Monday, September 28, 2009

Weekend Getaway

That is a picture of Sam and I taken Sat. evening at the resort pool. I wanted to post a picture of Paul and the boys I took outside the resort's sign, but it turned out blurry. So, you're getting this instead!

For the most part, it was a relaxing weekend. We didn't plan anything at all, which I'm sure made it boring for the boys. But we just wanted to get away. We weren't sure what all amenities would be at this resort and since we'd only be there for 3 days, we didn't want to plan a lot. Our last experience at a resort was up at the Wilderness Resort in the Wisconsin Dells. Now that was a resort! This place at Okaboji? Not so much! But we had the chance to swim and watch movies. The boys liked the arcade and were constantly bumming quarters off us. They mini-golfed at the resort's indoor course. I wasn't terribly impressed with the mini-golf course or the resort itself. But it was free, so I'm not going to complain. But I wouldn't go back as a paying customer.

Paul and I did do some antiquing. Ok, we did a LOT of antiquing! I'm sure that didn't add to the boys' enjoyment, either. We've just really gotten into this over the past few years. It's kind of an expensive hobby, though! Paul likes to look for his antique cars and trucks and pieces for his collection of old-time tins. I'm looking for all kinds of things. I did find a piece for my growing enamelware collection - a pot in almost perfect condition. I was really excited about that! That almost never happens. Enamelware dings pretty easily and then the gray shows through when it does. The handles tend to corrode pretty easily, too. I ended up getting that, another large pot with a lid, and a long-handled small pot. Paul found that last one for me. I'm going to need a bigger kitchen if I keep getting this stuff! I also found a red bowl from the 1930s and a pretty lime one from the 1950s. I bought those purely for practical use - I need more bowls. But I love that they are old! Paul was thrilled to find this huge framed painting of a farmstead in the fall. It has a John Deere tractor in the field, with a buck lying beside it. He had to have it. Now we'll have to figure out where we can hang it! I'm kind of running out of wall space.

We watched the best movie yesterday before leaving. The resort had a "theater." I put that in quotations because it wasn't much of a theater. It was simply dvds shown on a large screen. But we watched "Marley and Me." We both loved it - such a good story! I think the boys were a bit bored with that, too. Poor kids.

One thing they did like was a nearby bug exhibit we visited as we were leaving. It was a visiting display of these huge - like 7 or 8 feet in diameter - wooden bugs. There is a conservatory up there at Okaboji. It turned out that the boys had previously read about these bugs in one of their issues of Highlights magazine and they were thrilled to discover them right there where we were!

Ben was still weepy this weekend. That made things hard for me. I never know anymore when he's going to burst out bawling and it's really stressful! The licking has become a major problem again and I'm so tired of hearing, "I promise I'll never do it again, Mom!" I called his dr. this morning and he's prescribing a low-dose sedative for him that will hopefully get him some more sleep and end these crying jags. The ride home last night was almost unendurable with him. I feel so inadequate to be his mother right now.

But it wasn't a bad weekend. It is always nice to get away, particularly if getting away doesn't involve camping. I know Paul, especially, seems to need that. He gets so stressed out with everything going on his life that if he doesn't have a date that he can anticipate where he'll be taking a break, he has a rough time. Even he says that. So he's already counting down the months until we go visit the Creation Museum next year! I think the boys will have a better time on that trip. And as for me, I really don't care where we go, as long as we have these opportunities to make memories and enjoy eachother. Someday when the boys are grown and scattered, memories of times like these will be very precious.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Sleepless in Swan

Today has been one rough day. I think a lot of my posts express that sentiment! Oh, but it has. I had such good intentions last night. My plan was to get to bed early, get up early and do my walking, and then make a big pancake and bacon breakfast for everyone. They all got cold cereal today. Ben would NOT go to sleep last night. He kept coming downstairs, complaining that he couldn't sleep. I gave him a melatonin. Finally, when I was drifting off he came down asking if he could sleep on the couch. I don't let the boys do that normally, but he caught me when I was already asleep, so he took my "umphh" as "Yes, please do, Ben!" I was woke up again sometime in there by him complaining he couldn't sleep. Then, around 2am the blue light from the tv awakened me (our bedroom is right off the livingroom). I came charging out of the room and Ben said innocently, "I just wanted to know what was on late night tv, Mom!" Argh! Save me from my children! Then, a few hours later he started in with the wailing, which is something that happens when he is overly tired. It's high-pitched, uncontrollable sobbing. Sleep is on the only remedy for it. This went off and on for about 5 hours. During this time Sam awakened. Paul, bless him, went and dealt with him. He was upstairs for a long time. I bet he fell asleep beside his bed. We got maybe an hour of sleep and then Ben started wailing again. And then Sam showed up in our bedroom, blanket and bottle in hand. I pulled him into bed with us, but didn't get much sleep after that. Paul did turn off my alarm and I awakened about 7:40, hearing Ben wailing in the kitchen while Paul got his own breakfast. I snapped at him, "You get upstairs and don't you come down until you've slept!" and took a shower. Before Paul left for work I overheard him talking to Ben upstairs and I heard him say, "Now, Mom's a bit cranky today..." Oh! That man! I informed him when he came down that Mom had good reason to be cranky and Paul replied, "I didn't say you didn't! I was just telling Ben it would be best if he stayed up in his room for awhile and got some rest!" He probably thought I was going to murder the child if we didn't keep some space between us!

That really set the tone for the whole day. I have heard that when the pressure is on (like having had no sleep the night before) what comes out is not a result of the pressure, but reveals, instead, what's in the heart. That doesn't speak well for my inner character, I can tell you! Ben never did sleep. All day long he's been apologizing for not sleeping. He's very fixated on it and can't get past it. It's a classic autism trait, when the brain gets "stuck" on a single thought. We did talk about it and I think some of the problem is that when Paul put in new windows, the shades came down. They won't be up again until he gets the drywall in. So, I'm going to string up a dark blanket around Ben's bed to block any light. We even stopped at the Christian book store today and got a praise and worship lullaby cd. I'll put that in and hopefully Ben will drift off to sweet slumber for many hours, as a result. David is mortified that we bought a lullaby cd for Ben. He's convinced all his friends will find out and make fun of him as a result (rolling eyeballs here).

Like the picture? Last weekend we had a family reunion - just us siblings, our families, and my parents. My one sister in law couldn't make it, though. She's on bedrest, trying to keep her baby girl from coming too early. Hopefully, I'll be reporting the happy news on that soon - but not too soon! It was a nice day. We have 4 older boys - my first 3 and my brother Andy's girlfriend's 13 yr old, Lennon (I still consider him my nephew) who all played together nicely. And then are 3 little boys. Jake, Matt's son, is 4, Zeke, Andy's son, is 3, and then there is Sam, who is almost 2. So they enjoyed eachother, running around. I brought footballs and toy guns and the boys were set for the day! That's Andy with the dreadlocks. He just turned 33. Matt is in the middle. He turned 36 Sunday. And there's me on the end. I'm 38. And a half.

While we were there Ava, Andy's girlfriend, and I were talking mini-vans. She became a convert this last year when they bought their first one. She was admiring our's and I commented that our's has a built-in car seat. Well, what I meant by that was that it has a toddler's seat. The one seat on the end bumps out and has a clip for a seatbelt. So we've been using a regular car seat for Sam until he got old enough for the other one. Ava said, "Oh yeah, I see that!" and she reaches in and pulled open the seat, revealing a full, baby carseat, with a harness! I about fell over - we have had this van for 5 months and I had no idea that thing was hidden in there! So we've been using that all week and it's been so nice not to have to mess with a bulky car seat!

Well, my dr's appointment went just fine last Friday. I found out that I am actually quite healthy. I'm deficient in Vit. D, however, so now I'm taking 5000 ius of that a day. I'm estrogen heavy, as well, which indicates that I am in peri-menopause. Writing that makes me feel terribly old. Menopause and me are two words that shouldn't even belong together! The main problem is with my uterus. My lining is terribly, terribly thick. A normal one measures 5ml. Mine measured 2.5 centimeters. So the plan is that I will repeat the ultrasound, just to make sure their findings were accurate. Then, I'll be having an HSG (where they shoot dye up into your uterus - I had one before I got pg with David) to see if there are any polyps hiding behind the lining. After that, I'll have a D & C, in hopes that we can scrape it out. If that doesn't work, then I'm looking at a hysterectomy. So, it looks like I'll be taking off my pants a lot in the coming months!

This coming weekend we are headed up to northern Iowa, to Lake Okabojee. Isn't that a funny name? There's a resort up there so we're going to spend a long weekend enjoying that. It's one of those time-share presentation deals again. I don't mind taking advantage of these things. The presentations aren't that long and we have gotten some nice freebies on our trips by participating. In fact, this whole weekend is free, other than our gas and meals, of course. My mom says we had better watch out - one of these years we might actually say "yes" to the presentation. I don't think so! I am looking forward to the time away with just Paul and the boys.

Will's team won their game again this week. I didn't go, but Paul and the boys did. I had a parent support meeting at Advanced Therapy that I didn't want to miss. Will's coach called me the other day to let me know what time Will needed to be at the school and he asked me how Will was enjoying football. He's such a nice man! Will's fame is a fundraiser, the school takes pictures of the athletes and makes them into buttons and then the students can buy whichever player they want. So our little kindergarten neighbor boy bought one of Will's and excitedly came over the day, wanting Will to autograph it for him! I think Will's chest puffed out a little bit on that one...

Yesterday, when I dropped Will off for practice, Ben asked what the short buses were used for at the school. We were driving around the back of the school where they keep their bus barn. I carefully explained how they were used for transporting special needs students. I wanted to make sure I explained it just right, in a way that wouldn't make Ben feel bad about himself. But then David piped up, "Yeah, like you, Ben!" Where's the duct tape when I need it?!

Time to get in my other home (my van) and go get Will from practice!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Baby Boy

A month from today Sam will turn two. It doesn't seem possible!

But yet, he's fully "two" already - very curious, very destructive, and very noisy. But it just seems like yesterday that that picture on the left was taken. Those were such precious, fleeting days - gone before I could even blink.

I dug out an old CD the other day to listen to while I was cleaning. It is a CD that my friend, Jayd, made for me after Sam's birth. I don't listen to it very often because I only have one cd player that will play it - must be burned on an odd cd type or something. Jayd is a very accomplished songwriter and vocalist. After Sam was born she showed up at my house one day with her own kids, pizzas in hand, and we had a nice visit. She gave me this CD she had made for me and the first song is my absolute favorite. I remember that she was over on Nov. 1, the day before Will turned 13. That birthday seemed significant to me. It is an important day, filled with a number of significances. So here I had sons on both ends of the spectrum! I had one just starting his life and I had another who was stepping into the stage of life that would end with him leaving me. I was an emotional, hormonal mess and I remember sobbing as she played this song for me that she had written and recorded. I'm a little more emotionally stable now, but the song still bring tears to my eyes. Here's some of the words:

Baby Boy, I have waited for so long to get to meet you,

I have carried you around with me,

from the day you came to be,

I've loved you.

Baby Boy, as you're lying in my arms so softly sleeping,

I am overwhelmed by innocence,

a miracle just waiting to unfold.

As you grow, learning something new each day,

I'll be right here by your side, I'll be smiling always.

And someday soon, you'll be towering over me,

all the tiny fingerprints will fade away.

But right now, you're a tiny little baby, sleeping softly in my arms,

I know time will take away, but to me you'll stay

my baby boy in blue.

It is just the loveliest of songs. At the end there's an instrumental part with Brahm's lullaby and that part gets me all teary-eyed too! I miss my baby boys. I will always regret that I didn't savor those moments as much with Ben and David. With Ben it was understandable. There wasn't much about his early years that was fun. I loved him, but was in a state of exhaustion and grief over his birth that it was difficult to just cherish him for the miracle he was. With David, I was tired again, then, too. We moved 5 days before his birth and then again to our first house when he was a month old. Plus, Ben was still very dependent on me. It was very much like having twin infants. And I assumed that we would be having another child within a couple of years so I didn't stop to think that I really needed to hold those baby days close. David was not an extremely content baby and then he developed thrush and gave it to me, which made us both miserable for months until I quit nursing. I enjoyed both those boys more as they got older.

I was beyond exhausted with Sam. I was an older mother and I had that stroke, which completely wiped me out. But I knew he was our last little one. So I took the time to just - be - with him. I delighted in his little hiccups and the soft down covering his entire body. I had lost my sense of smell with the stroke, so I couldn't actually smell his baby scent, but I would rub my nose into his hair and try to imagine what he smelled like. Every grimace, every sigh of contentment - I tried to soak it in and commit it to memory so I would remember those days when they were no longer past. I would give anything to experience it all over again.

Well, you'll have to excuse me. There's a certain little blue-eyed, tow-headed creature begging to crawl into my lap at the moment. These days will be gone too quickly, too. In the meantime, I've got a son to cuddle.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Voting, Forgiving, and Hormonal

Whew! I'm worn out! I just traipsed around Swan, collecting signatures to turn into the county auditor in order to retain my city council seat. This is new. I have been through two election cycles while serving on the city council and we have never done a thing in order to get elected. When I was asked if I was interested in a council seat I said, "sure" and then people just wrote my name in. In fact, that's how all the members of the council, including the mayor, are elected here. Evidently, that's an anomaly, because two years ago this fall I had a news crew show up at my door. It's kind of a funny story: I was very, very pregnant and had just come home from the dentist and my face was quite numb, I remember. And this news crew showed up! Apparently, there were two towns in the entire state where not one person had filed papers in order to fill any of the council seats. I explained to the reporter that we just don't do that here - it's all write-in. Well, they decided to run the story as a "what a cute, small, town Swan, Iowa is - representative of many small towns in the state!" They noticed that I had laundry flapping in the wind out back (including my underwear, as I recall) and begged me to take it down in front of their cameras. I remember one photojournalist gushing, "Nobody hangs out their laundry anymore!" So I obliged them and there I was on the evening news, big bellied, puffy-lipped, and bringing in my clothes! So anyway, the whole point of this is that we have a new city clerk now. And the county auditor got ahold of her and is pressuring her to have people file papers in the proper way. Two of the council members at our meeting the other night flat out said they wouldn't do it. It didn't matter to them if they were re-elected or not and if people wanted them on, they could just write them in, like it's always be done! I asked our clerk if it would help her out if she had at least one of us file the papers and she said it would, so I told her I'd do it. It involved getting one form notarized and then obtaining ten signatures of town citizens who would support my "campaign." So, that's what I was doing tonight. Actually, it looks like the mayor's seat may be in jeopardy. Our neighbor was walking around tonight collecting signatures for his run at it. I have a feeling our current mayor would happily hand over the position, though. And I guess another neighbor was collecting signatures for his bid at a council seat. So it may be more of an interesting "race" this year. Last election, 12 people showed up to vote. Maybe we'll have 13 this year!

I went to the Ladies Retreat last weekend up at Clear Lake. It was good. I hadn't been there in three years. The speaker was very intense and I still feel like I need some time to assimilate all she talked about. Her subject was peacemaking - forgiving others. And wouldn't you know it, that one area is the area where I struggle most in my Christian walk? It would help if I didn't have such a good memory! And herein is the struggle: I don't want to forgive others. But God says I need to. So it's the age-old battle of the flesh vs. God.

The weather was fantastic up there and my allergies were not a problem at all, which was a huge surprise to me. Normally, I'm a blowing, dripping mess at these retreats since they are always in early September, which is the height of hayfever season. However, I absolutely could not sleep at all Friday night - just dozed fitfully. It was awful! So, I sure slept well Sat. night once I was back in my own, soft bed!

Before I left on the retreat I was "Mama" to Sam. I don't think there was anything sweeter than hearing that softly come from the lips of my toddler! Oh, my heart just melted every time he said that! I walked in the door Sat. night and Sam yelled, "Mom!" And ever since then, when he wants me, it's "Mom! Mom!" - yelled in a very demanding tone. Last week he had started doing that with Will and he's been doing it for months with Ben. He doesn't say "David" yet so I guess it was my turn. Although, I couldn't help but notice that he still sweetly calls Paul, "Da-da." Not fair!

Will has won his last two football games. He's playing more and more each game and my heart just thrills to see him grab the ankles of other players and plow into them! He had a JV game last night and I was surprised at how much his coach put him in. He played every quarter and quite a bit in each. He just now showed me a bruise on his upper arm. It's a series of little dots. He explained that it is from the mesh of his jersey, from when somebody's helmet crashed into him. You know, you really have to have a strong stomach and a bit of a masculine edge in order to be the mother of a football player!

Ben has been giving me fits lately, behavior-wise. I guess I recently posted about that. It's still going on and I'm running out of privileges to take away! He's always immensely sorry later on, but he doesn't seem to remember how sorry he was once temptation rears its head again. It's very tiring for me.

I took Ben in to see the nutritional consultant again. He gained 4 lbs since our July visit, so that's good. Just 16 more to go until he reaches the goal! So, I guess I need to bring on the cheesecake some more. Actually, the consultant gave me a little container of stuff. It's made by the Beneful people, only it's called "BeneCalorie" and there's 300 and some calories in just this tiny little container. You can mix it into any food. But the nutritionist told me a cheaper way to accomplish the same thing is to mix heavy whipping cream into his food. So I may try that.

I have a doctor's appt. Friday. The office finally called me today (after I emailed them) and told me that the dr. wants to meet with me in order "go over your test results." Ok, so I'm thinking I must be dying. Why else would they not tell me over the phone? Oh, it's probably not that serious. But I must have gotten some results that she would want to discuss treatment options with me. I just know something is going on with me, hormonally. I'm on day 40 of my current cycle and I'm not pregnant (I checked, just to make sure a miraculous conception had not occurred - boy, was I relieved!). Normally, I'm a straight 28 day cycle person, so this indicates to me that my body is getting more and more whacked out. In addition, I am having so much uterine pain. Part of me would be very happy if I could have a hysterectomy, but only if I'm not risking another stroke by having surgery. Ugh - so many things that can go wrong with the female body! I guess being so intricately made also leads to lots of possibilities for things to break down.

Well, I need to get that kitchen cleaned up, the boys in bed, and then head that way myself. Tomorrow morning is my first MOPS meeting of the season. I am working with the one year olds this year, so Sam will be with me. Although, I am half tempted to just leave him home tomorrow. He seems to have some diarrhea going on today and we're headed up to Waterloo this weekend. The possibility of him catching a cold from a fellow Moppet is great since kids that age seem to always have gunky noses and stuff leaking out of them. I would hate for him to be sick up there and then to spread anything to his cousins. Of course, Will would rather not have the responsibility of dealing with any runny diapers, though! He's so funny. He can do the manliest of things, but changing a diaper just unnerves him. David is worse - he won't even carry a wrapped up one to the garbage, positive that the contents are just waiting to fly out and get all over him.

I have a couple of other, single-topic posts I am hoping to get to this week yet. So I may be on here again before the week is out.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

In the Olden Days

I have been going to this new chiropractor for a couple of weeks now out at Preventative Health. After struggling since late July with sciatic and lower and back pain, I am finally getting some relief - yay! Yesterday I had an appointment and since Ben had allergy shots an hour later, I took him along. So the chiropractor was chatting with Ben while she worked on me. She told Ben that when she was a little girl she used to get allergy shots, too. She then added that after she would get shots, her doctor would give her a little toy. Ben immediately interjected, "Oh, you mean in the olden days?" He was dead serious! Of course, that cracked both Dr. Carlson and me up.

After she left the room to get the ultrasound machine that she uses on my back, Ben immediately began questioning me, "Why were you guys laughing? Shouldn't I have said that?" Oh, the joys of the ultra-serious, black and white autistic mind...

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Keeping House, Peppered Nostrils, and Tears

There are some days, like today, that are really difficult when parenting Ben. He's been sliding downhill, lately. I got an increase in his meds this week, but am not seeing an improvement yet. I suppose I should contact our pastor and see if we can get more counseling/encouragement sessions set up. I know Ben's life is hard and I can only imagine what it must be like to be trapped with a mind and a body that won't work right. How difficult it must be to see his brothers and peers doing things that he cannot do. How maddening it must be when the one thing he lives for (Wheel of Fortune) gets taken away by an angry mother when disobedience occurs. That's what is happening in our house tonight. And because he's so angry he's upstairs throwing a literal temper tantrum. Imagine a 2 year old's tantrum in a 75 pound body - scary! The other day Paul and I were dreaming out loud about how nice it will be when the kids are all grown and gone. The silence will be absolutely lovely and what a novelty it will be to clean the kitchen and have it remain that way all day long! We can go anywhere and do anything we want without having to explain ourselves or make arrangements for the boys. But then I stopped myself. That's not going to happen. Ben will always live with us. Well, he could go to an assisted care facility, but the only one I would consider is Shepards in Wisconsin and they won't take the kids until they are 30 or so. It's not fair - it's not what I wanted for my life! It's not what I wanted for him. Sigh...It wouldn't be so bad if I always felt sure I was doing the right thing where Ben is concerned, but the truth is, I doubt myself a lot of times. Am I fair in my discipline? Should he be in school? Am I doing enough for him? Am I shortchanging him educationally? Should he be on more, stronger medications? Do I listen to him enough? That last one is hard because it gets really old listening to him ramble on about game shows and grocery stores - his chief interests in life. All these thoughts run through my mind and yet I can't waffle where he is concerned because he has this uncanny knack of knowing exactly when I'm doubting myself and he swoops in to try and turn that to his advantage.

All right - well, I hadn't actually planned to write that. You caught me at a bad moment. The picture above is of Sam from last April and it's to illustrate my next bit of information: I have discovered a new method of cleaning house. I have to say - I'm pretty impressed with my housecleaning this week! First, understand that housework is not my thing. It never has been. I've usually been content to do just enough to prevent E coli and ensure that we had enough plates to eat from. Once, after my mother-in-law moved my stove, as she was hanging wallpaper in my kitchen, and revealed 3+ years worth of dirt, dust, and grime, I laughingly asked her, "Do you think I'm a bad housekeeper, Dorothy?" She said slowly and seriously, "Well, I would say that housekeeping is just not your gift, Sarah!" My mother-in-law, by the way, is a superior housekeeper, cook, and gardener - everything I am not.

So anyway, last weekend I was looking through my final issue of Women's Day and I happened across an article about how to clean your house - advice from the experts. The article pointed out that the biggest mistake people make is trying to "zone" clean, that is piecemeal cleaning. That is me. I'm organized enough that I have all my housework divided up into days, but I can never, ever get through my list. There is just too much to do. In addition to the housework, I have to-do categories for really urgent things, as well as a school schedule I have to follow with the boys. And then I have times for trying to catch up on scrapbooking and other projects. It's just too much. As a result, my upstairs shower has been cleaned, I think, twice since we put it in (5 years ago this fall) and there are chunks of food clogging my dishwasher drain. What happens is that when I do have people over I end up killing myself for several days prior to their visit trying to clean every possible place their eyes might land. This method teaches you how to clean your entire house in 7 steps. I won't bore you with all the details, but I am finding it really beneficial. The idea is to do it all within a 4 hour period, but I don't' have that kind of time. So what I did was to divide out the steps amongst my daily chore lists that I type up at the beginning of the week. So Monday, for example, I did "Step 1." That was to dust the entire house. It didn't take that long. Tuesday, I did Step 2 - cleaning all the fabric furniture and changing all the sheets. And so on. Today was Step 4 and I cleaned all the hard surfaces with cleaner and a rag. I figure that when I have days that I can't do my "step" I can double up the next day, or make it up on Saturday. And if I don't get through all 7 steps within one week, that's ok. I'll just take up where I left off the following week. If nothing else, maybe we'll all breathe a little better, since things will be getting regularly dusted around here!

Will had his first game of the season this past Monday night. It was a JV game and so, he was only put in for about 10 seconds. But for those 10 seconds I was cheering and snapping pictures! Unfortunately, it was a massacre. Pleasantville was slaughtered, 25 to 0. That's the way it goes sometimes, esp. when the other team is taller and bigger than you are.

My project this week has been sorting through the boys cold weather clothes. It's a job I both like and dislike. I like seeing what clothes they have grown into and what cool stuff they'll be wearing this next season. But I dislike all the work involved. The boys aren't too fond of parading around the living room in their underwear while I try clothes on them, either. But that part is done. Now it's just a matter of getting the clothes into their drawers while trying to find room for their summer stuff, too, since we might be in short sleeves until the first of November.

Ben has a new accessory - a girdle. His occupational therapist calls it a "binder" but it's a girdle. All it is is a wide strip of stiff fabric with a velcro closure. She believes it helps him to control his body movements. She may be right. We'll try it and see. As I was signing the form for insurance I glanced up and noticed the cost of this thing - $155! That's insane - for fabric and velcro? Just because it's considered a medical need they can charge an arm and a leg. It reminds me of Sam's $500 circumcision - also a rip off (no pun intended!).

I got my last issue of Today's Christian Woman. I didn't know it was going to be my last issue, but they announced within the magazine that it would be. They are discontinuing the magazine. That's sad. I always meant to submit a guest editorial, too.

Sam has a new obsession - latches. He is crazy about those 3 pronged plastic deals that slip inside a plastic sheath. I have two on my scrapbooking tote and he likes to stand over there, latch the latches, and then yell, "stuck! stuck!" until someone comes over and unlatches them for him to put back together again. He also discovered one on his booster seat and now when we get somewhere after driving, he is reluctant to climb down out of his seat. Instead, he wants to stay and mess with the latch on his carseat. I hope he gets past this craze soon!

I discovered a new weapon for my arsenal of combatting my hayever. I picked up this nasal spray yesterday at Walgreens (when I stopped there to buy half a dozen new boxes of tissues!). It's called "Sinus Buster." It's main ingredient is capsaisin pepper. I suspect that is a close cousin to red pepper. Seriously. I spray it up my nose and my nostrils then feel like they are on fire for about the next 10 minutes. But it does seem to help. I have actually been breathing for the past two days, which is a novelty this time of year. I have thought about using it on Ben, but I have a feeling he'd run screaming out of the house. Plus, it does seem to induce an immediate bout of sneezing that lasts for just a short while but I could see Ben drenching everything in his path while that happened.

I have been reading Karen Kingsbury this week. It had been quite awhile since I read any of her books. I had forgotten just how intense they can be! They're so good and I find myself convicted and weeping in parts. But I just have to take breaks, too, because I get so sucked into the mood of the story. She's a very powerful writer, much like Francine Rivers.

The other day I was riding in the van with Ben when the news came on, reporting the robbery of two Pizza Hut delivery persons. Ben asked why they were robbed and I told him it was because the robbers wanted their money. Ben then said, "Well, I bet he was hungry, too!" Could be!

I sat down and watched a little bit of Oprah yesterday. Now, I am definitely not an Oprah fan. Even before the whole "church of Oprah" thing came out on YouTube last year she gave me the willies. I remember watching her show in the late nineties and noticing her subtle and not-so-subtle shift toward vagaries like "finding your spiritual center" and so forth. But, sometimes she is interesting and I wanted to sit down. It was a reward because I was forcing myself to eat a nectarine rather than the snickers bar that was calling my name in the cupboard (I answered the call today, however!). Yesterday's show was about finding the world's "most talented" children. Shoot! I knew we shouldn't have given up on Will's piano lessons!

One of the children featured was giving a return performance. She's a little Philippino girl who had made her debut on last year's show. Her name is Cherise. I had never heard of her, which is not surprising, given that my entire realm of knowledge of pop culture is limited to what I read in People magazine in doctor's offices. But apparently, she rocketed to fame after the show and spent the year performing all over the country, earning enough money to buy her own house and ensure that her work visa will never expire. I never did catch her age but she was young - maybe 13 or 14. And boy, could she sing! That girl has pipes! But this is what I thought was interesting: the camera zoomed in on Oprah as Cherise performed. She sat there swaying to the song and then jumped to her feet, tears streaming down her face. I thought it was interesting and sad that she cried.

Oh, it's understandable. I believe we possess within ourselves a God-given appreciation for art in its different forms and it's not uncommon to be moved to the depth of our souls by a stirring novel, song, or piece of artwork. And when that art is produced by someone who seems least likely to be able to do so, it's even more stirring. But this is why it's sad: Oprah cried at the powerful voice of a pubescent rock star wanna-be. But yet, when she was presented with the greatest love story ever told, her heart remained hard. Is there anything that ought to stir us more than the story of how much we were loved? The greatest story ever is the story of God reaching out to mankind and giving us the sacrifice of His only son. I remember when the truth of that finally broke through to my heart. I was 26 years old and for the first time, I wept over the state of my sinful self and the great gift of love that given to me. The greatest tragedy of humankind will be the tears that were not shed over this.

Well, you all enjoy your Labor Day weekend. I plan to putter around the house and I think Paul has intentions of ripping off the front of the upstairs and replacing the boys' bedroom windows. It's a bit ironic, don't you think, that he will spend his day working on a holiday meant to honor the working man and to provide him a respite? Actually, I think a lot of our Labor Days have been spent that way, now that I think about it!