Who are you? Why do you always show up at Christmas celebrations? We don’t see much of you any other time.
As a child, I saw you as the maker of every kind of wonderful toy in the world. Creations from baby dolls and teddy bears, to roller skates, scooters, bicycles and balls of every shape and size.
You kept a complete list on every child reminding you of our every deed, both good and bad. Nothing could make me angry faster than those “smart aleck” kids who claimed you did not exist.
At our house we started a “wish list” early… teaching us not to expect instant gratification, which in some instances allowed us to change our minds! When the winter nights were getting longer we found ourselves glancing out the window if we saw any movement or strange light. We knew it was Santa watching us, making sure we were doing as we should.
We got many gifts, but there were always a few things we didn’t find in our stocking or under the tree. This made us wonder if it was because of something we had done wrong, or if you simply ran out before you got to our house.
It took years and a family of my own for me to realize who you really are and why you were created.
The cookies and milk which have kept you “rotund” all these years taught us to show appreciation to those who gave to us. As children we set them out just before bedtime as our thank you for what we were expecting to receive. Parents were able to help us develop our imaginations and enjoy “make believe”. They could show surprise and help us enjoy some of the new toys and games.
Most of us, through the little birthday parties we would attend, soon realized that we bring gifts so that other kids will bring gifts to our party, if we bring one to theirs. That’s the way the big world works.
Jesus’s birthday is so much different. Jesus’s birth taught us that it is more blessed to give than to receive! In man’s way of trying to figure out how to accomplish this idea of giving, someone came up with a jolly, round fellow dressed in a red suit trimmed in white fur. He has been given several names including St. Nicholas, Father Christmas and finally Santa Claus. This is the name we have given the “Christmas Spirit”. It’s much more exciting than just calling it a gift from an unknown source.
WE all get the joy when we finally recognize who Santa is and God gets all the glory! I like to think that the idea of Santa always giving gifts without the expectation of a gift in return…is in a small way the essence of Jesus. Isn’t that why we celebrate Christmas…to give God the glory! This is my point of view as a great-grandmother looking up from my rocking chair.
Thank you for sharing your love and our joy!
The holidays are all about giving and one of my favorite gifts to give is a sweet treat called Christmas Trash. Now while this may sound strange, it is DELICIOUS and so easy to make! We are preparing for Holiday Open House Celebrations and Christmas parties at many of our properties across the state. In our community, I already received the request from several of our residents for me to make my addicting treat of TRASH! With that being said, I thought I would share this holiday favorite. Here’s to your happy holiday baking and treat making! I hope you enjoy!. You can also look below the recipe for some presentation inspiration for gift giving your treats.
- 3 cups Rice Chex
- 3 cups Corn Chex
- 3 cups honey nut Cheerios toasted oat cereal
- 2 cups small pretzels
- 2 cups salted peanuts
- 1 (12 ounce) bag of holiday M&M’s plain chocolate candy (red & green)
- 1 (12 ounce) bag of holiday M&M’s peanut chocolate candies (red & green)
- 2 (12 ounce) bags white chocolate chips
- Mix all ingredients but the white chocolate morsels in a large bowl.
- Melt white chocolate morsels according to directions on the package.
- Pour melted white chocolate over the cereal mixture and toss well to coat.
- Spread on waxed paper and let sit until the white chocolate hardens.
- Store in an airtight container.
Now that I feel like I have caught my breath after National Assisted Living Week, I want to share something that I have known about for quite some time. As a matter of a fact, I benefitted from it as a child myself. See…as a little girl, my Mom would take me with her to work. My Mom has always been a pro at styling hair and in my younger years, this was her profession. As a beautician, she would do hair for her regular customers, but she also did hair at the local nursing home and assisted living. Now in my single digit years, my trade was singing and tap dancing. This proved to be quite the asset to my mom with her scissors, perm rods and hairspray. She would always plan for me and some of my other performing arts sisters to put on a show for the older folks. I loved every opportunity to perform (and to talk) so I was game. Little did I know then, but these residents were as happy to see me as I was to see them. I remember the performances of course. But I also remember eating gingerbread cookies, looking at pictures and having a captive audience to whatever I wanted to talk about. I also remember the stories. At almost 42 years of age, I still remember Hazel. Mrs. Hazel was my friend. She always wanted me to sing and tap dance for her. Mrs. Hazel didn’t have grandchildren of her own and it was her delight to have our little visits. But it was something I enjoyed very much as well. I think it was this type of friendship in my formative years that led me to where I am today. I may not be tap dancing anymore…well, come to think of it…maybe I do. I am an Assisted Living Administrator, so technically I sing and tap dance for seniors on a regular basis. Just to whatever tune they are requesting I suppose. 😉 But it is a joy. A joy that started a very long time ago for me. I witnessed the most beautiful visits this past week from a class of preschoolers with our residents at the Gardens. It was wide open, head back laughing FUN! Literally fun for all ages. The new rage is intergenerational involvement. But the concept is not new at all. Studies have shown that these type of interactions prove beneficial for both sets of people…young and old. Below are the benefits for seniors and children according to legacyproject.org.
- Active, involved older adults with close intergenerational connections consistently report much less depression, better physical health, and higher degrees of life satisfaction. They tend to be happier with their present life and more hopeful for the future.
- Young and old can fulfill the role of student and teacher for each other, and it’s not always the older person who does the teaching. Children like to feel needed, and they can teach elders lots of things – like how to find some pretty cool stuff on the Internet! Children can also help older people, particularly those facing health challenges or other losses, see the world anew again, through a child’s eyes.
Benefits for Children
- In general, children develop higher self-esteem, better emotional and social skills (including an ability to withstand peer pressure), and can even have better grades in school.
- Through sharing in an older adult’s interests, skills, and hobbies, children are introduced to new activities and ideas. Through their life experience, older adults can often bring with them a tremendous amount of patience. Knowledge, skills, and attitudes children pick up from elders tend to stick with them through life more than those picked up from other sources.
As a product of this type of intergenerational impact, I can tell you that you are missing out if don’t find your own Mrs. Hazel. I also now see this type of influence through the eyes of my residents and for them as well, it is a beautiful thing. Thank you to those precious children that shared bubbles and ice cream with your new friends at the Gardens last week. We look forward to seeing you again real soon!
*Photograph from my personal archives circa the early 80s. I’m the brunette in the front. No, I’m not a natural blonde. 😉
Have you ever considered working or volunteering with seniors? One of the greatest joys that an individual can experience is to be able to enjoy the work that they do. Working in assisted living, is not a career it is a calling. One of the first things that I tell potential employees in the interview process is that if you don’t feel that you have the capacity to truly care about the folks that live in our communities…then this is probably not the career for you. In this setting we get to help the residents that live in our communities, but many times we receive more of a blessing from them, than we could possibly ever give. As we approach National Assisted Living Week, I have had many different people from many different walks of life ask what they can do that the residents would enjoy. While there are multiple ways or even multiple things that I have seen bring joy to the faces of residents through the years…there is one that stands out as having the most impact. It is time. Here is a short list of things that you can do that can make someone’s day in an assisted living community.
Share your talents! If you sing, dance, play guitar or whatever gift you have plan a day to come and share with our seniors.
Take time to play! Do you love dominoes? Are you a whiz at Skip Bo? Are you great at calling Bingo? Stop in and spend some time playing games with a group. It will be good for you and them too?
Are you a chatterbox? Even the gift of gab is appreciated. Be prepared to listen too! Our folks love to talk and share.
***Here are some additional ideas that I really like from sharethegood.org
Uncover THEIR skills: If you don’t already know the kind of career your friend had, find out! Ask questions about their biggest lessons or favorite moments. Don’t forget to ask them about their skills and hobbies outside the job, too—sewing, woodworking, writing. Request that they teach you a thing or two.
Log the memories: Bring along a photo album, scrapbook or journal on your visit, and encourage your friend to sit and compile their memories with you. Use narrative, photos, captions, doodles and more. You’ll be turning their oral stories into a documented history book in no time!
Make some artwork: Turn select pages of your memory book into wall art for their room. Simply photocopy the best pages with photos and captions, then hang them up so your friend can continuously recall good times. Plus, colorful photos are sure to brighten any room.
It truly is the time that is given in each of these opportunities that is appreciated the most. Look for ways that you can volunteer and stop by and see us. You can coordinate your visit with your local community administrator. They may have other ideas that can make your visit a success as well. If you are looking for employment opportunities, check out our individual community pages. You can see current openings and get other information by clicking on the career section of the websites.
We are right around the corner from National Assisted Living Week. Every year this tradition is a very special time for our residents, staff, families and our entire community. As we busy ourselves with plans and preparation to make this event a success, I wanted to stop and reflect on why this year’s theme means so much to me personally.
I started working in assisted living in 2010. I am truly amazed how quickly time has passed. Through these last years, I have met some truly amazing people. I have laughed and I have cried. I have learned about others and I have learned about myself. Rick Warren once said, “while it is wise to learn from experience, it is wiser to learn from the experience of others.” The people that live and work and volunteer in our communities are true blessings. I have learned many life lessons from so many of these wonderful people. The wisdom that the residents share is invaluable. The families of our residents are treasures as well.
National Assisted Living Week will be the week of September 10th through the 16th and the theme this year is “Family is Forever”. This year’s theme is inspired by a quote from the poet Maya Angelou: “Family isn’t always blood, it’s the people in your life who want you in theirs: the ones who accept you for who you are, the ones who would do anything to see you smile and who love you no matter what.”
I feel this theme truly represents what I see on a daily basis. It’s in the encouragement of a staff member, the smile of a volunteer or the laughter of a resident. The people that you will find here truly are family. Find out more about our communities at the links listed below. Schedule a tour at one of our properties today. Find out why we believe Family is Forever!
According to the article entitled, “When Music Becomes Your Medicine” by Bart Astor, “Music therapy has been around for a long time — Hippocrates was known to have played music for his patients as early as 400 B.C. — but only recently became a recognized medical discipline with board certification.
It is a helpful tool for therapists in treating mental health disease, developmental and learning disabilities, dementia, and acute and chronic pain.”
Our blog this week honors Gardens of Daphne volunteer Patrick Kenny. Mr. Kenny delights the residents with his harmonica tunes and brightens their days. As there is a delightful tune played on the harmonica called the “Missippi Mud”…we are including Gardens of Daphne resident Shirley Hartley’s recipe for Missippi Mud. Mr. Kenny…look for the Gardens of Daphne to be fixing up a sweet treat just for you! Thanks for your time and dedication to bring joy to all the residents and staff at the Gardens of Daphne.
Mississippi Mud Recipe by Shirley Hartley
2 sticks of margarine
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
1/3 cup cocoa
1 cup chopped pecans
1 teaspoon vanilla
dash of salt
3 cups miniature marshallows
1 stick margarine
1 box powcered sugar
1/3 cup cocoa
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1 cup chopped nuts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition. Sift together the flour and 1/3 cup cocoa. Fold this into the creamed mixture. Add pecans and vanilla. beat well. Pour into greased and floured 9×13-inch pan. Bake 30 to 35 minutes. Sprinkle top with marshmallows. Bake until marshmallows are melted and starting to turn brown (about 10 minutes). Remove from oven and cool in pan about 30 minutes. Icing: Melt butter in saucepan. Sift together powdered sugar and cocoa. Stir sugar mixture into butter along with nuts and milk. Spread over cake.
Yield: 12 or more servings
Elizabeth Andrew once said that “volunteers do not necessarily have the time…they have the heart.” With that being said I wanted to shine light on one of our many volunteers that brighten our days at Great Oaks Management. Ellen Dewberry has been volunteering at the Gardens of Eufaula since 2010. She brightens the days of our residents and shares the word with Bible Study on Wednesday afternoons. Mrs. Dewberry is one of our shining stars! In honor of her sweetness we are going to share her delicious recipe for Turtle Cake! Thank you Ellen Dewberry for your kindness and your servant’s heart. We at Great Oaks Management love our volunteers who are always being willing to share!
¾ cup butter
½ cup canned milk (use small can)
1 (1lb) bag caramels
1 cup chocolate chips
1 German chocolate cake mix
Mix cake mix according to package directions. In 9 X 13 inch pan that has been greased and floured, pour ½ batter. Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees. While this is baking unwrap caramels. Put in bowl and add the butter and milk. Microwave one to two minutes until melted. When cake is done, pour mixture over cake. Sprinkle chocolate chips on top of that. Pour rest of batter over this and bake for 20 more minutes.
Recipe Courtesy Ellen Dewberry
Mother’s Day is a time of year when we reflect on the ladies that helped mold and shape us into who we are today. To get some real pearls of wisdom we reached out to some of our resident mothers to ask them, “What was the most important thing that your Mother taught you?” The answers are advice that is timeless for all of us today.
Gardens of Wetumpka Resident Juanita Royall said:
“My mother taught me to always be a lady and be truthful because God is watching.”
Gardens of Pelham Resident Carolyn Hayes said:
“My Mother always said never mistreat anyone or it will come back and bite you and to always be kind.”
Gardens of Eufaula Resident Dimple Zorn:
“My Mama taught me how to cook and she taught me how to be a good Mother to my children.”
Gardens of Madison Resident Carole Kleis said:
“My Mother taught me to make the best out of what you have and to love and take care of your family.”
Limestone Lodge Resident Elease Barksdale said:
“My Mom taught me not to be selfish.”
Gardens of Eufaula Resident Mildred Vickers said:
“My Mother always told me to tell the truth and be a good friend.”
Limestone Manor Resident Avis Fox said:
“My mother instilled in me a good, hard work ethic. I always had a lot of responsibilities even at a young age. My Mom was a single mother and watching her made me realize what hard work was all about.”
Gardens of Clanton Resident Mary Nell Jones said:
“My Mom taught me to work hard and take care of my family.”
Gardens of Eufaula Resident Betty Sutton said:
“Being an only child gave me a unique perspective. My Mother was 30 years old when I was born. When I had my 3 boys, we learned how to care for three small children at the same time together. She was also a business woman that taught me the importance of never burning bridges in business or in friendships.”
Gardens of Daphne Resident Anna Speer said:
“My Mom taught me to be nice and always act like a sweet southern belle and to give respect to everyone.”
Limestone Manor Resident Jackie Bridges said:
“My Mom taught me to be the best you can be in everything.”
Gardens of Eufaula Resident Merilyn Crapps said:
“I was taught by my Mother to show love and always respect your elders.”
Gardens of Clanton Resident Lucille Mims said:
“My Mother taught me to raise my children right and have respect for others.”
Gardens of Madison Resident Nancy Melton said:
“My mother instilled family values in me and to love one another.”
Gardens of Eufaula Resident Margaret Slade said:
“I’m thankful for my Mother teaching me to read at age 5 because I always enjoyed reading and getting into a book.”
Gardens of Wetumpka Resident Bennie McDonald said:
“My Mother taught me to be honest and respectful at all times.”
Gardens of Pelham Resident Lula Mae Ott said:
“My Mother said to hold your character up because no one else will do it.”
Gardens of Eufaula Resident Sara Hamrick:
“My Mom told me back when I was a young girl of dating age to remember to always cross your legs and act like a lady. I think acting like a lady is still important today.”
Gardens of Daphne Resident Shirley Hartley said:
“Mama believed we should follow the Golden Rule and also love everybody the way you want to be loved.”
Limestone Lodge Resident Kay Armstrong said:
“My mother taught me to be fair.”
Gardens of Wetumpka Resident Lily Keener said:
“My Mama taught me to always remember, this too shall pass.”
Gardens of Eufaula Resident Opal Newsome said:
“My Mama always taught us to take care of your responsibilities. Don’t expect others to do it for you.”
Assisted living is more than just a place to live. But for one family, it is actually a tradition. Resident Betty Sutton shared a picture with us recently of her mother at the Gardens of Eufaula. The part that makes this story so unique is that her late Mother was also a former resident at the Gardens of Eufaula. We sat down with Betty and asked her a few questions about her unique perspective as a former sponsor and now resident at the Gardens of Eufaula. Here is our five question Q & A session.
Question: Betty, what is your fondest memory of your Mom at the Gardens of Eufaula?
Answer: “I loved how we celebrated her birthdays at the Gardens! My late son Chip would bring his grill and he would cook for everyone and we would have a wonderful time. Birthdays are always special at the Gardens.”
Question: What was something that you remember that your Mom enjoyed at GOE?
Answer: “My Mother made a very special friend named Mrs. Teal when she lived at the Gardens. They were so close and it was so sweet to see their bond. I remember coming to pick Mother up to go for a ride and her always insisting that Mrs. Teal ride with us. We took many trips out for ice cream and even to see Christmas lights. We had a ball!”
Question: What is your favorite part about living at the Gardens?
Answer: “My new “sorority sisters” that I have met at the Gardens that I affectionately call the “Golden Girls”. These ladies out here are such fun. We love to pick at each other. They are really special to me.”
Question: What do you like at the Gardens that really surprised you?
Answer: I was truly surprised how much I would enjoy the friends that I have made. That may sound odd, but I have many wonderful friends and never imagined that I would find more that would become so dear to me.”
Question: What would you tell someone that might be considering moving to an assisted living?
Answer: “I would tell them to go ahead and take the leap. You will surprise yourself how well you will adjust. I know I did. Don’t hesitate if you have the opportunity to move here.”
No matter your age, language, physical, or mental capabilities one thing is certain: Laughter transcends all barriers. It is universally shared among everyone. If someone is laughing, it is understood that something must be funny to the person laughing and we all want in on the fun! Even the most uptight people chuckle every now and then. But laughter does more than provide an escape for the moment; it also has health benefits as well.
What Happens When I Laugh?
There are a number of positve responses that are triggered by laughter:
- Your entire body relaxes, which relieves muscle tension and stress
- Cortisol (stress horomone) levels drop, minimizing pain and inflammation throughout the entire body.
- Endorphins are released. Endorphins are a natural substances that makes you feel happy and content. They have also been proven to reduce the perception of physical pain.
- Blood Pressure levels are reduced and heart rate, blood circulation, and oxygen intake are all increased.
- Laughter releases T-Cells and salivary immunoglobin A which both stimulate the immune system.
- Improves overall sense of well-being
- Stimulates both sides of the brain, which enhances learning.
- It reduces psychological stress, which keeps the brain alert and allows for the retention of more information.
So rememember to smile today! Make someone laugh or find some time in the day to seek out something that makes you chuckle. It does not matter how old you are, you are never too old to laugh! So go look for humor everyday and find something to laugh about. Remember, it’s good for you!