This and That

By Lisa Baker

This post is a little of this and a little of that.  My family and I celebrated my Dad’s 81st birthday this month.  We were able to use the family room at his facility to celebrate in.  All of his remaining siblings were able to come. He did not realize that it was his birthday so it was indeed a surprise.


We all had a good time visiting with Dad.  I made his favorite cake.  A Japanese fruit cake.  This is usually made as a layer cake.  To make it easier to carry I made it in a 9 by 13 pan as a single layer cake.  Dad gave me a wonderful compliment.  He said it was as good as his Mom’s.  Over the years I have often made this same cake for him.  Always he would tell me it’s not quite as good as his Mom’s.  So to me that was rewarding and a memory I’ll never forget.

Of course, during the celebration Dad kept saying that he wanted to pack up his things and go home with one of us when it was time to go.  We had to keep telling him to just hold on and enjoy your party.  We had to leave one at a time while whomever was left kept him busy talking.  It was a good day.

Now a little of that.  During the week leading up to Dads birthday we had some water issues at home.  I’m living in Mom and Dad’s house now.  We didn’t have hot water one night.  So, there I was trying to figure out what was wrong as well as who have they called in the past for water issues.  They are both at a point where if I had asked them I wouldn’t have gotten the answer.  I called my neighbor which is also my cousin and ask her who she used.  She was able to give me a name and number of a gentleman that proved to be honest and fair to help us out.  The problem was an easy fix.  But while he was here he was able to tell that we also had another issue brewing.  He was able to fix that as well.  It was more than we expected but keeps the second issue from becoming an emergent fix later on.  Now we have the name of an excellent plumber.

I’m starting a book with names and numbers for different things that need to be serviced at the house.  Just one more thing that you miss when you realize your parents both have dementia so you can’t rely on being able to ask them.

bookI’ve also finished reading a book that some of you may find very helpful.  The 36-Hour Day. By Nancy L. Mace, MA and Peter V. Rabin’s, MD, MPH. I got my copy online.  I think it cost me around $6.00 or so because it was a used copy. It’s a very good book.

Life is ever so full and ever so busy.  My parents both want each of us to visit every day for several hours each day.  They no longer fully understand that we also have to work and take care of our families as well.  I run out of hours.  I could use a 36-hour day in order to accomplish everything I need to do as well as spend time with each of them.

You start to feel very overwhelmed with everything.  Even with having them both in a facility they are constantly on my mind.  There isn’t a day that goes by that I’m not doing something involving them, from visiting with them to paying bills.

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If you are dealing with dementia in any form with a loved one hang in there.  You are not alone.  Until next time!

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“Weight” It Out?

By Marianna Boyce

scaleWeight is an issue that most every woman deals with at some point in life.  As we age, it tends to find a way to hang on for dear life!  It seems that the determination to maintain a healthy weight and consistent exercise routine is now a thought bubble somewhere in the back of my mind.  That thought bubble is filled with excuses, but none better than “I just can’t because my entire body hurts!”  Although this is a very good excuse in my book, I still need to try and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Before widespread joint pain aggressively reared its ugly head throughout my body, I was happy and healthy at 135 pounds.  These unusual symptoms suddenly took complete control of my life within a time span of merely fourteen days.  Diet and exercise was no longer a priority.

saladIn the kitchen, I was unable to cut, chop, peel, slice and dice, so preparing healthy meals at home was placed on the back burner, (no pun intended).  Fresh fruits and veggies were definitely off the menu.  I couldn’t do anything that required fine motor skills and dexterity due to the incredible pain being experienced in most every bending bone in my body.  In my unwanted new season of life, take-out was my “go to” because that was truly the best I could do!

Also prior to my unfortunate situation, I enjoyed a good workout several times a week but my exercise routine was also stopped dead in its tracks.  My knees, feet and ankles were very swollen and in excruciating pain so I could barely walk, much less exercise!

In an instant, my life was yanked from peaceful tranquility, and tossed into a horrible abyss that I refer to as “my alternate universe.”  I eventually saw an amazing rheumatologist here at LMC.  He helped me regain a somewhat normal life.   Praise the Lord for that!  He is my hero!

With the upcoming holidays, the comfort foods we have all grown accustomed are filled with more calories than our bodies know what to do with on any given day!  I also have two family reunions to attend before the end of the year!  Lord have mercy!  I cannot “weight” any longer.  I have to do something about it now.  I keep saying I’m going to but my “motivation meter”  is not set on high like it used to be.

stretchingI need to lose 20 pounds.  What about you?  Whether we need to lose 10 pounds or 100 pounds, let’s not “weight” it out!  Hopefully by the time we ring in the new year, we will already be on course. The hardest part is simply getting started!  I’ll keep you posted on progress or slip ups along the way.  Maybe sharing this with you will help me in my motivation department!

Visit my personal website, myalternateuniverseonline.wordpress.com to read about trying to reignite my exercise routine in 2016.  This story took place before I knew what was wrong with me.  It’s aptly titled, “It’s Time To Exercise the Demons!”  (Its about the fifth blog post down on the website.)  I would love for you to check it out.  It’s actually quite comical.  I will go ahead and share with you…it was a complete failure!  Pray for better results this time!  I am definitely going to need it! 

 Best of luck to you if you are planning to join me!

Life After the Big D

By June Headley-Greenlaw

Statistics say that 40-50% of first marriages will end in divorce.  Unfortunately, I was part of that statistic.  I was married to the man I now jokingly refer to as my starter husband for nearly 20 years.  When that marriage expired, it was a very scary time in my life and the lives of my children.  I had been married since I was 20 years old and didn’t know what my identity would be outside of that marriage.  There was no abuse or anything else that you’d think would cause a divorce, we simply stopped loving each other the way married people should.

Our friends used to ask us how we had stayed married so long.  My then-husband used to reply that it was because we just never wanted a divorce at the same time.  It wasn’t because we never had hard times.  We did!  We were both going thru college while working and later raising children.  We struggled frequently.  We were both blessed with loving families and lots of friends.  We made it through – until we didn’t.  There just came the point in time when we no longer felt supported or loved by each other, and something told me it was time to start over.  I believed it was whispers from God.

I won’t tell you it was easy because that would be a big fat lie!  I moved into my best friend’s house for a few months and slept on what we now affectionately call “the divorce couch”.  She lived on the same street so the kids could walk back and forth.  I looked for a new home close to the one we owned so the kids, then 6 and 9, could be close to both of us.  I found one that was a foreclosure and needed a lot of work.  New carpet, new appliances, etc.  the house had 11 different colors on the walls from orange to black.  I vividly remember many friends and family members with rollers and brushes in their hands and my nearly 80-year-old Uncle taking up the carpet and hauling it outside.  But on Thanksgiving, all of those people had commitments.  Alone in this new empty house, I turned up the music and rolled and cried and rolled and cried.  The whole time praying that God would give me the strength to get through it and help me find a way to explain to my children that this was necessary.  I was determined to have a home IN ORDER by Christmas for the sake of my kids!

baby girl

Mom, baby girl child we share, Dad

I should tell you there were times when I thought my heart would just stop beating because it was so broken.  There were a lot of tears, sometimes anger, fear, and TONS of times when I questioned this decision.  Thankfully, my ex and I were both committed to not making this any worse than it had to be so we put on brave faces and marched thru the logistics of starting over.  We split the debt.  He kept the house with the equity, and I kept my retirement.  I took things from the house that he could easily live without and bought whatever else I needed.  On credit cards!  Ugh!  We even shared an attorney to keep costs down.  As divorces go, I think we might have had the cheapest one on the planet.  I strongly suggest that anyone going thru this think carefully before fighting.  The only people that win in these situations are the attorneys.  It’s much easier to buy new furniture than to hire a lawyer to fight over it.  You owe it to your kids not to sweat the small stuff.

boy child

Dad, boychild we share, Mom

We made about the same amount of money, and we shared custody, so neither of us paid child support.  We never argued over switching weeks or days with the kids for vacations, family events or other fun activities that might have fallen on the other person’s time.  We both wanted what was best for our children.  I’m very proud of the way we handled those years.

The divorce was final 17 months after we filed.  I would have bet when we split up that I

family

Bonus Mom, Dad, Baby Girl Child we share, Mom, Bonus Dad

would never remarry, but in a very short time, I met my do-over husband, and my affectionately called “wusband” met his do-over wife.  We were both remarried within five months of the divorce being final.  Those marriages are still going strong after ten years plus.  Fortunately, our kids were blessed with great “Bonus” parents and lots of new “Bonus” siblings.  I don’t use the word “step” because I think it insinuates some sort of distance between people.  A friend once told me that it’s always a bonus when you have another person to love you so we had a lot of bonuses in our new blended families!

While the statistics on second marriages are abysmal, we are all committed to beating those odds.  We have both thrived in our do-over marriages, and we still support our now college kids as a team.  All four of us!  I’m living proof that life after the Big D doesn’t have to be a horror show.  I credit my strong faith in God and a lot of commitment from all involved for carrying us thru such a challenging time.

 

On The Night You Were Born

By Kate Morrow

“On the night you were born, the moon shone with such wonder that the stars peeked in to see you and the night wind whispered, ‘Life will never be the same.’ Because there had never been anyone like you… ever in the world.” – Nancy Tillman

51kBche93SL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_This was the first book I ever bought for my babies. In fact, I purchased it before I even knew they would exist, around the time my husband and I started having trouble getting pregnant. I have always loved this book. The words are so beautiful, and it was my traditional gift to friends and family with new bundles of joy. I bought it to give me hope, to give me joy, and to give me the confidence I would be a mother one day.

When we found out we were pregnant, the book eventually got moved to the room that would become the nursery. It sat alone on an empty dresser for months until we finally started to decorate. The book eventually transitioned into the fashionable diaper bag my mom gave me as a congratulations gift. The diaper bag hung on the hook in their room because it was a part of my “hospital packing list” for the eventual night we would go check in and deliver our babies. I had big plans of a beautiful night with our twins, reading them this book, snuggling and settling in as a new family of four.

Except, it never happened. Or at least not the way I expected. Not the way I had planned.

In August 2017, when I went into labor, the nursery was not complete. The hospital bag was never packed. I was 23 weeks pregnant and it was totally unexpected to be in labor. I went into immediate bedrest and a mentality of “fight for survival”. Things like “what baby book to pack for the hospital” became secondary. They became non-existent.

In fact, when I went into actual labor at 28 weeks, my husband and I raced out of the house. I was in ugly pajamas. Hair had not been washed in three days. Needed a pedicure bad. There was no hospital bag packed full of beautiful clothes for me and my new babies. Because the night they were born, was not a night I could have ever imagined. Not ever.

When we drove to the hospital, I was still in denial that they could come early. I thought this whole thing was far-fetched and I would surely hold out until 35 weeks and I still had time to pack my bag and my book.

After 45 minutes in the Labor and Deliver Unit, they were coming. In a whirlwind. They were raced off to the NICU immediately after taking their first breath. Without Momma getting to hold them. Without Momma really knowing if they were truly okay.

I was wheeled back to my hospital room alone with my husband. I laid there in absolutely shock, awe and terror. “What just happened?” “Were they really just born?” I felt like they had been ripped from inside me and there was nothing I could do to protect them anymore. It was not the night I imagined. Not the night I had planned.

This is where our story truly began. There is so much more to our own personal story of “The Night They Were Born” that I cannot wait to share with you chapter by chapter during this coming year.

But let me spoil the ending. After 76 days in the NICU, Jack and Lilly came home. They came home on the week of Thanksgiving. I got to pack a bag full of their coming home outfits, special blankets, and our very special Nancy Tillman book when we discharged them from the NICU. The day they came home felt like the “Night I was Born” as a Momma.

On that night, we settled in at home. No NICU monitors, no wires. Just us snuggled in our bed. And I finally read to them:

“Jack and Lilly – on the night you were born,  the moon shone with such wonder that the stars peeked in to see you and the night wind whispered, ‘Life will never be the same.’ Because there had never been anyone like you… ever in the world.” 

 

Pie, oh My!

By Rhonda Woods

By the time you read this blog, it will have been nine months since my sweet husband was totally healed by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  January 4 was the day everything in my life changed.  As I write this blog, I struggle every day to accept he is not coming back.  These are the days of “rain” as is the code for “I feel like I am falling apart”.  I have sorrowfully and shamefully questioned God, His plans and my decision to return to teaching so soon.   I guess this is a natural part of the grieving process. It is hard to see even a glimpse of light at the end of the tunnel, much less search for my purpose or happiness in my future.  My family, church family and friends are amazing support, but even they cannot fix the hole in my heart and the emptiness  I feel having lost my best friend soulmate of nearly 40 years.

Bent on my quest to update the house he built has, at times, taken its toll on my nerves and my OCD for cleaning any and all dust created.  My awesome contractor, Jonathan, who has become one of my sons, tolerates my constant cleaning.  The updating is beautiful and I know my sweet husband would be pleased with my decisions.  So, I ramble around this big house meant for a family of four or more with our two dogs, who look at me with questioning eyes as they miss him, too.

Anniversary Cruise and Desserts

So let me reflect on happier times when he enjoyed anything I cooked or baked!

Peanut Butter Pie

Peanut Butter Pie

The perfect husband to please with food, ladies, and you know that can be a challenge for both husbands and children.  He loved desserts, anything peanut butter, but sweets in general.  This time of the year, people are testing new recipes for church Homecomings and holiday gatherings.  With such an array of desserts to choose from on the bountiful tables, is just plain blasphemy in the south to put those little 6″ plates out when everyone one needs a full-sized one to “sample” a little bit of everything.   You know it is true, don’t deny it!  LOL.

Granny and her youngest great-granddaughter

My mother with her newest great grandchild named for my husband

So, I thought I would share a few pie recipes, especially the ones my sweet husband enjoyed the most; Peanut Butter Pie, Coconut Custard Pie (a prize winning one), No Milk Chocolate Pie (from a church cookbook a missionary contributed and my Mom’s favorite), Sweet Potato Pie (my adaption from a recipe in a cookbook my daughter gave me called “Sweetie Pies”), Pumpkin Cheese Pie and Lemon Cheese Pie (a favorite of my dear friend, Mrs. Betty).  I hope you will enjoy these recipes and will add them to your list of favorites, too.

 

May God bless you and your family, as He continues to bless ours,

Chef Woods

RECIPES

Coconut Custard Pie

Coconut Custard Pie

Peanut Butter Pie

Coconut Custard Pie

No Milk Chocolate Pie

Sweet Potato Pies

Pumpkin Cheese Pie or Tarts

Lemon Cheese Pie or Tarts

Pie Crust

Graham Cracker Crust

 

 

My love for The University of Alabama

By Tina M. Cameron

Despite what some of my family members believe, I have always liked Alabama football. You see, I’m from Knoxville, so growing up, I went to Tennessee football games with my dad. These are some of my favorite memories. I love the Vols and always will, but, my heart fell in love with The University of Alabama in Fall 2009 when my older son Corey became a Freshman as an Aerospace Engineering major. He changed his major during his junior year to Mechanical Engineering. I made many trips a year while he was there for 5 years. He had so many opportunities and made some wonderful lifelong friends. I fell in love with the campus, the school and the amazing people that I have met there. Oh, and we have a pretty good football team!

13116341_10153813275391645_4307474500324260944_o  I am now a student there full-time. I am a Registered Nurse and have always dreamed of having my BSN degree. That is now becoming a reality. In March of this year I was accepted at The University of Alabama and then 2 weeks later found out that I had been accepted into the RN to BSN Online Distance Learning Program. I will graduate on May 3rd, 2019, exactly 4 years after my son graduated. I will also be wearing his cap and gown.

One of the main reasons I love this school so much is the way the students and parents support each other. I belong to our Alabama Parent Facebook Page, which has over 10,000 members and even though my son has graduated I just can’t unfollow the page. We refer to ourselves as “Bamaly” because it is one big family. We answer questions, give support, help each other’s kids out. We have a map of the U.S. where each parent has flagged themselves on it in case our kids are traveling and breakdown or have a wreck; there is someone always close.

20180108_165108            The University of Alabama is one of the top public universities in the country. My son received an amazing education and is thriving as a Mechanical Engineer. He now lives in Charleston, SC and works for Mercedes-Benz. The nursing program I am enrolled in is also one of the top programs in the country. It is very competitive to get into and I feel blessed and proud that I was admitted. I have dreamed of having a 4-year degree since I was 18 years old and I will graduate 7 months from today. I cannot wait until I can call myself an alumnus. And, one final thing—Roll Tide!!

How to Stop a Bully

By Shannon Boatwright

Author/Speaker Brooks Gibbs explains bullying in the most simplistic terms: Dominance behavior.

(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7oKjW1OIjuw)

October is national bullying prevention month. Because I teach middle school drama, I feel it is imperative that I allow time for serious discussion about the issue of bullying.  My students know that I feel very strongly about the topic of bullying –  I have zero tolerance for it.  ZERO.

I make it very clear to my students that I am here for them and that they can come to me at any time if they ever see, hear of or experience anything having to do with bullying. They know they can count on me to have their backs.

Stop BullyingIt’s amazing to me that our society as a whole has all these different missions to “stomp out bullying” and as a whole, we as a society overall are of course against bullying…  YET IT STILL HAPPENS. And it happens all the time! On the website StopBullying.com you can click on the link below to see all the latest statistics on the percentage of bullying that takes place.

https://www.stopbullying.gov/media/facts/index.html

It’s a lot. It’s sickening. It enrages me. To think that humans can be so cruel to one another just blows my mind. And it’s not just with kids, bullying happens among all ages. Jerks are EVERYWHERE. And yes, their cruelty comes from somewhere – whether from a place of jealousy, insecurity, personal hurt, or plain ole ignorance. Either way, though it can be forgiven, it is inexcusable.

I do not take a lot of time showing dramatic videos of stories about bullies and victims, because I feel my time is better spent teaching my students how to stop a bully, how to build their confidence and belief in themselves. Like Brooks Gibbs says, the key word is SELF – building self-esteem, self-worth, and self-confidence. One of the many benefits of drama involves building those three priceless attributes, as well as empathy. Teaching these kids the ultra-importance of building their strength in self and engaging in empathy is truly a lifelong skill that will make them a better person, not to mention benefit them for the rest of their life.

Happiness Is An Inside JobThe tools that Brooks Gibbs shares are incredible, because indeed when it comes to bullying it’s about power, it’s about dominance and how one reacts to a bully can make or break a situation. Do not give a bully the power. Keep all the power for yourself! Your power will be grounded in your own self-confidence, self-worth and self-esteem. As a teacher, my goal is to build a strong self in these kids. I want them to have the power of believing in themselves, knowing that their happiness is not rooted in what anyone else thinks of them and knowing that the ability to put themselves into someone else’s shoes can be a wonderful tool that creates in them a stronger, well-rounded human.

It is an unfortunate reality that bullies will always exist. Heck, in this day and age especially, with our current state of leadership, the ridiculousness of social media, the sad state of our schools, there are all too many bullies trying to dominate others. So those of us who actually have the sense to recognize this negative behavior and not engage and participate in it, especially need the skills to stop a bully. Whether you have children in your family or not and no matter what your age, I guarantee you will benefit from watching the video link shared above. Brooks Gibbs really hits the nail on the head with this topic and I am ever appreciative that I have the resource of his video to share with my students, my own children, my family, my friends and my blog readers.