11.27.19 Chauvin Family Thanksgiving Gathering 2019

Golly geez whillikers!  We enjoyed our family’s Thanksgiving dinner with our two son’s families last Saturday! Several little adorable Chauvins running around, fishing, playing on the hammock, enjoying Bo and Peep Duck and eating Thanksgiving dinner!

Bo and Peep are used to peace and quiet and the only people around them are two old folks who walk slowly. I can’t imagine what they thought when the active little children invaded their quiet life! They were waddling around A LOT more than usual! They are not flying ducks but they can fly a few feet. I expected to see some of that with the little folks chasing them but they just waddled around and squawked and quacked! Before our family Thanksgiving, Roy added some flat stepping stones in front of their cage because as he said: “their little short legs have trouble climbing into their cage.” Isn’t that the sweetest thing!

Our sweet grandpuppy, Misty’s little baby dog, Samson was the star of the day. Everyone wanted to hold his cute cuddly self! He’s never been held so much and by the end of the day, he was sound asleep in his mama’s arms! In most of the photos below, if you see children, you also see Samson!

This little girl does not stop unless you ask to take her picture!

Our oldest son spent some time fishing with his son. They both caught a lot of fish.

This is what I dreamed of when we created our picnic area! Everyone was having fun and I got to spend some quality time with my oldest granddaughter.

The hammock turned out to be a lot of entertainment for the little girls. You can see the holes starting in this first picture. Nothing tore, the strings just moved apart and the girls loved it!

Madisyn is in the hammock with her sweet brother Samson.

Then all four girls crawled in there with Samson the strings really started to separate, still nothing broke but you can see in the second picture below how their body parts and even heads came through.  Their mama and I were sitting at the table right next to the hammock and she kept a good eye on all that.

This was Roy and I after everyone went home! I don’t think we moved from there for over two hours!

A memorable family Thanksgiving gathering in the books and lots of love shared with all!  Most families are celebrating on the traditional Thanksgiving day. I hope you and your families have many memorable moments together! We’ll be spending the day watching Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, cooking and eating more Thanksgiving food and watching the Saints play football in the evening!

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11.23.19 “Gooch of the Day,” by Andrew Kane

Andrew Kane’s mom had dementia. He wrote this FB post on the group Being Patient: Brain Talks which I read from time to time.  It helps me a lot reading how others handle what they are going through or how the caregiver describes life with a dementia patient. My personal dementia journey has included so many ups and downs, so much frustration, and sadness watching what was me leave over time. I do want to share more with ya’ll but I can’t seem to sit down and share. I will though, soon.

Andrew obviously loved his mom. I love her nickname “Gooch” and hope this will help educate someone, give comfort to someone or a better understanding of the awful disease called dementia..

Here we go “Gooch of the Day”

“Gooch Of The Day”… (as seen on my instagram) … unfortunately this will be the last “Gooch Of The Day” as my mom, “Gooch” (my dad’s nickname for her and her grandkids called her) passed away last night from complications caused by Alzheimer’s and old age.

LET ME FIRST PREFACE THIS by explaining I am posting this to assist others with family members affected by Alzheimer’s to explain some of the things that my family experienced.

My family was one of the lucky ones as Gooch was still as happy as ever. I can’t imagine if she became mean as many people with Alzheimer’s do.

She became a little girl again and would laugh and joke and even pee in her pants from laughing so much! She was always happy and still very proper and polite always thanking everyone or helping other people. She even offered her wheelchair (stroke related) to a physically fine stranger that was standing next to her as there weren’t any more chairs in the room.

She lost her filter as age often does and always said what was on her mind. We would just say “shhhh Mom”.

Her recent and short term memory deteriorated over the past 3 years relatively rapidly but she could remember so much from the past. Just recently I asked her what our phone number was on Barberry Lane where my sisters and I grew up. Sure enough sh,e blurted out the number with area code …(315) 637-3___… amazing… no hesitation!

So back up 3 – 4 years in Connecticut, she was found wandering around her assisted living facility several times not knowing where she was and even going outside looking for her car which she did not have for several years. They could not assist a resident needing memory care. It was time for her to move back to Syracuse.

That reminds me that every move made things worse so if you need to move your family member try to decorate the new place as close to identically as possible which is tough as usually you are down sizing as we were. Change always causes problems… “where am I”, “let’s go home”…”this is your home, mom. See the painting of…” I would reply.

As she became “younger” she would talk about the past more and more and think she was living in the past. She thought the Nottingham Health Center was her high school, Nottingham High School.

You had to learn to tell her “therapeutic fibs” so that she would not think about her failing memory and then get upset…. “Dad’s out golfing mom… probably having a beer with the boys afterwards” and she would huff and puff and then forget it. If you said “dad’s dead mom” that would just cause anxiety.

One of the most negative things that really affected her was anxiety. Anxiety that she didn’t know where she was, anxiety about where Dad was, anxiety about losing her memory.

The busier you kept her with activities the less anxiety… but for the times that nothing was going on and family was not with her the Savior was “Kiffy”, a Hasbro mechanical cat that meows, purrs, lifts it paw, wiggles it ears and opens & closes its eyes. All you had to do was give Mom Kiffy and she would settle down. You see Gooch had cats while we were growing up and most recently had the real Kiffy which unfortunately she could not care for and was given to a niece. In comes “Kiffy” to save our Mom. My family and I thank Hasbro for manufacturing moms’ mechanical cat (they also have mechanical dogs and babies). Find the thing that calms your loved one.

We were also “lucky” as mom didn’t forget any of her kids when we came to visit. She had trouble with me as she often thought I was her brother. But at least knew I was family. But my three sisters were normally recognized immediately. Often this is not the case and I am sure she would have forgotten us eventually if she had lived longer but who knows.

Be patient more than anything. Realize it is not their fault and they have no control. I originally was not patient with her continually asking me the same question over and over. I would say things like “Mom you just asked me that”. I fed the beast that was within her and she would get anxious and upset.

Not until she moved back to Syracuse did I learn to be patient as her primary care giver. You have to just answer as if it was the first time she asked you and then attempt to get her focused on something else… that is why keeping her busy is so important. It hurt so much seeing what was happening to her but we always felt comfort that she was a happy person overall.

Mom (“Gooch”) passed away due to Pneumonia/fluid in the lung, fluid around the heart which was caused by asphyxiating on food and liquids & medicine required to bring her temperature down as high blood pressure, irregular heart beat and low oxygen levels had to be regulated. The inability to walk to get rid of the fluid in the lungs and heart was a huge detriment as well.

I sincerely hope that this helps others that find themselves in a similar situation.

And thank you Being Patient: Brain Talks as your members educated me and in turn I hope to educate others!

Roy and I just had our family Thanksgiving gathering with our two sons and their families. We are worn out but very happy!

My precious granddaughter Madisyn brought to me her twin baby dolls, Madison and Mason. I’ve loved them and she is letting me have them for when the time comes in my dementia journey that they may give me a calming comfort.  I’ll share photos and more about them in a future blog post!

I hope each and every one of ya’ll has a very very HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

 

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11.20.19 Roy’s pain update

Roy saw his orthopedic spinal surgeon, Dr. LaFleur, Monday. The MRI shows narrowing of his spinal canal and vascular claudication.

Narrowing of the spinal canal is a narrowing of the spaces within your spine, which can put pressure on the nerves that travel through your spine.

Surgery is probably needed for the spinal narrowing, either fusion of several spinal vertebrae with a 6 month recovery or a lessor spinal surgery to decompress his spine with a 3 month recovery. Roy doesn’t want to have either surgery right now sincie the Thanksgiving, Christmas seasons are coming up.

He will have an epidural steroid injection as soon as we can schedule it when seeing Dr. Rochelle on Thursday in Hammond. That should numb the pain until he can have surgery. Roy will go back to Dr. LaFleur two weeks after the shot to see if it is helping. 

Roy will start physical therapy as soon as we can get it scheduled to get his body in better shape for whichever surgery he has. There is a good PT in Amite so he’ll go there. We are waiting for his first appointment to be scheduled.

Roy has vascular claudication and has to go to the vascular surgeon Dr. Eckholt on December 12th to find out if his blood circulation in the area of the aneurysm is causing or worsening his pain in areas other than his back. The orthopedic doctor wants to know that.

Last but not at all least Roy has to stop smoking to help his body get in better shape help him with the surgery and healing after. His appointment with them is on Monday at 2. So we will spend our 47th anniversary there!!

Roy is still in pain but if the epidural shot works he’ll be able to get lots of things that have built up around here taken care of while he’s not in pain. I’ve tried to do what I can to pick up his slack. Things like finishing putting on a new door frame, miter out places for something on the door frame, or putting door handles on all of the doors in the house are above my pay grade!

We both appreciate all of the prayers so far. I’ll keep ya’ll updated as progress is mnade.

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11.16.19 Chauvin Produce Company – end of season report! Bo & Peep Update!!

Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning the temperature here was in the mid-20s for several hours.  This is unusual in Louisiana for November. It will be the end of what’s left of our vegetable garden.

This is our last Chauvin Produce Company report until next year. I’d give our 2019 garden a B-. After Roy pointed out to me all our failures I probably should say a D+! We learned a lot of lessons this year and have a lot more to learn to do this gardening at a better level.

Our okra crop has been phenomenal. It gets an A+. The production has dwindled down to maybe 5 fully grown okra a week. Way down from 10-20 every day which we picked for months. These pictures show two things. One, that there was still plenty of small okra wanting just a few more days to grow.

Two that the stalks are now so scrawny and tall. What’s there is the second growth weeks after the original stalks were cut down  These started off about six inches high and then grew and grew to be between 3 to 6 feet tall. Most of the leaves have fallen off leaving the scrawny stalks. After Tuesday night’s freeze, we’ll need to pull these up and the tiny okra will not be able to grow to adult size.

Today is the day after the freezing night. This is the top of one of the frozen okra plants. They have been such strong plants it is sad to see them like this.  So the end has come to the 2019 okra crop. They will be pulled up on Thursday. I just tried pulling them up and they developed such strong stalks at the bottom that I only got three pulled up before having to stop.  I’ll go back and pull more up later.

I took this next picture because pictures I’ve taken like the one above do not show how thick and strong the stalks really are. Many of the roots were at least 3 feet long.  This has been our best crop and will definitely be planted next year.

All the tomato plants have died and were pulled up. We’ve grown tomatoes in the past several times, even while we were living in Minnesota and they have always done really well.  This year we tried to grow from seeds and from small plants and the produce from these plants was pitiful.  Roy took over the tomatoes at one point and even with him trying various things it just did no good.  They were the skinniest, scrawniest tomato plants. So sad. They get a D-

Bo and Peep, our ducks, finally found the garden and waddled around it a bit!

Each bell pepper bush had several flowers on them getting ready to birth young bell peppers! The bell peppers get an A-.

Overnight all of the bell pepper bush leaves froze and are all limp leaves now. They will all get pulled up tomorrow.

The artichoke plant struggled to grow since planting it in the garden. No artichoke has even tried to form but it is showing no signs of being affected by the freeze.  It will be left alone and we’ll see what it does all alone in the garden! It’s the only plant still in the garden and can stay there until Roy tills the garden soil early next year.

All of the leaves on our fig trees have fallen off like they are suppose to.  What isn’t supposed to happen is for a new fig to develop yet here it is! They got a C+ for the season.

The daisies aren’t in our vegetable gardens but the beautiful plant that Ellen Smith gave us at Easter is blooming away again!  The freeze didn’t affect them which I found odd but I’m glad it didn’t.

Report on this year’s crops:

Next year we will not grow corn, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, onions, broccoli, watermelon, cantaloupe.

The watermelon and cantaloupe crop failures were my saddest losses. They produced lots of vines and several small watermelons and one especially nice cantaloupe which was eaten by something overnight. Only one watermelon grew to a decent size and it was delicious. All the rest (about 12) of the watermelons never grew any larger than a baseball and then stopped and died! We even tried growing them in two different places but that didn’t help

The corn was cool to grow and looked neat but out of two crops of 10+ stalks each, we only got 6 nice corns from the first crop. They were delicious but not enough to make it worth the work involved. The second crop of 10 produced nothing edible. A lesson to pass along is that corn grows just as well when planting a seed into the ground as it does when growing it from seed inside and transplanting into the garden.

The cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, and broccoli got a disease and had to be pulled up. The disease spread to no other plants, thank goodness.  I tried in September to grow those from seeds and after growing the seeds inside for three weeks the pretty little plants were eaten by the mystery critters.

Eggplant plants did really well at first producing several nice size eggplants.  After that first crop, what we got was small eggplants. They started falling off the bushes and if I didn’t find them right away the eggplants started rotting.  I began pulling them when they were small and preparing them to freeze when I had a bunch of them. Since the first crop did really well I’ve learned that I should pull them up after the first crop is over.

The cucumbers did really well for the first few months. I planted more seeds and those grew fat short cucumbers which were weird and turned yellow quickly so I pulled them up.

The militons were a total bust and that was very disappointing. This was a vegetable we both enjoyed seeing Roy’s mom grow when we were young. We tried really hard and for a while they seemed to be flourishing. They all the leaves and vines started to wither up and died. Lots of flowers developed on the vine before the withering started, but no militons showed up.

I may try potatoes and sweet potatoes again, we’ll see about those. They produced fairly well but the lesson I learned is that if I dug their holes deeper they would have more room to grow further underground.

I’d like to figure out why I had no luck with growing yellow onions, green onions, and garlic.  I’ll probably try again with those.  What I don’t like is that since onions and garlic grow under the soil and you can’t see if it is growing you don’t know until waiting several months that not much was growing.

Another growing below ground crop was our carrots. After around 6 months of growth, they were about the size of my pinky finger.  I’ve grown carrots in the past and they did fine.  Some research about growing carrots is needed!

All of the peanut plants above the ground were chewed off up by the mystery bunnies or other critters that come here at night and eat things. I may grow them in the main garden this year since we are planning to put a fence around the garden to keep critters out!

Our blueberry plants were not affected by the freeze and look really nice. I’m hoping next year they will be old enough to produce more than just 3 berries!

Our new pecan and plum trees were just planted a month ago and look great after the freeze.  I checked with Bracy’s before the freeze and they assured us we didn’t need to do anything to protect them.  Roy put pipe insulation around it for the night of the freeze, just in case.

I’ll end this with a Bo and Peep update on their adventures..

Our sweet duckies are enjoying pecking around where the bell peppers were pulled up!

They are loving it here and have developed some cute habits. They love watermelon and peck away till they get to the rind.  They also love lettuce and grapes and will gobble up a small head of lettuce whether chopped up or not.

Roy put fresh baled hay in their cage before the freeze because Roy learned that is warmer for them than the pine straw that was in there.  Their nice thick cage cover helped to keep them okay that night and every night. They now go into their cage every evening without any fighting!

Another thing they do now is to sit at the top of the hill where they can see everything from there like we do from our kitchen window. They follow us everywhere we go outside. When they hear the back door opening they run to see what we are doing. I probably should say they come waddling to us! They are so cute and sweet and again we are thankful to Bonnie and Tony for giving them to us. When they swack, quack and waddle around the yard Roy and I sometimes squack, quack and waddle with them. They probably think we’re crazy humans but well, we are!

I painted them a Bo & Peep Chauvin rock and individual Bo Duck Chauvin and a different one for Peep Duck Chauvin to lay on their cage cover during the day when the cover sides are laid on top of the cage.

Well, that wraps up this year’s garden updates and a Bo and Peep update!  After just now pulling up our okras, some of which had 3 foot long strong roots, I am ready for at least a couple of months of no gardening before we start again next year!I’ll be using this time to learn how not to do whatever we did wrong and maybe how to make our positive vegetable growing even better!

Ya’ll have a Blessed weekend!