Archive for the ‘parenting’ Category


I “suffer” from MNBIS. It’s tragic, really. I don’t know how I manage. 😛

I always seem to have the best blog subject ideas when I wake up in the middle of the night. I’m up either from pain or having to use the loo, and I’m still in pain anyway, and I’m having difficulty going back to sleep. As I’m dozing, I have dozens of amazing ideas every week for subjects and I manage to write them in full in my head.

It’s funny that cognitive, pain, and dexterity issues prevent me from writing these amazing entries in the middle of the night. Short tweets on my phone or Kindle? Okay. Short entries on my phone, eh, but that’s really, really inconvenient even when I’m awake.

What’s really funny is how cognizant it feels while having these ideas and even writing them in my head. If I do get to actually writing it down on paper, and I see it during daylight hours, there are so many typos and grammar issues it’s illegible. The handwriting itself looks like an abstract artist’s dream. Which I suppose it is, since I enjoy creating abstract art.

Hm. There’s a new way to look at it. Midnight words turned into abstract swirls of colored thought.

So maybe not so tragic after all. 😉

 

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Happy Friday [I forgot where I got this image, sorry… I just googled for Lemonade Happy Friday]

I made just a few changes around here. I updated to a floral spring header and background color. I also slightly adjusted my blog tagline; I only shortened it. No one has hacked my account again, which by the way pisses me off. At least they only post short weird ad-like oddness. Still.

The changes you might notice if you visit my blog after today are due to me. 🙂 The appearance changes are legit.

Happy Friday!

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Navel Gazing, found on zuco.org

It’s been ages since I’ve talked about headlines. The news cycle went from weekly to daily. Now it seems to have gone to hourly half of the week. When I turn off all technology for an afternoon and evening, or even a full day, that’s the day that I miss several seemingly-important headlines.

Even when I don’t miss a day or two, the trick is really figuring out which headlines are the important ones. Sifting through them can be an emotionally draining chore. No one really talks about that part, do they. I appreciate having the comprehension ability to understand it out on my own. I appreciate being able to sort the facts from the exaggerations. I’m grateful for knowing how to research what I learn in order to prove or disprove what I’ve learned. I never take anything at face value. I always consider the source.

I also always make sure I have enough coffee. That’s the other trick. The comfort-food aspect makes a difference. Why? Because so much of the news is anxiety-inducing, sad, angering, upsetting. It’s important to find wholesome news and stories; uplifting and inspiring images. We need to do more than inform our brains. We need to positively feed our emotions. We need to educate ourselves, too.

I enjoy learning about new scientific discoveries. It’s exciting learning about our space programs. Finding new animals and plants is fun. I’m not beyond looking up recipes, either. 😉  I love to be able to share these things with my family.

We have to stay balanced. The headlines can’t become everything.

I know I sound like I’m tooting my own horn, but let me be clear here: I recognize that sometimes I’m wrong. ::gasp::  Oh, please, it’s not like I haven’t admitted that before.I know it seems odd but I needed to purge this before I could continue with anything else. It’s a self-affirmation I needed to see in writing.

 

 

 

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My Gram


My beautiful grandmother passed away on September 22nd 2018. She was there the day I was born. I was there the moment she died. I miss her so much that I don’t think I’ve ever missed anyone more. Because it’s permanent.

Gram was my first favorite person in the entire world. Her love has always been unconditional. I do believe in Heaven. I do believe she’s in Heaven because with the life she lived there’s no other place she could be in an afterlife. I believe she’s watching over her entire family, and loving us as she always has, maybe even more purely.

Except Gram’s not here. I can’t hug her or kiss her. I can’t feel hugs or kisses from her. I can’t hold her hand. We can’t have silly misunderstandings because her hearing was so bad that hearings aids were worthless.

Well, until I figured out using really big writing boards to write Gram messages would work.

Well, they’d work as long as you aimed the board at Gram’s one good eye. And the writing was large enough.

Oh, those conversations were fun. Sometimes I think out loud, and I’m talking “with” my Gram. I wait for her responses and imagine what she might say. I try to use her as my inspiration in doing better. It’s hard. She was a wonderful wife and mother. She was a devout Catholic, devout to the faith right until her final breath. She was a wonderful friend. She never tore anyone down, even if she had a complaint. The worst she would say was a gruff, “Oohhhh, I don’t like him!” without resorting to personal insults.

Gram was kind, generous, loving, silly, intelligent, and she’d light up a room. I can’t think of anyone who ever met her that disliked her. While taking care of her during those last couple of weeks I learned that she sang for the Star Spangled Banner for President Harry Truman’s daughter. She was more well known as a singer than I ever realized. She was classically trained in NYC, which I knew, but I didn’t know she was trained by Professor Fuchs. He trained Lilly Pons.

I miss her. I just… I still can’t really comprehend that I won’t see her again. Yes, I was there when Gram died. I was holding her hand and kissing her face, whispering in her ear that she was surrounded by me and my Grampa. Yes, I sat with her while family came to pay respects. I floated through that night and the weekend, stunned, feeling lost. My days and nights had been consumed with caring for her and my Grampa.

I went back over the weekend to take care of Grampa, but luckily my Great Aunts and some of my dad’s cousins took over for me so that I could rest. I was running on empty and disbelief.

Yes, I put on a face and appropriate clothes and continued floating through a wake that never ended. It never ended, but I don’t remember much of it except seeing a couple of my cousins’ babies.

Yes, I put on my face again with appropriate clothes and floated through the funeral. I know it was a nice service, and the music made me cry. Ave Maria. How Can I Keep My Heart From Singing. Amazing Grace.

I know that I stiffly made it through the cemetery. I still have some of her roses.

I started to come down from floating during the gathering after the funeral. All of my cousins were there, and almost all of their babies. Seeing those little ones with my Grampa, and seeing them make him smile and laugh was priceless.

I didn’t want to leave. I didn’t want my cousins to leave. I wanted to hold their babies forever, snuggling them and loving them. I wished it didn’t take a death in the family to bring us all together like that.

It’s been very difficult for me to be emotionally functional these past few months. I’ve been more anxious, and very depressed. With the lovely New England winter, my Fibromyalgia has been flaring up terribly. Depression and anxiety are making it worse. I had been ignoring the pain and anxiety, but that weekend it hit me because I had to pay attention. The pain eased for a few weeks, and then the cold settled in and the season hit hard. The pain, of course, increases the anxiety. The cold hits my arthritis. The snow storms trigger migraines. The pain worsens my depression.

It’s a cycle. I don’t think I’ve had a worse winter.

I was in a daze through the holidays. I still feel as if I’m in a daze much of the time. I cry easily. Don’t worry, I’ve been seeing my therapist. It helps.

None of this is getting easier. I don’t miss her any less. It’s still raw. I’m just going with it, letting it happen.

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I’m having trouble understanding why there’s so much division, hatred, and rage in the U.S. now. We’ve always had various things that label us or differentiate us from other people. It’s supposed to be good to have differences. It’s supposed to be good to learn about other people, and in doing so we can learn more about ourselves.

Unity doesn’t mean losing ourselves in uniformity. We don’t lose our individuality. Unity doesn’t mean that altruism should take over our lives. It doesn’t mean we become apologists for the sins of our forefathers.

Embracing the differences in others, even the differences in politics, religion, ideals, parenting, priorities in goals, means that we’re embracing empathy.

We have lost the abilities to sympathize and empathize.

We have somehow decided, as a society, that differences in opinions puts us at such odds as to make us enemies. The enmity is most felt during the last two years in U.S. politics. Some people are attaching moral, ethical, and spiritual values to particular political parties. Some people are even attaching mental health issues to particular political parties. Some people have also decided that the “opposing” political party to their own is the extreme, and paints the entire party in the worst possible light. This is happening on both sides of the aisle. I’m not even counting the lesser parties.

Most people within each party are not the extreme. Most people are closer to centrist, and actually agree with each other. We mostly just disagree on the way to get to certain goals. The ones who get the most attention are the extremists. The ones who get the most attention are the ones who encourage the division. The ones who get the most attention are the ones who openly declare that it’s Us versus Them, and Other is always Bad. Those people are building mistrust intentionally.

I want people who are:

  • Consistently inclusive
  • Consistently ethical, moral, generous, kind
  • Intellectual and educated
  • Say what you mean, mean what you say, but say it with thought and care
  • Not sexual offenders
  • Not abusive emotionally, mentally, or physically in any manner
  • Inclusive of marginalized people
  • Expand Human Rights
  • Care about Women’s Rights, Women’s Health
  • Recognize that Human Rights are Civil Rights
  • Recognize that Disability Rights are Human Rights are Civil Rights
  • Are willing to work across the aisle
  • Are truly willing to protect all Americans, in a moral, ethical way
  • Caring about being part of the global community
  • Caring about building trust with our allies rather than becoming an isolationist nation
  • Caring about our Ecology as much as our Economy
  • Caring about our nation’s poor and underprivileged
  • Caring about the individuals as much as the populace
  • Willing to speak out against, but more importantly take action against atrocities being committed

I’m sure I’m missing some, but I haven’t had my 2nd cup of coffee. I’ve only managed to get 16 oz. into my veins this morning.

What it comes down to is this: be kind, be generous, be genuine.

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Hello Loves! You know, when you forget that you purchased the extended warranty on your computer it really can put a crimp in your technological access. Our computer wire and charger started acting hinky. The computer didn’t recognize it as being compatible. I did the troubleshooting, which said the charger wasn’t compatible and, “Hey Jessica, get a new one!” I checked the battery and it was in prime condition just to see if that was a problem, since it wouldn’t charge.

The problem got worse, and then died. The wire just gave up and our computer warned us it wasn’t going to put up with it any longer. With money being tight, it took a while to order a new one.

When we finally got one a couple a weeks ago… it didn’t work!

That’s when you remember that you purchased a warranty and are eternally grateful. They (you know, the computer people) take the computer away and repair the problem we were aware of AND they gave us a new keyboard, touch pad, and repaired a couple of other issues. They made sure the wire matches.

We have the computer back. It works. It only works if it’s plugged in.

When we got it back the battery experienced a “catastrophic and permanent failure.” The computer advised getting a new battery.

We got back on the phone with the computer people. They did that thing where they take control of the computer for a bit. It was determined that even though the battery was fine before they had it, the problem is due to typical battery life and therefore not covered under warranty. End of.

In any case, I’m back. I just couldn’t write entries on my phone. 🙂

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I have a lot of thoughts that are combating the issue of palliative care regarding in-the-home versus in nursing homes. In the early-ish part of the summer we received the news that a nursing care home finally had an opening for both of my grandparents. I should clarify that the “finally” part is really due to the fact that it took a long time for them… well, I should clarify that “them” is really my grandfather agreed to the move and my grandmother threw the mother of all tantrums, but relented. Once my father and uncles made the decision for my grandparents, and once they informed my grandparents, it only took a month or so for a health care facility to open up space for them.

There was relief in this. A lot of relief, actually. The fact that they would have on-site 24-hour nursing care and a doctor on staff. Their doctor would be on call. Emergency care would be available instantly as needed. There are a couple of hospitals within minutes from the nursing home, if needed.

As soon as they moved in, my grandfather felt relief. He could see that he really wasn’t able to take care of her any longer. That was hard for him. Not being able to pick her up when she fell was something that had been normal for a long time, but the emergency paramedics finally told them that unless she agreed (or he forced her) to go to the hospital when they called 9-1-1 and she was clearly injured (she was) then they were going to stop coming to the house for her. Whenever he fell, he knew enough to go to the hospital. So that was the tipping point.

I spent my summer with the girls, off work and visiting my grandparents as they adjusted and took turns with one being upset at being there and the other saying how wonderful it was. Yeah. Being in your 90’s and married for 70 years can be like that.

A week ago we held a party for my grandparents at the nursing home for their 70th wedding anniversary, and it was beautiful. My grandmother looked beautiful. She held her rosary the whole time. As I was growing up, and let’s face it her entire life and mine since at 40-something I still feel as if I’m growing up, she always put herself last. She always put all of her focus on the person who was in front of her. She made everyone in that room feel special, and so when they came for her and my grandfather’s anniversary, they made sure that she felt special.

She wasn’t quite herself, and I could see that. The entire week prior, she’d been declining. Her mood shifted. She started seeing hallucinations. Night time was the worst. She hadn’t slept for two or three nights, and so the day before the party, when I visited, they made sure she slept. She was in a great mood for the party, but something had changed. She knew who we all were and why we were there but she heard music that we couldn’t. She asked and talked about odd things, for her.

And then this past week things got worse. My grandfather and uncle swore to me yesterday that she wouldn’t recognize me, but she did. She couldn’t move much, but when I held her hand she held it back as much as she was able, and even lifted it to point at my youngest daughter when she wanted to see her. She would pucker her mouth and move towards us when she wanted kisses. The whole time since being in the nursing home, that’s all she’s wanted, is kisses.

They swore she wouldn’t understand anything we said to her, but she did. She tried to talk to me, so I told her about my girls and my husband, how school and work were for them and how much I’m enjoying being a stay at home mom again. I knew she wanted to know about my pain levels too, but I avoided that topic. I told her that I finally prayed for what she had asked me to pay for, for her and that I’d done so at Church yesterday morning right before coming. She blinked a few tears and tried to nod, leaned for kiss, and I cried. I told her that I prayed for it even though I didn’t want it, because I know she needs it and she’s ready, and because I love her. I told her that I love her no matter what, and that I’ll be okay, that the entire family will be okay and she can let go.

We stayed, Darling Girl and I, for hours with her. It was very difficult to leave. We let the nurses know we were leaving, and then we saw my grandfather coming down the hall from his room with a priest trailing behind him. He told me that the priest just got there, and could I please stay. This was their parish priest. He was there for Last Rites.

So of course I stayed. We stayed. I held her hand. When she saw her priest, she gasped and said his name after not being able to speak for a few days. My grandfather was shocked because he had been 100% sure that she didn’t… couldn’t recognize anyone and nor could she understand what anyone said. It was beautiful from start to finish, and I never thought it could be. Maybe it was beautiful because it’s what she wanted.

Now it’s Monday morning, and my Darling Girl is sad. This is making her think about when my husband’s father passed away four or five years ago. It’s very similar, but she didn’t understand what was happening then. She told me this morning on the way to school that she’s remembering what happened to her Nonnu, but with a new understanding and so she’s feeling the experience of his death all over again as her great-grandmother is dying.

What she’s having trouble understanding is how my grandmother could be choosing to refuse to accept her medications, even the pain meds; how she could be choosing to refuse to accept any food or water. At 12 1/2 years old she knows how long a person can without food, and without water. I don’t know how to explain that to her, how a lifelong devout Catholic could choose, in her mid-90’s, to stop it all and to leave directions for the nurses, doctors, and family to refrain from any extreme lifesaving measures. It’s not rational to my daughter. I told her that as much pain as her great-grandmother is in from her illnesses, she’s in far more pain when she eats and drinks because her insides don’t work as well any longer, and she wants the pain to end. That didn’t satisfy her, and I know that nothing will. It sounds weak in my ears too.

Also this morning, Sweet Girl was having a really difficult time. She asked me last night to explain what was going on. She was more angry about getting up than usual, and complaining about everything that’s ever made her angry. I nearly lost my temper with her, and when I realized that my temper was shorter than usual I knew it was because of my sadness and the anxiety of the vigil. I realized my mistake, shifted gears and told her I recognized how sad she must be, and she could visit with me after school but that I won’t force her. She finally managed to cry, sad crying, and it seemed a relief to her to be able to identify with words what was wrong.

Dearest Girl, my eldest, turned 17 yesterday. She was amazing about me spending the day with my grandmother. She seems to be holding up well on the outside. In that way, she’s a lot like me. Being the eldest, like me, it’s natural. I know that she knows she can talk to me; she will when she needs to talk.

I don’t know how to do this. It just feels as if I’m doing it all wrong.

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