Sunday, May 31, 2009

I Missed a Week

I can't believe I missed a week of blogging - it's been 9 days since I last posted and I really should be in bed now, making it 10 days instead. This is the first time since I began blogging in January that I have gone this long without had to happen sometime, I guess. I mean, sooner or later, we'll go on vacation and since I don't have a laptop, it's unlikely I'd post then, either.

But we weren't on vacation this week! I was getting ready for hosting the youth group Friday night. I killed myself this week, with my to-do lists and my baking and all the getting ready. The only things I didn't do to this house this week were to scrub the tub and shower! And Paul really knocked himself out, too. He had several late nights of getting stuff done - trimwork, weedeating, etc. I was grateful. Now, we almost have the house where we wanted it. I just need him to put in the new carpeting upstairs and to make a new entryway floor at the bottom of the steps where the front door opens. I know he has some other projects, too, he wants to work on.

The youth activity went very, very well. We had about 20 teens and 3 youth leaders. The weather was perfect, I had more than enough food, and the kids all seemed to really like it. Pastor Jeff is SO good with the kids and they had a ball doing activities after we ate. And I had a really nice visit with his wife, Courtney, so it was good for me, too.

That night David had a friend spend the night. It worked out so well because Isaac's sisters came up for the activity and he was able to ride the church van with them. Since David had a birthday Wednesday he requested to have a friend sleepover and then he wanted to go to the Science Center since we had not been there since they built the new one. I know why - it's expensive to get in! So we did that yesterday afternoon after a trip to Burger King. It's a nice place, although it didn't excite me nearly as much as it did the boys!

I woke up yesterday morning (Sat.) and I could tell something wasn't right. I had a very hard time waking and then in the shower there were black lines crisscrossing in front of my eyeballs. Once I got moving it became obvious to me that I had a major mini stroke (sounds funny, "major mini"!) in the night. I apparently overdid it this past week. Today I'm better but my whole left side is aching and sagging. I can't see right out of that left eye, either. It's discouraging. The last time I had any mini-stroke at all was in Nov. and that was pretty mild. The last time I had something of this magnitude it was April of '08 and that landed me in the ER. I didn't go in this time, but I may call my neurologist when I get a chance - not that he can do anything. But if I suddenly collapse from a major stroke then at least he'll know that I had a TIA in the days preceding...dark humor, I know! I just want to be all better and back to normal. I do so well for so long and then one of these happens and it just knocks me backwards in the healing process. The docs in IA City seemed to think it would only last for 2 years, but what if they're wrong? I might be dealing with this forever.

On to more cheerful subjects: as I mentioned, David had a birthday this week. He turned 10 on Wednesday. We got him a pocketknife for one of his presents. I knew he'd misplace it right away because that kid loses everything. But he's found it several times, too. It's currently, lost though. And that may not be a bad thing - he can't slice off a finger if he can't find his knife! He's such a good boy, though, and a real blessing to us. I always say that he brought the laughter back into our house after Ben's birth and the ensuing years of difficulty following that. Everything was so grim for awhile and then along came David and we haven't quit laughing since!

I had a couple of friends keeping their eyes peeled for a kiddie slide for Sam as they garage sale. I can tell them to forget it now. Sam mastered our swingset slide this weekend. It's oh, about 5 feet or so off the ground. But he clamors right up the rungs and pulls himself up on top and slides down, laughing all the way. After we watched him accidentally go down headfirst this afternoon, Paul got a large piece of 5" foam and put it underneath the bottom - just in case! One of Paul's projects this week was to get the deck repaired. This March he broke it when he took down a tree and mis-estimated where it would fall! He left the trunk mostly in place so that if the boys ever want to build a treehouse they can. It's right off the deck. Well, our enterprising boys figured out this week that if they move the trampoline over in front of the tree they can climb up the deck rail onto the tree trunk and then plummet to the trampoline. Some things I just really do not want to know! I hope Sam isn't watching them too closely.

Friday morning I took Will in to meet his football coach. Will is homeschooled, but plays ball for our local school (Pleasantville High). I came away impressed to the core by this man. He showed us around the weight room. Will will be lifting weights 3 mornings a week, starting next week. He emphasized to me the safety precautions they take both in there and on the field. I wasn't all that worried, anyway. My kids are God's and if they are destined to die a premature death, there's nothing I can do about it. I'm not going to restrict their lives on the off-chance that they might have a deadly accident - within reason, I guess I can say. I might have second thoughts if they desire to get into bungee jumping or extreme (dumb) sports. So, that's why Will is playing football - and yes, we have been criticized for allowing this! But anyway...What really impressed me was this: the coach told Will that his and the assistant coach's priorities go as follows: #1 - God, #2 - Family, #3 - School, #4 - Football. He told Will that if he has a church or family event that interferes with weightlifting or practice, to not even give it a thought. Those are more important. He also told Will that there is to be absolutely no swearing. He said he didn't think that would be a problem for Will (I'm sure because we're homeschoolers and most homeschoolers are religious nuts). That impressed me greatly! I asked Will later if his Junior high coach had had the same policy and he said no.

My big thing right now is vampires - yes, really! A week ago my girlfriend, Melissa, got me started on the Twilight series, a collection of books I had no intention of reading. Actually, I didn't know anything about them. I'd heard of the movie, but thought it was some teen flick and it didn't interest me. But, oh my goodness, these books are amazing! I'm pages away from being done with book #3 and these are thick - 5-600 page books! The subjects are teenagers and obviously they have a teen appeal. But, I'm loving them. And Melissa is older than me, so I don't feel too bad! They're not Christian books and they probably are not enriching my life in any way. But as a snack, they're not bad. I can't find anything objectionable in the books. There are no Satanic themes. The vampires are good vampires, as are the werewolves (yes, they're in there, too!) There are actually some very commendable themes woven throughout the books - loyalty, protectiveness in true love relationships, and even morality. In the part I just read the main character, Bella, is eager to have a sexual relationship with her boyfriend, the vampire. And he tells her not until they are married because he wants to do things "right." Teen girls are devouring these books (as are middle aged mothers like me!) and they need to hear this message.

I have to put myself to bed now. Tonight we met with Ben's camp counselor and his family at Dairy Queen so we could kind of go over things with him concerning Ben's needs. And then some other friends walked in so we ended up staying quite late. Tomorrow both Ben and I have appointments as this new place where the emphasis is on preventative health care and using natural strategies to combat health problems. The first visit is free and if we do decide to go back they do take our insurance, so there's nothing to lose but time by going. Then we'll do our shopping. I need to pick up a new clippers. I'll have to remember that. I was shaving David's head Thursday night and my 10 + year old clippers died on his head! I tried to cut the rest down with scissors but he looks a bit scalped - I need to even that out. Poor kid. He was not happy! Memories!

Friday, May 22, 2009


End of the week...sort of. I think I have given up on having school today since it's already 3pm. My supervising teacher finally came today (I haven't seen her since last Aug. - she's supposed to call every 4 weeks and show up every 8. But, she's busy, teaching part-time and homeschooling her own brood of 7 - doesn't bother me any. I prefer to be left alone, as it is) so I had to spend the morning tidying up. And then she came and stayed for about 2 hours. So I just now got lunch taken care of.

Next Friday the youth group is coming over to the house. I wish I could be blase' about this, but I'm not. I want to be hospitable and I have done a terrible job at it since we moved out here. It's just that we bought an old, old house because it was affordable. And because of that it has needed a lot of work. And when you spend all your time working on the house, then the yard gets neglected. So you have messes inside and out. I'm seized by inadequacy about my house because I know it's not as nice as other homes in the church who have hosted the youth group. But then, I also know teenagers - they're coming for the food and probably won't notice that I have spent all week cleaning for them! And they probably won't notice the missing trim on some of the doors or my ripped up entry way floor (a project on the List) or even the pink carpeting upstairs (another List project - we've had the new carpet for it out in the garage for over 4 years!). But I know those things are there and it bothers me. But at the same time Will really, really wants to have his group over and I don't want to deny him that. So, that's been on my mind - trying to spruce things up, riding Paul to get projects completed, and making a to-do list for next week so that everything will be accomplished by Friday evening. I just hope it doesn't rain - not sure where we would stick 30 kids in this house!

We are going to head up to Waterloo this Sunday evening after Will gets done with missions trip training. My brother and his family are going up there and Mom emailed to see if we could make it. So, off we go. It will be nice to spend the holiday with family. It just hadn't crossed my mind to do anything like that until she contacted me. David has a birthday next week so we can celebrate that then, too.

Today I did something very out of character for me: I walked. I hate, hate, hate exercise. It probably stems from traumatic PE classes as a child. I'm also not big on eating healthy or doing anything to take care of myself. I'm naturally thin, so I haven't had to be motivated by wanting to lose weight. That kind of lifestyle tends to catch up with you as you get older, as I am getting. I'm tired of being tired all the time. I can't eat junk food like I used to. It seems to sit like a rock in my stomach. But I don't care much for the taste of fruits or vegetables. Out of nowhere, the desire to run has crept upon me. I don't understand that. I do not like to exercise. My knees give me problems from time to time, anyway. Why would I want to bother them further? But I can't get the desire out of my head. And I'm quite sure what would happen is that if I started to run I would be gasping for breath by the time I hit the mailbox and crawling the rest of the way home, much to the amusement of all my neighbors. I told Paul this and he reasonably suggested that I start out by walking. Oh! I hadn't thought of that! So this morning I pulled on my capris, an old nursing bra (It's more like a jogging bra), one of Paul's t-shirts and socks and my tennis shoes. They're not running shoes, though, and if I keep this up, I'll have to invest in some real ones. And so I started walking. I went faster and faster and a lot further than I had planned to go. As I walked I did my praying, so that was nice - killing two birds with one stone, I guess. And then as I hit Maple street (sloped and I was heading downward) I did actually jog a little bit. Of course, I had to walk re-e-eal slowly then up Orchard because I was out of breath by that point and I was going up uphill! But it felt good. I came in, showered, and was ready to get started on my day. I had planned to eat rice krispie treats with m & ms for breakfast but after being that good to my body I didn't feel like feeding it junk so I ate corn flakes and milk instead (although I'm not so sure there's much nutritional difference between the two!) So, we'll see how this goes. I'll probably end up being so good to my body that I have to have knee surgery. It did occur to me that they make really cute jogging clothes, so I might have to look around for those. But then I'd have to keep at it, in order to get use out of them. I'm still feeling decidedly abnormal, though. Maybe it's called maturity.

It will be a busy day tomorrow. Paul and I are meeting with Pastor first thing and then he wants to stop at a friend's house and cut down some trim boards. Then I'll drop him at home where he will hopefully get a ton of work done on the house. Then I'm going to head to town with Ben and do some shopping - stuff for next week, food for the youth group (how many 2 liters and bags of chips do I need for 30 teenagers?), David's birthday presents, and I think, a new bathrobe for me. Ok, here's the thing: I have lost my robe. I have two - one fleece, animal printed one for winter, and a threadbare cotton one for summer. I have had my summer robe since the summer Will was a baby. I remember we bought it at Sears and I can still see Paul holding Will as I looked at robes. It is so old that the flowers on it have faded into a mass of muted colors. But it works and I haven't worried about how it looks. I can't find it! It is absolutely nowhere. Sometime between when I packed it away last fall and now it disappeared. I am baffled. I'm quite sure I didn't throw it away, unless it would have been by accident. I wonder if it made its way into a Goodwill bag. So I guess I'm getting a new robe. At any rate, tomorrow will be busy, as will the next week!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

One More Reason

One Word: Bullying. I remember the year Ben was a kindergartner, as I considered the option of homeschooling, the thought occurring to me that while Ben's classmates loved him now, the time would come that Ben would be the object of teasing and even bullying.

I went to a Christian school for every year but one of my school years. Every day I saw bullying happening. You'd hope that kids coming from good, Christian families would be different, but that's not the case. Now, maybe they are better behaved than unsaved kids (hopefully!) and it's worse in public schools, but it was pretty bad even in a Christian school. I remember my 5th grade year two of my classmates noticed that I have long fingers and began teasing me calling me "string fingers." I hated that! It got to the point where I dreaded seeing these girls and didn't want to go to school. Looking back, it was so silly and it probably only lasted a few weeks, but to me, as a young girl at the time, it was huge and I hated it. It was also pretty minor. I saw much worse stuff going on on the playground, at lunch, and even in the high school hallways.

It's practically impossible to avoid all teasing/bullying unless you live on a mountaintop somewhere. I mean, siblings are probably the worst offenders! And when these things happen, it's a good opportunity to teach your child some real-life skills. At the same time, my goodness - life is hard enough, particularly when a child has some special needs already. Why put them in a situation where it's going to be compounded by the cruelty of others? That was my thinking where Ben was concerned.

And too, when was the last time a popular jock or cheerleader brought a gun to school or quietly hung him/herself in their bedroom? It's always the bullied kids that end up acting out in one of these ways - not all, certainly, but enough that it still makes headlines. That's terribly sad and totally preventable.

Why I Homeschool

Friday I registered for the upcoming homeschool conference here in Des Moines. I'm excited! I always love going to that thing! So does Paul. The first year we were considering homeschooling I emailed a friend who did it and said, "Help!" She told me I needed to go to the conference and it would answer all the questions I had. It did - and more. It reinforced to us that this was the way to educate our kids and it gave me the confidence to know that I could even school my special needs child.

I think homeschooling is wonderful and I am so glad we ended up choosing this route. But I am not a militant homeschooler, either, who thinks everyone ought to do it. I always cringe a bit when I hear speakers assert this. God's will is very individual and because it's not laid out directly in Scripture, the way we educate our children has to be a something between us and God. At the same time, I'd probably have to say that there are more families who should be homeschooling that are not, for one reason or another.

I used to have a very stereotypical view of homeschoolers and wanted nothing to do with it. When Will turned 5 we packed him off to our church's little Christian school. It was ok experience, I guess. Although, since then, Will has told me things that went on there that had I known were occurring at the time, probably would have made me upset. But every so often when I would pick him up there would some homeschool families milling around, picking up their co-op order (I think all homeschool families order from co-ops! Yes, we do too, now!) from the school. They just looked odd. The girls looked very old fashioned in their long hair and skirts and the boys looked strange, too. So I thought if I were to homeschool it meant I'd have to swear off good haircuts, birth control, and make-up. I don't garden and I'm not about to start grinding my own wheat, so I just didn't consider it! But then Ben started school. We put him in the small public school in our district. He had a one on one aide. It was a hard year, from a number of different aspects. I had to get the boys up really early in order to drive Will south 20 minutes to his Christian school and then turn around and drive a half hour north to get Ben to his. Will has never been a morning person and it was so difficult trying to get him out the door, trying to coax him to eat breakfast. Ben hated going to school and would cry a lot of mornings on the way there. David was a toddler - need I say more? And then school was hard for Ben. Every day I would pick him up at 1:00, even though it was a full day program. And every day I would get bad behavior reports on Ben - he couldn't sit still, he was a disruption, etc. Now, of course, I know that he was on the autism spectrum and that's why. But it still bothers that not one of those "experts" at the school identified that.

So that year I began to consider homeschooling. When I first brought it up to Paul, he said, "Oh, I don't think you're organized enough for that." Gee - thanks for the support! But as time went on he agreed that it would be a good idea for Ben. And then, as it got harder and harder to pay for Will's private schooling, Paul agreed to try homeschooling for him, too. So the next year we began. That first year I kept hearing from Will, "Well, that's not how my teacher did it!" but he got over that after awhile. He has excelled with homeschooling and has been pretty much self-taught all along. The other boys have done great, too. It turned out that David was a slower learner and being homeschooled from the very start enabled him to learn things at his own pace without the pressure of needing to keep up with his classmates. In fact, he didn't learn to read until about 6 months ago and that was fine. (Well, I private had moments of angst over this, wondering if I was a failure as a teacher, but once he got it, then I could sit back and say, "homeschooling does work!")

A few months ago one of the women in my on-line moms group asked for homeschooling input as she was considering the option. I typed out a few things for her, that I thought I'd share here:

The Hard Parts of Homeschooling
1. Being with my kids all day long (seriously - I need my space and quiet! It's a little hard to get having them with me all day long. Only the knowledge of knowing that I am making an eternal investment keeps me from losing my mind at times)
2. Having a niggling fear in the back of my mind that I am not doing enough to educate them and I'll end up with homeschooled dummies as a result
3. Wondering if I am socially handicapping them by limiting their peer contacts (Intellectually, I know the whole socialization argument against homeschooling is a fallacy, but I still wonder at times)
4. Making a financial sacrifice to do this (it's very hard to work even part-time outside the home when homeschooling and homeschooling itself is not free)
The Reasons I Homeschool
1. I have a responsibility before God to train my children which is a whole lot easier to do when I am with them all day rather than trying to cram it in at night and on weekends
2. My children are learning in a very relaxed environment, which is particularly beneficial for my 2 middle boys.
3. The boys' education is tailor-made to fit their needs, interests, and capabilities
4. I don't have to "de-program" them from un-Godly, humanistic teaching
5. They are less likely to pick up un-Godly and negative input from their peer contacts
6. Their dad and I are the #1 influences in their lives
7. We can stop schooling at any moment and deal with heart issues, which are much more important than school
8. It has forced me to become more organized (Seriously. It's a good thing)
9. It has forced me to become more dependent on God because I CAN'T do this without His help
10.It has forced me to be more diligent with obedience issues with the boys - if they won't obey when I say it's time to pick up toys or go to bed, they won't obey when I say it's time for math
11.Almost any foray into public can be counted as a "school day" because it's usually educational in some aspect
12. When my kids reach adulthood I will have the satisfaction that I did absolutely everything I could to ensure their spiritual and academic well-being
13. I don't have to deal with schools, teachers, and administrative staff who don't have a vested interest in my child (not that they don't care, but nobody is going to be as concerned as I am)
So, just a few thoughts on the subject. We will be starting our 7th year of homeschooling in September and to be honest, it has changed me, I think. I think I'm less selfish with my time, I'm definitely more organized, and I'm more patient. I'm also easier on myself and don't allow myself to get so exasperated with myself when I just can't do it all. But I'm still me! I don't leave the house without a full paint job, I only wear a skirt when I absolutely have to (Sundays), and don't even talk about pantyhose with me! I have a standing appointment with my stylist, who is the only person in the world who knows my true hair color. I still don't garden, I don't feed my kids wheat germ and tofu, and you won't find me embracing the quiver-full movement. I'm still ME, only with the label of "homeschooling mom" after my name. And I like that!

Monday, May 18, 2009


Paul, Will, and David are watching the season finale of 24 right now. Will has been so excited about this. He wanted to have a party to celebrate - seriously. He asked me to buy a 24 pack of pop (24 - get it?) but I told him no way. But I did buy him the hot dogs he asked for. I can't believe he actually has room for beans and wienies (on the stove now) since we just finished a big supper, not an hour ago. David is warming up hot dogs to eat, too. Where do they plan to put it? Of course, that's a silly question, I suppose. They are boys!

I made fried chicken tonight. I have avoided making this for years because it never turned out well. But I found this recipe and did it tonight. Oh, it was good! I did half in the deep fryer and half on the stove in a pan of oil. I wonder if it was the msg in the batter that made it so good. It's definitely not health food, but good, nonetheless (or probably because it's not health food!).

I just gave Sam his bath. That kid! He normally loves bath time. All we have to do is say "bath" and he's streaking towards the bathroom, tugging his clothes, trying to get them off. Well, today, I bought a mat for the bottom of the tub because we've had too many instances where he has slipped under the water. He saw that in there and he absolutely refused to get in that water. I tried forcing him in and he dug his little claws into my upper arm (I really need to trim his nails). Finally, I got him in there and he wailed the entire time. I sure hope he gets over this. It's soft - what's not to like?

I had a fabulous weekend with just Sam and me. I spent Friday evening cleaning and alternately watching "Mamma Mia." What a great movie! Well, it had kind of a faulty moral premise, but other than that, it was good! I just love musicals. I actually went and bought the soundtrack today. Saturday night I was trying to fall asleep and I couldn't because the song "Super Trouper" kept playing in my mind! I enjoyed my Bunny Tracks ice-cream and made a sundae with it. Sam conked out around 9, when I put in "Baby Mama." It was an ok movie - cute in many ways and no bad swearing or any sex scenes. But, it was nothing I could let the boys watch, if they even wanted to, because it's operating from a totally immoral premise.

Sam woke up around 11:30, when I was ready to go to bed, so I just laid him down with me. Bad idea. All my other kids were cuddlers and when we'd sleep together, they'd just fit into the curve of my body and it was so cozy and peaceful. Of course, that's probably why I had a hard time getting them out of my bed when they got older! From the very beginning, Sam has preferred his own space. I remember when he was a very tiny newborn and I would finally collapse in bed, needing sleep so desperately and I would put Sam in bed with me, hoping he would fall asleep too. The only way he would was if he was face down on my chest, which wasn't all the comfortable for me. Plus, it made me too scared to actually sleep, for fear that he might slide off and fall on the floor! Time hasn't changed anything. All Friday night he tossed and turned, putting his elbows in my eyes, insisting on having his head on my shoulder - it was awful! I don't know why I didn't take him up to his own bed. I guess I was too tired. At 8:30 the next morning Sam was awake so I stuck him on the couch with a bottle, his blanket, and the cartoons turned on. Then I went back to bed. That probably wasn't the smartest move - he could have gotten into anything. I didn't wake up again until 10am! When I went out to the living room, Sam wasn't on the couch and I had a momentary flash of panic until I saw him laying face first down the on the floor, sound asleep. I guess we both needed to sleep alone!

I spent most of Saturday painting the living room ceiling. That turned out to be a bigger job than I had anticipated. I paid extra and bought the Dutch Boy purple ceiling paint - it's supposed to dry white. The idea is that then you can see where you have painted. That's fine and it worked, except it dried so fast that I still couldn't see where I had already painted! I should have just bought the regular ceiling paint.

Paul and the boys got home around 7 Sat. night. They had a wonderful time - even Ben! David hated the zipline. I don't blame him. That thing scares me because it is SO high! But Ben loved it! Paul injured himself playing basketball. I tried to feel sorry for him, but couldn't. You just can't play with teenagers with an almost 40 year old body and expect things to go well!

Yesterday Sam started sneezing like crazy and dripping all over, on the way to church. So I thought it best to keep him out of the nursery so he couldn't infect the other babies. I was trying to be nice, but the other moms scolded me and told me they put their babies in when they're dripping, so maybe it's ok. Silly me, I thought I could just take Sam to my own SS class and he'd sit quietly on my lap. He made it until prayer time - and that was after I'd exhausted his bottle, his toys, and the chewy fruit candy I keep in the diaper bag for emergencies. So we went out to the van and I got frustrated trying to keep him from grabbing the gear stick and turning on the wipers and lights. So I finally strapped him into his seat and we went and got gas and a paper. During church I sat out in the foyer and he did fall asleep, thankfully.

Oh, during the morning service, the Patch Kids did a little performance and Ben had a speaking part. He even got to dress up. Anyway, he did so well and so many people complimented him afterwards - he just beamed whenever anyone said anything to him!

After church Will had to work with puppets all afternoon for our upcoming VBS and David had a SS party. So we went and grabbed some lunch with the other boys and then went home and fell into bed. We both slept for 3 hours! Paul stayed home with Sam in the evening because I had nursery duty and a VBS meeting. Despite that long nap, I didn't have a bit of trouble falling asleep last night.

Today was my shopping day, so I did that with Ben and David. It seemed like I had to go everywhere! And now I'm home. I think I'm going to go clean up the kitchen and start heading towards bed myself. It's been a long several days - I need to slow down and catch up. To that end, I have decided to drop one of Ben's social skills classes. I feel kind of guilty about that, but it's just too much to be going in twice a week - too much in terms of time and gas money. Dropping the Thursday class will mean that most of my Thursdays and Fridays will be days where I don't have to anywhere, which will be wonderful!

Gotta scoot and shoo Ben towards bed. He's getting weepy again, talking about camp. I hate seeing him so fearful of going. I told him it's a necessary part of growing up and he has seized upon that, thankfully, and mentioned that several times. I think I am going to be a nervous wreck that week he's gone!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Slipping Through My Fingers

I thought I'd post a picture of how Will looked once he got all decked out in his wrestling gear. He did finally find two single socks, one black and one blue, that he decided would be a close enough match. I went outside and found that he had decorated himself with his hunting paint. Anyway, it just makes me laugh!
It also makes me a little wistful. Exactly four years from this weekend Will will march down the aisle to "Pomp and Circumstance" as he graduates from high school. There's a lot of growing that is going to happen between now and then but I can hear the clock ticking.
This weekend I rented "Momma Mia" with Meryl Streep. It's a great movie! In fact, as I type, I have it playing again, just to hear the music. It's all ABBA songs from the Seventies and there's one called "Slipping Through My Fingers" that just made me choke up both times I listened to it. It's about time and our children's lives, how it just goes so fast and how the days just slip through our fingers.
So I'm going to hold onto pictures like this one because soon they will be all I have as my boy becomes a man.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

And a Bit of Sunshine

I forgot to mention one really nice thing that happened within the chaos and upset of this week. We have "Secret Saints" at church, women who secretly bless each other with cards and small gifts and commit to praying to them for a year. Well, I heard from mine last night and there was a gift for me at church. More than the gift, I so appreciate this Saint. She must know me pretty well or else I'm really transparent on how rough my weeks sometimes are because she always writes just the right thing to lift me up. Last night was no different. She gave me a room scenter thing (with oil and little sticks - unique) and chocolate. See, she knows me because she must know about my chocolate addiction! So I took the room scent thing out of the box and set it up today on the living room buffet. It really scents up the room and as I pass through the room I especially smell it and it makes me smile, just to know someone thought of me. And it's a reminder too, that God is thinking of and loving me through others, even during this busy and sometimes hard season of motherhood.

My Week

A report on my week: Can I just say I am really looking forward to this weekend? Tomorrow afternoon Paul and the older boys are taking off for the Father/Son retreat up at camp in Ventura. They won't be back until around suppertime on Saturday. It would be fantastic if I didn't have Sam, but I guess I can deal with one toddler! He still takes naps, which is immensely helpful. And he can't talk back yet. Today I am going to stock up on junk food - Bunny Tracks ice-cream, salted roasted peanuts, chips, frozen pizza and crescent rolls, I'm thinking. Then tomorrow, after my chiropractic appointment I'll swing by Blockbuster and get a couple of movies I know Paul would never want to watch. I'd like to see "Baby Mama" with Amy Poehler and Tina Fey. But I need to check the rating. I don't want anything R rated, even if it's only my eyes that will see it. Paul and the boys don't think anything is worth watching unless it involves high speed chases ( that's why they love Paul's Dukes of Hazzard collections), blood and high intrigue (why they watch 24). I like kissing and babies. I don't get to watch too many things I like!

Saturday I may paint the living room ceiling. It would be good to do that when there aren't that many people around. I have two graduation parties I am supposed to go to, but I'm not sure I'll have a vehicle. Paul is taking the good van because it has the hitch on it. We took insurance off his red van while we still have the old green one, that we had hoped to sell by now, but haven't. I suppose it's just as well. Paul went to move it the other day and it wouldn't start. So if he doesn't get that running tonight then I'll be without a vehicle, which is fine. He has been working on the kitchen ceiling all week and I'd rather have him put his time there than that van. I'm not so sure I'd want to drive it if it was recently dead, in case it died again, and he wouldn't be around to rescue me. If we did have an emergency, I could always drive the truck.

All right, so this week: I don't remember much about Monday. Tuesday, the boys softball games were rained out. I was absolutely delighted! You all know how I feel about those games! Yesterday I took Sam with me to Ben's therapy and allergy shots. I had to take him because he has developed several hard bumps on one of his palms and I wanted to get the nurse's opinion. She and another nurse decided they are some type of warts. Hopefully, they'll disappear soon. But that kid was a pistol there. I looked up from my magazine to see him climbing over the arms of the chairs. After I put a stop to that he decided he'd like to bang on the blinds. I stopped that. He immediately climbed back up to the blinds, turned around to see if I was watching and banged again. There was nobody around, so I smacked his hand, which did not please him. But it did keep him away from the blinds. I know I am supposed to be cherishing these toddler days, but there are some days I find myself praying for them to pass quickly!

Oh, I remember now what I did Monday - I rearranged the boys' bedroom and completely cleaned it. That was a big job! But I think it looks better now. And it's nice and neat! When we had Sam and had to move him upstairs I just kind of dumped his bed in the first available spot. With this rearranging it's more organized. I wish we could get that fooseball table out of there, but there is just no other place to put it. I need a basement!

Ben had a melt-down last night. It wasn't an anger melt-down, but a tearful one. This happened earlier this week, too. It was really unusual. The boys had listened to a tape on Daniel Boone for history. Apparently, the tape told of Daniel's baby dying. That really upset Ben and he was telling me about it afterwards and just burst into tears. Since empathy is definitely not his strong point (usually lacking all together) I was kind of pleased and thought, "Oh, the Namenda must be working!" But then I realized his response was really over the top and just not quite normal. He calmed down after awhile, especially when I told him that the baby went to Heaven. So last night at supper the boys were talking about camp and on the way to church Ben burst out wailing about how he was going to miss me while at camp. Now, he didn't get enough sleep the night before. He was up by 6am because he said he wanted to watch our street lights come on (???). I didn't care, as long as he let me go back to sleep (he awakened us at 6 to let us know his plans). This kid normally sleeps 12 hours. His bedtime isn't until 8:30 but every night between 7:30 and 8:00 he is trotting up the steps, headed for bed. And I do know that when he is tired, he gets weepy. I do the same thing. But Ben's is more like uncontrolled wailing, which is very startling if you're not used to it. So, I stayed in the van with him for a good 15 minutes until he was under control, I thought. But a half hour later they brought him up to me (I was in the nursery) and Ben was wailing again. I hate that! He's so loud and I needed to get him out of the building, pronto, before he disturbed everyone. But when I went to leave the nursery then Sam started crying! Oh well - he's got to grow up sometime. So I hustled Ben outside and he managed to tell me in between cries that one of the girls had been mean to him in Patch Club.

Now, we have had trouble with this particular family's kids before. They seem to pick on my boys a lot and Paul has about had it and is threatening to talk to the parents, I believe. I suppose it's necessary, although, knowing the parents, I have my doubts as to how effective any talking will be :( I hope I'm wrong on that. I'd prefer to avoid any confrontation, though. It's actually a good life lesson for my kids, I suppose, in how to handle not-so-nice people. But it still makes me want to pinch the offenders' little heads off! Had Ben not been overly tired and having a normal day, it's possible that this girl's meanness would not have affected him so much - I hope. So anyway, we went to the van and I just stayed in there with him until church was over. I am just really concerned now about camp. I know the boys get up early and stay up late and I'm afraid that Ben won't be able to handle that without melting down. Maybe I need to talk his counselor. Perhaps we could make arrangements that if Ben is showing signs of fatigue, Will could go ahead and take him back to the cabin and get him down for bed early. The only thing is that we usually don't know Ben is tired until he bursts out crying! Oh, I wish I could go, too! Loosening the tight bonds between the two of us as Ben grows up is going to be the hardest thing I ever do in my life, I think.

Today Ben seems fine, but has commented several times on this girl's nastiness to him. I keep giving him the Biblical answer of "turning the other cheek" while growling on the inside. Why is it human nature to pick on the weak? I have to leave here in a couple of hours to run some errands and take Ben to his class.

I got ahold of Will's football coach for next year. Whoa! Apparently high school football is different than junior high. He will have to be at the school from 6:30 - 8 three mornings a week all summer long weight lifting. I hope they don't have a problem with Will being gone for about 4 weeks total this summer! I sure hope I don't have to take him to the school at 6:30 in the morning! When I told the coach that Will is homeschooled he said, "Hmmm" - just like that. I hope that isn't a problem either!

Right this second Will is driving me nuts. He's so grown up most of the time. This morning he hooked the camper up to the van and drove around and backed into the driveway, perfectly, something I could never have done. But at this moment he is insisting that he be allowed to cut up perfectly good pairs of dress socks and/or his long john tops in order to complete his wrestling attire (he and David wrestle daily on the trampoline, emulating their WWE heroes. Two weeks ago Will took old linoleum, cut out large strips, and spray painted them to resemble trophy belts or something) I am objecting to the destruction of good clothing and he's getting frustrated. And I'm getting irritated because he keeps bringing socks out of my sock basket and asking if it is ok to cut this one up, all the while I am trying to blog about my week! I suggested he spray paint his arms if it's that important (please don't take me up on that!) but he's still intent on finding some socks without mates that he can use. At the same time he wants them to match, which I'm thinking is an impossibility with my missing mates basket of socks. Trust me, if he finds a pair, he's not getting them! I suppose this is another one of the things I need to cherish - not his desire to cut up our clothes -, but this half-boy, half-man stage. Soon he'll be completely a young man and my boy will be gone forever.

Well, I smell my chicken burning (I'm making supper in advance right now) and Ben is threatening to make his own lunch. David has to take a spelling test and Will is still pawing through the sock basket. Duty calls...

Monday, May 11, 2009

Mother's What?

I had a lovely Mother's Day yesterday. Paul made me a nice breakfast and had Sam toddle into the kitchen with a corsage box that he handed to me (the corsage had 4 flowers on it, Paul pointed out to me). Pastor preached a nice, Mother-appropriate sermon, and they gave each of the moms a carnation on their way out the door. We went to Old Country Buffet for lunch, where, of course, we ate way too much, which is what you are supposed to do at buffets. It sure was crowded, though - no surprise! What mother is going to cook on Mother's Day? Well, I suppose some do, but I sure won't be counted among those numbers! We came home, took a quick nap, and then headed back to church so Paul could attend choir practice.

Afterwards, I called my mom to wish her a happy day, and I chatted with her all the way home. We got home and the 4 boys scattered like the wind, peeling off their clothes as they went. I finally got them all corralled and managed to get all of us in one spot on the corner of the deck and Paul snapped this picture. As we were getting into place, Will asked, "Why did you call Grandma?" I said, "Because it's Mother's Day." Will said, "Oh-h-h! I totally forgot! I wondered why Dad made you breakfast and why we went out to eat!" Apparently he missed the flowers and Pastor's message as well! As my friend Patti says, these children are the "absent minded professor" types. I think I got one!

After we took the picture I got my cards and Paul showed me a shelf he is making for the backroom to put the telephone and answering machine on. It's a big piece of wood that he is in the process of cutting out "P (heartshape) S" Very nice! I wonder how long it will take him to get it done? I wonder how many other 38 year old men would do something like that for their long-time wives? It reminds me of my little 10+1 metal thingy Paul soldered together for me for our 11th anniversary - also quite creative! Then, Paul about lost his mind trying to find what he did with my other present. It took him about a half hour but he finally found where he had stashed 3 new spatulas for me. They're pretty - one is blue, one is yellow, and one is red and they have clear handles. They're much nicer than my other spatulas that have their tips broken off from over-use!

So, it was a very nice day, even if my first-born forgot that it was my day! Actually, David made up for it. As I was tucking him in, he said, "Mom, if I haven't told you before, you're a great mom!" And for a moment, I believed him. Happy Mother's Day to me!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Basketball Baby

Sam is 18 months old now and has a new passion - basketball. I shouldn't be surprised because

all the boys are a bit sports crazy (some recessive gene, apparently, since Paul and I are completely non-athletic and I'm not even all that crazy about watching sports, either!). No doubt this was fueled in part by Will's enthusiasm for the sport. Every warmish day we have had this winter and spring has found Will out on the driveway shooting baskets and trying to entice David to play with him. David is usually a non-willing participant. Will generally has to bribe him by offering to help him with his chores in exchange for one game of basketball. And it seems like every time those two play, either a fight will break out about how many more minutes David actually has to play or David will run into the house complaining about some injury willfully inflicted (he's sure) by his brother! So a lot of days Will just plays alone.

But over the past month or so Sam has become very interested in the game. He loves to pick up the basketball, which is bigger than his head, and try to shoot baskets. As soon as I noticed his interest I reassembled a kid-sized basketball hoop and stand we had from when the other boys were little. But Sam isn't all that interested in that. He wants to use the real hoop! I also bought him a kid-sized orange ball (it's actually a soccer ball, but Walmart didn't have any mini-basketballs) but he'd rather lug around the real ball.

The other night while Ben and David played their softball game, I could not get Sam to stay near our area on the field. He was insisting on heading towards a concrete area. I kept pulling him back and he kept taking off again. He was carrying his tennis ball and it finally dawned on me that there were basketball hoops on the concrete - it was a court - and that's what Sam wanted! So I indulged him and followed him over (it was either that or wrestle a tiger because Sam was not going to stay with me! It was so cute. He got to the court and with his little tennis ball he crouched as if he were attempting to shoot a basket and then he'd let his ball fly. But these were regulation hoops and Sam soon got very disgusted that he wasn't making any baskets. So he asked me, by motioning, to lift him up. I did, but I'm not exactly Amazon sized, and Sam was frustrated that he still couldn't make a basket. This went on for a good 20 minutes until I finally got him to admit defeat and head back to the ballgame.

But do you want to know a silly thought that went through my mind as I watched Sam's dedication that night? Earlier that same day I had taken him in for his 18 month check up and he weighed in at 28 lbs and measured 35 inches tall. The dr said this will no doubt be his pattern for the rest of his growing years which means he'll be tall and thin. I don't know why that makes me feel so proud, but it does! I had nothing to do with his size, other than contributing half of his genetic make-up, but even then I couldn't exactly control which genes I gave him. Would I be less pleased if the dr said, "Well, he's as average as can be!" or "You got a short one here!" Probably. It's just silly. But anyway, having that in the back of my mind and then watching his absolute dedication to the game made me start wondering if maybe Sam is the next white Michael Jordan! If I get him in high school basketball and the right recruiter is there (because of course, Sam will still be just as crazy about basketball in 16 years as he is now, and it goes without saying that he would be the star of his team) he could eventually make it to the NBA! And then I imagined myself giving an interview and saying, "Well, he showed an unusual interest in the sport even as a toddler!" Could happen. After all, Tiger Wood's dad had him out on the golf course by his first birthday! Maybe I should have given Sam a more distinctive name, like "Blaze" or "Wind"...

Well, whatever happens, it's a pretty sure bet that I'll be sitting through a whole lot more sporting events, watching my kids play. It sure doesn't seem like Sam is going to be the sensitive, quiet, musical, artistic type who doesn't need his mother to cart him all over the universe going from practice to practice to game to game. It's all right. I think I'd rather watch a ballgame than sit through a piano recital, anyway!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Ben's Decision

This is hardly news anymore, since I have broadcast it in emails, on Facebook, and it was announced at church last night by our pastor, but I thought I would blog a little bit on Ben's salvation decision this week. It actually reminds me of when he took his first steps, the summer before he turned 3. I had to tell everyone! And that was because something had happened that I didn't know ever would, for sure. I hoped, but until I saw it, it wasn't real. When Ben took his first steps I took that to mean that he was progressing and that if, nothing else, I wouldn't be having a wheelchair bound child as we had been told might be a distinct possibility. The decision for salvation is completely different, but still I can draw some parallels between the two.

Paul and I have had a very "hands off" approach with all the boys in the area of their eternal souls. We never wanted to walk them into any decision they weren't ready for and by doing so have the potential for doubts when they were older. This needed to be something that happened when they were ready and as the Holy Spirit worked in their hearts. I have always cringed a bit when I have had moms exclaim to me their excitement over their child getting saved - at age 3! I'm not saying it can't happen then, but I am a bit skeptical. So, we have done the right things with the boys, in that we have exposed to them the Gospel from their earliest years. Will made the decision around age 7 (although he didn't tell us for a couple more years!) and David came under conviction quite young, when he was only 5 and prayed the sinner's prayer then. I am confident, though, that even at that age, being David, he was sincere.

But with Ben, we just haven't known where he is mentally, if he was even capable of such a decision. For a couple of years now, he has asked questions pertaining to salvation but they have been very "young" questions, like, "If I say 'hell' a whole bunch of times, will I go there?'" and things like that. When we have pressed a little bit, Ben has quickly lost interest and changed the subject or wandered off. I have had many people say to me over the years that they think Ben understands a whole lot more than he lets on, but I have always kind of hoped they were wrong, because if it were true, then it might mean that Ben had reached an understanding of salvation and was rejecting it, which would make him hell-bound.

David is getting baptized next month. Our pastor had called Tues. morning to discuss that and I was not home. But he reached me on my cell phone. When I did get home Ben asked me why Pastor had called. I explained that it had to do with David's baptism. Ben wanted to know what that was all about. I explained and at one point Ben said, "saved from what?" And so I was able to go through the Gospel with him yet again. And he wandered off and I didn't think any more about it. That night, he, David, Sam, and I were in the van on the way home from softball. All of a sudden, Ben piped up with some questions. It soon became evident to me that he had been mulling over the morning's conversation all day long. I answered his questions, and as quickly as I would, Ben would have another. Sweet little David, with his evangelist's heart, immediately jumped into the conversation as well. He has been burdened for Ben for years. When he was younger he would solemnly inform Ben that he was on his way to hell if he didn't repent of his sins immediately! We finally had to tell him to stop doing that! Soon, Ben said, "I want to get saved, Mom." But I wanted to make sure he was sure. So I quizzed him quite a bit, making sure he understand and was still ready. I didn't want him to pray a prayer, for me to get all excited, and have everyone all happy that the poor, mentally impaired Heywood boy was going to Heaven, and have it not be real. But Ben was quite firm in his decision, which shouldn't surprise me. He's that way about everything. Once he decides something, he to be physically restrained in order to persuade him otherwise!

Paul wasn't around for the other boys' decisions and I think that has always been a bit of disappointment to him, so I persuaded Ben to wait until we got home. As soon as Paul and Will pulled in the driveway, Ben announced to his dad that he was "ready to get saved." Paul was quite surprised and did some gentle quizzing on his own of Ben. But soon the two of them were kneeling down at the couch and Ben became a child of God.

Honestly, I'm thrilled! All my chicks are safe now, at least until Sam reaches the age of accountability. My mom commented that it will be interesting to see what changes occur in Ben's life now. I hadn't even thought of that, that his salvation might influence his behavior in a good way! It's extra thrilling to me, too, because it's Ben. After his birth, the doctors didn't give us a whole lot of hope for his life. We were told up front that he would be a burden to us all his life. In many ways, that has been true, as Ben has taken tremendous amounts of time, money, and energy. With all that, it has been very easy to forget that he is a person and not just a consumer of all my resources. But this salvation experience really impressed on me the fact that Ben is a person, created in the image of God, with an eternal soul. The fact that he has physical and mental impairments while here on earth is really beside the point. He is just as human and just as needful of salvation as my other boys. And Jesus died for him, too. In fact, as I was trying to explain to Ben, that even if there had been no other people on the earth and only Ben (a fact that Ben couldn't wrap his literal mind around - "why wouldn't there be any other people?"- so I dropped that) Jesus still would have died. That fact alone shows how much God esteems even the most "broken" of humans. We're all precious to Him.

It's been a happy week at our house - and in the streets of Heaven, I imagine!

Friday, May 1, 2009


When I was a teenager and home on a Friday night I thought it was indicative of my status in life - so unloved and unpopular that I had no where to go! Now, I love being home on Friday nights!

As I was typing this, Ben made my night, maybe my week. Last night two sheriff's cars came into town and ended up at my neighbor's. This neighbor, Jean, is a single mom and has 3 young children. She has been married a couple of times, maybe 3, has had at least two different men living in her home since she moved to Swan a year ago, and mentioned to me a few weeks ago that she is now engaged to the one that currently resides with her. She's a very nice girl (yes, quite a bit younger than me!) but has obviously made some bad choices along the way. Well, one of the neighbor kids told my kids when the police arrived that Jean's current boyfriend had beat her up. I don't know if that is true or not, or how this neighbor kid knew that. Indeed, when I saw Jean today, out mowing, she didn't look battered. But anyway, the whole episode really caught Ben's attention and he had lots of questions last night. Well, just now he said to me, "They (meaning Jean and her boyfriend) are not good parents because the police had to come." I diplomatically said that Jean is probably a good mother, but has made some bad choices. Ben agreed and said, "But you and Dad made good choices. That means you are good parents!" I can accept that!

This was the second day in a row that I didn't get any school done with the kids - just too busy, running all over. Paul had his last neurology appt. in Ames at 8 this morning. For the past year or so, he's been participating in an epilepsy drug study. Every so often we have to go up to the McFarland Clinic for that. We finally decided to withdraw from the study this spring because ever since his dosage increased in Dec., Paul has been extremely fatigued. Even on the study drugs, his seizures didn't change in intensity or frequency. So, we'll live with the seizures and just keep him on the drug he's been on since 1996. Then, we got some breakfast and he went to work and I had to run into Michaels and Walmart in Ankeny. Then, I had to go to Walgreens and pick up 4 prescriptions for the boys. Unbelievable, all the meds! Some of it was just Ben's allergy stuff. To my utter surprise, his insurance didn't cover his Claritin. But I also picked up his Namenda, the alzheimer's drug he is taking, and I had been told his insurance would not cover it until he had been on it for 6 months. But it was completely covered! He also had a nose spray and Will had some triamcinolone for his hand. I was surprised his insurance covered that. Ben uses that for his skin and we have had trouble in the past getting that covered because that stuff is expensive! I remember once we were billed $118 for a 4 oz tube of it! Then I needed to go to the library. This was all with Sam in tow, which is not as easy as it used to be. He's squirmy and doesn't like to sit for any length of time.

I went home, greeted the boys, and took off again. Yesterday I drove to Knoxville planning to take care of all our vehicle stuff - renewing the tags on our current vehicles and licensing our new van. But, I was told that we had to have the sellers sign this new form, some disclosure type of statement. It's something the Iowa legislature quietly passed sometime since we last purchased a vehicle. Paul said I should have forged the guy's signature, but I couldn't do that (I can forge Paul's signature and have many times, but not someone else's!). But the county courthouse is a good half hour from my house, once I climb to the second floor, anyway, where the vehicle dept. is. So I had to do that today instead, making another hour round trip. While I was gone the boys kept Sam entertained on the trampoline. This week he decided he loves that thing. Today he spent an entire hour out there, jumping! None of the other three have ever tumbled off that thing - wonder if Sam will?

I came home and got to work on dinner. It turned out that Paul was off by 3, so he was able to take the boys to their 6pm softball practice. I was so happy! Sam slept almost the entire time while they were gone and so I had the house to myself, which was Heaven! It really gave me a taste for two weeks from now when Paul and the boys will be going overnight to the Father/Son retreat up at camp. I'll have Sam, but that won't be much of a problem. I am getting so excited about that! I plan to eat junk food and watch chick flicks and stay up really late (you know, like to 11:00!). The next day I have a couple of graduation parties to attend, but it won't be difficult with only Sam. I'm sure I'll be getting plenty giddy as the day approaches!

Tomorrow morning we'll be getting up early again. We're going up to Ames to help my brother and his family move. It's a joyous thing. It's kind of a long story, but they have struggled for several years to get to the point that they will be at tomorrow - homeowners in Iowa. From the time God put that desire in their hearts they have met roadblock after roadblock as they waited for His perfect timing. Finally, all the pieces are in place and tomorrow night they will be sleeping in their new home! So, I'm very happy for them. And I'll see my parents, too, because they are driving down to help.

So, that's the latest installment in my life! Nothing too exciting - just the days that form the quickly passing years!