Dealing With Aging Parents Mood:
not sure Topic: Family
Mom, the kids and me in September of '09.
I remember when I was young. I thought that my parents would be around forever. I remember thinking that I hope I die before my parents do because I didn't think that I would be able to cope if something happened to them. Then I became independent, and later I married. Still, though, I planned on my parents living way up until their nineties. I wanted them to be around to watch my children grow up.
Then, my dad died at the age of 77 a month after 9/11. My life wouldn't be the same again. It's funny how you dream of doing things with your kids that you did when you were younger. I dreamed of going on vacations that included my whole family - my mom and my dad, my brother and sister-in-law, my sister and her family. I soon realized that I couldn't relive the memories that I had as a youth. I would have to create new memories with my wife and children.
A few years later, my brother-in-law passed away and then, a year later, my brother. At about that same time, my mother had a stroke while visiting my sister and is now in a nursing home in NJ. Now three people that I remember being around all of my life were gone (I'm the youngest and my sister got married when I was six) and one was in a nursing home - all within the span of six years.
Now some of our memories consist of visiting my sister, my nephew and my mom two or three times a year. We are presently on one of those trips. Yesterday I went to see my mom. We had just been to visit a few months back and mom seemed OK. I have spoken to her a few times since, and my sister keeps me updated as to how mom is doing, but I wasn't expecting what happened. When I walked in and sat down beside her, she seemed pleasant, but I could tell something wasn't right. As our time together progressed, I realized what it was. She didn't recognize me. I talked of the kids and our trip up, but she didn't know who I was.
Later, I asked if she had been reading. She had always been an avid reader, but there was no book sitting beside her bed. I found some books in a drawer, pulled one out and set it on her nightstand. I turned to talk with her room mate, and to my surprise, when I turned back around Mom was reading the book. My excitement waned, though, when I saw that she was reading page 75. There was no way that she could have gotten there that quickly. I asked her what it was about she smiled and said "Oh, you would like it.". When I pressed her again she looked at the title and said "It's about Patricia". Patricia was the name of the book.
Tomorrow we are all going to visit. We'll see if she recognizes the whole family. Carol sees her several times a week, and to her the changes may be slight, but to me, at least on that day, they were very evident.
I thank God for my parents, and the years that I had with Dad and still have with Mom. But, it is still hard when you watch your parent age. Mom is now 88 years old. It is difficult to imagine not having her around, but it is becoming very apparent that the time will come. Perhaps having Mom not present mentally is God's way of preparing me for not having her here physically. I think I am prepared for it now, but maybe you never really are. Time will tell.
Thank you, Lord, for my mother. Please be with her while she is on earth just as I know you will be with her in Heaven. Thank you for the time on earth that I have had with my parents. I thank you for the lessons that they taught to me and the legacy that they have left for me. Please prepare my heart and mind for the day that you will choose to take my mother home to be with you. I know that when you do, she will be free from pain, free from mental loss, she will be perfect and whole. Thank you for providing a way that we can someday live in Heaven with you.
Thursday's Child - Our Own Marcello Mood:
a-ok Topic: Compassion International
This past year has been an amazing year. One of the things that has been so amazing is how many high school and college classmates I have reconnected with. Kees Boer was one of those classmates. The only thing is, I didn't go to school with him! Although Kees went to the same college as I did, he graduated a few years before me but he's the type of person who likes to make friends with everyone. He has turned out to be a great one. In one of our first chats he revealed that he was an advocate for Compassion International. I was curious so I asked him about it. After some discussion he mentioned that he was looking for a sponsor for a 12 year old boy from Bolivia. It seems that this boy had a sponsor, but for some reason that sponsor had to drop out of the program. He asked if I would be interested and he sent me this:
I said that I would pray about it and talk it over with my wife, but really it was love at first sight. There was something that just drew both Sarah and I too him, so a couple of days later we told Kees that we would sponsor him.
That was the beginning of a great relationship. My whole family loves Marcelo. We write to him weekly, and we have begun to get letters from him as well. Recently he wrote this letter (copied here the same way that we recieved it):
Dear Tim and Sarah and Family,
Hello, I greet all of you very hearty wishing that all of you find well of health. I thank you very much for the letter that you sent me, I am very happy that you write me. Here in school we will soon end our second trimester studies and now I have a lot of work practices to do. I hope that in the United States John Allen and Joshua are doing well in their studies. In the Student Center I learn more of our God's word and of our Jesus' live. I love to be in the Student Center. We are lately learning the book of Revelations. I like the Bolivian history more than the world's history. I don't have drawing classes (in our first letter he had drawn a beautiful picture for us, so we had asked him about art lessons) but I like to draw a lot. When I have time I like to draw animals or people. I know that one of these days we will meet by our God's grace. I will continue praying for all of you. I dismiss with lots of hugs wishing that our Lord blesses you a lot, loves you very much.
In a more recent letter, he said "Please don't stop writing to me." I wrote back and assured him that we wouldn't. Our kids have grown to love Marcelo and we pray for him every day. God has blessed us and I know that our financial support has helped Marcelo and his family. More importantly, though, our letters to each other have been a mutual blessing. Kees says that the letters are almost more beneficial than the money that we send each month. These children crave love and acceptance. It is not difficulty at all to love and accept Marcelo.
Over Christmas, Compassion International had a program called "Christmas Child". We recieved the profile of another child who was in need of a sponsor. We were to pray over that child for the month of December and try to find a sponsor for them. We recieved the profile of a little girl by the name of Mwemde Mumbe from Kenya and have prayed faithfully for her. We have also talked to people and sent out information on Facebook, Twitter and my blog, but no one has stepped forward to sponsor her. Next week, I am going to write about her in my Thursday's Child segment, but until then won't you pray about supporting her. If you would like, I can send you a profile of her. Sending the profile will not obligate you to sponsor her, it is just a little more information that you can pray over. Nothing would thrill me more than to have to come up with another topic next week because a sponsor for Mwende had been found. If you would like more information on Compassion International, just click on one of the hi-lighted links above. If you would like more information on Mwende, please email me at email@example.com and I can either email or snail mail her profile to you. Believe me, if you sponsor a child with Compassion International, you will not regret it!
The Diaries of a Mad Traveler Mood:
silly Topic: Family
Do you remember that old song from Dr. Demento called "They'er Coming to Take Me Away"? It went something like this:
They're coming to take me away, ha-haaa!! They're coming to take me away, ho-ho, hee-hee, ha-haaa To the funny farm.
Well, that's about the way I feel right now after traveling for nearly 14 hours in a car with three children!
It really began yesterday when we left home. We were going to stop by Grandma's to take her Christmas gifts to her, then be on our way. Our plan was to stop after a few hours, get up in the morning, and then finish our trip. Well, the ever cautious weatherman Tim decided to check the weather to see what it was going to be like while traveling. Seeing the rain and snow reports, I quickly checked the times for when the snow was supposed to begin and end on our route. I decided that the best deal would be to leave in the morning and follow the snow. If we left at about 4:00 in the morning, the major weather would be over by the time we got to most places. It worked like a charm. All we had was a little rain and right at the end, a little sleet. Otherwise, they had time to clear the roads before we came through, and the kids still got to see a lot of snow.
The middle part of our journey was rather uneventful, but the beginning and end were doozies! It all began with strange squeaking noises coming from our roof top carrier. We thought it needed to be tightened, so we stopped and I did my best to tie it off. It then happened again, and we tried to analyze what it could be. It hadn't been like that the day before. What could be different? When she told me she had put the skateboards up top, Sarah and I realized what it was right away. After some adjusting, no more squeaking!
Later, after a stop at McDonalds for breakfast, the kids settled down for naps. After a few pleasant quiet miles, we were awakened by a cough and then a spew. Yep! Jacob had awakened from a dead sleep and gotten sick all over himself. And, there was absolutely no place to stop. Sarah tried to clean him up the best she could until we finally found a rest stop. Must have been something he ate, because he's been fine since.
Luckily the middle part of the day was uneventful. The boys stayed to themselves and did their own thing. They either read, slept or watched videos. Sarah and I traded out driving until she got a grand headache and began to see double. Then I took over for the rest of the trip.
And, the new GPS that Sarah got for me worked great. A little too great at times! We knew how to get to my sister's house. We have been there plenty of times before. But, when we set the GPS, it set a completely different route. So, the minute we deviated off of it's route, it began barking orders and directions at us! "Take the next exit and turn around", "Take exit 3 in 3/4 miles". Finally we had to shut it off. Finally we got to a point where there was no turning back, even for the GPS, and it reset itself to our route!
Now, I love Washington DC. I've been there lots of times, and love the history, the museums, the government buildings, the works! But, I hate to travel through or around it! Today, I was once again, reminded why! It took us over and hour to get 16 miles! And, needless to say, the kids were beginning to get antsy again. Finally, after a stop for gas, restroom, and snacks, they settled down - for an hour.
After the hour guess what happened? Yep, you guessed it! They all had to use the restroom. We were only and hour away from my sister's house by this time, traffic was heavy, it had begun to rain and sleet, and I didn't know where an easy to find gas station was.
Finally, after a little yelling - both on my part and the kid's part, we convinced them to wait until we got here, and we did. Now we are safe and sound and bedded down for the night at Aunt Carols! But tomorrow? Well I can tell you that tomorrow they're:
Coming to take me away ho ho, he he, ha ha. To the funny farm!
PS. For those of you who were looking for my new Thursday's Child Compassion International post, it will be here tomorrow. I was just too exhausted to think too much tonight!
This is the next day, and I must have been exhausted. So much so that I made tons of errors! They are all now corrected. Thanks for overlooking them!
I'm Doing It Again! Please, Someone Stop Me Before It's Too Late! Mood:
chillin' Topic: General
Please, someone, stop me before I become a blogaholic! There has to be a support group for people like me. Yes, I'm doing it again! I'm signing up for NaBloPoMo - National Blog Posting Month - again in January.
Some of you probably noticed that this badge has the word "Best" in the middle of it. NaBloPoMo has a theme every month. You don't have to follow this theme but some participants do use it to get ideas for a post or two. I haven't used any of the themes yet, but I'm going to try to use this month's theme somewhat during January. I'm already thinking of a post or two, or maybe even a discussion starter...mmm...who knows! Keep checking back to see what I might think up next. This is going to be fun!
For any of you bloggers who might want to participate in NaBloPoMo, the URL is www.nablopomo.com . The homepage has a welcome section that tells you how to register and get started. I have really enjoyed it.
Tuesday's Toolbox - This Week's Tool? - A Car! Mood:
cool Topic: Blog Carnivals!
I know, I'm breaking the rules again. I really need to watch out, or Susan isn't going to let me contribute to Tuesday's Toolbox anymore. But, a car is an object commonly found in some homes - in the garage. And, besides, my mind is on the long trip we are making tomorrow from our house in TN to my sister's house in NJ so using the car as a teaching tool seemed appropriate.
Actually, I'm going to focus more on the trip and not the car. I love to travel. Maybe not long trips as much anymore, especially with 3 boys ranging from 3-13 in the back seats of the van. My family has always enjoyed seeing new places and we have always tried to use our trips - even just the rides in the car - as a teaching tool. Here are a few hints for making travel a little more pleasurable with kids.
Maps - A few years ago I decided to buy my oldest his own pocket atlas to use while traveling. He loved it! He learned to follow the road signs and find where we were on his map. He learned directions, states, and general map reading skills. Soon my middle boy got into the act and we had to buy him one as well.
The License Plate Game - Even when I was young we used to play games in the car. Oh, not board games, although they do make travel board games now, but special travel games. One of our favorites is the license plate game. At the start of the trip, we all guess to see how many different state's license plates we will see along the way. The kids have to reason and think about how long the trip is, what season it is (is it a heavy traveling season or not) and what time of day we are traveling. We then begin to watch for license plates. Someone keeps a running total of what states have been seen. At the end, we count up the states spotted and see who came closest. A different variation is to allow each child to keep his own list and see who spotted the most. You can even provide blank maps and crayons and have them color in each state as they see it.
Hanky-Panky - No, we don't allow any funny business to go on in our car! It's a rhyming game. Someone starts by trying to think of two words that have the same amount of syllables and that rhyme. Let's say FAT and CAT. They wouldn't say the two words, but would give a clue like "a heavy set feline". Then they would say what kind of words they were - two one syllable words would be a "hank pank". Two syllable words would be a "hanky panky". Three - a "hankity pankity" etc. (don't worry it won't go much further than a hankity pankity). Whoever can guess the two words first gets to guess the next two rhyming words.
Travel Bingo - you can buy these at truck stop stores, or you can make your own. I was just introduced to a website called "Mom's Mini Van" that has a lot of printable travel games that you can print for free including Travel Bingo. Just click on the hi-lighted link above. Travel Bingo teaches you to pay attention, and it helps with visual perception. All you do is look for various objects and check off the matching picture on your bingo board. The first one to get five in a row wins. "Mom's Mini Van" has a lot of other ideas as well. Another similar site is Carschooling. It gives you a lot of ideas on learning while traveling.
Audio Books - are also excellent ideas. We have downloaded these on mp3 players, and bought/borrowed books on CD to play for the whole family. I have also read a book to the kids while traveling (obviously Sarah was driving at the time ). Allowing your kids to bring two or three books each is also helpful.
Don't forget to site-see a little along the way as well. We frequently pack picnic lunches and then stop at a visitors center to ask where a good picnicking place is. One time we picnicked at a really neat free botanical garden. They even had there own dog by the name of "Uda" (Uda Dog - get it?). You never know what adventurous historical or educational spot that you might find along the way. We will often then allow our kids to buy a small educational item from the gift shop that will keep there attention for a little while after we get back on the road. If you have time, the scenic route is also enjoyable.
Although traveling can still be somewhat of a challenge for us, we have still had a lot of memorable times on trips. A car can really be a learning tool if you prepare and use some creative thinking.
PS - Don't forget to click on the Tuesday's Toolbox banner at the top of my post to visit the Tuesday Toolbox host blog and read all of the other submissions.