Thursday, September 25, 2008

Nine Years


This Sunday I will turn 24 years-old. My mom won't remember on her own, but I will call her and tell her the story she told me about my birth when I was a little girl. I will remind her how long it took my dad to get ready to take her to the hospital after her water broke. How I was delivered at 4:55 am at just over 8 lbs and 21 inches. 

I can't help but thinking that I am now only nine years younger than she was when I was born. My parents were both older when they met and married (mom was 32 and dad 41). I keep thinking if I can just get a few years head start of when she and my dad did, then my kids will be older if I inherit this terrible disease. I could have nine extra years with my kids. That could be time to see all of them get graduate, marry, and have children. 

I know what you are thinking, "Mare, do you just sit around and think of the saddest crap possible?" No, but I am sorry I can be a Debbie Downer. I don't know why this birthday has made me so emotional. I can barely talk about it without getting upset. My mom always made birthdays special and it reminds me how much I miss my old mom. 

*One of my fave pics: my cousins Caroline and Susan on either side of me and a little friend in front of us. We were all at a dress up birthday party in LR.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

AR Alpha Pi Phi's Get Balfour Again!

UA sorority named top chapter for second time

BY MARSHA L. MELNICHAK Northwest Arkansas Times

Posted on Monday, September 22, 2008

URL: http://www.nwanews.com/nwat/News/69383/

 

Members of the University of Arkansas chapter of Pi Beta Phi received the coveted and prestigious Balfour Cup honoring their chapter as the best internationally for the second time in a row at ceremonies Sunday on the lawn of the sorority house in Fayetteville.

“ These days, it is not that often a chapter is able to continually achieve at a high level. It’s tough to win the Balfour Cup the first time, but it is darn near impossible to win it two years in a row, ” said National President Emily Russell Tarr of Texarkana.

If it is won a third time, it is retired to the sorority house.

The cup is presented annually to the most outstanding Pi Beta Phi chapter, based on financial management, community service and philanthropic activities, scholarship, risk management, campus leadership and involvement.

The university’s Arkansas Alpha chapter of Pi Beta Phi won the award four times before this year, in 1945, 1946, 1947 and last year.

“ This is the top award our organization gives. They are the top out of 131 chapters in the United States and Canada, ” Tarr said.

The national president spoke about the ideals and values of Greek life as portrayed by the Arkansas Alpha chapter.

“ Greek is a lot more than just a social network. Being Greek is about honor and integrity. It’s about learning leadership skills and about having the opportunity to use those skills to benefit others. Being Greek is about personal and intellectual growth, ” Tarr said.

Before making the cup presentation, Tarr also presented awards to the chapter for excellence in community service and philanthropy activities, the Panhellenic award for large chapters, and a silver tray for reaching phi level, the highest rank a chapter can achieve. The Balfour Cup recipient was chosen from among the nine chapters to reach that level of excellence.

The Panhellenic award is presented for a spirit of interaction with other groups. The word Panhellenic means all-Greek. The Pi Beta Phi sorority is the first chapter to receive the Panhellenic achievement award on the Arkansas campus, Tarr said.

As an example of why the Arkansas chapter won the Balfour Cup, Tarr cited proceeds from the chaptersponsored 5 K run being used to decorate and stock a children’s library and to donate to First Book, an organization that provides disadvantaged children with new books.

UA Chancellor G. David Gearhart described the group’s second win of the Balfour Cup as “ close to unprecedented, ” “ absolutely incredible ” and “ absolutely fantastic. ”

He told those at Sunday’s event, “ You all ought to be very, very proud of that. ”

“ Winning the Balfour Cup really shows the wide spectrum of work we do for the community and the difference we can make. It really shows our values and what we’re about than what some people might think, ” said Hillary Swanton of Waco, Texas, president of the 263-member sorority.

Megan McClellan of Bentonville, a senior, said sometimes people not involved in sororities and fraternities don’t recognize their philanthropy and involvement in the community.

She wants people to see that “ it’s more than just parties. It’s more than just functions. We’re getting out and winning national awards. We’re the best Phi Pi chapter in the world. ”

Bekha Hale, past president of the UA chapter, urged the members attending Sunday’s celebration to keep the momentum and teamwork going.

“ Let’s make this a trifecta and bring the Balfour home to stay at Arkansas Alpha, ” she said.

Copyright © 2001-2008 Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Inc. All rights reserved. Contact: webmaster@nwanews.com

 

Just Wait 'til 2030


Don't worry, guys, when Reid runs for President in 2030 he will solve all of America's problems - economic and political. He might have a goofy smile like these politicians, but he has much better business sense (at least at 25). I am also working on a post as to why I will make a great First Lady - stay tuned!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Cardiologist Visit

I had my visit with the cardiologist today. The good news is that after a long visit, with lots of tests, I was told my heart looks great! Bad news is that the reason my heart feels like it palpitates is due to a high stress level. I guess I internalize a lot more about my mom than I even realized, obviously enough to make my heart palpitate! Yikes! I made an appointment to go and talk to a great Christian counselor about practical ways I can try to manage my stress/worries. I know, I have already been told to"Lay all my worries at Jesus' feet." Not to knock it, but sometimes it is a lot easier said than done. I struggle with control, and when I can't be there to see what is going on with my mom then I worry and worry equals stress. Blah!

Don't Hate Me 'Cause I'm Tacky


I just thought it was funny. 

Monday, September 22, 2008

A Great First Day

Today was my mom's first day to be left with Karen, her new companion. Everything was great. I think, more than anything, my mom finally felt relief that she wasn't a burden to anyone today. Karen was there to take care of her, and that put my mom at ease. They had a great morning. Karen arrived at 9 a.m. They took it easy, went on a walk, spent a lot of the morning outside. Karen was able to get my mom showered and dressed with no issues. She even let my mom help pick out what clothes she was going to wear today. I know my mom loved getting to do that! They headed to Fresh Market for lunch this afternoon and then headed back home to spend more of the afternoon around the house. My mom didn't cry until late this afternoon. About 20 minutes before my dad got home. Only crying once in a day is huge progress, especially with such a big change! I am so thankful for that. 

My dad did pretty well with leaving her. I think it will be a bigger adjustment for him in the long run. I was able to talk to him this evening and he said leaving her today further proved that she really is getting worse, and that she isn't going to get better. It will be an adjustment. An adjustment not to feel like you aren't leaving the person you love behind. The bottom line is my mom is happy and excited about tomorrow. Right now we can't ask for more.

My Best Dressed Picks of the Emmys




While I was not impressed with the actual awards show I did enjoy watching E!'s red carpet coverage of all the stars. My pick for best dressed was Evangeline Lilly in a gorgeous metallic dress by Ellie Saab. Coming in at a close second and third were Cynthia Nixon in Calvin Klein and Felicity Huffman in Reem Acra. Oh, to be a star!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Dallas Zoo with Lauren and Annalise

Happy Fall!



Thank goodness the first day of Fall is tomorrow! The kids and I have been so excited that the Texas heat is slowly making its way out of the state. The weather has been so much nicer over the past week or so, and I am looking forward to more Fall-like weather over the next months to come. Nice weather means we can finally play at the park without the risk of a heat stroke! This week when we pulled up to the park on Thursday the kids were so excited they started screaming and clapping! These are the pictures I snapped of their excited faces. Yay, for Fall weather!

Emme and the Taco Bell Man


On Friday we were playing at the Galleria. We had finished lunch only minutes earlier, but Emerson was intrigued by a man standing by the play area watching his kids while eating his Taco Bell lunch. She was so interested that she crawled up onto the bench next to him to check it out and stayed there until I made her leave him alone. I am pretty sure she has never even tasted Taco Bell, but the way she was staring you would have thought it was her favorite food in the whole world. It was hilarious!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Monday Will Be Different

We have found a companion for my mom who will work all day Monday through Friday to help care for her and take some of the pressure off my dad. The lady's name is Karen and she has worked with Alzheimer's patients in the past. She is very upbeat and we are hopeful that this will be an easy transition for everyone. It is so evident that God was in full control of this situation and I am so thankful for your prayers!

Now, you might be wondering if my mom knows she is going to be left with someone she has only met one time. My dad has been prepping her for a week now, but when the time comes for him to leave for work I am not sure if she will remember. I think she will be fine as long as she has her dog, Toby, (I know it sounds ridiculous) and is at home in a familiar environment. I am hoping for a good day.

I have been thinking for the past couple of days about Karen coming and joining our family. I am not going to lie, I was having a hard time with it. I had always been able to go home and do fun things with my mom until recently. For the past couple of years, I was able to treat the situation like there was nothing wrong. Now, that there is a caregiver, there is no denying that she is getting worse. We can't just hop in the car and go eat lunch, go shopping, or to the movies. The things she loved to do aren't as easy for me to do with her anymore. My aunt helped me realize that with Karen's help those things might become easier again. It might be less daunting for one of my mom's friends to take her to lunch, knowing that Karen can be there to help. One day when I take my children to visit my mom, Karen can be there to help me if I want her to come a long to the pool or the park to watch her grandkids play. 

I just want my mom to remember we are doing this for her safety and well being, we are not abandoning her. We all know Monday will be different, just pray she knows it is for the best.




Tuesday, September 16, 2008

My Mama




Isn't my Mama precious? She recently got her haircut and I think she looks so beautiful! It is so hard for me to look at pictures like this and truly process that she is sick and not getting any better. 

Some of my family participated in the Little Rock Alzheimer's Memory Walk this past Saturday. Reid and I were at a wedding in Utah and were unable to be there, but my dad said it went well. My mom was pretty confused most of the day. There is some debate as to whether or not she can read. I don't think she can, but my dad said that she noticed the signs pinned to the back of participants shirts that said if they were walking "In Memory Of" or "In Honor Of." She understands that she is dying, that nearly two-thousand people were walking because people like her are dying or have already died of Alzheimer's. My dad says that she has started asking why this had to happen to us, to her. I have been asking myself the same thing for years now. God has a plan, a much bigger plan that I can imagine. How does this fit into His plan?

On a happier note, we have found someone to take care of my mom in our home five days a week. She is a wonderful lady who has experience with Alzheimer's patience. It is weird to think this lady will become part of our family. She will become as important to my mom as my dad is. I pray that my mom takes to her easily and that she loves my mom as much as we do. 

Please continue to pray for a smooth transition as we move into this next stage of the disease progression. Thank you for all of your love and support.

*Pics above are of my beautiful mom and my family at the LR Memory Walk.

Emerson and Luke Sleeping




Emerson and Luke were worn-out after lunch and play at Chick-Fil-A with Annalise on Monday. I was able to get some of these cute pictures while they stayed asleep in the cool car for a few minutes after we pulled in the driveway. They are such precious babies!
Also, I should mention that the Disney football on Luke's head was a gift he had just received from his "girlfriend" Annalise. Somehow, it stayed up on his head while he slept!

Young Love





This is our last week with Annalise Cannada. My good friend from Little Rock and college, Lauren Daniels Pardue, has been taking care of Annalise since she was seven weeks old. We have had so much fun over the past seven months getting to be nannies together! The kids have loved their play dates and we have, too! 

Luke and Annalise have a bit of a thing for each other. They are only one month a part and love to give hugs and kisses. Annalise calls Lukie her boyfriend. Luke usually acts like a true boy and messes with Annalise. Emerson thinks Annalise is the neatest thing around. It is pretty cute. She does everything she can to get Annalise's attention.

We are going to miss Annalise after she moves, and hope she will still come visit us when she is in town! We love you, Annalise!

Poor Emerson





Emerson gave her Mommy and Daddy quite the scare the other night when she started having, what would later be diagnosed as, feveral seizures. She became limp, unresponsive, and had a fever of 102.9. Jennifer and Lenny called 911 and she was taken to the ER. She was a brave little girl. She is quite the little fighter. Jennifer said that to get Emerson to lift her arms so they could take X- rays of her they would ask her to praise the Lord. She always raises her hands in response to, "Praise the Lord!" It was a long and scary night for their family, but they really handled it well.

Basically, these seizures occur if her fever spikes too quickly. The seizures will last up to 15 minutes and the pediatrician said there is no need to call 911 next time one occurs. I assured her mom 911 would be called on my watch. Most children suffer from these until they are four and do not have any developmental consequences. 

We are watching her very closely, as the slightest fever warrants dosages of Tylenol and Motrin. Please pray for this sweet baby and that we are able to stay calm if another scary seizure occurs.

*Above are pics I took of Emme on Monday morning. She was so pitiful with her hand bandage from the IV and her little hospital nightgown. She is playing in my purse in all of the pics, I couldn't say no! She kept saying, "Uh Uh," when I asked her to smile for me. She was being very serious.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Long Goodbye: A Sad Relief

After months of doing, on a daily basis, what would wear-out the average person in a few days, my dad has agreed that he needs full-time help caring for my mom. I knew this day would eventually come. He would be so physically and emotionally drained that even unconditional love wouldn't be able to sustain him while doing the job on his own. I just didn't know it would be today. As worried as I was for my dad's stress level, depression that caregivers often suffer, and grief, I never realized how devastated I would be when "defeat" was finally admitted. 

Alzheimer's books, support groups, web pages, and many other resources talk about how to know when to get full time help for your loved one. I literally thought something would fall out of the sky and hit my dad on the forehead. That he would wake up one day, without any doubts, and say it was time. It didn't work that way. There were nights I would call home to check in and he and mom would be cuddled in bed together watching the Gaither Vocal Band (my dad's favorite music EVER). He would be singing to her, both of them crying, and he would tell her how sad he was that their time was going by so quickly. My sister witnessed several occasions similar to this, as well. It is like grieving the loss, while still holding, hugging, kissing that person. Saying a final goodbye while they can say theirs back to you. Maybe this was his way of making his peace with his decision. To make sure she knew just how much he loved her before he relinquished his role as her sole caregiver. 

This past week it seemed as though he withdrew a little more, he left her at home each morning, whereas he usually takes her with him everywhere he goes. My sister would find her half-dressed and extremely confused. One day, my sister found my mom undressed and looking for my dad. My sister helped Mom get dressed and settled. When she walked downstairs after helping my mom, my sister found my dad sitting in the den, on the couch, staring. It was time. He called both my aunts, his sister and Mom's sister, to tell them it was time.

Sometimes I feel like we are giving up on her. She still knows us. What if she thinks we have left her and aren't coming back? What if there is a miracle breakthrough that cures Alzheimer's and upon being cured she hates us for leaving her? What if she eventually prefers the person who helps care for her more than she prefers her husband and children? Of course, my fears are human and irrational. Admitting my problem is step one, calming my fears and adopting an Eternal perspective about my mom's disease is something I am and will have to work on the rest of my life.

I posted two of my dad's favorite songs the Gaither Vocal Band songs. They make me cry.


Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Instruments


Sometimes I wish I carried around a video camera all day. Especially when I am having conversations with Luke. Yesterday, Luke and I sat down to make out a goal chart that he will try to complete everyday. The goals include: no whining, watering his plants, brushing his teeth, picking up his toys, etc. Simple things that we will work on together, and hopefully he will start learning more independence. When we finished making out our list it was time to talk about what his reward would be for each day he completed the goal. I thought 25 cents sounded reasonable. That would give him an allowance of about $3 a week if he completed all of the goals on the chart. Luke told me a quarter was not what he wanted. "Mare," he continued, "I like toys, like a lot of instruments. I want my reward to be a flute, a clarinet, and a hart (harp)." 

OK, lets talk about this. Several things I would like to point out. First of all, the kid knew 25 cents was a quarter... Awesome. Second, should I be embarrassed that a 3 year-old knows more about instruments than I do? Probably. And lastly, his dad and I decided we need to introduce some more manly instruments ASAP! But sweet Luke just wants a flute so badly. One of Luke's new favorite things to do is play "marching band" with the small instruments set he already has (they are for someone Emerson's age, but Luke still thinks they are his). The picture above reminds me of what Luke looks like as we march around the house making "music."

Friday, September 5, 2008

Marathon Update


I thought I would give a little marathon update. About three weeks ago I stopped running after having chest pains and what felt like a skipped heart beat. I am embarrassed to admit that this had been happening for a while and it was only then that I got scared and told Reid. I went to the doctor this week, had a chest x-ray and EKG, which both came back great, and the results of my recent physical show no warning signs. That being said, my doctor wants me to be checked out and cleared by a cardiologist before continuing my marathon training. After a runner died last year during one of the big marathons (I don't remember which one) I don't want to take any chances. 

Though I have not been diagnosed by a cardiologist, it makes sense that I have what many of my family members have (namely my mom and aunt). It is called Mitral Valve Prolapse (MVP) and I didn't even know both of them had it until I talked to my aunt about my appointment. I copied some info about MVP from the Mayo Clinic website. Please pray that this small manageable problem is all that is wrong! I go to the doctor on September 23. 

What it is:
Mitral valve prolapse (MVP) is a common heart disorder. It occurs when the valve between your heart's left upper chamber (left atrium) and the left lower chamber (left ventricle) doesn't close properly. When the left ventricle contracts, the valve's leaflets bulge (prolapse) upward or back into the atrium. Mitral valve prolapse sometimes leads to blood leaking backward into the left atrium, a condition called mitral valve regurgitation.

Mitral valve prolapse affects slightly more than 2 percent of adults in the United States. Men and women appear to develop MVP in similar numbers.

In most people, mitral valve prolapse is harmless and doesn't require treatment or changes in lifestyle. It also doesn't shorten your life expectancy. In some people with mitral valve prolapse, however, the progression of the disease requires treatment.

Although mitral valve prolapse is a lifelong disorder, many people with this condition never have symptoms. When diagnosed, people may be surprised to learn that they have a heart abnormality.

Symptoms:
When signs and symptoms do occur with mitral valve prolapse, it's typically because blood is leaking backward through the valve (regurgitation). Symptoms can vary widely from one person to another. They tend to be mild, develop gradually and may include:

A racing or irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia)
Dizziness, lightheadedness
Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, often when lying flat or during physical exertion
Fatigue
Chest pain that's not associated with a heart attack or coronary artery disease


Prevention:
You can't prevent mitral valve prolapse. However, you can lower your chances of developing the complications associated with it by making sure you take your medications, if any, as directed. Also, remember to let your doctor or dentist know you have mitral valve prolapse so that they can evaluate whether you need antibiotics to help prevent infections of your heart valve.

No Sir!

When it comes to moral issues I am very "back and white" or "wrong and right." I found this video and have several things I find disturbing about it:
1. It has only been viewed 2,200 times. Perspective anyone? I think "Charlie Bit My Finger" was viewed four million times.
2. Senator Obama feels it is above his "pay grade" to answer at what point human life begins. Senator, let me tell you about two little things called the egg and sperm. When they meet, life has begun.
3. And, Senator, when you don't have a good answer for the media, it is not appropriate to respond by saying, "They are lying."

Thursday, September 4, 2008

OOPS!


If your read my post about Sarah Palin last night between 10 and 11 p.m. then you saw my mistake. Yes, I called her a senator not a governor. When Reid, my husband who never contributes to our blog, realized my mistake, informed me of my mistake, and I asked him to sign on to fix it. Thank you, Reid, but next time please realize that "governor" is not spelled "govenor" and spell check is there for a reason. 

If you know Reid, then you know how excited I was to find something he did wrong. He is rather smart, works extremely hard, and I am very proud of him. However, no one can fault me for wanting just one thing to hold over his head. I must admit, Reid, I never thought it would have been a word like "governor."

Sweet Big Sister

I don't know her, but I am sure this video says a lot about Piper Palin. What a sweet big sister! I am officially obsessed with the Palin family.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Emerson's First Ponytail






The other afternoon Jennifer was messing with Emerson's hair while she was playing on the kitchen counter. Jen quickly stuck the bow in Emerson's hair, and before she could realize, we got a few shots of her first ponytail! It was so cute!

First Day of School

Luke and Emerson had their first day of school on Tuesday. They were so cute and excited! They both looked so cute...we don't expect anything less. All five of us - Lenny, Jennifer, Em, Luke, and me - piled in the car and drove to school for drop-off. We reached Emme's class first and she cried, not really understanding why she was being left (I went back and checked on her five minutes later and she was fine). Luke met his teachers and shook both of their hands. He was concerned his classroom did not have a kitchen, but stayed anyway.

When I went back at 2 p.m. to pick them up Emme's teacher said she did great all day! She got to play outside and had fun with her little class. She was miss social as we walked through the halls to Luke's classroom. She said "HI" to everyone we passed. Luke's teacher also said he had a great day. In fact, he did not want to leave! 

I will try and get some pics from Jen to post.

Governor Sarah Palin



My job (one of them) in my marriage is to keep my family informed on politics. I am writing this post while watching Governor Sarah Palin accept the Republican Party's nomination for Vice President of the Unites States. I have chills. I believe her to be a great woman from what I have seen thus far. I think it an awesome privilege for her young children to get to watch their mom in such an honored position, one that I hope she is able to handle well. Governor Palin is a pretty hot, young lady as far as politics go! At only forty-five years of age she is a mother to five children from ages 19 to four months of age. Many people have criticised her for accepting such a heavy nomination with so much already on her plate. However, I don't think there is anything wrong with moving five kids and a husband into a rather nice home in D.C. where she can come home when her business is "done" for the day. I mean, why not?

She is a small town girl who went from the PTA to City Council to Mayor to Governor to Republican Nominee for VP of US.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Labor Day Weekend with the Grandles





With Reid traveling so much in recent months we decided a long weekend in Dallas would be nice, so we stayed i town for Labor Day. We also got to keep Luke and Emerson overnight so their parents could celebrate their anniversary with a romantic night away. I had been preparing Luke that he would be having a bunking party on Saturday night with Mare and Reido. He said he was excited for the party. Little did I know, Saturday would come, we would arrive at his house, and he would, indeed, be ready to go to a real party. We felt so bad, so we took him to eat lunch and play at Chick-Fil-A, and then to rent a movie. It made up for the lack of a real party. The kids did great without their parents. Luke was only a little weary when I walked into his room on Sunday morning to get him out of bed. He told me he did not ask for me, but he said he wanted his mommy. We took the kids swimming, and Lenny and Jen came home around lunch time. Luke was so excited to see Mommy and Daddy! For whatever reason he has called Reid and me, "puppies," since his parents got home. We ran into them at the mall today and he addressed us endearingly as "puppies" again. If he continues calling me this tomorrow, Luke and I are going to have a little talk about calling your nanny a dog! HA, I think it is so cute how he thinks he is being so funny!

Though Reid and I had tons of fun with the kids (I already knew I liked them - I am with them 9 hours a day and have no complaints), we quickly realized we are not yet living a life that is ready to orient children. I know we will adjust when the time is right, but it might be best if we just "play house" for a few more years. ;)

*The pics above are Luke's second Halloween costume at 16 months old; and Luke and Emme in July 2008. My scanner wasn't working so I had to ghetto-load them (sorry for the quality).