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Archive for December, 2013

Walking the Caregiver Tightrope | by Linda Brendle

The feet of a tightrope walker.

The feet of a tightrope walker. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Raising a teenager is hard. I can almost hear all of you saying Well, duh! I know a lot is said about the snotty attitudes, the raging hormones, the nobody-knows-the-trouble-I’ve-seen angst – but that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the stage in which an older teen is on the verge of becoming an adult, the times when the child/man (or woman) clings to his parents with one hand while pushing away with the other. And the fun part is that the parent gets to guess which is which. Caring for an aging loved one often involves walking that same emotional tightrope, especially if the caregiver is an in-law.

I walked that tightrope with Mom and Dad for several years, being careful not to cross the invisible line between helping and interfering. But when spoiled food, unpaid bills, and mishandled medications began to pile up, I jumped off the rope and started interfering. It worked out okay, though. Mom and Dad were both rather timid, and they respected authority whether it came from a pastor, a doctor, or a pushy daughter. Although they offered token resistance from time to time, more often they were relieved to have someone they trusted deal with things they no longer understood. This is not the case with my mother-in-law. (more…)

My Son Christian Piatt Exploits My Grand Kids (Video) | by Linda Brendle

Christian Piatt

Christian Piatt

If you’re new to my blog, you may not know that my son Christian Piatt is, in his own words, an author, speaker, antagonist, and God nerd. He writes on topics ranging from Christianity to politics to family life, but up to now, he has stayed with non-fiction.

His latest project is different in a couple of ways. First it’s fiction, and second, he’s planning to self-publish. In order to fund the project, he mounted a KickStarter campaign. He’s about halfway to his goal, but with only a few days left in this all or nothing venture, he’s pulled out the big guns – the kids. The video they put together is worth watching if for no other reason than to see Zoe bat her eyelashes.



When Is Christmas Over | by Linda Brendle

The Ghost of Christmas Present

The Ghost of Christmas Present

After weeks of preparation and excitement, the big day has come and gone. The stores are still full of shoppers taking advantage of post-holiday sales, using gift cards, and returning items that just didn’t work. Restaurants are full of people who can’t face one more meal of leftovers now that the pecan pie is gone. Houses are full of kids who have settled back into there’s-nothing-to-do mode and adults who are looking at the decorations and wondering where they’re going to store all the festivities until next year.

Opinions vary widely on when the decorations should come down. Some people begin dismantling the tree while Christmas dinner is being prepared, some take them down while nursing a New Year’s hangover, and some leave them up until after Epiphany, the 12th day after Christmas. Regardless of when the last box of ornaments makes it back into the attic or the last cookie is thrown out, falling victim to yet another resolution to lose a few pounds, when does Christmas really end? (more…)

How to Save a Blog Post Fail | by Linda Brendle


Early Christmas 002I’ve been working on another Christmas-related post for several days, but last night after several more starts and restarts, I gave it up as a bad idea. Knowing that I wouldn’t have time to do any writing today, I went back to the archives to see what I could recycle. What could be better at Christmas than children reading Christmas stories – so here’s my granddaughter Zoe, just shy of her third birthday, “reading” her version of “Olivia Helps with Christmas.”


Of course, I can’t play favorites, so here’s my grandson Mattias who had just turned 8 reading a story he wrote and illustrated called “The Reindeer Who Had Fear to Fly.”


Merry Christmas to all and to all a Happy 2014,










Happy 73rd Anniversary | by Linda Brendle

Double Wedding PhotoI visited with Aunt Fay for a while this morning. I called first to make sure she was home, so she had fresh coffee and warm cookies ready when we got there. We took our cups and plates into the living room where we could enjoy her Christmas tree along with the goodies. We talked about her knee and my ankle, both of which have healed nicely. We talked about Christmas plans, church activities, and family gossip – and I wished her a happy anniversary. (more…)

Christmas Came Early This Year | by Linda Brendle

Early Christmas 001No, I don’t mean that gifts appeared under the tree before December 24 or 25 – depending on when Santa traditionally makes his visit to your house. It’s just that yesterday, December 18, seemed to be particularly filled with Christmas-y things and feelings.

First, we had our Christmas lunch at the Senior Center. In honor of the occasion, I donned one of my two Christmas sweaters, one of my two pair of Christmas earrings, and one of my two pair of Christmas socks. That in itself made me feel very festive. There was lots of other holiday wear at the Center, along with smiling faces and happy chatter. There was a special table filled with desserts prepared for the occasion by various volunteers, and there was a small goodie bag for each of us – a pen and calendar provided by the restaurant that caters the meals, a candy cane and a few miniature chocolate bars, and a card signed by all the Center employees. It wasn’t much, but it felt like Christmas joy. (more…)

5 Christmas Gift Fails | by Linda Brendle

failI went Christmas shopping earlier this week, and it was fun. My budget is limited, so I didn’t feel pressured to find the perfect gift for each one on my list. Instead I shopped the way Mom and I did when I was a kid. I went to a local store and wandered through the aisles until something jumped out me. But regardless of how you shop, there are those gifts that simply fail.

 A frying pan – really?

The year I was 16, I couldn’t wait to go Christmas shopping. I worked at Woolworth’s making $1.10 an hour, and I was anxious to share my wealth. I don’t remember most of what I bought, but I remember what I got Mom – a frying pan. (more…)

Ways for Caregivers to Reduce Holiday Stress | by Linda Brendle

Mom and Dad - Christmas, 2009

Mom and Dad – Christmas, 2009

In the December 11 edition of Today’s Caregiver  newsletter, Editor-in-Chief Gary Barg wrote an article titled “Tips for a Less Stressful Holiday Season.”  In it he listed 6 ways for a caregiver to reduce holiday stress. He offered some very good information, but several of his tips reminded me how different each situation is.

Include your loved one in your holiday preparations.

Barg said this would make them feel useful and would free up your time to do other things while they were occupied. This didn’t work so well at my house. It usually went like this:

“Can I help?”

“Sure. You can mix up the pecan pie filling.” (more…)

Earthly and Heavenly Treasures | by Linda Brendle

Estate SaleDavid and I spent Thanksgiving week in Louisiana with his family. We have a friend there who does estate sales. He goes into the homes of people who have died or who are seriously down-sizing and organizes and sells their stuff. When we were there, he was working on the largest sale of his career, and we were invited for a private preview.


The “estate” wasn’t what I expected. It was a rather small two-story house on a tiny lot. It was old and shabby and didn’t look like it would contain much of interest. Inside there were cracks in the wall and holes in the ceiling, and even though our friend had put over 100 man hours into cleaning and organizing, the air was still musty and the dust threatened to throw us all into a sneezing fit. (more…)

A Fearless Caregiver Sometimes Has to Say No | by Linda Brendle

MomandDadIn the past I haven’t taken part in the many contests available for writers, but earlier this week I received an e-mail from an Internet friend about a “Fearless Caregiver” contest. Winning entries will be printed in Today’s Caregiver, and my interest was piqued. I checked out the website, and decided to enter. Following is my entry:

During my 15 years as a family caregiver for Mom and Dad, both of whom had Alzheimer’s, I faced doctors, insurance companies, and government bureaucrats without fear. But when it came time to say no to my parents, I became a trembling child again. Two of the hardest confrontations arose over medication and the car keys. (more…)

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