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Archive for the ‘Domestic Affairs’ Category

Well another two months have gone and is it seems like it was just yesterday that I posted here. The spring has passed way to quickly and summer is almost here, at least officially. If you don’t live in the NW, then you probably don’t know that this has been the coldest wettest spring in decades if not ever. So far we have set many new records for monthly rainfall but the worst is that we have yet to have had a 75 degree or better day. That is right, it has not yet risen above 75 degrees in Seattle since last October. We are usually well into the 70s by this time of the year but I just glanced at the 10 day forecast and it doesn’t look like we will get to 70 for the rest of the month. Here’s hoping they are WRONG!

I have made about 2 trips a week to see my mom and help her navigate the Federal State and local bureaucracies to get her and my dad the VA benefits and Medicaid that they need and to which they are entitled. By the time we go to Mom’s, then to the nursing home to see my father stopping at various places for doctors visits, places for mom to shop or do paperwork and then backtrack do drop of mom and come home, it is about a 200 mile, 6+ hour day. It pretty much kills the day for anything else. The kids still get some school work done but they have already competed more than a years worth of work so they are far enough ahead that my main reason for keeping them doing school work is so that they will not forget what they have learned and get disconnected. We will continue with school on a reduced schedule for the summer so they are ready to go in the fall. I am a believer in a year round school with more week long breaks instead of one long summer break.

I have signed up to be a teaching/educational/curriculum materials reviewer TOS (The Old Schoolhouse). I will be posting my comments here on the blog as the various materials come my way. Please check in here, friend me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter. If you friend me on Facebook, please be sure to let me know that you are either a reader of my blog or a fellow homeschooler as I try to keep my social accounts manageable.

I am going to the state curriculum fair in Puyallup WA on Friday. I plan on dropping my children of at my oldest daughters house so I will be able to browse at my leisure. That is one thing nice about having older married children nearby. My grandchildren are only slightly younger than my youngest children so they play well together. I will share any neat finds early next week.

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I guess the question could be asked … “What schedule?” I cannot imagine trying to handle the family issues surrounding my father’s illness with my kids in a conventional school. It would certainly be possible but a lot more difficult. It is a bit over an hour south to the location of my father’s care facility. Last week he got so dehydrated, he had to be hospitalized. This was the second time in two weeks. He also has fallen out of bed because he wants to get up but does not have the strength. I sat with him in the ER for many hours last week, and the kids were real champs. They spent that whole time waiting patiently while I held his hand and kept him from pulling the IVs and various sensors.

As a result we are a bit behind as far as the schedule I had set for us but the eldest son is just one lesson from completing two years of math and the younger is halfway through his second year of math so I am not too disappointed with our progress. Still I am behind on some commitments I have made and for that I am sorry. I will get through some curriculum I promised to test and post reviews as soon as I can. We are making our way through the material and the kids are loving it but for obvious reasons, our pace is inconsistent at best.

On another note, we had the grand opening for our new church campus this weekend. Matthew West was there along with many other of our long time friends who had walked and prayed with us through this incredible journey. The existence of Eastridge Church’s new campus is the result of GOD working so many miracles and the faithful, sacrificial support of countless families. I will post some links to the news reports and other videos and pictures later tonight.

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Two days lost to sickness and one to taking care of family matters and by the start of the second week of school we are already playing catch up.

We got Mom and Dad settled in their new digs this weekend. It was a hard weekend with way to much going on and Dad was exhausted. He walked as much on Saturday (moving day) as he normally walks in a week and then on Sunday, he wanted to go for a walk at the new place and they got lost in the hallways. It isn’t that hard if it is your first day there. In the end, Dad was so tired that he fell several times and on the last fall he bumped his head. It was a minor bump but the rules where they live say he needed to go to the ER and get checked out. That was a 8 hour nightmare. Next time we will find a 24 hour urgent care facility. He also broke his little finger so now he has a splint on one hand. It makes it harder for him to hold on to his walker. I will need to go down a bit more often than I had planned. That means changing they way I do and schedule homework so that the boys will be able to do some work on those trips.

We did manage to get in several hours yesterday and a whole day today and if I am honest, the only real problem is that MY schedule is off. This kids are doing fine and work hard. The first of the year is designed around review and reinforcement before we hit the harder stuff so the fact of the matter us that they are blowing through pretty fast right now. I just have to get over the fact that MY schedule is changed and the kids don’t know the difference. This whole home school thing as all about me isn’t it? Sigh!

On another subject …

Last October my wife walked out of her job to start her own investment firm. We had been talking and praying about it for a long time and even though the stock market was in a free fall, we knew that God’s timing was perfect. Well it was and things are going well but that is not exactly what I wanted to talk about.

Starting the business meant that we had to budget much differently than we had in the past. As a result, I began to look at open source software to meet my computing needs. I was amazed at the abundance of very high quality, free software that is available. I wrote about some of it in the spring but I have since found a lot more. I will write more about my favorites with respect to homeschooling in my next post. Stay tuned! I found some real gems.

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Dear GOD

Dear GOD, please help my father and mother through these difficult times. Give Mom strength, patience and understanding but above all please give her your perfect peace. LORD, please help Dad to understand more and to not be so demanding and strong headed. I pray that he will understand what Mom has to do to help and care for him and that he will give her grace when it doesn’t go the way he wants it to. Help them both find comfort in their new home and wash them both with your peace and grace. AMEN

Today I moved my 82 year old father and 80 year old mother from my brothers house, 165 miles to an assisted living facility that while no closer to me is much closer to all of the grand kids and great grand kids. Dad was diagnosed with Parkinsons over 10 years ago and it has taken it’s toll on both him and Mom. The medications have increased his physical quality of life over the years but they too have taken a mental/cognitive toll. Together, the disease and some of the side effects of the medications have greatly reduced his cognitive abilities. He is able to get around with a walker but needs help getting into and out of a chair or bed or anything in the bathroom. He is becoming increasingly combatitive toward Mom when things don’t happen how and when he wants.

They will have been married 60 years this November and Mom gives every ounce of her strength to care for him as he gave his all to provide for her for so many decades. As the disease has progressed, Dad, once the most patient and even tempered man you could have ever known, has grown increasingly demanding and intolerant of even the littlest things that are not as he wishes. This change in behavior has tasked Mom to her limit.

In the summer of 2004, we moved Mom and Dad from their home in Sequim, to a cottage on our property outside of Issaquah. Even then he had a difficult time making the adjustment and it was a 4 weeks before he stopped asking when he was going to be allowed to go home. In 2007 we moved them into my brothers home in Ellensburg because Mom needed more help and my sister in law has many years of experience in long term care. That move was even more taxing than the first and it was many weeks before he finally settled into his new home. Now Dad requires more that Mom can give alone and this weekend we moved them into an assisted living facility.

This was the longest ride that Dad has taken in over 10 years. They are both exhausted. Thankfully I have an extended family that has stepped up to the task. My daughters were waiting at the new place to help unpack, make beds and do everything they could to make Dad comfortable and to help Mom get “back to normal” as quickly as possible.

Dad has served GOD sacrificially for over 50 years. He was a prayer warrior and a humble servant to anyone who called upon him for help. He was truly a man after GOD’s own heart. Now, while his physical body is recognizable, the rest of him is not. I am not angry with GOD but my heart and mind scream to heaven … why?!? I understand we live in a sinful world and that sickness, pain and suffering are a result of the fall of man. I understand that our reward is not on this earth but that we will surely receive it when we are with HIM in heaven. Yet I still cannot bring myself to accept that Mom has to suffer these things?!? Dad, though he is weak and often frustrated with his lack of mobility, for the most part is either content or unaware of what is happening to him. Mom now bears the burden fully and does so with the faithfulness of a saint.

Dear GOD, please give Mom strength and patience and more than anything, please give her your perfect peace and grace! I know that the heart that you gave Dad to serve and sacrifice is still there. Please, please heal what ever is wrong in his mind that robs him of who you made him to be. I am not asking you to make him strong or asking you to give him years. I am asking, no I AM PLEADING with you oh GOD to let the heart that served you so faithfully for all those years, bless Mom and give her peace and grace! Let these last years, months or days be filled with sweet memories and without the pain. PLEASE GOD PLEASE?!?

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We don’t get but 4 or 5 days of temperatures in the 90s each year. This year we not only had about 15 but we also had 4 that were in the 100s. One day even hit 108. Add in about 40% humidity and you have some pretty miserable weather. (For those of you not familiar with the Puget Sound, we live about 25 miles east of Seattle in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains. The temperatures are generally about 10 degrees warmer on sunny days and 10 degrees cooler on clear nights. If it is windy and rainy, the temperatures stay pretty uniform around the area due to the winds mixing of the atmosphere.) I generally don’t mind the heat having spend many weeks in the Army training in full combat gear when the temps were near 120. You get used to it and though it isn’t fun, it is tolerable. Well the opposite is true when you get used to the mild weather of the Pacific Northwest. You become much less tolerant of temperature extremes and they become down right miserable. Well today was one of those days. Yes 95 was MISERABLE! Try it with the flu, a fever and no air conditioning and see if you don’t agree. On second though … pass! It wasn’t any fun.

I did get the weather station back up and running again. I will get a web feed from the weather station and post a link in the blog sometime next week. Yeah I’m a geek but you should have seen Putz the Younger’s eyes light up when he saw the information from the base unit appear on the screen of the computer. He tried to hide his delight but his eyes told it all. Now he keeps sneaking back into the room to watch the graph change as the temperature changes. He is learning graphs and he doesn’ even know it!

There was no homeschool today. As I said before, I have the flu and Putz the Younger though feeling better was still running a fever and neither of us were in any mood to try school work. Putz the Elder even ran a fever for part of the day. When he doesn’t even care if the TV is turned on or not I know he is sick.

Now for some rest!

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In case any of you doubted, yes I really am the stay at home dad and I do the cleaning. Yesterday I was cleaning in preparation for the visit of my wife’s father and step mother and my Hoover died. Well is still sucks but is the self propelled version and it was that portion the quit. Now in order to vacuum carpet you have to plant both feet and push with a great deal of strength to get it to move. I vacuumed one room that way and I felt like I had spend an hour at the gym. So I got on the phone to my lovely wife …

“Hi sweetie. How has your day been?”

“Good, I’ve gotten a lot done today. Have the cretins been helping with the cleaning?” she asks, knowing the answer beforehand.

“Well Matthew is picking on Jack and Jack is whining louder than that vacuum cleaner. Speaking of the vacuum cleaner. Can you stop by Subway and pick up dinner on your way home and oh …. stop by Costco and pick a new vacuum? I am glad to hear you had a good day. I’ll talk to you when you get home. Bye dear”

“Hold on just minute there big guy … why do we need a new vacuum?”

So I tell her the story and she agrees that we haven’t much choice. She calls from Costco and we discuss the selection and decide that since there are only two “better” vacuums to choose from and one of them is self propelled we’d go with the other one … the Dyson. The $400 Dyson. Gulp!

My wife quit her job of 9 years in October and started her own investment firm in January so our cash flow is under constant scrutiny. A $400 vacuum is a big purchase right now and I wondered whether it would be worth the price.

Well … after one day of use I have to say that it is the best vacuum I have ever used. In the past 10 years I have burned up two Hoovers, a Eureka and something else my wife had when we got married. None of those vacuums ever came close to the cleaning ability of my new Dyson. I had vacuumed one room before the Hoover quit and this morning I re-vacuumed the same room with the Dyson. I was stunned at the amount of dirt that came out of that carpet. The Hoover was a model that rated tops in Consumer Reports and had been serviced within the year. In other words, it was doing as good a job as it was designed to do and yet the Dyson was able to get a significant amount of dirt out of the carpet even after the Hoover had given it’s best. I love this machine!!

Yes, I am a 56 year old retired Army Sergeant swooning over a vacuum. Get over it! I like it and I don’t care who knows it!

You laughed. You know you did so share it already!

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