Thursday, August 22, 2013

Way Past Due Update

Life has been so crazy that I haven't been able to update during the summer. So here we go:

  • DH turned 44 in May
  • DD turned 12 in June
  • Survived the first anniversary of my sweet sister's passing
  • DS turned 14 in July
  • We bought a Hi-Lo Travel Trailer to go camping
  • We actually got to go camping this year
  • DH oldest son contacted us and will be visiting in September
So much going on every where.

I also found out a sweet friend of mine has had to decide to discontinue treatments for cancer and cancer induced illness. This makes me horribly sad and feeling helpless.

I am a natural fixer so I want to make everything right. There are times being a fixer is hard, not everyone wants to be fixed or needs to be fixed or even can be fixed, but this is part of who we are.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Update on Life

Things have been really crazy here.

DH had an appointment with a neuro-psychologist and were were told that any TBI he MAY have had in 2004 has healed so these lasting affects are due to PTSD.

I drove like crazy for the last 10 days or so...drove my brother to the Sea-Tac Airport so he could fly to NM for the sentencing hearing. Then two days later I drove from Lacey to Longview to take DD to meet up with her friends for the weekend...then pick on on Sunday at the same place. Monday had to run to the bank late in the day. Tuesday back to Sea-Tac to pick up my brother. Wednesday was grocery shopping. Then Friday to the VA for DH to get his Vpap machine so he can breathe at night.

We have had a wonderful weekend with 80° weather and sunshine...don't ever let people tell you it only rains in the Pacific Northwest, they have no clue what they are talking about.

The kids have state testing Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of this next week.

Thankfully the kids are feeling better since getting sicky last week.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Bad Days

Bad days happen to us all but I have noticed the last week has been tough. I think so much has to do with everything leading up to this sentencing on Thursday.

There is one part of me that could careless what they give him for killing my sister because it will not change a thing in any of our lives. The other part of me is so not very Christian and wants someone to do the same thing to him but he has to know it is coming....anticipation can be the worst form of torture.

I chose to not go to NM for this hearing, hard to get away from the family without careful planning and everything. Of course there is the one part that feels guilty when I talk to my mother and she wishes I was coming down. I would feel even worse leaving the family right now.

I have been reading a great book but it was talking about an autopsy and how they will arrange everything for the family to see their loved one again. That choice was taken from us by a drunk driver. Here is was 11:30 last night, reading a crying as silently as possible so that my husband doesn't hear me and get even more upset with life.

Makes me realize how lonely this life can be and I am so frustrated with being alone sometimes. On the flip side though I decided I am going to go join Curves again. I enjoyed the workouts before especially since exercise is just so boring and the switching every 30 seconds is nice for opportunity to get bored and I will get out of the house ALONE at least 3 days a week.

It is only 6 pm and I am ready to go to bed and cry my eyes out...but I don't want to upset anyone.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Blogging for Stress Relief

We have had a crazy week and I really have no one I can vent to but the Whole Wide World.
  • Monday - 
    • Finished my letter to the judge and emailed those over to the Crime Victim Advocate
    • Helped my mom get her letter straightened back out
    • Got yelled at by my sister (turns out it was a misunderstanding but you know how that can work out)
    • Helped my brother with his letter
  • Tuesday - 
    • VA Day From Hell
      • 90 minutes appointment with a neuro-psychologist telling me that every one of my husband TBI symptoms is caused by something else BECAUSE TBI's heal in a short amount of time and there are no lasting, long term effects (The new VA party line)
      • DH has suffered from headaches since 2004 when injured overseas BUT they believe the headaches for 9 years are due to SLEEP APNEA which is only something we have dealt with for about 18 months
      • Balance issues are caused by the medications he is on regardless of the fact that the balance has been an issue for these same 9 years and the medications have only been for 2 years now
      • Cognitive/Memory issues are due to medications as well regardless of how long he has been having these problems
      • Every symptom he has is caused by something else and not the event in question
      • Everyone of these symptoms could be resolved with Cognitive Processing Therapy or some kind of PTSD Treatment or Group Therapy
      • I would love to get these 90 minutes back but I know that is not possible
  • Wednesday - 
    • Went to Lowes
      • We figured out that since we will probably need to stay in this house another year we need some type of temporary fencing for the backyard for privacy
      • We picked out some nice bamboo privacy screens we are going to put up over the next month so we can be out back more without the neighbors driving us bonkers
  • Thursday - 
    • Lazy Day
      • Never left the house but I managed to go to the High School Orientation for DS online.
      • Made a plan to move the office/classroom into the dining room and the dining room into the office area. More room. 
      • Picked out the new desks at Ikea
  • Friday - 
    • Social Security
      • Dropped off paperwork for reconsideration
    • Wal-mart
      • Dog Treats and a wander through the store
    • State Surplus Store
      • A box of books for $1 got some great books for DD
    • District Office
      • Paperwork for next year for the kiddos is finished
Not much else to tell but I am already working on my list of To Do for next week which includes A LOT of driving and hopefully a visit with my Dearest Friend, not to mention the sentencing of a killer.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Letter to the Judge

Life has been a little more crazy than normal but I thought I would share what I have been working on. I have blacked out the necessary names at this time.

April 15, 2013
The Honorable Judge Loveless,
I honestly do not know where to start to explain the feelings my entire family are struggling with but I will try to put those feelings into words.
            Saturday, June 16th, 2012, started out like any other day for my immediate family. We decided to go for a drive and get out of the house and I couldn’t find my cell phone, which turned into a blessing. My husband, I, our son, and daughter we laughed so hard the whole day. There was an air show out at our regional airport and we were finishing up along that route as we were headed home. About 30 minutes later I pulled into the driveway. The kids ran into the house to let the dogs out and the phone was ringing. I know it was my middle sister Stephanie but what she said didn’t make any sense, Debbie dead, how can that happen, I screamed and threw the phone at my husband like it was a snake that bit me. I was still sitting in my car beating the steering wheel. How can something like this happen to someone that was so careful in everything they did? There were a million questions running through my mind one of which was, now what happens? What do I do next?
            I went to the computer and wrote what happened to my Wounded Warrior Sisters, my husband is a disabled combat veteran. My Sisters not only grieved for me they helped me to travel to New Mexico so I could be with my mom and the rest of the family. Next I had to figure out who could stay with my husband and the kids, thank goodness for best friends, she knew already and was prepared to come over for the whole week with her 3 daughters, her dog, and half her freezer. I was so very blessed during one of the most challenging times in my life so far. I still grieve, 10 months later. I wonder how people can be so ignorant to drive drunk and kill people. This HAS to change.
            When tragedy strikes a family we often feel guilty, mad, frustrated, and angry. We wonder what happened to cause this tragedy.
            There is only one cause of this tragedy - one person actively choosing to get behind the wheel of a vehicle in an impaired condition. It would not make any difference if it was a BAC of .08 or .2975, impaired is impaired. The offender will continue to live and see his family, talk to his children and mother, and feel the sunshine on his face – those same things which are now denied to Debbie because of the conscious decision to get behind the wheel and drive. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction and in this case Mr. Clark needs to be in jail. My personal opinion is that getting behind the wheel while impaired is a premeditated action regardless of the outcome.
            I know there are ‘behind the scenes’ actions to completing this case which results in Mr. Clark’s jail time sentence being a specified length of time with credit for time already served. I do not have to like it but I understand that is how the courts work. I would appreciate it if Mr. Clark is required to complete 100% of his sentence before being released on parole. I would also like to see his parole be 2 years and to include random drug and alcohol screenings. I would like to request that Mr. Clark make monthly donations to MADD as well as talk to others about the feelings that come with knowing he killed someone while in an impaired condition. Hopefully through education other families can be saved from the pain that our family will endure for the rest of our lives.
Debbie Valencia is/was my youngest sister, I was 7 when she was born so it was like having my very own ‘Baby Alive’, and she did everything the doll would have done and more. I learned so many life skills with Debbie that would serve me well in my life. She was so much more than a ‘Baby Sister’ to me. I helped to teach her how to read when she was in Kindergarten.
Debbie always made time to listen or help others regardless of what she was going through at the time. Even knowing her popularity as a child and teenager you cannot imagine my surprise when we had her funeral and there were more than 400 people there whose life she had touched and they all considered her a friend.
            When my oldest child was born she arrived within minutes of him being born – she held him when he was only 10 minutes old, she was surprised that she was ‘late’ to his birth. Joey was not her first nephew but he was just as spoiled by Aunt Debbie as the oldest nephew had been. When my daughter was born Debbie decided that there was no way she was going to miss this so she showed up early and would not leave until she was born. Debbie was so much fun, she would watch the monitor for contractions and start telling jokes to keep my mind off the pain. She definitely made labor fun.
            Debbie made up her own nicknames for the kids and would sing them silly songs, my daughter Veronica would always get Adam Sandler’s Hanukah Song, cleaned up for the baby.
            When my husband and I got married she surprised us by coming from Albuquerque to Washington for the Wedding. The weather was horrible but she didn’t care, she was ready to have some fun and sing some karaoke with us afterwards. So glad mom got great pictures that night.
            Debbie loved to laugh or to make others laugh. She would stand up and tell you like it was and that she loved you in the same breath. She made time for others. She was loving and caring. While she loved her nieces and nephews there was nothing in this world she loved more than her own two children, Ethan and Sophia.
            Debbie loved her husband Matt but the kids were everything. Ethan was her shining moment, there was nothing she wouldn’t do for him including put him in his place when necessary. Finally, 8 years later, she had Sophia. There was a little girl that would have the girliest of everything if her mom had anything to say about it. Debbie was so happy to have that sweet little girl of own.
            Debbie was the favorite Aunt of all the kids; she was the one they could talk to about anything and everything. Every child should have someone in their life like that, such a special bond. As sisters go she was wonderful, sure there were the times when we didn’t agree but there was still mutual respect in a disagreement. In the hierarchy of Debbie’s life was her kids, her husband, and our mom. Debbie set the standards really high for how to treat a mom. Mom and Debbie had a bond that was so different from my own bond with our mom and my hearts aches for my mom at everything she has lost with Debbie’s death.
            Mr. Clark – I hope you live with guilt for the rest of your life for what you have done to our whole family. I hope that when you look at your own children, you remember that because of your actions, my niece and nephew no longer have a mother. Every time you look at your Mother you can feel the hurt of my own mother who can never tell her daughter how much she loves her or how precious she is to her. If you have a sibling, I hope every time you look at them you remember how much I hurt because I do not have my sister anymore. And EVERY SINGLE TIME YOU EVEN THINK ABOUT TAKING A DRINK YOU REMEMBER THAT ACCIDENT AS IF IT WERE HAPPENING AT THAT VERY MOMENT AND REMEMBER EVERYTHING THAT YOU STOLE FROM MY FAMILY.

This is the letter my children are submitting to the judge.

April 15, 2013
Dear Judge Loveless,
We are writing to you today to tell you how upset and heartbroken we are that a drunk driver killed our favorite Aunt.
Aunt Debbie was the greatest Aunt ever, she loved us unconditionally. When we were little she would make up silly songs and sing them to us. She was always so much fun and so loving.
We didn’t get to see her often since she lived in New Mexico and we live in Washington but some of our greatest memories are with Aunt Debbie. She always made time for us. Now we will never see her again.
We think it is very unfair that she had to die because someone made a very bad choice, bad choices are stupid choices. We (our cousins) will never see our Aunt Debbie ever again but his kids will get to see him again, not fair. Why should he be able to have the freedom he took from our Aunt?
We really wish the laws were fairer for everyone. Please keep him in jail, without freedom, for a very long time.
Joey Busenius (14)
Veronica Busenius (11)

Joey (in blue), nephew
Ethan (in black), son
Veronica on Aunt Debbie’s lap
Spring 2002

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

New Car

Yep, we broke down and traded in the Van for a newer vehicle. We got an Expedition with a service contract. We were so upside down in the van and with the issues it was starting to have we needed something far more reliable that would last a few years.

The kids and dogs are both pretty happy with the new car.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Home School Adventures

As we begin to zero in on the final months of school, I am constantly amazed at what I have learned in this Home School Adventure.

Just this morning I thought of a better way to keep the kids organized in their week, yep it took almost 2 years but I did it. This is one of the things I have taken away from having worked within an Elementary School for 2+ years. File Folders!!  Yep back to some basics.

I had been at Wal-Mart a few months ago and they were clearancing out some file folders, cute ones too with school themes, not missing much when it comes to a clearance, I snagged a few. This morning it dawned on me while I was typing up their schedule for the week that if they had a folder to keep it in maybe it would not get lost throughout the week. Brillant, I know!

 Pretty cute, aren't they!?
Then I stapled the monthly goal sheet I made them, on to one side of the folder and then put monthly writing prompts on the other side.

Here is the inside of my son's folder. I finally broke the monthly goals into weekly goals for both of the kids to help with keeping them on track for the whole month. We will see how that works for us all.

The writing prompts I found online and I might have even paid for them, who can remember, but he has finished his composition for the year and I want him to keep writing.

Here is the schedule I created for them both. This actually came about because I could not get the online program to print it correctly. I also do not like the kids having to review on a Thursday or Friday and not assess until Monday. I did my sons in blue and my daughters is in purple.

I slipped this into the folder and they can cross off what they have finished and then in the afternoon when I take my 'office time' with them we can go over what was accomplished and what still needs more work.

I am available to help throughout their school day but during 'office time' I take a one-on-one 'conference' to check for assessments, grading (if necessary), attendance. This gives them the chance to ask scheduling questions as well or make adjustments. When they tell me they think they are finished, I remind them to double check before I look. We have been doing this for awhile but I am hoping with the file folder it will help even better.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Knitting Therapy

I know I have mentioned before that I knit to relax and I thought I would share a couple of things I have completed.

Lace type pattern

My 1st Pair for Me
First time with cables

Sometimes I think the knitting keeps me sane...other times not so much.
I have some I will be doing for my Dear Husband and Dear Son soon and I also have a few requests from people. Not sure how I will do that as of yet.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Friday Craziness

There has been so much craziness going on I haven't been able to stay on top of things that I should blogging. I have some updates I will try to share over the next week both for myself and to share.

Saw this Best of Craigslist Post and just have to share it.

$1360 / 1br - 400ft² - One bedroom Sublet (Upper East Side)

East 95th Street at Third Ave
One bedroom available in a two bedroom apartment on the upper east side! Available now until August, with option to then take over lease. Listing is in Normandie Court on the Upper East Side. All building information is available here:
Serious Inquiries MUST answer all 50 questions below, please. Thank you!

1. how often do you eat ice cream,
2. please rate the movie space jam on a scale of 1 (worst movie ever) 10 (best movie ever)
3. how many pairs of shoes do you own
4. what are your thoughts on late night dance parties
5. please describe your day to day hair style in one sentence
6. rhianna or beyonce, who is better
7. do you have respect for justin timberlake
8. if you were a genie in a bottle, what kind of bottle would you be inside
9. would you rather i always be there when you call or always be on time
10. name all the original members of nsync
11. if you had to buy shots for an entire bar, what would you get
12. how often do you play spider solitaire
13. is britney or christina more famous
14. do you judge people who spend a day hungover in pajamas
15. true or false, candy is a food group
16. do you drink carbonated water
17. is ginger ale the best soda
18. where do you buy your bagels
19. how high up do socks have to go before they are no longer considered 'ankle socks'
20. velcro shoes - yay or nay
21. how many pairs of skinny jeans do you own
22. whats your opinion on gingers
23. please rate yourcooking skills on a scale of homeless-top chef
24. coke or pepsi
25. please name 3 trashy tv shows and 10 guilty pleasure songs you enjoy
26. do you or do you not love tim gunn
27. do you craft
28. what is the most expensive personal care product you own
29. are you a fan of christmas trees
30. what was your last halloween costume
31. if you had to be a character in step brothers ,who would you be
32. if you had a russian alter ego, what would their name be and would they have one eyebrow or two
33.what color are your nails right now
34. are you or are you not excited for the mad men premiere
35. please screen shot your most used emojis
36. send me the last 10 tweets you starred or retweeted
37. please provide your last 3 grocery receipts so i can see how closely our tastes match
38. how often do you use post its
39. are you a supporter of baking cookies for dinner, or just eating the dough
40. is there ever a reason to be up before 8 am on a saturday
41. what is your definition of a "housewarming gift"
42. thoughts on windbreakers?
43. what color are your sheets and how good are you at replacing a fitted sheet?
44. What was the theme song of Dawson's Creek
45. Red or Blue bag doritos?
46. what is your perspective on matching socks?
47. are you a fan of pickles?
48. what is your main source of news
49. Are you team LC or KristinCav?
50. What Disney princess would you be and why 
Apt is located near Central Park
 Just love this ad.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Books and The Love of Reading

Amazon Question Today 

What is your all-time favorite opening line to a book?

Not sure I really have a Favorite but there are those which stick with us through life:

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair."
- Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities (1859)

"Call me Ishmael."
- Herman Melville, Moby Dick (1851)

"There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it."
- C. S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1952)

"When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow."
- Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird (1960)

When Mr Bilbo Baggins of Bag End announced that he would shortly be celebrating his eleventy-first birthday with a party of special magnificence, there was much talk and excitement in Hobbiton."
- J.R.R. Tolkien (John Ronald Reuel Tolkien), The Lord of the Rings (1954-1955)

Gone With the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell
First Line:  Scarlett O'Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charm as the Tarleton twins were.

 Last Line:  "After all, tomorrow is another day."

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum
First Line:  Dorothy lived in the midst of the great Kansas prairies, with Uncle Henry, who was a farmer, and Aunt Em, who was the farmer's wife.

Last Line:  "From the Land of Oz," said Dorothy gravely. "And here is Toto, too. And oh, Aunt Em! I'm so glad to be at home again!"

Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
First Line:  IT is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.

Last Line:  With the Gardiners, they were always on the most intimate terms. Darcy, as well as Elizabeth, really loved them; and they were both ever sensible of the warmest gratitude towards the persons who, by bringing her into Derbyshire, had been the means of uniting them.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

A Glimpse of Our Life with PTSD

It is not often I willingly will talk about War or the after effects but here we are finishing out the month of March and marking the 10th anniversary of the beginning of the Iraqi War.

I remember when my husband was training up to deploy in 2003. Separation was not too much of an issue for us since he had been a commercial fisherman in Alaska, we were used to being apart (not that we LIKED it, but it worked). The thought at the time was 'why in the world am I getting ready to send my 34 year old husband to war?' "What did we get ourselves into?" "How can I do this full-time by myself?"

I never wanted to be a single parent, not that many people want that for their own life. I knew I could handle everything by myself but I didn't want to at all. We lived in a remote area with no military support structure at all. We had only lived there a few years so we really didn't have many friends.

Needless to say I survived deployment so did the kids and so did my husband, to a degree. Flash forward to Spring of 2005 and a homecoming. He looked like my husband but I wasn't convinced. This man was hard in mind and spirit. He expected things to be a certain way and if they were not and he had to do it there would be trouble.

There were fights, OCD moments we had never had before, there were outbursts, freak outs in the grocery store...I had no idea what was going on but I knew he wasn't on drugs but he was drinking quiet a bit. What was going on? We were not prepared for the fighting to continue once they got home, no body prepared me for the after effects of war.

Physically, my husband is 85%, he has a knee injury but mentally is a whole other ball game. For the last 8 years sleep is hard to come by, the slightest noise is cause for alarm and vigilance. What can be worse is if I hear the noise and I end up anticipating what he will do if it wakes him up. Sleep is a distant memory.

To look at my husband you see nothing with him and you will see the difference. Like many things there seems to be a cycle when it is worse than other times thankfully I have support and resources available to me 24/7. The VA Caregiver Program has allowed me to keep my husband safe and stay home with him permanently.

For a further look inside click here.

Update on the Chaos

The normal level of chaos in our house seems to have diminished.
We have finished with Girl Scout Cookie Sales and are now heading in to enCamporee time. I have completed my second term at WGU and have a bit of time off until the new term begins. The kids have been working hard in school and are really looking forward to Spring Break even if it is only a break from routine.

We had another VA appointment cancelled on us the day of the appointment. That drives me nuts and I would change providers but DH is comfortable with this provider so it is best to not rock the boat. We had our quarterly visit from the visiting nurse on Wednesday, went really well but my 'burden/stress level' was more than an 8 so they wanted to recommend counseling. I don't need counseling at this point and I explained after the fact that we are just coming down from a chaotic couple of weeks and that things will settle down. If they don't settle down I will ask for the referral.

While I am not super religious, hit you over the head with a Bible, or anything like that, I read the Bible and pray regularly...I have an unspoken prayer request, God knows what is up but just say a quick one for me and that will work.

Darling Daughter decided she was going to slack off on some of her school work so yesterday we enjoyed some Saturday school...about 4 hours total. Amazing what she can accomplish when she puts forth the effort. She makes me a little nuts with her ditzy routine she likes to pull on me. She has not figured out we know better.

Dear Son is really showing some progress in school but he has been slacking off a bit as well...must be some Spring Fever. The best part with him though was watching The Hobbit after he read the book and him telling us how he remembered that part of the book. He was so animated. He is also really looking forward to seeing Jurassic Park in 3D since he has only seen it at home.

Trying to make some plans for the summer, which hopefully will include a move from this house. DH has started packing up things we don't use on a regular basis.

So I guess you could say that Chaos still Reigns over our house but at a different level than it did last month.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

You Can't Go Back in Life

I think there are many times in life we wish we could go back and have a 'do over'...reality sinks in and we know we can't.

On Monday we took a drive through the past on our way to my little nephews birthday party. The party was at the Bowling Center where DH and I met and was my first job. I was almost 19 years old and my grandma just had brain surgery. I got a job as a waitress making $3.50 an hour and minimum wage was $3.25 in Washington. I ended up working for this same company for 5 years and learned many different jobs along the way. I was able to leave this job and get a great 'grown up' job based off my work experience.

Walking through those doors though was strange. I knew no one there but it looked so familiar. It was like stepping back in time where you are just the bystander. Very weird. We took the kids and showed them some of the different places we used to go all the time. NOTHING is the same. The movie theater is now closed, the pizza place is gone...just strange to see this once booming area reduced to so little.

Makes me glad it was different so we could remember the fun we had before without being haunted by events of the past. Just another of those life lessons we learn along the way.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Free Your Mind Friday

Welcome to Free Your Mind Friday

If the average human life span was 40 years, how would you live your life differently?

Well considering the fact that I am 44, I probably would have had children much earlier in life. There are any number of things I would 'do over' if there was a that first marriage = mistake. DH and I were not ready for life together when we were younger and we both knew that but I would have wanted my same kids earlier in life.

There are times I would have had more fun and not let 'stuff' stop me from the things I really wanted to do. I have no complaints about my life how it is now.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


Amazon Kindle Facebook Fan Page asked this question today:
Who do you credit for your love of reading?

(Question 11 of 30 in our National Reading Month Book Challenge)

My love of reading comes from my mom. My whole life she was never without a book. She encouraged readers in her kids. I learned at an early age to never leave the house without a book or something to read. I would sit at the breakfast table when I was little and read the cereal box over and over again. I love to read.

I have been known to read a book until it falls apart. Since I got my Kindle a year ago I have read so many great books, I have 1500 titles in the 'cloud'. We can never go to Costco without checking out the book section.

So my love for reading comes from my mom and I am so grateful to her for that.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Monster in My House

There is a Monster living in my house. It lives right along side of us and tries so hard to take control whenever it feels like it. I wish there was a rite or ritual to exorcise the Monster from our lives but there isn't. The VA has tried but I think it makes the Monster worse at times instead of better.

There is no warning to when the Monster decides to come out, we have no control. The Monster gets his mind on something and like a rabid dog will not let it go. I wish and pray I could make the Monster disappear but I don't know how. Love and patience doesn't seem to help as much as we would like it to.

The Monster has a name but we only refer to it by letters...PTSD. This Monster has changed our lives forever. The kids handle it really well, they refer to the Monster as "Episodes" more than anything else.

The medications from the VA only help part of the time. The Monster makes my DH believe he is unworthy of additional benefits he could get. He can't work anymore but he wants to do something, what he has no clue.

The problem is the Monster is living in my Love and to get rid of the Monster I would need to get rid of my Love.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Week in Review

What a crazy week we have had here at my house.

Last Sunday we started with an early morning Girl Scout Cookie Booth Sale at a local Goodwill. The sales were pretty bad but the store was busy. DD was slightly down and decided the Goodwill was not a great spot to begin with.

Monday we were at a local Credit Union and DD and fellow Girl Scout did a great job on sales. The sun was shinning but cold.

Tuesday we took the day off from cookies but Mom and I went to the fabric store. Then we had Girl Scouts. Finally, I wrapped up the day with taking DH to the VA for an over night sleep study.

Wednesday morning came way too early and by 5:45am I had picked DH back up and headed for home. The dogs were really glad to see him. Picked up Girl Scout Cookies in the afternoon for our booth sale that same evening. The girls did great even in the rain.

Thursday we had another Cookie Booth on the other side of town.

Friday we had a late morning sale and while it was slow we enjoyed ourselves.

Friday my brother and his family came to say good bye to mom.

Yesterday morning my uncle came and picked up mom for the Portland airport. I think the kids in NM were happy to see G'ma. Mom called last night and they sure sounded happy.

Working on homework to finish my class for this term and enjoying some piece and quiet.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Free Your Mind Friday

Week 6

If happiness was the national currency, what kind of work would make you rich?

So funny to read this question today and all I could think of was the Clay Walker song, If I Could Make a Living. I guess may answer would be just that doing what I already do everyday. How great would it be to get rich doing the one thing which comes so natural to most people.

My Husband and Kids make me happy everyday, even on those days when they drive me nuts, yesterday. Yesterday I would have been bankrupt if happiness was the currency. What a crazy day to attempt to get anything done. The kids were behind in some of the school work so I was in push mode with them.


Thursday, February 28, 2013

Caregiver Conference Legal Issues

After we had lunch at the Conference a lawyer was ready for his segments of the Conference. He discussed Estate Planning and Medicaid Planning for Eligibility. I never would have imagined you could plan for Medicaid but I guess you can and people actually pay lawyers to help them set it up.

Estate Planning

Keep in mind and Estate is everything you own. Planning for what happens after you are gone helps to protect your assets, provide for your family, and charitable goals. Sounds pretty simple.

Three Documents Everyone Needs to Have:
  • Durable Power of Attorney (POA)
  • Healthcare Directive/Living Will
  • Will or Revocable Living Trust
Most of us in the military world know what a Durable POA is and/or we already have one for our spouses, but does our spouse have one for you?

Healthcare Directive/Living Will is your personal moral statement about your end of life choices. Life support and pulling the plug is never what any of us want to have to consider but it can be the cold hard reality of life. You need to ask yourself if you want to be kept alive indefinitely on life support or only for a period of time?

A Will is basically a statement of where you want your property to go. A Revocable Living Trust is a legal document which helps to avoid probate and can eliminate some of the tax burden that comes with inheirtance.

It is in your best interest to have your documents witnessed and notarized. With witnesses you will need to have a Self Proving Affidavit, a statement which declares they witnessed your signature on your document. The Self Proving Affidavit helps so your witnesses will not need to be tracked down at a later date and time.

Community Property Agreement is essentially a contract between spouses stating that if one passes first all property reverts to the surviving spouse. This contract will also mean no probate.

Before you begin you will need to inventory your assets in a general manner, inventory your liabilities, list your family members, and finally what you want to accomplish with your documents. The interesting part mentioned is that when constructing your Will and leaving possessions to family/friends you do not have to list everything and who they will go to in the Will, it can be stated to 'see attached document' and that attachment can be changed without changing the whole Will. He was asked if you can disinherit your family, of course you can.

Medicaid Planning

This was a lot of information and there was no hand out but simply put there is a way to protect assets for your family and still receive medicaid benefits for nursing home/skilled nursing care towards end of life. Unfortunately if you own property you will need to plan with about 5 years before you will need to care if you can.

Another thing to check out is Purple Cross Plan, which is like a savings account for burial expenses and is exempt from your medicaid 5 year look back period.

There are lawyers that specialize in this type of law and it is advisable when there is a life changing illness which will require long term specialized care.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Caregiver Conference Part 2

As a continuation of the Caregiver Conference the next presenter was Kyle Mamiya, Speech Pathology Seattle VA Medical Center.

Now honestly my first thought was how would a Speech Pathologist help in the Caregiving process? Boy I was really surprised and so happy he provided a handout of his presentation.

Strategies to Improve Performance on Tasks Requiring Memory, Attention and Problem Solving Skills

Topics Covered:
  • Problems with cognition and effects on lifestyle
  • The role of the speech pathologist in cognitive rehabilitation
  • Information about views on cognitive rehabilitation
  • Some approaches to addressing various cognitive difficulties
  • Some strategies to use or encourage in different settings
Problems with Cognition
  1. Caused by many reasons
  2. Affect attention, memory, problem solving, communication, behavior, moods
  3. May affect habits, work, interaction, care for self, fully engage in some aspects of life
  4. Functioning Tasks, appointments to-do list, forgetfulness, control of emotions
Speech Pathologist
  1. Patient Care Team
  2. Assess and analysis of cognitive skills
  3. Systematic, functionally-oriented therapy
    1. Structured learning
    2. Focus on Restorative and Compensatory Treatments
    3. Include Caregiver/Family
Things to Consider
  1. Identify specific goals or tasks
    1. Use Caregiver/Family to help set realistic goals
  2. Provide errorless learning opportunities
    1. Clear expectations
  3. Practice strategies
    1. Provide feedback and tools for performance
  4. Select meaningful activities
Speech Pathologist will work in the clinic face to face and in the community living centers as well as via telehealth, e-mail, and telephone.

Speech Pathologist will work to improve attention through different training methods, exercises, and repetition. Goals to improve focus, reduce distractions, staying organized or on schedule, get enough rest to help with the cognitive abilities, learn to break down tasks into several smaller, manageable tasks, as well as NOT multi-tasking.

Things to try
  • Notepad and pen with you at all times
  • Dry erase board for the house
  • Routines and a schedule/calendar
  • Place to always place your things (purse, wallet, keys, phone)
  • Use lists everywhere necessary
  • Electronic devices to assist
There are many other ways to work to help with cognitive abilities. The presentation itself was 27 slides long.

Another concept talked about was to NOT rely on the memory itself but do rely on the tools available to aid with recall of events. The tools are the best aides we can supply our Veterans with so they can gain some self confidence.

Recall Tools
  • Simplify/reduce information
  • Review information in different forms
  • Ask questions, rephrase information, link to something personal to improve the focus/memory
  • Mnemonics
  • Visual imagery
  • Voice recorders
  • Planners
  • Electronic devices
  • E-mail, alarms, voice mail

I think one of the best things I discovered is that Speech Pathology can help with the Cognitive Issues many of our TBI/PTSD Veterans are facing on a regular basis. They can prescribe electronic devices if you have not been able to attain them in other ways. Another great discovery was about telehealth. The Speech Therapy has been able to utilize Skype to help patients living further from the VA. It was rather cool to sit in this 91 year old building and talk about the latest technology to assist our Veterans.

Caregiver Conference

Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend a Caregiver Conference through VA Puget Sound Health Care System at American Lake VAMC.

First was a Doctor from the Deployment & Combat Health Division, Dr. Stephen Hunt. He talked about the role of the Caregiver. He considers Caregiving, the most meaningful and important act, since it is a natural act for many the world over. Parenting is Caregiving.

Dr. Hunt gave us questions to consider about Caregiving:
  • What does being a Caregiver mean to you?
  • How have you learned about Caregiving?
  • What was it like, being a Caregiver?
  • What helped the most?
The answers are not surprising but I will not share those answers but there are definitely worth thinking about.

Dr. Hunt mentioned how attitude and support are key elements in Caregiving and that sometimes the Caregiver has to take the same approach with the same values as our service members used during their time in service. This made a lot of sense. There are times my DH responds better when I use a more military approach with him. He also talked about how the cost of service is family wide and support is not JUST about the Veteran.

Caregivers have a dedication to support one another. This creates new bonds but can also create Caregiver fatigue so the Caregiver needs to take advantage of any resource available to them.

The need for self care is so important for Caregiving and will create a satisfaction which is the cornerstone of successful Caregiving. The key elements here are personal care (more important than medical or clinical care), social support for the family, and to identify barriers of self care.

Dr. Hunt considers self care to be:
  • self nurturing
  • personal life
  • healing activities - hobbies
  • balanced life
  • goals
  • respite care
When the audience laughed he commented that while we laugh we should still consider all of the above at different times. He highly recommends Yoga for relaxation. He has worked with local (Seattle area) Yoga studios to help combat veterans and ended up with a total of 42 studios willing to donate time to assist returning combat veterans.

He concluded with reminding us all to  know yourself, value yourself, care for yourself.

Do not deny the difficulties of your work.

Cast loving eye on yourself and your needs the same as we do for our loved ones. This is about our lives.