Tell Your Lawmakers to Support These Bills For Mother's Day

It's nice to get gifts but you should give yourself one too.  Sometime this week, call or email your elected representatives, the men and women YOU put in office and whose salaries YOU pay, and ask for a little love.  It's easy.There are several bills pending in the US Congress that could make your life better.  Pick one - or more - and go for it.  Each bill links directly to a fact sheet so you'll know what it's about and at the end I hook you up with your people on the Hill....more

Dear Mom, You Gave Me A Voice

How do loss and grief become a blessing? I’ve said before that writing is how I heal. And never is the weight of grief more lifted than when I’m writing letters to my mom. Dear Mom, ...more
This is so poignantly beautiful, Lauren.  Made me cry for my own mom, and for you and yours. ...more

Will Paid Family Leave Be There When You Need It?

The irony: In order to go to the White House for the "Champions of Change for Working Families" event today, I had to do some fancy scheduling with my husband. It happened smack at the hour of school pick-up. "So if you go to work early, you can swing by and pick up the kids after school and bring them back to your office. And then I can drive out and grab them from your office and then go home to get our science fair stuff. And then if you make sandwiches and leave them on the counter, I can toss those to the kids..." ...more
TheSoccerMomBlog Such an incredibly frustrating story.  I'm sorry you had to go through that.more

The ONE resource you need to initiate the power of prayer

2014 will always be remembered for me as a rough year.  Both of my parents have been chronically ill for at least the past decade and there have been many ups and downs but in 2014 their lives started to spiral.  In the spring of 2014, my mom has hospitalized with pneumonia and incubated due to breathing complications with her COPD and thankfully surprised us all when she bounced back.  We truly thought we were going to lose her.  It took weeks in a hospital and a rehab facility and lots of support and prayer.  During these difficult months, my family was introduced to an amazing site called caringbridge.org.  Creating a digital support network Caringbridge enabled us to easily set up a web page for mom so we could keep everyone who was concerned about mom’s health informed and in return they could help encourage her healing with sweet notes and photos.  This site allowed each of us who were with mom to have one central place where we could journal about her latest health updates and people could follow along.  This greatly reduced the number of phone calls, texts, and emails each of us would receive separately and allowed our friends and family to reach out and let us know they were thinking of us without feeling they were interrupting mom’s care.  After we setup the site, each person in my family posted the Caringbridge web address for mom’s page on our personal Facebook pages and from then on we used Caringbridge as our one resource to connect our community of support.  Everyone felt in the loop and was able to tailor their prayers to be even more specific for mom. Another prayer chain In the case of my parents, my dad was considered healthier than my mom.  He definitely was the primary caregiver for my mom and my 51 year old developmentally disabled brother who lived with them.  He made all the appointments, paid the bills, invested their money, and kept them moving in the right direction.  My mom had only been home a few weeks when my dad was hospitalized.  He had a few teeth pulled which may have initiated an infection in his blood stream.  This infection caused many complications with his lungs, kidneys, and heart.  Once again, we turned to caringbridge.org to setup our prayer chain.  This summer month was traumatic for my family, an emotional roller coaster.  We were often confused whether we should encourage dad to fight for his life or give him the permission to let go.  I witnessed my dad fighting hard and possess incredible courage. My parent’s digital connection With my mom still recovering at home and requiring supervision and my dad in a hospital about an hour away and none of my immediate family living closer than a six hour drive - we had our hands full.  The Caringbridge site that we set up for dad was more than just a way for friends and family to keep in contact and send their thoughts and prayers.  Dad’s Caringbridge page became a lifeline for my mom.  My mom was only able to visit my dad in the hospital two or three times in the month he was hospitalized and it was an event to get her there.  We would use FaceTime to connect the two of them as well.  Dad’s Caringbridge account gave mom a portal into what was happening.  She knew what he was eating and drinking and what doctor’s had visited and the latest on his prognosis.  Mom is hard of hearing so phone calls are difficult but once we installed the Caringbridge app on her iPad she knew how to get the latest journal updates.  Mom was cute - she would write lengthy letters to dad letting him know how much she needed him.  My aunt or my siblings or I would read every posted comment out loud to dad and watch his spirits lift up.  Dad’s supporters went back into their archives and would share cute couple pictures of my parents or childhood pictures of my dad.  When dad was alert, we would share the photos and reflect on these memories.  My dad was the one that requested to stop focusing on fighting for recovery and focus on keeping him comfortable.  He had tried to breathe on his own three separate times.  My mom was the one that asked him to try one more time and he agreed.  A heartbreaking moment that my little sister had to witness along with the Palliative Care doctor.  The fourth time he came off the incubator he tried just as hard as each of the other times but too much respiratory stress caused concern for his heart and this time, the incubator was requested to not be put back in.  Medications were started to lessen his anxiety, relax his body and keep him comfortable.  In my dad’s case, we knew and he knew that the end was near and would happen in a hospice facility. The final journal entry Being surrounded by family is what made dad the happiest…so we planned a celebration of life party to take place in the hospice facility.  My dad’s only sister and her family was there, all of my dad’s six children and their families, my mom’s sister and brother in law, and several nieces and nephews were able to attend via FaceTime.  We all had an opportunity to share stories and assured him that he was leaving quite a legacy behind.  Dad was alert during his party but not very verbal and for much of it his eyes were closed due to the lack of energy he had to keep them open.  But we know he heard and felt every word.  Dad passed away peacefully just a few days later.  Needless to say, we all miss him terribly but also find great comfort in that he is finally resting in peace.   The last journal entry in dad’s Caringbridge page is called ‘My Dad’ and it is the personal words I shared with him during his Celebration of Life ceremony.  My mom had requested that I post it there so that she could read it since she felt she may not have heard it all.  Mom now lives near me.  I visit her at least once a week at her assisted living facility.  Part of the routine I do when I visit her is to close out her iPad applications so that the iPad continues to work for her.  Many times, one of the apps that I close out is Caringbridge as my mom still silently finds comfort in the prayerful posts and photos. My thank  you While I have no formal business affiliation with Caringbridge.org, I feel I want to repay this organization for essentially ‘being there’ during a difficult time.  I know other families struggle with easy ways to keep friends and family aware of health updates for a loved one and I hope this resource can be their beacon of hope.  I believe Caringbridge.org offers an easy solution, especially for the technically challenged.  My first ebook The Savvy Sandwicher’s Survival Guide: How to take care of YOUR health while caring for others launches July 15.  I am excited to be donating a portion of every ebook sale to caringbridge.org to express my gratitude. 2014 will always be remembered for me as a rough year.  Both of my parents have been chronically ill for at least the past decade and there have been many ups and downs but in 2014 their lives started to spiral.  In the spring of 2014, my mom has hospitalized with pneumonia and incubated due to breathing complications with her COPD and thankfully surprised us all when she bounced back.  We truly thought we were going to lose her.  It took weeks in a hospital and a rehab facility and lots of support and prayer.  During these difficult months, my family was introduced to an amazing site called caringbridge.org.  Creating a digital support network Caringbridge enabled us to easily set up a web page for mom so we could keep everyone who was concerned about mom’s health informed and in return they could help encourage her healing with sweet notes and photos.  This site allowed each of us who were with mom to have one central place where we could journal about her latest health updates and people could follow along.  This greatly reduced the number of phone calls, texts, and emails each of us would receive separately and allowed our friends and family to reach out and let us know they were thinking of us without feeling they were interrupting mom’s care.  After we setup the site, each person in my family posted the Caringbridge web address for mom’s page on our personal Facebook pages and from then on we used Caringbridge as our one resource to connect our community of support.  Everyone felt in the loop and was able to tailor their prayers to be even more specific for mom. Another prayer chain In the case of my parents, my dad was considered healthier than my mom.  He definitely was the primary caregiver for my mom and my 51 year old developmentally disabled brother who lived with them.  He made all the appointments, paid the bills, invested their money, and kept them moving in the right direction.  My mom had only been home a few weeks when my dad was hospitalized.  He had a few teeth pulled which may have initiated an infection in his blood stream.  This infection caused many complications with his lungs, kidneys, and heart.  Once again, we turned to caringbridge.org to setup our prayer chain.  This summer month was traumatic for my family, an emotional roller coaster.  We were often confused whether we should encourage dad to fight for his life or give him the permission to let go.  I witnessed my dad fighting hard and possess incredible courage. My parent’s digital connection With my mom still recovering at home and requiring supervision and my dad in a hospital about an hour away and none of my immediate family living closer than a six hour drive - we had our hands full.  The Caringbridge site that we set up for dad was more than just a way for friends and family to keep in contact and send their thoughts and prayers.  Dad’s Caringbridge page became a lifeline for my mom.  My mom was only able to visit my dad in the hospital two or three times in the month he was hospitalized and it was an event to get her there.  We would use FaceTime to connect the two of them as well.  Dad’s Caringbridge account gave mom a portal into what was happening.  She knew what he was eating and drinking and what doctor’s had visited and the latest on his prognosis.  Mom is hard of hearing so phone calls are difficult but once we installed the Caringbridge app on her iPad she knew how to get the latest journal updates.  Mom was cute - she would write lengthy letters to dad letting him know how much she needed him.  My aunt or my siblings or I would read every posted comment out loud to dad and watch his spirits lift up.  Dad’s supporters went back into their archives and would share cute couple pictures of my parents or childhood pictures of my dad.  When dad was alert, we would share the photos and reflect on these memories.  My dad was the one that requested to stop focusing on fighting for recovery and focus on keeping him comfortable.  He had tried to breathe on his own three separate times.  My mom was the one that asked him to try one more time and he agreed.  A heartbreaking moment that my little sister had to witness along with the Palliative Care doctor.  The fourth time he came off the incubator he tried just as hard as each of the other times but too much respiratory stress caused concern for his heart and this time, the incubator was requested to not be put back in.  Medications were started to lessen his anxiety, relax his body and keep him comfortable.  In my dad’s case, we knew and he knew that the end was near and would happen in a hospice facility. The final journal entry Being surrounded by family is what made dad the happiest…so we planned a celebration of life party to take place in the hospice facility.  My dad’s only sister and her family was there, all of my dad’s six children and their families, my mom’s sister and brother in law, and several nieces and nephews were able to attend via FaceTime.  We all had an opportunity to share stories and assured him that he was leaving quite a legacy behind.  Dad was alert during his party but not very verbal and for much of it his eyes were closed due to the lack of energy he had to keep them open.  But we know he heard and felt every word.  Dad passed away peacefully just a few days later.  Needless to say, we all miss him terribly but also find great comfort in that he is finally resting in peace.   The last journal entry in dad’s Caringbridge page is called ‘My Dad’ and it is the personal words I shared with him during his Celebration of Life ceremony.  My mom had requested that I post it there so that she could read it since she felt she may not have heard it all.  Mom now lives near me.  I visit her at least once a week at her assisted living facility.  Part of the routine I do when I visit her is to close out her iPad applications so that the iPad continues to work for her.  Many times, one of the apps that I close out is Caringbridge as my mom still silently finds comfort in the prayerful posts and photos. My thank  you While I have no formal business affiliation with Caringbridge.org, I feel I want to repay this organization for essentially ‘being there’ during a difficult time.  I know other families struggle with easy ways to keep friends and family aware of health updates for a loved one and I hope this resource can be their beacon of hope.  I believe Caringbridge.org offers an easy solution, especially for the technically challenged.  My first ebook The Savvy Sandwicher’s Survival Guide: How to take care of YOUR health while caring for others launches July 15.  I am excited to be donating a portion of every ebook sale to caringbridge.org to express my gratitude....more

A Prayer for Q

Q entered our lives & our hearts about a year ago. He'd just turned 4, and was funny, animated & undeniably adorable. With dark features and big brown eyes he could have been ours.  He fit into our home & hearts like he was ours....more

It Is Well with My Soul: Two Years Later

I struggle with contentment.  I’m a perfectionist, firstborn, type A, always looking for something better, worried about the future, and a slave to my own expectations.The week of my mother’s death was much more difficult than I had anticipated.  I was just sure that after years of watching my mother suffer and decline in the grips of early onset Alzheimer’s disease, her passing would be the easy part.  But when it came down to it actually happening, I was 4 months pregnant with my second child, exhausted, emotional and terrified....more

How to Select an Assisted Living Floor Plan

 What is an Assisted Living Facility?In short, it's housing that provides long-term senior care options for personal care services like meals, bathing, dressing, transportation and medication management. ...more

In Honor of Father's Day, Hawaiian Style

Every family is unique, but regardless of the parent/child particulars, socio-economic status, or cultural perspectives, common threads tie our narratives together. In Lean On and Lead, Mothering and Work in the 21st Century Economy, a multi-media iBook of parents' stories, I had the pleasure of interviewing Lloyd Nebres....more

1979

I really want to apologize to my kids. I fucked up and completely miscalculated. Not a big surprise, knowing how much I suck at math and science. I totally meant to raise them in 1979, not 2015. When I thought about having kids, I thought about them growing up riding their bikes without a helmet, playing kickball or hide and seek, whenever and wherever, without fear of someone texting and driving or having an opinion about them not wearing a helmet and having a bottle of water within arm's reach....more

New Alzheimer's Caregivers: Children, Teens, and Young Adults

 I remember coming home from school soon after I turned 12 years old, and finding my mom lying in bed, covered in sweat, writhing in her sleep, and moaning....more

Choosing Your Charity

Salavation Army Volunteers at the 2011 Dickens on the Strand in Galveston, Texas Copyright by WyoJones. All rights reserved. Used with permission....more

Don't freak out...reach out!

Ask and you shall receiveGuess what I found out recently?  I can’t do it all and I need to ask for help.  I think the key is to ‘ask’ and not ‘expect’ someone to know you need help.  I’ve definitely said to my husband a few times, ‘Why do you wait until I’m spiraling to help?’  His answer is valid when he calmly says ‘I didn’t know you needed help’.  We think as moms we are supposed to do it all and we think other moms are successfully doing it all.  Maybe it’s possible for the short distance but not for the long haul.  I’m one of 6 kids, I watched my mom work non-stop taking care of the house, kids, food, pets, etc.  I also witnessed her burning out.  My siblings and I helped around the house but maybe could have done more and in recent years my dad had admitted that he could have done more to help at home. Did you know you have a small army of helpers around you?  Below are eight individuals or groups of people that are willing to offer a helping hand and won’t think any less of you for getting their assistance.Your Husband or PartnerI’ve been married 19 years so we’ve gotten into somewhat of a groove about where are strengths and interests are and who is better at what.  Years back though it was fuzzy sometimes and stuff would get neglected so we used to just tell each other ‘You own x’.  Jason owns trash, car maintenance, yard maintenance, insurance, mortgage, and checking the kid’s grades.  We have a 'choreplay' system that works for us.I own groceries, food prep, kid party planning, child clothing needs, monthly bills, and gift buying.We share responsibility depending upon the week for meal planning, groceries, kid transportation, and cooking.Luckily some jobs we can outsource.  We get our house cleaned every other week and we have a neighbor mow our lawn.  We’ve intermittently hired help for yard work and right now I’m enjoying the paleo Fresh ‘n Fit cuisine meals for breakfast and lunch.Your ChildrenOur kids are expected to do regular chores like empty the dishwasher, set the table, clear the dishes, do their weekly laundry, list grocery needs, and keep their room and office spaces picked up.  We don’t pay them a commission for these chores, they are just expected to do them because they live here and our part of our team.  Not only does this delegation help me out but it teaches them life skills and responsibility.  So I consider this required as part of my good parenting job.Our children are motivated by money.  They know they can earn commission when they help with home projects like washing our cars, weeding the yard, and cleaning out the garage.I also ask for mental help from my kids by establishing some basic ground rules like please don’t ask to do something with your friends right in front of me, please don’t ask me to help you with homework after 9pm and please only ask me to run errands for sports equipment or school projects on the weekends because our weeknights are hectic enough already.  Sometimes I forget the ‘please’ but you get the idea.Your Co WorkersMost people are looking for an optimal work/life balance.  I specifically targeted the company I currently work for because it entailed no travel, is in close proximity to my house, and had a family friendly reputation.  I have also found that if I share with my coworkers or boss my health goals or if I state that I need to put my family first but commit to getting my job done, I receive little argument as long as I deliver on my work obligations.Your FriendsMy true friends have understood when I have been living in a season of my life where my time is maxxed out.  They have these seasons, too.  I have a great network of friends and fellow moms who unite to get it done.  We arrange carpools for our kid’s activities, offer sleepovers when a date night is needed, or gather as families at the pool to have an impromptu cookout because a make shift dinner at the pool with neighbors is better than a meager meal at home.When the swapping of kid time doesn’t even out amongst friends we have found ways to barter services or repay with dinners out, etc.Your MomMy mom lives in an assisted living less than 30 minutes away.  While I’d love to see her more, with our busy schedules and working full time, I have set an expectation with her that I can only visit with her about once a week.  This was especially tough after my dad passed last summer and she was alone and had just moved into the community.  We are still finding each other’s boundaries and setting expectations at each visit.I’ve been encouraging mom to take on as much as she can handle and really help herself when possible.  This isn’t to be mean but to keep her sharp and engaged in life.  In particular, I have asked that she talk directly to her caregiving team about her wants and needs and to advocate for her own health.  This keeps the family out of the middle and hopefully gives her the results she is looking for in a timely manner.  Direct conversations with caregivers is needed as this gives her empathy for their situations, allows them to set expectations with each other and hopefully resolves issues faster.Your SiblingsMy mom and my adult developmentally disabled brother require attention from my family.  They need our help and we want to help.  We take the divide and conquer approach.  We all have different strengths and some of our duties align based on where we live geographically.  My oldest brother is telecommunications and IT, he takes care of most things computer, network, and phone related.  My older sister manages the family lake properties in Michigan and handles paperwork for my developmentally disabled brother.  My other brother (I have 3), does the weekly grocery shopping for mom and takes her to the dentist.  My little sister pays all the bills.  I take mom to doctor’s visits, order her supplies, and do my weekly twirls around her apartment to keep it the way she likes.  I’m grateful that we all do pitch in and help.  I know many sandwicher moms don’t have this experience with their siblings.Your InternetI realize a lot of time savings by shopping online.  Amazon Prime is my go-to for books my kids need for school and items I don’t have time to hunt around for around town.  I also use my free Prime shipping to subscribe and save on mom’s personal items that she uses regularly and dog treats for Shadow. I probably do at 65% of my shopping online.Your GodLastly, sometimes I forget that I need to be leaning on God for strength.  I felt like I learned rote prayers growing up but really didn’t learn how to ‘pray’ until I was a mom.  I attended a bible study and my group taught me a simple way to pray to God using the acronym PRAY.  Praise, Repent, Ask for others, and ask for Yourself.  This gave me a formula to talk to God that made me learn to get comfortable having these direct conversations with God.Next StepsAs you can see there are helping hands and services available.  When things get difficult, I challenge myself to find an easier way.  I remind myself that someone else has had these same struggles.  How did they get through it?  What can I adjust to make life more doable?  My plea to you is to reflect as you go about your day and ask yourself if you are the ONLY person who can be doing this task.  What would happen if you asked for some help?  Savvy moms ask for help so that they can free up more time for value added activities.  This is where you gain the mental health time, the workout time, the meal prep time, and the family fun time.   ...more