Sunday, January 29, 2012

Mylarkey Lunch Bag

Need a way to keep your soda or child's milk cold for an afternoon at the park? Still back-to-school shopping and crafting? The Mylarkey Lunch Bag (see more specifics, below) is a project suitable for anyone with even minimal sewing experience. From start to finish, it is about a half day project for a beginner or a one evening project for a more advanced seamstress. The pattern includes instructions on how to make 3 sizes of bags and where to purchase materials. Lunch bag kits, including all supplies except thread and tools, will soon be available in the shop. The pdf pattern will be emailed to the email address on your Etsy account within 48 hours of your order. A hard-copy of the pattern may be sent via postal mail for an additional printing and shipping charge of $3; please contact me prior to ordering to request this option.

This pattern is being sold for personal use only. Please contact me for a price quote if you are interested in making these bags for commercial sale.

More about the Mylarkey Lunch Bag. It is:
1. big enough for your standard sandwich or leftovers lunch,
2. small enough to fit in a backpack or briefcase,
3. insulated with Insul-Bright (polyester and mylar) to keep your cold food cold (or, at least on the short-term, warm food warm),
4. lined with nylon inside for containing and wiping up spills and quick spot cleaning,
5. machine washable for deeper cleaning,
6. healthy for you: besides keeping your food cold, it is also vinyl- and soft-plastic free (see online articles about health concerns associated with these materials),
7. reusable and environmentally friendly,
8. last but not least, covered with a cheerful cotton print!

Notes: I came up with the name ‘Mylarkey’ after spending some time looking into the health safety of mylar (which seems to be quite safe, unless you get it in your eye!). But the name (and Bag) also make me think of my Auntie Janet, former schoolteacher and humorist extraordinaire.

ORDER PDF Pattern for Mylarkey Bag

Picnic Pouch - Reusable, Wipeable, and Washable

The Cascade Lemonade Picnic Pouch - a reusable, wipeable, and machine washable bag for carrying snacks and lunches (see more specifics, below) - is an easy and quick project suitable for anyone with even minimal sewing experience. From start to finish, it is about a one hour project for a beginner. The pattern includes instructions on how to make 3 sizes of pouches and where to purchase materials. Picnic pouch kits, including all supplies except thread and tools, will soon be available in the shop. The pdf pattern will be emailed to the email address on your Etsy account within 48 hours of your order. A hard-copy of the pattern may be sent via postal mail for an additional printing and shipping charge of $2.50; please contact me prior to ordering to request this option.
This pattern is being sold for personal use only. Please contact me for a price quote if you are interested in making these bags for commercial sale.

More about the Picnic Pouch:
The Picnic Pouch is perfect for use as a reusable lunch/sandwich/snack sack! The inside is lined with water-resistant nylon, making the bag easy to clean with a sponge. For deep cleaning, just throw it in the washing machine. Closes with velcro using a foldover design that makes it easier to get food in and out without getting crumbs in - or scratching hands on - the velcro.

Dimensions: the 3 sizes are approx. 4x6, 6x6, and 7x8 inches when closed, perfect for pretzels/snacks, small sandwiches/fruit, and large sandwiches, respectively
Why you can feel good about making and using a Picnic Pouch:

1. It's reusable - no need to buy ziplock baggies for daily use.
2. It's free of soft plastics, so healthier for you ( is a good place to start reading up on safety concerns about vinyl and plastic products used for food storage)
3. Cascade Lemonade donates at least 15% of profits (including from pattern sales) to support the purchase carbon credits and renewable energy, plus other non-profits from time to time (e.g. Heifer International, projects on, etc).
4. Let's not forget this one: it puts a smile on your (or your child's) face!

The Picnic Pouch also fits perfectly in a Mylarkey (reusable, insulated, machine washable) Lunch Bag! Lunch Bag patterns (now, over 100 sold!) and Design-Your-Own Lunch Bags are also available in the shop!

ORDER PDF Pattern for Picnic Pouch

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Jealousy And Self Confidence Can't Live In The Same House

I felt led to write about a passionate emotion that has plagued everyone at least once in their life and that is "jealousy"!

Oh yes, that green eyed monster that rears it's ugly head when self doubt, insecurity and fear oozes into our lives!

I had a conversation years ago with someone who felt jealousy was a "positive" emotion and that it was a way of expressing love for your spouse or partner.
They were taken aback when I whole heartedly disagreed!

Jealousy is based on fear, the fear of losing something or someone. Over a prolonged period of time, that fear will eat away at your relationship like rust on a car. Before you know it, the relationship becomes toxic, spirals out of control and eventually disintegrates.

The law of attraction states: "What you think about, you bring about" - one of my favorite quotes that I apply to my daily thoughts.

The more you think about jealousy and everything that means to you in your life right now, the more situations you will attract that creates more jealousy. It becomes a visicious cycle, one that you need to stop - TODAY!

Prolonged fear also leads to disease in the body. It shows up as tension, anxiety, nervousness, worry, doubt, insecurity and unworthiness.

We must reprogram our fears and replace them with faith so that our bodies don't deteriorate, leaving us sick and disease ridden - have no doubt, fear will eat away at your body just like rust on a car!

Replace that fear with love for yourself!
You can do that by stopping the criticism, stop the self loathing, stop the need to control others!

"Even though I am consumed with jealousy, I deeply and completely love and accept myself”

"Even though I have always been a very jealous person, I accept this feeling and everything it means to me”

"Even though I don't know if I want to let go of this feeling, I love who I am anyway"

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Easy No Sew Fleece Blanket Edging

What a week I have had – some good and some not so good. How about I start with the good.
I think I mentioned the Joann’s fabric store in Oklahoma City OK. is having a liquidation sale as they are opening a new store in another location in town and I guess they are not moving any of the merchandise from the old store to the new one so they have had very good sales going on. I purchased the anti-pill fleece in 2 yard segments to make single layer throws for my grand-daughters and grand-sons – 9 in all. I didn’t want the throws to get too heavy so that is why I only used one layer for each.

Here are the step by step photos and directions I used to make them. I purchased Anit-Pill Fleece in 2 yard cuts…wanted the throws to be able to be washed and dried without getting pills which make fleece ugly and not so cozy.

Step 1 I trimmed the selvages off and straightened the ends. This part is not difficult as they don’t have to be perfect rectangles. The fabric always is wiggly so who is going to know if it is a llittle off square one way or another.

Step 2 - Cut 1” slits around the entire edge and a 2” square out of each corner. The 1” cuts are 2” deep. I stuck a piece of painters tape 2” in from the edges of the fleece, laid the straight edge of the fleece on one of the lines of my cutting mat then used the rotary cutter to eyeball cutting every inch. If it did not come out even in 1” increments I eyeballed to the end of where I was cutting and either added a little to each 1” fringe or subtracted a little so I wouldn’t have a really skinny or really fat strip at the corners. I did cut through 2 layers at a time and it was no problem to keep my cuts even. The tape really helped and cutting into it a little at times didn’t dull the rotary cutter like hitting the edge of a ruler would. I cut the corners out with a scissors to avoid overcutting into the side strips.

After this step is done the rest could be finished sitting in my favorite chair and watching TV, listening to music or an audio book. These fleece throws are so easy even kids can do the edge treatment but would do the fringe cutting for them to keep them safe from those sharp rotary blades. How about making a Christmas gift for grandparents or in my case I have gifts for my family for Christmas….OK, now on to the finishing of the edge treatment.

Step 3 Cut a small slit about 1/2” to 3/4” from the end of each strip with a scissors. These small clips into the fleece are only about 3/8” long. As you can see in the photo I just folded over the end and snipped to get the slit I needed.

I had a large crochet hook to use for the next step. It is a size N but the size isn’t important, just need something that it will go through the slits I cut and be able to grab the next strip and pull it through. The original web page had them using a looped paper clip or wire for this step. Check out the photos on that page.

Step 4 Starting in the center of one long side the crochet hook is slipped through the slit of one strip and into the one next in line. ( I am a left handed person so I am working from left to right – if you are a right handed person you will be going from right to left. If you can’t figure it out check out the photos from the blog I learned this from here. I was going to photograph it for right handed people but decided no, I am always having to transpose everything for myself from right handed directions so this time right handers would have to transpose and I would just show how I did it. If it were a complicated procedure I would have made it easy but since it is really pretty simple and self explanatory through the photos it stays left handed.)

The second strip is pulled through the slit of the first one and now the second one is on the crochet hook. Next put the crochet hook through the slit in the next strip and pull it through….keep doing this all around the throw until you only have one strip left.

Finishing the Edge

Step 5 The corners are treated no differently than the sides. As the strips are pulled through and around the corners you will get a rounding of the corner and can keep going along the next side. No fancy stuff just the same thing you have been doing on the sides.

Step 6 The last strip is cut in half to make two smaller strips. Cut a slit in the first strip close to the body of the throw and pull one of the half strips through that slit from the back then hook the other small strip and pull it through the last one you hooked as you worked around the throw.

Tie the two smaller strips together in a double knot and try to hide it under the back if you can. I had trouble with this part and decided if the knot showed a little that was OK. The ending is the only place where you have a small knot. If you have ever used those other kind of throws made with two layers and knotted fringe you know how uncomfortable it is to lay on those huge knots. With this edge the only knot is small and hopefully pretty invisible and not lumpy to lay on.
Notice how nice the edges look plus it looks so fancy but now you know how easy it is to achieve.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

150 Stocking Stuffers

1. $5 gift cards (Starbucks, McDonalds, Amazon, Borders etc).
2. A favorite candy (my mom always got us those plastic candy canes filled with M&M;'s)
3. Decorative cupcake liners (I found some great ones here)
4. A favorite magazine
5. Camera strap cover (like the one I gave away here) - note, that giveaway is closed!)
6. Packets of flower or herb seeds for planting
7. Personalized stationary
8. Slipper socks
9. Silly putty (another thing I always got as a kid)
10. Rubber coated paddle attachement for a mixer like this one
11. Monogrammed iPhone Case
12. Nail polishes
13. Sharpie Pens
14. Chapstick
15. Hair bands
16. Small crosswords puzzle book
17. Crayons
18. Body wash
19. Piggy Bank with coins
20. Personalized M&M;'s that say Merry Christmas
21. Clip on book reading lamp
22. Measuring spoons or cups
23. Cute wine stopper
24. Scarf
25. Stickers
26. Monogrammed coasters (there's a great how to here)
27. Lottery tickets
28. Deck of playing cards
29. Rubix cube
30. Loofa
31. Hair clips
32. Cuticle set
33. Jewelry
34. Batteries
35. Cooking extracts - vanilla, mint, orange etc.
36. Mittens
37. Scented candles
39. Fishing lures
40. Knitting or Crochet needles
41. Lotion
42. Play Dough
43. Golf tees or balls
44. Matchbox cars
45. Memory card
46. Cd's
47. Tools
48. Wash/Dish rags
49. Diaper genie refills (you laugh, but I would love those in my stocking!)
50. Specialty olive oils such as this one
51. Eyeshadow
52. Unusual pastas like this red chili linguini
53. From the Kitchen of labels like these
54. Gardening gloves
55. Tickets to the aquarium
56. Address book
57. An orange - to shape out the toe of the stocking!
58. Ice scraper
59. Small digital camera
60. A teasing comb for all the southern girls
61. Cookie cutters
62. A good book
63. Retractable ID or key holder
64. Makeup bag
65. Nice wooden spoons
66. Gift card to go see a movie
67. USB Drive
68. Small photo frames
69. Wallet
70. Personalized water bottle like this one
71. Speciality teas - here is one of my favorites
72. Garden markers (for herbs etc)
73. Scented antibacterial kitchen hand soap
74. Pumice stones
75. Travel sized games (connect four, uno, etc)
76. Gourmet spice mixes
77. Small sketchbook
78. Fridge magnets
79. Stencils for crafting
80. Tickets to go see a musical performance
81. Kid paint set
82. Extra Wii controllers
83. Small calendar for your purse/backpack
84. PJ's
85. Wristlet to hold a small digital camera like this one of mine from one of my 1st blog posts!
86. Wine glass charms
87. Freezable teether's
88. Osis Dust It click here
89. Monogrammed onesie or tee
90. Money clip
91. Set of markers
92. Gourmet hot chocolate like this one
93. Ring holder
94. Wine aerator
95. Cufflinks
96. Pedometer
97. Personalized purse mirror like this one
98. DVD's
99. Cell phone car charger
100. Child sized harmonica
101. Luggage tags
102. Personalized coffee cup
103. Travel alarm clock
104. Baby legs
105. Personalized mom bracelet or necklace with children's birthstones
106. Perfume/Cologne
107. Speciality chocolates such as See's
108. Mini tripod
109. Cute umbrella
110. Earbuds
111. Flower bulbs
112. Monogrammed baby wipes case
113. Passport holder
114. Raw honey like this
115. Small digital picture frame
116. Webkinz
117. Snow cap
118. Digital luggage scale: here's one
119. Chalk
120. iTunes giftcard
121. Digital measuring tape
122. Bubbles
123. Watch
124. Wine thermometer
125. Tickets to the zoo
126. Speciality coffee such as this one
127. Bath toys
128. Monogrammed burp rags
129. Makeup brush set
130. Binoculars
131. Barbies
132. Child "character" flashlights
133. Jewelry box
134. Recipe cards
135. Swiss Army knife
136. Belt
137. Small lint roller
138. Key chain
139. Baby rings to attach toys to a carseat
140. Coloring book
141. Birthstone earrings
142. Throwback candy - Pez dispensers, pop rocks, nerds, fun dip.
143. Kindle
144. Scrapbooking supplies
145. Personalized fortune cookie (you can have your own message put into them)
146. Universal remote
147. Hand sanitizer
148. Silly Bandz
149. Family Christmas ornament
150. A handwritten note from Santa

Friday, January 13, 2012

101 Elf on the Shelf Ideas

Has your family adopted the Elf on a Shelf tradition but find that you are running out of crazy fun ideas each year? To help keep the tradition alive, I’ve listed 101 things your Elf can do this season.

1. Marshmallow fight – marshmallows everywhere
2. Pillow fight – feathers everywhere
3. Nerf gun fight – darts everywhere
4. Laundry fight – clothes everywhere
5. Lipstick on mirror message
6. Crepe paper barricade on their bedroom door that they have to bust through
7. Rearrange story books in ABC order or in a pile of disarray
8. Clean closet or make mess of closet
9. Fill tub with bubbles till the point of explosion
10. Hang from shower nozzle with a towel on
11. Unroll toilet paper roll on the floor, around Christmas tree, etc.
12. Zip down a zip line through the house
13. Caught sneaking candy
14. Eat milk and cookies
15. Organize school clothes – mismatched haha
16. Write a message on the on the snow covered car window
17. Create a paper chain with a bit of a mess to show for it
18. Hang child’s unmentionables on the Christmas tree
19. Hang from chandelier or ceiling fan
20. Make faces on school pictures with a marker
21. Take a spin in toy car/remote control car
22. Play board game with stuffed animal friends or action figures
23. Tea party with stuffed animal friends
24. Read book, newspaper, e-reader, ipad, computer, etc
25. Listen to child’s ipod
26. Play child’s DS/itouch
27. Play video games
28. Draw picture
29. Color in coloring book
30. Dump toybox
31. Create a block tower
32. Switch as out closet clothes (i.e. take chunk of child’s clothes and switch with chunk of sibling or parents clothes) or switch out dresser drawer clothes
33. Hide rocks in shoes
34. Hide one shoe
35. Sit in shoe, holding shoe laces as if going on a sleigh ride
36. Turn everyone shoes into superhero shoes
37. Plant magic seeds with directions to water once a day. On 3rd day something will grow. Secretly plant lollipops on 3rd day. I love this Magic Elf Seeds idea from East Coast Mommy!
38. Make cookies – flour everywhere
39. Make Reindeer food
40. Turn toilet water blue
41. Turn milk blue
42. Take picture of child sleeping
43. Hang out on child’s bedpost
44. Knit a scarf or hat. Not literally, Jen. Come on.
45. Make paper airplanes and fly them around the house
46. Park the car backwards, down the street, crooked, etc.
47. Put toothbrushes in toilet or clean toilet with toothbrushes– yuck (make sure new standbys are waiting in the wings)
48. Type /write an amazing letter of all the wonderful qualities your Elf has witnessed of your child!!!!!!!!
49. Have a package arrive via UPS/US Postal Service – new clothes for your Elf ordered by yours truly.
50. Hide parents phone, keys, or mom’s blow dryer
51. Recreate your family tree that now includes your Elf
52. Nothing. If your elf didn’t move overnight then perhaps their behavior contributed to their elf not moving.
53. Fold clothes, empty dishwasher, vacuum
54. Dust, sweep kitchen
55. Rake leaves/shovel or play in the snow
56. Dance party – music playing & stuffed friends dancing
57. Game day – playing soccer, baseball, basketball, dance, gymnastics, karate, etc in the house
58. Complete child’s homework or add pictures on homework
59. Make phone call
60. Drink Pepsi & milk
61. Run on treadmill/ ride exercise bike
62. Sew on sewing machine
63. Play cards
64. Learn multiplication facts
65. Play dress up – wearing mini homemade reindeer ears, etc.
66. Cover a room with Post-it notes on EVERY wall
67. Watch movie with popcorn & remote control
68. Build something great with Legos
69. Change all clock times
70. Take all the kitchen cabinet knobs off
71. Unscrew all the light blubs
72. Lock car keys in the car (parents have to have good acting skills & time on their side)
73. Tear up child’s old homework
74. Have a friend or relative call child thanking them for your Elf’s white elephant gift (child’s missing toy, clothes, artwork, etc)
75. Skype a friend/family member as your child is waking up (get someone to play along)
76. Cut coupons
77. Wrap gifts or cut up wrapping paper
78. Cut out toy pictures from toy catalog
79. Try on mom’s jewelry
80. Elf packs school lunches but mixes up everyone lunches (each child receives siblings lunch – great conversation piece at dinner)
81. Short sheet child’s sheets – ha ha
82. Cool off a cup of HOT chocolate with a stationary fan, see ours here.
83. Elf writes his own X-mas list – Elf clothes, Mrs. Elf, candy, etc.
84. Create a scavenger hunt for the kids with clues leading to mischief
85. Leave paper trail (or dog food trail) through house
86. Hang wet clothes on clothesline outside– especially funny in colder climates because their clothes will be stiff
87. Build a family fort with a name on the front
88. Wrap a new gift for the kids to open – exciting and thoughtful
89. Turn all the kitchen chairs backwards
90. Turn all the breakfast plates upside down
91. Swing on outdoor swing set – chilly
92. Sit by warm fire – cozy
93. Punch stuffed animal in the throat
94. Cover lawn with Easter decorations such as plastic eggs
95. Fill room with lots of balloons or hang them from ceiling
96. Build snowman
97. Write a secret message to child with invisible ink
98. Create a mask & cape out of paper/cloth – Super Elf! Perhaps he can be hanging from the ceiling by fishing line.
99. Inspire reading, writing or imagination – leave a new book to be read or ask child to write a list things they are thankful for or ask child to finish Elf’s half written story making it as silly and creative as possible
100.Write a message in the snow (better for little ones who won’t notice the obvious footprints)
101.Pin fluffy tail on the back of child’s pjs while sleeping –great for hard sleepers.

The dilemma of taking care of elderly parents.

It has become the baby boom generation’s latest and, in some ways, most agonizing life crisis: what to do when the parents who once took care of you can no longer take care of themselves. Raise your hand if you’re one of the 60-year-olds reading this who has one or more living 80-year-old parents.

Listen in on a group of middle-aged children of the elderly, and you’ll hear that even the most casual mention of aging parents is likely to open up a Pandora’s box of anxieties. These are stories told with tears, with exasperation, and sometimes, when they can take a step back, with laughter. Not funny ha-ha mirth, but more like the hysterical laughter we all experience at those moments when we’re forced to come to grips with the absurdity of life and our own helplessness.

Even if their parents are still doing fine, middle-aged children need only look around at friends and neighbors to be reminded that these anxieties will become theirs one day. Indeed, most of the children I spoke with in the research for my book, “60 On Up: The Truth About Aging in America,” actively worry about their aging parents, often well before their parents need any help.

I see it with my own 63-year-old daughter, who wants me — her 87-year-old mother — to be in touch when I leave town, even if only for a few days or a week, who calls when she’s traveling though she never did before, whose anxiety announces itself over the phone lines when we haven’t talked for a while: “Are you OK?” I tell her I’m fine, ask her to stop worrying. “It’s my turn to worry,” she replies.

She and her husband have regularly spent some weeks each year in adventurous travel abroad. Now, she’s reluctant to go away for so long and resists going anyplace where she’ll be out of reach for more than a day or two. When I tell her that her anxieties are overblown, that her fears are unfounded, that I want her to go and enjoy herself, she looks at me and says, “It has nothing to do with what you want. It’s what I need.”

It’s a response that moves me to tears, while a little corner of my brain thinks, “Yes, I know, but that’s your problem. It has nothing to do with what I need right now.”

When she read these words in an earlier draft of this article, she called. “I think you left something out here, Mom.” I’m quiet, puzzled, waiting for the rest, until she goes on to remind me that when she phoned to say they were back after their last overseas trip, my immediate response was one of great relief — “as if,” she says, “you were holding your breath the whole time we were gone. You actually told me that you were relieved and that you didn’t really like it anymore when I’m so far away for so long.”

I resist at first, wanting to tell her she’s making more of it than I meant. Then I remember the rush of unshed tears when I heard her cheery, “We’re home!” at the other end of the phone line, remember, too, how comforted I felt to know she was nearby again, relieved of an anxiety I hadn’t even fully known was there.

“But I also meant it when I said I don’t want my feelings about this to determine how you live your life,” I say.

“I know,” she says, “but that’s only because you think you always have to be the mom. I love you for it, but it can be a pain when I feel like I’m getting mixed signals and when you try to protect me when I don’t need your protection.”

Another reader — the adult child of another mother — to whom I sent an earlier version of this article, sends an email pointing to this passage and says, “It would be nice if you’d expand on what you do need. Parents tend not to say what they need, and we children are left to try to figure it out, which leads to problems when we make mistakes.”

These issues between parents and children, the mixed messages on both sides — children who say they want to help but who already have too many demands on their time and energy, parents who say they don’t need anything but clearly do — are an old story. It’s not news either that adult children have always worried about their parents, that they’ve always cared for them in their old age, and that the role reversal is inevitably a wrenching emotional experience for all concerned.

But the demographic and cultural context in which this takes place is vastly different now than it was a century ago. Then, few women worked outside the home, so someone was available to care for an ailing parent. Today, a changed culture combined with economic need has put most women in the labor force alongside their men, which means that there’s no one at home to take care of Mom or Dad when they need it. Then, life expectancy at birth was just over 48 years; today, it’s close to 80. Then, so few lived to 65 that there is no record of life expectancy at that age. Today, if we make it to 65, we can expect to live another 20 years. And one-third of those over 65 need some help in managing their daily lives; by the time they reach 85 (the fastest-growing segment of our population today), that number jumps to well over one-half.

The result: Middle-aged adults may well spend more years caring for a parent than they did for their children.

Those in their 60s and 70s, who looked forward to these years with their promise of freedom from the responsibilities that bound them before, are now asking: “When do I get to live my life for myself?” The younger ones, who at middle age are already stretched thin by their own financial problems — worried about how they’ll provide for their children’s education, whether they’ll ever have enough for their own retirement, how they’ll live the rest of their lives — are asking: “How can I do it all?”

No one wants to ignore parental needs, but unless there are financial resources well beyond what most families can dream about, how to meet those needs is a problem with no easy solution. For the children, it can mean bringing their parents into their homes and, among other things, dealing with a spouse’s grumblings about the intrusion in their lives, teenagers’ complaints about giving up the privacy of their rooms and coming home to Grandma or Grandpa after school – a tempest that sometimes strains marriages to the breaking point.

If there’s one word to describe the dominant feeling on both sides of the bridge that connects the generations at this stage of life, it’s “ambivalence.” “I love my parents, but…” That’s a line I hear spoken repeatedly as women and men struggle with the duality of their feelings — their love for their parents; their sense of obligation; their guilt that, no matter how much they do, it never seems to be enough; their difficulty in coping with their own needs, with their jobs, their families, their fears about their future and, not least, the inability to see an end in sight. The parents’ stories are the mirror image of their children’s. “I love my children, I know they want to help, but…” The words say they appreciate their children’s concern while they feel it as an infringement on their autonomy.

Children grumble about how hard it is to reason with their parents, about how they resist any change even when it seems clearly necessary. Parents complain about unwelcome intrusions, about being talked to as if they were incompetent children. “It’s what happens when you’re old. You lose all credibility, and people treat you as if you’re half brain-dead,” observes an 86-year-old father heatedly. “It’s damn insulting, and I don’t like it any better when my children do it. Worst part of it is, they don’t get it. They just write you off as being difficult.”

His 79-year-old wife agrees but speaks with more understanding of the difficult situation in which they all find themselves, welcoming her daughter’s caring while also resenting her interference. “I know she doesn’t agree with our decision to stay in our house, but that’s only because she wants us someplace she thinks is safe, so she doesn’t have to worry.” She hesitates a moment as if considering whether to go on or not, then adds, “I don’t know exactly how to say this, but sometimes I think the kids are selfish, too. I mean, I know they love us and want the best for us, but is it an accident that what they think is best is what will relieve them, whether it’s really good for us or not?”

An accusation that’s not without some merit, but one also that doesn’t take account of the complex and conflicting feelings both generations juggle. Looked at from the parents’ side, there may, in fact, be something self-serving in the way children push parents to give up their home, their cars, their lives, so that they can stop worrying about them. Some even acknowledge it. But step into the children’s shoes, and you wonder: Who’s selfish? Is it selfish of parents to insist on maintaining their lives and the home of a past they can no longer live easily without considering the price children pay?

True, parents didn’t count the cost, whether financial or emotional, when they gave themselves over to caring for their children. But parents chose that life. It wasn’t forced on them by circumstances outside their control, and the legitimacy of their authority to do so was unquestioned. But taking care of Mom and Dad profoundly interrupts the lives of adult children who have no authority to control or manage the situation unless their parents willingly hand it over. “I feel like I’m being torn to pieces,” cries a 48-year-old woman as she struggles to balance her care and concern for her 70-something parents who need help and don’t have the financial resources to pay for it.

Her parents’ response: “We just want her to stop nagging us and let us live our lives the way we want to.” I remind them that their daughter says they can’t afford to continue to live their lives as they have.

“That’s our problem,” her mother replies, hotly. “We’ve managed until now. We’ll manage again.”

It’s a no-win situation. Parents commonly resist their children’s attempts to intervene, but they are often in denial about the depth of their decline and can’t or won’t see what’s plain to others: They need help. If children back off from the conflict, their parents can fall through the cracks. If they don’t, parents are often resentful and difficult. “They think because their father died, I need them to tell me how to run my life — where to live, how to spend my money. It’s ridiculous. I love them and I don’t want to get upset and argue with them, so I finally just stopped listening when they talk. Sometimes when I know it’s one of them calling, I don’t answer the phone.”

It’s an upside-down version of the familiar passive-aggressive drama between parent and adolescent child: “Where are you going?” “Out.” “Who are you going with?” “Nobody.” “What are you going to do?” “Nothing.” Just as parents must decide when to intervene and demand answers, so adult children sometimes have no choice but to take control.

“My mother is furious with me because I insisted on moving her into an assisted-living place,” says a 70-year-old man mournfully. Then, his sadness turning to anger, “For God’s sake, she’s 89 years old and has arthritis so bad she can hardly move. I don’t think she’ll ever forgive me, but when I found her on the floor because she fell and couldn’t get up, there was nothing else to do.”

There is no right and wrong here, no black and white; there are only shades of gray in situations so murky that it’s nearly impossible for either parents or children to know just when it’s the right time to take a step, make a move. Children, who think they see the line more clearly, push their parents to a decision, mostly out of loving concern but also because they need some relief from the worry and the burden. Parents fight more tenaciously to hold on to what’s left, as each step of their decline poses another threat to their sense of self. They tell themselves they’ll know when the time has come; then one day they slip, fall and can’t get up. Or at some unseen, unfelt moment, they slide past the time when they were mentally capable of making a reasoned choice. For a disease of the mind doesn’t arrive with the drama of a broken hip; it travels stealthily, taking little bits and pieces as it moves through the brain, each one seeming inconsequential in itself until one day the person has slipped over the edge.

What to do? I have no easy answers. What I do know is that one of the great challenges facing both the nation and its families is how to take care of our parents and grandparents — a problem that is increasing exponentially as 78 million baby boomers have begun to move into the ranks of the elderly. In an article last month in the New York Times about the failures of Medicare — what it does that it shouldn’t do, what it doesn’t do that it should — Jane Gross tallies some of the social cost: “Right now, there are 47 million Medicare beneficiaries, costing a half trillion dollars a year, or one-fifth of the nation’s health spending. In 2050, the population on Medicare will number 89 million. How scary is that?”

Scary enough to push us to lift our voices for some radical change in the way healthcare is delivered in our nation. I know, I know. We’re living in a moment when the rise of the political right, and the consequent gridlock in Washington, has even made it socially and politically acceptable to propose the abolition of Medicare and Social Security as we’ve known them. But that doesn’t mean we must suffer in silence. Rather, we — both parents and children — have to make ourselves heard on behalf of the kinds of changes that will lift some of the strain from the backs of both generations. At minimum, a change in Medicare policy that would allow for long-term care, whether outside or inside the home, without requiring that the recipient be impoverished — a policy shift that would ease the financial anxieties of both generations and surely assuage some of their psychological anxieties as well. At best, a national universal healthcare system that, like those in every other Western democracy, would ensure healthcare for all Americans and wouldn’t break the bank, as our present for-profit system threatens to do.

Meanwhile, take a deep breath and come to terms with the reality that our new longevity is both a blessing and a curse — a blessing because we live longer, healthier lives than we ever dreamed possible, a curse because old age sucks. It always has, and it always will, because it is, by definition, a period of decline that takes a toll on those who are old and those who love them. The only difference now is that, because we live so long, our children suffer it right alongside us.

“This was supposed to be my time,” says a 75-year-old retired widower whose 94-year-old mother has been living with him for 13 years. “It’s hard not to think, What about me? I’ve had some heart problems, and I think about that and know that, well, you know, I could die anytime and I’ll never have had the chance to live these years like I wanted to.”

More Lillian Rubin

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Scratch 'n' Gift DIY Advent Calendar

Make these cards as your Advent calendar. Kids can scratch the paint with a coin each day to reveal a new fun idea.
Advent clips
What you'll need:
25 1" wood circles, small number stickers (1-25), 2 colors of acrylic paint, paintbrush, 25 miniature clothespins, tacky glue
Make it:
1. Press a number sticker firmly on the center of each wooden circle. Apply acrylic paint over sticker and remove sticker immediately; let paint dry.
2. Paint the front of the clothespins in the second color; let dry.
3. Glue wooden circle to top of clothespin.
Advent cards
What you'll need:
Cardstock, scissors, clear packing tape, dish soap, acrylic paint, paintbrush, string
Make it:
1. Download the Advent cards using Adobe Acrobat Reader. All card text can be altered; customize it as you like.
2. Print cards onto cardstock and cut each one out along the dashed lines.
3. Place a piece of packing tape over the center of the card, covering text.
4. Mix 1 part dish soap to 2 parts acrylic paint and paint over the packing tape. Allow to dry completely. Once dry, repeat the process for a second coat.
5. Hang cards on string with clips.


To help save the economy, the Government will announce
next month that the Immigration Department will start deporting
seniors (instead of illegal's) in order to lower Social Security
and Medicare costs.
Older people are easier to catch and will not remember
how to get back home.
I started to cry when I thought of you.
Then it dawned on me ... oh, crap ...
I'll see you on the bus!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Make a Package Bow


In gift wrap emergencies when you've got the present but need some wrapping,
here's an idea for turning a magazine page into a bow.
There may be better ways to stick this thing together,
but I used what I had on hand: staples and adhesive glue dots.
Double stick tape should work, too

Cut a magazine page lengthwise into 9 strips, 3/4" wide.
Leave 3 of the strips full length.
Cut one inch off 3 of the strips.
Cut two inches off 2 of the strips.
Cut the last strip down to 3 1/2" long.

Twist each strip to form a loop at both ends and staple it in the center.
Shape the last, short strip into a circle and secure it with a glue dot.

Layer the 3 longest pieces on top of each other, spacing them evenly and securing each with a glue dot.
Add the next two groups of pieces, doing the same.

And finally, stick the loop into the center.

Hard to Learn......

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Christmas 2012

My grandkids from 16 years old to 2 - 2 year olds