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Life Happens

March 24th, 2010 at 02:26 pm

As I was saying yesterday, before being preempted by the cantankerous blog god...

A lot has happened in the past year, and not a lot.

Foremost, my mother passed away last June, after a long battle with Alzheimer's Disease. For a long time, I've struggled with a lack of words, kind of like her loss of words was mine also. Being the oldest and only daughter, I've felt like the keeper of the memories my first family held. And there was only silence, and I say this as a self-acknowledged wordy person. I like to talk and to write - a lot...but not so much this past year. I'm just starting to feel ready to venture into the world of words again.

The recurring thought that replaced words for a long time was that my mom was 22 years old when she had me. It's always in my head that she battled the disease for 10 years, and was under assisted living/nursing home care for the last 5 of those years. What shape will I be in 10-12 years? (Smacking into my own reality of I'm not getting younger, now am I, hmmm...) Time has helped with this thought, but it surfaces with every pin number not remembered (I try to keep in mind now that it may be a sign of too many pin numbers in my life!)

Lessons about life always abound (and some are even financially pertinent:-)

Live in the moment (plan for the future, but actually live now)

Simplify your life (or yes, you can have too many pin numbers and phone numbers and accounts here and there and everywhere) All I can say is, oh my gosh, the amount of numbers in one form or another that you collect as you get older!

It's all about checks and balances, isn't it?! Well, I'm off to live a little life, as it is Spring break at my house. Later, I might even try to obliterate a number or two in that ongoing quest of simplifying my crazy life. Take care!!

Glorious Fall Day

October 13th, 2007 at 07:15 pm

Sunny, 60s for temp, leaves have changed, but haven't fallen...exemplary fall day here in MN.

And my plans for this gorgeous day?? I've already gone shopping for more clothes for my mom - with being in the wheelchair and having aid at mealtimes, she's gained weight and outgrown much of her clothing. As the girls were all places this morning, I took my husband along and he found some steel-toe work boots (his old ones had split across the sole, though he con't to wear them for quite a bit, which became a problem with the recent rainy weather and working on a new construction site in that rain.) We then went out to an early lunch - just us.

In a bit, I'll head over to bring the clothes to my mom. Then I'll come back home and do some much-needed straightening and cleaning. Hopefully I'll have time to do some puttering outside too.

Also this weekend, I want to do some baking for the week's lunches and for the bus drivers for bus driver appreciation week. I ride one of the small buses with one of our more delicate sp.ed. students I work with, and I've gotten to know that bus driver pretty well. He's a retired guy, whose wife died a few years back. He tells me about his four kids and his eleven grandkids. Anyway, we were talking about the bumper crop of apples this year and how delicious they've been, when he offered me some off of his apple trees. So far, he's given me a huge grocery bag full of two different, unsprayed apples. So I want to do up an apple bread or some muffins with those apples for good old Wayne. I think he'll enjoy them. He's so good with all of the special kids he drives - they are all very excited to see him. He's a good guy, and it'll be fun to brighten his day.

Last night was the last home football game, and my three youngest all participated in some manner (oldest was working at the pool.) My second girl danced at halftime, my third cheered at the game, and my youngest was part of a cheerleading camp for grades 3-5, and 'helped' the cheerleaders with the cheering, as well as doing a special sement at halftime also. It was a beautiful night, and fun to see the girls. I'm glad I opted to not pay for the family pass, as the girls either have participated most of the games, or I've only paid for my youngest on occasion, as my husband got in as my guest on my school pass, which gets us in free. Winter season is coming up, but I think we'll still come out ahead by not buying the family pass, which was pricey.

I'm not sure how it came to be, but the cheerleaders get to cheer over the winter season on their fall season athletic fee. So my third girl will continue to cheer for a few more months. She has put in for hockey, though I'm not sure she can as she isn't the steadiest on skates (in which case, the savings on that athletic fee may be far outweighed by the medical costs incurred by cheering on skates - mom is heavily suggesting basketball cheering might be a whole lot safer.) My second girl has opted to not do the winter competitive dance season, as she wants to concentrate on her grades - a wise move indeed.

The three younger girls have joined their older sister at the pool for lesson time Saturday mornings. They will have to put in 15 hours unpaid probation time to train as aides during the swim lessons, and then they'll all be on the school's payroll. Yes, even the 10 yr. old will be receiving pay at $6.50 an hour eventually. Amazing! As we encouraged with our oldest, most of their earnings, if not actually all, will go into their savings account. They really have so few things that they want to spend money on, and especially we find, if it's their own earned money. Isn't that a great thing to learn!

Enjoy the weekend...take care!

Oh, the excitement...

September 3rd, 2007 at 09:22 pm

Not a lot happening this weekend - just working at the odds and ends that are endlessly on the to-do list.

We helped out my inlaws around their house. My husband and I are starting to see a need to schedule a bit more time over there to keep things up better, as their health keeps limiting them more and more. All I know is that I had visions of my mom's house and the endless stuff she and my dad had collected. It took me a long time to clear out things from her house when she entered the nursing home, and the long-term storage ruined so much of it. My inlaws have organized their stuff into an endless sea of plastic storage boxes, tucked into corners everywhere. They're finding out that their three kids and families are just not really wanting any of it. The stuff has meaning to them, but not to their kids. It's kind of sad. Oh well, it helps motivate my husband and I in limiting what we think we should store away (a small house also helps with this.)

I went with my oldest and youngest to visit my mom. She's doing well, though conversation is a bit confusing as usual. We were joined by a talkative gentleman who managed to share his life up to the point where he and his wife had their six daughters. He was interupted to go to dinner, but I'm sure I'll hear about the second half (or more - he's 93) of his life. My mom enjoys the company of men, so she mostly giggled, laughed and made the occasional odd comment throughout his story. I always leave there with a smile.

I baked some vanilla chip cranberry bars and used up the rest of the package of chips into some chocolate vanilla chip cookies. After the obligatory 'testing of the recipes' by my family who came out of the woodwork, I bagged up and hid the treats in the freezer for the lunches this week.

Over the summer I had talked to the girls about our use of bottled water for the lunches. They were all willing to carry reusable bottles - yay! The environmental reasons spoke to them more, while I was definitely hearing the monetarial ones as well. Either way, it's all good!

To-do list odds and ends that got crossed off include my husband and girls washing both the vans in the driveway. I cut my husband's hair with the clippers (on the patio - you'd think we were doing this only to embarass our kids!) My husband turned his time sheet in online with 30 hours OT from last week (he was out of town two times, and gets drive time.) I sprayed the new athletic shoes with Camp-dry, so dew, rain and snow wreak less havok on those new shoes. Starting to go over a new budget with my husband so that there is no mindlessly expanding the spending to fit the pay increase. Otherwise, we're all getting ready for school's start tomorrow.

Happy Labor Day...take care!

Odds and Ends

May 16th, 2007 at 07:09 pm

Very busy at work, and with the girls lately. May gets crowded with many activities and year end events and concerts. My second daughter had her birthday this week, which we celebrated on Sunday so we could all be together. Whew...May is crazy!

I finally located a library book that was checked out on my youngest's card many weeks ago. It was in the depth of the unknown, under her sister's bed. Grr - fines, but at least we don't have to pay replacement cost. Double grr to having to do something about those under bed areas.

I picked up some 2 cent stamps at the PO today. While I wasn't completely out of it, and did know there was a postage hike coming, I wasn't aware it was happening so soon and this week. I read a reference about it somewhere yesterday, and checked the PO website, and found that it had already happened on Monday, and luckily before I had to mail anything.

We're doing a rollercoaster ride for temps here in MN. In a 48 hr period, we went from the 90s, down to the 50s. Tonight the outer lying suburbs may get below 40 tonight, and covering the flowers is being recommended. Usually planting by the 15th is safe, but not absolute. I planted all the annuals, and added a few new perennials. It was fun to pick out the flowers with the girls and plant them (on Mother's Day.) So I'll be out there tucking them in for the night too. I also reseeded areas in the front and back yard that didn't make it through the winter.

I just now got a call from my aunt that my uncle, my mom's brother, has passed away. He's suffered a number of years from Parkinson's Disease, and has been in very poor shape in the hospital for the last month. My aunt sounded sad, but expressed relief, as she felt he was in much pain and suffering at the end. She is out in California, but has all her children and grandchildren nearby. I'm not sure I'll share this news with my mom - I'm not sure she would understand what I was saying. Or worse, is that I wonder if she still can understand a bit, but can't control what she can say or think. I don't want her to have the news of her brother's death replaying over and over in her head. When her cat died, the staff at that time (different nursing home) recommended to not tell her, especially as she never mentioned the cat. We were told that sort of news kind of replays in their mind, and they relive the grief fresh over and over, rather than heal with time for most people. Sometimes it feels like I have power over things that I'd rather not, and no power over the things that I wish I had. I know I'll grow stronger, but boy, life is hard sometimes.

Take care.

Whittling at the to-do list

April 23rd, 2007 at 09:21 pm

Much was accomplished over the weekend, as many of the seemingly perpetual tasks were crossed off the to-do list. A decaying couch was removed from the garage (see previous entry) - finally! That acted as catalyst to the general cleaning up of the space. This is truly a wonderful thing!

Trusting, and really, really hoping, that spring is indeed here, we pulled out the patio furniture. We lucked out in that my parents were ready to get rid of these things when we were first married. I have my grandmother's wrought iron set (couch, chair and coffee table) and my parent's old metal lawn chair. On the actual patio, we have a metal mesh table and chairs set. Last year I painted them a sage green. As there are leaves in the wrought iron design, I stenciled ivy leaves onto the back of the lawn chair. The paint held up well, and I'll just touchup with a small brush. I set the couch and chairs in an area under a huge maple tree. I then will plant up pots of begonias and impatiens. On the patio, I get to have some sunny flowers. Can you tell I'm anxious to get planting? May 15 is when it's considered safe to plant here. My youngest two girls and I did plant frost-tolerant pansies in the playhouse window boxes on Saturday. And the rhubarb is shooting up. Signs of spring...

Except for yesterday ( it rained,)the laundry has been out on the line for the past week. I grocery shopped on Saturday, using store coupons that saved me almost $10, bringing my total a good amount under what I budget for the two weeks. I bought tons of fruits and vegies - we're starting out with the most perishable, and working toward the less.

Visited my mom on Saturday - she doesn't seem to be doing as well right now. Her potassium levels are up, and the dr is using meds and tests to stay on top of this. She seemed so incoherent - time will tell if this is the current medical condition or just the Alzheimer's progressing.

Have a great Monday...take care!

Sunny Sunday

April 15th, 2007 at 04:18 pm

Another day for hanging out the laundry!

Yesterday, I puttered, but it was productive puttering. The garage is cleaned out...well, "my" side is, anyway. We got rid of a lot of the accumulated junk. My husband still has his side to do, in which I will help, as he is organizing challenged (or maybe he appears so as to spur me into action - hmm.)

I raked leaves around the garage area, and uncovered the hosta, which had tips poking through the dirt. Today the rhubarb patch and lily and iris garden get their turn, as the tips are up through the leaves. I think my spring bulb flowers may have not made it through the last bout of snow - the leaves were up when it snowed, but they remain flopped over, though still green. Will have to watch... My husband even offered to unearth the patio furniture from the garage. I need to check whether they'll need any paint touched up.

I reconciled the checkbook to the statement. I filed papers!! I recently revamped the files, so I may stay caught up with that task. (that's a definite maybe...)

I also went through my mom's papers. When she went into the assisted living in 2004, I kept many papers that were (or seemed) pertinent then, that are not, now. So I have a basket full to shred. It's been slow going through all the stuff that I brought from her house to my house. But I've found that I'm more able recently to get rid of what needs to go. Fun things I rediscovered that I had among yesterday's papers - My dad's discharge papers from his service in the Marines in WWII, his college transcript from the U of M, his inoculation card from the WHO that allowed him to work in Greenland for the Army Corp of Engineers in the 50s, a copy of my grandmother's family's naturalization papers when they came here from Russia in 1911, and a copy of a picture of the family around that time (my grandma was about 16.) Ok, ok enough nostalgia...

My older girls and friends want to head out for a little shopping. ("On a beautiful day like this?!" says silly mom.) So... in a bit, I'm heading to Target, with some returns, after dropping them off at the mall. I get done what I need to, and the girls are a road and a parking lot away from my wallet (they have their own money!)

Better get on with the day...take care!

The days keep marching by...

March 28th, 2007 at 05:04 pm

March has been crazy! The girls and I have been off this week for spring break, and my husband took vacation the last two days. Yesterday, we went to Como Park and Conservatory (the flowers are gorgeous!), and ate out two nights in a row - yikes! Fun, and not too extravagant (well, for us, yes, but not on the budget.) For the rest of this week, I'm planning on hanging out and cleaning up the house and yard, with whatever daughters are home (See daughters dash quickly out the door!)

I'm pleased to find my mom settling in very well at the new nursing home. The other residents have come to recognize us, and seek us out. I'm not always sure what in the world our big group is talking about at any given time, but there is always a lot of laughing.

On the financial front - Taxes are all done. My daughter only owed to the federal for her 1099 work, and not to the state - yay! Ours resulted in getting a refund from the federal and on our property taxes, and owing a little to the state. We've fiddled with our withholdings, and this is as close as we can get (it would nice to have a little less owed to us from the federal, but it is what is it, as long as we have our four little tax deduction/credits around.)

Our Voyager van needs some repair - winter always takes its toll on our aging vehicles. Our repair guy is gathering parts, and will make the repair this weekend or next week. After that, we'll have him check over the Ford conversion van (our camping van!) for the upcoming camping season. (After this, I have to do some online reservations for Memorial weekend - can hardly wait!)

Don't let me get started on the state of things around the house! Nothing a few (or more!) dollars spent at Home Depot wouldn't cure. A whole lot of living happened at our house, that's all I can say!

Luckily, the rest of our expenses have been stable (some utilities were even down due to a milder winter and concerted effort on our part.) Groceries are still at $200 for two weeks (including non-grocery items and pet food.) We've been eating healthier (whole grains, fruits and vegies, and lots of chicken,) but lots of those things have been on sale. We have a freezer and stock up on the meat. The fresh vegies and fruit haven't been too expensive - and we eat the most perishable during the first week, and the more hardy the second week. The whole grain items are from a bread outlet store - we'd go broke buying that stuff from the grocery store! My goal is to use up some soups and meals frozen over the winter -and clean that freezer up a bit! Do I have a bad case of spring cleaning, or what?!

Take care, and Happy Spring!

A month's gone by...

March 2nd, 2007 at 10:38 pm

I guess this is the once a month way to blog. What can I say, it's been busy!

For the first three weeks, my family was ill in a tag-team fashion. It was an upper respiratory thing that just stuck around. Per a recommendation here, I finally tried a generic form of Airborne, and I'm sold! I wished I had tried it much sooner. I don't get sick very often, but this one really took hold for some reason. We are all well again - yay!

The other thing keeping me busy was finding a new facility for my mom. I got a call from the nursing home social worker a couple weeks ago today, saying that she would be better served in a place that specializes in dementia care. It was such disappointing news, as we've been very happy with my mom's care there. By Wednesday last week, my brother and I had phoned and visited several places. We placed a hold on a bed the next day, and we moved her this past Monday. We are hopeful that this place will work out for her. We've been in the midst of a blizzard the last few days, so I haven't been able to go visit since Monday. I'll head over tomorrow with the family.

Money-wise, I got the taxes done for us, plus part-done for my daughter. Her wages from one of her jobs was done on a 1099, which made her self-employed. A lot of hassle for such little, yet just enough to have to file, wages! Long-story short, after spending phone time with very helpful (really!)IRS people, the fed return is done, and she'll pay in what she owes in April. The state wasn't as helpful, only because I couldn't get through on their helpline (probably due to the storm, and limited staff able to get to work today.) We've changed it with her employer, so that she has the taxes taken out as needed, and she'll get a w-2 next year. Just the state left to do for her, and then I'm done - and none too soon for me!

Weekend plans include digging out the house and driveway, and lazing about at home. Ambitious, I know! Take care!

This and that

January 24th, 2007 at 04:57 pm

My youngest is still home sick - it's the sickest she has ever been, but she seems to be on the mend finally this morning. There is no school on Friday, and I can't imagine she'll have enough strength for school tomorrow. I'm glad we're not often sick!

I've been chipping away at many of the jobs on my to-do list. Even those ones that are never gotten to, and get transferred to my newest list (several times over!) While it's nice to be further along on my list, I am quite ready to go back to work, that's for sure!

My husband's w-2 was available online yesterday, so I did a quick calculating of our taxes (still waiting on some 1099s, so can't do fully yet.) No surprises - pretty much like last year. Our medical expenses were quite high last year (for us,) but I'm still working on whether they were high enough for us to benefit from itemizing.

Today is usually a day I visit my mom, though I'll have to go later in the day or in the week, with my daughter home. Last week my mom was put into a wheelchair, as she was having trouble walking with her walker (like she didn't know how to walk anymore.) I know some of the progression of Alzheimer's, but I don't know if this is one of them. I think I only absorb what I'm able to handle at a given moment, and so may have missed it. She was given communion lasy week, and had the wafer in her mouth, but didn't know what to do with it. There has been a lot to adjust to lately.

Take care!

The illness that won't end...

January 17th, 2007 at 02:12 pm

My oldest stayed home not feeling well, but the rest of us are back to work and school. My lunch and water are packed for work. I work through lunchtime today, then I'll visit my mom at the nursing home before heading home. I've heard some local nursing homes are restricting visitors, but at my mom's place, visitors are requested to wash hands and make use of the numerous bottles of hand sanitizer. Winter is a hard time of year at the nursing home, that's for sure.

I got as far as I could with tax gathering yesterday. Now, to wait patiently for statements to arrive...I can try! I still need to file the pile (of papers,) but I left that fun for this afternoon.

As it is Wednesday, tonight's dinner is in the crockpot - spaghetti. Then I send the girls off to church activities for the evening, and help as needed with homework for the younger two.

Enjoy your day and take care!

And we're off...

January 3rd, 2007 at 03:16 pm

My husband went back to work yesterday, after having some vacation time following Christmas. The girls headed back to school today, except my youngest. She wasn't feeling well, so I'm keeping her home another day. I have a staff meeting tomorrow, but won't start back in class until Monday. A few days to get some stuff done around here, almost alone...

For today - Laundry (continually everpresent!) Get bills paid out. File the teetering pile of papers on my desk, which will then allow me to start to pull together items for tax time. With our incredible medical bills over the past year, I'm sure I'll be able to itemize our deductions. Once I fill out the forms, I'm having my brother look over everything, as the last time we itemized was at least fouteen years ago. I usually don't mind doing our taxes, but I'm definitely not in that frame of mind this year. Oh well, I'll be glad when they are done (how's that for positive!)

I also need to get over to the nursing home to sign the papers for a new medicine for my mom that I gave a verbal ok for on the weekend. She continues to decline, and it's taking more meds to keep her less agitated. Alzheimer's is really a hideous disease.

I need to throw something in the crockpot - maybe minestrone or spaghetti - as it is Wed, with church activities back on the calendar. I just need to get back into our schedule again, and not with my feet dragging!

Take care!

Busy day in a busy week

August 17th, 2006 at 11:22 pm

What a busy week! I started our 'Ready,set, Kindergarten' class this week. It's exciting to see my former preschool kids proudly doing what Kindegarteners do. I've also been receiving bags of pass-along clothes from some of my coworkers - my girls look forward to my return each day!

After work today, I got a chance to go over my summer paychecks (I was waiting for my 8-15 one.) I finally figured out that I received all the hours I was supposed to, but on different checks and different pay periods. Confusing...but glad I didn't have to march into the payroll office, and glad to have the pay, for sure!

I took my oldest to one of her medical appts today. Being there three to five times a week, I take care to pay our co-pay and get a receipt each and every time. Just before our camping trip, I had received a bill for a sixty day old co-pay charge. I asked about it today, and it was in error, so our account is cleared. Yay!

It's nice to get two more things cleared off my eternal to-do list! I even visited my mom after the medical appt. She's doing well (only one call from the nurses on our vacation!) Conversation is still strange, but it's not so shocking as it used to be. Mom laughs a lot and keeps on talking, so no harm (and it's nice to be reminded of things from her childhood.) I'll need to be the keeper of my own childhood memories now. Well, on to dinner duty...take care!

Getting ready to leave...

August 5th, 2006 at 02:41 pm

Tomorrow morning we leave on our camping trip. Today we run errands, clean up the house and pack up the van.

We have our neighbor girl take care of the animals and water the flowers. She is worth every dollar I pay her - our old dog needs to be let out four times over the day, she plays and pets the cats and guinea pig who feel quite abandoned, and she keeps the goldfish safe from being a cat snack. Our house and animals are safe under her care - one thing to not have to think about while away.

Now, my mom is another thing...I visited her yesterday, and left our trip info with the staff. I take along my cell phone, but unfortunately I have limited reception up north. I'll check messages daily when we're in or passing near Duluth. It' funny, I can go weeks without a call from the nursing home, but as soon as I'm on vacation, which is always camping with poor phone reception, I get calls every time, and by chance catch them as we are near a town or a dell tower. I think this is the trade-off for having an easy time with pet care arrangements.

Otherwise, my visit with my mom had some good and bad. The good is that my mom is finally out of the wheelchair. After breaking her hip last December (knocked over accidentally by another resident,) she got through surgery and was rehabilitating well, until she developed sores on her feet in February, and was ordered into the chair until healed. Just last week, she was given the ok to be back on her feet with the walker (no one thought to call me for this!) Anyway, talking to Mom about it, she doesn't ever recall having to use the wheelchair (I didn't even mention the broken hip - ha!)

The bad isn't horrible, just a part of her Alzheimer's progression. She was talking about "Daddy" a lot. She has always called my dad that when she talks to me. So she said Daddy had been here. I repeated back, "Oh, Dad was here?" She looks me in the eye and says, "Not your daddy, my daddy!" Later, she saw the nursing home social worker (male) and kept saying he's her daddy. He's probably in his mid to late-twenties. I'm trying to see the resemblance, and it's probably more about some interaction they've had. She was also talking about her childhood house in Wisconsin. Something must have got her thinking of her childhood. I'm grateful she still knows who I am (not quite sure how I fit into her childhood thought mode.)

Well, enough of a ramble for now...take care!

Sun-induced Ramble

July 19th, 2006 at 02:18 am

We're back in the 80s again - yay! I even got to use my oven for tonight's dinner.

I worked today, hung the laundry on the line, and then headed to the lake with the youngest two. Wow, I can imagine everyone thinking, this is what she does EVERY day. Simple, even boring if you wish, is fine for us!

Tomorrow we go to my oldest's medical appt, and we'll be near Target and the first of their back-to-school sales. I'm checking over what school supplies I put away at the end of the school year (a whole six weeks ago!), and am figuring out what we need. The medical facility is close enough to Target, so I'll only buy what's on sale and priced well this week. It's a poky way to get the four girls' supplies bought, but it does keep the total spent down (Mom only buys what is on her list for that week!)

I will also try to visit my mom in between work and the dr appt. Last week I got a call from my mom, and I was so taken aback, as I hadn't heard her voice on the phone in over three years. Before her Alzheimer's (and earlier on in the disease,) we talked almost daily on the phone. We tried having a phone in her room in assisted living for a while, but she got confused and upset with it, so we discontinued the service. It took me a few moments to really understand it was Mom on the phone. It turned out that the nursing home staff were having a hard time settling her into bed, and they thought a call to me would help. It did, and when I visited the next day, she didn't remember anything of what had upset her the night before. We are starting to see an increase in her agitation, but she still has many good days. I remind myself all the time to enjoy the good in each day, and try not think too far ahead.

At least with having a number of things to attend to in my life, I can never wallow in one part. (I may have spent too much time in the sun on the lake - what a ramble today!) Take care!!

Reducing costs for Mom's care

June 7th, 2006 at 06:52 pm

Good news on the mom front! The end result of our care conference for my mom is that her care level charge has been reduced from $7500/month down to $4300/month. She is only 66, and we're trying to make her funds last as long as possible. I know we'll be at that highest level soon enough anyway.

She's doing well as far as the nursing home staff is concerned, which we can see during our visits to her. She's still confined to the wheelchair, and we're trying to remain patient with the staff on this. We'll all be celebrating the day she is ok'd to be back up on her feet!

I stayed after the care conference, and took Mom for a walk outside through the garden. I think she enjoyed it, but was glad to be inside again. Her safe zone seems to be her room, the activity and dining rooms, and the halls that connect the three. It's a small zone, but probably all she is able to handle with her Alzheimer's.

A good day for finances..if only I could do as well on my own! Take care!

Wending my way through Wednesday

June 7th, 2006 at 01:48 pm

I was scheduled to work yesterday morning, but then was asked if I wanted to help set up a room for the summer program in the afternoon. I didn't need to be asked twice!

Last night the girls and I worked on the teacher gifts to distribute tomorrow. I'm relieved, because the ideas weren't too forthcoming this year. The girls spent the evening baking brownie bites, and will bag them up tonight, along with writing up the notes. The expense on this is well within our budget, thankfully.

In a bit, I'll head over to the care conference for my mom. My brother is attending with me. Hopefully, we can figure out a way to get Mom out of the wheelchair, and upright using her walker. The sore on her foot is healed, except that the dead skin disk hasn't completely detached (and it probably won't because they won't let her use the foot, which would help knock it off.) Mom is always setting off the alarm as she tries to get up from the wheelchair. She is very ready to be walking too. Setting off alarms hasn't helped any with her agitation level.

After the meeting, I'm getting together with a friend at a local coffee shop. I haven't seen her in a bit, so it'll be great to visit with her. I will offer to treat, as I received some gift certificates to the shop from a couple of the preschoolers as end of the school year gifts. Looking forward to this treat!

First I need to get the laundry on the line, so I had better get going. Enjoy your day and take care!

Life is crazy...

June 4th, 2006 at 03:49 pm

...and how did it get to be June already?!

Last week, I cleaned some very neglected parts of my house, and also worked as a last minute special ed sub at the Intermediate school, which makes for a rewarding, albeit exhausting, time. Tons of laundry went up on the line yesterday, as well as dropping off and picking up my husband's company van for some repair work ( he leaves for Fargo to install and program a security system tomorrow, and needs a properly running vehicle.)

The repair shop was near a Kmart, where I stopped to see if there was the kind of tops my mom likes to wear. The nursing home staff called during the week to say she's gained enough weight and needed some new sizes - she's still in the wheelchair with a sore healing on her foot, after 7 months, which accounts for this gain. My brother and I are meeting with staff on Wed for Mom's care conference, to see where we are with returning her back to
physical therapy. I brought the seven new shirts to her yesterday, along with my third daughter and her dog. Mom was having a fairly agitated day, and wanted to get up out of the wheelchair, which set off her alarm (which hardly helped the situation.) Not the most relaxing visit, but she loved the new shirts and enjoyed a walk outside to look at the flowers in the garden. I figured if I was pushing her around, she wouldn't try leaping out of the chair, and I was right. Phew, what a visit... It may be a long summer.

Medical issues of now two daughters are still weighing heavy, but I'm trying to focus on only what I can do at the moment, rather than look too far ahead. Well, I'm mindful of what the future holds, but with little that can be done, I try to not get myself too worked up with worry. Times like these, make hanging laundry on the line, or cleaning, or baking such peaceful, productive activities in my life.

Otherwise for today, we will work on getting my husband ready for his out-of-town work - he's hauling 12 boxes of cable, I think each holds a 1000 ft. I'll bake the weekly batch of rhubarb muffins - the good old plants still going strong. Of course, there's laundry to wash and hang.

I have a giftcard from one of my students for a local nursery, so I'll head over later and get some (few at their prices!) annual flowers for our pots. I have gardens throughout my yard that have perrenials, mostly divides from family and friends. I also fill in with lots of collected things, almost all free or gifts. Some ceramic and terracotta figures, birdhouses and garden stakes that the girls have painted throught the years, handprints in cement pavers, coal scuttle, old washbasins, odds and ends of marble - from my parents place before demolition (a previous owner was a headstone carver and brought home the leftover odd pieces to create pavers and a retaining wall.) Well, what I lack in flowers may or may not be disguised by my odd collection scattered throughtout the gardens, but I enjoy it all anyway.

What a loooong entry, too long! Anyway, I think it's time to get moving...take care!


Visiting Mom

May 3rd, 2006 at 10:13 pm

After work today, I went to visit Mom in the nursing home. I found her in the activity room,and as always she was excited for a visit.

Soon after I got there, one of the activity directors brought out a box packed with old linens. I helped her hand out the pieces to everyone. You wouldn't believe the embroidery, tatting, crocheting... There was even a piece that had crochet edging on a piece of handemade linen (that traveled from Sweden with the director's husband's great-grandma many years ago.) Most of the pieces were from her husband's great-aunt; some collected from garage sales.

It was fun to see the residents' interest in the linens, and hear memories invoked by the pieces. My mom, being young enough to be of a different era than the other residents, stated very clearly that she never created such things or had them lying around the house. This was true. She still had fun admiring an embroidered piece with birds - birds she's always loved.

I enjoyed that the director had such appreciation for these pieces of beauty. Not everyone does, and many times such items can be found for free or very cheap. My husband's grandma made sure he had a trunk full of quilts, crochet-edged pillowcases and doilies to bring into our marriage. She was long gone by our wedding, but I thought it was a pretty neat inheritance and legacy.

This probably doesn't relate to anything moneywise. How about... enjoy using what you have, have what you want, and if you don't want to keep something, there is probably someone who will want it. Boy, what a way to bring it back to finances!

Excuse my nostalgic mood...take care!

Back to warm again...

April 26th, 2006 at 09:48 pm

It's near 70 and sunny gorgeous.

Got a bit done this morning. I washed and hung the laundry on the line outside. Dinner was readied to pop into the crockpot - scalloped potatoes and ham. Got the girls off to school, then headed into work.

Paint, paint, and more paint! And believe it or not, one of the teachers put worms in the sensory table. I was the advocate for these lowly worms (note, the I who had to hide being a little squeamish about our little visitors.) The preschoolers will be murmuring 'be gentle' for every worm they come across. I undrowned all the grass the kids planted in cups. More water isn't better, teacher?! But I got through it all unscathed. Worked a little extra today too.

Visited my mom after work. I took her outside for a walk, well I pushed her in the wheelchair. She (and us!) are so anxious to have her foot heal, so she can again receive physical therapy, and get back to using her walker. Feet take forever to heal, and I know they are being very careful to have it fully healed. On our walk, she kept talking about a house across the street from the nursing home - I couldn't figure out what it was about the house, but it was quite the engaging topic for her. There were new baby birds in the home's aviary to admire and talk about too.

Wednesday is our busy day - the two youngest have bell choir practice at church and the oldest has confirmation. My second went to church with the neighbors. A check on the homework situation, and a few more chores before dinner to accomplish.

Have a great rest of today! Take care!!

Time Flies...

April 18th, 2006 at 07:47 pm

...when you're having fun!

Actually, life hasn't been too bad lately, just plain busy. The couple times I tried to make a new entry, I couldn't log in, so I'm glad it's working out for me today.

We had a fun long Easter weekend. My third daughter came home from her school trip on Thurday night, feeling very successful (no tearful calls home from a homesick girl!), tired and with lots of stories of her adventures. On Friday, everyone got up early to do yardwork in our beautiful summery Spring weather. Afterwards, we had moved into the house to clean and generally spruce up the interior. On Easter day, we had my husband's parents over for noon dinner, and later went to visit my mom at the nursing home (she's still in a wheelchair for her December hip break, and we would not have been able to get her to our door even, plus her stage of Alzheimer's makes it so hard to take her anywhere anymore - she gets so unsettled and anxious, and just wants to go back home. Can you tell I feel bad about this? This is the first Easter dinner without her. I know there is nothing to be done, but to do what's best for her. It just takes a bit of getting used to, I guess.) We took her dog along for the visit - she loves that old dog! It was a nice visit with my mom - the dog and girls always bring my mom a lot of attention, so she had fun being at the center of it all.

So it was back to work and school for us all today. I work extra this week - the last session of Kindergarten Connection. I also said yes to working a two-week session in August to get the kids ready and raring to go to Kindergarten in September. I'm off in the summer, and by August a bit of paycheck will be welcome.

We've seen online all that the insurance will pay toward my oldest's hospital stay in March, so will be prepared for the bills when they are sent out. We have the money set aside.

I'm getting a little edgy about upcoming expenses. Hospital charges - ok. Ongoing medical appointments - 25-75 per week - have been managing, but have been putting off the more non-pressing medical appts, and that can't go on too much longer. (Still saying to myself - be thankful that there is insurance!!)

My two middle girls are going to our church's camp in Wisconsin in June. My oldest is going on a mission trip to Wyoming in July. Between the girls' savings and work (at the pool and babysitting) and youth accounts at the church, I'm estimating that the amount I'll pay out to be $200-300, or so altogether.

We are camping over Memorial weekend - paid for! Just the gas (no small expense anymore!) to get there and we bring along food. We try to camp a couple other times over the summer - we'll have to see how we stabilize after paying off the hopsital and manage the ongoing medical expenses, once I'm not getting a paycheck.

Also, we got notice that my second daughter was recommended for a school trip to Wahington DC next Fall as an 8th grader. Her older sister did the trip, and we thought it was a wonderful experience. My oldest paid for over a third of the trip by working at the pool as a water safety aide in lessons. My second is applying for an aide position in our commnuity ed program over the summer - that would really be great news in making this trip a reality.

Well, enough for this entry - not the best at short and sweet! It's a beautiful day here in Minnesota, one that you dream about at Winter's darkest. I definitely need to find some puttering to do outside! Take care!

Rambling on....

February 28th, 2006 at 09:20 pm

How can it be the end of February?!! My husband is out of town for the week for training for work. I think somehow he knew when to leave, as this week is crazy.

For her birthday, I got my MIL some flowers and a giftcard for a local coffee place they like to visit, often with their friends. My inlaws, as well as us and everybody it seems, are constantly battling clutter and are trying to rid their house of things, so I opted for a gc rather than some thing.

Got my husband packed and out the door. The girls have been helpful around the house, and especially in keeping on top of homework and other projects. The Girl Scout cookies and youth group pizzas have been delivered (still waiting on some of the money, though.)

Visited my mom after work today. She has been off her physical therapy for two weeks due to sores on her feet. They are healing, but she is stuck to using a wheelchair, until her pt is reinstated and completed. My brother got the bill for her new level of care - oww! Not sure how long her money will hold out at this rate. She's losing more cognitive capabilities, as well as the physical abilities from her hip break in December. It's been a hard winter for her.

A little later today, I'll help the two youngest set up their displays in the school gym that they've done on their favorite books. They both worked so hard, but boy, what projects they ended up being! Tonight, I'll bring all four girls to work at our incoming Kindergarten meeting - they'll help with childcare. Extra hours for me, my kids are unpayed labor, but very appreciated by my boss.

Tomorrow, my oldest gets her braces off after 2 1/2 years. She can hardly wait to bite into an apple!

Thursday, I'm having my hair done by a friend - cut and color for cheap. I am looking haggard and worn-out, so I've been saving for this and looking forward to it too! Then I take my oldest to her weekly medical appt. In the evening, the youngest has her Girl Scout meeting.

I'd normally look forward to the weekend, but it's a busy one. My third daughter has her 1st Communion on Sunday. On Saturday, she'll attend a retreat with our pastor and her sunday school classmates. Afterwards, there is a dinner at the church for the kids and their families.

Moneywise - I grocery shopped last Saturday for the next two weeks - did very well. I had a few moments last evening after homework to look over February's totals. In general, the totals were about the same (though some like groceries had extra expenses of two parties.) But I had two expense lines that increased - to savings and to the cc debt. And we're still money ahead - banking it for our last month of the huge hosp and dr bills from last year.
Some successes, so feeling pretty optimistic for March.

So goals for next month include:

* Continue to watch and reduce our grocery bill (includes all food except dining out, health/beauty, hh cleaning and paper) by $150

* Continue same amounts to savings and cc (though increases would be acceptable, if there is overtime!)

* Plan some fun and free things to do over our Spring break (nope, we won't be flying to Fla., Mexico or the Caribbeans - can you tell the sort of area we live in??) We have a week and a half off, so we'll intermingle lazy in pj days, with some activites around the Twin Cities.

Thank you for letting me ramble on and on... Did I mention my husband is out of town?? (Yes, he is a saint, and definitely needed a break - even if it is training for work.) Take care!

Heart Day

February 14th, 2006 at 08:55 pm

Happy Valentine's Day! Yesterday and today, I celebrated with our preschool classes. I think the kids were fed candy hearts for breakfast. By the end of the day, the teachers felt like running around the room screaming, right along side the kids!

After work, I headed over to the nursing home - much, much quieter. Mom was eager to see me. I brought her an azalea plant and a soft stuffed dog to hold, as well as some cards from my husband and I and the girls. I usually go for more homemade food sorts of gifts for the family, but she's on a restricted diet now(and it's a pain to get it all approved and written down on her chart.) I got her the dog, because I'm learning the importance of holding soft items for older people. She seemed to be thrilled with it, and kept petting the stuffed dog.

I made valentines for my husband and girls using construction paper and glue and markers - I know, I'm stuck at the preschool level. I collected a bit of candy kisses and hearts into little bags too. We'll celebrate when we're all together at dinner tonight.

Moneywise, we're maintaining what we started in January. I did spend a little on Mom for today, but spent less on groceries for the two weeks. I went ahead and shopped for two weeks, which was cheaper per week, as I expected. I'll try the two week grocery shopping for this month. I mailed out the federal taxes yesterday - we'll get back just over $2200. We owe MN $85, but April is soon enough for that.

Happy Heart day to you all! Take care!

Monday

January 30th, 2006 at 10:11 pm

Today I got paid. Worked a little extra - the licensing people are coming into work tomorrow, so all the rooms need to be looking their best. Still no 1099 from the bank - they are waiting until the end!

Visited Mom today. She started getting pressure sores on her heels, so is wearing huge foam boots. She doesn't understand what they are for, and is not enjoying her new fashion at all. She is looking good otherwise.

This is our first whole week of school in a while, so I'm thinking it's feeling long already. Yeah, I know - how rough we have it! We're on our second week of all taking lunches to school - still working out well, and is going to be something we continue. I bought ground beef at a good price the last time I went to the grocery store. I'll cook it all up with some onion, and bag it into 1lb. bags and freeze. I'll keep out 1lb. for use in tonight's tacos - a big favorite at our house.

We got our electric bill and it was almost $20 higher than normal - ugh! We're doing as others have mentioned here - shutting down and unplugging things. My husband is still trying to figure out our computers. I guess they are on a battery back-up thing that needs to stay plugged in or beeps and switches to the battery if unplugged. Needs?!! Well, I'm working on this (him!) The rates went up also. Oh well, the ups and downs of keeping money in our hands...

Take care!

checking out more of the budget

January 19th, 2006 at 08:38 pm

Today was pajama day at preschool - the kids always laugh at us teachers in our gear. I even had wild hair that looked like bedhead, though that was not intentional. Visited Mom and she is now allowed full weight on her healing hip - yay! Her physical therapist stopped by to chat, and was proud to announce that Mom walked with her walker this morning for the first time since the accident. Our goal was to get her out of the wheelchair and back to her walker, and she is getting there!

Moneywise news - trying to look over our budgeted expenses some more.

Garbage - We have a city collector, with a reduced charge negotiated with the city. Over the 16-17 years we've had this service, the cost has risen very little. The city added a recycling charge, and probably two price increases for a total of about $2-3 more monthly in all that time - not bad. One of the journalists mentioned cutting their service. We'd still have to pay the recycling charge. While we recycle everything we can (we have curbside pickup every 2 weeks) and compost, I'm not sure what we'd do with the rest of the garbage. But maybe, we can increase our effort to reduce our container size (though the savings for using the smallest one is not much of an incentive - though the environmental incentive is always a good motivator.)

Phone - We have landline and internet service from our local company. I keep talking to my husband about our 'need' for DSL service - but he's not budging. We have basic phone service (the cheapest) and haven't felt a need to have all of the extras that are offered. We have a phone with an answering machine, and it works for us. My husband has a cell from his work, and they pay all expenses (and it's used for work only, though he may carry it for emergency use occasionally - never have used it so far though.) I have a cell phone with a limited plan my husband gets through being on the voluntary police reserve in out town. I like the convenience it offers me for the school to reach me about sick kids and for the nursing home staff who care for my mom to be able to reach me, wherever I am during the day (I switch schools during the day many times for work.) I don't use it to have long conversations, but for those quick calls. My two oldest daughters have pay-as-you-go phones from their aunt (she graciously supplies the phone cards too.) I looked into that kind of service for me, but found for the usage I have each month, I'd pay double what I am now. I do use those phones to call to my brother and family in Alaska. We email each other regularly, but make an occasional call, and that's the cheapest way for us to call there.

Today's mail brought more w-2s, so on to more tax compiling...take care!

Wednesday

January 19th, 2006 at 01:33 am

Pretty good day today. I worked preschool in the morning, and then intermediate school in the afternoon. I was greeted by a few people who want to take advantage of my afternoon availability for subbing- I say yes! (February bills beware!)

The minestrone was wonderful last night - my family all loved it, and there was only one bowl left for my lunch today. Definitely a keeper crockpot recipe. Next soup I want to try is the lentil one mentioned in the food forum. Tonight we had homemade pizza - no leftovers either. It helps that I limit the girls on their afternoon snack - sometimes even eliminating it altogether if we're having an early supper. They eat more dinner, that's for sure.

Not much money-wise to report, except that it was a no spend day, while being a good earning day. Tomorrow I plan to add up receipts for tax time, and remind my husband to check on his pension from his former employer (I do most money matters at our house, but once in a while I come across an account that will only speak to the owner - no problem, except to get him to do it...)

I'll visit my mom too tomorrow. She broke a hip in early Dec, so I'll have to check with the nurses as to how her latest followup dr visit went (she has Alzheimer's and won't remember going to the dr, or even that she broke the hip - she very much lives in the moment.) I also received her newest med insurance card, so need to get the nursing home a copy of the card.

This evening still holds spelling lists study for two daughters, folding the laundry and thinking what we'll have for dinner tomorrow (hmmm - maybe another crockpot meal - I have the makings of a creamy mushroom swiss steak recipe.) My two youngest girls both have their girl scout meetings from late afternoon to after dinner, so a quick dinner is in order. My oldest will be coming home soon from confirmation, and will NEED the computer. And then slowly, one by one the girls will go to bed, followed soon by their parents!

Well, whew!....take care!

Back at it

January 4th, 2006 at 08:02 pm

Back to work for me and back to school for the girls. Sleeping in and pretty much being lazy over the break made for a rude awakening yesterday morning, but we all survived and are back on track.

My husband checked out our Ford conversion van and lucky us, I didn't do damage to the transmission - whew! Just an easy brake line for him to install. This allows us to delay any big decision about what to do with this poor vehicle. We have had the front end welded a couple of times, but it's again starting to come apart. This is the van that we use when we go camping. Picture a van stuffed to bursting, plus the excess tied to the top in several carriers (a la Ma and Pa Kettle, for those old enough to remember those old movies.) At the campsite, we open the doors and things just spring out the door, as well as the four girls. After the tent and site setup, we are settle down pretty well, much to the neighboring sites' relief. We also use the old van for going to the beach in the summer, and we can bring along a blownup tube or air mattress for everyone (we usually bring along friends.) And the van is so old I don't worry about dings on the door, sand in the carpet, spills, etc. Yes, I love this old van, troubles and all...

Finally got the pin for one of my husband's old retirement accounts - will try to access online & find out if it could be rollovered to something (still need to research where to put combined funds.) Need to call the clinic to have new 3-month prescriptions wriiten up, due to our medical insurance changing on January 1. Already printed the forms needed for mail-in prescriptions.

Need to talk to my mom's insurance, due to receiving a bill from a hospital she wasn't at - my brother talked to the nursing home and they don't know what it is. When he tried calling the hospital, they wouldn't talk to him without filling out a ton of paperwork, even though we have all the legal papers including POA, and it was billed to HIM! Oh well, just when you think you have it all in order and figured out, it either changes or is just handled differently. It keeps you on your toes, that's for sure!

Well, my to-do list grows by the second, so now must do some crossing off of the list. Take care!

Last two days

December 29th, 2005 at 04:49 am

Something happened so that I couldn't login, but thanks to Jeffrey I can now. I wrote up another entry tonight, but it didn't get posted, so the score is 2-2 (2 that got posted and 2 that didn't - well, I like a good challenge!)

Yesterday I worked on getting the checkbook caught up and several bills paid. We both get paid on Friday and it will be none too soon. I arranged for payments with no interest for the hospital (over 3 months) and the doctor (over 4 months.) I also tried to access my husband's pension account from his previous employer, but couldn't locate the pin, so asked to have it sent out to us.

Today I had an early morning care conference for my mom, who has early-onset Alzheimer's Disease and is in a nursing home - I'm POA for her along with my youngest brother. The I headed into work. School is out for the winter break, but I also do the bulk mailing for our program and had the Spring brochure to get ready and send out. These few hours will be welcome on the check that reflects the time off for this break. I also spent quality time cleaning up the house with the girls, because tomorrow will be a friends over day (and it was getting a bit too messy for me!)

Tomorrow I want to collect together the other retirement account papers and start researching if we want to rollover into an existing account or create another to collect these loose-end funds. I'll also take time to play in the snow with the girls and their friends in our balmy MN weather (before the snow all melts!) I have a number of snowcats decorating my front and backyards, but I would like a snowman/woman and/or kid or two.

Take care!