Friday, October 30, 2009

Week of the Bumbies

It is a windy, windy Friday. Paul laid pieces of siding up on the roof that he took off the front top of the house in Sept, when he replaced the windows in the boys' room. Since he's been doing some insulating, as well as toying with the idea of putting in a furnace unit in the attic (he'd have to go through that wall to get one up there), he hasn't put it back on the house yet. They are blowing off the roof now and crashing onto the deck below. I have a fuzzy feeling we're going to have to buy some replacement pieces! The really bad thing about the weather today is that I discovered this morning that trick or treating is tonight, not tomorrow night, like I had been assuming. I don't understand the inconsistency with that. Some years it's the 31st, some years the 30th. Des Moines always does theirs on the 30th, so as to avoid having children out when other adults would be around who might be observing some of the more dark aspects of the holiday. But we generally go with whatever Pleasantville is doing. And apparently, they keep that date fluid! So we never know from year to the next. But anyway, the wind is going to make it so cold and of course, the boys won't want to wear hats or coats, which means they could end up sick later.

This kind of messed things up, too, because Will has a youth group outing tonight. He needed to be at the church at 6, but trick or treating here begins at 5:30. So, I prevailed upon my friend Melissa, the mother of his best friend, to shelter and feed Will until time for the outing. She was agreeable, thankfully. But from what I hear, the kids are going to be outside tonight, doing a bonfire, which means that Will could end up sick from tonight too!

We carved our pumpkins last night. Actually, it was just an ideal, supremely cozy night. It poured all day long yesterday - just gray and dreary. I made homemade chicken noodle soup and then I was inspired to make Paul an apple pie. So the scents of those two offerings mingled and spread throughout the house. The rain drummed on the roof and windows and then we carved our pumpkins. I'd love to bottle times like this!

Sam was excited by the pumpkin carving. He has been talking about "bumbies" for weeks now and I didn't know what he meant. We finally figured out that he is talking about pumpkins! So all last night he was chattering about the bumbies having eyes. Even Ben got into the carving, more than he ever has. Normally, he doesn't care too much about jack o lanterns. But this year he was very specific about what kind of a face he wanted and even drew me a picture to copy onto his pumpkin! Now, if only I could get him to actually clean out his pumpkin!

I am sick today with a migraine. I feel like vomiting and it's all I can do to function. I can tell my mental processes are slowed down and of course, my head hurts! I have been struggling with migraines now for a couple of weeks. A couple of friends whose drs. also put them on Vit. D mentioned to me that headaches were a side effect of that vitamin. I didn't start having problems until I took that antibiotic a couple of weeks ago. I quit that and I quit taking Vit. D a few days ago. But I am dragging so badly now. I need the energy boost that Vit. D provides. So I went ahead and took one today (5000 ius). If' I'm going to have a headache anyway, I'd just as soon have some energy! I may just take it every other day. I see my dr. in a few weeks so I'll talk to her about this, too, and see what she thinks. Maybe I just need a smaller dose every day. Or maybe the migraines are a sign that another stroke is imminent. Often they are. I sure hope not. Fortunately, I do have some migraine meds since I am prone to them, every so often. One bottle would normally last me more than a year, but I've blown through 3/4 of my bottle just in the last two weeks! I have not struggled like this with headaches since my senior year of high school. Fun, fun!

We are thinking that Sam may be a southpaw. Paul was the first to notice it and since then I've been watching. It's true - Sam does everything with his left hand. That is so odd! I don't think anybody on my side of the family is a leftie and nobody in our immediate family is. This week we were with Paul's family and his brother, who is left-handed, immediately noticed and commented on that. I think until now he has been the only Heywood who is left handed. We'll have to see if that lasts. Sam is still pretty young, so he could change his hand preference. Sam also has one ear that is folded over on top. Paul noticed that as soon as Sam was born and we've always thought that was kind of cute. It never did unfold and it's safe to assume that that will be a permanent thing with Sam's features. It turns out that Paul has a nephew (actually the son of his left handed brother) who has the same thing. So strange!

Well, speaking of Paul's family, we saw them this week. It was unplanned. A dear, dear lady in our former church died unexpectedly last Saturday evening. I'll blog more about her later. But we were not going to miss this funeral - that family meant too much to us. So we were up by 6 on Wed. morning and drove to Council Bluffs. The funeral was great, if a funeral can be termed that. Our former pastor preached such a good message. He had been this family's pastor for almost 30 years and they were dear, personal friends. It was such a refreshing change from funerals where rent-a-preachers awkwardly try to talk like they knew the deceased and try to reassure the grieving family that their loved one certainly made it to Heaven (like my grandpa's funeral a number of years ago). It was sad that Judy died and we will all miss her. She died way too early. But, there was a measure of joy, too. Judy had recently been diagnosed with cancer and was facing some real suffering. The Lord took her home before she had to go through that. As Christians, we just can't grieve like the unsaved because we know this parting is only temporary.

The day was very full, but uplifting. We saw many, many people at the funeral, graveside service, and meal that we had not seen since before we moved. Some of Paul's family were there so we saw them then. And then later we headed out to his parents' house and we had a family dinner and a birthday party for Sam. It was a good day. We hopped on the road that evening and were home by 10:30. Unfortunately for Paul, Thursdays are one of his mornings when he has to report in to the shop, so he has to be up by 6. So, he's really lacking on sleep this week. I don't want to borrow trouble, but it will not surprise me at all if he struggles with some seizure activity this weekend, as a result.

We got to meet our new, 15 day old, great- niece, Aubrey, on Wednesday. That was fun! She is the daughter of Paul's teenaged nephew, Nathan. The circumstances are not wonderful, but hopefully better decisions will be made from here on out. Mom and Dad seemed a bit tired, but Grandma and Grandpa, Paul's brother and sister-in-law, appeared completely besotted with their little granddaughter. They only had sons, too, so having a little girl around has to be a real novelty for them! I imagine we'll be the same way someday - a long, long, LONG time from now!

I have been saddened lately by a number of failed marriages amongst couples I know. There are 4 I have learned of just within the past two weeks. Some of these are Christian couples. What is wrong? Paul says it boils down to pride. I suppose that's a lot of it. A couple of these were long time marriages too - more than 15 years. I really don't understand that. Typically, you work through all your "stuff" within the first few years of marriage, which is generally when they fail, if they do. But decades later? What else is there to deal with? I hope I don't have a prideful attitude on my part because my marriage is still going strong. We've been through things that probably would have dissolved other unions. But that is only by the grace of God - and the patience of my dear husband. It's all a reminder to me, too, to be aware. Satan would like nothing better than to see us fall apart, as well, and probably the biggest marriage-killer is complacency.

Paul and I spent considerable time last night applying for some HVAC, plumbing, and hydro-something or other licenses for him on-line. There are new regulations in place for his line of work that require technicians to be licensed and to renew these licenses yearly. Essentially, it's a money-raiser for the state. They require 5 years of on-the-job experience or testing. Paul is not a good test taker and he has been doing HVAC work since 1998, but only full time since 2004. When he first applied for the licenses, he was turned down because they said he didn't have enough work experience with his full time positions. So, we thought we'd re-apply, adding his other experience with it prior to 2004. It cost us $600 to do this. Of course, if he ends up taking the test, it will cost another $300 on top of the $600! It's really aggravating! But we are praying now that his new applications will be accepted.

I am currently reading "The Shack" by William Paul Young. It's the hottest thing right now in Christian circles. Something just isn't right about this book. It's really unsettling my spirit as I read it. Actually, I am reminded of how I felt when I read, "The Purpose Driven Life" a number of years ago. I could not put my finger on it at the time, but something did not resonate with me spiritually, as I read . That's not to say I am the most discerning Christian, able to divide between right and wrong, accurately. Unfortunately, I tend to more of a follower and am susceptible to others' opinions of different things. Later, I did read some critiques of it that helped me understand why I was feeling this way. But of course, a lot of Christians still think that Rick Warren and his writings are straight from the mouth of God. I won't tell you what I just heard about Rick Warren last week on the radio! So anyway, I am working my way through this story. I'm trying to read it very carefully so as not to miss anything and as much as possible, trying to approach it with an open mind. But I am troubled by it, I have to say.

I have a report that I am set to become an aunt on Monday morning. Kirsti's c-section is planned for that day, unless little Missy makes an appearance on her own before then. Monday is Will's 15th birthday, so I think that's kind of neat. November 2nd is a nice date! We are planning to drive up next Thursday afternoon and see them once they are home from the hospital. My parents will be around then, too, which will be nice. We're trying to see if we can persuade my other brother and his family to drive down from Minneapolis that day, but I don't know if that will work for them or not.

I think my headache has abated a smidge so I ought to see if I can squeeze in some more schoolwork before leaving to take Will over to Schneiders. Of course, I'm feeling a bit woozy, though. Prescription drugs don't usually work without their requisite side effects, unfortunately. If you all celebrate Halloween, then I hope you have a fun time with your kiddos! Otherwise, enjoy our last weekend of one of the prettiest months (I think) of the entire year! Haven't the trees just been extra-gorgeous this year? I have thoughts so, numberous times, this month. See you next week!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Well, my baby turned two Thursday. Paul worked late so we didn't actually celebrate until after bedtime. Sam stays up pretty late, though, so he was good for a party, even that late! We were surprised that he knew what to do with the candles. But he blew. And when that didn't work for one of his candles, he spit!

One of his gifts was a wooden toolbench. The kid was in nirvana over this. Bang, bang, bang! As soon as he woke up yesterday morning he made a beeline for his toolbench and was whaling on it again. It's made out of a soft wood and it is already pitted with marks from his hammer! He's hitting the nails so hard that several of their wooden heads have popped off. I moved the bench upstairs so I don't have to listen to the noise. We also got him a Tonka truck. I wondered why the inside had all these black marks on it after I got home yesterday from running around. David said Sam had been throwing a golf ball over and over into the bed of the truck. Why? And where did he get a golf ball?

So I think he had fun, even though I doubted he realized it was his birthday or what that means. Yesterday morning I was in a hurry to get to my hair appointment so I offered Sam birthday cake for breakfast (I know - I am a terrible mother!). Oh, he liked that! So this morning I told him it was time for breakfast. I suggested cereal and he shook his head. So then I offered a banana and he even more vigorously shook his head. Then he said, "Tate, tate!" I have created a monster, I'm afraid. Oh and yeah, he got the cake! I can't resist his cuteness! Remind me of that someday when they've picked him up for breaking and entering because I never learned to say "no" to him as a toddler...

I had really hoped that Sam's cousin would be born on his birthday, but she didn't arrive in time. Here she was threatening to come at 32 weeks, got everyone all worried, and now she's 37 weeks along and still not out. But all signs point to a "go" any moment now. I'm really, really bummed because the hospital is not allowing any visitors except immediate family and grandparents. They're doing this because they are all worried about the flu. I had just looked forward so much to visiting them in the hospital. In fact, before my brother and his family moved up here, but were talking about it, one of my thoughts was, "Yay! I can go visit them in the hospital when they have another baby!" And now I can't because I might be germ infested. Sigh...Actually, this whole flu thing really ticks me off. Yes, people are getting the flu, but people have always gotten the flu. This particular strain hasn't been seen since the 1940s, my kids' dr was telling me and so anyone who was alive then has an immunity to it. Or something like that - I can't remember, exactly. It's really hurting the pork producers here in Iowa because it was falsly called the "swine" flu when it has nothing to do with pigs. On the other hand, pork prices in the grocery store have gone down, which is good for me, as a consumer. But I just really see it as a media-induced pandemic - something for them to get all excited about, whip the people into frenzy, which then puts the government into a position to step in and "take care" of the situation. And that's never good. But, on the other hand (what am I up to, 3 hands now?!) babies born early are at more of a risk for contracting things. We learned that the hard way with Sam when he was 4 weeks old and caught what we thought was a cold. He ended up spending 5 days in the hospital with a lung infection. Their immune systems and lungs just aren't that mature when they come early. David was born at 36 weeks, as well, but he was a summertime baby and I think that makes a real difference. So, I'll just have to wait and see my new niece at her house...I'm still pouting, though.

Tonight was supposed to be our annual Swan bonfire and hayride. I missed it for the last two years so I've kind of been looking forward to it. But Will just came in and told me it's been cancelled because Dave, the guy whose house it is usually held at and whose wagon we use for the ride went and had a heart attack. I didn't know that. He's a city council member. Hmmm - we may have another seat to fill in the Nov. 3rd election. I guess our next door neighbor is going to get a bonfire going so the kids could at least go roast hot dogs.

I have kind of wierd physical thing going on with my fingers. For the past few days I have developed a tiny little blister - just one a day - on different fingers. It is so bizarre. I wonder what is causing that. They're not infected, but just these little watery blister things. Kind of hurts!

Some neighborhood cat had babies in our shed recently. The boys have been keeping an eye on them. There are just two. I haven't figured out who the mama kitty is yet. But Will informed me today that one kitty froze to death last night. That's too bad. Well, not really. It's one fewer cat that will be roaming the neighborhood, making babies with our cats! And speaking of which: just a little bit ago Will commented that he thought Mittens, our female, was looking awfully fat. I looked - she's pregnant. Lovely! Actually, I'm surprised this is the first time it happened. We've had her since the spring of '08. Our tomcat, Winchester, had disappeared for awhile but he recently showed up again. I wonder if he is the daddy. It's hard to say. There are lots of cats in Swan! Every so often someone will show up at a city council meeting complaining of that very fact. I don't know what they think we're going to be able to do for them - go around and shoot the cats? If people won't spay or neuter, there's not a lot we can do. Of course, I'm one of those "people." I am not paying veterinary care for an outdoor cat. It looks like we'll be getting rid of a litter of kittens soon, but I'd rather do that than pay to have Mittens spayed.

Football ended this week. It was a good season. The JV team won all but one of their games and I think the freshmen won all theirs'. Monday night was the last JV game and the weather was just fantastic. Paul and I sat in the bleachers while David and Sam ran around and it was just really enjoyable. We found out later that Ben had been up near the booth with the coach, getting aquainted. I hope he wasn't a problem! Will still had to practice this week and then all the players dressed for last night's last Varsity game. Miserable weather for that! They lost all but one of their games this season. But with the JV players moving up into Varsity within the next couple of years, they should have a winning team again soon. I have decided that I like being a Football Mom - especially when the weather is nice. Next year Will will have his school permit, so I won't have to drive him to and from practice. That will be nice because that got a little old after awhile.

Well, back to my to-do list! Paul is working today, which is a good thing. They are predicting kind of a mild winter, so that may make hours harder to come by as the season goes on. I hope not. But I guess we'll "make hay while the sun shines." Can you tell I'm an Iowan?! He also has our red van sitting on the side of the road in Carlisle. It died there last week and he's been trying to get a new alternator in that thing. They're going to tow it if he doesn't get that moved pronto. So he was wanting to work on that this afternoon, as well. Back to work for me!

The Mane Thing

I have started to become convicted lately about the amount of time and thought I give to my outward appearance. I say that carefully, though, because I do really think outward appearance is important. I know our kids appreciate it when they don't have to be embarrassed by their mothers' appearances and our husbands sure appreciate the effort we put into looking nice, even after decades of marriage. When they have seen us post-op or hanging over the toilet bowl, puking our guts out, they kind of need some nice pictures to balance out those scenes in their memory banks! I don't think we do Christianity any favors, either, when we go around looking dowdy. In some groups, it seems that spirituality is directly connected to how frowsy your hair is, how little make-up you wear, and how shapeless your clothing hangs!

But a couple of weeks ago when I was doing some clothing shopping, I started to feel some twinges of guilt. That was unusual because the only guilt I normally feel when it comes to shopping is over the money I spend. And that wasn't even an issue this time. But I just felt bad, like there were more important things I should be doing with my time (yeah, like educating my children!). And then yesterday I spent all morning at the beautician's and the rest of the day obsessing about my hair and I felt even more guilty. This isn't right. I don't spend half this time worried about my insides - what is going on spiritually, how my relationship with Christ is, but I sure am worried about the outside! That said, though, I am going to spend the rest of this blog post talking about my hair!

My hair has always been a problem. It's curly and has a mind of its own. I have always admired women with smooth, sleek hair-dos, knowing I'll never have one. One of my earliest memories has to do with my hair. I was less than two years old and I have a distinct memory of my mom getting frustrated because she couldn't make a barrette stay in my hair - it was too fine. And I have plenty of memories of Mom making me stand in front of the dining room mirror before school as she painfully brushed out my tangles. I didn't care. I'd go to school looking like that if it meant I didn't have to comb through the tangles! I also recall somewhere around 6th grade getting more of an interest in my hair and asking my mom for a can of hairspray. She was thrilled and immediately bought me a can of AquaNet. She was less than thrilled when I used the hairspray with a hotbrush and she had to cut my hair out of the brush. I think she threatened something about no hairspray for the rest of my life!

I have a cousin named Kim, who was just a month older than me (but I came along first, because she didn't get adopted until she was 2 months old!). We spent much of our childhood together. Frequently, Grandma sewed us matching dresses and of course, she couldn't buy one thing for one and not for the other, so anything one of us had, the other did, too. Kim and I were the only granddaughters on that side of the family, so Grandma had a lot of fun dressing us up. Often, Kim went to church with us and my mom has this picture in one of the albums: It's a summer day and Kim and I are standing in front of the garage, ready to go to church. Everything on us matches, from our sandles, to our dresses, our Bible cases, and even the yarn ties on our pony tails! She was adopted from Germany so we didn't share any physical similarities, except, we both did have blond hair and blue eyes. But in this picture, Kim's pony tails hung nicely - smooth and straight. Mine look like I had just stuck my finger in an electrical socket. Apparently, it was very humid that day and it showed in my hair, even at that young age! I have been fighting the frizzies all my life, as my mom has.

I have been battling this head of hair all my life. My hair color turned brown (I used to say it was the color of a bowel movement - I was so disgusting!) around junior high. My mom's had done the same thing. It's happening to my boys, too. They all started out blonde, but will be brunette before adulthood. Well, Will and David already are. And I really have no problem with brown hair. It's fine - very ordinary. As the years went on, new products came out and I managed to control the frizz on all but the most humid and rainy of days. I discovered that keeping a few layers in helps, too. Four pregnancies did a lot for my hair. It's not nearly so curly as it used to be.

But then I started turning gray and that has opened up an unbelievably frustrating chapter in the history of my hair. I found my first gray hair 10 yrs ago. Apparently it was lonely, because it encouraged all the other hair around it to also turn gray and they have launched a mutinous assault on my head ever since, taking over more and more territory. I have given serious consideration from time to time of just surrendering and letting the gray happen. But - I just can't. Not yet. I'm only 38. And I see women who have given up the fight and they look old. And I don't want to look old yet. I used to say I'd go gray when I had my first grandchild. That's what my grandma did. She dyed her hair jet black when it started to go gray. The day I was born she quit, so we have a number of pictures in the album of her with half white and half black hair. It's a little freaky looking, actually. But I am thinking (hoping) that grandparenthood is quite a ways off yet. I don't think I can keep up this fight until then. But I've got to be at least in my mid forties, I would think, before surrendering. Besides, it isn't just the gray. The colored hair around the gray seems to loose its shine and looks very dull and flat.

So, about 4 years ago I started getting highlights in order to disguise the gray. I also started getting my hair chemically straightened to fight the frizz. That works well, by the way. But it's very hard on your hair. I quit last summer when a beautician burned off all the hair around the front of my face while doing it. I'm still growing that out. I went to one beautician for awhile but soon I realized that her highlights had turned me into a blond. I never wanted to be blond. I just wanted to cover the gray! So I started trying some other places and I just was never really happy with results. I wanted someone to sit down with me, look at my hair and tell me what needed to be done. I also didn't want to spend a bunch of money doing so.

One day, a year ago, I convinced my girlfriend to put in highlights for me at home. It wasn't her fault, but my hair turned orange. Before the day was over, my hair had been dyed 3 times! I decided home jobs weren't worth the money they saved! So then, I went to an Aveda salon. The gal there ended up dying my hair brown and then putting in blond highlights to break it up. Within two visits, I spent a week's salary. I just can't do that! But I really did like the Aveda salon and they have great hair products, some of which I still use. So, I started going to Fantastic Sam's and they are reasonably priced and I had a gal I liked (even though her own hair was blue). But she quit and I'm kind of back to square one now.

So yesterday I went to a beauty school. I heard their ad on the radio and thought, "Why not?" Yeah, well now I know 'why not'! Because she was a student she didn't feel comfortable giving me advice on my hair. She wanted me to tell her what to do. And she was from the Ukraine so I could only understand about every 3rd word she said. I asked her to wax my brows and most of them are gone now. Then, she started plucking at them! The whole reason I get my brows waxed is because I object to the idea of being plucked. It hurts! Of course, the up side is that I won't need to get my brows waxed for oh, probably three years now! And my hair - it's blond again. I don't want to be a blond! I want to be a brunette with blond highlights that cover up my gray! Or red highlights. Or black highlighs. Anything to cover the gray - I don't care!

So I'm a little frustrated. I need advice on where to go. I want to find a beautician who will sit with me, give me advice on my hair, look at what would suit my skin tone the best, and then not charge me several hundred dollars for the process. I'm willing to pay, but I just can't afford to pay what Aveda charged. I'm obsessing, I know.

The stylist handed me a couple of hair magazines to look through while she did her thing on my hair because it's a time consuming process. They were filled with American royalty (Hollywood stars) and how they do their hair. I just found myself getting more and more irritated as I flipped through the magazine. Who cares how some overpaid starlet does her hair? I kept thinking of the book of Ecclesiastes where King Solomon proclaims that, "It's all vanity!" in regards to so many of our pursuits.

And I don't want this to be my life. I want to look nice but I don't want to spend hours upon hours shopping for the right clothes and make-up. I want decent looking hair but I don't want to spend all this time that I do thinking on it and trying to find the right stylist. A day is going to come where none of it will matter, anyway. My hair will be thin and white and I'll spend my days in support hose and orthopaedic shoes. What will matter then is how I cultivated the inside. Did I grow beautiful in the Lord? Do others see His light shining through my (rheumy, by then) blue eyes and hear His love every time I open my mouth? That's something that starts now, not just later on in life, when the outside of the flower has faded. I don't want my life to be spent pursing vanity.

But in the meantime, ahem, if you are knowledgeable of any good stylists in the Des Moines metro...just slip me the number! Thanks!

Ben took that picture of me yesterday. Too blond. I was, however, impressed with his picture taking skills. He has been asking for a camera for his upcoming birthday, so maybe we'll have to make that happen!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Catching Up...and Falling Further Behind

Four Boys, trying to take a Photograph Equals Much Frustration! That's how I would entitle this morning. I'm trying to get the boys' picture taken for our Christmas cards. I took some Friday and wasn't real thrilled with how they turned out, so knowing today was to be sunny and warmer, I got them all dressed in their Hawkeye gear (we're doing a theme photo this year - I am in insane woman...) again this morning, had them round up their Hawkeye accessories, and we trekked to the other side of Swan. What an ordeal! I cannot get them to smile and look at me at the same time! Someone is always grimacing or scratching his nose, or running out of the photo (Sam) or crying (David or Sam). I took about 100 shots, broke up 102 fights, and then said, "That's it! I give up!" Only, I didn't. Because once I loaded the shots onto the computer I saw that none of them were that good. So I hauled them all back outside again for more poses, fighting, and crying. Then I gave up for good. So keep that in mind when you get our Christmas photo in the mail in a couple of months. My children aren't always as grouchy and sullen as they look in this year's photo.

That's Sam's 2 yr picture up above. Again - not a terrific shot. I have better pictures I have taken with my camera - for free! He's like Ben at that age - just freezes up in a strange place and it's a lot of work to get him to smile for someone else's camera. I kind of like the angle on that one, though. I've never had a professional portrait done like that before.

Well, we are all healthy. Sam recovered nicely and didn't share any germs whatsoever. From what I'm hearing, I suspect he may have had the H1N1 variety of the flu. If that's all it is, then bring it on! I'll take that over vomiting and massive diarrhea blow-outs any day!

My biopsy report came back last Tuesday - all good. No cancer, which is nice to know. But I have an infection and the nurse is wondering if that could be the cause of my pain. That's possible, but it means I have had an infection since Sam was a few months old, when I became symptomatic. That doesn't seem very plausible. And it wouldn't address my problems of massive bleeding every month. So, I don't think I'm done chasing answers. I did get put on an antibiotic called metronizadole, something I have never heard before. I immediately started having migraine-intensity headaches and awful fatigue. I could not figure it out because nothing was different in my diet and my Vit D has been a tremendous help with my energy levels. Well, Saturday I was so busy that I did not take my pills - and I felt better. Yesterday morning I woke up and it just dawned on me - the antibiotics are causing this! So I went ahead and took them yesterday and sure enough I was dragging all day and felt like I had a chisel pushed through my forehead. I've only got 2 days left on the pills but I'm going to get something else. I can't live like this, even just for 2 more days!

David informed me last week that he thinks his elbows are "too pointy." Kid, if that's the worst of your problems!...

I got roses from Paul Tuesday, which was nice and unexpected. He's been working so hard and so many hours lately and yet, he thought of me. That night was Will's last Freshman game. He had wanted to go, but a problem came up with a furnace he had done on the side this summer so he had to take care of that. So, it was up to me to find this school, which turned out to be located in the hinderlands of central Iowa. I missed half the game because I couldn't find the school! I was getting a little panicky because it was my night to bring chips for the team to eat on the way home, so I had to be there. And it was SO cold! I had blankets and had the boys in their winter hats and gear. But what a game! Will caught an interception, and then he made a 2 point conversion pass. Just so you know, I have no idea what any of that means, but that's what I was told! I could hear his teammates yelling, "Yay, Will!" Just today I had an email from Will's coach telling me again what an amazing young man Will is and how great it has been to be his coach this season. Mamas need to hear that kind of stuff! After the game was over (of course we won - my son was playing and he's amazing!) I had to change Sam's soaked pants and diaper in the freezing cold. I'm surprised he didn't get a frostbit butt. Then, we were leaving and I somehow got turned around and missed the interstate. I eventually made it home and in walked Paul with roses. It was nice - I need them! And him!

Will's last JV game is tonight, so we'll be there. And then the last Varsity game is this Friday and the coach wants all the kids to practice and dress for that game. I'm hoping to make it to that one, as well. I don't think I've seen a varsity game yet this season. They haven't had such a good season like the Freshman and JV teams.

I think I officially became middle aged this past week. Maybe. Well, I made my first purchase at Coldwater Creek, which is a store that I think caters to the older dresser. I'm a Retail Queen and have way too many clothes. Well, not "way" too many - I do try to limit myself, but I think I can safely say I have more than I really need. It's because I like shopping and I like to look good and I don't have any daughters to spend clothing money on. So it goes on my back instead. I had this really great coupon so I really wanted to buy something there. It's a cozy little store out at Jordan Creek and I had never been in there before. But I got to noticing that most of the other women shopping there had gray hair! So that gave me pause - have I really crossed the threshold into middle aged shopping? Are elastic waisted jeans next for me? Granted, it was a Wednesday morning and most people my age are working and retirees aren't, so maybe that's why. But I think I can safely say that my days at Junior shops are long gone...Actually, I'm going back tomorrow. I decided against one of the tops I bought once I put it on again so I want to return or exchange it. Coldwater Creek has really cool bags, though - that's enough of a reason in my book to make a another purchase! I'm so pathetic...

Ben has started trying to read with expression. It isn't something I taught him, but I noticed it last week. When he's reading outloud to me, he lowers his voice for male characters and raises it for little kid ones...I like it!

Sam has a birthday this week. He's already so "two." One morning last week he was in our room at 6am, chattering away about how "Wull ni-ni, Dah ni-ni, Ben ni-ni" (Will, David, and Ben "night night"). We never did get back to sleep. He discovered a little train set my sister in law passed on to me about a year ago. He's been playing with it non-stop for several days now, setting up the track different ways. I didn't know the engine had a switch and moved on its own, but Sam knew! He's also started informing me during the day that "Da-da wur" (Dada is at work). And of course, the words he uses most often are "no" and "mine!"

We have had a glut of babies at our church lately - 2 this month, one coming in December, and two due next spring. One of the spring babies will be born to a college couple that married in August - very much a honeymoon baby! When David heard that they were expecting he exclaimed, "Boy, they must really love eachother!" That cracked me up!

One of our October babies was born early Saturday morning to my friend, Tammy. She had her 6th daughter, her 8th and final child, at home. I think she coughs and they slip right out. She's a pro at childbirth! I was anxious to go visit so yesterday after church we went to Fuddruckers, which is a big treat because it's not exactly cheap. We said we were celebrating the end of football season and Sam's birthday. It was fun - they brought Sam a sundae and sang to him. He wasn't sure what to think! But we had a great meal and then headed over to our friends' house. I loved cuddling little Evian and I was surprised at Sam's insistence that he, too, get to hold the baby! He did that several times and Ben, of course, had to have his turn. He loves babies, too. Thankfully, my friend Tammy is laid back and wasn't having seizures about a toddler and teenager with cp handling her precious newborn! They did just fine. Tammy told me that had the baby been a boy, they had decided on "Benjamin" as the name. Now that is cool - I love the name Benjamin (obviously)! But you just don't hear it much anymore.

I have given up on getting any school done with the boys today. Between our disastrous photo shoot, having to make supper early in order to make Will's game tonight, and then spending an hour + on the phone with the Iowa DNR (trying to get Will registered for a hunter safety course) I gave up. Maybe tomorrow will be a better day. Well, actually, it won't. I'm going to be in town, shopping all day. And then Wednesday morning will be busy with MOPPETS...ok, I guess we'll have school Thursday! No wonder I homeschool year round! Gotta scoot and change Sam's stinky diaper. He's been malodorous for awhile now. Maybe I should start pottytraining him...some other day!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Taking Sick Days

Sam is sick. Fortunately, he's on the mend. He's had the flu since Friday. He was just miserable both days - slept most of them away, wouldn't eat. Today he's a little better, although now the congestion in his chest is starting to come out his nose - gross! Plus, he has always been adverse to having his nose or face wiped, so it's like wrestling a tiger to clean his nose! Today, he wants me to hold him a lot. I don't mind doing that, but I'd really rather work on my to-do list! He's talking more, in this weak, strained, little voice. I've only been able to get some applesauce and m&ms down him - maybe more food tomorrow. Fortunately, none of the rest of us are sick and I do hope it stays that way! He had a temp. of 103 Fri and I think that reading was low because when I checked myself, it registered at 95 degrees. So, it must go a little low. But today he's closer to normal - just a little elevated. Fortunately, he's only vomited once and had minimal diarrhea. I can handle goopy noses better than the former!

I had an endometrial biopsy Friday. That was more than a little painful! Last Tues. I had another ultrasound and that was also quite painful. So the next day the dr's office called and said they were transferring my care over to my gyno and I needed to make an appointment right away for a biopsy. I wish they wouldn't do things like that, because the first thing I'm thinking is, "cancer." And more than likely, I don't have cancer, but they just need to rule it out. However, just to be on the safe side, I've decided not to get my hair highlighted until I know for sure. My roots are showing again but if my hair is going to fall out , I sure don't want to spend $60 on highlights first! I chatted for quite a bit with my gyno's nurse, Shawna. She told me there are a number of options for dealing with my situations. A hysterectomy will be the last resort. I can't shake the feeling, though, that this is all related to my uterine rupture 13 yrs ago. I asked her about that possibility and she thought it was probably unlikely, since it's been so long, but she wouldn't rule it out, either. I should know the results of the test Tuesday.

Oh, I got to hold a brand new baby Friday! My friend Megan delivered a 9 1/2 lb baby Wednesday afternoon, so I went over to her house and cuddled little (sort of) Mason for awhile - what a sweetie!

Will hurt his wrist this week at football practice. It got slammed between two face masks. I didn't take him in because we've been in so many times with other injuries, had him x-rayed, only to be told, it's just a sprain. So unless I see a bone sticking out, we're just wrapping and icing! I don't even think he wrapped it today.

Paul got a new floor cabinet last week. He was fixing his boss' son's furnace and it was just setting in their garage. When Paul asked if they were getting rid of it, they said he was welcome to it. It's nice - lighted and everything. Paul put it upstairs by the boys' bookshelf in the hallway. I don't think it looks quite right up there. Everything is so simple up there, from the basic shelves he built me for my scrapbooks to the painted wood-planked floor, but this cabinet is a little fancier than all that. But we don't have room anywhere else for it, so I guess I'll live with incongruity. Paul is using the cabinet to show off his collection of small Tonka trucks. A lot of them are battered and rusted, but he loves them. I thought it was women who were supposed to be collectors! But I don't collect any knick knacks at all. I should also mention, for those of you that haven't been to our house, that Paul has another lighted cabinet in the living room. This one holds some of his John Deere collection. And yesterday Paul hung up his new John Deere/big buck/barn picture that he found while we were up north. Now it's official - I have no more empty wall space. Every single wall in my house has something hanging on it. Sigh...I really need a bigger house!

I discovered blue ink from a pen on our new-ish microfiber couch - courtesy of Sam. Anyone have any suggestions on removing that?

We sold our green van yesterday - hooray! It only took 6 months! Paul finally put an ad in the DM Register a week ago and we did get a few calls on it. The people that bought it are a little strange. They're roommates (I hope). One is Vietnamese and the other white. They had Paul drive the van up to their apt. on the south side of Des Moines because they didn't have a way to get down to our house. They wanted it and paid cash. Then, Paul had me drive up in his beater (and I'm being nice by calling it that) truck. I had to sign the title and used vehicle disclosure statement. The apt. was obviously low-rent and heavily stank of cigarette smoke. Ben was with me, so I'm sure that was wonderful for his little lungs! While Paul was waiting on me, he struck up a conversation with the men and as a result, they sent us home with some papers explaining their Buddhist beliefs. I read them and thought it was very sad - the lengths people will go to in order to avoid having to believe in Jesus.

The reason I had to drive the truck was because our next stop was Menards. Our neighbor is hiring Paul to put in a new sliding glass door for his garage and he was meeting us there so he could pick out and pay for it. But he didn't have a way to transport it home. So by the time we got home last night it was 9:00. Will had his big Herky in the livingroom window in honor of the Iowa-Michigan game that was currently in progress. All the guys sat down and watched it and it was a cozy way to end the evening (esp. since we beat them!)

Will woke me up at 6:15 yesterday morning. For some odd reason, his coach called a 7am freshmen practice. It was cold! And it was snowing! By the time I got home from taking him to the school, snow was sticking to the ground and to our back stoop. And the snow kept coming! All in all, we got over an inch, although it melted by afternoon. The earliest I ever remember snow before is Oct. 23 and they did say on the news that this was a new record. We were supposed to have a church hayride and bonfire last night, but that got cancelled because of the weather.

I went to a homeschool meeting yesterday, and to my surprise, it was a real blessing. I haven't always enjoyed these meetings in the past, but I had a ball yesterday. I knew practically everybody there and it was so enjoyable to talk with other moms (maybe it just shows how cloistered and narrow my normal days are!) We just started a new "sub" group for those of us schooling sp. needs learners and I particularly appreciated that. Homeschooling is not easy, but homeschooling these kind of kids is especially difficult at times. We need to lift eachother up. Afterwards, Paul and I met for lunch and it was just - nice. He was in town working. He's been working pretty much around the clock for a few weeks now between Loziers and his side jobs.

Next Sat. Ben goes to Kid's Club, which is respite care. They do different activities with the kids. The thing is, that you have to sign your child up in advance, not knowing which special activities will be on the docket the day they are going. Some kids go every single Sat, but I only schedule Ben for once a month, since it's clear up in Johnston. Ben seems to have a good time, but he's never wild about going that day and makes it clear that it is a huge sacrifice on his part to go! So anyway, I got a letter in yesterday's mail letting me know that next Sat, when Ben is signed up, they are taking the kids down to Wells Fargo Arena in downtown DM and they are going to meet and go backstage with the Disney characters who are in town for some event. I think that will be SO cool! Ben is also going to Kid's Club again two weeks later. He wasn't scheduled, but out of the blue, he asked me to email the center to see if they had any openings on Halloween. He thought it would be fun to go and do whatever they have planned for that holiday. I about fell over, since he has never shown any excitement about going before. So, I emailed the coordinator, just praying they'd have an opening, and sure enough, they do! They're just having a Halloween party at the center that day.

I met with my friend Traci Friday night. She has a son with autism, as well. We attend sister churches in the metro. It was so great, spending time with her! But she was telling me that the Easter Seals camp offers a day camp for kids on the spectrum. So I may look into that next summer.

Well, that's all I know. I have been interrupted about 15 times as I wrote this - Sam wanting to crawl into my lap. Poor baby. I think I'll go put his pjs on him and then we can cuddle for a bit on the couch. But if he shares any of his germs...ugh!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Feeling Great

Well, I finally did it. I cut off Sam's curls. Will accused me of crying while I did it, but I wasn't really - just sniffling a bit. Here's a picture of Sam taken later that night - all boy, in every way now! I put them in a baggie, labeled them, and stuffed them in an drawer. Someday when I'm dead, my great- grandkids will find that bit of hair and marvel that their bald (probably) grandpa ever had hair that soft and light! I never saved any of the other boys' hair snippets - never thought to do so. Will and David got their haircuts right around their first birthdays. They got their dad's straight hair, so it really wasn't that great of sacrifice to trim it. Ben had beautiful corkscrew curls, though. I wish I had saved one! I didn't cut his until he was 18 months and Paul made me. A waitress had asked if we needed a high chair for our "little girl" and that was it, as far as he was concerned! To my delight, Ben's hair is getting curlier the older he gets, especially when we let it grow a little bit. So, I'm hopeful that Sam will also have curly hair in adolescence. I can dream, anyway!

Sam has taken to calling himself "Sammy" in recent weeks. It just cracks me up! I don't know where he got that because we almost always call him, "Sam." I know there are a few older ladies at church that call him "Sammy" but I wouldn't think he'd remember that. But now we're calling him "Sammy" a whole lot more since he does!

I have had a good day today. For the past 3 Saturdays I have been out of town. I really need my Saturdays to catch up on what I don't get done during the week! Today I was home and other than a list a mile long, I didn't have to do anything! It's been great! Paul did have me run up to the north side of Des Moines to pick up some part he needs for his side furnace job he's working on. The guy said he'd be there at 11, so I was there, but he wasn't. I called Paul, who called him, and found out that the guy's back had gone out so he wasn't coming in after all. was an hour round trip to get the thing that I never got! But he did tell Paul he'd knock $10 off the price for my trouble.

Paul isn't home right now and hasn't been all day long. He had hoped to be finishing up this furnace job today. But work has been heavier this week and he had several nights that he couldn't go in and work on it after he got home because he got home too late. So his plan this morning was to drop Will off at church (the youth group was going up Faith (Bible college) for Faithfest today) at 7:45 and then go from there to this side job. Well, he ended up coming home about 45 min. later. His boss had called and asked him to tend to a few service calls. That's great, because overtime has been in very, very low supply this year and we have missed that extra income! So Paul was pleased to get that time, but it made it even harder to get to his side job today. He did get home around 3 and rushed off to do that. I don't know how late he'll be. He took David with him to help (we had to make him go - he would have preferred to stay home and play. I don't know what his objection is - he's getting paid! He needs to learn some "man" skills, anyway.) And Paul planned to pick up Will and have him help as soon as the youth group was back. So I suspect that they will all be at it for awhile. So, it's just Ben, Sam, and me here at home tonight.

Ben has had a better week. I'm still seeing quite a bit of perverseration (I really need to learn how to spell that, as often as I seem to need to use it) and some sensory things going on. He's sleeping better. On his own, he started turning the radio to 91.3, which is a Christian radio station. And he's going to sleep with that. I don't mind the music because they pretty much play hymns and that's a nice change from our other two Christian stations, which only play whatever is on the CCM charts. But the guy who runs the station, Harold Camping, has this call-in program every night where he answers questions about the Bible. The guy is a fruitcake! He believes the rapture is going to occur May 21, 2010 and he doesn't believe that anyone can be saved who desires to be. I always enjoy the music and shut off the station when he comes on. But Ben has finally found something that soothes him to sleep so I'm reluctant to take it away. I just hope he doesn't take in all this false doctrine by osmosis while he sleeps!

I'm feeling good. Isn't that a refreshing change from my normal posts? I really, really am. I have been taking Vit D - 5000 ius of it - for two weeks now. That is some powerful stuff! I have so much more energy than I have had since before my pregnancy. I feel more mentally clear. And I'm eating better, too, so I'm sure that's helping. I'm going to buy some Vit. D for the boys this week and get them started on it, too. I would actually prefer to keep them sedated - I don't need more active children! But I think it will be good for them.

My allergies have all but disappeared. This is the time of year when they'd be letting up, anyway. They tend to start the second week of August, reach their peak a month later, and then slowly let up as September fades into October. But I have not been bothered by them since about the end of August when I started using capsaicin pepper spray. One application of that stuff seems to last for weeks! Last Friday when we left for Okoboji I started having a really rough time with my allergies and I hadn't even thought to bring my spray. So we stopped at a Medicap east of Carroll but they didn't have it. The pharmacist told me he'd been sent a sample of it, but he couldn't imagine anyone in their right mind being willing to spray that stuff up their nose! I told him it really works, although I couldn't vouch for the state of my mind! I was able to buy a bottle once we found a Walgreens in Carroll and I was good for rest of the weekend. Ben has even started to ask for it and I'm trying to remember to give it to him whenever he's bad off with his allergies. It's better than the cupboardful of prescription nosesprays we have for him! The cessation of my allergies is really helping my energy levels, too.

My new housework schedule is going marvelous. I have never had such a clean house! This method is much easier and much more time-effective. I can't believe it took me 16 plus years to latch onto this way of keeping house!

I'm starting to get nervous about our upcoming Swan elections. We had a monthly meeting the other night and for all the people that filed papers to be on the council or to be mayor - not a single one showed up at the meeting! You would think that those interested in serving would start attending meetings now so in the event that they are elected, they'll know what's going on! I attended meetings for months before I was elected. And I still felt kind of dumb once I got on the council. Our current mayor, whom I think is wonderful, is adamant that he will not serve another term. This makes me nervous because the guy running for mayor has only lived in Swan for 2 years. He seems like a nice enough person, but I have my doubts as to how he could do the job. There is one other council person that I truly hope stays. He says he has served as either councilperson or mayor since 1988 and he's tired of it. But he did add that if he gets written in, he won't say no. I'm going to write him in for both the council and the mayor's seat! If we lose both men, I don't know what will happen. I've been on the council for 3 years now and I still feel a bit lost at times. There's so much I don't know and understand about running a town. I feel like all I ever do is ask questions at times. I'm supposed to be the towns Emergency Management contact person and I don't know what I'd do if I ever had to fulfill that role! It'll all be over (or just starting) a month from today.

The first part of next week will be busy. I doubt you'll see me here until the end of the week. Monday, we have an appt. with Ben's allergist. He's been on shots now for 6 months and the allergist wants an idea of how he is doing. I plan to inform him that we have never had such a horrible summer with Ben's hay fever as we have this summer. I thought shots were supposed to help! Then, I'm taking Sam to get his 2 year picture done. Then, I have to get in my grocery shopping and Walmarting. Then, Will has a home game at 6. The next day I have an ultrasound of my uterus in the morning. I rather imagine I'll be finishing up what shopping I don't get done on Monday, too. And then Wednesday morning I work in MOPPETS and I have to take Ben in for his shots. That's all! I think I had better enjoy what is left of today!

Well, back to my list. I'm down to about 4 things on it - woo-hoo! I don't think I've ever actually completed a to-do list before. This may induce feelings of extreme euphoria. Or more likely, fatigue - I'll be dead on my feet by the time I get done. But it'll be done and that's all that matters. Have a great week!

Eat, Pray, Grow

I announced about 6 weeks ago that I was changing my lifestyle habits. The old Sarah was gone forever and the new Sarah was now here. I was going to eat healthy, exercise, banish all my physical ailments and hopefully, live to 100. I had read a book by Joyce Meyer that taught me how to do it, step by step, and I was ready for a change. So Tuesday of this week I was at Applebees with my sister-in-law, Kirsti. My order arrived and she dubiously looked at my bacon cheeseburger and asked, "Is that ok by your book?" I assured her that since it was a whole wheat bun and I was drinking water, the meal balanced itself out. I'd like to think so, anyway!

I haven't done too terribly, although I'm not doing as well as I did at the beginning. I still haven't got the exercise thing down yet. I just cannot make myself get up before 7, dress, and walk in the cold. I have tried it and tried but I'm not a functional human being until about 7:30! I normally get up at 7 to make Paul's breakfast, but I'm not talking and I prefer to work without lights (he always flips them on and makes me growl internally. He says, "You can't cook in the dark!" You wanna bet?) It's really getting too cold to go outside anyway at that time of day. I want to look for something I could do with the tv - maybe an exercise video where I could use handweights and get in shape that way. These tummy rings and bulges aren't going to go away without some form of exercise. I may actually have to break down and start doing sit-ups. Oh, my stomach hurts just to think about it! Foodwise, I'm doing better, bacon cheeseburgers aside. I'm eating more fruits and veggies and I'm carefully considering almost everything I put in my mouth. I'm limiting portions. I've drastically cut down the amount of pop I drink. I still have a chocolate stash, though! I'm not giving up all my vices!

And yeah, I'm feeling better. When I really "fall off the wagon" I can tell now and it isn't pleasant. My body has gotten a taste of what true health looks like and it won't let me go back to the way things were.

I plagiarized the title of this post from an article in the last issue of Today's Christian Woman. I thought it was really interesting that this article came out just when I was attempting to make changes in my own physical life. The author is Sandra Byrd and she talked about how a developing a blocked artery forced her to make some radical lifestyle changes in her diet and exercise activity. And then she compared some of her lifestyle activities to things in the spiritual realm. I loved it! This article really spoke to me and I think I've read it at least three times already. I'm going to share some of the comparisons she came up with.

How We Eat: The author talked about how she was always in a hurry (sounds familiar) and so she stocked up on quick foods - lots of prepackaged items for lots of quick convenience (please don't count the frozen pizzas in my freezer!). Even when she and her family could actually sit down for a meal together, they were often up and running out the door within 15 minutes to get to the next activity. She compared that to her spiritual diet, saying that instead of savoring and pacing out her Bible study lessons, she'd often be cramming them in the night before Bible study, just so she could have all her blanks filled. I've been there! It's certainly better to prepare balanced meals and to eat them slowly and it's definitely better to digest slowly and savor the Word of God.

The author also compared the number of hours that she spent reading books or talking with friends vs studying the Bible or praying. Most of the books she was reading were good books and designed to complement Bible study. They "tasted" good and to a certain degree, nourished her soul. But she says it was "pre-digested" and didn't require her soul to do any hard work. For years I have taken vitamins, hoping they would compensate for my poor diet. But like books about God and the Bible, supplements are only supposed to supplement good nutrition, whether it be for our physical bodies or for our souls. Nothing compares to actually studying God's Word and spending time in prayer with Him.

What We Eat: I'm a sugar junkie - I admit it. My sweet tooth is huge. But one thing I have noticed is that as I have reduced the amount of refined sugar that I am ingesting, natural sweeteners, like in fruit, are becoming more appealing to me. In our spiritual life, it's very easy to insist on "sugary" experiences - immediate answers to prayer, great insights, "mountain-top" type of spiritual experiences, etc. But the author of this article points out that we need to develop a taste for simple spiritual experiences - Bible reading, daily prayer, and "long-haul trust without instant answers." I like that! She also talked about how sometimes we get "spiritual brownies", like an immediate answer to prayer, or a huge, unexpected blessing in our life of some sort. If we're only allowing ourselves a sweet treat every once in awhile, it's rarity makes it more special than if we ate the whole plate as soon as the kids went to bed. The sweetness is found in the rarity of the event.

And It's Not Just About Eating: She went on to talk about exercise (ugh!). She quoted an article from the New York Times that says, "Fitness isn't about working out at the gym or running a is important for coping with life's emergencies, big and small, whether it's running to make an airport connection or fleeing a burning building." The point of exercise isn't just to look good (although I'm sure hoping to see a reduction in my body fat if I'm going to put in that kind of effort!). And our spiritual muscles aren't to be used to make us look good at Bible study or in conversations with other Christians. They are what's going to help us endure when testing comes and what will give us the strength to flee sin in times of temptation.

One thing I am learning and one thing this article pointed out, is that there are no overnight cures. I'm not going to get healthy and fit overnight. It's a slow lifestyle change. And my spiritual life isn't going to develop overnight either. It's a slow and steady marathon. There are going to be times that I eat way too many greasy and fatty foods. I may continue to pull the covers over my head instead of getting up to do a work out. And I'm going to go through periods where I don't want to read my Bible and I'm going to sin. But as I make an effort with my physical body to make good, healthy choices, I'm going to also make more of an effort with my spiritual life to make the same choices. Neither are going to be what I always want to do. But they are what I what I need to do. And if I keep practicing and making good choices for a long enough time, I may just find myself eventually wanting to do the right thing. And the result will be a healthier and happier me, inside and out!