Blog Stalkin’ DayDreamin’ Funny Friday!

Seriously I think I need a life. There are so many hops and things that I want to participate in on Friday’s that I decided to do a few in one post just to save you all the annoyance of 87 different posts today, see how kind and thoughtful I am =) So, let’s get right down to it shall we?

Blog Stalkin’ brought to us by Destiny of Rockin Mama everyone should follow her, she is no nonsense in your face straight up. And she’s hot. See, you should totally follow her!

Next up is Friday DayDreamin’ brought to us by Becca from R We There Yet Mom? if you are looking for great travel tips and places to visit, this is the place you want to be. Becca and her family love to travel and she is sharing her wealth of knowledge with the rest of us! Definitely follow her and tell her I sent you!

My picture this week is from San Diego. I love Balboa Park and we try to go there whenever we visit my In-Laws. This is just outside the arboretum and there were little baby turtles sunning themselves all along the edges of the water. It was so cute!

And last but not least is Friday Funnies brought to us by Rachel from Because I Have To. I love this one for the simple reason that I totally agree with her that by Friday we all need to laugh so let’s post something hilarious to share and we can all get a laugh!

This is my Boxer baby, Summer showing the broom who’s boss. She cracks me up!!



Mom Owned Business Spotlight

Are you a mom? Do you have a business? Are you interested in being a Mom Owned Business Spotlight guest here on A Lil Dash of Diva? Send me an email or reply to this post and let’s chat about the specifics.


Halloween Costumes for Dogs

I am not one of those people who buys outfits for my dog, I will admit I have looked at them but I just can’t get myself to do it. Granted I live on the face of the freakin’ sun and there is no point in subjecting my dog to wear an outfit when she is already dying of heat. But there is another reason, they just look crazy! I can’t stop cracking up at the dogs in costumes at Halloween especially. Princess and I went to Target the other day and of course we had to go down the Halloween section. She found the dog costumes and it was over. I thought some of them were absolutely hilarious. Take these for example..

Some of these dogs are giving a look like ‘bitch I will cut you if you don’t get this shit off me, right NOW’… while others are like ‘look at me I’m a pretty butterfly lalala’

like this guy

he is NOT amused

but then this guy here, he is like that’s right bitch the nurse is in the hizzouse so outta my way


Then of course there is Princess Leia…you know that dog is thinking ‘Captain, being held by you isn’t quite enough to get me excited.’ *


But this one really makes me giggle…he won’t even look at them he’s so pissed!

He is thinking just you wait…soon as you are asleep I will take my revenge…

*Princess Leia quotes

OneHope Wine and a Recipe!

Ok, so first off I just have to say, if you haven’t checked out Klout yet, you are missing out! The higher your Klout score the more awesome the perks you qualify for! One of the perks I have qualified for and taken advantage of is a FREE bottle of wine! Yes ladies, I said FREE! All I had to pay was shipping and I got a $20 bottle of wine from OneHopeWine. This company is awesome, they donate a portion of the proceeds from each bottle of wine to charities. The charities they donate to are based on the type of wine you choose. Plus, you can also select an additional charity they will donate a smaller portion to. I got my bottle from the UPS man the other night and finally opened it with dinner last night. I had chosen a Zinfandel. I typically like white wines, the more sweet tasting the better. However, this Zin is amazing. It has a lovely aroma and the taste is not dry and bitter at all.

To go along with this awesome bottle of wine, I decided to make a pesto pasta with chicken, garlic and spinach topped with fresh parmesan cheese. This is one of my favorite meals, so easy and super delicious!

Cook the chicken in some extra virgin olive oil with garlic and pour some of the pesto sauce over them in the skillet

Add in the cooked noodles and chopped up chicken back in with the rest of the pesto sauce, then add the spinach and parmesan at the very end

Serve with a fantastic wine and you are ready to dig in!



Target Tuesday

Is it just me or does it feel like the last Target Tuesday was like weeks ago? Let’s get this party started then, if you haven’t heard about Target Tuesday before let me tell ya about it. Tara at Fabulous But Evil hosts Target Tuesday every week. You peruse the Target website and then make a post of the things you are jonesin’ for, then link up with her and that’s it!

I love me some picture frames and these are a few of my absolute favorites!


Hospice of the Valley

So within a month of moving my MIL out here, we set her intake appointment with Hospice of The Valley ( Our intake nurse, John, was awesome. He answered all of our questions, treated us like we were already part of the family. He went over all the details about Hospice works and what we needed to know. After John left, we talked things over and decided that yes, this is what we needed to happen. We knew that we wouldn’t be able to take care of MIL on our own without Hospice and because she wanted no more treatment for her cancer, we knew that things were only going to get harder. We called them back that afternoon and said please sign us up. The next day John came back out with our intake packet and we signed all the papers and that was that. That evening we had her medications delivered to the house and the next day we had a meeting with our charge nurse, and social worker. We learned that we would have resources at our disposal for everything. If we needed respite care we just needed to call to get on the list. When we needed meds refilled, just place a call and they will send them out, if something was not right with MIL, they would send a nurse out that day…it was such a relief. Relief that we didn’t have to do this on our own. Relief that we wouldn’t be expected to carry such a heavy burden all alone.

The two GMA’s

Hospice was amazing. They came out at least once a week to check in with us and MIL. We had a CNA who came twice a week to bathe MIL for us. We had a social worker who talked to us and acted as a marriage counselor a few times..I don’t know what we would have done without Carrie.

Of course just because we had HOV, doesn’t mean that life wasn’t extremely stressful. I am the one who stayed home, therefore I took on most of the care of MIL on a daily basis while Sean worked. I was overwhelmed daily with the difficulty of caring for my 4 year old daughter, my MIL who was dying of brain cancer and my GMA who we were told had dementia and I will eventually get to her part in the story. Life was really not fun…There were really not enough hours in the day to get everything I wanted or needed done. I tried to come up with a routine and schedule so that everyone in the house knew what was happening and when. Both MIL and GMA were still able to participate in household chores and things so they each had a list of things they did so I didn’t have to worry about those things and both of them still felt useful. I would set up times for all of us to go to the park so that my daughter was still allowed to be a child and it was good for the GMA’s as I started calling them to get out of the house. It was hell on me. Have you ever tried to keep track of 2 senior citizens and a 4 year old at a park or the grocery store or the mall? Yeah, my advice is to NOT TRY IT! lol. Unless you have help it is not a good idea. I would get everyone rounded up and try to keep my eyes on all of them and inevitably one of them would sneak off in one direction and then another in the other direction. Not only that, but one of the GMA’s was the stage in her disease where she thought taking her clothes off at any time and in any place was a good idea. We started calling her the Naked Bandit. It’s a running joke now and if I am honest it was kinda funny at the time, but still hard to deal with. I couldn’t have playdates at my house because the GMA’s were not appropriate most of the time.

Marilyn with my SIL at my niece’s birthday party

I remember one time I had one friend and her two boys over and MIL had been doing fine and was visiting with us. She got up and went to her room and a few minutes later came walking out of her room stark naked. I had to run over to her and get her back in her room and dressed again. Thankfully the friend that was here was very understanding and she laughed it off. One of the harder things to deal with was when MIL would tell me she didn’t have a son. I would show her pictures of the family and tell her who everyone was in the picture and she would say to me, ‘no you must be mistaken, I never had a son’. I knew better than to argue with her, you have to meet dementia/Alzheimer’s patients in their reality, not yours. She would look at pictures from my wedding to her son and point at me and say who is this, she looks familiar but I don’t think I know her. Then trying to explain this to my 4 year old daughter..that was hard. I had tons of mommy guilt over the course of time that we had MIL and GMA with us. I still feel it, I still feel like I didn’t do enough to shield and protect her from what was happening and that it’s damaged her in some way. Yet on the other hand I know that because we included her in the entire process including meetings with the Hospice team and all of the discussions about what was happening that it made it easier for her to deal with and accept that this just is a natural part of life.


Being a Caregiver is Hard Work

The beginning of my story starts about 4 years ago. My husbands mom was diagnosed with cancer. Again. This is the 3rd time. We have been living in Arizona since we got married in 2004 with my MIL still living in Iowa where my husband is from. I am a Stay At Home Mom to our daughter who was 2 at this time. We had been talking for some time about MIL moving out here to be near us and to allow her to spend as much time as she can with our daughter before it’s too late. Sean and I talk to my SIL, Sean’s younger sister and we all come to the conclusion that its time, whether mom is ready or not, we have to get her to move out here with us. Its just not safe for her to be living alone anymore. We discuss treatment options with MIL and her doc’s. Everyone agrees on a course of chemo and re-evaluate after a few months of that. If the chemo is working and MIL is feeling good about continuing with it, then that is what she’ll do. Her biggest concern was that she would not have a good quality of life being on the chemo. We told her that if she tried it and found she was just too sick on the chemo that we would fully support her decision to not fight anymore. This was after all her third battle with cancer. Her first battle with cancer was was 13 years prior and breast cancer. After that it was constant health issues and doctor’s appointments and surgeries. About 10 years after the first cancer, she was diagnosed with sinus cancer. She did the treatment and it went into remission. But we all knew it was only a matter of time before there would be another diagnosis. Then it happened and it was time to start the process of appts and treatments and all that all over again. MIL did 3 rounds of chemo. She met with her oncologist to discuss how it was going and if it was working to shrink the tumors. To all of our dismay, she wanted to quit. Her oncologist supported that decision because the chemo was not working. The tumors were not shrinking. It was now obvious to us that this was it. Just a matter of time at this point. The doctors agreed and said its time to start getting her ready to move in with one of us. It took about a year to convince her to move out here with us but finally we did it.

During this time though we ended up moving into my grandmothers house to help care for her and the house. But that is a whole other blog! In the new house though, we had a space for MIL that would be a nice room for her to have her own space and not have to share the room with anyone or anything. So we bought her ticket and made plans for her to come out in October of 2008. Literally a week and a half before she was to move out here, we got a phone call from her sister saying that she was in the hospital at the University of Iowa and was needing surgery on her brain. Apparently during a routine scan, they found masses and fluid on her brain. Uh oh. This is not good. We called the hospital and spoke with mom, then spoke to her nurse and were filled in on what was happening. We of course had noticed the decline in mom’s speech and memory and those were some of the biggest reasons we pushed to get her moved out here sooner rather than later. Mom ended up being in the hospital for a week, she had tests and surgery to remove some fluid from her brain. SIL ended up flying out from her home in Montana to be with MIL and Sean flew out the day MIL came home from the hospital. There was a lot to be done after all to get her moved out here that weekend. Her doctors gave the ok to fly and said she has maybe 6 months to live. Gave orders to get her into an oncologist within 2 weeks of getting her moved out here and that was that.

A few days later, Sean arrived home with MIL in tow. It was amazing the difference in MIL’s appearance from the last time we had seen her in March of that year to just a few months later in October. She had aged 20 years it seemed. She was a frail little old woman now who could barely walk on her own anymore. Shocking really. The first week she was here was really difficult, it was a constant battle of trying to get her to understand what was happening and why. Reminding her hourly why she was here and that she wasn’t moving back to Iowa, she was going to be living here now. That was hard. It was hard for her and hard for us. It was hard for Sean because he wanted his mom to be the same woman she had been when he was young. We had to do most everything for her. We got her into the oncologist and that was frustrating because we knew that she didn’t want any treatment. She was done. The oncologist wouldn’t write an order for Hospice because he wanted her to fight it. So we went to our family doc with her and he did agree to the Hospice.

We then called Hospice of The Valley and that is the best decision we made.


Friday DayDreamin’

Thank Goodness, we made it to Friday!!!!!!! Time to celebrate, yes?! I don’t know about you, but I am gonna kick off the weekend with a little DayDreamin’ with Becca from R We There Yet Mom?, she has great tips for traveling with a family along with some awesome stories and pictures of her travels!

We took a 2 week long road trip to Iowa a couple of years ago. Our reason for the trip wasn’t necessarily a happy one, Hubby’s Mom had passed away in January of 2009 and we had her Memorial in September of that year back in Iowa. We made a lot of great family memories on that trip though and I am so glad we were able to take the time to get across the country. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Once we got to Cedar Rapids, we stayed with an old friend of MIL’s for a couple of days before going to stay at Hubby’s friends house in the small town he grew up in (Mount Vernon).

This is Main Street in Mt Vernon

We went to a high school football game, a college football game (both of which were teams my Hubby played for) and got to visit with friends and family. One day we went to a local farm to walk through a corn maze and see the animals. Hubby had known this family who owns the farm for years of course and they said just go explore, so we did. Kroul’s farm had cows, chickens, ducks, rabbits, dogs, kittens and a few other animals. They had tons of pumpkins, corn and a bunch of other veggies they grow on the farm. One of their kids played football for the University of Iowa Hawkeyes and was drafted by the New York Jets, he is on their practice squad now (Matt Kroul).

This was one of my favorite parts of the trip. I never knew corn grew so tall! lol, I’m a city girl and Hubby laughed at me when I told him I had no idea it was so tall. Great memories from this trip!