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So this happened…

Heellooo out there!

so much going on, I don’t even know where to start…
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So, this is happening.  Josie, artist in residence, is currently enrolled in driver’s ed class.  She decided to paint her car.  Because, obviously, this is what you would expect to find in the parking lot of an urban Arts School.

 photo efa54d4d-3a78-4d4c-b8f8-f2a97285b4b4_zps0e9bbe4c.jpgI followed the CIA on twitter. Well done, well done….

 photo 7b143e08-5fdd-40b2-b4e5-c7c7518f4e80_zps8abef363.jpgWe’ve had glorious weather here in Orange County. I’ve been doing lots of this…sitting on the front porch, drinking a protein shake and reading my daily psalm + Spurgeon’s Morning & Evening devotional, after my run. (okay, mostly walk- a little bit of run….)

 photo ac63d751-122b-4dc0-9cc9-e34dd9b13a2e_zpsd64f8ab1.jpgAnd finally, I returned to my car after class and found a ticket on my windshield, for…quote “occupying two parking spaces.” um…okay, my bumper was over the line, but I was not taking up two parking spaces.  Actually, the car in the stall in front did not pull up all the way, probably to park in the shade, and so I miss-judged where exactly the front line was.  A little mistake, but, come-on.  Yeah for Irvine Valley College. I feel hunted now every time I park my car.  I have to ask, if they are so picky about the lines…what is up with the messy three lines painted on each side?  I’m thinking they are not really as picky as they pretend to be.

  • I finished my first college class and I am in the middle of the next class.  We just had mid-term, and I got an ‘A’  :)
  • I went to court and my grandfather was deemed incompetent and  I am his conservator.
  • my grandfather threatened to kill my grandmother the following weekend, after a series of screaming sessions.  I told her to pack, collected her, and discovered a bruise on her arm.  She is never going back.
  • my grandmother now lives in my front living room, which we have closed up and made into her suite.  Hopefully, we can begin building her a real suite onto the back of the house.  This is all a big adjustment for all of us.

this is {Home} reporter Jenn, reporting in…. stay tuned

 

 

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the daily hate call

My phone rings, I glance at the clock and see the time is 9:10 A.M. and as I reach to answer it, I steel myself for what I will find on the other end.  My heart is pounding, I tap my foot in time to the chanting in my head of “not today, not today, please not today…” and of course, it is today and we are on day 5 of grandpa’s daily hate hour.  My grandmother’s warbly, tear-strained voice is in my ear, she is crying, grandfather is yelling at her in the background and grandmother says the words again, “your grandfather’s been to the bank this morning…”

It’s day 5 of week three in our own private Orwellian treat, breaks courtesy of the bank being closed on Sunday and the peaceful mornings when I whisk grandmother away to my house so we can all “rest”.

Grandfather’s dementia has made him forget many, many things- except, curiously, his ownership of money.  He cannot remember his children, his parents, places he’s lived, friends,- beyond the personal bubble of his wife, his things, and his bank account -there is nothing else.  He likes to bring out a small photo book to show us, photos of his things- his planes, his boat, how he used to go lobster poaching.  The only person in the book is holding up a lobster, a prop- the person, not the lobster, that is.  It’s very, very sad- except when he lashes out at grandmother and then I am very, very angry. I’m also helpless, hostage to a process I don’t understand, a future I cannot predict and of relationships I can’t untangle.

Grandmother is hysterical, grandfather is shouting in the background, threatening to drag her to the bank and “make her put his money back”.  I try to calm her, I tell her, again, to not argue with him, to stop trying to explain to him, to just go lock herself in the bathroom.  I grab my keys and head out the door to make the 1 hour drive to her house.  I give out quick instructions to Demi and Amie as I rush through the house, grabbing things, “do 40 minutes of Aleks Math online, master at least 4 things and do your Veritas press History online lesson. I’ll be home by 3, there’s turkey in the fridge and somebody please walk the dog- and oh, don’t forget to practice the piano and then work on your creative writing stories!”….and I’m out the door.  I call my sister while in the car, to update her on what is happening, knowing that today she cannot run over because she is on a field trip with her youngest.  I tell her I am heading down there, to calm her, in case she received a hysterical call also.  Later, at the half-way point, I call grandmother to let her know I am almost there, and to check in.  She is calmer now, weepy, but calmer.  Her voice is slightly slurred, so I ask, “how many valiums have you taken, grandma?”  She tells me 3, and I wonder to myself how many it takes to overdose, and wonder if she would ever take too many on purpose.  Grandmother tells me she is okay, and happy that I am on my way, because she is hoping I will move all their savings back to the checking account and make grandfather stop screaming at her.  But, I can’t do that, and I feel horrible about it. I call my sister back and ask her if she thinks, after 60 something years of domestic abuse and sadness, would grandmother try to overdose on purpose?  My sister does not think so, not after all she has endured already…but I know, deep-down, that depression is senseless.  I drive faster.

And then, …and then it is an hour later and I walk into the house and grandmother’s face is puffy, her eyes red.  Grandfather is delighted to see me, a visitor!  Do I know how old he is?  He is 90!  Grandmother tells me he has calmed down, and that she can’t go home with me, she is worried about what he will eat if she is gone and worried that he might go for a walk and get lost.  She’s happy to see me, everything is better now.  Grandfather is happy to have a visitor, he doesn’t really know who I am.

I take grandmother out to lunch, to get her away from the oppressiveness.  I take her to the store to buy a few things to eat.  I ask her if she’d like to buy some soup, since she just had dental work and her teeth hurt.  “Oh no,” she says, “we don’t ever eat soup anymore, he doesn’t remember that he likes it.”

“grandmother”, I say, “Do YOU like soup, it doesn’t matter if grandpa doesn’t, he can eat something else.”  she hedges about it and puts the soup back, like I knew she would.

I take her home, grandfather is delighted to see a visitor.  He asks me, “do you know how old I am?”  and I guess wrong on purpose, so he can surprise me by saying “I’m 90 years old!”  and I fake disbelief because he looks so young…

and then, I get back into my car and drive an hour back up the 91 freeway.

***********************************

It’s the next day, the phone rings, and it’s 9:30 a.m. and my heart starts beating fast

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Lines

I had the best Mother’s Day in my memory.  It was the best, because it was effortless.

We went to church, Amie was baptized today (and she asked me to baptize her- wow)  then went to a lunch to celebrate at the church (I was supposed to bring dessert & I just picked up cookies from the grocery store bakery- win!) and then we came home and I took a nap.  Later, we had spaghetti for dinner (Sky prepared it) and I picked up bread sticks from Pat & Oscars.  After, we all went to Barnes & Nobles and hung out.  I called my grandmother around 5 to wish her a Happy Mother’s Day and survey the collateral damages (see grandparents’ posts/NPD/Alzheimer’s/depression/disfunction/codependent…) She was weepy (another post?) and so I quickly promised her that I was coming out the next day to treat her to lunch for Mother’s Day…which I wasn’t planning on.  I had driven down there on Friday, Wednesday and Saturday last week already. (the drive one way is over an hour)

I reported back to Sky and he asked me, “why did you promise that??” and I told him, “hey, when your grandmother is crying on the phone on Mother’s day, you promise almost anything to get her to stop.”  to which, Sky replied, “fair enough”.

After our Barnes & Nobles outing, I called my Step-mom, wished her a happy Mother’s Day and chatted.  It was a really uncomplicated day.  winning!

The final exam for the college class I am taking- is this coming week.  I can’t believe the semester is practically over!  I am already registered for a class during the Summer session.  I wanted to take two classes and “get ‘em done” but I don’t know how things will be in grandparent-land, so yeah, just one class…

Sky and Amie are busy writing short stories for a story contest.  I love seeing them throw themselves whole-hearted into a project.  Piano recital is coming up for Amie.  Unfortunately, we have -oh-so-many-tears from Amie over this.  I promised her I’d let her quit after this recital and move on to voice lessons; but to please, soldier-on for this recital.  We still have tears.  And, I haven’t cleared what I said with Sky yet.  It was a moment of mom-weakness. I’ll claim insanity. or, something.  Or, I ‘ll just dress to get what I want, when I tell him.  (it works).

Two weeks ago, I started getting up early again (after a really long bout with depression) and I’m now back to running and actually being, you know, productive, again.  I took the opportunity to dive more seriously back into homeschooling- it’s been sheer survival mode for a year and a half here.  I dusted off the My Father’s World curriculum on the shelf, opened the schedule and actually, you know, followed it.  It was like magic, people….we schooled.  So yeah, we can just not think real hard about the fact that it is May and I’m working on week 3 in a 36 week curriculum…um, we’ll just see how it goes. I am enjoying our schooling again.  Demi-Sky and Amie are still working through Veritas Press History online, they will finish up with that- and we will just see what we can accomplish with My Father’s World this summer.  It’s really nice to be working regularly through something together again, and it is really helpful to give the kids assignment sheets each week to make sure they are moving through their work at a good pace.

There is a lot happening with the grandparent situation, update in a future post…

Here are the books I am reading right now:

and here is a funny Mother’s Day short video to entertain you…

*Bring a jumper ( A mother’s day video)

**jumper is a sweater in England and Australia  :)

I hope your weekend was great!!

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Elder Care -an unexpected journey

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My mother died about a year and a half ago.  Quickly, unexpectedly, young.

She left behind her parents, who moved close to her about ten years ago, so she could help take care of them, when needed.  And then she died.  My grandfather had five children, two he didn’t raise.  Of the three children with my grandmother, only one is left and he did the opposite of stepping up to care for his parents.  So, now my sister and I have stepped into that role.

I’ve heard the term “sandwich generation” and I guess we are that now; caring for our children at home and then coordinating elder care…we just seemed to have skipped a generation somewhere…it’s a bit topsy-turvy/ timey-whiney…..

this journey has taken up most of my time and thought lately, and so I’d like to write about it, because that is what I like to do- write it all out.  The process and timing has all been a little tricky, though- there is always the question of timing and over-sharing to consider.

I thought I would start by sharing some helpful links to resources that have been helpful to me on this journey:

Elder-Care Resources

We’ve had a lot of tears, a lot of sleepless nights, a lot of driving.

The three most helpful things to me in this journey have been

#1  Prayer and a faith to lean on

My Grandfather’s Primary Care Doctor (who has been both the most helpful and the most unhelpful at times)

Hiring an elder-law attorney local to my grandparents, who does this all the time.

 

 

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Favorite Things

Raindrops on plum blossoms

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and whiskers on kittens

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yummy cakes with bright candles 

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and dogs in dunce caps -es

 photo labradoodle-dunce-cap-homeisblog_zpse005d2c0.jpg

grandmothers cozy with pets on their laps -es

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These are a few of my favorite things…

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7 Quick Takes, March like a lion edition

so I’ll catch you up on what is new, but…where to even begin?

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~1~

Four kids, 19 years of parenting, and our first cast.  It was bound to happen.  I knew with Amie’s love of parkour, that a cast in our future was likely. I really thought it would be her wrist or arm, though, not the leg.  She did this jumping from a 10 foot wall to a 6 foot wall, landing badly.  One of the coaches came to get me when it happened and since she was still on top of the 6 foot wall, the quickest way to get to her was by going up the wall.  The coach offered to give me a leg-boost up, and I accepted.  Hands down, one of my very favorite funniest memories is the look of awe and shock on the other coach’s face when he saw me pull myself up onto the wall.  He thought I scaled it.  His eyes bugged out is surprise.  I kind of wished I really had done it, but I fessed up right away that I had a leg-up.  They had so many cast color options!

~2~

I have a mid-term exam for my college class this week, which means that I am at the half-way point in the class.  I have to take a moment and reflect on the fact that I haven’t dropped out of the class, missed any assignments or just simply stopped going.  Maybe I should light a candle in thanksgiving…living the Jenn life, I don’t have a lot of success with follow-thru.

~3~

No missed assignments in my class, but living the Jenn-life, I of course have to have some screw-ups…I earned a perfect score on my first paper, but- here’s the Jenn-life story>>>>> I stayed up late the night before finishing it (as only an accomplished procrastinator can) and then in the morning, I printed it up, 3-hole punched it, and stapled it together, with the rubric on the front.  I dropped Josie off at school, got on the freeway and headed to class. As I was turning it it, I flipped through it, and realized the last 2 pages did not print at all.  Yup, classic Jenn-moment.  I was really lucky that the instructor is very approachable and easy-going, I emailed the entire paper to her as soon as I got home.  The end. The moral of the story is that Sky is right and I shouldn’t procrastinate.  I’ll get right on that….tomorrow.  Maybe.

~4~

We (my sister and I) have moved on from helping my grandparents to managing their care.  Two weeks or so ago, they had a plumbing problem in their bathroom.  Sky took 3 days off work to go and repair their floor and replacing faucets on two sinks, and repairing water damage.  We’ve been dying to rip out the carpet in their bathrooms and replace it with laminate that would be easier for grandmother to use her walker on, and easier to clean.  Well, the water damage took care of that decision, and we were able to put in new waterproof vinyl plank flooring.  It’s really, really nice looking. Grandmother fell again while we were there, and we were able (barely) to convince her to come stay at our house for two nights while the bathroom work was going on, so she could rest.  It was also a trial run for her to see what living with us would look like.  Grandfather has alzheimer’s and is declining, I really think grandmother needs to be living with us, so I can care for her.  I couldn’t believe how hard it was to get her to come stay with us, she was so worried about grandfather.  I am hoping that we can have her stay with us about once a month for two days, so she can get some rest.  I am already madly pinning grandmother suite ideas on pinterest, and I think we are going to start on the suite soon, so it will be ready for her when she needs to come. I {heart} pinterest.  I’m a visual person, I love pinning beautiful photos and ideas!  You can see my boards here:

http://www.pinterest.com/henjenca/

(I know, I need to figure out how to put a pinterest button on my sidebar…coming soon!)

~5~

We are doing a lot of managing and coordinating for the grandparents.  I have found that the Cozi site is really useful for elder-care management.  It’s a online family schedule site, the cool thing is that two people can manage it so both my sister and I have access.  We put all their Dr. appointments into the calendar, and then we get alerts weekly on what is happening.  There is also a section for photos- where I upload receipts and there is also a journal section where I can record things that are happening with them- that grandfather could not remember my mother, that grandmother fell, that I spoke to grandmother for the first time about coming to live with us.  It is a really helpful site, and it is free.

 photo onpatrol-OCSA-bRehmann_zpse8d399d6.jpg

~6~

Josie has a painting up for auction for her arts high school.  The auction ends March 19th. This would make a nice gift for someone in the military, or for a parent of someone in the military.  It is titled “on patrol” and you can click the link here to bid on it here: On Patrol OCSA auction.  It is oil on canvas and the size is 15″ by 24″. Proceeds go to fund the Orange County School of the Arts conservatory programs, which is non-profit. The fundraising event also has other art and packages for bid, different things like dinner packages, tours, etc.

~7~

Sky found us a new show on BBC, it’s called Endeavor and is a police mystery show that takes place in the late 1960′s – I think. It’s very good, we’ve watched two episodes so far and we are hooked.

*7 Quick Takes happens every Friday over at Conversion Diary
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My Burn Book {parrots in the morning}

My Burn Book {moments I want to burn into memory}

We have a huge resident flock of parrots in our area. Sometimes they are all here, sometimes just a few.  This morning, we had quite the ruckus.  I love, love, love these parrots. When I hear them in the morning or evening, I love to close my eyes and pretend I am somewhere tropical.

join up and share a memory below:



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About the author: Jenn; writer, photographer, homeschooled five children and lived to tell the tale.

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