Tuesday, June 30, 2009
And then the next day we met for a picnic with our families. It's always fun to see each others' kids and to try and see how much they look like I remember their mom or dad looking like in school! Paul wasn't feeling well at that. He had a nasty seizure early that morning and really clawed up his eye, probably scratching his cornea again. So he was hurting. It was really hot and humid, too, which could inspire another post, about why I do not enjoy outdoor entertainment!
All in all, a good time, though. I liked my class, I liked most of high school, and I like getting together every 5 years with them. I just wish I wasn't so tongue-tied in public situations.
It took us about 4 hours to make a 2 hour trip home, though. Matt and Kirsti had been up at Mom and Dad's, too, over the weekend, leaving about 1/2 hour before we did on Sat. We were not quite an hour into our trip and Matt called, concerned that he had left his unemployment papers at Mom and Dad's. So, being the good sister I am, I had Paul turn around and we met Mom and Dad halfway back and they handed off his papers. Then, we met Matt and Kirsti in Ames at a gas station (the irony becomes apparent in a moment) and handed them over. I joked with Matt it seemed like a clandestine, spy operation, handing papers through car windows, as we were! So we got back on the road and all of a sudden we ran out of gas! I was trying to bite my tongue, but I just couldn't. I have never once in my entire life run out of gas because I actually watch the gas gauge as I drive. Apparently, Paul does not. So, we called Matt who was home or close to it by that point. He brought us some gas. Dumb, dumb, dumb!
Sunday we went to church and then afterwards we changed and hit the road going West to Council Bluffs. Well, first I had to go to Walmart. It seems that one of Ben's sandals had jumped out of the bag prior to making it into our van and he was going to be hopping around like Captain Hook after an encounter with a beaver, if I didn't buy him some new shoes. So we did that and got out to Council Bluffs mid afternoon. We stopped by the annual Heywood picnic which was going on then and saw a few people - not that I really know anyone except Paul's family. His dad is one of 16 children and they all have multiple descendants and then when you factor in the plenteous divorces and remarriages and stepchildren - it's a lot of people. We then went out to Paul's sister's and he fixed her central air. This was the whole point to us going. He had promised to fix her AC a long time ago and with schedules and distance, had not been able to make it happen. He didn't want to miss work to do it, so we just made it happen this weekend. It's not like we had anything else going on this weekend!
We stopped by Paul's grandma and played a game of Aggravation with her. I don't know if Paul realized it or not - I should mention this to him - but this was the first time ever that Ben has played a game with us all the way through. He was able to grasp the marbles and his attention was there and he quickly caught onto the game - I loved it!
We did find out this weekend that we are going to be "greats" again, as in Great-Uncle and Aunt. There's a baby on the way due in October. It's not a good situation and it's one that fills me with a great deal of sadness, making it hard to rejoice in the anticipation of new life. Since this is the boys' cousin, close in age to Will, we felt the need to talk with Will about the situation. We didn't want it to be a "Look what your cousin did!" kind of scenario, but rather, an opportunity to discuss why this happened, how it could have been avoided - things like that. I think it went well. Will isn't exactly a verbose person, but he willingly participated in the conversation. I told Paul that if nothing else, this serves as a strong reminder to me of the need to be purposeful in our parenting.
And that's my weekend report! Yesterday I spent housecleaning, and then shopping, and then getting home in time to meet with the realtor (who thinks we ought to hang onto our house until next spring, at least). Today I have been cooking and doing more cleaning because I am having company Thursday and it's possible I may be having other company both Friday and Saturday. Gotta keep those toilets clean! Now I am leaving to take Ben to Social Skills and then I have at least three places to go afterwards.
Funnies from the Middles: Last week Ben said to me, "Mom, I sure hope I have kids someday." I said, "Oh, why's that?" He replied, "Because when they're bad, I'm going to be a whole lot nicer than you are!" And then Sunday night the boys were wanting to know about which sins God really hates. So I directed them to the Proverbs passage that mentions things about "a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, etc" and the boys wanted to know what "gossip" is. I explained and then David started coming up with examples. He said, "Oh, it would be like if someone said 'That Sarah Heywood sure can't take of her kids!' And then he said, "Or, if someone said, 'Boy, that Sarah Heywood just has too much to do and she can't take care of her boys very well!" The kid came up with about five potential scenarios, all ending with "Sarah Heywood doesn't take care of her kids." I finally had to ask, "David, are you trying to tell me something?!" Give me a break!
Saturday, June 27, 2009
From the time I was quite small, I desired to be a mother. I wasn't sure how many children I thought I'd like to have, but I knew I wanted several. I can remember reading "Cheaper By the Dozen" and "Bells on their Toes" as a 6th grader and telling my friends later that I wanted to have twelve kids someday. I loved the portrayal of the Gilbreath family in these books and I just knew I could duplicate the same thing someday in my own family!
My parents had some friends who ultimately ended up with seven children. I observed this family whenever they would come visit and I soon came to view big families as something negative. This particular family was quite poor and I remember wondering why they continued to have babies when it was obvious that they couldn't afford them! Also, when they would come visit us in our home, I would watch the husband and wife. The husband would go out back, sit with my dad, and talk. The poor wife, no doubt desperate for some "women talk" time would be in the kitchen attempting to talk to my mom while trying to keep her kids under control. It was a losing battle! I also remember observing that the parents, particularly the mother, always seemed angry with their kids. So, this example that I had did not paint big families in a favorable light at all! Indeed, before I even left home, this particular family dissolved. The wife walked away from all of her children and husband one day and eventually had a baby with another man. Later, it was found out that she had abused some of the children over the years. Obviously, in this situation, there was a whole lot more going on than simply having too many children. Although, I can't help but think that this poor wife was simply overwhelmed and exhausted by the demands of so many and maybe she would have been better off if she'd had a more supportive husband and fewer children. Perhaps this tragedy would not have occurred.
I also remember noticing during my growing up years that very, very few families in our large church had more than three children. Ours certainly didn't! It was just me and two younger brothers. I realize now that those relatively small or medium sized families were probably not so much a statement of what people thought families out to be, but a way for those families to be able to afford our church's Christian school tuition!
Regardless of these observations, by the time I was dating my husband I had decided that I still wanted a large family. I knew I had plenty of energy and since I had no intention of ever being poor, I figured having a big family would be no problem at all. So I told Paul I intended to have seven children and he said that sounded fine to him!
By the time I'd had my first two babies I was beginning to reconsider the whole "seven kids" thing, though! We were poor, I had a special needs child, and it was obvious that I'd be having surgical deliveries with any future children. It was at this point that I began to question who was in control of my fertility and what my attitude ought to be towards the control of it. We had some well-meaning friends and family urging us to never have any more. But I wanted more children and I wasn't so sure I liked the idea of surgically altering one of our bodies in order to control what we thought our family size should be.
We had our third child, miscarried another, and then entered a long period of secondary infertility. It was during this period of time that God began to really challenge both our hearts concerning the issue of our fertility. It was also at this time that I first heard of "quiverfull" thinking. The terminology comes from Psalm 127:5, which says, referring to children, "Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them." The idea is that a couple totally removes their fingers from family planning and lets God send - or not send - babies as He sees fit. There was a time where I began to wonder if I had missed the boat with my thinking, wanting to plan the number of children we'd have, along with their spacing. I never became totally convinced, though, that this was God's perfect plan for all families. However, since I was unable to have more children at that time, I was able to let the concept ride, mentally, and just shrug my shoulders and say, "whatever!" Life went on without me having to make a definite decision, one way or the other, to God's will.
By the time our youngest celebrated his 8th birthday, I was, miraculously, about fifteen weeks pregnant, and it appeared that we'd be taking this one home. No longer could I let the issue of my responsibility towards our fertility rest. I actually spent most of my pregnancy anticipating and planning yet another future pregnancy, because I thought it would be best if we had a companion close in age for this baby, since he would be so much younger than his older brothers.
At the same time, though, I could not find a peace about accepting the whole quiverfull idea. It seemed to go against what I read in Scripture about being a good steward, both of money and our bodies. Nowhere could I find direct orders from God prohibiting the practice of family planning. I couldn't even find principles that would seem to support this. Often, those that are quiverfull, like to point to Psalm 127:3-5 as a basis for their thinking.
It's a beautiful passage of Scripture, but I don't see any directives there. At the time, this didn't mean, however, that I intended to not have any more children. But if I did, it would be because we had prayerfully sought God's will for our family, and not because we felt compelled to accept as many babies as we could conceive.
As things turned out, we didn't have that fifth child. Our fourth was the last. In the weeks preceding delivery, I was pressed by several of my doctors on the subject of more pregnancies. All were discouraging the idea. My pregnancy had been difficult and high risk. This would already be my fourth c-section and the idea of a fifth did not appeal to my doctors. Still, I declined to say that we were finished. I really wanted one more! I remember my OB bluntly asking, "Sarah, have you considered adoption?"
In the face of such disapproval, Paul and I began to pray. We didn't want to be stupid, but neither did we want to be pressured into making a decision we didn't want to. We asked God to make His will very clear to us concerning what we should do with our future fertility.
A week after having my fourth son, I suffered a small stroke while sleeping. As we were waiting for test results while sitting in the ER, I remember saying to Paul, "Do you suppose this means no more babies?" Somehow, I knew. Indeed, the next day the neurologist sat in my hospital room and told me he strongly suspected that my c-section and/or pregnancy hormones had contributed or had even caused the stroke and that were I to have another baby, I could end up having a massive stroke. My OB also came up to see me that day. She had gotten sick right after delivering Sam and so I had not seen her since my surgery. She told me that my c-section was absolutely one of the hardest she had ever done because of the amount of scar tissue on my uterus and around my bladder.
Later that day our pastor came to visit me in the hospital and Paul and I laid out for him the facts and opinions we'd been given and asked what he thought. He stood there and said, "Well, that's a no-brainer!" It was. We had to conclude that we had been praying about this issue and that perhaps God had even sent, or at least allowed, the stroke as a way to clue us in to His will for us. The Bible is full of examples of God speaking His will through others and we had to believe that God was using my doctors as His mouthpiece.
Paul got a vasectomy when Sam was eight weeks old and we have yet to regret that decision, although a part of me still wistfully thinks at times about that fifth child I would have liked to have!
Still, I was surprised at the criticism I received from one person. She told me that I wasn't exercising enough faith and even if I did have another stroke or died during a future delivery, I should accept that as God's perfect will. But I couldn't. God gave me a brain, along with a free will. Just as I was not compelled to receive the gift of salvation, neither am I compelled to receive and raise countless children! One thing Paul has mentioned more than once to me is that the Bible is full of examples of families of all different sizes. If God's will was that all would have large families, it seems that there would a consistent example of this throughout Scripture.
So where does this leave the rest of Christian parents, though? I had rather extreme circumstances that, admittedly, most parents won't have. Many have the health and physical ability to have many, many children. Is God's will different for them? No. However, God's will is individual, from couple to couple. I have no doubt that while one couple feels comfortable with limiting their family to only one or two children, and doesn't do so for selfish reasons, without seeking God's will, it may be God's perfect will for another family to have numerous children. My concern is when I see mothers who feel spiritually forced into this mindset and have baby after baby, wearing themselves out in the process. Often they lack the financial resources to adequately care for all their children (not that God doesn't or won't supply their needs, but He's not going to continuously rescue one from a situation of their own making), and more often than not, older children end up taking on more parental responsibilities than they ought to have to do. It can be argued that that situation helps to instill responsibility in the older children and I agree. My older boys , in fact, have been a tremendous help in caring for their baby brother. But I'm not so sure that it's right for an older sibling to be continually forced into that responsibility.
Can I just say here that, despite how the above paragraph may come across, I love big families?! I enjoy reading and hearing about the Duggers and other mega-families. I find it inspiring to see how they manage their households and would love to sit at the feet of some of these moms and see just how it is that they do it!
One of the neatest moms I know is my friend Tammy. She's expecting her eighth baby this fall. Unlike most parents of large broods, however, Tammy and her husband are not quiver minded. With the exception of a couple of "suprises", all their children were individually planned and conceived. They just wanted a bigger family than most. All the children are very well-behaved and even though the household operates on a shoestring budget, they all seem to be well-fed and adequately clothed! Tammy and I have had many conversations about this very subject and she, herself, has lamented to me over mothers she know who seem to be bent on having children just so they can say they have X number of children.
These are thoughts that have been clattering around for a while in my brain. It's actually been kind of cathartic to write them out in some sort of orderly fashion. Ending our fertility was not an easy decision and there have been some times that I have second guessed our decision. But all I have to do is to come back to the conclusions that we drew from our search of the Scriptures and I know we did the right thing. In conclusion, if I ever have the opportunity to counsel young married couples, this is what I will urge them to do: don't take my word for it. Go through the Bible and see what God says about family planning. Consider your resources and own desires. Ask God what His will is for your future family. Don't be persuaded by anyone, regardless of where they stand on this issue, except God. In seeking God's will you will end up with a perfect peace and the perfect family!
PS: the baby in the picture is my own sweet Samuel when he was just two weeks old!
Thursday, June 25, 2009
While I was cleaning the kitchen, Sam was following me around. He loves, loves, loves my swivel sweeper. I am less than enamored with it even though it proclaimed in red letters on the box "As Seen on TV!" It doesn't do what I hoped it would, which was to make cleaning more effortless and to be an improvement over using a regular broom. But anyway, I think Sam likes the noise the sweeper makes - typical boy. But then, he grabbed the sweeper and started singing into the top of it, pretending it was a microphone! It was SO cute. I really wonder where he got that idea - tv? Maybe he'll be a musical genius...the wheels are already turning in my head. Actually, just having a child that enjoys singing would be nice.
It's been a hot week here. Paul has been working almost non-stop since last Thursday. He's on call this week. And that's nice that it worked out that way. He'll very nearly kill himself, but the paycheck in a couple of weeks will make it worth it. In this business the first cold and the first hot weeks of the year are always the busiest because that is when customers discover that their furnace or air conditioner, that worked just fine last season, has given up the ghost, and they need service NOW! Even Paul's boss was remembering this week to Paul that he had happened to be on call last December when we had our first bitter weather of the season. I see that as God's provision. I'm not so sure Paul sees it that way, though!
Paul did get a break Tuesday. We had severe weather roll in. In less than an hour, the temperature plummeted from 96 degrees to 69. It was unreal! Ben and I were out in West Des Moines and as I walked into Best Buy, I looked at the sky and thought "tornado weather." I wanted to get home to the other boys but I really did need to go to Walmart still. As we walked in, the wind was really getting strong and it was whipping around the decorative chip pieces that the Jordan Creek Walmart uses in their parking lot. They were hitting my ankles and legs and that hurt! When we emerged less than a half hour later the rain was just beginning to pour down. We went ahead and ran for the van and became absolutely soaked in the process. I had to take off my sandals and run barefoot because they were so slick from the rain they wouldn't stay on my feet! We were both just soaked to our underwear. As I was driving home, Paul called and said that his bosses had cancelled all the evening appointments, even though they had call after call. You can't do outside AC work in the rain. Apparently one customer was so upset by this she volunteered to go outside in the rain and hold an umbrella over the technician if Loziers would still send someone to her house! They didn't. So he did get Tuesday night off. But he worked all through yesterday and will again today, I'm sure. I won't complain. Work has been so slow for Paul this spring and summer that these extra hours are a real blessing.
I took the boys to the pool for the first time this year on Monday. I lasted 3 hours, which is pretty good for me. David could have stayed all day, I'm sure! He's been a little fish since he was a baby. I think Sam is following in his footsteps. Last year when we went he'd spend the first hour whimpering into my chest before relaxing and enjoying the water. But this year he was off as soon as he spied the water! He absolutely loved it! He even lost his balance a few times and went under and it never upset him - no tears and he just sneezed the extra water out! Ben has never been a big fan of swimming and will frequently spend his time at the pool just sitting on the towels. But this time he discovered the water slide and went down over and over and over. I was glad he found something to do. Will will be gone July 4 - 18 on a missions trip and then camp, so maybe I can take the younger boys to the pool again one of those days that he's gone.
Tomorrow we are leaving in the afternoon to go up to Waterloo so we can go to my 20 year high school reunion. How am I this old? That should be nice. Although, the school recently changed its name, dropping the church affiliation, the "Baptist" part of it and the "Academy" part of it. What's left? That whole thing disturbs me on a number of levels. At the same time, I recognize that the hey-day years of private Christian schools (the 70s and 80s) are probably over and many are struggling today and resorting to whatever means they can in order stay open.
We'll drive back here Saturday evening and then Sunday after church we are going to head out to Council Bluffs. Paul's sister needs a new central air unit badly and Paul wants to see if he can get her unit working enough until he can find her a new one. Plus, the annual Heywood picnic is that day and he thought it would be nice to stop by. I had other thoughts on the subject, but since he is going with me to my high school reunion, I guess I have to go with him to his family picnic! Then we'll drive back here that night. Both Waterloo and Council Bluffs are two hours away from us so that's going to be a lot of driving this weekend. We'll be taking our Lumina because it has a working air conditioner, unlike our new Venture. I hope it doesn't pick this weekend to die, since it has 200,000+ miles on it!
One thing I think I'll work on during all those road hours is a new essay post for my blog. I have not written one of those since March 31 and am way overdue to bless you all with my thoughts on a specific subject! :) I have a subject in mind, so I'll just jot down some thoughts and then I can flesh it out and get it up here next week sometime.
Paul talked with our realtor this week and the realtor is guessing we could sell our house for $30,000 more than what we paid for it. I was kind of shocked to hear that. If he's right, that would be wonderful. But he hasn't actually been out here since we bought the place in '04, so we want him to come out, walk around, and then give us a realistic estimate after seeing it. So, we're still trying to figure out what to do - refinance, sell, re-do the bathroom, add a laundry room and then sell, or put a basement under here and stay forever. All I know is that I am tired of living with drywall dust and I do not want to move to another fixer-upper! I think Paul wants to move, though. I kind of like Swan, so I am less crazy about the idea. We'll see what happens!
Before I give the computer back to Ben, a couple of things: I have gotten a lot of responses from my last post, about how God used my boys up at camp. All I can say is - to God be the glory! One thing God has been teaching me over and over throughout the past 13 years is that He will use simple things in an big way if we let Him. He can take our biggest hurts and turn them into instruments for His glory.
Also, yesterday my brother Matt was laid off from his job that he moved to Iowa for a little over a year ago. He and Kirsti are scared and disappointed, of course. They just bought a house last month and have another baby on the way. The timing seems pretty bad, all things considered. So please pray for them. I am confident that God will take care of them, as are they, but I know the terror that can accompany a job loss and my heart aches for them. And if you know anybody needing someone with an engineering degree and experience, let me know!
These are strange and uncertain times we live in, are they not? Praise God for the One who never changes and meets our every need!
Saturday, June 20, 2009
And then Dave told me that Will was such a testimony to the boys. There were two other brother combos in the group - all unsaved boys. They saw how patient Will was with Ben during his meltdowns and really how all 3 boys treated each other and it caused them to ask questions of Dave later in the week because their relationships with their brothers were not the same. Anyway, one of the boys ended up getting saved! Dave told me there was a reason Ben and Will were there, even if it was for that short time, because they were a testimony to the other boys, who needed to see that.
So this really warms the cockles of my heart! Here I have been feeling crummy all week long over this camping fiasco and perhaps it wasn't a total loss. I wish I could say this was all due to my superior parenting, but I don't think so. I have made lots of mistakes. I just have really great kids. And perhaps Ben's situation has affected the other boys more than I ever really thought it did, making them more compassionate and merciful as a result. Not that they don't "get into it" with each other from time to time - they are siblings, after all! Although, Ben did comment to me this last week even on that. He said, "Mom, do you remember when I used to take revenge on my brothers?" That had gotten to be a real problem with him last year. Kids on the autism spectrum tend not to have graduations of anger. They go from mildly irritated to enraged within seconds. So his brothers would do something to him and he would completely overreact, chasing them around the house with the intent to harm. That behavior has almost completely stopped within the past 6-8 months, thankfully. I told him, yes, I remembered. Ben said, "Well, that was wrong of me. God tells us in the Bible not to take revenge, doesn't He?" Oh, boy, did that comment make me rejoice!
Also from Ben: last night Ben was being miserable again over his need to come home from camp. He said, "But I'm not a little kid...I'm a man!" I about spit out the water I was drinking at the time! Not yet, Ben - but someday. And I'm beginning to think that you may end up becoming one I can be really proud of.
Friday, June 19, 2009
How many of these am I supposed to have? And I thought last week was rough. But don't worry. I'm not going to spend the whole post whining - just part of it.
Oh, before I forget. I switched blog formats last week and I kind of like this new one. But I don't like the way it is highlighting some of my words, making them links to other things. They're green and hard to read on the greenish background. Does anyone know how to get rid of that?
Ok, back to my life: First, I have to explain the picture. This was one of the really, really good parts of my week. Sara came down yesterday, handed me this (heavy) board and said, "Happy Birthday!" My birthday was 3 months ago and at the time she said she was "working" on my present. I put it out of my mind. So she hands me this board and you can see how she put the cute "boy" phrase on there with letters she got at an Uppercase Living party. Well, I started reading the quotes she had printed on the sides and as I read oh, probably the fourth one, I exclaimed, "Hey, I wrote that!" Sara laughed and said, "Sarah, you wrote all of them!" She explained that she had taken the blog post I wrote in Feb. about what it's like raising boys and had lifted things I wrote and put them on the board. I was SO touched. That has to be one of the most special and thoughtful gifts I have ever received. Now I have to find a place to hang it. Sara also was really encouraging about my writing, urging me to try to get myself published. I told her I don't know how. Until I started this blog, I had very little in my files. And even with this blog, most of my writing has just been more diary type entries with only a few essay posts. By the way, I do have a list of those I want to tackle on here - just haven't gotten to it. But when I think of something that would be good to write about, I have started writing it down in my "brain" book (a notebook I carry around in my purse). I think what I really need to do is get to a writer's conference. I just don't know how much to push right now. I don't think I'm exceptionally talented and the writing field is pretty crowded. But I'd like to try. But I also have a family to raise. I'm not convinced now is really the time to really be pushing this. But when? When I'm 75 and almost dead?
However, last night while reading my Good Housekeeping in the bathtub, I saw that they are sponsoring a short story contest. Now my chances of winning are nil because I have not written fiction since high school or maybe even before. I tend to be more of a "lecturer" when I write - probably because I'm a firstborn, as well as a wife and a mom. I'm good at bossing people! But, I think it would be good practice for me to write something and enter. I have three months to do it.
All right: My not so good week: Monday morning I packed all 3 boys off to camp, with a knot the size of Texas in my gut. I was only concerned about Ben. We were pretty convinced he was ready for a week of camp, but still, when presented with the reality of the situation, the doubts crept in. With good reason, apparently! David refused to hug me goodbye, which surprised me. But, all his friends were there and I'm sure he wanted to appear tough. I have been through that with Will, so I wasn't hurt. Much. I went on to Walmart. As I'm walking in the door, Sam threw up all over me. Specifically, he threw up all over my right breast. I cleaned him up and he was fine after that but I had a vomit stain on my right breast all day while I shopped. Then, on the way home from shopping, I wet my pants. Apparently my bladder ain't what she used to be pre-kids! I was just thankful I wasn't with anybody who could talk! Good grief - is this what I have to look forward to for the rest of my life? So I had to strip down and shower, bring in all the groceries, get the mail - and to my horror, discovered an overdraft notice from our bank. Since I took over our finances 16 months ago, I have been so proud of my financial acumen and the fact that we have never bounced a check. I still don't know what happened. I went in later in the week and talked with a banker and I can't figure out how I was $158 off in my figuring. I told Paul and he acted like it was no big deal (well, that might have been because it was 4 in the morning when I happened to mention it) but I was devastated! Fortunately, we had enough in savings to cover the offage and overdraft fees, but that account took a big hit this week with camp fees, the van deductible, and now this.
Ok, well Monday evening my friend Melissa and I got together for the first time. While I was waiting for her to arrive I got my first phone call from Ben, using his counselor's cell phone. He was hysterical. I couldn't even understand him. Apparently, he was overly tired and homesick within 9 hours of saying good-bye. I was afraid of this. When Ben gets tired he will wail uncontrollably. And then he'll cry even harder because he can't stop crying. At home we just force him into bed and don't allow him to talk any more because it becomes this cycle and all he needs is sleep. We warned his counselor about this, but were hopeful that with Will there and the excitement of camp, it would be ok. So, I talked with the counselor and with Will. Later, as Melissa and I were eating, I got two more calls so I had Will call Paul so then Paul got to deal with Ben instead of me.
Melissa and I had a great time. I have only known her at church and so this was wonderful - girl time away from church and with just the two of us. Our 14 year olds are very good friends too, so it's perfect! We're going to do this again.
7am the next morning Ben's counselor calls Paul. Ben didn't get much sleep the night before and was still a mess, just going bananas. So we decided that I would drive up there and collect him. I had plans to go to the zoo with my brother and his family, but so much for that! So in the pouring rain I had to drive Paul's '91 Voyager (because my van was still in the shop getting repaired from its encounter with Bambi last week) 2+ hours up to Clear Lake. Fortunately, Sam is a great little traveller. All my babies have been, actually. So, I signed Will and Ben out. They wanted to see some ID when I did that. I thought about saying, "Do you really think I'd volunteer to take this kid if he wasn't mine?!" but I didn't.
Ben feels terrible that he had to come home. He's embarrassed. And my feelings have been all over the place, too. I'm SO disappointed he didn't make it. And part of me feels like he didn't try very hard. But then I think maybe we pushed him too hard so then I get mad at myself. But then I get mad at him. And then I get mad at myself for being mad at my poor little boy. Paul's kind of upset at himself too. Our fear is that this will always be a big "F" for "Failure" in Ben's mind and so we want him to have success with camp in order to get past that. So, next year we are going to see if Paul can be the Junior Boys' counselor and thus be there for Ben. Wednesday night I had to go to church because I had nursery duty. Paul was working late so I had Ben stay with me in the nursery. Ben told me he wanted to sneak out before "circle time" (where we all hold hands, sing to any birthday or anniversary people, and count off) because, in his words, "People might look at me and say, 'hey, there's that boy that's supposed to be at camp!'" That made me laugh! But I did let him go ahead and run out to the van through a different door.
Now, I think David is having a good time. When I showed up to pick up his brothers, he ran over to me, allowed me half a hug, and asked if I'd mailed him anything yet. And that was it -he was off! He is petrified of thunderstorms and Wednesday they were having some pretty rough ones up there in the Mason City area. I wonder how he did?!?
Well, Sam's shoe fetish hasn't lessened any. He has permanently lost one of my black sandals - one of my basic pairs. I finally had to go buy another pair this week. I wasn't happy! I took him into Payless Monday because over the weekend I realized that his toes were curling over the edge of his current ones (that I just bought last month!). Oh boy! The kid was in Heaven! He kept pulling shoes out of the boxes and begging me to take off his sandals so he could try them on. This was after I'd already selected and tried on the new sandals for him. He wanted to try on every pair of shoes in the store. While I was waiting in line to pay he ran around to a display by the front door and then came back to me. He had wedged his feet (with his sandals on) into two women's' thong style sandals and was hopping in them. He was so happy!
On my way home Tues. I stopped in Boone and saw Matt and Kirsti after they got back from the zoo. I bought Jake's old toddler bed from them so we were able to load that up in my van. Will got it put together the next day and Sam has been in it ever since. He's doing just fine in it. Except, now he's coming down in the middle night to our room! So I think I'm going to put the baby gate up across his bedroom door. The steps are steep and completely dark at night and he comes down dragging his big old fake sheepskin blanket (that he stole off our bed) and I'm afraid he's going to lose his footings one of these times and tumble down the steps. Plus, I can't sleep when he's in bed with me. He's very wiry and not cuddly at all in bed. Today I cut up a twin top sheet and sewed the edges down so now Sam has two top sheets for his new bed. That was Paul's idea since it was so hot up in his room last night and he still wanted to sleep with his heavy blanket. It's a really cute bed and I'm glad Sam hasn't had any objections to using it. As I type, I'm waiting for a lady to come get his old bed (a pack n play). I put it on Craig's List this morning and finally had to take it off because I was getting so many calls. I'm thinking maybe I didn't ask enough for it!
Yesterday Sara and her girls came down. We did a little bit of running around. I stopped at the fabric store and got fabric to sew my backroom valences. I only spent $9. I thought it'd be quite a bit more than that. We went to the Cheesecake Factory for dessert ( yes, cheesecake!) when we were done. That was Melissa's (her 10 year old) idea. I had never been in there before. I told Paul that's where we're going for our anniversary next year - it's so elegant! Sara didn't get to enjoy much of her dessert, though, since Emily (16 mos) decided she would much rather run around. When Sara did come back to the table, Emily reached down and grabbed a handful of whipped cream off one of the plates. She is quite the character - one willful little creature, that's for sure!
I'm still battling fatigue from last week's stroke episode. No matter how I try, I just can't get enough sleep. Next weekend is my 20 year high school reunion. I have a feeling I'm going to go with these great big dark, puffy bags under my eyes and all the women will sadly (but gleefully) tsk about how "Sarah has let herself go."
Tomorrow is the boys' double header games and picnic. I think I have written before about how much I enjoy (don't) those games. Although, it doesn't sound like it's going to be broiling. Rain would be nice, like a deluge that would cancel all the games and picnic...Paul will be working Sat. and is on first call so I don't know if he'll even make it to the games. I'm not looking forward to doing it all myself, but we definitely need that overtime pay (particularly after my banking fiasco this week!).
So yes, rough week indeed. But it wasn't all bad, as you can see. I guess that's what is kind of nice. Things are rarely so bad, that there is nothing to be enjoyed or at least to be thankful for. Not that I want to test that theory, though!
Friday, June 12, 2009
At the same time, I feel guilty. I don't have it that bad. I'm upset because my nearly 40 year old body doesn't work as well as it did 20 years ago? That seems kind of silly. I'm on a stroke survivor Internet list. Compared to some of the people on there, I have nothing to complain about. Some are bedridden. Some are crippled for life. Strokes are devastating as evidenced in these survivors' stories. And knowing that helps me understand why recovery has still been so difficult from my small one. But I feel like I shouldn't complain at all. Other than these episodes, I'm in good health. My children are healthy. We have a roof over our heads and aren't terribly worried about finding food for our next meal. There's a lady in our church who was widowed 6 months ago. Two weeks ago she found out she has an aggressive form of cancer. A gal I know on my rupture list found out less than a month ago that her 8 year old has a malignant brain tumor and will be dead within the year. He was her oldest by default since her oldest child died in infancy. What am I complaining about? So when people ask me how I am doing, all this runs through my mind and I struggle with how much to say. I grew up with a grandma who had a new litany of body complaints every time I saw her. I was concerned but not so concerned that I wanted to know everything! I remember thinking, even as a child, that I didn't want to be like that as an adult. I know people want to pray for me and I am so appreciative of that, but neither do I want to bore them with my self-centered recitation of my complaints, especially when I have so many other good things in my life. So, it's a struggle.
And it's discouraging. But Romans 8:28 popped into my head this morning as I was wheeling the cart through Wal-mart, mulling on these things, as well as noticing that the price of apple juice has gone up again. I firmly believe the promise of that verse, that ALL things do work for good, even and maybe especially, the things that seem so bad on the outside. It would help if I knew for what good! Then I might endure my suffering a little more cheerfully! But I guess that's part of faith - believing that God will do what He says He will when we can't see how or why that could possibly happen. And it's the whole eternal perspective thing, too, that I have written about before - recognizing that this earthly life is temporary and as such, so are our trials.
I can't type anymore. My dead hand is protesting mightily. But I'm looking forward to Heaven where there will be no deer (I hope), and I can type as long as I want without the limitations of my body!
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Nothing new to report this morning. Will spent the night with a friend, so it's just the younger boys and I today. I got dinner ready early since we'll have to run up to Social Skills class at 2. The kitchen is still a mess, though. I'm having a hard time getting motivated to pick up, which is not an uncommon occurrence, actually! I did do a bit of school with the boys. We have just started multiplication with Ben and David. I didn't think they were ready for the mult. flash cards yet, though, so I had intended to just do subtraction. Well, we couldn't find them. I'll have to pick up some more. I think I spend half our money replacing things we can't find! So we worked on the mult. flashcards and David got frustrated. Math is difficult for him, even Math U See, which I would have loved to have learned math through. But anyway, I was trying to find easier ones for David and he kept asking for a harder ones, which then, he couldn't do. So I finally packed up the cards and David burst out, "I wanted an 'excellent'!" It took me a moment to realize what he was saying. When the boys answer a more difficult problem correctly, I usually commend them by saying "excellent!" - something I didn't even realize I was doing. But, apparently, it's meaningful to them!
Poor kid. He'll get it. Yesterday David figured out that I held him back for the third grade. I was under the assumption he knew that - apparently not. What did he think we were doing all year? He was not happy, even though I tried to explain that with homeschooling, age and grades really mean nothing, since moms make different decisions about when to start and graduate their kids. I don't even have a grade for Ben! Finally, David tearfully asked me, "But what am I good at, Mom?" I felt so bad because I never wanted him to feel dumb. I spent most of my school years feeling that way and that was the last thing I ever wanted for my own children. But David's in a difficult spot. He sees Will who excels at things very easily and then there's Ben, who has difficulties, but his are easily explained by his brain injury. And then there's David, whose brain is healthy, but he still struggles academically. I was quick to point out to him his wonderful people skills, his compassion and empathy for others, his great communication skills, and his emerging gift of creative writing. He did seem to feel better after that. I can totally see David as a pastor or a counselor someday. I don't want to tell him that because that leading needs to come from God, but those are his areas of strength. So, we'll plug along with math, but my emphasis with him is going to be on the more literary and verbal parts of learning, things he might use someday!
Ok, lunchtime and then I'll catch up on my blogs. This was a detour!
Monday, June 8, 2009
So - my weekend: It was great! This was our 7th homeschool conference and probably the best one I've ever been to. I actually got to attend quite a few workshops. I just found myself very challenged this weekend, particularly by the main speaker, Dr. Voddie Bochup (not spelled right) from Texas. So often I go to these conferences and I hear the same message over and over again - homeschool your kids, it's the only Biblical way to do it, have lots of family devotions, throw away your tv, and stay away from Sunday School and youth groups, yada, yada, yada. But this man really grabbed my heart and interest and I walked away really wanting to be a better mother to my children in all areas, not just concerning their education. I attended a workshop on homeschooling your highschooler. So I'm not quite so panicked as I was. I can do this! Actually, this woman that did the workshop has a business where she coaches homeschool parents through the high school years and gives them direction to getting their children into college. So I may look into that. One thing she was really promoting was taking CLEP tests for college credit during the high school years. I am wanting Will to do some college work during these high school years. My neighbor told me awhile back that I could have him get his AA degree online and the school district would pay for it. So I stopped at this lady's booth and asked the rep there about that possibility as well. The rep. asked, "Why would you want to use the school for anything?" I'm thinking, "Duh - because it's free!" (as compared to the $100 per subject CLEP tests). But I'll just have to look into it and see. Some people in the homeschool community - and unfortunately, a lot of times with good reason - are very, very negative on having any contact at all with the public schools. I don't see it that way at all. If we were ever threatened I'd drop it all in a heartbeat, but I view it as having the best of both worlds. We have only had experience with small districts too - that may make a difference.
Paul was able to attend Friday evening and all day Saturday with me. When I remember how reluctant he was in the beginning about homeschooling and I compare it to how enthusiastic he is about it now - kind of makes my heart glad. It's nice to have his full support. He even commented to me this past winter that he wished he had the time to take over some of the teaching so I wouldn't have to do so much. I'd go for that! And the conference is always like a "date" weekend, too, for us. I plied the boys with movies and junk food so they were content and busy all day Friday and then my parents drove down from Waterloo Saturday and watched them. Now it's over for another year...sigh...
VBS starts tonight. I am teaching the 4s, 5s, and 6s. Well, there's actually three of us in there. They put my name as the "head" teacher, but I don't think it really means anything. I was just the one that did the delegating amongst the three of us. We spent last night turning my classroom into an "igloo." Well, sort of. I hope the kids are of the "easily impressed" variety! So this will be a tiring and busy week with that. It's going to be long for Sam, too, stuck in the nursery. So I plan to take him out periodically, for puppets and game and snack time, as I can. He's getting a little too aggressive for the nursery, anyway, the closer he gets to his second birthday. I kind of fear for the little babies when he's in there!
Will started weight lifting for football this morning, bright and early. I think I need a nap. Will just now stumbled down the steps from his morning long nap. We left the house at 6:10 am (!) and I had to go get him again around 7:45. This will be every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday of the summer. Will said it went very well and both coaches went out of their way to make him feel welcomed. I'm glad! He said the upperclassmen were also very helpful to the younger players. That's the way it ought to work!
Well, the boys are insisting they must be fed now and I'm having a hard time keeping my eyes open at the keyboard. These early mornings are really going to mess with me, I fear! So, I'm off. Be sure and know that I will continue to report on any and all future odd appliance happenings!
Thursday, June 4, 2009
I started getting nervous, though, when it got to be 7:30 and Paul still hadn't walked up to City Hall and I wasn't out of the meeting. One of us had to leave then to get the boys. He had gotten into a project and got distracted (how did I know that I would happen?) and finally showed up chugging in his old red truck. Sam was having a ball, helping him drive! So I jumped in my van and drove like an almost-maniac to get to church to pick up the boys. It was nice - one of the few times I got to control the radio dial. I made it in record time. Turn-out was small tonight at this boys' club, but it was their first meeting. The boys had a great time and they thought I was the greatest mom ever when I actually gave them money to run into Caseys for drinks while I filled up the van.
Now, Ben is in bed, David is eating (he's been a bottomless pit for about a month now. A couple of weeks ago we were at my parents' for Memorial Day and for lunch he ate 6 hot dogs in a row. He told me later that he could have eaten more, but he was 'saving room for dessert')! Will is outside doing something for Paul, Paul is putting a new closet door in, and Sam is on the couch, chugging a juice bottle and watching the news. I need to get to bed - busy 2, actually 3, days ahead.
Oh, and Paul found out today that we got approved for re-financing the house. The ARM comes due this Sept. and interest rates are on the rise, so we figured we better act now. It's going to come to about $10 more a month, but I guess that isn't too bad. So we'll probably be signing papers next week.
I've got to go bandage up David and then I'll be back with my "plug."
Ok, my plug: My very good friend, Laurie has started a blog as of today and I would like to encourage all my readers to check it out. Her address is http://dreamerofbetterdays.blogspot.com. I hope I got that right! I have known Laurie for quite a few years now. We met on a uterine rupture survivor list and soon found that we had much more in common that traumatic birth experiences. Laurie is a dear Christian lady (girl? woman? "Lady" sounds ultra refined and ultra old!) who lives in Georgia. She has quite a few children, some by birth and others by adoption. She has a couple of special needs children in there. She's homeschooled forever. Laurie is the kind of person who always makes me reevaluate my absolute positions on things, but in a very gentle way. She's kind, loves the Lord dearly, has been through some pretty deep valleys, and always has just the right thing to say. She's also a gifted writer and I think you'll like her. One of my greatest desires is take a trip to Georgia one of these years and finally get to hug Laurie. Actually, that's what my friend Angee and I both say. Angee is another gal from that rupture group who is quite close with Laurie and me. I have met up with Angee a couple of times since she lives in Missouri and whenever we're together, we always say, "Oh, if only Laurie were here!" Go visit her site. She's worth the read!
Well, David has informed me that it's time I tuck him into bed, so I guess I had better head that way. I think I'll pop a load of laundry in, take a bath, and then hopefully make it to bed before - oh wait, it's already 10:00! So much for making an early night of it!
I had Sam's warts burned off this morning. He didn't seem to mind. He was fascinated by the water dispenser in the waiting room and while I made his follow-up appointment, he flooded the thing. I cannot turn my back on him for a second!
This weekend is our homeschool conference. I love those things! This will be our 7th year in a row attending. I buy the boys' books there, but I also attend workshops and come away really inspired to do this yet one more year! This year I need to attend workshops on homeschooling high school because I don't know how to do things so that we'll have a transcript in four years or so that Will will be college-ready. I know it can be done and I know I can do it, but it's just learning the ins and outs of it.
Ben's Namenda may be working. His SS teacher came to me last night and told me that this past Sunday she had her best ever class with him. He actually completed an entire paper and stayed in his seat the entire class. I was blown away! Ben is normally like a grasshopper in classroom situations. And then our pastor's wife told me that Ben actually engaged her in conversation last night. He doesn't normally do that. The doctor doubled his dosage from 20 mg to 40 mg last Friday. Could it have worked that fast? I don't know!
Well, I have to scoot. We have 45 min. to get ready, eat supper, and hit the road. I have to run up to Blockbuster and get movies for the boys to watch tomorrow while they entertain themselves while I am at the conference all day. And then I have to run back down to Indianola to drop the boys off and back to Swan for the meeting. It's going to be a short night, I'm thinking. I need to do my nails somewhere in there, too, I just realized. Oh, and I wanted to write about my new shelves - it'll have to wait until later. I'm already late!
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
We have been so blessed by the generosity of others when it comes to dressing our boys. There are not a lot of clothing items I have to buy for any of them. I wasn't sure how that would work out when we had Sam since I had not saved David's things, but I have had two friends, plus my sister in law, begin to pass down their baby boys' clothes, so that hasn't been an issue either. It's been such a blessing! So anyway, at the beginning of this warm weather season, Sam had 3 pairs of sandals in his tubs of hand me downs that would fit this season. He also had a pair of red crocs that I bought this winter so his feet wouldn't get cold on our old floors.
So I have been beyond frustrated when it has been a near impossibility to find ANY matching pairs of sandals. I can find one of each pair, but never both! From time to time both shoes will pop up and I'll have a matching set for a day and then one will get lost again. It is not like we live in a cavernous house with lots of dark corners and room to lose things. Our house is actually kind of small for six people. You tell me! I have searched behind furniture and under beds and not found a single little shoe.
One day, out of his 4 pairs of sandals, he had not one matching pair. So, running errands with Ben, I stopped at K-mart and bought him another pair of size 6 sandals. I spent $13 - grr.... I don't normally shop at K-mart, but we were out that way, and Ben begged (his store obsession) so that's how I ended up there. Apparently K-mart orders their shoes from small 3rd world countries where every child is malnourished, because while these were size 6 shoes I bought, they sure seem smaller than Sam's other 6s. His toes are already curling over the ends. I can't win!
I should add that while the mates to his other shoes have popped up before disappearing again, Sam is still missing the other light-up Spiderman sandal he had. Those are cute - too bad!
Speaking of summer shoes: has anyone noticed how hard it is to find crocs this year? I found some for Will - a men's size 11 - at Walmart early in the season, but they don't have them anymore. Ben and David needed new crocs, too, and I absolutely could not find them in their sizes (men's 6 and 7). They had a few adult pairs and small children's, but nothing in between. It makes me think that maybe crocs are finally beginning to disappear from the fashion scene. It certainly won't break my heart! I have always thought those things look like small snowshoes and refused to buy any for myself. Why would I want to make my big feet look even bigger? But they boys love them and have insisted on them for several years now, even though I would have preferred to spend more money and buy them nice leather sandals. This year Ben and David had to settle for the flip flop variety - plastic, like crocs, but with only a wide band over the front of the foot. I noticed quite a few of them in stores, so it does make me wonder if that is the direction footwear is going now. That's what I wear all summer long. I can't stand to have anything between my toes so typical thong flip flops are out for me. None of the boys like those, either.
So anyway, what you can glean from this post: 1) Sam may have a foot fetish 2) I am a terrible housekeeper and would rather buy new stuff than actually spend time looking for lost stuff 3) where are the crocs? I'm sure you're all richer for reading it!