s a division of Bosch). And that started my transformation. Thank you, my friend.

Yesterday I whipped out two loaves of bread in about 10 minutes, from ingredients to first rise. That new mixer was incredible. So smooth and powerful and fast!!!  After about forty minutes, they were baking in the oven and the smell was pure heaven. If you have never made your own bread, you truly are missing something special. The kneading, the whir of the mixer, the smell of the warm yeast, and that aroma of fresh baked bread – there is nothing like it. And I also made-from-scratch some amazing potato-cheese soup. It was so wonderful on a very cold day, to smell the bread combined with the soup! And tonight, the leftover bread and soup tasted even more magnificent, as we took down all our Christmas decor and wondered at the fog and minus (yes, negative) four temperature outside.

If you want a treat and have not seen it, watch the movie Julie/Julia. It is a delight. I can relate to Julie, because I am going to try cooking from the infamous cookbook above. The cookbook that changed American kitchens forever. I used to watch Julia on TV as a kid and her voice is something you never forget. Watching her debone a chicken, or telling the food to do as it was told, beating it into submission some times, was something I treasure to have seen while young (her show is on YouTube, in case you have not experienced any of it). Amazon is a great place to find used books. I got both volumes for pretty cheap. And I anxiously await their arrival! In the Food52 monthly cooking club (they also have a baking club…oh my! The photos alone are killer) you are asked to cook from the main book, which is Julia Child’s book. They give you an amazing list of books to choose from, and ask you to cook at least one recipe from one of the alternates. It was hard to choose, and now that I have chosen, there are four or five others I would love to try. I will peruse the others and download recipes from them, as I am inspired!! Bouchon Bakery is one I would love to try, when I have patience – ha-ha! But the one I chose is “Small Victories.”

The author wanted a cookbook about home cooking. LOL. She said she wanted to “demystify” home cooking using lessons she calls, “small victories.” There are over 400 recipes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I need small victories on this journey, and I thought Julia Turshen could help me achieve them. I cannot wait to dig in to these recipes!!!

So, my resolution is to not be afraid to slice, dice, spice, and heat my way to new discoveries for all our meals. I am going to endeavor to cook from ingredients rather than boxes or mixes. And I want to learn to be comfortable in my own kitchen. I am also going to whip out my serving dishes and tablecloths. I want our meals to be a place of communion with one another and a healthy place to gather. Hopefully, friends and family will join us along the way, even if it is just to sample some of my culinary discoveries, small victories, and amazing meals.

The tree is coming down, and our New Year is beginning…our new adventure!

 

“…a time to tear and a time to mend…”

When the doctor first told us Mom should get her cancer treated, she said it would only be like 4-5 treatments. Then the first cancer doctor, who referred us to a radiation oncologist, told us maybe 10 treatments. So when the radiation oncologist told us, “We are going to schedule your radiation treatments. They will be daily for 6 weeks.” You could have knocked me over with a feather. And tomorrow? Tomorrow is her last treatment. I can’t believe 6 weeks has gone by so fast. The above-photo is of the reception area of the cancer center. It is like our other home and I can’t believe we won’t be regularly there. We will be back for follow-ups, but not daily treatments. Time is rushing by us, again.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die,

a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

(Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8)

We have all these moments in life. We have times that are particularly trying, and times we just breeze through. I can assure you that recently, it has not been a time when I have been breezing through. LOL. I took my mom to get her hair trimmed today, and because we were having a lot of snow, there was no one there, and I was able to get my hair trimmed, too. My stylist’s station was next to my mom’s stylist. And that was a good thing because I was able to explain that my mom has Alzheimer’s, etc. But the gal who does my hair, she was just so kind to me. She kept telling me I was looking good, with how full my plate was. LOL. She is right. Over-flowing, when I add it all up. However, when we live our lives, we take things one at a time, and we exist day to day. We sometimes don’t notice our plates overflowing!

 

My dog, well, she is my son’s dog, is always happy to see me. When we are running around, trying to get out of the house, she gets all excited. Not because we are leaving, but because before we leave, she gets a treat! LOL. She gets excited to be alone! And each time someone comes home, even if it is within minutes of each other, she has to go outside to do her business. It has become an ingrained habit. And whenever she gets up in the morning, or we put her to bed at night, she is so happy. When we talk to her, she practically smiles. She sleeps on her back, legs askew, snoring. The life of a dog. But an important lesson is that she lives for the moments. She does’t stay mad or doesn’t resent our leaving her alone all day. She snuggles when she can, and pushes the “pretty pillows” off the couch and makes herself comfy. She has a pretty good life.

 

I try to learn from her. Cutie pie that she is, that each moment is its own thing. Alzheimer’s patients live in the moment. It is truly all they have. My mom is wearing two watches today. Why? Well, she thinks her new watch isn’t working, and she really likes her old watch. She keeps playing with the stem on her new watch, inadvertently turning off the battery. The face lights up and the numbers are large enough for her to see. Her old watch? The face is so scratched up, the numbers are so small, that she has to practically close her eyes, squinting so hard, to even see it. She has been sitting there for more than an hour, fussing with her watches and looking from one to the other. I offered to look at the new one for her, but she assured me she knew what she was doing, because after all, she raised me. And I bristled, but then I looked at my dog, splayed on the carpet, and I realized it was just a moment.

 

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. (James 1:19-20)

 

Dealing with Alzheimer’s is something you learn to do by the moment. I was given all these books to read about being a caregiver for someone with Alzheimer’s disease. What a joke! There is no time to do that, once they are living with you. Try taking a 4-year-old and wrap her up in an 88-year-old-body. And all the attitude that goes along with a 4-year-old reaching their 88th birthday – only with no filters. The things that come out some days, well, it blows me away! That is Alzheimer’s! LOL! But inwardly, I am starting to smile more often and stress far less, because these moments; these times, they are fleeting and they are precious.

Even though mom is drinking her water and looking at those two watches (one on each arm) every few moments, she is also warm, full, happy, and laughing at Family Feud and Steve Harvey (she loves that guy). I’m not gonna worry about the watches. I will worry if she is angry or hurting or cold or hungry. I am slowly learning (she can still be taught! LOL!) that Alzheimer’s is a momentary disease…we go through it moment by moment. And I am starting to live like my dog…moment by moment. And my mom, sometimes she is in the moment, and sometimes she is in Alzheimer’s land.  And it’s all good.

 

“…hanging out for the world to see…”

Christmas cards? Sending Christmas cards, photos, letters? Man oh man, so not happening for me this year. Well, seeing as how it is New Year’s Eve and no one got a Christmas card, I guess that cat is out of the bag! LOL! I am over my head in so many areas. I feel accomplished just knowing my laundry is done. Whoot-whoot! *Fist bump* Happy dancing. My husband is happy about it, too! LOL! I apologize to anyone who normally gets a card, gift, photo, letter from us. But you know what? Sometimes life just intervenes and things fall off. I am already guilty because my middle son’s December birthday gift is still sitting on the floor in front of my desk. I have bags of receipts to go through before I burn them. I have tons of filing to catch up on, and forms to complete and medical junk to deal with for my mom. I am buried under the minutiae of life. Buried. I got the tree up and minimal decor up. We were able to actually get gifts for everyone. Some of our family just got them – yesterday! LOL! Becoming a caregiver for my mom has thrown me for a loop.

Our lives are so crazy, we made Gingerbread houses with the grandkids and kids LAST NIGHT! LOL! At least we did it within the 12 Days of Christmas!! And technically, for those of us who keep a liturgical calendar, Christmas is not over until Epiphany, which is January 8th this year! And trust me, I am hoping to take down our tree by then. But with the way my life is going these days, it could very well be later! Certainly by Easter! Ha-Ha-Ha!

Now we are all faced with this the pressure of starting a New Year. Resolutions? Are you kidding me? I think resolutions are great, when you are taking the time to sincerely think about your life, and set about to make sincere, real changes. Those sorts of resolutions are awesome. “Have more fun” or “Work Less” or “See the sunsets”  resolutions sort of bug me. They are generic statements, although to not be too judgmental, some people are like me, and are so over their heads with things happening, that trite and pre-typed resolutions are all we can grasp right now. God knows, and knows well, the areas in which I need to change. I have such great intentions – my follow through stinks. I am still battling being overweight (for the past 30+ years); I started my Advent preparation with a Bible Study I was so excited about but only completed one week of; our eating habits and Whole 30 eluded us; staying on top of all the myriad things that surround caring for someone using Medicare/Medicaid and administering healthcare and medications – man, did that get complicated! Adding in daily radiation treatments, and weekly wound care; well, that sort of put me over the edge. I never even decorated the Christmas cookies I made (they were being eaten plain…I guess that’s a compliment in a way). There are so many things I have not done. They weigh heavily. Truly, they do.

Some of the great things I have done is to work on friendships and spending time with people I like and admire, and want to be closer to, when I get the opportunity. This past week, my wonderful husband worked from home so I could get a few hours away with a friend. We drove into the local mountains and went to this wonderfully remote place where I perused natural grains stacked in 100 lb. bags almost as tall as me, and natural, organic herbs and spices lining the shelves and imparting their wonderful aromas! And there were quite a number of Bosch/NutriMill products – it was hard not to be like a little kid in a candy store. The view of the river and valley were breath-taking, from the home attached to this little shop. While I was there, I texted with my husband. And so, for our 33rd Anniversary, my husband said it was okay to buy a new mixer. (My last one was given to me for an anniversary 30 or so years ago and is pretty close to dying on me).  My girlfriend and I loaded up her car with her orders, another mutual friend’s order, and my new mixer. Off down the snowy road we traveled, marveling at God’s beauty all around us. I pinch myself and remind myself not to take living here for granted, ever! The new mixer I got was so awesome, the next morning I made 2 loaves of bread and yesterday made a Pistachio Fluff and NY Cheesecake. I guess I can get motivated! LOL! The time away inspired me to be creative. I needed that.

For me, this next year, I want to focus on our overall health. We desperately need to be physically healthy. (Here we come Whole 30, or maybe even Keto). But our emotional and spiritual health is equally as important. God has promised us over and over again that He will never give us more than we can handle. But I think what we, His children, continually miss, is that it is not all about us handling it. Because we are not in this alone – ever. God is continually by our side. Our job is to acknowledge Him, and to accept His unconditional love for us. Doing anything is easier, knowing our loving God walks alongside each of us. And we each have our Guardian Angel walking with us. Some days I think my angel is shaking his head, doing a forehead slap, or sighing over one of my poor choices.

I love to read. It actually makes me get excited to read a good book or series. I am reading one now that I did not think would appeal to me, but it has. Books like this get inside me, and I find myself thinking of the story, even throughout my day! It is a story about the death of Audrey, a young teenager, who becomes a Huntress, helping to protect mankind from demonic influence. The description of heaven, and Audrey’s conversations with God, are just amazing. I actually stopped reading to think about some of the conversations. They caused me to pause and think about my relationship with God. I love these books. And they have inspired my desire to grow closer to God, again. I keep veering off course, and yanking myself back onboard, heading towards God. Again. And again. Thanks be to God that He is merciful and always ready to listen, to forgive. And He never leaves me. It is me who takes that step away from Him. What makes me think I know more than God, I will never know. But it sure messes me up!!! I can relate to Audrey so very much!!

The quote above is from Huntress, the first book in the After Life series by Julie Hall. And it speaks to me, to all of us, really. God is ready to work with us, to use us, wherever we are. He is not expecting perfection. But He also waits on our free will, to choose Him, over and over again. And so for this next year, I am aiming to please God. I may not please people around me. I may not live up to others’ expectations of me. I may never get around to mailing out Christmas cards, ever again. But I will celebrate the 12 Days of Christmas; I will keep my tree and paltry decor up until after Epiphany. I will fast and feast throughout this next year. I will follow my heart, and my God, and choose to be His daughter. And each time I fall, each time my guardian angel cringes, each time…I will look for their support (God and my poor, overworked, Guardian Angel) and for their waiting hands, outstretched, to haul me back up and help me regain the right pathway. Again. And again. Until He calls me home. May your New Year be blessed and may you grow closer to God. Happy New Year – and welcome 2018!!!

Jolabokaflod

Have you heard of this Icelandic tradition? As if I needed another reason to want to take a cruise to Iceland!! This is their tradition of gifting books for Christmas. It was started during World War II when the imports from outside Iceland were severely restricted. But get these statistics: 93% of the population reads at least 1 book per year! And they are rated the third most literate country in the world (behind Finland and Norway). One in ten Icelandic people will publish a book in their lifetime. The Christmas season in Iceland is kicked off by the reception, in every home, of a list of the top published books in Iceland. It is called the Bokatindindi – the catalog the Icelandic Publishers Association delivers to EVERY home. Wow. And Icelanders go nuts over it. The tradition is to exchange books on Christmas Eve and spend the evening reading. They add chocolate to the gift  – and, personally, what better way to enhance the love of reading, than by adding chocolate to it???

So, this year we took the plunge – books for everyone. Everyone. And chocolate!! It is hard to compete, especially as grandparents, with all the myriad of toys out there. And frankly, it is hard to keep up with what is cool and what is stupid, what is okay to gift a 6-year-old, and what is too babyish. The parents know better what clothes and toys their kids want. We may continue to gift toys and clothes for birthdays, but this year, we decided to be the “Book Grandparents” from here on out. Books and chocolate.

Starting in early December, we spent hours researching books for our grandchildren. And our kids. And then we spent a glorious evening traveling the nooks and crannies of Barnes and Noble, searching the books out. We found some, while we discovered others. My husband and I are avid readers. Some of our kids are, too. Some prefer the movie over the book, or the video game over the book. I get that; I truly understand it. And one of my sons abhors his Nook, but loves the scent of a good book, and turning those pages. My Kindle was so full, I had to learn how to move the books off my device and onto my Amazon Kindle account, to make room for more books I could load onto my device! I literally had over 700 books on my Kindle. And I have read pretty much all of them.  I want this joy of reading for my grandchildren. The love of escaping to another world where you can see and smell another place, while sitting on your bed. The adventures you can have saving other worlds or climbing mountains, while in your jammies and under the covers. It is wonderful.

I know a couple of my kids will not be thrilled, nor expecting their gifts this year. But I truly hope they come to love them. I think we are spinning out of control and need more quiet time in our lives. Reading can give us that. And genres?? Oh my goodness – there are as many genres as you can imagine. As many worlds as you would like to explore, and characters you would like to come to know. It is a wonderful way to escape this crazy world and learn a whole other way to live.

One of the things we are not incorporating is the entire gifting experience on Christmas Eve. The Icelandic tradition is to give all your gifts of books and chocolate on Christmas Eve and to settle your nerves about Christmas Day by reading through the night. Then you spend Christmas Day celebrating with Church and then feasting with family. I wish we could move in that direction! But this year is huge. A big shift for this set of grandparents and parents. We will see how it goes!!!

Let the “Yule Book Flood” begin!!! Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!!!

 

“…by saving what you love…”

Today is a forgetting day. I took the day off yesterday and it was nice. My husband, God bless him, spent the day alone with my mom while I went to a craft fair and Joanne’s with my daughter-in-law, and then I met a friend for dinner and the new Star Wars movie. While I was gone my mom panicked, asking for my stepsister (not me) and thought she had a doctor’s appointment to go to. When you become the main caregiver for someone with Alzheimer’s, you become their anchor. (The photo above is an anchor with Forget-Me-Not flowers on it, the flower of Alzheimer’s disease). Their world revolves around you, their anchor, and when you are not there, they panic and their world tilts.

In addition to her world tilting, she is cranky today. After having her live with us for the past 4 months, I now recognize the signs and know what is going on (yay for me!). I realized that a few days ago, she completely missed taking her Alzheimer’s medication. As soon as I realized it, I gave it to her. But it is so hard to keep her medication levels steady. And there is fallout when the medication cycle is messed with. So we have a mess today (two days out) until her blood levels even out, or settle into her new “normal.” I decided to let her choose her clothes and get herself cleaned up for the day. And today, my mom’s clothing is inappropriate for our climate and the time of day, and she has more make up on her face than I even own. And it makes me sad, because I know she would not like how she looks if she clearly saw her reflection. She is now sitting, and fiddling with the bracelets she chose to wear…and the top she has on. She told me she’s been wearing it for years and always found it so itchy, so she thought she would see if it still bothers her; that and the earrings she has on she hasn’t worn for years. *sigh.* The shirt is new (this is her 2nd time wearing it) and the earrings she wore the other day. Yeah; a forgetting day.

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When we were packing my mom to move her up here, we went through all her “valuables” and sorted all her jewelry. We pared down all the junk stuff and tried to keep it down to a small box. We bought her a new jewelry box when she moved up here. I sorted through all her silver and gold, and we put it all into little sections. Untangling the chains took literally hours and hours. Today, when I went to see what she was up to (she had been gone for over an hour, between “putting on her face” and choosing her outfit), she was hiding her jewelry in little bags and boxes in her drawers. When I walked in, she tried to hide what she was doing. Her jewelry box is now a total disaster area, and pretty empty. She was also angry when I asked what she was doing. Yes, it is a forgetting day. One of many days of forgetting.

Alzheimer’s is an ugly disease. It is a slow slide out of our “normal” world and into “Alzheimer’s World.” I have little slips of paper I can pass out to people that tell them my “companion” has Alzheimer’s and it asks for their patience and understanding. I need to make more of them. There is no cure for this. There is nothing I can do. I watch her nutrition (she has lost 13 pounds since moving in with us) and try to get her to bed early each night, to be sure gets the rest she needs. I help her bathe. I pick out her clothes and make her bed every day. I do what I can to ensure she gets all the medical care she needs. But even with this amazing team of medical professionals caring for my mom, and all the care my family and I provide for her, we are all pretty helpless. Each moment is what we can choose to make good. There is not much more than that. And I am sad today.

Mom can no longer follow story lines. She cannot read books, or even follow the news. We play music. We watch Hallmark Movies (they leave her feeling so joyful). We watch endless sports. Any sport. We watch Steve Harvey whenever he is on, whatever it is he is in (she loves the guy). We do what we can, a day, a moment at a time. The hard part is this is a losing battle; a war against time and a disease. No matter what we bring to the war, we rarely win even a battle. Today is a test of my patience. I am working on ignoring what she is doing (she changed and came back out in a completely different set of clothes) and going into my own little world. Because my mom is firmly ensconced in her “Alzheimer’s World” …and today is another forgetting day.

To paraphrase from a movie I saw last night,

“You can only win by saving what you love.”