There's no place like home.

There's no place like home.
Home is where my husband and I reside; wherever that may be.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Simple Woman's Daybook 25 November 2013

Outside my window...the sun has been trying to shine all day long.  It is quite chilly out  for the southland, 41 but not altogether unpleasant for this displaced northerner.

I am thinking...about the care that my mother needs and the effort that it takes to communicate to others our idea of caring for her as opposed to trying to restore her to some imagined degree of health that is totally impossible.  

I am thankful for...a family that is all on the same page about how much we want to put mom through when  it comes to  healthcare.

From the kitchen...mom enjoyed a chicken salad sandwich for her lunch and there will be pork chops on the  menu for supper.

I am wearing...sweats and a tee shirt.  After coming home from mom's appointment  I changed and took a long walk in the brisk air.

I am going...to start a load of laundry and marinade the chops so that supper can be on the table in a timely fashion.

I am reading...nothing yet but two new books came in the mail today that I have selected for my Advent reading which I plan on starting tonight.  Advent of the Heart by Father Alfred Delp and Alfred Delp, SJ Prison  Writings

I am  hoping...that my mother continues to be comfortable and happy for the last months  or years of her life.

I am  hearing...Doug listening to a youtube video  in the kitchen, Steve and Mom talking in the kitchen, and the BlueJays calling outside.

Around the house...it is quiet  and companionable.

One of my favorite things....is getting things done on time which is not happening lately.  But I am  learning a little bit of patience while I am on this ride that I boarded.

A few plans for the rest of the week...Thanksgiving! Need I say more?

Here is a picture thought that I am sharing with you...


I think this has become one of my favorite pictures of Savannah.  This little girl has more personality and attitude  than any kid that I have ever encountered.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

     It's a funny thing about the human mind and how it works.  When children are young they need to be molded and taught how to think, reason, and process information so that they can function in the world.  Their personalities and wills have to be disciplined so that their reason eventually triumphs over the impulses of their lower natures.  (Hey MK  that sounded  pretty good  didn't it?)  Later  in life especially when afflicted  with a  disease that breaks down all of that training it is an interesting and often frustrating thing to watch the reverse become true.

     By now anyone  reading my blog knows that my Mother has dementia (or senile dementia  as it used to be called)  and my husband and I have  packed  up our lives to move south to care  for her.  What  a mind blowing situation and also how self-revealing!

     The woman who used to epitomize control, and yes at times  coldness, is now the epitome of childishness and irrational behavior.  She operates completely on impulse and desire and it is often a shock to me to witness.  A good example would be when we took her for groceries shortly after arriving in the southland.  My mom was in search of a particular kind of cracker that she not only liked but hoarded like Scrooge hoards his gold.  We got to the section of the cracker isle of Bi-Lo where they could be found and she proceeds to open a box to make sure that the contents are what she wants.  I was not only shocked but stunned into silence (yes Kraeger children you read it here).  When I found my voice I hissed  at her, "Mother  you cannot do that!"   Her response was equally emphatic, "But I want to."  When she determined that those were indeed the crackers that she wanted she put the opened box back on the shelf and selected two identical unopened boxes and put them  in the cart.  When I took the box that she had opened off the shelf to put in the cart she was adamant about not buying "damaged" packaged.  My mother would not hear of the fact that she was the one who had "damaged" that box of crackers.  I can tell you that when I was a child I would have been slapped and roundly scolded for even touching anything in the store let alone opening a box of crackers.

     I don't record these illustrations to mock or to make my mother look bad though.  The disease is so totally in control of this woman that I am daily convinced  that there is little or none of my mother left in  there.  Granted we occasionally see clues that she is very much there.  Though she has only called me by name twice since we have been here her treatment of me has been characteristic of a lifetime of animosity against  women.  By the same token, though she continues to call my husband by my late father's name, her reaction to him has also been characteristic of her reaction to the men in her life.  I expect that in the future  as she deteriorates further my mother will completely disappear  and the disease will take over completely.  Until then I will  try to laugh when things are amusing and find something amusing when things are frustrating.  God bless my dear husband for his continued love and patience in this situation.




   

Scratching my head and figuring things out

     Well here we are settled into Mom's house, she is home from  the hospital, and we have already had the visiting nurse out to...visit.  I can tell that along with the treatment for the congestive heart failure and the UTI her dementia is improving somewhat (fear not I am  under no illusion as to the extent of that happening).  My whole point  in,  ahem,  pointing this out,  is that my dearest Mother is exhibiting next  to normal behaviors  and attitudes.  Wait, let me change that to Attitude with a capital "A."

      My mother has always been an extremely determined  woman (translation: stubborn).  Yesterday I got the clue that her dementia was a bit better when I went into the bedroom to get her up from her nap.  Her reaction to my presence was a resounding "No!" and a swing of the left arm that would have connected with the side of my head if I hadn't been prepared for it.  Then later in the afternoon when the visiting nurse came she showed the next very definitive clue that she was very much with it.  When asked to set a goal for her care Mom refused to reply, crossing her arms and setting her jaw in a way that her children would find very familiar.  When I suggested that getting dressed all  by herself be a possible goal she said a flat out and very emphatic, "No!" That was the end of her cooperation with the nurse for the rest of the interview and her treatment of me went from  cordial to downright hostile for the rest of the evening.  Yep, Mom's back!  Hooray for modern medicine.

Friday, November 22, 2013

A couple of family favorites

Thanksgiving is right around the corner.  So close in fact that I can practically smell the turkey cooking!   My daughter-in-law Kim has requested two recipes that she has had at my house more than  once.  They happen to be a couple of Jason's favorites and I know that she wants to make them for his Thanksgiving.  Since we live hundreds of miles apart I thought I would post them here for her to copy down and share them with the rest of you folks.

Broccoli Casserole

5 C broccoli
8 oz Velveeta (cubed)
1/4 C butter (melted)
1/4 lb. Ritz crackers (crushed)
1/4 C butter (melted)
     Cook broccoli until 1/2 done: drain.  stir in cheese and 1/4 C butter.  Pour into buttered  casserole. Toss crackers with melted butter.  Spoon onto broccoli.
Bake at 350 20-30 minutes


Pea Casserole

1 lb. frozen peas heated through but not thoroughly cooked.
1 can cream  of mushroom soup
1 C Velveeta chesse cubed
2 hard boiled eggs chopped up
     Combine all ingredients in buttered casserole.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.  I like to top with Ritz crackers crushed up and mixed with melted butter.

Enjoy and have a happy Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Simple Woman's Daybook 18 November 2013





Outside my window...it is dark and not likely to get any lighter for many hours.  The sun has finally set on this long and stressful day and I am very grateful to God for that fact.

I am thinking...about the reverses that are inevitable in all of our lives.  I wonder what it will be like when one of my children has to take the position of parenting me.

I am thankful...for the daily wonder and revelation of the depth of the man that I married.  While I was gone to the hospital with mom this man that I married spent the day fixing  whatever he  came across that needed repair and continued to unpack from our recent move.  I love you beyond words Douglas Kraeger.

From the kitchen...my sister produced chicken soup for Mom's supper  and now that the larder has been restocked tomorrow looks a lot better for all of us.

I am wearing....warm comfy pajamas.  Not that I am not perfectly at home in whatever I wear but today I longed to take off jeans and get into something that spelled stay at home and not go out again.

I am going...to stay at home tomorrow! I think that I have had enough driving, moving, traveling, and otherwise visiting new places for a good long time.

I am reading...the piles of literature that the hospital gave me concerning congestive heart failure, how to cook for a cardiac patient, and what to look for and what to do if there is an emergency.  (do you know how to dial 911?)

I am hoping...that we can have some peace, stability, order, and routine for a good long time.  

I am hearing...the twins sounds of my husband snoring beside me and my mother snoring across the hall.  Both of those sounds are strangely reassuring.

Around the house...things  are beginning to get into shape.  We are slowly finding places for everything and everything is getting in its place.  Home is where my husband and I are together and I am pleased to say that we  are adjusting well to this house.

One of my favorite things...knowing that those who belong in the house are all present and accounted for.  It gives me a sense of completeness to know that when the doors are locked for the night the house is holding all those that it should hold.

A few plans for the rest of the week...finish getting the house put together, conquer mount washmore, get mom comfortable and adjusted back to her own home and routine.

Here is a picture thought that I am sharing with you...



My sweet  little Savannah modeling her shiny pink boots.  Boy do  I miss those little people of mine.



Friday, November 15, 2013

Packing up our troubles in our old kit bag

     I have always been a rooted person.  Plant me somewhere and the roots will grow and go deep.  I think that it has already been established that change is anathema to me.  With all that being said here we are packing up all our worldly possessions into a UHaul truck for the second time in a month.  "You want I should just shoot myself and be done with it?"  That's kind of how I feel about this carnival ride that I have been on.

       So, this  past week we are having a normal time of it keeping mom well fed, happy, and safe from falling into any mop pails and the next thing we know she winds up in the hospital.  What started out as a routine urgent care visit to get a UTI taken care of and to scope out a family doctor turns into, "Your mom may be in heart failure and she needs to be taken to the hospital like, now!"

         While I am jumping on that little merry go round to see where it is going to take me I get an email from a sibling asking for signatures on a rental agreement and payment of rent and utilities starting at the end of the week, thank you very much!

     They say that when God closes a door somewhere he opens a window.  I say be sure to look out the window before you jump.  You never know if there is a ladder waiting for you to climb down or a trampoline.  This week's window is brought to you by  flubber.  We just  keep bouncing up and down and I am not sure where or when we get off.

     The decision has been made to pack up  and move out  of my brother's house  since it is a far greater thing to be unemployed and homeless than to be  simply unemployed.  Actually we will be moving into my mother''s  house and that thought carries with it all kinds of humor, irony, and downright angst!  I remember when Doug and I were married my folks jokingly saying that I was to remember that there would be no "going back home to mother" if we ever had any problems.  I am here to submit that the laugh is  on them.  Not only am I going back home to mother but I am bringing hubby with me and mother isn't going to be the queen of the castle!  To quote one of my father's oft used phrases,  "How do you like them apples?"

       All  humor and   bellyaching aside though, ain't it the truth that God has a sense of humor and an unusual one at that?  It is not enough that Mom is in the hospital and I have to spend nights there (can you say trying to sleep in a plastic covered recliner?) but the packing has to be done and other details have to be attended to.  Thank you God for a husband who cooly and calmly swings into action and just gets the job done.  His daily mantra has to be, "God has a reason for this."  (no kidding it really is.  If I've heard him say it once....well you know the rest)

     So here I sit in a hospital room listening to my mother snore and occasionally ringing for the nurse to put her heart monitor bak on after she has removed it and I cannot help but ask myself, "I wonder what God was thinking when he set this series of events in motion?"



Monday, November 11, 2013

The Simple Woman's Daybook 11 November 2013



Outside my window...it is dark and chilly.  I have been having computer issues today so I am awfully late doing this post.  It is night dark rather than morning dark.

I am thinking...about obstacles and things that step into our paths to try and test us.  Since I have been here taking care of my mother there have been many obstacles, large and small, for both of us that have tried and tested me.  I  wonder if I am living up to the lessons that these obstacles are meant to teach  me.

I am  thankful for...the husband that God gave me who is willing not only to be  beside  me in this newest trial and adventure but also to love both of us through it all.

From the kitchen...we enjoyed leftover Southwestern Chicken Stew that I made yesterday.  Tomorrow  I will  have to put  my cooking hat back on and come up with something delicious and nutritious.

I am wearing...my third outfit of the day.  I thought that caring for children was a messy thing but this caring for a parent is equally so sometimes.  

I am going.... to lay my head on my pillow tonight knowing that I put in a good and long day in the trenches.  Tomorrow the day will be spent in the sewing room and everyone else here had better find some way of occupying themselves.

I am reading...not a thing!  When is there time to pick up a book to read.

I am hoping...to get the christening dress I am  working on smocked tomorrow and get the embroidery traced out and started.

I am hearing...my wonderful husband in the kitchen washing up the dishes, the furnace blowing reassuring heat into the family room  where I sit writing, and the  TV playing  its noise in the background.

Around the house...all is quiet and settled for the night  Mom has just gone to bed and the peace and quiet is wrapping itself around us.  This evening  Mom looked at us with tears in her eyes and expressed concern because she had no idea where the "little thing that goes in that (gesturing toward the door) is."  Doug gently reassured  her that there was nothing to fear he was  here for the express  purpose of protecting  both her and me and that nothing was going to happen as long as he was here.  I couldn't help but feel the spirit of the house settle around us in agreement as he spoke those words.  It seemed to agree with him and was trying to assure her too.

One of my favorite things...the way that we set our own rhythm so that the peace and security that mom needs is always here.

A few plans for the rest of the week..get mom to see a dr, get  her eyes examined, keep up with my sewing, all the while taking care of my husband and staying close with my Lord and the rest of my family.

Here is a picture thought that I am sharing with you...

I came across this again and it made me think of Layn.  Poor little dude must  be having a tough time without his  Grandma there to spoil him.







Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Rationing Paper Products and Other Adventures in Caring for a Parent

The patience factor is extremely high when it comes to caring for a parent.  When my kids were young and I was seen around town taking all 6 of them shopping or to functions all by myself (my husband being a dairy farmer wasn't often available for during the day activities) observers would automatically assume that I had far more patience than the average mom.   After all why else would I be able to cart all these kids round and keep order without seeming to lose my sanity?   Little did those onlookers know that sanity is one of the things a mother checks at the door of the labor and delivery suite when she has her first child.  But I digress.

Patience is not something that I possess in abundance.  I don't even have a little bit of it.  Humor, scads, patience, not a wit!  The key to raising all those kids was to keep in mind that they were learning, little by little, what was expected of them.  Lessons are never learned on the first try so it was easy to try again the next day, and the next, and so on until they left home.  Caring for a parent is a whole different ball of wax!

Everyday I have a new mantra as a I care for my mother; she has no clue!  Wipe away from your mind any memories of the fastidious, controlled, and proper woman that raised you I keep telling myself.  She's gone somewhere into the mist.  What has been left is a woman who doesn't know the rules of common sense, isn't going to learn them, and doesn't give a hoot. 

 Before I go any further, while this may sound sad, and in a way it is, sad is not what I am.  Amused, yes, fascinated, you bet, but sad not really.  Everyday I wake with the remembrance that biology is doing its darndest to cheat my mother of everything that she was and I am here to make that journey as easy and pleasant as possible.  


So when she goes through a roll of toilet paper a day just because she can and every box of tissues in the house have to be put up high so that they are available if you have a legitimate need I just remind myself that the lessons are there for me to learn and God gave her to me to be the teacher.  Only this time there will be no more spankings with a wooden spoon and she can't ground me for minor infractions.

Today I am refusing to be depressed because we have to "mom proof" the house for her own good and once again all of her underthings have to be washed because she feels the need to wear them all at once I will spend the day thanking God for washers and dryers.  I think that I need to get out my volumes about Mother Theresa and reread them and remember that though my mother is not materially poor, in her present state she might be considered one of "the poorest of the poor."


Monday, November 4, 2013

The Simple Woman's Daybook 4 November 2013



Outside my window...it is dark!  I suspect that dark is going to be my new friend while I walk this road of caring for my mother.  I never was a morning person but now I think that is going to become a 24/7 thing.

I am thinking...that while change may be inevitable there is no rule that says I have to like it or accept it gracefully.

I am thankful for...family! Siblings who understand without being told and who have refrigerators with plenty of beer in them.

From the kitchen...is a good question. I think I will have to wait for inspiration to strike. Let's hope it doesn't take all day about it.

I am wearing...warm and cozy flannel jammies!  We may be in the south but it still gets darn chilly around here at night.

I am going...to put in a full day's work today!  (I'll let you all know how that pans out after the day is over) 

I am reading...you're kidding right!  Between trying to work on commissions and taking care of mom there is no time left over for reading.  I managed to do 11 loads of laundry over the weekend!

I am hoping...to figure out why the quilting machine is out of whack and set it right before I give in to the temptation to throw it through the window!

I am hearing...the distant whistle of a train as it passes by on the tracks, the furnace coming on to blow some warm air into this place, and the now familiar creaks and groans of this young house growing older as it wraps itself around a new family.

Around the house...the other inmates are sleeping and the air has a distinct odor of anticipation as this new day brings its promise with it into the lives of this family.

One of my favorite things...spending the evening having fun with my niece and nephews.

A few plans for the rest of the week...I would like to see all of the smocking on this christening set be done by Wed. so I can start construction.  Tune in later to see if that little plan works out.

Here is a picture thought that I am sharing with you...

The sight of my granddaughter snuggling with her doll is so right.