Monday, July 29, 2013

I’m Grateful for Diversity

In addition to celebrating the nations birthday in July, Utah also celebrates its roots with “Pioneer Day” or “the Days of ‘47”   On the 24th of July Salt Lake holds its annual two hour parade in addition to the youth parade that takes place the week prior. 

“The Days of ’47” parade is well attended.  There’s several people who will actually camp overnight in order to get the perfect parade watching spots.  I happen to believe that all of these people are crazy – yet at the same time I admire their enthusiasm.  The parade is truly an awesome moment for them and I’m grateful for the enthusiasm.  I really am.  I’m also grateful that the parade is televised and I am able to watch it in my air conditioned home. 

I am not a parade person – actually I am not a crowd person.  I could handle the parade in Afton, Wyoming just fine.  I don’t think the entire population of their small town matches the tremendous amount of people flooding the downtown streets of Salt Lake on the 24th.  I am actually a lot more comfortable with the peon parades that are less than an hour than with a band, another float, another horse, another . . .

But I’m not opposed to a two – three hour parade.  I just choose not to sit through it.  Especially in the blaring sun.  But that’s me.  That’s MY personality.  My sister-in-law, Sunny may have been one of those who camped out.  She LOVED the parade – probably still does – though I don’t think she gets downtown as often as she did when she was single.  My brother Patrick is less thrilled with the whole parade idea than I am – or at least he used to be.

I’m grateful for the diversity that makes us individuals. 

There is no paid ministry within the LDS Church.  Those who teach lessons or give talks are our peers from the same congregation.  We don’t sit in a meeting listening to the same speaker week after week.  There are a variety of speakers asked to speak on certain topics – often the same topic as the other assigned speakers.  And while Joe may speak with vigor and vibrancy, Eric’s talk may be more subtle – or he may just read with no eye contact whatsoever.  And maybe Eric is the only one who will actually get something out of his talk.  But Eric has reached someone that perhaps Joe cannot.

Veronica may type all the quotes from her lesson to pass out to class members to guarantee participation while Dorothy just stumbles through her lesson and gets nervous about the amount of participation.  Jade may do her lesson completely different from the other two and belt out the lesson without the microphone but have most of the sisters willing to eat her words.

I remember two neighbors who had come to visit my mom once a month.  Jody was by the book: “this is the lesson, this is the outline, and this is the message that God wants us to learn.”  Peggy seemed to “scan” the book.  She would give her one or two line lesson from the title.  Oh, she’d elaborate if more was wanted or needed – but her theory was: “you’ve had this lesson, you’ve given this lesson, and you know this lesson.  Here is a quick reminder”

It’s a good thing really.  Not everybody relates to all people.  Not everybody absorbs the message the first time or the second time.  Perhaps not even the fifth time.  And then there’s those of us who may think, “Yea, yea.  I ‘vet heard this message over a thousand times.  I’ve got it.” But do we really have one’s perspective or “take” on it?  And sometimes there are individuals that will say the words that we’ve already heard, but suddenly it takes on new meaning.  It suddenly makes more sense.  We may experience an “aha” moment – and it’s not because the message itself or even the words are new.  It has been presented in a different light.  A situation was given in which we can identify or appreciate. 

I remember my own mother practicing her lessons over and over again.  There are many times I know she felt inadequate about whatever calling she happened to have.  I know she wasn’t always pleased with her lessons.  She was constantly comparing herself to others who had been in her position.  I don’t think she understood the diversity is needed until after she’d given one lesson in particular

Lily had been inactive for years.  She returned on a day that my mom was the instructor.  Mom kept things simple according to her own understanding.  Lily thanked her for her lesson.  Mom was taken aback.  Her lessons weren’t anywhere near as powerful as when Peggy would present them.  But it was mom’s simpleness and delivery that Lily needed.  Peggy’s flowery words or method of presentation always seemed over Lily’s head.  It’s true that Peggy may have reached more sisters than my mom – but there were some people who actually weren’t comfortable with Peggy’s deliverance.  Diversity is needed in teaching because we are made up of a huge amount of diverse personalities.

Our current bishop is very soft spoken.  He really does put a tremendous amount of thought into his talks and his words are of importance – but I don’t think his delivery always settles well with the entire congregation – especially if he is the last speaker of the meeting.  My husband, on the other hand, can wake up the congregation.  Most people like his enthusiasm and deliverance – but not everybody does.  What one may have gotten out of the bishop’s talk may be missed in my husbands or vice-versa.

And then there are some people who are blessed and talented enough to learn from all talks and lessons.  They don’t fall asleep.  They don’t get bored. They are in tune with the Spirit (I fully admit that often I am not in tune) and then there are those of us that get much more out of the talk or lesson if we are entertained by deliverance (or at least not bored by it)
We all need the opportunity of presenting His message – even if it’s only for ourselves.  Perhaps the individual that I need to reach is myself – and if someone else should make discoveries while I am talking or teaching – great. We need diversity.  And just as with the parade – not every speaker or instructor is going to appeal to me – that doesn’t mean I can’t learn.  I appreciate the diversity.  I really do.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Where've you been

I cry everytime I hear this song - long before Mom's dementia took her to another demention

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Go Camping or Not go camping . . .

     I have gone camping before – several times actually.  I’d gone with my family. I remember times when Patrick and I were younger though not too much with my other two sibs.  I do remember when Corey and Kayla were both a lot younger, we did do a family activity where we stayed in cabins.  That’s the only time I recall camping with the two of them.

     I’d gone to girls’ camp through the church.  When I was twelve and thirteen I went to a camp called Oakcrest.  We stayed in cabins.  I remember going to rough camp twice (we stayed in tents) as a youth and twice as a leader.  That was well over twelve years ago.

     And then there was the one time we attempted camping as a family – before Jenna entered the picture.  Memorial weekend 2002.  The boys were in a tent and Roland and I tried to sleep in the van.

     Roland has actually gone several times with the scouts – even in the winter – which he hates.  Two years ago he took Biff and Randy to a fathers/sons – of course they were all so lucky that they could go, and Jenna was not.

Half of Jenna’s friends have gone camping with their families.  They are so lucky!  The closest that Jenna ever got to camping was sleeping in a tent set up in the back yard.  So this year when she came home from an assembly introducing a camp through the school district – which was actually affordable for us – I signed Jenna up for Mill Hollow.

     The deadline was on April 30 – and that was the day I had turned my money in.  They had two openings – one in June and one in August.  I guess I should have picked the one in June.  But I thought the one in August might be a nice way for her to end her summer.

     None of her brothers had ever gone to Mill Hollow.  My first daughter-in-law had – and she loved it.  Gave Jenna hope.  More reason to look forward to it.

     Meanwhile, Roland is in the bishopric and the bishop was asked to assist in finding another leader to go with them to girls’ camp (the Young Women are from age 12-18) and Roland said my name came up.  He asked what dates Jenna would be going to Mill Hollow and it was for three of the five days that the young women have their camp.  So he asked if I would consider going those three days.

     And then three weeks ago he came home from Church all excited, forms in hand, he just needed my signature.  Word was that permission had been given so that Jenna would be able to go to YW camp with me.  Really?  Because I know that in the past leaders have been discouraged from bringing their non-YW children with them.

     “What about Mill Hollow?” I asked.
     “I think Jenna would have more fun at YW, don’t you?”
     I agreed. 
Still I wouldn’t have mentioned it to her.  But Roland blabbed and she was bouncing off the walls.

     The next day I cancelled her trip to Mill Hollow.  I hadn’t really wanted to. At Mill Hollow she would have been educated and learned more about plants, animals, geology, ecology, astronomy, etc. Learn history.  Enjoy activities.  Not to say that she won’t get that at YW, but she won’t be with her peers exactly.  I wish now I would have prayed about my decision, but I didn’t.

     Last week Jenna anxiously asked if she could tell the only other girl in her primary class that she would be going to YW. 

     “No.  Do not say anything to anybody” 

     I went to the camp kick off by myself.  They started out with a slide show that I thought was pretty cheesy.  Oh, this is so up her ally.  I think she would have liked it.  I still don’t know why I was called when it feels to me like the leaders already outnumber the girls.  I was the only person from our ward who attended the kick off. I did not stay for the entire thing as it wasn’t answering my questions. 

     Even though the forms have been signed and “special permission was granted” I have now been told that we will not be going.  And I fully understand.  I really do.  This program was designed for girls ages 12-18.  Those attending (or will attend) junior high and high school.  To create a bond, to introduce them to explore themselves.  They are not there to babysit or play big sister to primary girls.  If they make an exception for Jenna than they’ll have to make an exception for this girl or that leader and that isn’t right.  So I do understand the reason for exclusion.

     And anyone who knows Jenna knows she is a show stealer and loves attention and has been known to steal another’s thunder – and it isn’t her turn to shine as a young women and she needs to understand that.
     So after a week of bouncing, both of us have cried – her at the thought of not going to camp at all and me because I knew that she had built herself up for another let down.  If she can’t go to YW she won’t be going to camp at all.  We just received the refund for Mill Hollow yesterday.

     Roland said that maybe I could call the district tomorrow and see if I can uncanell my cancellation. But this time I will pray to know if it is the right decision for us at this time. Perhaps this situation is a blessing in disguise.  And perhaps we’ll never know what that blessing was/is.  She’s not as upset about it as she was last week when I told her to prepare herself that we might not be going. Perhaps one day she will understand.

     Truth is, as much as she truly, badly wanted to go – I truly and badly didn’t want to go.  And it is nothing against camping with the YW.  I actually don’t mind the bonding and experience.  It’s the lack of sleep.  It’s the discomfort of the heat and sitting on the ground.  My body wants the comfort of a bed – my bed.  And at least five pillows.  Not a board with a roll up or air mattress and only one pillow. Though it’s a sacrifice that I was willing to make.  But I’m now relieved that I don’t have to go.  But as much as I feel relief at not being able to go, my heart breaks for Jenna who never had an input or say. I still don’t understand why I was needed in the first place.  Perhaps I’ll never know that either. 
Often God does works in mysterious ways, or at least ways that we don’t understand.  I’m quite certain that this is one of them.


Friday, July 19, 2013

Puppies are cute; That doesn’t mean I want one.

Biff’s girlfriend (at the time) gave him a puppy for Christmas – ironically the last year they were together.  They didn’t even make it to the next Christmas.

The puppy was cute with his little brown patches and Jenna liked holding him and playing with him while his patches were still intact. As Buddy got bigger (just in the matter of months really) the patches disappeared and Biff had a large white dog who wanted to play 24/7.  Biff couldn’t give him 24/7.  We all needed to sleep sometime – except Buddy. Barked if we tied him up.  Lot of complaints from the neighbors.

Buddy was no longer cute.  He was a nuisance.  Jenna loved him when he was a puppy, but when he got bigger than her, he was just too much for her to handle. He went through the chewing stage and managed to get some of her toys while indoors.  She hid all of her outdoor toys in his dog house – which he refused to take shelter in.  And that was okay by Jenna.  She liked playing in it.  After about four months he had outgrown the dog house anyway.

We both got to hate that dog.  Buddy actually grew to bigger than Biff.  It was great entertainment to watch Biff giving Buddy a bath.

Biff and his girlfriend broke up, but still had a platonic relationship.  I think the only reason that she continued to visit was to see Buddy and not Biff.  He should have given her custody of the dog a lot sooner.

Carrie wanted a puppy and so Randy got her one for Christmas.  Not just any puppy – a two hour drive to a pure breed puppy farm.  They lived in an apartment at the time and had to pay extra fees when their newfound friend was discovered. Plus they’d have to take turns getting up and letting the dog out of the apartment while trying to potty train him.  I got up with a human baby.  I am NOT getting up for a dog!

Potty training isn’t the worst of it though.  They seem to catch onto it better than many human children do.  It’s the teething and chewing and barking that I have a problem with.

Randy would bring the dog over to our house and leave it in the yard (I didn’t want him to be making messes in my house, thank you very much) and sometimes come back for it after his classes or it would be here all day until Carrie  returned from work. 

Chief liked to Chew on Highnesses ear – and though I have called our own dog finicky and high maintenance but he really is a good natured dog – not thrilled at having Chief biting him, but never fighting back.  I didn’t have many problems with Chief being outdoors until quite recently actually.

When they moved out of the apartment Randy bought a scooter and left the dog at his house (YEAH!) and so we didn’t see as much of him anymore.  But then there was that day that their car broke down and they just happened to have Chief with him and the dog got left at our house again.

That dog is a terrorizer!  He chewed on almost everything that he could find in the yard – Jenna’s wading pool (which she had only used once) the floatation device that came with it, and a mop I had left outside to air out among other things.  I hadn’t even realized that we had had that many things in the back yard until I had to clean up after him.  I WASN’T HAPPY ABOUT IT either.  I told Randy and Carrie both:  DO NOT LEAVE THE DOG IN OUR YARD ANYMORE!      The only reason our trampoline survived is because he is still unable to reach the tarp (at least on all fours)

Randy replaced the pool.  I put it on the side of our house.  When Chief got left in our yard again – really?  Listening is definitely not one of  Randy’s strong points – he dug up the seeds that we had barely planted – plus he stepped on some plants in the process (I was surprised he hadn’t attacked them when he attacked the pool and the mop)

Today I bought a cable.  If/When Chief comes again, he will have room to play among the weeds.  He won’t be in our back yard.  He will be on the side of our house where it’s nice and shady.  And if he would like to dig up or step on all the weeds, I will learn to love him again. 

Here’s hoping Randy and Carrie may take the hint and just leave Chief at home until he is no longer teething.  There is a reason we have always gotten older dogs. 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Wesley Richards

Wesley walks
from yard to yard

collecting rocks

and sticks

and stores them

in the garage

of his parents’ house. 

Wesley is

their only child.

Wesley takes medication

for his ADHD.

It takes away

any appetite

that is necessary

for growth. 

Wesley is thin

like the twigs he finds. 

I think a heavy wind

could blow him away.

He and Jenna have

collected morning glories

and have thrown them

into the pool. 

But no worries –

they don’t plan to leave

them there.  They just

want to see how cool

they look floating

upon the water

When it is time for Wesley to go home,

Jenna invites herself to go with him  


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Good-bye T-Mobile: I Now Have Consumer Cellular!

I have had so many problems with T-Mobile the last couple of years, it’s a wonder I haven’t dropped them sooner. I created this post last year and had actually taken it down for two days when I thought that the problem had been resolved – but returned it two days later as there was still miscommunication.  
My brother-in-law had also switched to Consumer Cellular – but was without service for a month.  He blames T-Mobile.  I don’t have all the details, but because of my own experience, I think that sounds pretty accurate. 
I decided that we would just keep our phones and have new SIM cards through Consumer Cellular.  I was pretty distraught to learn that I would still have to call T-Mobile to get the SIM unlocked as we wished to keep our current phone numbers.  I ended up going through four people before I was given instructions and could receive the rest by email.
It really didn’t take as long as they said – well at least for my phone.  I was able to follow the step by step instructions that T-Mobile sent me (surprise) and was able to connect no problems and now I am no longer with T-Mobile.  However Roland’s number is still on the T-mobile plan because they had indicated that the set up will not work at this time but that we can try again in 40 days.  What the flip????
I won’t be billed for Consumer Cellular for at least another month. But thus far I like them like a zillion times better.  And I can’t imagine that I will ever be as upset with them as I am with T-Mobile – though I have had some really professional treatment from some employees – I’ve had to deal with more that seem clueless or don’t have the authority, major buck passers – major run around.  No wonder their mascot is a droid. I am so tired of it.
I think we need to find another way to free up Roland’s SIM before waiting forty days.  Because really, what guarantee do we have that it will work in 40 days?  What a bunch of bogus crap.  I’d like my days of dealing with T-Mobile to be behind me FOREVER!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Good-bye Fort (shed a tear)

          Jenna has outgrown the fort which I mention here. I was hoping to save it for Anna and Garrett whenever they would visit but the slide broke and the idea of having Anna tromp around  with so many openings did not thrill me.  The slide would have been Anna’s favorite part, but we took it off after it broke.

            Bill and Kayla don’t exactly have a place for the fort right now – though we did offer it to them.  Jenna really doesn’t play much with it anymore.  Especially since we got the trampoline.  But lately, the tarp to the tramp has been so hot, the trampoline itself has been neglected.  I thought if we pushed it back to where we have the fort that it would get a little more shade.  

            I posted Jenna’s fort for free in the classified.  The ad had only been up ten minutes or so and we had several calls on it.  I couldn’t believe it!  It was crazy.  We now have a place to move the trampoline.

           I hope that the family who took it down and hauled it away will get as many years of enjoyment.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Another Look at Change

            Mom embellished on her “sky-diving” story – a bit with the realization that jumping out of an airplane is something she would never do.  In this version it was from a commercial airline with mechanical problems.  Mom said she didn’t want to, but it was the crew that had forced all of the passengers to jump.

          Harold told his story about going up in a stunt plane that did loop-to-loops.  They had fastened video cameras to each wing and had one in the cockpit.  This filmed every move that was made and then the three films were spliced together.  Harold said he had it on video tape.  But that it does tend to make most people sick when they watch it because it’s like being there.

            Corey had explained to the family that there are seven stages of dementia and that mom is in stage five.  I’m guessing Madge must only be in one or two.  Maybe it was her idea to check herself in so that she would get used to the place – so her children wouldn’t have to go through what we have gone through – to the same degree.  I don’t know.  I’d still like to have a visit with Madge and ask her questions that are actually none of my business.

            Nellie is a brand new residence.  I’m thinking she is in stage 6 as she seems further gone than mom but not as far gone as Lydia or Georgette.  Harold may just be in stage 4 and maybe starting stage 5 but I don’t know.  I’m really not as familiar with dementia as perhaps I should be.

            Corey has always been a walking encyclopedia.  I don’t know that he has an actual photographic memory, but I think it’s close.  He’s really well read.  He constantly researches matters at hand.  I think his brain holds more information than the average human being.

            The other day I joined my mom and my brother, Patrick, his wife, Sunny and their son-in-law, Nate for a pioneer barbeque.  We crowded around an outside table with mom and Harold.  I ended up giving him my plate and went back for another one as I thought it would be easier.

            Food was good.  Company was good.  The plate I had made for myself was really too large for Harold. It’s a wonder he ate as much as he did.

            After lunch had ended, we said our good-byes to Nate, Patrick and Sunny.  I told mom I would go back to her room to visit with her some more, but first I had to run out to the car for something.

           Upon my return, Nellie clung onto me.  “Are you almost ready to go?” she asked.  She was asking as though she was expecting to go with me.

           “Well, I came here to see my mom.”  I told her, wondering where her family might be and if I actually resembled someone she knows. 

          I made my way back to the court yard with Nellie only inches behind me. 

           “How are you doing Nellie” I heard someone say. 

           I hadn’t actually known what her name was until then.  I introduced her to mom and Harold and asked if they were all acquainted.  None were and Harold and mom didn’t seem interested in the least.  Actually, neither did Nellie.  She was anxious to be leaving – I don’t think she even cared who with. But then she would also stop at each chair and sit down as her back was hurting her.

Her personality screamed volumes that she was a resident there.  I hadn’t remembered seeing her before I didn’t think.  I hadn’t.  As it turned out she had just moved in the day before. My mom all over again.  Confused at being there and trying to escape.

I think Nellie is in worse shape than my mom.  But Harold seems a little more with it in the mind. Maybe not.  I think mom and Harold’s stories were both a little out there when I was visiting the time before.

It’s interesting to look at Madge and think, “My mom was there at one time.” And then to look disheartened upon Lydia and Georgette and think, “and that is where she will be someday”

Her rapid movement from stage to stage doesn’t seem as rapid since she’s been at an assisted living program and is monitored from day to day and has a better schedule there than the four of us were trying to provide for her at home.

Dementia stages are a chiasmus to our birth to death.  We start out totally dependent.  Someone else has to feed us and change our clothes and bathe us and clean up after us. 

We learn to walk and talk and learn and collect things.  We make discoveries.  But still we need guidance to keep us safe – someone to make certain that eat, reminding us to put on our coats and shoes, and stop us from climbing or wandering near something that could be potentially dangerous to our health.

Eventually we grow into teenagers who think they know it all and don’t wish to be told what to do.  We would like our independence and treat guidance like interference.  We still need someone to teach us how to drive, save money, make wise choices, etc.

The older we grow, the wiser our parents become – until we are the caregivers due to dementia.  Their wise words are only memories and may somehow be twisted in their heads.  Eventually they go through stages.  They rebel.  They hoard.  Sometimes they wander into danger.

Eventually they forget how to walk and talk.  They forget.  They become like newborns and are dependent on someone else to feed them, clothe them, bathe them and make sure they are kept safe.

Full Circle

Friday, July 12, 2013

Garden Enthusiast

When Jenna was three she discovered some blue gravel that had been dumped by the shed.  Biff had left it there after cleaning out a fish tank.  Jenna thought that they were beautiful seeds and wanted to plant them.  I tried to explain that they weren’t seeds – but she was insistent that we bury them so that they would grow into a beautiful flower.

Everyday she would check the spot where the “seeds” had been planted – impatient that the flowers had not bloomed overnight.  Again, I tried to explain to her that even if the seeds had been real seeds – flowers do not spring up overnight.  It takes time.  Especially in our family, it seems.

Jenna did not stop checking.  She was determined that her flower would grow.  She watered the area.  She talked to it.  She was certain that a flower would grow.  I really did not want her to be crushed and so devastated that she would not want to try real seeds later on. 

I went out and purchased two pinwheel type garden decorations and put them in the ground above where the gravel had been “planted” – real as the seeds.  Jenna was thrilled.  And so when the time came for the preschool students to grow their own seeds she was not at all reluctant.  Her bean would grow just as her flowers had.  It was very exciting.

Jenna also liked snails.  They were very fascinating creatures.  She would watch them and talk to them.  One day she found a whole family of snails.

“Look mom!” she pointed with sheer excitement, “A mommy, a daddy, two teenagers, and a little bitty baby.”

She stopped to talk to them.  I gave her about ten minutes before I reminded her that we had barely just left the house and had to continue on our way to school.

“Bye snails,” she waved and continued on her way.  She was so disappointed that they weren’t there as we walked back from school – nor were they there the next day. 

Perhaps a week or two had gone by before she found three snails out on the sidewalk near our house.

“Do you think these are the same ones?” she asked.  “I wonder what happened to the parent and the other teenager.  Maybe they’re out looking for food.”

It was a year and a half later when Amber’s mom asked if she could leave Amber with me as she a mandatory class for her work.  I told her that I had planned on going to Midvale to pass out invites for my mom’s surprise birthday party but I could take Amber just as well – and that was fine.  Amber came with car seat and I strapped both girls into the car.

It was nice having them with me as I could just hand each of them invitations and give them direction to take it to this house or that and then I didn’t have to keep stopping the car and turn the motor off to do it myself.

When we got to Ruby’s house, I had only five invitations left.  The girls found a haven in Ruby’s yard, and I asked Ruby if it would be okay if I left the girls with her while I went and got the last five.  

Ruby was working in the garden and her yard was lovely.  She was digging holes and making remarks about “all the snails” Both Jenna and Amber perked up and assisted Ruby by picking up snails and each started her own collection.

When I returned, the girls had lined their snails up on the table and were eagerly watching them “race” as they’d speak words of encouragement hoping that one of her snails would win.  Jenna announced that we’d be taking them home.

“Snails don’t belong in the car!” I said firmly.  “Not my car anyway.  Even if they’re in containers.  We are not taking the snails home.  Sorry”

I think Ruby distracted them with something else.  I believe we threw the snails away.  Ruby and I told both girls that snails are bad for the garden.  I don’t think Jenna believed me.

She wasn’t reading when I purchased a kid’s gardening book at a thrift store. We looked at it.  I pointed out that snails were in the “pest” category.  But then so were caterpillars – her absolute favorites creature.  A book against snails and caterpillars certainly was not a book that she was interested in.  I put the book away and forgot about it.

 Recently, while searching for something else, I came across the Kid’s Gardening book.  She has been reading it and telling us everything that we’ve been doing wrong in our home garden and how to improve it.  She still loves snails and caterpillars but has accepted that they do damage to gardens. But they are fascinating creatures and she loves them.

Some of us are gardeners that plant and sow seeds.  Some of us plant actual seeds.  Some of us bury gravel or “magic beans” in the ground and leave it at that.  Some of us work like lady bugs or bees and help the garden.  Some of us are like snails and caterpillars that crawl through life expecting free handouts without working for it.  And it doesn’t matter our capacity.  God loves each of us.  He doesn’t attempt to throw any of us away.  His love for us is perfect. Even more than Jenna loves snails.