Sunday, December 22, 2013

Dominican Republic: experiencing Alzheimers

It had been more than 8 years since I last visited the Dominican Republic, my birth country and about five years since I last saw my parents.  As I write this I experience feelings of regret for not making more of an effort to see them sooner. With kids, military moves, and our busy American life it seemed as though time just flew by and every year there was another promise to go soon and that time came and went. Don't get me wrong, we talked on the phone often, but it's just not the same.

When we last visited my parents I noticed mom was forgetting simple recent events like the fact that she just served us coffee or breakfast.  She would have mood changes from happy, elated to angry and aggressive. Immediately I thought "oh my gosh, I think she has the onset of dementia."  That thought made me so sad but I did not say anything at the time. I'm not a doctor and my only experience was in working with others and watching them progress through this disease.  I did suggest they take her to see her doctor and please mention all these symptoms, he might be able to help.


When my dad last visited us which was a few years after our visit he told me she was really forgetful, repeating herself a lot. He did not know what to do or how to handle it. He thought she was going crazy "loca" he said.  That's when I contact the Alzheimer's Association and requested information in Spanish for him to read and learn about the disease.  I explained she wasn't crazy and a lot of patience and personal care would be needed for her.

Fast forward to this trip.  I decided to go by myself because, honestly, I did not know what to expect. I knew he had been sick and unable to walk on his own and of course her condition had worsen because one day I called and she was no longer able to talk to me on the phone, she did not know how to use the phone or who was on the other end of that call.  That day I broke down crying and cried for a few days. I think I became slightly dehydrated in the process.  Then my brother told me about his visit with her her and how she had no idea whom he was. He was also hurting. It is very painful to not be able to share new experiences or have a talk about hour family history anymore.

Dad is just chillin'

When I arrived she was sitting on the front porch, "la galeria" which faces the front yard and house entrance.  My dad was sitting there along with their caregiver Natalia.  I went to her, held her hands, gave her a kiss, a hug and she smiled. She said she's a pretty girl "muchacha muy linda" and just giggled like I was meeting a shy five year old for the first time.  Once again, I tried not to cry but as you can imagine, it wasn't easy.  She really did not know who I was and she did not know much about herself either.  Based on the Alzheimer's web site she can be classified as Stage 6. I again hugged my dad and for what would probably be the 9th time in his life, he cried with me.

Mom showing me the chickens in the yard.

Once my crying was over I decided I needed to be strong. After all, in her absence of thought and consequence she really doesn't understand what all the crying is about.  I needed to be strong for him because he does get it and although he is healthier now than he was a week or two ago, he is still recovering and healing.  He walks a lot slower but still tries to do everything himself. He will salvage just about anything and find use for things most of us toss on a daily basis.  He cleans the yard daily, walks laps around the house daily, eats well if someone is there to make sure he eats and is religious about taking his medication.  He's also a little OCD about putting things in their place each and every time they are used.

Squeaker toys that entertain Mom.

My mom had moments that made me super happy.  She asked about my mother in law whom she always called the lady "la senora" and asked about the kids and my husband. That might have been a reflex reaction to something she always said to me when we talked on the  phone but it was a precious moment for me.  She began to say sweet things to me she only said when I was young and in my teens and occasionally she would tell me a story about something she knew, however the story was not in a recognizable order so I just smiled when she smiled. It made her happy to converse.

Eating our noon meal with Meena, their furry companion.

Alzheimer's Disease is a sad for those of us watching it happen, but for her, well the fact is that each day is a new day and yesterday doesn't exist and if anything painful is happening she does not realize it and therefore does not suffer. She doesn't find it offensive to be bathed and cleansed by someone else, to be assisted to go places, to be placed in a safe area of the house to keep her from getting hurt, and to be provided with food someone else cooked, a task she mastered and was proud to be such a great cook in her time, yet now she was not allowed in the kitchen, for her own safety of course.

I love my mom. She's not my biological mom but she raised me as if she was.  Always telling everyone about her little girl.  She took pride in everything I did and I was proud to have been raised by such a loving, caring, compassionate woman.

Papi is 84 and still a ham.

My trip to DR was more than just learning to be strong and learning about my mom's disease and helping my dad establish care and take care of other business. I did manage to find humor in their daily routines, we manged to laugh about a lot of things because there is no point in crying all the time.  My dad does a great job helping her as needed and he is very patient with her.  I trust she is in good hands with him and their caregiver Natalia.

Selfie with Mami. She's so sweet.

If you believe someone in your life might be suffering the early stages of Dementia, please click here to go to the Alzheimer's website to learn about the symptoms and what you can do to help prepare your family member and yourself for the long road ahead.

Take Care,


Monday, November 11, 2013

Veteran's Day - Thank you for your service!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

She left my nest

My first born girl left the nest for the first time last August, when we dropped her off at school and she disappeared into the crowd.  We were confused because all the new kids went into the auditorium and the parents went through some other door to sit and listen to the multiple welcome speeches that followed. Then the kids were dismissed into group sessions and parents were just dismissed. WOW! Don't I get a hug good bye :-(

We texted each other. She was so happy and we were so proud of her and happy that she was happy.  But a little sad too.  After all, she was the second out our four kids to leave the nest.  On the bright side, I know she's safe and happy.

Our little Em has challenged my patience and had me questioning my parenting skills.  I think that's supposed to happen at some point in our lives with at least one of our kids... I have four.

But most important she has managed to make us laugh when we least wanted to laugh. She's a natural artist with a smile that makes everyone smile back.  She loves funny movies, sitcoms, and good books. She has a big heart and a genuine love for those around her. When she makes a friend, she's a friend for life.

I have to admit that it was a lot harder dropping her off this year as she begins her second year of college. She spent her summer at home, worked three jobs, spent quality time with her dad and siblings, met up with some friends, and occasionally forced me to watch her favorite shows because she thought we needed to laugh together. Yes, in the end I did.

Now we are settling into our new home, getting the second set of kids adjusted back in school and really missing both our older kids as they make their new lives without mom and dad.  Well, physically, trust me, they both call or text enough to stay very active in our lives... THAT is something a truly treasure!

Can't wait to see what this year brings! We will be seeing them both again soon and spending more quality time with our first two treasures.  I can't wait! Love my Em and I really, really miss being forced to watch funny shows or listen to her retelling that last book she read.

A great weekend is just ahead!!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Positive Attitude = Happier Life


You ever find yourself surrounded by negative people? Negative situations?
At work.

At the grocery store.

At the gym.

Sometimes, even at home.

Yes.  We all face them and sometimes we just follow suit and fall into that negative rut that plague so many.  

I'm a big believer in living as an optimist (with realism not too far behind).  I have asked the pessimists in my life why they always thing the worst of things or the worst  case scenario?  They respond with "this way I'm prepared for the worst and if something good happens then I'll be surprised." 

WOW.  That response has stuck with me because it is amazing that anyone can think like that.  I see their point though.  They are trying to avoid feeling disappointed.  But, what's wrong with a little disappointment?   Aren't those the hurdles we must strive to jump every once in a while?  

As an optimist I say everything will workout as it should or today is going to be a great day, regardless of how it started and it usually turns out that way.  I find myself smiling more, getting less stressed over traffic issues, silly people, screaming kids at the market, etc.  However, when things don't workout, even after I've worked myself up to thinking they will, I use those moments as challenges to make things better.

There's a theory about stress first identified by Dr. Susan Kobasa (1979) called the Hardiness Theory of Stress. The theory has three basic principles:Commitment, Control and Challenge, also known as the three C's.  Possessing the three C's makes one hardy.

One who is hardy  will be committed to what they are doing, act as if they can control the outcome regardless of the changes, and use the change as a challenge to improve their life. Those people are considered hardy and have been known to #1 manage stress better then most, #2 avoid the health effects of stress, #3 live a happier life.

"When I go to bed at night I already know how my day is going to be the next day.  However, I have been known to oversleep, forget to turn on the alarm, the kids sleep right through their alarm, and I forgot to pack lunches the night before, etc.  OK so things have taken a turn and my plan to have a great day has been challenged.  Am I hardy enough to deal with this mess?

I'd like to think I am, most of the time.  I commit myself to what I know I can and must do NOW (get everyone up and ready to go).  I control the outcome of this event (everyone will get to school, eventually- it's not the end of the world). I use the challenges and be better prepared next time (pack lunches the night before, go to bed at a reasonable time).

No screaming, no anger, no fights.  Just taking the time to do what needs to be done because no matter what I do, I can't turn back time.  I can only work towards making this day a great day, regardless of the setbacks.

This rule also applies to my personal and professional health and fitness schedule.  I have already been challenged one too many times with either the realization that I have a class to teach or a client to train and something got in the way of that. I've learned after enough of those hurdles to be prepared and plan in advanced, even if it means going to bed a little later, that gym bag is ready with everything from water to snacks, iPod and workout notes just in case. My clients will never see me sweat... or actually they do, they see me sweat a lot. 

A few quotes to get you thinking:

“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”

~ Winston Churchill

“To love what you do and feel that it matters how could anything be more fun?”
~ Katherine Graham

“When you put faith, hope and love together, you can raise positive kids in a negative world.”

~ Zig Ziglar

My favorite is one I used to sing to the kids on the way to school -

So let the sunshine in
Face it with a grin
Smilers never loose
and frowners never win
So let the sunshine in
Face it with a grin
Open up your heart and let the sunshine in!

Until next time,


Monday, July 22, 2013

Blue Monday - Our new pool

This past week I will admit to feeling like we should have bought the house with the pool.  I still think about that house and how awesome it would be to have a pool where the kids can go cool off and fun.  But we did not choose that house because we realize the costs of maintaining a pool year-round to use it only 3 months out of the year. 

Usually we go to community pools, the Army Base pool, and sometimes they go to the Recreation Center pool which is indoors.  But it would be nice to just step outside and be within a few feet from the pool.

So we bought a pool.  Ok so it's only a foot of water but we have A LOT of fun in this tiny body of water.

... and while it may not be a big, permanent pool with all the bells and whistles, the kids and the dog seem to really enjoy filling water balloons, blowing water shooters, and spraying each other with the water toys.  After all the fun in the water they use whatever is left in the pool to water the plants in the garden and in the house.

Good times!


Sharing with Smiling Sally and my friends from Blue Monday.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Blue Monday- Water Splash to Shining stars

So much to celebrate, I think I lost a week in the process...

First, celebrating the 11 years we've been blessed with Natalie. She had a pretty amazing birthday week with a visit to a Splash Playground and then more water fun at home with friends and family. 

Followed a few days later by the Independence Day Celebrations.  Blueberry and Strawberry Short Cake, White Chocolate Covered Strawberries and of course, fireworks!  Yes we ate real food before dessert :-)

I hope everyone had a great time!

Sharing with Smiling Sally and her fans at Blue Monday!

Enjoy your week,


Monday, June 24, 2013

Blue Monday: Look Closely

We have been working on our deck for a month now because the only time we could do any work is when he's not working and when it's not raining, sometimes the two don't coincide but finally we are done, except for staining.  The orange, better known as "Cedar" color you see here is not at all what we wanted but I'm going to make it work...the stuff is way to expensive.  I think it sets up a nice contrast against the freshly painted patio chairs.

Look closely and what do you see... little glass of wine waiting for me :-)

Of course, there are some finishing touches I'm still working on. Chimes, some potted plants and an umbrella to protect from too much sun or rain. I plan on using this outdoor space as much as I possibly can. It's my favorite place to read and relax.

Enjoy your week everyone!


Sharing with all my friends at Smiling Sally

Monday, June 10, 2013

Blue Monday: Charleston, SC

Sharing some sky high photos from our mini-vacation in Charleston, SC during the Spoleto Festival USA 2013.

Blue Monday is where the blues hang out... go see :-)

Saturday, June 8, 2013

A pink little bird house

My daughter painted this little house when she was only four, in the fall, placed it outside and by spring this is what we could see. She loved pretending that this was a house in the woods and little families of frogs or ants or any critter would come to visit the little house.

Sharing with How Sweet the Sound on Pink Saturday!


Friday, June 7, 2013

It's Friday!!!

Charleston, South Carolina

It was a long, long trip with one teen, two younger kids and my best friend, but it was a ton of fun. I'm sure we spent more time in the car telling jokes, stories and attempting to sing songs we thought we knew then in the city of Charleston; however, the time we spend there was pretty fantastic.  The weather was just perfect for walking around, the sky was blue and the kids behaved amazingly well.

Now back home where it has been raining on and off for over a month. On the bright side, the flowers are getting equal amount of sun and water and they are blooming and looking pretty.

Excellent day to stay home and relax, paint, relax... 

Good Day to all!!

Sharing with Friday's Fence ~~ Enjoy!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Blue Monday: kids in the field

Walking the dog with the kids was so fun in this unkept field of weeds, made the animal in them come out and stalk me.

Sharing with Smiling Sally and friends on Blue Monday!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Places around DC

Before I share blue places I'd like to share my daughter's cause... please read below and support her by or share the page to get the word out.  

Support Emily's Smile Train to help give a child a smile!! Thank You!

~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~

Now that we live in the DC Metro area I realize there is a lot to see and do and I need to do and and see as much as possible.  It is so easy to get comfortable in one's place and postpone being a tourist in our own town, but this time I promised I would not let an event go by without investigating my options.

Museums, monuments, cherry blossoms, old buildings, old towns and new towns, FREE, inexpensive, and Oh My Word that's expensive...we have it all here in DC. So here are a few of our visits with lots of blue skies.  Enjoy!

Beautiful Townhouse in the Dupont Circle area

Getting the mail seems like such a difficult task for a 6 year old :-)

Virginia Railway Express - Train dedicated to work week commuters

University of Mary Washington, Fredericksburg, VA

A jogging trail and a creek

Celebrating life at Westminster Choir College

National Museum of Art...that is one Giant door.

DC area building but can't recall what it is...

Ice Skating for the first time ever!

Cherry Blossoms

The U.S. Capitol

Sharing on Blue Monday with Smiling Sally and her guests!

Proudly supporting Emily in her 
Running for Smiles Campaign with SmileTrain
Give this child a chance at a normal life.