Saturday, January 31, 2009

Blogging Can Be Hazardous

I am very close to having things ready in my head for my next post - has to do with music I enjoy. Today Paul and I were in Menards. We went there to return some tracking stuff for the new kitchen ceiling and found that trim was on sale so we were trying to remember where all we need it in the house and how much was needed. Well, that gets boring after awhile. So my mind shifted to this blog I am mentally working on. I needed to run to the bathroom and told Paul I'd be back in a minute. So, I'm walking along, deep in thought, which is probably never a good thing. I went into the bathroom and had the thought, "Now, those sure are some funny looking sinks!" when it dawned on me that those weren't sinks at all! I beat a hasty retreat out of the men's room, thankful that I hadn't surprised any unsuspecting customer.

By the time I got back to Paul and the trim the humor of the situation had struck me and I couldn't wait to share with him what had happened. I wasn't prepared for the look of horror that crossed his face! Breaking the sanctity of a men's' room must be a big deal because when I told the story to Will later he got the same look on his face and said, "Mom, do you know they have cameras there?!"

So you all better appreciate my next post, knowing where it unintentionally led me!

Friday, January 30, 2009


Friday again... almost 10 pm. I should be in bed. But, I have spent all day painting my living room for the 4th time in 4 years. And I don't even like to paint! But I just can't make up my mind about colors. This is the absolute last time I will ever paint that room, though, unless we end up living here the rest of our lives. Then I might do it in 10 years or so. I'm going back to boring beige because I think it will make the room look bigger. Plus, light colored walls hide imperfections better (I like to think anyway) and goodness knows, that blasted panelboard that is up all over has plenty of imperfections! I tried to cut one out with a jip knife today but I just traded one bad spot for another. I am going to do the back wall in a barn red for some color in there. I do love color, which is probably why I paint so much.

But I don't like to paint. I have to wear icky, old, clothes that are stiff with remnants of other projects. It gets all over my hands and dries them out and my kids laugh at me because they say I have "gray" hair, which I suppose is better than the times I have had blue, red, and lime green hair. I have to pull out furniture which is mentally upsetting to work around. But yet, I suspect it is something I will be doing the rest of my life...

Spent quite a bit of time on the computer today visiting with an old acquaintance who is now a friend. We seem to be on the same wavelength about a lot of things - you know, the moody, artistic wavelength!

Did get a little bit of schooling done with the boys, in between things. I am giving up having Ben try to write in his language book. Instead, we just talked about what was being presented and he gave me his answers verbally. His therapist seems to be suggesting more and more that we stick to keyboarding with him. He just may never be able to write. Of course, I'll have to teach him to type then! I just think not being able to write is going to really handicap him. How will he make lists, write notes, or jot down ideas? He can sign his own name, which is something - of course, it's in letters 1" high, though!

I'm thinking I have one of the smartest toddlers out there. Ah, actually Will might have been a little brighter at this age, now that I think about it. I remember him being able to give animal sounds at 14 months. But anyway, Sam has started to say "hot" and back away from the wood burner and oven. Today I opened up the oven door and he said, "Ah-ee" which is "owie". Will has been better at signing with Sam than I have been and he claims that Sam is now signing "hot" but I haven't seen it. He was really good about staying away from my paint trays today, except for the time he stepped in one. He loves the little stepladder we have in the living room right now - climbs right up that thing. He did fall off at one point, though, today. He's a tough little dude. Right now he's got an awful rash all over his belly - I'm thinking it is eczema. He has bothered with that off and on since birth. All the boys had it to some extent, but his is definitely the second worst. And he's got a big old scrape going down from one knee to his ankle!

Tomorrow we meet with Pastor again. I'm not sure exactly what there will be to talk about because Ben hasn't really been all that difficult lately. Maybe it's because I have really been trying to view life through his perspective. And maybe it's because a lot of people have been praying for us. I feel horrible though because Pastor gave me a cd to listen to of a doctor whose own son is autistic. She did an incredible job of presenting this disorder from both the medical and spiritual standpoint. She just wrote a book that I want to order. But I can't find the cd! I am just sick over this. I had it two weeks ago when we finished listening to it and now it is nowhere to be found. At times like this it would be nice to be Catholic so I could pray to St. Anthony. Oh, wait - I guess I can pray anyway! I knew that...just my lame attempt at humor. Seriously, though, I hope I find that thing. But yet, my keys have been missing since the first Friday in November, so I am not all that hopeful at recovering this cd. If I can't find a ring of keys with a 4" long hot pink fob, what are the chances of finding a cd in a clear case?

Well, I should be able to put the final coat on the section of wall I am working on now. Then I'm taking a bath and scrubbing all this paint off! I'm hopeful that I will finish the room tomorrow, but we shall see. I think Paul plans to take down the other half of the kitchen ceiling. I'm kind of dreading that.

Thursday, January 29, 2009


Yesterday I put down Ben's lunch on the table and intoned to him, "Eat, Drink and be merry!" David overheard and said, "Yeah, Ben - eat, drink and then get married!" Kind of struck my funny bone...

The sun is out, which warms my soul. This winter, for some reason, has really been wearying to me. Last year was a harder winter, weather-wise, as I recall - more snowfalls, anyway, I think. But I am so anxious for spring! Maybe last year I didn't notice things so much because of being mentally dazed and sleep deprived. Plus, I was dealing with the whole vasectomy thing so there was probably a part of me trying to hold on to each and every one of Sam's baby days since there won't be any more of those coming my way. But now - I want spring! I want to hear the birds chirping, get out my short sleeved clothes, open the windows...

Paul had his shop meeting today. Things are still going well for his employer. His boss used the word "blessed" today to refer to their business, at least compared to other heating and air places in the metro. I guess quite a few have had to lay off workers. Things are slowing down, but that has more to do with the time of year. Paul's struggling to get 40 hours a week right now, but we're learning that's normal for later in the seasons. August was like this for us last year, so this isn't unexpected. It's kind of "feast or famine" in this business, which is ok, as long as we are prudent during the "feast" times!

I listed to Focus on the Family yesterday. They had Ron Blue on there. He said in his 40 years as a financial advisor he has never seen times like we are headed into now. It's scary to hear things like this because I don't want to suffer. Our savings account is pretty meager and I wonder what will happen to us. He said it is so important to spend less and save more. I'm trying, but it seems like we cut it pretty close to the bone anyway! Then earlier yesterday I ended up having an interesting conversation with 2 women in the waiting room at Blank Pediatric therapy. The one I have talked to quite a bit and knew she is a Christian. The other I didn't know that until yesterday. In fact, she was telling me that her husband applied to FBBC and was turned down because of divorces in their past. She was rather put out over that. I kept my mouth shut on that. But anyway it was interesting. The one believes that this digital tv is being pushed on us in order that the govt. can watch us through our tv sets. Really? Seems kind of Orwellian to me! She's also against direct deposit because of the same thing. I think if the govt wants to know what's in my bank account they can find that out even if I don't use direct deposit! (I do use it). She was kind of funny, though. She is a black lady but did not vote for Obama. Her husband did, though. She said her husband got a calendar of Obama and every day she turns that thing around so his smiling face is against the wall, and every night her husband turns it around again! Both women professed to believe that a famine is coming upon us. I sure hope not. I really like to eat and don't want to lose any more weight...

Anyway, today I'm feeling a bit unsettled in my spirit and I think it's because of those two things - talking with those women yesterday and then hearing the FOF broadcast. It's kind of upsetting to know that things are changing and not for the good. It makes me wonder if we will get to extreme conditions like what were experienced in the Great Depression. But I don't think anyone alive today is really prepared to be able to endure the kind of harships that would present. But what's the alternative - suicide? Jan Mikelson (WOW radio) was talking about that this morning, the news reports of people killing their families and themselves in the face of the faltering economy. But, it's nice to know that we won't be alone. God does know what's going on and I keep thinking of that verse in the Old Testament where I think it's the prophet Jeremiah says, "I have been young and I have been old, and I have yet to see God's children begging for bread." I'd rather be more comfortable though!

I heard more of Carol Everett on Family Life Today. I remember when she first got out of the abortion industry and came and spoke at our high school. Now it's 20+ years later and the pain is still evident in her voice.

Paul called me today and told me a quote by Ruth Bell Graham he had heard, "Marriage is a union of two great forgivers." He said he thought that was particularly applicable to me - as if I ever have a problem with forgiving! :)

Speaking of Paul, I'm trying not to be irritated with his brain. He actually looked at my blog the other night. He said he doesn't "get" it, although he did like my post describing himself and the boys. And he read all the comments by others. He says I write an awful lot and he didn't think my post on abbreviating words was funny at all. I shouldn't be surprised. I will read him funny things, like out of Reader's Digest and he just looks at me blankly. But he thinks knock knock jokes are hilarious. He said it is the same thing as if he were to show me a furnace he had just fixed. I wouldn't understand a thing he had done. It doesn't mean it was done badly, but it is just out of my realm of understanding. So apparently, my thoughts are too lofty for him, he is saying... But he did say he would read other posts if I point them out to him. I'm not sure I want him to. I keep telling myself that we are just different people, but I guess I didn't realize how badly I wanted him to understand me through my writing until he tried - and couldn't.

Well, I need to get some rolls made for supper, some wet clothes put in the dryer, and some more schoolwork done with the boys. A nap sounds good, but isn't going to happen!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Sturdy Midwestern Stock

Posted by PicasaI wanted a picture of one my ancestors for this blog, but I don't have any. This is actually Paul's great grandmother on her wedding day. I'm sure she was of sturdy Midwestern stock, too!

I love that phrase, "sturdy Midwestern stock." It conjures up pictures of my hale and hearty forebears, women who broke the unforgiving land with their dreamer husbands and carved the way for generations of other Midwestern women to follow. It also makes me think of stew on a winter's day and the flank of a milking cow, but I think I'll stick with my first thoughts for this piece! I imagine these women as almost Paul Bunyan-esque in stature and deeds. I can see one giving birth - to twins, probably -in the the morning, cooking up a dinner for the threshing crew that was helping to bring in the crops, putting up 3000 quarts of tomatoes that afternoon, digging a new fruit cellar by evening, and possibly shooting a stray Indian or two that might have wandered onto her land before nightfall. Her skin would be weathered and eyes permanently crinkled from the unrelenting sun of the summer and harsh winter winds in the winter. She would have laundry flapping on the clothesline, two pies sitting in the window of her simple clapboard house, a flock of chickens pecking in the dirt, an unmarked grave or two out back for her babies that didn't survive, and a made-from-scratch dinner ready for her man and sons when they came in from the fields. She faced the uncertain future without flinching, didn't waste time on tears, and embodied the word "grit."

This is where I am supposed to say that her strong and proud blood still runs through my veins today, that all she possessed has been passed down and is evident in my own character. After all, I'm still a Midwestern girl. I'm raising my family now and am the age that my great grandmothers would have been when experiencing some of the things I mentioned. But...I can't lay claim to such things because ... I'm a weenie!

What a difference a few generations can make! I admit it - there is nothing too sturdy about me. If the temperature gets much above or below 70 degrees, it can ruin my day. I could not live without my dishwasher, food processor, vacuum or washing machine. I had all my babies relatively pain-free, thanks to a wonderful 20th century invention called the epidural. In my opinion, that is what birth was meant to be! I would not be caught dead in calico. I consider "roughing it" to be when my family I go to a campsite (electrical hook-up only, please) and brave the elements from behind the walls of our fiberglass camper, complete with stove, fridge, air conditioner and plumbing. I have no interest in growing a garden, let alone spending hours in a hot kitchen cutting up and preserving the fruit of my labors. I figure that's why grocery stores got invented. I refuse to drive a vehicle that doesn't heat or cool to my specified preferences. I'm not about to go grinding up herbs and making poultices to treat our illnesses. I just pour out a spoonful of medicine or better yet, head to Urgent Care. I'm not too fond of our cats and dog - there's no way you could get me to care for livestock. I suppose I'm just a bit spoiled!

It's one thing to have the luxury of living a life like what is available to us now. There's nothing wrong with appreciating the advances of technology. But one thing I hope that hasn't changed is some intestinal fortitude. I like to think that I have the same determination and strength of character that my great grandmothers evidenced. Not knowing them, I don't know. I can only guess. I don't think of myself as a particularly strong person and when I envision some of the horrible things in life that could happen, like losing a child to death, widowhood, or having my house burn down the mere thought just makes me quake. But maybe it did to them, too. However, when the hard times came, they found the strength to continue on. And I hope that is part of my character as well.

The best part is knowing that it isn't up to me. One thing I have, that I'm not sure if my great grandmothers did, is the knowledge that my strength comes from God. Left on my own, I will fail. I will fall down trembling in the face of some of life's more brutal realities and, but for the Lord's strength, I probably won't get up again. God gives us strength as we need it, during our time of need, when we are most helpless. That I know and that knowledge gives great comfort. Fortunately, I'm probably never going to need that strength to run a farm or to shoot Indians, though!

2 Corinthians 12:9 And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness..."

Monday, January 26, 2009


Oh, what a busy trio of days I have had! I even got a new post inspiration Sat. and it's still floating around in my head. When I do get time to write it, I just hope I can remember all the wonderful thoughts I had!

Paul took down half the kitchen ceiling Sat. What a mess. 150 years of dirt and grit fell down, covering everything. I just am so tired of the never ending work on this house. He's really discouraged, too. He just doesn't have the energy he used to to do the work that this old of a house requires. I remember our last house and how cute it finally looked at the end, right before we sold it. But I'm really despairing that we will ever get to that point with this one. We just don't know what to do as far as staying here. Do we move and hope we can sell this house for a profit or should we go ahead and start on a basement (and then the question is, do it ourselves or hire it out?). We have to have more room but yet I don't want to be in a position of not being able to afford our mortgage and me having to go back to work. So many questions. And then our van is going crazy. Mechanically, it works great - still starts on the coldest of mornings. But everything electrical in it, the locks the wipers, doors are on the fritz. Today I got out at the store, deliberately left it unlocked and moments later it locked itself. I was in a panic and called Paul and he reminded me that I had his door key in my purse. The only lock it would open was the back hatch. So I had to climb through the entire van and push open the one door that will actually open. And then the key got stuck in the lock and it is still there. But anyway, we had a discussion about the van yesterday, trying to figure out what to do. We don't have thousands set aside for a new vehicle so we'd have to get some sort of loan, which I hate to do. But we have to have something reliable and when I'm getting locked out of my own van, it's not reliable! And then the question is - do we sell this van as is or invest the time and $ to fix it and then sell it for more? But if Paul spends his time working on the van, he won't be working on my house. So, round and round we go. Oh, and then - what do we look for? With all my heart, I want an SUV. I love the way they look - very sporty and very non-soccer mom-ish. But I don't know if they make them big enough for our family size. The boys aren't getting any smaller. And then I wonder how they compare, gas mileage. So, it's a lot to consider.

And now Paul is saying he'd like to go away overnight for our anniversary next month, since last year's trip was kind of a bust. But I don't feel like planning yet another trip, as well as finding places for all the boys to spend the night. But if he'd do all the work, then I'd be willing! We really do need some time away from the boys. Yesterday, tempers got a little short, to the point that Will had to ask me to "please not fight on the way home from church" because his friend would be coming home with us for the afternoon. How pathetic is that that he has to ask that of his own parents? What a poor example we are setting for our children! My parents never fought in front of us kids, which gave us plenty of security. David asked if we were getting a divorce - poor little kid. I didn't even know they could hear us! I just felt wretched. Paul woke me up at 4 this morning and said he was so sorry and I appreciate that, although apologies are good in the waking hours, too! It's just the stress from the house situation, the van situation, and of course, the eternal never-enough-money situation. I think Satan has been working overtime and he seems to particularly pick on us on Sundays, I have noticed!

Twice this weekend Ben burst into wailing. But this time it was different. Before when he has done that it has usually signified to me that he is overly tired. But each of these times he assured me that something really was wrong and was able to articulate what he was feeling and we were able to talk about it with him. I am thinking that this is just pure adolescent mood swings. I remember Will being a little weepy when he was about the same age, too. I'm actually encouraged by some of the things we were able to talk about with Ben this weekend. Maybe we are poised on the edge of a breakthrough with him, because things have been so difficult for the past few months, especially.

Today I visited a new chiropractor. I was pleasantly surprised by him, how thoroughly I was questioned and the care shown. They are a cash-only office, which may be ok, though. They will provide forms for insurance reimbursement so I am going to call our ins. company tomorrow and see what they will cover. I am hoping this dr. can help with the last bit of healing from my stroke. I am very interested in seeing if he can help Ben with his continual allergy problems. But, unfortunately, it will depend on our insurance. He is up in Ankeny, which is a good 40 min. drive for me - a drawback. But he reminds me so much of a naturopath we went to in Harlan before we moved and I'd really like to be under the care of someone schooled in that, esp. for Ben.

Time to pop the pizzas in the oven. Sam is stinky and it's gotten to the point I can stand it anymore (imagine how he must feel!). Hopefully I can get back to the computer tonight and jot down my thoughts on how I am such a weenie!

Friday, January 23, 2009


Brr! I'm cold again! That north wind is buffeting us today and bringing in some "bitterly cold weather" as the weather people seem to delight in informing us. I am convinced that if we didn't know how cold/hot it was in degrees, we wouldn't be bothered quite so much by the weather. It's just like the daily reports on how bad the economy is. But that's a topic for a different day...

I had to get up before 6 this morning to get Paul up to Ames. He's been taking part in an epilepsy drug study since last spring. I'm trying to remember why we agreed to this. But since he drives a company van, we think it prudent that he not drive it up there, so I always have to take him up. He's been dragging so much since his 84 hour work week at Christmas. The dr. pointed out that that was about the time he started a new med. dosage. So, we're going to adjust that. If he's still this way by our next visit in 8 weeks, then he's going to have some thyroid testing done. But you know, every weekend since Christmas we have had something going on. Now, the calender is wide open so maybe that will help, too. Of course, if I quit nagging him to get the work done on my house, that might help as well! But I can't do that!

I ran a bunch of errands in Ankeny - found my new living room drapes on sale at Menards. I only spent $40 for 2 panels and 2 sheers. I had priced them in the Penneys catalog and thought I'd have to spend at least $100. Of course, they were out of my first color choice, but I can live with my second choice for that much savings. Now Paul has to get the wall done so I can actually hang the curtains!

I went to lunch with Kirsti and Jake, which was good. I hadn't seen them since before Christmas. I had so many things I wanted to tell K but with our time constraints and the boys, it was just impossible. Jake was an angel, but Sam had enough of his high chair and that was it. Our next get together will be sans children, that's for sure! I came home with half my burger and Will, Ben, and David fell on it like starving African children. They have a way of making me feel very guilty for getting lunch out without them!

I also went to Kohls and found a new winter coat for David on clearance - still more than I wanted to pay, though. Does anybody really pay $100+ for their kids' coats? That just seems outrageous to me. We have had a bad year for coats. I bought Ben a new one last fall - a Columbia, even - and it fell apart before Christmas. Fortunately, I was able to return it and then, in the meantime, Paul's sister had found one for Ben at a garage sale. But this week the zipper on David's broke, too. I looked at Kohls and Target unsuccessfully for a red and a white long sleeved tee or turtleneck for Sam - nothing. He has a couple of cute overalls that he can't wear until I find matching tops to go underneath them. I'll scout around tomorrow at the mall, but I'm not feeling too optimistic at this point.

Tomorrow Ben has Kid's Club, which is respite care for sp. needs kids. It's out in Johnston, a good 40 min. drive from here. They are going swimming. That makes me a little nervous because Ben tends to lose his swim trunks when swimming. He's so skinny that they fall right off his hips. As Mom, I can keep an eye out for that. In addition, when he dresses himself, he doesn't pay attention to how things lay and it's not uncommon for him to just yank on clothing, whether it be swim trunks, pjs or underwear and have them all rolled up and half his derriere exposed. I have a feeling he's going to be flashing himself tomorrow. Ugh! I wish I could everywhere with him for the rest of his life.

Well, I need to scoot. Paul has been hinting that he'd like to eat steak and I know I have a few in the freezer. I need to call the bank, see what this payday deposit was and figure up our $ for the next two weeks. I also need to make a menu and grocery list for shopping on Monday. And I have to run Will out to church at 6. They're going to a b-ball game and a family's house afterwards. One of us will have to pick him up at 11. I'm voting for Paul on that one!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Becoming an "Older Woman"

Titus 2: 3 - 4 "The older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior...that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children..."

I'm not that old. I'm still on the friendly side of 40. But I have been a mom for awhile. However, I have never felt like I had much to offer to younger moms because it seems like I started over with each child. Each had such a distinctive personality and different needs that the knowledge I gained with the brother before him didn't seem to have much application to the new one. But a few weeks ago I had an experience that really touched me and made me feel that perhaps I do have something to offer now, gained through my 14+ years of parenting.

A couple of times a month I work in a local MOPS group. MOPS is a wonderful organization. It was started sometime in the 1970s by a woman named Elisa Morgan. The purpose was to bring together moms with young children, let them have a place of commonality and teach them Biblical mothering and marriage skills. I began attending when Will was 2 and Ben was a newborn. The group was an absolute sanity saver for me. During those early months of Ben's life I was on auto-pilot, trying to care for his many needs, while grieving the loss of the baby I thought I was going to have. I was active in MOPS for a number of years, rarely missing meetings. I eventually rose to a couple of leadership positions within the group and I'm still using the skills I learned from that. So when the opportunity to work in a local MOPS group arose this past year, I jumped at the chance. Plus, they're paying me $40 a month to do so, which definitely sweetens my incentive for helping!

A few weeks ago one of the moms dropped off her 3 year old, Timmy (yes, I changed his name - no use getting people mad at me if I can avoid it). Timmy was NOT happy that Mom was leaving him. He screamed and hollered, hanging onto her pant leg. She pried him off and made a mad dash for the door. We didn't know what to do with him (by "we" I am referring also to my 18 year old home schooled helper. He says he's 18, anyway. To me, he looks like he could be a 30 year old linebacker. I bet he started shaving when he was 8. But, I digress...) so we sat him down on a chair. Timmy just got angrier and angrier. His little fists were clenched and he literally shook and turned purple in the face. It was clear to me that this was temper and I figured the best thing to do was to ignore it. Well, this went on for a good hour and eventually Timmy's mom came to check on him. That wasn't such a good move and I inwardly groaned when she stepped into the room. She was appalled at how horribly her son was behaving and removed him from the room. I could hear her making all sorts of promises to little Timmy if he'd only behave himself. About this time I had to leave the room for a few minutes. When I came back, Timmy's mother had Timmy in another room, while she tried to hold the door shut against his 3 year old fury. I'm not quite sure what she was trying to accomplish there. She probably didn't either at that point. As I drew closer I could see she was crying. "I don't know what to do!" she sobbed out loud.

I don't think I had ever been in this kind of position before - one where I could offer assistance because of previous experience. I drew close to her and I told her, "I have been there and it will be ok." I told her how when I used to attend MOPS, Ben would start wailing when I turned onto a certain street that led us to the church. He wouldn't stop until after I had deposited him in the nursery and walked away. I would hurry down that hallway, his shrieks echoing after me, thinking I was the worst, most selfish mom in the world, to force him into that nursery just so I could do something for myself. But I needed to be there. I needed the fellowship of the other moms and the teaching I would get every week. And that's what I told this mom. I said, "I will take care of Timmy. You go. You need to be here at MOPS." After a little more persuasion, Timmy's mom went back to class and I carried Timmy into my 3 year old room. And in time, he did eventually get over his tantrum and was very pleasant for rest of the morning.

I left MOPS that day feeling so good. It was a reminder to me that God doesn't waste a hurt or a single experience he allows into our lives. I may still be young,age-wise(or at least be able to delude myself into believing so for awhile longer!) but I do have some life experiences now that I can use to encourage and lift up others with. And it's something I find myself looking forward to being able to do even more with the passage of time.


It's Thursday. I'm glad because I don't have to go anywhere today. I'm still fighting this cold. I always tell myself, during sickness, that I will never take feeling good for granted again. But then I get better and do - human nature, I guess. Although, I do have to say, to my credit, that I think I complain less now about physical things after the year I had last year. Every day was such a struggle for so long after having the stroke. I got used to feeling bad. But then, eventually I did start to feel better and was fine up until my kids shared this cold with me. Just now I read a chapter out of our book on George Muller to them and I didn't know if I'd be able to finish the chapter - diminished lung capacity, I guess.

I look crummy, too. I had better do something with my hair before Paul gets home. He'll take one look at me and go screaming into the night. Will just leaned over my shoulder, read this, and commented, "Mom, you look the same as you do every other day." Maybe I'll go screaming into the night...

I'm going to send the boys out after lunch. Will is being awfully ornery toward his brothers and I'm tired of hearing David hollering about it. Maybe they can go sledding or play basketball or something and get it out of their system.

Back to my schedule...

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Texting to Success

Like a lot of people, old and young, alike, my teenage son, Will, has a Facebook account. He's on there every day, chatting back and forth with his friends. I usually have no reason to snoop around on his account, but sometimes I can't help but see exchanges between he and his friends. It's all innocent stuff, but takes some deciphering to figure out what it is they are saying. For example, last night he was visiting with a friend. This is what appeared on the screen:

Friend: "r u comin over fri nite?"

Will: "m plannin 2 b there I hope"

Friend: "u hope?"

Will: "jk - i will b there 4 sure"

Friend: "lol!"

Or something like that.

Now, I'm not so old that I don't know and even use some computer abbreviations myself. I'd much rather type "lol" rather than "I'm laughing out loud here as I sit reading the amusing comment you just wrote!" And being an informed parent, I have even read articles that show up from time to time in my women's' magazines with translations for the abbreviations you might see on your kids' computer screens. I should say I have read the articles, but I don't remember them - I'm too old to learn a second language. And I never had a need to know. Until recently, my boys only ever used the computer for playing Madden football.

I'm not sure, but I think a lot of the popularity for these shortened words has sprung from the advent of texting. Now, texting is something I am not interested in doing at all. Whenever we renew our cell plan coverage, I am always asked if I want texting capability on my phone. To me, a cell phone is just that - a phone - for talking. I see people walking around, shoulders hunched and thumbs flying while they communicate back and forth. I'm waiting for one of them to walk into a wall while doing that. I'm sure it's happened many times already! To me, texting looks hard. Those buttons are awfully tiny and quite frankly, my thumbs are not. So that's one trend I will happily pass on. But I can see the need for using as short and as few words as possible when doing so. But typing on the computer is something totally different, I would think. I can type pretty fast and I bought a program for Will last year so that he could learn to type fast, too. If one knows how to type well, then why the need for abbreviating even the simplest of words?

I suppose it's kind of cute. I remember when I was a schoolgirl, passing notes with my friends, we thought we were awfully clever to substitute the numeral 4 for the word "for." But I have to wonder what this could lead to.

My Will is not a writer, even under coercion. He will have an assignment in his English text that asks him simply to write a descriptive paragraph about something fun he did last summer. More often than not, I'll be checking his work and I'll come across this. Instead of the expected paragraph I find penciled in his lazy scrawl, "camped." Now, I'm sure you can see why I have a problem with this. It's obviously not a paragraph. Nor is it descriptive. Nor is it capitalized or punctuated. So, I'll call him over to correct it and point out why it doesn't exactly fulfill the assignment requirements. I'll tell him to get out a piece of paper and to fill half the paper with a good, descriptive paragraph about camping.

"A whole half?!"

"Yes, Will - half the paper."

"Well, can I do every other line?"

I have accepted that this child will probably never be an English teacher, but it shouldn't be like pulling teeth to get him to write. I attempt to point out to him that learning to write is essential. Often, a person's first impression of another is how well they are able to express themselves on paper, whether it be a job application or a college entrance essay. Almost every job out there requires some bit of writing. Even my husband, a blue collar worker, has to write up summaries of what he does at each job. So, it is imperative that the kids learn how to do this. The growing popularity of abbreviated language is not making my job any easier!

Four years from now Will will be high school senior. I have visions of him sending in a message to the admissions board of a college:

"i would like 2 go 2 ur school plz"

But who knows. Maybe he'll get reply back,

"That would be gr8! cya soon!"

I won't be LOL.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Complaining in Perspective

For Christmas, my boys got a Wii. It keeps them occupied and I like the total physical involvement it creates with the sports games. They have game "tickets" they can use throughout the day and it's going pretty well. There haven't been any major fights and the baby has only gotten knocked over a couple of times by arms swinging the controllers. If it were up to them, they'd play it all day long. But I have this funny rule about how school trumps Wii time and if I say it's time to do a certain subject they have to pause their game and come do it. Such was the case this morning. David willingly paused his game to do math facts with me. Well, Will came through the room, saw the game was on and turned it off, not knowing that David had his game paused. When David found that out, you would have thought the world had just collapsed. He went on and on about the injustice of it. Honestly, he had this event ranked up there right alongside black slavery and the Cherokee Trail of Tears!

I'd been doing some complaining on my own today - not aloud, but in my head. I caught a cold and it finally erupted last night. I have the stuffy head, sore throat - the whole works. I have a zit on my jawbone. At 37, I thought my zit days were over! I'm not happy about our new president. I sure wish Paul would get the work on this house done. I'm tired of looking at drywall. And I need a bigger house anyway. And our van is falling apart. It's about to cross the 200,000 mile mark and the automatic sliding door quit working last weekend - it's joining the passenger side door handle, back wiper, and windshield wiper fluid pump who are all also protesting the fact we are still driving this van - still drivable, but more of a pain to do so. I have lots to moan and groan about. And let's not forget my missing keys and my super busy day tomorrow - more reasons yet to moan!

But... I don't have any reason to complain, not really. Not if I'm honest with myself. A cold? Good grief. I have a girlfriend my age that has been battling cancer for 3 years. A zit? Give me a break. And even my house and poor van - I have more luxury in owning those 2 items than 75% of the world has today. The reason my keys are missing is because we have been blessed with a curious toddler and I wouldn't trade that for anything. And my busy day tomorrow? Thank God I have the freedom and energy to get up and to the things that need to be done. And even with this inauguration today - a friend pointed out to me how fortunate we are to live in a country where the transfer of power is done peaceably and without bloodshed. Even if we don't agree with the new leadership, we still have the freedom to speak our mind about it without fear of arrest or torture.

Poor David and his video game. I think I need to sit down with him and explain just how good he really has it.

Philippians 2:14-15 "Do all things without complaining and disputing that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world."

Inaugaration Day

Feeling a bit grumpy today. I caught Sam and Ben's colds and spent a restless night - now achy and stuffy. It's January!

I have managed to keep the news off all day long as I did not want to see any footage of the new president. I find myself, still, so upset over him winning. I can't stand the smug smiles of Barack or Michelle and I always flip the channels when they come on. I think that is the main source of my grumpiness today. We just lost one of the best presidents we ever had and now we are in for 4 very rough years, I fear. It's not that McCain would have been any great prize, either, and since he threw Sarah Palin under the bus in a recent interview, I'm pretty ticked at him, too. But I'd feel a little less uneasy if he were the one being sworn in today.

But despite all this, we're having a good school day. I cancelled the boys speech class so we could stay home today and we're getting quite a bit done. I brought out subtraction flash cards for Ben and David today and was pleasantly surprised to see how well they did.

Well, Sam has awakened from a 3 hour nap and I bet he's hungry. I had some thoughts earlier on the subject of complaining, of all things, and if I remember them, I might jot them down later.

A Little Bit About My Men

Since most of my posts will probably have to do with home life, I thought I would start this post by introducing the men who fill my days.

My husband Paul has been hanging around for 19 years now. We have been married almost for almost 16 years . We met during our one year at Bible college. Thinking we were both coming back the next fall, we started dating during the last 4 weeks of the school year. But neither one of us made it back. So, in those pre-email days, we wrote letters 3 times a week and called and visited every so often. We finally had enough of that and married in 1993. Paul is a would-be farmer. But unless you have a farm in the family, it's an almost impossible field (pun intended) to break into now. He did have a chance to work for a farmer for a few years and I have never seen him so happy! I'm praying that someday Paul will have the opportunity to farm, at least a little bit. But for now, Paul supports us by working as a service technician, fixing furnaces and air conditioners. It's a good job and he enjoys what he does. He's a good man. He loves God, his boys, and me. I don't know what more I could ask for out of a husband.

We have 4 sons, much to my delight. I always wanted a large family and I always wanted the majority of my children to be boys. I did always envision at least one daughter and I'll probably post sometime about my thoughts on that. And, to be honest, I never imagined that I would have only boys. But, truthfully, I am delighted at the family God picked for me. When we announced that Baby #4 was another boy, I was so disappointed in people who expressed sadness for us. We were thrilled!

Will is our oldest at 14. He's driving now and getting taller and broader every day. He's a serious one - a thinker, and the most like his dad in personality. He doesn't care one bit about getting credit for things. His goal is to whatever needs to be done in the best, most expedient way possible. He's very logical and gifted, academically. At the same time, I see a softness in his heart toward the less abled, particularly those with physical and mental handicaps. I'm pretty sure that is a result of having a brother with some needs. Right now Will is crazy about hunting and football - I'm guessing he probably always will be!

At 12 years of age, Ben comes next. He's our first miracle baby because he's a uterine rupture survivor and wasn't even expected to live after birth. But he did. However, that life has come with some challenges. As a result of his birth asphyxiation, Ben has some cerebral palsy. He also falls somewhere in the autism spectrum (although that could be related to a severe vaccine reaction he had at 2 months of age). So, his life has not been easy and it's a little harder to get a handle on just what his personality is because of the autism. But we do know he's pretty easy going and good natured. Ben's affectionate to his family members and has a very determined attitude. Right now his body is entering puberty and I think that is messing with his brain a bit - we have had some more challenges in recent months with him. But we'll get through it. We totally envision a full future for him - not sure what that is going to look like at this point, but we know God has a plan for Ben and are willing to do whatever we can to help Ben fulfill that. Ben's current, and actually life-long interests seem to be involve tv game shows and baseball.

David is our only child not born in the fall. He's 9 1/2 now. I sometimes joke that he should have been my girl because he is so emotionally driven. His emotions are usually at one end of the scale or the other - never in the middle! He "feels" absolutely everything. I can really see him someday in a people-oriented field, like the pastorate or as a counselor. He has had a keen spiritual interest and understanding since he was quite little. He is such a contrast to Will that I find it hard to believe that they are full brothers! At the same time, David is all-boy. He is obsessed with the NFL. He can give you the names and positions of all different team players. He faithfully follows team scores every week and is beside himself with excitement over the upcoming Super Bowl!

Sam is our last little miracle. He turns 15 months this week. He's the answer to our prayers, our hope fulfilled, and the completion of our family. He came along as a result of a "fleece" I laid out to the Lord about 2 years ago - a prayer I completely forgot about until I discovered I was pregnant! He has definitely changed our family. We all just adore him and I hope that doesn't result in him growing up spoiled. His brothers are his protectors and it is much easier to parent this time around because I don't have to do it all! He is definitely a little man and I find myself amused as I see him making vroom-vroom noises with little cars or messing with Paul's tools. Nobody had to teach him that stuff! He'll be the one keeping us young and on our toes when the other boys spread their wings and leave.

There would have been one more and I'm pretty sure that would have been a boy, too, but we lost one to miscarriage in the spring of 2001. God used that experience to tenderize our hearts a bit and if we hadn't lost that one, we might not have Sam, so I don't regret the experience. But I'm looking forward to meeting that little one someday in Heaven!

So...just a little bit about the men who fill my life and make my days busy. I'm queen in a house full of testosterone and I wouldn't have it any other way!

Monday, January 19, 2009

I have finally done it - started my own blog. This is something I have resisted for a long time, despite the urgings of various friends. I'm busy and something of a techno-idiot. I figured those were enough reasons to stay away from the blogosphere. But like most of my good intentions, I caved and well, here I am!

I suppose blogging is one of the highest forms of narcissism. After all, it really is assuming a lot that others will want to read about my life. But maybe I underestimate the boredom factor in a lot of my friends/familys' life!

If nothing else, I figure this blog can be a journal of the middle years of my life. I gave up journaling about the time I got married and have always wanted to get back to that. Of course, being public like this, I'll have to be a little nicer, otherwise I'll get people mad at me and have to do a lot of apologizing.

I'm thinking this will just be a good place to muse out loud on the aspects of my life that are most important. Maybe some of my readers will find a bit of commonality with me or a sense of relief that their own lives are so much less complicated!