Thursday, July 2, 2015

Day 758


July 2, 2015

Day 758

 

Cool and sprinkly today...it's been a wet summer, thus far.  It occurred to me that we've only had maybe one day that broke the 90 degree mark so far.  But August isn't here yet.  The Lake Red Rock run-off that exists SE of town is rising.  It hasn't done that since 2011.  The stop sign at the end of West (which is on the East side of town - there's a reason for that!) and Coolidge is about halfway covered in water now.  I can remember it being completely submerged in either '11 or '08.  Soon, the city park will begin to fill with water.  I've heard that some of those houses by the park have had as much as 6' of water in their basements at times.  Makes me thankful I live on top of a hill!

 

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We are fully into the few weeks now where David is in Driver's Ed and Sam and Lizzie are taking swimming lessons.  It sounds like they are all doing well in their learning.  This means that I am leaving the house with everyone at 7:40 to get David to the school, coming home, and then leaving again at 10:35 to take the Littles to swimming.  I get them there, watch them get in the water, and then it's time to go collect David from the school.  He actually starts walking towards the country club as soon as class is over so I don't have to go all the way back to the school (unless he takes an alternate route to the country club like he did Monday because "it was more interesting" than the route I had driven with him, showing him exactly where to walk.  And then, he was surprised that I couldn't find him!  One of those moments that makes me question my choice to embrace motherhood the way I have...I think maybe raising 6 gerbils might have been easier).  We get home and it's nearly lunch time.  And then, David has so many hours of actual driving he has to do with an instructor, so it's not uncommon for me to be making a couple of more trips back to the school. 

 

I'm tired.

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Ellie turned 4 yesterday.  She may be the only kid I've ever had to threaten to spank on their birthday.  David said cheerfully, "Well, just think, Mom - you'll never have to raise another three year old, ever again!"  He does have a point.  I think I smiled when he said that!

 

My friend, Deb, brought a present and card for Ellie when she came on Monday to work with Ben and the others put it in the closet and told her she had to wait until her actual birthday to open it.  Ellie begged to open the card yesterday morning, so I let her.  She started ripping the envelope and exclaimed, "I hope there's a hunnerd dollars in here!"  I told her to not get her hopes up.  She opened it and then said in a disappointed voice, "Hey!  Where's my hunnerd dollars?"  This is a kid who is bound to be disappointed the rest of her life...

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I found out that a local organization has a backpack give-away for area foster and adopted-out-of-foster-care kids.  A Facebook friend heads this up and when she found out my kids are going to school this fall, she told me about it.  So, I may be able to save some money on school supplies with this.  It's funny...this doesn't bother me at all.  I think it's even kind of sweet.  But last month, I was sent a form by the school that informed me that because of our family income our kids were entitled to attend a night at the high school gym where they'd be given backpacks, school supplies, athletic shoes, and could have vaccinations and dental screenings.  All I had to do was sign up.  I hung onto the paper but I could never bring myself to fill it out.  This just seemed so welfare-y.  The cost to my pride wasn't worth it.  I guess if we were destitute it would be a different story.

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Speaking of giving...

 

Am I the only one bothered by the proliferation of GoFundMe sites popping up lately?  I'm not sure when these got started.  For the uninformed, GoFundMe is a way a person can raise money for a good cause.  They set up a site, explaining why they need funds, and then people can donate.  GoFundMe then releases the gifts bit by bit to the recipient.  I've seen them for everything from helping a family that's lost a parent to adoption fundraising to  people wanting to put a new roof on their home.

 

I don't mind the sites so much when they are set up on behalf of someone else.  I imagine they are a pretty convenient way to donate.  But I'm really kind of bothered by people that are setting these up for themselves.  These weren't around I don't think when Paul died.  People managed to be very generous with us despite that.  I've tried to think what I would have done if someone had set up a fund for us at that time.

 

I'm not sure.  I might have been a little embarrassed.

 

I am really not liking people that are setting up sites for themselves.  I'm not doubting that their needs are genuine, although I would imagine this kind of enterprise is ripe for exploitation by the greedy.  Although, that's where the giver has to be very wise and judicious in their choice to give in the first place.  I know there's the verse that says, "You have not because you ask not" but I'd have to do some research to find out just what was being discussed there.  Without looking, I think that verse refers to prayer.  Of course, it might help if I figured out the reference, first.  But I've heard Christians bandy that verse about as a way to justify asking for things.

 

And I'm not saying that there is never a time to ask for help.  While I haven't asked for money, I have certainly had to ask for a lot of other kinds of help the last couple of years.  That just feels different somehow, though.

 

But might there not be a temptation to create a GoFundMe site rather than to spend some intense time in prayer, petitioning God for one's need?  I don't know.

 

Maybe it's just my pride talking.  But it seems to me like we are creating a virtual land of beggars, too.  I don't like it.

 

Even if I can't really say it's wrong.

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I made a couple of strawberry pies last weekend.  It's been a few years.  It seems like I made some awhile back and they turned out runny, so I avoided the recipe for awhile.  This is a recipe I found in a magazine as a teenager.  I had a home ec assignment to bring in and try so many recipes during the semester and this is one I chose.  It was such a hit with me and my home ec teacher that years later, when she wrote her own cookbook, she included the recipe (and even credited me with finding it - sweet of her - I hope she's getting some strawberry pie in Heaven these days).  So I made the pies last weekend for my scrapbooking ladies who came over Friday night.  At the last minute I decided to make two pies, but I only had one package of strawberry jello.  Fortunately, I did have a package of strawberry-kiwi jello and I mixed that with the other.  It worked.  The pies turned out wonderful.  Lizzie had never had my strawberry pie before (see - it has been a while since I made it - she's been here for 3 years now) and could not stop gushing about it.  She declared that my pie was "the best pie in the whole world" and that I should make it every week. 

 

It's gratifying to have one's efforts appreciated with such enthusiasm!

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Today Lizzie commented that Dad died from a "cheesure."  Is it wrong for me to laugh?  She has a number of mispronunciations.  "Chickens" are "Shickens" and she likes to eat "ships" with her sandwich.  I wonder if she'll get referred for speech therapy when she starts school?

 

One of David's friends asked me last week if I thought Sam would always stutter for the rest of his life.  The question caught me by surprise because I guess I don't even notice the stuttering all that much anymore.  It's nothing severe, at any rate.  But maybe he'll end up with a referral, too.

 

I don't know.  David was in Speech for several years, but he still has a unique sound to his voice.  So many people have asked me if we have relatives on the East coast and every single year David comes home from camp with stories of people asking him if he's from England!  I don't know why he talks the way he does.  He has kind of a soft sound to his voice and a few letters he still doesn't pronounce very well.  I would imagine at 16 he's beyond any help.  I think that's ultimately why his Speech teacher gave up on him.  It doesn't bother me, any, I guess.  I can understand him, anyway!

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Last Friday was the Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage.  I wasn't suprised at the outcome.  I hear conservative pundits saying that the Court doesn't have this kind of authority and that, technically, gay marriage is NOT the law of the land.  I don't really understand how that works.  But, whatever the case, now it's going to be legal in all 50 states for gay couples to obtain marriage licenses and enter into a union recognized by both the state and federal government.

 

Of course, I know that gay marriage has not been redefined, despite what's being said.  God was pretty clear in His Word that marriage was only ever designed to be between one man and one woman.  Probably not cooincidentally, Tylenol came out a few days before the ruling with the most blatent pro-gay tv ad I've ever seen.  I imagine they are just the first.  My first thought was, "The kids can never see this!"  But that's crazy.  I can't hide the world from them.  So instead, I sat down with them and we watched the ad on youtube.  Then, I scrolled back, frame by frame, and had them tell me what was right or wrong with each scene.  Then I took them to Romans 10:17 that tells us that "Faith comes by hearing" and I explained to them that what we hear over and over again is what we'll begin to believe, unless we heed the rest of the verse which urges us to make our hearing centered around God's Word.  What a world I am preparing my children to live in!

 

What I found the saddest and most dismaying was the eruption on Facebook, especially, over this ruling.  People were estatic, changing their profile picture to rainbows, and spouting nonsense like, "Love wins!"  I wasn't bothered by my non-Christian friends doing this.  Honestly, if I didn't know the Lord, I'd probably be pro gay rights, too.  But I was deeply bothered by the number of my Christian friends that did this.  Christians!  People who claim to have a relationship with the Lord and who, I would presume, spend  regular time in His Word and are faithful in attending a Bible, truth-teaching church.  How can this be?  Have they been so worked over by our wordly society that they also view the Bible as something not relevant for today?  But if so, why take the name "Christian"?  I don't understand this.

I'm not saying it was the majority of my Christian friends.  There was plenty of outcry on FB against the ruling by them.  But it was enough to really hurt my heart and wonder where the church has gone wrong.

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"Rescue"...this is a word I've been thinking about lately in regards to adoption.  I've read a number of articles/blogs/FB posts where adoptive parents decry the use of that word.  "I didn't 'rescue' my adopted children any more than I 'rescued' my biological child from my womb!" one writer I recently read declared.

 

Hmmm....I know in our foster care classes we were warned to  never expect gratitude from our kids for taking them in.  If we did, we'd be sorely disappointed.  I'd agree with that.  Someday, I'd like to think that it will dawn on the girls what Paul and I did for them, but I imagine if that thought ever occurs it won't be until they are parents themselves.  In the meantime, I'm definitely not informing the girls just how fortunate they are that I agreed to give them a home.  It's not like that at all!

 

I can somewhat understand objecting to the word, "rescue" but I can't agree that it something bad to use, either, in regards to adoption.  And, it varies by situation to situation.  Paul and I wanted more children.  Adoption was a way to obtain them.  Granted, God had placed the desire specifically for adoption on my heart as a child, so it wasn't like we were adopting because we couldn't get them any other way.  This was a definite calling on our lives (I've also heard objection to that word relating to adoption as well - a thought for another day, I think).  I have read stories of couples who never had any intention of adopting but then a situation arises where they are in a position to help and in that sense, they truly do, "rescue" a child.

 

Lizzie and Ellie are my daughters.  It isn't like the boys are my "regular" children and the girls are the ones I swooped in and rescued out of a terrible situation.  If anyone did any swooping it was DHS who recognized the dangerous situation they lived in with their birth family. It was the Merritts who took in the  kids initially and dealt with all kinds of  - pardon my language - crap from the foster care system, inept social workers (some, not all!), and the birth family.  We entered the picture late in the game and missed a lot of the drama they had to endure.  They are heroic in what they went through for those kids.  Not me.

 

But, while we were pursuing the adoption, before the girls arrived, I developed a picture in my mind.  There was this deep, dark, chasm flanked by two mountains or cliffs.  In the chasm burned a frightening fire.

 

Hell.

 

I imagined a small child being held by her armpits above the flames by Satan on one side of the chasm.  He wore a gleeful smile as he prepared to hurl the child into the flames.

 

But then, on the other side, I saw Paul and me.  We were reaching out our arms to the child, but we couldn't grasp her.  Suddenly, Jesus appeared at our side and reached out for us.  And in that moment, He rescued the child, wrenching her out of Satan's hands, and then handed her to us.

 

This picture was so real in my mind.  It didn't take long for me to realize that we were battling Satan himself for the soul of the child(ren) that would eventually be placed with us.  If they did not come into our home, the possibility of being lost to the world and eventually ending up in Hell was a very real possibility, particularly given the background that they would undoubtably be coming from.

 

It's only in that sense that I can say my daughters were rescued.  But I didn't really do it, either.  If anything, Paul and I were simply the means by which God chose to rescue them.

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And on the subject of adoption...I am part of a skin and hair transracial adoption group on FB.  I really like this group.  The majority of the mothers do appear to be white with black or mixed children but there are enough black mothers that they are really, really helpful with questions that come up.  I haven't sensed any condenscending attitudes from them, either.  They want us to be able to help our children.

 

But what never occurred to me until just this week is that if these black mothers are in the group, it's because they have adopted transracially, too.  I don't know why I never thought about that until now!  I know it happens, but it still caught me off-guard. I wonder why?  Is it just because it's kind of uncommon or does it point to some deep-seated, unrecognized racism on my part? I had to laugh today.  Being fair skinned and giving birth to some very, very white children, I'm very familiar with sunburns - the prevention and care of.  Well, one mother snapped a picture of her daughters very red back, mentioned that  daughter had gone swimming with Grandma, and come back looking like this.  She wasn't sure what it was, but was guessing sunburn and needed advice on what to do for her.  My first thought was, "Is this a joke?"  But if you're dark skinned and don't burn (although both my girls do have swimsuit tans right now - I think no matter how dark you are, you can always get darker in the sun.  But maybe not burned.  Just to be safe, though, I do sunscreen up the girls)  why would you know?  I rather imagine it's like when we white moms come asking the same questions about conditioning and moisturizing hair.  To us, putting oil in hair is an anethema.  We don't want oil in our hair!  It takes awhile to get used to the idea of putting moisture in and to the fact that shampooing too often is detrimental to black hair.

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And speaking of hair...I still have my curls.  I cannot believe how much easier my life is now.  I literally am waking up every morning, running a pick through my hair, and going out the door.  This is after decades of subjecting my poor hair to all kinds of heat!  I'm still not convinced this is the best look for me, but I'm willing to risk that it's not just for the time I'm saving.  There are some times I look in the mirror and frown and think, "Maybe not..." But then, other times, I catch a glimpse of myself and find myself thinking, "Man, I look good!"  Everyone is asking me if these are natural.  Um, yes...I wouldn't pay for this look.  One lady at church, whom I have never had a conversation with (she only attends on Sun. mornings), stopped at my pew last week and asked about my hair.  She told me that she, too, has naturally curly hair, and had spent all her adult life taming it.  Then, she said, she got to be about 40 ("about your age!" she chirped.  Glad she didn't say, "Fifty"!) and decided the trouble wasn't worth it and started going natural and hasn't gone back since.

 

Sam and Lizzie have very interesting conversations at times.  I suppose it's because they are so close in age.  One day last week they were discussing my hair.  I was right there in the kitchen with them, but it was as if they didn't even know that. The topic of conversation was Mom's New Hair and one of them said, "Well, the curls definitely make her look younger, but all that gray makes her look older!"  The other one agreed and said, "Yeah, I think she needs to dye her hair again."

 

What gray?  I mean, I touch up my roots every so often, but I think the majority of my hair is still brown/blond.  So, I had to run to the bathroom and fluff through the back of my head, holding up a hand mirror.  I don't know what they were talking about.  It looks fine to me.  But just to be safe, I do have, "Touch up hair" on my to-do list now!

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I've been on an organization kick lately.  A couple of weeks ago I went to a home party for this company that sells  decorative home stuff, as well as a lot of organizational type tools - baskets, bins, etc.  I didn't buy a ton because the company is kind of expensive.  Well, they work with home parties - you're never going to get a bargain with that.  They have to pay all their distributers somehow!  But, my mind got to whirling that night on some "problem" areas in my house and how I might fix them.

 

I've come up with a number of ideas.  I ended up buying a $40 cube shelf last weekend at Target and David and I labored to get it tucked into the corner between my tv cabinet and the window in my bedroom.  I found some pretty baskets on-line and my sister-in-law gave me a very special cloth box from 31 last year that I've never been able to display and use the way it should be.  So now I've gotten rid of the mess inside my desk drawers and the piles of papers beside my desk.  Each bin has a purpose.  And I've just gained a lot of shelf space for displaying pretties, too.

 

I've decided to buy baskets or bins for the mudroom shelves and the shelves above the basement steps.  I figure I'll do this slowly, like one shelf a month, so I don't break the bank in my zeal to organize my life.  I was toying with the idea of buying bins to put underneath the kitchen benches so I'd have more space for towels and dish clothes.  Right now, I have to keep the overflow in my hall closet, which is a ways away from the kitchen.  But, then it occurred to me that the seats on those kitchen benches are hollow, with hinged lids.  I had some stuff in there, but it could be better organized.  I did that and now I have all kinds of room for my extra towels and cloths.  Sometimes organization isn't necessarily buying lots of containers, but just re-evaluating the way you use the space you already have.

 

I don't know...maybe I'm trying to organize my home in an attempt to gain some sort of control over my life, which has seemed a bit out of control the last few years.  If that's the case, I'm ultimately going to end up disappointed.  But, hopefully I am keeping everything in perspective and operating from a a pure motive.

 

I can organize my environment to a certain extent.  I am learning that I actually feel better when things are tidier and I don't have to look at messes.

 

But if I want my soul to be tidy, there's only one place I need to be looking.

 

Up.

 

 

 

 

What I have learned in two years of widowhood:

• God is good - so, so good
• I am loved far more than I ever knew
• I have amazing, resilient children (I am reaping what Paul sowed into their lives)
• Darkness eventually gives way to light
• Strength and wisdom are mine for the asking
• I don't have to have all the answers
• God delights in carefully and tenderly mending torn-apart hearts

Psalm 73:26: My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

ow with a certain amount of anticipation, although there are still moments when I am sick at heart to think that that future will never again include him, other than the quick glimpses I sometimes see in my sons. As much as hope is beginning to seep back into our lives, I am also accepting that, for the rest of our lives, we will be among the walking wounded, forever hurt and altered by Paul's early death. As sad as that sounds, it really isn't, though. Even scarred, life is still pretty beautiful.

What I have learned in two years of widowhood:

• God is good - so, so good
• I am loved far more than I ever knew
• I have amazing, resilient children (I am reaping what Paul sowed into their lives)
• Darkness eventually gives way to light
• Strength and wisdom are mine for the asking
• I don't have to have all the answers
• God delights in carefully and tenderly mending torn-apart hearts

Psalm 73:26: My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Day 748


June 22, 2015

Day 748

 

It's a humid, rainy Monday.

 

Which means it's a good thing that I decided last week to go natural with my hair.  Because it would sure be going natural in this weather today, anyway!

 

There was the video circling FB in the last couple of weeks entitled something like, "Wait until you see what she does to her hair with this t-shirt!"  I eventually watched the video which ended up being an instructional piece on something called, "plopping."  The idea is that you wash your hair before bed, work some inexpensive products through your hair, and then wrap your head in a t-shirt.  In the morning you should have gorgeous curls.

 

I tried it and it worked!  Never in my entire life have I ever gone natural with my head because I always end up with frizz.  I have spent my entire teen and adult years trying to subdue my curly hair.

 

Of course, if I ever  remarry, I'm not sure how this will work.  I look pretty crazy every night with a t-shirt wrapped around my skull.  I have a feeling that would be somewhat detrimental to the whole bedroom experience.

 

But in the meantime, I'm saving quite a bit of time by not needing to shower in the morning (Maybe this will also show up in decreased water usage on my next bill?) and standing in front of the mirror blowdrying and smoothing my hair into obedience.

 

I had a hair appointment today and my stylist went crazy when she saw my hair.  I don't think she even knew it was really this curly.  She wants me to grow it out a bit, which was one of my questions for her.  I'm afraid that keeping my hair as short as it has been will result in me looking like lollipop.  I definitely don't want an 80s permed white Afro look.  But with that, I am concerned that 44 is much too old to wear my hair longer than my chin.

 

But then Sarah made my day.  She informed me that 1) natural  hair is "in" right now  2) I don't look 44 and 3) I need to look at my lifestyle right now.  I am a mom of very young children.  That's what people see when they look at me, she said, and because of that it won't seem odd for me to have a little bit longer hair.

 

She snipped a couple of dry ends and told me not to come back for 4 months.  And she wouldn't take any money because she said she didn't do anything.  I like her. 

 

And now I've spent more than 9 paragraphs blabbing about my hair, which probably indicates its level of importance in my life.  Of course, I'm not the only one.  At this very moment, Lizzie is on Youtube, perusing videos on beading black hair.  I tried my hand at that for the first time on her head last week and she loved it.

 

I guess hair is pretty important to we female types.  At least us curly-headed ones.  I imagine women with straight hair don't have to give theirs much thought at all.

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I got my porch painting project finished over the weekend.  It used to be all light gray, the color of the old siding.  I don't remember if I painted that or not.  I know I never touched the ceiling.  Whoever painted that last (white) didn't go all the way to the edges and you could see the light blue paint poking out there.  I read once it is or was, at least, a southern tradition, to the paint the porch ceiling a light blue.  Not sure why - maybe to mimic the sky?  But up here in Iowa, we're a far ways from being a southern state.

 

Anyway, my porch is now black - the outside wood and the three posts.  And the ceiling is now red.  I really do like it.  My deck chairs are all bright red, the door is too,  and I have a red pillow on the porch swing.  I also repainted my wooden H that I have on  the bench out there to be the same shade as the ceiling and door.  It's probably pretty easy to figure out my favorite color!

 

  But, I think I may have just painted my house to look like a brothel.

 

Maybe I just need a lamp in the window with a red scarf over it?  Hah...I might start having problems with my neighbor again if I do that...

 

I injured myself in the weirdest way doing this project.  I didn't fall off the ladder and I didn't trip over the can of paint.  I was wrapping up the paint tray with plastic wrap so it wouldn't dry out overnight and I could use it again the next day.  So I was standing on the ladder with the box of wrap, wrapping the tray that was sitting on top of the ladder when the box dropped.  I could feel it scraping against my leg and especially my knee, but didn't really think anything of it.  This was close to 9pm on Friday night so I couldn't see real well anymore.  After I finished and picked up the box from the porch floor I did notice what I thought were drops of red paint on my knee.  It wasn't.  It was blood!  The serrated edge of the plastic wrap box was so sharp that it really did a number on my left knee as it tumbled off the ladder.  Three days later and my knee is still pretty tender!

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After I got my hair done today (well, not that she really did anything) I ran to Walmart to get a $110 worth of stuff and to pick up a birthday present for Ellie I had ordered on-line.  Then, I drove out to the country to some people from church's house.  Jay helped me charge my air conditioner.  I didn't even know you could do this at home.  Saturday it was really hot and humid and it sure didn't seem like my AC was keeping up very well. I figured I'd have to take my van to the shop but wasn't quite sure how I was going to manage that.   So I talked with this guy at church yesterday and he told me he thought he could fix it for me and told me what to buy.  It turned out that I was really low on freon and it worked wonderfully all the way home.  All for a $23 bottle of Freon from Walmart!

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And for another good deal... I heard from my propane company last week that my budget amount for the next year has fallen by $25 a month.  In addition, I didn't have to pay in April or May.  I finally called them last week wondering where my bill was and they said I was all caught up.  I'm just now figuring how this budget thing with the propane company works.  This must have been a good year because in that same letter it also said that all unpaid balances have to be taken care of before the start of the new billing cycle.  So that leads me to think that there may be some years when a chunk of money would be owed in April or May instead of not having to pay those months.

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I got home today and Deb, my friend, and Ben's SCL provider was at my house.  She had come to work with Ben and was sitting on the couch with Sam and Ellie because she is a real favorite of all the Littles.  She commented to me on what a "pistol" Ellie is and how I am going to have to really keep my thumb on her for probably all her growing up years.  She said she'd had to "get after" Ellie while I was gone and hoped she wasn't overstepping.  I told her to please feel free to do that anytime at all!  Deb then echoed my own thoughts about how different the girls are.  Lizzie has settled down, relinquishing her desire for control, and has a very tender heart and a desire to please those in authority.  Ellie, on the other hand...

 

Some people keep telling me Ellie's behavior is a "phase" but I am not so sure about that anymore.  She has been pretty awful since she turned 3 a year ago.  There are some periods of time where it is worse, but it's fairly consistent.  I've tried to step back and look at her, wondering if there is something I'm not seeing - like autism or some mental challenges.  But I do not believe that is the case.  It's not her brain, it's her heart.

 

Last week I just happened to be in the kitchen when Ellie got mad at Lizzie and quick as as wink, she shot her fist upward and extended her middle finger at her sister.  I have never seen a preschooler do that, let alone one of my preschoolers!  I don't even have a clue where she would have learned that!

 

Today I've let her have a little bit more freedom, but from about last Wednesday on, I made her follow me around the house and pretty much sit and do nothing all day long.  I explained to her that until she's trustworthy, I can't let her go off and play on her own because that's when she does terrible things - like coloring on furniture, crushing new bags of chips, cutting doll hair, throwing paint at windows...just to name a few, recent offenses.

 

Our family has a pretty good name in the Pville school district but I am fearful that's about to go down the tubes once Ellie starts school.  Of course, that's pride talking.  I suppose I should be more concerned about the state of her heart than our good name!

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The other day my friend and neighbor, Charlotte, called me.  She had a box of beauty supplies for me.  She has a friend, who is elderly and, apparently, not all that concerned about her money.  This woman sits all alone in her apartment and orders stuff off QVC all the time.  Then, most of it unopened, she mails it to Charlotte who has started passing it along to me.  This time I ended up with so much anti-aging moisturizing cream that I'll be looking like I'm 30 when I'm 100!  If the stuff doesn't go rancid before then, that is.  These are all very high quality products, too.  It's really beyond my understanding how someone could do this.  If I had money to burn I think I'd rather give away to some worthy organization than buy face products I'll never use.  But I am happy to be the benefactor of her foolishness, I guess.

 

So, I sorted through the  stuff the other day with Lizzie.  I gave a lot of the actual make-up to her and she was over-the-moon with excitement about that.  I kept enough for myself so that it will be quite awhile before I need to visit the Clinique counter again, though.  I boxed up most of the moisturizers, thinking they will last me a few years.  And then some stuff I just threw out.  I knew it was like throwing money in the garbage but it was stuff I'd never use - eye creams, wrinkle serums, lip plumpers - stuff like that.  Lizzie rescued a tube from the garbage and asked me what it was.  I explained it was a facial masque.  She asked, "Is it supposed to make you look younger?" and I told her that was the idea.  She then said, "Well, you should use this Mom!"  I told her I didn't have time for that.  I've got my beauty regimin down to a routine and it doesn't allow time for things like that.

 

Lizzie then exclaimed, "But, Mom - how are you going to find a man, then?!"  Oh, I about died!  Where did she get that in her head?

 

She then mused that if she used the masque on her own skin she might come out looking like a two year old!  She rarely intends to be funny, but she cracks me up quite a bit!

****************************

I have two maps hanging in the basement, one of the United States and a world map.  It seems like the proper, "homeschool" thing to do.  Don't all, good, homeschooling moms have at least one map displayed in their homes?  Hah!  Actually, I've been surprised by how taken my kids are with those things.

 

One day last week Ellie asked me to show her on the map where Daddy lives.

 

Sigh...

 

Yesterday was Father's Day.  And it was hard.  I remember the first Father's Day after Paul's death.  It came just five days after the funeral.  We pretty much ignored it, other than to buy a small, "Happy Father's Day" balloon at Hy-Vee.  We stuck it in the freshly disturbed earth that housed Paul.  I haven't done that since.  Maybe I should.  I don't remember much about last year, if Father's Day bothered me much or not.  But this year it did and that kind of surprised me.

 

I felt bad for the kids and I felt bad for me.  When they had all the dads stand up in church I  didn't want to look at them because all I saw was the empty spot in our pew where someone no longer stood.  The sermon was miserable for me because it was all about the importance of a father. I know how important a dad is and it kills me that I can't give that to my kids.  I don't even do that great of a job of fulfilling my role as mom - I'm not even going to try to be Dad, too.   Afterwards, they had gift cards for all the dads, so I cut around the line and dashed out of the church as quickly as I could.  Maybe next year we'll stay home on Father's Day.

 

We went on our postponed - from -the-anniversary-of-the-funeral-day picnic afterwards, which was nice, even though it was sticky out.  We got fried chicken and other junky foods from Hy-Vee, loaded up the bikes, and went down to the park in Pville.  Maybe that's when we should do this annual picnic, anyway.

 

I texted Will to let him know he was missing out on our picnic with the fried chicken and he texted back to say we were the ones missing out because he was enjoying an elk and bacon burger. 

 

He didn't say anything about Father's Day.

 

A couple people did offer encouragement to me yesterday.  I appreciated that after this length of time, there are still those sensitive to what the day can mean to us.  An older friend at church pressed a note into my hand last night that read, "You are such a good mom."  I  will treasure that always.  I think I may hang it in my house, actually, so I can read the affirmation frequently.  I appreciate the thought, even if it's not really all that true.

 

It occurred to me today that I am now in my third summer of widowhood.  Doesn't seem like there should have been this many of them already.  I guess time goes by quickly when you're spending most of your time figuring out simply how to survive.

 

And I am...surviving.

 

I think I'm actually doing a little bit more than that these days.

 

It's a good thing. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What I have learned in two years of widowhood:

• God is good - so, so good
• I am loved far more than I ever knew
• I have amazing, resilient children (I am reaping what Paul sowed into their lives)
• Darkness eventually gives way to light
• Strength and wisdom are mine for the asking
• I don't have to have all the answers
• God delights in carefully and tenderly mending torn-apart hearts

Psalm 73:26: My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

ow with a certain amount of anticipation, although

What I have learned in two years of widowhood:

• God is good - so, so good
• I am loved far more than I ever knew
• I have amazing, resilient children (I am reaping what Paul sowed into their lives)
• Darkness eventually gives way to light
• Strength and wisdom are mine for the asking
• I don't have to have all the answers
• God delights in carefully and tenderly mending torn-apart hearts

Psalm 73:26: My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Day 743


June 17, 2015

Day 743

 

It's clouding up.  I think it's going to rain.  Again.  It's been raining so much I haven't had time to do any more painting on the porch or to cover up the gutter I painted - that the rain keeps washing the paint off of.  But I haven't had a whole lot of time for painting, either.  Things have been kind of crazy, like normal.

 

I went up to camp last Friday to collect Ben.  He was eating lunch when we arrived so we waited.  His poor counselor seemed so stressed so I finally asked him if it had been a hard week.  He said it had been but some of that was due to stuff outside of camp.  He had never worked with special needs individuals before so the week was a real eye-opener for him.  I thought about pointing out to him that it's not a real picnic raising one, either, but I didn't.  Because, the truth is, being a counselor to a handful of guys for a few days and parenting a child with special needs are far, far apart in scope and experience.  Kevin, the counselor, did say that of all the guys in his cabin Ben was the easiest and most mature.  He said one day he couldn't find Ben anywhere and finally discovered him exiting the cabin.  He asked Ben where he had been and Ben slowly and seriously replied, "Well, I needed a Fig Newton."  Those have always been Ben's favorite cookie, so he came well-stocked.  Anyway, that kind of tickled his counselor.

 

One of the Ben's cabin mates was eating his lunch when we were there and he pointed at the Littles and asked me if they were all mine.  I told him they sure were.  He sat there for a few minutes and then asked, "But how come, but how come..." and Kevin jumped in, anticipating the question, "Eat your food, Mike!"  But Mike continued, "How come they don't look like you?"  Ha, ha, ha!  I think this is the first time I've ever actually encountered that very natural question.  When I explained to him the girls were adopted he was perfectly fine with that and was content to then eat his food.  Counselor Kevin, on the other hand, seemed a bit embarrassed.

***************************

Saturday, David came home.  I had really been praying about last week for him and those prayers were answered.  He was like a different kid when I picked him up - so peaceful.  He said he didn't realize all that went into maintaining a camp until this week.  I imagine not.  He was awarded two weeks, which pleased him.

 

That means, total, David will be gone for 5 weeks this summer between last week, the weeks he works, Sr. High camp, and his missions trip in August.  I'm going to have to get some names and phone numbers of Pleasantville teenagers I could hire to help out with babysitting.  Even if I manage to get through this summer on my own, I can see the handwriting on the wall.  David's life is only going to get busier and busier in the next few years, which means he won't be available as much for watching the Littles.  It's going to be awhile before they are old enough to stay home alone.

 

Or, I guess I could just start staying home. 

***************************

Ellie continues her current reign of terror.  Her birthday is coming up and I always post a picture of the kids on my timeline with a little paragraph about what I appreciate about them on their actual birthday.  I'm thinking ahead of what I might say about her and I am just coming up empty.  I can't think of one good thing to say about this kid right now.  Isn't that terrible?

 

She took a brand new, "Family size" (hah - if your family only has 1.7 children maybe) bag of Doritos ($3.89 at Walmart) and for absolutely no good reason, stomped all over the bag until the chips were crushed.  And so far, this has actually been a "good" week for her.

 

Sigh...

*******************************

Ben's case manager was over this morning.  She had this new, "risk assessment" form DHS is making her fill out on each of her clients so we had to go through that.  There were lots of questions on Ben's health and behaviors.  But then she asked if we had knives in the home and laughed and said, well of course you do - every kitchen has knives.  I agreed.  I do, indeed, have knives in my kitchen.  But then the next question was if we have guns and if so, are they kept locked up.  I told her I was trying to determine the need for such a question.  Is the state simply wondering if Ben has access to weapons that he might decide to use improperly or is this question more intrusive in nature, a tool of the gun control proponents?  She didn't know - she was just following orders.  I was honest and told her we do have guns and yes, they are properly stored and locked at all times.  But, I also pointed out to her the kitchen knives are laying in an unlocked drawer and accessible to even my 3 year old if she thought that was something she wanted to mess with.  For that matter, we have hammers and saws and chemicals  out in the garage - all of which can cause injury in the wrong hands.

 

I'm not a conspiracy theorist and I don't worry about Big Brother monitoring my Facebook or phone records.  But this kind of question kind of sets my teeth on edge.

 

That said, I have nothing against my case manager.  She's new to us and seems to be doing a fine job.  I've been fighting with HIRTA who don't think they should have to provide transportation for Ben's ride home from Pella.  He starts tomorrow and because of that I will have to make an hour and a half round trip to bring him home.  As far as I know, I've run out of appeal options.  It doesn't make sense to me because COC is in our same county and Ben is entitled to transportation services.  But some things you just can't fight.  I suppose in some ways, it's my own fault because I could have Ben receive all his services in Indianola, which is closer (although out of county) and then I wouldn't have a transportation issue.  But he wants to go to Pella and if he's capable of knowing his own desires then I want to accommodate them as much as possible.  Anyway, this new case manager of mine is really on the issue.  She has made a number of phone calls on our behalf and is hopeful that we're going to be able to work this out with HIRTA or some other transportation company.  But it won't be in time for tomorrow.

***********************

A bunch of guys from church came out last Saturday and worked on the garage, pulling off the old siding and putting up sheeting, and wrapping the thing.  They even got most of one side sided.  I was out there for a little bit, pulling off the old stuff - nasty, dry, and  crumbling .  I was afraid it might be termite infested, but it wasn't.  I did find a couple of old wasp's nests under the siding.  It's not even done yet but it looks SO  much better than that eyesore I've been looking at for almost 11 years!

********************************

I was tired one day last week and laying down on the loveseat.  Lizzie came over to me and started giving me a facial massage.  I have no idea where she learned to do something like that, but it felt so-o-o good.  Before I knew it, I was dozing.  When I woke up, she and Ellie were doing my make-up and hair.  I looked a little scary.

*****************************

I have our summer vacation planned now.  I couldn't do this until I knew David's work schedule at camp.  We're just going away for 3 days to a KOA campground in Nebraska.  I'm a little nervous because this time I won't have Will to help.  But I think I can do it.  The campground looks like fun.  They have all sorts of free activities and fun things to do.  I'm also going to take the kids to the zoo and Children's Museum in Omaha.  I had hoped to visit friends while out there but I just don't think we're going to have the time.  We won't be gone very long.  We're renting a little cabin.  The older boys want me to buy a camper.  This is a compromise.  They can still get their camping experience and I have running water, air conditioning,  and wi-fi.

****************************************

Sunday Lizzie was looking at me and asked, "Has anyone told you yet today..."  And then she paused.  I was wearing a brand new top out of my most recent Stitch Fix box and felt pretty confident as a result.  So, I mentally supplied the last of her sentence in my head with, "how nice you look?"  And then Lizzie continued, "...how tired you look?"  Talk about being deflated!

 

Although, if anyone had reason to be tired that day, it wasn't me!  Arien's sister let it drop Sunday morning that the night before, Will and Arien had been on the phone for FIVE hours, until 4 am Sunday morning!  I teased Will about that later and he replied, "Well, if anyone should understand, it should be you!"  I do, I really do, but I don't recall any five hour phone conversations with Paul, either, while we were dating.  Of course, back then you had to pay for your long distance calling.  That might have had something to do with it.

 

My boy has got it bad...

*********************************

Elisabeth Elliot died Monday morning.  That makes me happy - for her, of course.  I remember reading, "Through Gates of Splendor" when I was around 11 or 12.  I read a lot of her books throughout the years.  Probably the biggest influence this woman had on my life, though, was the 15 minute daily radio program she used to host.  I listened to this every single day in those early years of marriage and parenthood.  In fact, I can remember where I was driving in Omaha when I heard her talking about the necessity of "doing the next thing" when trials and great grief arrive.  When you don't know what do, you do what you do know to do.  When Paul died, that phrase, "Do the next thing" would leap into my mind in Elisabeth's voice over and over again in the first few months and so, I would get up and feed the kids breakfast or make a needed phone call.  I didn't know what next week would bring, but I knew what needed to be done right now.   I still think about that phrase from time to time. 

 

I don't know if Paul has had a chance to speak with her or not.  I rather imagine there's a lot of saints desiring some of her time.  But when he does, I hope he thanks her for the better wife and mother I became as a result of her ministry.
 
This afternoon I met with Marcia and we were talking about Elisabeth's death.  Marcia actually  jotted down one of her quotes (that I left out in the van, otherwise I'd copy it here) she thought I could use.  Marcia made the comment that if Elisabeth had not been widowed like she was, she probably would not have had the ministry and tremendous impact that  she did on the world.  Hmm...something to think about.

***********************************

Yesterday, Lizzie and I had to run some errands.  We both needed some new shorts and capris to get through summer and my vacuum needed replacing.  We were eating lunch and I asked her if she was ok with the fact that I had changed her name at adoption.  That's something I worry about from time to time, wondering if I did the right thing.  A name is really  kind of an integral part of someone's identity and to just go changing it...I don't know.  At the time it seemed like the right thing to do and Paul and I seemed to have some valid reasons for choosing to do that.  But since then I've wondered if I was too hasty in making that kind of decision.  Surprised, Lizzie exclaimed that yes, she was glad we had changed her name.  She liked "Elizabeth" a whole lot better than her birth name!  Then, slyly, she asked, "What you say if I told you that I wished you hadn't changed it?"  Ha, ha...smart girl.

 

Then, Lizzie asked me a question.  She said, "Have you ever wished you never adopted us?"

 

Be still, my heart...

 

I was honest.  I told her that adoption was one of the hardest things I've ever done in my life.  And I told her I imagined that getting adopted was probably very difficult, too, adjusting to a whole new family and environment.  Lizzie nodded in agreement.  I also told her that parenting, in general, can be hard, regardless of whether the kids are adopted or biological.  
 
As parents, we lie to our kids all the time.  It's part of the role, I think.
 
That was the best catch in the entire history of Little League!
 
You are the sweetest little girl alive!
 
How did you know that all I wanted for my birthday was this perfect drawing of zombies eating villagers?!
 
You are the smartest five year old I have ever met!
 
No, of course I don't mind giving up my planned girls night out so that I can watch you sing...for five seconds...in the choir
 
And so on.  My mind did a quick replay of the last three years - Lizzie being a pill for much of the first couple of years, Paul's death which changed parenting for me, Ellie's propensity toward destructiveness and lying, the fatigue, the near constant feelings of failure... 
 
I then told Lizzie the honest and absolute  truth which is that I have never regretted my decision to adopt her and her sister.

 

Not even once.

 

 

 

 

What I have learned in two years of widowhood:

• God is good - so, so good
• I am loved far more than I ever knew
• I have amazing, resilient children (I am reaping what Paul sowed into their lives)
• Darkness eventually gives way to light
• Strength and wisdom are mine for the asking
• I don't have to have all the answers
• God delights in carefully and tenderly mending torn-apart hearts

Psalm 73:26: My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

ow with a certain amount of anticipation, although there are still moments when I am sick at heart to think that that future will never again include him, other than the quick glimpses I sometimes see in my sons. As much as hope is beginning to seep back into our lives, I am also accepting that, for the rest of our lives, we will be among the walking wounded, forever hurt and altered by Paul's early death. As sad as that sounds, it really isn't, though. Even scarred, life is still pretty beautiful.

What I have learned in two years of widowhood:

• God is good - so, so good
• I am loved far more than I ever knew
• I have amazing, resilient children (I am reaping what Paul sowed into their lives)
• Darkness eventually gives way to light
• Strength and wisdom are mine for the asking
• I don't have to have all the answers
• God delights in carefully and tenderly mending torn-apart hearts

Psalm 73:26: My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.