We’re On Track

My daughter, Shantel, and I met with an advisement counselor this morning at her college to make sure Shantel is on track to graduate with her Associate In Arts (AA) degree in May. Good news!!! Shantel is completely on track. YEAH!!! Shantel has worked very hard, and is an A-B student in both her core requirements as shown here.

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As well as in her general electives as you can see here.

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We are so VERY proud of Shantel and her college accomplishments. It has not been easy, but with her determination and persistence, she will be ready to move on, and follow her dream of attending Grand Canyon University, GCU next year. Shantel is already talking with GCU about the requirements for her transfer, and working with their Disability Services Department for any accommodations she will need. Shantel’s major is Phycology and she plans to obtain her Bachelor of Science degree in Hospital Administration At GCU.

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Shantel decided to attend a Community College after High School instead of going directly to a four-year University College for several reasons. One was because in order for her to go directly to a four-year University, she would have been required to take a foreign language in High School. We had so much trouble just getting English brailled for her in high school that we knew there was no way we would ever have been able to have a foreign language brailled and have the books and handouts to her in a timely manner. Another reason for Shantel’s decision to attend a Community College first was to allow Shantel time to adjust to not having an assistant in all her classes like she did in High School, and a smaller campus would allow Shantel to gain the confidence she needed to navigate from class to class without a sighted guide. It really has proven to be the best decision, as everything is falling into place quite nicely.

We’re on track and ready for the next leg of Shantel’s educational journey… We just need to keep praying the funding will be there as I almost passed out when I saw how much this all costs…, and my husband, Bill/Bro, doesn’t even know yet… I may never be able to go out and “play” again… 🙂

Stay Tuned!

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Motivation

Living in the house with an adult child is sometimes a challenge, especially if they have a disability, like our daughter, Shantel, who is totally blind. On one hand Shantel wants to be treated as an adult, and is even talking about wanting to move out on her own. She has been trying to find an apartment she can afford with a roommate, but so far that hasn’t panned out so well. More on that in a later post.

While Shantel wants to be treated as an adult, she still wants me to do certain things for her. My challenge is always trying to find that balance between helping her and letting her figure out how to do things on her own, especially since that is what she will be doing when she does finally move out on her own… I call this challenge my transitional journey. The reason it is such a challenge for me is I have spent Shantel’s entire life making sure she had what she needed, as needed. Dealing with medical issues, fighting for her rights in school, helping her find ways to get involved in activities when she was left out of things other kids her age were doing, helping her understand homework when it hadn’t been brailed for her to read it herself…

Most mother’s try to help their children reach their full potential just as I did with Shantel. However, at some point most sighted children do get jobs, driver licences, and begin to spread their wings little by little. Shantel will of course never have a driver’s licence, and dealing with dial-a-ride as her only means of transportation is a nightmare in and of itself most of the time… As far as finding a job goes, I have never seen anyone work harder at trying to find a job than Shantel has over the years. She wants nothing more than to be working and earning her own income. I can’t tell you how many interviews she has been excited to go to only to come away disappointed when she was told one reason or another for why they will not be hiring her… So, I continue to help Shantel work through all these issues as best I can. I continue to drive her to job interviews when she gets called to one, I continue to drive her to places she wants to go so she won’t be left sitting on a dial-a-ride transfer bench for hours on end just so she could get to a store to pick up something she needs… and I will continue to do these things for her as long as the motivation for me to do so is there… What do I mean by having the motivation there for me to keep helping her now that she is an adult? Let me explain…

I clean our house top to bottom every week. All I ask is that once the house has been cleaned, everyone living here help keep it clean…  There are only a few simple rules I ask them to keep, which are:

If you open it, close it

If you drop it, pick it up

If you take it out, put it back

If you know the trash needs to be taken out in the bathroom, take it out

Keep the shower curtain closed so it dries well

Wipe the counter tops dry after you use the sinks

Put your clothes in the hamper and not on the floor.

That’s it. Simple and easy… And, as long as those things are done consistently, you won’t hear me bitch!!! Note to readers: keep this message in mind as I continue to speak about my motivation to help those who want my help…

Shantel is struggling in her biology class so her instructor asked that she come to a one-on-one meeting with her every Friday from 7-8 a.m. That means an extra 40 plus mile round trip for me to drive to Phoenix. But hey, she is my daughter, and I want to help in any way I can. However, now, since we are going to be in Phoenix on Friday’s anyway, Shantel is asking me to take her to several other locations.

Here is the Friday line up for this week:

6:30 a.m. – Drive to the bank so Shantel can withdraw money

7-8 a.m. – Shantel meeting with her bio instructor while I sit somewhere outside and read a book

8-9 a.m. Shantel and I find something to do until her Mid-K store, where she buys her make-up, and her Sally’s beauty supply store open

10:00- 11:00 – Take Shantel to Wal-Mart

11:30 – take Shantel to get her nails done. Then, after the nails are done, Shantel usually wants me to take her somewhere to pick up something she can buy and bring home for lunch…

I told Shantel I would be happy to take her to all the above mentioned places as long as she continues to keep her end of our deal and keeps her room picked up, the bathroom clean etc… She agreed and said “OK, sure, no problem” Readers, hold that thought.

Yesterday, I went into Shantel’s room and found clothes all over the floor. In addition, the hall bathroom, that she uses, was a real mess with paper towels laying on the floor because she has issues putting her hand close enough to the trash can so she holds the used paper towel over the trash can and hopes it goes in when she lets the used paper towel go. She doesn’t seem to think me picking up her used paper towels is as much of a problem as it is for her to make sure she gets her trash in the trash can… her sink counter was all wet and the shower curtain was half in and half out of the tub. I was pissed to say the least.

When Shantel got home from school, and got settled in, I told her about the mess in her room and in the bathroom she uses… Shantel said “oh yeah, I was going to clean all that up but I forgot.” I simply said “That’s OK, now see if you can forget about all the things you wanted me to do for you on Friday, because that deal is off.” I said “if you want me to help you, I need you to do what you agreed to do to help me too.” That is what will motivate me to want to do things for you. So we’ll see how well you can keep up your end of the deal  for next week.

I never saw a bedroom and bathroom get cleaned up so fast in my life… Seems like she got a little motivation of her own… 🙂

Stay Tuned!

He’s Alive!

In a previous post titled “are you sure”, I shared with you that my mother was having issues with a male resident, Ralph, at her Care Center who was running his wheelchair into the back of my mother’s wheelchair, hitting the back of her wheelchair with his fists, and being an overall bully. I addressed the matter with the head of nursing services, and the matter was brought under control.

However, the very next week, my mother told me that Ralph had a medical emergency in the dinning room, was taken to the hospital, and died… I asked her if she was sure he died and she said “yes, the duty nurse, Judy, said he was already gone.” That same day, mom told me another resident, Bill, died too.

I had so many people ask me what really happened to Ralph and Bill after that post, that I promised I would provide an update as soon as I had more information. Keep in mind that any information I share is always subject to scrutiny because every time I visit mom at the Care Center I leave feeling like I just watched a cliff-hanger soap opera and have to wait until the next episode to find out what happens, or more importantly, what really happened as the stories keep changing depending on who is telling it…

So, fast forward to yesterday. Mom called to tell me my brother, Danny, came over the weekend to visit her. He comes every Sunday, but she stills feels the need to call and let me know he actually showed up… While I was talking to mom, she said “well, we finally found out what happened to that other man.” I asked what other man, and she said “you know that man who was bothering me.” I said “you mean Ralph? Yes, she said. I said “what do you mean what happened to him, you said he died?” Do you mean he’s not dead or you found out what he died from? He’s not dead, she said…  Mom, why did you say Ralph was dead if you didn’t know for sure? Mom said “well, you know a lot of people around here have dementia and they don’t always know what they are saying? Yes, mom, I pretty much figured that part out already… So Ralph is alive and in the hospital, I asked? Yes, she said, and he is coming back here today. I said “oh, I know his wife will be glad to see him again don’t you think?” Well, I don’t know why she would be happy to see him, she said, he’s so damn mean. Well, mom, you just try to stay away from Ralph and perhaps he will leave you alone too.

What about Bill, I asked? Bill who, she said? Bill that always sat in the corner by the nurses station. Oh, that Bill, he’s dead. Are you sure about that mom? I guess I’m as sure about that as I am anything around here. Now don’t go “blabbing”  to anyone about what all happened. What do you mean what all happened mom? You know, all that happened with Ralph. I don’t want people to think we’re all crazy. Too late mom.  What do you mean, who did you tell? Oh just my family and a few close friends, don’t worry about it. So you don’t care if people think your crazy she said? No mom, I gave up worrying about what people think a long time ago. It takes a lot of pressure off when you do that. You should try it sometime. At that, mom told me she had to hang up, because she had the game on and she didn’t want to miss any more of it. I said OK, mom I’ll see you on Wednesday.

So, there you have it, or as much of an update as I have regarding Ralph and Bill. I do believe Ralph is alive because I don’t believe the Care Center would have just left his wife wandering around the center looking for him if he really had died. I believe they would have called the family in to spend more time with her, and for sure they would have been making funeral arrangements… However, I’m still not sure if Bill is really dead. Bill was a kind and gentle man who had been in the Care Center for many years, and I can’t imagine he would have passed and no one would even mention it. Usually when a resident passes the Care Center has a little ceremony in the garden and they release a balloon for every resident that passed that month. They also invite any other residents or visitors who knew the person that passed to attend the ceremony.

I will most likely see the duty nurse, Judy, tomorrow, and will follow-up on this latest information mom provided. If there are any further details I will provide another update to this continuing cliff-hanging saga/soap opera… 🙂

Stay Tuned!

Make Ahead Meals

I love to cook for my family, and I love to entertain family and friends. I especially love to entertain when I can make meals ahead of time that I can pop in the oven the day guests arrive. I spend a good deal of time planning menu’s, and trying new recipes. For the most part, when I try a new recipe I stick to the exact recipe the first time. Then, after I know we like the general idea, I will change things up and make it my own version of the original recipe. I also rarely, if ever, measure ingredients. So, when I share “my” recipes, I can’t give exact measurements. I just have to tell you, or in this case, show you how much of each ingredient to use. That’s what makes cooking fun for me.

This is “my” version of stuffed acorn squash. It’s one of my favorite meals to serve and it is so easy to make. It just takes time but it’s a labor of love for my family and friends and so worth the time it take to make…

You will need:

Acorn squash

Olive oil

Turkey Italian Sausage (or whatever sausage or meat you choose to use or even no meat if you don’t want meat)

Fresh onion (power if you prefer but I think fresh is better)

Fresh garlic (powder if you prefer but I think fresh is better)

Fresh sage ( ground if you prefer but I think fresh is better)

Fresh nutmeg (ground if you prefer but I think fresh is better… getting the idea about using fresh ingredients…)

Reduced fat cheddar cheese (use full fat if you don’t care about fat and calories… 🙂

Fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano (use the fake stuff if you don’t want the REEEEEl good taste)

Box of Near East Long Grain and Black Rice with seasoning package inside (cook your own rice if you want but I like the Near East brand flavoring)

White wine

Fresh ground pepper (use the other if you don’t want reeeel fresh flavor)

Salt to taste (I don’t use salt because the cheese and rice mix both have salt in them but you do what you like… 🙂

Now let’s get cooking…!

Take your acorn squash

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Cut squash in half and take out seeds

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Drizzle small amount of olive oil inside squash

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Cut cross-hash marks being careful not to cut though the skin of the squash. This makes it easier to scoop out the squash later.

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Place squash cut side down on baking dish and bake in 400 degree oven until tender enough to scoop the squash out of the shells without breaking the shell (like what  you would do for twice baked potatoes..) I check the squash after 30 minutes to see how soft they are getting and adjust the timing as needed.

While the squash is baking in the oven, start cooking the Near East long grain and wild rice according to package directions except reduce the water amount, and add 1/2 cup of white wine to make the full liquid amount. This gives the rice a wonderful, rich flavor…

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While the rice is cooking, cook a package of ground Italian seasoned turkey meat, or whatever meat you want to use…

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When meat is browned

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Remove meat from pan and sauté in the same pan, onions until tender, then add garlic and sage to taste and sauté a little longer but not too long or the garlic will get bitter. Add a small amount of nutmeg into the mixture. Careful, a little nutmeg goes a long way, but adds wonderful flavor. When rice is done, add onion, garlic, nutmeg & sage mixture to rice.

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When squash is baked tender enough to scoop out the inside, remove from oven and let cool.

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When squash are cool enough to handle, scoop out the inside of each squash leaving enough squash in the shell so they hold their shape.

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Add squash you scoped out of shells, the meat, and the rice mixture into a large mixing bowl. Add a handful of cheddar cheese and grate some fresh Parmigiano – Reggiano into the mixture and mix to blend all the ingredients well.

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Take the empty squash shells and begin stuffing them with the meat, rice, cheese mixture and place in a baking dish that you sprayed with cooking spray. At this point you can add a little more of the cheeses on top and bake them in 350 degree oven OR cover them with foil and put in refrigerator for up to three days to bake-off at another time. If you are making these as a make ahead meal add the cheeses on top just prior to baking.

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Either way…the end result is YUMMERS!!!

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Enjoy!

Stay Tuned!

Are You Sure?

My mother was having a problem with one of the male residents, Ralph, running his wheelchair into mom’ wheelchair, hitting the back of her wheelchair, and just being an overall bully. I made several complaints to the staff asking them to address the issue before it got out of hand. Ralph lives at the Care Center with his wife. They share a room together. Ralph’s wife is a very quiet woman and very kind. She follows her husband, Ralph, all over the Care Center all day long.

Finally, after several failed attempts by the staff to get Ralph to leave mom alone, I asked to meet with the head of nursing services and filed a formal written complaint. I also told them if they didn’t get the issue resolved quickly, I was going to file a complaint with the state against the Care Center.

A long story made short, the Care Center met with Ralph’s adult children, and his doctor, and they all agreed Ralph needed his medications changed which they did. They also agreed to have Ralph on a fifteen minute check routine which means a staff member would check on him every fifteen minutes throughout the day when Ralph was out of his room.

The head of nursing called me to inform me of the changes they made and I thanked her for her assistance in bringing resolution to the problem. I said I didn’t want to cause Ralph, or his family any grief, I simply wanted Ralph to leave my mother alone. The head of nursing assured me they had a good handle on the matter now. I said “OK, if you are sure…”

Things went along real well and mom didn’t complain to me that Ralph was bothering her anymore as of my last visit  which was this past Monday.

Today, I surprised mom with a Saturday visit since I wasn’t able to get there on Wednesday,  because we were having new flooring installed in our bedrooms. Mom was surprised, but happy to see me. She said she had something she needed to tell me. I sat down on her bed and she started telling me she had a terrible day yesterday. I asked why and she said that Ralph and his wife were in the dining room eating when all the sudden he started making a lot of noise then the ambulance was called and he was taken away to the hospital. She said his wife couldn’t go with him and kept asking mom what happened to her husband. Mom said she didn’t know what to tell her so she said “they will let you know once they know so just don’t worry about it right now.”

Later that afternoon, mom said she asked the duty nurse, Judy, what “they, she and mom, were going to do about Ralph’s wife.” Judy said we’re not going to do anything. Mom said “well she keeps asking me where her husband is and I don’t know what to tell her.” Judy said don’t tell her anything, she will come out of it when she understands he is already gone. I said “OMG, mom, do you mean Ralph died, are you sure?” Mom just looked at me and said “he’s already gone.” I said what happened, did he have a heart attack? Mom said he did a good job at faking a heart attack. I said “mom, if he’s dead, it must have been real.” Mom just said “I don’t want to talk about that anymore now.”

I took mom to the activity room where other residents were already getting ready for the morning activity. A lady behind us was tap, tap, tapping on the table and crying. Mom asked me who it was. I said I didn’t know so mom turned her wheelchair around and said “oh, I know her, that’s Blanch.” I said “hi Blanch”, but the woman just looked at me with a blank face. Soon another resident came to sit next to Blanch, and said “good morning Evelyn and “Blanch” began talking up a storm with her…” I said to mom “I thought you said her name was Blanch.” Mom said “well, I forgot but she is from Washington Pennsylvania just like us. I smiled and said “are you sure?”

Now it was time for me to leave. I hugged mom and said I’ll see you next week. She said “I’ll go with you to the lobby door.” I said “mom, if you go with me to the door, you will have to paddle yourself all the way back here again.” Mom said “maybe I won’t”, so I started pushing her toward the lobby. As we passed the nurses station I noticed a resident, Bill, who always sat in the corner by the nurses station everyday, was not there. I ask mom where Bill was. Mom said “he died.” I said OMG mom, are you sure, you didn’t tell me Bill died, when did that happen? She said “I don’t know, I can’t remember everything, they go so fast around here.”

I pushed her to the lobby where I hugged her again and tried to leave, but she said “how am I going to get back now?”  I said “mom, I told you it was going to be a long way back…do you want me to take you back to the activity room? She said “yes…” What could I do but smile and say “are you sure?”

Stay Tuned!

Walking At Sunrise

I love to take long walks. In fact, walking is my daily exercise routine of choice. I believe walking is truly the best all around exercise we can do. I’m not talking about a leisurely stroll, No, I’m talking about walking fast, getting your heart rate up, and keeping it up for an extended period of time. I usually walk for 45-60 minutes. I make it my top priority of the day so I won’t get distracted by my other daily activities and forget about the most important activity which is to stay healthy. Once you have a good pair of walking shoes, it doesn’t cost anything to walk. Walking is easy on the joints and you can change your routes so it doesn’t become boring.

Early morning is my favorite time to walk because of the glorious sunrise’s we have here in Arizona. Most of the time I enjoy listing to my tunes as I walk, and sometimes I even sing along… 🙂

Other times, like when I get to see this, I simply meditate on the beauty and wonder of it all, and give thanks for another beautiful day.

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I can’t think of a better way to release stress, set your mood, and start your day?

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For me, no other exercise measures up to walking at sunrise in Arizona.

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Stay Tuned!

Remodel Project

I don’t like carpet. Not even in the bedrooms. In our old house, in Ahawtukee, we had all the carpet taken out and the entire house tiled. I loved it. Easy to clean, don’t have to worry about things getting spilled on it, because it can just be wiped up without staining etc.

When we moved into our home here in Chandler, the whole house had just been remodeled, and has travertine tile throughout the house, except for the three bedrooms, which had berber carpet. I thought if I had to have carpet I would like berber carpet so we went with it. As time went on I came to hate the carpet, and started thinking of saving up to have it removed and replaced with tile.

This past week, as I was taking my daughter, Shantel, apartment hunting, I noticed many of the apartments had beautiful, laminate wood floors throughout the apartments, and I loved the way it looked. So, I started thinking, I would love to replace the carpet in the bedrooms with a real rustic looking laminate wood.

Well guess what happened…? The very next day I saw a commercial for Empire Flooring and they were having a 50% off sale. It was like it was just meant to be… So, we made an appointment with Empire. The sales person came right to our home and showed us a huge selection of tile, hardwood, and laminate wood flooring. I fell in love with a very rustic looking laminate wood and my husband, Bill, loved it too.

Yesterday, our new, rustic, laminate wood flooring, was installed. I took pictures of the installation while it was in progress:

First, everything had to be disassembled so the installers could move the furniture out of the bedrooms. We started with the master bedroom, but our kitty, Carmen wasn’t ready be moved.

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Next Bill disassembled my ‘all about cowgirl’s room”:

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Once the installers arrived, it was no time until my beautiful home was turned upside down as all the bedroom furnishings were moved into the family room,

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Dining room,

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And living room, What a mess!!!

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Once the bedrooms were all cleared out, the carpet, padding, and baseboards were removed, and the laminate padding was cut and laid out.

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It was an ALL day job, and the three installers worked very hard, and did an amazing job. We absolutely LOVE the rustic look and feel of our new bedroom floors. Here is the finished master bedroom:

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And this is the finished “all about cowgirl’s bedroom”:

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I don’t have pictures of our daughter, Shantel’s, bedroom because she is in school all day and hasn’t had time to put her room back together the way she wants it. That is her “to do” project for the upcoming weekend…

Stay Tuned!

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