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Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Review of Rakuten And Does It Benefit the Caregiver

Have you seen the commercials? Rakuten is easy peazy cash back, enough to pay for Christmas presents. Well, I'll admit, it is pretty good. Will we get rich though? I doubt it, but hey ... cash back from stores where you shop already? That sounds good, right? Is Rakuten worth it? Quick answer: yes ... so far. 

What we're looking for as caregivers is how to simplify life, stay joyful, and save dollars. We don't need another online program to join that might take away precious time and perhaps money, and add yet another tasty or sour morsel to our plates? Trust me, I'm trying to work this online business thing out myself so I waited to join Rakuten only to find out, when I finally went to their website, I had already joined four years ago. Say what?

Needless to say, I had zilch in that account but decided to see what the fuss was about and start using it. 

Go figure, it works. In two days I've made, wait for it ... $2. Okay, okay, not the gazillions they're talking about ... yet. Nonetheless, I'm determined to make this work, yes I am, simply because it was free to join and I'm curious.

Join here, if you would, because like everything else online they have an affiliate program. Getting the word out seems extremely important to them. So there you have it.

I assume the reason why I've made a measly couple of dollars thus far is because I've only shopped at Walmart where I ordered a few supplies like toilet paper, bird food, and those unmentionables for Dad. Rakuten gave me 2 percent of my total bill. Think about that though, I always shop online at Walmart and never received 2 percent back and depending on the day (like a holiday) the percentage could go higher.

My family depend on meal kits like Hello Fresh and never knew Rakuten pays back $10, and even $30 on New Year's Eve. Oh my! If only we had known. If I receive $10 back per week I can now pay of my daughter's Christmas present ... almost.

What's nice, of course, it's free to join. Then you add the Rakuten app, which is an extension on your browser. It's quick and easy and so far no problems for me. 

Yes, I confess, I'm sold on Rakuten. I'm actually a little too excited about it. I need to chill because, you know, this will translate into bugging my family and friends so they join. I have bills to pay therefore, I'll be a bug for a while. I truly believe they'll be excited about it as well. 

Quite frankly why isn't everyone using this? You shop like you usually do—Walmart, Target, Kohl's, Ulta, Bed Bath and Beyond, Amazon, a bazillion other stores and get money back. For caregivers this is one easy, yes peazy, way to earn some of that hard-earned cash back. There's no anxiety to it, as Rakuten will let you know how much you can earn every time you visit a site. 

I just went to the Hobby Lobby site for a little research, and even though they have a 40 percent sale going on right now, you still get 2 percent back from Rakuten. Win win!

Payment is quarterly (every three months) and you must have $5 in your account. That seems like no problem. Of course, I haven't been paid yet. I will update this post as soon as I do.

This was a quick and short review. Hope you join me, it's not necessary, of course, but I'm all about finding simple ways to bring savings and joy to our everyday days. Peace, Love, Joy, and Sappiness to you ALL.

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Welcome to 2020, New Beginnings, And the Joys of Caregiving

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Welcome to 2020. January begins a new month, a new year, and a new decade. 

It's January 3rd already? I started writing this blog post on the first. Ah, such is the life of a caregiver. It was a boring 3 days anyhow. Nothing special to write about unless, of course ... well, it is worth mentioning that I've set down some new rules, some guidelines ... um, I mean suggestions. Suggestion number one: We should start praying before our meals again. 

What? You say. Yes, I'm afraid I got spiritually lazy. In my defense, it takes hard work to get Dad to the table. Sad to say, but directions fall into that black hole of his mind after 3 seconds. Then just when Mom sits down, she decides that this is the perfect time to make her bed, gather clothes for laundry, and look for her cup of water. Oh, I'm telling you, this year I will remain joyful and calm even while breakfast gets cold and, alas, we forget to pray. No longer! No, Lord, we will remember to give thanks.

So Dad comes alive for a few seconds and prays—a short, sweet, simple prayer of thanksgiving. And we do have a lot to be thankful for. But sometimes, the praiseworthy things are lost in the "how are we going to manage this?" thing. 

2020 is a do-over for a lot of us. I see it as another second-chance, refreshed, redeemed, revived by Jesus. That's chance number gazillion for me—I'm living out life on borrowed time, my friends. Swimming in that ocean of Grace and Mercy. And he's glad to give me the extra days. How 'bout you? 

Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert. ~Isaiah 43:19 

This morning I was delighted to see that Mom and Dad had dressed themselves, ready to go at 6:30 a.m. to bring my daughter to the train station. The air was fresh, the sky was blue, no traffic on the freeway, everyone was in a great mood, and San Bernardino Train Station is beautiful. In my hurry to secure the dog, I forgot to take pictures. My daughter sent me one of Union Station in LA to let me know she made it safely. I always appreciate that. (btw, did I mention I now am the caregiver of three. Yes, it's true, our precious husky now has diabetes, and is blind. It happened so fast.)

Union Station in Los Angeles
In any case, on the way home I realized how much both Mom and Dad were enjoying this short road trip. They took in all the scenery as if they'd never been this way before. They had, but those memories fade. So I let them enjoy the new-ness of it all. If a trip down the freeway (Thank the Lord the drive on the 10 through Redlands and Beau-mont is quite pretty) brings them joy, then why can't I rest in that? Indeed, I think I will. 

“It is not settled happiness but momentary joy that glorifies the past.”C.S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life
Close to home now, we visited their most favorite place in all the world ... McDonald's. The simplicity of this astounds me. An Egg McMuffin, a cup of iced coffee, sometimes yogurt (I'll try fruit next time), and sneak in extra fries and joy comes in the morning. Blood pressure, perfect; blood  sugar, okay. We're good for the rest of the day. Wait, it's nap time. Thank God!! There are blessings in this everyday day of a caregiver. 

SidebarI asked Mom the other day in my attempt to bring good spiritual habits back, if she could still read? Her eyes are bad and I do need to get her tested for new glasses, but I suggested she read out loud the devotional I had read for 2019 by Joni Earickson Tada called More Precious Than Silver.
She hesitated at first, thinking she couldn't do it. Deciding the better choice she opened the book and lo and behold she got super excited ... and she was only reading the foreword and copyright pages. When she finally arrived at the devotional part both she and Dad began to smile, filled with joy that this was something they could still do. The Word of the Year is Joy!

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Spring Chapel 60 piece puzzle for dementia and Alzheimer patients

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Happy New Year Everyone
Be Refreshed, Redeemed, Revived

Thursday, December 26, 2019

2020 Word of the Year and How I Found Mine

I've never had a Word of the Year before, I guess I never found the right word, or a phrase perhaps. Maybe I didn't think about it much. But this word kind of fell into my lap; This word my friend, Julie, pointed out for me. Tada! My 2020 Word of the Year is ... JOY! 

It's part of The Caregiver's Devotional's slogan: Love, Peace, JOY, and Sappiness. These words can bring life to a caregiver, yes, even sappiness. Love, Peace, and JOY will walk us through a lot of dark places, like Anger, the Battle Zones of our minds, and Hopelessness. 

Julie gave me a journal for 2020, which I will fill with stories of JOY. Even though we caregivers cry sometimes, for no apparent reason, there is always hope and a chance for true JOY. Maybe we shouldn't look for it, maybe we should ask Jehovah Tsidkanu for it.

Julie and I studied Philippians together and I mentioned that this is a book of Joy for me. "Why," we asked. It's written by Paul when he was in prison, chained to a Roman soldier. But almost every verse is filled with JOY.

I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now; Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. ~Philippians 1:3-6

It's long been my favorite book and I would recommend every caregiver to read it through over and over. It's pure JOY I tell ya! And Paul didn't find JOY under a Christmas tree. He had it while chained, mistreated, isolated, and separated from people, people he needed to spread the Good News to. 

But because the God of peace, Jehovah-Shalom, was with him, he experience that unspeakable JOY. I mean, think on these things as we take care of the everyday days in our care-giving journey.

Finally brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and heard,and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you. ~Philippians 4: 8, 9

Waking up this morning to the sound of hard rain and a sight of gloomy grey clouds, I said a quick prayer before my feet hit the floor and thanked Elohim for the rain, another day, and that life can now get back to normal—Caregiver normal that is. I remembered my Christmas presents and realized either my family and friends had read my "2019 Gift Guide for Caregivers," or everyone bought gifts for each other with exactly that individual in mind. We get each other. My family and friends are a JOY to me. 

I smiled as I brought my presents to my room and was grateful that my friend, Julie, had chosen JOY for me. Every one of her gifts, down to the tin can, which I will use for prayer requests, and Almond Joy was carefully planned out with that theme ... JOY. I'm still smiling.

2020 Word of the Year is JOY

Will you have a Word of the Year for 2020? 
Would you let me know what it is, 
and why, or perhaps how, you chose it?

The joys of after Christmas Sales

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Gifts Ideas for the Caregiver

Having been a caregiver now for almost three years I believe I might have just a tad bit of an idea of what would be the most awesome, and thoughtful, gifts for caregivers. I think other caregivers will agree, at least I hope so. But if you're stuck and don't really know what to get for family members or friends who are caregivers here's a list of Gift Ideas for the Caregiver as seen through my eyes, so to speak. 

Clothes and Pajamas

Caregivers are on the go a lot, quite often it's to the ER. Nothing worse than looking in the hospital mirror and find out you're clothed in whatever was the first thing you laid your hands on (even if it's from the laundry hamper). To have a wardrobe filled with comfortable yet stylish clothes would bring a smile to any caregiver. Pajamas that don't really look like pj's are also appreciated. Sometimes a caregiver's duties can start at 5 in the morning and we forget to get changed till the doorbell rings. 

Macy's PJ's and Robes Clearance

It's true, I love chocolate; chocolate covered marshmallows on a stick. Yum! Even Dad, who's diabetic can have some dark chocolate once in a while. I have to say there's nothing better than chocolate.

Gifts baskets, too. Give me some Gouda Cheese with Salami bars and table water crackers in the mix. Love! These can last a while for a pick-me-up during the everyday days of caregiving. Yes, please don't overlook the simple gifts. 

This might get a little tricky. But trust me, this would make the most appreciated gift. Think about having to provide 3 meals a day, plus healthy snacks in between, for the ones a caregiver is looking after. Not having to worry about dinner makes such a huge difference. We use HelloFresh and it has saved my sanity. Two meals a week lasts us four days, sometimes we have leftovers, but not often. 

The tricky part of course is that you as the gift-giver would have to sign up with this service and receive the meals or you can send it direct. You can skip a week of meals if you need to. But if all family members, or a group of friends, could pull their finances together and give the gift of fresh home-made dinners, that would be amazing. 

Caregivers need shoes. They need easy to put on, comfy, supportive shoes that will match any outfit. But more importantly to keep the feet and soles happy and healthy. Pushing Dad in a wheelchair all over Sea World, for example, is quite the accomplishment. Good shoes; Happy caregiver.

This is also a great gift for the caregiver's patients.

Coloring Books

Coloring is very calming. It's good for the soul of a caregiver, but it's also a great option for the loved ones in their care. Coloring outside the lines is totally acceptable, so are purple cows, and polka dot rainbows. My mom will take a few hours a day to enjoy this art form. 

A gift card from Starbuck's
For movies or food
Any restaurant is welcome, 
Even a Scratcher or two

A day at a spa
A massage for sweet care
Or just a few days
If you gift a TimeShare

A gift card from Walmart
For there are the gift cards
All waiting for you

Most caregivers, at times, have felt lonely, alone, isolated, and even forgotten. Sometimes all it takes, and not just at Christmas, but maybe more so at Christmas, is a hug, a phone call, or bring by something you homemade just for them. It's amazing how anything homemade can make one feel special. Etsy has made a business out of it. Pinterest is filled up with it. Make them something special and have yourself a blessed and Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Scirptures About Christmas

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(Merry Christmas. All Scripture is taken from King James Version)

It is good to pause during this season and remember why we celebrate. We probably have the wrong season, date, and time, but I don't think that matters. Celebrate that He came and, by the way, he chose Mary and Joseph to be his caregivers.

From the Old Testament

  • I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth. ~Numbers 24:17

  • But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from old, from everlasting. ~Micah 5:2

  • Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. ~Isaiah 7:14

  • For unto us a child is born, unto us a child is given: And the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. ~Isaiah 9:6

  • And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD. ~Isaiah 11

See more Christmas Scriptures from Shutterfly ... 

From the New Testament
Prophecy fulfilled

  • Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. ~Matthew 1:23

  • Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east and come to worship him. ~Matthew 2:1, 2

  • When they had heard the king (Herod), they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh. ~ Matthew 2:9-11

  • And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: For thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Most Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father, David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end. ~Luke 1:30-33

  • And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them (the shepherds), and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. ~Luke 2:11:14

Sunday, December 1, 2019

How to Beat the Christmas Blues

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And the angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone about them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. ~Luke 2:9-11

I'm one to rush through the holidays, how 'bout you? Wanting to enjoy the season, but secretly wishing it would peacefully pass me by. Too many presents to buy with a budget of zero; holiday food to buy, prepare, and everyone, it seems, has legitimate food issues. 

Ah, but I may have a few tricks up my cozy coffee-stained sleeve this year, and it fits quite well into my caregiver kind of lifestyle. My first big revelation is to not worry about the finances. Going into debt to buy presents? Nope, I just can't afford that.

Therefore, it's going to be a homemade Christmas. I'm hoping my family doesn't read this blog. I mean, seriously, who has family who reads your blog? Please let me know how you've accomplished that if you do.

Nonetheless, it's going to be a very Pinterest kind of homemade Christmas. You might be amazed to learn that being creative is an awesome Blues Beater; Lots of canning, jam-making, sauce experiments, my specialslightly spicysecret crackers recipe, and Friendship Tea, chocolate loaded with sugary goodness, and some without sugar at all. 

Every ingredient is in my pantry already, I've received donations of Christmas material, craft paints, pretty paper, brown gifts bags without logos or images, a cupboard full of tin cans, and a whole bunch of other items I need to make gifts for Christmas. Yarn, pretty yarn, however, is still absent from my list. No worries, we'll just move on to something else.

It has brought Christmas joy in my house, even before Thanksgiving because that's another way to beat the Christmas blues. Start early, take your time, make it easy. By the way, some of the presents, my pretty tin-can-table decor to be precise, has already been swiped by Mom. Okay, back to the drawing board, so to speak.

Image may contain: plant and flower
I call them Tin Can Softies ... or just Softies.

Will the recipients like their homemade gifts? I don't know. But it comes from my heart and I made them with love; sappy, I know ... but it's true.

Image may contain: plant, table and indoor
I like to use them for my glasses and the remote since I'm constantly losing them. We'll add candy and chocolate later.

Image may contain: plant, table and indoor
The garage is turning into a lovely winter wonder land. We're adding lights, too.

Creating things has lifted my spirits this season; not worrying about whether they'll be appreciated has given me freedom and a sense of peace. 

I've used apples  from our back yard to make jam and apple sauce; orange peels to make candy; persimmons for salads (will try making cookies); pomegranates for puddings, fresh juice (adding the apples as well); and lemons to add flavor to all of the above. Furthermore, putting apples, cinnamon, a dash of lemon, and agave in the slow cooker makes the house smell very Christmassy ... and that's how you make apple sauce.

I've also learned that decorating the house and the outside of the house can be done over the course of a few days, maybe weeks if you start early. And even the process of decorating is calming and enjoyed by Mom and Dad (both suffering from dementia). If you never get to the outside, just let it go. 

And maybe we as caregivers shouldn't make such a fuss about Christmas dinner, especially if you're hosting it. Stick to the menu that's easiest for you. I make a great Dutch Mac & Cheese. I'm just saying. Ask your friends and family to do it potluck-style this year. Mine's pretty good about that.  

Check out Pinterest (Here's my account) for 100's of different and creative ways to have yourself a Very Merry, Frugal, and Creative Christmas. There's wisdom when women share their expertise, Godly advise, and creativity.

As a caregiver we tend to work toward making the season a happy one for the ones receiving our care. But if we don't take care of ourselves first we won't accomplish that in the slightest. And though it's definitely a season to put our own interests aside it may only be for a season ... it's just a pause, I think. God is always up to something, He is our joy, peace, and rest. I'm pretty sure He will redeem the time for us.

Take Care of Yourself
Eat Right; Eat Fresh
Wear Comfortable Shoes
Stay Healthy
Read a Good Book
Write Poetry
Buy Deborah flowers and chocolate (IJS)
Watch an Uplifting Movie

Thursday, November 28, 2019

How To Have a Happy Thanksgiving


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As I write this post it's pouring outside. I'm watching the Lions and Bears battle out on the football field. I'm picking the Lions since they're down to their 3rd string QB. Football always makes me get into that happy Thanksgiving spirit. Having the fireplace flame on is like the whipped cream on the pumpkin pie. That's not my favorite kind of pie by the way. How 'bout you?

Mom and Dad are trying to learn the game, which is quite hilarious. They would like to know why we call it football when no one is allowed to contact the ball with their feet. We protest that the kickers do. They also complain that they can't see the ball. I confess I'm not the one to be teaching them. Both of them have decided to make their own rules and we'll just let them. It brings a whole lot of happy

Pilgrim, Girl, Thanksgiving, Holiday, CelebrationFor me the happy in my Thanksgiving starts in the car. Around 2:30 p.m. today we'll head out to my brother's house hoping that my little red, four-wheel drive Jeep Renegade also known as R2DQ will keep us safe. I've got precious cargo on board. Nonetheless, asking the Lord for travelling mercies would probably be better. 

So I pray for God's mercies on the road today as we travel from here to there. I try to keep it happy in the car. Nice music, the heater on, drive slowly, and get them (Mom and Dad) a nice cup of hot coffee. Can you say Toasted White Chocolate Mocha?

Remember to take plenty of whiffs of that turkey in the oven, the pies, and all the trimmings. Say aah and ooh a lot when you see that Thanksgiving table and say thank you. Make the host feel appreciated. It takes hours to prepare that meal and only a few minutes to devour it. Give thanks! 

This is a chance to make wonderful happy memories. Leave the politics far from this gathering. Make Jesus always the center of the conversation (or how you behave)center on His goodness, lovingkindness, and mercy especially when beloved non-believers are present. You are the bridge to Jesus not the gavel. 

So I pray for the one (my amazing sister-in-law) who's preparing the meal and her home for her guests for strength especially, patience with us, joy in her heart, and rest.

Right now I'm looking out the window and that rain is falling down hard. My friend is questioning whether we should go at all. It's true, but I can't imagine not showing up. Good thing we kept her reversible umbrella. It's easy to get into the car and the raindrops are contained inside the umbrella. I know, it's wonderful. I'll get it back to her soon. 

Well, my clothes are in the wash because I decided to be comfortable in my very flowery LulaRoe pants, which needed a good washing. Dress comfortably, I say, presentable yes, but I'm gonna be me. 

This was a quick post to ride out the storm, to remind myself to celebrate, to bring happiness to the table, and to wish everyone a most awesome and blessed Thanksgiving. 

I read somewhere that Sharing is Caring

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