Electric plug in grocery store scooters

Mom & I had to go grocery shopping- for both our households. Unable to land a better offer, Jo decided to join us. We showed up at Winco at 2:30 on a Friday afternoon. Strike one. We've done the grocery store thing before. I can get mom's chair out of the trunk, assembled, get her into it, get Jo out, get Jo put into the baby carrier on my back, and be in the store in like 5 minutes flat. But today was a bit different. We needed to do HEAVY DUTY grocery shopping. Tillamook ice cream+asparagus+pastrami style grocery shopping.

So we get in, and mom has been wanting to use one of those electric plug in scooters they keep at the front of stores. I keep shooting her down. Logistically it seems like a bad plan. She persists, I give in. We park mom next to the scooter (which I can't figure out how to start) and I go off in search of Winco's finest. In Winco's defense, I really did fine a super nice woman.

We get back to mom and some old guy is making a decrepit slow-motion attempt to jack her scooter!!! I said, EXCUSE ME SIR! MY MOM IS WAITING FOR HELP TO GET INTO THIS SCOOTER! I mean seriously- she all but had her hand on the wire frame basket. And she's in a wheel chair- this sneaky guy slithered right up on his own two feet. He hurumphed about it and then walked away in search of his own plug in grocery store scooter. And just in case you were going to lose sleep over the old man, don't. I saw him scooting through the produce aisle not much later.

Ok fine, so mom's got the scooter and a five second tutorial on how to drive it. I think, "that's plenty of direction. That's how farm kids learn to drive, right? When they're like 8? We'll be fine." She scoots away looking quite smug and I scurry along, trying to guard her left side. Scratch that. I'm trying to guard OTHER PEOPLE from her left side. We made it almost to the bulk food section before she hit her first display. It was croutons- luckily they proved to be a resilient stacked food. I am happy to report that though we did some poorly planned (ODOT-esque) traffic stopping 6-point turns, we did not run anyone down. Though now that I think of it, Mom did go AWOL twice...which is plenty of time to hit or mame innocent shoppers...

80% of the way through the store we ran out of room in the front-trunk-basket of the plug in grocery store scooter. I guess it wasn't designed to hold $200 of dual-family groceries. Most problematic was that 18 bottle packs of Coors Light are merchandised about 83% of the way into the store. I was not leaving Winco without beer (and in fact, was considering a mid-shopping intermission to enjoy aforementioned beverage) so I rocked it Milwaukie-style: beer on top of chips, bread, mushrooms, and other squishable items.

Checking out at Winco is an interesting way for the store to clearly drive home their value proposition: Save lots of money on your groceries, cuz you're baggin' 'em yourself, sucka! The kind hearted customer service person surprised us at check out with mom's wheel chair. She had good intentions, but for a moment I just stared dumbfounded at the scene before me: mom in a scooter (with the coors I had protectively packed FIRST back into the basket), a half filled shopping cart, an empty wheel chair, and the conveyor belt backing up with unbagged groceries. I was quickly jolted back to reality thanks to my daughter, who had discovered in the previous 120 minutes that being packed on your mom's back positions you perfectly for such delights as back biting and hair pulling.

With groceries bagged and mom returned to her non-electric mobility device, we were finally ready to exit the store. I told mom to wait by the front door while I went to load our groceries into the car. I quickly realize I cannot fit $200 worth of groceries in the trunk because Mom's chair has to go there. An expletive may have slipped. While shoving groceries into the backseat and breaking whatever eggs the coors missed I see from the corner of my eye my MOM whizzing down the parking lot. "MOM! WHAT ARE YOU DOING!!!????" She throws her good foot down and artfully arcs towards the car, coming to a complete stop at the passenger side door. "I realized it was downhill" she tells me. I cringe at the thought of a left-side-neglecter crossing parking lot traffic.

And then, we got in the car, opened a bag of potato chips, and drove home. My only real regret was not taking a photo.


Care Monger & Carebegrudger

I go to great lengths to get my head right before I blog. I want to be in a calm, peaceful state of reflection so that I can project my BEST me to friends & family. I type, all the while imagining what gratuitous comments I might inspire. WELL NOT TODAY. Here goes...

1. 7:00 pm (last night): Mom decides to call it an early night & go to bed. Dad goes upstairs to have a drink, watch tv, and count his pennies. I am glad that he's getting a little time alone- he's a tired guy & needs some downtime.
2. 7:30 pm: Mom needs to go to the bathroom. I go in & help her.
3. 7:40 pm: Mom doesn't seem tired so I suggest we watch a movie & eat chocolate. I interrupt Dad's reprieve to ask him to build a fire for us (we're cold). He does so kindly & then resumes off duty caregiver status.
4. 8:30 pm: Mom is tired of watching the movie & just wants me to tell her how it ends. I concede.
5. 8:35 pm: I get mom back in bed, set her up with her book (now she feels like reading for a while)
6. 9:00 pm: I try to work for a while but can't stay awake. I go to bed in the living room.
7. 10:00 pm: Jo cries, I get her & bring her to bed with me.
8. 12:40 am: Mom wakes up, I help her go to the bathroom.
9. 12:45 am: She calls me back to move the commode which is allegedly emitting bleach fumes near her cpap machine, which is "quite dangerous and annoying," you understand. Off duty caregiver is heard closing his bedroom door to get some peace & quiet. To this, on duty caregiver says, "hrumph."
10. 1:20 am: Stroke survivor wakes up, caregiver helps her go to the bathroom. Jo cries & needs to be nursed to sleep.
11. 1:50 am: Stroke victim needs some pillows adjusted, please.
11. 2:40am: Stroke victim wakes up, caregiver assists to the bathroom. Caregiver incredulously laments the fact that this is the 3rd bathroom visit in the last 2 hours. Care needer "thought she'd only gone once so far." Caregiver informs care needer that she is quite sure it has been three times.
12. 2:50 am: Care needer needs the commode moved again to avoid "toxic bleach fumes" which caregiver cannot detect. Caregiver ungraciously shoves commode into the corner and stomps out.
13. 3:05 am: Therapy dog barks at something outside. Caregiver yells at dog. Care monger hears that caregiver is awake and yells for help. Caregiver gets back out of bed to see what care monger wants. Care monger wants her pants taken off. Caregiver pulls her pants off and throws them in the corner. Caregiver sighs loudly as she stumbles back to bed for dramatic affect.
14. 3:30 am: Care needer needs pain pills and some water. Caregiver wonders if the "one for you, one for me" philosophy applies?
15. 4:00 am: Jo cries, caregiver nurses her again. Care monger deduces that caregiver may be awake and yells for help. Carebegrudger & baby stomp into care monger's room. Care monger needs the pillow that fell off the bed.
16. 5:30 am: Off duty caregiver (aka, the DESERTER) leaves for work but has the very good sense not to make coffee or breakfast in the living room/kitchen where on duty carebegrudger is trying to sleep.
15. 6:40 am: Jo stirs & starts to wake up. Care monger yells for help. Carebegrudger puts pillow over her head (her own head- she wasn't trying to suffocate the care monger...yet anyhow). Care monger persists. Carebegrudger & baby help care monger to the bathroom. After going to the bathroom care monger makes a move like she's going back to bed. WRONG. Carebegrudger informs her that we're now up for the day & there will be no going back to sleep.
16. Care monger observes out loud that carebegrudger has an apparent mean streak. Carebegrudger replies, "you have no idea."
17. Care monger inquires as to whether carebegrudger will withhold liquids and food as she is also withholding sleep. Carebegrudger threatens chinese water torture.
18. Carebegrudger passively-aggressively suggests an entire day of couponing at walgreesn & rite aid. Care monger groans.
19. Care monger casually asks when the carebegrudger is leaving & the off duty caregiver (the deserter) will return.
22. Deserter stops by briefly to check in- carebegrudger complains about the nights' tribulations. Deserter smiles like a choir getting preached too. Carebegrudger doesn't find this amusing. Care monger tells deserter how much she loves him. Carebegrudger watches on with jaw dropped as deserter smiles smugly at her. Care monger confides to deserter that carebegrudger has no patience. Carebegrudger decides to break up with care monger. Deserter deserts (again) before carebegrudger can make a get away!
23. Care monger & carebegrudger call a truce over starbucks. Care monger is now napping and carebegrudger is climbing onto the couch. right. now. goodbye.



I think it is medically impossible to recover from a stroke without a sense of humor. So in that vein...

1. Dad makes fun of mom's boooring white unders when he dresses her. So last week when we were at Target, Mom had the idea to surprise him with a SASSY pair of leopard print unders. And since she would not be subjected to indecency alone, she bought him a pair of adult sized transformer superhero briefs. As far as I'm concerned I am sure they are not actually wearing these underwear. Because it is TMI to know what kind of underwear your parents wear.

2. Dad affectionately calls mom's left foot & hand "leftie." Today when I was helping her stand to brush her teeth I forgot to take her left foot off the footrest. She said, "Oops- don't forget leftie."

3. Mom sleeps downstairs in the former dining room. Dad sleeps upstairs in the master bedroom. This is a practical solution for two people who snore & generally are not fit for co-sleeping with anyone besides a desperate cat or two. Anyhow, Mom uses her cell to call Dad's phone when she needs help in the middle of the night. I was worried that she would drop her phone so I tied a whistle to the side of her bed. Can I tell you how funny it is to be there & hear a long, shrill whistle coming from the dining room? It makes me smile.

4. Mom's pants fell off in the parking lot of albertsons. Dropped to her knees. We laughed so hard we almost fell over.

5. Mom & I were talking about waxing our brows. Dad said, "Bring some extra wax & i'll give mom a brazilian." Mom pointed at him & said, "Watch it or I'll brazil YOU!"

Dog Park PEEPS!

I love my dog park peeps. We call each other "our pack." Laugh all you like. These people are priceless friends. They walk with you and your dog through the rain and snow and ice JUST so you can exercise your mutt. They are always game for a dinner out at some new restaraunt. They watch your pooch when you go out of town. They would do anything you asked, and they smile instead of roll their eyes if you sign an email, "Tail wagging, Michelle"

Thanks Tony, Tammy & Les for a great dinner last week- you guys are the best company a girl can find on 2 legs :)


When Jo sees the camera she makes the cheesiest smile. What a ham.

To further support my claim, watch how she grins when she thinks a pic is being snapped but REALLY I'm videoing (clever mom):

The Cat's Meow

I was looking for Jo the other day & saw that she had climbed under mom & dad's buffet (unceremoniously shoved in the living room for now while mom inhabits the dining room). She was saying "HIIIIII" and smiling at George. Here's Jo (on the move) and George (stoic).

Ken & Brianna get hitched!

Last week we went to my lovely cousin's wedding in Seattle. The church was gorgeous, the reception was "the best food I've ever had at a wedding" (per luke), and the bride & groom were glowing. It was great to see my family & nice too to catch up with Aunt Laurie who I don't get to see as much as I'd like! The reception was held at Salty's on the water & we had good weather & a beautiful view of Seattle. Here come the pics...
Sadly this was the ONLY pic I got of my cousins! (isn't bri cute!?)

After the wedding Aunt Laurie stopped by to visit mom & love on Jo! Jo loves her auntie laurie!

Blog videos...take THREE

Dad said he taught Jo how to blow bubbles. Hm. Prove it.

Maybe I can get her to do it.

Nope- Ashley wins!

Husbandis Domesticus: a rare breed

I'm a grown woman now, and well past my formative years. As a child I saw love and loyalty in my parent's marriage. Luke & I talk about what we want our children to see in our marriage. But maybe we should talk about what we want them to see in our marriage thirty years from now. Because well formed or not, THIS example of love I'm witnessing is making quite an impression.

Mom's been home for 2.5 weeks. The first week was rough on everyone. Mom was in a lot of pain, she wasn't sleeping well, and she was uncharacteristically subdued and disinterested. If this whole thing is hard, it is made excruciating when mom's spirits are low and hope is hard to come by. I saw tender moments between mom & dad, but I saw frustration and tension too. It is an awkward new dance they have to learn together- new roles & responsibilities, new stresses and challenges. But--- new blessings too. For example- I don't think Mom & Dad have spent this much time together consecutively since before they were married. When Dad leaves for work Mom asks me several times when he's due home. She asks me to fetch HIM to help her adjust her pillows at 4am (apparently I'm incompetent at pillow arranging for stroke survivors). He flirts with her, encourages her, and nurtures her. My dad is a sensitive and caring man by nature, but he has really kicked it into high gear to meet my mom's needs. And in return? She flirts back, she works hard at therapy to make him happy, and she reminds him that she'd probably just hire an ugly grumpy nurse to care for him if the tables were turned :)

So- Dad is a part time plumber/part time caregiver. The other night I arrived & instead of taking a much needed nap I watched dad scurry around (JUST LIKE A MOM!) to get a load of laundry going, clean up the kitchen, etc. In the last 2.5 weeks (as if he hasn't been busy enough) he has: built an ADA shower from scratch in the garage, moved out the dining room furniture & made a new bedroom for mom, hung curtains, cleaned up & fixed an overflowing toilet, grocery shopped, reorganized & cleaned the office and laundry room, mowed the lawn every other day, vacumed, changed mom's sheets, kept up on laundry, cooked, cleaned, worked, painted the ceiling in the spare room, watched Jo Thursday mornings, AND loved on his wife- all on very little rest. What a guy. He thinks it is funny when I act surprised or shocked about all this- like he's been a closet domestic goddess all along or something. Hmph. Guess you can teach an old dog new tricks- like...
COOKING- though we have had SO much delicious food brought to us, this is a dish Dad made all by himself from leftovers!
Baby-proofed the cabinet with wire so Jo couldn't drink pine-sol
taken up a passion for at-home composting (which mom quickly x-nayed due to the smell)
And here's the shower he constructed with the help of Jack & Vern. So I guess he hasn't exchanged ALL his plumbing skills for cooking skills!


Mom's FIRST post-stroke email

This is cute- mom wrote an email to her aunt & cousins... i'm sure this is a total breach of privacy but here it is- I enjoy it for the "111's" which are probably supposed to be "!!!s" but I guess that SHIFT+1 is hard to do with only one hand :)




It has been a busy, chaotic, and WONDERFUL week in the Stephens' household. Mom was released from the hospital Tuesday. By the time I got here Tuesday night I could tell that dad's world has been rocked. I watched him spin around in every direction, trying to work on the ADA shower for mom, helping her go to the bathroom, trying to cook & keep on top of her meds/exercises. Mom's had a month to get used to the idea of being "dependent" on others, but this is brand new for Dad. He's got a great attitude about it, but this is uncharted territory. He's not getting much sleep- mom's up several times a night to go to the bathroom. Poor guy. Good thing he's got a giant heart & a sense of humor. I noticed that by his bed he has the "I love my wife" pin that the paramedic gave him the day mom had her ambulance ride. Yesterday when I got here he had to run to Home Depot. Before he left he passed along specific instructions on how I was to make mom's grilled cheese sandwich. He also showed me exactly how she likes her iced tea. Good grief. Between those two I'm not sure who is the slave & who is the slave driver. Mom's feeling pretty exhausted. She's sleeping right now, and that's good. The thing we have to watch for is that she is sleeping to REST- not b/c she's depressed or wants to avoid therapy.

I think we're in the midst of a rough patch. As mom's strength returns things will get a little easier on Dad. I know people may read my blog & think: "YIKES. That girl overshares." - I've blogged every gruesome detail of this stroke- but I will say that having a written record of this will be a good thing. When we have a "tough" day we can go back & read this post. And that will put things in perspective, and we will be thankful for the minor inconveniences of these new circumstances.

On a lighter note, Mom had her first shower @ home yesterday. Dad & Jack had to carry her wheelchair upstairs, which I got on video. I'll post that tonight, it's pretty funny :)


HERO: I am the wind beneath THEIR wings.

I won't waste my time or yours with fake humility. I'm not saying it's the greatest thing you've ever heard of- but it is possible. I am a hero. People CLAPPED for me today. I risked my life. I SAVED lives. Eight, to be exact. Send me a SASE if you want an 8x10 glossy autographed for you or your loved ones.

Today in the fast lane of 26, the car in front of me hit a baby duckling. Sadly I think my tires also contributed to the demise of the tiny duck. It broke my heart. It got worse when I saw the mama duck & her 8 surviving ducklings waddling eastbound on 26 in in the fast lane-side hazard lane.

I got off the freeway, circled back, and slammed on my brakes to swerve into the hazard lane. I nearly got rear ended- it was VERY foolish, but I was panicked. I got out & tried to catch the ducklings in my gym bag. Thankfully traffic had slowed and a very kind man stopped to help me. We were able to corner them & caught ALL 8. The mama duck flew the coop.

I circled again & tried to find a place on the freeway that was safe enough to pull over & reunite the babies with their circling mom. No such luck- there was no good place for a reunion. Ashley transfered me to the Audubon Society & I drove there with 8 chirping baby ducks on my front seat.

When I got to the Audubon Society I DASHED inside (after an opportunistic photo shoot in the car, naturally.) THEY CLAPPED FOR ME WHEN I ENTERED. Hoards of people flooded out from the back room. They praised my heroic efforts. It was more gratifying than giving BIRTH. They informed me that this was their first baby duckling delivery of the season! I was heady with the glory. I looked around for local or national news crews but there were none to be found (they must have been stuck in traffic or something?)

Anyhow, they got the ducks & RUSHED back to hwy 26 to try & reunite the ducklings with their mom. They called me tonight to let me know they were UNABLE to reunite the duckies with their mom. So sad. They said traffic was too loud & so she probably couldn't hear her babies to come get them. I know she's a duck, but I still feel sad for her. The upside is that these ducks will be cared for at Audubon for 5 weeks until they can be released in the wild. They are LESS THAN TWO DAYS OLD (!) and the lady said I CAN VISIT THEM WHENEVER I WANT!!!! Hm. Go visit my stroke-victim-mom or the 8 ducks I saved??? Hm...

Here's one of my ducklings, Michelle. I named him after me.

The whole flock.




Easter festivities! I'm super lame- didn't get Jo an easter basket, but I did get her some token novelties. She likes the bubbles the best. I let her gnaw on the chocolate bunny for a few minutes before confiscating it-- she REALLY likes chocolate!

This is what happens when you give kids candy:

This is what happens when you give kids candy:


Grama Jo & Kyson, CB & Alyvia- Great Grandma's & their newest babies!

Cousin Kevin!

Cousin Kevin is home- home from Iraq, the army & texas. Wonder which he misses the least :) We're SO happy to have him back & be able to hug him all the time. Also, he is super good with Jo.

Mom's Weekend At Home!

This weekend Mom got to come home for the day both Saturday & Sunday. Things did not start well. Mom asked to look at the dishwasher (um, that should have been Dad's FIRST clue). Dad went to go grab something from the car & when he returned Mom had found a cigarette (seriously I don't know how we overlooked that ONE) in the junk drawer & was scheming trying to light it. DEVIANT! In Seuss terms, "DAD WAS MAD." Thankfully they sorted it out (Mom apologized) before we got there. Otherwise you might have seen mom on craigslist "free to a good, or at least mediocre, home." Lesson learned though- when mom wanted to check her email later in the den we sent in a rotation of stealth spies. No suspicious behavior was observed.

Otherwise, the weekend was GREAT. It was good for mom to be home, and good for dad to get a glimpse at what life will be like shortly. 4 weeks ago he suddenly became the cook, the maid, the housewife, the furniture rearranger, the bachelor and feeder of the cats (which he did diligently...but he forgot to give them any water...). Starting tomorrow he's the caretaker. And THAT is a big deal. Let me make this clear - my mom is NOT a burden. Taking care of her will be a blessing--- but it will be an all together NEW experience for my Dad. And an exhausting one as they learn their new roles & responsibilities. Oh- and the PB&J's dad has been living on? I don't think that's gonna cut it for Mom's dinner :)

There is a tie when it comes to my favorite part of the weekend:
1. Sunday mom wanted bbq'd steak, grilled veggies & roasted rosemary potatoes for dinner. Dad & I were all over the first two, but no one besides mom ever makes rosemary potatoes. Mom scootched over in her wheel chair and carefully oversaw the butter/olive oil/potato ratio. Then she took the rosemary in her good hand & showed me how to crush it up over the potatoes. I am sure there's some sort of deep symbolism or meaning here but I can't put my finger on it- all I know is I get choked up when I see my mom cooking her usual dishes in her wheelchair with one hand, happy to take command of her kitchen once more.
2. The healing power of babies is nothing short of miraculous. I've watched Jo bring joy and light to our family when things were bleak and painful. She's brought smiles to nurses, doctors, patients & visitors in ICU and at RIO. (reality check: she's done her fair share of screaming and flailing at the hospital too!) When we push mom around the halls of the hospital we strap jo to her with the seatbelt. She climbs all over mom in the hospital bed and tries to eat her get-well flowers. But the coolest thing by far was when we transferred mom from her wheelchair to the rocking chair in the living room, so she could rock her baby. Gosh.

The grand finale to a great weekend? MOM COMES HOME TOMORROW!!!!!!!

Mom rocks Jo while dad plays "this little piggy"



Today I got to the hospital at 12:30 and Mom didn't have any therapy until 2. So I hopped in her bed with her & the nurse brought us warm blankets and we spooned and napped. How often does a 30 year old get to do that with her mom? Not often. Then we were whisked away to therapy for 3 hours. We practiced bathroom transfers and bed to chair transfers and low pivot transfers and standing transfers. There is a HUGE difference in the last week on Mom's strength while doing this stuff.

BONUS: she gets to go home for a visit Sat AND Sunday for the day.

DOUBLE BONUS: She got to play Wii for her recreational therapy. Whose invention was rec therapy & why did I not pursue that as a career??? You get to PLAY with people all day. Here's mom working on Wii target practice.