Thursday, August 27, 2009

A Week of Blessings

That's my arm there and a picture of the bruise I got from Sam biting me. The bite mark is long gone, just the bruise remains. It's so prominent and obvious that I have been fielding horrified inquiries all week long. It hurts, too!

Not a whole lot to report on this week. Allergies have been rough, but it's that time of year. I seem to wake up between 2 and 5 every morning, gasping for breath. So then I take an allergy pill and zonk myself out and then I can't get up when I'm supposed to!

This is week 2 of the New Me. It was easier last week because I was a new convert. I did my grocery shopping Monday and studiously read labels and bought more expensive foods that were nutritionally better. But the battle of the flesh has warred as the week has progressed. I don't want to eat 12 grain toast with organic honey or pumpkin flax seed cereal (for real - I bought it at Aldis). What I want to eat is the oreo cake I baked. And I'm not depriving myself. I'm just limiting myself. Instead of scarfing down the cake for breakfast as I would normally, I'm cutting off a sliver to eat. Or two. Sunday night we had a finger food fellowship at church. I made myself pick only dessert instead of sampling from many. So I enjoyed my chocolate chip cookie with relish, after I had dutifully eaten my plate full of veggies and fruit. I wish I could say that I can already see the results of my self-discipline, but I don't. My clothes are still tight and I haven't felt remarkably full of energy yet. Of course, any extra energy I do gain is going to be zapped by the allergy drugs.

I think I am all ready for the new school year. Well, I still have to find a book on money skills for Ben and David. But then we'll be ready to go. I thought the boys understood money, but then this summer I sent a $20 bill for David to spend at camp. He mournfully told me how he had wanted to make a tie dyed shirt but that cost $7 and if he did that, he wouldn't have enough money for stopping at McDonalds on the way home. I thought that was a little odd, but figured he must have blown all his money at the snack shack. But when I unpacked his bag, I found that he still had $16. I asked him about that and he said that the $20 bill was for McDonalds. He had used the $5 my parents sent him for snacks at camp and that was it. Poor kid! Next year I'll have to send him with a bunch of $1 bills, in envelopes, so he knows how to spend his money. Or, hopefully, he'll understand money better by then.

But I have all the year's assignments written out for the boys and we're just waiting for the day after Labor Day to arrive. I just think it is immoral and unethical to start school before then! My only exceptions were the falls when we had big things coming (a move and a baby) that I knew would interfere for weeks in getting school accomplished. Then we started in August. It will be nice to get back into the routine. This will be the first year that David will be responsible for getting some of his own work done on his own. I think he's ready now that he is reading and I'm looking forward to the time that will free up for me.

I saw a new chiropractor today out at Preventative Health. It's the first time I have ever been to a female one. She's smaller and shorter than me. But I think she can do the job. She took extensive x-rays, which pleased me. So often chiropractors are ready to manipulate and crack you without checking out what you have going on internally, first. I see her again first thing next Monday morning.

I had a filling put in Tuesday. When I got to the dentist I was in the grips of a full-fledged allergy attack. I must have looked really pitiful because the dentist offered to reschedule me. But I had him go ahead and fill my tooth, but just one instead of the two we had planned on. I'm glad we only did the one because that didn't stop hurting until today! Must have been by a nerve or something!

We're having company Sat. evening. I can count on one hand the number of times we have had people over since we moved here 5 years ago. That is really sad. I need to more hospitable. But I'm not. Maybe it's not my gift. Evidently not! They have a truckload of kids so I'll probably have a lot of them out on the deck. The weather is supposed to be great, so that shouldn't be a problem. I'm looking forward to it! Maybe I should do this more often!

Paul is in the midst of another house project. He is (finally) working on the landing inside the front door. It's been yukky looking ever since we moved here. Of course, when he ripped it up he discovered more problems than he wanted to deal with. And he found a dead ground squirrel. I remember last winter we went through weeks of having a horrible smell coming from under there. Paul had even gone downstairs and tried to find whatever dead animal had crawled up there (prior to dying) but he couldn't find anything. Apparently that was it. So now he's trying to shore up that part of the house and I hear lots of Christian cursing coming from over there. Think I'll stay over here! This is the problem with being a perfectionist. If it were me, I would have just stapled or super glued some new linoleum over the landing, thrown a rug over top, and called it good. I'm not a perfectionist, by any stretch of the imagination. But Paul feels as though he must do a good job on whatever he puts his hand to (silly man!) so he wants to do things "right." And "right" leads to lots of frustration and the afore-mentioned cursing.

Will is at a dinner being hosted for freshmen football players tonight. I think one of the ball player's parents were doing this. He was going to bum a ride to that (hopefully with a responsible teammate!) and then we will have to go get him. Tomorrow night is his first real game! I was so pleased yesterday. I had taken Will to practice and had told him that he needed to let his coaches know he had to be done before 6 pm so that he could get to church on time. Well, he called at 5:30 and said they were done. He told me that his coach told him that they always get done with practice early on Wednesdays so that the kids who need to can get to church. That is so great!

There was actually about a 20 min. break between the last paragraph and this one. Will called and I went to get him. He said the players were fed "really" good lasagna and "it wasn't hard, like your's is, Mom!"

Is it just me or is anyone else really tired of hearing about the death of Teddy Kennedy? Am I allowed to state my true opinion? Of course I can - it's MY blog! Ok - two words: good riddance. That's all. 'Nuff said?! As my husband said, "Now he knows." I think he knew all along. This is just the first time he can't weasel out of his wrong-doing. And the earthly part of me is pleased. The God-pleasing part is saddened that another soul is facing hell, though.

I had a blessing this afternoon. A friend wants to give us her barely-used mattress for Will. She had heard me mention that I really needed to find a new one for him and she has one. I'm just so touched because I know she had planned to sell it. God is so good to us!

And if I have to find a theme, as well as a clever title, for this post, it would have to do with God's blessings. I see them in every paragraph I have written. Paragraph 1: the blessing of having a toddler, even one who bites! I am enjoying this child most of all because I know he's the last one. Plus, I'm older and more experienced and understand that "this too, shall pass"! Paragraph 2: the blessings of drugs! Hayfever is not fun, but thank God there are pharmaceuticals out there that help make it a little bit more bearable. Paragraph 3: the blessing of having the information available so that I can make better lifestyle choices (even if I liked my old lifestyle better!). Paragraph 4: the blessing of being able to homeschool my children and also, the blessing of seeing such tremendous progress in David, especially, from last year at this time to this year. Paragraphs 5 & 6: the blessing of medical insurance (even with high premiums) and wide availability of medical care (for now, anyway). Parag. 7: the blessing of having friends who actually want to spend time with us! Parag. 8: the blessing of having a hard working husband who knows which side of a hammer is up and doesn't quit when things get tough. Parag. 9 &10: the blessing of having a healthy, athletic child who has the opportunity to play for Christian coaches - in a public school setting! And even parag. 11 offers a blessing - knowing that we serve a just God who will not let sin go unpunished (mine included).

Here's hoping we all continue to find blessings even in the most ordinary of weeks!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Looking Good, but Humble

That's me, taken a few minutes ago. I look like I'm stuffed up and miserable because I am. It's August when the ragweed blooms and I sneeze. Today has been particularly rough. I took so many drugs that I ended up zzzing out on the couch for a couple of hours. Sure hope the boys didn't need me during that time!

I like clothes. I enjoy shopping for them, accessorizing them, and (thankfully for the rest of you) wearing them. What can I say - I'm a girl! And it's probably because of this that I inwardly cringe when I see frumpy women my age. You know which ones I'm talking about. They usually have a handful of kids and make it appear that there are no mirrors in their house. Their hair is frizzed out with split ends and dark roots. A lot of times their clothes don't fit well and don't go together. Sometimes they're a good ten years out of date. That may sound a bit harsh and I don't mean it to. I have a few friends that fall into this category. I can't help but notice their appearance, but I don't hold it against them. The thing is - it's not necessary to be this way. It's very possible to dress nicely and have enough clothing on a shoestring budget. I know this because my clothing budget is definitely shoestring-like!

As I have gotten older I have come to realize that my style preference is that of "classic." I'm not real big on showing off large expanses of skin and I like classy looks - blazers, fitted tops, solid colors, etc. It's probably my mom's influence more than anything. They do say you turn into your mother after a period of time. But because of that I find myself shopping more and more at stores like Penneys, Kohls and Christopher and Banks - nice, moderately-priced stores. Wednesday I was in Christopher and Banks and I was so excited to find a long denim skirt! I have been searching for one for over a year now. I bought it full price, which is something I rarely do. But I didn't want this one to get away. So as I'm checking out, the clerk, who was probably in her early twenties, if that, says to me, "Oh, I recognize your top!" I was wearing a clearance rack buy I had found at the beginning of this week at the same store. I laughed and said, "You'd probably recognize a lot of my wardrobe!" She then replied, "Yeah - my mom, too!"

Whoa! That took me aback. I'm supposed to be a young-looking, stylish football mom. I'm the one that people are always surprised to hear has a teenaged son (a fact that give me an inordinate amount of pleasure, I have to admit). But apparently, I'm little older than I thought! So as I left the store, my back was a little more hunched, my steps a little more measured. I'm getting older, there's nothing I can do about it, and now the younger generation classifies me as their mom's peer. Life is sad...

Actually, the only thing sadder would be if I was trying to look younger. You've all seen those women - skin like leather from laying out for the past 35 years, bleached blond hair held high up on their head in a pony tail, short denim skirt, harsh make-up, and a voice like gravel from the cigarettes they've sucked down since they were 12. Now that is sad. Next to that, I still have the dew of youth glistening on my unlined skin!

The Last Days of Summer

Last Sat. we took the boys to Adventureland. We'll never do that again - go on a Saturday, that is. We thought that with the Fair opening, there would be fewer people at Adventureland. That definitely was not the case. My allergies were rough that day - of course - it IS August! And it rained intermittently. We have been to Adventureland three times now since we moved out here and do you know, it has rained every single time?! We visited Kokomo Kove, the new water park attraction they added to the park. It is definitely over-hyped. "Water park" is too grandiose of a word for a couple of water slides. They need a wave pool or something. I did change to my swimsuit but after getting sprayed with water while waiting in line I decided it wasn't worth it and just laid out on a chair, waiting for the boys to get their fill. It seemed like the ride workers were short-tempered too. Paul was kind of bummed out by everything. We have had such great trips there before and this wasn't going all that well. But, his mood did improve in the evening. He and Will went to play some of the games and he won this huge Herky (the Hawkeye mascot) for Will by tossing a softball into a milk can. Will was beyond thrilled. And then later Will won a little Herky for David, which pleased him. Of course, Sam has already claimed little Herky, though! Ben played skeeball for a little bit. He never did well enough to win any prizes but when he made that ball jump over the rings and go down into one of the higher circles, he was so excited! He was jumping up and down and Paul said later he thought Ben was going to start crying from excitement! It just really emphasized to us how important it is that we find something that he can be good at to do in life. So far, there really isn't anything.

Oh, and I had my ego boosted a little bit. I did that game where they try to guess your age within a year. I did it, though, after visiting Kokomo Kove, so my hair was frizzed out and my make-up was gone. Next time I want to do it straight off the bat before I look worn out. But I won a ball for Sam after the worker guessed me to be 35 and I gleefully told him "Nope - I'm 38!" So, it wasn't a totally bad day - wore me out, though - that's for sure!

Sam bit me the other night. He wasn't being mean, but he just calmly leaned over and took a bite out of my forearm. Man, that hurt! Now I have a bruise the size of a silver dollar. I did smack him on the leg. I hope he gets past this fast. Ben was a biter, as I recall. That wasn't fun.

Paul and I went to the Fair Tuesday, just for a little bit. We helped out at the GARB booth from 6-9, but got there around 4, so we had a couple of hours to walk around, which was nice - no kidlets! Afterwards we went out to the midway for a little bit and watched a couple of really scary looking rides. They were charging $25 for the rides. We both agreed that no 4 minute ride is worth spending $25, no matter how rich you are! I did have a fried twinkie on a stick. I had always wanted to try one and finally did. Oh, it was good! What's not to love - twinkies and deep frying? Yum, yum, yum! The only thing better would be if they rolled it in chocolate before sprinkling it with the powdered sugar!

Sam has started adding the word "need" after asking for things this week. It's so cute! He'll say, "shoe nee" or "baba nee" ("need bottle").

Last evening Will had a scrimmage game for football. We never could quite figure out where he was. I believe he even played at one point, but we didn't recognize him! Their first real game is next Friday and it ought to be a little easier to find him then because he'll be in black and orange and have a number on his back. Plus, it's just a freshman game, so he'll get more playing time. It would be easier to enjoy these games if I didn't have younger kids. My attention is constantly divided between the field (not that I understand what is happening out there) and the other three. Sam discovered that the bleachers make loud noises when you stomp on them so it was a battle keeping him from doing that. And then I'm trying to keep Ben from doing anything too wierd - it's hard all around! Maybe someday Sam will play ball and I'll be one of the elderly parents in the bleachers - elderly, but with no small children!

David got the desire to run last night and since the game was informal, we let him. He ran completely around the field without stopping - twice! I did not know he had that in him!

Well, I need to dry my hair and get back to my day. I very virtuously arose at 6:45 this morning and walked. Then I came home, fried up an egg and bacon for Paul (and piously ate only whole wheat toast with honey). You would think after being so good to my body, it would reward me with being very perky. Instead, I feel like I am about to fall over with fatigue! Where's the reward?! Oh well...

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A New Me

I'm working on creating a new me. Well, an improved me, anyway. You know from my plethora of plaintive posts (like the alliteration? I love it - alliteration makes me happy!) that I have had a wealth of physical ailments for the past two years. I have chalked them up to having had the stroke and I can't discount that factor. Strokes, even small ones, are horrible on the whole body system and can affect just every part of it. But I had that MRI and EEG a month ago and it came back showing absolutely nothing. That was terribly frustrating for me to hear. So, a couple of weeks later I visited the doctor out at Preventative Health Sciences and she was the first to say that it looked like I had some hormonal issues going on. So it could be that all the ailments that I have assumed were stroke related really have nothing to do with my brain at all. These TIAs I have continued to have could probably be a separate issue - or not. I don't know.

She arranged for me to have a complete physical, which was this past Wed. They took a gallon of blood from me - I'm waiting on the results from that. She's checking for estrogen and testosterone levels, cancer, adrenal levels, thyroid, etc. But in the meantime, it has kind of begun to dawn on me that I can't rely on doctors to "fix" me. To that end, I have begun taking some baby steps on the road to self-improvement.

The first thing I did was to visit the Clinique counter at Younkers. I know, I know - make-up is all external. But it's important! My skin has changed as I have gotten older. I am tired of guessing about what make-up will look right and then being disappointed. It makes sense to me to wear all the same brand so that everything will work together. I remember being given that logic by Mary Kay saleswomen in the past. It made sense to me then. But I have a horrible time ordering make-up out of a catalog. I can't accurately determine the color and then I'm usually disappointed. So anyway, a couple of Fridays ago I ran out to Jordan Creek Mall, plopped myself down at the Clinique counter and asked them to fix my face. I have never in my life had a make- over. Fortunately, the gal working was probably in her early sixties and I didn't walk out of there looking like I was trying to be 20 again. She was well acquainted with the way aging affects our skin and how we wear make up, as a result. She showed me how to apply things so they looked natural and she really took her time experimenting with different things in order to get the right look. As a result, I bought almost everything she suggested. And I feel a lot better. Now nobody has stopped me and asked what I have done to create such a beautiful new face, so I'm assuming I probably don't look all that different on the outside! But I feel better. And I guess that is what is important. Looking good doesn't hurt either, though.

Last Friday night Paul and I were supposed to work our state church association's booth at the Fair (Yes, "fair" is supposed to be capitalized - it's the fair in Iowa, the state fair! Actually, a few years ago it was ranked in the top 3 in the whole U.S. - it's a cool place). Since he was working a little late, we decided to meet there. I needed to run to Walmart first, which I did. When I came out, my van was dead. It would not start for anything. It turned out it needed a new battery and had chosen, thankfully, to die at Walmart. Paul was not able to get over there for almost 2 hours. So first I went and bought my weekly dose of celebrity gossip (People magazine). I devoured that and he still wasn't there. So, I went back in the store and began to peruse the book aisle. That's when I found this book that you see pictured above. I think God directed me to this book. I bought it and I haven't been able to put it down since.

Obviously, the book is by Joyce Meyer. I don't know a whole lot about Mrs. Meyer. I have caught her a few times on the radio and I have always appreciated her no-nonsense approach to studying and applying God's word. But doctrinally - I don't know enough to make any judgements. I know once I turned her on and she had Joel and Victoria Osteen on her program. That couple makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up, so I wasn't all that impressed then with Joyce who considered them worthy enough to be interviewed on her program! In reading her book I have come to see that she has been divorced before and that she considers herself to be a preacher - two factors that would, in my understanding of the Bible, prohibit her from public ministry. Obviously, she believes differently! However, those differences aside, I cannot argue with this particular book.

She starts the book talking about where she was and how so many of us are there, too. We live these busy, busy lives and we don't take care of our bodies. Then, one day, they begin to protest and we don't know what's going on! She points out how we are no good to our families or to service for Christ when we are so run down physically. I am beginning to think that this is where I am. For twenty years I have eaten whatever I wanted. I always joke about how if it is deep-fried, cream-filled, or chocolate covered, it's mine! I like junk food. I like easy food. I enjoy baking really decadent desserts! I really, really dislike vegetables and I'm not overly fond of fruit, either. I have never bothered to exercise, thinking that I didn't need it because I am naturally slender. Besides, I get enough exercise chasing my kids, I said. And I took vitamins, which would make up for any nutritional deficits I had - I hoped anyway.

Reading this book, my eyes have really become open to the absolute necessity of caring for my physical body. Joyce does an excellent job of explaining why it is so important to eat the right combinations and the right kinds of food. She explains the necessity of exercise in detail. So I'm reading this book and gaining a huge education in the process. And then yesterday I had my physical. I think I really like this new dr's office. The dr. came in and sat with me for a good half hour and she, too, emphasized the importance of a healthy diet. She told me some things I did not know - like that corn syrup is really bad for you. I didn't know that. Afterwards I needed to buy bread and this time I checked the labels. I ended up having to purchase $3 a loaf bread in order to find some that didn't have corn syrup in it. Who would have thought corn syrup was in bread? I sure didn't! I appreciate Joyce's approach in saying that there is no "bad" food. There is nothing that we cannot eat. But we have to be very careful about the unhealthy choices we make - they need to be in moderation. Last week Paul and I were listening to WHO, a local conservative talk radio station that is always on in our house and vehicles. On one of the afternoon programs they were interviewing the guy who started Preventative Health Sciences clinic (the one who tried to talk me into spending $2000+ on their total health program (exercise and eating training). The interviewer asked, jokingly, "So is there anything healthy that can be found to eat here at the Fair?" Our fair is famous for its food on a stick - porkchops on a stick, eggs on an stick, fried twinkies on a stick, etc., along with it's typical fair offerings of cotton candy, cookies in a cup, fried mini donuts, taffy, and all other kinds of goodies. The interviewee laughed and then made the wise comment that when a person is healthy and is making good eating choices, for them to indulge and have something utterly decadent is not going to send their body into a tailspin. A healthy body can handle a little junk a lot better than a sick body can. Talk about common sense! So, I am working on it. This week I have made a lot better eating choices. I can't say that I am feeling immensely better yet or that my belly bulge has disappeared. But I'm going to keep at it.

I started walking earlier this summer. I had to take about a 3 week break when my sciatic nerve flared up. It's still giving me a few problems, but has finally calmed down in this last week. I have an appointment with the chiropractor out at Preventative Health for a week from today. I haven't been as faithful with my walking as I need to be, though, even when feeling well. That needs to change. It's especially hard when I have somewhere I need to go first thing in the morning. But I'm thinking I just need to train myself to get up very early in the mornings which is NOT how I am wired. If I had no kids or responsibilities I could easily stay up into the wee hours of the morning as long as I could sleep in the next morning! But then I'd be more likely to get my walk in. Now I'm not sure what I'm going to do when winter arrives. I do not have room in this house for a piece of exercise equipment. I have tossed around the idea in my head of joining a gym. There is one 10 min. from my house in Carlisle. I hate the idea of spending that kind of money, though. Also, the idea of sweating in public and using machinery that someone else sweated on doesn't appeal to me much, either. Or, I could just get an exercise DVD and do something in my living room. I am realizing through my reading that I need to be doing some upper body strength training with weights. So perhaps I could walk when the weather is good and do something inside when it isn't. Of course, this means I'll have to buy some weights and a DVD. I'm also going to need some better tennis shoes.

I need to change. I can't continue on this way. I'm not saying that a makeover, good diet and exercise is going to change everything. Monday I am having an ultrasound of my uterus done and if they find fibroids there, as my dr. suspects I have, I'm probably looking at having a hysterectomy in the near future. Obviously, I can't fix that by being good. But I want more of life than I have had for the past two years. And if changing some things - doing the hard thing - will help that, then I owe it to myself, along with everyone who needs me to be at my best to do it. Part of writing this out is for accountability purposes, so when you see me, ask me how I'm doing, if I'm still choking down broccoli, limiting my sugar, eliminating trans fats, and lacing my tennis shoes first thing in the morning. Because without that, it's going to be too easy to quit. And I can't quit this time.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Pretty Women

Unless one of the kids says something especially cute, this will be my last blog post for a few days, I promise! I know I have probably overwhelmed you all with the number of my posts over the last two days. Actually, what it is is that I have had a very long "to-do" list and every time I thought of something I wanted to blog about I jotted it down. Well, I've dedicated today to getting through that list and this is the last blog I have listed on there!

Tuesday, Ben and I were in the van, on the way home from his social skills class. Ben surprised me by saying, "You know, girls are much nicer looking than boys are." He said it in such a matter of fact way. I don't know if that was just an honest observation or evidence of beginning puberty hormonal awareness! It was interesting to me to hear him say that, as well as amusing!

Matt, the Computer Man

This is my brother, Matt (along with my wonderful nephew, Jake). Matt fixed my computer over the weekend and I promised him I would blog about him (because ringing,public endorsements from me are greatly to be desired, you know!). My computer is working SO well! He's the reason I was able to post those Faithwriter's pieces. Prior to that, I couldn't copy and paste. He found the reason (an "encryption" error - sounds very technical). He also completely cleaned up my keyboard. I had no idea it had so much crud in it. I haven't been able to use my numeral pad for months and now it works! It is a sheer pleasure to type on that thing these days. And my computer fan doesn't make any noise at all anymore.

Anyway, since Matt has a lot of time off right now (remember to pray for a job for him!) he is available to fix your computer if you live in the Des Moines/Ames area. He said that if you mention that you're a friend of mine, he'll give you a real budget price, too. Mine was a batch of pumpkin/chocolate chip cookies, but I suspect he's thinking something green from everyone else. But it would still be a good deal.

Thanks, Matt!

Shopping with the Spawn of Satan

Ok - maybe a little extreme. Or not. But I like the alliteration. And it's not too far from the truth.

Monday: my regular, bi-monthly errand-running/grocery shopping/Walmarting day. It was also Will's first day of morning football practice. So, I had to wait until afternoon to go. I picked him up from practice and he announced he had no intention of shopping with me. He intended to spend the day on the couch recovering from practice. He then mentioned that several of his teammates had vomited from all the running required in that practice. I decided not to press the issue since it did sound like it had been a brutal work-out. Why a body would voluntarily put themselves through that is beyond me! So, after lunch, I took off with the other three.

We had an appointment and then I began driving all over Des Moines. One of our first stops was Aldis. Sam decided that this was the day to declare his independence from silly rules like "We always sit down in the cart." And wouldn't you know it, I happened to get a cart that had no toddler belt - not that that latch is any match for a kid like Sam Heywood. But, I've been reading "To Train Up a Child" by the Pearls and they're really big into spanking your kids - a lot. So I decided to take my chances with any do-good child-abuse reporters that might be roaming the aisles of Aldis and I just started swatting Sam on the thigh every time he stood. Man, that kid is tough! It took a good 6 - 8 swats before he'd even sit the first time. It was continual, throughout the whole store. Stand up, swat, "sit down", swat, "sit down", swat, "sit down" - finally obedience. And then he'd do it all over again. Although, I did notice he was a little quicker to obey each time. But why did he have to pick the grocery store to engage in this battle of wills? I'm already so busy and distracted (esp. by Ben, who is in a grocery-induced euphoria whenever we shop (it's something he stims on) and I don't have time for this right now! We finally got to the check-out lane and the other two boys shot over to the sacking counter to wait and I'm attempting to unload my groceries onto the belt while a whole line of people waits behind us. So Sam picks that moment to decide to stand again! Now, I have a choice. I can ignore him, hoping he doesn't fall out on his head. That way, I won't have to worry about what the other customers are thinking about as I slap my child. And I can get my unloading done a lot faster, than if I have to continually reach over to the front of the cart and swat at Sam. But, then he might unlearn the lesson I was attempting to teach. So, it took a few swats (I'm definitely waiting to hear from CPS now!) but he finally sat, voicing his protest all the way.
We then spent quite a bit of time out at Valley West mall. Will and David needed new sandals (like those are easy to find in August!) and I had a $10 coupon I wanted to use at Penneys. This is when the Spawn emerged again. Sam does not like to be constrained. He submits to his car seat only with the promise of his blanket, a bottle (yes, I know he's almost 2 years old and thus too old for a bottle! Somehow, that's secondary, though), and possibly some gummy chews if I remember to pack them. So we got to the mall and I popped him into his stroller. Ok, "popped" is not the right word because it implies, "with ease" and there is nothing easy about getting him in his stroller. He arches, he cries, he tries to wiggle out through the strap, and he tries to unfasten the strap. Fortunately, the strap was designed so that mothers have great difficulty opening and closing it, which ensures that toddlers at least have a small amount of difficulty. When that didn't work, Sam positioned himself at the end of the stroller so that his feet dragged on top of the wheels and the stroller came precariously close to tipping over. Then, he started with the yelling. Fortunately, he's little and cute, so people seeing and hearing him holler say, "Awww!" I'm just gritting my teeth, trying to get my shopping done.
Miracle of all miracles, I did actually find shoes for both Will and David. Will was particularly pleased with his because I found Hawkeye crocs (real, honest-to-goodness crocs - not the imitations) on clearance. I got him a size 12-13, which is as big as they come. I told him to enjoy them because if his feet get any bigger - and they will - it's regular old sandals for him. Well, the actual Croc stores, like "Fit to Be Tied" might carry larger sizes, but I'm not going to pay $30 for rubber shoes.
It was getting towards supper time so I thought if I had french fries to feed Sam that would at least stop the yelling for awhile. So, I got us all fed and the fries and chicken nuggets worked for awhile with Sam. Then, it was off to Walmart.
Yes, I was shopping at 9:00 at night at Walmart with three children. That is never good. Ben insisted on getting his own cart this time. That made me nervous, because I just knew he was going to run into something or over somebody's heels (probably mine) with it. But he did really well. Whenever I took something off the shelf he snatched it out of my hand and very carefully arranged it in his cart. He didn't get that from me! I just toss things and move on to the next. Sam was his usual pleasant self. He spent a certain amount of time wailing. Then, he thought it would be fun to stick his fingers down his throat. I turned to get some cheese and when I came back to the cart, Sam said, "Wet". I looked and his shirt was covered in vomit. So was the floor. He had just eaten a package of teddy grahams, too. A couple of years ago I wrote an email to a bunch of friends entitled, "Why I Should Have Become a Nun." That essay popped into my head at that moment.
So, we finally got home. I called ahead and instructed Will and Paul to be ready and waiting so they could carry in everything. I then discovered that one of my gallons of milk had leaked half its contents into the upholstery. Three days later, the smell is absolutely nauseating. We have scrubbed, shop-vacuumed it, and baking soda-d it. Today, I'm going to douse it with vinegar. I thought it was horrible when I spilled gasoline in my van once - that was nothing compared to the smell of rotten milk!
And as for the Spawn? He had conked out on the way home. Paul carried him up to bed, vomit covered shirt and all, and laid him down. There was no way we were risking waking up that child, no matter how dirty! In the morning, he was cheerful and I bathed him and all was well again. Until the next shopping trip, that is...

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

David's Song

Here is the other Faithwriter's piece I did recently. The assigned topic was "spring - the season." I kind of like this one, even though there's no humor to it. But then, I guess adultery and murder aren't all that funny.

David’s Song

It was springtime, the time of year when kings traditionally took up their armies and went to war to defend their kingdoms. But, inexplicably, King David didn’t go. He sent his army, but he remained at home. And while home he committed an act that would reverberate for generations to come. He committed adultery and then to cover that sin, he committed murder. For payment of his sins God caused the baby born out of the adulterous act to die.

It’s a sad story, isn’t it? How did a man, once called a “friend of God”, fall so low? It’s the same thing we ask when we see modern-day heroes of the faith fall. How can a person be so close to God, yet fall so hard? David’s story has been studied and discussed at great length by theologians. The short answer to this question is that the king allowed his heart to become divided long before the sin occurred. When temptation arrived, it was hard to resist. He didn’t, and the rest is history. There’s a lesson for all of us to learn from David’s fall and subsequent pain.

So often when great Christians in public ministry fall, that’s the last we hear of them. Their years of service are forever marred by the sin that is made public. Sometimes when we fall, we want to think that we have fallen so far that God’s grace couldn’t possibly reach us. But that wasn’t true for King David, it isn’t true for fallen Christian leaders, and it’s certainly not true for us.

In 2 Samuel 12, the prophet Nathan confronts King David with his sin and lets him know the terrible price that God will exact to pay for his sin - the death of the son conceived in his sinful act with Bathsheba. David is brokenhearted. But out of that grief comes restoration and a new purpose for David. He pens.

Have mercy on me, O God
According to your unfailing love;
According to your great compassion,
Blot out my transgressions,
Wash away all my iniquity
And cleanse me from my sin…
Create in me a pure heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me

(Psalm 51:1-2. 10)

David was fully restored to God and faithfully walked with Him until the day he died. What a blessing to know that we, too, can experience that forgiveness and have our own renewed fellowship with the Lord - a “springtime” in our Christian walk. How forgiving and how merciful is our great God!

Final Season

This is a piece I wrote for Faithwriters a few weeks ago. Since it didn't win (surprise, surprise!) I'm free to post it here. The topic we were assigned was "adolescence." It's ok, I guess - not my favorite writing, anyway.I did get several nice comments from other writers on the site - probably all mothers, I'm guessing! Oh, and Will isn't 15 yet, but he will be in less than 3 months. I thought saying "Fifteen" had a nice ring to it, even if he wasn't technically that old at the time of writing.

I tried to find a "mature" photograph of Will to put with this blog, but gave up. This one definitely doesn't fit the piece! He took this of Ben and himself the one day they were at camp together in June.

Fifteen years ago I gave birth to my first son. He was a big baby, as far as babies go, weighing in at a hefty 9lbs, 3oz. But his entire head still fit in the palm of my hand and his newborn clothes that I had waited for so long to dress him up in, swallowed him completely. But, like all babies do, he grew too fast and soon he was rolling and then crawling around. But at night, he’d still snuggle in my lap and he fit just perfectly in the curve of my arms. We’d rock and rock and watch the moonbeams make patterns on the wall.

And then he grew some more and soon had plenty to say to me. He’d follow his dad around, plastic tools in hand, and I felt a pang as I knew that he now he was beginning to separate from me. But he’d still let me hug him sometimes and at night he’d always want a kiss before bedtime. More often than not, he’d end up crawling into bed with me before morning arrived. We’d snuggle and I’d inhale his sweet scent, hoping I would be able to recall it later on, but knowing I never would.

I can still see him on his first day of school, with his red shirt and brand new jeans. He was so excited to go, but willingly let me kiss him good-bye and even slipped a “kiss” in his pocket for later. The next year he would only kiss me after looking around to make sure none of his friends were watching. The year after that he would consent only to a wave. My heart ached, but I knew this was the way it must go.

The years rolled into one another - birthday parties, bugs, ER trips, baseball games, vacations, pets, Christmases, school - and he grew. At times my heart wistfully remembered the sweet baby, now fully an active, tow-headed boy. But yet, each stage of life brought new enjoyment, too, and I didn’t miss my baby too much. Not usually, anyway.

But now - now it’s different. Standing in my kitchen is this man. But he’s not a man - yet. But the boy is gone. He’s suddenly taller than I am and much stronger. His face has broadened and his voice has deepened. He’s what they call an adolescent, a teenager. I suppose he is that. My food bill and the vibrations from his stereo through my kitchen ceiling can attest to that ! Very soon he will complete the growing journey and be fully a man.

This stage of life is the last one. Oh, there will be other stages as he transports through his college years into young adulthood, marriage, early fatherhood, middle-age, and then the winter of his life. But this stage, adolescence, is the last one where I get a front row seat. After this stretch, as he crosses the bridge from being a boy to becoming a man, he won’t be mine anymore. More than likely, another woman will become the center of his attention, which is as it should be. And even if that should not happen, parents tend to take their final bow as the child fully enters adulthood. Knowing this, I am savoring these sweet, lingering days of adolescence when my boy is still my boy - for just a few more seasons.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

4 1/2 months ago my friend Barb died from cancer . I blogged about it in my post "When God Doesn't Seem to Make Sense." I knew she was dying and I was dry-eyed. She died and I never cried. I went to her viewing and remained dry-eyed. While I have been sad on the inside, I haven't cried once over her in the months since her death. Last Saturday I got caught up on some scrapbooking. I scrapbook chronologically and I came to last spring's pictures.. Barb's family had made up the neatest funeral program I have ever seen. It was filled with pictures of Barb's life, along with the kind of information typically found in funeral programs. So I had saved it, wanting to do something with it in my scrapbooks. As I cut apart pictures and pasted them onto my pages, I found myself finally weeping over the loss of my friend. I don't know why it took so long.
I miss you, Barb.
(That's a picture of Barb taken in Sept. '07, at her daughter's wedding)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Body-work , Bi-dahs, and Battery-eating

What a busy week I have had! I won't bore you with all the details, but suffice it to say that this is the first chance I've had to actually stay home this week. And I won't even be staying home all day today. Tonight I have a city council meeting and I have to take Will to and from football practice. Paul was growling last night when he got in the van for the first time this week and saw that the fuel gauge was almost on empty. He had just filled up Sunday. That's the way it goes. I have been living in that van all week long!

So some of that is why I have decided not to drive up to Waterloo this weekend to attend a friend's wedding. I need to slow down. And I don't want to spend the extra gas money. But it would have been nice to go. However, she's getting married in her backyard on day that is supposed to exceed the 100 degree mark on the heat index - that alone is reason enough to stay home in my nice air-conditioned house and just send a card!

We went camping last weekend in the Webster City area. It was ok. The weather was great. We didn't even need our air conditioner. Sunday it did warm up. Paul wanted to go explore some nearby waterfalls and wading pools. They were very pretty, but the rocks were very painful! The bottom of my left foot is still purple from the bruises. And Sam fell and scraped his side. So then we went over to the beach part of the lake. I was not about to get into that water, although the boys weren't so picky. So I laid down on my towel and read my book. The only thing better would have been to have been inside, in air conditioning, an ice-cold Coke in my hand, chocolate at my side, reading my book!

Sat. afternoon Will and Paul went golfing. The campsite is right next to a golf course. It was Paul's first ever time to golf, but he beat Will! Ben and David were bored silly so we ended up driving into Webster City. We found the sole movie theater in town with its lone offering - "Transformers 2." I had a few reservations about this movie, but I had recently talked to the Christian nurse where Ben gets his allergy shots and she had assured me that it was wonderful and she had taken her 6 year old to see it. The last 2/3 of the movie is fine - lots of robots, lots of action, dirt, noise, etc. But the first third ruined it. It was full of sensuality and language. I was very disappointed in it and angered at how this movie is marketed to children. Now I'm in a bit of a quandary because Will wants to see it badly and I'm even more concerned about how that first third could affect him than I am the younger boys.

On our way home we drove a little out of our way and had a nice supper in Boondocks, Iowa, at their diner. The last time I was at that restaurant was 31 years ago. I remember that we had gone to Adventureland with my parents and grandparents and we ate there, coming home. It was the same as I remembered - macrame plant hangers and all! The date Sunday was Aug. 2 and that was the 5 year anniversary of Paul's fist day in his new career as a heating/air technician and he wanted to observe it somehow.

Oh, speaking of Adventureland, we were given tickets for that this week. Normally, Loziers offers employees their choice of either Adventureland or State Fair tickets. We didn't know if that would be done this year, though, because of the economy. Loziers has held off on pay raises because of that so we kind of half-thought that the tickets might be gone, too. But they came through with them. The thing is, we have to use them Aug. 15-24th. But during those weeks Paul is first on back-up call and then on first call. That generally means extra hours. So, we hate to give up any of that by taking a day off for the park! But I think we're going to do that in two weeks on a weekday when he's just on back-up. It will be nice to have that family time. The boys are excited!

I saw a new dr. this Monday. I'm hopeful that she's going to be able to help me. She was certainly an interesting person! She had so much going on, clothing and accessory-wise, I just didn't know where to look first! She topped it all off with glossy fuchsia lipstick. I sat there the whole time, just wanting to blot her lips! I had taken the time to write out my complaints and when I did so the first thing I thought was, "This is hormonal!" and when I gave the list to the dr, the first thing she said was, "this is hormonal!" I'm starting to think that this feeling of all-over lousiness I've been experiencing has less to do with the fact that I had a stroke and more to do with having some hormonal changes going on. I am pushing 40, so I guess it's not inconceivable that my hormones and female stuff are starting to get whacky. I'm going in on the 19th for a full physical and labs. I'm also going to see their chiropractor that day.

I went to the dentist on Tues. They had some young guy instead of the old dentist that saw me last time. It makes me wonder if he's retired or if they just assign patients to whatever dr. is free. Two cavities, which is not the end of the world. But, this new dentist and his assistant are trying to talk me into having one my crowns re-done, because it has a jagged edge and food could become trapped down there. I'm not really inclined to do that until it's a problem. I just had that crown put on two years ago and it took me another year to pay for it!

Sam went in for his 21 month well-baby check up yesterday. Now I remember why I didn't do well-baby checks with Ben and David. They are a waste of time! But he's my last and it's covered by insurance, so... anyway, he has gained an inch now in the past 3 months. He's exactly 36" tall. But he only put on a half pound, weighing in at 28 1/2 lbs now. That puts him at the 98th percentile for height and the 50th for weight. The dr. said he is going to be very, very tall, probably even taller than his brothers. How can he determine that? I laughed and said well, I guessed we know if that were true in about 20 years. He said we'd know before then. He may be right. I have a feeling that Will is not going to be super tall - probably maxing out around 6', like his dad. He's getting thick and bulking out, also like Paul. Ben, of course, will always be skinny. I'm not sure about David. He's thinner than Will was at this age, but I have noticed lately, that he, too, is getting a little thicker in his arms and legs. One thing is for certain - they'll all be taller than me!

Sam has taken to calling his blanket his "bi-dah." It's kind of cute, so that's what we all call it now. Only, I have noticed within the last couple of days that he is also referring to his penis as his "bi-dah." Is it just me, or is this mildly disturbing?!

Sam has also developed a taste for AA batteries. We have tons of those things lying around here because of all the boys' electronic games and stuff. Sam likes to stuff those in his mouth, two at a time, and then come to me so I can see. He knows I get all excited and I'm sure that's why he does it. But gee whiz, what else am I going to do? I can just see one slipping down his throat and getting lodged in there! Not to mention, I'm fairly certain it's bad for the digestive system to suck on battery juices!

I'm going to be without a computer for the next few days. My brother is going to take mine and work on it. It's working fine, but there's a couple things that could work better. The main irritant is that I can't copy and paste and I sure miss that. I have some essays from FaithWriters that I would like to plug into my blog pages. So I will be going through some withdrawal pains. But the bright side is that I might actually get something done around here! When I told Will we would be without the computer, he wailed, "No-o-o! I have to harvest my wheat at 2:30 on Friday!" He's involved in some Facebook game where he has a virtual farm. Paul says he has way too much time on his hands -I don't doubt that!

So, until next week, I guess!