Sunday, October 19, 2014

Day 503

DIARY OF AN UNWILLING WIDOW

Oct. 19, 2014
Day 503
 
Sunday night...and the blues are kicking in.  So, what's better than a depressed person with a blog?!  My poor readers.
 
It's been a harder weekend.  David had major allergy problems at church this morning.  I got him drugged up (which is no easy feat - he once heard of someone dying from accidentally overdosing on OTC meds and he's scared to take a single aspirin as a result) and he was fine by late this afternoon.  I told him if he didn't feel up to going to church tonight that was fine.  I kind of hoped he'd say he wanted to stay home because then we'd just all stay home with him.  But he said he felt fine after napping but wasn't totally gung ho on going tonight so if I wanted to stay home he was fine with that.
 
I was tempted. 
 
It was never this way when Paul was alive.  If the doors to church were open and we weren't throwing up, we were there.  There was no thinking about it.
 
And I've still been faithful.  For the most part I've wanted to be.  My church continues to be my major source of support and socialization.  But there are sometimes, like tonight, when I just feel - meh.  I look around my messy house and think of all I could accomplish instead of sitting in church and I think my time might be better spent at home.  And sometimes it is.  But we went tonight, anyway.  Next Sun. night we have an activity that will make us unable to go, so I figured we should probably go now.  This is where I'm supposed to write about the tremendous blessing we received at church and how I'm so thankful I went.
 
Yeah, not so much tonight.  Nothing bad happened, other than having to chase Ellie down the main aisle after church and whacking my knee on a pew as I did so.  But I didn't come away all the refreshed, either.  I guess that's the way it goes sometimes.
 
Maybe it's because of the birthday card I had the kids sign tonight when we got home.  Paul's mom's birthday is Tues.  I always said I had the best mother-in-law in the world and honestly loved her.  My heart is broken over her belief that I am responsible for Paul's death.  Just shattered.  I didn't even know if I was going to get a card or not this year.  I finally did, but just had the kids sign it.  I'm not sure really why I'm sending it, even.  I don't think it will change things and that's not my motivation, anyway.  But I still love her.
 
Even though...
 
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Ellie has been difficult again today.  I find myself observing her and wanting to find some sort of brain dysfunction in her that would explain her terrible behavior.  She got ahold of another knife today.  Fortunately, Lizzie caught her and alerted Ben, who took it away before any damage could be done.  I texted Will and said, "I thought you hid your knives?"  He said he has too many to hide them all.  What, is he forming some anti-government militia?  He doesn't even make sense.  My mom had suggested I get a hook and I latch for his door and that's what's happening tomorrow. 
 
I had several more incidents this week of Ellie coloring on the furniture in her room.  This morning Lizzie put on her tights for church and we discovered that those had been scribbled on, as well!  Seriously!  What is wrong with Ellie?
 
I've never been a big fan of preschool for children, thinking that it is more important that they spend as many moments in those formative years with their mother.  Truly, there is nothing taught in a preschool setting that cannot be learned at home.  But right now - I've got plans to check into the preschool program at the school for next fall.  I need a break from this child, even if it's just a couple of mornings a week.  But next fall is a long time away.  I've got to survive Ellie right now.
 
And I just don't get it.  Ben was a difficult preschooler.  But he was brain-damaged, so I was able to chalk up most of what I was experiencing to that, even though we didn't know it was autism at the time.  While he seemed to have a death wish he was hampered by his cp.  We still made an awful lot of trips to the ER, though, as I recall.  Any of Lizzie's behaviors - and there have been many - I can attribute to her early years of chaos and being separated from her birth family.
 
But what's wrong with Ellie?  Except for a three day period at the age of 10 months, she never lived with her birth mother.  She doesn't know her older bio brothers, she escaped a lot of what Lizzie did not.  So why is she so awful, then?
 
Maybe all it is is that she's a 3 year old girl.  It could just be that simple.  A year or two from now I may re-read this and laugh (with a great deal of thanksgiving that this is in the past).  As I recall, Lizzie wasn't exactly a picnic at 3, either.  But that's when I got her.  Maybe this is normal.  But if so - why would anyone voluntarily give birth to more than one female child? 
 
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Sam got new glasses Wed. night.  They're cute - copper metal, rectangle frames.  My friend, Diane, who made them had these particular frames shipped to her in some sort of promotion last winter.  I went ahead and bought them then, knowing that at some point Sam would need new glasses.  She's hung onto them ever since.  He got his new prescription and she had them made up for me within 3 days.  That was Wednesday.
 
Yesterday - Saturday - Sam went for a bike ride with David and Ellie.  Being full of brotherly concern, David brought Sam's sunglasses to him before they set out and Sam jammed his new glasses into the pocket of his sweats.  When he came home, they were gone. 
 
I think my middle name must be "Frustration" because it is definitely my overriding emotion most of the time.  Seriously - he lost his $80 glasses THREE days after getting them?  Not that I'm surprised.  I have found his glasses on floors, under blankets, behind his toy shelves,  under the swingset, on the dirt pile, out on the deck, beside the pool...
 
I looked for a little bit, but I had to leave for a Sunday School class gathering.  David and Sam looked, but didn't have much success.  I prayed about it.  I mentioned my frustration to my friends at the gathering last night.  I was so touched this morning when one told me she had prayed about it last night for me!
 
I got home last night and found a pile of money on my desk with a note from David saying, "Buy Sam some new glasses."  Sweet kid.  I gave him his money back.
 
This morning I asked Sam if he had prayed about finding his glasses yet.  He looked surprised and said, "Well, I haven't had lunch yet!"  I've come to gather recently from other comments he's made that he seems to think praying can only happen at meal times.  I really need to rectify this belief he apparently has. One of these days.  When I'm not so busy...keeping a certain 3 year old alive.
 
So, after lunch I got the girls down for their nap and David, Sam, and I set off to follow the path of yesterday's bike ride.  It was a long ride!  I found myself praying off and on and as we turned to go back home, I found myself really getting irritated with God.  He heard my prayer.  He knew what it would mean, financially, to have to buy this kid another pair of glasses.  Why wouldn't He just SHOW me where those glasses were?  At that very  moment a gust of wind blew up and I imagined that I heard God's voice speaking to my heart. 
 
So on the way back to the house, shuffling through the leaves, hoping against hope, one of us would yet see the glasses David and I had a conversation about my frustration with God.  I can't even remember now what all was said, but it was one of those "good" talks.  
 
And maybe that was the whole point of this experience.
 
A few feet later and we were home.  I was resigned to having to buy another pair of glasses and to learning the lessons that God seemed to think I needed from this.   And then Sam exclaimed,
 
"Oh, here they are!"  And there they were - laying on the ground right up next to the wood pile.
 
Thank you, Lord.
 
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One other frustration (aren't I just Susie Sunshine tonight?).  Someone thought it was a good idea to give my kids art crayons - like the oil based ones.  They have loved them and have colored picture after picture with those things.  We've never had them before and I didn't think too much about them.  I was straightening up the area rug in the living room late yesterday afternoon (actually while David and Sam were out looking for the lost glasses the first time) when I discovered a huge green mess to the side of the rug.  Apparently one of those crayons got underneath the rug and then was vacuumed over and is permanently imbedded in my 10 month old carpet.
 
Well, now I know that I will always have an area rug in my living room because that green stain isn't coming up.  I used a magic eraser on it, I shampooed it, I used Dawn detergent on it,  I made a vinegar/baking soda mixture and it is still green.  It's lighter but still, quite green.  I am going to try some mineral spirits since I am guessing the crayon was oil based.  I had the kids throw away all the other crayons like that one.
 
I think there's a lot to be said for never having children. 
 
Ever.
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But then, you wouldn't laugh as much.  This morning David commented to me that he was suspicious Sam was not brushing his teeth because whenever he's been going into the bathroom to do his at night, Sam's brush is always dry.  So I said to Sam, "You are brushing your teeth every night, right?"
 
Sam seriously replied, "Mom, I just don't have time for tooth brushing!"  I hate to think how long it's been since the last time he thought he had time for it.
 
I've put on weight in the last 6 months or so.  It's annoying because none of my pants fit and I have this roll of tummy now that doesn't have anywhere to go so it flops.  I'm not comfortable in my own body anymore.  I remember a few years ago I couldn't keep weight on and now I've got the opposite problem.
 
I don't like it but the thought of laying off the sweets and maybe going for a few walks doesn't sound all that appealing, either.  Besides, don't most women put on weight as they age?  So maybe, no matter how hard I try, it won't come off because it's more of an age thing.  So then, what's the point of putting in all that effort and self-denial if I'm just destined to be a bit overweight the rest of my life?
 
But then, I get in the shower and see that my thighs, who have always lived very separate lives, are now quite cozy with eachother and I hate the feeling of them touching eachother.  So, I bought some grapefruit essential oil.  It's supposed to be good for weight loss.  We shall see.
 
Lizzie observed me taking it this morning and wanted to know why.  I told her and she said, "Well, Mom, if you want to lose weight, all you need to do is quit eating!"
 
She may be onto something there.  She then added I should probably also "run for 40 hours a day." 
 
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So last night was our Sunday School class get together.  They're doing these once a month now, which is fine.  Our class is geared toward younger families, or at least those with younger children.  I've got those so I'm still qualified to be there, I guess.
 
I'm actually not even attending the class right now because they're doing a marriage study.  I sit upstairs with the old people.  It stinks.  I would give anything to have a reason to be sitting in that marriage class.
 
Back to the get-together: I saw this as sort of a "test" for me.  How would I handle being in a situation with all couples?  Could I do it?  Everyone is still so nice to me, but things have changed because I'm not part of a twosome anymore.  I even am a lot more self-conscious about talking with married men now.  I never used to think twice about it. 
 
So I slipped away for a few hours and went to the gathering.  We roasted hotdogs at a home in the country and then sat around the fire.  Some of the women made a real point to talk to me and I appreciated that.  But I looked around the fire a few times and saw all these couples, with their arms around eachother because it was cold and dark and I suppose, somewhat romantic, and I felt so alone.  I honestly didn't begrudge anyone there for what they still have, but it made me miss what I've lost all the more.
 
But this is my reality now.  I have to learn how to function as a single in couple-oriented world.  I don't know if the fact that I have children like most couples do makes it harder or easier.  I haven't decided that yet.
 
Along with everything else I've had to learn to do, this is another area in which I have to learn some coping skills.  But, there is a verse that keeps popping into my head lately.
 
So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten...
Joel 2:25
 
I think this verse is literally referring to food, but all Scripture is profitable and there must be a reason this particular one keeps being brought to my mind.  Is God using this verse to assure me that these years of loneliness and barrenness will be restored someday?
 
Maybe.  I don't know. 
 
But it's kind of the message I got from Him today when I hunting for Sam's glasses.  There was that along with the reminder that ALL things are for my good and profit my growth.
 
And mostly, just the reminder that my  number one job is, still, to trust Him.
 
With my stubborn and destructive three year old.
 
With my absent-minded almost-seven year old.
 
With my future.

 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Day 502

DIARY OF AN UNWILLING WIDOW
October 18, 2014

Day 502

 

I did it - I've made it past 500 days of widowhood.  It does feel like something of an accomplishment.  Now, to make to 1000, which should happen in another 16 months or so.

 

We just happened to have tickets to a pre-season NFL game that night at Wells Fargo.  I had bought the tickets way back in June, not knowing that Oct. 16 would be day 500.  So that worked out kind of cool.

 

Actually, all of Thursday was busy and more of a "family" day than most.  Ben had Sp. Olympics bowling in the afternoon.  He did the best he has ever done.  I always laugh when he bowls because I remember how his bowling ball holes were specially drilled to fit his extra long fingers.  He doesn't even use them.  Each time he approaches the lane, he leans all the way over and rolls the ball with two hands.  Apparently, he has perfected his method because during one game he scored 117!  He and his entire team earned blue ribbons and will be going to the state meet next month.

 

I didn't have a lot of time to cook after that and I wanted to make sure the kids' tummies were nice and full before the game because I wasn't about to buy concession stand food.  They check your bags there at Wells Fargo so you can't sneak in food, either, like you can at the movie theater (Yes, I'm bad...and cheap).  So we stopped at Hy-Vee and got two buckets of chicken.

 

We met Will at Principal Park and left his car there.  I really don't care for downtown driving on the best of days.  When it's nighttime and people are pouring in for a popular event - ugh.  So he drove us in.  We still had to park blocks and blocks away from the arena and we were there an hour early!

 

We quickly found out what $22 tickets bought us - seats way-y-y up high on the top concourse!  We could still see fine, but it was a little unnerving to be looking that far down onto the floor!  The game was good.  I was kind of rooting for the Denver Nuggets because I always smile when I think of Denver now, with that being Paul's and my last trip together.  But I honestly didn't care who won.  Denver led for 3 quarters, sometimes by as much as 15 points.  But then in the last quarter, it got exciting.  Golden State decided they wanted to win and put all they had into it.  It was neck and neck the entire quarter.  I even wondered if the game would go into overtime, but finally the Warriors pulled ahead and won the game by just 3 points!

 

So now we can say we've been to an actual NBA game.  The boys say that we now have to attend an NFL game, but I don't know if that will ever happen or not!    And actually, this game was a lot more classy, I thought, than the local game we attended there in January.  The cheerleader-dancers did have one somewhat skanky performance, but that was it.  Lizzie was disappointed.  She is fascinated by cheerleaders and we tend to have a lot of conversations about what is proper and improper around here, as a result.  The half-time show was an acrobat team that performed on this season's "America's Got Talent" so that was entertaining.

 

One funny thing: Lizzie kept turning around to observe the people behind us.  Apparently it was a group of international students with their American host.  I think what caught Lizzie's attention was that one of the young women was black.  As it turned out her name was Rosa and she was from France (isn't Rosa a Spanish name, though?).  But at one point, Lizzie nudged me and loudly said, of the host, "Look, Mom - that man has ice tea in a cup!"

 

Um, yeah...not ice tea!

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It was just a busy week, all around.  Tuesday I went with my friend, Jeanne, up to Faith.  She is 81 and twice-widowed.  Her husband was one of my professors 25 yrs ago.  I met her through another widow at our church and Jeanne and I have just hit it off.  It helps that she does texting and Facebook, since those are my primary means of communication anymore.  She was asked to be a guest speaker in a women's ministry class (specifically, a class about ministering to the aged in the church) about widowhood.  I invited myself along because I just wanted to hear what she had to say.  To my surprise, she had gotten her hands on the blog post I wrote back in June right at the one year mark of  Paul's death (the post) and she referenced that post quite a bit!  It was rather flattering that she thought  I had something of import to contribute to the class.

 

There were only two students in the class and they both told me that they had worked with Will up at camp.  Small world.  After class, we went with the instructor (whose husband was also one of my professors oh, so long ago) to the cafeteria and had a nice lunch.  Then yesterday, I received a sweet card from the instructor.  What a nice day that was for me!

 

While at lunch we were talking about remarriage and both women earnestly told me that if I do remarry I must have a prenuptial agreement in place.  I wrinkled my nose and asked, "Aren't those unbiblical?"  They both assured me it is different when it is a second marriage and either spouse has children and is bringing assets into the marriage.  I had never thought about that before.  I'll have the children, but I'm not so sure how many assets I'll have left by the time I marry again, though!

 

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Then, that evening Will and I went to a Piano Guys concert.  I wasn't totally excited by the idea because I knew it was instrumental music and, as I've mentioned before,  I have a very limited tolerance for music that doesn't involve a beat and lyrics.  I soon began to get the idea that a whole lot of people knew something I didn't because the entire Civic Auditorium was completely packed out.  Seriously.  I saw about 10 seats on the very back, top row that were empty and that was it. 

 

The concert was AMAZING!  Oh, my goodness.  I could have sat there for a lot longer than two hours.  Maybe I have more of an appreciation for culture than I realized.  Or maybe it's just that these performers have figured out a way to make instrumental music fun and exciting.  I think I'm going to download everything they've recorded!

 

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Wednesday Ben had to go to Iowa City again for his teeth.  I was under the impression that this visit was the last one until we get his wisdom teeth done.  But no - we have two more trips planned now for Nov.  Ben is a champ when they do the work.   But every single time they go in to fix what they think is a simple cavity, it turns out to be something that has spread and gotten in quite deep.  The room where they work on the special needs patients is not very big and there are 4 or 5 chairs in this one room.  Different dental students work on the patients while the head instructor oversees.  Actually, it reminds me of when I was a kid and, to save money, my mom had us get our hair done at the local beauty college...  Anyway, this time, the patient directly across from Ben screamed the entire time they were working on him - seriously screamed.  His mother or caregiver was right there so I doubt they were hurting him.  It was probably a sensory thing.  But it caught Ben's attention and he kept popping up in his chair to look.

 

Afterwards, he wanted to go to Steak and Shake to eat.  We don't have any of those out here.  So we did.  He started to place his own order when the waiter came and my first instinct was to jump in and take over for him, but I thought, "No - he needs to learn how to do this.  I won't always be with him in restaurant situations."  So I just let him place his own order.  The only problem with that is that while I can understand Ben perfectly, I forget that his weaker oral muscles make his speech harder to understand by people that don't spend a lot of time with him.  Although, he's improved greatly since childhood.  He hasn't even been in speech therapy since he was about 12.

 

So Ben explained what he wanted and the waiter then turned to me apologetically and asked, "Uh, could you repeat back to me what he said?"  Poor guy.  But he still got the order wrong!

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The other day Will sent me a Facebook clip of a mother/son wedding dance with the message, "Do you think you can do this?"  It was kind of a complicated dance that included all different kinds of music and moves.  Thinking he was just joking, I messaged him, "Sure - let's plan on it!"  Well, a couple of days later at the concert Will asked me seriously, "So we're going to do that dance, right?"  I told him that would be fine (!) and then he added, "You'd better get into shape first."  I may or may  not have been huffing and puffing a bit as I followed him the couple blocks we had to walk to the Civic Auditorium.  I told him not to worry.  With as long as he is taking to find the wife needed for said wedding, I have plenty of time to tone up!  Here's what he has in mind: Mother/Son dance

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I did a more complicated hair style on Ellie today.  Since it took awhile, I pulled the kitchen stool into the living room so she could watch tv while I worked on her head.  Some movie was on that featured primarily black actors.  Ellie observed one of the men and then said, "Mom - you should get me a daddy like that!"  I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.

 

The other night Ben asked me how soon I plan to remarry.  I told him, of course, I have no idea.  He said, "Well, I hope it's soon.  I'd like to have another dad."

 

Sigh...

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I dreamed last night that Lizzie drowned in our pool.  I pulled her out and realized she was dead and was completely distraught.  In my dream I thought to myself, "Oh, I guess I loved her more than I realized!"  The dream got really weird from there (I ended up baking her into a pie before I called 911) but it stuck with me in that I remembered it very clearly this morning.

 

Actually, Lizzie really hasn't been troublesome lately.  She's going through a good stretch right now.  Her sister on the other hand...Oh, I am so frustrated.  I cannot get her to quit coloring on her bedroom furniture.  I have cleaned and cleaned up that room, but she still manages to find pencils and markers.  Every time she does this I spank her.  And I even make a point to question her hours later, "Why did you get a spanking?"  And she answers, "Because I colored on my bed/dresser."  So I know she understands.  But then she turns right around and does it again.  The worst part is that she attempts to lie about it every time, telling me sincerely, "Lizzie did it."  So then I have to punish her not only for the crime, but for lying.  She was such a sweet, quiet little baby/toddler.  I never would have dreamed we'd go through this at age 3.  I am starting to get fearful of what she is going to be like as a teenager.  On the other hand, it serves as a good impetus to get this rooted out now.  But I am not sure how to thoroughly root it out.  I've banned her from all writing utensils, other than signing birthday cards.  Periodically, I will ask her, "What do we color on?"  She'll answer, "Only on paper!"  And then I'll ask, "Is your furniture paper?" 

"No, Mommy." 

 
But she still colors on the furniture! (Pulling out my hair with one hand as I type...)

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Out of curiosity, I looked up decomposition rates on the internet last week.  The websites I found were quite descriptive of the breakdown of the human body once life has been extinguished.  Yuck.  Dust to dust and all that... Embalming does slow down the process somewhat, but it sounds like this far into it, there probably would not be a whole lot of Paul left that's recognizable.  I kind of wished I had not researched that.  It just made me feel even more that he is truly gone.  I mean, of course, he's gone.  He doesn't need his earthly body anymore and hasn't for some time, which is why it's rotting away.  But I guess there was some comfort in knowing that it was just underground up the road from my house. 

 

Right after Paul died I ordered the book, Heaven is for Real.  We started reading it as a family but never got around to finishing it.  I know there's been some criticism of that whole story by Christians, but I have always felt like, even before Paul died, that there's a good chance that this book was a gift to us from God -a glimpse of what is waiting for us.  I don't believe the the book was a hoax written by parents hoping to cash in.  Neither do I believe it was Satanically inspired.  So, a couple of weeks ago I ordered the children's version of the book.  My Littles have been so excited by that and I've caught Sam and Lizzie repeatedly poring over the pages.  It makes me want to finish the adult version now.

 

One of the things the book claims is that Jesus meets every new arrival to Heaven.  That thought made me smile as I thought of the morning of June 6, 2013.  Paul went to sleep beside the wife he loved and woke up being embraced by his Lord.  Does it get much better than that?

 

And a side note that truly excites me: about a year ago I wrote about the dream God sent me regarding Paul and Heaven.  It was very vivid and I detailed it all in my blog.  One of the things that I remember from that dream is that Paul told me the walls of Heaven are covered with Scripture.  I had never heard anything like that before so it wasn't like it was some former fragment of memory that made its way into my dream.  Well, I was looking at the illustrations in this Heaven is for Real book and guess what I saw on a page?  The walls of Heaven covered in Scripture! 

 

I totally got goosebumps.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Day 494

DIARY OF AN UNWILLING WIDOW

Oct. 10, 2014

 Day 494

 

A beautiful day outdoors and inside my heart.  I've had a nasty sinus headache all day today, but it's still ok.  This came in today's mail via the Iowa Donor Network:

 

Dear Donor Family,

We are writing to thank you for the kind and generous gift of tissue donation from your loved one.  We are aware it was a difficult decision to make and are truly sorry for your loss.  Your decision to donate has and will make an impact on our 12 year old son's life.  Our son was diagnosed with rapidly progressing scoliosis at the end of the school year.  The hopes for a "normal" summer of swimming, playing, riding bkies, and playing tackle football came to a halt.  Spinal fusion and rod placement was performed only three weeks after we realized that something was "not right" with our son's back.  His recovery from surgery went extremely well.

 

Your donation made our son's surgery a success.  He will be limited in activities for about 6  months and has been able to return to school.  Our son is a smart, loving child who hopes to become a pilot someday.  He is an A honor student and loves anything about airplanes.

 

Interestingly. we were not aware that he was receiving donor tissue during surgery.  We found this out upon discharge from the hospital when they handed us the donor "thank you" card.  Immediately, we felt a sense of gratitude that words cannot express.  Our family will never forget the sacrifice that you had to make.  We are grateful for the gift you gave our child and to our family.  Every time we look at his scar, we will remember the sacrifice that was made.

 

Sincerely,

The Recipient Family

 

The didn't provide a name or address so I'll never be able to write back like I could one of the corneal recipients.  But I will forever treasure this letter.  As I wrote on Facebook, Paul had a number of active sons, too.  I know he'd be delighted to know that his body, no longer needed, is able to help another family's son.

 

I don't know about referring to it as a "sacrifice," though.  It's not like Paul needed his body parts anymore.  The only difficult part about the whole process was answering the myriad of questions from the donor facility within that first hour or so after Paul's death.

 

The way they harvest skin, I was told, is that, with Paul, anyway, they took some from his legs and torso, I believe.  They then treat it with some sort of chemicals and it "grows."  Modern medicine is SO cool sometimes.

 

So, anyway, I'm smiling today.  And Readers - sign up to donate your organs.  There's no reason not to, not when there is such a need.  Paul looked perfectly fine in his casket and there was no way for anyone to tell that he was divested of his eyes, some veins and skin.   And if he hadn't looked fine and we'd had to have a closed casket as a result - that would have been ok, too, since the greater good would have been done.

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Speaking of Paul...I got his grave decorated this week.  When Sam and I were at Hobby Lobby last week we picked out some things.  I threw in a few Halloween decorations, too, since Paul especially enjoyed the holiday.  I'll take those down after the 31st and leave the fall decorations.  I have a friend whose husband died and she told me that every year she places creepy hands and other things around his site because he loved Halloween, too.  I can't quite bring myself to do that.  Honestly, I'm more queasy about Halloween since Paul's death than I ever was before.  I guess once you bury someone death isn't such a light matter anymore.

 

Sam found a little skeleton he wanted to put on the grave, but I just couldn't quite stomach the idea.  All I could think about was Paul decomposing into a skeletal state.  I have no idea where that process is right now.  I have a feeling he's still pretty intact, actually.  But I nixed the skeleton.  Then Sam found some foam spiders so we went with those instead.

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I just received word tonight that my uncle died.  My cousin facebooked me about it.  I'm kind of surprised because he was quite a bit younger than his parents (my grandparents) were when they died.  I guess heredity isn't everything.  I'd like to make it to the funeral, if possible, for my cousins' sakes,  but I'm not sure.  This next week is going to be awfully busy.  The funeral may not even be in the state, anyway.  He hasn't lived here for decades.  I don't know why the news makes me feel sad.  I had no relationship with man at all, other than to know he was my uncle.  But just the same, there is part of me that feels bad.  I suspect some of it is because I'm awfully tired right now.  But also, I'm more sensitive to the subject of death since Paul died.  Anytime anyone goes, it's kind of like rubbing up against those sensitive nerve endings.

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David swapped out the storm door screen for the glass door we use for cold weather.  I was SO impressed by this!  I didn't ask him to do it, but he just took it upon himself and did the job just fine.  He's growing up.

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

Lizzie, on the other hand...I had one morning this week where I had to get out of the house pretty early for an appointment.  I was not real happy when I got up at 6:30 to get Ben fed and off to school to discover the girls curled up together on the couch, playing the ipad!  I shooed them back to bed but it wasn't too much later I heard a crash from their room.  Still, I wasn't overly concerned, until Lizzie came downstairs and let me know her bedroom floor was full of glass now.  She had decided to turn off the fan from her bunk bed, using the pull strings on the contraption. This decision spelled the end for the glass light globe.   The night before she has asked if she got too cold if it was ok if she turned off the fan.  I told her, "sure," thinking she would simply flip the light switch.  No, that would not be illogical - or as much fun.  It's much better to balance precariously on a bed and try-y-y to reach a 5" string dangling underneath rotating blades. 

 
"Well, I did it before!" was her sputtering response when I asked why on earth she thought this was a good and smart decision.  Argh...

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

This week Paul's brother, Michael, shot himself in the leg by accident when a handgun misfired (?) or something.  I'm not sure of all the details.  Will called him and got the details after we learned about the accident on Facebook.  He's going to be fine, but he did break his lower leg and had to have surgery to implant some rods and plates.  Paul would have had such a field day teasing him about this!  Those boys grew up handling firearms from the time they were little guys and so for him to have this accident is really surprising since they are (were) all so skilled at handling them.  But anyway, I was mentioning to Ben that his uncle had been shot by accident.  Ben looked at me and asked, "Well, when is his funeral?"  I guess I wasn't clear enough when telling him the story.  Poor kid. He's so accepting of death now.

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

David had a really, really sore leg, himself (not as sore as Michaels, though, I'm sure) after playing flag football Monday night. I think he said it came into contact with another player's face. It gradually began to feel better over the next couple of days.  David expressed disappointment at that and commented that he wished he had torn a ligament or something just so he could brag about playing "really rough football!"  Oh, brother...

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

Sunday I was driving the Littles to a birthday party when they wanted to know how babies are made.  Why do they want to know about these kind of things when I'm driving?  Or ever?  I gave them my kid-friendly version of the facts of life, but that's not good enough for my scientific, logical, left-brained nearly 7 year old.  From there,  the discussion rapidly moved into  the arena of kissing, since I may or may not have led them to believe that prolonged bouts of that lead to babies.  Lizzie and Sam wanted to know if it's ok to kiss before marriage.  We were talking about that for awhile.  Then Sam said in his very decisive manner, "Well, when I get a girlfriend someday, I'm just going to have certain times I kiss her.  I'm going to need some privacy for that, Mom."  I'll try to  remember that.

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

It's after 11 and I am so, so tired.  I was awake a little bit after 6 this morning with a nasty sinus headache.  I got so tired that I actually fell asleep for about a half hour before supper - unheard of.  I do NOT take naps during the week.  I can't.  I've tried, but it doesn't work.  But it was enough to give me enough oomph to make it this late.  David has a friend staying for a couple of days and Will is home.  We all went to Pleasantville's homecoming game.  They did well - 48 to 6.  Tomorrow is the church's fall festival, which ought to be fun. 

 

It will be Sunday and I'll hit the ground running for another week of life.  My different life.  My busy life.  My good life.

 

 

 

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Day 486

DIARY OF AN UNWILLING WIDOW

Oct. 4, 2014

Day 486

 

Friday

Busy day today...but groceries are taken care of for another month.  I am limping now, though, as a result of my shopping day.  I had so many groceries tonight at Walmart that the clerk suggested we ought to get a second cart after checking out.  Sam was my company today and he was agreeable to pushing one out to the van.  He did, but as we exited the store he ran the cart right over my left heel.  I'd like to say I've never been in so much pain in my entire life, but that's not quite true.  Almost, though.  It isn't really my heel anymore that's hurting as much as it is the joint at the  top of my foot, where it connects to the leg.  I wonder if it got jammed by that sudden assault.

 

It's been a busy week.  Well, they all are, I guess.  But this one has been especially busy.  Actually, this entire month looks kind of insane.  I don't know what it is about fall time that ramps up the schedule.  Maybe it's just the rush before we settle down into our burrows for winter.

 

Last night some friends and I were making 14 pizzas for Deb's son's rehearsal dinner tonight.  I was more than happy to help, but, wow, that took a long time!  I carted them home because I have the most fridge/freezer space and when I got home I had sticky crust dough and sauce on the back of my seats (stow n go seating) in my mini van.  I was so tired already and I had to clean that up, haul the pizzas inside, and get myself to bed.  And then I got a text at 12:30 in the morning!  The beeping of my phone woke me an hour later.

 

It's been kind of a rough week with Ellie, behavior-wise, which wears on me both physically and mentally.  As far as I know, she is a perfectly normal preschooler, cognitively.  But she is worse than I remember Ben being at this age.  And he was terrifying!

 

One day Lizzie pointed out to me slash marks all over the wooden furniture in their bedroom.  It looked like someone had taken a knife, went around the room, nicking furniture rather systematically.  Sure enough, one of Will's knives (a huge one) was out, blade extended.  I called Will about it later and he was shocked.  He didn't know he had left that thing where it was accessible - not that the kids are allowed in his bedroom, anyway.  It had been carefully placed back on his bedside table, but I was pretty confident Will would not leave the blade out like that, which was an indication to me that someone small had been handling it.  I was about shaking when I realized what had happened.  Ellie could have been killed or horribly injured.  I eventually did get her to confess and she was in terrible trouble as a result of her behavior, but how do I keep this from happening again?

 

I've had two "scissor" incidents with her this week, as well.  She isn't allowed to have scissors at all, as a result of previous scissor incidents.  But she found some somewhere and hacked the mane and tail off one of Lizzie's My Little Ponies.  Tonight Lizzie went to bed and discovered, underneath her pillow, the cut hair from her big hairstyling doll.  It was almost creepy.  She picked up her pillow to fluff it for the night, and laying underneath the pillow was all the hair from her doll!  And this is two crimes, actually.  Ellie is not allowed to climb to the top bunk because of her lack of proper fear.  I can't tell you the number of times she has been punished for that very thing.

 

I am at about my wit's end.  I've decided she can't take naps upstairs anymore.  Short of tying her to the bed, I can't get  her to stay in it.  And when she gets out, she does terrible things to other people's things.  I'm just not sure how I'm going to keep her alive and uninjured.  She's a menace to herself.

 

And she's not the only one.  The same day that we had the knife incident, David informed me that he caught Sam and Lizzie riding their bikes down the backyard slide.  Argh...So, we had a long talk about neck and spinal cord injuries and what life would be like as a quadriplegic.

 

Paul was so much better at this type of stuff.

 

There was one side-splitting moment in the midst of all this, though.  The other day when Lizzie discovered her poor, shorn pony, she was, naturally, very upset with Ellie.  She ranted and raved for a bit and then dramatically intoned, "You have brought shame to our family!"  Oh, man, I about died on the spot!  I kept it in, though, and continued to glare at Ellie, but I was biting the insides of my cheek!

 

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

 

I'm just worn out.  I'm honestly not dealing with the depression that I was a month or so ago, anymore, but I am so weary.  I was thinking today that the past 3 years and now this one, have been really grueling years for me for a number of different reasons..  This started before Paul's death.  I'm tired of fighting and trying to hold my head up.  I'm just plain tired, really!

 

The school thing is still on my mind.  Out of the absolute blue, Lizzie said to me this week, "I want to go to school!"  I know I questioned her as to why, but I can't remember what she said now.  But I do remember wondering - is this a sign?  I have not said a single word to her or around her about my thoughts.

 

My thinking up to this point has really been only considering sending Lizzie next year.  Even though he's older, Sam is still kind of my "baby" and I'm not ready to let him go yet.  But we were walking through the mall today and I casually asked him what he thought about the idea of maybe someday going to school.  Sam clasped his hands together and exclaimed, "Oh, I've always wanted to go to school!"  He has?  But I remember when David was about his age he began saying how much he wanted to go to school, too.  After we began to question him, we soon figured out that all he was really interested in was riding a school bus!

 

So Sam and I talked quite a bit today about some of the negative things that could happen in a school setting.  Finally, I told him that perhaps next spring we could visit the local school and sit in on the 2nd grade classroom for a few hours and he liked that idea.

 

I don't know anything right now, though.  I keep thinking of the verse in Galations 6 that encourages us to "not become weary in well-doing..."  Is that all this is?  Am I supposed to keep pressing onward through these tough days in order to not ruin my children and give them the best possible education and upbringing?

 

Or, do I need a break?  Maybe I don't need to look at school as a permanent thing.  Maybe a year is all I need to regain some sense of balance in my life.  I don't know yet.  But there's still plenty of time to pray and seek God's will in this area.  I'm counting on Him providing it!

 

Saturday

 

I just turned the heat on for the first time.  Paul would be calling me a weenie, I think.  He liked to see frost on his toes before cranking on the heat for the first time of the season!

 

I just ran Ben and David over to church so they can go up to Faithfest.  Will is going to be working with Ben all day and then he'll bring the boys home and take Ben down to Knoxville for me for a Special Olympics fundraiser.

 

The Littles and I have the wedding this afternoon.  This will be my second wedding in less than 4 months, also my second since Paul died.  I'll be ok.  I think.  The hardest thing will be keeping the Littles corralled during the event and especially the reception, which will be in our church fellowship room which is a small, cramped space.

 

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

 

I narrowly diverted disaster earlier this week, although I'm still pretty grossed out.  I had bought some crescent rolls and one of the tubes popped open on the counter.  So I had to bake them.  I rolled them up and did that.  I was eating one and, fortunately, bit down kind of softly.  I quickly realized that there was something foreign in my roll.  I spit out my food and discovered...a tooth.  Thankfully, it was not my tooth, though.  Lizzie has been losing teeth right and left lately and she had laid one on the kitchen counter that somehow got mixed into the raw crescent roll dough.  Gross, gross, gross...but it could have been worse.  I could have bit down hard and shattered one of my own fragile teeth.

 

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

There was one morning this week when I experienced something unique.  I got up and as I was running water for my shower I realized, to my surprise, that for the first time in 480some days, I didn't feel sad.  I probed my psyche like one's tongue will search out an empty spot in the mouth and nope - I was good!  It was so different to feel that.  Now, later, the sadness did return to its normal spot in my  heart and I actually felt better when it did.  But that temporary reprieve was so different and gave me hope for a time in my future when I'll feel that on a more regular basis.

 

It's coming.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Day 482

DAIRY OF AN UNWILLING WIDOW

Sept. 28, 2014

Day 482

 

Another Sun. night in paradise...the girls are supposed to be cleaning their room but the noises I am hearing coming from upstairs do not sound promising.  I was up there earlier today looking for Ellie's sandals, which I never did find.  But what I found under their bed was mounds and mounds of stuff - apparently they've been stashing it when they've been ordered to clean.  So it all got pulled out and now they have to clean it up.  This may take a few days, at the rate they are going.

 

Ellie gave me a scare tonight.  I was waiting around after church because David had a meeting for all the workers for the fall festival.  I was keeping a pretty close eye on Ellie, but all it took was one moment of me not hanging onto her arm and she was out the door.  I do not let her play outside because our church is located on a highway and I cannot trust her to not run into traffic.  I finally caught up with her on the other side of the church property - boy, was I mad!  She started bawling as soon as she saw me coming because she knew she was in big trouble!

 

I am toying with the idea of putting Lizzie in school next year.  I wasn't planning to write about this yet.  I guess my frustrations with the girls and their bedroom and Ellie at church brought it up in my mind.  Someone suggested the idea to me a couple of weeks ago and I had honestly never thought about it until then.  But I started mulling over the idea in my mind and honestly, it's really appealing right now!  I have grown to love Lizzie, of course, but she is a difficult child to live with.  I'm sure there are a number of factors at play that make it this way, but those are the facts.  She is hard.  She is hard to  live with, to discipline, and to enjoy.  She's actually not difficult to homeschool because she is an eager learner and very, very bright. 

 

I don't know what I'm going to do yet.  I've got a number of months to pray about this and seek counsel.  Already, I've brought it up with a number of different people, seeking their opinions.  Not one has said, "No, you can't do that!"  I'm fairly certain Paul would not be in favor of the idea, but I'm not living the rest of my life based on what he would or would not do.  He's dead.  I'm not.  I'm just wondering if having a break during the daytime hours would benefit us both.  But then, I have concerns, like:

 

* Lizzie already seems to be much more aware of worldliness (just feminine intuition?  Her early, rough years and exposure to things she should never have seen?).  She's going to be exposed to a whole lot more in a public school setting and might she choose to embrace it instead of the Christian principles I am attempting to instill in her heart?

 

*How can I win her heart if she's gone all day?

 

*Will she suffer academically? What about Common Core?

 

*Will she experience racism attending a nearly all-white school? I doubt this would happen, but as long as I'm coming up with a list of stuff to worry about, I may as well throw it on there.

 

* Will the distance that I perceive between us increase?

 

*What if I have a difficult time with her teacher?

 

* Am I simply experiencing a burnt-out time in homeschooling that will pass if I give it time?  Or, maybe the Lord is leading me away from  homeschooling altogether...

 

 

 

I don't know.  What I do know is that when it was time to send Ben back to public school I felt a perfect peace about the situation, even though I was scared to death.  Paul was actually very in favor of it, too, as I recall.  So maybe he wouldn't be as opposed to this as I think he might be.  With Ben, I was just completely drained, emotionally.  Puberty was a nightmare with him and I am beginning to feel now with Lizzie how I remember feeling with Ben.  I am asking the Lord for that perfect peace, though, that I experienced when I knew that I knew that I knew he had to go back.

 

So, we'll see.  There have been several times in recent weeks that Lizzie has been her normal, trying self and I have thought, "Oh, you are SO going to school next year!"  I'm not saying anything, though.  The last thing I want her to feel is rejected or that school is a punishment for her bad behavior.  I know that as awful as she is, she is equally frustrated by her seeming inability to make good choices.  She frequently comments about how she is "the worst kid in this family!"  We have had many, many talks about how it is all up to her and all she has to do is make wise choices instead of foolish ones, but the bad behavior still persists.  There is always counseling but I have had two bad experiences with counselors already and I am reluctant to try another.

 

All right...I'm going to go put my feminine miscreants to bed and then I'll get back to this.  Ben was no picnic tonight either, so I'm not just picking on the girls, either.

 

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

 

 

Ben went to Iowa City again Wed.  This time they did actual dental work on him.  It was an experiment because we didn't know how he'd do with needles and novacaine and drilling.  I knew full well they might throw up their hands and tell me Ben would have to be sedated for the work.  He was a champ - no problems whatsoever.  That tells me he could have been treated at our office in Pville instead of having to make these time-consuming treks out east.  And these are medical students working with him in Iowa City, not seasoned dentists.  And an actual dentist with a degree in Pville told me there was no way he could work with Ben.  Not that I'm irritated or anything... We go back again on Oct. 15.  I am hoping that's the last trip until we do his wisdom teeth, but I'm not sure.

 

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

 

Speaking of teeth, Lizzie lost another one this week.  It was her other top front tooth, so now she's toothless and adorable!  This was the third tooth she's lost in about as many weeks.  She has another canine tooth that's pretty loose now, as well.  For a couple of weeks Lizzie had this solitary top tooth that hung at an angle because it was so loose. She slurred all her words because that tooth was just in the way.  Will called her a "hick"  when he saw her last weekend (specifically, a "Nebraska  Cornhusker Hick") When she saw him yesterday, she peeled up her lip and exclaimed, "See Will- I'm not a hick anymore!" 

 

The tooth actually came out Thurs. when the Littles spent the day at Jenn's.  I guess James, Lizzie's bio brother, encouraged her to twist the tooth and it popped right out.  Lizzie jumped up and exclaimed, "My mom will be so happy!  Now I can get my picture taken!"  I guess I must have expressed my hope out loud that the tooth would come out by the time we take her birthday pictures in Oct!

 

Of course, now we may have to wait to get Sam's pictures taken.  Jenn took all 8 of the kids to the park and Sam did a face dive off some piece of equipment and scraped up his whole face.  His nose was healing and then tonight in church he accidentally scraped the scab off and now it has to heal all over again.  Sigh...

 

I love taking the kids over to the Merritts.  All those kids absolutely love mine and the feeling is mutual.  James and Lizzie have an especially tight bond.  When we get there, they are in eachothers arms within moments and they are always the last one hugging goodbye.  Then, as we leave, James starts flying down the sidewalk on his long seven year old legs, waving and grinning all the way.  I cannot ever move and take those two away from eachother.  They need one another.

 

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

 

The other day I had some time to kill while David was at Learning RX so I took the Littles to the play area at Valley West.  Oh my goodness, they poor children must be deprived.  They were SO excited and couldn't keep exclaiming when they realized where I was taking them, "You are the best mommy, ever!  Thank you SO much!" and so on.  I just sat there reading my kindle while they played.  After awhile Lizzie bounced over to where I was  and her face was luminous.  She explained that she had been attempting some sort of jump or trick on the play things and, "I prayed to God to help me do it and He DID!  I thought God just answered prayers in the Bible times but He answered me!"

 

My emotions were so  torn right then.  Part of me wanted to do a face palm because I would hope that most of my parenting is geared toward helping the kids realize that God is real and relevant in their own lives.  Has she missed that in the 2 plus years I've had her?  But on the other hand, I was thrilled.  God is becoming real to Lizzie and as her mom, that excites me.

 

Now, of course, there will come a day when she doesn't make the jump.  Or she doesn't get the pony for her birthday that she prayed for.  Or, the part in the school play goes to someone else or a young man breaks her heart.  God's presence will need to be even more real to her when He gives her a different answer than the one she prayed for.  But for right now, in her 5 year old little world, we're going to enjoy the moment and say, "Yes, God DID hear your prayer and wasn't that wonderful of Him to allow you to make the jump?!"

 

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

I think a post or two ago I wrote some about the current senate and gubernatorial races going on in the state.  I'm not going to belabor the point, but I do have a couple of funny, related stories.

 

So, I mentioned that I am voting for Branstad.  I'm not bowled over by his performance, but he's not terrible, either.  I definitely don't want his opponent to win, and like I said, voting for third party candidates is usually pointless.  Well, 4 years ago I did vote for a third party candidate (Jonathan Narcisse).  I got a call this week from his campaign - he's running again - asking if they could come put a sign in my front yard again.  I felt kind of guilty knowing for whom I've already decided to vote, but told them, "sure!"  I'm not sure what kind of hypocrite that makes me.  David found out and said, "So let me get this straight.  You're voting for Branstad, right?"

 

"Um, hm"

 

"But you're putting a Narcisse sign in our yard?"

 

"Yep."

 

"You make no sense whatsoever, Mom."

 

Probably not.

 

Straight No Chaser, the accapella group (is that their name?  I always get the order of their name words mixed up because they don't make sense to me) re-recorded Dolly Parton's famous song from the seventies, "Jolene."  It's a pretty cool version of it.  Dolly even did this one with them.  We were listening to it in the van the other day and Lizzie said, "I didn't know they made a song about Joni Earnst!"  Poor kid has been watching way too many political commercials!

 

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

Will came home yesterday.  I had a list of things for him to fix, which he did.  He couldn't figure out the fridge, though.  I've been having some on-going trouble with the ice-maker and last week the freezer itself quit freezing for a few hours.  I don't know if they are separate or related problems.  I may have to call someone about that, but I am not sure who to talk to.  Paul would have known just what to do - grr....

 

He had me edit a paper he wrote for his Personal Evangelism class.  Oh, it was just like old times when he took his writing classes at the school a few years ago!  I love doing that kind of thing.  I helped him firm up the paper, but actually had very little to correct, grammar and punctuation-wise.  He is a good writer all by himself.  I'll be curious to see what kind of grade we get on it!

 

Then, he took Ben to the Des Moines symphony last night.  He was killing two birds with one stone - providing respite for Ben, for which he gets paid, and fulfilling one of the requirements for his music appreciation class at Faith.  Will is really struggling with that class.  He  has been telling me that and I immediately started feeling guilty that we were never able to provide more than a year of music lessons for him.  But then he told me everyone in the class is having trouble and it probably  has more to do with the professor than anything.  That made me feel better.

 

The guys got home around 10 and I asked them how they enjoyed it.  Ben just shook his head and went off to bed.  Will groaned and said, "I almost fell asleep.  This class is totally going to ruin any of my previous enjoyment of classical music!"  Ha, ha...I remember struggling in my classical music class at UNI.  I had 8 years of piano as a child but it sure didn't help me in the class.  I just found classical music so dry.  Now, 25 years later,  there is some I enjoy, but honestly - not a lot.  I guess I'm just not highbrow enough.  I like a beat and lyrics.  Bring out the fried chicken and lemonade in a red plastic cup.   That's who I am!

 

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

Well, that's all I had to write about for now.  It will be another busy week.  I'm on the hunt for a new front door.  After all the work I went to, stripping and repainting, I've decided to just replace the whole thing.  The paint just doesn't look all that great.  I want to start over.  Plus, with getting the new siding up soon, I want the door to match what I presume will be a nice-looking exterior.  I found what I want at Lowe's yesterday, but I don't want to pay $300 for a new front door, either.  So tomorrow Sam has an eye appt and I think we'll head over to the Habitat for Humanity Restore store and see what they have.

 

Thursday night a bunch of us are getting together to help my friend, Deb, make pizzas for her son's wedding rehearsal dinner Friday night.  The whole wedding planning by the bride leaves a lot to be desired and the other night at church Deb was about to have a break-down over this, I think.  So several of us told her we'd help her get this thing put on.  I'm going to bake some bars for the event, too. This is what I love about our church family and it feels good to be on the "giving" side of things for a change.  Saturday, the Littles and I will attend the wedding while Ben and David are at Faithfest in Ankeny. 


But I'm sure a whole lot of other stuff will happen between now and then! And before I know it, another week of surviving without Paul will have occurred.  I've noticed that I kind of view Sundays with a sense of relief anymore and I think it's because of the whole "survival" thing.  Every week that I make it is a week that I am stronger and more ready for a future without him.  Maybe it's called progress.

 

Or just survival.