Friday, April 17, 2015

I'll Take a Mud Pie, Please

Spring is mud season. I was reminded of this a week ago when my son posted a photo of my sweet little grandchildren playing in their driveway. (Yes, he is brave and they have a basement entrance to their house.)

One of my favorite childhood memories involves a backyard mud hole and two small children who spent hours mixing ,stirring, and cooking up mud pies. We were both five years old. I baked plenty of sand cakes and cookies in later years, but I have no recollection of who my fellow bakers may have been, aside from my sisters. It's been over 45 years since Al and I set up our backyard "bakery" and still, in those rare moments when we meet up, the old mud pie factory becomes a topic of conversation. He even introduced me to his wife as the one who used to make mud pies with him. Fond memories live long. There's a story here.

This morning a distant cousin posted some old family photos. I have no idea who the little guy in the photo is, but I think perhaps mud is the original toy. God knows children and what they love. Good thing for the old farm pump. This small child probably never had to set foot in the house before getting  bath and somebody long ago had the presence of mind to capture the moment on film, probably Kodak film.

Thursday, April 16, 2015


I returned home this afternoon to a sparkling clean kitchen. (Hannah had a day off.) She is just too cool. :0)

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Wildly Exciting, or Maybe Not...

I do wish I had something wild and exciting to tell you all about, but I spent most of the day sitting in a classroom listening to and trying to absorb more information. Coffee o'clock came a little earlier than quitting time and I went home with "sparkly" eyes. I could say I have a headache, but mostly my eyes just feel tired. I'm fairly certain a little bit of Benadryl and a good night's rest will take care of it.

Dinner hasn't been on the table on time lately... Sometimes My Darling makes our evening meal, sometimes I manage to get it together, and sometimes we make an easy supper instead. Tonight we had ham and eggs, last night we ate tuna fish sandwiches. If I'm really on top of things, I might have something prepared and ready in the freezer. Sometimes I actually remember to take it out in time to thaw and cook. This is a skill I've never previously been required to master. James and I are both willing to fix meals, but it's going to take a bit of practice to get things rolling smoothly. Maybe tomorrow morning I'll remember to take that meatloaf out of the freezer.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Big Test

We have come to the end of our class, but we are nowhere near the end of the learning. I passed the test!!! Orientation starts tomorrow with barely moment to rest. (At least I don't have to get up quite as early. Maybe I'll sleep until six!)

The test was nerve wracking, mostly because of the waiting. I was almost certain I would have to take a radial pulse, something I've tried over and over again, usually losing count or losing track of the pulse altogether halfway through. Yup, I was right, and by the time I finished that task my nerves were shot and I still had to wash Alyson's foot. (I'm thinking God did a little finagling for me somewhere along the way. Phew!)

 I found myself especially tired this afternoon. Probably all that thumping my heart did when I had to start taking that pulse over again for the umpteenth time. Admitting you've lost it for the fifth or sixth time is rather humiliating. I felt exceedingly foolish, but I had a little encouragement on my way out the door when one of the established CNA's told me the tester said it looked like we all did good. I checked online to make sure this afternoon.

You can pray that God provides the strength and stamina I need to do this job. My feet get tired quickly and I'm a "little bit" out of shape, however, I do have a heart for the residents and want to make a positive difference in their lives. I've already fallen in love with several.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Suddenly Summer

I am not quite sure what to do with myself when left home alone all day...

I got up early, dragged myself out of bed actually, and headed off to my test knowing full well that I might be turning around and coming right back home again. Too bad I hadn't made a Plan B for today, just in case my test was really tomorrow.

We got to the nursing home early so I took advantage of the extra time by visiting the restroom several times, helping Helen down the hall to the dining room, stopping to say hello to Nancy on my way out of the dining room, and also giving a struggling wheelchair resident a ride down a long hallway. I wasn't the only one who was turned away today. Corie has to go back tomorrow too.

Someone turned up the heat outside yesterday and its still running full force today. They say it's 80 degrees out there. I'm afraid my snowdrops are going to melt along with my crocus. But the daffodils and tulips can't be far off.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Sunday Drivers

How do you know it's spring? Why when the yellow rocking chair swing comes out of the barn, of course! I even gave it a little exercise. It felt good and made long for my comfy flip flops. The swing still needs a good scrubbing, and maybe a fresh coat of paint once the weather decides to stay warm, but it's nice to see it hanging in the old tree again.

The weather was so nice that we thought about going out for a ride today after church, but changed our minds and stayed home instead. We cleaned out gardens, rolled the lawn, and raked more leaves and burned them
in the driveway. I even cleaned all the old leaves out of the sandbox and threw an old fence section over it. No kitties in the sandbox, please. I'm saving that for my grandchildren. It won't be long before it's time for a picnic.

A walk around back had me noticing the "flowers" on the big silver maple where the kids once had a tree fort. I knew maple pollen was stirring up allergies but I'd never taken the time to notice these "pre-flowers" before.

And look! The crocus have returned. They sure are a happy looking bunch. Gotta enjoy them quick because if it stays warm for very long, they'll melt.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Here a Little, There a Little

Not much going on here today. How about a few photos from my week?

A family gathering on Easter Sunday.

a Jelly bean or two...

NY style cheesecake for the birthday boy.

Grandkids (otherwise known as small packets of boundless energy.)

Clouds at daybreak

 Seasonal housing of yesteryear

Old white fence

and a little crocus too

Friday, April 10, 2015

Taking Lake Road

The last four weeks have flown by. Our CNA class is over. We test on Monday and Tuesday (My test is Monday) and start orientation on Wednesday. They're counting on the fact that we'll all pass the state exam. Pray for me as I will be attempting a 12 hour shift three days a week. It's a little bit daunting, but then again a few weeks ago getting up at 5:30 am everyday looked daunting too. 

I drove down Lake Rd. several mornings this week. It's pretty amazing to see the sun just beginning to peek through the clouds over the lake at the break of day. I took my camera along today.

I couldn't resist a few pictures on the way home. It was dreary, overcast, and windy but beautiful. I've decided to enjoy taking different routes every so often, but this will likely be my favorite.

I'm ready for the weekend and looking forward to a Ladies' Bible study at church tomorrow morning. If all goes well, I'll be at Ladies' Prayer on Tuesday. I'm looking forward to that.

PS. Well, maybe I test on Monday. I got two letters in the mail. The first one says I test on 4-13 and the one I got today says I test on 4-14. Leave to me to get everything confused. ha ha!

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Is It Friday Yet?

It's not? Oh, phooey!

Today was our last day of clinical. We have worked with and visited the same residents for the past two weeks. We're getting attached. Tomorrow we take our final, practice skills in the classroom, and share a lunch, and then class will be over. On Monday I take the state test for my CNA. The nursing home is hoping we stay and work there, but I have another option to look at also. I'm not quite sure what I'll do.

Life is full of transitions. One after another. We are constantly in a state of flux. It feels like we are entering into another season of change. I'm not exactly sure where it will take us, but I think we're heading in the right direction even if I can't quite see around the corner.

A few days ago I posted a couple photos of Oreo on the inside looking out. This is Little Cat on the outside looking in.  (They have a cat door to use too...) Both photos show just how dirty my glass doors are. Maybe one day I'll catch a photo of Sofie looking through the window, but I think I'll wash the glass before then.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Little Red and the Grays

I am at a loss for words today so I will tell you that Little Red is still standing guard in the weeping birch between the house and the driveway. I spotted him yesterday chasing a pair of gray squirrels who dared to think it permissible to trespass on his tree. Once they took off running across the yard he hurried back up the tree trunk and out onto the branch to watch their hasty retreat. He wasn't settled until they were both a satisfactory distance from the tree he calls his own. I'm sure they'll be back to find some more of the peanuts I leave out every so often. They somehow know when he's got his back turned.

 Days at the nursing home have been full of activity. I must say that caring for and observing strangers with dementia is much easier than watching your own parent slip away. It's still sad, but sad from a totally different perspective, and it's much easier to enter and live in their "moment" too. I even find myself able to smile instead of heave those great sighs that came with not knowing where my own mom was headed or what was in our future. I've been on the inside and I know what that is like. I know it's much harder to be the child watching his/her parent struggle and I pray that helps me to be compassionate to not only the residents, but those who love them as well.

The weather today was anything but cheery. Dark, dreary clouds hid the sunshine that warmed our little corner of the world a few days back. After my return home this afternoon the sky turned dark, dark and thunder shook the sky.  I decided to grab a ten minute nap while I put my tired feet up on the couch. The cup of coffee I grabbed on the way home slowly took over and a little while later I came back to life. I was awake when my friend Emma got off the bus and when Dave showed up with two giggling grandsons (Two and Three) I was coherent enough to enjoy their visit. Now if only I could manage to get myself into bed earlier...

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Number Seven

Number seven came to visit us tonight. It's his mommy's birthday and Daddy took her out to see a movie. Seven was happy for the first hour and then he decided it just might be time for Mommy to come back, so he decided to cry. And cry. He did not want his bottle. He did not want his binky. He only wanted Mommy. We tried showing him a video of daddy playing guitar and singing. It distracted him momentarily and then he remembered Mommy and cried a little more. After a while he got tired and took a nap on my lap. When he woke up Mommy had not yet returned and so he decided to cry a little bit more. He really loves his mommy and that is really a very good thing.

Monday, April 06, 2015

Resurrection Sunday and a Day-Early Birthday

We had a very nice weekend with lots of fun and activity. We gathered to remember Christ's resurrection and to celebrate the birthday of the family patriarch. (I wonder how he'll like that title?) There was a bit of wrestling on the living room floor, some childish giggles, and some yummy desserts after the holiday dinner. A few bags of Easter candy even appeared. I didn't eat much. (I tasted a purple "perfume flavored" jelly bean. It kind of killed my desire for any more. :P)

I noticed a few family members checking their phones or playing games. Even the little guys got in on the fun.

Someone had a time out, but he made the best of it while Hannah and I snapped a few pictures. He's covering up a nice looking bruise between his eyes. I heard he learned why it's not a good idea to swing a belt around your head when he smacked himself between the eyes.

When everyone packed up and went home, the house still felt warm and lovely, albeit much quieter. I found a monster hat had been left on the floor by a small boy (he probably wonders where he left it...) and a lamp that looked rather haphazard in the aftermath. I found myself smiling and thinking what a wonderful afternoon it had been.

Happy Birthday, My Darling. I love you. I hope you enjoy being just as "old" as me.

Sunday, April 05, 2015

I Saw Him There

(One of those songs Dad sang... )

I gazed in awe, in wondrous adoration,
I asked myself, "Why should he come to me,
This one so pure, so holy and all gracious?
Why take my load and give me liberty?

I saw Him there, His hands,
In deep compassion,
Were stretched toward me.
I heard Him humbly say,
"Come unto Me, I am the resurrection,
I am the Truth, the Way."

His hands were torn and in each palm there rested
A gaping hole for all the world to see.
My Lord, my God! I recognized my Savior,
It broke my heart, but He broke His for me.

He lifted me, in tender arms He bore me.
He cleansed my wounds and set me on my way.
He spoke the word, my chain was rent asunder,
Now He is mine and I am His always.

Saturday, April 04, 2015

Letting Go

"This is a time in your life when you must learn to let go: of loved ones, of possessions, of control."

This was part of a devotional from a week or two ago. I read it yesterday. God's timing is once again impeccable. I'm finding it hard to let go. We have spent much of our lives gathering, collecting, and acquiring, now it is time to release, loose, and let go. The road has grown more unpredictable with twists, turns, and hills. Sometimes the ride is smooth, sometimes it is rough. Sometimes it's simply not knowing what is around the next bend that makes the way unsure. In all of this I learn to trust the One who holds the future a little bit more. It's time to sell Mom's house. :(

Not all of life is letting go. There is still time for a bit of gathering in. Toward the end of August we will welcome a second granddaughter into our lives. The announcement of her impending arrival was a surprise back in January, a surprise to even her mommy and daddy. Today we found out she is a girl. How cool is that? I can't wait to start buying girl stuff!

Friday, April 03, 2015

Ready for the Weekend

I was just a little bit tired this afternoon when I got home. I changed my clothes, took my pillow downstairs to the couch, and crashed. I didn't move for two hours. The good news is that I felt much better afterward and even went to the Good Friday service at church this evening.

It's been a long week and a short week all stirred up together. I got up and ready every day, but two of those days we ended up not having class. (The teacher was sick.)  Yesterday I had the chance to go out with Hannah and we had some beautiful weather. It was really nice to have the day off and spend some time with my daughter. We did a little shopping and made some plans for Sunday's Easter dinner.

Yesterday I chanced to spy a few furred and feathered friends out in the weeping birch. The old tree is a gathering place for all kinds of birds, a couple of hungry squirrels, and I'm guessing a great collection of bugs.  That woodpecker has to be after something...

Today we were back to class. Next week is another several days of clinical and then we take the big test the following week. Sometimes my head gets to spinning. ha ha!

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

April Fools

I crawled out of bed at the usual time, got myself ready, and headed out the door. On my way into the nursing home, I met my friend Alissa. "Is there class today?" she asked me. It appeared we were the only two students there. We went inside to the education room. It was empty. Not wanting to turn around and leave without knowing what was going on, we went in search of the floor nurse who has been working with our instructor. Apparently a text had been sent out, but neither Alissa or I had gotten it. My home phone doesn't receive texts...

Rather than go home right away, we decided to stay and help with residents who needed assistance with breakfast. I fed Nancy sausage gravy and biscuits while we listened to a second resident ask repeatedly about seeing the doctor. Mom's cousin sat in a third chair nibbling at toast with jelly. E. is no longer able to communicate. If her thoughts are lucid, her words come out jumbled. It is sad to see confused minds in healthy bodies and clear minds trapped in bodies that won't cooperate. And, I do wish it was easier to learn who was who. Sometimes the nursing staff refers to residents by their first names, and other times by last names. I think it's going to take me a while to learn. A few at a time, a few at a time... And as soon as I learn that Charlie is the big guy in the red, it's tomorrow and Charlie is wearing something different.

Okay, now I should probably find something to do that might no otherwise get done if I didn't have the afternoon off.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Springing Up

Winter's hanging on but spring is quite stubborn and deter- mined, even if the fight is won a little at a time. Under piles of crusty, old snow and matted leaves the flowers are growing. Faith and determination. I've heard plenty of people ask if winter is ever going to go away, but the flowers never question spring's arrival.

Today I realized that my mom's second cousin is a resident of the nursing home. I heard her name yesterday but it didn't click until most of the way through lunch today. When I had a free moment I asked her husband if her maiden name was C-------. He said yes and when I told them that my mother was one also and that they were cousins, he smiled. He seemed genuinely happy that I stopped to talk with them. I'm looking forward to seeing them again tomorrow as the family is always there to help with her noon meal.

We left class early today and after my arrival at home I had some time to "play" out in the yard. I picked up a bag of doggy doo (There's plenty left for another day...), raked a section of lawn, and burned a few sticks and leaves. I am thoroughly smoked now, smelling like a sausage, and in need of a shower. Our yard is in rough shape but I think we can recover it a little at a time. Sunshine and warmer temperatures are a great motivator.

I'm still feeding the birds and squirrels, though I've not had the same chance to watch them. The cardinals have been about and the other day a red winged blackbird came to visit my feeder. I did spot Little Red and Mr. Gray out there a few days ago. Gray was enjoying a meal and Red was scampering about fretfully. I think he's still worried about his food supply. He shouldn't be too concerned. I've still got a nice bag of Critter Crunch and another one of peanuts.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Back to Class

The last few weeks have changed the direction of my days. I don't spend my mornings wondering what to do. I haven't been wasting so much time during the afternoon looking at my computer screen. Today I spent the morning walking halls and attempting to help people get washed up and dressed for the day. It wasn't easy, but it wasn't too bad either.

We worked in pairs with an established staff member. Not every resident was feeling cheery and cooperative, but that's no surprise. One can hardly blame them. I was questioned as to how long I've been working at the nursing home and where I went to school. I had to think fast in order to reassure this particular resident and not lie. ha ha! Tonight my nose is playing tricks on me and I'm hoping this a normal and fleeting affliction. Everything smells like... well... you know... Maybe this could be a good weight loss program. :0)

I found myself thankful today that my mom and dad never had to live in a nursing facility, but not because the people there aren't compassionate. I'm grateful once again that my dad didn't linger long confined to a bed in a body that he couldn't control. As difficult as it was to let my parents go, I'm sure it would have been harder to have them stay.

Now I have a decision to make regarding employment. We've not yet been hired by the facility training us, but we do have that option. We can apply with them or seek out another option. I'm leaning toward staying and hoping this week will help with the final decision.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Palm Sunday

And a very great multitude spread their clothes on the road; others cut down branches from the trees and spread them on the road. Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying:

“Hosanna to the Son of David!
‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’fn
Hosanna in the highest!”
And when He had come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, “Who is this?”
Matthew 21:8-10

Friday, March 27, 2015

And Now For a Weekend

I have been utterly frustrated, and utterly amazed, at the impeccable timing of headaches. It's been two jam packed weeks of reading textbooks, doing quizzes, and practicing skills. I had a stress/eye strain headache on the first day of class, but was able to get through the first two weeks without anything major. Here we are at what is my first "relaxed" weekend and here comes the headache.

Now before you feel sorry for me, please recall that I often struggle with headaches. They come with fluctuating hormones and are no big surprise. What is a surprise, and actually a good one, is how God so often allows me a lapse in whatever I'm doing (babysitting, taking a class, ...) to take it easy while I deal with it. Yes, I'm looking for the silver lining (and taking ibuprofen).

Next week we go to class in scrubs. We're going to meet some of the residents and put into practice what we've been learning. In another two weeks we'll be done with clinical and then we'll take the state test. It's a little bit frightening and a little exciting all rolled up into one. This has been a bit of a whirlwind ride so far and so far it's been fun, aside from the headache. I'm pretty sure if Mom and dad can see me, they're smiling. The nursing home was pretty special to them. No matter which one they visited, they were all full of people they loved.

PS. These are old photos and have nothing to do with the facility where I am taking the class. (See my mom there talking to her Uncle Louie? He's the one she was talking about a few days before she passed on.)

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Designer Paper Plates

Believe it or not, I am starting to wonder where spring is hiding. As much as I am able to enjoy the cold and snow of February, when my birthday comes (and goes) I am looking forward to green grass and warm weather. It's not happening. It's snowing; big, fat, fluffy flakes of wet snow. No more snowmen for me this year. No snowball fights. No way, no how.

I'm ready for picnics outside and afternoon visits on the back porch. I'm ready to whip up a macaroni salad and show off my really super cool new paper plates. Check out the fancy design! Have you ever seen paper plates so cool? Of course, you haven't. Not until now.

I found two sizes of  Essential Everyday Designer plates in town at the IGA. They were both the kind with the colored pattern across the center and white trees outlined through the centers. I was disappointed to see they did not yet have the rest of the set out on the shelves. Perhaps I should tell the store manager that the designer was once a stock boy in their store, and that he grew up in this very town. Maybe everyone will get excited and buy them! :0) Okay, so maybe not everyone is as thrilled as his mom, but I am looking forward to bragging a little bit at some picnics this summer. I wonder if there are napkins to match?