Takin’ Action!

So as most of you know, my grandma Eleanor Deyden, is living with dementia, which is a form of Alzheimer’s disease. Most of the funny stories and jokes I’ve made on this blog come along with many unspoken stories about how hard it is to watch someone living with such a confusing disease.

My mom, sister, grandma, and Aunt Cynthia-- Christmas 2007

I’ve written about it before, and here I sit late at night blogging about it again. And I won’t stop writing until I see significant improvements in the lives of people with Alzheimer’s. Today I was walking to work and picked up the free Express newspaper here in Washington, D.C. and realized right away what the feature on the cover would be about. The article estimated that by 2050 13-16 million people would be affected by this disease because of the increasing senior population. It is the sixth-leading killer of people in the U.S. and there’s no cure and treatments only temporarily ease some symptoms.

Free newspaper in D.C. with a feature article on Alzheimer's

Back to my grandma for a second. Everyone knows she is a great woman (and also a *superb* dancer), and I just wish she could see how important she still is to all of us. Six kids and a husband of 50 years doesn’t come easily, and I hope to God she’s comfortable because there’s really no way of knowing. The good thing, though, is that there’s hope. The Alzheimer’s Walk 2011 during World Alzheimer’s Month is the perfect time to spread hope and gain awareness of a disease. Most of the caregivers are the patient’s own relatives, and they’re the ones who need the most support. By supporting the Alzheimer’s Association, you’re supporting not only research and hope for a cure, but also helping the lives of the people who are affected by the day-to-day care of people with dementia.

All you have to do is put music on and she's up and at 'em!

While I was reading the article this morning, I also realized I was wearing the color of the Alzheimer’s Association (purple). If you know me, you know I’m all about “signs” and going with my gut on big decisions. Needless to say, I felt like makin’ moves! So I decided to go online and find my local Alzheimer’s Walk!

And so with that, tonight I start my journey into fundraising. I’m not asking for a certain amount; just anything that you’d like to give will be good enough. I’d like to thank you all for your support ahead of time. I know a few people who are already walking in different states and I hope I can recruit a few more to walk with me on November 5th, 2011 in D.C. It’s going to be a GREAT month for Alzheimer’s, I can feel it! Here’s the profile I created for my grandma where you can donate if you’d like:


Thank you again for all of the help, and I hope to be updating you with some fundraising news very soon!


Leave a comment

Filed under 2011


The most epic and memorable event that happens every 4 (ish) years did not disappoint. Kind of like the Olympics, minus athletics and plus alcohol and food. Okay so…not really like the Olympics at all. I’m just really hyped up from watching a blind guy kick butt on the show Expedition Impossible. It’s an adrenaline rush, I tell ya.

So the reunion was up in Eaton, New Hampshire this year. It had never been that far North, so you’d think it’d be nice and chilly, up in the mountains, maybe sit by a nice campfire for heat. Negative, friends. In fact, it was as hot or hotter than the rest of the states in the heat wave. But, oh wait! The fun part: air conditioning is a rarity in that state (for obvious reasons-the normal high in the summer being 85).

Needless to say, we became automatic sweat producers, with the mosquitos and bugs loving every minute of our suffering. Luckily there were some lovely bodies of water that helped shut up the complaints: Swift River and Crystal Lake. It was all so pretty and scenic.  On Saturday we had a lovely picnic on the lake which is also home to a girls camp, and so of course the only thing running through my head when I hear them playing is The Parent Trap movie. Over and over. and over. But I can’t forget our morning hike that same morning to 360 views of New Hampshire and Maine on a mountain covered in organic blueberry bushes. I called my dad from the top while he was eating breakfast and told him to “Google it”. Oh, 21st century. You are so fun sometimes.

Minus the outdoor activities we spent a lot of time doing our quirky Leadbetter things. Leadbetter is my grandma’s maiden name, and the Leadbetter family came over from England and passed through Ellis Island. We did a bunch of seemingly normal family reunion activities at first, like having grandchildren pose as the original immigrants, reading off fun facts about each one. Then of course we had our weird ones, like the presentation of “The Cup”. It’s a cup someone found in a dumpster (where else), cleaned it up, had it plated, and each reunion we pass it down through the oldest relative. And, in true Leadbetter style, we’re all required to drink from it (*this year it was filled with Shipwreck, a super hoppy beer we had kegs of). It was all great. Every reunion I think I’ve mastered my family tree and actually understand how we’re all related, and then I come home, someone asks me ONE question, and my entire expertise is blown to bits. Maybe one day when there’s nametag- and-photo coordinated poster boards I’ll finally get my act together.

Enjoy some photos!

site of the reunion itself-amazing cabin by the pond!

the presentation of the cup, complete with kid marching band and national athem

meet my GANGSTER grandpa...no, but really guys. check out that hat and stance.

Needless to say, I enjoyed our mini vacation to New Hampshire, and now I really want to go back in the winter to properly use that ski condo we stayed in all weekend. Sweating in the basement at night just made me feel like we weren’t using the other three stories properly..Dang heat!

Until next time lovelies–

Leave a comment

Filed under 2011

Fun Facts and a small update

Man. You guys must really love my creative titles.

It’s getting late in my stay here and there isn’t much time left before I move to ____! (Bets are still on for where I’ll end up!)

In the meantime, enjoy some fun facts:

Grandpa’s wisdom, late-night style (aka 9:45 p.m.)

-The old Five and Dime store used to break up all the old chocolate bunnies from Easter and put it into a huge pile on display, and you could buy the chocolate way discounted by the pound (super cool!)


Thank you modern crazies for ruining that fun tradition.

-Also, although this is more common knowledge, he told me about how bread used to be $.10, and if the bread was a day old they wouldn’t sell it to you. I feel like Europe still goes by that rule, but I’m pretty sure America ruined that decades ago.

All of this money talk started when he raved about how the Post Office had no line today and that the man had a change cup that he used to help my grandpa pay for his stamps. It was like Christmas for him. The joy on his face was like someone handed him $10. The frugalness just never fails. It’s frustrating at times, and yet I’m pretty sure I inherited some of it. Not a bad thing to have when you’re sights are set on big cities…too bad bread still isn’t that cheap!

On a sidenote, the great Leadbetter Get Together is this weekend-FINALLY. After too many years of waiting, I finally have another weekend to figure out how I’m related to sixty different people within one night while we all pig out and dance ’til the conga lines start. It’s always been a challenge, but now that I’m 21 I think there may be an added element hindering my thought process….

The next update will hopefully have reunion pictures! Have a great weekend everyone!

Leave a comment

Filed under 2011

Gettin’ Jiggy With It

Okay so that title has almost nothing to do with my post..I just really like that line..

Okay so last night’s conversation:

Me: “Hey so my two friends from Florida will be coming up in August.”

(no response, so I try to save myself, thinking it’s an awful idea)

Me: “Yeah so they’ll be here around the time my mom’s here so…(awkwardly laughing)…It’ll be a party!”

Grandpa, finally unlocking his eyes from the TV: “A party? You mean like in the basement?”

Me, laughing: “No, grandpa. Like a party meaning a lot of people.”

(still terrified of him hating this idea)

Me: “…but it’s okay because we’re self sufficient and my mom will be here to keep things in order…”

Grandpa: “Have they ever been here before?”

Me: “Well, no, not that I know of. Not really for a vacation, anyway”

Grandpa, laughing: “OOOOHHHH so you’re gonna show them around then”

As if I’m some partier or something…Assuming I was throwing a party in the basement of my elderly grandparents, and who know what that “OHHH” was about. *shaking head*

I think Vanna White just puts people like my grandpa into trances...

I’ve spent 22 years with my own dad and for some reason I STILL pick the absolute worst time to talk to men about important things. But hey, maybe if I had his full attention he would’ve had the opposite reaction. The “party” in August is  a go!


Filed under 2011

Broken Glass and Mrs. America

So things here have been trudging along. It’s getting hotter, and I’m pretty sure with that we all naturally move a little slower, especially without air conditioning, as is the case in this house most of the time. I only have a small amount of time left here, but I’m hoping you’ve all enjoyed my stories and quips and they’ve made you laugh and brought back some memories. I’m going to try to post as much as I can from now on up until the day I leave, so enjoy!

Story #1:

Walking through the back door of ’66, saying hello to the grandparents, and up the stairs to change to survive the heat (shorts, t-shirt, hair up). As always, I went downstairs and into the kitchen to start making dinner. I was walking over to the sink to wash my hands before I made some dinner and I thought I felt something sticky on my feet.

I turned around and rubbed my foot back and forth on it to try to figure out what it was. Then it dawned on me. My foot was grinding on GLASS. In a state of panic, thinking that shards of glass must definitely be embedded into my grandparents’ feet by now, I went to the living room.

Me, feeling like one of those people in Aladdin that just successfully completed walking over a pit of glass, semi-panting in disbelief: “Hey grandpa, did you break a glass today?”

Grandpa: “Oh yeah, did I not get all of it up?”

Me, running upstairs: “Well yeah I think you missed a few…”

..And then I tried to clean up the disaster area, picking up big pieces of glass off the ground along with the lovely small suckers that really seem to love hugging the floor, which were probably inches away from where I just stepped.

Crisis Averted. PHEW.

Story #2 (less dramatic)

Things you should know: I came home from work to no air conditioning, and my room being 88 degrees. Needless to say I threw my hair up, was sweating, and was probably looking a little rough. Not to mention I started stuffing my face with food the minute I walked into the kitchen..

So then grandpa comes strolling in…

Grandpa, in a singing voice: “There she isssss”

Me, making a salad and watching my water for pasta boil out of the side of my eye: “Mrs. Americaaaa”

Grandpa, laughing, and seemingly not sarcastic: “Yeah!” (pause)  “I could believe that!”

AWWW. One person convinced, the rest of the population to go! Ha. Love him.

Until the next time…But for now my Mac is heatin’ up my hands and this air conditioning just doesn’t cut it, so it’s time to lay like a vegetable in hopes of me feeling a little cooler. Ahhh, summer in NJ at ’66!

Leave a comment

Filed under 2011

Ain’t nothin’ but a heartache

My fun days of riding my bike have sadly come to an end. For now at least! The lovely bike I rode to the train station almost every day was stolen, and many higher quality road bikes were left behind yesterday. Why did they steal the cheapest bike on the rack? Who knows. It was probably easier than the guy who has THREE locks on his road bike (no joke). That’s a little intense. Anyway, I think I was more mad about the principal of someone stealing it than actually having to walk home.

Although after all that, I come home today to grandpa shoving an article in my face about how two teenagers have been stealing bikes and leaving them in random areas around Hawthorne. They apparently have a growing collection at the police station. So naturally, he wants to go down there and get mine back. Of course, if there’s a road bike in there I may claim a slight case of memory loss and get myself one of those beauties…We shall see.

my goal for tomorrow's pity party at the police station

In other news, Grandpa finally discovered his other cable channels today. They have the most basic cable, and yet they get music channels? It boggles my mind, it really does. But so just imagine me at the kitchen table eating The Great Gatsby in a hunched over position (as usual) and all of a sudden I hear some death music coming from the living room. Some hardcore band sounded like it was raging right in grandpa’s chair. And then it changes. And then it changes again. And then it lands on a Backstreet Boys song.

Grandpa: “Do you like this ‘El?”

Grandma: “Yeah, yeah this is okay”

Grandpa turns the channel again (typical guy)

Katy Perry starts playing…

Grandma: “Oooh I don’t like this”

My favorite part was when “Down on Me” by Jeremih & 50 Cent started playing while grandpa was flipping through songs and when he started rapping saying “sticky” and “licky” a million times grandpa just starts laughing and laughing.

(sidenote: Although this is a huge step forward in cable viewing, I’m still not sure if he figured out how to shut off the spanish subtitles. Don’t ask me how he got them there! I have no idea how to change it back. They have a remote control from outer space)

I wonder if when I’m old and grey my caregivers will be playing Backstreet Boys for me? I can’t imagine that being something as tearjerking as some old blue eyes can be. Grandma’s music gets me every time!

You should’ve seen my reactions to all of their comments. It was quite the entertainment. But then of course they made it to some 1930s music and it was an absolutely perfect soundtrack to me finishing The Great Gatsby. Nonetheless, I love hearing my grandma humming to the songs she still knows and knowing she’s at peace. Just another lovely evening at ’66!

Leave a comment

Filed under 2011


A miracle occured this morning just as I was feeling another ShopRite lecture coming on.

As I was washing the dishes, trying to explain to grandpa about how it’s much harder to get a job these days and how companies WANT people, they just don’t have money to HIRE them, he said these lovely words: “Yeah my generation just can’t give yours any advice anymore, it’s a whole different world now”

*Heavens opening up music*

ahhhh. being understood feels so good

Now back to the job search.

Leave a comment

Filed under 2011