Thursday, April 30, 2015

A Tulip Tale

The sun was bright and the afternoon pleasant. I took my camera out in the backyard and was surprised to find my favorite tulip blooming. This year, for the very first time ever, I have been blessed with two blooms.

Six years ago this poor tulip was overstressed and appeared to be dying. I dug it up and moved the stemless flower to a new spot where it would no longer be trampled by dogs or set upon by cats. My heart was sad because I was fairly certain my actions were too little too late, but God wasn't finished with that flower. With a little bit of tender love, a few years time, and His gentle hands, there came a transformation.

Who would have thought a simple tulip could teach me such a valuable lesson? (Yeah, I'm getting weird on you here...) Two years ago I felt lost and overwhelmed in the midst of caring for my mom and yet there was this tulip teaching me something I didn't fully see. I even said this, "If God cares so much for flowers, He must love me too. The tulip I feared might never recover is beautiful again! Perhaps there is hope for me too. :)"

I'm not sure what happened deep inside that tulip, down in the heart of it, the place that we can't see, but I do know it has been transformed. What once looked like a hopeless, dying flower, is now full of new strength and beauty and it was nothing that the tulip did on its own.

God is changing me deep inside too. For several years I have felt dried up inside but He was working something I never could have done on my own. I was reminded yesterday afternoon of an old song written by Stuart Hamblen. "It Is No Secret" is the story of God's work in Stuart's life. Thank God He isn't finished with me.

You may have longed for added strength
Your courage to renew
Do not be disheartened
I have news for you.

 It is no secret what God can do,
What he has done for others,
He'll do for you.
With arms wide open,
He'll pardon you
It is no secret what God can do.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Marathon Training

 "I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." 
John 15:5

I made it through my first twelve hour work day without feeling like I might collapse. I actually felt pretty good as long as I kept moving and the only time I really, really wanted to put my head down and go to sleep was during my lunch break. Once I got home it was a different story. While My Darling watched television, I struggled to keep my eyes open. My legs were tired and achy, and even my hands hurt. I closed my eyes for a minute or two...

The day was busy with helping residents wash up and get out of bed for the day, transporting to and from the dining room or activities, giving assistance with meals, cleaning up messes, and answering call bells. In between there were plenty of opportunities for kind words, hugs, a few kisses, and lots of smiles. I even got a hug from Charlie. :0)

I am grateful now for two days off, to nurse a slight headache, and to soak in some sunshine. I've never run a marathon, never had any desire to, but I'm thinking this coming weekend, with three twelve hour days in a row, will be just that. Quite honestly, I'm a little intimidated, but my parents ran their own "marathons" before me. Dad lived his entire life with the effects of a childhood battle with polio. One leg may have been shorter and weaker than the other, but God gave him the ability to climb mountains on it. Mom may have been born with the scar of spina bifida, she may have been tethered to an oxygen tank for her final 13 years, but she faced the race before her bravely. I don't want to go anywhere without the strength of the Lord. With Him I can do all things, but without Him I can do nothing.

PS. Please pray for my cousin Pam and my Aunt Margie as together they face some age related problem regarding my aunt. Growing old isn't easy for any of us.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Going to Work

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. 
Philippians 4:13

For the first time in seven weeks, I did not get up and go to the nursing home on Monday morning. Kind of strange to think I've been there every week day since March 16th, even though three of those days I had to turn around and go home. Most of the training is over. I've been through a drug screening, a background check, and been fingerprinted. I've had titers drawn, received a flu shot, and had a physical. I've been instructed, quizzed, and tested. My borders have been stretched and I continue to find God equipping me to do much more than I ever imagined possible.

If all goes according to plan (big "if"), I will work three twelve hour days each week; Tuesday, Friday, Saturday, then Sunday, Wednesday, Thursday, and then back to Tuesday, Friday, Saturday again. It's been a gradual increase of time on my feet. My knee is balking, but my feet appear to be getting used to the action.Whenever I'm not sure my body can take the action, I recall that God has placed me here and trust Him to provide the strength. Whenever I'm not sure what to do, I think of my mom and ask myself how I would take care of this person if it was her. What if this was my mom (or grandma)? How would I respond if this was my dad (or grandpa)? There are still factors that make me uncomfortable, but as the work becomes familiar, it also gets easier. Keep me in your thoughts and prayers.

Friday, April 24, 2015

A Night of Fishing at the Pond

We had some visitors this evening, two handsome young men. (The little ones. Noah, the tall one, stopped by with Ben just in time for a quick stop at the pond...) They (the little ones) arrived soon after dinner and then went fishing. In the living room. Those are some pretty good fishermen!

There were toys all over the living room in no time at all; cars, books, Beanie babies, and fish. :) After Ben and Noah left, James, Hannah, and I played Apples to Apples with Josh. "Smart" was one of the green cards and My Darling was the judge.He had to choose from dump truck, helicopter, and monkeys. Ha ha! I laughed when the green card came up "Bold" and Josh said something about wishing there was an eagle card. Bold Eagle... Sorry, I must have been tired, but I laughed so hard I cried.

We had a very nice grandson night. It was nice to chase small people for a change. It was especially nice to hug my eldest daughter, and to give her baby bump a little pat. She's looking cute and the boys are getting excited to have a new sister at the end of the summer. Maybe when I get a paycheck I'll go out and buy something pink.


Thursday, April 23, 2015

Merry Christmas in April

Today we had a surprise. White stuff! I didn't take any pictures because I was nowhere near my camera. I heard one of Santa's elves yodeling Christmas carols while shuffling down the hall. He made me smile.

I found some heroes on the inside today, residents who rally round and encourage fellow "inmates," and I was blessed. Together we coaxed a discouraged resident to take a little lunch. She wasn't having any of it from me, but her friend soon talked her into taking a few spoonfuls of soup. After an incident we won't mention, which included a set of new clothes, she came to the conclusion that perhaps she was loved in spite of it all. The lunch was eaten and I saw her a while later chatting happily with a volunteer. I've decided it's a group effort. (Today you get a picture of Mom and Rachel because that worked best when it was a group effort too.)

Next week I'll have a few days off. Perhaps I'll have a story that doesn't have anything to do with class or work.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Little By Little We Get to the Middle (It's Wednesday!)

Today turned out much better than yesterday. I'm still tired, but not as wiped out as yesterday. My knee, which started acting up after I came home yesterday afternoon, was able to carry me around and help me get tasks completed without too much resistance. A knee brace proved helpful.

I found my heart a little sad today as I watched two CNA's care for one of our residents. They chatted amongst themselves while our patient looked back and forth from one to the other. She'd tearily (That's my own word) asked to go to bed after lunch and they were obliging her wish, but also forgetting that she needed to be recognized and acknowledged in the process. I'm sure they didn't mean to overlook her. I don't think they even noticed. After they left the room I went back in to toss my gloves in the trash, but mostly give my friend a hug, tell her not to cry, that I love her (You fall in love quick..), and kiss her on the head. :(

When I had a few minutes I held the hand of another resident who was aching for a few minutes of undivided attention. When I hugged her she asked if she could go home with me. "My family doesn't want me anymore," she said, "because I poop my pants." She didn't smell bad and she continued to hold tightly to my hand. I reassured her the best I could, told her that she had friends here and that we love her. I thought again about my mom who always hugged her nursing home friends when she and Dad made their weekly visits. I remembered how she told me there are some who never get a hug or a kiss on the cheek anymore. I know I can't meet the need of everyone every day, but I can do a little bit as I walk through, as I answer call bells, and as I do cares. I hope I never get so distracted by my coworkers that I forget why I am there in the first place. I know it would be all to easy to do.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Whatever... :0)

They say being a CNA is the hardest job in a nursing home. They also say "whatever doesn't kill you will make you stronger." I don't suppose that is true in every circumstance, but I guess it probably is in a general sense. (I found the photo amusing. ha ha!) I'll say one thing about doing this job, it is hard, and as it gets easier, it's going to get harder. Got to keep my eye on the goal, and probably go to bed earlier.

This week I'm working five eight hour days and coming home tired. Next week I work three twelve hour days; Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday. I can hardly wait to find out how that feels.It probably won't kill me... :0)

Monday, April 20, 2015

A Little Love

I woke at the crack of dawn, which was rather disappointing since I'd been awake multiple times through the night. Note to self- Don't eat a full dinner after 8pm. This will be a good lesson to learn before I start working those 12 hour days. I'd read that consuming protein right before bed will not be conducive to a restful night. Cereal with a banana is most likely a better choice.

It was a busy day for the most part. Digesting and regurgitating large amounts of material is exhausting, but I am making progress. If there is one thing driving me on that was absent 34 years ago when I first tried being a nurse's aide, it is a love of the people who call the facility "home." It will keep me going back each morning, even when my tired mind and body want to pull the cover back over my head.

Love inspires us to do many things that once seemed too hard. It's a lesson we first begin to realize when we look into the face of our newborn child. Totally ours and totally dependent. The residents at the facility are not "mine," not in the sense that my children were, but they are counting on us, on me,  to meet their needs, to keep them safe, and to love them. I pray that I can do all three well.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Coffee on the House

Since our coffee maker bit the dust a couple months ago, we've been brewing our coffee in the little French press my favorite mom in law bought us several years back. It does a good job and in a lot of ways we like it better than what came out of our Mr. Coffee, the only problem is getting the grounds out of the bottom when the coffee is gone. Now that it's warm out I usually toss them in the garden outside the back door. This afternoon I "missed" the garden. Oops.

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,
Come unto Me, 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!