All posts by Momma Stack

I am a mom, wife, sister, daughter, aunt, cousin, professor, crafter, and otherwise fluffy, middle-aged, strong-willed woman! I love to help others, and education is my passion - along with family. I have my PhD and have specialized in family studies, anthropology, and leadership. I am a soon-to-be grandma and am learning to crochet and spoil someone else's child! Thanks for visiting the site, and welcome to my wacky world!

Elder Care: All She Needed Was a Manicure

While I was watching Taryn this past Tuesday, I needed to stop at mom’s and make a change in her medicine dispenser.  She had been dizzy lately and her blood pressure was low at her recent physical therapy appointment.  After reviewing her medication list and consulting with her primary care physician, we decided she should try taking only half of one pill in the morning instead of the whole pill.

Now I ask you: do YOU have a pill slicer at your house?  Or do you try to cut them with a knife, razor blade, or ultimately just bite them in half?  My own pills I could bite in half, but it didn’t sound like fun biting several of mom’s blood pressure pills and doling them out in the dispenser with the slobber on them!  Ewwwww

After getting a handy little $5 pill slicer, I headed over to take care of business.  At the same time, I grabbed my basket of gel nail polish, UV light, and some emery boards.  Well between the great grandbaby and the manicure, GiGi was in seventh heaven!

“Tiffany Field, director of the Touch Research Institute in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Miami School of Medicine, says studies show that touch reduces pain, especially following strokes, and lowers blood pressure. A study she conducted evaluating the effectiveness of massage found significant decreases in Parkinson’s tremors. Massage therapy also decreased pacing, wandering, and combative behavior, symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Field says that many elderly patients are deprived of touch, having lost spouses, and “a lot of illnesses of the elderly may relate to their being touch deprived,” she says,” (, Contributor, Feb 2018).

The manicure ensured that I held her hands, I pampered her just a little, and she felt good about herself when I left.  The gel nail ‘kit’ I purchased through Amazon for around $85 with light, polish, top and base coat, gel soak-off pads, and files/buffers.  I have now done mom’s nails, her friend’s, my sister’s, and my own, several times.  The money was well worth the joy and pleasure I see on mom’s face.

If you choose to go this route, make sure to read all instructions, follow all warnings about using the light, and be careful in explaining that you will need to help mom remove the old polish.  Let me know if you plan your own “girls night” with multi-generational stories and memories!  Regular polish and hand massages are every bit as good – remember the objective is spending time, touching, and feeling good about yourself when you’re done!

For more information, or to learn more about Julie Halpert, follow, and her article The Power of Touch in Elder Caregiving from Feb 06, 2018.

Parenting Adult Children

I have gone to a counselor/therapist off and on for over 30 years.  Part of the package of growing up in a dysfunctional household is an unrealistic idea of what is “normal” – or even that there IS a normal – family.  I struggle with “healthy boundaries” the way some people might have troubles finding their keys in the morning.  What IS a healthy boundary?  What is a healthy relationship with adult children?  Is the term “adult children” an oxymoron?

Let’s face it, after 18-20 years of being held accountable for someone’s actions, it isn’t easy to just let them loose when they have the special birthday!  I still feel judged and accountable for their actions today: the career they choose, the cars they drive, the house they live in, even their parenting!  So how does one transition into letting go, stepping back, having a ‘healthy’ relationship?  I believe the key word here is ‘transition.’

Each milestone we celebrated a little, cried a little, and even mourned a little.  Where did our baby go when they began toddling off to play without us?  Or our little friend when they left us at home to venture off to school for just half days?  I remember crawling into our big Chevy Suburban the day before taking my son to college to cry in private.  I cried so hard I thought my eyelids would turn inside out.  It didn’t happen in a day, I wasn’t ‘fine’ the following weekend.  Little by little, we both learned to create new connections.

The Tuesday lunches in Grand Rapids at Schnitz Deli are still fond memories from almost 10 years ago.  I would pick him up from the dorm and we would have lunch, do taxes, talk about grades, and I would drop him back off in front of the Wege center on Aquinas’s campus.  Yet today when he comes home to visit from St.Louis MO and Chiropractic college we navigate another transition.  I am not used to food disappearing from the refrigerator, or someone laying on the sofa.  Coming home from work to find him in my chair can raise my ire!  So we talk, and talk, and text, and talk some more.

My daughter, who lives closer, hasn’t had as much time or distance to buffer the transition from challenging child to mother of the same.  I catch myself saying things like “feed that baby” or “doesn’t she have a coat?”  Sometimes I catch myself and apologize, but mostly I don’t even notice.  I trust that she knows my heart and understands I am trying to let go and that I love her, and the grandbaby too.  We all laugh, talk and even argue about the change in relationships and the changing expectations.  I don’t know if this is “normal” but my therapist assures me it is healthy.  Keeping the lines of communication open, being here for one another, and knowing that the relationship is so much more important than being right, are key elements in the process.

Please share if you have any suggestions, advice, ideas that have worked…I know my sister and her adult kids and grandkids get together once a month for a meal and to reconnect.  They do this at one another’s house and take turns with providing food.  This seems to take the pressure off of major holidays and those expectations as well as not letting little hurts fester for too long.  Our Christmas vacations have helped us learn to live together for a few days – also knowing that it is only a few days – we can make it work.

I’m anxious to hear from you!  Let’s keep this conversation going!

Elder Care: Caring for Momma

As mom became more unstable on her feet and endured several surgeries, her dependence on someone else became more pronounced.  Many of the idiosyncrasies of elderly family members manifested themselves in her behaviors: lack of motivation, nodding off in her chair, no appetite, fading memory, and reluctance to shower.   It was only through careful observation and some very sensitive conversations that I discovered her fear of falling, the sleep problems that confused her understanding of which day it was.  With little mental stimulation in her lonely apartment, being forgetful was more a sign of loneliness and apathy than dementia setting in.

However, her sleep habits and confusion were creating the perfect storm with her medications.  She would think when she woke up after a long nap that it was morning and re-take her medication.  Then, after being scolded for that, she was afraid she had already taken them and missed the next dose!  No matter how I labeled the various pill organizers, there would always be errors which could become quite serious.

Fortunately for both of us, another friend and her elderly mother had gone through very similar issues months earlier.  They discovered a pill dispenser with a lock and alarm that could be set for up to four times per day.  Luckily, mom took her pills only morning and evening so the dispenser could be refilled once every two weeks.  It has been the single most important thing I have purchased for her health – and my piece of mind.

Check out the Med-d-lert pill dispenser (I am not being paid or receive any compensation what-so-ever to promote this item).


Adulting Blog

me 1

Dear Friends,

Well finally getting this blog started!  I was hoping to organize my thoughts and come up with a plan, a purpose, a message if you will, that I want to tell the world.  The more I thought about that the more daunting it seemed.  Then I thought of my sister, Arlene, and my BFF Angie, and the people that inspire me to be my best self: Michelle, Kelly, Kristen, Jayne, Linda, and the friends I am not in touch with who helped shape my soul, Amy, Beth, Karen, Kim, and so many more.  I miss you all – I miss the laughter, the intimacy, the sharing of secrets, fears, hopes, and private corners of our hearts!  If you could dust a life for fingerprints, you would find all of yours on mine!

I’m hoping for a connection now – not to share any monumental discovery or accomplishment.  Tell me what you’re doing and how you’re doing.  Let me know what you’ve learned or discovered, what you’ve loved or lost, what you finally let go of now that we are ‘mature’ and no longer care so deeply about the competition.

At 54 years old I am a mother,  grandmother, wife, university professor, sister, daughter, and friend.  I consider myself a family activist or advocate with a certification in Family Life Education (CFLE) and a Ph.D. in Leadership and Change from Antioch University.  I like to think of my degree as one in advocacy or “Leadership and SOCIAL Change.”  My goal is to make a difference, to leave the world in a better place than when I found it, to enjoy life and those I love.

So, that being said, I can see my messages going in several different areas: Family Responsibilities, Life-long Learning, and Being YOUR Best Adult.  That’s enough to start with so we’ll see how things progress!  Pass along any advice, thoughts, questions or concerns and I will be happy to explore them with you!

Take Care Friends – We got this!

Momma Stack

So much work to do, but I’m ‘babysitting’ … correction, I’m making a difference!

On Tuesdays, I have my granddaughter, Taryn, for the day. It is my way to help with childcare and to spend some quality time with her. I am also “working” on these days and splitting time with my husband – he works the afternoon and watches her in the morning, and I watch her in the afternoon and work in the morning! Somehow, I often feel frustrated and guilty for not getting enough done for my paying employment as a professor nor am I spending the quality time with Taryn. It seems like a lose-lose situation. But with most things, I think that with practice and a bit of knowledge I’ll figure it out.  Reflect and reframe, right?

This past Tuesday, when Taryn came in and wanted to go straight to my office to ‘color’ (use the watercolors) I worked at being fully ‘present’ with her; to observe her exploring with colors, practicing fine motor skills, developing language and expressing herself. I wish I could say that I didn’t feel guilty, I did. But I also felt like I had accomplished something. As a teacher, I live for ‘aha’ moments! Watching her mind at work and being a part of shaping her world is priceless!

She wanted to paint a ‘high five’ by painting her hand and then putting it on the paper. Then she wanted to paint my hand and review the differences. I stopped myself this time from ‘fixing’ where she hadn’t fully painted my hand, knowing it wouldn’t show up as a hand on the paper, and also knowing that is how she learns to paint the whole hand! A lesson I learned too late for my own children, it’s all about the process, not the product. Kind of a ‘do-over.’

And you know what? Our paintings of hands and thumbs are now a part of this blog as icon and logo! We did it! Just letting go of some things and embracing others. Whew – let’s hope I can do it again!




Working from home…

Another great day of accomplishments while in my cozy pajama bottoms! After three meetings, yes I did do my hair and make-up, wore earrings and scarf, I am ready to relax after 11 hours. Long hours yes, but from home without interruptions. Allowed me to get in “flow” and do exciting work!

In fact, I was not once distracted by laundry, dishes, or the unmade bed! Hurray!