:::: MENU ::::

Posts tagged with: giving back

Do you know who I am?


This is more of a personal update so please skip if you are only interested in money related posts.

Today is my mom’s birthday. At this time, my parents will arrive for a visit next week.And we will celebrate with her then. We all know it’s a dangerous time to travel especially for the elderly with pre-existing conditions. But they have decided to risk it.

My mom was diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia several years ago and more recently Parkinsons. My dad is her caretaker. Three of my younger siblings live close and help out when needed. But it’s getting harder. My mom’s decline is noticeable. She no longer recognizes my dad.

They are coming so my mom can see her mom one more time. And even with that, they are/she is not sure she will recognize her.

My dad created a special bed in the back of their van for my mom to make the trip. They’ve been loading her up and taking short rides to get her used to it. It will be a long trip, especially with a man she doesn’t know anymore.

Right now, they plan to stay for a week but they will play it by ear depending on how my mom is doing. She will be able to see her mom in person. The facility my grandmother is in is allowing visits two days a week with an appointment.

This is their Birthplace

Since my parents were both born and raised here, this will give my dad a much needed break. We will take over caretaking duties and give him some freedom to see friends, visit his old stomping grounds and just breathe a bit.

His roots run deep here and if all my siblings weren’t already in Texas, and my mom would have accepted it, they probably would have settled here when they left Virginia. My mom is not nor has she ever been very connected so other than her mom and two brothers and us, she will not see any one or rather care to see anyone (even before her illness.)

Staying Connected

I believe I’ve written before but since COVID happened, we have had weekly video calls with whomever is available so we can see our mom/grandmother and she can see us. It has helped but with that the decline has been noticeable.

My youngest son is definitely her favorite, none of us even tries to deny it, and she just lights up when he shows up on a call. Sometimes it’s just the little things.

When she’s down or confused, our saying to her is “it’s okay if you don’t remember us, we remember you.” Thankfully despite the pain, we can all still laugh about it, but we all know things are going to change quickly from here on out.

Family Call

I’m sure us playing with the funny filters does not help her recognize us any better, but they do make her laugh. So we always end the call with a “family photo.” It may not be how we want our time to be right now, but we are definitely making the best of it.

Use What You Have


As we’ve been getting settled in this new house, there’s a voice in my head that keeps repeating this sage, money-saving advice: use what you have. It can be so tempting to discover a want or a need, and then jump on Amazon or run to Target to get it. That voice can be a real buzz-kill sometimes, but man it helps cut costs.

Again and again these past few weeks I’m reminded: use what you have. Buying new things is not always the answer.

So I didn’t buy new, matching drawer organizers for our dressers. Instead I’m using shoe boxes and mismatched storage containers that work great. And I didn’t go all Pinterest-perfect to decorate some new built-ins in our family room. Instead I’ve sifted through the excessive amount of home decor items I already own. It doesn’t take splurges to make a house feel like home.

Using What We Have Even When It’s Urgent

Sometimes the things I want to buy aren’t frivolous. The lingering smoke from these wildfires has me wishing we had air purifiers. But I saw a hack where you put a furnace filter behind a box fan. We’ve put one in our family room and kitchen area since Sunday, and it’s made a huge difference. (Plus look how dirty it is. Gross.)

Use What You Have

Using What We Have to Set Up School

Our three kids started distance-learning school this week, and we’ll be doing school from home until at least November (but probably for much, much longer). We needed three work stations, but we only have one desk. I didn’t want them sitting at the kitchen table where distractions abound and the daily supplies might runneth over.

The word on the street was parents like us cleaned out IKEA of all its small desks wand many were building desks for their children. I considered these options until that voice said, “Girl, just use what you have!”

I realized we had a narrow fold-up table AND a small play table available. Then I walked around the house gathering jars and containers. We didn’t even need to buy many school supplies. It’s amazing how many crayons, erasers, glue sticks, and pencils we already had. (I did splurge on some new markers and shiny new notebooks, because I’m only human.) I even found some cute signs and ABC cards from years ago that I plan to hang up.

So now our fifth grader is at the desk, our third grader is using the fold-up table, and our Kindergartener is using the play table. They all have an iPad or Chromebook checked out from the school, and they’re using headphones we’ve had for a long time.

Using What You Have

Of course there are things we just have to end up buying. If possible, I try to check thrift stores, Facebook Marketplace, or Craigslist first. And of course I still end up giving Target my money sometimes, but hey, at least I tried.

How do you make do with what you have? Do you have to remind yourself to use what you have?