Friday, April 24, 2015

Getting to Know "Working Me" Again

Working Mom Again | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
My tea, calendar, notes, folders and laptop:
all signs revealing I'm back in the workforce.
After two years of adjusting to the SAHM lifestyle, Hubby and I came to the realization that as our youngest prepares to head off to college, another income could ease the financial stress of having children in college. Thankfully, while sifting through social media sites on my smartphone one evening, I happened across a position that could satisfy my need to earn a paycheck, allow me to continue to manage my responsibilities at home and make use of my professional experiences. In mid-March, I began my new job as the assistant editor/web editor for Piedmont Parent magazine. It's a part time, work-from-home position that is turning out to be exactly what I envisioned. However, I have learned a few things about "Working Me" that "SAHM Me" had forgotten or did not realize. 

First, Working Me's brain works a lot better when it's professionally challenged on a regular basis. Working Me is more productive and efficient. Working Me's head is much clearer with daily, weekly and monthly tasks and deadlines for which Working Me is accountable to a supervisor. Working Me feels normal again, which is odd because SAHM Me didn't feel abnormal until the normalcy slipped back in place.
Bunny Distraction | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
This little guy tries to distract me as he
plays in the yard outside my office window.

Working Me appreciates the weekends more now that there are less demands on my time on Saturdays and Sundays. However, Working Me doesn't hate Mondays the way many in the workforce attest to at the beginning of the workweek. Rather, Working Me enjoys every day, including the dastardly Monday, because Working Me loves her job.

Writer's block is not an issue anymore. Working Me has to write a blog nearly every day. SAHM Me still writes a weekly column and takes on the occasional freelance assignment. The only area of writing that has suffered has been the personal blog. As SAHM Me and Working Me adjust to this hybrid lifestyle, however, regular posts to Navigating Hectivity should pick up. 

Working Me's sleep habits have also improved. Working Me sleeps more deeply and does not suffer from bouts of insomnia during which SAHM Me used to catch up on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Rather, by 10:30 p.m., Working Me is sleeping soundly. When morning rolls around, Working Me wakes up pleasantly refreshed and ready to take on a new day. Of course, there is precious little time for Facebook, Twitter and Instagram now.
Telecommuter View | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
Working with my desk facing this beautiful
view makes it easy to begin work each day.

Coffee is no longer a friend to either Working Me or SAHM Me. When the job started, Working Me began drinking coffee again. For twenty years, Working Me was an avid coffee drinker, putting away up to a pot a day. Last fall, Hubby and SAHM Me switched to tea. The coffee pot was still set to brew in the morning, but it brewed a blend of black, orange pekoe and Earl Grey teas. When Working Me slipped back into her coffee habit along with this new job, she began experiencing crushing caffeine crashes by 3 p.m. It wasn't a matter of simply refreshing her coffee for an afternoon pick-me-up. Even with a little more caffeine, Working Me was so tired she was unable to function. At first, she entertained the notion it was her body adjusting to the demands of the new job. But it's a part time job. The hours are flexible. And her commute consists of walking into her office—a room off the living room—donned in pajamas, a robe and slippers. No, this caffeine crash was more about her body no longer tolerating high amounts of caffeine all that well. Since switching back to tea, the debilitating crashes have ceased. If she miss it, she can always point her nose toward Mom's kitchen and drink in the aroma of a strong pot of coffee while sipping tea.

Working Me also doesn't have as much time go shopping and spend money on clothes or household items. Plus, the paycheck is a dramatic help as she and Hubby prepare to send their youngest off to college with a new computer, dorm accessories, a plentiful meal plan and one of their cars.

Micki Bare, mother of three, wife, daughter & writer is the author of Thurston T. Turtle children's books. 
Email: mickibare (at)
Connect with Micki on Google+
Like Thurston T. Turtle on Facebook
Follow Micki on Twitter: @TurtleAuthor
View Micki's pics on Instagram @mickibare
Copyright 2015 Michele Bare 

Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Alzheimer's Gift

Until Mom’s diagnosis, I understood Alzheimer’s as a memory problem associated with aging. Over-the-hill Alzheimer’s jokes seemed hilarious. After the diagnosis, I devoured book after book about the disease. It was not just about memory loss. It was about a slow, crippling, terminal descent caused by loss of brain function that begins with memory. The jokes lost their humor. Today, I become offended by any attempt at humor at the expense of Alzheimer’s Disease.
Travel Girl | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
Train selfie during our California trip.
Ella loves to travel. She's never met a stranger.

As a caretaker, I not only read the books that shed light on what were facing, but also joined a support group. I signed up for e-newsletters and followed Alzheimer’s organizations on social media. Much of it was and still is tough to take. I don’t open those emails or click on those links without bracing myself for more grim facts. 

Also since the diagnosis, I began noticing the regression as a systematic process. It mimicked much of brain development research with which I became acquainted during my 20-year early childhood career; only in reverse. This revelation helped to greatly shape my ability to handle the changes in my mother’s abilities and behaviors. 

But the greatest revelation hit me more recently. It evolved after I finished reading Still Alice by Lisa Genova. It was a tough read. I cried. A lot. There were too many parallels to my mother’s experience. But I read it. Soon after, I began to realize my perspective on the situation was wrong. 
Doll Artist | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
Ella is a soft doll artist. She loves to create
with fabric, thread, and her imagination.

I was not, in fact, watching my mother lose herself and slip away. She was not becoming anything different than who she has always been. She was Ella when she was born, long before she could talk or walk. She was Ella when she was discovering who her family members were and learning about the world around her. She was Ella when she struggled through puberty, became a woman, landed her first job, married my father, and raised her children. She is Ella now. 

And she will be Ella when she can no longer understand how to use a remote control for the television. She will be Ella when she no longer recognizes me as her daughter. She will be Ella when I have to bathe and dress her. She will be Ella when she can no longer talk or walk. She has always been and will always be Ella, a unique and beautiful individual. 

And while the progression of the disease will cause her to lose abilities in reverse of what she gained as an infant and young child, it provides me the precious and unique gift of getting to know the original Ella. As her daughter, I was not there and could not know what she was like when the world was new to her. But as we walk this path together, I am provided miraculous glimpses into the personality of a fun-loving, sometimes mischievous, kind-hearted, generous, wide-eyed young Ella who did not necessarily understand every aspect of the world around her. There is an innocence that is recaptured as the disease progresses. In a world that is so stressful and confusing for the able-minded, a dose of innocence and bewilderment can be viewed as a gift. 

Creative on Canvas | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
Ella loves the challenge of a blank canvas.
I learned long ago that people hear what they want to hear and see what they want to see, despite physical evidence and regardless of circumstances. Now is the time to use that quirk of human nature to my advantage. I don't want to hear about the horrors of the disease. I don't want to focus on the negative aspects of such a challenging journey. 

Raising my children was challenging at times. It was physically and mentally demanding, required great patience, and occupied much of my time and attention. But encouraging them as they developed and grew was an honor, a pleasure, and greatly rewarding. I cherish the memories and will carry the experiences with me for the rest of my life.

Taking care of my mother is challenging at times. It is physically and mentally demanding, requires great patience, and occupies much of my time and attention. But helping to navigate her through each day, helping her understand, helping her live life to the fullest is an honor, a pleasure, and greatly rewarding. I know I will cherish the memories and carry these experiences with me for the rest of my life.
Picture Perfect Always Ella | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
It was, is, and always will be beautiful,
unique, fun-loving Ella in the mirror.
Nothing can take that away.

Fellow caretakers; spouses, siblings, children, and friends of those suffering from Alzheimer’s; when the negativity surrounding the clinical realities of the disease tear at your soul, when the challenges of day-to-day caretaker responsibilities as you witness the digression firsthand weighs heavier than twenty grand pianos on your head, remember always that your wife, husband, mother, father, sister, brother, friend—your loved one—will always be who they are, despite the effects of the disease. As long as their hearts beat, they are them. And spending time with them is a gift. A beautiful gift to be cherished always.

Micki Bare, mother of three, wife, daughter & writer is the author of Thurston T. Turtle children's books. 
Email: mickibare (at)
Connect with Micki on Google+
Like Thurston T. Turtle on Facebook
Follow Micki on Twitter: @TurtleAuthor
View Micki's pics on Instagram @mickibare
Copyright 2015 Michele Bare 

Monday, February 23, 2015

Cheap & Easy Snack Mix

My family loves a good snack mix. So when I happened upon a modestly priced bag of snack mix, I began buying and dividing it up into lunch baggies for my youngest to enjoy in his lunch box. Before long, I had to start purchasing an extra bag for himand everyone elseto enjoy at home. 
Cheap Easy Snack Mix | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
My family loves our cheap and easy snack mix.

Then one day, I went to the store to stock up on lunch box items in preparation for the end of a lengthy school break. Unfortunately, the modestly priced snack mix was not in stock. But its place on the shelf was not empty. Rather, a new flavor of chips was stocked there instead. 

I panicked. What if they didn't carry the snack mix anymore? I shrugged off the silly thought, realizing I could simply go to the super center down the road and get their brand of snack mix. So off I went to battle the crowds at the super center.

Not only did the super center not have a generic brand of snack mix, the name brand cost more than twice that of the mix I used to buy. As I stared in anguish at the high-priced bag of cereal mixed with pretzels and other snack items, it dawned on me; I could mix up my own snack combination and save tons of money. 

Armed with the name-brand snack mix shamelessly in my cart as a reference, I wandered through the cracker, chip, and cereal aisles in search of everything that was pictured on the bag of pre-mixed snack. Then, when I was confident I'd found comparable ingredients, I put the name-brand bag back and headed home to mix up my own tub of savory mix. 

I did not coat the cereal or any other snack items in butter, sugar, and spices. I did not bake it in the oven.  Rather, I just mixed up what I purchased in a big tub. Then I divvied up some of it into baggies for several weeks of school lunches. The rest was placed in the dining room with a ladle for anyone in the house who needed to satisfy a munchie craving. 

The mix was a hit. I know this, because my son went out of his way to say, "Mom, you rocked the snack mix." That has to be one of the highest teen compliments known to mankind. 

My mix was much cheaper than the pre-mixed version. It was much quicker to put together than the recipes that mimic the name-brand snack and party mixes. And my family loves it just the same. If you want to save money and time, here's how it's done:

1 box of cereal (rice or corn squares work great, but if your family likes honey nut oat O's, use them)
1 bag small-sized pretzels 
1 box cheddar cheese cracker squares or fish-shaped crackers
1 bag cheddar-fries snacks (or something comparable)
1 bag or box of bagel chips 

Empty all the bags and boxes into a big container. Toss gently with a big spoon. Place a ladle and some paper cups or bowls next to the container for your family to use when they want to snack. 

If you prefer a healthier snack mix, change it up and use organic, whole grain snacks instead. Have allergy considerations? Use snacks that are allergen free. You have all the power. It is time to harness that power and start saving money while meeting your family's snacking needs.

Micki Bare, mother of three, wife, daughter & writer is the author of Thurston T. Turtle children's books. 
Email: mickibare (at)
Connect with Micki on Google+
Like Thurston T. Turtle on Facebook
Follow Micki on Twitter: @TurtleAuthor
View Micki's pics on Instagram @mickibare
Copyright 2015 Michele Bare