Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Turmeric Health Benefits: Have a Happy New Year With Turmeric

Golden drink is delicious. 1T tumeric, 1T agave syrup stir, add steamed almond milk top with cinnamon, although now I might also add a sprinkling of black pepper.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Friday, December 24, 2010

"Don't take a picture of my ass and put it on the internet"

WHO the heck said that?? I'm not sure which is more shocking, that she said ass or internet.  How does she even know the word internet?  I've never heard her say ass in my life.  This is how these visits go, it's the pleasant with the unpleasant.  I went by myself to make christmas cards with her like we did last year, like she always used to do. She was happy to see me, I put on a christmas cd, turned all the lights on in her room, lit up the tree, gave her a snowman, put on her christmas scarf . We ate english toffee and drank  peppermint tea.  She signed her name!  We sang along to songs, and giggled, and said nonsense words and every once in a while she would say "your Lois".  And I would say "your Peggy, write it down".  We were in our own zone.  Then Nushik, whom I love by the way, helped her go to the bathroom.  She is so good with her.  Pulling down my mother's pants is a sure fire way to get a big shiner just in time for Christmas.  That's when she yells all that crazy stuff about asses and the internet.  Those moments are scary.  The reality is, they have to do this for her many  times a day, every day and night! They have to handle her and manage her, and change her clothes and do all the stuff she doesn't want them to do.
I come and bring her candy, of course she's nice to me. 

Then as I'm leaving Claudia stops me, and asks me how I could get Peggy to participate in things.  What does she like? And things like that. She wants to help her, engage her, make her happy, but she is being anti-social.  She doesn't want to do anything.  She's totally in her own world.  Peggy was never like that.  I remember her telling me that she couldn't wait to live with people and do all the activities and parties.  And she did. In Wheaton she was at independent living, and always was the first to sign up for trips to the city, plays and social events.  Even in Assisted Living, she was still pretty active, taking the bus for rides places and doing the excercise she doesn't want any part of it. It's so sad, because it's not just the loss of memory.  It's the loss of herself.

So Merry Christmas to all my wonderful caregivers, you are true angels in the very forefront of this battle against Alzheimer's and trying against so many obstacles to keep Peggy healthy and happy.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Merry Christmas Mom


Merry Christmas Mom.  We love you!
and David

Thursday, December 2, 2010


I am really thankful for these gals.  They are always there for my mom, and smile and give me a hug when I come.

And all these folks spent their Thanksgiving with MY family. Great singing and entertainment by CHADWICK
Thanks guys!!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Not Alone...

So that's the truth.  I'm not alone. The walk, the people, the blogs, the posts, the websites, the information, the conversations, all help me cope.  But honestly, as much as it gives me comfort, it makes me more sad... sad that there are so many people's live enwrapped in this disease.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

We did it!

Great Day for a memory walk!  Thank you for all your support.  It was overwhelming to see all the people walking for their family members.  I got a little emotional, knowing all these people have been in the same place as me.  Click here for more alzheimer's walk photos
 p.s. we raised over $2450!!!!!!!!

Sharing Stories

I forgot to mention Sharing Stories Day in Sunny's second grade classroom.  The kids were learning about story last month, and parents were invited to come in and share a story of any kind.  So, I came in and Sunny and I read "What's Your Name Again?"
She read the Sunny parts, and I read the Mom parts.  It was a really wonderful experience.  I was so happy and proud of Sunny.  The kids were really interested, and they loved the Sunny character and asked all kinds of questions afterwards.  Sunny stood up and told them all about her Nana and Alzheimer's Disease.  It was pretty cool.  Then they started talking about their grandparents!  This is my audience, I know this, I believe this.  I know this is a story that must be shared.  It's about showing kindness when you are frustrated, it's not just our story, its a universal story that all the little second graders who had never even heard of alzhiemer's disease could relate to.  Now, if I could just get a publisher to see that too.

Friday, November 5, 2010


alzheimer's disease and behavioral symptoms

Here is a link from the Alzheimer's Association that talks about what's happening to Peggy.  It gives me relief to find that it is the disease not her.  I know it is, but it gets so god damn personal sometimes.

Thank you to everyone who has supported us for the walk. The response is overwhelming. Your money goes to things like the website where I am able to research her behavioral problems and drugs.  I have gone from really feeling alone and sad to being uplifted by my friends, family, the doctor, the gals at Sunrise and a little depakote.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


That's what she said to me yesterday when I was in the bathroom trying to help her get cleaned up.  It hit me like a smack in the face.  But it didn't hurt.  I was to pre-occupied trying to help her and to not physically get smacked in the face.  Last night, around 2am when I couldn't sleep, that's when it hurt.
from July sketch book

Alzheimer's Walk

We are asking our friends to help us out by donating 5 dollars for our walk to fight alzheimer's. Your hand in helping me fight this disease on all fronts is what we need to stay strong and not give up hope. Alzheimer's disease can be a forgotten memory in our future. Please read my blog, and reach in with your hand and support this incredible organization.

Please visit my donor page to pledge.
Alzhiemer's Walk Donation page

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Refusing Care

So, I made it over there...she's not good.  I mean she's bad.  Nushka was trying to help her use the bathroom and clean her.  I jumped in, she was glad to see me.  Nushka, not Peggy.  We tried everything.  She hollered at us, smiled at us, lunged at us, swore at us and well when it comes down to it she plain refused us.  What do you do?  We can't make her take off her pants, and she won't let us help her. She will hit us, and has such a panic in her face and voice that force is not the answer.  I called the Doctor.  More Depacote faxed over immediately.  I'm going to take her to see the doctor tomorrow.


 We saw her on Saturday for the Halloween carnival, Gidgey and I dressed as puppies, because Sunrise hosted a dog costume parade.  Peggy, we dressed her as a devil.  Red lipstick, red horns, and a red blouse as a cape. We had fun. Then Monday I got another call....more erratic aggressive behavior, she actually broke a helper's glasses.   I hate that I have to mix together everything that is happening in one post.  The fun we had at Sunrise, how she loved the hotdog and our costumes, seeing SUNRISE LIVING on the caller id, the feeling of wanting to rush over there....and not wanting to go at all.

Friday, October 22, 2010


Peggy seems better, it's a dance, knowing how to give her independence as she becomes more and more dependent on other people.   The girls are doing the exact opposite.  While Peggy is going backwards,  the little girls are going forwards.  They challenge their dependency on me as a way of  becoming very independent.  Me, I'm pretty much stuck smack dab in the middle, not going in any direction at all.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Perspective at the Norton Simon Art Museum

I saw them, a group of wandering people.  Some clinging on to each other, some wandering off.  One younger woman pushing a chair trying to keep them all together.  They were a group of Alzheimer's patients.  I saw them from a distance, I knew them, they were strangers, but I knew them as well as I know my mother.

I felt very sad.  I felt that I wish I could be there pushing her around to see all the paintings.  Instead I was looking at the paintings with my class, pondering line and color and value, and why a painting "works." A break from my life as a mother and daughter,  I couldn't concentrate.  I kept watching them.  Oh my god, that's my mom.  She used to take me to the Art Institute of Chicago, we used to go together, we'd take the train, she always wore a raincoat, and every painting in that museum has influenced my life as an artist, as did she.

So I bought her a calendar of Mary Cassat, one of her favorite painters, and a book on Jawlensky, one of my favorite painters as seen above. I'll just bring the museum to her, although I'd much rather take the train.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Hitting, Swearing and aggressive behavior

Peggy?  Yep, that's what the nurse said when she called on Friday.  I thought we figured this out, balanced the meds, she was accepting help, and it was all okay.  When someone you love has Alzheimer's Disease, these turns and shifts in the brain and body and how it functions are always alarming.  What does this "new" development mean?  Is it another stage?  How do we fix this?  Unfortunately the reality is that, yes, it's another stage, but not necessarily a progressive one it's just another plaque stuck in the web of the brain.  It's another barrier to communication with your loved one.

 I saw the confusion on her face today.  I saw her in this sea of time with no mooring, I reached out to her and she swiped at me.  She swore, then said she was sorry, I scolded her, I told her I love her and I apologized to Harriet after she hit and threw a dirty towelette at her face.... I saw her, and I couldn't get her.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Peggy used to be a great knitter...I brought over an afghan she had made and put it on her couch, and asked her if she remembers making it.  She doesn't.  Why do I think memory is so important, or keep asking her stuff like that?
When I told Gidget Nana was waiting in the car at pre-school.  She smiles huge and says "Nana!, I love Nana!"  She simply just loves her Nana, alzheimer's and all. She inspires me.  So now, Peggy knits with Gidget and they make a mess with the yarn.  I keep trying to get them to ravel it back up and organize the colors, and they just roll it back out and  play with it like kittens.
This is a pastel painting I did, called Alzheimer's disease, in 2003 when my mom was first diagnosed.  I used to think it was a portrait of her.....maybe it's me.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

See your dentist twice a year, or twice in one week is good too.

This is where Gidget sat with me at the dentist.   This is the place I laid back in the chair, my mouth stuck open, unable to talk where she whispered "I love you."
This is the same place I sat when I took Peggy to the dentist later in the week, she laid back in the chair, her mouth stuck open, unable to talk where I whispered "I love you."

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Real Birth Day

We went over on the 30th to visit Nana for her real birthday.  She got lipstick, she still puts it on her hand first to see if the color is good on her skin, just like she used to do at the department store make-up counter.

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Value of Families

Wow!  It's over, everyone left either on the red-eye last night or early this morning.  Peggy was included in everything.  Lot's of eating and being together and playing and talking and driving. "I'll watch the kids, you guys go get Mom."   Everyone was always doing something, and I noticed that Peggy was more alert, more engaged and very happy.  She was still in her world, but something was different, she was with us a little more in the present.  And that's all we wanted, for all of us to be here in the present together.

Friday, August 6, 2010

My art show's special guest

I had an art show of my most recent work up at M Street Coffee, just down the street from Sunrise.   I knew it would be hard to bring my Mom myself. So I had decided not to, because I knew I would have many other things to worry about or take care of, and I usually do stuff at the last my hair, and label everything.   It is hard to exclude her from important things we do that I want to share with her.  But, sometimes I have to think about myself and the girls first.  So, anyway the reception coincidentally fell on the same week everyone was here, last night... and Peggy Lu brought a special guest.

The Birthday Party

The Birthday Party was a big success.  We all hung out at the Sportsmen's Lodge pool, and in a Suite we sung happy birthday ate cake and enjoyed ourselves.  Peggy had all her people around her, and I could tell that she was very happy.  She thinks she's 5 one minute, 23 another, sometimes 12 but never, ever in a million years would she believe that she is 80.


David and Paul!!

Well, here they are, the real thing, in the flesh.... DAVID AND PAUL!  together.  It was really wonderful. She was so happy to see them.  It was fun to reconfirm with the staff that this is the DAVID AND PAUL she always talks about.

Lunch with Peggy

Gidget, Beverly, Peggy, Joan, Lisa, Sunny

Everyone is starting to arrive for Peggy's 80th birthday party and it's wonderful.  I am so happy everyone is coming.  I also feel sad, for everyone to see her, how she is now.  It took me a while but I'm used to and comfortable with how she is now, but then I see her through their eyes, and I feel emotional.

What's Your Name Again?

This is the book I've been working on for a long long time, my family and my friends and especially my writing group can attest for that.  The less words, the more each one counts.  
For 4 days I went to the Annual Summer SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writer's and Illustrators).  This was the 3rd summer, I sent "What's Your Name Again?" in for a manuscript review, and....... I got a great review from April Wayland!  She thinks it's ready and to quote her thought "we need this book."  And my teacher from art center the talented, inspiring and award winning Marla Frazee, left me note..."I love the new dummy"  (dummy means mock-up book):)

This book is totally inspired by my girls, their unconditional love for Nana, their silly happy smiles, and enthusiasm for all things.  Even old folks homes....

So, you can read the whole thing here on my website.  

Art Imitates Life, or is it the other way around?

Busy Days

one day at a time
Where to start when so many things I want to "blog" about happen at once?  Could this be how Peggy feels??  Trying to process something in the past when the future keeps zooming along.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

What's Your Name Again?

I've been working on a children's book for 3 years about Sunny and my Mom....this weekend is the SCBWI conference (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) Right Now I am putting together a book a mock up of what the book could look like if published.  Wish me luck!!!!  More about it later, I've got to get back to work!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Everyone is coming!!!

I'm so excited.  We are all going to be together for Peggy's 80th birthday.   David, Paul, Lois, Peggy Lu and our spouses and kids.  Joan is coming down too.  Peggy helped raise all of us, and I'm just so happy we can all be together because of her....

Thursday, July 22, 2010

My Mother's Advocate

Not something I do well.  I had a "nice" discussion, and then came home picked up the phone and left what I really wanted to say on his voicemail....

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

My friend just sent me this....

Pfizer Corp. announced today that Viagra will soon be available in liquid form, and will be marketed by Pepsi Cola as a power beverage suitable for use as a mixer. It will now be possible for a man to literally pour himself a stiff one. Obviously we can no longer call this a soft drink, and it gives new meaning to the names of "cocktails", "highballs" and just a good old-fashioned "stiff drink".Pepsiwill market the new concoction by the name of:  MOUNT & DO. Thought for the day: There is more money being spent on breast implants and Viagra today than on Alzheimer's research. This means that by 2040, there should be a large elderly population with perky boobs and huge erections and absolutely no recollection of what to do with them. If you don't send this to five old friends right away there will be five fewer people laughing in the world.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Forget Memory by Anne Davis Basting

Forget Memory

This book is a wonderful way to look at the effects of Alzheimer's.  And yes, there is a wonderful way to look at it.  After the cherry pie, I read through this again, and felt confidence in how I am with my Mom.
Trust me, I had my hand in the toilet for an hour trying to get a urine sample from Peggy.  And it was okay.  It was probably one of the silliest times I have ever had in my life.  I brought new clothes for Peggy over and stopped at the library and got videos and books for the girls and we went over for the afternoon. Because I really wanted to accomplish this "tinkle task"again, (yes, this is not the first time I had to do this.)  It's hard enough to get my girls to go on the potty. But I do, so I was up for the challenge!  Anyway, the girls kept coming in the bathroom giving her dixie cups of water and doing a fashion show of Nana's new clothes, dragging them on the floor and giggling like crazy, as I constantly had to explain to my mother why I had my hand in the toilet and what tinkle was, makes me laugh, not cry, and that's okay.

I'm sure this is the most ridiculous review of a very helpful book, but please add this to your collection if you are researching or curious about the disease.

p.s. no tinkle.....

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Cherry Pie with Carey Grant

There have been a lot of changes with Peggy lately.... she is really can't walk at all anymore, and is in the wheelchair all the time.  She also has developed a weird kind of stuttering, a hyper high pitched nanananannananananannnanNANANANANAN! kind of sound, ususally goes with a finger point and then laughter.  There have also been some major changes at Sunrise.  Changes in staff and fees. I got a letter saying that she was going to be moved to a plus plus care level....(more money).  I have to admit I was really taken a back by this, I was very frustrated and quite offended that we didn't have a conversation about Peggy. Instead, I got a form letter.  I am a present person there, and not being involved in any conversation regarding Peggy,  I felt very very....sad,angry and deceived.  I have to be my mother's advocate on all levels.  So I took her to the Doctor and we talked about what's happening, what it means.  It means it's a degenerative disease.  It's going to get worse.  I know that.  But how?   Time.  How much?  Years?  Geez....I cried at the Doctor....ugh.  More drugs?  Back on drugs?  That's my decision.  I don't think so...I know where this is going, I just want it to get there....and that makes me cry.  

So I took her out for cherry pie.  This diner had these old Hollywood Pictures, she loved Carey Grant and kept asking who that was. She liked looking at all the pictures.  I started to relax with her, it took a while to just let it all go, let her be who she is now, and for me to just get a piece of pie too.  

When I brought her back to Sunrise, I was able to handle this stupid disease again.  I talked to the nurse there, made an appointment to talk to the management.  Went and bought her some new summer clothes at Drapper and Damon's and went home.  Hugged the girls, wrote down all the  follow-up appointments on the calendar and thanked my husband for watching the girls while I spent the afternoon helping my mom.

Just watching Tv with Nana

The Scholastic Books classic video series

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

one step at a time

   When my mom was first diagnosed we all took it one day at a it's one step at a time. Alzheimer's seems to have a progression like a stair case.  Steps. Not a slide where she slowly fades away or becomes more confused. Big giant steps where one day she can do or remember something and the next day she can't and then that's where we are.  
    The other day this nice gal was doing a painting lesson with the residents.  The girls were excited and jumped right in.  Peggy was over by the TV area.  So I got her up and wanted her to join everybody.  I swear it took us 20 minutes to walk 50 feet.  Every step would be "where are we going?"  and I would respond... "over there, with the girls, see them?"  Then Peggy would say "Oh, okay, how wonderful." and not move.  I tried to get in front of her and coax her, I tried to walk with her, I tried to hold her arm, say different things....then she might take one tiny step and then it would start all over again.  "Where are we going?"   She has no forward momentum.  She can't take a step, because she doesn't remember the last one.  She's stuck in this place.  She's stuck in this place of...I don't know....she's constantly on rewind and the tape keeps playing shorter and shorter.

We finally sat down and I think she enjoyed watching Sunny paint right across from her.  She always says how beautiful we all are, and she is still present, she is still here, and so are we.
More photos of our paintings can be found here....Painting with Peggy