Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Ten Ways to Love Your Partner

Be gentle with each other.

With all humility and mildness, with patience, supporting one another in charity.” Ephesians 4:2

Since Boo's strokes, this one has been very important to our relationship. We both have to be gentle with each other in so many ways. Using a quiet, calm tone of voice and gentle touches with Boo reassure him that I care about him even when he is agitated or confused. In turn, Boo is very gracious with me when I am frustrated. He's good at reminding me that as long as we work together, everything will be alright.

Build each other up.

Therefore let us follow after the things that are of peace; and keep the things that are of edification towards one another.” Romans 14:19

There are so many outside forces that work to tear us down that we need to actively build each other up. A simple practice that Boo and I began before we were married is to tell each other just one thing that we appreciate about the other every night. Even when Boo is confused, this is still an ingrained habit and he'll remind me if I forget.

Listen without interrupting.

If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.”

Proverbs 18:13

This is definitely one on which I need to work. It's such a simple thing. And yet, the simple things are often the hardest. I need to slow myself down and just wait while Boo gathers his thoughts and talks.

Be uncomplainingly hospitable with each other.

Practice hospitality ungrudgingly to one another.” I Peter 4:9

Boo's needs are fairly basic. He needs to know where I am and where Boudreaux is. He needs calm and peaceful surroundings. If I meet those few needs, Boo is comfortable in his home. Love calls for me to meet those needs and to meet them without complaint.

Encourage each other in our faith.

...and let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works...” Hebrews 10:24

Boo is good about “stirring up” my faith by example. I've learned so much from him, especially since his strokes. Boo prays often during the day. Besides our morning and bed prayer times, Boo often asks to pray during the day. During the night, I often wake to his voice praying for family and friends and thanking God for all his blessings. Such a wonderful example!

Keep our promises to each other.

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.” Proverbs 13:12

Recently, I've realized that I sometimes promise Boo that we'll take a walk, eat a special dessert or talk to a child on the phone without thought. My lack of thought, while not intending to, has hurt Boo sometimes. Rain or heat may make a planned walk unwise. Elevated blood sugar may eliminate a longed for dessert from the menu that day. Confusion in the evening when children are home may make a phone call more frustrating than welcome. I need to be more careful about making promises and more careful about keeping the ones that I make.

Pray for the healing of our spouse.

...and the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed any sins, he will be forgiven.” James 5:16

OK, given our particular situation, praying for healing has been a daily part of our lives together. Recognizing God's answer to that prayer isn't always easy. His answers aren't always what I had in mind...and yet, He knows best. Looking back over the last three years, Boo has made tremendous strides and has improved in ways that we were assured by specialists were not possible. One of the ways that I know God has answered our prayer is by giving us both the needed strength and stamina to continue to work toward healing.

Forgive without punishing.

...forbearing one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” Colossians 3:13

I'm really grateful that Boo is so good at this! When I'm impatient or grouchy, he always forgives me and doesn't bring it up again. That's such a blessing. I know when he forgives me, it's over and when I do the same thing again, he'll forgive me again. I don't have to wait for him to “get even.” It's really forgiven.

Accept each other without conditions.

Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God...” Romans 14:10

For Boo and for me, accepting each other without conditions is a healing and an essential part of our relationship. Both of us have struggled with this. After all, don't we all have preconceived ideas of what our ideal spouse will be like? Reality is different. Being accepted where I am, as I am, is one of the most loving things Boo does for me.

Fight fear by growing together in love.

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out all fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and he who fears is not perfected in love.”

I John 4:18

So often I find myself worrying about the future, about how to handle problems that just don't exist yet. Boo's fears are more immediate. Still, both of us are learning to uphold each other during these times. We are learning to trust in God's love for us and in our love for each other. Boo is very good at reminding me that I don't need to worry, God is holding us. Words that I need to hear often.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Ten Songs That WON'T Put You to Sleep

Last night was one of those interesting nights at our house. Boo couldn't sleep. Well, actually, I guess he couldn't sleep. It's not like he actually tried. He was wide awake and wanted to stay that way. So, we did. Today we've had a late start because we're old and old people just don't get that adrenaline rush to help you through the rest of the day that we got when we were younger. Nowadays my body just laughs at me...and collapses.

What did we do in the middle of the night? Well, we tried out a deck of large print playing cards that I bought over a year ago. Boo wanted to play poker. So we did. By his rules. Rules that changed depending on the hand he was dealt. At least, that's the way it seemed to me. I kept losing all my poker chips.

Then we listened to songs on You Tube for hours. These were Boo's ten favorites.

This was the only video Boo actually watched.  The others were for listening only.  This very special video features his daughter, Katie.  Doesn't she have a wonderful voice? 

Boo knew all the words to this and sang with gusto.  You just can't keep a Cajun down!

This young group from Lafayette, Louisiana is another of Boo's favorites.

Always a favorite!  Boo usually talks about family gatherings during his childhood when they sang, danced and just had a good time. 

OK, so it's not Christmas.  The authentic Cajun accent thrills Boo.  I lost count of the number of times we listened to this.

I think this was recorded when the Saints won the Superbowl.  Boo just likes this particular rendition.

Definitely another of those wonderful Southern songs you just have to enjoy.  Boo loves the fiddles.

An old song with catchy lyrics that Boo revels in singing. 

Another oldie that Boo likes.  I first heard this song on a juke box in 1999. 

Guess who was  supposed to like this song?  Just so you know Boudreaux didn't think much of it.  He thought everyone should be asleep and didn't appreciate Boo trying to sing it to him.

I think I figured out why Boo didn't even try to sleep last night.  None of this is going-to-sleep music.  Oh well...

Monday, July 23, 2012

I Can Do It!

I can do it!”

His insistent tone let me know that my assistance was unwanted right then. So, I watched and waited...and waited. Finally, I heard a rather tired and somewhat confused voice calling out.

“Can you help me?”

Because I want Boo to be as independent as possible, some of my time is spent watching and waiting. And waiting is just not easy! Not for me, anyway. I want to fix. I want everything to go smoothly. I want to nurture. I do not want to wait.

And so, many times you'll find me standing in the hall crocheting. Or praying a decade of the rosary. Or impatiently dancing from foot to foot. This morning I sat on my hands. Whatever it takes to keep myself from interfering.

If I could leave Boo alone and not have to watch him struggle, I wouldn't mind how long it took him to accomplish simple tasks. Some days that's a possibility. Most days it isn't. Boo is often unsteady or confused. He needs someone to watch and steady him...and to catch him when he starts to fall.

Sitting on my hands, my mind was furiously working. And then, I realized just how appropriate the tableau in front of me was.

How many times does God “sit on His hands” watching me struggle until I finally ask for help? How many times does He reach out to steady me ? How many times does God catch me as I fall?

For everyone that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth; and to him that knocketh, it shall be openned.”

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Sunday Snippets

This week I'm sharing two posts.

The first post is my 7 Quick Takes post this week.  It's a peek into our bizarre and crazy life last Friday.

The second post is Choosing to See.  I wrote this one this morning.  I had intended to write a rant on the ways society devalues life and the evils of doing so.  And then, I thought.  A completely different post from the one I'd so carefully planned emerged.  Sometimes God has sneaky ways of using my anger and frustration to teach me about myself.

Sunday Snippets

Choosing to See

Preach the gospel at all times and when necessary use words.

St. Francis of Assisi

This has been a difficult and painful post to write. I am saddened and appalled by the attitudes that seem to be so prevalent in some parts of the medical community and in society as a whole...and to an extent in myself. In our mad rush to accumulate more things and to ensure that we, ourselves, are not inconvenienced, we've lost sight of the true value of life. We are quick to unburden ourselves of those children and adults among us who are disabled or elderly.

How many times have I run past a man standing on a corner asking for food or money? My easy excuse is that I have to get back to Boo. I don't have the extra money to share...and yet, I could speak. I could take him a cup of coffee or a cold drink. I could certainly pray for him. I could acknowledge that he is as human and as valuable as I am. I seldom do that. Sometimes I don't even notice him standing there. I am so caught up in my own life that I don't look past it to see my brother.

This morning after an upsetting phone call, all my anger and frustration came to a head. I was furious and with good reason. Still, my anger at Boo's diminished value in a “friend's” eyes because of his dementia and my anger that the same “friend” believed that I was wasting my life caring for him when I could be living, did nothing constructive. I didn't even knead a loaf of bread to work off my frustration. I just seethed. Kind of wish I had that bread about now.

I was feeling quite self righteous and morally upright. After all I know that Boo is no less a person now than he was before his strokes. I've carefully considered, and continue to consider, the best course of care for Boo at this time. I've actively tried to ensure that his physical, spiritual, mental and emotional needs are met to the best of my ability. I've made the choices that I truly believe are best for us...and as much as possible I've involved Boo in the decision making process.

And yet...don't I completely miss the mark many times? In my anger and frustration, I speak too quickly and don't consider my words. Instead of patiently explaining the precious value of life, even when that life is marked by handicaps or disabilities, all too often I rant and rave. Instead of allowing myself to be vulnerable and share the joys and sorrows of loving and caring for someone with dementia, I isolate myself. If I truly believe in the sacredness of all life, if I truly believe that we are all created in God's image, how am I living that out? How am I sharing that?

In the coming week, I challenge each of us to look around, really look. Then, look again. Who is on the fringes of our lives that needs to be acknowledged and loved? Who do we routinely overlook? As important as it is to verbalize our belief in the sacredness of life, it's even more important to show it, to put feet to our faith.
Sabbath Moments, The Sunday Community, Fresh Brewed Sundays, Spiritual Sundays, Pages in Our Heritage of Faith

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Daybook for Third Week of July

For today...

Outside my window...

it's a little overcast, hot and muggy. The rain we had yesterday seems to have cooled things off just a bit. The birds and squirrels are quiet this morning. I wonder if it's going to rain later this afternoon.

I am thinking...

about Orthodoxy (written by G. K. Chesterton). Yeah, I'm still mulling that book over in my mind. It's full of food for thought.

I am thankful...

that Boo is eating this morning. He's eating cinnamon oatmeal this morning and drinking sugar free Swiss mocha coffee with protein powder added.

In the kitchen...

is a new, properly functioning refrigerator. That's such a nice a feeling.

I am wearing...

really old clothes---a black t-shirt, pink plaid capris and bare feet. I know that's an awful combination, but I'm planning to deep clean the living room floor as soon as I'm through with this post...and I'm dressed for the job!

I am creating...

simple crocheted pot holders. When Boo is agitated and needs me just to sit beside him, I can crochet. I put away the shawl I started because it required too much thought and I couldn't talk to Boo and crochet. These pot holders are so simple they are almost impossible to ruin.

I am going...

to take a long walk later today...I hope. If it rains, I guess I won't.

I am wondering...

about the connections we have with people, especially those from our childhood. I've reconnected with several friends from many years ago through Face Book. There's a certain comfort and freedom in “talking” to those who knew me way back in the dark ages. There's a shared history that just can't be reproduced. After all, they know things about me that no one else does...and are willing to use that knowledge in devious ways. Yeah, that shared history is a mixed blessing!

I am reading...

very little on my own lately. I'm still thinking about Orthodoxy, of course. I am reading The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle to Boo. The language is challenging to read aloud, but he enjoys the story line as long as I read slowly to allow him time to digest the language and story.

I am hoping...

to find some recipes for sugar free jelly. That is, recipes that actually jell. I don't know enough about jelly making to know what isn't working. Jelly that doesn't solidify as it should makes wonderful syrup, but I only need so much syrup.

A favorite quote for today...

“Remember that nothing is small in the eyes of God. Do all that you do with love."   St. Therese of Lisieux

One of my favorite things...

is listening to The Andy Griffith Show reruns with Boo and Boudreaux. They're funny and contain morsels of folk wisdom. Besides, they remind me of childhood summers. I used to run into my Aunt Tina and Uncle Leach's house, grab a cold biscuit, a glass of iced tea and settle in front of their TV to watch Andy Griffith with Uncle Leach. Afterward, I'd sit on his foot stool, a small cotton bale, and talk about my day. Wonderful memories...

The Simple Woman's Daybook

Friday, July 20, 2012

7 Quick Takes

Yesterday I thought we were back to normal. Maybe not so fast. Boo is confused and not too interested in eating---although he will eat with LOTS of encouragement. I'll be so glad when Boo is seen by a new medical practice soon. Boo needs the continuity of care that comes from having just one or two family doctors who oversee everything, not different doctors doing disjointed things.

Meanwhile, life is interesting. Take a look at what is happening here today....


This occurred at 2:45 this morning when I am not at my best.

“Hey, are you awake?”

“Well, I wasn't. But since you're nose to nose with me, I guess I am now. What's on your mind?”

“I'm hungry.”

“And what would you feel like eating?” Actually, since he's been rather picky about his food the last few days, I'll prepare whatever he wants.

“I want a peanut butter hot dog.”

OK, I didn't see that one coming and I'm wide awake now too.

“A what????”

“You know, a peanut butter hot dog...without mustard.”

Thank goodness he doesn't want mustard and peanut butter! Does he want a hot dog or a peanut butter sandwich or a hot dog with peanut butter?

“Ummm...well, do you want a boiled hot dog or a fried one?

“It's in the jar with a red lid!”

Well, he must want a peanut butter sandwich. I'll bring sugar free jelly on the side. To be safe, I'll use a hot dog bun.


When it was time for his morning medications, we had a blue pill issue.  He definitely wanted one.

“There are no blue pills prescribed for you."

“Well, that's what I want.”

After much discussion, he finally agreed to swallow his medication if I immediately made blue oatmeal.

I know, I know. It sounds awful. Just so you know, it looks as bad as it sounds. Still, it's a decent exchange---a few drops of blue food coloring added to his oatmeal for him to willingly swallow his pills.


“KARI, come quick!”

I dropped everything and ran.

“Look, Boudreaux's watching TV with me.”

Indeed he was. They both like The Andy Griffith Show. Not an emergency, but I never really know.


“May I take your blood pressure?”

“Do I have a choice?”

“Yes, we can wait thirty minutes if you'd rather.” Choices are important and he does need to feel some control even over the many mundane everyday things.

“No, now. Let's just get it over with.”

“144/72. That's pretty good.”

“That's not my blood pressure. You took Boudreaux's.”

I decided to ignore that. And anyway, just how do you take a cat's blood pressure?


“Well, what?”

“Aren't you going to take my blood pressure?”

He was sounding rather irritated now. So, I took his blood pressure again.


“How about a shake?”

Boo had oatmeal this morning, but he needs protein and will usually accept a protein shake.

“I think I want a licorice shake.”

“Licorice? I don't think I can do that.” I've never heard of a licorice shake and I don't have licorice flavoring or anise.

“Oh well, I'll settle for chocolate shake with rice milk. And a candy bar.”

“Nice try. No candy bars, but I think you could have a couple of mini muffins.” It helps to freeze mini muffins for times like this. They thaw in the microwave in less than thirty seconds.

This sounds like a great snack, but Boo only drank two ounces of his shake and ate half of one mini muffin.


The refrigerator died. It looks fine, but has been pronounced DOA. While this isn't a major issue, today just isn't the day for that kind of kink. In the process of pulling the refrigerator away from the wall, a job that requires two strong people, I discovered mold on the baseboards and floor. Ick!!!

I had some mildew cleaner in a spray bottle and bleach. I began cleaning...and remembered a basic chemical absolute. Never mix ammonia and bleach! I opened windows and doors, hustled Boo outside in the shade under the watchful eye of a young friend and began repairing my mess. Mostly, I've begun making my own cleaning supplies so that I know exactly what I'm using. I think white vinegar and hot water would have been just as effective and far less toxic.

By the way, the new refrigerator has arrived and is in place. This one easily moves away from the wall! Yeah!!! No more mold behind the fridge. Now, as soon as it's cold, I'll stock it.

Boo's sole comment on this whole situation was, “You sure can make a mess!” Very true. During the time he was outside, he was fine as long as Boudreaux stayed beside him. Our friend said Boo wasn't sure what was happening, but seemed to be reassured by the cat's presence. And she got him to drink the rest of his protein shake and two glasses of water.


After the refrigerator incident, my mother called. I handed the phone to Boo so that I could rescue our fearless tiger cat from the new fridge. Boudreaux seems to consider it an unwanted intruder and has been circling the front of it hissing and spitting with occasional howls thrown in for good measure.

As I passed by Boo on the way to the bedroom to deposit our unhappy cat, I heard Boo ask my mother, “Did all the hair grow over your horns yet?” And I was taken back...

When Boo had his second stroke, he and I had not been married two months. I was terrified and really wasn't handling his hospitalization with much grace.  Mother was driving well at that point and came to see him in ICU and calm me down.

The morning Mother arrived, Boo was not talking to anyone. He seemed to understand what was said, but couldn't talk. Mother settled herself into a chair near his bed. Boo looked over at her and with a straight face said, “You know, you've got hair over your horns.” Mother was speechless and then started laughing until she cried. It's really rare for Mom to be speechless. Now, she and Boo tease each other about it.

7 Quick Takes Friday

Thursday, July 19, 2012

If I Forget Thee

If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand its cunning lose.

In reflecting on this scripture earlier this week, Boo and I began to realize the importance of place to us.  He has spent many hours this week talking about his childhood home in Rayne, Louisiana built of core cypress. Unfortunately, we have no photos of that house, but his memories are strong and vivid.

Please excuse my blogging absence.  The past couple of weeks have been rather demanding.  One of Boo's medications was changed.  Just one.  Suffice it to say, that neither his body nor his mind react well to any change.  I think the major part of this adjustment is behind us and we are back to normal...whatever normal is.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Daybook for First Week in July

For Today....

Outside my window...

it's blazingly hot! How on earth did we ever manage before air conditioning became common practice? I don't remember being particularly uncomfortable except on road trips in our unairconditioned cars way back in the dark ages when I was growing up.

I am thinking...

about the upcoming month and the things I'd like to do.

I am thankful...

for Boo's recovery from a minor infection. He's not completely well yet, but he's definitely better.

In the kitchen...

are enough leftovers from last night so that no cooking has to be done today. Maybe I should consider once-a-week cooking. I'm not sure that would be feasible with Boo's erratic appetite, but still something to consider.

I am wearing...

a white t-shirt, green knit pants and no shoes. It's summer and I want to go barefoot! Mom used to tease me about going barefoot in the summer. Now, I'll go barefoot in our bedroom and that's about it. Elsewhere in the house, I tend to step on little things that shouldn't be on the floor at all, like Boudreaux's fishing pole toy or his numerous jingle balls. I have to do a cat toy pick up first thing in the morning before Boo is up and about. I certainly don't want him to trip and fall.

I am creating...

digital scrapbook pages for Mom's birthday. I'm also working on a photo DVD for her of all the old family photos that I've scanned.

I am going...

with a friend to Adoration, confession and a Mass Wednesday evening. Boo will be staying home with a friend because he just can't manage the four hours away from home that time of day. (Any time of day would be pushing it!)

I am reading...

Orthodoxy, by G. K. Chesterton. Actually, I'm reviewing it which is really not my favorite way to read a book. I really like Chesterton's writings (and C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkein and Madeleine L'Engle). I thought this review would be a piece of cake. Not so. I've gotten mired down separating the important from the most important, discerning what audience this book would most appeal to today and whether young adults can grasp and use the truths Chesterton presents. I plan to reread this book slowly and savor it this fall.

I am hoping...

to contact some of my cousins and start planning a family recipe book, among other things, for our upcoming family reunion next summer. We have the place already and we're planning a pot luck, though it might be wise to cater part of the meal. I know now why some families plan these events several years in advance.

Around the house...

all is quiet. I can hear the quiet chatter of a young relative on the phone. Are phones permanently attached to the young like umbilical cords?

I am pondering...

the first chapter of An Island Story. It's a children's storybook of English history and early English myths that Boo and I are slowly reading again. As soon as we finished the chapter, Boo said, “That's what history's all about isn't it? Love. Love that makes you want the best for your family, for your faith, for your nation.” He went on to elaborate linking different historical events as actions of love, at least in the minds of the people at that time. Funny, that's not what I gathered from that chapter, but I can see his point. I don't fully agree with it, but he's thinking and making sense of the world in his own mind. That's an important step and one that has been a long time coming. (After Boo's second stroke, he was busy relearning to function on a daily basis. We were told that that level of reasoning was all that could be expected for the rest of his life. Not entirely true, as it turns out.)

A favorite quote for today...

“You need to know your faith. You cannot give what you do not have.”

Fr. John Corapi

I know there's all kinds of controversy surrounding Fr. Corapi and I'm not interested in getting into all that. That's between Fr. Corapi and the Church officials, not me. This particular quote really means a lot to me. I cannot share what I don't know and I have a responsibility to learn.

One of my favorite things...

is looking at family photographs. So many things that I'd forgotten are suddenly remembered again. I'm really enjoying the memories.

A peek into my day...

The Sinple Woman's Daybook

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Sunday Snippets

This week I'm sharing three short posts. 

The first is Learning and Teaching.  The snap shot is an old one of my father reading to my daughter.  In talking to one of my young relatives this week, I realized again the responsibility we have to teach our faith to our children. 

The second post, What Makes Me Happy?, was written on a day when I needed to concentrate on my blessings.  When I have overwhelming days with little rest, I must take stock of my blessings...or become so mired down in the stresses of everyday that I'm no use to myself or others.  (I need to do this much more consistantly!)

The last post is Laughter.  It's only a short post because I'm rather busy today, but there's a larger post in my mind waiting to be written. 

Sunday Snippets


"He will yet fill your mouth with laughter, and your lips with shouting."  Job 8:21

I made this pastel of Boo four years ago and it remains one of my favorites.  The last couple of days, Boo has really laughed and enjoyed himself.  He seems to be on the mend.  Thank goodness!  Of course, he's not back to normal yet and is still sleeping a lot. 

Laughter is truly one of God's healing gifts.  As soon as Boo is able to laugh, to see the humor in every day things, his blood pressure is easier to control and he relaxes.  Then, the healing can really begin.  Isn't that true for all of us?  When we laugh and relax, God can more easily show us what He wants us to see.  He is more able to heal us physically and emotionally.