Thursday, July 29, 2010

FaithWriters Update

Just a quick update on FW: They just posted the weekly rankings and in my division I got 6th place! That's out of 45 entries. The top 5 are the winners. And then in the overall rankings, out of a total of 109 entries, I got 16th place, which I don't think is too bad. So, I'm feeling much better now!

But that makes me wonder about myself. This whole not winning really affected my day. I was so sad all day long about it! What does that say about my character? Am I a bad sport? Can I accept not always coming out on top? I like to think that the older I get, the more polished the rough edges of my character are becoming. But after today, I'm not so sure...

On Disappointment, Turkeys, and School Fees

I'm going to get the bad news out of the way because I'm hoping I can snap back into my previous good mood. I'm so disgusted with myself for allowing myself to sink this low. It's pathetic! I didn't place with my latest FW piece - and I am so bummed. I had told myself repeatedly this last week that it was unlikely to happen for a number of reasons. And I was right! But every time I'd get a critique on my piece my hopes would be lifted and I'd think well, maybe I did have a winner here! The thing is, what I wrote was good. I've read enough other stuff and of course, I'm familiar with my own writing, and I knew this was one of my better ones. But the competition was fierce. There were 45 entries at my level alone. I am kind of anxious to see if I even made it into the top 50, but I won't know until tonight when that's posted.

So I find my thoughts going to dark places today. I wonder if perhaps I am tapped out at what I can produce on my own. Maybe I need some writing classes. They do offer those on FW, but when am I supposed to take those? I barely have time to get my pieces written and in each week. Sigh...

Of course, it didn't help that as I was discovering this bad news, Ben and David were at each other's throats. It is just awful. Chore time is the trigger. Ben is not capable of directing himself when it comes to doing work. So that falls to David to instruct Ben on what to pick up next. That absolutely infuriates Ben that his younger brother is the "boss" of him. And then horrible things happen. I get very upset with the both of them, although Ben is the primary culprit. Why can they not just do the work? It's not that difficult - and it would go a whole lot faster if they would keep their mouths shut and just do what they know they need to do. Oh, I get so mad! So, I am getting very antsy for the start of school!

I had something interesting happen on Monday. It was my grocery day. I have a friend who I know is in pretty severe financial straits at the moment. So, I picked up a few extra things for them. It wasn't my first instinct to do so, though, so don't be quick to paint a halo over my head! Paul's hours are way down right now - it's that time of year. So, I naturally fret about how we're going to pay the bills and buy groceries for ourselves. But I was made aware of this need and after talking with Paul, I really felt as though I should do something. I had a full list for us, but I went ahead and got several bags of groceries for my friend and her family. Do you know that I still came in under-budget? I am just baffled at how that happened! So, it makes me wonder - was it God?

Sam's been going around this week, saying, "Hmm - that's not a bad idea!" Little tape recorder again! Yesterday morning he insisted I dress him as soon as he awoke. Then he informed me, "Sam go outside and get Clifford, the big red dog." I didn't know what that meant, other than he's been watching way too much tv! But he went out and soon re-appeared with his little plastic doggie that pulls on a string - which, by the way, is neither red nor big. Goofball!

I forgot to mention that two weeks ago Paul got hit by a turkey on the way to work. He was driving his work van and a turkey flew out of the side of the highway and hit his windshield so hard he shattered the whole thing! How bizarre...

I had to get some make-up Monday so I was at the Clinique counter. I forgot that this time of year they have their buy it in advance deal where if you pre-pay and agree not to pick it up for a few weeks until a certain date, they throw in a bunch of freebies along with what you bought. And this year, they added a twist that if you purchased a minimum of $40, then they'd also give you a tote bag. It's always stuff I can use at some point, so I don't mind spending the extra upfront in order to get the freebies. David was right there with me and when the clerk rang up the order he gasped and said, "Mom! How can you spend $43 on make-up? Can we afford that?" And then when he heard the clerk's explanation of how I could get the totebag, David told me, "Mom, you know you really don't need a new bag - you have plenty of bags already!" Sheesh - pipe down, my 5 foot conscience!

I found out yesterday we have to pay "book fees" for Ben this year. It's not that much, but it would quickly add up if I had multiple children in school. I thought public education was supposed to be free - ???? And the thing is, Ben isn't even using any actual textbooks. All they are doing is running off papers for him to do. I suppose "book fee" is a term that actually means "tax."

Tuesday Paul didn't have any hours so he and David worked on the basement all day. They are getting close to the point where we'll be able to have concrete poured. I had talked about taking the boys swimming one afternoon this week, so Paul suggested to me that we go that day, since the heat index was over 100 degrees. I had co-op pick-up that afternoon. The truck was more than 2 hours late! I could not believe it! I even nervously ran down to Knoxville to run an errand for Paul, just sure that the truck would arrive while I was gone. But it didn't. The nice thing was that I had a very long time to chat with two other women in the co-up. The bad thing was that it screwed up my whole afternoon! Oh well. When I got home, we changed and loaded up in the van. We had over 2 hours at the pool, which is plenty of time for me to cool down. I just can't really see myself ever voluntarily going to the pool, if I didn't have kids to take - as long as I have air conditioning I can stay in.

I'll see if I can get my two latest FW pieces posted soon. Doing that is on my to-do list. That particular list has been a major source of discouragement lately. It's just growing and growing and growing and I can't keep up with it. I could chuck it, I suppose, but then I think I'd be in a worse state - knowing I had so much to do but having no plan of attack as to how to get it done!

Well, I guess I'd better go try and get some more things crossed off. Will comes home Sat. He leaves again Tues. evening for football camp, but I am looking forward to having him home for a couple of days, anyway. It will be nice to have all my chicks under one roof!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Painting Endeavors and Sam Tales

As you can see from the above picture, I did get my kitchen painted this week. What a horrendous job! I will never, never, never paint least not for a really long time. I haven't decided yet if I like that grouping of things I have there by the stove. When I got my new cupboards in May I had to take down some of my wall decorations and I'd never found new spots for them because I knew I'd eventually be painting the kitchen. Once I get my fiestaware back up, I'll have to snap a photo of that. I went all out with that. I spray painted the varnished shelf I use to hold my monthly displays. I'm kind of excited to see how that looks against the yellow walls. It took me two full days to paint. I used muscles that were in semi-retirement and they definitely let me know their displeasure. But the room is quite a bit brighter, which I think is good. I still need to get some fabric and make new valences, so I'll have a better idea of how the kitchen will look after I get those up. So, anyway, that was my big project this week.

I sure am feeling grainy today - not enough sleep. We had a nasty thunderstorm last night around 8:30 - again! A tornado actually touched down in Indianola, where we attend church. I heard that some houses were damaged/destroyed. So, it was pretty close. We lost power around 8:45. David was absolutely terrified. I spent a good deal of time calming him down. Then, all the boys insisted on sleeping in the living room. And then, my allergies started acting up. So, I took an allergy pill, which really made me groggy. The lights all came back on at 12:15 am. So, I stumbled out of bed to go turn them off, when they shut off again, just as quickly as they had come on. So, I fell asleep. But then an hour later, the power came back on for good, so I had to get out of bed again and turn the rest of the lights off. Then, Paul's radio came on this morning at 7 am. I thought it was 8, which meant I really needed to be getting up. So, I was trying to force myself to wake up - not successfully. Then, I realized it was only 7:24, so I fell back asleep. Then, of course, I slept too late and I had to jump out of bed and help Ben get ready to go to Kids' Club (respite care).

When I'm tired I'm irritable and while I didn't say anything, it just annoyed me that Ben is outside, happily swinging, listening to his headset and eating an ice pop. He has no concept of time and it never occurred to him that he needed to be getting ready to go. So, I had to call him in, direct him to his clothing, unbutton his shorts because he never thinks to do that before he tries to pull them over his hips and then they get stuck. I had to yank his headphones off his head and shoo him into the bathroom so I could comb his hair and put deodorant on him. Then, Paul wasn't ready to go yet (no surprise there - he also has no concept of time - well, not as much as I do anyway - can you tell I'm irritated?!) so I told Ben to sit on the couch and wait for his dad. Oh, and I also told him to eat a muffin. Then, I went back to bed and Paul comes in complaining that I don't have the boys ready to go (he was taking Will to work on a couple of side jobs, dropping Ben off at ChildServe first). He's lucky I didn't hurt him. But of course, I then found Ben's lunch bag still on the table. It would not occur to him to bring something like that with him until he needed it. I just get tired of his complete spaciness. How is he ever going to work a job someday when he has to be continually pulled back into the real world? So I stuffed the bag into Paul's arms and he left. I hope Ben got his lunch. So now I've been attempting to get stuff done on my to-do list and trying to keep Sam and David from wrestling all over the living room. I think I need a do-over on this morning!

There's not a whole lot else to report on. Will came home yesterday afternoon from his last week of working at camp. He informed me that next year he wants to try out for position of lifeguard. Apparently, they earn more money. So, I'll have to see if I can get him into a CPR class sometime this next school year. He's pretty beat. I think all his weeks of work are catching up with him. He leaves Monday, bright and early, for Sr. High camp. But this will be a week for fun. Then he'll get back and football practice will start in earnest.

I hurt my leg this week. We have these antique jacks that Paul borrowed from my parents for the house. My great grandpa used them a century ago for his house moving business. They were in the backroom and I walked right into one. I tore a chunk out of thigh and it's all swollen around that. Plus I've got a bruise with about a 4" radius. Not nice - I can't even cross my legs with that leg underneath.

Some Sam-isms from this week: "I wub you!" That's nice. I've waited a long time to hear that for the first time. He gets that from sensitive David who has to say it every night before he goes to bed. I'm not convinced Sam knows what it means, but it's still nice to hear.

All week long: "What you doing, Mom?" It doesn't matter if I'm brushing my teeth or at the computer, the question is still the same.

Sam has become obsessed by Veggie Tales. He used to call them "Bob" as in Bob and Larry. Now, they're "Beggie Tales." It has resulted in more than one disagreement between he and his brothers over whether or not it's time for Sam to watch an episode, or whether his brothers get to watch their shows.

I was a good painter this time and actually took all the outlet covers off the wall instead of painting around them. I still don't have them back on. Sam gazed at one cover less outlet and exclaimed, "You broke dat!"

I've gotten 3 really, really nice comments already on my latest FaithWriters piece. I was feeling hopeful that that meant I had done something well and I might even find myself in the top 5 this next Thurs. when judging is announced. But then I started reading the other entries at the Advanced Level. Wow, oh wow! I'm just a minnow in a pond of really big fish! These writers are incredible! So my confidence is nowhere to be found these days. But, honestly, what I wrote this time is good. It may not be as good as the competition, but I know it's one of my better pieces. Right now I need to be coming up with an article, though, for our new topic of "see." I am just coming up blank. Usually I have a pretty good idea of what I'm going to write within a couple of days of learning the new topic. I know I'd like to do something humorous because I've been on a dramatic/pathos kick lately. So I need to get my brain in gear.

Well, it's past time for lunch. I am trying to get Sam settled down for a nap (so far, unsuccessfully, but he's tired, I can tell). Then, I think I'll feed myself and chug down a liter or two of Mt. Dew - I have got to wake up these sluggish brain cells. Of course, it might help if I had eaten something today other than just a muffin and a handful of Hy-Vee brand sandwich cookies. Think I need to do some cooking, today, too...

Monday, July 19, 2010


It looks like I'm going to be able to wrap up my day of massive blogging now. Then I'll be all caught up.

I made supper, but Paul is the only one who wanted any. David went to town with the neighbor boy for ice cream and Sam flat out refused to eat. Ben just had garlic bread and I just ate corn on the cob. Oh well - casual summertime. Sam just ran outside to play with the neighbor girl. He was naked from his bath and instructed me that he wanted to wear pants (shorts) but no shirt! Maybe he's taking his cues from Jacob, the werewolf.

Sam exclaimed today, "I can't beweeb it!" but I don't know to what he was referring - probably just being a tape recorder.

We have kittens. David discovered them last week in the shed. The mother put them in an empty fish tank, of all places! Not sure if she gave birth there, or moved them there for safety. So cute! The mama is not our kitty, but that doesn't mean they won't stick around. Cats just kind of wander all over town. Every so often a resident will come to a meeting and complain about them. But I'm not sure what they want us to do - shoot them?

I was talking on the phone last week and suddenly I heard Sam say, "Stop talking, Shara!" (Sarah). He repeated it several times, so I know what I heard. Silly kid.

One of my old classmates died last week. I went to school with Steve from kindergarten through the 7th grade when his family moved. I'm trying to remember if they went to our large church or not, but I honestly can't remember. Anyway, I heard that he drank himself to death. What an undignified way to die and be remembered. Of course, I'll always remember Steve for the way he always argued. He was always right, in his opinion. I wonder if he carried that into adulthood? Anyway, it's just sad, all around.

I have decided to stop by Menards tomorrow and get all my paint for the kitchen. I hadn't planned to do it this quickly but I've got some free time this week and I'd sure rather get the painting done before school starts than trying to fit it in between the books and trips to school.

So, that's all I know for now. Here's hoping everyone has a blessed week! And here's hoping Paul gets home at a decent time tomorrow night so I can attend my support meeting for sp. needs moms!

Writing Woes and Pap Smear Rewards

I just finished up my piece this week for FaithWriters. My plan was to do that while Sam slept and it worked out well. I needed to do it a little bit early because I am re-telling a Bible story this week and I wanted to make sure I didn't screw anything up, Scripturally. My pastor was helping me out with some finer points last night and volunteered to do a "heresy check" on it before I enter it so I just got it emailed to him.

Oh, speaking of FaithWriters...I am discouraged this week! I finished reading through all the other entries at my level. There were a ton of them. And I wasn't totally happy with my story. It was much better in my mind than it came out on paper. When I did write it, I ended up almost 200 words past the limit, so I was having to make really painful chopping decisions and the end result was less than pretty. And now, reading the competition, I am so aware of just how out of my league I am. There are some phenomenal writers at the Advanced Level and I know I just can't compare. I was telling Paul all this and he said, "So quit." That brat! But be aware, my readers, I will probably be whining about this for awhile!

Thursday I had my annual exam - fun, fun, fun! All is well down there, as far as I know. My dr. informed me that next year, the fun really begins - I get to have mammograms! Oh yippee...She said that I can probably do it only every other year because we have no family history of cancer. And then she went on to explain how mammograms aren't even all the effective on "young, firm" breasts. They were designed for old, floppy ones. I told her I thought mine definitely fit into the latter category, but she assured me they were still quite firm (thanks - I think?). But, I thought about about that later and I realized that what she was saying is that getting a mammogram is going to hurt because only being 40 next year, my breasts won't be super soft and squishy and will resist getting smashed between two metal plates, unlike if they were more pancake like already. Lovely...

Melissa and I met up afterwards to go see "Eclipse." I deliberately planned those two activities for the same day - I needed some comfort after enduring my annual exam! My dr. found out my plans and told me that she had just seen Taylor Lautner in real life when she and her sister were in New York, outside the Today Show building and he came out. Be still, my heart! She said he's actually kind of short. But I bet millions of women would gladly wear flats the rest of their life just to stand next to him! Actually, when it comes to Taylor, I feel a bit funny, since he's only 2 yrs older than Will. Makes me feel a bit like a dirty old woman to be lusting after someone that young! And besides, I'm Team Edward all the way!

But anyway, we went to the movie and thoroughly enjoyed it. I cannot wait until Breaking Dawn comes out! Then, we went to Walmart and hung out in her van talking until 1 in the morning! Oh, we are too, too old to be doing stuff like that! But, it was so nice. Melissa and I can talk for hours. In fact, I avoid calling her because I know we'll be on the phone for an hour, minimum. We're in the same stage of life, our husbands are in related fields, our sons are best friends, and we're similar in other areas. And apparently, we're both conversation- deprived as well! By the time I got home it was 1:30 and I think it was close to three am before I actually dropped off to sleep.

Funny: Will and David requested that I rent "New Moon" for them so I did. They watched it together on Friday and then wanted me to fill them in on the plot from Eclipse. It strikes me as funny, although I know a number of guys that are into the books and movies, too. My 29 yr old nephew is a big fan and it was Melissa's teenaged son, in fact, who got her hooked. Apparently vampire romance knows no gender or age boundaries! Maybe just good taste boundaries...

As I type this, David has just informed me that he is making Edward, Jacob, and Bella Miis on the Wii. He needs me to check them for accuracy!

So that was Thursday. All day long Friday I struggled to keep my eyes open. But I had to because I had plans to meet Sara and the girls out at Jordan Creek Mall. They drove down from Waterloo and we had a nice time for several hours. I brought Sam and he pleased to see "Emmy." Sara found some good clearance clothes for herself and I wandered around trying to find stuff for me. I'm too picky. I did find a sweater/vest thingy with a strappy tank at Christopher and Banks. I didn't buy it because it was full priced. But later I got home and thought about it all day Sat. and that was one of the errands I ran yesterday. I went back and got it. It's cute, even at full price!

Well, it's not pouring at the moment, so I'd better slap another coat of paint on the house while I can. I'm hopeful that I can get this done today. Then, I can move on to the kitchen painting.

July Notes

I got one more section of the house painted and it started to pour again! I'm thinking maybe I ought to give up on that for today...

Will is gone this week at camp again, working. He will come home Friday afternoon and then leave again next Mon. for Sr. High Camp. Then, he's finished with camp for the summer. I'm glad - things just aren't as fun without him around! Although, he's going to be tied up for quite a bit the next few months with football. Such it is with teenagers...

Sam has had a couple of splinters in the recent weeks. It's pretty traumatic for him since he won't patiently let us dig with needles and tweezers to get out the offending piece of material. He had a nasty one in his finger a week ago that Paul and I just could not get. Sam was bellowing and fisting up his hand so we couldn't get to it. So, we just put a bandaid on it and figured we'd have to get it later. Well, last Monday while I went shopping with Ben and David, Will managed to get Sam's splinter out by himself. He told me he practically had to sit on Sam, but he managed! So, last Thurs. I had all the boys with me when we went to Ben's nutrition appointment. She had a children's doctor set in the room and Sam immediately began to play with it. The boys started making a racket, so I had to turn to them to see what was going on. Well, Sam had this oversized tweezers and he was pinching Will with them, saying, "You got spinter, Will - I get out!" I think that's called revenge!

Paul called me a little bit ago. Between Friday and Sunday he put in 40 hours - most of which are double time pay. Yay! It's remembering times like this that keeps me sane during the weeks with fewer hours. This business is just so unpredictable.

I ordered a book for Will in response to the current family situation I alluded to a few posts back. I shouldn't say it's only because of that. But it was what prompted me to do so. It's called Every Young Man's Battle by Fred Stoeker and Steven Arterburn. I'm currently going through it before I begin assigning its reading to Will as part of his schoolwork. Wow! What an amazing book. The authors are men who, at one time were heavily involved in pornography, premarital sex, and one's girlfriend even aborted his child. But yet, they escaped all that. And they teach young men how to train their minds and about the importance of staying pure. I went to Fred Stoeker's (who happens to live in the Des Moines area, incidentally) website and found that I can download questions for each chapter. I am so grateful for this book. I really think it is a must read for every single teenaged/college aged young man.

Will dragged me to a garage sale last Friday. I'm not much of a garage sale person, honestly. I like going to them when a whole group of houses or a city is having them at one time. But to stop for one - not so much. But he was driving home from football and saw this from the highway. So he came home and made me take him. I should mention here that I was pretty much a zombie. I had not gotten to sleep until almost 3am the previous morning. Reasons for that, I'll explain later! But I went. We did find some good bargains. I think my favorite were two jerseys - Hawkeye and a Packers one for Ben. The boys were pretty thrilled with those and I only paid $1 each. Just the night before I had been perusing through some sale racks at Harrison's Sports and on sale, their NFL jerseys were $80!

I need to go eat some lunch and David is bugging me for the computer. I have actually started looking around for a laptop computer. We just can't get by with one household computer any more. I've never owned or even used a laptop before so I'm not really sure what to look for. I'm seeing that they really range in price. Best Buy has them from $300 - $1300. But I'm thinking that needs to happen by the end of this year. And it would be nice for times like now - I wouldn't have to share with David, who thinks playing Madden football ought to trump Mom blogging!

Strange Sunday

Well, I was painting the outside of the house but another storm rolled in. So, I'm in here blogging instead. It's been a stormy July weekend. We had a vicious thunderstorm around 3 am yesterday morning. In fact, we lost power for 9 hours. Paul had to go to work and since we didn't have clocks due to the power outage I slept in. So we missed Sunday School. But that was ok. It was a weird Sunday anyway. We had about 4" of rain down in the basement hole. Thankfully, the new sump pump took care of all that!

I watched the weather last night and they said that we'd be having storms today in the afternoon. Well, we were awakened at 6 this morning by a thunderstorm! Guess their timing was a little off! But Paul still went to work, muttering something about some "inside" jobs he needed to do. But it all cleared off so I pulled out my paint clothes and headed outside. And now I'm back inside!

Iowa summertime weather! It was really, really hot on Saturday. Thankfully, Paul is on call this weekend. I am always so, so grateful when the weather is extreme during his call week. That means lots of overtime money! But, it also means he gets very little sleep. He worked all day long both Saturday and Sunday. So then I worry about him having seizures. He got home last night just before midnight and he had to run down to the basement and work for a little bit - turning off the pump and relighting the waterheater (which meant he had a cold shower). And then he was up again in 5 hours since he has to go in early on Mondays.

Well, like I said, yesterday was an unusual Sunday. I wore pants for one thing - :) Paul has this thing about women wearing skirts to church on Sunday (Weds. we both wear jeans; sometimes I even wear shorts). It annoys me but he once phrased it to me that he viewed it as a matter of "respect" so I do it for him. But when I'm widowed... We missed SS, which is odd. We didn't have power when I left the house (which made getting ready for church difficult - kind of hard to iron clothing and do my hair without electricity! I couldn't bake our normal Sun. morning muffins either, since I have an electric stove. Neither could I plug in the crockpot with Sunday's lunch!) so I didn't want to come home soon after church in case we were still without power.

So, I had a few errands I could run in Des Moines and I got ahold of Paul and he was able to take an hour off and we had a great lunch out at Fuddruckers. It had been 9 months to the day since we'd been there last. I love that place! So I ran my errands and we finally made it home. The power was back on, thankfully, by then.

Ben almost immediately fell asleep on the couch. All those boys were short on sleep because they had gotten to bed quite late on Sat. and then had been awakened by the storm a few hours later.

We did go to evening church and I was able to pester my pastor about some questions I have regarding my next FaithWriters story. Now he wants to read a copy of it when I get done to "check for heresy" - ha, ha!

So that was my day! Now I'm having a quiet Monday with no place to go. Uh oh. I just looked outside and I can see the rain washed off some the paint I just slapped on the shed. Rats. I hope the house looks a little better!

I've got a bunch to blog about so I'll be back, off and on today.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Make up Mishaps and Summertime News

I think most of my readers saw this picture on Facebook yesterday, but I just had to share it again. That's Sam after he got into my make-up bag. I had it out on the table because I was transferring some stuff out of my purse into the swimming bag. I took a phone call and that was all the time it took for Sam to transform himself into Bozo, the clown. I may be able to salvage some of the tube of lipstick; his clothes, I'm not so sure. That kid!

And then Sunday night we were watching Dukes of Hazzard as a family when I heard Paul make an exclamation of surprise and quickly put down the reclining part of his seat. At that moment, Sam screamed and I jumped up and realized that while we were watching tv, he had quietly unscrewed the lid to the nail polish remover (that I had left out - bad mom). He splashed into his face and he screamed because it got into his eyes. I immediately ran him into the bathroom and began pouring water into his eyes (which did not increase my popularity with him!) Then, Paul rushed in and did it some more. I took Sam back from Paul and he immediately vomited all over me. So he must have swallowed some, too. We gave him a bath and he was calmer after that. Paul read the back of the bottle and it said to give him lots of liquids, which is never a problem with Sam. I don't think it was a huge amount that he spilled because the bottle wasn't totally full and there was still some left after the mishap.

My sister-in-law jokingly asked if we'd considered security cameras yet, given Sam's last week. I'm thinking maybe a leash! I remember that Ben was similar. Of course, he was a little older when he got his mobility, but he was driving me to distraction around the time he was 4 and 5 - super curious and no fear. He also had no balance, which didn't help. Sam has the balance, but very little fear, an inflated sense of self-confidence, and the stubbornness of an old mule. And he was such a mild and easy-going baby! I guess you never can tell...

I'm fairly certain I had another TIA (mini stroke) while I slept Sunday night. I had an extremely hard time waking up the next morning, which was odd, because I had gotten a 3 hour nap the day before. I should have not been that tired. But all the symptoms were there the next day. I was shopping most of the day with David and Ben, and I didn't even feel halfway human until mid-afternoon. My brain was sluggish, I couldn't talk right, my left arm just ached and ached. It's weird, because all my mini strokes have occurred while I'm awake. But, my actual, real stroke happened while I slept. Two days later I'm feeling pretty good. So, I recovered fairly quickly, as I have for the last year whenever I've had one. I see my neurologist in 3 months and I do think I'll mention it to him. I doubt he can do anything for me (except refer me to a shrink, with a little sticky note attached to my chart attesting to my unstable mental state, no doubt), but I suppose I should mention it.

When these happen, I can't help but worry that another real stroke is coming. The docs in Iowa City didn't seem to think that was the case, although they admitted that I would always be at a higher risk since I'd had one. But yet I know so many stroke survivors who have had more than one stroke. So I know it's a possibility. Still, there isn't a thing I can do about it. I'm taking care of my body (could do a little better, I suppose). So I don't want to spend time worrying about it. If it happens, we'll deal with the fall-out, I guess. But in my more melancholy moments I sometimes think that maybe I'm living my best years now, that the rest of my life will be spent in a post major stroke fog of mental incoherency and physical handicaps. At the same time, though, I know that if the worse does happen, it will be only because God thinks that is best for my life. And I can live with that.

I took the boys to the pool yesterday afternoon, which was the first time this season. I like it to be hot enough to justify spending the $15 it takes to get in. And for that to happen when I don't have other stuff going on is a rarity. As it was, I had to move around Ben's allergy shots and cancelled his social skills class. But we had a nice time. Sam was so cute. He crouched over in the water, walking through the shallower end, and paddled in arms in a really good imitation of a swimmer. He said, "I swimming, Mom!" I don't know where he got that!

David was very offended yesterday when he was told he couldn't use his snorkle at the pool. He protested long and loudly to me and I tried to explain to him the probable reason behind the pool's policy on water toys. Exasperated, he looked at me and said, "Mom - you're either for me or against me on this!" I'm still laughing over that one!

Then, we came home and Paul grilled steaks for us. I cleaned out my freezer a few weeks ago and found a bagful of them in the bottom. I didn't even know we had them! I had set out a loaf of frozen white bread to thaw while we were gone and it was ready for the oven by the time we came home. And, best of all, we had our first batch of Iowa sweetcorn! This was Sam's first year to eat it off the cob, and he loved it! So, it was a pretty perfect afternoon and evening!

Will got a little sunburned at the pool, somehow (despite my insistence on sunscreen) so he had me spray his back with this blue, cooling, ointment, sunburn stuff last night. When I did so, I noticed that he has stretchmarks on his lower back! He must be doing some fast growing!

This morning Will came home from weightlifting full of news about football camp. This is something they didn't have last year. But for 3 days the first week of August, the football players will be camping out at the school, doing football stuff all day long. I guess they'll knock off in the evening sometime and have free time, with a curfew of 11 pm. Will said that a number of area schools do football camp, often actually travelling out of town for it. Pleasantville is just having the kids bring tents to the school.

Ok, so the mom in me worries about this a bit. For three solid days, Will will be surrounded by primarily unsaved boys. I worry about him working that hard in the heat. You always hear of some football player, somewhere, dying from heatstroke in August practices. I worry about this free time the boys will have in the evening hours. What will they do? I don't like the idea of Will riding around with a fellow teen aged driver. I worry about some kid swiping his mp3 player out of his tent.

But yet...he will go and I will force myself to not fret. I have always wanted to hang onto the boys loosely and not smother them with my fears. Obviously, I have to be wise, but Will is almost a man. His coaches are good Christian men and I'm pretty sure they will have control over the players and activities planned so it's not a Lord of the Flies type thing at night. Yes, Will could collapse on the field and even die. But, you also hear of teenagers dying in car accidents even more frequently than from football practice and yet, I continue to let him ride and even drive in vehicles. It will be fine. The boy loves football and I'm not going to stand in the way of that.

I did casually comment to Will this morning that he would have to really be aware of his testimony during these 3 days and instead of brushing me off, as he often does when I say something serious, he said, "I know, Mom. I already thought of that." That makes me feel better, that he's taking that seriously, anyway.

Ben had his weight check this morning with the nutritionist out at Methodist who has been working with us. In the seven months since he was last seen, he has put on 11 lbs! That is fantastic! He's also grown 3 inches. He's still at the 20th percentile for weight (50th for height) but honestly, he's always going to be on the thin side of things. And that's fine - better thin that not! But in his case, his lack of fat reserves was causing lack of energy. And that was our main concern. But he's coming along. Our nutritionist asked me today how tall Paul is and when I told her she nodded, and commented that Ben is going to keep growing, height-wise, at a considerable rate for the next few years - which is not exactly news to me! But as his height increases, so will the weight goals. Right now he is up to 96 pounds and she wants to see him at 104 pounds by our next visit in January. She wants me to start feeding him ice cream before bed and suggested some of the V8 fusion drinks as an alternative to no-calorie water. We had to go to Hy Vee anyway today, so we loaded up on ice-cream sandwiches and drumsticks, much to Ben's delight! The nutritionist was also excited to hear of Ben's weight training at school. So, between the extra calories and the school's help with the weights, we're hopeful Ben is going to get further and be able to do more.

We have a heat index of 110 today and Paul called and said he just got down off a roof. Poor guy! But he said it "wasn't that bad." I would have just died in that kind of heat. As it is, our poor air conditioner is having a hard time keeping up today. But I'm so thankful we have it! I just can't wait until these kids are grown so I can walk naked around my house on days like this. I'd probably try that once and get caught by the mailman or a kid coming home unexpectedly (wouldn't that scar their retinas - hah!)!

Well, with that disturbing mental image, I shall sign off. Too much work to do and too little time to do it in...

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Lucky Little Leo and Living Out Loud

In my last blog post I mentioned that that evening I planned to go out with my friend, Traci. I got halfway there when Paul called and said, "Uh - you might want to come home!" That's never good! That's the reason there on the left! The first part of this blog title refers to Sam's middle name - the last time we were home our former pastor, for whom Sam's middle name is given, referred to him as "Little Leo" which I think is cute and makes my alliterative-loving mind smile!

Sam had been balancing (we think) on a concrete block that was holding down one of the tarps over the basement hole. He lost his balance and broke right through the tarp, landing on the dirt on the outside of the wall that's up. So, thankfully it was just a 6 foot drop, rather than the 9 foot drop had he fallen on the other side of the wall. Paul was right down there working when Sam came crashing through.

We took him to the ER in Knoxville, which left me less-than-impressed. He appeared to be ok. In fact, when I got home, Sam was laying on the couch and informed me, "I got hurt!" But he had one spot on this scrape on his head (he must have just grazed the concrete blocks before landing in the dirt) where the skin was gaping a bit. I knew it needed a stitch or least glue. Plus, falling that far, I wanted Sam to be checked out.

I assumed that the hospital would run a full battery of neurological tests, like a ct scan or an MRI or something. They didn't. They just looked at his pupils, had him walk for them, and asked us if we thought he was acting "normal." Finally, we asked about the spot on his head and the nurse said, "Well, I'll give you some neosporin for that." What?! But we thought maybe we had overreacted and didn't see what we thought. So we got home, showered Sam and cleaned up the wound (which the hospital didn't do, either - grrr) and sure enough, he had about an 1/8" spot where the skin was totally gaping open. So we glued it ourselves and stuck a butterfly bandage on.

My heart still sinks to think what could have been. Paul said all he could think about was Sam falling through, but instead of hitting the dirt, bashing his skull on the cement blocks! To say we are thankful is an understatement! That is the second accident we've had now on this project. It had better be the last!

So one of our tarps now has a Sam-shaped hole in it! But last night I was scrapbooking at my friend, Megan's house. Her husband is in the National Guard and has a bunch of discarded Army tarps so he gave me a big one to replace our torn one. I can't believe they throw those things away - they're so sturdy!

I had something unique...interesting...humbling...happen to me Wednesday afternoon. My neighbor, Jenn, is a single mother of 3. Her little boy is over here all the time, playing with my boys - probably thankful for the male company since he only has sisters and mom and grandma at home. I took all 3 kids to VBS last month. I don't know Jenn all that well, but I'm slowly getting to know her. We both work for the city and attend council meetings together so we'll talk about that from time to time.

Well, Jenn has had a rotten summer. They've just had a lot of bad things happen, all on top of each other. This week, her children's half-brother, Jenn's former step-son, was killed in a car accident. It's a real tragedy. He'd just graduated from high school and was all set to enter the Navy. So, Wed. afternoon Jenn stopped by and said, "I have something kind of weird to ask you." Well, with an intro like that, I'm all ears! She went on to talk about all these things that have been happening and asked me to pray for her. I assured her that I would. And then we went on to talk about other things.

As I was standing there, I really felt the Holy Spirit telling me to lead Jenn in prayer right then. But I hate praying out loud! It's just a phobia of mine. I worry about how I sound and I'm aware of awkward pauses - it's just not something I enjoy. I have great, silent conversations with God, but not out-loud ones. As I felt that urging and attempted to beat it down, I suddenly realized that all the kids had run outside. And Sam, whom I'd been trying to get to sleep for the past 4 hours had fallen asleep on his own (clutching a screwdriver - is he a boy or what?!). So, I led Jenn over to the couch and just prayed out loud for her. She was tearful and hugged and thanked me.

I don't know why she asked me to do that. Maybe it's because she knows I go to church. I certainly haven't been around the neighborhood proselytizing. But at any rate, it felt really good to be used of the Lord. Three days later, I'm still kind of in awe over the whole thing!

You know, we have really looked into moving from Swan a number of times. And it's just never been right for one reason or another. Maybe this is why - I don't know!

Yesterday, I made the boring trek up to Clear Lake to pick up the working camp kids. The parents all take turns taking or retrieving the teens throughout the summer. My friend Melissa watched David and Sam for me so I'd have enough room for all the kids and their luggage. It was an uneventful trip, but took most of the day. This was the first time Will worked a family camp and he came home (as I knew he would) urging me that we need to go to Family Camp one of these summers! I suppose we should put that on the docket before Will gets out of high school.

FaithWriters starts again this next week. They've given us such an easy topic this time ("hear") which almost makes me more nervous than if it were something more off the wall, like the last quarters' topics. Plus, I'll be competing at the 3rd level for the first time. But I do have a story in my head. Now I just have to find the time to squeeze it out. This is going to be a very busy week for me.

Well, I need to tackle some of my Saturday chores, like cooking tomorrow's lunch and getting our Sunday clothes ready. Paul, Will, and Ben have been gone for about 6 hrs, running a number of errands. He said they didn't buy the car at the auction, so I don't know if that means it wasn't worth it or if they were outbid. I'll try to pop in later next week...

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

My Kids

...are driving me nuts! Is it wrong to admit to just how much I am looking forward to the start of school? Honestly, most of the time they are ok, but then chaos erupts. Sam starts whining and insisting on crawling into my lap while I'm in the midst of doing something important, like putting on my make-up or finding the receipt to my food processor which has broken once again (that was this morning). And then as he is whining Ben and David re-enact their version of a World War and I have to go declare a stalemate and/or mop up blood.

I think, along with having them separated, I am looking forward to the schedule of things. I'm such a schedule nut the older I get! This is the first summer that I haven't homeschooled and I've been a little bit at loose ends. It's not that I don't have things to do, because I do. But I miss the daily schedule, the back and forth routine of housework and schoolwork.

So I started a new routine this morning. With the exception of one added thing, it's literally my same morning schedule. But I actually wrote it out and posted it on the fridge. I get up and my head swirls, because I never know where to start first. Now I have an order, and for some reason that helps me.

The thing I added to my morning routine (which will be dropped on the days I have places I have to get to in the mornings) is working out. Well, "working out" is a relative term, I suppose. But my legs felt somewhat jelly-like this morning, so I guess that would mean I "worked out!" I bought a couple of exercise (ok, dance) dvds last night. I spent today's allotted exercise time to learning the steps on the one - which was not that easy. Of course, it would have been easier if my husband and 11 year old hadn't been laughing at me and trying to snap pictures of me and my discomfiture. Grrr... I did the walking last summer and that was ok. But once it got cold, I couldn't really do that anymore. And besides, it was really, really hard to get up that early in the morning! I started taking a drug this winter for my headaches and one of its side-effects is grogginess, which makes the likelihood of me getting up super early even less likely to happen. I know I need to do something, exercise-wise, for my energy, as well as for my flabby areas that are appearing with more and more regularity. I eyed some Jillian Michaels dvds last night, but I passed her over. That lady is mean! I don't want to be yelled at first thing in the morning when I'm being virtuous by exercising at all. Besides, it's hard enough to exercise while my family is rolling around on the floor, holding their stomachs, and laughing hysterically.

Oh, speaking of dancing...the other night we were watching "America's Got Talent" which is my favorite summertime tv watching. Well, a pair of belly dancers came on stage to showcase their talent and hopefully get pushed to the next level of competition. So I was watching them swivel their hips and undulate their flat tummies when David spoke up, "Uh, Mom? We really shouldn't be watching this - those ladies don't have enough clothes on!" He's always been really sensitive to stuff like that. So I turned it, which made Ben mad, because he likes AGT too. But David is right. Just because something is a skill doesn't mean we ought to watch it!

The other day Ben was in trouble again. Catching him do things causes me more problems because he perverserates. He will tell me numerous times - literally like 50-100 times in one day - how he'll never, ever, ever do ______ again. It's just constant and so, so annoying. I finally told Ben, "I'm tired of listening to this." Ben replied, "Well, I'm tired of getting caught!" Hah! Isn't that the truth?!

The other day I opened up the fridge and Sam pointed at some egg cartons and exclaimed, "Eggs!" Then he added, "Chickens!" He just put that together last weekend when we were Council Bluffs. After years of not having chickens Paul's parents have a flock again. When I first met Paul they had them and that was honestly the first time I'd ever known anyone that had chickens. I'm such a city girl! I remember being appalled at their stench! Twenty years later they don't smell any better! Sam went with Grandpa to feed the chickens and collect the eggs and he thought that was so great. While we were there, a number of baby chicks hatched in the incubator and the boys got to watch the progress , from seeing the first crack in the egg, to having a wet, newborn chick within a few hours. So, anyway, that's why he was making the connection in my fridge.

Sunday we had communion and right in the middle of the solemn ceremony, Sam starts singing the "Cheeseburger" song (Veggie Tales)! I couldn't clamp my hand over his mouth fast enough! Oh, that kid!

We did go on a date last Friday night. I figured we were just going to our regular place, but Paul got home and said, "You want to go to a movie?" So first we went to this out of the way Italian place. Paul had worked on their air at once time, which was how he knew about it. The food was fine, the prices were good. The service was a little lacking, but we made it. I was enjoying my soup until I overheard the waitress comment to the next table that tonight's soup was bean soup, which was all they had. I about threw up! I was eating BEAN soup? Oh, gag me! Other than that, the meal was good!

We saw "Knight and Day" with Cameron Diaz and Tom Cruise. It was really, really good - so funny and lots of action! It was PG-13 and I would love for the boys to see it, but they can't. And you know why? They used the "F" word one time in the movie. That really bothers me. You never used to hear that word outside of "R" rated movies. But it's filtering down into the lower rated movies. It's a sign of our culture (or the culture is taking its cues from the movie industry - whichever way that goes). You hear the "A" word now all over the tv and even our president thinks it's ok to use it in a tv interview. No class! But aside from that, it was a great movie and we laughed so hard! There was no sex in the movie - nothing inappropriate at all.

We were shocked, though, when we got out and realized it was after 11! Well, duh - the movie's show time was 8:45 and after they got through all the ads and previews, I'm sure it was after 9 before it started. We decided last Feb. when we saw a later showing of "The Book of Eli" that we are too old for those late night movies!

Well, that's all I know. I need to start supper soon because I'll be gone a good portion of the afternoon, taking Ben to his class and then running a few errands. Later tonight, I am meeting my friend Traci at Culvers, which is where Malissa and I went last night. Suppose they'll remember me? She and I haven't seen each other since Nov, so we are way over-due for some girl time. Traci has a son on the autism spectrum and attends one of our sister churches in Des Moines. My pastor and her pastor connected us. Malissa has several children on the spectrum as well. There are so many of us autism mothers anymore - sad.

The sun is struggling to come out. Maybe the weathermen will be wrong and today won't be gloomy after all. One can hope! Although, I'd rather have gray skies than what the Eastern half of the U.S. is dealing with right now - 100+ temps. Well, my brother and his family have that all the time in AZ, too. There are worse things than continual rain!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Celebrating our Freedom

It's a rainy, gloomy day out, just like our Fourth of July yesterday!

Fortunately, Pleasantville had already arranged to do their fireworks on Saturday, the 3rd, because of the 4th being on a Sunday. I think that's neat that they honor it that way. I commented to someone recently that Pville lets all their students out early on Wednesdays for what they call "family time" but I was told by the school that was because so many kids go to church on Wed. nights. This person said back to me, "Well, Pleasantville's a pretty religious community, isn't it?" I didn't know what to say to that. It's not any different from anywhere else that I'm aware of, but maybe it does fall more into that category.

It did start to sprinkle on the way down there but it was just a passing cloud. Sat. had been such a hot, sticky day, but by the time nightfall arrived it was downright cool! This was our 2nd year in a row going to the fireworks without Will (he left Sat. morning to go up to camp to work for the next week). I suppose I should be getting used to it, but it's more fun when we do things as a whole family! Anyway, the fireworks were just fantastic! They always are, but this year they were better than they ever have been before. We lived in the Omaha area for 12 years and they cannot even begin to compare to little Pleasantville's display!

As I watched them I kept thinking about "The Star Spangled Banner" and specifically, the line that says, "...the rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air..." and from there my mind went to the story behind the song - the shelling of Ft. Henry and how it was the patriots dead bodies that held up our flag. The next morning as I awoke, WHO was airing a recording of the telling of that story again. That was neat and kind of set the tone for the 4th.

Oh, that's Sam up there, waiting for the fireworks to begin. He did really well this year. He snuggled in Paul's lap for the whole show. In the beginning, he said, "Sam scared!" but that didn't last long. He was oohing and ahhing with the rest of the crowd. For some reason, they had had quite a few fireballs on the ground this year and I think he liked those best of all! Sam called the fireworks, "firetractors" - so cute!

And then yesterday was church. I subbed in the 2-4 yr old SS class. I should have had help. Those kids were wound up and really couldn't care less about learning how God made the fish and birds! We had a potluck dinner, which always stresses me out. I hate those things! And then we had a quick evening service right afterwards and got to go home. I felt yesterday like I was in a bit of a mental fog. People would talk to me and I just had very little to say back. Anymore, I just feel tongue-tied actually talking to people. It seems to be that the more I write, the less companionable I am in real life! Is that normal?

We came home. Paul slept and I cleaned house. Then we watched a couple hours of tv together. I did some more work and then Paul asked where my FaithWriters entries were on the computer. I about fell over dead! He's never taken much of an interest in my writing before. I think it's more of a time thing than anything else. When he's not at work, he's working at home. With this basement project, he literally gets home, changes his clothes, and heads downstairs until bedtime. Plus, he's a very slow reader. It took him over an hour to get through 5 of my pieces. I can zip through them in moments, but I've always been a bit of a speed reader. At any rate, I was touched at his interest.

Oh, it looks like it's raining out again. What a nasty holiday! Plus, I'm still dragging, physically, so the fatigue from that, coupled with the grayness outside, makes me just want to crawl right back into bed! Gotta keep moving, though.

Tonight I'm scheduled to go to Culvers with a friend of mine. Pray for my friend Malissa. She has lost multiple babies over the past couple of years. She conceives easily, but her body won't let her keep them. Last week she lost twins, a little boy and girl, and she's hurting. I hope I have the right words to minister to her heart tonight.

Friday, July 2, 2010

The Missing Moon and Fourth Plans

It's a beautiful, sunny, 80ish day out today. Tomorrow we're supposed to have the heat and humidity normally associated with the 4th of July holiday, but today is good. I'm painting today - this time the back of the neighbor's steel building that is on the edge of our property. Have I mentioned how much I dislike painting? Nothing's changed there! But it will be nice to have that building all one color rather than the varying shades of white and gray that it is.

Next on my paint projects is the side of the house that faces the deck - should not take long. I had not intended to paint that but then I had to do some touch-up work when I painted the window edging black (I dripped). Well, the gray I'm now using is a couple of shades darker than what I originally painted that side of the house with - so it all has to be re-done now. Then, I'll be moving on to the kitchen. I had intended to paint it khaki, but I suddenly decided a couple of weeks ago that I like the yellow we have out here in the back room so much that I'm going to use it in the kitchen, too. Besides, this back room will not always be yellow. The plan is to take out the wall that divides it from the living room and make one big "C" shaped room. At that time I'll have to repaint so that the big room is all the same color scheme. I don't think I'm going to get out of painting any time soon!

We may be adding another vehicle to our fleet. Yesterday Will was thumbing through a local sale paper that comes weekly and calling out possible vehicles for himself to me - asking what I thought about different makes and models, mileage, etc. The kid has saved up a chunk of money over the years and is anxious to get his own vehicle because of a certain birthday arriving in 4 months! I guess I wasn't all that worried about it, figuring we'd figure out something for him to drive. But then this morning Paul was telling me there are two auctions next weekend nearby and both have vehicles for sale, either of which he thinks would be a good possibility for Will. Will doesn't have enough saved up to buy one all himself, but we don't mind helping him out, especially since we'd probably be using it, too.

So - yeah! We'll see what happens, I guess. I can't help but remember the 2 year old Will I once knew, the little, quiet guy who would studiously line up all his matchbox cars on the floor of our little apartment. Where did he go?

Sam's been a little more easy the past couple of days. He has discovered our sprayer in the kitchen sink and has been amusing himself with that quite a bit. I've been cleaning up a lot of sprayed water. I guess I could put a halt to that, but it keeps him busy and he enjoys it. He's getting picky about his clothes (shades of David). Today I wanted to put overalls on him, but he wouldn't wear that - insisted on a shirt and shorts. But he did cuddle with me on the couch last night as I watched the reality medical show, "Boston MD."

Sam's big thing is the moon. He is always quick to point it out when he sees it in the sky and more than once, he has dragged me outside, just to look at the moon with him. The other night we got home from church and Sam couldn't see the moon because - well, I don't know why. I guess it was hiding behind trees or something. So he dashes into the mudroom, grabs a flashlight, and announces his intent to go "find the moon." So cute! Paul took him for a walk and then eventually did find the moon and Sam was happy.

Paul and Will got quite a few blocks laid last night. The walls are taller than Will is now. It gives me hope that we may have this done before winter! Will leaves tomorrow for a week of working at camp, so Paul will be on his own, work-wise, this week. He goes on back-up the 9th and on first call a week later, so I'm not sure how much work he'll actually be getting done on the house, anyway. But he's been putting David to work, which is good.

I have just physically been dragging this week. I had a head cold a week ago which went away pretty fast, so I don't know if it's leftover from that or something else. It has just been such work this week to keep putting one foot in front of the other! And I'm SO tired and achy. I probably need to increase my Vit D intake.

Tonight is date night - I'm looking forward to that. I'm mostly looking forward to not having to cook, though! I suppose that means I'll have to scrub all this paint off my skin, though.

Tomorrow is Pleasantville's parade and fireworks since the 4th is on a Sunday this year. I think we're planning on making those. Then Sunday we have a potluck at church, an early afternoon service, and then we're on our own. Except, it's supposed to rain, so I'm not sure what, if anything, Paul will be able to get done on the house. We'll see.

Better eat lunch and then it's back to painting. Oh, and Sam just came in with wet pants - gotta do that first.

Happy 4th of July, Americans!