This blog is simply the story about my little life
with my sweet family that the Lord has blessed me with
and the day in, day out things that we do.
It basically is my online diary/photo album of our life.
I'm glad you're here!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Our mom is in heaven now...

My beautiful mother-in-love, Alice Rae, is with Jesus now. Her moment of passing was beautiful with the harp playing and her son-in-law quoting scripture to her while her husband of 60 years was holding her hand. Many tears were shed today, but we know we will see her again and we all have so many lovely memories of her in our hearts.
As we opened the doors to leave the facility after Alice died we all saw this beautiful full-arched rainbow. I think it was the biggest rainbow I have ever seen and the colors were so brilliant and deep. A few seconds later there was actually a second more faded rainbow above it that was also the full arch. This really comforted Eric and we felt like it was a special gift from God that He was with us on this sad occasion and that heaven was rejoicing with the arrival of our beloved mother and grandmother, Alice.

"We are confident and satisfied to be out of the body and at home with the Lord." 2 Corinthians 5:8

"So it was that the beggar died , and was carried by the angels to Abraham's bosom." Luke 16:22

Hugs, Sharon

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

My beautiful Mother-in-love....

Alice and I at a very fun Mother's Day tea that she treated me to in 2010.
Just a few days after my last post about how we moved both my in-laws to our small town and that we were feeling good about getting them settled so we could see them both more often, my mother-in-law, Alice, took a turn for the worse. I went to see her and she would not wake up for me. I thought she was just napping so I left, but later that day I heard that my husband's cousin went to see her too and she wouldn't wake up for her either. I was so worried, so I went down to see her again that afternoon. She was up in her chair out with the other resident's watching TV, but she was asleep in her chair. When I touched her she opened her eyes, but it was as if she was not there. She usually smiled big and said a strong and slow, "Sharrrron!", but she did not do that this time. I wheeled her out to the front porch of the facility and tried to get her to talk. She did not respond much. It was very sad. I told her how much I loved her and what a blessing she has been in my life.

The next Saturday she quit eating and drinking. She has not ate or drank since. We thought we were going to lose her Sunday night, but she hung in there. I am so thankful that all of my boys were able to see her and say good-bye. Hospice has been called and we have a meeting with them today. God is amazing how He arranges things. My sister-in-law, Stacey and her husband Jim, came down Sunday night and spent the night with my father-in-law for a regular planned visit, they had no idea this was going to be happening to Mom. It was just so wonderful to have them in town for all of this and they were staying at Dad's house with him, so it was very comforting to know he was not alone.

It's really sad to me that this is happening now, right after we got them both settled here. I was really hoping to have at least one more year with her, but we don't get to choose these things. Alice has been sick with dementia for 7 years. She fought a good battle and now she's ready to go to the Lord. She is a Christian and loves God, so it is very comforting to know she will be in heaven with a new brain and body.

I could write a book about this woman and how wonderful she was. She was amazing! So full of life! She lived her life to the fullest and touched many lives. She has made this all easier for the family as we found a file in their home called, "My Funeral" and she planned out every detail of her funeral including things like poems and whom she would like to read them and songs and whom she'd like to sing them and even had the photo in there that she chose to put in the local paper. This is just so Alice. She was a planner and she cared about details.

My father-in-law is very sad, but he knew it was coming and he has a lot of support. My husband is doing okay too. I have been very weepy. I think we all thought we were prepared for this day to come, and thankfully, we had a very long good-bye, but in reality, I don't think you can ever be prepared for the onslaught of emotions that come when you are about to lose a dear loved one.

For now, she is still with us, but we know what is coming. Please say a prayer for our family during this difficult time.

“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.” Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?”  Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." John 14:1-6

Hugs, Sharon

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Eric's parents...

Jim and Alice circ 1988
 I wanted to tell you a little bit about what has been going on with my in-laws lately, particularly, my father-in-law, Jim. What's happening to them is very sad, in fact, heartbreaking. I'm grieving the loss of my in-laws and the way they used to be like in the photo above. They were both so active, strong and vibrant; so loving, giving and supportive. Eric and I both are dealing with all four of our aging parents and it does take an emotional tole and when I say that I mean that it is just so hard on our hearts, it's sad. We are so grateful that all of them are still with us, that is such a blessing, but it's hard to see them in pain and watch them slowly fade away.

 To give you a little bit of back story, I will start with about five years ago my mother-in-law, Alice, started to come down with symptoms of vascular dementia, her condition steadily worsened to the point that she needed to go into an assisted living home about two years later. Alice's new home was about 2 miles from their old home where Jim was still living. Jim seemed to be great living on his own; in the beginning he was visiting her every day, running errands, going to appointments, golfing and even fishing with my husband, Eric.
Jim & Alice March 2014.
Fast forward to about one year ago, the fall of 2013. We started noticing that Jim was becoming a little confused. He is very hard of hearing and actually has a cochlear implant, but it's still very hard to communicate with him, especially on the phone. Because of this, the family set him up with Life Alert and we established good relationships with his neighbors and they knew to contact us if anything went wrong.
My special lunch date. April 2014.
We started getting phone calls from his neighbors that he was having difficulties with his Life Alert system. He kept forgetting the instructions and he accidentally turned it off several times causing Life Alert to send an ambulance when it was just a false alarm. We had to go out there and help figure it out several times. They live a half hour away from us, so while we could get out there, it took us time to get out there and if was an emergency, that's too far and if it's non-emergent, it takes a lot of time out of our day, so we started realizing that we were going to start considering some alternative plans.

At the same time we were starting to notice Alice declining as well and getting concerned she was receiving the level of care that she really needed. We limped along status quo hoping and praying they were both alright.
Eric talking with his father about the accident.
So now we will fast forward to February 2014. We got a phone call that Jim was in the emergency room at the hospital. He was found by a neighbor flat on his face out in the street. Jim was conscious, but hurt pretty bad. The neighbor called 911 and the ambulance came and took him to the hospital.
Hayden visiting with his Grandpa Jim after Jim's terrible fall.
We got the call and my husband picked him up at the hospital, stopped by Jim's house to get his things and brought him to our house.
He doesn't know what happened. All he remembers is that he was out on his daily 2 mile walk and he crossed the street and he went down and the next thing he remembers is waking up.
The hospital said no broken bones or concussion, so we were very thankful for that, but was so sad to see his injuries, he was in bad shape. He had a terrible black eye and bump on his head and bumps and bruises all over. He hit his mouth very hard and broke his upper denture partial. After dinner we sat in front of the fire and he held an icepack to his head. He was so sweet and didn't complain. He was very grateful that we were taking care of him.
He stayed the night and had a good sleep. Eric and I didn't sleep so well for we were quite concerned about him. We knew he would recovery from his injuries, but we were so concerned about what made him fall, is there neurologic things going on? What if this happens again? Is he safe to live alone?
The next day Eric and I both had to work, so we left him at the house alone. I brought him a hamburger when I came home for lunch. I really enjoyed hanging out with my father-in-law. He is a very nice man. Well, he seemed to be doing quite well, so Eric took his father home that night.
Jim & Alice with Mackenzie, Brittany and Ridley at one of our family dinners. March 2014
We discussed all of this with Eric's siblings, Mark (who lives back east) and Stacey (who lives an hour and a half away) and we thought perhaps it was time to start having someone checking in on him once a week. We came up with a perfect solution, our daughter-in-law, Brittany, said she would love to take the baby and go over to his house once a week to check in on him, clean the house and cook him a meal. This solution worked out perfect, but unfortunately had to end when Ridley started crawling and it became difficult, but we ended up hiring another friend who took over.
Jim and I enjoying lunch after one of his appointments.
Jim was having a hard time seeing, so his doctor referred him to ophthalmologist. We were concerned that he would not grasp the doctors advice and instructions, so I took him to his appointments. I was happy to do this and we always made fun days of it by going out to lunch and....
...visiting Alice afterwards.
He was referred to an eye surgeon where we learned that he had one of the worst cases of cataracts the doctor has seen. He said it was as though Jim was trying to see through a cotton ball! His right eye's vision was blocked 90% and the left eye was blocked 78%. His right eye was considered legally blind and the left was very close. The good news is that he is a great candidate for the cataract removal surgery and that the outcome should be really wonderful after surgery.

The doctor said that Jim was still legal to drive because the cut off is 80% in one eye, but that he highly recommended he not drive anymore until after the surgeries.  Oh, boy, what do we do now? We told the doctor our situation, that Jim lives alone and likes to visit his wife at the assisted living home every day. He said that if it was a short route (which it was) and one that he was familiar with that he could continue to do that, but limit all other driving.
This was good news to get us through, but unfortunately the first available surgery date was 6 weeks away, and Jim had eight separate appointments coming up related to the surgery with clearance from his regular physician, eye measurements, the actual surgery and then follow-up the day after surgery and two weeks after surgery. God was good to us and we were able to arrange rides through friends and family.

The day had finally come for the finally measurements before the surgery. We were having difficulty finding a ride for this appointment, but decided that he could drive himself because it was only a short distance from his house.

I called the night before and told him I would meet him there on my way to work. I arrived at the doctor's office, but he was not there. I called the house, but no answer. Worry and concern ensued. I called Stacey and she called the assisted living home and his neighbors, but we could not find him.

Finally, the doctor got a call from the surgeon's office, Jim had driven to the wrong place and he was confused. Thankfully he was okay, but this was very distressing on the whole family. We really knew that we needed to address this soon.

One week later, it was a Friday and I was off work and my husband had come home real early from work. At about 10:30am we got a phone call from the surgeon's office. Jim was there again and he had no appointment, they went on to tell us that he was very confused and he could not find his car. The nurse that I spoke with told me that they needed us to come and get him because even if he found his car, they could not allow him to drive in that confused state. She also went on to say that she was a mandatory reporter, meaning she had to "turn him in" to the DMV for his driving. Oh my gosh, I just never thought we would ever get a phone call that one of our parents was confused and lost. This was so devastating.
Jim helping Eric in the yard. Eric has a lot on his mind and is very concerned for his father.
Eric and I jumped in the car and headed to the surgeon's office. It was really sad to see him sitting there. He was like a child and was embarrassed that he got lost, but at the same time was not concerned that he was lost. We drove around and around the doctor's office looking for his car and we finally found it. We asked him why he went there and he said he was practicing for the surgery next week. It is all so sweet and so sad. He was trying to be responsible and wanted to practice where he was going, but he forgotten that he was not driving himself to the surgery, but that his daughter would be taking him. It was just heartbreaking.
The circle of life. Years ago little boy Eric watched his big strong Daddy work in the yard, now the father watches his strong son working.
My husband and I brought him to our house for a few days. Eric and I were VERY concerned. We both hardly slept that first night. What do we do? I wanted to scoop him up and have him come live with us at that moment, but thankfully, we talked it all out and realized that we don't need to go to that extreme yet. He is very independent, but he's confused about all these many appointments. He's been doing just fine by himself up until this moment, so perhaps we need to slow down our thinking and pray over this! Also, his vision is terrible at this point, but after the surgery it will improve almost 100%.
We prayed about it and the next day I felt like the Lord pressed an idea on my heart.
Jim visiting Alice in the assisted living home.
Since Eric and I are the closest family to Jim and Alice, we are the ones who are taking them to appointments and being called when there are emergencies. Why don't we move them to our community where they are both just five minutes from us? There is a wonderful care facility in our town and we could move Jim to a nice duplex hopefully within walking distance of the care center. We presented our idea to Eric's siblings and they all agreed and were on board with the plan.

The first step was to get Alice moved. I called the Town Care Center and found out that they do have openings for a female resident! This was not going to be a simple move, for there were many steps to be taken to get her moved, especially now that Medicare was covering her expenses. We had to get a release from her doctor, released from the assisted living home and we needed Medicare's approval. To our amazement, this all went through perfectly and Alice was approved! We moved her to our town in mid July.
Meanwhile, Jim finally got his eye measurements and....
Jim showing me his left eye about an hour after surgery. It's truly amazing!
...his cataract surgery on both eyes....
...and a great follow-up afterwards!
My father-in-law running errands with me.
The next big step was to get him moved to our town.
We found some rentals, but every time we called they were already taken.
My Goodwill buddy!
Then my husband had the idea to sell Jim's old house and buy him a new home in our town. We talked it over with Jim, Eric's siblings and Jim's financial advisor and the plan was approved by everyone.
Jim and Alice at the new Town Care Center where she is doing wonderfully!
We started looking for homes in our town.
My fence scrapping and sanding buddy!
The first house we found, he liked and put a full-price offer on it.
We thought this was going to go through, but....
My Dollar Store buddy!
...we got a call that another buyer came in and offered more than the asking price! What??? Now that's what I call a closed door from God!
So, he kept looking. My husband took his father out again and they found another great house.
My coffee buddy!
Jim put an offer on it and within 2 hours, the offer was accepted and a contract signed and it was Jim's!
My garage sale buddy!
The next step was to put his old house on the market. We called our realtor friend and the house was listed on a Friday and it was sold by Monday! I cannot believe how the Lord is putting everything into place for us!
So, three weeks ago Eric's siblings, Mark and Stacey came to town and we moved their Dad. My husband had the brilliant idea to hire a moving company, which saved us all time and labor!
We still had the big job of sorting through everything, which was hard work, but it was also really fun. We started Thursday night and worked all day Friday.
Friday night we met at the new house and set up our game plan. Saturday was the big move and it went really well! We had everything out of the old house and moved over to the new house. All of the furniture was in place and the beds were set up. That night everyone came to our house for Chinese food and we watched the big Duck game. Eric's dad and brother spent the night in the new house and his sister, husband, Jim, spent the night with us.
The next morning my husband made breakfast burritos and we had a big breakfast together before we headed to the new house again to finish it up.
We got it all done! Here we are after all our hard work. We were such a great team and had lots of fun together. We had every single thing put away in the correct spot and all the pictures were hung. My husband installed the workbench out in the garage and hung pegboard. The house looks amazing!
That night we picked up Alice from the care center and we had a big family dinner at our house with all of our kids. Here she is holding her great grandson Ridley, what a sweet picture!
Jim and Alice and their three kids. It's so sad to see my mother-in-law like this, she is starting to hold her head back and not track and communicate, but we had a very special, lovely, close family dinner together.
Jim loves his new home!
Now we have my in-laws living in our same town only minutes from us and minutes from each other! Now Eric and I can check in on both of them daily and have them up to our house so easily. Jim has completely recovered from his eye surgery and was cleared by the DMV to drive. He still has confusion and hyper-focuses on certain issues, but we feel he is fine to be alone for now and we are hoping things will get better for him now that we have made his world a bit less complicated. God has blessed us so much through this whole journey. I am truly thankful!

"You shall stand up in the presence of the gray-headed and honor the face of an old man and you shall revere your God; I am the Lord." Leviticus 19:32

"Honor your father and your mother." Exodus 20:12a

Hugs, Sharon

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Inspiration for a pattern of life from an unexpected place...

Today I'd like to take you down memory lane with me. In 1979 I took a job at The Bon March'e department store. I found this old picture on the internet taken of the store sometime in the late 1950s. The buliding looked exactly like this when I worked there except by the time I was hired they had dropped the "March'e" and it was just "The Bon".
This is me in 1981 when I was a Customer Service Supevisor in the ladies' fine clothing department.
This is Eric, my fiance at the time. I took this picture of him out in the parking lot after he came to the store and took me to lunch.
We were just about to start our lives together for we would be married the next year. Here we are together at my parents house.
What I wanted to share with you today is this cute catalog that my store issued in 1981 and how it had a  small influence on me with how I wanted my life to be like. Influences come from all kinds of places like the traditional expected places, our parents and grandparents and sometimes they are from unexpected places like cute old movies or this funny little catalog.

I don't know why, but for some reason this little catalog with it's clever spin on Dick and Jane really spoke to me. I have saved it all these years and recently came upon it again as we moved to our new house last summer and I wanted to share it with you. Bear with me as we look through the whole catalog and read the captions. It still gives me warm fuzzies! :)

We will begin with the cover which reads, "Meet Dick and Jane. They live in the Northwest. They love it. They're busy and have fun."

Oh, by the way, enjoy the fun 1980s clothes and accessories; there are a lot of cute looks!
"They work hard. They play hard. They enjoy the big outdoors."
"They play tennis? They exercise."
"Jane likes to look good. She exercises with her friend. She uses the right make-up."
"Jane loves pretty clothes. Lacy lingerie. Suits and dresses. (Hurry up, Jane.)"
"Dick gets dressed for work. Staff meeting. Right on time. Doesn't he look nice?"
"Dick and Jane wait for the bus. Lots of people wait for the bus. See all the handsome coats!"
"Jane likes her work. Jane likes to look pretty at work. Suits are pretty!"
"Dick likes his work. Dicks boss likes Dick's assistant. Dick's assistant likes her mauve suit."
"Jane has a good idea. Everyone likes it. Everyone works together. Success!"
"Birthday parties are fun. Did you have fun on your birthday? (Gifts from the Bon are fun!)"
"On the town! Having fun! Looking great! The Bon understands."
"Dick loves Jane. Jane loves Dick. Dick and Jane love the weekends. They sleep late. They wear their cozy clothes. They have breakfast in bed."
"Dick and Jane listen to their new stereo. They look nice in their new Fall sweaters. On a nice, new Fall day."
"Little sister goes to college. Jane will miss her. Jane will miss her handsome new luggage more."
"Good food. Good wine. Good friends. Everybody is having fun. Except Spot. He barks. He's outside."
"Dick and Jane clean up. They have on their Saturday clean-up clothes. That helps."
"Saturday night supper. Just for two. It's nice to be alone together."
"See the sun, says Jane. "Let's eat outside," says Dick. "In my new knickers," says Jane. "Swell", says Dick."
"Sunday dinner with the family. Everybody is happy to see each other. That's nice."
"We hope you like The Bon's fall book. And all the swell stuff in it. For it's the best of current looks to plan right now, not last minute."
For some reason, this catalog spoke to me and I wanted to have a life like Dick and Jane when I Eric and I got married. I liked how they both worked hard and played hard. They had fun cleaning together, eating together, playing together, entertaining and so on. They had fun together and they had fun separately.

The following July we were wed and we started our life.
See Eric. See Eric in front of his sweet home he shares with his wife Sharon. See Eric and Sharon's dog, Isaiah. Isaiah likes sticks. 
We started our married life together with our dog, Isaiah, in this cute little duplex on Anchor Avenue.
Sharon thinks Eric is soooo handsome! Sharon is happy she married such a hunk!
The first entertaining we did was the Sunday after our honeymoon, we had the family and a few friends over for dinner and to watch us open our wedding gifts.
See Eric and Sharon's kitchen. What a cozy kitchen. See the cute quilt pattern table cloth. See the hand-me-down table and chairs.
I loved our cozy little place.
See Sharon cook. Sharon made meatloaf for their first dinner as a married couple. Eric loves meatloaf. Eric loves his wife.
We had many good memories here.
See mismatched furniture. See baskets. See Great Grandpa's painting. See a home built on love, not money.
We didn't have much, but it was ours!
Our first weeks together were so much fun. I remember one Saturday I was busy inside cleaning our house and.....
See Eric and Sharon's first garden. See a garden grown with love.
....Eric was outside tending our garden...
...and I went out to visit with him and he said, "I love knowing that I'm out here working hard in the yard and you're inside working hard cleaning house."
These first years were so much fun.
See Eric catch the ball.
We even played on a softball team together!
See Sharon try. See Sharon miss the ball. See Sharon smile. See Eric smile too.
Eric was amazing. Me??? Not so much. We sure had fun though!
See Sharon's sister Kathi. See Sharon's future brother-in-law, Stacey. See Kathi and Stacey just starting their lives.
My sister, Kathi and her then boyfriend Stacey, got engaged and we had them over for a celebration dinner!
Eric is a cowboy. Sharon is a cowgirl. Eric and Sharon are having a fun Halloween.
Our first Halloween!
Sharon decorates the Christmas tree. Sharon shut her eyes for the photo. Silly Sharon. 
First Christmas!
Eric and Sharon are wearing silly New Year's hats. Is it midnight yet? Sharon wants to kiss her honey in his hat
First New Years!
Sharon plays in the snow. Sharon dressed warm. See Sharon's pink leg warmers!
Playing in the snow!
Eric gave Sharon flowers. Sharon loves her flowers. Sharon loves Eric. 
First Valentine's day!
Eric gave Sharon a pretty flower. Sharon likes pretty flowers. Sharon love's Eric. See Sharon's funny hair.
Eric picked me this beautiful gladiola from our yard. Why in the world did I get my hair cut in a bi-level?
Sharon just got off work. Sharon works at the Bon. Sharon loves her job. Sharon loves to come home from her job to see her handsome husband Eric.
Just home from work and happy to see my husband! Eric was going to school to get his Associate's Degree in Forestry and working two jobs and I was working full-time at the Bon March'e.  What a happy little life we had!
See handsome Eric. See strong Eric. Sharon knows she is a lucky girl.
River camping!
Eric opened up a whole new world to me with boating, fishing and camping!
See Eric and Sharon having fun camping. 
So romantic and fun!
Another summer, another softball team but.......
Sharon is watching Eric play softball. Sharon isn't playing softball this year. Sharon has a bump. Sharon has a baby bump!  Eric and Sharon are so excited!
...this year there's a little change!!!We continued to live our sweet little life together getting to know each other and learning to love deeper and then we had a little wonderful surprise, but that's another story another day!

So while our life is not quite like Dick and Jane's, I'm glad I came across that little catalog and that it did inspire me on how I wanted to live. Looking back on our first years of marriage is so much fun and so precious to me.

“Build homes, and plan to stay. Plant gardens, and eat the food they produce. Marry and have children." Jeremiah 29:5-6

Hugs, Sharon
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