As My Parents Age

A whole week already since I’ve last written! I don’t know where my time goes sometimes.

Last Sunday afternoon, my parents hosted a family meeting. My dad had asked all of his kids to come talk with him and Mom about … Well, I thought we’d discuss living circumstances, for one thing. My parents’ four-level home is no longer suitable for either of them. They have great difficulty with all of the stairs and a single level situation would be much better. We didn’t resolve anything though. As always, we skated around the topic without actually making any progress toward really addressing this concern. However, I’ve long since resolved myself to the fact that they aren’t comfortable moving and it won’t happen until there’s no other choice. And at least my sister and I are nearby enough to come help when help is needed. Though I sure would prefer for them to be in a place where emergency help is close at hand.

StoleWe talked a little bit about their wishes for funeral arrangements. Some of this is documented, thankfully, although not formally. At least we have something. And my parents do seem willing to actually deal with these arrangements today. Dad, being a retired Catholic deacon, is concerned about which stole he’ll wear when he’s laid out in his casket. He said he isn’t really fond of any of his. At least we can find one he likes now, while he’s still here to express his opinion on it!

My dad wanted to talk about who wanted what. There are some old leather-bound books that were important to him. My dad played a part in the assembly of these books at one of his jobs long ago. As a young husband and father, he purchased and brought home a copy of each book he’d helped create. Coffee table books, I guess, is how I’d describe them. As kids, we took great pleasure in paging through them and admiring the colorful photos within. He sent a couple of books home with each of us that day. I got the Norman Rockwell book, which makes me happy. Norman Rockwell was a big part of our home decor while I was growing up and I have a nostalgic attachment to his work.

There was discussion about wedding rings and Christmas ornaments that have sentimental value. There are some old, old home movies and we talked about researching whether we can still get them transferred to DVD. Hopefully they’re not so deteriorated that they’re lost to us. Ultimately though, we agreed that while we could spend hours that day “divvying up” all of my parents’ stuff, it was more important for them to get a formal will in place. My sister has taken charge of finding the best options for that and hopefully we can check that need off the list soon. Besides, it just seemed a bit morbid to start laying claim to my parents’ things while they’re still here with us. And one sibling failed to show up for the meeting without explanation. So it was tough to make decisions that would have been best made while everyone was present and able to voice opinions.

I’m grateful that my sister and I finally got my parents to sit down with us and fill out health care directives. We did this the previous Tuesday evening. I’ve had the paperwork for a year, but haven’t been able to get my parents to agree to sit and complete it. Mom has had a few more bad days lately than usual. I think that prompted the agreement to finally tackle the paperwork. I’m relieved to have that under our belts.

The whole meeting left all of us feeling a bit out-of-sorts, I think. I’m struggling with mixed feelings. Part of me feels like I’m pushing my parents to think about and do things they’re not comfortable addressing. While my sister and I feel it’s important to deal with this stuff now, the other siblings don’t seem to feel good about discussing these things. I have to keep reminding myself that I’m not being unfair. We’re only trying to take care of them as best we know how, and make sure we know their wishes while they’re still here to voice them. No one wants to think about the days when we’ll part ways with our loved ones. But the reality is, it can’t be avoided by simply refusing to think about it. I guess I’m more relieved than guilty. Once we get all of the difficult stuff formally documented, we can relax a little bit and enjoy the days we still have together.

On the bright side, I took my parents to the transplant clinic this week for my dad’s annual kidney health check. It was six years in July since the transplant operation and thanks to a daily buffet of medications, my dad appears to be doing very well. There was a slight increase in Dad’s creatinine level (which measures kidney function.) His doctor didn’t seem to feel it was cause for alarm, but said he would be scheduling an ultrasound for Dad in the coming weeks, just to be sure nothing’s going in the wrong direction.

This annual appointment is actually a series of appointments including blood tests, bone density tests, a meeting with a nurse, a pharmacist and the nephrologist. Dad also has to fill out an annual survey about how he’s doing and feeling since his kidney transplant. The thing is about eighteen pages long, and since Dad’s vision is poor, I was reading the questions to him and filling it out for him. (Really loved getting to ask him about his sexual function! Gah!) Dad, being my dad, couldn’t just answer any question. He wanted to elaborate on every single question, which really wasn’t necessary. (Thankfully he didn’t do this with the sexual function question!) We might have been there for two weeks before finishing the darn thing. So as he was called back for various tests, I told my mom that we’d just keep going on the survey and answer the questions for Dad to the best of our knowledge.

We laughed at questions such as, In the past four weeks, due to your current health, have you felt stubborn or obstinate? There were always six response options ranging from Very True to Not at all true. Mom and I laughed, joking that there should have been an All my life option on this one.

And Dad, who is known for his weird sense of humor, but not necessarily for being truly funny, actually made me laugh out loud. While sitting with the pharmacist and reviewing the long list of Dad’s medications and dosages, he was then asked if he drinks alcohol.

Occasionally, he said.

Did he use tobacco? No.

Marijuana? Can’t afford it, he quipped.

Dad! I exclaimed laughing! The young pharmacist took it in stride and laughed along with us. She said it might not be long before it’s legal here in Minnesota anyway, at least for medicinal purposes.

Might be kind of fun to add it to Dad’s daily regimen. Might really ease that stubborn and obstinate thing! :-) (Don’t worry… I say that with love!)

Seriously, though, there are big lessons in all of this. Mark and I have realized the importance of addressing our end-of-life wishes now, while it still feels like a distant concern. I want to keep as much of this burden off my own kids’ shoulders as humanly possible.

Happy Weekend

The weekend went by too fast, but I knew it would. It’s always like that when the kids are home. And we had a lot to squeeze into just a few days.

Since Connor had fraternity responsibilities and couldn’t come join us for the weekend, and since I still don’t have my new car, therefore Kacey still doesn’t have her “new” car, that left me to go pick her up from school on Thursday afternoon. I didn’t mind the hour and a half drive to and from, since I knew she would entertain me with stories while I drove us back home. I was laughing so hard I was crying over a story involving Kacey’s friend, Laura and free tampon samples at the gym!

While we drove, Kacey also shared her worries over finding employment for the summer. She had applications in at several businesses, but hadn’t yet heard from anyone. Then, as if on cue, her phone rang, and it just happened to be a job offer, the one she really wanted. She accepted and later told me she felt like a huge weight had been lifted. The next day, she heard from two others and had to explain she had accepted a position already. And when she’s not busy working her “real” job, there are two families wanting her nannying services anytime she might be available. When it rains, it pours!

I spent Friday getting the house in order and preparing as much food in advance of the weekend as possible. Brad and Heather arrived around midnight on Friday, but we were all exhausted after a long day and headed to bed not long afterwards. As we said our good nights, I told them all to plan on birthday breakfast in the morning. And before hitting the sack, I put the crock pot on.

Morning greeted us with the aroma of eggs, sausage, peppers and onions. My crock pot breakfast casserole was looking good!

Birthday breakfast 1

And Emjay’s Company French Toast did not disappoint either. This overnight French toast bake was a huge hit with the family and I will definitely make it again. Although I think my teeth actually ached a little when Jake poured maple syrup all over his carmely double portion! It certainly didn’t need any additional sugar. It was delicious as-is.

Birthday breakfast 2

We were all in a bit of a food coma after that big breakfast. The dogs soaked up all the attention they could while the kids let their stomachs settle.

Birthday weekend

Birthday weekend 2The rest of the day was spent doing whatever the kids wanted to do. Mark and Brad took Brad’s shotgun in for repair. We checked out tool boxes for Jake’s new truck at a few places. I took the girls shopping at a few of the favorite girly places. It was fun! On Saturday evening, Mark and I went to our Saturday league’s bowling banquet while the kids took the dogs along on a visit to Grandma and Grandpa’s house.

Sunday morning there was a steady parade to and from the shower. My parents were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary and we were all trying to make sure we were dressed, shaved, made up and had our hair just so in time for brunch at the Lake Elmo Inn. Luckily, some of us are early risers, and we managed to be ready in plenty of time.

The brunch was wonderful. My parents had reserved the sun room for their guests. The day was beautiful and there was plenty of sun and warmth as we enjoyed our time with each other as well with as aunts, uncles and a few cousins. It was so fun catching up with the extended family we don’t seem to see nearly often enough. There was a lot of happy chatter and many hugs were shared. My parents looked so happy to have all of their loved ones around them on such a special day.

So today it was back to the daily grind, for all of us. Too soon. I miss them all already and can’t wait until we can be together again.

I had this storyabout shopping for underwear with my dad

… and it seemed funny at the time. I have to admit that having to go shopping for underwear for my 73 year-old dad with my dad could only be faced with humor. But then I didn’t get around to writing about it. And then he went into the hospital and things were really scary. And then the underwear story didn’t seem so funny.

Dad was having serious trouble with his back again. He saw the doctor a week ago Tuesday and was told there was nothing more wrong beyond his existing conditions – arthritis and a degenerative disc. By Thursday, he was in such pain, he could barely move and couldn’t eat. He started running a fever and after calling the doctor, was told to go to the emergency room.

There were blood tests and chest x-rays and I don’t know what else. Dad was admitted to the hospital and continued to go downhill over the next few days. The fever came and went and his blood sugar was running too high. His medical team looked for Congestive Heart Failure and signs of kidney rejection, but found nothing to indicate either was happening. Dad couldn’t seem to fully form thoughts in his mind, much less convey them to us. His speech was very thick and painfully slow. He kept losing his train of thought and many things he talked about were completely off-the-wall. I thought maybe he was on a pain medication that was causing him to hallucinate, but the hospital informed us he wasn’t on any meds other than his usual diabetes, kidney and heart medications. He had a lidocaine patch for the back pain, but nothing that should cause hallucinations.

By Sunday, my mom was really worried. Dad was in bad shape. There was talk of transferring him to a transitional care facility if the fever subsided and possibly testing him for dementia. Dementia! I tried to see Dad on Sunday night but he couldn’t stay awake. He looked at me as if he couldn’t place me and would fall asleep mid-sentence. I talked to his nurse and asked questions and I couldn’t help feeling that she kept giving me this pitying, sympathetic look. My mom and I talked later on and she was worried that this might be the beginning of the end. I slept restlessly on Sunday night, dreaming that the dad I knew was gone for good and there was nothing I could do to get him back.

All this was going on while I was supposed to be getting ready for Mark’s and my first ever winter vacation. I kept thinking that I couldn’t even think about going to Florida with my dad in such bad shape and my mom needing so much support.

Then Monday morning came and suddenly Dad was back to normal. The fever was gone and he knew that the past few days had been strange. He told my mom he needed her help with sorting out what was real in his mind and what wasn’t. The hospital had never found anything conclusive in all of Dad’s tests, but we were relieved that he was back to normal.

Because of the extent of his back issues, Dad was still transferred to transitional care so he could receive physical therapy and return to a point where he could function again at home. I didn’t expect him to be happy about being there, but he handled it pretty well and seemed really motivated to do whatever it took to get back to normal and get back home. I left him last night feeling relieved that he was in a good place, with good caregivers and on his way to recovery.

This morning, Mom called me and said Dad was on his way back to the hospital. His fever was back and so was the confusion and thick speech. There were a few scary hours while we waited for the hospital to run tests. Dad was miserable, shivering with fever and dehydrated. As I sat at work, waiting for my brother or mom to call with any news, I wondered again how I could go on vacation with my parents in such a fragile state. My own head was spinning and I was ready to cry with the frustration of it all. It’s clear to me now that most of us will be lucky to leave this life quietly and with any amount of dignity.

And then unexpectedly, I got good news from Mom. Dad was diagnosed with a bladder infection. I think the reaction in my head, which I had the sense enough not to verbalize to my mom was, “Are you EFFING kidding me?” A bladder infection? That’s what caused all of this craziness? Apparently, it’s true. And at least now Dad can be treated properly and can really get back to recovering.

The underwear story occurred to me again today. Two Sundays ago, my mom needed a break and so I took my dad shopping for new underwear. He had clearly given his underwear a lot of thought. He wanted a specific brand and specific cut which just so happens to have been discontinued. But that didn’t stop Dad from wanting to scour the enormous selection of underwear. I have never studied men’s underwear so thoroughly in my life. And when we didn’t find what Dad was looking for, we had to ask a salesman about the specific style. He went in back to research our request and confirmed it had been discontinued, but may be available online. Before we could leave, we had to contemplate alternate brands. And open up a package of Fruit of the Looms and study a pair of tighty-whities right there in the middle of the store. I had to listen to Dad tell me how and where he likes the waistband to sit when he wears them. And I remember thinking how wrong it was that he put that picture in my head. We finally left the store without any underwear, but some packages of socks and white t-shirts with a chest pocket, because the pocket can be useful at times. Back at home, I showed Dad the wonders of Amazon and online shopping and his new underwear arrived by mail within a few days.

I’m not laughing at Dad. I’m laughing with him. I first thought the whole underwear business was kind of humiliating and ridiculous. But I’ve since decided that sometimes you just have to laugh at life and at yourself. Sometimes I just take things way too seriously. And now I’m really glad that Dad and I had that underwear shopping excursion. It was funny. And I would gladly do it all over again.

Mom and Dad’s Homecoming

ViewThe sun is shining down this morning from a beautiful, clear blue sky. On winter days like this, I can see straight through the bare branches of the maple tree in the front yard to my parents house on the next block. There are no signs of life over there yet, but it’s cold outside in spite of the sun. On warmer days, the garage door might be open and Dad might be seen puttering around on his workbench while Little Bear sits in the driveway, surveying his neighborhood.

Their flight home from Arizona arrived late Wednesday afternoon. My sister and I had prepared the house for their return. The heat was turned up and hot water turned on again. We dusted, vacuumed and scrubbed so the house would be fresh and clean for their arrival. My sister bought groceries as well as Dad’s favorite beer. She shoveled a winter’s worth of snow from the deck so that Little Bear could walk across it. Mark and Jake had been clearing snow from the driveway and sidewalk all winter long so it wouldn’t look so much like no one was home. They sprinkled Ice Melt over the driveway to rid it of any icy patches.

I found out yesterday that Mom is under the weather already, knocked down by another one of her intestinal episodes. It could be blamed on the drastic change in climate. Dad said it was in the seventies and eighties when they left Arizona. But more likely, this illness was brought on by the stress of flying back home from Arizona. There were so many details to attend to with selling their place and making the final move back home to Minnesota, not to mention traveling with a husband and a neurotic little dog who are both demanding of her attention and care. When I came home from work yesterday, Mark had just gotten off the phone with Dad and informed me we needed to go pick up a prescription for him. I knew something was up if my mom had chosen not to make the quick drive to the pharmacy and allowed my dad to ask someone else to go.

When we stopped in to drop off Dad’s meds, mom was curled up on the couch in her pajamas and robe. She looked tired and weak. I felt awful, but this is the kind of thing that makes me glad they’re back home again. They had good neighbors in Arizona. My aunt’s winter home isn’t far away from where their’s was. But I’m not sure how much, if ever, my mom would feel comfortable asking for help when it was really needed. With my dad unable to drive any longer, Mom is responsible for accompanying him everywhere he needs to go. Here at home, her kids and grandkids are close by and able to help and I’m sure Mom is  much less reluctant to ask.

We didn’t stay long at my parents’ house, thanks to me having a head cold. I explained this to them, hoping they wouldn’t be offended that we weren’t staying longer. As I was closing the door, my dad said, “We’ll see you tomorrow!”

I shot a questioning look at Mark. “Are we supposed to be here tomorrow for some reason?”

“Nothing that I know of,” he said.

I just shrugged. When Mom and Dad are home and with them being so close to us, it’s not uncommon that someone in my family ends up stopping by several times a week for one reason or another. That’s probably all Dad meant.

At the grocery store last night, I spotted two bags of Milky Way Caramel fun-size candy bars. They’re my dad’s latest favorite. Just like my grandparents always did, Mom and Dad have a candy dish they keep stocked at all times. Their grandkids (and their kids) love it! Dad had the Milky Ways on the grocery list that my sister shopped from, but she couldn’t find them. She checked three stores to no avail. So when I saw them last night, I grabbed both bags thinking how pleased Dad would be that he would get his favorite candies after all. I guess he was right. He will see me today!

My Parents’ Old Stuff

One thing I noticed about my parents while spending time with them in Arizona – they each tend to discount many things the other says. I suppose this is partly due to being together for so many years. I guess after so much time, people tend to get on each other’s nerves a little bit and argue just for the sake of arguing.

Mom said it was a good thing we “girls” were there to help go through their belongings and decide what to pack and what to throw in preparation for the move home. If she and Dad had to do it on their own, she said, he wouldn’t get rid of anything Mom thought wasn’t worth packing. My sister helped Dad go through his clothing. She kept running from the bedroom to the living room to toss old worn out t-shirts and such in a big trash bag. Mom suggested she just take the trash bag back to the bedroom. Cori whispered conspiratorially, “No way! If the bag is in there for him to see what’s been thrown, he’ll have second thoughts and start rescuing things from the trash again!”

Mom and I agreed she made a good point.

swim trunksThese swim trunks went into the trash. I remember Dad wearing them when we were little kids when he would take us swimming. All these years later, he brought them to Arizona because he thought he might use the community hot tub. Swim trunks were required attire in the hot tub. Dad never did go take a soak in it. Good thing too. The elastic in his swim trunks was brittle! Indecent exposure averted!

We came across other old things too. Mom had brought some of her favorite recipes and cookbooks to Arizona so she could make some of their favorite foods and have a little bit of  home-away-from home.  I’m sure my grandma’s lemon bar recipe has been transferred to many a recipe card over the years. Mom’s version is looking a bit worn.

Lemon Bars

But it still makes delicious lemon bars, especially when those bars are made with the fresh picked lemons that are abundant in Mom and Dad’s Arizona neighborhood.

lemon bars yum

When I tasted these, it brought back memories of family gatherings when Grandma almost always brought her famous lemon bars. Some old stuff is worth hanging on to through the years.

 

 

Four Days in Arizona

011bIt wasn’t exactly what you’d call a vacation. There was too much purpose in our visit. But it was still nice to get away.

Our parents are ready to let go of their little winter home in Arizona. Mom’s health is best described as not likely to improve. She weighs next to nothing. The slightest exertion wears her out. She needs and wants to be near her kids and grandkids. The warmth of Arizona wasn’t enough to compensate for how much she misses her family.

My parents only returned to Arizona last fall with the intention of selling their mobile home in their fifty-five and over community. They were already settled on moving back to Minnesota permanently. There were a few potential buyers over the last couple of months but no offers to buy. Mom finally decided she’d had enough of sticking it out. My sister and I planned to visit for a few days and help pack up the things that weren’t necessary for day-to-day living. Mom said that after we returned home, she and Dad would likely follow shortly afterwards, whether their place was sold or not.

It was a nice four days. Mom and Dad welcomed us as if we were royalty. The fridge was stocked with beer, as promised! It was great to have time to sit and talk together in person, laugh together, cook and eat… and eat… and eat together.

The weather wasn’t fantastic. It was seventy-ish when we arrived on Thursday and it felt great. Thursday was our day to relax. The weather went steadily downhill from there and maybe that was a good thing. It was easier to be stuck inside working knowing we weren’t missing spectacular weather outside.

On Friday, the neighbor, Bill came by with a man who wanted to see the house. John took a look around and seemed to like what he saw. After he left, Mom, Cori and I were cleaning out the closet in the spare bedroom. Suddenly, a strange woman in her pajamas and bathrobe poked her head in the room.

“I’m Mary,” she said. “Don’t mind me. I’m just here to look around.”

And off she went down the hallway. The three of us looked at each other, baffled only for a moment until John appeared again and said, “I brought my wife this time.”

Strange. Very strange.

John and Mary didn’t stay long and soon were on their way again. Mom, Dad, Cori and I spent the next few hours sorting through cupboards, closets and drawers, filling boxes and trash bags until we heard a knock on the door. Dad opened it up and there was Mary again, still in her pajamas and bathrobe. This time she was with her brother, Paul. Mary plopped down on the living room couch and proceeded to chat with us while Paul toured the house and asked questions of Dad.

“Paul’s a talker,” Mary said. We said that was good. Dad is a talker too.

Eventually Dad and Paul found their way back to the living room. Mary and Paul stayed for well over an hour telling us about themselves. When they finally left, we weren’t certain if Mary was interested in buying or if Paul was, or if we’d hear from them again.

On Saturday morning, there came another knock on the door. It was John and Mary once again. Mary was still wearing the same pajamas and bathrobe as the previous day and she seemed not the least bit concerned about it. They wanted to make an offer. It was less than Mom and Dad were asking, but they were so ready to have someone take it off their hands that the offer was accepted. This was a huge relief all around. It was agreed that the new owners could take possession by March 1st. This made our packing so much easier. Mom and Dad kept enough clothing and a few other things to get through a couple more weeks and we packed the rest.

I’m relieved they are coming home. They’ve only been away a few months, but in that short time, it appears to me that Mom seems so much more frail. Dad’s health is good, but with his poor vision, he can no longer drive or do many things requiring clear vision. And I know partly, it’s a generational thing, but Dad does so little for himself or in contribution to the household. I know he could run the vacuum around. But he doesn’t. I know he could get his own juice from the refrigerator. But he doesn’t. He should be able to prepare himself a simple lunch, but it’s always up to Mom to do so.

Dad feels relatively good but he moves so impossibly slowly. He likes to get out of the house and wants to go places. But he needs Mom to drive him around and she’s often simply not up to being away for the amount of time it takes Dad to make his way through the grocery store or pharmacy. And it’s clear that the physical and emotional strain of it all is taking a toll on them. They’re not old. They’re seventy-two. But they seem so much older than their years. They seem to be lacking a sense of contentment and happiness that I wish they could have in their retirement years. Mom has said on more than one occasion that she wishes she didn’t have to ask so much help from her kids. We’re happy to do whatever we can, but I know she expected a better quality of life during these years. Her health has robbed her of that. Quite honestly, it made me sad to see the state of my parents’ lives.

LemonsBut there were plenty of good moments too, the kind that made me realize that it was good to be there. Cori and I got up early each day and took walks around the neighborhoods. We met the neighbors and the neighbor dogs. We picked fresh lemons, oranges and grapefruits. Mmmm, did they taste good!

We took our time cooking – big, tasty, fattening meals. There was shrimp and linguine and garlic cheese bread for dinner one night with a hearty garden salad on the side. There were breakfasts of scrambled eggs with peppers and onions, bacon and hash browns and pancakes. There were homemade lemon bars made from fresh picked lemons. We all agreed that it might be a good thing our visit wouldn’t be longer. We might all get fat.

And there was an afternoon visit to an old mining town. It was overcast and windy that day and we were bundled up nearly like we do at home in the winter. We only spent about an hour, but there were awesome views  and we were able to snap a few photos.

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It was hard to leave, not because I wanted to stay longer. I was missing home and family and my dogs. But Mom cried when I said goodbye and that told me just how badly she wants to get back to home; her real home. Just a couple of more weeks and Mom and Dad will be home again. We will all sleep a little easier then.

Messin’ Up the Kitchen

You know what I’m really bad at? Keeping a regular schedule. Life would probably be so much easier if I just scheduled regular times in the week to do household chores, plan a menu and go to the grocery store, or check in with my parents. I don’t check in on my parents often enough. And how hard could this possibly be? They live on the next block! But I think there’s some flaw in my genetic makeup that contributes to my habit of flying by the seat of my pants. I can’t tell you how many times there will be a thought in the back of my mind to get something taken care of , but I simply choose to ignore it because … I don’t know … because I’m either mentally or physically exhausted or maybe because I’m just that lazy. The flip side of this problem, though, is that I work well under pressure. I get things done best when there’s a sense of urgency.

I have the best of intentions to change my ways. It just hasn’t happened yet. There’s always that sense of guilt that accompanies the knowledge that I’ve sort of dropped the ball again. And I always vow to do better from that point forward. There just don’t seem to be enough hours in the day to accomplish all the things that I wish I could.

And so what happened on Friday is so very typical for me.  I was at work when I received a text message from my sister saying that we should probably talk soon, and seriously about our parents. My mom’s ongoing health problems are simply not going to get better. She has bad days and not so bad days, but she never has really good days anymore. Getting a full breath of air is a thing of the past for her. And as a result, she is often dizzy, sick, and utterly fatigued. Running errands, keeping house and cooking can seem like such daunting tasks for her.

My sis and I made a quick agreement to get over to our parents’ house this weekend to help take some of the weight off Mom’s shoulders. I had a quiet weekend ahead anyway, what with the kids back to school again and Lucy Pie healing from her hip surgery. Normally Friday nights are my lazy nights. I usually read or watch a movie and then do chores over the weekend. But since I had just agreed to squeeze in extra activities, I tackled as much housework as I could so as to free up some hours on Saturday.

I was up early on Saturday morning with the Girly Pies. I took them out in the backyard first thing, then passed out meds and treats and filled their food dishes. I did a few more of my own chores then before showering and heading over to Mom and Dad’s house to do whatever was needed there. My sister arrived not long after me and we were able to pare down Mom’s to-do list pretty quickly.

When Mom asked Dad what he wanted for lunch, he asked what the options were. She informed him that there weren’t many. The cupboards were getting bare. I remembered then that I had really been slacking off on my resolution to cook more and make enough to share with my parents. Even cooking on a regular basis is sometimes just too much for my mom.

I ended up running to the local McDonald’s and picking up sandwiches for everyone. Yech! That was motivation for me. As soon as I got back home, I started planning a menu and making a grocery list. It was a dreary, rainy weekend anyway. If I was going to be stuck in the house because of the weather and a recuperating dog, I might as well cook. My parents were my main motivation, but this would benefit my own family as well. Try as I might, I just cannot seem to get into a good routine of cooking. If I manage a home-cooked meal two or three times a week, I’m lucky. So while I doubted I would soon turn over a new leaf and start cooking every night, (I’ve proven myself incapable time and again,) I knew I could do a whole buncha cooking all at once.

I broke out the favorite cookbooks, checked the freezer to see what I already had on hand (lots of ground beef and lots of chicken,) paged through the cookbooks to find the tried and true favorites and whipped out a list. (Go figure. Having a grocery lists makes the shopping so much easier and cheaper!)

I started last evening with the family favorite Sloppy Joe recipe. I made four pounds of this – some for Mom and Dad, some for us, and some for the freezer (at Kacey’s request.) Next I made a big pot of White Chicken Chili, again dividing it into three portions. This morning I made a couple of meat loaves and a big pot of traditional chili and some cornbread muffins. And if my enthusiasm holds out, later on today I’ll make a big pan of lasagna to split with Mom and Dad.

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Yeah, so these aren’t the healthiest of meals, but they’re home-cooked and can be frozen for later use, so that’s half the battle right there. I may have bad habits, but at least I’ve figured out how to capitalize on at least one of them. And we’ll be eating happy this week!