A Monday Smile

We got Mom an iPhone for Christmas and it has been a hilarious undertaking trying to explain how to use it…especially via long distance. She’s got the phone and texting parts down but when it comes to fancier things, Sister K and I must take a “patience pill” before we start explaining.

The best thing about Mom getting an iPhone has been the addition of group text messages into our life. Sister K and I have had to learn to slow down our thoughts because Mom can’t keep up…slow down. Seems to be a growing theme with all things MS related. Another post for another day.

Last night, somehow, Mom managed to take a “selfie video” (as she called it) of herself watching the Oscars and of the decorations in her room at her rehab place courtesy of Sister K. It was a silly video but you could tell she was really trying to capture everything in and was so proud of it. She also said if we share the video we are dead…so unfortunately I won’t be sharing.

Sister K was the one who guided her through how to send it to us via text. Sister K seems to be better at explaining these technology things to Mom. I think I get overwhelmed and don’t even know where to begin with teaching her how to do it…it is probably because Sister K is a teacher and naturally thinks in teaching ways. I think big picture, I am overwhelmed and Sister K just dives in…although there are times when we flip roles and it is the reverse of this between us.

Regardless, it was a cute video and it was sweet to see Mom being so proud of what may seem like a little accomplishment to many. It is also another example of the power of technology in keeping people connected…I think people forget that many of these connections could be happening in hospital rooms/rehab rooms with people away from family all over the country. The video also made me smile when I watched it last night…and it just made me sit back and smile as I just watched it again…not for the content but for a Monday smile.

I hope something crosses your path today no matter how simple or silly it may seem that makes you smile too.


Finding Daily Joy: Thanks to Steve Harvey

Mom isn’t driving anymore because of her MS and consequently spends most of her weekdays at home. I think I have a tendency to overlook how limiting that would be or how much it could mess with your attitude or outlook on life. I also haven’t given much thought to how it may be a struggle for Mom to find happiness or joy in her daily life.

While I was home for a week over Christmas, I got to take part in one of Mom’s days at home and discovered she finds the joy in her daily life and she finds it in unexpected places. Sister K, Mom and I were sitting around the kitchen table working on Christmas cards when Mom started to get excited because it was time for the Steve Harvey Show. Seeing Mom excited made me excited and I thought I would humor her and watch. But something funny happened. I discovered something I didn’t expect- the Steve Harvey Show is really funny. I ended up loving it! The show is so much more than just a standard afternoon talk show. Steve Harvey is the host of a show geared towards issues and topics women face both good and bad…but no matter what the topic or advice is, he never makes them feel bad about themselves. More importantly though he offers advice in a comical yet very real way that gets to the heart of the issue. Then along the way he has these crazy moments (see below) where he is exercising on elevated shoes that are like walking on rubber hands..and as I sat there and watched this with Mom, we were laughing hysterically. Hysterically.

Steve Harvey 12.27.12

Steve Harvey 12.27.12

After the show was over, it made me thankful for silly moments like this and silly moments on a TV show like Steve Harvey. It honestly made me thankful for Steve Harvey. Thanks to him I know Mom finds a little bit of laughter everyday mixed in with a little bit of reality. His show lets her escape for an hour everyday from the pain and frustration of her MS and puts a smile on her face. At the end of the day, you have to laugh at life, and I have to laugh at the fact that Mom and I spent one Christmas afternoon bonding over Steve Harvey and his rubber band shoes. No talk of MS for miles. Just laughter. I learned a good lesson from Mom that you can really find joy anywhere if you look hard enough no matter what cards you have been dealt. She just happened to find it from Steve Harvey.

How do you find the joy in your daily life? Do you watch any TV shows that bring humor to your life? Have you ever thought about good or bad, how much TV can impact your world and your mood? Have you ever watched the Steve Harvey Show?

Welcome to the 60s

Alright I am back. Not that I every left, but over the past month I’ve had a lot going on that had nothing to do with Mom’s MS. In a way Mom having MS took a backseat to everything else going on in my life. Maybe that is good from time to time. Maybe it is necessary to help me to keep things in perspective and continue to live my life. But things are resolved, I am feeling back to normal (after you read this post you may change your opinion of that comment..ha), and I am ready to share my words regularly once again.

Oct. 25 was Mom’s 60th Birthday. I posted about our plans for her birthday here. What I didn’t post about was the performance that Sister K and I conducted for her when we got home after her family birthday dinner. We ran upstairs in our house and raided our childhood bedrooms trying to find and piece together old dance recital costumes that may somewhat fit in one way or another. We were going for poodle skirts. We only found one poodle skirt and sequin jacket. Sister K took that outfit. Just as we felt we were about to fail at our mission we discovered the ultimate in past costumes:

My California Raisin Halloween costume circa 1992

Let’s just say it was amazing. Sister K and I put on the song “Welcome to the 60s” from the musical turned movie Hairspray and began just randomly dancing and serenading Mom in the kitchen. The dogs were barking at me the entire time. Mom and Grandpa sat at the kitchen table watching. Dad on a bar stool wondering where exactly he went wrong with raising us and Husband rolled his eyes continuously because nothing surprises him anymore.

But the point of all this- the costumes, the music, the dancing- this is how we survive. This is how we cope with MS. We remember to not take life seriously. We realize the importance of laughter. And we have no shame and will do whatever is necessary to bring a laugh and a smile to our family, especially Mom. We will do whatever we can to distract our family from the dark place we can easily find ourselves in because of MS.

Have you ever done something silly to get a laugh out of an otherwise tough situation? Do you think it’s important to not take life too seriously sometimes as a way to cope? Were you a fan of the California Raisins? Did you hear that I got an iPhone Friday night? Lots of tweets and more pictures to come now that I have officially entered the real world. Be on the lookout.

Mom’s Cheerleaders

As I mentioned, Sister K has been home this week staying with Mom. Last night Mom’s physical therapist Coach C came over to work with her. Between the two of them they will use any excuse to turn something into a party; and, since Sister K was in town, she and Mom threw a mini one with the three of them. They made chi-chis, Mom’s favorite Hawaiian drink, and ordered Papa John’s pizza. Sister K texted me to ask: how do I get Mom to do her exercises even though we’re having party time. I said: well you’re just going to have to channel your inner “responsible big sister (me)” and do it. Coach C ended up taking the responsibility and got Mom on her bike even though she didn’t want to do it.

But I love this scene and the atmosphere because it is a way we are turning these seemingly tough moments and situations into fun. We are blending physical therapy with a party. We are blending MS and who we are as a family. It is another way we are creating our new normal.

We have also learned that the more we make these things uplifting and fun as opposed to depressing and focused on MS, the more positive Mom’s feelings on the situation are. We are in many ways her cheerleaders and have realized the responsibility that has been placed on us to help Mom…Keep her spirits up when we can, keep things positive, and keep things fun. I am not saying we are perfect- I know Sister K and I have snapped more times than we’d like, but last night I’d say she got it right.

How do you adapt to tough changes and keep things positive at the same time? Do you ever feel like you are the cheerleader for someone during tough times or have someone in your life who is your cheerleader? Have you ever tried a chi-chi?

Hello, This is My Life.

Sister K is between finishing grad school and starting her new job in October, so she is home this week. Dad had to go out of town on business and asked her to come in to help Mom out. This means I am spending the week left out of our mother/daughter trio and feeling jealous..bitter..and jealous.

But to make up for it Sister K has been snapping random iPhone pictures of Mom, updates on what they are doing, and funny comments that only she and I would understand. Sister K has a unique ability to roll with the punches in all of this. I think she does it better than me at times. Like today when Mom had finally gotten ready to go and had lunch, she then decided she needed to go lay down to rest…when Sister K texted me this I was thinking what??? Sister K just decided fine, I am going to set up my new iPad. But that’s what being part of a family with MS is in a way. It is rolling with the punches. We can have a perfectly scheduled day, but it hardly ever works out the way we have it planned. We never leave when we think we are going to, it takes us forever to get out the door, by the time we get somewhere we are usually cutting our plans in half because we have run out of time, and we have to find ways to combine all of these events into a one stop to minimize the number of times in and out of the car.

All of this is something that takes a lot of getting used to. It takes the ability to disown your plans and just own how off track your day is going to turn out. For someone who loves plans like me, this is not easy at all. Lately though when things start to go off course or off schedule I am learning to just stop and think: “Hello, this is my life.” And try to laugh.

Do you like making plans or are you more go with the flow? Do you think you can train yourself to be better at one or the other? Do you ever have moments of taking a step back and laughing thinking “Hello, this is my life”? Did you watch Dancing With The Stars last night? Expect me to be talking about it all season. I am apologizing in advance to my readers.

Recharging My Batteries

Yesterday I was sitting at the gate waiting to board my plane to head back from a weekend spent visiting my college roommate. Sister K called because she was driving back from a wedding she attended this weekend. We were on the phone and she wanted to three-way call Mom. I knew if this was happening the conversation was about to become very ridiculous very fast, so I left my seat to avoid people overhearing/staring strangely at me.

Mom got on the phone and we were all so excited we just started talking over each other. I don’t know why. It’s not like we never talk to each other and this is some rare occurrence. But the fact that all of us are on the phone at the same time is somehow an adrenaline rush of excitement and happiness. We talked about the weekend. Sister K and I competed for Mom’s attention. Mom was laughing at our stories and trying to get us to calm down so she could hear them. It felt like a different variation of my childhood.

It was also like taking a major shot of happiness. After I got off the phone I thought how fortunate I am to have these two women in my life. Our moments aren’t perfect. Mom’s health isn’t perfect. Our life is far from perfect. Even this chaotic phone conversation wasn’t perfect. I don’t think we really got anything of substance accomplished and halfway through Mom and I had to listen to Sister K complete her drive through order.

But in a sense I was living in the moment. Something I am working hard to do. I wasn’t concerned with Mom’s health, I didn’t ask her any questions about how she was feeling, I just laughed and talked. We all laughed and talked. Created another funny memory. It’s all these funny memories and moments that gets Sister K and I through the tough ones. I consider it our battery recharge and even though it may seem dumb, the sillier the moment the more important it is to charging us up.

Do you believe you need some sort of fuel to get you through tough times? How do you strengthen yourself to prepare as much as you can for a future you can’t predict? Ever had a funny airport conversation and been stared at by other passengers?

Let’s All Go To The Movies

Do you enjoy movies? I do. I like going to the movies, renting movies, basically movies of any sort. They are a nice break, they can provide a fun activity and they can provide a cheap date night for Husband and me especially when we rent a RedBox for $1 and watch at home.

My family has always enjoyed movies. Being from a house full of girls, Dad typically got stuck at lots of chickflicks and not too many action packed adventures. We do love comedies though. Nothing is funnier than a chaotic family comedy scene in a movie full of one liners that we know we will be reciting again and again.

Today I was online and saw the Top 40 movies coming out this fall and it looks like there are some good ones. One in particular made me think of my mother- Parental Guidance. It is starring Billy Crystal and Bette Midler as grandparents watching their grandchildren for the week. Not only do my parents love both of these actors, I can already hear my parents laughing, especially Dad. As I read through the preview, I was thinking I can’t wait to take them to see this.

The other nice thing is knowing that seeing a movie isn’t going to be a big stress on Mom. She knows the theater, knows the set-up and they even have handicap accessible seating. Buy some popcorn, plop down and enjoy a mindless break for an hour or so. Or we rent the movie, all sit around in the living room and enjoy an evening of laughter together. That’s the great thing about movies. We have so many alternatives to how we can experience them but regardless of which way we choose I know it will be a fun escape.

Does your family enjoy movies? Have you found movies to be an stress free or stressful activity? Do you all agree on movies? Anyone out there looking forward to “Parental Guidance?”

Baseboard Horror

I am by nature not a neat person. But that being said, I love the feel of a clean house. This past weekend I cleaned our apartment and when I say cleaned I mean “really cleaned.” Husband and I both tend to lean towards the messier side with clutter so I had to start there and then went into cleaning products mode.

Please don’t be too harsh on me as I begin to divulge the secrets of my messy apartment. I decided to pick up a towel and dust the base boards just to see if anything would come up. Then I stood there in horror at the amount of dust/dirt that did come up. I then felt like I could feel Mom standing there laughing at me. Laughing because whenever Sister K and I go home we have a tendency to get after Mom and Dad about the state of our house. It isn’t a disaster but with everything with Mom’s MS it isn’t exactly a priority either. Mom can’t clean it on her own, we don’t have a maid so they do what they can. But Sister K and I have a tendency to go home and get frustrated about this. We are learning to just go with it though. Realizing our parents are happy, they are doing what they can and whether or not the floor has been swept really isn’t as big of a priority as whether or not Mom has exercised today.

Sunday afternoon as I looked at the towel of baseboard dust I thought to myself, who do you think you are going into Mom’s house and judging how clean her house is when look at your own. And then I laughed. Another lesson learned. I should probably not consider myself to be high and mighty in the cleanliness department after thoroughly examining my own apartment this past weekend. I definitely got kicked off my “know it all perch” I like to place myself on from time to time.

Regardless, my apartment is now clean. And I am trying to keep it that way as long as I can.

Do you tend to be a neat or messy person by nature? How often do you clean your house? Has anyone else ever been horrified by their baseboards?

Reply All

This morning I woke up to 10 emails between Mom and Sister K that I was included on beginning at approximately 11:00 last night and ending at 11:30. I was laughing as I tried to decipher how the conversation had gone, the path it had taken and the change in subject over the course of the emails. The silly, pointless, unintelligent conversation. Husband thinks my family can do this like no one else…I am not sure if he means that in a good way or bad way when he says it..

But I have to commend Sister K here. She has a way of sending emails full of spunk, energy and happiness to get Mom out of a funk. She makes them silly and simple and repeatedly calls all of us best friends.

Since my family is going on a cruise next summer we have decided we are going to have “Cruisemas” this year for Christmas. Everyone is thinking of cruise related gifts to buy each other. Sister K is obsessed with buying the “best friends” matching tote bags. That is how the email chain began- selecting monograms, colors, fonts, and then slowly evolving to a bunch of nonsense. We still haven’t reached a decision and we have had pointless emails about this all day. Someone reading these emails might question our intelligence.

The point though is how important these emails are to us. It is impossible for us to be together all day and impossible for us to talk to each other all day. We know Mom is at home the majority of the day without much activity because of the limitations of her MS. These emails are important for her. They lift up her spirits, they make her laugh and roll her eyes at her ridiculous daughters. But they make her feel a part of something fun, every day. Replying all…all together.

One of the luxuries of the current world we live in is all of the options we have for communication. Phone calls, texting, emails, facebook, twitter, blogs, the list goes on. With Mom’s MS and the distance between us, these different methods are very helpful and important for us to use. Sister K and I will use any means necessary to bring a smile to Mom’s face and to make her feel a little happier at times. It may seem basic but it is so important. The art of communication can be the most powerful tool in helping to bring a little happiness to someone’s life- no matter how silly the communication may be.

How do you use the tools of communication to keep in touch with loved ones? Do you enjoy taking a break from real life and acting silly with loved ones? If you had to select a monogram would you pick your first name or initials?

Keepin’ It Light and Fluffy

I love The Office. Husband and I are about 2 seasons behind. Our Office viewing goes something like this: we buy a season, we hole ourselves up at home to watch it on the weekends becoming somewhat addicted, we proceed to talk about it regularly as if these characters are our friends during this period and then we finish the season depressed until a new one comes out on dvd. We never watch it live. We then give the seasons to Mom and Dad who then catch up as well.  We are actually more behind than we used to be due to the mere fact of life. I plan to work on catching everyone up. As if this is a major life impacting goal to add to my to do list:
Catch everyone up on The Office: Check.

But it does make me think of the importance of tv shows and movies in brightening up my life sometimes. It is fun to sit around and quote movies at dinner or scenes from television shows we all love. It is like a big inside family joke. It gets everyone laughing. Instantly everyone’s head is transported to another time. They are with that character in their environment. Their head is filled with laughter thinking of it. Thus my head is filled with laughter and before I know it I am smiling and happy. As if happiness pulled a sneak attack on me.

It’s important to keep things light and fluffly sometimes. Conversations full of more laughter than content. Full of more television character quotes than news related stories. You know the moments where there isn’t much to say. The moments where looming in the background are the big overarching issues you are tired of talking about. In our case it is Mom’s MS. In these moments I have literally felt the tension lifted by just quoting a line from Wedding Crashers or a silly saying from Parent Trap. Stupid quotes are the bread and butter of my family. They bring the laughter which brings the smiles which brings the happiness. As insane as it may sound, these moments keep us sane.

Do you believe in fluffy conversation? Does your family enjoy quoting any particular tv shows or movies?  Does anyone love The Office dundies episodes as much as I do?