Wednesday, August 27, 2008

R is for Rhyme

is turning out to be one of the best parts of our homeschool day!

We're doing a letter a day for our Poetry block this semester. Every day we read one letter, after reciting the already learned letters:

A is for acrostic
B is for ballad
C is for cinquain
D is for doublet
E is for end rhyme
F is for free verse
G is for ghazal....

That's how far we've gotten. It's fun learning a new type of poetry or aspect of poetry every day. And usually the kids test out what they've learned by writing one. Some are fun, some are a lot of work. Frankly, we skipped the ballads altogether because they're rather long and I'm not sure anyone was up to the challenge!

Here are some examples of their work....

An acrostic by the Little Princess:

Roses are red

Or pink, with a

TMax wants me to use his acrostic also. He has 2.


Lol! and...

Outstanding athletes all in all
Losers, winners, every one
Young and old
Masters of sports
Playing for gold
In this


And Pipster's doublet...
Dog and Cat

I have a dog
with a dot on his ear.
He sleeps on my cot.
Then I got a cat.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Pictures of our Progress (and lack thereof)

This is a "before" picture of our dining room. I'll show you an "after" later. Or not. ;-), depends on how the day goes.

Formerly junky corner of TMax & Pipster's room. One of their shelves fell down (on the left). That will have to wait!

Newly installed desk where TMax's bed used to be!

Bunk beds, duh. TMax is waiting (not too long, I hope!) for me to make a privacy curtain for him.

The bookshelf was relocated from inside the closet where it had resided for the past few years.

If you're wondering about the words on the walls----It's the Scout Law from the Boy Scouts of America. When we painted their room their 2 favorite colors (they each got to pick one), I hated the way it looked, so we decided to stencil the Scout Law and fleurs-de-lis between the words to give it some added interest. I think it's a very cool Boy Scout room!


Now for the Little Princess's room! Her's is still a little cluttered because she has more photos and girly stuff that really can't be sent down to the playroom.
But she has a place for everything wanted and everything wanted in it's place!

And there is a lot less of it.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Smart Martha doesn't allow for Blogging!

Well, between the internet being out most of last week and starting back to school full force, it's getting hard to find time to blog. I can't even spare the brainpower to write a post in my head!

I'm overwhelmed by my to-do list for this week. I'm hoping that next week will be better and this is just a bump in the road.

It's NOT because my in-laws are coming this weekend, really. No, really, I can see you smirking! That doesn't stress me out very much (I'm very lucky in that regard!)---I just have to clean up the house and have meals planned, which I generally try to do anyway. Shopping for those meals might be another issue, however.

It's probably all the fault of Smart Martha, whose seminar should have been at the beginning of the summer when we had all the time in the world to re-organize and declutter our homes before we all started homeschooling again.

This weekend we bunked TMax's and Pipster's beds. This a.m., before school, we cleared all the toys out of the room and dumped them in the playroom. It looks amazing in there! We even moved a desk in for TMax to do his schoolwork at. As he's doing right this moment.

During our midday break, we went through the Little Princess's room and did the same. Boy, do girls ever have a lot of clutter! Most of her stuff went down, except for a basket of special dolls and Disney figurines.

Now, I need to clean up the playroom---soon, so Hitch and Madden can actually get to their room! It all has to be reorganized and stuff moved out.

Photos are still all over the dining room table and need to be moved down to the room-formerly-known-as-the-schoolroom, where I will place them on the table, just below where they are now, in their same positions. Just like when the house elves prepare the food at Hogwarts. That would be nice if I could just make them appear down there! Most of the organization is done now and I just need to make albums!

Finally, there is a class on Shell Identificiation to prepare for. Did I mention that previously? Yeah, I have nothing new to say. It's all the same old run-around:

  • too much schoolwork
  • too much laundry
  • too much cooking
  • too much re-organizing
  • too many photos
  • too much co-op preparation.

I'll have to post pictures later of all this great organization, and disorganization, in progress. Stay tuned!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

What a Week!

It was a crazy week with the internet. After we got it fixed, it went out again the next day. Fortunately, the Master of the World (what an appropriate name!) was able to fix it in minutes when he got home!

Me: How did you fix it?

MoW: I plugged the router back into the power strip.

My hero! I don't know how long it would have taken me to figure that one out!

UPDATE to "A Costco Conversation"

I showed the post to Pipster and he said, "Is that why everyone was laughing?" (after I explained to the cashier that I was his teacher and he knows me very well). Well, it turns out that he mumbled said "YES" ----He does like his teacher! I'm so relieved, but I really thought he was just joking.

Yesterday was one of those amazingly ridiculous days that involved careful, precision timing getting everyone where they needed to be a certain times. It even included Mass at 5:30 for the whole family, so we have all day today to recuperate and, hopefully, have some fun together. Oh, and the doorbell just rang with the first neighborly visitor! Normally, they call while we're at Mass.

I'll be spending the rest of the day working on the neverending pile of photos (still) on my dining room table, and trying to plan our first co-op lesson on Seashell Identification . If anyone has any tips or knowledge in this area, let me know!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Costco Conversation

Cashier to The Pipster: How was school today?

Pipster: Good.

Cashier: Do you like your teacher?

Pipster: No.

Cashier: Maybe you will after you get to know her better!

I'm Baaaaack!

Didja miss me? You didn't even know I was gone, did you?


Our internet has been out since Monday afternoon. AT&T has crawled back into my good graces (by a very narrow margin!) by sending a very nice gentleman to my house today to fix it.

He fixed it and gave us a new router, too, to solve other intermittent problems. Maybe we'll keep them around for another month.

Monday, August 18, 2008

First Day of School (Really!)

Today, KT begins her classes at UGa. She's a sophomore, or, as we say at The University, Second Year.

Hitch and Madden start for real at HSP. Senior and Sophomore. (Has anyone realized that KT and Madden will graduate college and high school at the same time? I hope it's not the same day!

St. Maximilian Kolbe Academy (our homeschool) starts today, too. I have a First grader, Fourth grader, and Seventh grader this year. My kids are growing up! And what does that say about me? Shhhhh! Don't say it!

So what am I doing to get ready for school today? Blogging. But really, if I'm not ready now, I never will be!

Saturday our TORCH group had a speaker come to help us start the year off right. Tammy Kiser from Smart Martha came to tell us how to "be Martha with a Mary heart". Poor Martha was drudging away in the kitchen while Mary sat at Jesus's knee and soaked up His glory. And we all know she grumbled about it and wanted Mary to come help! Does that sound like anyone you know?

The seminar was full of ideas on how to be a Smart Martha, that is, organize your life so that you spend less time as a drudge. Of course, we're not supposed to drudge, anyway. We should be doing our chores, which are unavoidable, with love, and sometimes with a lot of prayer. Our work should sanctify us, not cause us to sin.

There were many good ideas for home organization, some of which I use already. She was all about reading lots of organizing books, like Flylady, and using what works for you from each one. There is no one size fits all plan because we each have unique skills and families and needs.

For me, the biggest thing was about multi-tasking. It's okay to multi-task when you're working on chores. But you should never multi-task when dealing with people! We need to be Smart Martha's so we can feel free to take the time to sit with Jesus in whatever form he presents himself to you----a child, a husband, a neighbor, or Jesus himself in the tabernacle or monstrance.

I already implemented a few of the simpler ideas this weekend, like re-organizing my bulletin board. But the big ideas are the bedrooms! I have TMax, Pipster, and the Little Princess on board to help with this major overhaul of their bedrooms, and, really, the whole house. Now I'm wishing that we had had this seminar back in May, when I had all summer to organize my home! OTOH, it wouldn't have gotten done. I had lots of projects planned, very few of which got accomplished. That is just the way it is during the summer---we're less organized and we're trying to be in fun mode, not work mode. I'm hoping that with just 3 homeschoolers and a plan, we can do a little each day and get it done. By October. We want to have a yard sale with our clutter before yard sale season is totally over.

I'd love to hear anyone else's ideas for streamlining household maintenance and chores! What do you all do to make life simpler?

Friday, August 15, 2008

And So Another School Year Begins...

Happy Feast of the Assumption!

Our busy day began with beignets for breakfast. They're part of a healthy breakfast First Day of School tradition we started a few years ago. Today wasn't officially a "first day" but with KT going back to college and Hitch and Madden going for a half-day (Madden wasn't required to be there, as he is neither a Prefect nor a New Student, but he has afternoon football practice and we wouldn't be able to take him later), I thought we'd pretend.

Then we all hit the early traffic to Holy Spirit to attend Mass and drop off the big boys.

Back to the car for 6 of us to come home and load up KT's life into the back of the car and head for UGa. We had just enough room and plenty of Harry Potter to listen to.

She was so excited to back on campus with her buddies. All her apartment-mates were there getting unpacked. We made a run to the bookstore to buy books, got some pizza for lunch, and said good-bye. I thought it would be a tearful farewell, but we managed to console ourselves with the thought that she'll be back in 2 weeks!
Here she is looking down from their front door with her good friend Alex. See how sad they are that we're driving away?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

News for Bookish Types

If you're into buying books, especially Catholic books----check out the Ignatius Press Blowout Sale!

What a Wednesday!

Is it really Wednesday? I'm so off-balance, I have no idea. It all started last week with missing Wednesday. I have no idea where it went and I didn't catch up until Sunday, cuz that was my birthday. Hard to forget turning 44. But the brain quickly lost track again!

Maybe that's why I prefer the school year---I have the different daily activities, like piano lessons or football games, that keep me firmly anchored to the appropriate day of the week.

Oh, and there are 2 posts today---scroll on down when you're done with this one. The Jane Austen post was supposed to appear on the 8th, but I had scheduled it for 2009. Sheesh.

What's Going on Today?

  • First piano lesson of the school year for TMax!
  • First non-piano lesson of the year for Pipster. He quit in a huge display of tears after his cast came off.
  • Football practice for Hitch and Madden, which means
  • Seriously complex carpooling maneuvers to get them to school and TMax to piano.
  • After piano is over, I can just relax and turn my van over to KT so she can drive alll the waaay to Hi-Fi Buys Amphitheater for a concert tonight. Alone. Jack Johnson, anyone? She is meeting a friend there, one who lives on the opposite side of Atlanta, so no carpooling.
What I'm excited about:

I got my very first bloggy award from my friend Kalynne at The Philosopher-Mom. Now, let's see if I'm clever enough to figure out how to post the darn thing---I mean, "this wonderful award."

Kick Ass Blogger Award

I'd like to thank the Academy and my (10) faithful readers for this award. I will endeavor to kick some ass in future posts. I'd nominate Kalynne, but she already got one and really kicks ass. So, I'll nominate some of my other favorite bloggers:

Rachel at Between Stupid and Clever
Kathleen, The Responsible One
Suburban Correspondent, The More, the Messier
Jennifer, Conversion Diary, and
Holly, June Cleaver Nirvana

What I'm not excited about:

  • Pretty much everything.
  • Calendar filling up to a scary degree.
  • My sweet girl going back to UGa on Friday.
  • Co-op starting in 3 weeks.
  • Being the lead teacher for the 7th grade and up Boys.
  • Did I mention Co-op?

What I'm working on:

  • Remember the photo albums? 20 years worth of photos are still on my dining room table and they need to be put away by Labor Day weekend when Mil & Fil come to visit.
  • Redecorating my bedroom, on a shoestring, in a way that will make me smile when I walk in. That involves repainting my mother's Ethan Allen furniture white. A huge job. But she would totally approve since she hated it and she had painted the matching hutch white years ago. She loved painting things white!

What I'm looking forward to:

  • Watching more Olympics
  • Listening to 17 hours of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows on CD because Pipster hasn't read it yet. It really makes driving places bearable!
  • Best of all----Choir rehearsals start again next week!!! And I get to be in the "quartet" this year that sings gorgeous music once a month!
Ya'll have a great day!

Which Jane Austen Heroine Are You?

I am Elinor Dashwood!

Take the Quiz here!

I love the scene at the end of Sense and Sensibility when she finally learns that he's not married and she totally breaks down. That would be me, sobbing hysterically.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Happy Monday and a Belated Happy Birthday to Me!

Oh, this Monday feels good! Not like all last week, which didn't feel good at all.

I expected to be sad during the week leading up to August 4, but I wasn't. I was sad from August 4 on. All week. I just wanted to cry. And did, quite a bit, when I was alone. I think some of it was (or is) a mid-life crisis as I turned 44 yesterday.

Now Princess can't say my age backwards. She always asks if I'm 34. Um, No. Not quite. Strike that. Reverse it. Not anymore---it's 44 no matter how you say it.

The only good thing is that the 2 digits add up to 8, which, if you're Chinese, is lucky.

So, Saturday was a very blue day with a couple of bright spots. We had a lovely family trip to the pool. They alllll went. Which never happens. Because Hitch is like a cat who hates the water, and Madden is just too cool to be there when none of his friends are.

To cheer me up more, Dh took me to the Andretti Speed Lab. I might have said I wanted to go at one time because I have this latent adventurous streak. Mostly, I like to watch other people do extreme sports. We couldn't get into a race for an hour and a half, so I had plenty of time to regret any suggestion that I would ever want to do something so silly as race little tiny cars around a winding track at top speed!

We killed time (and spent $$$, which is all part of their evil plan. I'm sure you can never get a race time within an hour of your arrival!) and played racing video games. Which were scary in their own right. Especially because we sucked so bad and had a real race coming up! I had to keep reminding myself that it's okay that my Nascar vehicle was out of control, because it wouldn't hurt when I crashed. It's okay that the brakes didn't work.

The worst part was waiting, in the little race kart, wearing a heavy, claustrophobic helmet with the engine just 2 inches from your right shoulder spewing out massive amounts of heat and fumes. I just tried to keep breathing and remind myself that I wouldn't be MORE miserable after the race started because adrenaline would take over.

And it did. It was actually kind of fun. If it didn't come with a hefty price tag for 8 minutes of "fun," I could probably get addicted and try to do better. As it was, I didn't embarrass myself. (I don't think.) I didn't spin out. I didn't burn myself on the engine getting in or out. I didn't ram the car into a wall and need an employee to get me back on track. I didn't even get the Blue Flag meaning move over and let others pass! Best of all, I didn't get into the tiny car wearing an above-the-knee dress giving a show to all the eager young men watching!

Yesterday, my birthday, was a lovely day. Unexpectedly happy in every way. Several of my friends remembered me. Thanks, Linda, Rach, and Veronica! Another family trip to the pool (except for Hitch, who had had enough Saturday!), lots of relaxing in front of the Olympics, cross-stitching, and a nice party at dinner. Beautiful gifts from my family.

That was the best gift---my family.

So here it is, Monday. A good Monday---for lots of reasons.

And did I mention that the neighbors have all gone back to school?

Friday, August 8, 2008

PG-13 Content---NFP!

There have been some interesting discussions around the blogosphere lately on NFP. Primarily due to this article, I believe. Rachel started another at Testosterhome. My dh and I have been NFP teachers for 10 years now. We've used it for 15 years of our 22 year marriage and it has been a huge blessing. But I think it is really hard on the more sexual half of the marriage, in most cases the husband. I have cycles which require more abstinence than most, and sometimes we really don't like it. And the timing is totally off for the woman, anyway.

That said, I think it is one of the most beautiful Church teachings, and the one that brought me into the Church. Maybe not so much "NFP" as the teaching on marriage and the life-giving, love-giving marriage act. Sex is a beautiful gift from God---a way to show our love for each other and give life. I think I said before, or I meant to, that God was incredibly generous in allowing us to share in His act of creation. He gave women infertile times that allow us to have some control over conception for serious reasons. When we talk about serious or grave reasons for using NFP, it's really between God and the spouses. No one else can determine who's right---only the '3' involved in the marriage.

I think the biggest problem these days is that we don't live in a society based on families anymore. We work constantly. We drive our kids all over town for activities. We don't live near our parents and siblings. If life were different and revolved around the home, as it used to, and families stayed close where the extended families could help with the new babies, NFP use would be different, more rare. I think more people would reserve it for life and death situations. Perhaps God did not intend for couples to use those natural rhythms He provided for years and years in our marriages, and that is why we struggle with the difficulty of it.

Throughout history, babies have been a fact of life; people got married and babies came. They expected them and accepted them. Now, even the most dedicated Catholics have a difficult time with large families because it seems that everything in society makes it so much harder. Heck, I feel guilty sometimes for stopping at 6, but emotionally, physically, and financially, I don't think we could handle anymore. But that's really a lack of faith, isn't it? Or is it a societal problem?

They're beautiful! Who wouldn't want more?

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

I Told You So

Did I mention that the saints are our guides and helpers on the way to heaven? They offer encouragement and directions. Right after I posted that, I found this in my Magnificat----yesterday was the feast of St. John Vianney. I love him.

This is the picture of the life of the Christian upon earth. Our soul, subject to thousands of passions, and exposed to thousands of temptations, is, indeed, like unto a little ship, covered by the waters, and never for one moment safe from shipwreck...If we meet with suffering of affliction, we are only too ready to grumble and complain. Praise makes us proud. Fault-finding makes us angry. It was all this which made our greatest saints tremble, and populated the desert with hermits, caused copious tears, innumerable prayers, and penances. Of course, the saints, though they lived in the wilderness, did not remain free from temptations, although they were free from the many bad examples which surround us constantly and are the ruin of so many souls. But we see, my brethren that they were ever watchful and prayed fervently, while we poor deluded mortals live cheerfully and carelessly in the midst of so many dangers for the salvation of our soul. O my brethren! who will escape all these dangers? Who will be saved? Brethren, I say that nobody could live who would keep all these dangers constantly before his eyes. He would die of fear. But what should give us strength and consolations is the thought that we may have recourse to our dear Father in heaven, who will never allow us to be tempted beyond our strength, and who will always help those to victory who come to him with confidence and prayer. Watch and pray, therefore, and you will conquer.
St. John Vianney, pray for us!

A Cloud of Witnesses

Mornings are not my favorite time of day, to say the least. Just ask the sweet man who asks me if I want to go walking with him in the mornings! At 4:45 a.m. when he wakes me up, my back hurts and I'm not excited to start the day, but I know I'll feel better if I go with him. The cool morning breeze (which was totally absent today!) and his gentle encouragement, get my day off to a much better start than if I just rolled out of bed at some later time to say good-bye and get a cup of coffee. The big bonus is that I get to spend time with my hubby at his best time of day without distractions. I love the time with him, so I get up, even though I'd rather just grumble!

This morning was one of the worst mornings in a long time. It was sooo hard, physically and emotionally. All my hope seems to be gone, so I thought I would post something that does make me happy....because this is where all my hope lies---in the Communion of Saints and our Savior.

These are pictures of our Wee Felt Saints that we made last year during school. We did it on "Friday Fundays" following Elizabeth's Alphabet Path. We read the Mrs. Applebee story and made a saint for the letter of the day. We didn't always (or even usually) use the same saint as in the story because we didn't have a book on them, or we just wanted to use one of our family saints. But here they are. Can you name them?Archangel (pick one!), St. Brendan, St. Clare, King David, Edmund Campion (note the noose), St. Francis de Sales
St. George, Jesus (the I saint---Iesus), St. Joseph (note the tools!), St. Kateri, St. Lucy, St. Martin de Porres
Again, Kateri, Lucy, Martin, and, finally, St. Nicholas! We made him out of order last year on St. Nicholas Day.

We had so much fun with them this past year! The kids had a blast adding creative touches like the tools, or St. George's shield and helmet. We're really looking forward to finishing the alphabet as the stories continue. I love these little people so much; they give me a little boost whenever I see them. They are friends on many different levels: because we made them (the play versions, obviously), because some of them are my family's patrons, because they are our guides and helpers on our journey to heaven.

BTW, if you looked at the Wee Felt Saints instructions, don't be alarmed by the sewing of tiny tunics! We didn't sew a stitch. Everything is cut, tied or glued on with Tacky glue! We bought everything at Michael's ----colored sheets of felt, pipe cleaners, twine, and little wooden "game pieces" (male and female).

Monday, August 4, 2008

A Year Ago Today

I said good-bye to my sweet Mom. God rest her soul. It was a long good-bye, but when it was over, it was over all too soon. I had gotten a one-way ticket to my sister's home so I could be there for the end, and then I would drive home with my family after the funeral.

In July of 2006, Mom started slurring her words. The doctor thought it was just neuralgia brought on by the shingles that she had on her head and neck. But there was also weakness all down the right side of her body, so we were convinced she had had a small stroke. It was only the insistence of my brother and sister that made her go to the doctor again and again for answers. All the tests, which I was not there for, so I'm not sure what they all were, showed nothing. Fearing ALS, Lou Gehrig's Disease, the local neurologist sent her to an ALS Specialist. I remember being at a high school football game when my sister called to tell me that they were "more than 60% sure" that it was ALS. I don't remember ever doing any other investigation into the disease, but I had seen the movie that same year and I knew it was bad. I immediately planned a trip out there to go with them to the specialist for the second opinion, and to help move most of my mom's stuff out of Grandmother's house, to my sister's.

November 10 was the date of the appointment and I arrived a day earlier. When I saw Mom at D's, she seemed to have shrunk and aged 10 years since I had seen her in April. We just held onto each other and cried, and I suddenly felt as if I were the mother and I had to comfort her and be the spiritual strength for all of us. It was such a hard 3 days with the driving and the doctor and the packing. And Grandmother was none too happy with us for taking her scapegoat away from her, leaving her "blind and helpless"!

The doctor did not actually diagnose Mom with ALS. It's a hard one to diagnose---they actually do it by eliminating every other possibility. He said she did have a motor neuron disease (MND), but he wasn't yet sure about ALS. Time would tell. I think she only made one more visit there, as they generally see MND patients quarterly, and after that second one, Mom was too weak to travel all the way to Oklahoma City from Missouri. God bless the man because he gave us so much to hope for that day and made us feel that it was possible to live with this dreadful disease. The harsh reality is that most people don't live with ALS, they die a little every day from it.

That weekend, despite it's hardships was a beautiful time spent together. We talked and laughed about all the old stories. We told Mom some new stories----things we had done and not gotten caught for! It was a time that I cherish.

There were a few more get togethers that year. Mom and D made the drive to our house for Thanksgiving. Mom was already too weak to walk up the stairs, so we got an Aerobed for her to use in the living room. I could already see the toll that this was taking on my sister. She found being in my noisy house with 6 kids relaxing because I was there to share the responsibility for Mom.

We went to D's for Christmas. All 8 of us crowded into her tiny 2 bedroom house! There were people sleeping everywhere. Again, my sister found that having us there eased the burdens on her shoulders. At this point, Mom was using a rolling walker full-time to get around. She was in good spirits and refused to use the "scooter" that her brother had gotten for her. So the kids made good use of it on Christmas Day and Mom found the energy to come out and watch for a few minutes. We all cried uncontrollably when we left because we didn't know when we would see each other again, or under what circumstances. It was the last time the children saw their grandmother. Later, she didn't want them to come visit. She didn't want them to remember her as a complete invalid.

My next trip out was to be there when Mom had a feeding tube put in. Early March? It was getting so hard for her to eat and she decided that she wasn't quite ready to starve herself to death. At this point she was in a real, $24,000 motorized wheelchair full-time. She was able to get out to use the walker and go to the bathroom or get to the car, but that was it. It was also very hard to understand her. As with a toddler, the family can usually understand them pretty well, but others have more difficulty. That's the way it was with Mom; her speech had deteriorated a lot.

She was basically on the edge of a precipice with her mobility. But that's the way it is with this disease, you're walking along the edge of a cliff all the time. Sometimes you manage to maintain your balance for a long time, other times it doesn't take much to push you off to the ledge lower down. Mom could maintain a certain level for about 3 days before she lost some mobility. One day you can wash your face with a washcloth that weighs as much as a brick, the next day, you can't. One more step closer to complete dependence.

That's what happened with the feeding tube surgery. It was harder on her than they let on it would be. She was in terrible pain from this minor procedure. Between the pain and the morphine, she lost all ability to stand on her own. We had quite a time at the hospital with nurses who had no clue about ALS and couldn't understand why she could walk when she got there and suddenly couldn't even stand. They had no idea how to treat her or move her without hurting her. We were learning, too, because we hadn't quite realized how much work Mom was doing when we made tranfers from wheelchair to bed or toilet. It felt like we had been doing all the work, but we suddenly understood that she had been working incredibly hard just to stand for 5 seconds!

The lesson here is: Never, never, never, leave someone who can't speak or move, or both, alone in a hospital! They need constant advocacy and protection.

The feeding tube was not a big bonus and didn't improve Mom's life very much. It only made it easier to give her some of her meds. She continued eating softer and softer foods right up until the last week.

I made one more trip out in late May or early June to give my sister some respite. She was heroically doing all this HARD caregiving on her own. She had even lost her job because of it. That was actually a blessing because she was no longer torn in 2 directions and she had a severance package that would pay the bills until early August. At the end of that trip, the night before I left, Mom decided to have a catheter put in and remain in bed for the rest of her time. I believe she made a couple more trips out for church, but not many. They had started having hospice a few weeks earlier which helped a little.

When I came for the last trip, we had a good first week, spending time with Mom. We talked---and conversations were slow and laborious with her, but she had things she needed to say. One of the last conversations we had was memorable because she took great pains to tell us she was ready to go, she couldn't wait to walk again in heaven.

I massaged her hands and feet and did her nails, which was not easy on either of us since her hands were curled up and couldn't be straightened. Every morning she had her cappuccino to start the day. D and I knew that when the cappuccinos stopped, Mom would too. She loved for us to brush her hair. HARD. I thought I was going to draw blood with her spiky hairbrush, but she loved it and D would have to take over because I'm too gentle. Now I understand how she was starved for physical contact and something that would get her blood flowing.

The last week was the worst. My brother came after I had been there a week. He brought the casket he had built for Mom since she wanted a simple pine box. It was simple and beautiful. That second week of my stay, she suddenly took a turn and we were continually surprised when we found her still with us the next day. But she wasn't at peace and we could no longer understand her. She could only communicate by nodding or shaking her head, but with the oxygen deprivations she was very confused and didn't always make sense. She didn't want her anti-anxiety meds because she didn't want to be loopy. I think she wanted to enjoy having her children all together for the first time in years, even though it wasn't a very enjoyable occasion. After we stopped watching her breathe because the strain was too much, we spent time together while Mom slept in the next room. We reminisced and got to know each other again and it was good.

Sometime around Wednesday, the first of August, she slipped into a semi-coma. Sometimes she opened her eyes if we spoke to her, but there was no other response. When D asked if she wanted T to play his banjo at her funeral, she grunted "no". lol. On Saturday, my sister and I had to get a break, so we decided to go shopping to buy Mom something to wear for the funeral. It was good to get out of the house and get that errand over with. We had planned to wait until after her death to buy it, but agreed that it had been better beforehand.

We went back to the house and put everything away. T left to get something he needed for his truck. We went in and told Mom about her new outfit and asked if she wanted to watch Gilmore Girls. I think the answer was No, because she suddenly stopped breathing regularly. I alerted D, who was on the computer, and we held her hand and stroked her arm as she took her last breaths. How could it happen so suddenly when we'd been waiting for it for weeks? How can it take you by surprise like that? But it did, and our precious mother was gone.

There are so many things that I never learned from Mom. Things I wanted to ask. Things I still want to ask her. During all that, I wished she had taught me about dying. Maybe she didn't know as much as I do now, but I didn't want to learn it from her in that way.

I'll tell you what I know:
  • Don't waste time being angry with people. Forgive them. Mom forgave everyone. She didn't have any bad feelings for anyone, she let it all go. In fact, she let them come visit to make amends if it would make them feel better!
  • Tell people you love them. Even if it's a girlfriend and seems silly. Don't wait until they're dying!
  • There's no use complaining. It doesn't do any good. She never complained about her illness, or questioned why God let it happen to her. She just let Him handle it. And He did.
  • Touch the people you love. Touch the handicapped who probably long for physical contact more than you know.
  • I know she's still with me. I see her all around my house in her art and in the things she left me.
  • I don't have any fears for her soul as she was so faithful and trusted God, but I know that I can continue to pray for her, just in case. I think she did her purgatory here on earth, even if she didn't know she was doing it, I prayed for God to accept it as such for the whole year.
I love you, Mom, and I miss you every day!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

22 years and counting!

Yesterday MOW and I celebrated our 22nd anniversary. We've been married half of my life! We had a lovely day together watching movies all day. Sounds kind of strange, but we were huge movie-goers before we had children, and a friend tipped us off one time that she and her dh have a movie day on her birthday every year since they're too busy the rest of the time. So we ditched the kids at 9:30 a.m. and lit out for the brand new, all digital AMC theater that is showing all the good movies.

We started with The Dark Knight, which is an amazing movie. Creepy and scary, but very well made.

Then we had lunch at Ted's Montana Grill. Say what you like about Ted Turner, but they have great food there, especially the bison burgers.

After that it was back to the theater for something cheerier: Mamma Mia!. It was a toe-tapper. Very cute and, yes, I sort of did want to get up and dance in the aisles.

After Mamma Mia! we had an hour or so to kill and we wandered around the beautiful new shopping center, got some snacks and went back to see Wall-e for our final film of the day. The girl who took our tickets for all three movies must have recognized us, but maybe we're not the only ones who do this sort of thing!

Wall-e definitely lived up to it's reputation. It was a good, heartwarming story, and it was beautifully animated. My only complaint about the movie was that he appeared to find a living, green, plant inside a refrigerator. And don't tell me the light was still on inside with the door closed after 700 years! Someone correct me if I'm wrong.

We came home to a house that was sparkling clean because the kids had done all their chores and picked up all the clutter. The kitchen was even spotless from dinner and the Little Princess was bathed and ready for bed. We ended the day by watching another movie with the older kids while the little ones saw one downstairs.

I loved my day and I love my honey. It's been a beautiful 22 years, with 6 beautiful children to show for it, and I'm looking forward to more wonderful years.


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