Archive for the ‘family’ Category

Burying Kona

March 23rd, 2015
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I drove around with a dead dog in my car for weeks. That's not as gross as it sounds. The dog was cremated, and in a box.

Six years ago, I put down my beloved Kona, a wonderful yellow Lab who brought me 13 years of joy. She was the best.

Kona, 2003

Kona, 2003

I mourned her for a long time. I still tear up if I really stop and think about her.

Olivia was a year and a half old when Kona died, but she actually still remembers her. I like that.

After she died in 2009, I intended to bury her one day, but was too hurt to do more than put the ashes in the living room and glance up at the box once in a while. After a year, I brought the box down from the shelf, but it still hurt to actually hold it and think about parting with her.

I decided to let it go and when the time was right, it would come to me.

Years went by and my life has taken some ups and downs; the normal progression of any life, I suppose. My husband and I are mired in parenting, work, elder caregiving, and just life in general. I eventually forgot about Kona.

Last fall, in what was the hardest year of my life, I noticed the box of ashes again, and decided it was time to bury the past - literally and figuratively. My plan was to take Kona to her favorite haunts before putting her in the ground in my yard.

Of course, time moves both quickly and slowly when you're at this stage of life - working full time and raising a young child. I feel like I'm constantly tired, always busy, and often forgetting.

I took Kona off the shelf and put the ashes by the front door, to remind myself to schedule time to execute my final plan of action for her. Fall became winter became spring, and only recently have I gotten to acting on it.

Jen and the dogs, 2004

Jen and the dogs, 2004

One Saturday, Olivia and I made time to drive Kona to my friend Jen's house. Jen and her three dogs were a big part of Kona's life. For years, the six of us would spend our days off together. Two of Jen's dogs died last year, too. Jen and I reminisced and cried.

Flower dog, 2001

Flower dog, 2001

The next day, we took Kona to the beach. Kailua Beach was her favorite, and it was also where she served as flower dog in my wedding. My daughter and I walked for a while along the shore with Kona's ashes.

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Back at home, we decided to bury her in the front yard, her favorite place to hang out because she could see all the action on the street. Claus dug a small hole and Olivia poured the ashes into the ground.

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It wasn't heart wrenching because I was finally ready. It's a little scary how strongly humans form attachments, that it took me half a dozen years to be ready to bury a dog.

We told her we loved her and that she would always be with us. That was that.

2001

2001

Until we all meet again at the rainbow bridge.

Kona's paw prints

Kona's paw prints

Taking the Right Precautions For A Family Member With Dementia

March 18th, 2015
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Not every person struggling with dementia lives in a nursing home or assisted-living facility. In fact, more than 15 million Americans – usually family members or friends – provide unpaid caregiving to people with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, according to a 2014 report by the Alzheimer’s Association.

My mother has Alzheimer's Disease and in the early stages of her diagnosis, she was living at home. These are some of the considerations my father had to make to keep her safe.

Although it’s wonderful so many are willing to assume that responsibility, it’s also important they take steps to make sure the home is a safe place, says Kerry Mills, co-author with Jennifer Brush of the book “I Care: A Handbook for Care Partners of People With Dementia.” (www.engagingalzheimers.com)

Part of that is to focus on potential hazards. The concept is not unlike new parents making a house “childproof.” Many of the concerns are similar, such as stairs, electrical sockets, sharp objects and swimming pools.

At the same time, it’s easy to go too far, Mills said. Ideally, the environment for the person with dementia should be as unrestricted as possible. “For example, if your loved one enjoys cooking for a hobby and can safely cut and peel vegetables, then by all means, encourage it,” Mills says.

Mills suggests several ways to make a home safer for someone with dementia:

• For the front and back doors. Use bells on the doors, motion sensors that turn on lights or alerts, or other notifications that make the care partner aware when someone has gone out. Add lamps or motion-activated lighting so people can see where they are going when they are entering or leaving the house.

“Another way to discourage someone from wanting to leave the house is to make sure that he or she gets plenty of outside exercise whenever possible,” Mills says.

• For stairways and hallways. Add reflective tape strips to stair edges to make stairs more visible. Remove obstacles, such as mats and flowerpots, to minimize risks of falls on or by the stairs. Also, install handrails in hallways and stairways to provide stability, and install a gate on the stairway to prevent falls. Improve the lighting around hallways and stairs by installing more ceiling fixtures or wall sconces.

• For the bathroom. Install grab bars and a raised toilet seat to help both the individual with dementia and the care partners so they don’t have to lift the person on and off the toilet.
Add grab bars inside and outside the tub, and a non-skid surface in the tub to reduce risks of falls. You can also add colored tape on the edge of the tub or shower curb to increase contrast and make the tub edge more visible.
Lower the water temperature or install an anti-scald valve to prevent burns, and remove drain plugs from sinks or tubs to avoid flooding.

• For the possibility the person becomes lost. Provide your loved one with an identification or GPS bracelet in case he or she wanders. Label clothes with the person’s name, and place an identification card in his or her wallet with a description of the person’s condition. Notify police and neighbors of the person’s dementia and tendency to wander.

The Honolulu Music, Arts & Food Festival this weekend

March 12th, 2015
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Looking for something to do this weekend? The Honolulu Music, Arts and Food Festival is premiering on March 13, 14 and 15 at Aloha Stadium and will benefit Kama'aina Kids.

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Presented by Showmakers Incorporated, this three-day festival will provide non-stop entertainment on two stages featuring 17 musical groups on the main stage and a large variety of acts on the family stage, circus acts, numerous food booths, a huge assortment of arts and crafts booths, a beer and wine garden with a giant liquor and frozen drink tent, family activities including a petting zoo, pony rides, bouncers, a giant slide, photo ops with cartoon characters and Storybook Entertainment characters and more.

In addition, there will be a Bully Dog Show and an Antique and Classic Car Show. The food booths will include many of Hawaii's restaurants and favorite foods, and there will also be fun food like cotton candy, popcorn, snow cones and other special treats.

The Oahu SPCA (an animal shelter with a no-kill philosophy) will have dogs and cats available for adoption at this event needing forever homes.

Each date will feature a different genre of music. The schedule follows:

Friday, March 13 from 5 p.m. - 10 p.m.:

Country music will be the theme onstage with performances by Dita Holifield's Hillbilly House, and Hooligans Harp, HI Country. The gang from Country 97.5 Radio will be adding to the fun.

Saturday, March 14 from 12 noon - 10 p.m.:

Tthe music will be a mixture of pop, rock, oldies, island contemporary and reggae with performances from Go Jimmy Go, Kapena, Jai The Band, Garry Moore, Streetlight Cadance, Pocket and more.

Sunday, March 15 from 12 noon - 10 p.m.:

Jazz, blues and funk will be showcased via musical groups including The Honolulu Jazz All Stars featuring Rocky Brown, Soul Pilot, Ginai and Black Pearl, Adagio, Taimane and more. Al Waterson (entertainer/ emcee) will host the main stage and Jordan Segundo (Hawaii's Ffrst "American Idol" finalist) will host the family stage and will also perform on the main stage.

Admission Tickets for Adults are $20 per person and children under the age of 12 are free. For more information, go to www.HonoluluMaffest.com.

Common Core Standards

March 6th, 2015
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I can't do Common Core math for second graders. I feel totally lame saying this, but I've come to realize that I'm not alone.

I've complained about this randomly over the past year and I'm always met with sympathetic frustration from other mothers who also feel the exact same way.

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Math is my weak point to begin with. Sometime early on this school year, I had no idea how to help Olivia with her math, because instead of doing it the way I learned in school, they do something that involves boxes with tens and ones and carrying stuff over.

One afternoon, I actually saw Claus helping Olivia and I had no idea what was going on. I should mention that I do wake up at 3 a.m. so by the time we're at the homework stage of the day, I'm kind of brain-dead and can't focus very well.

I asked Olivia to teach me what she was doing. I had to do a couple of examples to get it right. And I've certainly forgotten the lesson by now.

My husband is good with math and apparently he learned it this way in elementary school in Denmark, so it was not a mystery to him. Those Scandinavians are so advanced.

One week, he went on a trip and I had to do the math with her. I can calculate the problems, I just can't do it the way the teacher wants it done via Common Core methods. I actually wrote a note to the teacher, "I can't do Common Core math, sorry." She wrote back the next day, "It's OK! I'll help her."

Probably a good thing I'm paid to read and write. My kid, by the way, reads two grade levels above her grade. So I can still help her if it involves letters and not numbers!

How are you with Common Core math?

A Cup of Tea

March 4th, 2015
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One weekend, I took Olivia and her best friend Meya to a fancy afternoon tea at A Cup of Tea in Kailua. What a fun Girls' Date!

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We made a production out of picking out outfits and sparkly accessories, and then headed over. I even let Olivia wear some high heels that I gave her to play with at home, that she has been dying to actually wear in public.

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I also let her pick out my outfit, and she insisted I wear what she calls a "fireworks" top - it has gold sequins sewn in a starburst pattern. I think of it as a nighttime shirt, but she pleaded with me to use what is her favorite top of mine.

When we were seated, the girls were excited by all the flowery linens and china, and the three-tiered plate stand that the food comes out on. We of course had stuffed animals to accompany us.

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The most unexpected moment for me came when the waitress told us jokingly that we have to finish the bottom two plates before we can eat the top tier with the cupcakes and chocolate dipped strawberries. The waitress said when we're ready, call her and she'll bring the ice cream, too.

I knew she was kidding about eating everything, but I guess when you are seven, you are used to adults bossing you around.

We were all hungry so we dug in happily to the finger sandwiches and scones. When there were about three sandwiches left, Meya asked if we had finished enough food on our plates so that we could get to dessert. That's when I realized she took the waitress seriously.

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I decided to take advantage of this opportunity to have my child and her friend fill up on nutritious food rather than refined sugar as they are wont to do every hour on the hour, especially on weekends. "No, I think we need to eat it all up, just a little more."

Meya looked at Olivia with determination and strategized, "Hurry, Olivia. You take that orange slice and I'll eat this one." They actually divided up the remaining food for maximum efficiency.

I rarely see my child eat that fast. I'm not exaggerating; only 15 minutes lapsed from the time we sat down to the time the sandwiches and scones were gone. I was amused and surprised.

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Other times I've been to tea, it's taken one to two hours. I didn't anticipate tea going by so quickly today. I had even put in nearly two hours on the parking meter.

In record time, the bottom two plates were clean and there were two pairs of extremely eager eyes staring up at the top tier of dessert. "Yes, I think you can have it now," I nodded, and offered them the plate of treats that went quickly into happy hands.

We left after half an hour. Though short, it made a big impression on Olivia, who asked if we can have her birthday party there this summer. That will be cute; a half dozen eight-year-olds at high tea.

Meanwhile, I think I should get a three tier stand for serving Olivia all her meals at home. It worked so well at A Cup of Tea, that I wonder if I can get her to eat her food if I present it like they do!