Adulting, elder care, Gangrene Gables


I have done many things in my life as a parent that I never thought I would do. I have uttered phrases like, “Don’t put rocks in the dishwasher!” I have done disgusting things like using a thermometer to help a constipated infant get it all out. While one can never be prepared for parenthood, I had expected these things were just part of the territory. I didn’t, however, know that over the course of one year I would experience just as many of these joys as a daughter.

Sharon: We need to get stool samples to a Quest lab. We picked up the containers on the way back from the dr. One will need to be kept frozen or on ice when being transferred. Sure you are all excited about that.
Me: Sharon has power of attorney on medical decisions, which should include taking stool samples.
Sharon: The new medication for the diarrhea has a restriction of no alcohol, which means no perfumes, lotions, mouthwash, etc. I’ll start checking stuff later tonight for any problematic items.
Eric: But we can still drink when we are around her, right?
Sharon: Anyone know where Mom keeps dish sponges or dishrags? There wasn’t one in the sink today.
Me: I used it to clean up poop. I threw it out even though I knew Mom would want to save it for another blow out.
Sharon: She had several false alarms of diarrhea. Or a tiny bit. The collection hat is next to the commode with the hopes that she will use it in the morning so the collection can be done.
There is a little Lysol in the commode so if either of you is the lucky collector don’t use anything in the commode.
Me: I guess I’m the winner. What are the instructions for freezing and packing the poop on ice? Collecting? What should I know?
Sharon: Bring a plastic spoon that you can throw out. Instructions are on the desk in the kitchen. One teaspoon or thereabouts in the large container which is frozen. Add enough to each of the other vials so the liquid rises to the red or black line on the bottle. Those do not need to be frozen.

I don’t know what the doctor was looking for, but he ordered a stool sample. This is not a big deal for the doctor; he just writes out an order and scrawls his illegible signature on a piece of paper. Honestly, with today’s technology, he might not even need to do that much. He probably has an office assistant do it for him. But for us, this is no easy task. We, the caregivers, are left with all the dirty work.
The instructions were to get a sample of Mom’s diarrhea, to spoon a small portion into a testing vial, and put the sample in the freezer. Then, deliver the frozen sample to the lab. Gross, but doable. Certainly not the worst things we’d had to do to date.
I arrived bright and early on a Saturday morning, unprepared for what the day would hand me. After repeatedly trying to explain to Mom that her part was pretty simple, just to sit on the commode and go, I was finally rewarded with the gift of loose stool. Yay! I set up my scientific lab in Mom’s kitchen sink which I would never be able to look at quite the same again. Rubber gloves on and using a plastic spoon, I was able to prepare the sample in the least nasty way possible. I definitely did not need to be told I should throw away the spoon. I cleaned up the commode, and froze the sample in a double wrapped bag. I was envisioning some poor person getting a nasty surprise when they pulled this treat out of Mom’s freezer and decided to investigate its contents. I labeled it to prevent such a tragic situation.

Me: Two things- I hate my life, and we have a stool sample

Me (later): I’m going to drop the diarrhea off at the lab in a few minutes. (I just wanted to have record of the many things I have had to say lately)
Eric: You know, Barb, you may think it is funny…
But it’s really hot and runny!
phpplt phpllt!
phpplt phpllt!

While the fecal matter began chilling in the freezer, my next step was to find the location of the specified lab that also had weekend hours. I scoured the Internet and found one only moments from home. Score! I retrieved the frozen poopsicle from the freezer and embarked on my errand. Unfortunately, upon arrival I discovered that the lab was closed; their hours had changed. Now I am sitting in the car with defrosting poop that I need to deliver it to another lab pronto. I find another lab in an adjacent town, 20 minutes away, but they aren’t open for that much longer. I understand the absurdity of this situation. I am a poop delivery girl, racing down the highway trying to assure the proper temperature of my poopsicle. This is where my life has taken me. This is my new normal. I check yet another item off my bucket list: Deliver frozen poop to laboratory- check.
The front desk nurse was kind and efficient. She assured me that the temperature of the poop was fine, and they would return it to the freezer promptly. Deep down, I was hoping the staff had a separate freezer for their lunches.

Adulting, women

Housekeeping Made Simple

People are always saying to me, “Your house feels so lived in.” You know why that is?  We live here. We don’t have a separate breakfast parlor for company, or a media and game room in the basement for the teens to congregate. We have basically one living area in which we all share. All 5 of us. You might think that this means that our little space is neat and tidy, but you’d be wrong. It is a magnet for everyone’s everything. So here are a few tips that have helped us maintain that “lived in” look without crossing the line into Hoarders.



Get rid of carpet. If you must have carpet, limit it to small area rugs or mats. Anywhere you can have hardwood floors, tile, or linoleum the better. Outside of the occasional spot cleaning, you can go a very long time without cleaning these floors. Hair, lint, dust, even dried leaves and dirt will be blown across these surfaces and collect at the edge of the room and even more specifically, corners. Grabbing a few of these dust bunnies occasionally, can give you home a lovely fresh look with almost no effort. I use my vacuum cleaner so infrequently; I would need to think about how to turn it on.

vacuumChild labor

There is no reason to do a chore that your spawn is capable of doing. The earlier you train them up the better for everyone. They are learning important life skills. Who cares how sloppy they put away their clothes, you didn’t have to do it. Laundry, dishes, scrubbing toilets, whatever. I’m not saying they need to work like little Orphan Annie, but they can be responsible for themselves and contribute to the family. They should be doing all their own laundry, cleaning their room, clearing their place, putting away their things, and doing one or more chores that contribute to family life. What that means in a practical sense? I don’t wash dishes anymore. I do all the grocery shopping and cooking, along with the vast majority of cleaning, so unless they would prefer to do the grocery shopping and cooking every night, they can do the dishes. Oh, kiddo, you missed a spot.



There are only so many hours in a day. I barely have enough time to get the most crucial things done, like feeding all the humans I am responsible for. So, I scrub the bathtub while I’m in it taking a shower. This gives the conditioner a little longer to work while I wipe crud from tiles. This is a quick spot clean process done without the benefit of corrective lenses. It’s not going to be pretty, but it’s going to be better then it was yesterday. Occasionally, I wipe down the microwave after I pull out that cup of tea I made and forgot and had to reheat now for the third time. Also, I listen to audio books on my phone while I grocery shop.


Don’t Do It

There are certain chores that are just not that important and, bonus, not doing those chores makes your life easier. Take linens for instance. Sure, it’s nice to climb into a bed made with crisp new sheets, but not only does it take time to change those sheets, but it takes time to wash those sheets, dry those sheets, fold those sheets, and put away those sheets. So don’t.  Put those kind of chores off as long as possible. Win-win.

It won’t look like a Better Homes and Garden Magazine spread, but whatever, I’ve got better things to do.

car freshener

parenting teens, resoultions

10 New Year’s Resolutions for Mediocre -at- Best Mothers of Teens



  1. Exercise daily– Health is important. You need to develop your stamina to make it through these days. Each day do a sit-up. Yes, no matter how daunting the day’s tasks might seem, you must sit up in your bed. Do a pull-up. Pulling up your pants and dressing for your day is not only healthy, but leads to less embarrassment. Occasionally you may feel like doing lunges (at your child’s throat), but you should not do this, as you will over exert yourself.


  1. Eat healthy– healthy foods provide you with energy and help you feel better. Nothing does this better than chocolate. Caffeine gives you energy while magnesium is essential at different times in your cycle. Additionally, chocolate is made from several plants (cocoa beans and sugar) as well as milk, making it an excellent nutritional source with the bonus of antioxidants. Similar arguments can be made for wine.


  1. Help your children develop strong sibling bonds– At least once a month you can help your children develop strong sibling bonds by leaving them on their own and getting the heck out of the house. Of course, the more you do this the stronger their bond, so feel free to do this weekly or daily if possible.


  1. Don’t forget your girlfriends– you need them. They will be your lifeline to sanity so find them, make time for them, and open up to them. They will talk you down off the ledge when the time comes, and it will come. If you’re doing #3 successfully than this will fall into place. Laugh often. Consider this free therapy, as you will need to save your therapy budget for your children.
  1. Learn something new– This could include new slang words off or how to lock your child out of their own iPhone. Learning new skills can keep your mind sharp for years to come. You need all the skills you can get for these years.


  1. Read a book just for fun (not to learn anything)– Your children are constantly complaining that their lives are consumed with schoolwork and they never get to do anything they want to do. You understand the absurdity of this statement, as you haven’t had free time since the turn of the century. Reading this book will likely take you an entire year, but having it handy to pull out and read in front of your cranky teenager just might provide you with a touch of hope that maybe there are some perks in being an adult. After all you’ve been telling them for years that life gets better.

kenya 1

  1. Plan a vacation– Pick someplace beautiful and inspiring. Maybe you’re a beach person. Try cranking up the heat, wearing a swimsuit, and drinking a margarita while you plan. Maybe, like me, you prefer the mountains. Don your favorite flannel shirt and boots while drinking a warm cup of hot chocolate. You aren’t going to actually take this trip, because be honest, you have college tuition bills coming up and Lord knows you want enough money in that account to assure they are living on-campus for those years. Plan the trip anyway, as having something to dream about can give you just the hope you need to survive yet another conversation about how you don’t actually know anything. Better make those accommodations 5 star, because you know tomorrow you’ll find out how you’ve ruined your child’s life and you better have a vision of a personal chef catering to your every whim.
  1. Character development– growing as a person is very important. You have flaws, you know this because your teens remind you of them daily. Pick one of those areas to develop. Your kids complain that you yell too much. Nonsense, show them you can yell even more. They complain that you’re soooo embarrasing. Challenge accepted.

clutter 2

  1. Organize your home– We all know that an organized home helps us feel relaxed, but the practicality of getting it that way is a whole other issue. Shut all the doors in the house. Closed doors mean less clutter that you can see. If you dim the lights and use candles the room you’re in will feel cleaner. And let’s be honest, you don’t have time to read anything that isn’t on computer screen, so lights don’t really matter. Candle light dinners mean you can’t see how dirty your kitchen table is. Win-win
  1. Work on your marriage– Their are strength in numbers. Your survival depends on this. Also, one day your kids will move out and your spouse will be the only one you have left living in your home. PRAISE GOD!