Saturday, May 16, 2015

Day 711

May 17, 2015

Day 711


Day 711...I remember when I was kid there were 711 gas stations, precursors to Caseys and QTs of today.  I also remember the Sinclair stations and the ones with the shell on them - Shell Oil, I think they were called? But when you needed to run to a gas station for something you'd say you were going to the 7-11 even if it wasn't an actual 7-11 store - it was just kind of a catch-all name for quick service stations.


Boy, am I  tired today.  I mean, really tired.  My allergies have been giving me fits for the last few days.  I don't know why. This is not the time of year I'm supposed to have trouble with them.  But tell that to my nose.   So, I'm having to take zyrtec and chlortrimeton, which usually work, but at the price of fatigue.  Yesterday was particularly rough.  I was able to sleep off some of the drugs and then Ben and I ran errands last night in the rain.


I came home and thought I'd get some decent sleep but then Will got home from work and wanted to have a real heart-to-heart, which was wonderful, but what we talked about revved up my mind and I was unable to fall asleep until after 1 in the morning and then I woke up at 6:15 for absolutely  no good reason at all. 


Although, I'm still thankful Will talked to me.  Even he commented that if Dad was alive, he'd be talking to him instead.  I suppose I should feel insulted, but I don't, really.  That's just the way it's always been with Will.  He was always more comfortable with Paul and preferred his company to mine.  But now I'm the favored parent by default. 


Which I'll take.



Mother's Day was a nice day.  It went exactly as I had planned - which is unusual!  Things don't typically work out that well.  But we had our lunch at Fuddruckers and then we swung by Penneys and I was able to pick up some athletic shorts for David.  And then we came home and the kids gave me cards and Will had picked up a Jim Beam (!) candle at Sportsmans and a just -released book on the Christian and suffering written by his professor at Faith.  I'm looking forward to reading it.  Actually, 2 summers ago when we were taken up to camp for a day a couple of weeks after Paul's death this same professor was speaking and I still remember his talk.  I'm suspicious that what he shared with us that day probably served as part of the outline of this book.


And then the sky got really dark and we got some rain and that was it - no tornado, not even any hail.  And then I called and talked to my mom and then we went to church again that evening and the kids and I went to DQ and as it turned out, I actually had $18 worth of gift cards in my purse so our entire order cost $1.01 which was very manageable.


It was a very good day.


Oh, and when I came out of church on Sunday morning I found a pretty basket sitting in my van filled with Bath and Body soaps and a card with an Amazon gift card inside from a couple of ladies at church who wanted to make sure I had a nice day.  What a blessing!


Tuesday I attended DMACC's orientation with Will.  What a yawn-fest...fortunately, I wasn't without my kindle, so I spent most of my time reading that.  It was a good story, too, about a Lutheran pastor who helped solve a murder and almost  got murdered himself in the process.  As it turned out, he was a widower, his wife having been murdered by the same guy years before.  Very entertaining.


Then, they had the students go off to register for classes and had a session for the parents.  It was basically all about letting your child grow up, geared to parents who have young college students just exiting high school, I guess.  This time I couldn't sit and read without being obvious.


I've been having trouble getting our financial information to the school so before we left we stopped by the Fin. aid office and asked for help - all they did was give us the phone number for tech support.  Not helpful.  We eventually got things figured out on our own at home.  I hope we did, anyway.


Afterwards, we went to Menards and Will and breathed deeply and said, "Ah- h - I love the smell of this place!"  He is his father's son.


David is going on a missions trip this summer to Detroit.  They gave the parents the details last Sun. night.  It sounds like it will be good for the teenagers.  They're going to do it in conjunction with another youth group at a church in Des Moines.  One day they plan to take the kids into the inner city.  I mentioned this to David and he squeaked, "Alone?"


"Yeah," Will joked, "It's called 'survival of the fittest'!"


No, not alone.  But it will be good for these middle-class, mostly homeschooled kids to see a different way of life.


Will gets his wisdom teeth out Monday.  Today a hilarious video popped up on my newsfeed of a young woman coming out of anesthesia after getting her wisdom teeth removed.  She's very upset that she's "still white and not Nicky Minaj!"  I showed it to Will and he was groaning.  He says he's hiding his phone so he doesn't do anything dumb with it when he's still coming to.


This week he  started making plans for  finishing off the basement.  I'm all for it if it doesn't cost too much.  It would definitely increase the resale value of the house and make things cleaner.  But I'm not sure how much time he would have in reality, to do it, and I sure don't want him getting started and then running out time to finish.  So we'll see.  First, I want him to build my L shaped bookshelves in the upstairs hallway. 


His big project this week was building a rabbit hutch with David.  It's pretty cool - and big.


Ellie had an open house Thurs. night at the preschool she'll be attending this fall.  She was pretty excited.  It's held in the basement of the Methodist church in Pville but it doesn't appear to have any religious base at all.  I was a little dismayed to see one of the values on the preschool sign as, "self-esteem."  Ugh - and no!  The last thing our kids need is to have their little self-esteems boosted.  Humans come into this world full of self-esteem.  Our job is to reduce their self-esteem, not increase it.

Trust me...Ellie already thinks she's pretty wonderful.


So I'm working on the paperwork for that.  Apparently, there are scholarships available to help with the cost.  That would be great if I could get some help. I had no idea that was out there.  I could have sent her to the school's preschool, which would more than likely, have been free for us.  But I deliberately made the choice to go with this preschool, even though it would cost me $85 a month, because it wasn't full-time.  So we'll see if that comes through.


The new superintendent of the school and his wife were there with their children.  I overheard him say that next year's freshman class will have 76 kids.  This is unreal.  Pville normally only graduates around 40 seniors every year.  It's a pretty small district.  But apparently there's growth coming from somewhere.


Actually, this is good for me, with my thoughts of working at the school as an associate in a few years.  The larger of a student body, the higher the chances are for increased students with special needs - and the higher the school's need for associates to work with them.  Job security.


The first day of school this year will be Aug. 31 - four days later than last year's start.  I like that.  I don't like it when schools are starting up the second week of August.  They don't need to get their grubby hands on my kids any sooner than necessary.  Although, by the end of summer, I may be wishing they would take my kids earlier!


It's late Saturday now.  The Littles are all in bed and David and Ben are watching Red Green on PBS.  Paul loved that show - it seemed to satisfy his inner redneck, which was often more out than in I guess.


Tonight was Single Parent Provision.  The kids had a blast, as usual.  I decided to do something different and went and saw the new release, "Where Love Grows."  I had it all planned.  The movie started at 7 and lasted an hour and 37 minutes which would give me just enough time to get back over to the community ctr to get the kids by 9.  I forgot to figure in the I missed the ending of the movie.  And it was SO good!  But this just means I'll have to get the dvd.  It is a Christian movie, although I recognized a number of secular actors in it.  It's about a washed up, alcoholic baseball player and a man with Downs Syndrome.  Their lives intersect and it's a neat story.  The previews, of course, are geared to the audience so I saw several ones that look interesting.  The Kendrick brothers have a new one coming out late this summer on the power of prayer which looks good.  Of course, anything they do is amazing.  There's a revolutionary war movie that's Christian.  And there's a Vietnam war era one coming out in July.  Uncle Si from Duck Dynasty is in that one!   I think they said that one is by the producers of "God's Not Dead."


All of a sudden, there seems to be a glut of Christian movies.  I wonder if, in time, the movies will begin to separate themselves into doctrinally loose ones vs. more sound movies.  Time will tell, I guess.


So, I've been working on my filing over the last few weeks.  I finally got the last loose paper filed this week and quickly realized that the folders have got to be thinned down.  So I've started going through them and getting rid of old statements and anything else we don't really need to hang onto.  I got to the folder that contains all the information on Paul's death, burial, funeral, etc.  And I found his autopsy report yesterday.  I have not looked at that thing since it arrived about 6 weeks after his death.  Against my better judgement I decided to read it again.  I don't know what I was hoping to find - maybe just reading it with a mind that's a little more clear would be beneficial.  I don't really know.  So I did.


A lot of it is medical speak, of course.  I was amazed at how thorough an autopsy is.  They examine and document absolutely everything about the deceased.  They measure their hair length, they take out organs and weigh them, they mention what's under the fingernails, which I suppose would be necessary in the case of a homicide.  They detail the type of cuts they make.  All along I've known Paul had an autopsy, but it never really occurred to me until reading that yesterday that they cut him open.  Well, duh.  That's what an autopsy is.  How else did they pull out his spleen, measure it, and include that information in the report?  But I just hadn't given any real thought to the idea that they took a scalpel, and in a large Y incision, sliced open my husband's body.


A few things made me smile.  They clocked his body weight at 203 pounds.  That would appalled Paul.  He was very determined to keep his weight under 200 and any time the scale began inching upwards, he would declare that he was now on a diet and no longer going to eat lunch.  And I would always tell him that is NOT the way to lose weight and he would say, "Sure it is - watch me!"  The writer of the  autopsy puzzled over a strange combination of letters and numbers written in ink on the palm of his left hand.  I knew what it was!  Paul had this bad habit of writing down part numbers on his body that he needed to find.  The night he died he had been working on an elderly lady's sink and I remember that he told me he had to go to the hardware store and get a part which is why he was later getting home than he had originally planned.  When he did that he wrote down the needed part number.  This made me think of people who die who are heavily tattooed.  Every single one of those tattoos has to be detailed.  Can you imagine how long their autopsy reports must be?


The report also mentioned the high levels of caffeine in Paul.  Again - I have the answer.  He chugged ice-tea like his life depended on it.  He had this gallon jug (actually, he had several - he would wear them out on a routine basis) and every single day, even in the winter, he carried around tea and drank it all day long.


So, I was smiling just as much as I was upset after reading the report again.  I was smiling because it brought back good memories.  And I was upset because the whole thing was just so clinical and not who Paul was.  It was his body, nothing more.  Not the man.  I have that report written on the pages of my heart.


And the other thing I felt while reading? 


Relief.  Over and over again in the report it said, "Accidental death."  It said, "Death caused by witnessed seizure."  Repeatedly.  I've always known, in my head, I wasn't responsible for Paul's death.  But when I've been blamed - and I have been - it has messed with me.  My heart has begun to doubt what my head knows.  Should I have done something differently?  Could I have saved him?  Am I to blame, even in the smallest of ways?


I'm not.  It was an accident.  He had a seizure disorder that caused him to lose consciousness.  He fell.  That was it.  I mean, as a Christian, I know that's not it, of course.  God allowed the circumstances to occur as they did.  But I could not have saved him because his day of  death was written before he even began to form as an embryo.  All of ours is. 


It was an accident.


And like all accidents, those left in pieces eventually find the strength to start moving again and I am.  Slowly.  But with more of a sense of purpose.  I'm tucking Sam into bed tonight and he comments that he wishes "I was a monkey."  He further explained that monkeys have prehensile tails (like everyone automatically knows what "prehensile" means.  Actually, I did, but I read a lot.  And I have Sam who has a deep interest in the entire animal kingdom and has been feeding us all tidbits of animal trivia for most of his life) and he thinks that would be cool to have a tail to help you out.  Of course it would.  I  need a prehensile tail, myself. 


These are my reasons for moving on.  Well, some of them, anyway.  But they're sitting in my bedroom at night when I desperately need to sleep telling me the dark and deep things that alternately bother and thrill their souls. They're dreaming about their futures.  They're coloring bits of cardstock and paper while leaving my stamping supplies scattered all over the floor and proudly giving them to me, explaining that the scribbles mean, "I love you, Mommy!"  They're asking to drive by their dad's grave again and they're talking about the coolness of prehensile tails.


And so, I keep moving on.


































Saturday, May 9, 2015

Day 704

May 9, 2015

Day 704



Huh...I hit Day 700 this week and didn't realize it.  That means in a little less than a year I will mark Day 1000 - February, maybe?  I'm not sure.


So, this week...has been fine.  It was not as rainy as the weathermen told us it would be.  It's been warm and cloudy and some parts of the Midwest have really been hammered with tornadoes and flooding but we must be sitting in a sweet spot here.  I was actually kind of looking forward to a good, midnight thunderstorm and we never got one.  But Sunday afternoon or evening it sounds like the weather might get kind of severe.  Hopefully, not too severe since I don't currently have insurance coverage on my siding or roof...


I'm just going to have to replace the roof, I've decided.  I think I'll wait until next spring.  Ben's teacher told me they just had theirs done and she can give me the name of the crew that worked for them.  I don't know how long my siding guy is going to take to get my house and garage done and I can't have two crews working at the same time.  And I rather imagine there's a waiting list for most reputable roofers once the weather warms up.  Maybe I should wait until after Ben's graduation party next spring so I don't run the risk of having shingles and junk all over the yard at that time.  I really like the look of steel roofs that are getting more and more popular.  But I've heard some criticisms of them, too, so I'll probably just go with shingles.


I've been a little sadder the past couple of days.  Maybe it's because it's Mother's Day weekend  and Paul always did such a bang-up job with that for me.  Last year we were on vacation which helped.  But even then, the boys remembered, which was sweet, and more than I expected.  And maybe it's because it's less than a month now until June 6 and I might always be a little more melancholy this time of year, as a result.


I was helping set up for our church's Mother/Daughter brunch a week ago (which I did not attend - I went to one 9 years ago and really did not enjoy myself and I've just never had the desire to try again, even now that I have daughters.  I suppose I probably should try it again.  But then I'd have to talk to people).  Anyway, two grandmas were also setting up.  One asked the other about her expected grandbaby and the one said proudly, "Yep - he's due June 6th!"  And then the other said, "Oh, that's my granddaughter's birthday!" And I thought about saying, "And that's Paul's death day!"  But I didn't - figured it would kind of kill the moment.  But that is what that day will always signify to me, for the rest of my life.


Actually, I would love it if something marvelous did happen some year on that date, like the birth of a grandchild.  It would seem almost redemptive.  We'll see.  I don't have any control over that!


Oh, and speaking of babies... the world waited all last weekend to find out the name of the new baby princess.  It's a pretty one - Charlotte Elizabeth Diana.  I wasn't sure if they'd go for "Diana" because, from what I've heard, the queen wasn't overly fond of her, particularly once she divorced her son.  I would  imagine William and Kate would like to stay in the queen's good graces.  But I suppose they managed to please everyone by naming her after Prince Charles, the queen, and the dead princess.  I like all those names - very traditional, which is my preference when it comes to naming people (obviously - run through the list of names I picked for my crew).  But, as I heard all these news reports last weekend and watched people speculating on Facebook about what the name would be, I was reminded of something a local radio host pointed out a few years ago when the world was all excited over the latest royal wedding.


He wondered why Americans were so excited about anything royal.  As he said, our ancestors fled royalty - with good reason.  When they set up our government they did all they could to ensure there would never be a monarchy.  It seemed to him that all this excitement was kind of a slap in the face to the sacrifices made by our founding fathers.


He has a point.  Now, granted, this particular talk show guy is actually English by birth, although a proud American now.  He has a particular  hatred for the English health care system, which he blames directly for his father's death.


I understand what he's saying.  But, I would venture that it is probably mostly American females that get excited by royal weddings and royal babies.  Guys don't care.  In fact, I don't know of too many men that like English anything.  I remember arising very early in the morning to watch Princess Diana and Sarah Ferguson marry (waste of time since they both ended up divorced).  I didn't get up to watch Princess Kate.  At this stage of life, I really don't care.  But I do remember admiring her gown when I saw a picture of it later.  I'm still a girl, I guess!


Yesterday, a discussion arose on Facebook about expressions or usage of language that drive us insane.  This was a conversation in which I was only too happy to participate.  As I was typing some of things that frustrate me, I half-jokingly referred to myself as "nit-picky."  My friend responded that no, I am just, "precise."  I like that...precise.


My preciseness cost me a FB friend this week.  Well, not really.  I unfriended her.  I really didn't know this gal.  She was a friend of a friend who sent me a friend request for some reason.  Well, one night this week she posted a meme that read, "Don't loose hope - you don't know what tomorrow will bring!"  I responded, a bit snarkily, "Yes, like perhaps a better grasp of the English language?"  I then added a note about not minding me - I'm something of a language nerd, or something like that.  Oh, my goodness...she got so upset with me.  I was nice about it but then quietly unfriended her.  A few days later she messaged me, demanding to know why I had unfriended her!  This is like the locker hallway of junior high all over again... I was honest - nice, though - and told her it was obvious to me she had a personality that is easily offended and I have no wish to continually risk that and that's the way it is.


As I am growing older I am noticing  a distinct intolerance in myself for foolishness in others.  I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not.  It may just end up making me crabby a lot.  But I really should not be like this.  Relationships are more important than standing up against the abuse of the English language. 


Most of the time, anyway.


Ooh...and more on my "preciseness":  In Hobby Lobby this week I was perusing the scrapbooking stickers when I came across a pack that made me pause for a moment.  I shook my head, groaned, and probably rolled a couple of eyeballs before moving on.  Later, I ran it by David to see if he would catch what had caught my ire.  English is not his strong area, so if he could figure it out, then you know it's bad.  Even he got it.


It was a package of wintertime stickers and one of the stickers read, "Burrr!"  Really?  "Burr?"  You mean like the one under my saddle after seeing that?!


Yeah...just a little crabby.


Ok, time for something happy: my friend, Jenn, is a new mom this week.  It's an adoption and this whole thing has just been really thrilling for me to watch from the sidelines.  This is child #6 for them.  The rest are biological, except for son #2, who is the girls' bio brother.  They wanted a baby boy to match his big brother so they specifically sought to adopt a black newborn.  It's been a bit of a journey for them, but I've rejoiced with them as they were finally chosen by a  birth mom more than halfway across the country.  They were informed late last week that this Tuesday would be baby day so the entire family loaded up and took off.  I texted her as they were on the way to hospital for the delivery and it wasn't but a few hours later I got pictures on my phone of the most adorable newborn little boy.  There is just something about black babies...


It kind of made me sad to realize what I've missed from the girls' first years.  I never got to cuddle that brown sweetness.


But this has been neat because I don't think I have any other really good friends who have adopted brand new babies like this.It's been  special to have a front row seat to this endeavor and to see the reward nestled in their arms.  I can't wait to hold him!


Tuesday night the kids did have softball, despite my hopes for rain.  David has really improved a lot from last year - and he was good then.  His game was especially fun to watch.  Anyway, one of the other homeschool moms approached me and we began to talk.  She observed the girls and told me how cute they are and then commented, "They have such a nice color to their skin."  I agreed.  I've always thought the girls are both such a pretty shade of brown.


But I've been thinking about that comment ever since.  I know the lady that spoke meant nothing offensive by saying it and I didn't take it in a negative way at all.  But really, what is a "nice" tone of black skin?  Is it being as close to white as you can be?  Is darker skin not nice?  I remember when I got the call for the girls.  I was told they were black and that we would, more than likely, end up adopting them.  I didn't meet them or see a picture or anything until that June morning when I picked them up in Des Moines.  But I remember seeing them for the first time and feeling relieved that they were a lighter brown color.  I feel ashamed of that now, though.  Why did that matter at all?  Would I love them any less today if their skin was nearly black in color?  I can't imagine that.


I know Lizzie is pretty attentive to differing shades of brown.  Once, we were helped out to our van at Walmart after making a large purchase by a man who probably came from the Sudan.  She talked for days in amazement about how black he was.  Even just a couple of weeks ago I had her dressed in a black dress for church and she commented that it was a good thing her skin was only medium brown because with the dress people might not be able to see where the dress ended and she began!  She made me laugh by saying that.


What is it about skin that we've decided there are good and not-so-good shades?  When I was younger, I didn't like being as pale as I am (Lizzie comments from time to time that "You are the whitest person I know, Mom!").  I envied my friends who tanned easily and was embarrassed by my legs and arms that would only ever burn rather than tan.  I fried myself on purpose several times, laying outside with tin foil and baby oil (stupid, stupid, stupid).  I used to buy self-tanning lotions, even as an adult, in hopes that my skin would darken.  One nice thing about middle-age?


 I don't care anymore.


Anyway, I've just been ruminating on this all week.  No definitive answers - like most of my thought life - just a jumble of thoughts as I attempt to sort through things.


Something that cracked me up this week: Lizzie has an imagination that matches her enthusiasm for life.  She asked me one day what I would do if someone broke into our home and told me that he was going to kill either herself or Sam - who would I  choose to die?  What a horrifying question!  I told her I would tell the bad guy to kill me.  Lizzie replied, "No, you can't do that.  He says, 'You have to choose either Sam or Lizzie.'"  I told her I wouldn't do that.  I would tell the bad guy to choose then.


Lizzie then said, "Well, I would say to the bad guy - 'kill me because I love Sam so much and I want him to live!'"  I told her that was very nice of her and it's actually what Jesus did for us.  Inwardly, I smiled because it's just another evidence of her big heart.


Well, later that same night I heard Lizzie posing the same scenario to Sam that she had earlier presented to me.  I was driving and about swerved into a telephone pole when I heard Sam say, "Yeah, I'd tell the bad guy, 'Kill Lizzie!"  Of course, she was then sputtering about how she was willing to die for Sam and she couldn't believe he wouldn't do the same for her!  I glanced in the rear view mirror and saw a sly grin on Sam's face that told me knew exactly what he was doing  - yanking his sister's chain once again.


I think this would fall into the oh, brother category!


I teach Patch club on Wednesday nights.  Ellie stays with me even though she's really too young for the group.  There's just no where else for her to go.  It was prayer request time and like she does every week, Ellie pitifully announced that, "My daddy die."  Sam, who was sitting beside her, exclaimed in exasperation, "Ellie!  We're over that now!"  I had to smother a laugh even though it really isn't funny.  But in that moment it kind of was.


I think I've written before about how Ben has been reading his Bible a lot of mornings before school.  Normally, when I get up I'm in a haze, stumbling around to get his breakfast and school bag ready.  Then I collapse on the couch with the Today show until the bus arrives.  I realized this week that Ben has been taking his Bible back to my room for a few minutes during that time and reading on my bed - because it's quiet.  A couple of weeks ago he had asked me where the best place to read in the Bible is and I had suggested that Proverbs has a lot of good, practical, life stuff.  He commented to me this week that he is alternating between the Psalms and Proverbs now.

Wow, just wow...Ben has a psychological classification of  mild to moderate mental retardation.  But he's smarter than a whole lot of people I know.  I am so proud of him.


I was shaving him one night this week and evidently, in a silly mood.  I asked him if he was glad that he was created a boy and not a girl.  Ben gave me a measured look and then replied, "I'm glad I'm a man."




I asked him if he considers himself to be a man and he quietly replied, "yes, I do." 


And in that moment I had a total flash of understanding.  He gets so frustrated and angry when I don't let him deal with the Littles the way he wants.  That's because his way of dealing with them only leads to greater difficulties and makes my job harder.  But if he considers himself to be a man, then he must feel disrespected when I don't let him exercise that same authority he feels he already has.



Grainy today...I stayed up a little late working on this and finally collapsed into bed shortly before midnight.  At 3 am I was awakened by Paul's truck chug-chug-chortling down the alley and into the driveway.  The school year is over now at Faith and to celebrate Will and bunch of his friends decided to go out to Saylorville Lake.  I was just praying nobody would drown.  At least none of them drink, thankfully.  Why Will thought he needed to take the truck, I don't know.  He commented recently that he's started to develop quite a few friendships with the more "redneck" Faith students so I suppose that might be why - they'd probably think a loud, rusted-out, almost 30 year old truck would be pretty neat.  So anyway, he got home in the wee hours of the morning.  I fell back asleep.  Until 4:30 am.  The piercing alarm of my phone indicating a new text message finally penetrated my subconscious.  Argh!  And of course, I couldn't find my phone to shut the thing off.  That necessitated turning on a light and stumbling through the house.  Eventually I found it in the bathroom (not a good place for phones).  The text was from Will telling me he didn't get home until 3 (like I might have missed his arrival) and asking me to not wake him up in the morning.  I thought about sending him a text so he could get beeped every 3 minutes until he read it, but I didn't.  Then I had a hard time falling back asleep.  I eventually did, but had to be up 2 hours later to take Ben and David to church for the Adventureland rally.


It's 10:30 in the morning now and he's still snoozing away, which is probably one of the many side benefits to being 20 years old.  Workers are pounding on my house, installing the siding.


Will did tell me he got some of his final grades back.  It sounds like he probably made the Dean's List again.  That presentation I helped him with about the Christian and death - he got 100%.  He said he got a 99% on his 8 page paper we wrote together on trials in the Christian life (James).  That was a cool one because we interspersed Will's perspective of his dad's death in spots between the actual research portions. On a personal level, this was progress for Will in being willing to share about how that affected him.  We weren't sure if that would get him favor with his professor or not since it made the paper no longer strictly a research paper.  But his professor loved it, thankfully!


I've really been having a time and a half of it lately with Ellie and lying.  Lizzie went through her own struggles with that and it just threw me because to the best of my knowledge, none of the boys have ever told me a single lie, let alone made a habit of the practice.  But ever since I had Jenn talk to her last fall she's been a pretty truthful little girl.  But Ellie...oh, my goodness.  She's so tiny, physically, and so cute that I tend to place her mentally below where she really is.  She's a smart cookie and she's latched onto this lying thing with a certain ferocity.  I can look her in the eye and ask her repeatedly to tell me the truth - she knows she lying and I know she's lying - but she will open her eyes wide and  swear up and down that no, the sandwich ended up under the bench all by itself, or no, she didn't climb on the refrigerator shelf, and yes, she definitely saw her sister go into the kitchen, take out the whipped cream can, and spray it into her mouth (last night's episode).


Ugh.  I am pretty sure I'm  going to be getting a phone call from the police station someday asking me to provide bail money for this pint-sized miscreant.


So we went through this last night.  This time I reminded all the kids how they will never have peace in their hearts as long as they keep sin in there and neither will God hear their prayers.  She didn't budge.


Sam, however, had lots of questions.  Apparently, this sin in heart/no prayers reaching Heaven was news to him.  He then wanted to know how we know that.  Well, if it's in the Bible, how do we know it's true?  How do we know the people who wrote the Bible heard God right and wrote down the right stuff?  He then commented that he wished God still talked to us out loud instead of in our hearts.  Me, too, Buddy - me, too.


So, anyway, about an hour later, down the steps comes Ellie.  I immediately launch into my you better be bleeding or your room better be on fire speech I always shoot off when they get out of bed after I tuck them in.  But she stopped me.


"I did it, Mommy.  I lied to you."  I kept a sober face but on the inside I was fist-pumping.  She DOES have a conscience!  I AM getting through! 


Maybe, just maybe, she won't be knocking off liquor stores at fourteen...


I've started having TMJ pain in the last couple of weeks.  I remember when I saw my new dentist in Jan. he moved my jaw and asked if I could feel it clicking.  I didn't notice anything.  But a couple of weeks ago I started having pain when chewing.  I did some research and it's definitely TMJ.  If it gets bad enough there are treatments but for now it looks like the best thing to do is Advil it into submission.  The Mayo website says it is most common in women between the ages of 20-40.  That means I'm too old for it.


Today has been a nice day, even though I am still so tired.  A good chunk of the front of my house got sided today and my new door was hung.  I ordered a new storm door this week that should be in in about 10 days - it's black, which I think will look really great.


Will woke up around 2 this afternoon and has been busy knocking stuff off the  to-do list I made for him.  I just needed the stuff done by the time he leaves for camp on the 31st.  It didn't have to be done today!  It sounds like he had a really nice time last night and the Saylorville Lake thing was not just a bunch of crazy college students - even some of their professors were there.


Yesterday afternoon was nice, too.  The daughter and granddaughter of some dear friends from Council Bluffs graduated from Faith yesterday and they had a reception for her at the school.  Lizzie and I went up and were able to pop in and visit with everyone for a couple of hours.  What a blessing that was.  I think I smiled for rest of the day!


I think tomorrow will be a nice day, even without Paul.  But I'm sure I'll be missing him more.  He always complimented me often on my  mothering skills, which was nice to hear because that's one area where I've always felt like I fall short the most in.  He made me feel valued on Mother's Day and I can't expect the kids to do that in his place.   You don't usually appreciate your own mother all that much until you're long grown.


  But, it will still be a nice day.  I'm going to take the kids out to eat and then I need to swing by Penneys because I have some great coupons that expire tomorrow.  David put on his athletic shorts for softball this week and was dismayed to find that they are now above his knees.  They look fine to me but apparently, that's a no-no in teenage boy land.  So I should be able to get him some new ones tomorrow.


And then I have about $13 worth of Dairy Queen gift cards floating around in my purse so I think after church in the evening we'll top off our day with ice-cream.




They're saying severe weather will be moving into central Iowa in the late afternoon/early evening hours with the potential for heavy rain, large hail, high winds, and tornadoes.  I am worried sick about my siding.  It's not covered by my insurance until the work is done and how on earth will I pay for more siding and labor if all this gets destroyed tomorrow?  I was expressing this to Will and he drawled, "What are you going to do - hold it onto the house yourself?"  So much like his dad!


So, I'm praying a lot...and trying to remember that life is enjoyed most when it's held onto with loose hands.  That's true of houses, and husbands, and money, and children.


God's got this.

































Saturday, May 2, 2015

Day 697

May 2, 2015

Day 697


I have just enough time to start this before I have to leave again.  I optimistically made a list of all I planned to accomplish today.  Yes, well...


And, that's all she wrote for about four more hours!  It's just been one of those days.  I've been up at City Hall, working on stuff a couple of different times and then I had to run to the west side of Des Moines, which was fine - it was for fun stuff.  But my list still sits.


The sky is darkening up.  When I was in Des Moines today it was raining lightly.  They are saying it's supposed to rain a lot this week.  I'm sure the farmers will be happy, since we had such a gorgeous warm week in which they probably finished their planting.  I am hoping that it rains so much that the kids' first softball game Tues night is rained out.  They get so offended when I say stuff like that.  But someday they'll be parents and understand!


The hardest day this week was definitely Thursday.  But then it was followed by Friday, which was infinitely better, other than the nasty, horrible migraine I was awakened by.


Thursday I received a letter from my insurance company.  Apparently, they sent someone out to take pictures of my house and now they are refusing to insure my siding and roof anymore until they're completely replaced.  The siding is in progress so that's not a problem.  But I don't know what to do about the roof now.  It doesn't leak so I had not planned to address it until that became an issue.  But, if there's a bad summer storm and something happens, then the repair cost will be on me.  So, I don't know.  I just really hate to spend the money right now since it's not needed.  But that means I'm paying for insurance I can't ever use - until the roof is replaced.  Ugh.


The girls were kind of awful that same evening.  I had a big to-do with Ellie over her pork chops.  Every single time I've made pork chops she makes a big deal about how much she loves them and hopes I  "make them every day, Mommy!"  This time she flat-out refused to eat them.  Wouldn't even try them.  She did, eventually, but then moved on to her homemade mac and cheese.  It was all about control.  She wanted to be able to decide what she would and would not eat, which is fine - when you're 20.  Not 3.  She ended up going to bed early Thurs. night because she said she'd rather do that than eat the macaroni.  The dish appeared again at breakfast, which she refused, as she did at lunch.  She finally gave in and ate it at supper last night, which I was hoping she would because I couldn't keep reheating the stuff.  To the best of my knowledge, she'd had nothing to eat for about 24 hours, so intent was she on getting her own way.  How did I get so lucky as to get THREE children with wills of iron? 


After the girls were in bed, but far from asleep, David let me know the upstairs toilet was plugged.  I've become fairly good at unplugging these things with a plunger since Paul died.  But this would not budge.  Oh my goodness, I have never encountered such a plugged toilet before!  David was mopping up the floor and carrying out bucket after bucket of soiled water.  I was holding my nose and trying to work.  Eventually, I got on the internet and researched my options and squirted dish soap in the dirty water, followed by really hot water.




I began to think that perhaps something inorganic had been flushed and was now wedged in the pipes.  I don't know that in all my years of parenting that has ever happened, actually. 


As I was standing there, slippers wet, pants soiled, plunging a toilet that didn't want to budge, I found myself thinking, "I shouldn't have to do this!  This is Paul's job!"  But I was wrong.  It's my job by default now.


So yesterday I went to Menards and bought a snake.  But this was actually kind of a "God" thing.  I asked a clerk to help me because there were about 15 different options of things you could buy to unclog a drain.  Well, the clerk didn't know much of anything.  But as we were standing there, a gentleman next to me answered his phone and said something about "(name) Plumbing"  I waited until he was done asked him if he was a plumber.  He was and was more than willing to show me which snake to purchase.  He then gave me a business card and said if the snake didn't work, he'd be happy to come out and work on the toilet for me.


I went home and  had success with the snake.  Now it has its own hook in the garage.


So, by 11 on Thursday night I had given up on the toilet.  I was thinking I might finally be able to get to bed when I saw that the interior lights in the van were on.  They stay on for a few minutes after the van is turned off.  My guess was that a door wasn't closed all the way.  I went outside in my robe and slippers and repeatedly shut the door.  The lights didn't dim and shut off, no matter how long I watched them.  Finally, I grabbed my phone, thinking I'd have to call Will, and got into the van to see if the "door ajar" light was on.  That would let me know if I had a defective door.  It didn't take me too long to realize that somebody short had messed with the lights when cleaning out the van earlier that day.  How many times have I told them to NOT TOUCH THE LIGHTS when in there?  Grr...makes me so mad.  But, at least I didn't have a broken door and a resulting dead battery in the morning.  And then, I hear someone saying, "Hello, hello?  Sarah, are you ok?" phone that I was still holding had decided to randomly call one of my friends at 11:30 at night.  How embarrassing!  I hate that phone.


Will and I actually visited US Cellular this week to find out what our options for upgrading are and so forth.  I'm not eligible for a new phone until Sept.  I'm torn on what to do, money-wise.  I guess I have all summer to think about it!


 I finally got to bed Thursday night, dreading Friday when I would go visit a residential facility with Ben and his teachers.  I woke up that morning with the mother of all migraines.  I had to take 4 prescription meds before I finally beat that thing into submission later that afternoon.


But, like I said, Friday was better.  Ben's Resource teachers had asked me a week or so ago if I'd be interested in touring Christian Opportunity Center in Pella.  I wasn't crazy about the idea because in my mind, Pella is quite a ways away (it's not really - only about a half hour from my house).  But mostly, I've just had it set, mentally, that Ben will be going to Genesis in Indianola at some point. 


Which he may be.


But, maybe not.


I have to say, I was really, really impressed with COC.  They have a sheltered workshop area where Ben would probably not work a whole lot because his skills are just higher (he'd more than likely be employed out in the community).  But they do things for Vermeer and Pella Corp, along with a host of other area companies.  It was bright and well-lit in there and all the workers seemed so happy.  We toured one of the houses and Ben was so excited about this.  There's a wide open floor plan with a really nice kitchen, a little office area for the supervisor in residence and then 4 good-sized bedrooms for the 4 residents.  By this point, Ben was jumping up and down in excitement.  I had lots of questions for the director and came away quite pleased with her answers.

It sounds like this would be all paid for with Ben's disability payments. and then any money he earns would be his spending money.  So, a lot of parental help is not needed or expected.  Whew!


It's a faith-based organization so they have devotions every single morning.  They have a chaplain available to the residents and they take them to the various churches there in Pella on Sunday (if they want - it's all voluntary).


The director told me she's very excited about the idea of Ben coming to live there. She said she can tell he'd be a "perfect fit."  It wouldn't be for about 3 years yet, but I'm excited that she's excited!


We're going to ease into this.  I still need to tour Genesis' residences, too.  This summer Ben is going to go one day a week to Genesis' Discovery program and one day to COC's "Lifeskills" program, which sounds a lot like Discovery.  And then next school year we're going to try to have him spend a couple days of the week at COC, working and getting familiar with the place.


Pella is such a pretty city.  I'm actually thinking of doing Ben's senior pictures there this summer.  They offer a lot and I can see Ben thriving in that environment. 


Decisions, decisions...



The other night Ellie told me she wanted "chocolate smudge" ice-cream (fudge).


Wednesday morning I had a phone call from Will, wanting to know what was for supper that evening.  I knew he was planning to come home after classes.  I told him, "leftovers." He said flatly, "oh."


Then he informed me that he had invited two friends to come down with him that afternoon and told them I would feed them!  I've always looked forward to doing this but after this long and no invites, I assumed Will just wasn't very sociable at college.  So, I ran to Fareway and spent most of the day cooking and cleaning.  It was fun.  Will's friends were very enthusiastic in their appreciation for my cooking, which is always rewarding.


The day before he had ridden with these two friends out to some town south of Lincoln, NE to pick up some tractor tires for one of the boys' family farm back in Illinois.  On the way home they stopped at the other boy's home north of Harlan and tonight Will was telling me about their house.  He said that when they added on and put in a basement for the addition, they dug the floor out deeper and installed an indoor basketball hoop and playing area.  Now that's thinking!  This family has five sons and no daughters, so I suppose that's why their thoughts were naturally so sports-oriented.

I always watch channel 13 news.  Well, this week they announced that the evening's lead female anchor is pregnant.  It's neat because she's 40 and a few months ago she shared with her tv audience the fertility struggles she and her husband had been experiencing.  Apparently, a year ago they were going through an adoption that ended up falling through.  But when they were anticipating the arrival of this infant, she learned that Iowa does not have any maternity leave laws in place for adoptive parents, only for ones that give birth.  So, she did a story about this on the news and ultimately ended up spearheading a movement that got this changed in the legislature this spring.  While sharing her story on the news, she also shared that, as a teenager, she had given birth  and given the baby up for adoption (who is grown now and with whom she has been reunited) so now she's been on both ends of the adoption spectrum.


So this week they announce on the news that she is 3 months pregnant!  The other anchorpeople mentioned how shocked they were when they found out and then the weather lady laughed and says, on tv, "Well, I thought her boobs were looking bigger!" 


I'm probably a prude and I've got my own history of speaking without thinking...but really?


Yesterday afternoon I had a few errands to run and was in a store when I got a phone call.  It was from the founder of Single Parent Provision, which is the group that has been sponsoring these "moms night out"s that I've been attending (there's another in 2 weeks!).  Well, I knew they were having this fundraiser this weekend for SPP called, "Pedis with a Purpose."  I didn't examine it too closely, because as grateful as I am to this organization, paying $50 to participate in the fundraiser (getting a pedi at a local beauty school) was a bit steep for my budget.  Actually, paying anything for a pedicure is.  I can paint my own toes on the cheap.

But the head of it called me (her name is "Teahl" - such a unique name) and said that they wanted to gift me a pedicure today.  The way she said it, along with some other things made me think that she probably knows I'm widowed.  Although, I haven't shared that with anyone at the group.  But somehow, they must have found out.  It was such a kind phone call and coming on the heels of the rotten day I'd had the day before, I was just so moved and gratefully accepted.


So I went and had my toes done today.  Now they're a pretty cherry color.  The last time I had a pedi it lasted for a month, but I'm not so sure this one will last as long because they didn't dip my feet in wax like they did the first time I had one, a year ago.


I was thinking about that later yesterday.  Pre-widowhood, I never had a single professional manicure or  pedicure.  But in the last 12 months, I've been given 2 pedicures and 2 manicures.  Apparently, getting widowed is the key to having others pay to have your nails done.  Who knew?


Actually, it's a very gracious gesture.  When you're walking through grief, particularly widow-grief, you sometimes don't want to take the effort to look nice because you no longer have a husband to appreciate it.  And it takes effort.  Widowhood and single parenting is burdensome and extra things often have to slip off to the wayside.


I got to the salon today and Teahl met me with a big hug.  We barely know eachother, but I appreciated it.  You miss that human contact.  Kid hugs just aren't quite the same.


I ended up seated next to a very chatty single mom.  I have noticed that other single moms naturally assume that all single moms are divorced or never married like they are.  Widowhood doesn't occur to them.  So she's chatting away about her louse of an ex-husband.  That's something else I've noticed.  A lot of single moms are ticked off.  Anyway, she abruptly asked me how dating was going.  I told her it wasn't, wondering just when the right time to let her know my husband had died would be.  From there, she launched into a spiel about the losers she's gone out with since her divorce.  She finally commented that her husband had probably "ruined" her for other men.  I then said well, my concern with dating again would be that I would always compare a new man to my husband, who was quite wonderful.


All was quiet.  She looked at me sideways and then asked, "Did your husband die?"  Kind of a conversation-killer, really...


Although it didn't last for long.  Soon she was up and running again with tales about her two kids and the vacation she is planning on taking with them this summer.  After awhile I leaned back in my chair and let her words run over the top of me while I enjoyed the sensation of lotion being rubbed into my calves and feet.


I also told this gal that I was convinced that this time in my life was by God's design.  I don't believe it is His will that I look for another mate yet and I am quite convinced that there are things he wants me to learn about Him, myself, parenting, and contentment while I handle things solo.  I could tell she didn't really understand what I was saying, but that's ok.


 It's good to remind myself of these things, too.