Monday, August 12, 2013

Back to School

Dear Friends,
It is that time of year, again! Wait, what!? Back to school time!! When did the fall arrive?

I do not have children, so the Back to School season only serves to perpetuate my obsession with school supplies that become readily available and inexpensive this time of year! However, I have a lot of friends who are busily preparing their children to head to class. Including our own Evan, who sent his oldest child to her first day of kindergarten on Thursday. It may have been allergies, but I think I saw a tear in his eye...

Back to school season got me thinking about a fun day Mr. Blueberry (Evan), Kaarmin and JT had last spring at Elk Center Elementary. Lilly, who is one of our great Charleston Walk participants, approached me one evening at a research event we hosted. She explained to me that there might be other kids in her class whose great-grandparents or grandparents had Alzheimer's or dementia like her great-grandmother, and she wanted to teach them about the disease and how her and her mom cared for her great-grandmother. So, we loaded up Mr. Blueberry, a copy of Grandma's Cobweb's and headed to the elementary school. The class was attentive and asked excellent questions. And just as Lilly predicted, others in her class had loved ones who had Alzheimer's or dementia. They shared similar experiences of being scared or confused, being sad or not understanding why grandma thinks I am my mom. They all shared good memories of their grandparents, and how they shaped their lives.

I find it remarkable how perceptive children are, how they are able to articulate difficult and challenging emotions so simply. As well as how forthcoming they can be about their on insecurities, and pointing out our own insecurities. How they are able to perceive when we as adults are tired or sad, angry or anxious, even when we are doing our best to cover those emotions up. And, how those emotions from us as adults effect them and their perception of the world. Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer's disease or dementia around children is no different. Children have a never ending yearning for knowledge, to know more to understand why. (My parent friends out there know this perpetual question, HA! Why? Why? Why?) What we have found, like our experience at Elk Center, children want to know more than just grandma is sick. It is so important that we help children differentiate the disease and grandpa, to help make their experiences together better. We want to keep those lines of communication open, and help prepare our children for changes that are going to happen. Most importantly, answer questions about the disease honestly and openly. Children know when you are sugar-coating.

What I have found most of all, is that children are always ready to help, with ideas and activities. We have some great activity kit ideas, for building activities that your loved one with Alzheimer's and your children can enjoy together. To create those moments of joy that your children can take with them as they grow up. And when they can't help they are ready to take on the challenge for themselves. Like Wilson, who joined us last year at the Advocacy Forum in Washington, D.C. He so clearly and effectively articulated that his great-grandmother is why he is so passionate about ending Alzheimer's disease, that there really was no way any of the Congressional offices could turn down our requests. Wilson and Lilly both pound the pavement each fall and summer raising funds and awareness for Walk to End Alzheimer's. Because they know that while they have already lost their loved one to this disease, they can help millions of others.

We have excellent resources for talking to children about Alzheimer's disease. A number of beautiful books, including Maria Shriver's new book that you can check out of our lending library. And we are always happy to take Mr. Blueberry on the road! We love coming to talk to schools and youth organizations to continue to build awareness and understanding of Alzheimer's and dementia. Send me an email at or give us at call at 800.272.3900!


  • Join me in a standing ovation for our first two members of the Walk to End Alzheimer's Champions Club!! Both of our Champions so far have raised nearly $1,000!! The Walk Champions Club is comprised of individuals who raised more than $500. You can find out more by clicking here!
    Champion Club Members: 
    - Joe Mastracci, Team Triad, Wheeling Walk
    - Terri Schneider, Mid Ohio Valley Walk
  • This week we head to Ohio Council, a combined policy effort from all of the Chapters that serve Ohio. Our Chapter serves 6 counties in Ohio. If you are interested in our policy efforts in Ohio, email Wendy
  • We have a number of support groups meeting this week, including two in our Charleston office. One on Tuesday evening at 6 pm, and the other on Wednesday at noon. The support group on Wednesday is specifically for spouses who are caring for a spouse. Click here for other locations & more information.
  • Your car is looking a little dirty, you should swing by the the Lazer Wash by the Food City in Bluefield, VA this week, they will donate $1 per car to Walk to End Alzheimer's! 
  • Genesis Healthcare is hosting a fundraiser at the Power Park baseball game THIS Friday night! It should be a fun night, and the weather looks great! Contact us if you would like to purchase tickets, they are $5 each! 
  • The Elm Grove Eagle Riders #1891 are hosting, Peggy's Run to Benefit Alzheimer's Research, this Saturday. Registration is at 11 am at the Elm Grove Eagles. This ride is inspired by our great friend and long-time volunteer Peggy Everly, who was with Alzheimer's disease. For more information contact, Mis, 304.599.5322 or Mike 304.547.1798
Conquering Capitol Punishment Update
I am following my fundraising steps to success!! First, I personalized my fundraising page, and then I made a donation to myself. Self-donation is an important step to let everyone know you are personally invested in your own fundraising! I asked W to sponsor me at $3 per mile, and think I am going to do ask my parents to sponsor me at $3 per mile as well. Which, with my self donation will bring me up to $13/mile! Nearly half of my goal! This week I am going to hit up my social media friends! As far as training goes, this humidity is a killer! My friend Diana and I tried a 7 mile run on Saturday and nearly keeled over! Fingers crossed for a nice breeze on race day! 

Squash Lasagna
Several months ago W came home from a business trip, and had discovered spaghetti squash. He is a big fan now, so I try to find different uses for this delicious vegetable. Spaghetti squash is a great substitute for pasta in any dish! The great part about this dish is there are really endless possibilities for vegetables to be included. Tonight I just added the squash and mushrooms. But, if you have zucchini or spinach on hand throw it in!

Take a spaghetti squash and chop it in half. Be VERY careful, these guys are hard to crack open! Once you get it open, scoop out the seeds and bake upside down at 350 for 45 minutes. 

Hey! Look at that, I have left over sauce from my pizza, and some mushrooms! 

To make this have a lasagna type feel, I like to add the creamy layer. If you want to make this an ultra healthy dish, leave out the ricotta mixture. But, who doesn't love a little extra yumminess! You only need about half of the tub. A little bit goes a long way. 

To the ricotta, add a palm full of Parmesan cheese. 

Followed by about a tablespoon of onion powder, 1/2 tbs of garlic powder, 1 tbs. of Italian seasoning, a pinch of red pepper flakes, and 1 tsp. of black pepper. 

Should look a little like this: Now for the fun part, roll up your sleeves and squish! 

Hey look the squash is done! Take your fork and pull the meat from the sides of the squash, see it looks like spaghetti!

Because I did not have very much sauce left, I am adding a little tomato puree to supplement. They are currently only selling it in GIANT cans at Kroger, which is not terrible...but I now have a freezer full of tomato puree. 

Now, it is time to assemble the parts! Put a little sauce down so the squash doesn't stick. 

Then layer in the squash meat. Thinking next time I might try mixing in an egg with the squash to see if it will hold the flat shape. 

Now it is layer time, add a layer of ricotta mixture, followed by a layer of sauce...

Followed by my personal favorite layer, mozzarella CHEESE! 

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes covered, followed by 15 minutes uncovered. It won't really cut like a lasagna, you more or less scoop it out. But it is a hearty dish! I would say this recipe will feed 4-5 people. Since it is just the two of us, we packed it in the freezer for one of our many busy nights! 

Until Next Week! 

Laurel K.


  1. Oh my goodness! This one, I can't wait to try! What a great use of spaghetti squash!

  2. I am so proud of my Jaylyn. She has such a giving heart. I know fighting Alzheimer's is becoming her passion, as it has mine. I wish you guys could come here to her school. It looked like a great day!