Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Jumping: It Does her Body Good

Jenna LOVES to jump. I believe she was jumping before she was walking – though she always had assistance.  I remember my mom watching my arms moving up and down at a rapid pace and commenting that I might be going to fast.
“It isn’t me!” I would say, “Jenna’s the one who’s jumping”

When the library did a theme on superheroes and allowed the children to make capes and personalize it with initials.  We chose JJ for Jumping Jenna.

 There was a trampoline in my mom’s yard and a trampoline in Patrick’s yard.  And Jenna thought that was one of the coolest devices that she has ever enjoyed.  She could bounce just like a ball.  And her smile was always pure joy.  Jenna loved the trampoline.

  The trampoline that was in my mom’s yard had been purchased by mom and dad and Patrick.  It was a gift to all of us – even though Patrick had paid I think half.  The frame has seen many tarps and sets of springs over the years, as each of us spent countless hours as kids and then Patrick’s kids and then my own.  I think the trampoline that was in Patrick’s yard had been purchased by all four of his kids – or at least the two oldest.

I would have loved to get Jenna her own trampoline after we moved.  The closest we came was a mini trampoline that was given to us by a neighbor who had cleaned out her garage.  It soooo wasn’t the same.  She could jump on the ground higher than she could on the mini tramp.  It was a ploy – and not satisfying at all – though she did attempt to gratify her desires.  The older she got, the less gratifying it became.

I would have loved putting that joyful smile on her face and set up a trampoline for her, but we couldn’t afford it.  We had just lost our house.  Heck, we couldn’t even afford a used pogo stick. She couldn’t enjoy the trampoline at my mom’s house because even though the frame still stood, the tarp had been removed. And we usually didn’t have the appropriate strength for setting it up ourselves.

After we put mom in assisted living and were getting ready to put the house on the market, Patrick sent out a mass e-mail asking if any of us would like the trampoline.  I was so happy to get Roland to agree that it would be a good idea for us to bring it to our backyard to live.  A human friend would be much better, but a trampoline seems to be the next best thing.  I just hope Jenna doesn’t become bored with it.

Monday, April 29, 2013

“Corner on the Market!”

Patrick has always been a game collector.  I think with every passing year, there were always at least two games to be added to the collections. We played lots of games as a family when I was growing up.  Even after Patrick and Sunny were married, we would continue to play.  Some games more than others.

Pit is a card game that I don’t actually remember playing since Patrick and Sunny were newly married.  I hadn’t introduced it to my own family until last night when Randy and Carrie had us over for dinner.  For the most part brother pitted against brother.  The bear and the bull both got passed around and ended up in Randy’s hand as I called, “Corner on the Market” and Biff was laughing so hard I thought that he would split.  I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hard while playing Pit. 

It really is a fun game...

Sunday, April 28, 2013

More Thoughts on Funerals

Before I entered my last post, I knew I wasn’t finished with what all went through my mind yesterday.  I don’t mean for these posts to sound morbid, but rather respectful.  There are many who may not understand why I view funerals the way I do.

I couldn’t have been more than three when I was first introduced to funerals.  It was someone from the ward.  We weren’t close but apparently I had inquired about going.  Mom didn’t even think I even had known whoever it was, but I had been told that mom had confronted with the neighbor across the street who suggested she take me because it wasn’t someone close and it would give me exposure without being a traumatic situation that perhaps I could experience if the situation was with someone close to me.

I’m guessing I must have been a lot more reverent than Jenna has ever been.  I don’t remember anything about the experience – nor do I recall going to grandpa’s funeral just a few months later – though I do remember his dying.

Jenna was only five and a half when we left our first house.  Before our move, I remember taking her to many funerals – and leaving before the program was over.  She was still in diapers when my Uncle Ned passed away.  We used to take walks to see him and Aunt Sarah.  She moved in with her daughter after he passed. She passed away a year later.  Jenna's disruptions kept me out in the foyer.  I missed most of both funerals.

Lydia played the organ and lived across the street.  Jenna loved her. We would visit with her every other week.  After Jenna learned the song “You Are My Sunshine” she would perform it for various people and decided she would perform it for Lydia.  We were on our way to Lydia’s house when we learned she’d been taken to the hospital. She never returned to her house.

I took Jenna to Lydia’s funeral.  Jenna was horrible!  I don’t think we were there for 20 minutes.  I didn't even stay in the foyer but went across the street and put Jenna to bed. So when Bill (my brother-in-law)’s first wife passed, I promised Jenna the world if she would be reverent.  I told her we could go to the park or the library or wherever she wished if she would please please please keep still.  She was so good. 

Of course I had attended the funeral more out of respect to Bill than I had for Annaleigh. I learned many things about Annaleigh that I hadn’t known before.  It was such a wonderful program that honored and celebrated her memory. After her funeral, I took Jenna to Arctic Circle because that is what she chose. She had been so good

I’ve been to funerals for both young and old. The youngest being three years old.  It was a few years before Jenna was born.  It had been a tragic accident – but the family dealt with it well. The funeral was admirable really.

It really was a great tribute and I could really feel the Spirit present and was in awe watching his family and greater awe listening to his mom talk over the podium at his funeral describing his last day. It really was an honor to have been a part of that and to actually walk away with a feeling of comfort.

The funerals I enjoy the most celebrate life.  We need to embrace the memories and treasure the time that we had together.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Celebrating with Funerals

There was a funeral in the ward today – a man I didn’t actually know.  But Roland was presiding and asked me to be there.  The funeral did not start until 12:00 and yet I had been asked to be there at 11:00.  I still don’t know why.

So while I was there I started reminiscing over some other funerals I have attended during my lifetime. I have attended well over 40 funerals (perhaps more than 50) during my lifetime.  I don’t say that to boast – it’s just always been part of my existence.  As a result, I have always been surprised by the ignorance of others who find themselves in a situation of having to make funeral arrangements and not having a clue as how to go about it.

Death takes place all the time.  It happens all around us – I suppose for some more than others.  And each culture/religion views death differently and there are just as many funeral ceremonies as there are ways of dying.

For some cultures it is considered disrespectful for those attending to wear anything but white.  For others, black is the acceptable mournful color.  For the LDS member/funeral, the tradition is to dress in the same attire worn to Church on Sunday.

When Roland’s uncle (who’s not LDS) passed away, I had packed a black dress – though not a solid black dress.  It was gingham with large faded flowers – something I have worn to Church.  I don’t think his family was happy with what I had chosen to wear as his mother led me into her room and held out a couple of dark skirts and told me I could wear one of hers. 

Never mind that Roland’s mother is quite a bit shorter than I and any skirt that she had may have barely covered my bottom. It was 30 degrees warmer in Arizona than in Utah.  I was already hot in my “casual” summer dress.  I distinctly remember that one of the skirts was made out of wool – I’m allergic to wool.  As hot as I already was, I might as well just wear a trench coat and be just as uncomfortable.  And why would anybody own wool clothing while living in Arizona anyway?  I was the only adult wearing a dress.
For me, going to a funeral means you’re supporting your living friends whose loved one have passed on.  I normally don’t go to funerals if the only one that I know is the one in the casket.
I was once asked to drive my grandmother to a funeral that took place in another county.  I didn’t even know the deceased or any of his family – just my grandmother.  She didn’t really know the deceased all that well but had wanted to support the mother of the one who had passed. But at the funeral, I learned a bit about the deceased.  And after the funeral, I knew the deceased just as well as grandma did.

I have been to a handful of non-LDS funerals, but for the most part, the funerals that I have attended have been LDS conducted – usually in the chapel where we hold meetings on Sunday.  And I like LDS funerals.  For the most part, I think they pay excellent tribute to the one who is deceased.

The funerals I enjoy the most celebrate life.  The speakers consist of friends and/or family (family members are best!) who relate stories about the deceased.

I had the opportunity to speak at my great grandmother’s funeral, my grandmothers, and my dad’s.  I really enjoyed my dads.

The program addressed "farewell services" rather than "funeral services" I talked about dad’s early life up until he married.  Patrick took over celebrating my dad’s life as a father and patriarch.  We played Corey’s voice reciting his poem (found here)  which he later set to music.  And Kayla sang Amy Grant/Gary Chapman’s “Father’s Eyes”. 

I remember attending another funeral for a former neighbor (only about four years older than I) and his four children spoke at his and put their dad on a pedestal and really honored his accomplishments.  It was great!

Besides the funeral itself, there is the Relief Society who will bring casserole dishes, baked potatoes, side dishes, rolls and desserts (so the family and friends of the deceased can eat after returning from the burial) I remember lots of sign up sheets being passed around in my last ward.  Seems there were always three funerals in less than three months.  It became overwhelming at times (I’m sure for the RS presidency especially) I remember doing baked potatoes and salads and one dessert.  Today I took Calico Beans

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

I Want to Live in Tannersville

I love the neighborhoods that surround my daughter’s school.  I so wish that we could afford to move there.  Even out of state would be nice.  But then I would miss my sister.  I’m already missing my brother, Corey. 
Roland is committed to work his current job for at least another three years and there is only one other state we could transfer to – which would actually put us closer to his family.  But as that state is so hot and dry, I’d just assume stay put.
I like living in close knit communities where most all of the neighbors know and respect one another and are friendly and cordial.  And I’d love being around neighbors with children whom Jenna could play with and feel comfortable.
I highly suspect that the housing across the street is a section 8 (which I think I may have mentioned before) It hasn’t even been a year since Sandra and her four children moved in.  She’s diabetic and on insulin as well as welfare.  Doesn’t have a car.  But I don’t imagine that she’s ever had a driver’s license either. Not the sharpest knife in the drawer – if you get my drift.
I suspect illegal activity at her place – though I don’t think she herself is involved.  It used to be that only a handful of cars would come and go giving various people rides.  But for the last two months it has been LOTS of cars – nice cars.  A couple of cars have been in the driveway overnight.  But the majority have been there for less than twenty minutes.  Sandra is a great candidate if ever they need a fall guy.  She has no clue nor would even know how to go about defending herself.
I don’t want Jenna raised along side that.  I’d rather have back the ghost neighborhood that it was when we first moved in.  I want to live in Maybury – where the worst crime is the steel outside of town.  Or the town drunk who allows himself to be locked up every night so that he doesn’t commit a more serious crime.
I’d like to be able to park my car or Jenna’s bike without worrying about vandalism or theft – or having the idea that my neighbors (or their associates – whoever) are involved in narcotics or prostitution. I’d like to be able to let Jenna ride her bike or scooter around without having to follow her in the event that somebody will do her harm.  I’d like to go back to my childhood days when I was quite naïve and didn’t know crime on a first hand account.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

No More Fun Walls or 50’s Themed Diners

One of the perks that Corey liked about mom’s assisted living was the décor, which he details in this post

Initially my mom’s room was located right next to the image of Elvis Presley.  A lot of the images had three dimensional props, such as his guitar, Marilyn’s skirt; there is one of Elizabeth Taylor holding flowers.

I had personally not taken pictures, though I did consider that taking one with Elvis might be fun.  Roland and I could stand on either side and have it sent to his mom.  But alas, we were too late.  For the last time we were there together was for the Easter event – which was actually busy enough to produce inconvenient traffic.  So I figured we could do it the following week.  But Elvis’ guitar had been removed and a paint roller had made Elvis a thing of the past.

Fortunately Bill and Kayla had taken mom up and down the halls one night and took several pictures – I don’t believe they got them all.  Maybe half of them.  And one or two of them would pose with image.  So the images that I share are from Bill’s camera.

Gradually all the props came down and the icons were painted over.  Yesterday the booths were torn out and hauled out of the building.  The saddest part of all (this is where you’ll want to shed a tear): NO MORE JUKE BOX!

The Alzheimer’s Association said the decor was not confirmative to how an assisted living facility should look – and if they are springing for the payment on the upkeep and the new paint, furniture and so forth . . . it’s not like I have any say in the matter either way.

Mom thinks the walls look nice – which they do.  It just doesn’t have the “fun” feel to it anymore.  But I can also see that the “fun” may have worn off for many.  Those who reside there everyday as opposed to the younger visitor (or young at heart anyway) Jenna has already expressed her devastation of the removal of Lucy and Ethel – she will be equally upset at the diner’s new make over and furniture (Jenna does not deal well with change)

The walls do look nice.  The paintings seem kind of boring.  Generic.  But they’re supposed to be generic.  I do like the new look of the dining room chairs, but will miss the “fun feel” of the diner. 

In time it will be more like an actual home – a home where mom is comfortable and may find just as pleasant away from her room.  And after all it’s the residence that should be most comfortable with the environment and I think in time they will be.  But right now it just seems so chaotic and melancholy – just like selling the house that I grew up in and will have a part of no more.  

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Early Reader

Before Jenna started kindergarten we would read books like “The Little Red Hen” and “Frog and Toad”.  I would point to words as I read them and as words started to repeat, I would have her say them.  So before school started she was able to read words such as: hen, frog, toad, red, Not I, said and he.  She could not read the names of states on License plates – nor was she educated enough to decipher between state and country.
The rules of the license plate game (according to Tony) are rather simple.  All participants need to look for license plates from out of the state.  Whoever sees and says the most is the winner. Tony would often play the game himself but would say the names out loud. Jenna decided that she would play too.
“Arizona,” she’d say.
“I already called Arizona.”
“You didn’t see Idaho.”
I don’t think she did.  But she insisted on it.  Tony ended up giving it to her out of pity.
“Wyoming!” Tony called.
“Green Land,” said Jenna.  We both knew for a fact that she didn’t see a Green Land license plate.
After Tony stopped laughing he said, “You didn’t see Greenland.”
“Yes I did.”
“Jenna, it is highly probable that you did not see a car with a Greenland license plate,” I said.
“And besides, Greenland isn’t even a state.”
“You can’t count other countries?” I asked.  “I think you should get extra points for countries. I think it would be beyond cool if I were to see a license plate from Greenland.”
“That means I get extra points,” said Jenna.
“You didn’t see a Greenland license plate.”
After kindergarten, big words came easy to her.  She could read princess, museum, dinosaur and purple-licious without any problems.  The word that stumped her every time was the word “of”.  Missed it every time.  It wasn’t spelled correctly in her opinion.  It should have been “UV” – what a dreadful word.
She has now added Spanish words to her vocabulary – saying them – not spelling them.  Spelling is still not her thing – though she does seem to read well.  She obviously doesn’t pay attention to how words are spelled.
Still has a great vocabulary and for the most part really does know what she’s talking about.  And I don’t have to pay her to write stories anymore as I did here and here.     

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Is that Chicago or REM? I can never tell which band (LOL)

Corey and I share an inside joke about REM and Chicago sounding alike.  In reality the two groups have different styles and sound nothing alike.  Their music sound is almost as similar as their group names. But there is a charming story behind our method of madness. 

One day Corey and our cousin, Earl, were listening to the radio.  One of REM’s songs came on and Corey asked Earl if he knew the name of the group that was performing.  Earl said that it was Chicago.  Corey, perhaps not as familiar with pop music as we both believed that Earl was, was somewhat familiar with Chicago and just didn’t think that sounded like them.

So Corey asked Earl about another song that he had heard REM sing.  Earl was still positive about the group being Chicago.  Later on Corey asked me about it.  And so whenever we would hear a song preformed by either REM or Chicago we would just look at each other and ask:  Is this REM or Chicago? 


Monday, April 15, 2013

Orange is the First Color of Spring

When winter feels like it’s over and the roads are no longer covered by snow and the days have been warm, UDOT jumps all over it and starts setting up poly cones and orange barrels all over the valley – particularly on roads that were under construction JUST A YEAR AGO.  That’s how one can tell it’s spring in Utah – or at least it’s supposed to be.

It is also a sign of agonizing weather to come.  (Could it be that Mother Nature isn’t fond of construction either) because just as soon as those roads are closed and the walls are set up, we have rain, we have wind, we have sun – and what is at least one day in April without snow?  Sometimes we get all the elements in one day.  It’s bad enough having to deal with the detour signs and the non-moving traffic.  April’s weather prolongs the construction by at least a month.

But I don’t know that UDOT had anything to do with the light snow sent our way this morning.  I think my family is responsible for this morning’s events, as we put up the trampoline last night. We haven’t ever had a trampoline in our yard before – but we are learning it’s just like UDOT’s poly cones or our putting up the A/C – for whenever we put that up, we have three days to two weeks of rain.

This morning, it really was a light snow once it landed, but a bitter freezing fall.  Seriously.  I can’t believe how many days we’ve had in the last two weeks in which we needed a parka on one day but could get away with shorts the next.  It’s crazy.

And I have learned that I have now become one of those personalities that I still often make fun of: a person who wears sandals (or flip-flops) and a coat or jacket of some sorts.  Really?  Do we think the parka/sweater will protect our feet as well?

Jenna had wanted to cash in her birthday money and gift cards for something she might want.  It was a nice day when Jenna and I left the house. I wore sandals over my bare feet.  While we were out the weather changed.  As we were passing a dry cleaner, I ran in to get some pricing so that we could get several of Roland’s ties done.  I grabbed a jacket from the car – still I had my bare feet.  I rolled my eyes at myself.

Now I have a pair of socks in my purse – which I ought to switch out as they look pretty dorky with most anything except covered by long pants and sneakers.  But if the weather is like it was that day or freezy cold like this morning – I’m willing to deal with looking stupid.  At least I am prepared now.  (Well to a degree, I guess)

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Reverence? NOT our primary

I don’t know who suggested to the primary children to stand at the front (in Sacrament meeting) with their arms folded to set an example for those that were entering the chapel. I didn’t have a problem with it – except when Parker would try to outrun whatever other child was headed to the stand.  But as long as the children were on the stand with their arms folded, there really was a reverence there – though it seemed to vanish the minute they sat down.

A visiting high councilman had given the command to the bishopric that he didn’t want the children up there.  Maybe because he knew on a first hand account that some of those standing there ordinarily do NOT represent reverence – though the three in particular (the three most irreverent – actually there are four – which is just about half of the primary) come from very devout homes, it’s just that reverence has taken a back seat.  The more we try to enforce it, the stronger the misbehavior becomes. 

I say “we” as I am a parent of one of the instigators, though Jenna generally keeps her irreverent activities to herself. Examples: twisting her bracelet, moving her fingers, or sliding her hair band (as mentioned here) but has not misbehaved as poorly as the three boys.  Two of them brothers. And I don't mean to put down the entire primary as it is basically just those four.  But in our ward, that truly does account for just about half.

Now I don’t know that anyone from my ward even reads this post – but because of our really small primary and the descriptions I use, the children will be more easily to identify than I am.  But I will still change the names of all the children who are/were involved.

Yesterday Jenna and I attended a baptism for two of her friends – not good friends, but she has played with each of them and sometimes both together – though it hasn’t been often.  There names are Wesley and Jorge.

Wesley is an only child.  I can fully understand.  If my child had Wesley’s personality, I would not be trying for more children.  He reminds me of one who has had too much caffeine.  He climbs the walls (literally) and lands himself into all kinds of mischief.  He’s definitely not focused.  I don’t know what kind of grades he gets.  I know he goes to some kind of a therapist – or at least he used to.  He has improved a lot – or so I believed until yesterday.

Jorge and his mother are from Mongolia.  I often pick them up and give them rides to and from church.  We don’t communicate much except for, “Would you like a ride?” and “Thank you.” 

She likes to give him snacks and keeps him entertained with his iPad (or whatever it is) during sacrament – which I think is not right – but who am I to judge.  It does keep him quiet – so long as it’s just him focused on the screen.  But I remember one time both Jenna and Wesley stuck their faces just as close to the screen as Jorge’s – and I think Wesley actually took it over.

Okay.  So our ward was in charge of the stake baptism.  It is actually the first time I remember going to a stake baptism in which our ward was conducting. The program was nice.  And then came dismissal to the font.

So the first ward was dismissed and told to meet in the primary room.  Anna played the piano.  The music would have been nice if those attending would allowed themselves to just listen and to meditate – but the conversations started among the adults.  Some about the children being baptized, but most of the ones that I heard were irrelevant and surely could have waited for 45 minutes to an hour.

The next group goes.  I don’t know what room they announced to go into following the baptism – but I think they should have been allowed to return to the chapel as they accounted for more than half of everybody in the congregation.  (They would have been squished in the primary room)
Our ward was last.  We had two that were being baptized and ironically the smallest group left. 

So the primary children go towards the font and are banging on the glass (two boys in particular; Jenna was actually reverent – well as reverent as one in a dress can be while squatting down) At that point, I don’t know who was worse: Wesley or Hunter. 

Wesley should have gone through the door that leads to the font, but was too busy giving headlocks to the other boys who had come to watch.  I don’t know if it was before the baptism or after (I think it was after) that Hunter took his rolled programs (he had two of them) and started using them as drumsticks as he beat on the heads of those who sat ahead of him. And Parker started using his rolled up program as a sword.

I thought I heard some adult laughter which only encouraged the children.  I honestly did not see what Jenna was doing as the bad behavior of the two boys outshined whatever anything she has ever done.

Nick and Vickie were great.  I had no qualms with them whatsoever, especially Nick, who truly was being reverent.  Jorge’s behavior was about the same.  But I think it was right before the confirmation that Jorge’s mom came across an entire lute of treats in her bag (I wonder if it was the only thing in her bag) and called Jenna over and doused her with an arm full and so Jenna continues to pass the treats along and I look back behind me. Jenna (who had moved to the back row) and three boys are munching on these goodies (the crumb producing kind) during the program.  Are you kidding me?

But the treats did come from Jorge’s mom – one of the moms whose child had been baptized.  I don’t know how long she’s been a member of the Church or if she decided to move to the states after becoming a member or what.  She did it with love.  She had snacks for all the children. 

Hannah was in front of me with her son and didn’t want to appear rude by not taking it, but I’m guessing may have felt the same discomfort that I was feeling.  And yet there’s my husband, first counselor no less, that I don’t think would have had a problem with it (I know because he’s given Jenna messy treats in sacrament meeting!)

Actually, that “small talk” and visitation has become a popular thing between the baptism and the confirmation - especially this day as the waiting time between baptism and confirmation took longer than normal.  Jorge's mom didn't think to pack dry underwear and so someone was sent to the store to purchase a dry pair to wear for his confirmation.  

The conversations seemed to stir even louder.  I didn't want irreverant (and irrelevant) conversation at Jenna's baptism which is why I had asked Bill and Corey to sing at Jenna’s baptism found here so that the spirit would not be lost.  And it wasn’t.  At least not to my understanding. 

I had been in the dressing room with Jenna, but from what I understand, everyone in attendance listened.  They did not visit.  They did not distract from the Spirit – not even Hunter and Parker who sat on the front row.  And Parker, actually caught up in the Spirit, was trying to sing along with them.  That was awesome to watch.

I think every baptism ought to have an intermediate between the baptism and the confirmation – more than the background music on the piano (which it seems most people seem to tune out – at least in the baptisms that I’ve gone to) but something that will hold the attention of those in the audience – that the Spirit will continue to be present. Or else have the youth confirmed in sacrament meeting as it was done when I was in primary.

Our bishop said he felt the Spirit strongly.  I did too, when we were in the chapel.  I think the Spirit must have followed the bishop into the men’s dressing room and the font, for I did not feel the Spirit in the RS room AT ALL

And I realize that I’m just as much to blame for not having felt the Spirit’s presence (as it is up to me to invite Him in).  I really had tried to find the awesomeness, but the conversations around me seemed to be much louder than the Spirit (provided He was actually there) and I suppose my griping about it on this blog post isn’t going to help matters either.  Well, maybe not entirely.

 I can’t change the events of yesterday.  Perhaps one of my blog readers can change the outcome of baptism reverence to come.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Fowl Memories

When I dropped Jenna off this morning, I noticed several seagulls appeared to be basking out in the field.  The sun was just starting to peak its head over the horizon. It had rained earlier.  I’m certain that the lawn was wet.  I suppose they could have been looking for worms

I was reminded of Roland’s answer to all of his children having asked, “Can we take one home?”

And Roland would answer with, “If you can catch one, you can take it home.”

The boys would wear themselves out as they chased the birds around – never having caught one, though I would imagine Biff came close.  He’s an animal charmer, that one.  Perhaps his magnetic charisma works just on the mammal group in the animal kingdom.

I have home videos of both Jenna and Kayla approaching ducks and watching the ducks move at the same pace.  With Kayla, it was near the temple grounds in Idaho Falls.  Jenna was much younger when she sought out a particular bird at WheelerFarm

I remember hearing stories about a family picnic involving Corey, Kayla, mom and dad.  I was told they were eating blueberry pastries of some kind.  A seagull swooped down and took the remainder of somebody’s dessert and from what I understand, Kayla cried.  I don’t even think it was her dessert – the fast action of the bird had scared her.

When I was in high school, I took a psychology class.  We had learned about Pavlov’s dog.   The instructor’s wanted us to do a similar experiment using pigeons.  We were divided into groups of four or five. Each group was given a pigeon.  We were told to mark the pigeons so that we could know with certainly which group went with what pigeon.  I remember someone from my group had drawn glasses on the pigeon.

Pigeons are stupid birds.  At least the seven pigeons that became a part of our psychology class.  At first the teachers thought we were not taking the assignment seriously, that we were not putting in our best effort, that we weren’t fulfilling our part of the experiment. We kept at it for two weeks.  But as all seven birds failed to accomplish whatever we were trying to get them to do (it wasn’t ringing a bell and salivating) the instructor’s finally agreed that they were stupid birds.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Actually, Location Does Matter – but not Always an Option

I went out to see my mom at the assisted living yesterday.  The last two times I have gone, I’ve taken her out to see Aunt Trudy – who is currently in rehab and in a facility with a name similar to the place where mom is staying, but such radical difference in the two places.

Granted, the facility my aunt is in is not the last place that she will ever call home. It is a rehab center.  But it reminds me of some of the assisted living facilities that Corey and I had looked into but could not afford. I don't know how this rehab bill is going to affect Aunt Trudy – for I know that it will be more pricy than the bills Corey gets for mom.

The center where mom is currently seems understaffed.  And each of the staff members assists with the seating and the feeding and the meds and forms of entertainment.  They start setting up and bringing residents to the table starting at 11:00.  They don’t eat until 12:00.  There is one cook.

At the center where my aunt is (or even Sunrise – the place we would have put mom if money was no option) has staff teams.  I don’t know how many people were in the kitchen.  But there were three people at the table where my aunt had been seated (really fine dining atmosphere by the way – like some posh club or something) and there were three people that served them.  So each resident gets his/her own waiter?

I was asked if I wanted soup.  I was hungry but had brought my own lunch so as not to saddle my aunt’s bill with an extra expense.  I was told there was no charge for the soup.  It was really good soup!  I think they could have charged $5.00 a bowl, it was that delicious.

The residents (temp residents or patients, clients?  What would you call them) have a choice of menu items.  I don’t know how many people are in the kitchen.  I imagine the kitchen is bigger than the entire house where I currently reside (and that is NOT an exaggeration)

The food at mom’s facility? It is okay. Not that I’ve had a lot of it.  Usually there is no place to sit.  They don’t get to choose from menu items.  Eat what is served to them or don’t eat at all.

Aunt Trudy’s bed looks like it is just a single – but her room is huge!  Her bathroom is huge (but it has to facilitate a wheelchair and at least one nurse) I don’t know how often each staff member stops by.  But it’s routine clock work – I don’t guess there’s a single hour when somebody isn’t looking in on her.

Mom’s place – well . . . they have a schedule.  It gets altered a lot.  Things don’t always happen on time.  Sometimes personal items get misplaced (bras in the laundry – all with worn out tags) and sometimes overlooked.

I’m not blaming anyone.  You get what you pay for.  But there’s a lot of love and concern that goes into my mom’s place because they’re so small.  They know not just their residence, but all the family members who come to visit.  I see some smiles and genuine positive emotion with some of those who have worked with my aunt (or at least there in the facility) but I have seen just as many who are “just doing their job” who are there to get a paycheck and be polite – but their priorities don’t always seem to be set on those they serve. 

I could be wrong.  I’ve only been there twice.  Each time I’ve been overwhelmed by the “luxury”.  At mom’s I am underwhelmed for the most part.  Though I do appreciate the devotion of the staff.
I had a friend who had done rehab in an assisted living facility or nursing home, rather.  It seemed overcrowded and understaffed and reminded me of a veteran’s ward, actually. I knew of two real people that had been sent there to live for the remainder of their lives – one of whom is younger than I.  She had Huntington’s disease.  And her mom was not in a position to take care of her full time.  Same facility.

But my friend was in good spirits.  It’s certainly not the place she would have chosen for herself, but it was an option through the insurance company – and unlike many that were there, she would be returning to live with her family and would not be there until she died.

Sometimes we find that we just have to settle due to our own lack of control. Because we haven’t been blessed with financial wealth.  Because the economy robbed us of our house and were forced to move to a less expensive area.  Because the government is dipping into your paycheck because they say you owe money even though you were on welfare the last two and a half years.  Because the income you depend on has the name of your deceased spouse on it, it is automatically given to medical and you have no say in it whatsoever.

I love the school Jenna goes to currently.  I have to drive her two miles south each morning and then drive back to pick her up.  She rode the bus in her last four months of kindergarten.  We had moved to a different school boundary – one that caters to those who come from homes with a language barrier or those that are learning challenged or slow.  Jenna wasn’t happy there.  Neither one of us were.

It is such a different situation – entirely – when comparing the two schools.  Teachers at the former school kept everything under lock and key – even while in the classroom.  At her current school, teachers seem to trust students.  They close the doors and turn off the lights and that’s usually good enough for a student not to go in – or if he does, it’s to go through his own desk – never the teachers.

Jenna’s in a portable classroom this year.  I have had to use a pass to return to the main building.  The students at her current school are so polite.  They open doors for adults and stand there until the adult has passed through.  I don’t think that would even cross the minds of those in the other school that she went to.

At the former school, instruction seminars were held for the parents once a month – they would have the opportunity for learning proper hygiene, basic nutrition, things I had learned in junior high.  All of the seminars were done in Spanish and the school would supply English translators for those of us who didn’t speak Spanish (I’d gone to a seminar to meet other parents; I felt like a fish out of water) but the opportunity to mingle felt so limited.  I only went to twice.

At Jenna’s current school, there are very few that don’t speak English.  And there are several bilingual parents, teachers and students that no one should feel out of place.  There probably are a few parents who could use the basics, but no seminars are offered or morning mingles (which I learned was just a name – I did try to associate – but it just didn’t take.  But it helped me understand why Jenna was having such a hard time as she couldn’t seem to communicate either)

I loved the friendly faculty of the former school and didn’t feel threatened by anybody – but there was definitely a different atmosphere from the school Jenna attends today. 

Location.  The former is a boundary thing.  The one today.  Ironically she’s learning Spanish in the dual immersion.  But she has friends there.  She tried but made only one friend at the former – and then that friend moved.

It seems like I heard these words in Sunday morning’s session of conference: “It doesn’t matter where you live; whether it’s a nice neighborhood . . ." somehow I let those words set off my emotions.  There was a fuel burning inside of me that made me explode.  We didn’t choose our neighborhood.  We’re here because we had to settle. But perhaps I took the message out of context.  Perhaps it was my own interpretation made set me off.

 We are still struggling just to make ends meet.  The house across the street must be a section 8 and someone else is helping to fill out the required paperwork in order to get state support (I know they have to have assistance – the woman who resides there isn’t smart enough to do it herself) The police have been called I don’t know how many times because of her undisciplined children.  We certainly had absolutely no say as to whether we wanted them for neighbors or not.

Currently the police department in West Valley is being investigated by the FBI.  Should I be concerned?  I know that values start in the home – I know we can help instill learning in Jenna.  She is happy with her family.  But she shouldn’t be afraid to leave the house because of the idiots across the street.  Location does make a difference.  Sure, attitude does also.  But it’s hard having to be the strong one all the time.  It’s hard being one of 25 who volunteer and show up to see the same ones doing it again and again.  I’m worn out. 

I don’t want to have to settle because my husband’s ex wife is a habitual liar and the government won’t cut us a break.  I’m tired of living from paycheck to paycheck.  I’m tired of having needs that aren’t being fulfilled – forget about the desires.

The facility where mom lives seems to struggle just as my family does.  But they are family.  They are bound.  The facility where Aunt Trudy currently resides may have some caring family members – but I think the closeness that brings people together is lost somehow.  Who really has the greener grass?

We have been blessed with transportation.  And yes, we do have shelter for the time being.  Jenna and I have both been blessed with her current education.  And we’ve been so blessed by Church welfare and friends and family.  I guess there are pros and cons to every situation.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Another Guilty Pleasure

We haven’t always had cable – cancelled due to lack of finances – we’ve even cancelled the Internet.  I was okay with going to the library, but Roland wasn’t.  And now that he’s taking classes through the Internet – dropping the Internet would just frustrate him even more.

When so many stations were converted to HD and even the local channels needed some kind of box or connection, it seems like we always had TVland.  For a while it was our primary source of entertainment.  That, and going to the library for offered programs and to check out DVDs.

The station has added original programs including a reality show called “ForeverYoung”. The advertisements intrigued me, but I hadn’t watched it when it initially debuted.  But I did check it out yesterday. I was laughing so hard at watching these two (obviously) generations try and communicate.  Having lived between the two, I understand the frustration of the other – also having had to experience it myself.

Jenna is often asking, “Did they have such and such when you were little?” 

“Yes, we had Fisher Price people.  They weren’t made of plastic, they were made of wood.  They were smaller than what is offered now. “

“No we did not have iPods.  We didn’t even have CD’s.  We had phonographs and walkmans.

“No we did not have DVD’s.  I don’t recall the VCR coming out until I was a teenager.”

“Yes. We had cracker jacks.  But they offered cool prizes back then – well, at least compared to the lame prize that comes with cracker jacks today”

“No, we did not use slates back then.  We used paper. How old do you think I am?”

“There was an Electric Company.  But it didn’t come out until after Corey was born. It was different from what you watch today” (I had actually checked out a DVD from the library not realizing it was from the ‘70’s.  She couldn’t stand it)

She is far more superior at modern technology than I am.  She has found things on my phone that I didn’t even know existed.  She prefers Roland’s phone with his touch screen.  Roland is older than me and seems comfortable using his cell phone, but I hate it.  I actually have small fingers (one of the few parts of my body I can still refer to as small) but put me in front of a touch screen and they become clumsy fat hot dogs.  I can never find where I need to go and get so frustrated in trying to do so.

I appreciate the GPS – and the one that we had was not complicated and much easier to use than the map.  But I have used street maps before.  I must admit that I have texted messages – but it annoys me to go through each letter at a time – I’d much rather have a keyboard.  I do own a cell phone but started out dialing a rotary. 

I haven’t been on roller blades – but I know what they are.  I also remember the old time roller skate that fit over the shoe.  I owned several pairs of shoes with marks left from the roller skate that I used to glide around in my parents’ unfinished basement.

I’m actually too young to remember the car seat that my parents used vs. the ones that are out today.  Mine hung over the seat – front seat.  Mine was yellow.  It did not have the cool steering wheel feature built into it.  There was no car seat law that I know of.  Often the cars themselves didn’t come with safety belts for the driver – let alone the passengers.

I remember black and white television and a very limited amount of channels selection.  I remember life without Sesame Street and Sesame Street without Elmo.  In fact, I remember the original cast featured only four human beings.  And I remember three different Gordons. I can remember that Sesame Street did not explain Mr. Hooper’s death until a year after the fact.

I remember the world before computers made their way into just about every home.  I remember the ancient television sized monitors unlike the flat screens of today. I remember the manual typewriter and the cool features of the new electric ones.  

I remember cameras that required film.

I do like this “Forever Young” reality show that introduces “bridging the gap” and demonstrating that we really can learn from one another regardless of age.