Sunday, November 19, 2017

Quote!

                                I testify that BAD DAYS come to an END,                                                       that FAITH always TRIUMPHS, and                                        that HEAVENLY PROMISES are ALWAYS KEPT.
Elder Holland

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Aunt Bev

We have loved having Bill and Bev come over and spend time with us.  Something else I especially love about Bev is how sweet she is to our grandkids.  She puts me to shame when it comes to nurturing the imagination of kids.  I have often thought as I watched her what a phenomenal teacher she must have been. These pictures show Duncan and Aunt Bev having a great time at a Mexican food restaurant in Gilbert in October.  She is the best!
Duncan had to have a picture of him with the skeleton.

Then he wanted her to have her picture taken--and she let him take the picture!

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Piano Recital

Ava had her piano recital on Saturday.  We waited out in the foyer until she was ready to perform and then we stood at the back so we could hear her.  I was amazed at how well she did and how accomplished she is becoming.  It is nice to have some of our grandkids close by so we can participate in the wonderful activities they are a part of.  I was able to make the cupcakes for the refreshments after the performance and had a good time baking and frosting.  I was happy with how well they turned out!



Mint chocolate, Lemon, Lime, and Strawberry!

Good Job Ellis!

Football season ended on Friday.  I am especially proud of Ellis for going outside of his comfort zone and learning how to play football.  I think towards the end he was counting the minutes until it was over so he could get on with his life!

Halloween Dinner

It is a little out of place but Andy sent me some pictures he took when they came for a Halloween dinner last Monday.  With the help of Pinterest I had a great time planning a taco dinner with spider bowls, treats and games.
The bowls were spiders!

I made candy apples  that
actually turned out!

Quote

                         God is the gardener here.                        He knows what He wants you to be.
Hugh B Brown

Trust Me

One of the things that I have thought about a lot this week was something I say to Scott almost daily. Nothing makes sense to him and even in our house he is concerned about people who are watching him or who are in the back yard or where we are when we drive around town.  I do try to explain to him but most of the time he is beyond frustrated and afraid.  At those moments I often just tell him that he has to "trust me." You know, that often is the only thing that will help him calm down.  The phrase "trust me" kept coming into my mind and then I realized that Heavenly Father is saying to us each day, trust me!  I know that He knows the end from the beginning and knowing that brings me such comfort as I daily do things that I never expected I would have to do.  It sounds funny but for over 40 years I might have had to take the trash out once or twice.  Now if the trash is to go out it is up to me, along with many other things.  One night I was in the kitchen cleaning up after a particularly difficult day and I realized something.  I am doing everything that has to be done around here and I can.  It made me think of the story in the Book of Mormon.  I would give you exact scriptures but I don't have Scott to tell me anymore!  There is a community of people who are under the rule of the Lamanites and they continue to increase the tasks that the people are required to do. But they call upon God and he doesn't take away the burden, he increases their ability to do their work.  I do feel often as I maneuver through each day that the burden isn't more than I can do and in fact I often take great joy in the knowledge that I'm not doing this by myself--because Heavenly Father loves me, and he loves Scott.  And each day I get to be reminded that I can trust Him.

Torture?

It looks like dad isn't enjoying this experience but he did a really good job.  After he was all hooked up to the machine the technician told him that he would have to wait for 30 minutes and stay still.  I wasn't very hopeful that this was going to go well but he was a champ!  Earlier in the week we had an appointment with a neurologist in Apple Valley and he wanted to check his brain activity.  I suspect I could tell him more than the test could but we will get the results at our next visit at the end of the month.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Halloween 2017

I only got costume pictures from the California Duncans but I will add the rest when I get them.  Angela amazes me every year with her creativity.
A DJ and a Pusheen Cat!

A pretty handsome senior citizen!




















From the Arizona Whitneys we see a Harry Potter extravaganza!
Lincoln and Graham were muggles!
  \
And from the North Dakota Duncans


Mad Scientist!

Pizza Delivery Man!

                                                                                                                                                                                          And from the Utah Duncans we have Abby who was the "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie."  Unfortunately for Will he had the flu and had no interest in trick or treating this year.
Cutest Mouse Ever! 

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Wednesday Quote

Heavenly Father has perfect foresight, knows each of us, and                    knows our future.  He knows what difficulties we will pass through.                                      He sent His Son to suffer so that He would know                                               how to succor us in all our trials.
                                                                    Henry B. Eyring 

Update on Dad

I haven't written lately about how dad is doing and thought I would give you a quick report.  Overall he is doing well and his anxiety level has decreased significantly which is good for both of us.  His health is good and although we have a neurologist appointment coming up on Tuesday and another appointment with a dermatologist the following week, all is well.  The neurologist appointment is just to monitor his seizure meds which seem to be working really well.  No more seizures so far!  The dermatologist appointment is to check a small growth on his face.  It seems to be getting a little bigger and a little red around the bump.  I often see him rubbing it and I worry that it may be a little sore.

Our typical day has involved a short trip where he takes his daily walk and then we run a few errands and then about 3 p.m. he would start getting agitated so we would go for another drive.  On Sunday we went to church and came home and never left the house the rest of the day.  Since then he hasn't wanted to go any where in the afternoon.  I love that but yesterday I needed to go to the store and when I told him we needed to go out he wasn't very happy with me!  I did convince him to come with me when I told him we could get an ice cream at McD's!  His memory is definitely in decline and today I understood a warning they have talked about in the various stages of the disease.   We went into Winco to get a few things and I needed to use the bathroom.  I took him over to a bench that was just outside of the women's bathroom and told him to stay there while I used the bathroom. When I came out a few minutes later he was gone.  I looked around and caught a glimpse of him leaving the store!  I hurried after him and thankfully he was behind an older gentleman who was walking slow.   If I hadn't seen him go out the door I may have gone back into the grocery area and I don't know what he would have done then.  Bill and Bev bought him a med-alert wrist band and I haven't had him wear it unless we were going out of town but now I will have him put it on whenever we leave the house just in case he does wander off.  Another interesting new thing is that two days in the last week he complained that he was wet. He was wet enough that I thought me must have spilled something but in further checking he was sweating like crazy!  He was just sitting on the couch so nothing would explain it.  It happened again today so I went online and sure enough Alzheimer patients can have a condition that causes extreme perspiration.  Who would have thought of that!

Monday, October 23, 2017

Missionary Service

In Perry's email for the week he mentioned that they did a service project at a house built in the 1800's. They removed over a ton of plaster from a ceiling that was 20 feet high.  I loved the missionary badges that were covered with a film of plaster dust!  I also love how hard they work with or without their suits on.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Grandpa and Owen




Lunch!

Today we drove to Irvine and picked up one of our good lookin' grandsons so we could have lunch with him.  Owen is super busy but we so appreciated him taking some time out to spend time with us today.We introduced him to Habit Burger which probably isn't the best place for a college student to get hooked on but at the same time it is nice to go some place that you wouldn't normally go to.  He and grandpa enjoyed the Santa Barbara Burger with grilled onions, lettuce, tomato, cheese, and avocado on grilled french bread.  I stuck to the basic cheeseburger.  It was a treat to hear what was happening in his life--especially because it is all good!  Keep up the good work Owen.  We are so proud of you!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Wednesday Quote

Obviously things are pretty dull around here!  Here is my quote for the week.

               "He who notes the fall of the sparrow surely hears                           the pleadings of our hearts."
President Thomas S. Monson

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Five Words

The journal prompt for this time was--describe your day in 5 words.  This is easy for me--EVERY DAY IS AN ADVENTURE!

Wednesday Quote

Be the reason someone smiles today!

The Clip Joint!

The last time I took Scott to the barber shop he didn't handle it very well.  I had put it off as long as I could but today was the day to face our Goliath!  On the way there I had an idea that actually worked.  I had him wait in the car and then I went in and talked to the lady who cuts his hair.  I let her know that he was in the car and I would keep him there until she was done with the hair cut she was giving.  I then went back to the car and told him that she would come out and get him when it was his time for a haircut.  Fortunately, there was a little toddler getting his hair cut and he could see her working on him and he enjoyed that a lot.  Once finished she came out and waved for us to come in.  It was great and she was (and is) always very nice to Scott.  He only asked me once if he could get up and when I told him she was almost done he handled it pretty well.  I love people who come into your life (if only briefly) who are willing to go the extra mile and show compassion for a sweet man who in different circumstances would have been the perfect customer!

Monday, October 9, 2017

Wisdom

In Perry's weekly letter from his mission he included a talk he had given to the missionaries in his District.  I am proud of his commitment to serve as a missionary and have been touched by how much he has grown as he has served the Lord.  I thought I would share the talk.

We are all at phases of our lives which contain a lot of uncertainties. None of us know  how things are going to work out either next transfer or in 5 years. As such it becomes easy to fear the unknown. This fear is nearly universal, but is not of God. Elder Tad R. Callister taught "the Lord’s counsel for us today is similar to that given to Mary and Joseph: 'Be of good cheer, and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you'". 
We each have unique concerns and trials in our individual lives, but the one thing common among all of God's children is His love and desire for our peace and joy. Consequently, he has given us common commandments to aid us in our plight for spiritual comfort. He has asked us fast and pray oft, to study the scripture, and to be patient. Before James' admonition to ask God found in James 1:5, he speaks of patience. Surely, this is no coincidence. 
Patience is just as requisite in receiving guidance from God as is asking for it in the first place. It is rare that we receive instant answers to our prayers. Likewise, it is rare that we receive instant deliverance from our transgressions, adversities, or concerns.  Typically, when we face hard things in our lives we ask for help to change our circumstances or to eliminate the problems and then we set to work to do our part. God expects and appreciates our efforts to flee from adversity. But there are occasions on which God has instead asked us to endure patiently as we remain in those same difficulties. Nevertheless, we must never lose hope or cease striving for deliverance. To endure is not a passive action. Elder Neal A. Maxwell taught: "Patience is not indifference. Actually, it means caring very much but being willing, nevertheless, to submit to the Lord and to what the scriptures call the ‘process of time'". 
It is my sincere hope that each of us might have the faith and patience to "fear not" in whatever trials are currently or will inevitably befall us. I know that God will always deliver us from the furnace of affliction, but there are times in which He allows those very flames to temper us that we might resist the evil by which we are constantly surrounded. I bear testimony that the Lord is aware of our trials and needs and that we can always turn to Him.

Visitors

The Whitneys and the California Duncans are at the beach for the next three days celebrating their Fall break.  On Friday Amy and Christian and their kids came and spent two days with us.  On Saturday Angela and Amy and the girls (plus Graham!) went to Los Angeles to the American Girl store to celebrate Ava's birthday.  They each took their American Girl dolls and they visited the beauty shop where their dolls got their hair done.  While they were there all the guys gathered at our house.  Most of the time Caleb and Duncan had a marathon Lego building day while Lincoln and Ellis worked on a merit badge on sailing so they could meet
with a counselor in San Diego on Monday in preparation for sailing on Tuesday.  Andy and Christian caught up on what was happening with them and Grandpa and I just loved being around enjoying all the camaraderie!  I love it when our grandkids get together and work, laugh, and play together.

Irony

I am smiling as I think about what I am going to write about.  My life is about as routine as it can get.  In the morning I get up and then I take Scott into the bathroom when we both brush our teeth (I brush mine while he does his so he can remember how) and then I get his pills and spend some time convincing him that he has to put them in his mouth and then swallow them with the water in the cup that is in his hand.  From there we head to the closet where I help him undress and then redress for the day ahead.  That usually involves a little coaxing because he always thinks I am mad at him and gets upset that I am continually taking his pajamas away when he tries to put them back on.  From there I set him on a chair in the bedroom so he can put his shoes and socks on while I hurry and make our bed and then get myself dressed.  From there we go to the kitchen so I can make his breakfast.  While he is eating I now do an exercise program from a DVD I have because I can't go walk with my friend anymore.  Once that is over I clean up his dishes and then he watches Leave it to Beaver and then Perry Mason.  When Perry is over we drive over to his walking spot for his daily walk.  If we have any errands we do those afterwards and then head back home for lunch and Death Valley Days until about 1:00 when he is ready to take short ride.  Then back home for more TV and then at 3:00 he is ready for another drive which usually involves a visit to McDonald's for an ice cream cone.  Then we come home to more television and then dinner.  More TV until about 8 p.m. when he needs help getting his pajamas on.  The same situation happens each evening as in the morning because he is now upset that I want him to take off his shoes and socks and clothes!  About 8:30 we go back in and I give him his pills for the night and usually around 9 he is settled into bed for the night.

Where is the irony you might ask?  Remember when you thought you would never catch up on your laundry? Remember when you were on the fast track running as fast as you could--but never getting any where? Remember when you longed to just have some quiet time to yourself?  Remember wondering if you would ever be able to go to the bathroom without someone standing outside the door yelling at you?  Well the irony of my life is that I get so excited when there are enough dirty clothes in the hamper so I can actually have something to do.  I am excited when I see the microwave is dirty!  Woo Hoo the bathrooms need cleaning and the sheets need washing.  I am tickled pink when the kitchen floor needs to be mopped.  When I see something on Pinterest that I want to do--I am ecstatic!  And now that Fall is upon us I have already got the Halloween  decorations out and know exactly what I will be doing to decorate for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentines Day, and any other holidays coming up!  I have an brand new painted front door with a cute hello sticker on it and the hearth on our fireplace has a fresh coat of paint.  That my friends is irony!

Friday, October 6, 2017

A Best Friend

The journal prompt for this time is "your best friend".  I have been blessed with several friends that I could write about but lately I have thought so much about Barbara Walker for many reasons.  I met Barb when she and Barry brought their family to Victorville because he had been stationed at George Air Force Base.  At that time we were young parents with children ranging from 2 to about 9 years old.  She was one of the most positive people I had ever met and still is to this day.  We spent hours together either at her house or at mine and we often met in the middle at Center Street Park.  I loved that when we got together she would pull out a slip of paper with things she wanted to talk to me about.  She IS the best.  A short time after they moved here they split our ward and I was sure that would probably end our time together and I was so sad.  I remember her saying, "ward boundaries don't break up friendships!" and that proved to be so.  Barry eventually received orders to Germany and off they went to a new adventure and I was brokenhearted.  I didn't need to be because we continued to keep in touch through Christmas newsletters and over the years we were reunited for brief visits.  Barb always called me "angel Elaine" which humbled me because she was the true angel in our relationship.  I think back on many of our special memories and the Walker family was a part of those.  We have shared mission experiences, wedding receptions, Scott's retirement party and even meeting together on our way in or out of town at a restaurant for a quick catch up.  Now Barbara is taking care of Barry as he deals with the brain tumor he has and I am taking care of Scott as he progresses through his Alzheimer's diagnosis.  She has cheered me on and I hope that I have at times done the same for her.  I read a quote that said, "As we grow up, we realize it is less important to have lots of friends, and more important to have real ones."  Thank you Barb for being my real friend!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Quote of the Week for me!

"Each of us must go through certain experiences to become more like our Savior.  In the school of mortality, the tutor is often pain and tribulation,  but the lessons are meant to refine and bless us, and strengthen us, not destroy us."  
Elder Robert D. Hales

Monday, October 2, 2017

Conference Sunday

I love Sundays!  But I have to admit my two favorite Sundays of the year are in October and April when we get to enjoy General Conference.  Besides the spiritual feast, we have had a tradition for years of having Andy and Angela and the kids over for the Sunday sessions.  I always enjoy providing a little bit of feast for breakfast and lunch!  The best part is truly just having us all sit together and listen to the members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelves Apostles teach us.  So grateful that Heavenly Father continues to give us guidance and direction through his chosen servants.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Thank You

We have so many wonderful family members who continually step up and offer to help us.  While in Phoenix for Scott's doctors appointment we had a visit from Bill, Bev, and David.  We enjoyed a nice visit and dinner before they headed back to Sierra Vista.  I had asked David if he knew what was a good electric razor to buy because shaving has become a bit of a challenge with Scott.  Today a UPS man delivered a box from David.  In it was probably the very top of the line Norelco Razor and a collection of every Perry Mason show on CDs! Once it was charged I showed Scott how it worked and he got busy.  A weeks worth of an unshaven face, in just a few minutes, was as soft as a baby's bum!  David has always been so generous. When Amy was born he went to Penney's and I think he bought every dress in the baby department.  I don't think she wore the same dress more than once for at least two months.  Thank you brother for the special gifts.  It was truly a blessing and you are too!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

A Favorite

On my journal prompt I was to choose a favorite quote that I like right now.  I chose the following one for this week.
       
God doesn't give us what we can handle,
God helps us handle what we are given.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

The Grieving Disease

I have another name for Alzheimer's disease.  I call it the grieving disease.  It seems to me that when I start dealing with one aspect of Scott's illness something comes along that makes me take ten steps back.  This usually involves tears and adjustments and eventually acceptance.  Acceptance until something else about Scott is lost to me.  I honestly don't know how people who don't have a belief in Heavenly Father are able to deal with all that is required in helping a loved one make this journey of forgetting.

Arizona Update

The good news is we made it to Arizona in one piece and your dad handled the drive extremely well.  We stopped several times and I had him walk around a little.  I also switched between music channels and he seemed to enjoy the music.  In fact several times he sang along and was clapping.

The not as good news was the visit to the doctor.  It was probably the most frustrating experience I have had in a long time.  I know there is not a positive outcome with Alzheimer's but I knew less coming out than I had already known going in.  The one thing that I did learn was that 10% of Alzheimer patients have seizures. That means that he will have to take seizure medicine from now on.  Dad has lost a lot of weight and so the doctor wants to switch him to another medication that will make him more sleepy but will improve his appetite. I am uncomfortable with that possibility.  The nurse took him in and did a series of tests but the doctor didn't tell me anything about what the results were.  His only telling question was "do we have long term care insurance?"  I guess it is good that I read everything I see about Alzheimer's so I know what is happening and what is coming next but without that information I would have left without any help at all.  The seizure has taken a toll on him.  The week before the seizure I was noticing he was really getting more mellow and our four drives each day had gone down to two (mostly instigated by me because he didn't seem to care.)  He is now very lethargic and doesn't seem to be aware of things around him.  I suspect that is the affects of the seizure medicine.  The dose he is on is the lowest they give.  Now the doctor wants to switch from one medication that is supposed to make him even more tired so I am not sure about that.  On Wednesday of next week I have a doctors appointment here so I plan to talk to him about maybe keeping the old medication if the new one creates more problems.

We came home this morning and the trip was also very uneventful.  It was so nice spending a little time with Christian and Amy and the kids.  Bill, Bev, and David came up from Sierra Vista and we all went to dinner together so that was also a special treat.  I told the doctor that we won't be coming back (not because I was mad at him--but I was!) but I know that there really is nothing more he will be able to do and putting dad through the trip just doesn't seem worth it.  

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Seizure!

I always think I am getting the hang of Scott's Alzheimer disease and then I get thrown a curve!  This morning at 6:50 I am dozing in and out of sleep when all of the sudden Scott makes the most horrible sound. It was so bad that I literally jumped out of bed.  I then experienced the most painful sight that I could have ever imagined.  The seizure lasted for about four minutes and ended with
his eyes rolled into the back of his head and blood oozing out of his mouth.  Not something I want to ever experience again.  After a number (7 in fact) of hours in the ER he was released with a prescription for anti-seizure meds and an appointment to see his regular doctor tomorrow.  The doctor in the ER thinks that his seizure was caused because of dehydration.  I suspect that is true because getting him to eat very much or drink enough water has become a real challenge.  Bless his heart he doesn't remember a thing about any of this but unfortunately, I don't think I will ever forget the terror I felt!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Dear Elaine,

Senior Class Picture 1967-1968
My journal prompt that I decided to do was, write a letter to teenage you.  I have spent the week thinking about this and it is actually pretty hard, but here goes!

Dear Elaine,

You are a teenager now but I have such good news for you.  When you get to be 67 years old you won't remember much about the drama, the embarrassing moments, the old boy friend, or how much you think you hate school.  Honestly I don't think you even have to wait that long to realize that those few years were just a brief moment.  All the friends that were so important then will be a vague memory and by now you realize that your best friends turned out to be your brothers and sisters.  Now when I think of being a teenager I remember how wonderful it felt the first time my dad gave me the car keys.  I also remember how awful I felt when I got pulled over by a policeman for making an improper lane change.  I had to tell my dad about it because my little sister was in the car and I knew she would if I didn't.  Guess what--that was when I saw a side of my dad I hadn't noticed before.  He wasn't mad and in fact--he smiled and said, "I bet you won't do that again."  Even at 67 I never make an improper lane change!  I remember my first job and how rich I felt when I got my paycheck.  I remember gaining a testimony of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints which meant that everything had a purpose and a wonderful outcome in the end.  Another thing that happened to me as a teenager was that I had the ability to help other people and do nice things for them. Sad to realize it took so long.  I guess the most important thing I want you to know is that life just kept moving on in spite of the times when I was overwhelmed with insecurity.  I wasn't a popular girl but I do remember having some really nice friends and loved spending time with them.  I am embarrassed to remember that I had a boyfriend who would bring me home after a date and then go over to another girl's house and hang out with her because her parents didn't have a curfew like mine.  Even though I heard about it from other people I chose to ignore it because I just wanted to have a boyfriend.  I know pretty sad--but in the end I got stronger and gained a sense of self and still remember how empowered I felt when I finally told him not to come around any more because I was way to good for him!  You see life just kept going on and it got better and better--not necessarily easier and easier.  The experiences you have as a teenager helps you learn how to cope with the uncomfortable, treasure the positives, and enjoy the journey that will be ahead for you.
Don't give up!  Don't give in! And don't worry because when you are 67 you will find that you have chosen the better part.

Love, Elaine

Monday, September 11, 2017

Update on Dad

It has been a while since I have updated all of you on your dad and since you are all so good to call each week I do try to keep you posted on what is happening.  Maybe I do this more for me then any one else because it is good to actually commit my observations to paper (kinda paper!).  It has been really eye opening to me to realize how long dad has had Alzheimer's.  I guess it was my way of avoiding the obvious. Being married to the absent minded professor made it easy to camouflage the reality that things weren't quite right.

With all of that in mind and the reading I have done on the stages of Alzheimer's I found the following.  Stage 1-No impaired behavior.  2-Very mild impairment 3-Mild decline. 4-Moderate impairment. 5-Moderately severe impairment.  6-Severe impairment and 7-Very severe decline.  In taking care of dad I believe that he is in stage 6.  According to the information I have that is characterized by confusion or being unaware of patient's surroundings or environment, extreme personality changes and behavioral problems, the inability to recognize faces except for very close friends and relatives, loss of bladder and bowel control, and wandering.

Although a few of these things aren't apparent or extreme I am definitely seeing a decline which requires more attention being paid when he has to use the restroom to make sure he is clean and put back together when he finishes.  I often have to clean the toilet and flush when he finishes.  He is often disoriented and even in the house he isn't sure where he is.  I still don't see that wandering will ever be an issue with him because he has a hard time being out of my sight.  If I get up and walk to the kitchen he follows me.  That includes bathroom breaks as well.  One evening I told him I was going to take a shower and left him watching the television.  When I finished the shower and came out he was standing in the dark by the bathroom door and just about gave me a heart attack!  His personality changes are subtle which involves crying and continually asking me if he is okay.  He does seem to know something is wrong with him but doesn't know what it is. He recognizes only Andy and Angela and the kids now.  At church he knew several people but now he doesn't respond to them when he sees them.  He is always very nice to everyone though and listens closely when I talk to anyone (I think to find out who they are so he can acknowledge them.).  He chokes at least once a day, mostly when he is drinking water and sometimes at meal times.  His appetite has definitely declined and if I didn't make his meals I believe he would have completely stopped eating.  Even now I have to coax him to finish a half a sandwich or the bowl of cereal he eats.

In spite of all of what I have written don't lose hope.  He is still his kind self, laughs like crazy when he watches the Big Bang Theory (much to my chagrin!), loves being around Caleb and Ava and talks about Paw Patrol all the time.  Many of the television shows scare him and I change channels often.  Even Perry Mason is sometimes hard on him.  I am very able to take care of his needs so far.  The biggest challenge I deal with right now is knowing what he is trying to tell me.  He often tells me things that make no sense so I try to show that I am listening even if I don't know what he wants.  Again, it is doable and I am grateful that he is doing as well as he is.  Last week Caleb casually explained to me that pretty soon Grandpa would forget everything and I thanked him for telling me that.  I sometimes feel so sad that our grandkids will only have that to remember and forget all of the times he spent with them playing, reading, and talking.  This is bittersweet!

Friday, September 8, 2017

Check It Off!

Before
Pinterest is the greatest and sometimes it can be a curse!  They give me so many ideas and of course when I see what someone else has accomplished I get a hankering to try my hand at it as well.  I wanted to paint my kitchen cabinets white and of course I opened Pinterest hoping they would talk me out of it.  Didn't happen! The wonderful people who share their expertise make me believe that I can do anything--and that the project will be a piece of cake.  I read everything I could, wrote down the steps needed, found a new product that didn't require the cabinets be sanded and then I went to Lowe's and talked to a clerk in the paint department, who happens to be actually knowledgeable, and then I decided to tackle the project.  That was almost a month ago and yesterday I spent the whole day putting everything back together.  I am pleased with how it turned out--but don't plan on ever doing that again!  Was it a piece of cake?  No--but the icing is really sweet!


Three Coats--Lots of dry time

Almost finished!


After!

Monday, September 4, 2017

Caregiver Tips

I often get information about Alzheimer's and some of it is helpful and then there are the ones that I wonder if whoever wrote it ever knew anyone who really had the disease.  Recently I received one that I thought was the most accurate description of what works well with dad.  The author is Ryan Bridges.  I thought I would share his ideas.

1.  Speak simply.  Many people who care for patients ask open ended questions such as, "what would you like to eat for lunch today?"  Someone whose brain hasn't lost its ability to connect information  into clear ideas and responses would find this easy to respond to.  Someone with Alzheimer's would find that question overwhelming.  It is better to ask them a question that can be responded to with just a "yes" or "no."
2. Patience is essential.  A loved one with Alzheimer's is in constant struggle to regain speaking and thinking skills they've lost, which keeps them agitated.  Rushing the person you provide care to won't help.
3.  Make their environment as peaceful as possible.  Clutter overwhelms everyone.  It's a form of sensory overload.
4.  The power of touch.  Stroking your loved one's face or brushing their hair are simple gestures that can send a strong loving message.  Holding their hand can help get their full attention and can also provide them with reassurance that everything is okay.  Hand-holding unites you with them in their struggle.
5.  Laughter helps.  Laughter is therapeutic.  It has also, however, been shown to be beneficial to those with memory loss.
6.  Physical exercise.  Exercising regularly can stimulate blood circulation to the brain.  Giving the person you care for a daily workout can result in giving them clarity and bringing their surroundings into greater focus.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Journal Prompts

I decided to change how I recorded some of my memories.  While on our mission I faithfully kept a journal and for some time after we got home.  One night I realized that I was pretty much repeating myself.  Because of Scott's Alzheimers our days are very similar and my contact with other people outside of our family is very limited which actually means--we are pretty boring.  On Pinterest I saw a lot of ideas for bullet journaling and then I saw another with ideas for prompts to use to write about your life.  I liked the idea so every once in a while I will use a prompt to help me think of things that I would like to share in the coming years.  So to begin with...

Some Things I am Thankful For
The list could truly be endless and every once in a while I will take some time to add to my list.  Right now I am thankful that Scott can still walk.  It fills my heart with joy when I take him down to the walking path where he gets out of the car and walks a short distance,  touches a brick fence, turns around and hurries back to the car.  There will come a time that he will need a wheelchair so now I can relish his ability and strength.  As much as he now forgets he never forgets that he has to take his walk each morning.

I am thankful that Meggie is now a BYU student.  She will do such a good job and I believe much will be accomplished by her.  The dancing department will be enriched by her abilities.  I am thankful that she had the courage to follow her dream--may there be a big pot of gold at the end of her rainbow!

I am thankful for courageous grandchildren who aren't afraid to go out of their comfort zone and try new things.  Rachel who married her sweetheart Austin and continued to finish school to achieve some of her goals for the coming years.  Owen who left home to attend a university far from home (but close to us!) and also decided to join a band playing at Quinceaneras and other activities celebrating his Mexican heritage, and then at the end of his very busy Freshman year left for Germany to play his trombone with the college band in various cathedrals around the country.  Perry who committed two years to serve the Lord in Kentucky as he became a missionary.  Lincoln who left home for two weeks with a group of scouts that he had never met before to participate in a church history tour and the Boy Scouts Jamboree.  Ellis who decided that he wanted to play on the high school football team although he had never played before and is now on the varsity team at his high school.  Ruth who goes out of her way to befriend anyone she sees who seems to be left out and will now be the president of her Beehive class at Church.  Katie who got a job and is giving her best to do well and on top of that serves in her ward as the Laurel class president.  The list can go on and on with these wonderful grandchildren of mine and I only mentioned the older ones.  Many more things will be happening in the coming years and I can't wait to see what else each of them will accomplish!

New Alarm Clock

We have a new alarm clock and didn't pay a dime for it (actually for them!) For some reason the geese have decided to fly over our house each morning at about 6:45--honking as they go!  They then land on the golf course outside of our bedroom window and continue to let us know they are there (we don't get to hit the snooze bar and go back to sleep).  It is actually quite nice to hear them and to watch them when I actually give up and get up. There is no water nearby but for some reason this is one of their favorite spots.



Before the weather got hot each  evening we were serenaded by croaking frogs!  Andy thinks they are living in the sand trap but apparently when the hot weather came they burrowed deeper.  I actually look forward to them coming out at night again!  It was very comforting to hear them make music as I fell asleep!

Friday Night Lights

For many years Scott and I attended Victor Valley High School football and some basketball games because Amy was a cheerleader.  I couldn't tell you anything about the games because all I watched was Amy being thrown up into the air, or balancing at the top of a group of girls!  Now we are back at a different football field but this time I am watching football player #50 who is a linebacker for the varsity football team at Riverside Prep.  Ellis is so brave.  He decides he is going to do something and he does!  Grandpa and I make it to half time and then we have to go but in spite of that we love cheering his team on.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Lincoln's New Car--almost!

 Lincoln has been saving to buy a car for quite some time and he recently had a chance to buy a Datsun Roadster.  On Saturday he made the purchase for this fixer-upper and he's excited to get started on it.  A man in their ward has offered to help him get it done and so if all goes well he will have a car to drive for a while before he leaves on his mission--and then Ruth can take care of it for him!

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Am I Okay?

This is a question Scott asks me all day long.  I use to reply, "yes!" each time he asked me that but I started responding differently lately and now I say, "I don't know, are you okay?"  He always responds the same way, "I'm okay"!  For the last three days he has been in agony because his back has been a real problem and sadly, I added to the problem yesterday morning when I was getting him dressed and thought it would help him if I put an icy hot patch on his back.  I peeled the plastic off and then put it on his back and he absolutely screamed in pain and then fell into my arms and I put him down on the chair in the closet and then he passed out!  Once he came to he started talking gibberish and then began to heave and I was sure he was going to throw up.  Fortunately, that didn't happen.  Once he started to calm down and could sit up by himself I went and got a cool rag and washed the sweat off of his face and neck and then as his strength returned I finished getting him dressed.   Being a caregiver is not for the faint of heart and I am sometimes overwhelmed by how careful I have to be when I take care of him.  We didn't go to church this morning because he is in so much pain but while we were watching Music and the Spoken Word this morning the choir sang one of my favorite songs, If the Savior Stood Beside Me.  At one point Scott looked at me and he wanted to know if I thought the Savior ever stands beside him.  I replied, Yes, he does!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Kind Heart

For two years Ava has been growing her hair and earlier this week she went in and had it cut off so that she could donate to someone who has lost their hair.  I love that she wanted to help someone else but I also love how cute she looks with her
new haircut!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Music and Books

If I could describe anything about our grandkids it would be easy. Books and music is something they all seem to love.  Becky sent this cute picture of Owen practicing his trombone (believe me it has paid off because he is incredibly good) and Jeremy in the background just reading away.  I always wait until there is a quiet time before I start to read but not our grandkids.  Love that they were taught so well by their grandpa and their parents the value of a good book!

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Grandkids Day at Sun City!

Andy came and spent the morning with Scott while I took Ava and Caleb to a yearly event in our community.  Grandparents Day meant water slide, crafts, tattoos (easily removed and in Caleb's case unable to adhere!),  Bingo, BBQ hotdogs, balloon creations, and a cute magic show.  It was such a nice morning and I loved spending some special time with Caleb and Ava who seemed to really enjoy themselves.
Let the Fun Begin!


Craft

Bingo

A Tattoo for Ava but Caleb's wouldn't stick!


Slip and Slide!

Rhinocerous

Mine Craft Sword!
 I wish all of our grandkids could have spent the morning with us--at least the young ones who would have loved it!

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Scott's Prayer

Today I experienced a special blessing.  Sometimes the smallest blessings are truly the greatest.  I shared with Perry what had happened when I wrote him and I will share a part of what I wrote.

...tell you about a wonderful experience that happened to your grandpa and to me this morning.  Last Sunday the executive secretary asked me if I thought grandpa could give a prayer in sacrament meeting the following week.  I joked that he would probably love it but he may bless the food.  He then turned to Grandpa and asked if he would be willing to give a prayer in next weeks meeting.  He was so excited and said sure.  I have been worried all week about it because he hasn't been able to pray for some time.  I prayed this morning that Heavenly Father would help him to do this and that it would be okay.  I then texted your parents, Uncle Bill and Aunt Cathy, and Uncle Christian and Aunt Amy telling them to please pray for dad so that he would be able to do this.  When we got to church I reminded him that he was going to say the prayer in Sacrament meeting and he started having a panic attack saying he couldn't do it and what should he do.  I kept saying that I thought he should try and that Heavenly Father would help him.  We sat right in the front of the chapel and I went through the whole process with him.  I showed him where he would go to pray, and then talked about remembering to fold his arms and bow his head and close his eyes.  I then said he should say what was in his heart.  During the opening song he was so upset and I finally said that it was all right and I would just give the prayer instead.  He said, no, he would do his best.  When the song ended he got up and walked up on the stand but stopped at the music stand.  The Bishop motioned him to come up to the podium and he then walked over to it.  He folded his arms, bowed his head, and then gave a beautiful heart felt prayer that I have not heard from him in so long.  Needless to say I cried and said a silent prayer to thanks to Heavenly Father for taking care of a gentle man who has lost most of his abilities but for a short moment was restored to express his thoughts clearly.  When he sat down by me he smiled and said "I did it!"  

I am so glad that I didn't tell Brother Stewart no when he asked last week even though this morning I was mad that I had when dad was so upset and scared.  I have been continually reminded through this Alzheimer experience that Heavenly Father knows his children and he loves each of us.  Today was one of those times!

Saturday, July 29, 2017

My Night Out

Caleb waiting patiently for our return!
Yesterday Angela asked me if I would like to go to a movie with her.  She said Andy and the kids would come and stay with dad.  Dad had had a particularly anxiety filled day and I had given him an anxiety medication earlier in the day to help him calm down a little and so I thought he would be okay.  Going to the movies is something we use to enjoy together but now the noise and darkness is to hard on him and the last movie we went to we had to leave after only a few minutes.  Andy and Angela and the kids all came over to the house and before I left I showed Andy dad's routine and what meds he takes before bed.  When I got into the car to leave I teared up and thought, this must be how a new mother feels the first time she leaves her baby for the first time.  The movie was great fun (Spiderman) and when we got back to the house dad was sound asleep.  I did wake him up to let him know I was home!  Even better was that he slept all night and didn't wake up until 8 a.m. this morning--a new record.  I don't know what I would do without Andy and Angela nearby.  Angela seems to know when I am feeling overwhelmed and when she does she steps in and she and Andy help in many ways.  Just to show how much I did need a little break--on one of our trips during the day we stopped at the grocery store so I could buy some orange juice, eggs, and ice cream. When we got back I got busy and unfortunately totally forgot the groceries.  Needless to say there was no ice cream!

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Special Guest

Last Sunday I had a wonderful afternoon when Carlene Ames Bridenthal, one of my wonderful Laurels when I served as Young Women's president, stopped by to visit us.  Over the years we have had opportunities to see each other and each time I was so touched to see the woman she has become.  She and Randy are now living in Montana (thanks friend for reminding me!) where they are enjoying their four children and new granddaughter.  I have learned so much from Carlene about generosity, respect, kindness, and forgiveness. She is the best and I love that she is my friend!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The Difference

Betty Jane
 I remember when I was dealing with mom's memory loss someone asked me, "Is it Alzheimer's or Dementia?"  I said it was memory loss and I didn't know which one.  At the time I was a little annoyed and thought the question was insensitive.  Now that I am dealing with Scott's memory loss I would be able to explain the difference.  Mom's memory loss began in her mid to late 60's.  Scott's memory loss began in his early 60's although I think there were numerous times before that that he struggled with memory issues. When I talked to a doctor when mom went into the original assisted care facility she said to me,  "Your mother is in excellent health, do you understand what that means?"  I said I did and she repeated again, "Do you know what that means?"  A little annoyed I responded, "YES, it means she will live a long long time in a stupor of thought!"  Dementia wasn't the cause of her death she actually had a stroke and died as a result of that.  The dementia definitely played a part in her death but she could have lived much longer if that hadn't happened.  

With Alzheimer's the prognosis is 7 to 10 years from the start of the disease.  Although Scott wasn't diagnosed until last year I definitely saw the signs of early onset Alzheimer long before we went on our mission.  I think we were all surprised by how quickly he went from early onset to moderate stage Alzheimer's.  That was because I was hoping his issues were something other than what is actually turned out to be.  With mom's dementia she slowly shut down (much like depression) and then she slowly let her mind go back in time to when she was younger.  Everything was from when she was much younger.  Scott cannot go back in time.  We can drive by our old house, a school he worked at, city hall and they would mean nothing to him.  My mom lived in her past and for Scott there has become no past.  He thrives on order where my mom was very comfortable going with the flow.  She had a healthy appetite much of the time but one day said she didn't want to eat and didn't from February until she passed away in June.  Scott doesn't refuse to eat but he is continually eating less and less.  My mom loved food (especially Mexican food!) but Scott eats to survive.  If I didn't make sure he ate I don't think he would eat much at all.   Anything hot or spicy gets him really upset and once the food is sat in front of him he eats like a squirrel stuffing his cheeks.  He finished many times before I even sit down to eat with him.  

Mom slowly went to a safe place where she felt contentment.  Scott has no contentment.  He has no connection to anyone or anything.  I think I would describe what happens to him is like looking in the old kaleidoscope.  Remember how you would twist the end and the beautiful design would change.  For him as you twist, the picture slowly disappears as the circle gets smaller and smaller until there is just a dot. Alzheimer's disease will eventually take him away from me and the painful reality is that it is moving very quickly to that end.