Sundowning and Self Reflection

The thing about dementia is it is not just a “loss of memory” as most people think. It’s a loss of mannerisms, right and wrong, love, security, favorites, etc.  On a good day I can make my grandfather his favorite food and he is in heaven. On a bad day he will spit it out and say it’s horrible. On a good day he spoils his great granddaughters and they hug and tell jokes.  On a bad day he’ll scream, “Don’t touch that – get the f*$k away from me.” On a good day he tells me how thankful he is to have me and live with me.  On a bad day it’s a slew of jabs and he cannot remember who I am.

I cannot tell you how difficult it is to care for someone you love.  To constantly remind yourself and others that the bad days and moments “are the disease, not the person”. For me personally, the hard part is not letting the jabs take a permanent effect on my self esteem. A month or so ago he was particularly in a mood and nothing I was doing was right to him. As I got him into bed that night he said, “No wonder you don’t have a husband now. No one in their right mind would want to be stuck with you.”  Or yesterday I brought him his evening pills and he said, “When did you become such a fat ass? Your belly is as big as your tits now.” I can’t explain to you how those things hurt and how many times that has floated back up in my mind.  It’s like my self-doubts are being made concrete by being verbalized by someone I adore.  I KNOW that’s not him in those moments, but the heart doesn’t always go along with the minds rationality.

In his defense, I have put on 35 lbs since I started taking care of him.  I just don’t have time to work out anymore (nor the emotional and mental energy).  I’m tethered to my grandfather now since he cannot be left alone and the emotional and mental energy that takes is absurd.  Not to mention, I’m a stress eater and life just isn’t very tranquil lately.  This may sound laughable, but I now believe there is a correlation to stress and retaining weight as well.  I feel like I’m in this constant fight or flight momentum and my metabolism has shut down completely to prepare for whatever “stores” are needed ahead.  I have done zero research on this – just a feeling.

Also, for those of you that care or deal with the elderly I wanted to let you know of a term I learned this month – “sundowning”.  As the day progresses my grandfather gets more confused, anxious and even aggressive. I personally thought it was me just getting worn down as the day advanced, but when I talked to the nurse about it – it’s actually a thing!  This simple little term explained a lot of stress in my life.  I’m not sure why it makes it less painful now that it has a name, but it does. I think this is very similar to how I felt with my ex.  Once I had discussed with a counselor they gave me a term to contemplate – narcissist. I’d heard it before, but had never really read in any depth on the subject.  She explained I couldn’t rationalize his actions – he was a narcissist. She recommended a book, “Healing from a Narcissistic Relationship“. Having that label and knowing others could relate to that label just made it seem less complicated to understand (the book helped as well).  Maybe I should write a book on Healing from Dementia…well, as soon as I figure that one out anyway! 🙂

We Remember

On a positive, my littles are thriving despite the struggles.  They brought home straight A’s – for both my older girls! Children are so resilient. I took them from their hometown, friends, clubs, school and re-inserted them in Florida. They didn’t just survive it…they’re thriving and doing BETTER than we  were in Texas.  Maybe through out all of this I’m getting some lesson through to them. Just maybe.

If you have any dementia advice let me know! I’m all ears on this subject.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Update – Added to Our Household

Becoming a caregiver.

I’ve been out of touch for a while. My apologies. I’ve added a chapter to my story and I believe it’s an important one to share more frequently so you’ll be hearing more from our tribe.

My father was the full-time caregiver for my grandfather (his father).  After he passed and much deliberation, my grandfather decided he wanted me to take care of his affairs.  This was a huge task because my hands are quite full with my own nuclear family.  However, in the end it was what he was most comfortable with and made the most sense because his affairs were so closely entwined with my fathers and I was trying to close out his estate/businesses (still haven’t completed this almost two years later).  It’s amazing the work left behind from death.

Fast forward a year (and hopefully that explains my absence as well) and my grandfather was showing severe signs of dementia.  This summer, after many family and close family friends had multiple discussions, it was decided my grandfather would move to Texas and reside with me. My once 6’2″ alpha male grandfather was a mere 150 lbs and completely fragile when he arrived.

The last four months my three girls and I have been adjusting to life as caregivers.  When I initially made up my mind to do this I thought it would be like adding a child to the household. We’ve done that before…nothing out of the ordinary for us. Oh, how wrong I was!  However, it reminded me of something I say to expectant mothers, “you’ll never have a job so hard, but so rewarding”.  Becoming a Caregiver for a loved one is the same.

grandpa

The ONE thing I’m sure of in this adventure is that it was the right decision (despite the multitude of days I’ve collapsed with exhaustion on the bed thinking this is impossible).

Happy Thanksgiving to all! May you focus on all the ways you’re blessed and forget all the reasons you should be stressed.

Naturally Disasterous

I’ve had a rare “opportunity” this week. We survived the great flood of 2016.

To begin, I do not live in a flood zone.  Wednesday I left work as normal and the flash flood hit.   The street my little people were on had already begun flooding so I parked down the  road and waded my way through the knee-deep water and pouring rain to them.  I thought the worst was over when we got back to the car and then to my surprise we pull into our subdivision and it was flooding as well!!  I backed up and went through a back road and safely made it into our garage.  We’ve had a couple of flash floods, but it never made it into our neighborhood.  I guess since we’ve been getting so much rain, there was no where for it to go and so it just began rising…and rising…and rising.

By Saturday, the sun came out and it seemed like the water must go down!  To our frustration it went up.  By now it was up to our garages and front doors, and for a couple of neighbors it was in their homes.  The initial flooding hit so fast that we weren’t able to leave to get sandbags or supplies.  We definitely did not expect it to continuously rise.

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So you ask, what was the “opportunity”?  There are so many I don’t know where to begin.

I met neighbors and saw our neighborhood rally together.  They helped me lift my fridge and deep freeze to put pavers and wood underneath, they helped me move furniture to my second floor, we all used sand from the girls sandbox to make quick sandbags for our garages, we watched each others kids so others could meet family and friends for supplies, we shared food and groceries and stories, we let our kids play together, and so much more.  I loved WHERE we lived before the flood, but now I love my community of neighbors. I don’t have enough words for all the nice things I’d like say and the generosity, civility, and concern  we were shown. Especially after all the negative things you  hear people say and do now, it’s nice to know the good people are out there. I only wish I would have made more of an effort before the flood to get to know their stories. This was a lesson to me to label less and communicate more.

sandbags
sandbox + walmart sacks = diy sandbags

My “noisy motorcycle” neighbor (you know you have nicknames for your neighbors too) ended up being the one who saved us.  Her boyfriend knew some people and was able to get an industrial pump brought in to drain the water.  We all pitched in for gas for the machine, but without her we wouldn’t have had it and the county was unconcerned with helping us.  She got it Saturday and the water immediately started to recede. Then we had another flash flood and the water just went up to where it was previously.  I have no doubt in my mind that it would have been in my home, A/C, etc if it wasn’t for her.  I love my “noisy motorcycle” neighbor now.  We went to thank her and it turns out she’s actually very sweet.  She just has a noisy hobby that as an exhausted mom I found frustrating some late nights.  However, never again! 🙂

My “angry, crabby old guy” neighbor helped dig a trench to release some of the water too.  Then afterwards he walked about a mile and a half to get more supplies and brought the girls back chocolates as well. “Angry, crabby old guy” neighbor is actually a lonely empty nester.  It ends up it was just him and his daughter for a long time, but then she went away to college about a year and a half ago out-of-state. So now it’s just him and his garden. :\ I’ll probably be the “angry, crabby old girl” when my kids go off to college too.  We’ll be taking him cookies and such more often.

Also, I realized how lucky I am to work where I do.  I love my job truly, but occasionally I wonder if I couldn’t be doing more with my life and my degree.  However, throughout this ordeal my coworkers and boss were constantly checking on us and helping me weigh pros and cons (my first flood so it was nice to have some feedback).  They sent over pizzas, drinks and formula for me Saturday when the water was at my front door.  People I only see from 8-5 waded through 4 blocks of water to get to my house just to drop off supplies.  That says a lot about the people I work with and company I work for. I’m forever grateful just for the sheer thoughtfulness.

Lastly, my home is ridiculously clean.  After moving all our furniture upstairs we were at a wait-and-see point. This gave me time to clean under and around everything. lol. Forget spring cleaning — I’ve got a full-on summer shine!  I had to go through all the boxes in the garage to get them out of there when the water was leaking in (thankfully diapers came in handy for keeping the water at bay).  I moved into this house when I was 3 months pregnant and had horrible morning sickness.  To say it was an unorganized and unmotivated move would be an understatement.  I finally feel like we are “moved in”.  It just took a flood to do it!

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Diapers — more than one use

I could be a negative Nancy and focus on the bad stuff.  My backyard still has standing, stinky water, the mosquitos are going to be INSANE now, I missed a couple days of work, and Milla missed her last day of PreK.  However, my family is safe, my home is intact, I made some amazing new friends, and we know there is a drainage problem that we can fix before any potential hurricanes. All-in-all, it was a blessing in disguise and Milla didn’t seem too upset about missing school with all her friends and a creek in the front yard. Kids have a way of creating fun where adults can only see predicaments. We could probably all learn a little something from that. 🙂

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Shame On You!

Mom shaming: When you shame a mom on the Internet, at the school, at playdates, or anywhere for that matter. Anyone can be afflicted with this disease of the heart. It has been seen in mom’s and non-mom’s alike.

This “disease” takes on many different sizes, shapes and forms. I hear more and more people with a lack of understanding or knowledge of other parents’ circumstances, choices or decisions regarding their kid(s) and it seems to be contagious. Instead of being supportive they assume they know and comment negatively. Most of the carriers of mom shaming don’t have the ability to empathize with challenges of other parents, but have no problem telling them how they’re wrong and how they should be doing it or should have done it better. Remember, hindsight is 20/20.

I read this article today and, yeah, the mom was obviously having a rough day.  It was Mother’s Day, her kids were too young to do anything for her, she was single, and she was reading all these wonderful things wonderful husbands were doing for their wonderful mommy wives and she was upset/frustrated or whatever.  Is what it is, but what really got me were the comments.  It wasn’t hang in there it’ll get better, or “Happy Mothers Day” I’m sure your kids appreciate you more than you know, etc.  No, a lot of them were: You need therapy.  Your kids should be taken from you.  What kind of mother are you?  You don’t love your kids and it’s obvious. Your kids are going to grow up with problems because they can tell you don’t like them. Etc.  It just went on and on. I truly couldn’t believe it.

I think I’m a top-notch mom (big grin on my face and happy dancing…okay, maybe not happy dancing but feeling pretty sure of myself as I say this…okay, maybe not sure of myself, but a little sure….), but I have had some bad days.  Here are some prime Mom Shaming opportunities.

  1. I’ve had to rush my daughter to the ER before.  —-  Milla drank the children’s Advil I left on the table while getting her some water. I was SURE  this was going to put her into a coma and they may need to pump her stomach. I measured it quickly and arrived at ER telling them she had 3-4 tablespoons and they laughed and said she’d sleep good after checking her out. :\   Still feel guilty about it though.
  2. I lost my daughter in a McDonald’s playhouse and called the police.  — I was sure some pedophile had stolen my beautiful, little princess and I had every episode of Law and Order SVU running through my mind.  Cici was hiding under the slide the whole time. I was up the playhouse, all around it, questioning parents and generally in a paranoid frenzy.  Cici thought it was hilarious.  We found her when she started uncontrollably giggling. Yep…I never went back to that McDonald’s.  I mean, how could they leave that space under the slide that she could fit in? lol. j/k.  My fault.  No more hide and seek with the kids.  They’re getting too good at it.
  3. My daughter has pooped in an aisle at Party City. — Yes, that’s right. Pooped. Full on blowout.  Cici was looking at Little Mermaid party gifts next to me when she tooted and I was like, “geez sister, peeyoo”.  However, when I looked at her she had deer and headlight eyes and then I saw it running out her pant leg. O.M.G. . Me scooping her up, “Me: Cici where is your PullUp? Cici: On Ellie (her baby doll) at home.”  Can you say MORTIFIED? Disgusted? Gagging?

I can only imagine what the other parents at the ER, McDonald’s, and Party City were thinking. AND, these are just three examples that immediately come to mind. This doesn’t include Milla’s corn starch snow angels in the kitchen, Cici’s injured mouse friend (EEK), or a multitude of others.  Kids are kids, parents are human.  Some of these things are ridiculously funny to look back on, some of them were learning opportunities for them (reviewing stranger danger and why not to hide from mommy) or for me (the lid on everything should always be on tight and up high even if they’re sick for their safety-Advil or my sanity-Cornstarch). Granted, there are exceptions to every rule and you can argue the gray areas.  But most of the stuff I hear isn’t gray area it’s just straight mean — so let’s review some basic human principles:

  1. No one is perfect. Not you, not her, not him, not the President, not anyone.
  2. Venting is a release of built up emotions. I might feel overwhelmed and say “I need a vacation”, but I personally can’t be away from my kids for much time before I’m calling/texting/ready to get back to them.
  3. Just because someone is having a bad day, doesn’t mean they’re a bad parent.
  4. Your way of parenting is not better than their way of parenting.  It’s just different.
  5. Being a parent has ups and downs.  Things will get better, then they might get worse, then better, rinse, repeat. So lend an ear, or a hand, and be supportive of others.

I realize it’s a day and age of reality TV: Kardashians, Dance Moms, Teen Moms, Real Housewives, etc.  It’s a digital age where we are fed the lives of others and expected to have an opinion on it.  However, try to realize being a parent isn’t a reality show.  Being a parent is caring for and loving a little person so much you would do anything for them. REAL parents are constantly trying to improve, do the best, and be the best for their little people.  This life is better than reality TV because it’s REAL–unedited, unreviewed, moment by moment living.  Embrace it, enjoy it, and learn from it because none of us are perfect and so many of us are truly, desperately trying our best.

 

Hollar!

As a single working mom, I truly love Amazon. However, with Prime membership going up and their customer service lagging (it’s an enormous company now) I have a new love affair going with Hollar.com.  It is an American-based retailer that offers items that are constantly changing and have “dollar store” pricing. It emphasizes women’s items, health & beauty aids, school supplies, toys, kitchen items, cell phone accessories and more.

Some reasons I love this company:

1. It’s all $5 or less

All items are only $1, $2, $3, $4, or $5! However, you must have at least $10.00 worth of items in your cart in order to check out.  I just bought a cell phone case for $4, Screen protector for $2, Charger for $1, shopkins for $3 (my daughter is obsessed), and Disney’s Inside Out for $5.

hollar shopkins

2. Name brand items

Hollar.com has name-brand merchandise from party supplies and toys from kids’ favorite characters such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Shopkins, Minecraft, and Melissa & Doug; makeup from drugstore brands like Revlon, Maybelline, Almay; plus food, grocery, and cleaning supplies from well-known consumer brands, among other things.

3. Free Shipping on over $25

Hollar offers first time customers  free shipping on their first order, and provides complimentary shipping on all subsequent orders $25 or more.

4. AMAZING Customer Service

I reached out today because they sent me a new customer coupon that was good for 24 hours for 30% off.  However, when I checked out it said my coupon was invalid.  I forwarded the original email they sent me with my order number asking why the coupon was invalid and they responded in under 2 hours and refunded me the 30% off from my order. All I can say is “Wow”!

If you haven’t checked this site out I highly recommend it!

What items have you picked up at Hollar.com?

Let’s Get Real

Life isn’t easy. To be responsible for the livelihood and molding of another person? Shitz hard!

Today I started out at 3:30am, did some laundry and dishes, woke the baby at 4am for breakfast, worked out, then woke the girls at 5am for their breakfast, and then our day was up and running.  By 8am severe migraine – possible dehydration.  Two meetings and two Gatorade’s later feeling a little more useful.  Then the apocalyptic call – I don’t want to babysit your infant anymore.  It’s only noon. Dammitalltohell.

A quick rescheduling of meetings and a call to the boss and I’m off.  Picking up Baby J on the way to picking up Milla to drop her at school during my lunch break (she’s a half day preK kid).  I stop at three places nearby our home to request prices…totally out of our budget.  I hit up Craigslist and schedule a couple of interviews.  A few drive-bys (too scary to even stop) and a couple of interviews later and I think we have a winner.  She’s new to Houston, has a few respectful and sweet kids, lives in a gated community. She gives me a copy of her license and a background check later she’s tentatively hired for a trial week.

Let’s get real.  If you had a big bag full of gold you wouldn’t just drop it off at a strangers house and expect to pick it up later.  That’s what I feel when I drop my kids off.  I’m trusting someone whom is practically a stranger with one of my most priceless possessions!  I would literally kill for my kids.  I love them more than I’ve ever loved anything in my entire life.  I pay more than 1/2 my pay every month to people to care for these little people that I would personally pay just to spend more time with. Truth talk. I’m jealous of SAHMs.

Being a single parent isn’t easy.  It’s extremely difficult.  I do what I do to the best of my ability so that I may give my wonderful little people the life they deserve.  It’s not easy. Sometimes it’s a lot of fun; but it’s ALWAYS a lot of work.  Most days I feel extremely blessed and lucky to have these three beautiful little creatures that cuddle and look up to me.  However days like today are hard.  They make you shed a few tears, ask God why, and then you strum up the courage to say “Okay, I got this”.  There’s a quote by Mae West that comes to mind, “I never said it’d be easy, I said it’d be worth it.”

It’s not easy, but it’s totally worth it. Baby J cheering me on at the computer as we search for a new babysitter. Who can resist those eyes!!??

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How to Protect Against Sex Offenders

After listening to KRBE’s discussion on sex offenders on my way in to work I did a little research and read some of the below statistics on Family Watchdog:

•  60% of abusers are family friends (babysitters, neighbors, or friends of the family)
•  30% of abusers are their own family.
•  And 10% are strangers. -Most people think it is just strangers you have to watch out for, but 90% of abusers are people the victim knows.
•  Not all perpetrators are adults. It is an estimated 23% of abusers are under the age of 18.
•  Absence of one or both parents is a risk factor (Some research found that children living with only one biological parent at twice the risk of sexual victimization)

I decided to do a check of my new neighborhood and had a small heart attack when I saw an address a few houses down from us.  Just a reminder to always keep an eye on your children as you never know who or where the “bad” people could be.  How many times have you heard of someone getting arrested for something horrible and their family and neighbors all saying how wonderful they are?  Unfortunately, you just never know what goes on behind closed doors.  The nice, rich woman down the street could be your biggest threat and the cranky, old guy across the street could be one of your children’s greatest protectors and your second set of eyes.

I want to take this opportunity to urge you to empower your children to say “no” to unwanted touch and teach them that they can come to you with questions and concerns.  Doing this is a critical step to preventing your child from being sexual abused. Here are some things I do:

  • Teach children the names of their body parts so that they have the language to ask questions and express concerns about those body parts.
  • Teach them that some parts of their bodies are private.
    • Let them know that other people should not be touching or looking at their private parts unless they need to touch them to provide care.
    • Tell them that if someone tries to touch those private areas or wants to look at them OR if someone tries to show them his or her own private parts, they should tell you ASAP.
  • Teach them boundaries and that it’s okay to say “no” to touches that make him or her uncomfortable or scared.
    • Assure your kids that it is okay to get help, even if someone he or she cares about might be upset or embarrassed.
  • Teach your child that these topics do not need to be “secret.” Abusers will sometimes tell a child that the abuse should be kept a secret. Let your child know that if someone is touching him or her or talking to him or her in ways that make him or her uncomfortable or scared, that it should not stay a secret.
    • Abusers rely on the child’s likelihood of not telling an adult.
    • Assure your child that he or she will not get into trouble if he or she tells you this kind of secret.

As you talk to your child about these items, remember to focus on creating a safe zone. Hopefully, they don’t tell you about sexual abuse at the time of the conversation and you are just laying a foundation for future questions or concerns. Also, take a moment to do a sex offender search and read why they are on the list (this is important as not all offensives are alike).  Please remember that these are only the registered offenders that were caught and realize how many are out there that haven’t been.  Our children are our greatest asset and it’s our job to look after them and keep them safe.

If you live in Texas, you can check your zip code here.

If you live in Missouri, you can check your address here.

If you live in Florida, you can check your address here.

If you reside in a state that isn’t listed above, go here.