Home Again at 1410 KLEM

Thanks to the magic of radio, you can go home again...in reality and in memory, too.One of my earliest memories is of sitting with my big sister on our bed, the kitchen radio between us, waiting for Dad to read the market report for our hometown radio station. Our bedroom door was tightly shut to avoid feedback from the dining room, which was HQ for Dad’s broadcast.

The glamour of hearing Ole Oleson announce–”And here’s Harlan Stratton with the morning market report for K-L-E-M, 1410 KLEM.”–sent shivers of delight down my spine. Listening to Dad’s voice come through the radio was magical.

Dad’s radio career was cut short by the progression of his multiple sclerosis, which soon left him unable to read. But KLEM’s magical aura lingered clear through numerous high school treks to the station to promote the theater productions that were my lifeblood in those days.

This week I’m in my hometown again to speak at 4 northwest Iowa libraries, the Le Mars Public Library included, about caregiving. Monday morning, at 11:45, I’ll join the city librarian at K-L-E-M KLEM to talk up the Le Mars event. Thanks to the magic of the internet, you can listen to 1410 KLEM live from wherever you may be–in the next room or in the next continent.

Dad’s been gone 17 years now, and his last radio broadcast was 50+ years ago. But if his name comes up during the broadcast and my voice wavers, you will know that the magic of hearing Dad’s voice still lingers. No longer on the radio for the morning market report, but forever in my heart.

Three Fantastic Friday Thoughts

These three thoughts for a June Thursday in 2012 seem appropriate, especially #3, as Mom’s annual mammogram was yesterday. No tress. Just the press.

For the past couple of weeks, my life has revolved around caring for friends and family – Hiram’s surgery June 12, a Camp Dorothy overnight last weekend, and taking some kids swimming so their pregnant mama could get some rest. Such circumstances rarely shine a light on my finest hour, but the situations did result in three care giving thoughts for Thursday:

These 3 caregiving thoughts from 2012 seem appropriate since Mom's annual press (no tress) was yesterday.

1.   I’m pretty sure the doctor prescribed a 5 pound lifting limit for a certain male patient who had back surgery to keep him from lifting more than 10 pounds.

These 3 caregiving thoughts from 2012 seem appropriate since Mom's annual press (no tress) was yesterday.

2.    Taking imaginative children to the swimming pool isn’t about going swimming. It’s about prowling in the water like a tiger cooling off on a hot jungle day, hopping in the water like a frog in a pond, and swimming underwater like a tadpole. But after 2 1/2 hours of prowling, hopping, and swimming, the tiger, frog, tadpole, children, and adult weren’t pretend tuckered out. They were honest-to-goodness, for real tuckered out.

These 3 caregiving thoughts from 2012 seem appropriate since Mom's annual press (no tress) was yesterday.

3.   I usually take Mom for her annual mammogram, but since it was the same day as Hiram’s surgery, my brother took her instead. She had a haircut the same morning, so during our Camp Dorothy overnight last weekend, I asked her, “Did you survive your big squish and snip morning okay?”

She shook her head and smiled. “It wasn’t squish and snip. It was press and tress.”

Yup, Mom’s still got her sense of humor!

Have you had any memorable care giving moments lately? If so, leave a comment.

Top Ten Thing about Wednesdays with Dorothy

Dorothy hot stuff

Every Wednesday I spend several hours with Mom at her new home in assisted living. Here’s a peek at what’s best about Wednesdays with Dorothy.

10. The staff at the assisted living facility is friendly to me and loving towards Mom.

9.  Getting to know other residents who live there has been delightful.

8.  Mom treats me to supper.

7.  Mom’s favorite game is Rummikub and the primary colors on the tiles make me feel so happy.

6.  Mom’s second favorite game is Uno, and when she wins she gives an evil laugh because she knows it will make me laugh, too.

5.  At least once a visit, she looks around and says “I can’t believe Genworth* is paying for this” with wonder and delight.

4.  Mom still has a great sense of humor. (See #6)

3.  She takes great joy in looking at pictures of her great-grandchildren and showing off the cards and crafts they send.

2.  When we are together on Wednesdays, I know without a doubt that I am where God wants me to be, doing what he wants me to do.

1.  Mom loved and cared for me in my early years and being able to reciprocate that love and care in her last years is a gift to both of us.

*Genworth is her long term care insurance company.

When Caregiving Feels Like Juggling with Knives

jugglingwithknivesSince the beginning of December, I feel like I’ve been juggling knives.
Sharp knives.
Recently honed to a razor’s edge.
And all because I was plunked into the role of primary caregiver for the first time in a long time.

Though I was caring for an aging parent–first in our home, then transitioning her to assisted living, and now advocating for her with insurance companies, with a little break thrown in caring for a toddler grandchild when a new baby came along–the experience was a reminder of what parents of kids with special needs live with day by day.

Parents of kids with special needs are constantly juggling knives that
gouge finances,
skewer free time,
turn any attempts into creating a routine into chopped liver,
and shred caregiving paperwork into teeny, tiny bits.

A New Caregiver’s Notebook Give Away

Caregiver's Notebook

My caregiving duties are easing up, but if you’re the parent of a child with special needs or caring for an aging parent, your duties are as demanding as ever. That’s why Different Dream is giving away a copy my The Caregiver’s Notebook. Why? Because the notebook I filled out for Mom was a way to sheath the mess of knives I was juggling. And it sheathed them better than I ever imagined it would while writing the notebook. Especially after my Caregiver’s Notebook epic fail, which tells the story of why I now carry Mom’s copy with me to e-v-e-r-y appointment she has.

To enter the contest, visit Gravel Road’s sister site, DifferentDream.com.

Two Moments

sweet-nap-873331-mIn the past 7 days, I helped Mom move into assisted living on Monday, traveled to Wisconsin on Tuesday to help out with the our 2-year-old grandson and brand new granddaughter until Saturday, and joined our church Connection Group on Sunday afternoon to make 32 pans of scalloped potatoes and ham for an upcoming fundraiser.

After a week in the whirlwind, I am home alone today.
Catching up on neglected tasks.
Sitting in my comfy chair writing.
Reflecting on the many changes our family has undergone in a few short weeks.

2 moments stand out amongst the tornado of moments that swirled around and above and under and through my heart in 7 short days. The first moment came after my brother and I had moved Mom’s furniture, arranged her room, and returned to take her to her new home. When I announced it was almost time to leave and asked her to wait until I was done in the bathroom. While I was otherwise occupied, Mom grabbed her walker and headed out the door.

A few minutes later,
I found her in the garage,
standing in the 7 degree weather,
waiting to begin her new life with the grit and determination that is her hallmark.

The second moment came during my Wisconsin sojourn. I was sitting in the rocking chair holding our newborn granddaughter while her mommy spent some time with her big brother. I looked down at this little one’s tiny perfect face, felt the soft rise and fall of her breathing against my chest, and breathed in her sweet baby aroma. And there, in the center of a month marked by the gale force change, a calm descended upon my windblown heart.

Time evaporated,
my heartbeat slowed,
my body relaxed,
and I thanked God for wrapping my arms around the gift on my granddaughter’s new life.

Rockin’ in the New Year at Camp Dorothy

new year

After a five day break, when Camp Dorothy’s namesake headed north to spend a few days with her eldest daughter, things are ramping up for a rockin’ New Year’s Eve celebration. The fun begins today when the camp director collects Dorothy from Minnesota and returns her to central Iowa’s more moderate climate…not that Dorothy will be outside experiencing the climate any more than is absolutely necessary.

She’ll be sitting cozy on the couch with a footstool under her feet and an extra blanket around her shoulders.

Also arriving at camp on Monday will be a Wisconsin contingent consisting of our daughter, six months pregnant, and her 6’4″ husband. They will be taking over many of the camp director’s activity duties including, but not limited to, playing Rummikub and Uno with the camp’s namesake and operating the television remote control so that episodes of The Price Is Right, Judge Judy, and Wheel of Fortune appear on cue at the proper time.

A stress reliever for sure as the camp director (aka: camp cook) foresees numerous trips to the grocery store as the camp population will double for the week.

And the director will be spending extra time planning a rockin’ New Year’ Eve party. Not an easy thing to schedule considering the camp’s namesake usually goes to bed between 7 and 7:30 in the evening. Therefore, our New Year’s Eve countdown of top hits will need to proceed at lightning speed so that 2015 is welcomed in at approximately 7:15 pm Central Standard Time. If that doesn’t work, Plan B is to blow our noisemakers continually from the end of Wheel of Fortune to midnight to keep the camp’s namesake awake until the New Year can be ushered in the rest of the country’s customary time. The camp director hopes Plan A works because, as daughter of the camp’s namesake, she goes to bed around 8:30 PM and has no interest in staying awake to ring in 2015.

The family resemblance is astounding, don’t you think?

Camp Dorothy will definitely be a rockin’ place to be on New Year’s Eve. If you’d like to join us, come early and bring your Uno deck. If you want to prank the camp with a late night call, the joke’s on you as the camp landline’s been cancelled and all cell phones shift into night mode long before Cinderella’s coach is in danger of turning into a pumpkin. All because Camp Dorothy aims to please it’s namesake and a good night’s sleep is always her number one priority.

Happy New Year from the well-rested Camp Dorothy crew!

The Caregiver’s Notebook Vlog Series: Insurance Information

Caregivers-Notebook-vlog-series-Insurnace

The Caregiver’s Notebook vlog series is in full swing. This is episode 8, which covers insurance information The Caregiver’s Notebook: An Organizational Tool and Support to Help You Care for Others was officially released by Discovery House Publishers on November 1, 2014. This series is another way to offer support to caregivers and relieve their stress.

What Kinds of Caregivers?

The notebook was designed to be versatile enough for a variety of caregiving scenarios. It works for adult children caring for aging parents, spouses caring for husbands or wives, and for parents caring for babies, toddlers, young children, and teens with special needs. It also can be used by parents caring for adult children with special needs, parents caring for typical babies from birth through age 3, and by senior citizens in good health who want to have their affairs in order for whoever will care for them in case of sudden illness or accident.

The Caregiver’s Notebook Vlog Series Episode 8: Insurance Information

This episode gives caregivers ideas about how to gather and record information related to the insurance policies your loved one may have. It explains where to find the needed information and where to record it. It also explains the importance of logging insurance company communications and how to do it  Now’s it’s time for some insurance adventures!

To view the episode, visit this blog’s sister site, DifferentDream.com

The Caregiver’s Notebook Vlog Series: Medical Information

Caregiver's Notebook Vlog Series Medical InformationEpisode 7 of The Caregiver’s Notebook vlog series focuses on the medical information section The Caregiver’s Notebook: An Organizational Tool and Support to Help You Care for Others. It shows caregivers how to record medical history & how to log procedures, tests, treatments, therapies.

Who Needs The Caregiver’s Notebook?

The Caregiver’s Notebook to meet the needs of those dealing with a wide variety of caregiving situations. Here are some of them:

  • Adult children caring for aging parents.
  • Spouses caring for husbands or wives.
  • Parents caring for babies, toddlers, young children, and teens with special needs.
  • Parents caring for adult children with special needs.
  • Parents caring for typical babies from birth through age 3.
  • Senior citizens in good health who want to have their affairs in order for whoever will care for them in case of sudden illness or accident.

So if you’re in any of those situations, today’s video is for you. This section is the most extensive in the notebook, but don’t feel intimidated by it. Just keep adding to it as the situation demands. More on that in this video.

Click here to visit Gravel Road’s sister site, DiffererentDream.com, to view Episode 7.

Camp Dorothy Commences Tonight

Camp DorothyA month long version of Camp Dorothy begins tonight, which means CD HQ is buzzing this morning. So far the camp director has:

  • Moved her wardrobe, bedside reading materials, and toiletry items to the upstairs bedroom and bathroom,
  • Reminded the Man of Steel to do the same,
  • Changed bedding for the camp’s namesake,
  • Checked to make sure the Uno, Skippo, and regular card decks are ready to go,
  • Pulled a meal from the freezer for supper.

Next on the list is to:

  • Make sure the TV is turned to Wheel of Fortune’s channel,
  • Put extra blankets on the camper’s bed because she is always cold,
  • Decide whether to be magnanimous and give the celebrity camper the good ottoman or the makeshift one for the duration of her stay,
  • Create a comfy nest on the couch, complete with extra pillows, pencils, and tissues.

Once all that’s done, it will be time to:

  • Drive down to where the camper lives,
  • Take her for a pre-camp physical at the doctor’s office,
  • Check to be sure she packed some of the new shirts and sweaters she received as Christmas gifts instead of the old, dingy ones she can’t part with,
  • Load her, along with her walker, cane, suitcase, bath chair, purse, crossword puzzle books, and library books into the car,
  • Be very thankful the camp provides linens so there’s no need to pack a sleeping bag, pillow, and towels, too,
  • Drive to CD HQ.

Upon arrival at camp, the director will be wishing for a Wheel of Fortune marathon to occupy the camp’s namesake while:

  • Unloading the car,
  • Unpacking the camper’s clothes,
  • Running to the store to purchase someone’s favorite snack items,
  • Fixing supper,
  • Sending apologetic replies to all the emailed ignored on the gala opening day of Camp Dorothy,
  • Reminding herself how blessed she is to have these days with the camp’s namesake because one day, perhaps sooner than later, Camp Dorothy will be a thing of the past.

 

The Caregiver’s Notebook Vlog Series: Contact Tips

my-address-book-icon-1419193-mHello again and welcome to episode 4 in The Caregiver’s Notebook vlog series. The Caregiver’s Notebook: An Organizational Tool and Support to Help You Care for Others was officially released by Discovery House Publishers on November 1, 2014. This series began a week later as a way to offer support to caregivers and relieve their stress. To access previous episodes in the series, type “The Caregiver’s Notebook Vlog Series” in the search box at the top of the page.

What Kinds of Caregivers?

This book was designed to be used by caregivers in a variety of different situations. It works for adult children caring for aging parents, spouses caring for husbands or wives, and for parents caring for babies, toddlers, young children, and teens with special needs. It also can be used by parents caring for adult children with special needs, parents caring for typical babies from birth through age 3, and by senior citizens in good health who want to have their affairs in order for whoever will care for them in case of sudden illness or accident.

The Caregiver’s Notebook Vlog Series Episode 4: Contact Tips

In this episode, caregivers learn how to customize the contact section to keep track of family members, personal friends, professionals, organizations, and anyone else important to your loved one’s life and care. This episode shares tips about how to find and record the names and numbers of people who can quickly carry your message to doctors and other professionals. It also offers hints about how to gather contact information and who should be included as a contact.

Click here to view episode 4 on The Gravel Road’s sister site, DifferentDream.com.