Thursday, July 30, 2009


This picture is from last Sunday night during David's baptism. It was so special! Poor kid - he was so nervous that as I perched on the steps, watching, I could see his whole body trembling. But he did fine. My parents drove down from Waterloo and got a hotel room for the night. I was so impressed - I didn't expect them to do that! I had fun introducing them around church and one lady (whose sister, interestingly enough, attends my parents' church) said she could now see where I get my mannerisms. Huh - I had never thought about that. I knew I had Mom's face, but I didn't realize I had gotten more than that. Afterwards, they came back to the house and we had ice-cream. I had kept the fact that they were coming a surprise from the boys and it was so funny because earlier that afternoon Ben wondered out loud, "When are we going to see Grandma and Grandpa Daniels again?" Little did he know!

Hours have been thin again this week for Paul. I don't ever remember a July this cold! I know it's wearing on me because a friend emailed yesterday to complain about their 100+ temps in Washington state (very, very unusual for them) and I was jealous! And I hate hot weather!

But, Paul and Will did a complete switch out of a furnace and AC for an area pastor last weekend, so that income helps. And he installed a water heater for a landlord we know and he may be doing another one of those next week. So, we'll get by. Or we'll eat lots of macaroni.

We are going camping tomorrow, after my appointment with the ear dr. I guess we're heading up to Webster City. Paul found some campground on the internet that looks promising. No pool, but with temps not even reaching 80 degrees, I don't think we'll mind that. Well, David might. He doesn't seem to mind swimming with blue lips. It has a golf course, which excites Will.

My friend Jennifer responded to my last post and asked why I don't have my own newspaper column. That's kind of interesting she said that because my all-time favorite author, the one whose work I have read repeatedly, my idol, was a newspaper columnist - Erma Bombeck. If I could write like anyone, it would be her. One of these days I'll have to remember to post my all-time favorite Erma column, "No More Oatmeal Cookie Kisses." That one makes me cry every single time I read it. I don't know that I'll ever have my own column (being a fundamentalist Christian and very conservative politically pretty much guarantees that no editors will be pounding on my door. Plus, my favorite writing subject tends to be my kids, and they are really only interesting to me), but I am making some strides in my writing. They're short strides and will have to be until the kids get grown, but it's progress and it makes me feel better. I dropped off my first article in the mail yesterday to RBP. I was/am SO nervous about that! My friend Kay, who writes for them already, is planning to contact the editor to let her know my piece is on its way. But that won't matter if she really doesn't like it. I asked myself last night what I will do if I am rejected this time. My first inclination would be to never submit anything to them again. But upon further reflection, I decided that I will keep trying. I want to be published by them! Maybe I could just wear them down with my persistence.

I also entered Faithwriters again this week. Faithwriters is a website that offers weekly writing challenges to would-be authors. They assign a subject and you have 150-750 words to expound on it in any form you'd like. Every week they pick the top 3 in each category level (beginner writer (me) to master level). Then every year they pick the best of the best and publish them in a book. I believe top winners also earn cash prizes at some point. The site is filled with all kinds of writing tips and things like that. I was pretty faithful at entering their writing challenges until last fall. But I have done it now the past two weeks. Have I won? No - not ever, ever. The competition is pretty stiff, even at the beginner level! Believe me, if I ever do win I'll be broadcasting it! I'm pretty much resigned to not winning now, although in the beginning, I was a little miffed. Everyone says I'm a wonderful writer - apparently their judges just don't recognize God-given talent when they see it! Ha! What is nice is that what you write is posted anonymously and then as readers (usually other writers) peruse the site, they can post comments about your piece. I love that! I get so excited when I get an email saying that someone has left a comment! And generally, they are very positive, encouraging notes and I'm so grateful for them. The other thing that I like is that by entering these contests, it's forcing me to write and it's giving me a portfolio of short writings that I can use later. I see that they have a writer's conference every August in Michigan. I am giving serious consideration to possibly going next year.

I am going to yet another dr. next Monday. This is out at Preventative Health Sciences. I visited them in June and that is when I met with the head guy and he was trying to sell me their $1500-4000 program where they teach you to eat right and exercise. I'm not opposed to that. I'm just opposed to spending that much money and having to eat whole grains and vegetables. But, they also have a regular medical and chiropractic clinic on site that takes insurance. They are more holistic in nature, which suits me fine. I'd prefer to do things with as few drugs as possible, anyway. Well, that's not true. Actually, I love drugs. But, I'm thinking I should back off on as many as I take. My purse is a walking pharmacy as it is. I have been having so many physical ailments over the past two years and especially the past few months. For example, I have been in absolute agony the past three days with my back. I'm pretty sure it's sciatic nerve pain. I can go to one dr or another and get treated for my symptoms. But I'd really like to find someone that would find the root of the problems and fix that instead. I'm hopeful that this place will be it. We shall see. I am getting very discouraged with my body and it would be to my best interest to get things fixed since I am probably going to need it for another 40 years or so.

This may be all my news. Oh, Paul's grandma had back surgery a week ago. 85 years old and having surgery! That surprised me. I remember when my grandpa was in his mid-eighties and asked his dr. about having knee replacement surgery. He was told he wouldn't survive the surgery because of his age. He did live until a month before he would have been 90. But Paul's grandma seems to be doing fine. Hopefully, it will help her.

Ben saw the psychiatrist this week. We hadn't seen him since late March. He took one look at Ben and commented, "Boy, you are one skinny kid!" Enough already - I'm feeding him the cheesecake! I think Ben is getting taller without putting on any weight which gives him a concentration camp victim look. Plus, it's allergy season so his eyes are kind of dark and sunken. And he has a big head.

Alright. Well, I need to be packing for this trip. Paul came in and wants me to fix a curtain that goes in the camper. I'm probably going to have to hand sew it because I'm pretty sure my machine needles will break if I try to sew plastic. It will probably be a long night because I have a long list! Assuming I survive, I will post about our first camping trip of the year next week.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Joyful Marriage

Have you seen the latest hit on You Tube? Like rest of the world, I just heard about this thing this week. It's a couple from Minnesota who did something a little different for the beginning of their wedding - I'll go into that in a bit here. If I was more computer savvy I'd have a link or even a picture for you here that would take you directly to the video. But I'm not, so you'll have to find it on your own. Chances are, somebody has already emailed you the link, though. Over 4 million people have viewed it and doubtless, you have too, or know somebody who has since sent you the link saying, "Watch this!" The title of it is "JK Wedding Entrance Dance" if you still want to find it, though.

A couple from Minnesota got married sometime recently. Instead of entering the church in a staid, formal processional, the entire wedding party, including the bride and groom, danced down the aisle and in front of the church to a song by Chris Brown. They posted the video on YouTube and now everyone is watching it. I even saw it on our local news last night and this morning they had the wedding party re-creating their dance for the Today Show while showing clips from the actual wedding on the other side of the tv screen. It's their 15 minutes of fame, that's for sure!

So what, if anything, should we think about this? I had a friend comment that it is not appropriate for a wedding and there is a part of me that agrees. Weddings are serious business.
Aside from salvation, getting married is the biggest and most solemn decision of one's life. It's not a joke and should not be entered into frivolously. I have been to too many weddings where the emphasis was clearly on the reception and not the ceremony. The churches were hardly decorated and the ceremonies seemed rushed and kind of tacky, in my opinion (yes, holding each other's hands while a country singer croons out of a boombox on stage about how God meant for the two of you to be together is tacky - and yes, that happened at a wedding I attended!). Attending a wedding in blue jeans is not appropriate but I see that more and more. The seriousness is just not often found anymore. And then once you go to the reception you generally see why - it's just a big party. That said, though, I have attended weddings where the proper decorum was evidenced and yet the couples ended up divorcing down the road. All the solemnity in the world wasn't enough to keep them married.

I have watched this video several times now and each time it just makes me smile. I love the joy! The song is kind of cool, too. I have no idea what the words are since my broken ears aren't so good at distinguishing words when they are said or sung fast. I just caught something about "having one life" and then "double your pleasure, double your fun" which I'm pretty sure was ripped off from the Doublemint gum commercials. But the melody is very catchy and enjoyable. It is so neat to watch the fun and enthusiasm with which the couple's friends cavort down the aisle as if they are announcing the imminent nuptials . And then the groom somersaults into the church and you know something big is about to happen! They all make their way to the front of the church and then all eyes go to the back of the church as the bride begins her gyrations down the aisle. She's laughing and so obviously joyful that she's about to be married. And then I think the sweetest part is when her groom meets her partway up the aisle, links arms with her, and the two of them sway to the front to be joined in matrimony.

The couple's names are Jill and Kevin. My hope for them is that they retain the joy from their wedding for all their married life. They don't know the curve balls life is going to throw them and how much their marriage will be tested. One day soon they will discover that their spouse can't meet all their emotional needs. They'll hurt each other. Deeply. Oh, there will be times of great happiness - the ride wouldn't be worth it if there weren't. But life isn't always fun and things are going to happen in marriage that are going to test it. Trust me. But if Jill and Kevin can hang onto the joy they started with, then they'll be fine. It's smiling when your spouse was late - again. It's holding her when she cries. It's being supportive when he loses his job and you're so scared you can't think straight. It's getting up together in the middle of the night to clean up a sick child and remake his bed. It's vacations and Christmases and funerals and job changes and money struggles, mini-vans, yard work, graduations. It's weathering it all together and knowing that in the end, you'd do it all over again with the same person.

Hang onto that joy and may you always dance through life together!

Friday, July 24, 2009


It's Friday and I am down in the dumps - just one of those days, I guess. Sigh...

The neurologist called yesterday and said my MRI turned out normal. I think that's pretty much the core source of my "dumpiness." I wanted there to be something wrong, something we could point at and say, "Ah-ha - that's the reason!" I asked him if this means I just have to live with feeling awful most of the time and endure the TIAs when they happen and he said yes. So that is that, I guess. I can't expect a doctor to fix what isn't there. Paul thought the news was wonderful news, which really ticked me off and things still aren't right between us. He said, "Well, be happy you don't have a brain tumor!" I never thought I might have a tumor, so that's really a moot point, and unhelpful right now. He also tried pointing out why my life is really good. I didn't want to hear that. I just wanted to wallow in my misery for awhile. I am starting to think my next referral will be to psychiatrist. Maybe I really am nuts. Perhaps all this is just a physical manifestation of a deep rooted psychosis!

So I did have both the MRI and EEG Wed. I haven't heard back on the EEG yet, but I assume it's normal, too. Those tests took almost all day. It was kind of nice to walk out of having the MRI, which ended up being really difficult for me, probably because of all my joint and muscle issues right now, and Paul was there, unexpectedly, in the waiting room. So, we had lunch together.

Oh, and I suppose my misery has to do with money, too. I get really stressed when the paychecks are short and yesterday's was. And the next one will be, too. Since I take care of our money, I bear the brunt of that stress. I have to be careful of how I bring it up to Paul, too, because then he feels like I am complaining that he doesn't work hard enough for us - Mr. Sensitive! Paul has hardly gotten any hours at all the last two weeks. It's been too cool. But even today I thought with the forecast aiming for 90 degrees, they'd have something for him, but they didn't. But yet they hired 3 new guys this spring? I don't understand. But yet, we aren't without resources. Today Paul and Will are working on ripping out and installing a new furnace in an area pastor's house. And Wednesday he did $200 worth of work on somebody's house in Carlisle - a contact from our realtor. So God is providing. But I don't like being this hand to mouth, either! With the exception of that one 90 hour workweek in June, work has just been very, very slow since the end of Feb. I suppose it's the economy, coupled with our cool, wet spring and summer. I don't like it!

Oh, let's see - do I have anything cheerful I could write about? How about stinky feet? Well, I'm not sure how cheerful of a subject that is, really. It's Sam. He currently has two pairs of sandals, and I actually know where all 4 shoes are! I noticed this week that the pair he wears most often are really reeking of foot odor. I covered the soles in baking soda and let it set out yesterday. Now I have them tossing in the washer on the hottest cycle possible. But I have a feeling this isn't going to take care of it. I may have to do an internet search on how to remove that kind of odor from rubber. And I noticed that his leather sandals are now beginning to smell, too. None of the other boys have ever had an excessive problem with feet smell, but I'm wondering if Sam has something different in his make-up and this may be an on-going problem as he grows.

Tuesday Will ended up helping with RAGBRAI at our church. I was supposed to do it, but Will begged to switch with me, instead. It ended up that a bunch of teenagers were there that day, handing out bottled water and tracts. So, it was good for him. David got to hang out, too. He had spent two nights with a friend from church and this friend's family was helping out with the event.

We could have very easily lost David last Sat. We ran up to the downtown DM farmer's market and had trouble finding a parking spot. I was glad Paul had volunteered to go because of that. Well, we needed to cross MLK, a very, very busy downtown road. Paul said "Go" and David shot out running across the intersection, but a car that Paul thought was turning wasn't and if the car had not braked (laying on his horn the entire time, causing David to burst into tears), David would have been hit and maybe killed. I was fine at the time, but later that day and the next I kept reliving the incident, imagining the worst case scenario, seeing his thin body, rocketing through the air as the car made crushing contact with it...ok, that's definitely not cheeful! Thank God for his protection! I have a feeling we will get to Heaven and learn about a lot of other scenarios here on earth where we were protected, not even knowing there was danger.

Wednesday night David was complaining to me that his "bonetail" hurt - ha, ha, ha!

Ben saw a nutritionist at the hospital Tuesday. He weighs 74lbs and is 5'1". So, he's normal in height but at the 5th percentile for weight. The nutritionist said that he will be having a growth spurt soon with the onset of his teen years (she doesn't need to tell me, I have hemmed and let out the hems of Will's church pants more often than I can count, as we have had to buy new pairs to fit his waist and then altered to adjust to his changing height!) and if he doesn't have enough fat reserves, his organs may cannibalize themselves. I think that is probably a worst case scenario. But regardless, he does need to gain. She wants him to put on 20lbs in the next 12 months. And, since his energy levels tend to be low, she's having me give him protein throughout the day. One thing we are doing is cheesecake - seriously! My child is on a cheesecake diet! How many of us could be so lucky! Cheesecake has even more calories than I realized and by giving him one slice a day I am increasing his intake by nearly 400 calories. I'm also going to be making him milk shakes using ice cream and ensure. Ben is so tickled about this. I don't know if it's because it involves food and one of his autistic compulsions has to do with grocery stores. That's the probable connection, I would guess. But he's always studying the protein "schedule" I made up and posted on the fridge and he's telling everybody about his new diet!

I am almost done with my very first article for Regular Baptist Press. It has been my dream for some time to write for them. I don't know if it's something they will be interested in in using, but I wanted to give it a shot. I have a friend who writes for them who is going to critique it first for me. Then, will trembling hands, I will mail it off and we'll see! I must be nervous, because I am finding that I am stalling about finishing that things up. I'm kind of anxious for the next Above Rubies magazine to come out, too. I don't know when that will be. But the editor told me she'd like to use a piece I sent her this winter in it. It's about how we came to conceive Sam. But years ago she told me she was going to use a piece I had written about secondary infertility and she never did, so I'm not holding my breath too hard or long this time. We'll see! And I actually entered a FaithWriter's writing challenge this week. I had not done that since before I started blogging in Jan. But I thought it was time to get back into that practice. And, since this week's topic was "adolescence/teens" and I have some experience now with that, I wrote and entered a piece. I'm quite sure it's not a winning one, though. So, once I know for sure, I'll probably post it here. It wasn't my best work - just kind of a wistful look back at the years of Will's life thus far. But it's sweet.

I had have one nice thing happen this week - my new stool arrived. I have had this thing on my wish list for months now. It's brand new, but it's made to look like a 1950s stepstool/chair. Each set of my grandparents had one in their kitchens. I got mine in fire engine red - it's SO cool! Will and Paul put it together for me since it arrived in 5 zillion pieces. Sam immediately claimed it as his. He pulls out the steps and clamors up on it. He's even standing on it. I'm sure it's just a matter of time before he falls!

It looks like we are going camping next weekend - our first time this year. Our weekends have been too busy until now! We were looking at a campground in Waukee (just west of DM) because I want to go someplace that has a pool. But then Paul's brother in law called this week and they are talking about going to Lake Rathbun next weekend. They have a boat. So, we may go down there instead, if they are still planning on it. No pool, but a boat would be a fun experience, too, and one that we don't get to enjoy very often. Either way, I should return with a little more color to my pasty skin!

Well, that's about it. I really need to do some school with Ben and David. Hopefully, Paul will call and tell me that he and Will are going to work through suppertime, so I won't have to worry about putting anything together. Honestly, if I wasn't married or a mother, I could just live on popcorn. I'd never cook! That's my plan for my elderly widowhood, anyway. Why cook if you don't have to? Gotta scoot...

Thursday, July 16, 2009


I love Thursdays! The first half of my weeks tend to be so busy and Wednesday is usually the most busy of all. So when Thursday gets here, I am more than ready!

This is David's 10th birthday photo. I had it taken Tuesday. He picked it out, as far as which shot to buy. Kirsti (my sister in law) commented that he has finally lost all his little-boy look. I hadn't noticed until she said that, but she's right. I guess he's officially a "tween" anyway, now!

Well, what's new here? I got a new laundry sorter Monday. I am just thrilled to pieces over this thing, which probably is a sad commentary on my life. I have had my eye on this sorter since I saw it in a magazine months and months ago. I wasn't able to squeeze the $70 out of our budget for it until this last paycheck, though. It's just perfect for what I need. Laundry is a problem at our house because of lack of space and the sheer amount of it. When we moved in they had the washer and dryer in the front of the backroom. We moved it to the back corner and I stuck my china cabinet in front so it wouldn't be all that visible. But laundry baskets and unfolded clothes are always out and in the way in the backroom. Our plan is to build a new bathroom and an interconnecting laundry room with it, which will be accessible from the kitchen. That's going to solve the laundry issue. But in the meantime, this sorter will help. This thing is great! It's about 6 feet high and has a metal wire shelf on top, a laundry bar underneath and then 3 deep canvas laundry bags that are stretched nice and tight over a metal rack. It also has wheels - also helpful! So I'm able to sort the clothes in the bags and then I can hang drying clothes from the bar, which will be most helpful in the winter. I haven't really had any room for my drying rack in this house but there are clothes I don't want to dryer dry, either. I can also hang up my ironing as soon as I'm done with it, rather than awkwardly draping it over the back of my scrapbooking chair, hoping that I'll get it carried into bedrooms and hung up before they have to be re-ironed. So, I'm thrilled!

Paul has had a slow work week. This summer has just been cold! Fortunately, yesterday he ended up meeting with our realtor who had mentioned a couple of weeks ago that his AC was not working. So, Paul worked on that and then he ended up getting a tip on a local church that needs some AC work and there's the possibility that he may be able to start doing some work on some rentals that our realtor owns - all good!

Paul got one of my new cupboards hung this week. It looks so nice! I finally have room for all our cups! I love that he is getting all these jobs done around here, but it also makes me sad. The last time he worked this hard on a house was when we were anticipating selling it and that's what is going on now. I want a nice house without having to say good-bye to it! We do all this work and then somebody else gets to enjoy it!

I am close to having about half of my valences sewn and hung for the backroom. Now I remember why I do not like to sew. It's too tedious! Plus, I thought I had to be fancy and I'm piecing together two different fabrics in order to create an English Country look (gingham and floral). It does look nice, though - exactly what I had in mind.

I saw the neurologist yesterday. He was less than pleased when he found out about my two nasty TIAs last month. I called when I had the first one but figured it was pointless when I had the second, so I never did anything. He isn't sure what is going on but says it isn't right. Well, I knew that! So, next Wed. I am having another MRI and also, an EEG done. He wants to see if my brain is having seizures. He says he doesn't think so, since the area of my brain that stroked is not an area that typically seizes. But he wants to rule it out. Depending on what the tests reveal, I may be headed back to Iowa City. folks want me to go up to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, so I did mention that to the dr. He said that is always an option, but he doesn't know that they could offer any more than Iowa City. Plus, my insurance would probably refuse to pay for repeat tests that they would want to run. In that case, it would be cheaper to just bury me! So, I had to completely rearrange my schedule for next Wed. in order to have these tests done. Ben was supposed to see his psychiatrist that day. Now he'll do it the 28th instead.

Next Tuesday will also be a busy day for me. Ben is meeting with a nutritional consultant that morning at Methodist. This is something his OT wants him to do because he is so skinny and he tires out very easily. It's logical and very understandable since he burns more calories than he consumes. But she wants to see if there is anything that can be done. We've been trying things for him his whole life, but if they want to give it a shot - more power to them! Then that afternoon I have to head back up to downtown Des Moines for Ben's social skills class. I hate to miss any of those because in a few weeks we're going to have to stop them until November because of Will's football practices. Then, I'm getting his allergy shots done after that since we'll be unable to do them Wed. due to my tests. Then I will head home, drop Ben off, and head to church. RAGBRAI (the Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa for you non-Iowan readers - this is a huge deal here in Iowa where crazy people ride their bikes from one side of the state to the other in the hottest part of the summer, stopping only to sleep in tents and get drunk) is passing through Indianola where our church is. So, we are feeding them a meal, handing out water and tracts, and letting some camp on our church property. I signed up to help with the meal. I think it will be a lot of fun. I had planned to be there earlier but now with this change in schedule I won't be able to make it until 6 at the earliest. I wonder how late I will be there? I guess I could stay quite late - maybe I could sleep during my MRI the next morning!

Will is at junior high camp this week. He came home from his missions trip last Sat. I noticed immediately that his voice had dropped about an octave. It had been cracking pretty badly in recent weeks, so I wasn't totally surprised. But it's still a bit startling to see real evidence that he is growing up! In fact, since there were so many more guys than girls that went on the trip, they had originally assigned Will to operate one of the female puppets since his voice was still higher. But by the time the trip rolled around last week they had to have the youth pastor's wife do the voice while Will operated the puppet because of his change! I thought that was kind of funny!

Yesterday while we were on the way home from therapy, Ben burst out, "I love this life!" I thought that was kind of neat and poignant. What more is there, really, than to be happy and content, loving our life, no matter what's going on in it? If any kid had a reason to dislike his life, it's Ben. But he's happy! And then last night before he went to bed he threw his arms around me and exclaimed, "I so love you, Mom!" I thought autistic kids were supposed to be emotionless robots - obviously, not always! I so love you, too, Ben!

And that's my week. Tomorrow I go to the chiropractor's. My shoulder is flaring up again and I suspect he's going to want to see me more often than the once every 4 or 5 weeks I have been going. Like I have time for that! Then, I have to run a few errands and I might make it back home before lunchtime. I hope so. I'm considering going to the downtown Des Moines farmer's market Sat. We went last week but it was near the end. I'd like to go when it first opens up. But maybe I'll wait a few more weeks. Do you suppose it will still be sweet corn season in a few weeks? Maybe not. I probably should go this Sat. Paul planted a bunch of it in our backyard this summer but it was all laying flat after Tuesday night's storm, so we don't know if we're going to get any this year or not.

Gotta scoot. I smell something stinky emanating from Sam's direction, so duty calls...again and again...

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Cellphone Intrigue

When I was girl, I wanted to be Nancy Drew. I spent hours upon hours reading Carolyn Keene's popular series. It was nothing to me to read an entire book in one afternoon. Nancy was so cool - 18 and beautiful, independent, she had her loyal sidekicks and her hunky boyfriend, Ned. And she always got the bad guy! So, as I would emerge from my books, I would begin to sniff around, hoping to stumble into a mystery that I could solve. I never did find one. My life in white, middle-class suburbia was, sadly, mystery-free.

That is, until the other day... the oddest thing happened to me. It just smacks of intrigue! But, more than likely, I'll never know the outcome or even the "why". Wednesday night I put my cellphone on vibrate while we were at church because that thing has gone off before in services and it's a bit embarrassing. So I try now to remember to silence it while at church. I forgot to put it back on the ringer afterwards. I didn't remember until late Thursday afternoon. When I went to do so I flipped open my phone and discovered that I had missed eight calls! It was a number I didn't recognize. My heart leaped into my throat. I was just sure it was Pastor Jeff, calling to let me know of some tragedy that had befallen Will (he was gone all week with his youth group on a missions trip). My hand was shaking so badly I couldn't even get my voice mail to dial! I finally did and there was this lone message, left after the 8th and final call:

"Erin? This is Dr. Brammer."
Then came a slight pause. Then, the caller's voice softened and deepened:
"Your angel is ready. Call me."
Ooh, ooh! Mystery alert! Obviously, this guy had the wrong number because I'm not Erin and I haven't ordered any angels. My voicemail has my name in it and I can see how "Sarah" and "Erin" might sound similar. Why the Dr. Brammer? Is he really a doctor? And what is an angel? Could this be a child-stealing operation and this gal was being notified that her stolen baby was ready for pick-up? Or could it be drugs? It just totally rings of high intrigue and danger. Who knows - I could be mysteriously run over by a black sedan in the next few days because somebody thinks I now know too much. If that happens - it wasn't an accident!
But, alas, I'll never know. I deleted the message, which probably wasn't a good idea. The police might have liked to have had that for evidence. And maybe I should have called this "Dr. Brammer" and let him know that he had the wrong girl. But then, that might have alerted him to the fact that I was on to him. So it's probably safer that I did not. Sigh...we'll never know. Truthfully, I would have made a lousy Nancy, anyway. She had a lot more guts than I'll ever have. But I came this close to a mystery this week...maybe.

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Death of Thank You

I have to be careful how I write this post. If I'm not, I may come off sounding like a crotchety old woman. Just this morning I had one friend let me know that, in her opinion, I sometimes come off as "straight-laced" and "legalistic". I hope that's not true. I have definite opinions of how things ought to be and I deplore the current mentality that says it's all good - you do it your way and I'll do it mine and it's equally fine. In some things, like how two people might homeschool their kids or feed their family, it's true. But then there's other things that are more black and white and can't be equal, no matter how hard you try.

I like to get thank you notes. I enjoy gift-giving and it's always nice when it's appreciated enough by someone to warrant the time and effort to pen a note. What's even nicer is when I get a note that I wasn't expecting, as in a thank-you for something I did, rather than gave.

This spring we had a lot of kids we knew graduate from high school. I suppose that the older our own boys get, the truer that is going to be. So, we sent some small monetary gifts to those we knew best. I haven't gotten notes for all of them yet and I may not. I think that is deplorable, but not all young people have been taught proper manners (see, I told you I'd sound old here!). I did get one last week though that truly caused me to be speechless. It was a note from a young man that I know quite well. But, the note was written and signed by his mother. I rather imagine she was counting on the fact that most people would not be that familiar with her handwriting, but I am! I could not believe it. Ok, kudos to them for acknowledging the gift, but really - Mommy had to write the note? For her 18 year old? For her high school graduate?

Along these same lines: We attended a wedding last fall and enclosed a check in our card. I'm getting lazy anymore! I'd rather just give money than hunt down items off gift registries! But anyway, two months later we got a thank you note. It said, "Happy Holidays! Thanks for the gifts. Love _________" Gifts? I gave one gift. Obviously, the notes were written without thought to the giver and done in such a way as to merely have the task accomplished. But I should be grateful we even received this. We have been to several weddings in recent years - one where I even served cake - where we never got any type of acknowledgement.

When I went to school we were drilled on how to write thank you notes. We learned the proper salutation and punctuation. We were taught to specifically name the gift and mention how we intended to use it. A nice conclusionary sentence was to follow that, along with the proper closing. I don't know - maybe kids are not taught that in school anymore.

Still, I would hope that parents would be teaching their off-spring the right way to write a thank-you note. But maybe not. I'll be honest here - this is something I struggle with, as a mom. I want my kids to write thank-you notes, but with the younger ones, anyway, it's something I have to walk them through. My schedule is jam packed, all the time, and a lot of times I just forget. My youngest had a birthday May 27th, and we still don't have his thank yous written. That's really not acceptable, though, no matter how busy I am. Next week!

Perhaps it is all in how we are raised, too. I remember in the early years of our marriage I would try and try to get Paul to write thank you notes to my side of the family when they sent him gifts. He wouldn't do it. So I finally gave up and wrote them myself saying, "Paul says to say 'thank you'..." I don't think he's ungrateful, but he doesn't see the importance of sending a note. However, I did notice several years ago that when his sister sent us a substantial financial gift, he was quick to write a note then and even bought a special card within which to do so. So maybe it's the size of the gift that determines whether or not a note gets written! That's really sad, actually. When I was growing up it didn't even matter if we had already verbally thanked our grandparents for a gift - we still had to send a written note! Not everyone is raised that way. And, too, I have to be honest - writing comes easy for me and it's not big deal to jot off a note to someone. I know it's not that easy for others and writing a small note seems like a mountain-sized task to them.

I don't write this to come off as a cranky woman waiting by the mailbox for my proper acknowledgement. I give because I want to, not so I can get nice notes later. But I do think the death of thank-you is a bit sad. I know that in the big scheme of things, it's probably not that big of deal and there are more serious things in the world to be concerned about. But, regardless, when I don't get a note, I tend to remember that, and I do think less of the recipient as a result. I really should not - after all, they could very well have written and the note never made it's way out of the post office. And whether or not someone sends a note really should not be the standard by which I judge them. Hmm - perhaps I AM "straight laced" and "legalistic!"

I am always going to be appreciative of thank-yous and I am going to continue to think that they ought to be done. But I think I should relax a bit, too. Society is getting more and more casual all the time and I'm just going to end up with a headache if I continue to constantly buck against the changes I see, even if they are borne out of laziness. But please, please - I never want to get another thank you note, purportedly from a graduate, written by his mother. That is just too, too pathetic. And that's all I'm going to say!

Thursday, July 9, 2009


A collection of thoughts on this cool, overcast, and humid Thursday morning...

I just went out to the kitchen and discovered that while I was reading the comment on my last blog (thanks, Joy - love the "spider slayers" expression! I miss mine!) Sam helped himself to the Keebler Rainbow Chips Deluxe cookies. Specifically, he helped himself to the 3 fake m&ms embedded in each one. So now we have a bunch of cookies with the candy parts gnawed off. I should not have left them on the table - I forget how tall Sam is. And I should have known about the candy because he has a big sweet tooth. I have a candy jar in the kitchen that I'm probably going to have put up. Sam keeps going over there, pointing at the jar and saying, "nee, nee!" And then he sweetly signs "please" and I can't resist that, so he gets candy. He also figured out where I stashed the 4th of July parade loot and he's been helping himself to all the dum-dum suckers all week long.

Sam has taken to screeching lately - actually more like screaming. I have been swatting, but my friend Tammy encouraged me to start thumping him by his lip, so I'm giving that a shot today. She's so funny. She wrote to me that they don't let their kids scream unless they "have an arm stuck in the combine." Ha! I don't mind noisy boys and I know they have this biological urge to make noise, and that's fine. But screaming is something different, all together.

This brings me to Tuesday when Ben had his social skills class. What an ordeal! Normally Will is home with David and Sam and I quietly check schoolwork or read a book during the hour that Ben is in class. But Will is gone this week. So I had the youngest two with me out in the lobby area. Sam was a pain and a half. There was the screaming. And then he loves to dart out of the lobby and streak down the hallway. This, of course, would throw David in to a panic, thinking that was the last he'd ever see of his baby brother, even though I assured him that Sam would eventually make his way back to us. So David would take after him, running, which just excited Sam into running even farther. This happened many times, until finally, I just sat myself at one end of the lobby that leads to the hallway so that Sam couldn't make it past me. This brought on more screams. Plus, now I was in the way of employees and other parents who needed to get through. Then, Sam's diaper exploded. He had urine running in rivulets down his legs so I had to quickly get him in a prone position (to which he is extremely resistant, even on a good day), and stripped him down. David was mortified - "Mom, what if someone sees him naked?!" Then, twice Ben comes out of his class groaning to me that his stomach hurt. Of course, at this point I'm ready to say, "That's it" and we would have been out of there. But considering that it's an hour and a half round trip to go to this place, I really like to see him complete the hour. Plus, I suspected that Ben was just anxious to leave because I needed to go to Walmart afterwards and my plan was to go to a Walmart I do not normally go to - something that excites Ben to no end (another post - don't even try to understand that one right now!). Furthermore, Ben's teacher was in a tizzy, "I tried to tell Ben that he should either go to the bathroom or go see the therapist!" She repeated this at least twice. I'm thinking, "Why on earth does he need to talk to a therapist? His stomach hurts - he's not suicidal!" I told her it was fine, reminded her I was his mother, and I could deal with it. I sent him back to class - he was fine. The sad thing is that I have to do this again next Tuesday because Will will still be gone!

I got my van back for good last night - I hope, anyway! We got it repaired from my encounter with the deer on a death mission last month. But it's been so hot and Paul had not gotten the AC coil repaired. So I have been driving our old van, which has a working air conditioner, and really missing my new one! There is just no comparison! He went to work on the AC last Friday and discovered that the radiator was damaged by the deer, something that the repair shop missed. So, we took it back in this week, they fixed it all, installed a new AC coil, charged it up, and we got it last night. I'm happy!

I have been working for the past two days on my upstairs floor. I don't think I have ever painted a floor before - it's work! But I like how it is turning out. Now I need to find the perfect rug...

Paul came home with two corner cabinets yesterday from the Habitat for Humanity resale store. The realtor said we'd have to get the rest of our kitchen cabinets replaced before selling and Paul found these for less than half of what they cost new. They are very similar to the new cabinets we've already put in (we've been replacing all our cabinets slowly, as we could afford it). They're cute. Now we just need to get a row of 3 upper cabinets and we'll be finished in there!

I cannot not blog about Michael Jackson. I really had no intention of mentioning him since this blog is about me and he really had no impact on my life. However...As it says in Matthew 16:26 and again in Mark 8:36, "What profiteth a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?" I think application of that verse can be made to the sad life of Michael Jackson.

I liked his music, what little I knew of it. Even though my parents tried to protect us kids from the world's influences, we knew about moonwalking and Michael's one white glove. He was cool! When I was at UNI in the early nineties I ate lunch every day in the Convo. center. They had a huge, huge tv screen in one part of it and it usually had a soap opera playing on it at that time. But I remember this one day that everyone was sitting around in breathless anticipation because Michael's new video, "Black or White" was supposed to air momentarily. I watched it and I thought it was pretty neat. That man could dance! I have been listening to easy listening stations for decades now and I don't think there has ever been a Michael Jackson song that I disliked.

I don't know that I was necessarily saddened to hear of his death, although, like rest of the world, I was certainly surprised. I even watched some of the news coverage that highlighted his life and music, as well as his many faces, and I found it somewhat interesting. Well, it was interesting the first day. A week and a half of nearly non-stop Michael coverage got to be a little much! I did listen to some of the eulogies Tuesday and that was just it for me. Come on, people! According to the people who spoke at his funeral, Michael Jackson was responsible for the freedom of all black people everywhere and for every good thing that occurred in the second half of the twentieth century! I heard Kobe Bryant and Magic Johnson claim that without Michael they "wouldn't have been allowed to have their jerseys in your living room." Huh? Really?

The man was a freak. He was so desperately unhappy that he couldn't even look in the mirror without flinching. What kind of a life is that? He had the opportunity to make money dancing and singing. So what? Did that really enrich mankind? I'm not saying there isn't value in entertainment, but it's very fleeting and very, very shallow. How much better to be remembered for being one who let Christ's light shine through them and blessed people by their Christ-likeness. Or finding a cure for cancer - anything! There isn't a whole lot of value in singing a pretty song or having coordinated dance steps, is there now - really? And as much as it has not been mentioned in the past two weeks, we can't forget that Michael Jackson was accused - twice - of child molestation. I don't know if he was guilty or not. But generally speaking, when accusations are made more than once against someone for the same behavior, there tends to be at least a grain of truth to the matter.

That's my take on it. If the man is in hell, that is truly sad. But I'm not going to mourn him as the greatest man who ever lived, as the media and his friends seem to want to do. It's fleeting, anyway and it's all part of the Cult of Celebrity. We'll see this again the next time a big celebrity meets an untimely end.

And finally...I read something interesting last night that I find myself still thinking about today. It was an article in my Today's Christian Woman magazine. It's a piece written by a wife about the period when her husband lost his job. It caught my interest because in today's uncertain economy, who knows what could happen? Plus, this kind of situation is certainly on my heart right now since my brother was laid off a couple of weeks ago and I'm privy to some of the struggles he and his family are having, as a result. The author, paraphrasing another book, made this comment, "God doesn't care one bit whether we're successful, comfortable, stable, or happy. All the things I thought I was. All the things I clung so tightly to...Why? I'd been asking in frustration. Why us, God? Because God is jealous for our hearts. He doesn't want us to live with the delusion that anything else - jobs, houses, saving - can bring the security that can be found only in Him." Wow! That really hit me. I think of how much time I spend praying about our personal circumstances, usually financial in nature, which has to do with my personal comfort level. And while I believe God enjoys blessing us, this article really brought it out to me that God's ultimate desire, though, is to make me wholly His. How often do I serve Him with a divided heart? Probably most of the time, if I'm honest. I have a hard time even carving out Bible reading and prayer time without having thoughts of my day and situations and this and that crowding in. How often have I had to cut short my prayers because I was needed by someone else? Too many to even remember. While I am spending breath, though, begging God to intervene in my personal life and the lives of those I love, God is saying, "That's fine - I hear you. But I have something better in mind for you. And it's going to hurt you for a little while until the process is complete. I want you, all of you - not just the little bit you're letting me have. I need to consume you and encompass you so that all you need is Me, and Me alone." That's painful to even write because while I want that, my very human self says, "no, no, no!" Refine me without any pain! Let me be comfortable and more holy, at the same time! But I don't think it works that way. It's both enticing and terribly frightening at the same time.

Something to think about in the coming days and weeks as the clouds of economic unstability and moral decay swirl about us...

Sunday, July 5, 2009


It's Sunday afternoon. Paul is putting a doorknob on the new closet door, I hear the "blip, blip, wheee" of the video game system, and Sam is running around, jabbering about something.

Will left yesterday for his missions trip. It sounds like a busy week for the kids. They're doing 2 VBS programs daily for a church plant west of Omaha. I think they have some fun time planned for the kids, but it does sound like an awful lot of work to me. The kids had to start late last winter fulfilling requirements in order to go. Ten went so apparently it's something they enjoy, anyway! It will be good for Will and I'm glad he had the desire to go. He'll be back Sat. morning and then we'll pack him up so he can leave next Monday for camp. Two weeks without my trash taker outer, dog feeder, and spider killer!

We stayed here for the 4th of July. The boys love the parades in Carlisle and Pleasantville and the Pleasantville fireworks are the best I have ever seen, anywhere. It was rainy and cool yesterday morning so we just went to the Pleasantville parade, which started later. We snagged a spot near the beginning of the parade route and the boys collected a ton of candy! We know where to sit from now on! We weren't sure how Sam would do with the loud siren noises. He stood there for a moment and then calmly picked up his blankie and walked straight over and climbed up into Will's lap. He knew where it was safe!

Last night we went back down to Pleasantville for the fireworks. We got there around 8 so the boys had time to play at the park where they hold the celebration. I watched Sam as he encountered some different play equipment than he was used to. He cocked his head, watched the other kids, and then took off. I couldn't believe that our one year old was happily going down the twisty slide meant for older children! And then he discovered the other twisty slide that's about 15 feet tall and started up that. Fortunately, David got in line behind him and they went down together. My heart was in my throat the entire time Sam made his way up the steps, though! That's a little too daring, even for this laid-back mom of boys.

These were Sam's first fireworks, too. Last year, when he was 8 months old, we were in Council Bluffs for the 4th and the guys just lit off a bunch of fireworks in his sister's driveway. Supposedly, they are illegal, but nobody seems to know that - or care. Out there, they all just cross the river into Nebraska, buy a trunk load of fireworks, and bring them back over to Iowa. Pleasantville's show is always amazing so I was curious to see how Sam would do with the lights and noise. He was fine! When it got to be too much, he'd cover his head with his blankie, but most of the time he watched and commented on how the fireworks were flying up in the sky. Eventually, he fell asleep right there in my arms. He didn't wake up until this morning. All was well!

I have made an appointment with an ear doctor for the end of this month. I am finding it harder and harder to hear. This has been a problem for about 7 years now. I actually went to an audiologist in Omaha 5 years ago and we started some preliminary testing. Then we moved and that's as far as it got. I do remember being told at that time that I no longer had the ability to hear high and low sounds in my left ear. I am totally dependent on that left ear since I lost the ability to hear in my right ear as a baby. I find myself increasingly frustrated because I hear people talking but I cannot make out the individual words. I can hear sound, but I can't distinguish it into words. And I miss a lot too. So, it's been on my mind to find someone. But I have had all this stroke stuff going on so I really hate to have to deal with two things at once. Plus, I'm guessing either a hearing aid or surgery is in my future and neither one excites me. But last Sun. a lady at church mentioned that she was meeting with her ear dr. this week to decided if she should have surgery. So I went and talked to her and she called me after church with her dr's name and number. Of course, I'm so deaf that I couldn't make out what she was telling me! I wrote down what I thought she said, but what she said wasn't what I heard, I discovered when I went to look this guy up in the phonebook. Fortunately, she had given me his phone number, which I did get right. When I called the number this week the receptionist didn't know who I was asking for, but we eventually figured it out. When I realized who this was, I remembered that this is the same dr. who did Ben's adnoidectomy 4 years ago! So we'll see what comes about of this. Our insurance is pretty good right now so this would probably be a good time to do this. I know I want it taken care of before we get into a socialized medicine situation here in the U.S., that's for sure!

I went through Will's biology book this week, preparing for next year's science. Wow - Apologia (the publisher) is SO advanced! But he can do it and he'll love it. I spent $84 on that book and now I see that he is going to need a microscope, prepared slides, and dissection kits, too. Good grief - it's expensive to educate your kids! If he didn't have a scientific bent I probably wouldn't pursue chasing these things down. But since he does, I'd like him to have the full benefit of studying biology, since he won't have it again until college. I don't even know where to begin looking for these things. I'm going to have to do some asking around, I guess.

I had a decorating epiphany late this week. I have decided to paint the upstairs hallway floor. It has had pink carpeting on it since before we moved in. We were given a bunch of tan indoor/outdoor carpet right after we moved in. We used it downstairs and then the plan was to use it upstairs whenever Paul got around to it. So he pulled that out of the garage Friday and out of curiosity, I peeled up the hallway carpet. It wasn't like when we lived at our old house and I discovered beautiful hardwood floors underneath the nasty blue carpet on top. That was a find! But, our hallway is made up of these wide (about 7") boards and they are actually already painted - an orangy, pukey color. It occurred to me that this would look really cute painted with a braided rug on top - very "country". So now I'm trying to decide between cream and gray for the color. I think I'm going to do something with a high gloss and then seal it to keep out the dirt. Then, we figured that we have just enough carpet to do the big boys' bedroom. But we need to get a pad for that first. I'm excited! I'm hoping to get to it this week. Although, I had planned to slow down this week and kind of take it easy...

This morning was our first time ever to do Children's Church (2-5 year olds). Ben wanted to help and he was so excited to be in a helping position. I was telling the Creation story and Ben jumped right in and said, "And you know, boys and girls, if you ask Jesus in your heart, you can go to Heaven!" I shushed him, but it was sweet. Later, he prayed for the kids' snack and he prayed that "the little boys and girls will listen and learn about you" He was just so anxious to help with anything he could. I suppose some of that is because it's a novelty for him to be in a helping position when he has been on the receiving end of help all his life. But it gives me hope that maybe he has a servant's heart, as well.

There were probably other things that I was going to share, but my mind is going fuzzy. I cannot take a nap any other time of the week, but somehow, my body knows when it is Sunday, and it insists that it gets a nap then! In the immortal words of the Terminator, though, "I'll be back!"