"I should not talk so much about myself if there were any body else whom I knew as well."
-Henry David Thoreau

Saturday, December 31, 2016


This morning I woke to a phone call from the doctor at 7:45.  He said that Grandpa seemed to be doing worse instead of better and they had put him back on the high flow oxygen machine.  When I arrived at the hospital his eyes were open and he was talking some, but between the hum of the machines in the room and the high flow of oxygen from his nasal cannula, it was nearly impossible to hear or understand him.  There was frequent adjustment of his oxygen to try and keep his stats at an acceptable level.  Kyle, Matt, and I all agreed that we did not want to put him on a ventilator and I had already signed a DNR weeks ago.  Kyle & I talked to the doctor and asked about hospice and we all agreed that we would try one more round of Lasix and talk to the cardiologist one more time before making that move.  Respiratory was keeping a close eye on Grandpa, his stats were staying fairly level, and they ordered a BiPAP to have on hand, should the cannula not be enough.  I prayed with him and held his hand and just sat.  Knowing from experience that the end stages of life can take days, at 12:45 I decided I would come home for a little while to be with Eleanor and then come back later in the afternoon.  As always, the nurse knew to call me for anything.  When I got home I told Drew that while nobody but God could possibly know, I anticipated that he would move to hospice soon and only had a few days left.  We began making plans for how I could be with Grandpa as much as possible when Drew goes back to work on Monday.  Drew left to go to Fayetteville where he was meeting his family for the afternoon.  At 1:53pm my phone rang.  The nurse asked where I was and then said that she believed he was passing.  I hung up the phone and rushed back to the hospital.  I was there, Eleanor in tow, in less than 15 minutes.  I was too late. 
When I arrived the chaplain was already standing in the doorway to meet me.  Grandpa had passed peacefully.  His oxygen levels couldn't be maintained and his heart stopped.  It happened very quickly.  I sat with him for a while and held his hand for the last time.  I cried for myself because my life will be so different without him.  I thanked God for taking Grandpa home and then I cried a bit more over the joyous thought of the welcome party that surely greeted him heaven.  Then I cried because I had to call my loved ones and deliver the news.  I answered the coroner's medical history questions and waited for the funeral home to arrive.  Tomorrow afternoon we will make the funeral arrangements and I will post them here and on Facebook as soon as I have them. 

Thursday, December 29, 2016


I'm grateful to have had a couple of hours to just hang out with Eleanor this afternoon and not have to be somewhere or go anywhere else.  We just played in the quiet of her room and I took a few photos. 
Hmm... how can I fit this baby into my bed? 
 Guess she'll just have to lay in the cradle. 
 Have I mentioned that she  can open doors now?  Our handles are the lever style (see picture below) and if she stands on her tip toes than she can reach the handle and pull down.  It's easier to open doors that she can push open, but she can also open doors that she has to pull to open.  She doesn't just open doors, she goes in and closes the door behind her.  She had just opened her bedroom door and turned around to see if I was watching before she left the room. 
 Trying to get that baby doll to stand up. 
 She was interested in my lens cover because it's a circle.  She just kicked back and traced the shape with her finger. 
She's been identifying circles and stars for quite a while, but most recently she can also identify triangles.  We had shown her a triangle shaped toy one night and she repeated the word (which is adorable by the way), but I didn't think she would retain it until she pointed out a triangle on her pajamas a few days later and said, "Ti-an-gle".  She amazes me with something every day.  Is that normal?  To identify shapes at this age?  I don't know, but I think she's pretty smart. (Also, I'm trying not to say "You're so smart!" to her, because I don't want to give her a big head.  I do think she's so smart, but I'd rather point out how observant or creative she is so as to encourage her to keep learning and not just be cocky about what she can already do.) 
It's not the 4th of the month, but I've spent so much time focused on and writing about Grandpa in the last month that I'm going to take the time to write about what else Eleanor has been doing.  So if you aren't interested in my bragging then move along. 
Still reading?  Okay then, let the mommy gushing continue. 
I get emails from a parenting website every month.  Today I got one about Eleanor turning 18 months old soon and all the developmental things she may be up to.  It began with, "An expanding 15-20 word vocabulary makes for a thrilling accomplishment this month!"  Isn't that cute?  15-20 words!  Ha!  My talking toddler laughs in the face of your development milestone!  I actually sat there and counted in my head and I could think of at least 120 words that she uses frequently, spontaneously, and clearly enough to communicate with us.  That's just counting the words that actually sound like what she intends to say.  Example: She says "bobble" for "bottle".  It sounds like what she means and it clearly communicates what she intends.  She has more words that don't sound like what she means, but get her point across anyway. Example: her favorite food right now is Cuties (mandarin oranges).  Since they sit in a bowl on the kitchen table, she has full view of them every time we sit down to eat.  It took me a while to realize that "noonsh" means orange.  She points, nods yes, and says, "Noonsh!" It doesn't sound much like "orange", but it gets her point across.  She often puts two words together.  Example:  "Poopy potty".  She's recently begun stringing three words together.  Example: "I did it!"  or "There it is!" 
She is walking and starting to run and is doing some climbing, all of which she does with great caution and care.  She's not reckless at all and rarely has falls (somebody knock on wood, please).  We found out this week that if she stretches out and gets on her tip toes that she can reach the edge of the kitchen counters.  I need to measure her height and see how tall she's gotten, because reaching door knobs and counter tops doesn't seem possible, but it is.  She's started walking backward, side stepping and turning in circles in the last couple of weeks and seems quite impressed with herself. 
Know what else I'm surprised about?  Potty training.  If you're still reading then I'm going to assume that you are okay with toddler potty talk.  If you aren't then you should stop reading now. 
We definitely aren't going all in on the potty training because there's been so much else going on (and she's only 17 months old), but I'm really just letting her take the lead and it's going really well.  It started right before Christmas when the potty chairs arrived.  I set them up and would let her come with me when I went to the bathroom.  I would take her diaper off, let her sit on the potty if she wanted, and just see what happened.  The very first time she sat on the potty, she peed, looked down, got wide eyes, and said, "Whoa!"  After that first time, she was game.  I don't ever make her do it, but if I can tell she needs to go and she's getting impatient then I sit on the floor beside her and we read a book until she's done.  Pooping seems to be easier to do in the potty because there's more warning time when she needs to go.  Once she's done she stands up and says, "Good girl!  Potty!"  Being out and about makes the potty thing more difficult and she usually doesn't ask to go, but on Christmas Eve we were at Dottie's and she patted her bottom and said "potty".  I made the mistake of trying to sit her on the big toilet and she sort of freaked out.  By the time I asked for and found the baby potty, it was too late and she was upset.  Anyway, it's awesome that she's trying and having some success and I hope that it means that she will continue to figure it out on her own until she's officially potty trained.  At this point I just think it's cool that we're saving a diaper or two a day by going potty. 
Maybe it's only fair to point out the not-so-cool things that she's doing, too.  How about the word "no"?  It's not cute and she uses it loudly & frequently, especially if someone talks to her or gets too close.  That's not even just with new people, it could be people that she knows and loves.  It embarrasses me, but I think it's normal.  Right?  Right? She's not too keen on sharing, either.  If she could, then I think she would say, "That's mine, that's mine, and that's mine.  You can't have it and you really shouldn't even touch it."  Since she's not quite that articulate yet, she just screams and starts swinging.  Add that to the not-so-cool list.  Maybe it's time to pull out that Love And Logic parenting book again and brush up on some parenting techniques. 
So as not to end this unexpectedly long post on a sour note, let's end with a picture.  Seriously, y'all.  She's just lovely.  I just want to squish her and kiss her all day (until she screams and starts swinging, of course). 


Things have been kind of crappy with Grandpa for a few days. The short of it is... 
His arterial fibrillation causes his heart rate to be irregular and sometimes dangerously high. The medication to control that has caused his blood pressure to go too low. Keeping him hydrated has been one way to encourage better blood pressure. Too much IV fluids caused fluid retention, complicated his congestive heart failure, and resulted in fluid in his lungs. Fluid in the lungs (in addition to laying in bed for such a long time) turned in to pneumonia and pulmonary edema. Treating pneumonia required antibiotics, treating pulmonary edema required steroids, and getting rid of excess fluid required Lasix. Too much Lasix can stress his already compromised kidneys, so that has to be closely monitored. All of that boils down to trying to find a balance that clears up his lungs and maintains an acceptable heart rate, oxygen levels, and blood pressure. How to fix one thing without making another worse has been an ordeal, but the doctors and nurses at Mercy Hosptal have been fantastic. One doctor put it like this... we are driving on a narrow road with large ditches on each side, we are just trying to stay on the road. Oh yeah, and this all started with a hip replacement. That part seems to be doing okay and today physical therapy was able to get him up and in a chair for the first time in a few days. This morning the doctor was hopeful that he will be stable enough to go back to rehab in the next day or two. 
Mentally, Grandpa has been anywhere from unwilling & unable to open his eyes or say anything understandable to wide eyed and alert but not quite coherent.  
I'm grateful that Drew has had this week off from work so that Eleanor can stay at home with Daddy and I can be at the hospital as necessary. 
Continued prayers are appreciated. 

In addition to all of Grandpa's stuff, Tuesday was Alex's birthday. She would have been 14 years old. We celebrated her by watching & sharing her 11th birthday Roar video and visiting her grave. Sunday will mark three years since she passed and that's hard to comprehend. In some ways it feels like it's been a hundred years and in other ways it seems like yesterday. That's a lot of emotion to process, especially on top of everything else that is happening with Grandpa right now. 

Am I the only one that thinks that having a project that is completely unnecessary can be therapeutic? I'm not talking about something that needs to be done. I'm talking about a wild hair that is done purely because it seems like a good idea. Something that serves almost no purpose but to look beautiful, burn some energy, and provide some sense of control over some tiny portion of life. I present to you... Mandy & Drew's Great Fireplace Makeover. Can you say shiplap and super awesome new mantle?  Designed by me and custom made by Drew. Move over Chip & Joanna Gaines, the Harrises are in town. 
Before (totally acceptable builder's choice fireplace & mantel, complete with toys & child sized furniture, because, you know, we live here): 
In process, with help from Eleanor (also, don't try this at home, the safety measures are questionable): 
Side by side. Left is before, right is after. 
You guys, it's so beautiful and I love it. I'll have to take better photos with the big camera, especially once I find the perfect thing to hang in the middle. Drew did a fabulous job, the living room has a fresh & custom feature, and nobody was injured in the makeover of this fireplace. Win, win, win. 

I'll leave you with a snap shot of an intense light saber battle between father and daughter. Y'all, I'm not even a Star Wars fan (gasp!) and even I know this is epic. 

Sunday, December 25, 2016


You guys. So much has happened in the last few days. My apologies for not posting sooner. I'm writing this on my phone while sitting at the hospital, so please forgive typos. 
First: Grandpa hasn't been good. The first few days after hip replacement surgery were pretty good. PT was getting him up & around and his mind was clear. Then, Saturday about 2:45am I got a phone call from the hospital that Grandpa was being moved to ICU because of heart issues. Long story short... he had a mild heart attack, likely due to the stress of surgery and medication changes. He has a long history of cardiovascular disease, but we weren't expecting these problems right now. The doctors have continued to struggled with maintaining his blood pressure & regulating his heart rate. He is on the cardiac unit now and will stay here until they can get things balanced just right. PT still comes every day to get him up. He knows who we are, but isn't quite coherent. He will be here a few more days anyway, because he can't really move on to rehab for his hip unless his heart is stable and his chest is clear. Yesterday was his 81st birthday, though he didn't seem to care. I'm grateful that my Uncle Matt and Steve were here to be at the hospital yesterday and today so that Kyle & I could have some kind of normal Christmas with our own families. 
So... Christmas. 
I'm usually so good at taking photos during holidays and family gatherings, but this year I only have a few pictures from my phone. Better than nothing. 
Thursday night we celebrated at Drew's dad's house. These three cousins sure are sweet (and all sitting still at the same time!). 
Eleanor got a fuzzy cow sleeping bag that sure is snuggly. 
Corbin kicked back on his new giraffe chair. 
Casey's family was able to make the trip to Arkansas to see Grandpa and have early Christmas with us. On Friday morning we took the kids to see Santa. I don't think Eleanor would have done it at all if Tessa & Payson hadn't been there. She only tolerated it, but here is the photographic proof. 
We visited Grandpa (he was still in a regular room at that point) and then took the kids to Chuck E Cheese for lunch and play. 
Eleanor had a nap while I cooked and then we had our McCarty Christmas Friday evening. Again, I failed miserably at getting any quality photos. Here's what I have. Drew & Misty having a light saber battle...
And Kyle holding a nearly naked Eleanor. 
Saturday morning was spent checking on Grandpa after his cardiac incident and seeing Casey's crew off as they headed back to Oklahoma. We did make it to church for the candlelight service on Saturday evening and then had Christmas Eve at Dottie's house. (Can you guess what I'm about to say?) I have little photo evidence, but this pretty much describes Eleanor's entire attitude that evening.
Poor Corbin. His look is like, "Dude, what's wrong with you?" Eleanor was disagreeable all evening and refused to participate in pretty much everything. My stress level probably hasn't been helping her stress level, but we're doing the best we can. 
I was worried that Eleanor's Christmas Eve attitude was an indicator of how Christmas morning would go, but I'm happy to report that being home, just the three of us, was lovely this morning and exactly what we needed.  I did manage to take more photos of that and sitting with Drew as we watched Eleanor discover her gifts made my heart happy. 
Just soaking up the quiet Christmas bliss. 
Eleanor loves her family, especially her cousins, but she is surely spoiled to being an only child and all the quiet & attention that that affords.  
It's ridiculously warm for an Arkansas Christmas and so I declared this 67 degree day the perfect Teva weather. 
Eleanor is napping at home while Drew watches a movie and I spend some time with Grandpa at the hospital.  I don't even know how to end this post because this entire Christmas season has been different than what I would have planned, but I am grateful to God nonetheless. I pray that each of you have that, as well. God is good. Merry Christmas. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2016


Remember my roller coaster analogy? Well, we seem to still be on that roller coaster and yesterday we hit a large and unexpected bump on the ride. 
It started Monday night when the night nurse called me at 9:45pm to casually say they were going to x-ray Grandpa's left leg. The conversation went something like this...
Nurse: I just wanted to let you know that we are going to x-ray your Grandpa's leg. 
Me: What happened? 
Nurse: Nothing. 
Me: Did he fall? 
Nurse: Not since last Thursday when I called you.
Me: I don't understand what is prompting the x-ray at this point. Is he complaining of more pain? 
Nurse: No, not any more than usual, but, you know, we just... (blah, blah, blah... talking without saying anything)
Me: Are you doing it tonight? 
Nurse: No, it will probably be tomorrow. 
Me: It is startling to receive a call from you about my Grandpa at 9:45pm and I'm trying to understand what made you call me right now to tell me something that you can't really explain. 
Nurse: Well, I just saw it in his chart and needed to tell you. If I had seen it earlier then I would have called you earlier. 
Me: I will be there in the morning. 

Y'all, I was (and still am) so irritated over this, but that isn't even the really frustrating part. I went to check on him in the morning and while I was there the x-ray tech arrived and took the photos. Remember, he had slipped out of his chair and landed in a seated position with his left leg- the one that was already causing him so much pain after the first fall- folded under him. That was last Thursday evening. That same night nurse called to tell me about it and swore she had examined him and that he was fine. No x-rays were done and in hind sight I should have demanded that. So... I'm leaving yesterday and the day nurse (the one I prefer) comes chasing me down the hallway because the images came back and showed a fracture in his femur and it appeared to be a few weeks old and possibly worsened more recently.  Um... 
When he fell three weeks ago Kyle and I spent hours in the WRMC Emergency Room where they did tests, x-rays, CT scans, etc and told us they couldn't find anything. They kept him three days and then sent him to rehab with a diagnosis of having treated an unidentified infection. He's been in rehab nearly three weeks now and has been doing therapies that included physical therapy with weight bearing exercises... on what we now know is a broken femoral neck. 
They rehab doctor arranged for him to come to Mercy Hospital and they transported him here yesterday. They have been fabulous. They've been attentive and prompt and we quickly saw the orthopedic doctor who answered our questions, explained what he was seeing, showed us how it needed to be fixed, and by 8:30pm Grandpa was in surgery for a partial hip replacement. The doctor said it was obviously a break that was a few weeks old because of how the bone had already begun to try repairing itself, but was likely worsened by last weeks' fall.  Because the ball at the top of the femur was completely broken off, they had to remove the ball from the hip joint and place a new femoral neck (the top of the thigh bone, including the ball that fits into the hip socket). He made it through surgery fine. His blood pressure remained too low after surgery, so they kept him in recovery for a few hours and then put him in ICU to monitor closely. This morning his blood pressure has mostly recovered and we are waiting for the doctor to make rounds and say he can go back to a normal room. If all goes well then he will be here a few days and then will need quite a bit of rehabilitation. We aren't sure what to expect he will be able to accomplish, but it should be a heck of a lot easier to do anything without a broken leg. 
Mentally, he was more himself yesterday than he has been since this all started 3+ weeks ago. Even today when he's groggy from surgery and pain medications, he is making sense and not confused. I don't know if that will continue or if we can expect more bad/dementia days ahead. 
So, yeah. I don't know if he will go back to the same rehab facility or not. Part of me wants to be angry and refuse to take him back there, but I need think on it and make an appointment to speak with the administrator first. 
Let's wrap this post up with a giggle, shall we? After a long afternoon and evening at the hospital, the bowl of cereal I had eaten for lunch had worn off and I was suddenly starving. I sat with Grandpa until he went into surgery and was shown to the waiting room where I was told there were vending machines. Oh yeah, baby! Look out chocolate, here I come!  I had a wad of dollar bills ready to purchase junk food to eat by myself and to share with no one.  Then... 
What hell is this?! Fresh Healthy Vending? NO!! I don't want apple slices and plain pretzels, I want a Snickers bar! Thanks a lot, hospital people, up until now this was all manageable, but now you've officially ruined my day.  (Confession: right next to this was an ice cream bar vending machine. It was over priced and tasted terrible, but I ate an ice cream sandwich just to spite the hospital administrators who decided that my vending machine choices should include baked chips & Smart Water instead of Doritos & energy drinks. They aren't the boss of me!) 

Monday, December 19, 2016


First things first.  Grandpa's status seems to depend on the moment.  On Saturday he was completely delirious, mumbling gibberish, eating nothing, and picking at things that weren't there.  On Sunday he wouldn't even wake up, snoring and mumbling under his breath, but not opening his eyes.  So today I was prepared for more of the same, but when I arrived he was sitting in his wheel chair and eating a bit of lunch.  He was happy to see me, told me he already had Speech Therapy (which was correct), asked about different family members, and told me he sure was missing Cleve today.  All good, until he attempted to convince me that he didn't need to be there any longer.  His roommate is being discharged tomorrow, so I guess that is fueling this idea that he should be going home as well.  I told him that he can't leave there until he can take care of his own personal needs.  He declared that he'd never be able to do that again and then argued that all I would have to do is give him his medications.  I tried to delicately point out that his bathroom and shower needs were an issue that I couldn't tend to.  He was quiet but seemingly annoyed.  It doesn't help that his roommate is in no better shape than Grandpa is.  How do I explain to him that the difference between him and his roommate isn't ability to care for one's own needs, but money?  His roommate's home is in an assisted living facility where they help him with those personal needs as necessary.  His roommate can afford to do that.  It's a luxury that far too many, including Grandpa, will never have.  So, I skipped over anything having to do with his roommate and gently told him that he had to stay where he was and keep doing therapy to regain strength.  He wasn't convinced and was dramatically irritated, but he settled on two more days. 
God grant me the strength. 
I've said this before, but I need to confess it again.  This is HARD.  What if every day he was as good as today?  I don't know.  I don't think I could care for him even then, but you know what?  The last 3 weeks tells us that every day is not as good as today.  The last three weeks have been a roller coaster and he doesn't remember half the ride. He's not aware of how rickety and unmanageable the sharp curves and big drops are.  He's only aware of the slow and straight climbs that are uncomfortable and restricting.  I know that he doesn't want to be on this roller coaster at all.  I don't either.  Yet here we are.  I've been on a roller coaster like this with someone I've loved before.  More than once.  More than twice.  It wasn't the same ride though, so I don't know what curves are coming, how big the drops will be, or when the ride will be over.  My heart hurts for him because I know he isn't happy there, but I'm trying to maintain my own level head as I manage this situation and prepare for whatever is ahead.    I would appreciate your continued prayers as this journey continues. 

Thursday, December 15, 2016


You guys.  First of all, I thought I had lost my mind when UPS delivered a giant package to my door today.  For the life of me I couldn't remember ordering anything.  To my wonderful surprise, the package was from my Aunt Sallie and what was inside couldn't have been any more precious. 
When I was a toddler, Sallie gave me a baby doll cradle, complete with pillow & blanket.  It was passed back to Sallie when her children were little.  I can't even tell you how much it means to have it for Eleanor.  There was even a Christmas package for Eleanor to open, which she did with great excitement!  I just snapped a few photos because I can't wait to share them.  You can be sure that when I track down a photo of myself with it that I will recreate the photos for all to enjoy! 

 She loves that baby and keeps bringing it to me to wrap in the blanket. 

Care Plan Meeting

Big dog in a little bed.  

Eleanor woke up icky yesterday.  She was snotty, threw up once, and wouldn't eat anything, so we stayed home all day long.  She was pitiful, but I got lots of snuggles. 
 By the end of the day we had a few more smiles and a little less snot. 
Eleanor never ran a fever, so we were back at 'em this morning. Grandpa's first Care Plan Meeting since being in the rehab facility was this morning.  I don't like to be late.  Ever.  So I was 20 minutes early for the meeting they set.  They were 20 minutes late.  It happens, but Eleanor wasn't impressed with the waiting.  I bought her cooperation with graham crackers and taking selfies on my phone.  Own it. 
 I wish I had gotten a better picture of her outfit, because the Christmas pants (courtesy of Sophie) are adorable. 
Oh yeah, the Care Plan Meeting.  What is it?  Well, let me say this.  If you are in a profession that requires you to deal with the public, don't make assumptions.  You may do this every day, but I don't.  I've had to do a lot of un-fun adult things in the last 14 years, but I've never done this exact thing and I do need you to explain some things.  Don't assume that I magically know what's happening.  Also, introduce yourself.  If we haven't met, tell me who you are and what you do.  If we met once in passing, maybe casually introduce yourself to me again or at least wear your name tag where I can see it.  There are lots of people to deal with in this situation and chances are I don't remember your name.  Now, this is not to say that anyone was rude, I just felt like I didn't completely understand our objective and was just trying to put the pieces together as we went.  That being said, here's the scoop on Grandpa:
He's making some progress in therapy.  It seems to depend on the day, but overall he's gaining a bit of strength and tolerance for standing and transferring (like from the bed to the chair).  He's not having much success in walking and that seems largely due to the pain in his left leg.  The x-rays from the hospital showed no fractures, so it must be a muscular thing.  Whatever the cause, it is preventing him from taking steps.  What does that mean?  It means he's making enough progress for now that Medicare will allow therapy to continue.  A new update is made every Tuesday so that Medicare can decide if this is all worth their expense.  For now, we are good.  For how much longer?  We don't know. They said I would get at least a 48 hour notice of when he will be discharged and then they asked me if my house was wheel chair accessible.  Um, no.  You know what's awkward?  Having this conversation in front of Grandpa.  I don't think he was picking up on much of it, but it's still no fun to say it all out loud.  I had to be honest and tell them that the best case scenario would be that he regains physical function to care for his own personal needs (bathroom & showering) independently and comes to live at my house.  I can be around and prepare meals, etc., but that I'm not prepared to be his physical caregiver.  My impression from the staff today is that that may not  be a realistic expectation of what can be accomplished.  I told them that if that can't happen then we will need to discuss transition to long term care.  His mental status is still off and that's a concern to me as well.  (They are calling it vascular dementia.) He knows who I am and he can tell me details about the farmer's co-op from 20 years ago, but he doesn't remember that Kyle came to see him yesterday.  He is happy to see Eleanor for a while, but then he gets on to her for not minding. (Spoiler alert: she's a toddler & he isn't usually put out with her.)  I don't feel like I could keep him safe, be on call for him 24/7, and still care for myself & my own family.  That is the truth and I have to own that.  Next week I will talk to the finance office and try to begin preparing for what will be required if we do need to transition to long term care.  Grandpa has only so much money in the bank and nursing home room & board is anything but cheap.  I'm talking $170 a day.  Medical insurance doesn't cover that.  The only option will be to private pay until he runs out of money and then apply for Long Term Care Medicaid.  I think the system is broken and flawed, but at least it's there.  We will have to jump through their hoops, but it should provide a way for us have him in a place where he can be properly cared for and we can just be his family instead of his caregivers. 
So that's the current status on Grandpa and my impression of what may happen from here.  Please keep praying that God will provide and show us what to do. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Elsie & Eleanor

Christmas is soon.  Less than two weeks.  I've been getting things in order and buying more gifts than Eleanor could possibly ever need or want.  Drew and I have had fun planning and buying for her this year.  (In related news, my delivery man probably thinks that I have an Amazon addiction.)  She's still little, but she's finding wonder in all things Christmas and her joy is contagious.  What a blessing that has been to my heart in the last couple of weeks.  Knowing full well that the gifts are not the highlight of Christmas, Drew & I have really enjoyed being able to provide these things for our daughter. 
I'm failing miserably at taking photos lately.  For one, I'm busy.  For another, Eleanor is fast & impatient, so 9 out of every 10 photos I take of her turn out blurry.
In our community group we have been reading a book about being a fan of Jesus versus being a follower of Jesus.  Hint: if you call yourself a Christian then you are called to be a follower of Christ. Truth: being a follower is hard.  Being a fan is easier, but, if we are being honest, most of us fall into this category.  I know that I do.  I say my prayers and go to church, but I also like to do things my own way.  I often fail to make God a priority and only offer him what is left over of my time & energy.  Since becoming more aware of this, I've been making a conscious effort to be more intentional in my walk with  Christ.  One way that I'm doing that is by starting my day with the word of God.  Right now I'm doing this with a simple daily devotional book.  It doesn't take long, but it does require me to make a decided effort to follow Christ.  On Monday the scripture was about planting seeds of hope.  I wasn't sure exactly how I was going to do that, but I took note of the task and went on with my day.  On that particular day, my tasks included visiting Grandpa at the rehab facility. 
I nearly always take Eleanor with me when I visit Grandpa.  It's a bit stressful for me to keep her wrangled and not disturb the other residents, but I know that Grandpa enjoys seeing her and many of the other residents do, too.  She loves to walk up and down the hall and say "hi" to people (she also tells people "NO!" when they get too close or speak to her).  Ah, toddlers.  There is one woman who is always wondering around the halls in her wheel chair.  Sometimes she is sitting at the door when I arrive, sometimes she's scooting up and down the hall, but she is always mumbling to herself.  In the week and a half since Grandpa's been in the facility, I've never heard her say anything that made sense to me.  I always smile and say hello, knowing full well that there will be no eye contact or acknowledgement on her end.  On Monday I was standing by the nurse's station while the aides helped Grandpa to the restroom.  Eleanor was examining the Christmas tree and here came our white haired friend, shuffling her feet to propel her chair down the hall.  As she approached us, Eleanor stopped and took notice of her.  As the distance between them narrowed, something really cool happened.  Eleanor watched her intently, took a few steps toward her, and then this woman began to sing Jingle Bells.  Eleanor smiled and instead of yelling "NO!" and running away, she followed her new friend.  This made my heart happy and I decided to let Eleanor follow.  Then I noticed that the nurses were standing up from their desks and watching.  "Is that Ms Elsie singing?" they asked with surprise.  Eleanor continued down the hall as Elsie sang Jingle Bells from start to finish and then started over again.  At one point Eleanor caught up and stopped just in front of the wheel chair.  Without skipping a beat, Elsie swerved and went just around Eleanor's feet.  I heard the nurses whispering to each other about that and I just smiled.  Somehow Elsie, who is seemingly oblivious to what is happening around her, was minding Eleanor and taking care to not run in to her.  They went to the end of the hall, made a U turn and then came back.  At times Eleanor walked beside her and other times she walked behind and "pushed".  Elsie sang to Eleanor the entire time, only stopping her singing long enough to recite a prayer.  When they got back to the nurse's station, Elsie turned down another hall and I stopped Eleanor so we could go back in to Grandpa's room.  As Elsie scooted away, I could hear her mumbling again. 
God's cool like that.  All I did was start my day with a willingness to do what God asked of me.  I didn't know what to do or how to do it, but I showed up.  Then God took over.  In the midst of a place & situation that feels a bit hopeless to me, those few minutes of togetherness between Elsie & Eleanor sewed a seed of hope in me.  God is good. 

As for Grandpa, he's okay.  Today he told me that a stray dog slept with him last night and he thought it was probably Foose.  He was super tired from an hour of therapy before I got there, so we let him lay back down and I thought a nap might help him.  Back at home and not long after I laid Eleanor down for her nap, my phone rang and it was from Grandpa's number.  (He has his cell phone so he can talk to my Uncle Matt & his sister Wilma.)  I'm not used to seeing his number lately, so I answered with a bit of fear.  It was Grandpa on the other end and he said, "Mandy, did you want me to come to your house tonight?"  I tried to explain that he needed to stay in rehab and I would see him tomorrow, but he didn't understand and said, "So I should just go back to the apartment then?"  I did talk to the therapist that happened to be in the room with him, so I know he's okay, but he's confused.  My heart hurts for him and all I can do is continue praying for God's will to be done. 

Saturday, December 10, 2016


There's laundry to be done, dishes to be washed, toys to be picked up, Christmas gifts to be finished, and a billion other things that I don't feel like doing right now.  We've done some major cleaning out at Grandpa's house in the last two days and I feel so accomplished that I decided to let everything else slide. I left Eleanor home with Drew this evening and went to Walmart by myself for a few odds & ends. By the way, everyone else in Northwest Arkansas was also at that exact store tonight. I stopped and bought dinner instead of coming home to cook. I feel especially good about that decision. Then we let Eleanor eat her weight in mac & cheese while she squealed "Mmm! Nummy!" What's better than a freshly bathed baby in footie pajamas? A freshly bathed baby in footie pajamas entranced by her very first viewing of Mary Poppins, of course. 
I don't know, this might be even better.  We stopped at the rehab facility to see Grandpa after a busy morning of work and when Eleanor got fussy Grandpa wanted to give her a bottle. She didn't really need it, but it turned out to be magic for both of them. She relaxed in his lap and fell asleep. That never happens these days.  She slept and so Grandpa & I got to visit in the quiet. I asked how his therapy was yesterday and he said, "Eh, it was okay, but this is the best therapy right here." 

Wednesday, December 7, 2016


Grandpa's mental status seems to be varying from day to day. This morning he was mostly coherent, but also said a few things that didn't quite make sense. He's doing the therapy that is asked of him, but he's not happy about it. He has a roommate now and I don't know if that will be a good thing or not. We shall see. Not much we can do about it since Medicare makes the rules. If you want them to pay then you do what they say and they say that only semi-private rooms are covered. 
It is difficult to take Eleanor to see Grandpa because I feel like I spend the entire time trying to keep her wrangled and at an acceptable volume. You can imagine how easy that is. 
This girl sure is cute, though. I found a toddler sized Santa hat at Hobby Lobby and she was thrilled. 
Yesterday she ate guacamole for lunch... with a spoon. In between bites she would yell, "GUAC!" I felt like, for those few minutes, I had this parenting thing perfected! 
Since we've been shuffling rooms in preparation for the possibility of Grandpa living here, I've also had to move things that were hung on the wall. So that I wouldn't get that done and then feel the need to do it again, Drew gave me one Christmas gift early. Isn't it fabulous?! It's all of our birthdays and our wedding date. I love it!