Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas time ,and catch-up time

Lots of things to journal about later; we've got some big changes coming up. But for now here's some random pics from November and December.

Here's Liv backstage at the American Girl show, waiting to go on.

Another backstage shot; that's about $3,000 worth of American Girl dolls in the background!

Time to strut! Liv showed a confidence I've never quite seen before; she was having a blast.

Exiting the stage with cousin Emma.

Here's Nate, er, enjoying the show.

Perusing the menu at Cabo Fish Taco.

One happy hot chocolate girl at Zada Jane's Cafe last weekend.

And oh yes she did drink every drop!

Our waitress noticed I popped a Sudafed with my water, and she brought me my coffee in this! Love that place.

Well that's it for now! Have a wonderful holiday!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving 09

The good:
1. Dan's turkey, as always, was succulent and perfect.
2. My appetizers (baked brie, along with spinach-artichoke dip) were a hit, as well as the sweet corn and rolls that I always bring. There was also a buttery, crispy, custardy sweet potato casserole made by Pam, and my sis-in-law's stuffing and MIL's mashed potatoes and gravy. . .all scrumptious.
3. The company---Aunt Ro, Pam, my sweet MIL, brother and sis-in-law and our respective kidlets.
4. Surprise sleepover- - -Liv and Nate got invited to crash tonight with their cousins, one of their very favorite things in the world to do.
5. Watching Planes, Trains and Automobiles. . .or at least the first half-hour, before an impromptu mini-turkey-coma.
6. Talking with J, my dad's private aid today about the impending move to a small apartment with 24-hour care. It feels good to have a new plan, even though it might not be perfect. The kids gave J a Thanksgiving card and made my dad a paper turkey, which I put on his bedside table.

The bad:
1. My dad's back in the skilled nursing facility but now he has pneumonia. Last night they called to let me know he had a fever and this morning when I went by he was on oxygen and antibiotics. When his Thanksgiving lunch came J and I fed him little bites until he ate around half. He chewed very slowly without opening his eyes. I was so worried that he'd get dehydrated again; I kept feeding him sips of his iced tea and water with a spoon until they were both nearly gone. Tonight when I went by again his fever had gone down but they're still concerned about his breathing so they may end up having to send him back to the hospital by morning. Sigh.
2. I'm starting to wonder if the Lexapro that I'm taking has stopped working. . .or maybe I'm just naturally a little bummed and should just let myself feel it.
3. We finally got someone out to give us an estimate on getting laminate or hardwoods in our living room and were informed that the moisture level in our crawlspace is too high for them to guarantee the work; they're afraid the wood would warp or buckle. They recommended an inspecter to find the underlying cause of the humidity. . .yikes. I really don't want to know.

The ugly:
1. Did I mention the pneumonia thing?
2. Did I mention the social worker at the nursing home? Oh,yeah. Yesterday.

The uncertain:
1. Olivia announced she wants to get her hair cut very short TOMORROW so she can donate it to Locks of Love. That was the plan initially, but I thought she was going to wait until spring. Oh, well- - -a couple months ago I would've rejoiced at this decision but she looked so darned cute with her curly ponytail last week. But, the harsh reality is I don't have the time or talent to do the curly ponytail for her everyday, and she's so active and hates spending time on her hair herself right now, so. . .I guess we'll see!
2. I'm going to check on my dad's apartment application next week; I'm going to rehearse the phone call in my head so that I don't sound desperate.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


The last couple of days have not been the greatest. My dad is back in the hospital, after what seems like his one thousandth fall. It baffles me that this continues to happen, but the severe memory impairment combined with just enough strength to stand up out of one's wheelchair when one's legs are like Jello. . .well, it's a crappy combo.

Miraculously, he hasn't broken anything. I'm thankful for that.
The fact that he was slightly dehydrated upon entering the hospital, after being in a supposedly high-level care facility? So dehydrated that a low-dose of sedative to calm him down put him out cold for nearly 19 hours? Yeah. . . I'm feeling less than thankful for that.

So the hospital felt he could go home today but didn't want to release him to the skilled nursing center because they felt it wasn't safe for him after so many falls; they felt he needed to be in a secured memory unit.
You know, like the one at Sunrise. Where he also fell. A lot. Great.

So I told the nice social worker at the hosptial about my family's plan to move my dad to a retirement community apartment with round the clock private care. The problem is, the ground unit that we want isn't available until January.

I'm about to come out of my skin with impatience. I want him out of that facility YESTERDAY, but I'd like him to be in this particular complex since it's close to me, the utilities are included in the rent and he'd have lots of folks his own age for neighbors. So. . .we'll see.

In the meantime, the skilled nursing facility is willing to "let" my dad come back there IF he has round the clock private care because, as their social worker put it, "they just can't be liable for another one of your dad's falls." OH! And also, she also informed me that she knew the manager of these retirement apartments very well and she didn't think this lady would want to "take a chance on having someone who could have a serious accident on the property. In fact, Tracy, I'm not sure if our Dr. here will release him to go live there."

I'm not a yeller. I hate yelling. Frankly it makes me tired, and I feel terrible afterwards. But this poor nursing home social worker picked the wrong ticked off, over-caffeinated, sleep-deprived, only child to pick on today.

Someone, I guess it was me, but it didn't really sound like me, proceeded to tell this lady something like this: "REALLY?? You don't think YOUR Dr., who's seen him maybe ONCE will agree for him to live there?! Well, considering that my father showed up at the hospital yesterday dehydrated and with a slight concussion after being in YOUR facility, I don't think my father's REAL Dr. will have a problem with me taking him ANYWHERE ELSE BUT THERE."

Then, of course, I apologized. Like a wimpy,snivelling weasel. I told her that I knew she was just doing her job, but my family and I were just trying to do what was best and right now the best thing seems to be to take a break from facilities for awhile and just work things out between Jimmy and a couple other private caregivers.
She proceeded to babble about how she didn't meant to discourage me, she only meant to ENcourage me. . .she was suddenly Jesse Jackson. Whatever.

So now I'm at the mercy of shelling out more of my dad's once hard-earned money to pay for round the clock private care WHILE HE'S IN A SUPPOSED CAREGIVING FACILITY. Oh, and they all charge time and a-half for the holiday, naturally.

Damn. Sorry, Pastor Trevor. I hope you don't read this. Hell and damn. Also, shit. Also, crap. Also, cocksucker. That one's for the social worker. Encouraging enough for ya? Yeah.

There are so, so many things I'm thankful for, but the last 24 hours- - -well they just sucked.

I love you, Daddy. Please, please stop falling down, OK?

Now I'm going to go by the nursing home to lay eyes on my dad for a minute before going home, collapsing on the sofa and making hubs watch Moonstruck with me.
Watching Cher drink champagne by the fire after her little shopping spree always puts me in a better mood. . .

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Ch-ch-ch-changes. . .turn and face the strange

So, it seems that just because my dad may not be fully aware of every event in his life, his life still evolves and changes just like anyone else's.
Due to a series of recent falls, he's now in a skilled nursing facility until he's more steady on his feet and can returned to "an assisted living environment." His Dr., the hospital social worker and I came to this decision after the most recent tumble and subsequent overnight hospital stay. My dad had stood up out of his wheelchair unassisted, which is a no-no, and took a header on the bricks of the courtyard outside Sunrise.

He's in a wheelchair part of the time these days, but he can walk pretty well either with assistance or if he's holding onto the wall railing at the nursing home. My question is, can a person with severe memory impairment REMEMBER that he's not supposed to stand up out of his wheelchair and walk without help? Well, no. He can't. Sigh. Even my sweet, positive-thinking Dawn, who has years and years of experience with Alzheimer's patients, has told me that the falls are going to happen in nearly any type of caregiver situation as long as my dad's still ambulatory. Double sigh.

But, we still have our dear J, his private aide who comes a few times a week. And Dad and I still have our moments together; I bring him Pepsis and Little Debbie cakes and his grandbabies.

Meanwhile, we're in the midst of one of the more spectacular autumns that I can remember. I find myself looking up at the trees all the time, even when I really, really shouldn't (like when I'm oh, behind the wheel of the van)!

Halloween was fun, even though poor Liv was sick with what started as a cold but turned into pneumonia a week later. She had a slight fever and sore throat on Halloween night, and had to stay in except for a quick pity trip to a few close neighbors' houses for candy.

Here are some pics:

Very scary transformer with my husband's eyes threatens us with a Kit Kat in each hand.

The grumpy mermaid was not amused.

Wally the Wonderdog protects hearth and home.

Mirror, mirror. . .Liv gets her first salon up-do for the American Girl fashion show rehearsal (the actual big show is Nov. 21).

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Why are my feet cold? And why are there wet, yellow leaves on my front steps? What? It's OCTOBER, you say?

October is a perfect time to discuss September!

September '09 launched my body,however unwillingly, into its fourth decade on this fine planet. There were a few other milestones, too, and I managed to capture some in pictures. Of course, there were many moments that unfortunately were not recorded for prosperity. Like the five whole nanoseconds that my minivan was clean, September 14 I think it was. Or the day I was actually able to blowdry my hair the exact same way as my stylist. You know, the important stuff. OH, and one tragic incident involving Wally dressed in an Americal Girl nightgown. Let's just say the culprit was apprehended and dealt with. Our poor Wally, however, may still need some intense canine therapy.

This is how my birthday started. Yes, that's a diaper. On a balloon. My team's way of showing their love.

But there were also these. . .

and later, one of these. A Senor Tequila masterpiece.

And here we are together with hubs. Look out, Charlotte--oldies on the loose!

Other random September moments. . .

The most stubborn wiggly tooth in history finally succombs to its fate---in a bouncy house outside a BBQ restaurant while staying with Grandma! Mom and Dad were busy sipping the Midori Margaritas in the above photo. The tooth fairy still visited, but alas, the tooth itself was never recovered. We've since had to convince the Nater that the tooth fairy only brings FIVE DOLLARS for the first tooth. Hey, we've got to have something left for college.

Outside Barnes and Noble--photo by Grandma.

Perusing Grandma's purchases like possums.
One evening while the boys went camping, this lovely lady was my dinner date. She's cute, but she talks a lot.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

I'll try to recall July. . .as we say goodbye to August!

To say that summer whizzed by is a huge understatement. The hugest. Wait, is that a word? Anyway. It whizzed all right, and here I am, about to give a July recap when it dawns on me that it also happens to be freaking AUGUST 29th!! School has already started back (and the work-from-home dads and moms say whoop-whoop)!

July was a blissful blur that involved us joining the local pool,Nate turning six (complete with a bash at My Gym play center), making homemade ice cream, eating homemade pico de gallo and guacamole two or three times a week. Near the end of the month, my dad had a great visit with his new neurologist and then promptly went into the hospital the next morning after suffering a seizure. Turns out seizures sometimes occur in a small percentage of advanced Alzheimer's patients. Lucky him, huh? He was in the hospital for about a week and a-half, then returned to Sunrise.

After he got settled back in, we grasped the opportunity to go to the beach for a few days and reconnect. It was wonderful. We hit Brookgreen Gardens at Murrell's Inlet for the first time ever- -what a magical place. All that beautiful art existing with nature. Gorgeous. Our guide was named Millie, a lovely little pixie-haired lady with silvery hair, dangly turquoise earrings and bright red lipstick. When she was showing us the aviary, she stuck out her index finger and a luminous, blue-green dragonfly perched right on it. She smiled down at the kids. "He does that nearly every time." Olivia was enraptured, and so was I. We'd follow Millie anywhere!

The morning after the beach trip, a Sunrise nurse called to let me know my dad was having trouble breathing. Back to the ER; this time, pneumonia. Poor Dad. He hadn't had a chance to really recuperate yet, and here he was again, flat on his back in a place where every morning he was surrounded by strangers, even if he'd seen them a dozen times the day before. I had to chuckle one night when I was visiting and the Dr. dropped in. "Tracy!" my dad rasped. "Fix the man something to eat!"
"Um, are you hungry, Dr. Manet?" I asked, smiling.
"No,no, I'm quite all right," he answered.
"Well," my dad replied--"I just thought she might want to DO something instead of sittin' there."

I sure wish I could do something, too.

Anyway. This time he was in for a week and now he's back at Sunrise again, in a wheelchair for now, until his legs get stronger. He's getting physical, occupational and speech therapy several times a week to help him along.

This summer has also found me in the movie theater! Twice! Being married to Mr.-Wait-For-DVD, this is quite an unusual sitchiation. In July, Pam and Ro came to visit and Pam, Beth and I all went to see The Proposal. I'm usually not one for chick flicks but I have to admit this one made me laugh out loud. Then in early August my Dawn went with me to see Julie and Julia and I swear---one of the best films I've ever, ever seen. Nora Ephron might've taken some liberties with Child's actual history, but---who cares?? After watching it, I felt truly priveleged to have done so. And hungry. I mean, Beef Bourginon? Chocolate mousse? Maine lobster? Total tummy porn.

Random update time:
What's on the night stand: Earthly Delights by Kerry Greenwood. This chick is awesome---an Austrailian mystery writer, Greenwood conjured up one of the funniest, most fascinating characters ever. Corinna Chapman, a baker in Melbourne, who describes her 4 a.m. morning routine in such a way that actually makes the reader want to be awake with her, turning on the ovens, starting the coffee and mixing the raspberry white chocolate muffins.

What's for dinner: Shredded chicken tacos. Super easy for a busy Saturday. Four chicken breasts in the crockpot with a jar of salsa verde, cook on low for six hours, then shred with two forks. Taco time!

Current state of Nate: Growing, growing, growing. His legs are growing so much, they sometimes throb, something I remember going through as a kid. So, I rub them, and think of how they used to be little Michelin-man chunky baby legs.
He started first grade on Tuesday, and loves it so far. Tonight he explained compound words in between bites of taco.

Current state of Olivia: Lovely, tan, long-limbed and chatty. Loving third grade. Almost as much as we're loving her.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Our second adoption

Despite our inner little voices telling us we should wait until "things calm down" a bit around here. . .

Despite the fact that we have two hungry little punks around here already. . .

Despite all that, we were simply in need of a few more smiles around these parts.

So, we started the paperwork process about a month ago and then, suddenly, we were fast-tracked into becoming a household of five.

What can we say? The heart wants what it wants. And life, with its never-ending twists and turns, will keep happening. There's never a "perfect time" for anything, and postponing joy is typically advised against, isn't it?

Our new little Pellin isn't a newborn; at two and a-half he's already potty trained! He also adores his brother and sister and trust me, the feeling is quite mutual. He's a blonde, brown-eyed cutie. Oh, and he has the cutest little beard.

Because he's part terrier.
And dachshund, too.

And did I mention photogenic?
Meet Wally. June just beat May by a landslide.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Farewell, May. It's been real. And fun. But not real fun.

This past week has been a roller coaster and NOT the fun kind. My dad has been back at Sunrise (the assisted living center) since his release from the hospital about two weeks ago.
HowEVER. . . since coming back I've received countless phone calls to come calm him down for various reasons, and we've experienced one overnight hospital stay for observation, which left me crawling numbly into bed at 2 a.m. with a presentation to give at work just hours later.

With the advice of the Sunrise staff, we've worked out a schedule with another private aide who fills in the gaps when our wonderful J can't be there due to his other caregiving assignment. So, someone will be with him one-on-one from morning until bedtime for at least the next seven days or until he adjusts to his most recent medication change. An expensive proposition, but I have to say I've enjoyed the last couple of days with no nightly phone calls!

Things were starting to simmer down on that front when Olivia woke up Friday morning with a 103-degree fever. Hubs took her in to Dr. Will and he diagnosed her with the flu---the real deal. He gave her a nasal-swab test and it was positive immediately. Poor, sweet girl. She was so pitiful looking--her poison ivy still hasn't completely cleared up in some spots and now this. I'm guessing May 2009 won't go down as her best month ever.

She's taking an anti-viral prescription which seems to be working; she's been able to keep her fever down all day for the first time since Friday. She's currently up in her room watching Bedtime Stories on the portable DVD player, cackling away. I never thought I'd say this but thank God for Adam Sandler. Hubs got her a new Nintendo DS game today but we're saving it for tomorrow since she has to be out of school for at least a couple of days next week.

Here's hoping for a bright, shiny June!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Thank you, pushy-sweet flower lady

There's a fairly large farmer's market on the corner near the hospital. I've visited many times, pre- or post-visit. I don't always buy something, but my favorite booth is one occupied by a Korean family selling some of the most beautiful flowers I've ever seen, especially the peonies. You just don't see peonies everday, and since their blooming period is so short I feel obligated to pay homage. Which is to say, I bury my face in them whenever I walk by- - -no one seems to mind. I can't resist. They pull at me with their moth-wing fluffiness, their light, yet heady scent of summer to come.

The other day I was doing my usual sniff and smile routine when the flower lady noticed the big plastic Carolinas Medical Center cup in my hand. "You sick? I hope not, right?" she asked--half sympathetic, half cautionary. "No," I assured her. "Just visiting my dad today." With that, she plucked one of the biggest blooms from her $10 bundles and thrust it at me: "You take! For your mama, OK?"

"No, I couldn't--it's actually my dad. . .you see, my mom is um," (meanwhile the lady looks puzzled and slightly wounded, a look I remember my grandmother giving me if I refused a fourth piece of fried chicken). "OH, THANK YOU!!" I finally blurted, grasping the stem. "Your flowers are so special," I told her.
"Special like mama, right?" she said.
"Yes, exactly." I replied. And this peony sure is.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Feelin' Thrifty

Today I had to go to a totally bogus diversity training seminar. Wait, did I say that? What I meant, clearly, was that while I am grateful (SO grateful) to have my wonderful job, I didn't much appreciate having to drive across town to attend an all-day training on something that frankly, is simple common sense to most working adults these days. At least in my business, which is human services. I mean, if you're remotely Archie Bunker material then a life of civil servitude isn't exactly your can of suds, right?
Yesterday I was griping about how I was going to have to drive even farther than usual to visit my dad in the hospital after this seminar let out when my co-worker told me there's a cool bread bakery outlet near the training site. She said when she had to go for her training she went over there at lunch and got a lot of stuff to stock the freezer for when summer begins and her kids begin to eat the cabinets, walls and general framework of her lovely home. I sensed that Co-worker was trying to distract me from my griping,which initially peeved me because I was really on a roll, but hey--it worked! I latched onto this idea and checked it out.

Here's my haul: 2 huge bags of mini bagels, one plain and one cinnamon.
2 boxes knock-off goldfish crackers (I think they're whales)
1 loaf raisin bread
1 angel food bar cake (for all the strawberries we have lately)
2 loaves whole grain bread
1 box whole grain English muffins

My total: $11.72. Not bad for all the breakfasts, pizza bagels, desserts, snacks and endless sandwiches that will spring forth from this bounty.

Oh, and the hospital visit? Today = teensy bit better.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Abuse Of Blog As Therapy. . .

In an effort, yet again, to record an all-time low so that I can look back next year when things will be undoubtably BETTER:

My dad is in the hospital. The assisted-living staff and I decided to admit him a few days ago so they can get his meds regulated and hopefully find a sedative that works best for him. His agitation grows worse in the evenings, which is typical of folks with Alzheimer's, so his Dr. is working to find something that will help my dad, who is a quintessential "sundowner."

I pray every waking moment that I am doing the right thing for him. I never imagined that I would one day have the responsibility of making his choices, at least not before my 40th birthday. It's hard to concentrate on work, kids, and general everyday life when your mind is repeating the same, perpetual mantra: "Please, Lord. Please. . .please. . .please. . ."

I feel overwhelmed with this reponsibility. I wish he could come back to me for just an hour, or just a few minutes so we could really talk and he could tell me what would work best for him. What does one do when the one they used to turn to for advice is no longer able to give it?

And it is a huge, all-encompassing thing, this responsiblity. I have a responsibility to him, certainly, but also to his mother, my Granny, who's been gone five years now. Over a half-century ago she used to hold him in her arms and rock him and protect him. She kept him from toddling out too far in the fields, when everyone was outside working. She tried to keep him in the shade to protect his fair skin and was so proud when anyone admired his reddish-blond ringlets. Would she approve of the "care plan" that we've come up with? And what about my mother, who was often in and out of the hospital and hated it, knowing that my dad could care for her far better at home. Yes, there are many graves spinning in Beaufort County right now.

OK, enough with the dramatics. Now, goodbye forever! Just kidding.

I'm visiting Dad again tomorrow after work. Here's hoping for a significant improvement by then (here that, up there)? Hubs is taking the kiddos to Wendy's so I know they'll only miss me a little.

Other random notes:

Poison ivy rash update! Because I know you couldn't wait. I called my doc today and begged for more Prednisone because my prescription from last week ran out today and the vile creeping death will not die. It has crept over from my left side across my stomach, and the patch that started it all, the one on my left arm, looks like someone spilled battery acid on it. Yes, it's as awesome as you can imagine.

What's even worse is that my poor Livvi has it too. We even kept her home from school two days last week because the poor child looked like an escapee from the leper colony. But her doc upped her prescription when the rash persisted after a few days and it has almost completely cleared up, which is what I told MY doc when I so subly hinted for the same treatment. So, she had mercy on me and did just that. So now I'm so pumped full of 'roids that I could probably lift my mini van. And eat my house. But I DO NOT ITCH for the first time in a week which is a little bit blissful actually.

The State of Nate: Doing fine, had a great albeit wet field trip to Patterson's strawberry farm today and he brought home a sweet-smelling, ruby-red pint of 'em for us. Can't wait for breakfast. His kindergaren musical is Thursday and I'm putting together a Goodwill-supplied "sad clown" costume for him. It will probably be sad on many levels- - -wish me luck.

The State of Liv: Gobbling up everything in sight, including my leftover collard greens at dinner tonight. She's my Partner in Prednisone, and we're out to devour the world! After dinner she had so much energy I asked her to put it to use and pack her lunch for tomorrow. She did, and she also packed Nate's and mine too! I can't wait to try my Scooby Doo yogurt tube.

The State of Casa de Pellin: We've achieved a new layer of filth. The dust bunnies and the crumbs are taking over. Hubs says he'll channel the kid energy tomorrow, with a little help from a bribe trip to the dollar store. Whatever works.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Because It's Mother's Day, and that means ME. . .

. . . I started my day opening gifts from hubs and kids, some were sweetly homemade and some decidedly not, like the bottle of '06 Franciscan Cabernet. Mmmmm. I decided it would be bad form to crack it open before 9 a.m.

. . .I sat in church and breathed in the smell of polished wood, peonies, and love.

. . .I spent the afternoon planting two blueberry bushes, a gift to me from me. Now I'm giving them their privacy so they can go forth and cross-pollinate.

. . .I made a huge pot of collard greens for dinner, just the way I like them: shamelessly overcooked into silky, smoky goodness with the help of a hunk of salty bacon.

. . .I decided to adopt Ms. O'Hara's school of thought: That other worry will have to wait til tomorrow.

Happy Mother's Day to all you moms, and those of you are missing your mom, or who got to have fun with your mom today, or for those of you who just have a mother's heart. :o)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

It Sucked, Then I Cried

The above title is the actual name of a book I saw today at Books A Million. It summed up my day so beautifully, I almost cried. Again. Because my day did indeed totally suck.
Allow me to explain:
6 a.m.--I woke up to find that the teeny, minor poison ivy rash on my left arm had migrated all the way up my side spreading up to my left. . .bra area. I realized that slathering on the calomine wasn't going to work if I actually planned on wearing clothes to work. I made plans to call the Dr. as soon as her office opened.

7:45--Said goodbye to kids and headed out the door, grabbed a high fiber breakfast bar on the way out because yes, that's another purty issue. Realized after a few bites that it tasted like ass. The coffee was good, though.

8:30---Arrived at work and make appt. with my Dr., stood up to stretch and promptly rolled my left ankle, which instantly ballooned to the size and color of a ripe plum. I wish I had footage of me careening backwards, flopping in my desk chair and rolling out of my cubicle, though. Had to be a hoot.

9 a.m.---I actually had a good work groove going and I suddenly remembered that hubs and friends have been sweetly suggesting that if I happen to find myself in front of a Dr., I should maybe, you know, ask for a little "mother's helper" pill to you know, HELP me. I pondered this while elevating my bare left foot on the corner of my desk. I'm glad I went in for a pedicure last weekend.

1 p.m. (or, The Icing On The Crap Cake) --I'm sitting in the Dr.'s office and in the middle of her examination of my ankle and my rash, my cell phone rings. I apologize for having to answer, because it was the number from my dad's assisted living facility. It was the alzheimer's unit manager, and it wasn't good. My dad's behavior has been a little out of control the past few days and today was no exception. I tell her that I'll be right over after the appt. so we can, as she put it, "put our heads together about his future care plan." A few minutes after I get off the phone, my doc reaches for her prescription pad and introduces me to my new friend, Lexapro.

I wanted to record today's events because a year from now,I hope to look back and see that things have greatly improved. I may even laugh a little, things are so much better. Right? Right?

There were some good things too, otherwise I would've gone back to bed at lunch.
For one thing, we unintentionally celebrated Cinco de Mayo here at Casa de Pellin. I had been planning taco night anyway. Also, hubs got some excellent Pacifico beer to go with them. I like him. Also, Uncle Dew from Ohio called to say hi and when we passed the phone to Nate he sang a hilarious song on request. Something about "24 robbers at my door. . ."--I guess you had to be there. Trust me. Hilarious. Liv was also happy and we're all happy to be around Happy Liv.

But mostly? I am happy that May 5, 2009 will be history in about 45 minutes. G'night.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Random Notes From April '09--and a birthday!

1. Liv shocked us all on the 20th by turning yet another year older. The great number eight was celebrated with a day at Kate's Skating rink. She had a great time with friends and family and has developed a hilarious speed-skating "hunch" when she zips around the rink. Impressive.

2. My dad is still adjusting to his new digs and after a stretch of peaceful days last week he started another roller coaster ride two days ago of bad moods and general ill temper. I'm trying not to go there with him, but it's hard.

3. One of the great things about last week was that my dad actually joined in one of the group activities(OK, he was kind of dragged by his private aide) , watching a guy who plays and sings oldies on piano. I got a text message from the aide that read "HE LIKES IT! HE HAS SMILE ON HIS FACE!"

4. The current state of Olivia: Loves Hannah Montana (or is it Miley that she loves? Can't tell), wearing dresses whenever she can, digging in the school garden, playing with Anna Marie and looking up her friends' numbers in the school directory so she can call them. She's still a little beanpole no matter how much or what she eats. I'm curious to see if that'll last through puberty! But, I can't complain--her snacks of choice lately are skim string cheese with either strawberries or grape tomatoes.

5. The current state of Nate: Still firefighter obsessed. But, since Mark and I have been watching DVD's of old "Rescue Me" episodes, I'm not so keen on the idea of my baby one day knocking down doors and getting a face full of flames. We'll see- - maybe signing him up for one of the hugely expensive science camps this summer will sway his desires. He also loves digging in his classroom garden, playing with best buds Jake and Rowan, and reading his beloved Bob Books. Oh, and playing T-ball on his league. In fact, there's a game tonight---go Knights!

6. General state of Casa de Pellin: We're OK, gearing up for the end of the school year and summer activity. Trying to decide if we have enough cash and time for a vacation this year. We're jonesing for a mini-getaway, maybe Carowinds or a weekend camping trip. Time and finances will tell.

7. What's on the nightstand: Just finished "Sleeping Arrangements" by Laura Shaine Cunningham. Moving, hilarious memoir, albeit a little too honest at times (what sometimes happened to little kids in the streets of 1950's NYC is so disturbing). The author shares the tragedies she suffered prior to age 6 that landed her in the apartment of her two sweet, intellectual bachelor uncles. These guys had no idea how to raise a little girl, but they doted on her shamelessly, often making popcorn for breakfast at her bidding. I was sad to see this one end; it was a nice escape at the end of a tough day. Next up is an offering from my cousin in Ga- - getting a passed-along book in the mail is one of life's great pleasures, I tell you. Can't wait to dig into it.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

What is, is.

Lately I've been thinking a LOT about things I would change, if given the power. That pesky, olive-drab carpet that came with my circa 1971 house? Poof!
Gone, replaced with lovely hardwoods. Cost? Zippo. The giant, overgrown crime-against-nature "natural area" in our backyard? Poof! Instantly, it's a lovely, weed-free garden, bursting with FREE organic tomatoes, blueberries and Dove dark chocolate bars (it's MY fantasy, OK?)
But the biggest, most important thing I would make disappear is the cruel, ugly, heartless disease that keeps stealing bits and pieces of the one thing that really, really mattered to my father. His mind. More specifically, his memory.

I can barely bring myself to use the A-word---this thing is too hideous to have such an innocent name. It doesn't deserve one. One name doesn't remotely encompass how cruel this thing is. It steals from people who deserve everything---people like my dad, who are generous, dry-witted, hard-working and capable. It doesn't care who it hurts. And so it hurts everyone. The grandchildren who don't understand, the grown children who ache for their lost parent, the friends who miss their old pal, even when he's sitting right next to them.

It's taken me months and months to realize that, unlike the carpet or the state of my lawn, this thing that's stealing my dad from me is beyond my reach. I can't totally defeat it, even though the medication that he takes can soothe the edges a bit. I needed help, and so did the extended family members who'd been caring for him back home.

My dad recently moved into an assisted living facility about two miles from my house. The experience has not exactly been smooth, but I dare say it's getting a bit less rocky. We have a private aide who comes in each day to help him get acclimated. J does everything from kindly coaxing my dad to take a shower and shave in the mornings to driving him out for ice cream in the afternoons. The other day I asked if he minded bringing my dad to meet me for lunch at a favorite seafood place.
He obliged, and even though all through the meal my dad kept calling J by the wrong name (he seems to think he's an old co-worker buddy of his) I was relieved to see he's finally treating him like a friend instead of an ever-present annoyance.

About an hour later, as I was driving back to work, I found myself wiping away tears. Again. Not an uncommon occurance for me these days, but this time something was different. I felt weird. What was it? Then it hit me. They were tears of joy. All I'd prayed for in recent weeks, if God couldn't take away this illness, was for Him to grant my dad some precious moments of peace and contentment. For so long, I'd felt my prayers had gone unanswered. But for a few splendid moments, as my dad ate his hushpuppies and smiled at me while I told him about Nate's baseball game, there it was. I recognized it. Peace.

He still has his bad days, and I'm sure there are many more to come, unfortunately. But now, I don't feel so alone anymore. And more importantly, neither does my dad.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

A little Q&A for the day

Q: Should you ever buy a kid a child-size set of gardening tools that have real, working metal parts?
A: Why, NO! You shouldn't. Even if they're brightly colored and kid-like and looking sooo cute out in front of the hardware store. And your kids beg for them and even pitch in some of their own money for them.

Q: Can a child-size hoe, when being used by a 7-year-old to whack a wayward piece of bamboo in the backyard, actually make a dent in the bamboo?
A: No. Not a bit.

Q: Can that same hoe create a half-inch gash in a 5-year-old's head if said 5-year-old happens to be running by during the bamboo massacre, and falls down right in the path of the adorable child-size hoe?
A: Why yes. Yes it can.

Q: Exactly how much blood spouts from a half-inch gash in the fuzzy hairline of a 5-year-old child?
A: Approximately 89 gallons. It helps if he's wearing a mostly white t-shirt, too.

Q: What do you purchase a 5-year-old out of a hospital vending machine, after the ER doc has placed two tiny staples in his head?

A: Anything. He. Wants.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Pass the Bandaids. And the wine.

Work has been soooo crazy. So crazy, but I feel almost guilty complaining about it, given the state of the economy right now. What defines "crazy" in my world is being asked to do not one, but several things that are far, far out of my comfort zone, and to do them incredibly well. Then yesterday, there I was, feeling good about the fact that it was Friday and I had at least overcome the panic of having to do the other things, I get asked to do yet another incredibly uncomfortable thing- - -and at the same time as the other thing!
Once I had splashed myself in the face with my coffee (not really) and had a little cry in the ladies' room (true, but quietly)and vented to poor Mark after I got home and stomped up the stairs to change clothes (also true, though not so quietly), I finally processed through it all. Now, NEXT Friday is dangling in front of me like a carrot- - -all the bad work-related stuff will be out of the way by then, and believe me, this donkey can't wait for it to get here!
Work isn't the only hyper-nutso thing; there's also my dad's illness back home, and various other ickiness here and there. In between juggling these 900-pound balls of life, I've comforted myself with many merciful Band-Aids or quick-comforts:
Cuddling Nate in his fleece PJ's every morning.
Snuggling with Liv in the big leather chair reading American Girl books.
Watching Trust Me, The Closer or Damages with Mark after the kids are in bed.
Sipping hot coffee with half-n-half while watching the above DVR'd masterpieces.

I sure will be glad when this "hump" of triage mode is over. Band-Aids are great for the short-term, but I'm ready to be boo-boo free for awhile!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

February---keepin' in real

I realize I left my poor journal hanging with my last post---and yes, it actually did snow that night. We got around 3 inches in these parts and the next day was everything a snow day should be. The kids managed to sleep until a little past 7, which is miraculous considering how ramped up they were. I had already been up for nearly two hours, having sat bolt upright at 5:15 a.m. and called my work's inclement weather hotline, to see if my office was closed. And mercifully, it was. I couldn't get back to sleep, so I put on my slippers and headed downstairs to enjoy a cup or three of coffee in sweet solitude.

Later, I managed to convince the kids to postpone the sledding and micro-snowman making until after breakfast, which was indeed French toast thanks to my panic-driven trip to the store for eggs!

We dragged our little plastic sled over to the our neighbors', since their backyard has a nice slope. We had a blast for a good 45 minutes until poor Liv went down on her tummy, head first, and plowed right into the fence at the bottom of the hill. I raced down there, convinced that we weren't going to escape a winter without a trip to urgent care, but her cheek was just a little bruised. She was ready to go inside after that, though---her pride was also bruised from wiping out and then wailing in front of her friends. Poor baby. Nate went inside with us, but after a quick warm-up and some hot chocolate, he was ready to go back out. He went in and out about 49 times throughout the course of the day, determined to make the most out of every flake out there. Thank goodness Mark didn't mind going back out with him; after my feet thawed out I was reluctant to poke my tootsies back out onto the tundra.

It's hard to believe that was nearly two weeks ago, and now Februrary is here! Before I flipped the calendar page this morning, I took one long look at January. I really love January- - -it's typically a time of fresh starts, warm stews and our best shot at getting some snow. I also took a minute to reflect on how my resolutions have been holding up. Here's the short list.

Resolution: I will eat salmon and/or flax cereal at least three times a week to get more Omega 3's in my diet.

The reality: I gulp two huge fish oil capsules every morning.

Resolution: I will get up 30 minutes earlier every morning to exercise.

The reality: I bought a new comforter for the bed as a belated Christmas gift to hubs and me. It's poufy, oversized and snuggly. Also, I am apparently trapped beneath it until the snooze button has been pressed no less than 17 times.

Resolution: I will volunteer more often at the kids' school.

The reality: THIS one I can check. I have shown up three times to be "reading buddy" for some kids in Nate's class, and once in Liv's. There's nothing like seeing the teacher's face when you show up to help. Makes you feel like the calvary.

Resolution: I will figure out a way to resolve a family health crisis back home, one that will benefit everyone involved.

The reality: Fortunately, it's only February. This one could take awhile.

Monday, January 19, 2009

I smell (smeyull) snow!

As a born-and-raised southern gal, I grew up fairly snow-deprived. Hubs had his share in Ohio, where, in fact, he DID actually walk to school in the snow, and often. Ask him. He'll tell you. Many times.

But now I get to watch my kids slowly realize that living below the Mason-Dixon ain't what it's cracked up to be if you want to see some white stuff. It's kind of heart-breaking.

But today. Today! Today we actually heard a bonafide forecast that includes one of those low-pressure thingies coming down from Canada, combined with just the right amount of moisture and if the planets align with Mars and the moon is exactly 3/4 full we might actually get up to FOUR INCHES OF SNOW TONIGHT, PEOPLE!!

And, of course, living up to my southern roots, upon hearing this forecast I totally freaked and bolted to the supermarket. I honestly couldn't help myself. Did we already have milk in the fridge? Yes. Bread in the breadbox? Yupper. But alas, the force was too strong. We needed eggs, because what if we were totally snowed in and wanted French toast? Huh? What then? We also needed little juice boxes because what if work closes and I want to lay in bed an extra 30 minutes and one of the kids wants juice? What then?!!

So, I went. I conquered. And now it's all put away and the kids and I are waiting. And waiting. Liv and Nate have gone from playing games to playing cards to nearly killing eachother to playing again. As for me, I don't know what's more exciting, watching the snow actually fall and stick to the ground or the sheer anticipation of its arrival.

I'd better go make some cocoa to calm my nerves. I bought some of that too.

Monday, January 12, 2009

January-The month in which everything gets organized, except my thoughts

Somehow, over the last few years, January became the month when all the magazines and home shows urged us to "GET ORGANIZED!" and "CLEAN OUT THE CLUTTER!" I always seem to think they're talking directly to me, so I feel guilty if I don't at least make an attempt.

This year, however, Hubs is the one who heard the charge. One day right after Christmas he completely revamped the hall closet. I had grown so used to various hats, gloves, and old purses falling on my head whenever I opened the door that I don't quite know what to do with all the newfound space in there.

We did steal an idea from a neighbor and put a large basket in the bottom of the closet to deposit our shoes in when we walk in the door. This was more an attempt to corral everyone's shoes in one spot so they could easily be found, rather than an attempt to keep the floors clean. So far, it's working! No more searching under beds and room to room looking for SOMEONE'S Hannah Montana sneakers.

As much as we love the holidays, it does feel good to be back in some sort of a routine. The winter days have also prompted me to make the slow cooker my slave.
Here's what's been on the menu lately:

1. Creamy potato soup, done in the crockpot. Fed us all for two meals plus a lunch or two, for around $10 total. I found my recipe on, but my good friend the innernets has lots of other great ones too.

2. Pork loin, cooked with onions, a little water, and a packet of Knorr pork gravy mix (my special secret). All the gravy needs is a little stir when you get home, and you've got wonderful, fork-tender pork loin to go with it.

3. Chicken vegetable soup- - -this one wasn't done in the crockpot but instead I cooked it up one night after the kiddos were in bed, then cooled it down, froze half for a future meal and stuck the rest in the fridge. It's basically like any other chicken soup recipe except I add lots of cut-up veggies plus petite-diced tomatoes,a little okra and wide egg noodles. Delish.

4. This one's in my near future (like this Tuesday night): My Aunt Sybil's chili. She served it the day after Christmas and I observed one Nathaniel Pellin slurp up two bowls of it, so I had to have the recipe. It was good to see Mr. No-Sauce-On-My-Spaghetti eat cooked tomatoes in some form.

What I've been reading lately: "Change Me Into Zeus' Daughter" by Barbara Robinette Moss. This book was loaned (given, maybe?) to me by my cousin over the holidays and I couldn't put it down for about four days. It's an absolutely heartbreaking memoir, but so beautifully written.
And Cousin, please let me know if you need the book back because I want to pass it on!

I'm currently on the waiting list at our library for "I Was Told There'd Be Cake"--the name of the author escapes me right now, but I've heard it's funny and I could definitely use a giggle or two!