Saturday, May 29, 2010

And some Happy Thoughts

Ok - a happy post, like I promised!

I've been having fun for the past couple of weeks. I downloaded a bunch of old Christian music and burned a couple of cds. It's stuff I listened to as a teenager and young adult - Sandi Patti, Larnelle Harris, Steve Green, Ray Boltz, etc. I didn't realize how much I missed that kind of music until I started listening to it again. I don't mean to sound prudish and old, but there honestly is not a lot of current Christian music that I enjoy. My kids love it and I hear them blasting Kutlass and Big Daddy Weave and Jeremy Camp up in their bedrooms - and that's fine. But I find myself tuning into secular radio stations more often than not because I can't stand most of what is offered on our Christian radio stations. So, I'm really enjoying these cds!

Will's football coach seems to have taken a special interest in Ben. One day this week Ben climbed into my van and told me that Coach K had said that Will had a football meeting the next morning. I wasn't sure if he was just babbling or what, so when I got home, I emailed the coach and sure enough, Ben was right. So the next day when I was walking through the hallway, on my way to the Superintendent's office to pick up a school permit form, the coach caught me and said that he was so pleased Ben had gotten his message home to me and that he told Ben he could be the one to start the clock for kickoffs this fall during the games. That is so neat! Maybe Ben could eventually be a manager or a mascot or something for the football players. I'll have to get him a Pleasantville sweatshirt for the games this fall.

Sam has officially crossed from toddlerhood to boyhood. It may be that he crossed that line some time ago, but it was this past week that I really noticed it. For one thing, our neighbor boy, age 6, usually comes over to play with David. That alone kind of baffles me, since David is 5 years older than he. But since he has only sisters, I suppose he's grateful for any chance to interact with fellow males, regardless of their age. But this week he came to our door, asking if Sam could play. Sam seems to be too little to be the desired playmate! But he was more than happy to run outside and play with Tucker. So I guess he's old enough for friends now.

I just don't have enough eyeballs to keep an eye on this kid. The feeling I was getting this week was reminiscent of when Ben was first mobile - around age 4 for him. But it's a slightly panicky feeling, knowing that if I don't literally tie this kid to me, he's going to do something destructive to the house, his brothers, or himself!

It was hot this week. Thursday, Sam comes into the house and announces, "Sam wock keys in van!" I didn't know which to be upset about first: 1) that he messed with my keys 2) that he managed to open up the van, unassisted 3) that he was playing in the hot, hot van and could have died out there before I would have known he was even there 4) or that my keys were now locked in the van! Argh!

And then last night I gave Sam his bath and then I got busy. I went out later to hang up some laundry and discovered Sam, naked as a jaybird, sitting on the deck, doing something potentially dangerous (I'm guessing, since I didn't really investigate, not wanting to know for sure) with two of my table knives (which would explain the growing paucity of my tableware of late). He was as happy and content as could be, though!

As I was typing the above paragraph, Sam limped into the house, sniffling and crying a bit. He showed me his knee - and he'd skinned it yet again. I am not kidding - since Sunday, he has skinned that same knee 3 times. It just gets healed up and then he puts another hole in it. I know that any day now we'll be making our first run for stitches with him. Will and Ben were both 2 the first time they had to be stitched. David was born more fearful of life, so he was 5 before he ever had to go in! But Sam is more like his older brothers in that regard. The nice thing is that when Sam gets hurt he wants to be cuddled. Last Sunday when he wiped out running across the church parking lot, he was just distraught for a good 45 minutes afterward. He insisted on being held and kept saying, "hurt my knee!" I think he was milking it just a bit, but I was more than happy to cuddle with him, since I don't get to do that too much anymore. Will observed that and said, "Yeah, next time you're going to trip him, aren't you - just so you can cuddle with him!" At the rate Sam is going, I don't think I'll have to be the one causing injury - looks like lots of cuddle times are in my future with him! Poor kid.

Well, I think that's all my happy news. It's Memorial Day weekend and it sounds like this beautiful weather is going to last all the way through. We're not doing anything special. Paul just got home from doing some AC work and I know he's hoping to be able to work on the house quite a bit. However, he is on call next week, so I'm not sure how much he'll actually get done. Despite my mounting frustration over the project, I know it will get finished.

I am looking forward to driving by the Swan Cemetery Monday morning and seeing the rows of flags lining it. I don't know who puts them up or when they do it, but they're always there every Memorial Day. That cemetery is so old (although there's still people being buried in there currently) that I don't doubt there are war heroes buried there from the Civil War onward - maybe even from the war of 1812. I'd like to spend some time there reading the stones. David, my child who is most like me, has commented a time or two he'd like to do that, as well. I'll have to make that happen sometime.

Well, gotta scoot. My to-do list keeps growing :(

Out of the Darkness of my Thoughts

A sunny Saturday - and I feel like I'm suffocating because I have so much to do. I wonder if the day will ever come that I don't feel like I'm continually drowning under the weight of my to-do list.

I mentioned in my last blog post that I am behind on checking and recording Will's work. So I put in a good hour last night of working on that. I was horrified to realize that he's not doing well at all in Language. I haven't got all his scores together yet, but I'm not sure if he's even going to pass it for 9th grade. What do I do then? Do we re-do it next year? But if I do that, then he'll be a year short of Language when he graduates. I could order another book and we could work on it this summer, which might be the wisest thing. A lot of what he did this year was stuff that I don't view as terribly important needed life skills - sentence diagramming, identifying sentence parts, etc. But, I would assume that he needs to know this stuff because the next book would build upon what he was to learn this year. Or should I just find another program all together? I just don't know.

I bear some of the blame for this. I have been too busy to really stay on top of his schoolwork, as far as checking it goes and making sure he understood what he was to be learning. It's becoming evident to me that Will needs to be actually taught this stuff rather than just reading the lessons himself and doing the work. But that takes time. So I don't know what to do right now. I guess I need to finish checking and recording everything and get a composite score for the year. If he can squeak through with a C then I might not worry so much, but I think that's being overly optimistic. Maybe I should just stick all the kids in school - they might do better there than being under the tutelage of a mother who has too much to do to educate them properly.

We visited with Pastor this morning. I ended up admitting to him that I think I've entered a new period of grieving with Ben. That makes me feel weak and I kind of wish I would have kept that to myself. All he can do is remind me of God's sovereignty and I understand that. I mean, truly, I don't understand, but I can accept God's final will in everything, even when I don't understand. But this feels like it did when Ben was around Sam's age and I was really hurting over the realization that he had all these issues. I suspect it's because Ben's body is changing. His thin arms are getting sinewy, he's shot up in height, and this week I noticed that he's sprouting underarm hair. But yet, I'm having to wipe his mouth after he eats, roll on his deodorant, tuck his shirt into his pants and button them - things that are so anti-typical to this stage of life. It's another reminder that his development is abnormal - he's abnormal.

And I know, and I cling to verses like Rom. 8:28 and 1Cor 10:13. I know that this was not all an accident, that God has a divine plan in motion and that this is all for our good. But, I can't see clearly and so, it just hurts at times. I wish I didn't feel so much. And I feel guilty for feeling this way because I know there are parents dealing with much more than I am. I think I'm just a mess. In our small group Wed. night there was an older woman that is new to our church. We were talking about the tragedy of the Ricketts family in Cedar Falls (their 22 month old strangled to death on a cord - he lived for 10 days on life support, though). That just breaks my heart. But anyway, this woman commented that well, if that little boy had lived, he would have been seriously brain damaged. I'm sure she didn't mean anything unkind, but my mouth flew open to say, "And what's wrong with that?" But I closed it again. So, on one hand, I can accept the beauty of the mentally and physically challenged and ascribe value to their lives. But it's easier to do that in theory than when you're living with it. I'm sure that Ricketts family would have been happy to have brain damaged child if it meant they could keep their precious toddler instead of having to bury him. And, truthfully, I can remember having the same thought when Ben was in the NICU - I didn't care how many needs he might have, I just wanted him to come home with me. So God did and what do I do? I feel sad for the rest of Ben's days that he isn't perfect! Like I said, I'm a mess!

So anyway - just some dark thoughts. Actually, Ben has been a different boy since he has started school. He hasn't given me a single problem. Granted, it's only been 2 weeks, but it's been a very enjoyable 2 weeks! I'm kind of dreading the end of school because I don't want things to go back with him the way they were when he wasn't in school.

And while we were chatting with Pastor, he got a phone call from Matt. Little Rebekah is now 7 or 8 weeks old and still hospitalized. The hope has been that she might come home within the next week or two. But last night she quit breathing several times so it's hard to say what will happen now. I just ache for that little girl and for Matt and Jenny, as I've mentioned a number of times since her birth in April. So I suppose that is contributing to my overall melancholy. I guess this where one learns trust - whether you're praying your little girl can come home from the hospital, or whether you're brushing hair and putting deodorant on your 13 year old. It's trusting that God won't let you fall when you can't see your hand in front of your face.

Happier thoughts for my next post, I promise!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Of Birthdays, Boys, and Boasting

David is now 11 years old, as you can see in the picture above. We went to Sonic for supper, per his request. They've shut down so many Sonic locations in the area and David commented that he wanted to go there before they all closed! After our experience last night, I think I understand why they aren't doing so well! The service was bad, the food was more expensive than we had anticipated, and the food was cold! Never again! But I think David enjoyed it, regardless.

Will now has his school permit. I dragged all 4 boys up to the Ankeny DMV and waited forever and ever for them to call number 557. That place is a study in humanity. I enjoy the people watching. One woman, probably a foreigner, had a toddler tied to her back with a long scarf - I'm serious! The little guy was grinning and oh-so-happy, until he wiggled far enough down so that the scarf was around his neck. We all were watching a little horrified, nobody wanting to jump up, but not wishing to see this kid strangle to death in front of us either. Finally, he protested enough that Mama paid attention and she went to untie the scarf. My breath caught, sure that the baby would tumble to the floor. But instead, she reached around and pulled him over her shoulder by only one of his arms - which made me wince. This is why strollers were invented!

But back to my opening statement: Will can now drive to and from school activities unsupervised. Since early morning weight lifting starts next Thursday, I, for one, am grateful. I may not feel the same once I contact State Farm next week and have them insure him, though! I am not, not, not looking forward to that!

Paul's Uncle Gerald died a week ago. He'd had colon cancer for 7 years. In the early years he went to Switzerland a few times for some alternative treatments. I don't know if those prolonged his life or not. 7 years seems like an awfully long time to live with cancer. You know, Paul's aunt did the same thing when she was dx with pancreatic cancer. She went to Mexico. I don't know - if that ever happens to me, I'd really have to be persuaded that spending that much money would be worth it. If death is in my future, regardless, I'd just as soon not put my family in hock in order to give me a little more time. But maybe I'd feel differently once actually dx. Hopefully, that won't ever happen. Cancer isn't in my family, except for one great-aunt, so I am hoping that my chances of developing it are minimal.

So Paul went out to Council Bluffs on Tuesday for the graveside service and meal (no funeral - kind of different - just a note: when I die, I want the whole shebang - slide show and everything!). Then he spent rest of the day fixing peoples' air conditioners. He called me about 10:30 that night and asked if I thought he ought to try to drive home then or wait until first thing in the morning. I told him to go out to his parents' and sleep, which he did. But he was stressed by the time he rolled into our driveway at 8am the next morning because that old red van he drove was giving him problems. He had a rough day Wed, having several "awake" seizures while working. That really concerned me. When the boys and I got home from church, there Paul was in the kitchen, washing strawberries that he had just picked out of the patch. I wasn't happy. He needed to be in bed! He finally got there and we dosed him up a little bit with extra drugs and then I fell asleep praying that he would not have any nighttime seizures, because he needed sleep so desperately. And he didn't!

I found Will and David playing chess together this week. I'll have to be sure to drop that into casual conversation here and there over the next few weeks. That makes me sound like an uuber-successful homeschool mom - that my children play the highly intellectual game of chess for amusement! And of course, this was in the morning before their debate team met and before math club in the afternoon...kidding, of course...sigh. Actually, it was right before they picked up their Wii remotes and started trying to beat eachother's lego aliens on the tv, pausing occasionally to scratch their armpits and burp the alphabet! Intelligentsia, they are not! :)

But Will did impress someone, apparently. I got a note this week from the Network informing me that it was "with great pleasure" Will had been accepted for the fall semester. And, upon review of his test scores, the admitting committee was quite impressed with his high writing score and was suggesting that instead of enrolling him into Writing I, I might want to consider putting him in Writing III which is a college level course. I basked in that for about a half second before writing them back and saying, "Let me tell you something about that test..." He'll be in Writing I!

I've got a little more to write, but I need to go check some of Will's Language, the one subject he has actually finished for the year. I started out so well last fall. I dutifully graded all his work, figured out the proper percentages, and recorded them in this handy notebook I had designed for keeping track of it all for his transcript. That lasted oh - 6 days, maybe. Now, I have a whole year's worth of grades to figure and record, as well as several week's worth of work to check yet. I have to get that done this summer! It's going to be a long summer...

Friday, May 21, 2010

End Bits

A few more tidbits to round up my report on this week and then I'll be finished here...

I just had my tutorial on coordinating the co-op. My head is spinning. Unfortunately, the warehouse in Iowa City has recently changed their ordering system so it was nothing this other gal could actually teach me. And when I tried to open the manuals on the computer, they wouldn't! However, their customer service seems quite helpful, so I'll get it figured out - I hope. Otherwise, I'm going to have a lot of unhappy members come next delivery day!

Tuesday night I had my second Christian moms support group. I love that thing! This month we had a speaker from Boone who has written a book on special needs parenting. She spoke about "living in the day" and I really felt convicted as I listened to her. I haven't done that with Ben very much. I've been so focused on "saving" him and when I haven't been researching and trying new things, I've been fretting about his future. And I think, along the way, I've missed out on just enjoying him. I bought her book and I am looking forward to reading it. I did get a chance to talk with her personally afterwards and had her autograph my copy. She wrote, "To Sarah - may you feel God holding you up as He reveals His dreams for Ben." Now, I'm sure she probably writes a variation of the same thing for every book she autographs, but the inscription really touched me because one of the things I've been praying is that God would show us things - dreams - that we can foster in Ben.

Ben's SS teacher told me recently that a few weeks ago she asked the kids to go around the room and say what they'd like to do when they grow up. They got to Ben and he said, "Hmm - I've never really thought about that before." And then, " I think maybe I'd like to mow lawns someday." When Joan was telling me this my first thought was, ugh - yet another indication of my inferior parenting! I don't think I've ever actually encouraged Ben to dream. It hasn't been a conscious decision, but I'm sure it's because I haven't wanted Ben to develop dreams that he might not be able to ever see fulfilled. That's really sad - I should have been better at that. And then my next thought was, "Not lawn mowing! He'll chop his fingers off!" I'm pretty certain he would, too!

This author I talked to is planning to call me next week. She is working on her next book and needs some parental input. So, my thoughts may make it into print at some point - we shall see if I can offer anything she can use. Kind of cool, though! I'll keep you aprised if that should come to fruition.

The other night Paul popped into the house and asked me, "Have you been listening to Sam?" Since he was outside and I was inside and listening to the radio, the answer was no, I had not. So, I stuck my head outside to see what Paul was talking about. Sam was over underneath the fort, playing with the matchbox cars. And he was singing at the top of his lungs! It was so cute! I could hear him singing, "Jesus, Bible, Mom, Daddy!" and a whole bunch of gibberish. What a dollbaby! The next day when I took Ben to school, Sam tagged along and he sang all the way there and the way back. Last night I was attempting to watch "Marriage Ref" (we've just come to love that show in recent weeks - it's so funny! (except for when they feature gay couples - then we turn it until that segment is done) and Sam was singing on the couch. I had to hush him so I could hear my show. I hope he loves to sing for all his life!

Last night Sam was coloring on a piece of construction paper. He had a pile of crayons in front of him and he would choose different ones for different scribbles. At one point he exclaimed, "Hey! Not working!" I had to laugh when I saw that he had just used a yellow crayon - on yellow paper. I'm sure that to him it did seem as if it wasn't working!

Well, I'm caught up on my blogging now. We have a graduation open house to attend early this evening and then I'm sure Paul and Will will be up late digging footings. We're supposed to have a cement delivery tomorrow at 9am so they have to be dug out first. I plan to spend tomorrow crossing things off my "to do" list and helping the boys finish up their Camp Coin requirements.

Oh, before I forget: I could use some input on Bible reading. I finally finished up Romans today (it took forever!) and I need another New Testament book to explore. I'm sure any one of them would be good, but I'd be curious to see what you all would recommend. I'm really enjoying my McArthur study Bible. It's so nice to read his notes underneath the Scriptures. Yesterday I was reading the story of Gideon again and I discovered some kind of grisly things in that story that I had completely missed before. The notes were what opened my eyes to that.

Anyway - gotta go get ready to go. Have a good weekend!

Co-ops and Tractors

I am taking a much-needed break in cleaning up the house this morning. A gal is coming over this afternoon - to teach me how to run our co-op. This is a job I'm taking with much reluctance. I got a call about 3 weeks ago from a member of the co-op letting me know that the coordinator was resigning and would I be interested in taking over. My first thought was, "Um - NO!" Good grief - I've ordered all of two times, I never remember to pick up my catalog when it comes in, and I totally blew off the last order date. What makes them think I would want to do this?

But, I'm doing it. It turns out that the gal running it is not stepping down for time reasons, but because she has two small children and lives down in Knoxville and can't always make it to the pick ups. She assures me that is actually "fun" to do this, but I'm not holding my breath on the fun part. Honestly, the real reason I was tagged to do this is because I have a computer - seriously! Apparently it's a bunch of older, computerless people that order from this co-op. All of a sudden this week I started to get phone calls and envelopes in the mail with shaky, proper-cursived order lists. One of the orders is for almost $700 worth of items - I'm thinking I really don't want that kind of responsibility.

Paul didn't think I should take on one more thing. But then he added, "However, if the boys could be trained to do this, I think it would be good for them." So - here I am, the new Pleasantville Vittles Co-op Coordinator, long may she reign...

Said Coordinator is feeling better this week. My back worked itself back into place after about 5 days. Fortunately, I did not have to take the time or $ to run out to the chiropractor's. It's still a little achy, but not what it was. And my mouth is finally beginning to feel better. I did stop by the dentist's on Monday to see what was going on. He said it was a massive canker sore at the base of the left side of my tongue causing all the problems. Wow. I was having some real empathy for the early Christians who had their tongues cut out of their heads for spreading the Gospel. If a canker sore was giving me such problems, I can only imagine the agony of having one's tongue cut out. I bet they didn't use anesthesia, either.

Paul had a fun week. He got 6 new John Deere tractors. He's never gotten that many at once before. I'm talking toys - not real ones. Our yard isn't that big! There are two bigger ones - about 18" long and then 4 smaller ones, about 8" long or so. I have this "friend" on Facebook that I don't even really know personally (which I now have decided that unless I know somebody personally, I'm not going to accept any more friend requests - this is getting ridiculous, people asking to be my friend, simply because we went to the same college at the same time or we both have ties to the same Christian school, even though our paths never once crossed. But I digress...). Anyway, her husband was parting with some of his tractor collection and she was looking for buyers. I made the mistake of mentioning this to Paul. And now we have more tractors! It's his Father's Day present - his more-expensive-than-the-shirt-or-video-Father's Day-present that he normally gets. But he's pretty tickled. He had to go unearth all his other tractors the other night and line them up on the kitchen table with his new acquisitions. He told me we don't even have to go out to eat this year for Father's Day - we can just pick up a Papa Murphy's pizza or something. Well, that will definitely off-set the price of his gift! Sheesh... Seriously, though, I'm happy for him. He deserves it. Most years he tosses his birthday money into our account rather than spending it on himself. He's not one to treat himself.

Well, that kitchen floor isn't going to mop itself - I was thinking about the Jetsons this week and remembering Rosie the Robot. I need her. She could mop my floor and do all the other things I don't want to. So - I need to go take care of that. I have a little bit more to write and then I'll be all caught up again - for a few days, anyway!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A New Chapter in a 13 Year Old Book

This week has signified the beginning of a new chapter in our family. It's been momentous - or seems like it, anyway.

We had our meeting on Monday morning. It lasted for 3 hours! But it was very thorough. We went through Ben's IEP, word by word, almost. Plus, I had a sheet full of questions I'd typed up and then I thought of even more to ask. I am so, so grateful for Terry's presence at the meeting. The change in the atmosphere was palpable from our last meeting when he wasn't able to make it. I could completely sense a renewed attitude of respect. And maybe, too, it's because I had (nicely) let some members of the team know that I wasn't really impressed with how things were going. Ben represents a huge chunk of money so they probably weren't too eager to let that get away (do I sound cynical?).

We walked away from the meeting satisfied and Tuesday morning I was up at 6:30 am (gasp) to get Ben ready for school. Ben was up before 6 - he was so excited! I really did fine. The previous weekend I had been weepy, off and on, with the thought of what was probably in store for this week. But I did fine when the actual day arrived. Ben bounded into school and I had to physically restrain him from bouncing down the hallway as I chatted with his teacher and his aide, who were there to meet him at the door.

Ben hasn't been too forthcoming yet about his days, but I've gotten glowing reports from Mr. K and Mrs. K (his aide). They say that Ben is so eager to learn, obedient, respectful, and polite. Mrs. K said she has been doing this kind of work for 6 or 7 yrs now and she has never before had a student hold a door for her before Ben. That makes my heart feel warm! Of course, though, this is all still new. Will Ben be this cooperative when we hit day 19 or 58, or 453? I don't know. But we are off to a good start, anyway.

I've been amazed at all the support we've gotten throughout this arduous process. I have yet to hear one criticism from anyone within the homeschooling community, which honestly surprises me. I don't know - maybe they're all talking about me behind my back and it just hasn't gotten to me yet! So often I have cringed when attending homeschooling seminars because I've heard speakers assert that the only Biblical way to educate our children is through homeschooling. But my homeschooling friends have been so supportive of me in this decision. One even called me yesterday and told me that on Tuesday she had been out walking when suddenly she felt the overwhelming urge to pray for me. So she did. That is just so humbling to me to think of God moving through someone else for my benefit.

I think Terry must have scared the team into behaving just so. Yesterday when I picked up Ben, Mrs. K was chatting to me about his day and she suddenly stopped, and asked, "Is this ok if I talk to you? Or would you prefer for me to write you out a report every day instead?" I had to laugh. I think we have them walking on eggshells! I assured her verbal communication was just fine. But you know, maybe some of it, too, is that parents aren't always so vested in what is going on with their kids. I wouldn't say that is true of the majority of them, but I've heard enough stories to know it happens. And I'm fairly certain they've come to understand that we are very much going to be on top of all that goes on with Ben.

So, I'm feeling good. Despite all the angst about this, I've had a peace all along that we were headed the right direction with Ben. This week just seems to be confirming that. Tuesday evening I had a chat with a woman that I'll tell you all more about later. She's an author and working on her second book about parenting special needs children. I told her a little bit about Ben and how that today he had actually started school that day for the first time in 7 years. She nodded and commented that as our children get older - needy or not - our job as parents is to step back and allow more people into their lives. And wow, sometimes that is hard!

A new chapter my friend, Debbie, commented to me today, "May the rest of this book be as good as the first chapter has been!"

Why David Didn't Smile

Here is David's 11th birthday picture, which I had taken this afternoon. His actual birthday is a week from today. Now, I can already hear the questions; specifically, I hear my mother's-in-law voice echoing in my head, "But why isn't he smiling?" I'll tell you why David isn't smiling.

First of all, he is sort of smiling. David has never liked smiling with his teeth. He thinks he looks dorky. I think he looks very nice, but he won't listen to me. So, most of my pictures of him are these teethless poses. He was not in a good mood when he got his picture taken today. He had told me months ago that he wanted to wear his Hawkeye jersey for his birthday picture, which was just fine with me. So today he went to get dressed and was distraught that he had no black shorts or jeans. I did not realize black bottoms were a requirement for this picture. He informed me that he wanted to look like an Iowa Hawkeye football player and thus, he could not wear blue denim bottoms - they must be black. I told him that was too bad since he had no black jeans or shorts. He was not happy and tried to convince me that his off white shorts would be the next best thing. I told him to think again. I tried to convince him that the look we were really going for was Iowa Hawkeye football fan. I pointed out that he was not wearing a helmet, shoulder pads, or tight gold pants so there really no way he would be mistaken for a football player anyway. There was no appeasing this kid. He was upset. We finally got to the studio and he hissed at me, "Well, I get to pick the picture!" I agreed. By this point, I was ready to throttle the birthday boy and I probably would have agreed to letting him wear black and gold nail polish for his picture if it would make him let go of the whole black bottoms thing.

So, we then did the picture. The photographer attempted to coax him into revealing his teeth, but David kept his mouth firmly clamped shut. I finally asked him why he was being so surly and wouldn't smile and he growled, "Iowa Hawkeye football players don't smile!" I knew I didn't dare laugh, but I sure wanted to!

So this is what we ended up with. He did take a few better shots, but he wanted this picture because it makes him look "tough." David is anything but tough. He's a chocolate coated marshmallow bunny most of the time, but if it makes him feel good to look at this and think he's got what it takes to ram through the defensive end of Ohio State someday - then so be it.

And that's why David isn't smiling!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Cabinets, School, and Pain

Mmmm....sunshine streaming through the windows today - a welcome sight after this past week of all rain and cold!

That's me, with my Mothers' Day present. I went to church to pick up Will last Sat. from his trip to Adventureland and when I got back I discovered the contents of my cupboards on the table, and Paul and David busily hanging the new cupboards! When we moved in 5 1/2 yrs ago we immediately began replacing the cupboards, as money allowed. The ones they had were so old and sloped with age. This is the last of them! After Paul got the first one hung he realized that they had sent the wrong cupboards. He had ordered 30" cabinets, but they sent 33" ones instead. I told him I'd just as soon have the extra 6" of space, so we went ahead and hung them, even though it cuts over the window. That window will eventually come out, anyway, when we do the planned kitchen expansion. In the meantime, Paul is going to put a board in there so the windown will have the appearance of being normal - just narrower.

This week I've been dealing with the school and AEA regarding Ben's entrance into school. I'm a bit steamed that I had to be the one to contact the AEA, only to be informed by the lady that she had been "too busy" to work on Ben's IEP. She sent me a partially completed one. It's been a bit of an ordeal and it really has made me question - are we doing the right thing? Is Ben supposed to attend school, and if so, that school? But Wed. night my friend, Janice, at church reminded me that just because something is God's will, it doesn't mean that it will necessarily come easily. Yesterday I did get a phonecall from Mr. K, who will be Ben's teacher. He handles all the special needs students in the middle school. He is not happy with the way things have been handled, either (I knew I liked him!). So, the short version of the long story that keeps getting longer is that we have a meeting this coming Monday morning at 8:15 am. Our friend, Terry, from church is going with us and will advocate for us and for Ben, asking the questions that we aren't aware we need to ask. As it stands now, it looks like Ben will be starting school next Tuesday, dependent, of course, on the meeting Monday. It's later in the year than I wanted him to start, but there's not much I can do about it now. In talking to Mr. K yesterday, I decided to go ahead and enroll Ben in Extended Year Services for the first two weeks of June. He'll be at school from 1-3 every afternoon. I'd already agreed to this for August. So that will give him a little more transition time.

It's been a painful week for me. Wednesday I had to get a filling. Well, I thought I had to get a filling. It turned out that I needed something called a "pulpectomy" which sounds exceedingly disturbing. They had to pop out a filling I already had, clean up the decay, and then put in a new, deeper filling. My dentist darkly hinted at the possibility of a root canal and crown for that tooth. I like my dentist, Dr. Tesano. He looks just like Josh Groban. I enjoy just looking at him. He started to tell me about how his wife is due to have their first baby this week and I wanted to say, "Hush! Don't spoil this for me - let me just look at you!" That's probably kind of pathetic, huh - getting hot flashes over my 20-something dentist?! Ha, ha, ha!

But anyway, it's two days later and jaw is still incredibly sore. My tongue is battered and swollen and I still can't open my mouth all the way. I'm slurring my words and I'm having to wad up food and poke into my mouth because I can't bite normally. Dr. Tesano did comment on my tongue and said the same thing that every single dentist I've ever been to since I was 13 has said, "You sure have a big and powerful tongue!" I don't think that's a compliment, dirty as it sounds. At one point the dentist asked me to tuck my tongue into the right side of my mouth. I honestly tried. My brain told my tongue, "Move!" It didn't move. Dr. Tesano tapped me on the right side of my face, "over here - move it over here!" Duh! I know which side of my face is the right side! I finally told him, "It won't move!" There's just something about that tongue I guess. When I was 13 I had braces put on and I remember my orthodontist, Dr. Christiansen, (he's in Waterloo, likes to run for the school board - don't vote for him) swearing at me and throwing his dental tools down on my chest, mad that my tongue had messed up some of his brace work!

And then yesterday I bent over, stood up, and felt a sickening ripple up and down my spine. I've been in a lot of back pain ever since. Something went out of place. Every half hour or so I have to hobble over to my bed and lay down on my heating pad. Hopefully, that will work itself out soon. I had Paul pick up an extra large bottle of Advil yesterday, just in case it doesn't!

I was thrilled to discover yesterday that my latest FaithWriter's piece placed 3rd at the Intermediate level! Yay! I've been trying to break into that top 3 for so long! It was another devotional-type, piece, which I'll post here later. One of the comments I got was from a woman really high up in FW. I don't know if she judges or not, but I do know she teaches an on-line writing class and also does seminars at their convention every summer in Michigan. She said, "I'd love to see what you could do with fiction." That comment stayed with me all week long because writing fiction is my ultimate dream. But I'm scared to death to do it because I might not be very good at it and then - poof! There would go my dream! But a story began to slowly evolve in my mind over the next few days and I finally had one to go with the next assigned topic. I was pysched up and ready to write it when I got home from church Wed. night. Well, we pulled into town - and discovered that we had no electricity! It had been storming all night and knocked out the power to the town.

It was actually quite cozy arriving home. Paul had not made it to church because he was working, but he got home before we did and had placed lit candles into every downstairs room. But candles won't power a computer! So all I can conclude is that God doesn't want me to write fiction yet. Or, more likely, it's just something called, "life!"

Well, I think that's it for my report on this week. We may be going out tonight for date night - or maybe not. It depends on how late Paul works and if the basement dries up. He's ready to pour footings and is trying to get everything coordinated with the weather, his progress, and the concrete company. So, I told him, "whatever." It'd be nice to go out, but I don't want to get in the way of progress, either. This project is already taking way too long! I had a few stops I wanted to make in town with him, but I can do those tomorrow after I drop Ben off at respite care.

If Ben does go to school next week, it's going to be big. Pray for him - and his mother who may be a bit emotional about all of it!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Burping Frogs and a Cracked Heart

It's a dreary, chilly, rainy May morning. But that's ok. There's sunshine in my heart. Alright, I know that sounds corny, but here's why: a friend of mine from my on-line moms group is holding her brand new baby boy this morning, little Asa. A year ago this past April she was also holding a brand new baby boy, but he was born with anencephaly and lived for only 11 hours. Her sweet mother in law is also in our group and she has started writing with me on FaithWriters, so I am rejoicing with Pam, as well, today. It's a sunny morning after a year of cold rain.

I caught up on all my blog reading last week. I'm kind of grateful that my friends are not nearly so verbose as I am - makes it easier for me to stay on top of their blogs! I kind of have to feel for those who are so faithful to read mine because I know I write an awful lot. I was reading one friend's and she has commented that she thinks she's going through a mid-life crisis of sorts. But in catching up, I was struck with how deeply she thinks and writes. I knew that from before but it was a fresh realization. And then it made me uncomfortably aware of my own blog, which isn't very deep at all. It's mainly a diary, I guess - a recitation of my days. It might make for entertaining reading someday when my life is different, but it doesn't go that deep into the recesses of my mind. Maybe those recesses just aren't that deep! It's not that I don't think, but my ability to do so or to remember what I've thought about is short circuted by the minute to minute demands on my already over-taxed brain. Oh well. I am who I am.

And apparently what I am right now is the mother of a frog. That's right! Since Sam became mobile he has enjoyed jumping on my bed when I go to change his clothes (I always change him on my bed). He insists on standing at the head of the bed and catapulting himself over the length of it. For the past couple of weeks when doing so he's cried out, "Ribbit, ribbit!" And then he grins at me and announces, "Sam a frog!"

Oh, speaking of frogs: David detests those little squat reptiles. I think it's because we sometimes get them down in our fruit cellar and when I've sent him down there to retrieve something for me he's been startled more than once by a frog leaping out of his way. I don't blame him. They're kind of slimy. But he's taken his dislike to a whole new level. When I had Sam we got lots of cute little boy clothing and blankets and such with green froggies printed on them. David would always shudder and implore me not to use those things because of the frogs on them. Yesterday Will, sensitive big brother that he is, captured a frog in his hands, motioned David close, and then gleefully surprised him with a frog in the face. You could hear David's screams for blocks around. David came tearing into the house, his chest heaving and eyes wild with fear. Is this normal? I'm kind of at a loss, handling this level of fear. Frogs were what set him off yesterday but he is just as terrified of thunderstorms. Every single time a dark cloud passes by, David is convinced a tornado will soon be bearing down upon our house. I've tried to talk him about his fears, prayed with him, assured him of his safety, but nothing seems to alleviate this. I'm really hoping maturity takes care of it, but shouldn't that be kicking in about now? He'll be 11 in 3 weeks. It concerns me a little bit. Maybe it just means he'll be an exceedingly sensitive man someday - which means he's going to need a practical, sturdy, "no-nonsense" type of wife.

Sam burped loudly in church the other night. He's turning into a little pew monster. Paul says I just need to show him "who's in charge." Yeah, right. Sam actually acts like a little golden angel when Paul sits with us, but when it's just me he's suddenly chattering about everything, banging his toy cars together, mooshing his animal crackers into the upholstery, and burping. Will was sitting in the front row (we were in the back) with his friends and he told me he heard Sam. Great! I should add that after Sam let out his lusty belch, he looked at me, opened his eyes wide, and proclaimed loudly, "Sowwy, Mom!"

So my job right now is to keep him quiet and to keep him away from CPS' prying eyes. I realized the other day that poor Sam is covered in bruises from head to toe, it seems. He is so physical right now and is constantly running into things, banging into doorways and chairs, and getting all these minor hurts just constantly! And then last week he was a feast for some mosquitos and was covered in red bumps from bites for several days. I sure don't remember the other boys going through this, but they must have.

I read an amazing book Tuesday. It's a study book that was given to me last month at my sp. needs mothers' meeting. It's called "Special Strength for Special Parents" by Nina Fuller, the mother of 2 daughters with Downs Syndrome. The group is going through one lesson at a time, but I could not put the book down. I felt so lifted up as I read testimony after testimony of other mothers dealing with the pain, daily frustration, and special joys that come with having a child with different needs. I haven't realized how isolated I've been in dealing with Ben until just lately. It's like I live in two worlds. I have my normal life with friends and family and all the "normal" things that happen within that realm that everyone else deals with, too. But then I step into my other life and that one is filled with things like wiping my child's face after he eats - and having to lift up my arms to do it because this child is now taller than me. It has to do with the extreme frustration of dealing with his arguing and constant determination to prove himself right and get his own way. It's a world filled with words like IEP, waiver, OT, PT, transitory services, perverseration, psychiatrist. It's being reluctant to get together with friends, especially at other people's houses because I'm fairly certain my child won't behave in a normal way and I'll spend my time being embarrassed, apologizing, and chasing him. I'm not complaining, but just pointing out the isolation factor. And I suppose, too, that's true to an extent for anyone dealing with something atypical, whether it's an illness or any other type of negative circumstance. Unless a person has lived it, they can't really understand and so, that part of your life will remain only your's. And who says I don't get deep on here?!

Sunday night, Matt and Jenny slipped into church. Ben asked me where their baby (Rebekah) was. I reminded him that she's in the hospital because she's still sick. Then, from the pulpit Pastor said something about Rebekah needing physical therapy. Ben's eyes got wide and he whispered, "You mean their baby is a 'therapy kid?'" Ben has referred to all kids like himself for several years now as "therapy" kids -as in, kids who receive some sort of outside therapy. I nodded, and Ben whispered again, "That means she's got something wrong with her - just like me!" My heart cracked because I've never wanted him to feel like there was something wrong with him. There have been times that we've had to prohibit him from doing something and it was simply because he was either physically or mentally unable to handle it. We've had to gently explain it in those terms and he's been pretty good about accepting it. But I never, ever, wanted him to think there is something wrong with him. Somewhere along the line, we've failed in expressing to him that he is perfect in God's eyes, and exactly the boy He intended him to be.

And then, just a couple of nights ago, Ben was talking about something - I don't remember what - but he finished a sentence with, "because I'm different." My heart cracked even wider. This is what hurts me the most. I can handle all the other stuff, even the horrible behaviors that push me to the brink. But knowing that my child realizes he is "different" from the rest - oh, the pain of that is hard to even express. This is what I feared most when he was little. I either wanted him to recover so well that his differences would be barely discernable or I wanted him to be so severely disabled that he would never know. To be caught between both worlds seems cruel.

But at the same time, God knows. He has allowed Ben to progress to precisely this point, knowing that Ben would reach an age where he would understand that he isn't like others. So, while it hurts me as Ben's mother, it's really the same thing it has been since the morning of Nov. 17, 1996 - simply trusting Him. Well, there's nothing "simple" about it, really. It continues to be a choice.

I didn't mean to get so morose. Maybe the gloominess outside is affecting me more than I thought. On to some good/interesting news: I've been asked to edit a book. My friend Kathy wrote a book of 12 children's stories that is in the pubishing process. It's been through the regular editing process at the publisher's but she's been asked to do some editing on her own to make sure everything reads as it should. So she sent me a copy, asking me to take a look at it. I think I feel honored! I'm hoping to tackle that tomorrow.

And tomorrow will be a better day. The meteorologists are promising a sunny (although cool) day, I don't have to spend my Sat. cooking Sunday's meal because Sunday is Mothers' Day and I don't cook on Mothers' Day! And I don't have to go anywhere, so I can spend the day accomplishing tasks on my "red" to-do list. And I get to sleep in! So, I cannot complain.

Early this evening the boys and I are going to head to town to do some banking and then make a quick Walmart run. There is a graduation open house at church for one of our (homeschooled) seniors. We'll be there for awhile and then leave Will there. He is spending the night with his friend and then tomorrow, along with his youth group, he'll be at Adventureland all day long. He said something about going to see a movie called "Iron Man" tonight. I don't know anything about it - I assume it's ok to view - ??? I think I rely on his own good judgment too often. One of these days that's going to get the both of us in trouble.

Well, Sam has injured himself for about the 47th time this morning. This time he was attempting to stand on his head with his legs braced against the utility closet doors. I think his life would have been a bit easier, had he been born a girl! Guess I need to go kiss some owies!