Expect The Unexpected

I’ve always been a planner, or at least I try to be. I try to plan for everything. If I need to be at a certain place at a certain time, I plan out my route, and estimate the amount of time it will take for me to arrive at my destination, on time. I don’t like to feel rushed, and I hate being late, so I make every effort I can to prevent those things from happening.

Of course I realize sometimes even the best laid plans can go astray…but that doesn’t stop me from doing all I can to ensure I have a safe, un-hurried, on-time, arrival to all of my destinations as well as having a back-up plan ready just in case the unexpected happens.

That said, I have to tell you that my beautiful, daughter, Shantel, who I love with my whole heart and soul, is the exact opposite of me in regards to planning for anything…As hard as I tried to teach her to always have a plan, and a back-up plan that includes anticipating the unexpected…she prefers to just take things as they come and just mosey along at her own speed in time like the whole world is just waiting for her to appear in front of them…

Then, when the unexpected happens, which it does often in her world it seems, instead of Shantel acknowledging that perhaps she could have been ready to leave the house sooner so we wouldn’t have gotten stuck behind all the school busses and traffic jams…No, she makes a bad situation worse by saying things like “can this day just get any worse”? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked that girl not to say things like that because you just might find out how much worse things can get…and I don’t want to be involved in the things getting worse part…!

So yesterday, as usual, Shantel was running a little behind the time she told me she would be ready to leave the house for school. She wanted me to take her by the Burrito Co in Ahwatukee so she could get something to eat later in her class. She also wanted me to walk with her to the Disability Services office to pick up the next volumes of her math books that were supposed to be ready. I reminded her that we would need to head out a few minutes early so we could get all that done before her class started…”I know mom, she replied, you worry too much, we’ll make it in plenty of time…” Famous last words is what I was thinking to myself..but I didn’t say anything to her at the time.

After several “are you ready yet” prompts from me, Shantel finally said “we’re ready” about 15 minutes later than we were supposed to leave. We managed to get to the Burrito Co alright and she placed her order. When the order was ready it wasn’t bagged to go so we had to request a to go bag and wait for them to wrap and pack it up to go…hum…an unexpected delay:)

In the car and on our way to school I start to notice the traffic seems unusually slow and just as I was about to say something to Shantel about it, a police car behind me light up his lights and pulled out around me making his way up the middle line in the road…then I knew an accident must have just happened up ahead. And, sure enough, that’s exactly what happened and at least five miles of traffic was being re-routed with us included in the “unexpected” detour…:)

We ended up driving five miles out of our way to get back on track to get to the school, but thankfully we arrived safely and not yet late for Shantel’s class. Shantel just had to say “can this day get any worse…?” Well, yes it can… we still had to go to the office to pick up her math books which were nowhere to be found once we made our appearance and requested the math books…Oh joy…now we have to wait (unexpectedly) for the young student worker to call the Disability Services Manager to see if she knew where the books might be…no luck…but they will look into it as soon as she arrives in the office…she’s on her way in now from north phoenix….we are welcome to wait for her or we can come back if we like…imagine that, yet another unexpected delay. But Shantel very quickly tells the young student worker she can’t wait or she will be late for her class…Finally, she seems to be getting concerned about arriving to class on time…:)

I asked Shantel if she would like me to walk her to her class sighted guide so she will get across campus faster but she said she needed to stop at the restroom first and asked me to just take her there which I did and guess what…? For some reason the restroom door was locked and we had to make an unexpected mad dash detour across campus to another restroom then on her class…

When we finally arrived at the final classroom destination, I asked Shantel if she learned anything about having a better time management plan so we aren’t rushing around like crazy people?  She just laughed and said “oh mom, why don’t you just write a blog post about it and I’ll think about it when I have more time…”What am I going to do with that girl?

Stay Tuned!

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Caught In The Middle

I had a very interesting experience today while visiting my mother at the Care Center. Mom and I were sitting at a table in the activity room chatting with Paula, a very sweet lady that has been a resident at the care center much longer than my mother. Paula reads books all day and never makes a fuss about anything going on around her. She can’t speak due to another recent stroke she suffered, but she understands everything said and can make her needs known.

As we were waiting for the activity director to bring out the craft box, mom and I were talking about the activity of the morning, which was making President’s Day flag embellished flowers using flag material, glitter, glue etc.

Before long, another resident, Bradley, came in and joined us. You might remember Bradley from my previous post titled “Bradley”. Bradley is only allowed out of the lock down unit when things are going on in the activity room. As I was explaining to Bradley what the craft project was going to be, another long time resident, Unis, who happened to have been roommates with mom when mom first went to live at the care center, walked into the activity room, past our table and into the physical therapy room. When mom saw Unis, she got very agitated and told me “if she comes out here and tries to sit at this table, I’m moving”. Now, I happen to know mom and Unis got along very well when they were roommates. But, now, Unis has dementia which is advancing to the point that she needs an escort to get from place to place within the care center or she will get lost. I also know that Unis doesn’t remember who people are, or even what she may say or do from hour to hour… So I asked mom why she was so upset with Unis and she said “Unis is crazy and mean”.

Mom went on to tell me that yesterday, Unis wanted to sit at the same table as mom but there wasn’t enough room because the other people sitting at the table were all in wheelchairs and there wasn’t room for Unis to pull up a chair. So, mom took it upon herself to tell Unis yesterday that she would need to find another table. Apparently, according to mom, Unis got mad and said she would sit where ever she damn well pleased and pulled a chair up to the table by mom. However, as she did, she bumped into my mom’s wheelchair, which then upset mom, and mom told Unis she better watch out or she would be in a lot of trouble… Then, mom said Unis told mom “your just a bitch and I never liked you anyway”.

Well, sure enough, Unis came out of the physical therapy room and pulled up a chair right next to mom. Unis smiled and said hello to my mom. Mom turned and told Unis “if your going to sit here I’m moving because you called me a bitch and said you never liked me”. Unis didn’t even change expressions when she said to my mom “I know I didn’t say that because I never use that word”. Mom then proceeds to tell Unis “now you’re not only crazy and mean, you also a liar”. Then mom turned to me and told me to move her to another table. I tried to defuse the situation by telling both mom and Unis that they were both not treating each other very nice but that didn’t work out so well. Mom started trying to push herself away from the craft table and ran over Unis’s foot which caused even more of a scene with Unis screaming abuse at the top of her lungs… so I quickly moved mom to another table.

Getting mom moved wasn’t enough to stop the situation either because by this time several other residents, including sweet little Paula, who were watching this whole scene go down…started taking sides. Three people who were sitting at the table mom moved from to get away from Unis moved to the new table where mom and I were, and two people from that table moved to the table where Unis was to get away from mom…

Once everyone rearranged their seating, they all settled down and started working on the craft project of the day, just like nothing ever happened…just laughing and having a good time!

I felt bad for everyone involved because none of them really have a good grip on reality, they just react to whatever they think is going on at any given moment, my mom included.

I know Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Dementia etc. all have powerful influences on how the brain functions, but from what I can tell from observations within the care center, the people affected with the decease don’t see themselves, or the other residents, as being forgetful, mean, dysfunctional etc. due to the decease. From what I see they all seem to think everyone is just fine, their just being mean and hateful and that just can not be tolerated within the care center pecking order…such a sad, sad, thing to watch.

I keep them all in my thoughts and daily prayers.

Stay Tuned

Finishing Touches

Anyone who knows me knows I LOVE  rustic, western cowboy/cowgirl & indian decor. That is the theme throughout my home, much to my daughter, Shantel’s, dismay. She hates western anything.

I have been looking for just the right window treatment to finish off my livingroom windows ever since we moved into our new home in April 2012. I don’t like a heavy full drape, I just like blinds with just the right valence to set them off. I found exactly what I wanted at my favorite on-line western store, LoneStar.com, but they were a bit more than I wanted to pay, and since I don’t have any sewing skills to make them myself…, I just kept looking, and hoping I would find something cheaper that would be equally as exciting to me.

Well, I guess it’s true what “they” say about “anything worth having is worth waiting for…” Because imagine my surprise, and pure delight, when the expensive valances I wanted to begin with went on sale for half price.. Bonus!!!

Look how perfect these are for my home and life style. They are called Spirit Horse Adobe Valence…and I absolutely LOVE them.

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Since I love horses, and turquoise is my favorite color, nothing could have been more perfect for me. Happy be good to myself day ME!

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I don’t know if turquoise is considered a happy color or not…all I know is when I see turquoise, it makes me happy, so I like to have accents of turquoise around me in every room.

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What’s your happy color?

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Now that the living room is finished, I’m on to dreaming about, and waiting for, this beautiful Skystone Turquoise Desert Bedding Collection to go on sale at LoneStar Western Decor.com. I fell in love with it the minute I saw it and I’ve just gotta have it for our master bedroom don’t you think?

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I mean, what cowgirl wouldn’t love to have that beautiful gem on her king size bed? Right?

Stay Tuned!

Here Comes Peter Cottontail

Hopping down the bunny trail with all his little bunny friends!

I love decorating for the holidays… Now that Valentine’s Day is behind us…my thoughts turned to St. Patrick’s Day since I am a good, half Irish, girl.

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And, of course, Easter. I love Easter mostly because of the deep religious meaning it holds for me, represented by this oversized rosary I received many years ago as a thank-you for teaching religious education classes when my daughter, Katie, was a little girl.

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And this beautiful Guardian Angel that comes out of an Heirloom porcelain egg and plays “you’ll never walk alone”… that my daughter, Shantel, received after she lost her sight at the age of two. It still brings up very strong emotions in me every time I wind it up…

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but also, I LOVE Easter because of the many happy memories Easter holds for me.

When my daughter, Shantel, was a little girl, of course, like many other children, she heard people say around Christmas time “you better be good because Santa is watching you and if you’re not good he won’t bring you any toys…” She never said anything about it at the time, but one day, as Easter was approaching, I had the house all decorated, and we were coloring Easter eggs…and Shantel said “I like Easter much better than Christmas”. I asked her why and she said “because on Easter the Easter Bunny brings you a pretty basket filled with candy, and sometimes little toys,…but he doesn’t get all up in your business by watching you like Santa Claus does”…I laughed until I cried and always think of that as Easter is approaching…out of the mouths of baby’s. That’s how my collection of Easter Bunny’s got started. Sadly, Shantel outgrew the excitement of having Easter Bunny’s all over the house…but I didn’t:)

I have an Easter Bunny that will welcome you as you enter my home.

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One on the end table that displays all his colored eggs..

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An Easter Bunny taking time to swing on a swing between two orang and white mushrooms with his pink bunny friend watching from the sideline.

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And just to express a bit of my quirky side…two little chicks sitting in an Easter basket, being entertained by a blue & pink frog…:)

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I have a pretty velvet covered Easter Bunny box decorated with flowers sitting beside his big purple egg box…

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And who could resist these adorable Easter Bunny’s  decorating the bird nest tree with their pretty pink ribbon?

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But, the most important Easter Bunny of all is still, and always will be…Velveteen, who sits high up on a shelf in our family room beside his long time live in girlfriend, Hug-a-Muffin, and oversees all the festivities and activities within our home…Velveteen went everywhere with Shantel when she was a baby going through chemo and all the other medical issues we faced. His ears are rubbed bald and he is blind…but I will NEVER, EVER outgrow Velveteen!

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Yes, I LOVE Easter…and, of course I always think back to my childhood Easter memories…

When I was a little girl, and attending a Catholic school, we had to wear uniforms and black and white saddle oxfords…Easter was one of the few occasions when I got a brand new store-bought dress, AND, brand new black or white paten leather shoes, AND, a brand new purse, AND, sometimes, if I was a really good girl…., I even got a brand new Easter hat! I couldn’t wait to put on my new Easter outfit and carry my pretty purse. I remember I always wanted a purse with a gold clasp that made a sound when you closed it…I LOVED that sound. I just loved it!

Today, as I decorated my house for Easter, all those memories came flooding back to me. Such precious, innocent, happy times…so, yes, I still LOVE Easter, for many, many, reasons…How about you?

Stay Tuned!

Cradle To Grave

We all fit in there somewhere now don’t we?

Last Friday, my daughter, Shantel, and I, spent the morning volunteering at Maggie’s’ Place, laughing and playing with new-born babies and getting to know their moms, all of them trying to work together within a community house to pull  themselves up out of desperate situations and make a better life for themselves.

I love babies, all babies, but particularly new-born babies because they are so fresh and brand new with their whole life ahead of them yet to be explored. When I look at a new-born baby, I can’t help but think about what they will become. What path their life will take, what choices they will make, and how they will live those choices. I absolutely treasure the time I spend at Maggie’s Place. It renews my spirit in ways nothing else can and I look forward to going back every week.

On Monday and Wednesday’s, I visit with my mother, and the other residents of the Care Center where my mother lives. I treasure my time spent at the Care Center too, but for very different reasons. My main focus at the Care Center is to make sure my mother is being cared for properly and that she has everything she needs…but in doing that, I also get the opportunity to meet and get to know the other residents as well. I especially enjoy visiting with residents that seem to have no one paying much attention to them other than taking care of their basic daily needs…

I find it fascinating to listen to the stories the residents share with me about their lives. What they did, where they lived, if they were married or not, if they had children or not, what they believe in or not…

Today, my visit with my mother took many different twists and turns that gave me the opportunity to experience a range of emotions as I participated in several activities with my mother and some of the other residents, most of whom I know well from my weekly visits. Like Sherry, who is a retired school teacher. Sherry is just a few years older than I am but she suffered kidney failure and has to have treatments several times a week. Sherry is always cheerful, even when she really doesn’t feel well. She makes it her business to go around and visit residents in their room when she hears one of them are sick or actively in the dying process. When Sherry is feeling good, she makes herself in charge of maintaining a small library for all the residents to share.

Sherry started her library by getting people to donate used books and she created this little reading corner complete with arm chairs, a lamp, pretty pictures, and lots of magazines.

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That little reading corner grew into this little library that Sherry keeps in perfect order.

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Sherry even created a color coded legend so the residents can easily know what book is where. I love Sherry, but she wasn’t there today because she is in the hospital and is having surgery tomorrow for an ongoing medical issue. I will keep Sherry in my thoughts and prayers.

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When I walked into the Care Center this morning, I was greeted with this beautiful bulletin board that has all the activities for the month. As you can see they were really excited about Fat Tuesday and the residents were all excited to tell me about the party they had complete with snacks and lots and lots of Beads!

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Fat Tuesday very quickly moved to thoughts of Valentine’s Day and all the residents that wanted to participate were encouraged to make these little puppy’s holding a bouquet of red flowers.

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Then, because it has been so cold here in the beautiful Vally of the Sun…the residents were invited to create these adorable snowmen. Some residents, like Dora, who resides in the lock down unit, but comes out for activities, struggled to even place the cotton balls on the paper while others watched and tried to tell her to “hurry up”…there is definitely a “pecking order” within the Care Center among the residents.

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I spent some time talking with Dora and helping her with her project. I found her to be funny and delightful. She told me she just came to the Care Center yesterday (I know she has been there for a very long time) and asked me if I was going to be there long? I told her I was just visiting and she said “you look like you would be nice” I told her I try to be and she said “I hope you’ll be nice to everybody, including me”. I promised her I would. Then Dora asked me if I have fun doing what I do…I told her I have lots of fun even if I have to make my own fun…

On the other hand, some people at the Care Center are able to create beautiful water-color pictures like this completely free hand…

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This is Tori with my mother. Tori is the activity director of the Care Center and it is her job to make sure the residents have a variety of arts and crafts to do. Of course she runs bingo twice a day, and she drives the bus that takes the residents who are able to go out to lunches, gambling, Wal-Mart etc. My mother loves Tori and Tori says she loves my mother. Tori is lots of fun and I always enjoy visiting with her.

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At the end of my visit with my mother, I gave her the large red heart box that has Ghirardelli chocolates in it because that is her absolute favorite. Mom showed me the little pink heart box with her initial (V) on it that she made last week in arts/and crafts, then she gave me the little pink heart with the white lace heart behind it and told me she made it for me. The little pink heart says I love you, mom. I was touched. I thanked her and hugged her and then she asked me to push her to the Catholic Church Service which I did.

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Today is Ash Wednesday which marks the beginning of Lent and of course Ashes would be distributed after the service. As other residents began coming in for the church service I told mom I had to go. She gave me a hug and said “don’t forget to get your ashes…. you know we all need all the help we can get”!

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As I walked out of the Care Center I thought to myself “cradle to grave and everything in between…isn’t life beautiful”!

Stay Tuned!

Bradley

Bradley is a fairly new resident of the Care Center where my mother lives. I had the unique experience of visiting with Bradley today during my visit with my mother. Bradley is a nice looking, 57 year-old man, confined to a power wheelchair due to a stroke. Bradley is soft-spoken, kind, and gentle. He has piercing blue eyes that seem to look right through to your very soul. He has a crooked, boyish, smile (mostly caused from one side of his face being pulled due to the stroke he suffered).

I visited with Bradley once before when he sat at the same arts & crafts table as my mother. On that occasion, Bradley quoted the most beautiful poetry complete with author name and date the poem was written. When Bradley is speaking with you, he commands your undivided attention, in part because of his total recall of the details of whatever it is that he is speaking about. When I first met Bradley, I thought to myself how sad it is that he looks so young to be a resident of a 24/7 Skilled Nursing Facility. At that time, I didn’t know the circumstances surround his condition.

Today, as I visited with my mother, Bradley came into the activity room and parked his power wheelchair right next to my mother. He smiled his crooked, boyish, smile, and asked my mother how she was doing. My mother responded that she was doing fine and dismissed him saying she had a visitor…Bradley looked at me, then asked my mother if I was her daughter…to which she responded yes. I could tell Bradley didn’t remember that we already met each other once before. Bradley moved his power wheelchair in front of me and asked my name. I said “my name is Virginia”. Bradley looked very confused, smiled that smile, and said “your kidding me aren’t you.” I said “no, my name really is Virginia. Then, Bradley looked at my mother and said “is that right?” My mother confirmed that my name is Virginia. Then Bradley shook his head and said “but your name is Virginia, why would you name your daughter Virginia?” Of course, my mother blamed my name on my Father, saying “her father wanted her named after me, but we always called her Cindy, because he said she would be like Cinderella”. Bradley looked at me, with his soul piercing blue eyes, and said “is that because you had to do all the work?” I just smiled and nodded my head in agreement. Bradley asked me if I had any evil step-sisters. I told him I didn’t have any sisters, I had three brothers. Then my mother spoke up and said “we all had a good life” Bradley looked at me and said “is that right?” I responded “well, I guess that depends on who you ask and how they remember it”. At that point, my mother said she didn’t want to talk about that anymore and told us to change the subject…

Bradley very quickly switched gears and started telling us that he is going back to school. He said he is all set up to start school real soon. I asked him what he would be studying, and he told me he was a computer programmer, but he needed to go back to school to get another degree so he could get a job in Texas that would pay him $10k a month. Then he said he would be able to buy old houses, fix them up, and flip them for a profit until he made at least $100k. I asked Bradley what he needed $100k for and he said “I really believe I will walk again because of new technology that is like a robot type thing that attaches to your legs and allows your legs to move so you can walk on your own. He said in order to get on the list for one of these robots, you must have at least $100k. Bradley told me he already has two other guys that want to go with him to Texas to buy and flip houses. He said he will hire those two guys to do the manual work on the houses while he works the job that pays $10k per month which he will continuously put back into buying more old houses…

I was so very impressed listening to Bradley speak about his very detailed plan that would allow him to make the money he needed to get on the list for the robot that will allow him to walk again…Then, just when I was about to ask Bradley how long he thought it would be before he would have enough money for the robot…a nurse came and said “Bradley, it’s time to go back to the unit now”. Before Bradley left he told me his mother is coming from Yuma tomorrow to visit him. He said “my mother is going to bring me a subway sandwich when she comes”. Then he asked me if I would be there tomorrow because he wanted me to meet his mother. I told Bradley, “no, I come on Monday’s and Wednesday’s.” Bradley smiled that boyish smile and said “that’s too bad because my mother would like you, you’re the only one, besides her, that will listen to my dreams…”  Then the nurse walked with Bradley back to the unit, the lock down unit, where residents with dementia live. Apparently, some patients in the unit don’t really have dementia but they have brain damage…due to strokes etc., and are a little more functional than others so they are allowed to leave the unit to go to the activity room as long as a staff member is in the room at all times.

After Bradley left, one of the residents said “I’m glad he left…he just keeps talking about how he is going to leave here and get a job…but the truth is we all know he has brain damage, and he is never getting out of here, never…I just thought to myself, I sure hope she’s wrong…

Stay Tuned!

Rock-a-Bye Baby

My daughter, Shantel, and I went for our Friday morning volunteer house coverage shift at Maggie’s Place this morning. This was the first “real” shift we’ve had since we completed all our finger printing, orientation, and training sessions. We took a big bag of donations for Maggie’s Place and some valentine cookies and cupcakes for the moms and staff to share.

House coverage is a vital volunteer position. House coverage involves answering the phone, receiving donations, enforcing house rules, and responding to any situations or emergencies that occur in the house while the staff members are conducting other business. Most importantly, house coverage involves being present with the moms, hanging out, chatting about their days, hearing their life stories, and building friendships!

In addition to the main house coverage duties listed above, the house coverage volunteers complete room checks All moms are required to be up, dressed, and have their rooms ready for inspection by 9:00 a.m Monday-Friday. The on duty staff member or volunteer completes the room checks and signs off the mom by checking off the chore completed box (if the room looks good). If the room doesn’t pass inspection, the box is left blank which can result in disciplinary action by a staff member. Room doors must be open when the moms are not in the room with their babies. If the door is closed when the mom is not in the room with her baby the mom receives an empty chore check box for the day as well. This is to help the moms (many of which were homeless before coming to Maggie’s Place)  learn how to care for their own personal space, learn how to follow rules, and to encourage them to come to the “community room” and socialize with the other moms, staff, and volunteers.

Another routine duty the house coverage person provides is giving tours of Maggie’s place to anyone bringing in donations or anyone interested in becoming a volunteer.

One point of interest is: All medications for the moms needs to be kept in the office. When a mom needs some kind of medication, she needs to ask the on duty volunteer or staff member. We find the bag with her name on it (if it’s a prescription) or the bottle (if over-the-counter) hand it to her and watch her take the medication. For legal reasons, we are not allowed to dispense medications. However, because some of the moms may be recovering addicts, they are not allowed to keep medications of any kind in their personal possession or in their rooms.

One of the most impressive things I think Maggie’s Place has in place for the moms, and Alumnae moms, is they all have the opportunity to work for items they need. For example: Moms and Alumnae moms can schedule working hours within the house or Maggie’s Thrift Store. The moms make a written request for the items they need, i.e. diapers, baby wipes, baby cloths, etc. then, a staff member will determine how many work hours each item requires. This allows the mom to earn what then need instead of making them feel like they are just getting handouts. I think that is a great idea, don’t you?

Today, during my house coverage shift with Shantel, we answered phones, took in donations, and we were both baby sitters for two of the moms. Shantel fed and cared for her baby just like she has been doing this forever. Her baby laughed and cooed all the while. My little precious angel baby was a bit more on the fussy side…I rocked, sang, walked, bounced, fed, and changed her but nothing seemed to make her happy…I did learn from my baby’s mom, that the baby is always like that and in fact she had a doctor’s appointment today to see if they can find out what is making the baby so uncomfortable. My heart went out to the mom because it was obvious she was exhausted. In addition, she told me all the other babies were for the most part happy once they were fed or changed. She kept saying “I hope my baby settles down soon and lets me get some much-needed rest. Her baby is just one month old. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that her baby was acting just like my oldest daughter, Katie, Shantel’s biological mother, and she never stopped crying for 13 months! I think it’s better that the moms find out things like that for themselves…:)

Shantel and I both agreed our first “real” house coverage at Maggie’s Place was a lot of fun, and we are looking forward to next Friday when we can go and do it all again.

Stay Tuned!

Previous Older Entries

Wheeling It

On the Road Since 2010, Traveling Across USA & Europe With 12 Paws

The Brantley Blog

In the eyes of the law, we reach adulthood the day we turn 18 years old. God help anyone who actually believes that.

the next few years

family life..with a unique perspective of motherhood

Gotham Girl Chronicles

a mixture of random musings...life in NYC...travel...photography...cycling

Blooming Burgh Boomer

Living An Active Full Life

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