Celena Ross

It’s Not All About You, Mum!

It’s not all about you mum!

I have huge amounts of patience. I will go over and over explaining things to mum. An example is when she finally started a Home Care Package.

I have stayed calm through all the accusations of taking money from her, taking and not returning a summer dress – mum is size 18 and I am size 12!!!, why have I taken out of the unit…whatever else she has actually misplaced. Look I could go on and on all the incredible frustrating conversations and actions of mum. And the regular criticisms.

However, for the first time, I lost it with mum.

After so many explanations about a package, verbal and due to not only her hearing issues, but also confusion, I have so many times typed in large font and dot point explanations about the benefits of the package. It helps mum stay at home. It helps me to help mum.

Mum rang the care provider.

Mum told the care provider not to send any more carers.

Mum cancelled the Home Care Package
Mum then postponed the Home Care Package for 12 months.
I picked mum up, took her to the doctors. Took her to the hearing aid specialist.

Mum didn’t tell me. Not a word.

The Care Provider rang me and told me.

My brother is away for 4 weeks. Mum refused to go into respite care whilst he was away. I have no back up support – and anyway he is often not well to assist. I had carers for an hour one day and an hour and half another day booked.

A week before mum had a fall. She injured her left hand and it was heavily bandaged. Mum is left handed.

I had make a wide variety of meals, veggies, desserts. I cut everything up, separated froze…all to make it easy for mum to eat.

Mum cancelled everything, the carers booked to support me. The Home Care low level package – we are still awaiting approval of her ACAT assessed High level Package.

Mum even wrote letters and cancelled, then another saying to postpone.

I was so angry and upset.

I lost it. I know there is such as thing as elderly abuse. I am not a shouter. I don’t lose my temper. I am patient. I do so much for mum. But I need some support.
I swore. I used the F word a few times. I was so upset. I told her it’s not all about you mum! I have a husband. I have adult children I support. I care for my little grand children 3 times a week. I am trying where I can grab some me time, do something for me.

It’s not all about you mum.

No, I can’t be here 24/7. No I can’t be here everyday.

You ring me, and demand I come around immediately. I recall there was a message she couldn’t understand on her answering machine. She thought it was urgent. I went around. She had deleted the message and in her mind decided what it was about – it wasn’t.

You ring me mum – the latest with another fall, crying and saying Oh there is blood everywhere, I need you to come now, and I need you to get my breakfast and do my washing and dishes. Clean your false teeth! I go around. That day fortunately the carer was also coming. I left her to do the washing and dishes.

I am exhausted mum. For the first time ever my blood pressure is elevated. Never had a blood pressure issue before. Ever!

I walked out. Angry.

The next day I saw her doctor and explained the latest incident. An aged care professional recommended to me a couple of years ago, to have one on one appointments with mum’s doctor to keep him informed about her behaviours. Her behaviour, decision making, short term memory of truths and untruths that she makes up and then believes.  I finally got through to her to keep the package active or she would also lose the cleaner who she really likes, that comes once a fortnight.  So thankfully the package remains active. I explained the Care Provider would be taking $’s for Administration/Case Management from her govt subsidy account every time she rings and makes such changes. That means less $’s for her when we really really need it.

I feel emotionally and physically spent at the moment.

For the first time, due to mum’s behaviour and on the doctor’s recommendation, I have booked a carer and a car on Monday to pick mum up and take her to the doctor for her wound bandage change. I would normally do this. Instead I will go to the gym and do a Pilates class.
Mum needs to go back to the hearing aid specialist for a new mould. I will again ring for a carer and car.

And I will go to they gym.

I have put on so much weight as I have put carer duties before my fitness and health level. Or have a massage.

Mum’s it’s not all about you. And one of the positive result of you cancelling and postponing, is that I am now going to take care of myself better.

The doctor has told you a number of ties, that it is time. Time to look at going into aged care. I agree. Especially after a few weeks ago, burning a chop, not knowing even though the unit alarm was screaming. The neighbours were they ones who rushed in. Mum doesn’t wear her hearing aids when at home and not expecting anyone.

I agree. I know you want to stay at home in your unit mum. I know you have told me and the doctor that you will commit suicide and take your sleeping tablets. I know you expect me to be the on tap carer. I feel guilty every time a woman tells me how long she cared for her parent – even at their own home for years and years. I feel I don’t do enough compared to others – I have it easy.

I need a life. I have felt so isolated.

I will continue to love, help, care and support you as much as I can.
But it is time. Time for you to enjoy the safety and care of an aged care home. Time for me to be free of feeling on call 24/7.

I am glad you did what you did mum. Because finally I stopped and realised. It has been all about you. I put so many of my own needs on hold. I closed down my celebrant business. I come when you call.

Now mum, it’s about me too.

Toll of Caring For Elderly Parent

 

Nothing prepares you for caring for an elderly parent. It is a role that research indicates falls mostly to daughters. Why? Is that because we are seen as having motherly, empathetic loving traits?
Is it because we are accepting, as many baby boomers did, of delaying our careers for motherhood – so we are experienced at self sacrificing? Or that our businesses or careers can be set aside or impacted and we will accept that ? Or we will juggle our worklife and personal life – accept and catch this ball of caring.

I think probably a combination of all the above. I care because of love. Of family. Of expectation. It often means the denial of my own needs and because caring for an elderly parent is a duty.

I struggle as a carer. Some days I wish I wasn’t a carer – they are the days mum is aggressive, argumentative, accuses me of taking things from her unit that I have never taken – but she has I find, misplaced.

Other times, we enjoy our time together – especially when it involves, tea and cake or some bubbly.

But mum can no longer drink and eats very little, although her enjoyment of berry pancakes, cream and ice cream is unaffected!  And mum still licks the plate! LOL

In the past 20 months I have had to close down my business consultancy “My Business Doctor” thereby ending decades of supporting and assisting local start up and established businesswomen. I have reduced my celebrant business of conducting ceremonies from around 65 a year to 2 – 3 a year.

I have stopped attending many of the business networking events as I feel so out of the business loop. I feel overlooked, inconsequential when introducing myself at business events. I stumble over how to introduce myself. Decades of career development, managing teams, huge projects and working with a diverse range of businesses from all industry areas – all in the past.  I didn’t intend to go from Working to Retired. I semi retired into micro businesses – initially as it felt right and would give me time to spend with my first grand child. No thought of caring for an elderly parent.

That is one toll. The toll on my business. The toll then that results in struggling with identification of who I am. Who I am without my business card.

Then there is the emotional and physical toll. As a carer I find my body seems to be on 24/7 alert. The adrenaline in the body…ready for that call….of which already are many….for help of the latest ambulance ride to hospital.

The call of ‘I don’t feel well, can you come and get me breakfast”. “I don’t feel well, can you make an appointment with the doctor for me today.” “Can you go shopping for me, I want to make……receipe” (last time mum cooked a chop – she fell asleep as it burnt and the fire alarm was screaming but with her deafness issue she was oblivious)”.
Or “there is a message on my answering machine………… I think it is a call from ………… but I can’t understand it…..can you come and listen to it. I go around and she has deleted it but decided she knew how it was from and made up some story!

“My washing machine is ticking, I need you to take me to buy a new washing machine. I have rung and someone is coming to fix it tomorrow. Mum couldn’t remember who she had called. “Someone from Yellow Pages”. I go around and find the noise is the laundry tap dripping. After ringing many numbers in the yellow pages, there goes another few hours.

Expect the unexpected. And cope with the unexpected.

The toll. Well I do find I resort to comfort eating. A regular apple muffin and coffee for morning tea. I biscuit here and there. After a particularly stressful demanding day, a drink or two of wine and now it is summer a drink or two of Bailey’s on the Rocks.

None of the above help. I am the heaviest I have ever been. I just don’t have the motivation to exercise (I also help care for young grand daughters). The drink – in winter a glass or two of sherry – just seems to calm me. Don’t talk mindfulness – I struggle to find time alone – and also the discipline to incorporate daily.

I find after drinking alcohol that if exacerbates my arthritic inflammation. As I suppose does the ongoing emotional stress.

I somethimes think of myself as the Dutiful, Undutiful Daughter.

I provide care because…..well because…..I have to. I wouldn’t not provide care. I do have a sibling – and he helps a few hours one day a week, and ad hoc depending on how busy he is will pop in for a cuppa tea or a swim in the retirement village pool with mum – or take her for lunch. But he goes away so often for 2 – 6 weeks at a time (for 6 months when I was ‘handed’ mum to care for). He also is often unavailable with a bad back or other ailments. At least when he is here I have a sense of a back up but big stretches of juggling alone take their toll.

As does mum’s often aggressive attitude to a variety of things I try and organise that will help her. She sees it as trying to boss her. That I am trying to take over. That she still has her marbles. That she is capable of thinking and making her own decisions. As dementia issues are increasing, this I think is the part that wears me down the most – and I am sure raises my blood pressure. And leaves me exhausted. It is a struggle. And of course a mother daughter relationship fraught with arguments and difficulties re-emerges.

I need to exercise. I need to find a exercise routine. I need to find exercise that I will enjoy. I need to lose weight. I need to modify my diet to reduce inflammation pain. I need to feel recognised. I need approval and a feeling of being loved. I need to work out a way to cope long term.

Mum at least is now on a Package – Level 2 and is having a cleaner come in once a fortnight. Honestly, I believe that if mum would only consider moving to an aged care home she would enjoy it. Mum likes company. She at the moment has many hours sitting at home watching TV. But mum won’t inspect or consider an aged care home.
I have started to think…..mum might continue to live like this until she is 100. The latest ACAT is for Level ¾. The assessor said that if she had care this is the level she would need. She is receiving that at the moment from me – majorly – and when around – from my brother. So I have started to think….how will I cope. I don’t want next year to be a repeat of the past 6 months in particular.

Her dementia is like being in limbo at the moment. She can make decisions but her brain is often confused and she has short term – increasingly short term memory loss. Caring is a responsibility that cannot be professionalised. Like becoming a mother for the first time, it cannot be prepared for.

How long can I continue in this limbo state? How can I motivate myself – or engage someone to help me – to lose weight and regain stamina and health?  In the meantime it is school holidays and I am caring for my 5 year old grand daughter 3 days a week, ongoing of the just turned 4, of one day a week….so I must go……

All photos purchased: Fotolia, shutterstock and 123RF

Are You Hearing me?

Depressed and increasingly social isolated – mum finally received some good news. My case for new hearing aids – 3 years earlier than the standard pensioner replacement time of normally 5 years – had been approved.

Unfortunately on the day of the hearing aid appointment, I was still suffering from dizziness – bought about according to my doctor – from an intense 3 months of caring for mum after she had had a fall.

So my 40 year old son, took his granny and returned her to my place all smiles.

Mum could hear us – wearing the small microphone – shaped like a USB – clipped onto our tops – when she was in the kitchen and we went into the loungeroom. Again with it clipped on to my son who tends to mumble at times, she could hear him clearly. OMG – placing the device in front of the TV for the first time in years, mum could hear the TV. She could actually hear it without the USB microphone device – just with her new hearing aids.

When I took her home, we set it all up and yes she could hear her TV.

Smiles. High Fives. Happy

Gone will be the Watcha Say?  Hanging up because she can’t hear.

Day 2. I went to mum’s to drop off some shopping and check up on her. Problems!  She couldn’t hear the TV. She was pushing volume buttons up and down on the remote device that ‘talks’ via Bluetooth to the USB microphone.  Stop.  I explained it was the TV remote she needed to push as she had it on silent!  So explained with the new hearing aids and devices – she could have it on at a level that I could sit and listen to the TV with mum

I wrote out very simplified instructions regarding how the remote device she wore around her neck ‘talked’ to the USB microphone.

No light = OFF

Green light = ON

Blue Light – Bluetooth connected – the devices could ‘talk’ to each other

Red Light – Turning Off (then would have no light).

OK….All understood after a couple of practise runs.  Mum was taking it to cards and was going to clip the USB to the side of her little water bottle cover.

Day 3  I ring mum to let her know what time we will pick her up to take her out for lunch – as we normally do each Sunday.  How did you go yesterday at cards with your hearing aids and the USB microphone I asked.

I lost it – she replied.  I lost the microphone. I think it might have been caught up at the end, in the tablecloths, or card packs when it was all been packed up.  I rang the card organiser and told her but she didn’t see it anywhere.

So hubby and I go around. Hubby retraces the road, path, and into the centre where she played cards at the retirement village.  He looks in drains, curbs, driveway ramps.  No sign of it.  I look in her two handbags, purse, zip compartments. No sign of it. I look everywhere all over her scooter.

Oh she says, when I came back the scooter was extra noisy. I think something must have been misplaced when I went over the road bumps. And she added – there is something wrong with the phone ringing volume. I could only hear it, because I was standing next to it.

Hubby walks in and within seconds, finds the USB microphone in front of the TV.  I thought that you said you left it in the centre yesterday afternoon. Oh, says mum. You found it – where was it?  In front of the TV, I reply. Oh, well I can’t remember putting it there. I must have put it there when I came back and forgot. Anyway, she added, it doesn’t work. It’s useless – I can’t hear the TV.  I look at the device. That is because it is turned off, I say calmly!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  You have to turn this on and the remote device – where is the sheet of instructions I wrote out about the colours!!!

So I set it up again and test it. All good. Off we go to lunch.

My son clips the USB onto his shirt. Yes, granny can hear him.

Then – oh the background noise is soooo so noisy says mum.  Stand up and look behind you – there is nothing there!  Mum looks. Well there is loud background noise.  That is just the general noise of the RSL lunch area. Your brain has to readjust and get used to been able to hear again. Mum goes to the loo – oh the toilet is so loud and noisy. Great her new hearing aids are working – they might need the volume adjusted. Mind you mum has pushed volumes up and down so much since the audiologist had set them.

Lunch over – mum heads into the pokies to play her $5 at 1 or 5 cents a push.  She is very happy. She can hear and she wins $5!

Day 5

After two days of some busyness caring for hubby who had an eye operation, I finally get time to ring mum. Without enquiring how my hubby is – who does so so so much for her also – mum says – I want you to take the hearing aids and everything back. They are too noisy. The microphone doesn’t work. The volume of everything is too loud – to much background noise.

I try and explain that the audiologist said it will take some time, to readjust to hearing and to preserve.

Mum replies dogmatically and emphasising her words I SAID TAKE THEM BACK. I DON’T WANT THEM. THEY ARE TOO NOISY AND DON’T WORK.

Mum explained that she spoke to another woman who had something similar – and how she stopped using them and reverted to her old hearing aids.

Mum says she has packed everything back into the box, and I am to come and pick them up and take them back. Mum has the Bluetooth remote and USB microphone on trial for just over a fortnight before paying $550 for those – the hearing aids are free replacements. Remember – because she was crying from depression with her social isolation from not been able to hear and people ignoring her.

I try to explain it is like rehab after a hip operation. You have to keep working at the exercise for improvement. Same with the hearing aids, you just have to keep wearing them – preserve – to get used to them and retrain the brain.

Mum replies, that there are at least 5 deaf people at the RSL cards and none of them have a remote device or microphone.  Well I reply aren’t you lucky you do have these – to help you with your hearing.

I don’t want them. I am using my old hearing aids. I want you to TAKE IT ALL BACK.

Me:  I can’t hear you. Whatca say.  And hang up

It is time for a Bailey’s on the rocks!  Time is 9.30am.

PS – I checked the phone – mum had turned the sound down as with her new hearing aids it didn’t need to be sooooo loud.

Hubby checked her scooter. There was nothing wrong with it – just her new hearing aids – she could hear it better.

To be continued.

Missing a Sense of Purpose

It is now five years since I left my fabulous government job assisting businesses with their growth and development. 

I took early retirement as a package was available and I saw my retirement as time with my daughter as she started her family as well as an opportunity to operate a micro business.

In those 5 years I have become a nana to two beautiful grand daughters and spent many hours caring for them. Many more hours than I anticipated due to baby sleep issues and suddenly finding myself in a carer role of my elderly mother.  My eldest grand daughter started school this year, so I only really see her at school pick up – three times a week. But no longer for regular full days. The youngest who is 3, we care for each Thursday.

So early in the year and with the reduction of need for caring, I have found myself struggling. I am missing a sense of purpose. A sense of feeling belonging.  A sense of feeling fulfilled and making a difference.

I have started the year determined to improve my health after 3 weeks of physio on my back. I attend a community centre and attend stretching and Pilate classes. I plan to book time with a personal trainer to help me keep on track. I have booked sessions with a psychologist/hypnotherapist to assist overcome some childhood issues.

On the wellbeing side – I have joined a women’s group choir.  The group sits or stands in a circle and harmonises. I found out it is a form of cappella singing. I loved it. It made me feel grounded, relaxed and uplifted at the same time.

I love to of the ‘songs’ Bella Mama’ and The River Flowing. Below are some links to some You Tube of these songs and type of singing.

http://www.mamalisa.com/blog/belle-mama-a-song-from-the-torres-strait-islands/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sB2AaVVjF-0

After much research, I joined  a local VIEW Club – which is a group for women that raises money for The Smith Family who in turn provide financial support to disadvantaged children. Not long after joining I volunteered for the committee and as assistant secretary am the guest speaker organiser.

Sigh……I just feel brain dead. I feel a lack of stimulation. A lack of purpose.  I am still busy assisting and providing care for my elderly mum. The hours of care depend on her health.  I have just come out of two months of intensive care hours after she had had a fall.

As a celebrant I have conducted a few weddings.

But  I am over being involved in all the stress of brides and weddings. Well at least the very big weddings. I still enjoy the small weddings of 2 – 20 guests. Especially when held on a property or backyard of a home. Just so much more relaxed and intimate.

However I am seriously considering retiring and handing in my celebrant registration.

So, now what to do.  I looked at University of the Third Age, but nothing I am interested in is available on my pockets of available time. That is of course part of my dilemma .  I have pockets of availability in between when I help mum, take her out, take her shopping etc, the day I mind my grand daughter, being at the school by 2.30pm to get a car park close enough for pick up of the eldest grand daughter – then minding them both until 5pm. I also set aside time for the hubby – he is at golf 3 times a week.

Soooooooooo!  What can I do to stimulate my mind. What can I do that will give me a sense of purpose. I just feel the days and weeks are passing so quickly.

What do I want to do with my life? I don’t want to ‘just fill in the hours’, with gym, lunches, bowls – oh I did try some bowls but then it go SO HOT! – I will look at that in the cooler months. I learnt crochet. Loved that but made everything I really want to make. Will look at making some items to donate.

My thoughts are join and volunteer with another charity. Maybe some volunteer office work. Perhaps use my event management background and stage an event of some sort.

My needs are – new friendships in my age bracket for now until………..well …until death us to part! As well as brain stimulation and a sense of purpose.

Well it is now time to think about dinner – gawd……I am after nearly 43 years of marriage over coming up with ideas for dinner. Thank goodness for the good old basics of spag bolg, sausages, roast chicken!  I love baking – but everything I love to bake my daughter tells me has too much sugar! And hubby has asked when I am going to diet and lose weight! ARGH! 

Oh look, it is wine o’clock…………..must go!

 

South Australian holiday with Glenelg accommodation

The Oaks Pier Apartments Glenelg

The Oaks Pier Apartments Glenelg

For our South Australian holiday I chose Glenelg accommodation as our base for the first three days of travel. Of all the places in the whole world that we could have chosen to go to….we chose to fly to South Australia for a pleasant Spring time holiday. Unfortunately, they had just had massive rain causing a state wide black out and major flooding in the areas we were to visit. We arrived two days after a huge destructive weather event and headed directly to our booked accommodation in Glenelg knowing we probably had a couple of hours of sun before the heavy rain and wind was predicted to start again.

I chose Glenelg after much research on Adelaide city hotels…..and hubby and I living near the beach and love the beach…..decided on Glenelg at The Oaks Pier Resort Apartments.

http://www.oakshotelsresorts.com/oaks-plaza-pier/

img_4893The apartment was a one bedroom and we were thankful that we chose overlooking the park rather than the beach as it was so windy and the wind was coming right off the water.  Glenelg is only around 15 minutes drive from the airport and there is a free tram that you can catch directly into the city.

The shops at Glenelg – it is a long strip shopping centre.  You will never go hungry and there are so many cafes, restaurants. And lots of lovely dress and gift shops. Loved Glenelg…..except for the weather.  It was sooooooooooo freezing cold (for us Queenslanders), light to torrential rain and at times gale force winds. The locals all told us the weather was most unusual for this time of the year – early October.

Inside drinks and nibbles whilst it rains outside

Inside drinks and nibbles whilst it rains outside

We did I think drink more wine and sit with biscuits and cheese – as we watched the rain fall.

And my waist line tells me that this was indeed a food and wine indulgent holiday.

Just to one side of the apartments is a huge indoor entertainment centre that looked fantastic for kids.

https://www.thebeachouse.com.au/

 

Just near the long pier there is a fabulous outdoor interactive playground –

Glenelg Playground

that well as grandparents who regularly look after our little ones, we rated it very highly.

http://playandgo.com.au/index.php/glenelg-foreshore-playspace-glenelg-review/

Hubby had bought is found down fishing rod, but when we walked to the end of the pier we just wanted to turn back immediately with the freezing cold wind biting into us.  Very hard after used to living with so much warmth even in winter months, of the Sunshine Coast Queensland. So retired or family fantastic spot – preferably if the weather is good.  Having said that, we did end up doing most of what we wanted to do….but after the initial sunny warmish few hours when we first arrived, it was often an going battle with the elements during most days.

However, we did have breaks in the weather and we walked over the bridge to the marina where there are a range of restaurants.  I was surprised to find though how many restaurants were closed on a Sunday. One of the staff said ‘well this is Adelaide – sleepy town”.  All the restaurants looked great with fabulous ocean and sunset views.

http://www.marinapier.com.au

We settled on a favourite and ordered shared platter. We find we often will choose a shared platter – they are often the chef’s choices and always delicious and a good variety and value for money.

The apartment was really comfortable. The only let down was one that so many resorts just don’t do well, and that is heat and indoor (or outdoor) pool to a warm temperature. The heated pool was too chilly to go into. A big disappointment.

Glenelg as a Base for first three nights

Wet rainy afternoonWe booked 3 nights at Glenelg (and also our last night) and used it as a base for the first 3 days of exploring. On the Monday even with very heavy rainfall predicted, we picked up a hire car and drove to Hahndorf.

It was grey, raining on and off from light to very heavy and of course windy.

 

img_4902Hahndorf

We stopped at a café selling cheese and had coffee and cake there until the rain eased. We predicted very heavy rain, there were very few people in the shops or the area.

We then went in and out of shops between the rain.Hahndorf

It was nice but really it was so cold and wet, that we didn’t enjoy it or explore as much as we would have if it had been fine.

Hahndorf CafeWe found  a lovely café with an open fire and settled there with homemade soup and bread

until the rain eased. The owner asked us to let all our friends know to come. In chatting lots of the businesses were really hurting financially from the lengthy rain and floods.

Yes it is worth going to Hahndorf – a lovely village feel – if the sun is out. And unfortunately there was very little spring flowers due to the weather.

Carrick Hill Historic House

Carrick Hill Historic House

Carrick Hill Historic House

We then drove to Carrick Hill Historic House.  WOW.

Fantastic Historic House

http://www.carrickhill.sa.gov.au/

If you love to go in historic homes, then this one was a highly recommend!  With huge gardens with lots of roses and flowers in bloom, the inside was fully furnished with lots of information around.

There was at the time also an art display.

Inside Carrick House

Inside Carrick House

Loved this magnificent house and it’s history.

If you are hungry there is also a lovely café there that provides lunch and coffee and cake.

Fortunately, the skies had cleared and we were able to enjoy the sunshine with a

Carrick Hill House Garden

Carrick Hill House Garden

Carrick Hill House garden entrance

leisurely walk around the gardens.

 

Adelaide Central Market

We caught the tram into Adelaide and wandered around the large market out of the cold wind. One of the stallholders where I purchased a coffee – asked if I would like to be dated. Ha ha…he then offered me a Turkish date.  Lots of fun characters in the market. We then wandered the shops before heading to Avery House.

Ayers House Museum

http://www.ayershousemuseum.org.au/ the Dressmaker Display

Whilst all the furniture had been taken out of the house, theyThe Dressmaker Movie Costumes

You could dress up in hats and gloves

You could dress up in hats and gloves

had on display all the cosumtes worn in the Australian Movie, The Dressmaker.

We then in-between rain, wandered the lovely botanic gardens across the road, before heading back to the warmth of our apartment.

We packed that night and headed the next day to the Barossa Valley to sample wine and visit Maggie Beer’s Farm Enterprise.

Hubby left me in charge of the waterproofing tradie and Tomato Relish Receipe

WaterproofHubby left me in charge of the waterproofing tradie – whilst I made Tomato Relish

I know, strange heading….but hubby left me in charge of the tradies for our bathroom renovations whilst he had a well deserved day of golf.

“It’s just the waterproof guy, “ he said.  “It is all straight forward, all he has to do is put on the waterproof, so there should be no issues.  Just in case, he said would leave his phone on silent and check it from time to time whilst he is at golf.

“I have to go – it is the Veteran’s championship – I can’t let my mates down”, he said.

No worries, I replied, you deserve a day off.  Hubby has been project managing as well as doing some of the bathroom renovations himself.  It is during this time, that I am so pleased that I married a handy man and I don’t have to think further than, what time of fittings do you want, what kind of bath do you want ….easy stuff….. And that is as it should be, I have my hands, time full with caring for my elderly mum and regularly my two little grand daughters aged 2 and 4.

So the waterproofer arrives.  Checks the room….oh he says….I wasn’t told it was an upstairs bathroom….I need to go back and get the waterproof that goes onto tiles on the floor, he said.

Bathroom RenovationThen he asked about around the bath……there is a gap….what are you doing there. I looked at him blankly and answered….that will be tiled…..ah yes….but there is a problem.  Looking at me he said, where is your husband?  Deciding not to worry hubby – although  did call but he didn’t answer, the tradie went off to get the right waterproof stuff.. I ducked out and bought the ingredients for a tomato relish.

So, we are both happily active, Craig with his waterproof job, and me boiling tomatoes and chopping 1 kg of onion.  OMG…..next time I will buy already chopped and frozen onion!  So I am scooping the tomato out of the pot to peel the skin and chop, feeling very confident of the relish – which I have not made in decades.

Oh, um….can you come up here…………EKK…..sure…. I have smelly onions and squished runny tomato everywhere – that is because I am a messy cook.

Bathroom ShowerThe issue this time is under the cupboard…and that it is not angled, and also the thingo in the shower that sticks out he informs me is not very long and once it is tiled, we will have problems screwing the shower head onto it.  Well rather than ring hubby I have a brain wave, so I search amongst the bathroom renovation file and find a plumbers card.  I ring the plumber, he doesn’t answer….I leave an URGENT message, and thankfully he calls back a few minutes later. No worries he says, there are ways around it.  Craig looks unconvinced and says once he does the waterproofing, that any issues, we will have to remove a whole panel.  I put my trust in the plumber and say oh well, just go ahead, it will be fine.

By now hubby has called back – but I miss his call and he leaves an unhappy message….where are you…..you should answer – have the phone on your hip…..you called, what is the matter?

So I call back and put him onto Craig who gives him an update on all of the ‘issues’ .  Never mind, go and relax and play golf, it can all be resolved easily, everything is proceeding OK.

Tomato RelishI then get on with my relish.  Three hours of peeling, chopping, tasting, stirring and wondering why the relish wasn’t thickening.  Ah, I think I should have drained the excess juice before boiling. I am using a sketchy recipe I was given.  I stood at the stove top for a couple of hours, stirring, gradually adding a bit more cornflour, then draining the excess liquid….good idea….then again, more flour, a little more curry, a little more mustard, chilli. Tasting, stirring, tasting, stirring….until hurray……it tasted great and was the right consistency.

Another day of retirement has passed…..in charge of the waterproof tradie…don’t call me to help with any renovations. And a day where I finally made a delicious relish.

Mind you, I am not too keen on making another and even hesitant about using the relish. OMG….I never realised HOW MUCH SUGAR was in a relish!!!!!

Tomato Relish Receipe – as  I was given it and in brackets what I learnt or did)

3 kgs of tomatoes – chopped  (well after you chop them and add them to the onion, drain off the juice)

1 kg of onions ( OMG chopping 1 KG of onions – I think I would rather chopped frozen onions, except I wonder how much extra liquid would be in these once they thawed)

1 KG Sugar (OMG I had no idea there was THIS much sugar in a relish. I ended up putting in around 750 grams. Don’t put all the sugar in at once….you can always add)

750ml Vinegar (I held some back, but ended up using it all and a dollop more)

Small handful of salt (well you will have to be careful with this if you have big hands)

Boil for around 20 minutes  (I suggest you look at how much liquid you have, because after about an hour or so, I twigged I had to much liquid. I drained and have frozen the excess liquid)

Then add

2 tablespoons mustard powder

2 tablespoons curry powder

Mix to a paste with a little vinegar , add and simmer for another hour and thicken with cornflower.

Tomato Relish 2(I added a clove of garlic and also some hot chilli. I mixed with the liquid from the pot all the dry ingredients. I added I would think around another teaspoon of the mustard and curry powder. I added – I am guessing but I gradually added as I was tasting, the extra curry, mustard, chilli and extra cornflower, until finally I got the right consistency and taste.

I am not sure how it would affect the taste using a sugar substitute.

 

Relish in jarsGood luck if you make it and let me know how you go.

I will put bathroom reno photos up onto my facebook page.

De-cluttering – what to do with The Sexy Toys and Lingerie

DeclutteringAre you thinking of downsizing from the family home?  Or just de-cluttering I readiness for that one day in a few years move?  I have been motivated to de-clutter after some health scares and near misses that made me think life can suddenly be very short.

So whilst from time to time, I have gone through cupboards, drawers and the accumulation of stuff on the floor in the indoor garage that we use for storage of ‘stuff’, I have not really had a huge de-clutter clear out.  This week, I started in earnest.

I have actually de-cluttered huge amounts and other than the fact that I do have a little extra space in kitchen cupboards….you can hardly see any difference. I have a long way to go still – lots of little things lurking in stuffed and over flowing drawers.

Now there is one drawer that presents a problem.

I know we all have them.  The after dark drawer.

Sexy underwear The sexy nightie, the undercut bra, the skimpy clothing that my bulging muffin top wobbly tummy just won’t fit into anymore.  The suspender belt that would cut off my circulation if I wore it….well if I could get it up over my two thighs anyway.  The saucy outfit, the fluffy handcuffs and then….well…..you know……  Well I didn’t think the Op shop would really appreciate these donations and I couldn’t see taking other stuff… to the electronics area at the tip.

And  I can hardly ask my daughter,  “darling, I have a few things in my bottom drawer and hidden in the top of my wardrobe, that you might like to look through and see if there is anything you would like”.

So I was wondering how do women downsizing and de-cluttering dispose of their sex paraphernalia — and any all those items you have hidden out of sight.

I was thinking, if something was to suddenly happen to me, I don’t really want the children consumed in grief and clearing out your house, to find any sex items .  What would they think?  Oh my god, my mother had sex?  Oh my god, I don’t want to touch this – where are the rubber gloves?  Actually there might be some rubber gloves in ‘that’ drawer.

You may be thinking, “Who cares what my friends or children find in the house? I will be will be dead anyway.”

And of course, there is suitable timing.  Maybe you might need these sex toys and clothes into your 70 or 80’s.  But what does one do in the meantime?  Where do we keep these articles and when is the right timing to dispose – when we work out how to dispose – of our intimate behind closed doors life.

Perhaps we might ask a close friend let’s call them ‘Personal Item Eradicators’, to come over and clear the house after we die (or if critically ill in hospital/hospice).  Your Personal Eradicator could be given a list of items to be destroyed and their hiding places — you don’t want to be in intensive care screaming, “Top of the wardrobe in a black box!” You may find yourself been given a calming injection.

9324387_sWell back to my de-cluttering and wondering what to do with the skimpy clothing that I doubt my muffin top will be reduced anytime soon, to wear again.

So then, how will you dispose and when do you think is the right time to dispose of your sex toys and items of clothing?

Tips for Coping with Retired Hubby

RetiredHoney….I’m home for good – 24/7

About 2 and a half years ago after I left my corporate job and was in a routine of my own and helping my daughter with her baby, hubby retired at 60 years of age.

At first, everything was fine….it was summer – and lovely and hot, so we spent much of our time, swimming, relaxing at home and caring for grand-daughters.

At that stage my micro business as a celebrant was growing , I was working as a business coach …..and I was just very busy with work.  Hubby was happy, pottering around the house and the garden completing projects.  In between he played golf, helped look after the grand children and going out to lunch with me, reading, watching the share market and footy panels on TV, watching the footy replays, and also some travel.

36300530_sThere were times however when I woke and thought…..OMG….he has retired.

This living together is 24/7 forever!

Especially on days when he would ask me in the morning at breakfast…

“would I be home for lunch”….

“what time would I be home”….from where ever I was going

if I was going down to the shops…… “oh….I might come too”

and what’s for tea?  EKKKK!!!

Oh….and there is nothing on the calendar, so you mustn’t be doing anything today!

Now for the past 2 years in particular, I provide a very high level care and support for members of my family, which has had a huge impact on my time and therefore on business activities.  Hubby has been fabulous…when he is not at golf….he is a fabulous dad and Poppy.  A Poppy who has not problems playing dolls,  with 2 and 4 year old granddaughters, and no issues changing dirty nappies for putting the girls to bed. In fact he just loves his time with the girls and is a highlight of his retirement.

However, so many women I have spoken to struggle with the 24/7 living with the hubby who says “Honey…I’m home for good”!

Comments I have heard include:

Hubby puts me down.  I don’t feel relaxed anymore…there is tension in the home

Hubby is critical of the things I do and say now that he is home 24/7

Hubby won’t do anything.

Hubby is so controlling.

Hubby won’t belong to anything.

Hubby only wants to go out with me all of the time.

Interestingly these are statements that I have heard by a number of semi or fully retired women. They are struggling with the hubby being at home all day every day.  The relationship is under strain, particularly where the retired hubby is not involved in anything.

Living with a retired hubby can be a huge new stress and re-adjustment in life.

Now I am not saying all husband and wives have issues. I know and see many many happy retired couples. And no doubt there are some retired hubby’s who might write a blog on their retired wife….but this is my point of view, experiences and observations.

So I reflected on what my now 88 year old mum did with her retirement time – as she lived with an often grumpy old hubby who had not many interests and didn’t like to go out – except for lunch – dad liked a good feed – once he turned about …oh…probably around his late 60’s.

Tips on Living and Coping with a retired hubby

My Mum – Role Model

Take up a sport

Lawn Bowls Match

Lawn Bowls Match

My 88 year old mum always kept busy in her retirement.  She is a great role model to me in regard to what she did to cope with my dad who was a non joiner and as he aged was more and more reluctant to go out anywhere.  Mum joined many organisations over the years after she retired. Initially she joined a bowling club….and dad soon followed her….and they had a year of two playing bowls together before he didn’t want to play any more….but mum continued and made lots of friends.  Other than that……dad really just pottered around the house and went travelling wherever mum organised oh and started to go to church a few times a week and prayed a lot.

Later when she had given up bowls, mum took up table tennis and played until she was around 80 year old.

Now whilst my hubby plays golf 3 times a week…..as much as I have tried…..I am absolutely hopeless at golf.

GolfI would love to share a sport interest with hubby…..and I know he would love for me to…..but honestly…..

I have really really tried…….

but I’m just no good with little balls,  they just won’t go where I want them to…..soaring up in the air or in that bloody little hole.

Joining a local gym and attending fitness classes and crochet in a creative crafting diva’s group, is more my current interest oh of course and coffee and chats with my girlfriends.  I observe with interest that many of the girls when they have completed the stretching or Pilates class (majority of participants are over 60) , go to the gym café for coffee and chats….and stay there until nearly lunchtime.  Not sure why they are not hurrying home!

Belong and Attend Club/Organisation Meetings

My mum joined Probus and ended up the activity officer.  She would organise the day trips and longer trips for the women.  It kept her busy in a coordination role, committee meetings, general meetings as well as going away for the day or for longer.  She did this for many years.

Mum also was a member of the local Garden Club, took up playing cards (which now in her late 80’s she plays 5 to 6 days a week), joined a patchwork craft group, was a member of the Red Cross and at one stage a volunteer for a local historical house….which dad occasionally helped out with.

Women meetingCurrently I attend at number of women only business and networking meetings. I love getting out to listen to a speaker (particularly if the talk is relevant) and catching up with friends and meeting new people.  I am considering starting my own Retiree Women’s group, as I do find it difficult – to find meetings where I connect with the speaker or the topic….rather than ”been there done that”….so I am seeking women 55 plus who have stepped away from the corporate world and re-defined themselves.

 

Book clubs –mum attended the VIEW Club, and used to go to meetings, outings and the book club. I have joined one that meets on a Tuesday night for dinner. Not too much chat about the actual books we have ‘read’.

Shopping

Man shoppingI have a great system….hubby takes Miss four and a half grocery shopping on a Thursday morning. Occasionally I go with them, but generally I stay behind with the 2 year old. Hubby doesn’t like me going….he says that he spends more on the groceries.  He always takes a list. Problem is that I haven’t always remembered what I really need. What I am cooking. So each week, I top up anyway.

But yes, I am very lucky I have a hubby that likes grocery shopping.

Men’s Sheds

These are growing in popularity.  I would love hubby to go. However he and some of his mates, found out that we women, behind their back, were trying to leverage each other off the other, pretending that they WERE interested in a Men’s Shed. Damm…we got found out!  A very powerful statement though was made: “Why do we HAVE TO DO ANYTHING?”  ‘I’ve worked hard all my life, for decades….now it is finally my time to just relax and do whatever I want to do, if and when I want to do anything.” GULP!!!!

How foreign an idea is that to me and many semi or fully retired high profile, corporate leadership type of women.

Things to fix

I always seem to have a list of things to fix inside and outside of the home.  Bunnings is a favourite place for hubby…and thankfully he happily fixes things.

Travel

One woman I know plans multiple holidays each year, both international and domestic holidays. Staying with friends, travelling with friends, making new friends who can come and visit, travelling to see family………. So the mostly stay at home hubby….at least he is out and about…..as a travelling partner and hopefully absorbing and enjoying all the he is experiencing and always has something to talk about.

My mum also initiated all of their travel – mostly around Australia.

River CruiseHubby and I have taken two overseas holidays…a European River Cruise and also a Mediterranean cruise.

Loved these and we are likely to take more overseas travel and look forward to more domestic travel.

 

GrandChildren

GrandchildrenHubby and I spend a huge amount of time with our little grand daughters. Sometimes it is very tiring – exhausting – but it is also wonderful to mind and care for them as we are contributing towards their development. Yes, I know some grand parents live a long way from their grand children – we are lucky and blessed to have ours live so close to us.

See a Counsellor

On a really serious note.  Honestly…..don’t hesitate to seek some counselling – either alone or with your hubby. At the very least….if they won’t join anything, then take my elderly mum’s advice….get out yourself every day….live and enjoy your life.

two seniors having dinner on patio.

two seniors having dinner on patio.

Initially and from time to time, I have had counselling. Yes adjustments and compromises are required…..and I am not saying it is easy. We have our days – and sometimes days of days……or days of weeks – when we irritate each other….but when you have a balance then this stage of life can be fantastic…..some of the best years of your life.

Must go….hubby is going through the fridge and cupboards and letting me know of items out of date, and that the left over pumpkin I didn’t use up has gone off.  Sherry time!

Note:  All images used are personal photos or purchased.

Nannie and Poppy ChildCare Day at a Castle

GrandchildrenNannie and Poppy day today went so quickly. As the little one Chloe was taken away by her daddy to go to see the Wiggles Concert we just had the 4 ½ year old to occupy.

A book about a bird that poos on the heads of animals and people was our first activity. Much raucous laughter whenever the word poo or poop was mentioned!

Even after I had read the book four times. Yes it was funny the first time…….but by this afternoon……..not so much!

Locked in a StockSo what to do with Maddy today – as it was a bit cool and overcast I decided to by a Groupon voucher and off we went to the Sunshine Coast Castle in Bli Bli.  First thing we saw was old fashioned stock which we popped her head and hands in…….hmmm just for a few seconds……and she wanted out!

Up and down turrets – oh by the way, I must mention my weight bearing and exercise mostly comes from when I am minding the girls – in and out corridors until the finally hundreds of dolls! Hundreds. Excellent a castle visit with hundreds of dolls.

Hundreds of dollsAh.. I thought, this should occupy her for the morning. Well I think we managed about 6 minutes in the area of the dolls on display,  then off to press all the buttons that lighted up the other great displays.

Poppy liked the electric train display area the best.  Miniature train Display

 

All in all 50 minutes in the castle, then 10 minutes in the shop where Maddy pointed out all the toys she would like to own.

At least it was an easy morning this morning just have the one child to care for.

The afternoon after singing Incy wincy Spider, Twinkle Twinkle and the bloody wheel of the bus that goes round and round and round and round……oh woops….getting a bit hysterical sounding there! – off we went to the playground to burn off some energy.

Pushing swings great exerciseOUR arms mostly burn off energy as both girls could sit in a swing and be pushed for hours. Thankfully there after about 10 minutes of pushing and ‘higher Nannie, higher..”, some mum’s came and there children wanted of course a go.

With a fresh cold wind now blowing, we struggled with crying wriggly girls back into the car, with a promise of a jelly bean if they were good, finally silencing their screams.

They have now been picked up. Another Nannie and Poppy 5 start child care resort is closed and it is time for the glass of sherry for me and Bundy and Coke for him. Tomorrow is a new day.

Aged care – of elderly mum tomorrow, until later in the afternoon when it is time again to pick the girls up, this time from their child care centre and mind them through the ‘witching hour’.

Retail Therapy Choices of New Clothes or Undies

ShoppingOne of the things you don’t think about when you retire, is how much less of everything you need.  Now of course as baby boomers we are used to going without – well when we first married, we all made do with 2nd hand until we SAVED our money – I know it seems this younger generation skip the 2nd hand and saving part and just add to their credit card debt.

So OK, initially we did without, or 2nd hand until we saved, but then hey good times came, we led the way at breaking through the glass ceiling and when you do that, well you need the corporate wardrobe to go with it.  I love shopping. Shopping Centres, big malls, strip shopping centres, boutiques, overseas markets and shops….until now.

As a corporate business woman and baby boomer, I was used to having disposable income and as such always in a position to update my wardrobe each season.

Pick a scarfRetail therapy consisted of new clothes scarves,  shoes, and jewellery. Yes, I did need two wardrobes – one for more casual wear and the other for functions, special event clothes.

Now, now longer employed in the corporate career world, I find that I no longer flick through the catalogues or even look at advts that pop up in my social media pages of beautiful outfits, tops, skirts, dresses oh and shoes!

For me now it seems my retail therapy consists of replacing undies and bras. Because they wear out!!!! Mind you he following is a conversation between hubby and me:

Me- to Hubby: Can you hang the washing out whilst I am out
Later as we were going to get fish and chips down at Mooloolaba Spit – hubby’s suggestion
Hubby: I noticed when I was hanging the washing out that you have gone up in size in undies.
Me: Looking at said hubby with a withering not happy Jan look…..and Thinking: What the F@$^…
Hubby interprets look…and says….ummmm I was just pointing out…I would make a great detective
Me: I don’t need to you to observe and point that out. Now just drive and I will pretend you never said anything.

Hmmmmmm ARGH!!!! Now where was I in this blog post!!!!!!

Although I have culled my wardrobe many many times, to reduce the no longer needed corporate clothes, (donated to a number of op shops), I am still  left with lots of lovely clothes that will last for some time yet.

Undies need updatingUnlike my undies. What is it with undies?  They just don’t seem to last as long. Well maybe my extra bit of weight has stretched the elastic a little – but surely no….they just don’t seem to last. Oh well, at least I get to shop for something new!  In latest patterns and colours. And none of the bikini sizes – wow, did I really fit into them,  – but of course I buy the half brief hi leg – no not the full bloomer briefs and nor will I ever be!

 

OH….and the new bras?  Well, my need to buy new bras,  the bloody underwire breaks through and pushes and gouges into my skin under my armpits – nothing to do with my increased weight of boobs of course….just not like they used to make them!

I used to be photographed at many business events and always conscious and checking photos so that I would not be ‘seen’ wearing the same thing to the next function.  Nowadays after a lovely woman tapped me on the shoulder in the supermarket and said “excuse me, but do you know you have little stickers on the back of your top”……yes the 4 year old grand daughter had managed unknowingly to me, to ‘decorate’ by top with a range of animal and flower stickers….and of course sometimes I look down and see that I have been ‘babied’ with smears of unwanted lunch or sticky hands.

Retail Therapy for ClothesSo now, it is back to the wardrobe and as change of season is about to start, reviewing the clothes that I have and realising again,  that whilst I might like some retail therapy,  I really don’t need to go shopping! NOW I know and understand when you see ‘mature’ aged women shopping, out to lunch, organisation meetings, movies,  etc…why they are all beautifully dressed – they are getting value out of their clothes.  So if you see me in a lovely dressy outfit in the supermarket – you will understand I am trying to wear out some clothes so I have an excuse to buy something new.  In the meantime I must be off, I have a hole in the side of one undie and a couple where – must be poor sewing – the sides have become unstitched, so I need some new ones.

Of course, I do realise that I am saving the planet and climate change, by just recycling my wardrobe and not buying new and feeling very virtuous.   Hmmmm, who am I kidding! I miss Retail Therapy for clothes not just undies and bras! And for another day….the issue of the disposable income, and the outfit that you would suddenly appear wearing and to hubby’s question of is that new, one replied, oh this…..no, I’ve had this in the wardrobe for some time, you must have forgotten!

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