February 14, 2014

Mark's visit at home

I hope everyone has had a LOVELY Valentine's Day. I made heart-shaped French toast for my kids this morning, but it ended up being a failure, because they didn't even recognize that it was in the shape of hearts until I told them halfway through their breakfast! ;) Oh, well, I tried...

After the kids went to school, I hopped on the treadmill for my long run. On the schedule was a 10K race, but since I had no race to do today, I decided to just run 8 miles at the slow end of my long run pace range (8:48-10:07/mi). Sadly, I was down to the very last two episodes of Flashpoint. I've really loved that show, and it has gotten me through many runs during this extremely cold and snowy winter. The last two episodes totaled about 80 minutes, so the timing was totally perfect for my 8-mile run.

The finale was really good, and I was happy with the way the show ended. But now I've got to find something else to occupy my mind on the 'mill. My run went well; my heart rate stayed in the very low end of Zone 3, which is good.

Just after lunch, my dad and I went to go pick up Mark. His occupational therapist was going to follow us to Mark's group home to evaluate how well Mark could handle moving around there, so she would know what to work on with him. When we got to the nursing home, Mark was very excited and ready to go! He waved to everyone as we were walking out (pushing him in his wheelchair), and he told everyone, "Don't worry, I'll be back in a little while!"

Tiffany (his OT) showed us how to get him into the car, and it went really smoothly. Mark has gotten SO much better since he started physical and occupational therapy.

Tiffany followed us in her car, and we drove to the group home. Mark got out and walked into the house with his walker... he did great!

Mark was so happy to see everyone. The residents in the home all came up to him to shake his hand, and ask him questions about where he was, and all that. Mark kept telling everyone that he was there to "take a test" and that Tiffany was his "teacher" ;)  He worked really hard at being independent, and he did great. She had him walk around and show her the house, doing the things he would typically do on a daily basis there.

I have to stop for a moment to say that Tiffany is absolutely WONDERFUL with Mark! You can tell that she really, truly cares about him and his well-being. He's her first patient of the day during the week, and she even brings him coffee from Tim Hortons--not at all part of her job, but she knows that Mark loves his coffee. She really wants to get him well enough to live at the group home again, and Mark is the best patient ever, because he will do whatever it takes to make that happen.

This was the first time I've met the other residents in the home, and I'm so happy that I got to meet them. They all had different personalities which really came through in how they talked to Mark, and I just loved seeing Mark interact with everyone. Tiffany and I laughed at how Mark told pretty much everyone he saw that he's paying for the pizza party tomorrow with his own money. He kept saying he "raised over $200" to pay for the party, and he was very proud of that. Anyway, she is so nice, and I'm grateful that he has a therapist like her!

The whole time we were there, I kept noticing just how happy Mark was. I'd never seen him smile so big! He's always a happy person in general, but today was exceptional. I really hope that he's able to go back to live there (and soon).

When it was time to leave, after Mark "passed" his test, my dad and I took him back to the nursing home. I asked if he wanted a milkshake (and of course he did), so we stopped at McD's to get a shake for him. I noticed that they have Shamrock Shakes now (!!), so I suggested that one. I haven't had a Shamrock Shake in about 5 years, but I used to LOVE them. Mark wanted to try it, and he was in love at first sip. He said it beats the strawberry shake by a lot!

When we got to the nursing home, we realized that they were having an ice cream social for Valentine's Day. Mark wanted to do that, even though he'd already eaten half of his Shamrock Shake, so my dad and I took him to the cafeteria for the social. I did my long run today, so I didn't feel guilty at all about having a sundae with Mark.

I said I just wanted a small scoop, and this is what she gave me--who am I to argue about what a small scoop is? ;) It was so good! Perfect long run treat.

We got Mark settled back in his room, and then my dad and I left. I told Mark to get a good night's sleep for his party tomorrow. The party is at 4:00, and I'm looking forward to it!


  1. I just wanted you to know how happy these posts make me. My mom has worked with special needs children for 15 years and many of her students have become family to us. I know that not all the people (especially in group homes) have people who are extra kind to them and what you are doing is incredibly nice. I can't wait to hear about the party and I hope Mark has the best time!

  2. House of Cards season 2 just came out!

  3. I love these posts too, Katie. I wish I could hang out with Mark too. :)

  4. I can't wait to hear how the party goes! I am so excited for Mark that he is getting stronger and can go back to his home and friends! Thank you for letting us be a part of it. :)

  5. I'm really excited to hear about the party! What a wonderful thing you are doing!

  6. This is really wonderful! I am so glad that he is getting stronger!

  7. Sounds like a really good experience!

    Love your heart-shaped French toast!

  8. You know, Katie, there's so much bad that runs around the internet and so many folks are all about "Me! Me! Me!". You have taken your forum here and turned it into such a great thing for that man and his lucky friends! What a blessing you and your family are to Mark! Thanks for spreading some love. I needed to see this today.

  9. What a great joy it is to read your blog first thing in the morning! You are a great motivator for me to get off my bum and go run but also to be a better person every day. We all need encouragement and some of us on a daily basis. That's what is so neat about your blog. You share your heart about what's going on in your world and it's VERY REAL. So cool that Mark is having his party today! Can't wait to read about it! I'll never pass another McD's without thinking of Mark and how he loves his milkshake :)

  10. I love reading about Mark and his progress. Please keep it up! You, your family and all the wonderful people helping him are an inspiration to us all.

  11. So happy for Mark. Next time you go to McDonald's ask for a half shamrock half chocolate shake. It's like a thin mint. Yum!

  12. Katie, I hope you never stop blogging. :-)

  13. It's wonderful what you are doing for Mark! Hehe and I loved your breakfast...don't worry I could tell immediately that they were hearts, maybe your kids were just hungry so they didn't notice right away? :-)


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