Sunday, April 10, 2016

Almost a year

Today I stopped by the long term care centre where Papa spent the last 5 years of his life. In a couple of weeks it will be a year since he's been fine. I miss him so much. There is a huge hole in me from the loss of my grandfather. He meant so much so much to me. He believed in me, listened to me, taught me, cared for new, encouraged me. He was the roots in my life, the story of where I came from. Sometimes I feel so adrift without him. He was my anchor.

I listen to my son play the piano, improvising different ways to play the song. I know Papa would be so proud. He would've sat there and played along, embellishing and adding to the masterpiece, beaming proudly at his great-grandson. Papa would've loved to hear my son's thoughts about math, would've been fascinated by his conclusion that math is in everything. Would've encouraged him and discussed new ideas. My oldest son's descriptions of electrons and neutrons would've been welcomed. My daughter's love of singing. All these things are gifts from my grandfather. Reminders of him in my life. And they make me miss him even more.

I thank God that Papa's days of suffering with Lewy Body Dementia are over. But I miss him so much.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Tea Time

I had the day off work today (in preparation for a 6 day work week next week) so decided to have some quality "lady time." I booked my 6 year old daughter off school and we drove the 30 minutes or so to visit my grandmother, Nanny.

Nanny turns 95 this month and I thank God that she is in such good health. At her age her eyesight is weak due to macular degeneration,  going down steps is hard, and walking leaves her winded, but other than that she's great! She is sound of mind, able to get around, and such a delight to be with.

My daughter and I surprised her and took her out for tea at a fancy little place she loves. This tea room is known for their homemade scones, served warm and accompanied by strawberry jam and Devon cream. Mmmm, so good! How lovely to catch up with each other in this special setting.

After dropping Nanny back off at her apartment, my daughter and I stopped by my grandfather's grave on the way home. We had an opportunity to talk a lot about what it means to die. That our bodies are just shells for what matters most, our spirits. How being Christians means that we'll see our loved ones again in Heaven if they have asked Jesus to be their Savior.

My daughter may have missed a little math or spelling at school today, but she won't remember that. What I hope she'll remember is special time with her mom and great-grandmother, and an important conversation about eternity.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Debt-Proof Your Christmas: Celebrating the Holidays Without Breaking the Bank

Create your family’s “Top Five Holiday Values”, write them down and post them. In what specific ways can our values be expressed in our homes and lives during the Christmas season? How can we share our blessing with other people? Fill in dates on the calendar for special activities that reflect those values.

12 pairs of mittens & gloves
  • Pin to ribbon and hang
  • Choose free or inexpensive activities in the community (church concerts, community Christmas tree lighting, hometown Christmas parade, etc); write down each person’s favourite breakfast; choose four activities that serve the needy (serving at a homeless shelter, taking candy canes to a nursing home); inexpensive activities to do at home (game & movie nights, pizza making, cookie baking).
  • Type each of the special 24 moments, roll up & tie with festive ribbon, put one in each mitten.
  • Start activities Dec 1st.
  • After Christmas take mittens to homeless shelter.

Holiday spending plan. Include a specific and detailed spending plan, designating the overall amount you plan to spend and the ways you plan to spend it.

Make a chart where you can see spending categories including gifts for kids, spouse, parents, grandparents, other relatives, and friends; gift wrapping, Christmas cards, postage, photo session; baking ingredients; tree and home decorations; admission for holiday events; baby-sitting; travel costs; new clothes, etc.

Four categories for gift giving: gift of Love (something homemade), gift of Warmth (like socks, blanket), gift of Knowledge (like a science kit, books, educational DVD), and a gift of Joy (something they really want).

Christmas memories letter. When you put the holiday ornaments etc away, include a letter remembering what happened that Christmas: the weather, people who stopped in for a visit, a few words about hopes, dreams, and wishes for the New Year. (could also make a scrapbook!)

Gift exchange idea: shop and “buy” for the person what you would if you had all the money in the world. Find a picture, photo, or other visual representation of the object. Wrap your gift properly and be prepared to give all the reasons you chose it.

  • Give something you made – a tree ornament, plate of cookies, note cards
  • Give the gift of compassion – become a bone marrow donor, donate to a cause in honour of the person – write a description of your experience and give it to the recipient.
  • Give what you do best – cook, clean, babysit, drive, shop, scrapbook, research
  • Give it in writing – include a short note with each of your gifts telling the recipient what they mean to you and the value they bring to your life.
  • Layered soup jar and include note saying donation has been made to local soup kitchen in their honour.
  • Create your own “Cookie-of-the-Month” (or Quarter): bake a dozen cookies to include in the holiday gift, along with a card announcing your recipient will receive another dozen each month/quarter all year long.
  • A simple cookie cutter in a holiday shape of a star, tree, or gingerbread man can make a great little gift. Lay the cookie cutter in the middle of a piece of clear cello, fill the center of the cutter with tiny candies such as jelly beans, gather the cello and wrap with a bow.
  • Birthdays package: include cards & envelopes, return address labels, stamps, and list of all the birthdays for the year.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

What no one tells you about aging parents

My mom thinks she's the sandwich generation. She says she's a "club sandwich" because she has her parents, children, and grandchildren. She might be right, but I'm also living with a sandwich. Young children, down to age 4, and older parents in their late 60s. What no one tells you about aging parents is that they probably feel guilty about not having enough time for their parents, children, and grandchildren, because they still have to work.

My grandfather, my mom's father, was diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia in 2006 and passed away this Spring. My great-grandmother, my mom's grandmother, had Alzheimer's. Reading "Still Alice" makes one hypersensitive to the possibility of the existence of some form of dementia in one's family. What no one tells you about aging parents is how to have an honest conversation with them about their mental health.

My dad has donated his whole body to science so that there won't be anything for the family to take care of. On the other hand, he also bought a cemetery plot - maybe in case science doesn't want him? My mom was a P.O.A. for my grandfather, but has set nothing up for herself. What no one tells you about aging parents is that some of them seem to be in denial about their own mortality.

As far as her children know, my mom has no P.O.A., no Will, no Executor, no last wishes. She once mentioned something about having red velvet fabric in her casket, but that's all. What no one tells you about aging parents is how difficult it is to get them to discuss their final wishes.

What about you? What did no one tell you about aging parents?

Sunday, September 20, 2015

5 Ways I Use Aloe Gel

If you've seen "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," you'll remember that the dad recommended using "Windex" for just about everything. I've recently come to feel the same way about Aloe.

Here are 5 ways that I use Aloe gel*:

1. On my finger tips
It keeps my cuticles and skin soft and, as a bonus, the unpleasant taste is a reminder not to bite my nails.

2. On my face
I smooth it on any pimples or irritated spots and it promotes faster healing.

3. On mosquito bites
Soothes and reduces itching,

4. On sunburns
Soothes and reduces pain

5. On my feet
Rubbing Aloe all over my feet before putting my socks on softens them and heals cracks.

*Medical Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. Consult with a doctor if any irritation occurs. Aloes should not come into contact with eyes.

What about you? What other ways do you use Aloe?