Thursday, December 29, 2011

City Matters, Travel, Christmas, and Cold

It's been a week since I last wrote, which is not unusual. Christmas happened during that time, so it really seems like it has been longer than just one week.

I've been spending a lot of time up at City Hall this week. I officially become city clerk on Sunday. Today Jen (the current clerk) and I went through all the files and I refiled absolutely everything, so I would know where it is. Next week, she and I will go to town and get my name on the checkbook and debit card. I have a whole list of office supplies I want to buy and I even need to order a return address stamp that says, "Sarah Heywood, Swan City Clerk" - so official! I just hope I'm up for this. I actually had an honest-to-goodness nightmare one night this week about the job. I woke up gasping, "It's not real!" I just hate that! The mayor seems excited that I am taking this over. I hope he's not disappointed.

We still haven't gotten our official word yet on whether or not we will be licensed as foster/adoptive parents. I assume that we will be, but it would be nice to have the actual notice. Of course, once we get that, I assume the phone calls for placements will start! That will definitely take some wisdom and discernment. We still need to put the bed together.

We are leaving for Council Bluffs tomorrow. We were kind of up in the air about it all week long. Paul's folks also volunteered to come out here. That would have been fine, except I always worry that they'll want to stay through Sunday and that is something I am just not going to put up with. Paul's dad chooses not to behave himself in public situations and I'm not going to be embarrassed by him any longer at church. But if it came right down to it, there would probably be nothing I could do to keep him from going to our church, short of locking him in a room somewhere. But I have managed to keep him away for 4 years, so I'm crossing my fingers that my luck will hold out until either he dies or I do. And if they came here, then I'd have to cook. Again, that's not such a big deal. I get a little tired of George's comments about my cooking. The last time he was here and opened his mouth, I finally told him, "You know, you don't have to eat it." And then he blustered, "Well, now, I wasn't saying that!" And I went on to tell him that in MY house, nobody criticizes the food and expects to eat. He was quiet after that. Do I sound bitter? Hah! I'm just not really sure what to do with Paul's parents when they come. I really don't want to go anywhere with them because of George's poor behavior, and it gets a little old sitting around the house just looking at eachother... But anyway, we are going out there tomorrow afternoon and will come back on Sunday afternoon. Paul's birthday is next week, so that way they can have a party while we're there. I will probably just curl up in a corner somewhere with a laptop or a book.

Christmas was good. Paul was on call, but it was so warm, he didn't have to fix anybody's furnace. My parents came down and put the ham in the oven while we were at church. It was just a very nice, relaxing day. To my surprise, Paul got me a beautiful pearl necklace for a gift. This is only the second time in our marriage that he has voluntarily bought me jewelry (my wedding rings were involuntary gifts!). I about fell over when I saw the price tag, but he assured me that the necklace had been on sale for a lot less! It's a pretty, two strand twisted affair. The next day I had to go out and buy matching earrings, of course! He also got me a stovetop popcorn popper that I had requested and some antique Anderson Erickson milk bottles. I was so touched by Will. He had a Hobby Lobby gift card that he had not used yet and he used it to buy me a stone cross with a verse on it. I think this is the first time he has ever chosen and bought himself a gift for me. It's kind of nice when they grow up!

I've seen quite a bit of Paul this week, unfortunately. It has been so unseasonably warm this week. We haven't even had a substantial snow yet this season. Christmas was totally brown and I wore my trench coat to church that morning! New Years Eve is supposed to be 57 degrees out! It's insane! But anyway, lack of cold means lack of furnace work for Paul, so I've been seeing him around home quite a bit more. That is definitely going to make bill paying and grocery buying more difficult! I am just praying for a bitterly cold snap and lots and lots of broken down furnaces!

Will told me this week that he would like for me to buy him a dressy vest for church use. I was surprised. He's definitely becoming more fashion conscious all the time!

Something funny and it's not even one of my kids: Last week we had a Christmas party for the Patch kids and a college student who helps out was doing a Bible question game with the kids. He asked, "Which woman did Jesus talk to at the well?" One boy piped up, "The Proverbs 31 woman!" Ha, ha! Not quite!

Earlier this week Paul was talking with one of his co-workers about a particular job. Well, then, the co-worker, Mike, started asking Paul about homeschooling. Apparently, he and his wife pulled their daughter out of school this year and started homeschooling. He had mentioned at to one of their bosses and Gary, the boss, had suggested to Mike that he talk to Paul sometime because he knew that we homeschool, too. So, during that conversation, Paul volunteered me to contact the wife to see if she needed any assistance. So, since then, this co-worker's wife and I have been emailing back and forth and talking on Facebook. It's been so nice! Whoever thought that the day would come when I would be considered a "veteran" homeschooler and worthy to give out advice? I guess this is our 9th year of doing it, though.

Speaking of homeschooling, some new materials I ordered arrived just the day before Christmas. We ordered an entire dvd set from Answers in Genesis about the workings of the human body. They look fascinating. It's for Will for right now but I know I am going to be seriously tempted to sit down and watch them myself! And Sam's new Hooked on Phonics set arrived, too. He was so excited! Today I have been going through our kid bookshelf, pulling out books to read to him. I need to be doing that on a regular and consistent basis. He appears to be quite bright and ready to learn, so there's no reason not to be doing things with him now.

My Jewels post was up earlier this week: http://www.jewelsofencouragement.com/2011/12/who-not-why.html I didn't do funny this time. I tried to, but I couldn't get the words together. I was writing this the day of Joy's funeral and I guess that was just too much on my mind, so I ended up writing about that instead.

Tonight Julie and I are headed to Des Moines for some vampire love! We're going to see "Breaking Dawn" - finally! I think that thing is almost out of all the theaters. I checked yesterday and there's only one left in Des Moines that is showing it. Then, next Monday, my friend Heather and I are going out in the afternoon. She's a friend from church who is currently in grad school, getting her masters in music. But she's home on break and needs to buy some "naughties" for a lingerie shower she's attending. She thought I would be a good help with that! Me - a middle-aged, saggy, housewife! But it will be fun. I need to fit some more work in up at City Hall, I need to go visit my neighbor, Charlotte. Wednesday Ben goes back to school and Will has his first day of class at the school. It's Paul's birthday and that night Patch Club resumes. I promised our mayor that I would thoroughly clean City Hall before next Thursday's meeting (it's not technically in my job description, but I am not going to work in a dirty building). I think next week will be gone before it even gets here!

Gotta run...Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Slow-Down, Hands, Darts, and Gifts

It's Thursday night and I am feeling very unmotivated. Something happens when I actually accomplish my "To-Do" list for the day, such as I did today, and I usually don't feel a whole lot like moving on to the next day's to-do list! Maybe it's because I'm not supposed to be home tonight. Melissa and I were supposed to be going out, but she got sick and hasn't moved off her couch all day, she says. So, that's postponed for a couple of weeks. Bummer!

Things are really slowing down at Paul's work. They've finally gotten through all their routine maintenance checks and since the weather has been so warm they don't have anything to do, like what usually happens in Feb. and March. Fortunately, Paul has been on call this week and he's been able to pick up some after hours calls. He got home this morning around 11, but just now left for an overtime call (it's almost 7pm). I keep thinking it has to get really cold one of these days and then they'll have work to do. I hope so, anyway!

We had the Lozier party last Friday night. I enjoy those things, but at the same time, I dislike them. I just feel kind of awkward. People probably think I'm stuck up because I don't say anything but, even after almost 5 years, I really don't know hardly anybody there. The older I get, the less outgoing I am becoming, too, so that doesn't help, either! We didn't win the big prizes. I keep telling myself it has to happen one of these years, but so far winning is eluding us. But then, as I reminded myself at the party, it's just stuff, you know?! We don't NEED a big screen tv or another computer or an ipad or any of the "good" prizes. We have all we need. But nobody walks away empty handed from these parties. We won a small drill that will be good for household use, a set of 6 nice glass mugs, and 2 $25 gift cards to restaurants we have never heard of. I guess we don't get out much!

The choir cantata was last Sunday night. Will was so funny, I thought. He is not one to care overly much about clothing. I would say he cares more than his dad cares, but not by a wide margin. He's nothing like David, that's for sure! But last Saturday he told me that he had his outfit all planned for the cantata - his black suit with a black shirt, and a bright red tie. It amused me that he put that much thought and effort into his appearance. He looked quite Christmasy! In fact, during the program, Sam whispered to me, "I see Will, and he is wearing a shiny red tie!"

Last Saturday Ben had Kids Club (respite care) up at ChildServe. They took the kids to the zoo where they got to see Santa. I'm not a big fan of Santa, of course, but I figured at 15, this probably wouldn't warp Ben too much. They took pictures of all the kids with Santa and told me that Ben had the best smile of them all. He does have a nice smile, I think! When I dropped Ben off, I was so surprised when he bent down and kissed my cheek! How utterly sweet!

I remember Sunday I was helping Ben get dressed and found myself mentally sighing as I unzipped his pants in order to get his shirt tucked in around his hips where it would hopefully stay (yeah, fat chance!). And then I had to string his belt through the loops. And then I had to adjust his tie so that it was underneath his collar, instead of on top as he had placed it. As it so often does, the thought ran through my mind, "Will he ever be capable of doing these self-care things for himself?" But immediately I had a new thought pop into my head. It was this: God gave ME hands that work because He knew Ben's would not. That's a different way to look at it.

We did get a welcome call this week from Lutheran Services. Ben lost his case worker a couple of week's ago. She got fired. I swear, I had nothing to do with it! :) We've nearly gotten other workers fired in the past, but this one had nothing to do with us. Actually, I don't know why she lost her job, other than being told it had nothing to do with us. But anyway, that was a matter of concern because I had been really pleased with the things our case worker was teaching Ben (independent living skills). We waited so long to get our own worker due to some bureaucratic/clerical error and then we had to wait longer while they searched for someone willing to drive to Swan. And then we only had her for 3 months! But we were told a new worker had been hired. She came over yesterday and I was pleased. She actually lives in Pleasantville and has a son in the school.

We had a nice visit and I definitely felt like we "clicked." However, I think she came bearing fiery darts because I about had to pick myself up off the floor after she left. In our conversation, the new worker mentioned that she had a son with mental health needs and, thus, was familiar with Pville's special ed system - a system that I, so far, have been very pleased with. Then, she mentioned that her son was adopted out of Iowa foster care at age 4. Whoa! That caught my attention!

It turns out that this worker used to head up the state's foster care parental support program and had the second-in-command position for the national association. When I told her what we were getting into she was not delighted. In fact, she told me to be "very, very careful." She went on to tell me horror story after horror story of things she had endured. She told me that I was risking "ruining your family." Of course, the effect on my kids has been my biggest concern when deciding whether or not to pursue this. Sam is just a little guy and more vulnerable and, of course, we are risking things to a certain extent with Ben and his autism.

I felt utterly deflated and full of self-doubt after she left. But I slowly began to pick myself up. I could tell that this worker definitely does not know the Lord. She's a nice lady, but that part is obviously missing. I also know that God has directed our footsteps all along. A year ago at this time I would not have considered adopting through foster care. The fact that I have changed my mind so completely has to be of the Lord. There's the fact, too, that both Paul and I are in such agreement on this. That's not to say that we couldn't both be agreeing on something wrong, but I don't believe that to be the case.

A friend of mine is pursuing an international adoption right now - actually, a special-needs adoption. Her husband posted on their adoption blog last night and I read it and was encouraged. I wrote to her and told her about what had happened that afternoon. Today, she sent me a verse -
Ephesians 6:16
Above all taking the shield of faith wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked

Has God called us to this? Yes. Has God's calling changed because somebody scared me? No. Then what am I to do? I take faith in knowing what God has asked, knowing that He will provide, He will protect, and He will sustain. That's not to say that my flesh won't fail and that my knees won't get wobbly, because they will. That's not to say that there won't be rough waters and times that I am clinging onto the smallest scrap of trust I can hold in my weakened hand. I have no doubt that there will be. I suspect that what we are venturing into is going to be one of the hardest undertakings of our married life, ever. And we thought having and raising Ben had been rough! I have a feeling that may seem like a cakewalk, in comparison, by the time we are finished.

But we won't ever be alone.

Well, I suppose I could launch into a sermon right about now, but I'll refrain. I have clothes to iron and a house to clean. This will be my last post before Christmas, which is this Sunday. Other than some cooking and cleaning, I'm ready. My parents are driving down Christmas morning.

I did get my first Christmas gift today. Well, that's not quite true. Last night one of my Patch kids gave me a loaf of her mother's strawberry bread (yum!) and homemade salsa. But I got my first gift in the mail. My brother's long-time girlfriend has achieved some notoriety in the sewing world (a world that I did not know actually existed). She designed a pattern for a hat and it is featured in a book called "One Yard Wonders" by Rebecca Yaker and Patricia Hoskins, published by Storey Publishing and available at Barnes and Noble. Ava sent me a copy of the book today. It's neat. I'm definitely not a seamstress (my sewing endeavors being limited to sewing curtains and hemming church pants for little and big boys), but I will enjoy looking through the book. I am so pleased she thought to share it with me.

Have a merry Christmas, everyone!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

School, Signs, Mom Smarts, and Something Fun

Ok, this is weird - I wrote this last Wed. and thought I published it. Evidently not! So this is what you should have seen 6 days ago...

I want to finish up my blogging and then I have to make supper, run Ben to his allergy shots, and get to church for Patch club. Tomorrow I HAVE to finish up my Christmas baking. I've been working on it since August (really!) but it is past time for me to be finished.

I took Will into the school yesterday to change his CPI form so that he can take his class next semester. Then we walked down to the high school office and asked the secretary to show us where the class will be held. The secretary said, "Oh, you're the Heywoods, right? Ben's mom?" Then she went on to tell Will that her son played football with him. But how does the high school secretary know Ben? And then she walked us down to the classroom. The teacher was in there and as soon as we poked our heads in she said, "Oh, you must be Will!" It had been more than a month since I had emailed this teacher and she had no idea we were going to stop by. But she remembered his name. And then she said, "You must be Ben's mom!" How does everybody know Ben? We had a nice chat with her. Right now there are only two students registered for the class, but that might change. She said she usually has about a half a dozen students enrolled in it. I had no idea the class would be so small - that's great. Then, Will remembered to ask about a laptop, so we went and chatted with the lady that takes care of that. Will will be issued a laptop to use for the class. He's pretty pleased about that! His teacher asked him where he's thinking of going to college and when Will told her he was looking at Faith she nodded and said, "Oh - the Bible college!" Usually people don't know what we're talking about when we mention that. But, anyway, I'm very pleased. I think this class is going to be good for Will.

Ben had his Christmas program at the school the other night. I was the only one who went. Am I bad because I read a magazine during all the sections of the program in which Ben was not performing? Going to the program got me out of butchering. I had to do some when I got home, but I got to miss the majority of it, thankfully. I don't know know why they persist in having these music programs in the old gymnasium. There just is not room in there for everyone that attends. They have a larger gym in the newer part of the building - use that! I did actually enjoy the program, though. They do such a good job of presenting both sides of Christmas, the secular and the sacred. I know from experience (remembering Ben's "Winter Program" his kindergarten year) that not all public schools do that. Ben did the best he has ever done - he kept his hands at his side, paid attention, didn't sway - I was so pleased! I found out later that his aide bribed him with extra computer time if he remembered to do all those things! Ben reminded me again on the way home that he intends to be in the spring musical. Guess there's no getting out of that one!

Paul got a 50 cent raise last week - yay! It's not as much as the dollar raise he got a year ago, but we'll take it. It's been warm enough this week, though, that he has been coming home from work early. We have yet to have a really cold snap and they are running out of furnace checks to do. I sure hope things aren't super slow for the next six months as they can be some years.

Last week we had a rather interesting city council meeting. After the meeting, before we broke up one member (who tends to be a bit contentious) informed me that my signs are "offensive." I'll back up here. A year ago the city bought a new sign. We use that to inform the residents of upcoming events. When there's nothing to post, I post some short pithy quote. I have had so many people tell me how much they appreciate the things I put up, that they make them "think" as they are leaving town. I'm always careful in what I put up. I never, ever put up anything remotely religious. They're just basic quotes (I get most of them from "Our Iowa" magazine) about life and the different seasons and so on. So I was rather taken aback when she informed me that she found my quotes offensive! She asked if we could just have "Merry Christmas" on the next sign I put up. So do you know what I did? I put up a very short quote on Christmas and then below it wrote, "Merry Christmas." Then I hid the keys to the sign! Ok, I probably didn't win any points with this particular council member, but I was offended that she was offended when there is absolutely nothing offensive in the first place. Sheesh... And then this same council member climbed all over us for not voting for her in the past election. I refused to rise to the bait and even admit whether or not I voted for her because it is none of her business. Our mayor was tripping all over himself trying to explain to her his reasons for not voting for her, but I wasn't about to do that. I just sat there with my mouth shut. Last I knew, voting was a private affair! This next council might be a little interesting...

I had a little stroke of ingenuity last week. I had bought David a new pair of gloves this fall for the upcoming winter season. I guess I should explain that mittens and gloves drive me absolutely batty. They are forever getting lost and I spend half my time looking for them. I can't stand it when the boys wear non-matching gloves and it drives me nuts when they go out in the snow in non-insulated hand wear and come in with red and chapped hands. I solved that problem with Ben and David by sewing a string to their mitten and running it through their coat sleeves. I know it probably looks a little dorky for Ben since he is 15, but he has yet to lose his $27 pair of specially made mittens (made by a grandma in Alaska - specially designed for those with motor problems - they don't have thumbs). I'm giving him a new stocking hat for Christmas and I know it's just a matter of time before he loses that. I wish there was a way to attach that to his coat. This is a child who would lose his head if it wasn't screwed onto his neck, as my junior high English teacher used to say to me. So anyway, David lost a glove. I looked for it, couldn't find it. He swore up and down he had searched this entire house and it was just nowhere. So, I told him I would buy him a new pair when I went shopping this week. His face lit up and he seemed relieved. And then I added that when I did that I would be sewing the new gloves to a string that we would run through his coat. His face fell. I told him that if he managed to find his missing glove before I went to the store, though, he could continue to keep his gloves in pockets. And wouldn't you know it - that boy somehow managed to find the missing glove! Heh, heh, heh - Smart Mom strikes again!

Oh, I found something really, really cool yesterday. I was at the Bass Pro store in Altoona, getting some new coveralls for Paul's birthday (shh - don't tell him! He's been running around looking for a good deal and I already bought them. Of course, I'm going to have to hurt him if he goes ahead and buys a pair before his birthday comes!). I ended up in the women's clothing section and I discovered camouflage lingerie!!! I had never seen anything like that before. They had little shorty gowns and two piece outfits, too. They're all made out of the silky stuff (which is the only thing I wear to bed, per my husband's request) and designed with a genuine camo print. They had pink with the camo and then the regular green design, too. They were a little pricey - $40, so I didn't get any. But I am going to watch their sale ads and hopefully I can pick up one sometime around our anniversary. Paul will be so surprised and pleased I bet. What could be better than nearly naked woman in camo clothing? We are hoping to get away to the GARB marriage retreat in Johnston a week before our anniversary. I have always wanted to go to that thing and it would be a good chance for the boys to be on their own overnight without us being too far away. But that's going to depend on this foster care/adoption thing, of course. I may have written about this before. That would be a good time to surprise him with the new nighty, though.

Well, time to get back to work. I am looking forward to the next two days because I don't have to go anywhere. I want to finish up my baking and wrapping. Friday evening is the Lozier party. Hopefully, we'll get to go. It will depend on whether or not Paul gets calls since he will be on-call. It would be kind of awkward if I am there alone, since I really don't know anyone and am not employed by the company! But those parties are always fun. They give away good prizes. Of course, I'd be just as pleased if they saved their money and put it into a bonus check for all their employees, instead. But nobody asked me...One of these years we're going to win the $500 mall gift certificate or the big screen tvs they always seem to give away. Now would probably be a good time to insert a verse about not desiring things of the world...

Gotta scoot!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Boys and the Funeral

This is Sam, taken last Friday. I was trying to get a good shot of him licking the cake beaters and I caught him in-between licks, apparently a little annoyed with my picture taking!

I have so much to get caught up on - I may need to split it between two different blog entries.

Sam is not happy with me again this morning. I kind of feel bad, but it's one of those things that can't be helped. There is a PBS show called "Dinosaur Train" that Sam enjoys. I have always been bothered by the show, though, because of its blatant pro-evolution slant. Sam has come to me insisting that dinosaurs were made "millions of years ago" and won't listen when I correct him. I let that one slide. Will, especially, though, has never liked the show. Will is a huge Answers in Genesis fan and reads all the publications and mail that we get from them and I would assume that's where his angst comes from. Well, I was gone for most of yesterday, finishing my Christmas shopping. But when I got home Will told me that on the show yesterday they had talked about celebrating the "Winter Solstice." That did it for me. Obviously, the solstice is a real thing - it happens every Dec. 21st. But I have noticed a trend in recent years of the celebrating of the solstice. It's done by those who reject Christ and the idea of having a holiday to celebrate Him. Essentially, it's a pagan holiday rooted in worship of the earth. So, I told Sam we wouldn't be watching Dinosaur Train anymore because it "makes God sad." Sam was fine with that last night. But when he woke up this morning and wanted the tv turned on, I had to remind him that Dinosaur Train was on and so we had to wait to turn on the tv. He was definitely not impressed! So we cuddled on the couch and I re-explained my reasons. I think I jollied him out of his bad mood, but I won't be surprised if we go through this every day for awhile.

The boys exchanged names again for Christmas. I posted on Facebook last night about the amazing Captain America shield that Will made for Sam. When Sam told Will that was what he wanted I suggested to Will that he go to Toys R Us and get him a plastic version. Will didn't think that was a good idea and informed me that the would be making a shield for his brother. He used spray paint, a thick piece of scrap plywood, and his dad's power tools. Then he remembered that Sam is left-handed, so when he put the handles on (made out of duct work hangers) he made sure to adjust them accordingly. I am SO impressed. The whole thing did not cost a single penny to make, either! This will be a toy that I will want Sam to hang onto forever.

Will also had me pick up a little Colts t-shirt for Sam from him. The boys all have their favorite football teams and they - particularly Will and David - are forever trying to persuade Sam to pledge allegiance to their team. A couple of weeks ago, David asked him, "So do you like the Cowboys, Sam?" Sam looked at David seriously and said, "I have to like the Colts now, David, because I'm sleeping in Will's room." Hah!

I made cookies last week. They are called "Cowboy" cookies. I have no idea why. It's just the name of the recipe - a combination of chocolate chips, oats, and rice krispies baked into a cookie. So, anyway, Sam was eating one and then he heard me refer to them as "cowboy cookies." Sam threw his half-eaten cookie on the table in disgust and cried, "I don't want to eat a Cowboy cookie - I want to eat a Colts cookie!"

Onto sadder subjects: Saturday was Joy's funeral. It was a time of sadness and embarrassment for me. Paul was working that morning, so the plan was that I would bring dress clothes to the college (where the funeral was) and he'd change, attend the service, and then change again and go straight back to work. Well, we didn't get there until the starting time of the funeral. Paul decided that he wouldn't bother changing clothes since it was so late and we would undoubtedly just be slipping into the back rows of chairs, since we were late. Instead, we walked into the gymnasium and an usher asked us how many people we had. When I told him "six" he lead us to the second row, right behind the pallbearers! I could have just died! So there we are, dressed nicely, and Paul's in his work uniform, which is a pair of jeans, a polo shirt, and a thermal shirt underneath! Paul is so pragmatic that I don't think he was really bothered, but it was nearly all I could think about!

The funeral was sad. I know the intent was to focus on God's goodness and the promise of Heaven and they did a good job of that. Our pastor preached an amazing message. But at the same time, there is just no way to sugarcoat a tragedy. A young mom died before she was done raising her kids. She will not be there to help guide them into adulthood. A husband has suddenly been left without his lover, his partner, his best friend. I honestly had some mixed feelings concerning the deceased. We had some unpleasant history that was never dealt with but I even found myself tearing up. Maybe it was because of that - that things were never made right. It was a difficult time. Her burial was Monday in Missouri and her husband posted on Facebook that it was honestly the hardest day of his entire life. My heart just aches for him.

Afterwards, though, I caught what I thought was the most poignant moment of the funeral. Over the years at our church, I have slowly come to realize what a heart our pastor has for the people in our church. I think it's his whole family, really, that feels that way. I remember getting my first glimpse of that when we'd been in the church about 6 months. Paul had been fired that day from the job we moved out here to take. He still had two more days on the job, but we were just so hurt and so blown away by this and very uncertain of the future. Well, I was flabbergasted that night when our pastor and his wife drove up to our house. We live a half hour away from them but they came to be with us in our time of need. And there have been incidents like this time and time again in the 7 years we have been at this church. Our pastor hurts for his people. After the funeral I saw our pastor standing over by one of the gymnasium doors and his 18 year old son and another daughter were crying and he put his arms around them. One by one, his other children joined the circle and the whole family just stood there crying for the Brace family. How amazing is that? They weren't crying for themselves - nothing had happened to them. But because it happened to a church family, they felt the pain.

After the funeral I made a wrong turn and ended up getting separated from Paul and Will. But it was ok because I ran into my friend, Julie. Julie had become quite attached to Joy since last spring and both Joy and I were instrumental in leading Julie to the Lord in Sept. I'm not saying that with pride - just stating a fact. Well, Julie was devastated by Joy's death and she just sobbed and sobbed in my arms after the funeral. I know she was saying stuff to me but I couldn't hear any of it, since my deaf ear was closest to her mouth. But I just held her. Sometimes that is all you can do.

It's a good reminder of how God holds us in our times of need. Sometimes, all the wise words in the world won't mean anything, but a comforting set of arms means everything.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Decisions, Death, and Dress

We had our last class last night and our 3rd home visit this evening. And in the space of time from one to the other we went from being adoption-only to seeking a dual license. This is what we were originally seeking up until two weeks but then we changed our minds and now it's changed again. I won't go into everything that transpired but we came to understand over the past day or so that by seeking only our adoption license we are kind of shooting ourselves in the foot as far as adoption goes. Most children who become available for adoption are adopted by their foster parents. That leaves very few available for adoption-only homes. That's not to say there aren't any out there, but it can mean a long wait - like 2 years or more.

My mind was just in a tizzy this morning, trying to figure out what to do. Paul and I are both very firmly committed to the idea of adopting and neither of us wants a revolving door on our house. Neither one of us is wild about the idea of foster care, although it is something we're willing to do if necessary. I suddenly thought of the lady that spoke at our homeschool conference this summer. She was the one who had adopted something like 18 children out of foster care and she pointed us in the direction to go. So, I facebooked her and we ended up talking on the phone this afternoon. I was so grateful to her for taking time out of her busy day (she homeschools all those kids, too!) to talk with me. She strongly encouraged us to go for our dual license. She said that when we get a call for a foster care placement we can ask where the child is in the system. If she has just been removed from her home, then we'll refuse the placement. But if she's been in for 9 or 10 months and they just need a new foster home that also means that a permanency hearing will be coming up soon. That usually happens right about 12 months into the process, although a judge can defer a decision for a few months longer than that if the birth parents are showing evidence of trying to get their lives back on track.

There is also the possibility of us adopting out of state. Generally speaking, though, that's kind of a last resort, though, because it can be really difficult. But some states won't even consider inter-state adoptions unless the parents have a dual license. Also, if we got into a situation where we had one child whose parents had lost custody but say, she had a baby sibling, the parents might not have lost their rights yet to the younger child. So in order to take both children, we would need to have both types of licenses.

Our worker agreed to recommend us for a dual license, although she will be emphasizing to the licensing board that our preference is for adoption. So now we wait to see what happens next. Our home has passed inspection, we are done with our education, and now it's up to the state. If approved, we will have to take 6 more hours of training in the next 9 months to be certified in CPR, first aid, and medication management.

So, in all reality, we could have another child living with us in 30 days. Or maybe not. If it does come through foster care, though, I will not be able to say anything on my blog about it. I'll mention that we have a placement, but that's all I can say. There's a whole lot of privacy rules we have to follow until an adoption takes place.

Here is my latest Jewels of Encouragement post: http://www.jewelsofencouragement.com/2011/11/something-perfect.html I wrote about our broken nativity set. It was funny - when I unpacked that thing again last weekend I discovered that Joseph is now headless, too. I really should give in and get a new set!

I read an amazing book last week. I got it out of our church library. It's by Terry C. Thomas and called "At Least We were Married." It's quite old, being first published in 1970. In fact, the marriage he wrote about it probably happened before my own parents' and they've been married 43 years! The story was about the courtship between the author and his wife. It was a really sweet telling of that time. They were married in a huge southern wedding in Georgia the day after Thanksgiving. The next evening they were leaving on their honeymoon in the rain when a car crossed the center line and crushed their red VW bug. The bride was killed instantly and the groom was critically injured. In a space of 24 hours they went from utter elation to complete devastation. Can you imagine? It just really made me want to appreciate Paul more because we've had more than 18 years of marriage but it was a good reminder that it could end instantly, at any time. I wanted to know the "rest of the story" so I did an internet search but I didn't find a whole lot. The groom ended up becoming a "Dr" Terry Thomas. I assume that's an educational or Biblical doctor, not a medical doctor. He worked with Bill Bright of Campus Crusade for Christ at the time of the accident. I didn't see anything to indicate that he had ever remarried, but I didn't see anything that said he had not. He did re-release the book at least once. Anyway, it had quite an impact on me.

Joy died Sunday night. I feel crummy because I had finally psyched myself up to go visit her. I was going to make it happen this week. And now it's too late. The funeral is expected to be huge, I guess, so they are having it up at Faith. Sometimes it sure is hard to trace the hand of God. This is the 3rd woman, my age, in my circle of friends of acquaintances to die within the last 2 1/2 years. I'm busy right now getting ready for Christmas and I find myself thinking that a year ago Joy was doing the same thing, having absolutely no clue that it would be her last Christmas. We just never know.

This past weekend was hunting. I didn't count on how exhausting it would be for me! This was the first time we stayed here for the event. A guy from church came over to hunt, as did Will's buddy, Nathanael. I felt obligated to feed the weary hunters so I was up before 6 all three mornings, making them a huge breakfast, and then cleaning that up and making a large lunch. I also had to make supper! I knew they would work up an appetite tromping all those miles in the cold. And, I like to feed people, so I felt the need to cook a lot. I never ever want anyone to leave my house feeling like they didn't get enough to eat (or that it was so bad they had to choke it down out of politeness!). I think I did a good job...maybe.

Today when our case worker was here she was interviewing the boys and asked them, "How does your mom show love to you?" Will replied, "She cooks for us!" To a teenage boy, I guess that is the ultimate expression of love!

This quarter for Sunday School, most of the classes, high school on up, are meeting in the auditorium for a video series. It's called, "Quieting the Noisy Heart" or something like that. I'm looking forward to it, because I feel like I have an entire marching band in my heart at times! That is freeing up quite a bit of space in the downstairs of the church so they decided to reinstitute a former practice of having the younger SS kids meet for a time of singing before breaking into their classes. So I took Sam to the new room on Sunday and it wasn't but a few minutes and he was just sobbing into my coat. I was so baffled! He has always been such an easy-going kid and has transitioned well in all situations. I didn't know what to do. My plan had actually been to skip SS myself and run to Walmart because I needed a few things for lunch for the guys. So I ended up just taking Sam to Walmart with me. And then we hustled back to church in order to be in our pew by the time Ben wandered upstairs from his class. That would have been bad if we hadn't been there for that. Will, Paul, and David were out hunting that morning so there would not have been anyone for Ben to find. Later, Sam told me that he was just "so scared" by going to the new room. I don't understand it, but I guess I'll have to do plenty of preparation this week before next Sunday morning!

It's almost 8:30 - can I go to bed yet? I am feeling so tired. Last night was our last class. It feels so victorious to be finished. We stuck it out, didn't miss a single class, and we accomplished something, learning a few things along the way, too. At the end of class, we had to each talk for a few moments, saying what we had learned, etc. And then, the instructors mentioned something they liked or noticed about us. I was hoping to hear something like, "Oh, you're such a wonderful mother, Sarah, and we know that you'll be fantastic at taking in another child, too" but instead, they mentioned how much they enjoyed my "fashion sense" and my "blingy" clothes and how it gave them something pleasant to look at each week! On one hand, it's nice to have affirmation that my efforts in personal care are noticed and appreciated, but on the other hand, that's not why I was there! So I don't know what to think! I guess I should just be thankful that this 40 year old, middle-aged, increasingly plump gal can be labeled as "fashionable"! Wonder if that will still be true when I'm 80? Probably not so much...and neither will I care when I am 80 years old!

I got the last of my Christmas decorations up today...and, I got all my fall decorations packed away in their tub, which is actually more of an accomplishment. I even decorated the deck. I have avoided that for the past few years since it's been a bit of a mess with all the work on the house. But it's actually cleaned off and attractive looking now. The Christmas spirit has been slow in arriving, but it's finally here, I think. Thursday morning I plan to run up to Des Moines and hopefully finish all my shopping. I don't have a tremendous amount left to do. Amazon has been my best friend this year!!

Paul goes on back-up call this Friday and on first call a week later. It is finally getting awfully cold, which means that I will be essentially a widow for the next two weeks since he'll be busy handling most of the no-heat calls.He goes off call the morning of the 23rd and then he'll be on call again on Christmas Day. My parents are coming down that day, so it should be a nice time.

Better go pluck a certain 4 year old out of the bathtub!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Good News, Thanksgiving, and Resolutions

Time to finish up this week's blogging!

Joy rallied. They tried some additional steroids and it really brought her around and stopped the brain swelling. My friend Julie went up to see her yesterday. She called me afterwards and said it was just a really strange day. She had gotten a call that morning from Joy's husband saying that she had better come because she might not get another chance to see Joy. So she went and by the time she got to the hospital, her husband was talking about them all being in church together Sunday! Julie was asking me rhetorically, "How do you go from being at death's door, to planning to attend church in just a few days?" Whatever it is, we'll take it. I know Joy and her family are not looking for a cure (although they would take one) but just more time to spend together before she goes Home.

I didn't write about Thanksgiving yet. This year we went out to Council Bluffs. To my surprise, almost everyone - everyone being Paul's nuclear birth family - was there. His one brother didn't come but that's all right because we think he's a bit psychotic and aren't too crazy about having him near our kids. I can get away with saying these things on my blog because absolutely nobody in Paul's family has the slightest interest in reading my blog! There are advantages to being disliked...

It was an ok day. We spent the night on Wed. Paul's sister and family were in town from Ohio and thus, had the upstairs guest bedroom. So we got the downstairs bedroom. It's located underneath the kitchen and the ceiling is not insulated which means every footstep above sounds like a thundering herd of elephants. And Paul's mother was up at 4am putting in the turkey. So our sleep was definitely not uninterrupted!

Neither of Paul's sisters spoke a single word to me the entire time we were there. As Paul reminds me - "Consider the source" but it still bothers me even after all these years. Paul has also tried to remind me over the years that it probably has more to do with him than me. Years ago Paul had to take a stand for truth and righteousness that pitted him against his entire family. I don't think they've ever forgiven him. His sisters, especially, have just never been all that interested in pursuing a relationship with me and have seemingly gone out of their way to take offense when none was intended. I keep telling myself that I "give up" but I guess there is a still a part of me that longs for that sister relationship I had always hoped to attain when marrying. After 19 years, I think it's safe to say that it just isn't going to happen!

But my other sister-in-law, Lisa, and I had a couple of nice conversations. She's been horrible at keeping in contact since we moved, but we have always enjoyed eachother's company. When Lisa found out that we are pursuing adoption she got so excited for us, which was nice. I found out that her son, who is Will's age, and his girlfriend are going to be graduating from high school this May, which is a year early. Since they have a child they apparently got into some accelerated graduation path that their school offers for young parents. Also, they both have full-ride scholarships to the area community college because of their young parenthood status. I want them to succeed in life and so my feelings are divided. I'm happy that they won't be welfare-dependent their entire lives and have a shot at a decent future. But at the same time I'm sitting down with Will and we're poring over college brochures and trying to figure out what kind of scholarships and grants and loans he can qualify for so that he can scrape through and earn a degree himself. It doesn't seem fair to me. I just have to remind myself that 1) life isn't always fair, as much as we would like it to be and 2) You can never go wrong by doing things God's way. Yes, Will will have to work his tail off to get through college but he will have God's hand of blessing on him because he is a young man who earnestly desires to do the right thing and so far, has chosen to do the right things.

One of the nicest things about Thanksgiving? The fried turkey Paul's brother made - yum, yum!

Actually, I think girls are the farthest thing from Will's mind right now, anyway! Last night we were helping Paul lay carpet and I casually asked Will what qualities he was looking for in a future wife. He looked at me like I had grown two heads and replied, "None!" He then said he didn't see a reason to be thinking of those things when he wasn't even looking for a wife right now! I then asked him, jokingly, if he wanted to marry a girl like me someday, and he said well, only for the cooking part, meaning he wants a wife who cooks like I do, but evidently there are other things in me he sees as less-than-desirable - ??? Hard to imagine that!

We did get rest of the carpet down last night - it took forever because we had to piece in a 12" piece along the back wall. This carpet came with a pad already on it, so we had to use carpet tape, which was a new experience - it's kind of handy stuff. But now I have all the furniture in there. We don't have the bed set up because one of the legs is cracked and Paul wants to fix that first. So, I'm trying to be patient, even though I am so anxious to put that thing together with the new sheets and comforter I bought and to just have it ready and waiting for our new little girl!

This weekend is hunting. Nathanael is coming over for a few days to stay and a guy from church is also going to be joining them. So I have some cooking and cleaning to do. My friend, Julie, is coming over on Sat with her little girl while her husband hunts. I'd like to have my Christmas stuff out and up by then, but I don't know if it's going to happen. I hope they get some deer - our supply of venison is getting low! The news has been reporting today that the number of deer have decreased. I guess an all-white deer - something I have never seen before - was killed this morning up in Des Moines by a car. Monday night there was a deer/car accident at Army Post and SE 14th, which surprised me because that's a high traffic area, not really anything rural around. This will be the guys' first experience hunting around here.

I think we're going to try to do better at having family devos this next year. We were talking the other day, wondering out loud if we are "doing enough" where the boys are concerned, spiritually. It's so easy to take them to church and send them to youth group, but I have to wonder if that's really all that's required. So many young people walk away from the church once they are grown and I'm not entirely sure why. But I know I don't want my boys making that choice. Of course, it will ultimately be up to them, but I want to be able to say that I did everything possible I could as a parent to prevent it. Paul also want to implement a "tv-less" week one week a month. It's not that we'd forgo tv altogether, but we would make an attempt to have it on less during that week. I've been less thrilled with that idea, but I can see the wisdom in it.

A David funny as I close up: The other day he was asking me about "that section of the paper where they list the dead people" and I replied, "You mean the obituary section?" David's eyes got huge and he sputtered, "Mom, I think you just said the "B" word!" I had never put that together before but I guess he'd be right. So now that word is forever ruined for me because I know exactly what I'm going to think about when I hear it! And now, thanks to me, so will my readers! You can thank me later.

More work awaits. I need to take Ben to get his allergy shots in a couple of hours. He ended up staying home from school today because he was having such a rough time with his nose. It's been bothering him since Sunday, really. Monday I got a call to go get him early, too. I sure wish we could conquer those stupid allergies. Then, when I get home I need to zip over to City Hall and meet with a guy we might be hiring to be our water commissioner. And then we'll have to leave for church. My days are a whirlwind...

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Little Boy Dreams and Changes

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My little Hawkeye! Friday the boys and I hit the mall around 8am. Getting up at 6 to get some Black Friday deals was enough of a sacrifice for me! I was not about to go out at midnight and wait in line for hours. We were at Scheels and Sam saw a Hawkeye helmet and was suddenly seized with the great desire to have one. I remembered that I had seen entire outfits before in little kid sizes so we went on the hunt for one. We found one - the last one - in his size and Sam was overjoyed. He used his birthday money to buy the set. Any other kid would have been happy to blow his wad on toys, but Sam has influential older brothers and a Hawkeye outfit was what he wanted! He was so cute. He insisted on hauling the Scheels bag through the mall himself and all the way home kept chattering about how he couldn't wait to get his jersey and helmet on. He wore them all day Friday and Saturday and would have worn them longer except I put them in the hamper. He's been outside tackling his brothers in his helmet. He's so proud of that thing! I pointed out to him that his jersey had gotten a little dirty and he told me, "That's ok - real Hawkeyes get their jerseys dirty, too!" I won't be surprised if he insists on wearing this outfit next fall for his birthday picture - hope it still fits by then! It's going to be one sad day around here when he can't squeeze into his uniform anymore!

Speaking of sad, and this really is: Joy is probably dying today. She's the mom in our church I mentioned three months ago who had been dx with brain cancer. Things have gone swimmingly since the initial dx. She's been in a terrific mood and busy with household things. I read on her blog a couple of weeks ago that she was painting her bathroom or something like that. Then, around Will's birthday she started chemo and radiation. The radiation and tumor itself has caused her brain to swell and unless she responds to some new medication her family has been told it won't be long. I did get a prayer chain phone call this morning and was told that Joy is in an awful lot of pain. Death will be a blessing for her then. But it stinks, you know? Just yesterday, while driving around town, I was hit by a wave of longing for my grandparents who have been dead since 2003. And they were elderly and had lived their lives. I think it would be worse when you have to mourn all the things you thought you'd get to experience with someone and didn't. This world is not where it is. But it's all we know. And so, we grieve. I know Paul is hoping to get up to the hospital to sit with Rod for awhile, husband to husband. I hope someone would do that for Paul if it were me that was dying. But that's not going to happen because I am definitely going to outlive him!

We had our 2nd home visit a week ago. After talking with our worker, we found out that we can be just licensed for adoption. So that's what we're going to do. I've never been all that crazy about the idea of doing foster care, but was willing to do it if that is what it took to eventually adopt. The downsides will be that we will not have spent months with the child, getting to know her and it may take longer to have a child placed with us. But it's not like I don't have anything to do in the meantime! So we will be licensed and then we will wait for a call. I suppose then, we will have a gradual time of getting to know our new child as she is transitioned out of her foster home. The state also has adoption "fairs" twice a year where we could go meet children available for adoption. I think that would be kind of neat, even if it does bring to mind images of picking out a puppy from the pound!

Saturday I ripped up the old carpet in the bedroom (gouging myself only once with the jip knife and nearly breaking Sam's leg, as well). Paul then thought he had to do some re-wiring of the house sine the original wires ran underneath the floorboards in that bedroom. Sunday we put down part of the new carpet. Tonight we will finish it. Then we have to put up a handrail to the basement and hang some co2 detectors. Last night after class we went to Menards and bought a gun cabinet, the co2 detectors, and a needed smoke detector. And then next Tues. is our last home visit! Oh, and we have to move the new furniture into the bedroom, which will be fun! I can't wait to sew a bed skirt and matching curtains, but that's going to be an after-Christmas project.

Our last class is next Monday night. Maybe it's because I've been out of school for so long, but finishing these classes seems like a real accomplishment to me! They've just been so intensive. Maybe it's because my heart has been so tied up with all of this,too.

We have connected with another couple in the class that we discovered are fellow Christians. In fact, the husband is the assistant pastor at an area Baptist church. I'd like to find out their last name so I could find them on Facebook. The mom is a public school teacher in Waukee, although she used to homeschool.

Well, I have more to write, but it will have to be in a later post. I'm kind of scrambling with my to-do list today. I'll be back later!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Dead Dogs and Bowling Balls

It's a cold Monday. I did some work up at City Hall today and couldn't figure out why the heater wasn't kicking on; my hands were about frozen solid. So I went over and inspected the heater - it was on "fan" and only at 56 degrees!

Paul killed our neighbor's dog on the way to church yesterday. The dog was suicidal and really, it's a miracle it survived this long. The accident was unavoidable. We were late and so we didn't stop. But I called our neighbor right away and left a message. I hated to do that because I really thought it was news I should have delivered in person. Well, she never got my message, so she was kind of upset. She wasn't upset about the dead dog, but at what she saw as unkindness in us not letting her know right away. She was so right and I felt just terrible. Paul went over and apologized to her, too. She assures me everything is fine and that she, frankly, is a bit relieved that she doesn't have to take care of that dog anymore. I still feel bad about it though! So that kind of cast a pall over all of yesterday.

Ben's state bowling meet was Saturday. I was shocked to see his aide, Mrs. K and her sister there. The night before Paul's dad had called to wish Ben a happy late birthday. I had sent my phone upstairs with Ben. Well, unbeknownst to me the little booger was able to figure out my phone and had the dexterity to find Mrs. K's number in my phone and called her and asked her to come Sat. I was so mortified! It's enough that she has to work with him 5 days a week. She definitely deserves to have her weekends off! When I was scolding Ben he assured me that he was very sorry. I reiterated to him that he should have asked me before calling. Ben was quiet a moment and then looked at me and said, "But you would have said 'no'." Well, yes, that's true! As I posted on Facebook, he has figured out that it is easier to apologize than to ask permission!

So anyway, we got to the AMF Lanes in North Des Moines which was packed with special needs individuals and their helpers, along with the Special Olympic helpers - what a madhouse! And Ben starts jumping up and down because he spied Mrs. K! She came over to me and introduced her sister (who looks just like her) and told me that they had been at a big craft show at the fairgrounds. But when Ben called her she realized how important it was to Ben for her to be at his event and she said if she couldn't give up an hour of shopping for him, then there was just something wrong with her! She just loves Ben. I was so touched.

Ben didn't do so great - he got fourth place - out of four bowlers! He actually didn't do too badly for the first game. But then Mrs. K had to leave and it was like Ben just deflated. Never mind that all his brothers and his mom and dad were there cheering him on! And he was getting more tired, too. But he still ended up with a ribbon - which I happened to spy this morning under one of the van seats. I can tell it means a lot to him!

Afterwards we went to Incredible Pizza to celebrate the bowling and Ben's birthday. That is one expensive place. A long time ago I had purchased a $25 gift certificate off Restaurant.com for $10. Even with that, I still spent $31 on our food and then another $20 on the games. And then was seriously limiting how many the boys could play! Sam did get to ride the go-cart, though, so he was pretty pleased.

We found out that over the weekend Ben had made the front page of the Pleasantville newspaper. They had covered the initial bowling event last month. So, a couple from church who lives there cut the whole story out for us. How nice!

Will is signed up to take a college credit class at the high school next semester - Creative Writing. More and more he seems to be leaning towards a career in sports writing. At this point, I would say it's all still pretty much up in the air. But of all his options, he seems to talk about that one the most. I was kind of surprised he agreed to take this class. They spend the first month covering and writing poetry which is definitely not where his writing interests lay (lie? I can never keep those straight). But I did tell him that will be useful when he gets a girlfriend someday! The nice thing is the college credit - that we don't have to pay for.

Last week David was musing outloud about his own future career choices. He said something about doing something someday - I can't remember what - and I pointed out to him that, in my opinion, he has some great people skills and I could see him a career that involves "talking." Of course, I have been convinced since he was about 4 that he's headed for the ministry someday. But I don't want to be the one to plant that seed in his mind. It needs to come from the Lord! David asked me, "Like what?" So I said, "Oh, you know, maybe a teacher, or..." I pointed at the television where a legal scene was on the screen, "A lawyer, maybe, or..." And then David actually said, "Maybe a pastor" and I very quickly agreed with him that would be an option. Then Will interjected, "Or maybe a telemarketer!" Ha, ha, ha! I guess you would need some sort of talking ability for that kind of job, but it's not quite what I was thinking of!

Well, our second attempt at refinancing the house has fallen through. It's very frustrating. Our credit score is fine. We even paid $400 out of our own pocket for an appraisal and the house came in $15,000 above what we paid for it. But both times we've been told that there are no comparable houses in the area and so they can't approve the loan. Right now, it's ok. Our interest rate went down to 2.5% and our monthly payments are very affordable. But for how long? Seven years ago when we bought this house we had no trouble getting a loan and they would have had to find comparable properties. But that was before the bottom of the housing market fell out. Now, if we wanted to move, we couldn't. So I guess we'll just keep digging out the basement!

Every week Ben has a "reading probe." He is given a half sheet of paper with information about a certain subject or thing. His job is to read and comprehend the paragraphs and then be able to answer questions about it on Friday. So I always help him review on Thursday nights. Well, this past week's was about a certain dinosaur. Typically, the paragraph began, "7 million years ago..." I quickly reminded Ben that that was not true. The world was only created about 6000 years ago. The next day he went to school and he informed his aide that the paper was wrong because his mom had said that dinosaurs were only 6000 years old! So he and his aide went to the internet to look it up. Ben was completely frustrated that the internet told them that dinosaurs were roaming the earth 7 million years ago! And, I think, he was inclined to believe the Internet over Mom, just a bit!

We are leaving this Wed. evening for Council Bluffs. We'll be home within 24 hours. Then it looks like I am going shopping on Friday morning with the boys. It won't be for long because they don't want to miss the Iowa-Nebraska game. I'm not real anxious to fight the traffic or crowds. But I need a new purse and Will wants to get to a guitar store. I don't want him driving alone with all of central Iowa out at the malls. So I guess I'm going to get up at a reasonable (no lining up in front of the stores on Thanksgiving evening for this girl!) time and go out for a few hours with the boys. Ben will be happy!

Ben's case manager for his SCL services is coming over in 45 minutes so I had better make sure the house is picked up. Tomorrow I will be cleaning all day long because our next home visit for the adoption is at 5pm. Oh, and speaking of that, I got the prettiest pink flowered sheets at Penneys on Saturday for only $5! I had a $15 savings coupon and they had them on sale for $20. So now I have my first set of pink, feminine twin sheets for our little girl! I can't wait for Paul to get the carpet up there so we can set up the bed and I can get busy sewing a bed skirt and matching curtains. Like I have any time for sewing right now, though!

Today Jen (of the dead dog) told me that she dreamed the other night that we were given twin girls and I had run over to her house in a panic begging for some little girl clothes. It's funny because I had just had the thought last week - "what if we got twin girls?" I highly doubt that would happen, but you never know, I guess.

Gotta go pick up!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Ben, Brown, and Braids

Ben's birthday was yesterday. I think it was a good day for him. I brought cupcakes to school for him and he had fun passing them out all day long. His aide told me he got birthday wishes all day. Ben was very particular about those cupcakes. We went to Tropik Sun last week out at Jordan Creek to pick out some gummies to top them with. Ben found a box of alphabet gummies and insisted that I pull out every single "B" in there. That was not an easy job! We ended up with about 15 and then we bought some gummy worms for the other cupcakes. I posted something on Facebook about Ben's birthday and got lots of responses, too. I need to sit Ben down in front of my Facebook wall and let him read everything people wrote to him. And the best part - we're done with birthday season!!! I'm pretty sore and stiff today. I spent yesterday painting my bedroom. Today I'm doing the ceiling. I hate painting! I happened to mention how I am risking imminent demise every time I climbed on the stepladder and this morning Paul tightened up the legs on it. I didn't even know you could do that! But that was sure nice of him. I've painted the room darker - now it's all different shades of brown. Paul said it seemed awfully dark in there; I told him it's now our "love cave." Ha, ha, ha! The wall behind our bed is a rich, chocolate brown. Or, as David pointed out, "It's the color of poop!" Thank you, David...

This past Tues. evening was our mom's group meeting for moms of sp. needs kids. My friend Jenny came with me. I've been after her for quite awhile to come. But it takes time to readjust life after being through something traumatic. I know when Ben was little, his therapists would suggest I go to support groups, but I didn't want to. I think I was still operating under the belief that enough therapy would "fix" him. But I was so pleased Jenny came. One of the leaders of the group has a son just two months older than little Rebekah and he has a lot of similar things going on. I was hoping the two would connect, and they did.

This time we had a special speaker, a chiropractor from Altoona. She's one test away from becoming a "wellness coach" too, she said. Anyway, she's into all things healthy. She mentioned that her kids - some of whom are in their teens - have never been to McDonalds. Wow. I did ask her about my Vit D intake. Everyone seems to think that mine is high (except for the dr who put me on it) and I have been concerned that the dosage has been contributing to my kidney stones (I'm dealing with another right now) and my soft fingernails. But she really seemed to think that they are unrelated and told me that in order to overdose on D I would have to take 50,000 ius a day. She also told me that I should not be taking any fish oil until I get my clotting numbers checked, which was news to me. Apparently, fish oil thins the blood and if you are on an anti-coagulant, as I am, that's not good. Anyway, I really liked her. I'd like to see if her office takes our insurance.

She made us a smoothie out of kale, spinach, oranges, apples, water, and bananas. I was dubious about it from the start. The other women stood around slurping theirs down and asking for seconds. I politely sipped mine (it tasted like a liquid salad) and surreptitiously inched closer and closer towards the garbage can so I could privately dump mine. I'll just plan on dying early if the only way around that is drinking spinach smoothies!

My meal went over well with our class on Monday night. I got lots of compliments. It's probably because I didn't bring soup! Crock pots are about the only thing we can bring into the classroom so we have had practically every variety of soup there is. There's only 3 more classes to go! Our next home meeting is this Tuesday evening. Our caseworker mentioned that she will be "delving into" our marriage. That ought to be fun!

One thing one of the teachers happened to mention, off-handedly, Monday night was that one insurance company in the Des Moines area offers "foster care" insurance. There's a $150 deductible but they will replace things your foster kids ruin deliberately. She also mentioned that it will cover treatment for bed bugs. Oh, please, oh please, oh please, don't let a child bring bed bugs or lice into my house!!! I think I would just die!

Wednesday I went over to my hair stylist's house to learn how to french braid. Last week when I went in for my trim, she found pink paint in my hair so I told her what was going on. She almost started crying and told me that she is adopted herself and that she has a real desire to adopt, as well. So then on Monday she called and asked if I wanted to come over and learn how to braid hair. There was another gal there, too. I think I'm going to need a lot more practice before I'll be able to let a child go out in public with the kind of braids I can make! I hope my future daughter is ok with pony tails because that may be all I can muster! Before I left, Sarah (my stylist) gave me a big bag of outgrown little girl's clothing from her daughter. And on top, was a doll. That was when I almost started crying! It was so much fun to get home and sort through the things. Little girls' clothing is so different from little boys'! I'm very grateful for these things because we have been told that we may get a child wearing only a t-shirt and a diaper and we'll have to buy them a new wardrobe immediately. I've been wondering how I'm supposed to take them to the store if the only thing they have to wear is a diaper and a t-shirt! Our teacher mentioned that there is a place in Des Moines that collects clothing and baby things for foster parents, but they don't always have a whole lot. I'll have to try them first. This could all get very expensive, I am thinking.

But my passion is not diminished. My friend, Laurie, a foster and adoptive mom herself, posted a song link on Facebook last night. It was about adoption and I found myself fighting the tears as I watched the video. I am called to do this, to rescue the orphans. I know that like I know nothing else.

This week I was driving and Sam was trying to tell me something. I couldn't quite make out all he was saying, so I asked, "What?" He sighed and would have rolled his eyeballs if he knew how. And then he said, "I really don't like it when you don't listen to me, Mom!" Guess he told me!

Tomorrow Ben goes to his state bowling meet. That will be so much fun. I love Sp. Olympics! I think I have mentioned that a time or two already!

Paul has been teaching Sunday School for the past month - the old people's class. Well, anyone can sit in there, but for whatever reason, a lot of the older people seem to prefer this class. Maybe it's because it's on the main level and they don't have to go manage the steps then. When he told me he was going to do this, I was a little nervous because he tends to be a bit of a "lecturer" when he's passionate about something. I was fearful that the SS class might turn into a real snooze fest. But I have been pleasantly surprised. He actually does a pretty decent job. Last week our pastor sat in there. Of course, he had just had surgery the week before and was probably a bit doped up on painkillers. I was looking at him during the hour and it looked to me like he was dozing off, but I could be wrong. Anyway, he sent Paul the nicest card this week, telling him how much he enjoyed the class (maybe he wasn't sleeping?) and what a good job he was doing. I thought that was SO nice of him!

Well, back to my painting, I guess. I'm also making marshmallow cups today for Christmas. It's too much having these two different projects going on at the same time. I'm fearful that I'm going to end up with paint in my candy and chocolate in my paint!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Quaking, Painting, Electing, and Reflecting

I'm home from church tonight and nobody is sick. I'm trying to dredge up some guilt, but it's not working. I just have too much I needed to get done today that I didn't have time to go to church. Now, that sounds bad! But, that's the way it is sometimes. I'm bringing the meal for our class tomorrow night, so that's what I'm working on right now. I think I'm a little tense about that. Paul asked if I was trying to score "brownie points" with the instructors since one of them is our case worker and they eat supper with us each Monday night in class.

As this class nears its end and we are getting closer to the reality of actually doing this, I think I'm getting more stressed. It's just getting so real! And I know, know, know it is not going to be an easy thing. And I like easy! Of course, it may be months off yet, too. We are scurrying around like mad right now trying to get everything done, but it may be months before we have a new child in our home.

This past week the boys and I spent an entire day moving bedrooms around. What an exhausting experience that was - and Will did most of the hard work! Sam is now sleeping underneath Will's loft in his bed. We put Ben and David in the basement and Paul is getting ready to throw up some temporary walls. That much pretty much eliminates all the new space we had in the basement! I spent two days painting the boys' old bedroom and I'm not quite done yet. I hate painting, but I have to admit to having a bit of fun with this. This is the first time in my entire life that I have ever had a reason to paint anything pink! I chose a soft, soft pink. It's quite a change from the navy, hunter, gray, and yellow walls that were in the room previously! As I've painted I find myself wondering about and then praying for this little girl we're hoping to have soon. I definitely feel led, but at the same time, I am quavering in my proverbial boots (not that I would actually wear boots - unless there was something like 10 feet of snow on the ground - but you know what I mean. Boots as a fashion statement are just not my thing).

Tuesday was one of my big painting days. I happened to be painting the wall that faces the street when Ben's school bus drove up and dropped him off. Ben wandered upstairs and asked me, "Is Deana coming today?" Ack! I had completely forgotten about his case worker coming over! I was a mess. I had dried my hair but not styled it so it stuck out in clumps all over my head. I had paint all over me. The house was a mess because I had not taken time to pick up because I was so anxious to get the painting done. The boys have no problem functioning in a messy house, so they, of course, had felt no compulsion to clean it up themselves. And then ding, dong - she was here! She looked pretty shocked when I opened the door. I have always made an effort to present a pretty front when she comes - the house picked up, candles lit, me looking somewhat presentable, etc. But she sure didn't get that this week. Now she knows the real us, I guess. She actually did look a little shocked when I opened the door.

We had our Swan elections this week. Our mayor was unanimously re-elected, which is great. We had a record turn-out. 21 people from Swan showed up to vote. Only 40 are registered! Best of all, Paul got 20 votes so he will be on the city council starting in January. We have another newbie joining the council, as well. Our current city clerk, Jen, and I are swapping places. She got elected to the council and I'm getting her job!

We got our family pictures taken Friday night. Despite Sam deciding to play barber with his hair the day before, they actually turned out well. I was able to disguise Sam's hair cutting experience (curls are great for that - I was just glad he hadn't gone for his bangs!), nobody was sick, or sneezing, or in a bad mood. So we ended up with a decent picture. The last time we did this we all came down with the flu the next day. Fortunately, that didn't happen this time. The next time we get a picture done the boys will be 20, 18, 15, and 7. Wow!! As we were switching out the old photo in the frame from '08 Paul kept exclaiming, "What happened? Where are these little boys?" I wonder the same thing. Time goes by entirely too fast.

Will bought a guitar on Friday with the intention of teaching himself to play. He's pretty tickled. He's wanted one for awhile and since he had his birthday he's really been searching Craig's list. He found one that was less than a year old and came with an instruction dvd, a tuner, and some other goodies.

I'll close with something funny Sam said today. By nature, he is not a very demonstrative child. He's not one to kiss and hug others. He's never told me, "I love you." He's a lot like Will in that regards. Unlike Will, he does want to be held frequently, but I think that is probably because he was held so much as a baby and toddler, coming along so much later. I'm not all that worried by his remoteness. I've had enough kids now to realize that they each come hard-wired a certain way. Just because a child doesn't express emotion easily doesn't mean he doesn't feel it. Well, anyway, David was asking at the table today, "Why is everyone looking at me?" David, unlike his brothers, is very demonstrative and emotional. He's also acutely sensitive to what he perceives others to be thinking about him. Poor kid! But Sam pipes up, "Dat's cuz we all wuv you, Dabid!"
Ha, ha, ha! Paul and I about fell off our chairs! David told me just this week that he is considering a career as a professional comedian (Lord, help us!) but I think Sam may have more of a shot at that someday!

Another busy week awaits me. Tomorrow I have to run Ben out to Penneys to get his birthday picture taken. I have to then come home and work up at City Hall with Jen for awhile. Then our class is in the evening in Ankeny. Somewhere in there I need to stop at the store and buy more napkins because I just discovered tonight that we are out - I did all my shopping yesterday! Ben has allergy shots this week and a birthday the next day. So I'll be making not only a birthday cake for here at home, but birthday treats for the youth group and treats for his class at school.

It's going to be his 15th. Fifteen years since the worst week of my life. Fifteen years since I almost died and they told me to start thinking about taking Ben off life support. Fifteen years of shattered dreams and renewed hope for the future. Ooh, I sense a topic blog coming on! Maybe I'll wait until his 25th birthday, though. I'm too busy right now!

Saturday afternoon Ben goes to the state bowling championships. Then we're going to go out to Incredible Pizza to celebrate that and for his birthday. I wonder if I could squeeze in painting our bedroom this week? I sure would love to get that taken care of.

Well, off to cook some more. Then I have to write a letter to our potential child and a letter to his birth parents. But they'll never see the letter, we've been told. Which begs the question - why??? Who can understand the mind of someone who works for the government?

Gotta run!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

School, Parties, and Squishing Time


Here is my pretty new kitchen table and benches. I can totally see the two of us having this someday as our table in our retirement apartment when we're great grandparents!

This past week wasn't too bad, time-wise. And this next week looks pretty manageable, too. That's nice! Maybe I'm actually just as busy as normal, but I'm learning how to handle it better - I don't know!

This past Monday marked the halfway point of our PS-MAPP classes. I'll be so glad when those are completely over! Sometimes it's hard to sit there with all the humanistic teaching. And, I had been warned that the classes would have a very negative tone and they do. I know they are trying to present to us the realities of what we are choosing to do. At the same time, though, I know God is in this and thus, it isn't going to be that horrible! I know there will be tough times and even heartache, but I also believe it's very, very do-able.

We had parent teacher conferences this week at the school. We had nothing but good reports on Ben. All his teachers love him. I found out that he gets to take his current aide to high school with him next year - yay! The sad thing is that she might retire after that! They are planning to turn a teachers' lounge into a learning center for the disabled kids. They are going to put a washer and dryer in there and a full kitchen. That is what SE Warren has and I remember being really impressed by it. I'm so happy Pleasantville is going to have the same thing now! We also met with Ben's vocal teacher. Ben is bound and determined that he is going to be in this year's musical. Last year we opted him out of that, but he has made it plain that he will be participating this year! It makes me nervous, but I don't want to deny him opportunities, either. So, we're going to work closely with his teacher and see what we can come up with for a plan of action.

We met with the guidance counselor, too, for Will. He told us, "Well, I don't know much about homeschooling..." And he wasn't a whole lot of help. Apparently there are a couple of classes Will can take at the school next semester for college credit. However, he's not too keen on doing either. Also, there are some on-line things he can do for credit. So I need to look over those this week and see if any of them are palatable to Will. The school district would pay for everything, so that's like money in the bank as far as credits go, I explained to Will. He is still unconvinced, however.

Will's 17th birthday was Wednesday. That morning I told Sam it was Will's birthday and he gaped at me and exclaimed, "But he's already big!" It was a rainy, dismal day. Will ran over to his coach's house that afternoon to pick up some cds his coach had promised him a long time ago. While there, the starter on his car died! So it's still sitting in his coach's driveway, who assured him there was no hurry on getting it out. He drove Will home and even stopped at Caseys and bought him a hot chocolate. Will came home with a laundry basket full of Christian cds from the 80s and 90s. His coach had put them all on his computer and didn't need them anymore.

Right now Will has 4 friends over. One of them was in a play last night and all of them went to that. Then I picked them up and they watched movies and played video games in our basement all night. All of them are homeschooled and they all range in age 16-19. I think that is so neat that at our church, ages don't really matter. When I was a teenager I would have never dreamed of socializing with someone a grade lower or higher than me! But anyway, I've been doing a lot of cooking the past couple of days. Teenage boys like to eat.

Sam's newest accomplishment is to take a running leap across the kitchen and to throw himself on the countertops. Then, he gets into the cupboards by himself. Never mind that we have a stool out there that he could climb to get up!

I had my yearly exam yesterday - fun, fun! No problems at all there. I got dressed and my dr. handed me a card and said, "Use this to schedule your mammogram." What?! I'm that old??? She said that between 40 and 50 I don't have to do it every year, especially if there is no family history of it, but I should get one done now to establish a base line. So, I have more to look forward to, I guess.

Well, I think I have lunch about ready for the boys. Then I need to run up to Pleasant Hill and pick up David who spent all day yesterday and today with a friend who recently moved up to Polk City. I have a lot on my to-do list today. Fortunately, tonight is the night we set our clocks back so I get an extra hour to get stuff done!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Days of Fun, Furniture, and Football


Here's my two scare-ers from the party last Sat. night! Those masks are actually Paul's from his boyhood. I knew we had them and I managed to find them last week in the mess that we call our shed.

The party went so well. We had perfect weather, which helped. About 75-100 people showed up, which is more than the entire population of Swan (people invited others from outside). My neighbors, Jen, Lynne, and I worked for most of the day getting ready.

I had a moment of concern on Friday night when I heard that Jen and her boyfriend had broken up because the boyfriend had agreed to drive our wagon for the ride around town and in the cemetery! But she borrowed another truck from someone she knew and Paul drove it. So, the day was saved. Will worked in the haunted house and about lost his voice from standing inside a coffin and then jumping out and scaring people over and over. Sam did not like the haunted house - he was probably too young to go through and we shouldn't have had him to that.

The fellowship (can you use that word with a group of non-Christians?) was really good and we just had a wonderful time. People brought so much food and after the wagon ride we all loaded up on more of it and roasted marshmallows. Now, we just need to start thinking of ways to top this for next year...

Sam's birthday was also on Saturday. We managed to squeeze in a little party for him that afternoon. He seemed to enjoy his presents but has been scowling since last Sat. when we informed him that he was now 4. He lifted his arms above his head and said, "No I'm not - I still can't touch the ceiling!" If anyone asks him how old he is, he just mutters, "I don't know!" and runs off. Poor kid. I think he's going to have to have a lot of birthdays before he can touch the ceiling!

Tuesday was quite the banner day in our household. We got two sets of new (to us) furniture in the same day! Paul took the afternoon off because he had borrowed a truck and trailer and had filled them up with 7 yrs of of scrap metal that had been collecting behind the garage. Getting rid of that stuff alone made my happy! But we also got a new kitchen table and benches. A couple of weeks ago after we got the washer and dryer moved to the basement we moved the dining room table out of the kitchen. Then, I had Will re-assemble our old 42" round table that we've had since our first year of marriage when Paul's mom picked it up at a "divorce" sale for us. Paul saw that and mused out loud, "You know, what we really need is a table with some benches, rather than chairs." Well, wouldn't you know it, but just a few days later he was in a customer's basement, working on the furnace when he spied that very thing. It was a gorgeous, hand-crafted 52" honey-oak (the exact color of our cupboards) rectangular table with a three-piece bench set (the pieces together form an "L" shape). Paul asked the homeowner if he might be interested in selling and he was! So on Tuesday Paul picked that up. I will have to post some pictures. It's so beautiful! I got white heat marks on it yesterday and I'm about beside myself now, trying all different kinds of remedies. I may end up refinishing the top at some point because it does have some nicks and dings from use. But it will have more than that once we're through with it!

Well, then, also on Tuesday I was going through Craig's List, as I have been for the last week since our case worker told us to get a bedroom ready. I found this precious, precious set of furniture. It was exactly what I wanted - white, feminine and it had everything - the bed, the mattress, the dresser. I dropped them an email and then just hovered around the computer hoping I'd hear back. They ended up calling me and said it was mine if I wanted to come get it (I had mentioned the purpose for the furniture which definitely swayed them!). So while Paul and Will were still in town I met them and we headed up to Ankeny to look at the bedroom furniture. I could have just cried - it's everything I've ever dreamed of having for a little daughter. The bed is a white sleigh bed and has delicate flowers painted on the headboard. The dresser is long and has 6 drawers, with the same flowers on the top drawers. And it comes with a tall mirror that sets on top - something every little (and big) girl needs. The top of the mirror is arched and has the same flowers on it. The couple told us they paid $900 new for it, but sold it to us for $150 and it's only 4 years old.

As we loaded up the furniture, it really hit me that this is real - or else we just made a foolish purchase. In some ways, it's like a huge step of faith. We have the furniture; now God will provide the little girl to use it. Of course, we haven't been approved yet, and even if we do, there is always a chance we won't get a child. I'm honestly not trying to jump ahead of ourselves here, but they did tell us to get a bedroom ready! Worst case scenario, I guess we can always re-sell it and give the boys back their bedroom.

Right now the furniture is in the back room. We need to move the boys to the basement, paint (baby pink, I'm thinking), and re-carpet the room. And then we'll get to set up the new furniture. But it has to happen by mid-December, which is when we'll be licensed and have our 3rd and final home visit.

I'm still perusing Craig's List, but now I'm looking for the perfect bedspread. I never dreamed I'd ever get to do this! It's more than a little fun!

Will's final football game of the season was last Friday night. They lost, but it was a good game. Each team kept scoring on each other and creeping up on the scoreboard. Will's coach, whom he just loves, is quitting, and Will is pretty sad about that. In fact, he came home after the game, red-eyed. I know it's hard. But we tried to make it easier - we got pizza from Caseys and surprised him with it when he got home.

Tomorrow evening we are going to see "Courageous" as a family. It's the latest Sherwood Productions movie. They are the ones that put out "Fireproof" a few years ago (my all-time favorite movie). This one is supposed to be about fatherhood. I think I'd better bring a tissue box. That's a subject that tends to get Paul choked up anyway, and I have a feeling he'll be more than a little emotional during the viewing of this one! I might need a hankie or two, myself!

I have a Jewels post up today. I drew a parallel between breast cancer awareness month and becoming aware of sin in our lives: http://www.jewelsofencouragement.com/ Now I've got to come up with something brilliant in time for my next deadline of Nov. 10.

Next Wednesday is Will's birthday. On Friday night he and some friends are going to meet at the Indianola High School to watch a couple of the youth group kids perform in a play. Then, a few friends of his are coming over here to pig out, play video games, and sleep over.

I don't think my weeks are about to get any less busy! I have had paint purchased and sitting in my bedroom for a month now. I just have not had the time to get it on the walls. I don't know when I will. And now Paul is talking about digging out more of the basement next summer, in order to give Ben and David a larger bedroom since they are moving downstairs soon (Sam is moving in with Will). I dread the thought of that mess all over again since we're just now getting cleaned up from last summer's basement project!

But it's worth it. This home where we bought the bedroom furniture from was in a newer section of Ankeny. If you're familiar with Ankeny, you know it's a pretty upscale city, anyway. I don't even think they have a bad section of town! As we were driving our old mini-van and even older (and rustier and noisy) truck up to the house, I definitely felt a little self-conscious and out of place! The home we were ushered into was a showplace - absolutely gorgeous and pristine. The furniture was mostly modern, the walls had interesting paint colors on them (I found out later that the husband is the art director for a major magazine published by Meredith in Johnston), and nothing was out of place. Gorgeous. I was talking with the mom as the guys were loading up the furniture and she commented that she was one of six children, but she had stopped after she got her boy and girl. "That's enough for me!" she laughed, "We're good!" Now, I don't have a problem with people only having two children. I totally believe that God has different plans for different families. But as we left I commented to Will, "I would rather have our smaller, older house and have it filled with children than to live in a house like this and only have two." Ideally, both would be great :) but I really meant that. My children are a gift and a heritage and I'll take the number and mess any day over an outward life of perfection.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Bonfires, Windshields, and Nut-Job Mothers

Here is Ben this morning, after he got his ribbon!

On to more news: We went to a bonfire last Sat. at some people's house from church. Every fall our church does this. Some years we have it at a park, other years it's at people's houses. I was so delighted that Jenny brought little Rebekah. She is such a little doll and let me carry her all over the place while we were there. She can sign several words now and very definitely makes her opinion known on some things! Jenny also told me that she would be interested in coming to my moms of sp. needs kids group that meets out at Valley Church every month. Yay! But anyway, the bonfire was really nice.

We are having a bonfire Sat. night here in Swan. I'm thinking it probably won't be quite so nice! I say that because last Saturday some friends of our mayor's were setting up the haunted house and I heard one comment that he didn't know if it was such a good idea to be creating such narrow pathways through the house, since some people would be good and drunk by the time they went through it! Good grief! I know there will be drinking at the bonfire - there always is. But it's not like it's a kegger or anything! There's going to be lots of children there, for goodness' sake! There are three of us planning this event - myself and two neighbor ladies. I think it will be fun. The kids will get a kick out of it. We dug a couple of Paul's scary masks out of the shed and David insisted that I buy him some fake blood to squirt all over himself. I love Halloween - I always have. And I realize that there are some Christians that have a real problem with it and that's fine. But the odd thing is that I am starting to get a funny feeling about celebrating it so much. Do you suppose that is the Holy Spirit? We already avoid witches and ghosts, but I am starting to wonder if there's more that we should be staying away from. I kind of hope I'm wrong about this, because after celebrating it for years, the boys would not be amused if I suddenly said, "Oops - no more Halloween!"

At any rate, this Saturday will be a supremely busy. In the morning Paul is taking in Will's junked car (the one he bought to fix his first one) to the scrapyard. And then we have to celebrate Sam's birthday because he turns 4 that day! And then in the early afternoon we have to set up for the party and then in the evening is the party and bonfire. Whew - what a day that will be!

Speaking of Will's car...this Monday Paul got to class almost an hour late because he was working. He told me that he got a phone call from Will before he got there. Will had gotten pulled over by a state trooper because of his cracked windshield (you might recall that Sam fell on his windshield this past summer). We had warned Will that would probably happen at some point and just had not gotten it fixed yet, although Paul had already gotten cost estimates from several different places. We figured we were on the hook for this expense since it was definitely not Will's fault that Sam had climbed on top of his car! So getting that fixed was something we had to add in to our busy week.

So, Wednesday, we got up bright and early and dropped Will's car off at the glass repair place on the northeast side of Des Moines (Sam's Riverfront Auto and Glass, in case anyone is interested - they gave us the best price). Then, we hopped on I-235 and drove clear out to Jordan Creek mall where I dropped Will and David off. Will has a birthday coming up and wanted to peruse Scheels and get some ideas. That's because his first idea didn't pan out. He called me all excited on Monday and told me that we could buy him a ticket to a November Hawkeye game for $80 for his birthday. David had even agreed to clean out his savings account so he could go too. But I wasn't too thrilled with that idea. It would cost another $40 minimum in gas to drive out there and I'm definitely not crazy about the idea of dropping off two of my children into that college/traffic melee. Fortunately, Paul started shaking his head before I even finished telling him about Will's proposal. See - I'm not a totally over-protective nut-job mom! I told Will that was something that would be more appropriate in his college years, but not right now. I'm quite sure he thinks I'm the protective nut-job, though. Someday, he'll have children and understand...

So anyway, I dropped them off and then drove back to Valley West mall with Sam to get his 4th birthday picture taken. We did that, even though I think I irritated the photographer at Penneys. She seemed rather miffed that I refused to spend over $30 and wouldn't buy any of the special features she offered. Perhaps if she had 4 children who needed new pictures taken every year she might be more understanding...

I went and picked up the boys and then we drove back to the east side to pick up the car. And then my debit card wouldn't go through! The guy tried it 3 times and it still wouldn't go. Talk about mortifying! I told him I knew there were plenty of funds in the account and he was probably thinking, "Sure, Lady..." I finally called Paul and got his number and the card went right through. When I got home I called the bank and they said that two weeks ago my number had been stolen in a hack job out in Pennsylvania. So, when any charges originating in PA came through on the account, the bank refused to pay them and locked the card. That happened on the third for a charge of $169. I was pleased that they had done that, but do you think it might have been nice if they had LET ME KNOW??? A new card is on its way now, I guess.

After we got the car Will headed to Norwalk. Paul had gotten a call from the landlord of one of the apartment units he services. Somebody's heat was not working. And, of course, being on call, Paul is just swamped this week and unable to get to any of his outside jobs. But Will was able to go over and get the furnace going! I was so proud of him! I wonder what they would think if they knew a sixteen year old had fixed their furnace?!

It looks like we will not be heading to Council Bluffs this year for hunting weekend. Paul has found a number of people at church wanting to form a hunting party, so they are just going to stick around here and do it. I have mixed feelings on that. On one hand, it will be nice just to stay home. Any time I have to pack us all up for a weekend away, it's a real chore. But, that particular weekend is always a bit fun because Kathy and I usually go Christmas shopping and I do lunch with my friends, Gloria and Esther, from our old church. Guess it's time to make some new traditions. It will be kind of fun to cook for the guys. I know they get cold and hungry and I can't stand the thought of them hunting on empty stomachs so I can certainly make up a bunch of food for them to eat in between stalking the four legged idiot animals that roam the woods around here...

I had better get the rest of my house picked up. The neighbors are coming over tonight, as I mentioned, to finalize up the party plans. And our mayor is coming over to work on my desktop. It suddenly quit recognizing our mouse this week. It's got some other problems, too. I am fearful that we are going to have to replace that soon. I hope not - it's not even quite 4 years old. Our last desktop lasted 8 yrs. Of course, this one cost 1/3 of what we paid the first time around, too. But, a replacement computer is definitely not in the budget right now, either!

Off to tidy!