Elder Care -an unexpected journey

 photo f306fea8-b59e-4455-8a02-b2e0cdc5bbea_zps33db79a7.jpgMy 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.



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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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!


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.


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.


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:


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


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.

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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.


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

Lego pirate fail

I mentioned in an earlier post my deep, dark descent into Jenn-ville with a pirate report for Demi-Sky's composition class. I've had requests for the dark tale- so here are the details in all its Jenn-glory richness... So, Demi had to do a report on a famous pirate, and then dress up as a pirate and present his oral report to his Biola Star class.  His class this year seems to be mostly boys, so I knew they were going to have fun with this.

A day or two after we had discussed a plan of attack for this, I saw this on pinterest:

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And I knew that we had to do this.  Imagine the delight of a room-full of homeschool boys when one of their own shows up in a lego pirate costume to deliver a report.  It would be epic, in homeschool-world.

I had a little niggling of doubt about tackling this project...just a little, which I ignored.

and ignored

in typical Jenn fashion as I procrastinated the week away.  We discussed methods to achieve this look.  A bucket seemed easiest, but we couldn't find a yellow bucket at Target.

I nonchalantly assured Demi that we could just whip up a paper-mache head, easy.

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I used a bucket for my shape and then used thin wire to make the form for the pirate head.  I took lots of photos so I could share my step by step instructions here on the blog....



and then, two days before due date, I commenced with the glue/water/paper routine....

 photo pinterestfail-papermache-homeisblog_zpsab6794ae.jpgdon't panic.

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there is always plan B:







quickly spray paint my only bucket and drill holes into it for eyes.

...into my only bucket for household stuff...

and then the morning of the class, we abandoned the lego pirate idea and dressed Demi up as a traditional pirate.

The End.

(it's just a Jenn-thing...)

All is bright

Hello friends.  I'm back, I think. 

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We are in the midst of holiday cheer here.  The kids are all out of school.  **Meg's first semester of college went really well.  She wrote a research paper for her criminal justice class and received a perfect score on it, along with a note written by the instructor that it was the best paper he had read since teaching that class.  She earned an A in her economics class, which was very hard-won, she still insists she doesn't really understand the subject!  **Josie still loves the performing arts high school, but this formerly-homeschooled-kid really anticipated the Winter break. ** Demi and I are surviving his 8th grade Lit & Composition class with Biola Star...I think this class might finally break me; weekly, I ask out-loud why I am doing this.... The last assignment he had before break was a report on a famous pirate, and they had to dress up as a pirate and do an oral report.  It was so much fun, they had a blast.  We went down a dark Jenn-trail with the assignment which involved me trying to make a paper-mache lego pirate head...don't ask....we abandoned that project the night before and went with a traditional dress-up.  Incriminating photos coming later- maybe. ** Amie continues with her parkour classes.

**Our church has a week-long Bible conference the week of Christmas.  Right now, we have six college-age-ish young people staying with us- they are a lot of fun!

**I am trying to get back into my creative groove with photography and art projects, but cleaning and the logistics of having guests have taken over so far.

**I registered for a college class and will return to school next month!  This will be really weird.  But good, and stretching.  I'm excited and a bit scared, it's a little out of my comfort zone...I'm a home-body.

It was 80 degrees today in Orange County....true story.

I hope your holiday season is merry and bright, blog-friends! :)


just some lines about what life is like these days... I've been side-lined by pretty deep depression.  I've mentioned before that it runs in my family.  This episode is why the blog has been neglected as of late.  I thought about writing my thoughts about depression, but then, what can I add, really?  Depression is sadness, often without a real reason, and it sucks, and I don't know how to fix it.  I can't really get more profound than that.  A loved one was concerned that I hadn't managed to turn it around, like I eventually do...and he gently prodded me to come up for air, and added these sage words "you need to snap out of it".  I was mad for a split second, the wide-eyed - mouth-falling open-mad/shocked  - I thought after all these years he would "get" it a bit more about the helplessness of depression.  But then, I remembered that it is so foreign to his even-keeled nature and that he was trying to help.  I took a minute to get un-mad and then asked him, "if a reminder to "snap out of it" was all it really took, don't you think some corporation would have packaged it all up neat and pithy and would be selling it for a mint?"  He seemed to get my point.

okay, so no profound, deep thoughts on depression.  But, I think this is what depression sounds/feels like:


Homeschool is back in full-swing.  Today, Sky dropped off Josie at school, I worked-out with P90x - kempo.  Demi and Amie had piano lessons.  Demi worked on Aleks math and then had his online Latin class.  The class is through the Biola Star program and they are using The Latin Road to English Grammar.  Amie did her Aleks math while Demi had his class and then she worked on History.  We started using Veritas Press self-paced online course this Summer.  We are finishing up Explorers to 1850.  After Latin class, I took them to their art lesson.

Meg has been really sick with a bad cold, she slept in and skipped work (horse care) and her Biology lab at college, but then got up and went to her Biology lecture.

We returned from art and I read aloud to Demi and Amie.  We are reading Rainbow Valley (Anne of Green Gables, No. 7)by L.M. Montgomery.  I wanted to read Rilla of Ingleside with them because of how wonderfully it shows the impact of World War II on the families left behind, but then I thought the book would have more pull on them if they felt like they knew the main characters first as children.  I love sharing this book with them, The Anne of Green Gables series is such a treasure.  I try to read all 8 books every year or so.  (yes there are 8 in the Anne series).   After reading two chapters, Demi worked on Science and I sat with Amie and worked on Math Mammoth with her.  Once we were done, I took Amie to her parkour classes.  Demi was free to practice his piano and work on his short story.

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we stayed for two classes today, usually I need to leave to go pick up Josie from school, but Sky picked her up today.  On the way home from parkour, I stopped and picked up some broccoli for dinner.  Amie worked on her creative writing story while I made dinner.


I made broiled pork chops, rice, broccoli and Hawaiian sweet rolls for dinner.  I have to tell you that I recently re-discovered broiling and have decided that it is the procrastinator's magic answer!  At our last house, the broiler on the oven did not work, and so I learned to live without it.  When we bought this house, the oven did not have a broiler drawer and I assumed it did not have one.  I kind of think now, after buying a brand new oven, that the old oven was probably like my new one and the main oven worked on broiler mode...kind of a slap your forehead moment... and so, I tried broiling some pork chops one day, and wow!  it was like 9 minutes on each side!  A very quick dinner for the procrastinator mom who doesn't think about dinner until it is dinner-time...

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Our wonderful neighbors are very serious about their garden, plants and trees (one of their sons is a botanist).  They hire a real arborist to trim their trees.  Sky is pretty friendly with the arborist -no he doesn't trim our trees, can't afford it, we just muddle through it ourselves... -and the arborist invited Sky to come to his house and take any firewood we want.

I love, love, love sitting by our fireplace in our dining room.  This unexpected gift is really, really appreciated.  :)


Sky and I have started watching Duck Dynasty, it is pretty entertaining and kind of in a category all its own.  I have to admit I cried when we watched the grandparents re-new their wedding vows.

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bonus photo of evil-kitty a.k.a. Oliver.  He plunks himself right down in the middle of whatever homeschool or homework we are doing.  On this day, he was very into the fish screensaver Amie found.

hope your week is moving along swimmingly, bloggy friends :)

7 Quick Takes-Homeschool graduation edition

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We have our first homeschool graduate!  We started homeschooling Meg for pre-K (in case I messed up I had an extra year to figure it out) and now, 14 years later, I am done as her primary teacher.  We had a simple dessert graduation party for her.  Dessert party = brilliant idea.  It was rather simple, we set up tables outdoors and strung lights up on the front patio and tree and then set out different desserts and coffee.  The main focus became visiting, which was such a great bonus.  I was so busy visiting and fetching chocolate mousse (Sky's homemade brilliance) that I forgot to get my camera out until it was too dark for good photos.  We had a really, really nice party.


It's Bible conference week, known at our church as The Summer Training. It's like a semester Bible class stuffed into one week.  This year we have 4 people from Russian staying with us (Meg gets to practice her Russian) and a bonus Texan. There's always a Texan in the bunch.... :p  Sooo, this week is really, really busy- lots of cooking of meals and whatnot.

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bonus photo of the wonder-labradoodle.  She's all kinds of awesome.


the kids and I attended an open house for a new parkour gym in our area.  We went, because Demi-Sky in particular is very enamored by the whole parkour concept.  Really, who wouldn't be?  Don't we all, deep-down inside wish we had some stealth, secret ninja moves?  Okay, if you don't know what parkour is, click over to this youtube video - I'm very familiar with this one, because my kids watch it over and over, it was my introduction to the concept of parkour

Assassin's Creed meets parkour on youtube


So yeah, we went to the open house, it was pretty cool and my Amie got very excited about the whole thing, she wants to take classes there.  It's called Firestorm Freerunning & Acrobatics.  Soo, besides the trampolines, climbing rope, obstacles, they had a section of climbing bars.  When I was in elementary school, I lived on the bars at recess time and my friends and I could do amazing and dangerous things on these bars. I happily climbed onto these bars and happily told my kids all about what I used to do and egged them on to try it.  {no, I did not try any of it, after the cartwheel incident of 2006, I learned the hard way that just because I think I can still do something, doesn't mean my body agrees}  I did try to do an underhand mount-thingy and couldn't get my legs past an horizontal with the floor position...sad. So, I egged my kids on to try different things, climbed around on the bars, swung my legs up onto them and did monkey-bar type swinging on them, in an attempt to engage my kids.  And then, for the next 3 days I was downing advil like candy...it was so very sad how sore that little bit of exercise made me!


Sky and I just celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary.  We met 26 years ago at Corona del Mar beach.  For this anniversary, we went back to the beach where we met, and then had dinner at a local pizza place we used to go to all the time while we were dating in highschool.  We really had such a nice, simple evening remembering when...


I played photographer for Meg's senior photos, which is really a lot of pressure when you are not a professional.  I captured a few nice ones, I think.  Here is one- involving her favorite horse, of course...

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hope your week is a blessed one, friends!!

7 Quick Takes is hosted every Friday at Conversion Diary  :)