God Gives Us Seasons of Rest To Prepare for the Storms

I don't believe in coincidence.  I believe that God knows all. And He knows it before it ever happens. This past summer Hubby and I spent the month of May in Summerland, Key. It was the best and most relaxing time I think we've ever had on a trip. First, we had never spent an entire month doing whatever we wanted to do, whenever we wanted to do it. In 35 years of marriage. So that,  in and of itself, was a wonderful experience. We spent our days just piddling. He on his boat and I painting. Every day had a boat ride in it and in the evenings we would usually cook our catch of the day and watch movies. It was lazy, sun-filled days. Days I will always cherish. But now that I'm in a different season of life; one where the days are much more difficult with my mother, I realize He had that season of rest planned for me. A season of rest before the storm. So that I could handle the storm.

Some days I don't think I'm handling this season of life well.  It's almost like parenting again. I check with the nurses on the progress of my mother. How is she that day?  Do any issues, such as medications need to be addressed?  Has she been resting OK?  All of these things have become a part of my routine.  And then I make my way to my mother's room.  I walk in and greet her and almost immediately know how the visit will turn out.  Some days she is in pain and miserable so I attempt to make her comfortable. It usually doesn't work, but I try. Some days she's confused. And between dozing will ask me the same questions over and over. I answer them as many times as she asks.  And some days, very rare days now, her mind is clear. And we can talk, have a conversation like old times. But these days are far and few between. That's just how it is. It's her season of life. And she knows enough to know she doesn't like it. I don't like it for her. But "It is what it is."  

My mother doesn't feed herself any more so when I'm there I feed her.  What a humbling experience that has been. And I've had to help them turn her to treat her bed sores. I've seen them. I didn't necessarily want to see them but I had to. And I've been there to turn her and hold her hand while they are changing her diaper. At first, I think this was the worst part.  It wasn't because of the actual changing but because it was at that point that I knew the season in my life had really changed. And she knew hers had changed too. Because she didn't want to be in the shape she's in.  But she knew there was no other choice. There was no going back. 

Hubby and I have had this Alaskan cruise planned for a year. At that time who knew what would be going on?  But the time has come for the trip so off we go. While in the back of my mind is my mother. I've made arrangements for my oldest son to check on her, call me if there is a need.  My sister will be here too since we have been taking turns seeing our mother every other day. Am I apprehensive about leaving?  You bet!  But God knew. He knew whenever we decided to take this trip what season of life I would be in. He knew that I would need a chance to slow down and catch my breath. So I will bask in the knowledge that God is sovereign and He will take care of me in this and every season of my life. 

"To everything there is a season and time to every purpose under the heaven..." Ecclesiastes 3:1


Alaska Bound!

A couple of years ago whenever we were on our river cruise around France, our group of travelers began talking about getting together for another trip.  After the attacks on Paris while we were there our last couple of days, Hubby voiced his concerns about traveling out of the country again.  Well, actually what he said was, "I'm not going anywhere out of this country!"  It was a traumatic experience so I wasn't feeling very good about leaving the good old USA either.  SO...we came up with taking an Alaskan cruise!  We will be traveling with some of the same people from the last trip along with a few new ones for a total of around 16 people.  We will be leaving Thursday for Dallas and then heading to Seattle (another place I have never had the chance to visit!) on Friday and spending the day exploring there.  Saturday we will be leaving on the cruise ship and I look forward to sharing some of my photos on my Instagram account (Follow me @barbararogenmoser).  I will not be posting on the blog until I return so if you just want a little preview of my photos of Seattle and Alaska then hop on over there!  I'll see ya back here the 1st week of October with lots of fun things to share about our next adventure!
                                                                        Bon Voyage!

Fun Conversation Starters for Any Occassion

When I was approached by gifts.com again to write for them I was so happy!  Because, y'all, these people have the BEST IDEAS on their blog.  Last week I shared their post about "Age Appropriate Toys"(Which SO many of you LOVED!) and around Mother's Day I shared a post that included my story of "Mom's Most Embarrassing Moments".  But this week I'm REALLY loving their post about Conversation Starters!

How many times have you showed up at a party or dinner and everyone is so reserved and often times it takes quite a while before people start to open up and feel comfortable enough to talk to each other?  Well, that is exactly why I LOVE this post so much!  You will learn how to make a conversation jar and there are 225 actual conversation starters for virtually any situation!  Kids, teens, couples, dinner party, funny, serious and many more.   And the BEST thing is...They are giving you a FREE DOWNLOAD  for ALL of them!  Yep, so what you need to do now is click HERE to start your next event off with more fun than you could imagine! (Below is an example of some of the fun conversation starters you will see in this post).

Funny Conversation Starters

These conversations starters are good for people young and old! They are sure to spark some creative answers, get the group laughing and bring back some hilarious memories.
  • If you were in a circus, which character would you be?
  • What is the worst advice you have given?
  • What is one thing you should never say at a wedding?
  • What is the worst pickup line you have ever heard?
  • If you could only store one type of food in your pocket, what would you carry?
  • What is the worst present you have ever received and why?
  • If you were a farm animal, which would you be and why?
  • What is the worst first date you have ever been on?
  • Have you ever stalked someone on social media?
  • What is the best part about taking a selfie?
  • What is your favorite celebrity scandal?
  • If you could do anything illegal without getting caught, what would you do?
  • What is the weirdest food combination you’ve ever tried?
  • Did you have an imaginary friend? What was his/her name?
  • Have you ever had a dream where everyone was in their underwear?
  • Who’s your favorite comedian?
  • Have you ever been on a blind date?
  ***Click HERE to read the entire post and DOWNLOAD ALL "225 Conversation Starters"!***

Paperless Post Halloween Invitations

If you have never hear of Paperless Post  then you are in for a treat!  I have partnered with them to introduce you to the NEW way of inviting people to your gatherings.  Online Invitations are the way to go these days with everyone using electronics more than ever.  It is not only convenient but also environmentally friendly since not all of that paper is being used for invitations and envelopes.  But I'm sure you are wondering just how Paperless Post works and if they are even really as cute as the ones you can send by snail mail.  Well, I was asked to try this modern method out for myself and see what I thought about it.

I decided since it was close to Halloween (and I REALLY love Halloween!) that I would choose an invitation for that holiday.  I went to the SITE and in the search bar entered "Halloween".  Up popped a huge variety of Halloween invitations!  Truly, there were so many it was difficult to decide on one.  The first thing I did was to create an account.  Once that was completed I could purchase COINS to pay for my cards.

 I decided on THIS invitation because I thought my little ones would like it and it wasn't too scary for them.  The first thing I chose was to make an online card that the cost started at 1 COIN per recipient.  To make a paper card (yes, there is that option too) the cost was $1.65 per card.  I then clicked on customize to change the information on the invitation to my own.  There are all sorts of options for the text such as:  formatting, typefaces and color.  I entered my personalized information and then continued on to the next step.
 The envelope and liner was chosen next.  Different colors could be chosen for the outside of the envelope and different designs for the liner.  Once again, there were so many choices!  I decided to go with the orange and black because those said, "Halloween" to me.  I didn't use a backdrop with my invitation but there were many festive ones that could be used. 
 Next, I moved on to the envelope front.  There were all sorts of stamps and postmarks that could be attached to the envelop here and, of course, I chose a Halloween one!  I chose my typeface and color by clicking on the envelope.  Orange was the perfect color for this envelope!  The next step took me to the reply card option.  If a reply card is chosen, there are many options of both design and wording to make it your own.  Finally, it was time to create the event page.  This is where the date, time, guest list, phone number, comment wall and guest registry can be set up for your event.  Your invitation can  be previewed before it's sent and then you begin adding the email addresses where they will be sent.  Don't forget to look  in the upper right corner of your computer screen to see how many coins you will be charged for each invitation!  Before you hit SEND, you can have a TEST INVITATION sent to yourself to see how it looks.  If everything looks OK, just press SEND!
Once your invitations have been sent, all you have to do is wait for the RSVP's to start coming in!  You can keep up with who has responded to your invitation by going to your post box

WOW!  I wasn't sure how I would like creating an invitation online because I have attempted to navigate other sites and they were a bit complicated.  Paperless Post, however, was very user friendly and I feel like I not only created a cute, personalized invitation but I also have everything about my event located in one place.  What a wonderful new way to create invitations, birthday cards, save-the-dates, wedding invitations and even holiday cards!  I know that I will be using Paperless Post quite a lot, myself! 

***Disclosure:  I was compensated for creating this post to show you just how fun and easy it can
                          be to plan your next event.***


Take Your Dream Trip With the Help of Earnest

It's no secret that I LOVE to travel.  It has always been my desire to see the world a little at a time and that is what I have been trying to do for many years now.  It wasn't until my 25th wedding anniversary that I got to travel to Europe, Italy specifically.  To say that I was truly enamored with the old country would be an understatement.  There was absolutely nothing that I did not like about my trip there and I tried to soak every moment up so that I would have memories forever.  This trip did not quell,  but only intensified,  my wanderlust and a couple of years ago I found myself touring France with my husband and a group of friends.  Travel can be attainable to you as well with the help of financial leaders like Earnest, who inspire you to dream big and let you make it happen!

If you had $10,000 available for your dream trip, could you do it?  Travel to places you've always wanted to see?  Of course you could!  And I'm going to give you a few little pointers to help you achieve that goal.  First, decided where you want to go.  Will you be traveling on land versus a cruise?  We flew to Italy and moved from city to city via train.  In contrast, we took a riverboat cruise around France.  There are pros and cons to both modes of travel but both trips were equally enjoyable.

Once you have decided where you would like to travel and in which manner you will be traveling you need to start looking at plane tickets.  Personally, we have a rewards credit card that enables us to save points for each dollar we spend and this has been wonderful in the purchase of or upgrading  airplane tickets.  If you do not have one of these cards, you can either apply for one or just begin perusing roundtrip tickets for your destination.  The difference in Italy and France for us was the fact that in Italy we had to pay for a water or land taxi or train to each destination.  Once in France, a shuttle for the riverboat cruise picked us up at the airport and took us straight to the boat.  From there, we were able to walk everywhere we chose.  Both countries are walking countries so one really does not have to take taxis everywhere you go.  Unless you are traveling from an airport or train station to your hotel.

Where will you stay?  That's the big question.  On our own in Italy, we booked hotels through a travel agency.  We knew that some areas might be sketchy so we told the agent to book 4 or 5 star hotels to ensure that we felt safe.  Of course, there is the expense of the lodging as opposed to living on a boat for the entirety of a trip.  Staying on land put us in a different train station every few days, getting ourselves from place to place.  In contrast, a riverboat cruise takes care of all your needs.  We dined there, slept there and moved from place to place at night while we were sleeping.

So, below are some links for you to peruse while making your decision on where your next "Dream Trip" will be and helping you stay within your $10,000 budget:

Choose your airline:  American Airlines
                                   Delta Airlines
                                   United Airlines

Choose whether your trip will be by land or cruise:  Viking River Cruise

Decided what you want to see:  Frommers

How are you going to pay for your Dream Trip:  Consider a low-interest personal loan like the one
                                                                               Earnest offers here.


Help Finding Age Appropriate Toys

Have you ever gone to purchase a toy for a child and gotten to the store only to find there were so many choices that it was hard to choose?  Or perhaps you're a new parent and so excited to purchase your child the coolest thing but not certain they will be able to play with it at their current age.  Whatever the case may be, don't fret!  Because Gifts.com has come up with the perfect Age Appropriate Gift Guide that will help you with all of your gift buying needs.

You might be wondering, "Just what does age appropriate mean?"  Age appropriate means  that the toys are actually age-appropriate for a child's development at that particular age.  We know that children love to play with toys, but why are toys important anyway?

Every person’s growth, learning and development starts with their motor and sensory skills. Sensory skills involve your senses. Things are learned and memorized best by children and adults when they engage their senses.
Motor skills are used when your muscles, nervous system and brain work together to complete a task. There are two types of motor skills: fine and gross. Fine motor skills include small tasks like picking up a spoon, bending your fingers and moving your lips. Gross motor skills include bigger movements like rolling over, sitting and walking, anything that involves using your feet, legs, torso and arms is a gross motor skill.
Motor skills are measured by skills such as
  • Muscle tone
  • Strength and coordination
  • Rhythm and timing
  • Bilateral coordination
  • Primitive and postural reflexes
  • Eye-muscle balance and coordination
  • Balance and posture
Sensory skills are those that involve the senses, which include:
  • Hearing
  • Vision
  • Smell
  • Taste
  • Touch
  • Vestibular (inner ear)
  • Proprioception (the ability to know where one’s body is in space)
  • Balance and spatial perception
So, you see, toys are really more than just a play thing; they teach children important skills if given ones that are appropriate for their age level.  Click HERE to grab your own guide for age appropriate toys from birth-9 years and older!

The Journey I Never Wanted to Take...

I haven't posted lately and the posts I have published have been sponsored ones just because they were ones I had committed to.  It's not that I haven't wanted to write because I have desperately wanted to; writing helps me understand my life by getting things down in print.  It's sort of like how talking to someone about your problems makes you feel better.  Well, today I am going to attempt to let you in on what's been going on in my life these days.  Just hang on because it's not pretty but it's real.

Around the middle of June my elderly (89 years old) mother fell out of her bed while sleeping.  I got a call that morning and immediately rushed out to her house where I found her back in bed where someone had lifted and placed her.  As I stood there listening to her moan I knew the time had come. The time that I always knew was a possibility but that I never wanted to be.  My mother had broken her hip.  I knew this even before the x-rays were done or the first doctor had been consulted.  I just knew.  I called her hospice company and told them it was time to send an ambulance.  Things were not going to get better because she couldn't move or get up to go to the bathroom; this was the beginning of a journey I never wanted to take.

For over a decade my sister and I had been caring for my mother since she was not only aging but also legally blind and no loner able to do many things for herself.  Things like going to the pharmacy, grocery store, taking her to doctor's appointments, etc.  But she was still living alone, next to my sister, and able to do so many things by herself.  She used a walker to get around and we constantly talked about how not doing so might result in an injury such as a broken hip.  Her mind was sharp (sharper than mine, I think) and we were able to visit with her.  People had always told me that a broken hip in the elderly was terrible but I don't think I realized the enormity of the situation and what was really to come.

Whenever the ambulance got my mother to the emergency room it was decided that her hip had to be replaced regardless of her age.  We were told that her age, of course, was a factor because using anesthesia was risky.  We knew this but what choice did we have?  It was daunting following her into the surgery holding room and signing all of the papers that told us the risks associated with it.  Most people just sign but I actually looked at most of the complications and they were all dire.  We just needed to make it through the surgery, I thought.

After surgery she was moved to the hospital rehab floor where we were told she had to put weight on her feet within the first 48 hours or she might never walk again.  My once determined mother decided she couldn't do it no matter how much we begged and pleaded with her to.  We knew that if she didn't walk, she could never go home.  And that led to another very unpleasant thought...continuing rehab in a nursing home skilled nursing unit.  That's what happened after about 14 days of attempting rehab at the hospital.

My mother, a former nurse, had always begged us not to put her in a nursing home.  Although she spent many years working at two different ones, she was adamant about not going to one herself.  So, you see, when we had to transfer her to one it was with great sadness.  Guilt plays a huge part in making decisions for one's parent and it was lying on us like a heap of bricks.  But what could we do?  She could not walk and we could not lift her even if we were able to stay with her 24 hours a day.  I'll be honest with you; it was one of the worst feelings I've ever had.

My mother's stay in that facility was riddled with problems:  She proceeded to throw her injured hip out twice more and had to go to surgery to have it popped back in, went back another time to have a filter put in for a blood clot and then another time to have another stent put in the main artery in her heart.  Each time we were called back to the hospital emergency room it was as though we were all being dragged down a deep, dark hole further and further.  We were never getting out.  Things were never going to be the same.

My mother began to look frail whenever we eventually got her situated back at the nursing home and I decided it was time for me to "step it up" on her care.  I discovered her weight had dipped from 138 lbs. down to 103!  That actually frightened me because she was visibly gaunt.  I spoke to the nurses and got her on something that would increase her appetite and got on the ball about her food.  She loves Popeye's chicken so one of us would try to supplement her other meals with that daily.  Because she had never gotten up to walk, her skin had begun to break down and she now had sores that had to be treated.  Getting up to use the bathroom was long gone as she now had a permanent catheter and wore a diaper.  Her once sharp mind was beginning to fail along with her health.  As time went on, I could see her slipping away.

My sister and I got on an every other day schedule.  One of us would be there every day to see her.  And then I got another call a couple of Sundays ago.  My mother had fallen head first out of her wheelchair in the dining room; they were sending her back to the hospital.  We arrived in the emergency room once again to find her with a huge hematoma on her forehead, bruised arm and swollen hand and worse yet, her hip was out again.  This time, another surgery was required to do something different to the hip so we prepared for that.  By this time, we were becoming tired but never numb to the pain she was in.  Her constant crying for "help" that day tore at us in a way I cannot describe.

After surgery, her hip was placed in a brace that we are told has to be on for 3 months to ensure her hip stays in place.  We transferred her to a different nursing home because we were not comfortable with her previous one (another thing that had to be taken care of before she was released).  As I sat there signing the admission papers (my sister had done the first ones), everything hit me.  This was an absolute nightmare that one could not escape.  Not just a nightmare for us, but more of one for her.  In a matter of 2 1/2 months, she had gone from living independently to having about 6 surgeries and becoming totally dependent on others for her care.

When she got to the new facility she was very agitated and afraid.  The strong woman who had raised me was now screaming from pain and fear 24 hours a day.  When I say screaming, I mean physically screaming and crying.  I would go in and she would be in that state and although I hated to leave her like that, I could not get her calmed down.  I was finally able to get with her new doctor there and he changed some of her medications and thankfully she has calmed down.  I thought on the first day how nice it was to go in and find her calm.  We have to feed her now so on my days I arrived around lunchtime and my sister arrives around dinner on her days.  And, don't get me wrong, it is nice to go in and find her calm but from day to day we never know how coherent she will be.  Friday she talked to us and it was like old times.  Saturday she talked to me as I fed her but nothing she said made much sense.  I told her she must have been dreaming but she said no, it really happened.  I don't argue with her, I just let her talk.  But it's both sad and upsetting to see her like that.  My husband says he thinks that 's the way dementia works; one day very clear and the next day not.  I don't know.

What I do know is that mental, physical and emotional exhaustion has overtaken us.  We always wished that one day we would just find she had closed her eyes and gone to be with the Lord.  On some of her worst days I have prayed to God to be merciful and take her home.  That wasn't His plan.  We don't know why because seeing her suffer so is terrible.  A kind of terrible that I wish no one had to go through.  But we continue on.  To take care of our mother as she took care of us as babies.  Because that is what it reminds me of; caring for a baby.

No one knows what caregivers go through unless they have been one themselves.  It's something that is with you every day, even if it's not your day to physically be there.  It's on your mind.  You find yourself waiting.  Waiting for the telephone to ring with news of a new injury, illness or even death.  You find yourself doing something and suddenly tears spring to your eyes because you think of how your parent used to be.  How they used to live and how they must feel now that they are trapped in a bed all day long.  This is a journey I have never travelled before.  I don't know how to navigate it; where the twists and turns are.  But I do know one thing:  God is and has been with me every step of the way.  If He hadn't been, I could not have made it this far.  He allows me to keep moving forward, putting one foot in front of the next.  And whenever I don't think I can do that, He carries me...