Wednesday, December 30, 2015

15 Reasons

Yesterday's post prompted Mom to challenge me to give her 15 reasons she should consider adding texting to her skill set.  She indicated she didn't like the concept of texting because it interferes with people socializing with each other and she hates the poor spelling and grammar she's seen online.  So... Here's my attempt to answer her challenge.

Reasons Mom should consider texting.

1. Speed - she could quickly text me to bring something to my attention.  Perhaps she wants me to distract Lyn with a phone call.  A text is a quick way to get the request to me without having to go through the effort to call or email me.

2. Active vs. Passive Communication - Texting is an active form of communication.  Email is a passive form of communication.  While both engage the sender actively, the recipient is not directly engaged with the email until or unless the recipient checks for a recently received email.  Email is useful, but I can ignore email during evenings and weekends.

3. Discretion - Sitting down to send me an email or picking up the phone to call me will alert Lyn that you're conveying a message to me or someone else.  a text on the phone is discreet and can be done less publicly and more quickly.  If Lyn needs a distraction, a quick text can result in the need for that distraction being conveyed without Lyn being made are of the request.

4. Speed #2 - Depending on the nature of the text and the recipient's current situation, the recipient may be able to quickly respond.  A response could be a quick text back to answer a question or even a call to provide Lyn a distraction.

5. Prioritization - texting allows the sender to decide the priority of the message.  Some messages are not high priority and can be relegated to email.  Some are urgent and need an immediate phone call.  There is a middle ground.  Some messages need a quick response without the delay or overhead of an email or the full interruption of the phone call.

6. Minimal Interruption - Texts can be minimally invasive.  They are great when you need a quick response and the message's recipient is at work.  The text can be sent without being a significant interruption into the person's work time and still allowing the sender to move forward.

7. Less Overhead - Emails require that you identify the sender, urge you to provide a subject and have a structure which includes much of the same formality as a letter.  Text doesn't have this overhead.  They allow you to have informal, rapid exchanges which allows you to reduce your keystrokes.  If you type as much as I do, saving keystrokes is a good thing.  In an email, I feel obligated to use opening and closing salutations.  Without them, I feel like I'm being rude.  I don't experience that with a text.  I can get a text which is a single question and I can respond with one or two words.  Both parties are happy with the exchange.

8. Communication Across Generations - Kids these days view email as Old School.  They'll respond to texts from Grandma as well as texts from their friends.

9. Brevity - Along the lines of less overhead, sometimes all you need to convey is a single question or statement.  This is particularly handy when volume of noise around you is an issue.  It's easier to text "My plane has landed" than to try to share that alert via a phone call when the noise of the plane may interfere with the conversation.  Additionally, phone calls invite more conversation which may not always be timely or possible.

10.  Pictures! - Pictures can be easily sent via text.  Personally, I find this easier than sharing them via email.  Granted, a phone upgrade would be needed for this one.

11.  Immediacy - Speaking of sharing pictures, a picture sent via text is shared immediately and you don't have to wait for an email to be checked for it to be seen.

12. Confirmation of Delivery - You can tell that a text has been delivered and read.  You can also tell if someone is composing a response to you.

13.  Grammar - Texting using proper spelling and grammar is appreciated.  Even the younger generation know that one audience is not the came as another.  The texts I get from my eldest are not structured the same way that the texts he sends to his friends are structured.

14. Greater Communication Frequency - Because of many of the reasons above, communication between people is actually increased.

15.  Because I said so!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Adapting to Technology

It is amazing to me to see that "We're living in the Future!" as a good friend of mine likes to point out.  We've seen the introduction of mobile phones and the transformation of those phones into mini, hand-held computers.  We've seen the advent of on-line banking, learning, and the proliferation of on-line shopping.

I don't know about you, but my Christmas shopping experience this year did not involve a single trip to the mall to buy a single gift.  I took full advantage of being able to shop for gifts from the comfort of my dining table with a cocktail in hand.  For some, it involved searching through multiple options on a particular gift and deciding on the right one.  For others, it was an easy decision because I already knew what I wanted to give.

When it came to Mom and Lyn, shopping for them was easy.  Mom had given me a gift option for Lyn and I knew what I wanted to give Mom.  Purchases were made and a quick call was placed, asking Mom to wrap Lyn's gifts because the vendor didn't provide that service.

While my family adapts to technology changes more quickly than Mom, I have hope that I can convince her that certain tech changes are worth the effort.  She's starting to make on-line purchases and we've facilitated some purchases on her behalf because our account has free shipping.  (We're happy to do so.)  She and Lyn have really taken to Skype.  Beyond that, they're not engaged with technology at a level that is very different than what they used in the 1990s.  That's OK.  It works for them.  They have what they need and they're happy with how they're set up.

Now... If I could just convince Mom to text...

Monday, December 28, 2015

Snowed In

New Mexico is hunkered down and in the middle of a blizzard.  Interstate roads are shut down from Albuquerque to the state borders.  Some of the towns have received over two feet of snow already.  Albuquerque sits in the middle of a bowl, surrounded by mountains which have protected it from the worst of the storm.  They're snowed in, nonetheless.

They've been playing games like Bingo and Memory Match and coloring.  Day hab is closed for the next couple of days and cabin fever is already setting in.  The roads are icy and it is not wise for Lyn to be out with her respite provider.  We'll probably be talking via Skype each day to help distract her until she can be back into her daily schedule.  

In all honesty, a snowed in day in Albuquerque is not like a snowed in day in Montana or anywhere else that is experiencing a blizzard this winter.  They've received less than a foot of snow so far and they're not dealing with drifts of snow that are several feet high.  But, they're still not used to this kind of weather.

Meanwhile, on the East Coast, I'm sitting here with my windows open and the thermometer sitting at 70.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas 2015

Merry Christmas!!

May today be a happy day for you no matter where you are or what you do.

From the Dementia Be Damned family

Thursday, December 24, 2015


I came across this picture this week as I was sorting through the contents of a drawer.

It was taken in December 1997 when Lyn and Mom had come to celebrate Christmas with us.  The Christmas Attic near the Virginia Beach boardwalk was a favorite stop for the three of us.  They were open year round even when most of the shops on the boardwalk were closed for the winter season.

The shop was family owned and operated.  I remember the building, a renovated house, was lushly decorated with each room focused on a different theme.  The porch had long been enclosed and it was the spot to find the beach themed decorations.  I preferred the large room to the right of the entrance where the register was kept.  There were ornaments from Europe in deep jewel tones.  One year, all I could really afford was a sapphire blue glass ball from Germany.  It's very large and heavy.  It even survived the year the tree toppled the morning we were planning to take it down.

Lyn, of course, loved the life-sized nutcrackers that flanked the front steps.  She insisted we take her picture that day.  She was happy to visit this store even if it was 90+ degrees with 90% humidity outside in the middle of a good Virginia summer.  We knew the shop would be refreshingly cold and dark inside on those days.

While the shop didn't survive the recession, closing in 2006, our Christmas trees still have ornaments purchased there.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015


Mom and Lyn visited the Indian Cultural Center this weekend to view their display of gingerbread houses created by artists from various pueblos in the area.

Mom shared a few of her favorites.

I love seeing all the different ways that gingerbread can be used.  It doesn't matter to me if the artist has done a replica of an Art Deco hotel or a pueblo church, there's a an attention to detail which is lovely even though this is a short-lived medium.

I wonder how much these creations which layered sheets of gingerbread to form the land weigh.

The depiction of the Acoma mesa with the entire village perched on top is pretty accurate too.

My favorite, however, is a much smaller scale piece.  The touch of blue around the door and windows, the luminarias and the red of the ristra evoke for me the smell of home.

These are all beautiful.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

A Good Aunt

Lyn's a good Aunt to the kids.

She's loved them from the moment kids came into the picture.  She's always been gentle and playful with them.  When we visit, she's got lots of hugs and is willing to sit and listen to anything they want to tell her.  In return, she'll ask them to play a game of Uno with her.

Over the years, she's made it her habit to ask about the children every time we speak via phone or Skype.  She always wants to know where they are and what they're up to.  Some days, she asks about them generally "How are the kids?"  She'll wait for me to say their names and then latch onto them when their said.  Other days, their names come to her before she asks for them.  When she says "kids," I know she's not even sure of their gender.

She's working hard to keep them in mind and the Skype conversations allow her to catch sight of them regularly.  She's always excited to see them and happy when they speak with her.  I thing she would have not been able to maintain this connection to them without Skype.  She loves them and we'll work to maintain that for her.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Too Much Noise

Lyn is increasingly resistant to going to day hab.

The volume of the music is too loud for her.  She finds it physically uncomfortable and mentally exhausting.  We've asked the staff to turn it down.  It remains high and they state that the other clients like it high.

Lyn will go to the Quite Room where the volume is lower.  Unfortunately, this isolates her from the staff and the other clients.  She doesn't like to be alone.

Mom has decided to try using ear plugs on Lyn.  They're soft and easy to insert.  They're discreet and won't be as obvious as over the ear protectors.  They're also inexpensive.  If she takes them out and they get lost, it is not an issue.

Hopefully, this will ease Lyn's discomfort and allow her to continue participating with day hab for as long as possible.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Favorite Scene

Mom writes:

As we left the Kimo I asked her what her favorite part of the ballet was this time.

She said she had to think about it and after we headed home she came up with something.  I could tell she was really trying to think of what to answer.

There is a scene where a "woman" (looks like a man made up as a woman) comes on stage alone.  Her bonnet is ugly and her skirt is floor length with hoops at the hips that extend out at least 5 ft each side.  After dancing around a few minutes she lifts the skirt and 3 children scurry out from under.  They dance a bit, the skirt lifted and 3 more scurry out.  The next lifting lets 2 more escape and about 5 seconds later the last one comes out.  All 9 children dance a bit with mom "dancing'' behind them.   Then she lifts the enormous skirt and all scamper back under and they leave the stage.  It's cute.

Do I believe this was her favorite scene?  Not sure.  It might be that it was OR was that the only thing she could pull to the forefront of her brain?  We'll never know.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Annual Ballet

Annually, the Kimo Theater is the venue for the Nutcracker Ballet.  Mom and Lyn have attended for a number of years.  Lyn loves the show.

They always get tickets for the same isle seats at the back of the theater.  There's a bit more light there than the rest of the theater and a easy escape route if Lyn should panic or need to leave for any reason.  They go to the matinee which is also chosen to ease Lyn's anxiety.

Each year's performance is a little different.  Lyn enjoys it no matter what changes are made.  Mom says she was leaning forward and smiling through the entire performance.

Before they left, Lyn had decided she was going to buy an ornament as a memento.  She's acquired a couple over the past couple of years.  This year, she bought a Clara ornament.  She was very happy with her purchase.  She offered to buy me a nutcracker, saying I could put it in front of my tree and no one would bother it.  It was a generous offer which I declined.  My tree is very full already.

She had a great day.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Sharing Christmas

Mom decided to host a Christmas open house on Saturday.  A small number of friends and family were invited.  They were encouraged to come at a time in the afternoon which was convenient for them.  The result was their guests were spread across the entire afternoon.  Lyn never had more than a few people to deal with at a time.  This allowed her to feel comfortable and avoid becoming overwhelmed.

Mom had a full table of food with posole, queso and several types of cookies available for their guests.  Lyn filled up on chips and dip.  The posole was a hit and Mom found a single hominy kernel was all that was left at the end of the day.

When each of the guests arrived, Lyn would have Mom pull up the video from Santa.  Lyn wanted them all to see it.  She sat through it each time as though it was the first time she'd watched it.  She responded to Santa's questions and waved to the elves when he prompted her.  My uncle was delighted in her joy and was much more interested in her reaction than in the video.

In case you're wondering, she's forgotten about Mrs. Obama's picture and letter from last month.  Besides, Mrs. Obama doesn't rank higher than Santa in Lyn's mind.

At the end of the day, both were happy.  They had time to visit with each person and their guests left full and smiling.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Christmas Lights

Starting around Thanksgiving, families in the US start putting up their Christmas decorations.  The Thanksgiving dinner has been consumed.  The sun sets and the Christmas enthusiasts flip their collective switches and turn on their lights.  The Thanksgiving Parade early in the day is the official sign that you may now flip on your lights without fear of your neighbors displeasure.  The parade ends with Santa ushering in the Christmas season.

Well, I'm a bit of a grinch when it comes to outdoor holiday decorations.  My husband and I have now had the odd luck to live in two homes in two different parts of our state which just happen to have an insane level of holiday cheer on display.  In both cases, we moved in during the summer only to discover that our neighbors clearly graduated from the Griswold School of Home Decor.  I have little tolerance for lines of cars slowly creeping down our street as families stare at the various light displays others put up.

Last night, as I turned onto my street, I realized the looky-loos have arrived for the season.  It was a Thursday night and cars were creeping along, stopping for long moments in front of each lit up house.  Many will leave their lights on all night.  Some, will turn off half of their lights about 10 pm and the rest sometimes go out sometime after 1am.

Two immediate neighbors after half of their lights are out for the night

As much as the Christmas tourists annoy me, I know they enjoy it.  I remember many times that we would get excited at the prospect of seeing the lights around town.  We'd jump in the car and drive to the Country Club area, Old Town or another neighborhood which was known for good light displays.  Mom would sometimes just pick a street at random and say "Let's see what's down here."  Many miles were put on her car as we drove around town.  I remember those drives as being quiet and happy times.  We were too busy looking at the lights to squabble.  We loved it.

While she doesn't like being out at night, Lyn still has that love of the Christmas lights.  She's visited here and walked down my street, enjoying the displays my neighbors have put up.  She's pointed out familiar characters like Rudolph, Snoopy or Frosty the Snowman with delight.  She's the exact type of person my neighbors are hoping to please with their efforts.  She appreciates the work they have put into stringing their trees with lights, festooning their lawns with dioramas, installing a Christmas tree on their roof and driving their electric bill into the $1,000+ range for the month.  (No joke.)

As for me, I'll grumble every time I find people blocking my driveway and at each tour bus that rumbles past my house.  I'll grouse about school nights and kids needing to be home instead of rolling past my door at 10pm on a Tuesday. (I don't gripe about that on non-school nights.  I'm not a total ogre.)  Most of all, when the time comes that we move to a different house, I'll make sure we don't end up in another neighborhood where you need room darkening shades because your neighbor puts enough lights on his house that you can read the newspaper in your room with all your lights off.

Until then, I'll hopefully realize that 30 people milling in my driveway are caroling before I yell at them to move so I can park.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Doctors Visits

Lyn was seen by her doctor yesterday.  She's got another cold that is expected to go into another sinus infection and/or ear infection.  A prescription is ready and waiting to be filled if she doesn't improve over the next few days.

Yesterday, Mom surprisingly heard from the doctor who received a referral to do a new neuro-psych evaluation on Lyn back in October.  The doctor has agreed to do the testing and Lyn is scheduled to be seen over three days in early February.  We honestly had given up hope that this would be scheduled.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Search for Santa

This past weekend, Lyn's respite provider took her to the Festival of Trees at the Convention Center.    They enjoy seeing all of the decorated trees which are on display and up for sale.  Santa is also a fixture at this event.  This leans that Lyn had to get a picture with him.

Lyn loves every opportunity she has to encounter Santa.  She gets so excited!

Notice her hand on his knee.  She's a bit fresh sometimes.  I can tell she was feeling flirty.  She informed me that she kissed him this year.  I acted a bit shocked and asked what Mrs. Claus thought of her kissing Santa.  She completely dismissed my question and justified the kiss with a "Well... it was free to the public!"

The other thing I notice about this picture is that her clothes are getting baggy on her.

She's happy though and she had a good day.  

Thursday, December 3, 2015

International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Today is the United Nation's International Day of Persons with Disabilities. This year's theme is Inclusion Matters.

Did you know that approximately 15% of people have a disability?  That's about 1 person out of every 7 or 1 Billion people currently on Earth.  The UN has more facts that you might want to check out.  They also have the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

I grew up with Lyn being included in everything.  Her disabilities were not used to keep her separate from the actives the rest of us enjoy.  The unfortunate reality is that not everyone who has a disability is included in daily activities or provided with access to education or other needed resources, including health care.  There is a tremendous amount of improvement that can be done in each of our communities to include everyone.

What can you do in your community to help improve inclusion?

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Portable North Pole 2016

It is December and that means it is time for the return of the Portable North Pole!

Lyn got her annual video message from Santa and held her breath while watching it.

Mom sent me a couple of pictures of Lyn watching the video.

She held her breath again.  When her name was stated, Nikka's head popped up and she came over to lean against Lyn.

Mom says the video is the highlight of the season for Lyn.

I called shortly after she got it and she was so excited!

Me: How do you feel?

Her:  Happy!  Glad!  Happy!  Excited!  Yeah

Me: What made you feel this good?

Her: Every year on!  He's going to talk to me and they have a big book and a file.  He has my name and I don't know what else.  He has all the information.  I had to hit mute on the TV and Mom called me over.  And get this!  He's going to still be talking to me when Christmas comes.  He has all the information!

(She says it is from but the videos are from