End of an era

I was flipping through email yesterday, deleting almost everyone that was in my inbox. When I noticed one that was an advertisement for a homeschool curriculum.

I always wanted to do Sonlight curriculum with the boys. I fell in love with it many, many years ago. It takes books, regular books, with amazing stories, to teach history, grammar, spelling, bible, and actually every subject but math, and they have a program for that as well. But the reading, oh the reading.

Every year, I would get the Sonlight catalog in the mail, and look through it, drooling on each page. Every year I would try to figure out any way possible to be able to get just one year, one grade level for my kids. Every year I would have to pass it by.

A couple of years, I was able to get my hands on a used, older version of the guide, and would try to scrabble together the books either from the used book store or the library. But I really wanted the euphoria of ordering it new, and then opening the box when it arrived, and smelling that new book smell, cracking the backs of the books and just introducing the boys to that joy.

This year, youngest graduates, in a few weeks actually.  While I am mourning the fact my homeschooling days are soon to be over, I am also mourning the fact I no longer have a reason to order from Sonlight.

I was never able to order a new year, that is one thing I will miss.

We homeschooled for 16 years. While sometimes I question whether the boys would have been better off in public school, I know they weren’t.

Homeschooling was the best decision for us. It isn’t the best decision for everyone, but it was for us. We are coming to the end of an era. I will greatly miss it.

I hope

I’m sitting here tonight, on the verge of tears, well, more than on the verge, they are welled up in my eyes just waiting to roll on over. I’m not sure why, but I feel incredibly sad. That’s the only way to describe it. I’m just sad.

I’m sure this is contributing to it, but the other night I took a call at work, that literally left me sobbing when it was over.

I work for a non-profit, answering calls. We get all types of calls, this one, was the most traumatic one I’ve ever taken.

An older gentleman calls, and the first thing he says is “I want to speak to my wife.”  I asked his wife’s name, he told me. He tells me he hasn’t spoke to her in a full day and he needs her desperately.

It hit me.

He has dementia. He is sundowning. He is confused.

I wanted to be wrong.

I wasn’t.

I immediately reached out to my coach, and requested someone get a well check for the man’s address.

As the conversation went on, I heard him outside, by a roadside; I heard him walking in a crowd; I heard all the background noise go completely silent. He was walking.

During the conversation with him, I asked where he was, if he recognized anything, and begged him to be patient while I tried to track his wife down.

He would lay the phone down, walk away, but when I called his name he would always answer, come back to the phone, and resume talking with me.

All in all the conversation was only around 15 minutes, but it felt like a lifetime.  He would say things like “I won’t go with the crowd”, ” I’m supposed to have tickets”,  but heartbreakingly “I just need my wife, please just get my wife”.

I looked on his account and he was the only person on his account. I’m wondering if his wife has already passed away.

He missed her, he was looking for her, and he was lost.

I tried my best to keep him on the phone while my boss tried to get some emergency assistance to him.

He hung up before they got there.

I bawled.

I sobbed.

I prayed.

I’m still praying.

I hope someone found him and got him to someone familiar. I hope he has someone who cares.

I hope he isn’t lost.

cha-cha-changes

I have changed.

Subtle, tiny little changes, but still it is change.

I’ve noticed lately the difference between who I am now, and who I once was.

Tonight for instance, Stud had recommended a movie, and wanted me to watch the first 2 minutes.  After 1 minute I looked at him and said “really?”  First scene depicts a young man kicking another young man into the path of an oncoming vehicle.

15 years ago, I would have watched it and been interested.  Today, I watched it and immediately turned my head not wanting to see the gore.

It is a small change , but still a change.

I find myself wondering at the changes I see.

Are they for my betterment?

Are they; turning my loved ones against me?

I’m not sure.

That scares me.

Mainly because I don’t even notice the changes. They haven’t been conscious ones, they just kind of happened.  So my question is, if I don’t even realize I’m changing, then how am I changing?  And if I am having difficulty adapting to the changes, then how are those around me adapting?

I feel very vulnerable at this point and time in my life. Like if I tip one way or the other I will lose everything. Its almost like I am on a balance beam, juggling everything in my life, and if one thing falters in any way, then I will lose it all. Stud, the kids, well, they are my everything.

The thing is, I honestly can’t tell you if its real or not, the balancing act.

But it sure feels like it.

Sit, Stay, Love

As you can tell by the title, Sit, Stay, Love by Dana Mentink, is a cute, romantic comedy. Ms Mentink does a great job painting a picture with her words, to draw you in to the scene, and make you feel as if you are on the sidelines of  Gina and Cal’s adventures. You will find yourself chuckling at poor Gina’s misadventures, and hoping this girl will get her act together and figure out that when life throws you a curve ball, you catch it and throw it home.

All Gina wants to do is teach. That’s it. Nothing else. So how she winds up as a dogsitter for a pro baseball player’s dog, that he doesn’t even want, is a mystery.

All Cal Crawford wants is to play ball and be on top again. How  he wound up with his recently deceased Mother’s dog, that has been nothing but trouble since the day it pitter pattered into his house is beyond him.

Gina is the lovable best friend that every girl wants, while Cal is the tall, dark and handsome man that every girl wants. Throw in an adorable mischievous mutt, an ex boyfriend with ulterior motives, crazy relatives, long lost relatives, and jealous former teammates and you have a cast of characters to remember!

Sit, Stay, Love by Dana Mentink is a quick read, but a good one. The flow is a good pace right between wondering when this scene will be over and  keeping  you turning page after page until you realize its 4am and you are still saying “just one more chapter”!

unnamed (2)

Sit, Stay, Love (Harvest House, April 2016)

Take one abrasive professional athlete, a quirky out-of-work schoolteacher, and an overweight geriatric dog, and you’re ready for a lesson in love . . . Tippy style.

Pro baseball pitcher Cal Crawford is not a dog guy. When he inherits his deceased mother’s elderly dog, Tippy, he’s quick to call on a pet-sitting service.

Gina isn’t thrilled to be a dog sitter when her aspirations lie in the classroom. Furthermore, she can’t abide the unfriendly Cal, a man with all the charm of a wet towel. But with no other prospects and a deep love for all things canine, she takes the job caring for Tippy.

As Gina travels through Cal’s world with Tippy in tow, she begins to see Cal in a different light. Gina longs to show Cal the God-given blessings in his life that have nothing to do with baseball or fame. When her longing blooms into attraction, Gina does her best to suppress it. But Cal is falling in love with her too . . .

Discover the charming story of Tippy, the dog who brought a family together.

 

Purchase a copy: http://bit.ly/1W95mqe
unnamed (3)
Dana Mentink lives in California, where the weather is golden and the cheese is divine. Dana is an American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year finalist for romantic suspense and an award winner in the Pacific Northwest Writers Literary Contest. Her suspense novel, Betrayal in the Badlands, earned a Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Award. Besides writing, she busies herself teaching third and fourth grade. Mostly, she loves to be home with her husband, two daughters, a dog with social anxiety problems, a chubby box turtle, and a feisty parakeet.

 

 

 

Son4!

Today is a bit of a milestone. It is son4’s birthday.  Yes I know they come every year, but this one is special, he is 20 this year.

I really don’t know how we got to this place. Where 4 of my 5 son’s are in their 20’s. It’s very surreal.

Son4 is the happy one.

He is the one who greets each day with a smile. Sometimes its a begrudging smile, but still a smile. He was by far my easiest birth, has been the easiest child. When things get a little rough around the edges, and he sees I am about to lose my control, he is the one who steps in, usually takes my by the shoulders and says “Mom, its ok, we’ve got this” then hugs the life out of me until I can’t help but laugh through my tears.

He is dating an adorable girl, and is totally and completely smitten. So is she for that matter. His life revolves around her, and her life revolves around him.

He was just promoted to Asst Mgr at his work, so he is adjusting to the responsibilities that go with that, but seems to still like his job, which is a good thing.

We have a picture of Son4, that Son3 took while my Dad was dying. Son4 was sitting on Dad’s couch, with his girlfriend in one arm, and Mom’s urn in the other, bawling his eyes out. It is one of my favorite, raw pictures of that time.

Son4’s favorite food is potatoes, any way you fix them, except potato salad, which he says is just a waste of a good potato. He is a good kid. Although now that he’s not a teenager, I guess I have to stop calling him kid.

I love you son, Have a wonderful 20th birthday!

The other side

Earlier this week, I got a message from Stud’s sister. It came as quite a shock. Right after we moved here, there was a Ta-Doo, and basically we found out that the majority of Stud’s family doesn’t like me and never has. That hurt. But, we moved on.

At one point and time in life, Stud’s sister and I were friends, we were good friends. We talked on the phone every day, sometimes for hours at a time. We took all our kids on adventures, and just enjoyed being around one another. We were probably as close to sisters as I’ve been. (strange huh, since I have 2 sisters that have never had a sister relationship with.)

When the Ta-Doo occurred, I was crushed. Stud was furious. My kids were furious.

We haven’t spoke to any of Stud’s family since, that was over 2 years ago.

It bothers me. A lot.

While I know that ultimately it isn’t my fault he is estranged from his family, I feel responsible. It boils down to the fact that they just don’t like me. I wasn’t their choice for him to marry, and some members of his family have never gotten over that. I always knew I wasn’t the first choice, but I thought they had accepted me. I guess I was wrong.

So I guess getting a message from Stud’s sister threw me for a loop. She wants to make amends. She didn’t apologize, but said she missed our friendship and would like to start again. I think I’m ready to do that. But Stud isn’t.

Stud is an amazing man.

He chose me over his family.

Let me be clear, I did not ask him to chose. I would never do that. I hold family too dear to ever ask him to do that. But he was put in a situation where he didn’t have a choice. The things that were said about me, left him with no choice.

He has a long memory and hasn’t forgot what was done. He may not remember details about the situation, but he remembers the gist of things and it still makes his blood boil.

I’m praying about the whole thing.

I haven’t responded to her message. Stud doesn’t want me to right now. So I am letting it sit. Each day that goes by, makes me a bit more antsy, and makes me want to reply even more. But I will wait until he is ready.

I hope that at that time, she will still be ready.

bursts of happiness

My husband made me cry today.

In a good way.

We always try to communicate daily, usually in the morning when I get up, I will text him, ask him how his day is going. He tells me, we exchange “luv” and go on about our day until he gets home from work that evening.

Today, just now, I got a text from him.

Telling me I was on his mind, and how much he Loves me.

I needed that, right then at that particular moment.

How he knew, I don’t know.

But he did.

And he acted on it.

Life is so busy, so stressful, so just all encompassing, that we often ignore those little nudges. The ones that say Hey, you haven’t heard from this person today. Or, that overwhelming urge to tell someone how you feel.

A lot of times, we push those thoughts to the side to be dealt with later, or to do when we have a minute.

Don’t.

Don’t push them aside.

Don’t put them on hold.

Take a second, with texting, that’s all it takes, is a few seconds, to send a quick hello, hey, how are you? Or a quick “Just thinking of you today” Or just simply, “I love you.”

We all need to hear it.

It gives an extra spring to my step when I get those little bursts of sunshine and happiness in my day.

It lets me know that somewhere in this big bad world, someone does care.

So the next time you think “I haven’t talked to Joe Schmoe lately”. Shoot him an text and say hi.

It might just be the only happy he has that day.

 

Politics in the Pulpit

Myself, Oldest, and Daughter-in-law visited a new church yesterday. We have been looking for the perfect church for us since we moved here 2.5 years ago, and we have one that we attend, there are parts that Oldest and I have issue with. Like the version of the Bible they use. But that isn’t what this post is about. This post is about the church service we sat through yesterday.

We had high hopes for this church.

The people were nice, it was a good size, and the interim pastor is probably 30ish, very nice, likable young man.

When he got in to the pulpit, the very first thing he talked about, was the bathroom law that NC just passed, excluding transgenders from using whatever bathroom they want. Now, let me preface this with I agree with the law. As a mother, and as a female, I just would not feel comfortable using a bathroom with someone who was born a man in the same bathroom as me. I just wouldn’t.  Then, on top of that, you know that that somewhere, some perv is going to dress like a female and camp out in the bathroom waiting for his next victim. It will happen. Already in one area, a man walked in to the ladies dressing room at the gym and stripped down. When the ladies called the manager of the gym, the gentleman told her it was the law, he could use whatever bathroom he wanted. He never stated he identified as female, he just walked in, and stripped. He wasn’t arrested. There was nothing to arrest. He was well within his legal rights.

So, I’m all for the law saying that whatever is on your birth certificate, that’s what potty you use. Most public places have a “family” or unisex bathroom anyhow, so why do we need a law saying that its ok for you to use whatever bathroom you want. Personally, at events and such, for women especially it would be a relief to be able to use the mens room, because the lines to the women’s  restroom are always about 10 times as long!

But I’ve chased a rabbit trail and need to get back on track.

My problem with yesterday is, he was preaching politics from the pulpit. That is the absolute last place politics should be. Period.

The pulpit is for teaching and preaching about Christ, born of a virgin, crucified for our sins, rose from the grave to give us eternal life. Not for preaching which pot to pee in.

Stud, and my dad both, stayed away from politics in the pulpit.

They both believed it had no place. That their job was to tell people about Christ, not to brow beat them or judge them for their political beliefs.

When that pastor started yesterday, I wanted to walk out. I rarely feel that way, and can only think of one other time that I have had the urge that strong to leave a church service. That one was a message on how if I owned a copy of any movie or DVD depicting people action out the Bible, well then I was going to hell…. UGH.  But yesterday, I stayed to see where it would lead. To see how he would weave his political message to a biblical one.

In my eyes, he didn’t.

Because you can’t.

If you want to be politically minded and stand up for your rights, fine, join an organization, protest on the town square, light up social media, but please, don’t take it to the pulpit.

 

Estrogen overload

Our family has had to make a lot of adjustments over the years. But I think the toughest one so far has been adding more girls in to our mix.

We’ve had Daughter In Law  for almost 6 years, she is one of us, and fits in perfectly. I honestly feel as if she is my daughter.

Now the younger boys are dating, and wow, the change. Adding in this extra estrogen, and different personalities has been interesting.

The new girls don’t like each other very much. One is an extrovert, one an introvert. One is out spoken, one is quiet and reserved.

The problem is, the girls are dragging my boys into their issues with one another. That’s not cool. It is like a live version of “Mean Girls” right in my own home.  It is to the point that the couples cannot seem to be at my house at the same time. This mama does not like that at all.

So, how do I as a mom deal with it?  I can’t push the boys to do anything other than remember they are brothers, they will have each other’s back before anyone else will. The girls, I can’t do anything with, if I say a single word against either girl, then I am  meddling. If I try to help my son see the truth, then I am seen as the enemy.

What’s a mom to do?

Pray.

Pray.

Pray.

Neither girl goes to church. Neither has any type of religious affiliation. One is an atheist. The other used to attend church as a child, but hasn’t in many years.

I pray that these girls will see love and goodness from us. I pray that these girls will see God in us. I pray that my boys won’t be broken. I pray that my boys won’t be hurt.

Its inevitable.

Someone will walk away with a broken heart.

I pray that the hearts that are broken can heal.

Comfort and joy

I sat down tonight to look something up, google is my friend, you know. And I happened to look back through the house. My Spot on the couch is where I can see in to what was Mom and Dad’s living room. I used to sit here this late at night and keep an eye on Dad the last few months of his life.

He got to a point where he no longer wanted to sleep in his bedroom, and we still had the hospital bed set up in his living room, so he started sleeping there. On his own. He just got up one night, in the middle of the night and made himself at home in the hospital bed. The next morning we were surprised to find him there sound asleep. When I mentioned it to him, he said it beat sleeping on the ground.

Tonight, I looked back that way, half expecting to see him sitting on the side of the bed, motioning for me to come there.

It is the first time I have done that, and not cried.

I read somewhere that a cardinal is a “visitor” from Heaven. For the past few weeks there has been a bright red one in our yard. I always smile when I see it, and say “Hey Papaw.” Last week, he had a female cardinal join him. I cried then, and said hey to Mom and Dad. Then I glanced over to where I put out some corn for the geese, and there, was another  bright red cardinal. Two males, and one female. all in the yard at once.

I had been having a particularly rough day, and the cardinal’s made me smile through my tears. In 14 months time, I lost my Mom, then my brother, then Dad. 2 males and a female.

No, I don’t believe it is actually my family returning in bird form. But for this spring at least, this season of my life, I believe the cardinals are here to bring me comfort and joy.

Looking into my living room tonight, I was seeking comfort. For my entire life, just knowing Dad was there, that he was praying for me, gave me comfort. Looking in to that living room brings me comfort. I can see him, in my memory, sitting there, waving for me to hurry.

The cardinals come, they flit from branch to branch, dipping down to grab a bit of corn, then back to branch hopping. All while bringing me comfort.

If you see me talking to the birds,  don’t think I’ve lost it, I’m just doing what I can to keep it.

 

If I Run

 

Oh. My.

If I Run by Terri Blackstock is a true page turner. It has been a very long time since I have read a book that kept my up at night, all night to finish. Terri Blackstock has been the queen of Christian suspense for many years, and when you hold that title for a long time, sometimes the writing gets stale. Not so with Ms Blackstock.

If I Run, kept me going from letter to letter, word to word, phrase to phrase, I didn’t want to stop, even now that I have finished the book, I want more!

Casey Cox, is an enigma. She is kind, compassionate and generous to a fault. She would rather fade into the background and serve than be the center of attention at a party. So how is it that she finds herself the only suspect of her best friend’s murder. We watch as she puts the pieces together, while on the run to keep herself out of jail, not knowing where to turn or who to trust.

Dylan Roberts is asked by the his friends family to track down Casey Cox and bring her home to face justice. Only he isn’t convinced she is guilty.  Throw in a missing teenager, dirty cops and you have a story that will keep you up late!

If-I-Run-PK

If I Run (Zondervan, February 2016)

Casey knows the truth. But it won’t set her free.

Casey Cox’s DNA is all over the crime scene. There’s no use talking to police; they have failed her abysmally before. She has to flee before she’s arrested . . . or worse. The truth doesn’t matter anymore.

But what is the truth? That’s the question haunting Dylan Roberts, the war-weary veteran hired to find Casey. PTSD has marked him damaged goods, but bringing Casey back can redeem him. Though the crime scene seems to tell the whole story, details of the murder aren’t adding up. Casey Cox doesn’t fit the profile of a killer. But are Dylan’s skewed perceptions keeping him from being objective? If she isn’t guilty, why did she run?

Unraveling her past and the evidence that condemns her will take more time than he has, but as Dylan’s damaged soul intersects with hers, he is faced with two choices. The girl who occupies his every thought is a psychopathic killer . . . or a selfless hero. And the truth could be the most deadly weapon yet.

Learn more and purchase a copy.

Terri Blackstock has sold over seven million books worldwide and is a New York Times bestselling author. She is the award-winning author of “Intervention,” “Vicious Cycle,” and “Downfall,” as well as such series as Cape Refuge, Newpointe 911, the SunCoast Chronicles, and the Restoration Series.

I’ll take it.

I’m emotional today.

I’m not sure why, but I am. I’m wondering if my hormones have decided to go in to overdrive.

I sat out by our pond for a long time today, watching the birds. I love the spring just for that. I never really  paid attention to wildlife until we moved here. Now I find that I look forward to spring when the  critters come out from their hidey holes.

I was watching the red winged blackbirds fly around when a male cardinal flew over, soon after a female showed herself, then, another male.  I know that doesn’t mean much to most folks, but there is a saying, myth, old wives tale, whatever you want to call it that says a cardinal is a visitor from Heaven.

It just so happens that I have my Dad, Mom, and brother in Heaven. 2 male cardinals, one female.

I know its just a coinky-dink, but, hey, today, I needed those birds. I needed to feel my parents, and brother. I got 2 male Cardinals and a female.

I’ll take it.

 

Happy birthday Oldest!

I’m getting way too old.

Today is Oldest’s 26th birthday. He is on the downhill slide to 30, which means I am on the downhill slide towards 50.

I’m amazed at the man he has grown up to be. In the past year he got his real estate license, first try, without studying. I’m told that is quite the accomplishment. But then, he has always been that way. Never had to study, never had to really read up on things, the knowledge was just always there. Or, he has always been a really good BS’er. Or probably both.

He loves to bowl, and is finally in a bowling league and entering some random tournaments. I’m thankful, because he really does enjoy it. It gives him an outlet, to show his athletic prowess.

He loves his wife, which if you were to listen to them, you would think they were on the verge of divorce at any moment. The two of them love to verbally spar, about anything and everything. They think of things to agitate the other one just to start a ruckus. But when it comes down to it, the love each other immensely. And he is a much more likable person with her.

Over the years he is becoming a good mentor for his younger brothers. At one point, he used to like getting them in trouble and watching them squirm, but now, he has matured and wants to see them do good, to be good.

Oldest and his wife live with us until his real estate get’s off the ground, which it will. The sales are slowly coming, but he is building up a base and one day, I know he will be successful, and they will be able to get their own place.

I know we will miss them when they do. Oldest adds a dynamic to our house that only he can.

As much as I miss the child he was, I am so very proud of the man he is.

Happy birthday son, I love you.

Navigating

When you are a caregiver for someone, you devote your time, energy, and thoughts to that person. It is all encompassing. Their care and welfare takes over everything you do. So when that loved one passes away, what are you left with?

I don’t know how many people have made comments along the lines of “Now you can get your life back!”.

The thing is, they never tell you how.

For the past 15 years, my life has revolved around taking care of mom and dad, so now, they are gone, and I have to live my own life. I just don’t know what that is.

They say not to make any major life changes for a year after losing a loved one.  But what constitutes a life change?  The loved one dying is the life change. You just have to figure out how to adapt to it.

I’m trying to navigate these waters. I just have no clue how to do it.

 

I Want It All

I have followed Gwen Smith for a while now. I follow her facebook, twitter, and newsletter, so reviewing her book was a no-brainer.  I Want It All by Gwen Smith is an uplifting, read. She intertwines stories of her own life, anecdotes of life, in with teaching and words of wisdom for moms/women who want a complete relationship with God, not just a surface one.  It is easy to read through quickly, and miss some of the finer points, so my suggestion is to take your time, and mull over each chapter before moving on to the next one. It would be a great book to do with a group of girlfriends, or moms group while the kids are having their playdate!

 

I Want It All (David C. Cook, March 2016)

God created you for exceptional impact. Exceptional power. And exceptional blessings.

Gwen Smith knows how easy it is to dismiss God’s plans with the thoughts, I can’t make a big difference for God because I’m just an ordinary woman with an ordinary life. Yet God created us to join Him in doing amazing work in the world. He created us to live with abundant joy, courage, and influence. But not the joy, courage, and influence of the world. He offers His grace for each failure, His love that shatters hate, His peace that soothes the turmoil, His comfort, guidance, wisdom, rest, power, and significance. Every blessing He has for us is ours for the taking.

I Want It All will ignite a fire in your heart to experience more faith, more power, and more impact. More of Jesus. All of Jesus. Everything that God has for you.

Learn more and purchase a copy.

 

 

GWEN SMITH

Gwen Smith is an author and volleyball enthusiast who lives in sunny North Carolina and has been married to her college honey, Brad, for 23 years. They are tired parents to three competitive-sport-playing teens who keep them on their toes and on their knees. Her online friends meet at GwenSmith.net to connect and be encouraged, and her goal is to help women think big thoughts about God and be inspired to live out the grace and truth of Jesus. Gwen speaks, leads worship, and eats potato chips at women’s events everywhere, and she is a co-founder of the conference and devotional ministry Girlfriends in God.

Things you hear

Overheard at a restaurant earlier this week, from the same woman:

Well don’t cook it so done I could beat the wall in with it. And don’t put that green stuff, you know that pesto junk on it. I just want a piece of chicken.

What is FML? 

What is BRUUUUUUUUHHHH? 

I felt sorry for their waitress, which happened to also be our waitress. She came to check on us at some point just shaking her head.  The woman had special ordered every single thing she ordered. Even her tea. “Unsweet, no lemon, only about 5 pieces of ice”.  Her salad “no cucumber, tomato, onion and lots of extra ranch”. Her soup, “no croutons cause ya’ll are the only place on earth that puts croutons on tomato soup”. Then the chicken, don’t cook it til I could beat the wall down with it, no pesto or any sauce cause chicken ain’t supposed to have sauce”.

Seriously. Say that order, with not a country accent, but a hick accent, think “Deliverance”.

It was all I could do to keep from shaking I was trying to hold my laughter in.

The other woman at the table only wanted ice cream, or a milkshake. She didn’t care if they had to send someone out for it. But she ordered chicken tenders and fries just in case.

I hope I never have to wait tables again.

 

 

 

She knew that.

When you are a caregiver, or rather no longer caregiving, you get hit by guilt.

Tons and  tons of guilt.

You think about all the things you could have done better, different. All the times you had a bad attitude and didn’t have a bright, cheerful outlook. And you feel guilty for not always being happy. For sometimes being so bone tired that you just couldn’t muster a smile, or put a smile in your voice.

After Mom passed away, I felt extreme guilt. For the times I wasn’t as patient as I felt I should be. Mom was hard. Dad was easy. The two of them were extremes of the disease.

Mom would constantly demand attention, her short term memory was literally about 30 seconds, sometimes up to a minute. Especially in regards to her breathing medicine. She would constantly ask what time it was, and what time she got her medication. Over and over and over, about a minute apart. Sometimes it lasted hours. Sometimes not. And she would get upset if we said anything like “we just answered that”. She had vision issues, and was legally blind, so she couldn’t read a watch or clock on her own, so she had to depend on us to tell her.

After she died, I felt guilty for losing my patience when it came to her asking over and over. I beat myself up for not taking in to consideration that she was blind and completely reliant on us.

But when you are a caregiver, you live in that moment, that space in time. You can’t really plan ahead, because you have no idea what curveball your loved one is going to throw. So that moment, is your life. It is your very being. You deal with the issue at hand, the best way possible at that time. Sure, later on, usually laying in bed at night, you will turn over every part of your day and try to figure out how you could have done better. Usually you are too exhausted to figure any solutions out. So you just lay there, and cry.

There was one time, mom couldn’t tell that she had used the bathroom. She was covered in poo. Literally from head to toe. I was losing my cool, because she wouldn’t cooperate with me to get her cleaned up. She kept saying she was not taking a shower, and I couldn’t make her. I kept telling her she was covered in excrement and we had to get it off. She refused. Then a light bulb hit, I knew I needed outside help. I called for an ambulance. if she couldn’t tell she had pooed and peed herself, then something was definitely wrong. That was mom’s last trip to the hospital. After a short stay, she came home under Hospice care, and two weeks later she was gone.  That day replays a lot for me. It wound up being a good thing that I lost my patience that day, because we got some in home help. But still, the naggy part of me taunts me that I wasn’t woman enough to deal with it. While the logical part of me knows that in reality, I did the best I could with what I had. I got mom the care she needed.  In the hospital it took 3 nurses and myself to get mom cleaned up. We worked at it for over half and hour. Threw away 2 sets of sheets, a set of pajamas, and a couple of hospital blankets. It was that bad.

Mom and I come to a sort of truce during her hospital stay. It was the first one that I didn’t spend the night with her. I couldn’t. I needed rest. I would spend the day with her, then come home, work, and then get some sleep. Every other hospital stay for the past 15 years, I have stayed every single night, and most of the days. That visit, I wasn’t physically or emotionally capable. I think she knew that. She knew I was exhausted. Taking care of both her and dad was taxing to say the least.

She told me during that stay that she was done. She meant it.  She wanted to talk to dad one more time, once she did, they had a couple of good days together, laughing, whispering, giggling, holding hands under their lap blankets, and just enjoying being together. Then she decided she didn’t want to eat anymore. Then she started refusing anything to drink. A week after she quit accepting liquids, she was released of her Alzheimers misery, and went to Heaven.

I will always question if I could have done more, done better, been more patient, more, more, just more.

but I also know that I loved, loved, loved. With all my very being, I loved. She knew that.

Calculator anyone?

I’ve mentioned here before that we homeschool. Oldest went to public school through the 4th grade, Son2 through 2nd grade and Son3 through K, Sons 4 and 5 have never attended public school. I always wanted to homeschool, stud had to be convinced.

I remember the first time I heard about homeschooling, I thought it was strange. After all, why would you keep your child at home instead of sending him off to school. Then I had kids and realized I didn’t want to send them to be taught by someone who wasn’t me for 8 hours a day.

Son2 came to me one day during the summer between 2nd and 3rd grade and asked to be homeschooled. He has never said why, just that he didn’t want to go back to school. We had already been discussing keeping Son3 at home, K was not a good experience for him and we thought he would do better at home.

My kids are an odd bunch I guess. I have two that are above average, one average and two that have multiple learning disabilities. I treated each of my pregnancies the same, doing the same things, eating the same foods, yet all of my children are so different.

This year, youngest graduates from high school. My last one. And tonight for the first time I question whether homeschooling was the right thing for him. Well, I don’t question it, a family member raised some concerns.

Youngest is one of the ones who has several learning disabilities. We have never been able to link them to any event or specific thing, its just how his brain functions.

He was 12 years old before he could read. He could sound words out, he knew the sounds, the blends, he knew how to spell words, but when looking at them in black and white, he couldn’t tell you what they were.  Until that point, his strong point was math.

Then literally one morning he got up and he could read. It clicked. That part of his brain decided to spark.  But when it did, the math left. It just kind of vanished.

He used to know his multiplication tables, fractions, decimals, division, he could do it all. Now, he uses a calculator for most every day tasks.

He’s been tested, yearly, some years more than once. He is not “special” as we would call it today. They really haven’t been able to find a reason for it. Just one day when one part clicked on, the other part clicked off.  I hope that doesn’t happen again. He can use a calculator to figure mathematical problems, but there is no calculator to read for him.

Someone mentioned earlier that in their opinion he would have been better off in public school, to use the resources they have for special education.  At first I let this get to me. I let it eat at me, that I had done my son a disservice by not putting him in public school.

Then I remembered.

I remembered all the specialists, occupational therapists, the world renown pediatric education specialists, pediatric education psychologist, and educational therapists that saw him yearly.  All of which told me to teach him how to sign his name and fill out a job application, and a calculator and be happy.  All of which told me he would probably never read a book. All of which told me he was better off at home than in a public school setting.

Guess what, he can read. He has read several books. He does have a brain in his head. It does work. He just needs a calculator to do a math equation.

We adapted over the years to whatever worked for him at the time. For many years we did his work orally, I asked him the question, he answered it.  I read to him. I wrote the answers down for him.  When he started high school, I started transitioning him to writing his own answers. That first year, he tested horribly in grammar and writing. His spelling was atrocious, seems as if it left when the reading began. But this past year, his grammar, writing and spelling all made it to grade level. He tested above grade level in a few areas, and below grade level in one, math computation.

So my son, who the specialist told me to give up on, that he would never be up to expectation, has met and in some cases exceeded expectation.

He take something that is broken, and figure out what the issue is, how to fix it then do it. Need something put together?  He can look at the picture and put it together with no instructions. Its his thing. His specialty. He is amazing with animals. They love him. So do old people and kids. He has a generous heart, and a kind soul. Girls love him. So do I.

So no, I didn’t do him a disservice by keeping him home. I allowed him to grow in to himself, at his own pace. Who cares if he uses a calculator? I don’t.

 

The Daughter In Law

If you had told me 6 years ago, that I would be sitting here, right now, writing a post about my daughter in law, I would have laughed you out of the room.

But today, here I sit, writing a post to tell you about this girl, who married my boy, and became my daughter, on her 25th birthday.

Daughter, because she is my daughter. Maybe not by birth, but by heart, which is more important to me. I’m sure her parents wouldn’t agree, but she is my daughter.

She has added so much to our lives. She makes Oldest a better person, bringing out his softer side, which is rather ironic, since the two of them are not soft with one another. They kind of rail on each other if they are seen being “soft”.  They thrive on driving one another batty, the battier the better.

Having the extra dose of estrogen has definitely made things more interesting around here. The younger boys have all had to learn how hormones fluctuate and when they are raging you stay away from Daughter. A lesson they all needed to learn for use in their own romantic endeavors, since I tend to keep my hormonal days as calm as possible.

She is a great mix between girly girl and tom boy. Not afraid to get her hands dirty, but loves to dress up and show the boys how its done. She is outgoing, athletic, and not afraid to speak her mind. But she is also caring, loving ( but would never admit it) and just a beautiful person inside and out.  Drop dead gorgeous, men turn and watch her walk by, but self depreciating to a fault, she doesn’t let her looks get to her.

But even more importantly, she loves my boy.

Happy Birthday Daughter, I love you. We are truly blessed to call you family.

Kissed by a Cowboy by Debra Clopton

I usually post pictures with my reviews, but for some reason WordPress keeps making them huge, like take up the entire page huge. I’ll figure it out and post the pic with the review at a later time.

I was looking forward to reading Kissed by a Cowboy by Debra Clopton, for the simple fact it was fiction. With all the illness and death we have dealt with the past few months, I just haven’t felt like reading or haven’t seen a book that interested me in the least.

Kissed by a Cowboy was a so-so read for me. It’s been enjoyable, but I didn’t get swept away in it. I think because at the place I am in my life, I just could not identify with Cassidy. She came off as rather stubborn and insensitive to me, holding on way to long to a grudge that was kind of silly to begin with. Jarrod however, I loved.  He did what he needed to do, what he felt was right at the time, and stood by his decision. You have to respect that in a man. It is very strange for me to like the male over the female in a book so that in itself was a bit refreshing.

Overall, it was a good read. I would recommend it to my friends, and to anyone who asked what I thought. It has some funny moments, quick dialogue, and is a fast read. I’m sure if i had read it at a different time and place in my life I would give it a 5 star rating instead of just 4.

 

Cassidy was looking for a home and a place to belong . . . not for a cowboy to steal her heart.

Having lived through her parents’ endless string of “matrimonial bliss gone wrong,” Cassidy Starr knows when the odds are not in her favor. Divorced and humiliated, her faith on rocky ground, Cassidy is through with love. She’s been bucked off that horse far too many times. Instead, she returns to Wishing Springs, Texas, and the rundown farm she’s inherited from her great aunt Roxie. She’ll reopen the strawberry farm and a bed & breakfast and follow in her aunt’s footsteps, remaining forever-independent, happy . . . and single.

Rancher Jarrod Monahan’s hands are full running the ranch, looking after his ailing grandfather, and chasing down a group of rustlers on the loose. He’s pushed his longing for a family to the bottom of his list of priorities. Besides, he was in love once but ran scared and lost his shot at happiness. But suddenly, the biggest regret of his life has moved in next door with a wounded heart, determined to become a spinster . . . and that’s a challenge that Jarrod can’t pass up.

Jarrod sets his mind to breaking down the walls around Cassidy’s stubborn heart. How can he show her that a cowboy’s kiss lasts forever? For the good folks of Wishing Springs, falling in love has never been so much fun to witness.

Learn more and purchase a copy.

 

 

Debra Clopton is a multi-award winning novelist and has written more than 22 novels. Along with writing, Debra helps her husband teach the youth at their local Cowboy Church. Debra’s goal is to shine a light toward God while she entertains readers with her words.