Monday, January 31, 2011

Comedy,Snow,and How to Embarass a Teenage Boy

I'm typing this one on my laptop, which is always a challenge. But Will is eating lunch (at 4pm!) and playing Madden on the desktop. That kid has such an odd eating schedule. Ever since he was little he absolutely hates to eat in the morning and won't until close to lunchtime. So then he eats lunch mid-afternoon and supper around 8pm. Ever since we began this work on the house last year we haven't been eating suppers as a family except on Sundays, so Will is able to get away with that.

As I'm typing I hear Tim Hawkins coming out of the living room. He is so funny! For those of you that aren't familiar with him, he's a homeschool dad and Christian comedian. He does parodies of popular Christian songs. I'll never hear, "I Can only Imagine" without thinking of his version - "I Can only Eat Margarine"! Just today Will downloaded Tim's, "I Don't Drink Beer" sung to the melody of "I Will Be Here." That's awful! Just today the boys ordered tickets to see him with their own money. He's coming to Des Moines in April and the plan is that Will will take Ben and David and they'll all go see him out at Valley Church. There is a possibility that Will be gone at Prom Alternative that weekend. If the timing works out that way, then Paul or I will take the other two boys and pay Will back for his ticket.

Well, I have started to exercise - kind of. Last summer I had bought these dancing exercise dvds and they about did me in. I am so out of shape! But I bought a Christian walking dvd and I've been using that. It's a little easier on me. But I still fight the "don't want tos" when it comes to actually doing the exercise. I wish there was a vitamin I could take that would make exercise unneeded.

We have a storm moving in. There could be 12-18" of snow. Holy cow! There's saying travel will be very dangerous. I'm pretty bummed because Melissa and I were supposed to go out tomorrow night. We haven't cancelled yet, but I'm assuming that will probably happen. It's just very still today - kind of eerie.

Something kind of funny and embarrassing happened over the weekend. Poor Will! I ended up with a hickey on the side of my neck. I'll leave it to your imagination as to how it got there. I had nothing to do with it, however. So, I had a shirt on that did a pretty good job of covering it, I thought. I'm in the kitchen and Will walked through and gasped, "What happened to your neck?!" I said something about how he ought to ask his dad about that. Poor Will turned beet red and said, "Well, you're going to wear a turtleneck to church tomorrow, right?" I did! I told Paul and he asked me to repeat the story at least 3 times to him. I don't know if he felt bad or just thought it was funny. We've probably permanently scarred him.

The youth group did the entire service last night at church. They did such a fantastic job! I thoroughly enjoyed it. We have such a good group of kids in our church.

Well, I didn't win the Our Iowa writing contest. I can live with that, but it really irked me to read the entries that did win - the writing just wasn't that good! David said I was "jealous" but I don't think it was really that. If someone's going to beat me, then beat me. But don't choose a poorer writer over me! Grrr.... Although, with the string of non-winning entries I've had lately with FW, maybe I'm not exactly the best person to judge quality writing!

I am writing one thing new these days...our city sign. I volunteered to take over the sign last week. I got tired of seeing the same messages up for weeks and weeks at a time. So it's my job now to create pithy sentiments and put them on the sign, along with any announcements we have to share. It's a bigger job than I realized - just a bit of a pain to unlock the sign, prop the cover up, kneel in the mud, and center everything. But it will be fun. My first message was, "If Winter comes, can spring be far behind?" I think it's part of an old poem.

Well, I'm all caught up on my blogging now. It's been a productive day. Off to make supper and hunker down for the snowstorm!

A Dream, Gross Little Boys, and Living Healthy

Woo-hoo - almost done with my bedroom! What a job. I found a so-moldy-it-was-black baby bottle underneath the bed. Nasty, nasty! But it's all cleaned out now, even the closet.

Sam wandered in while I was working and suddenly asked me, "Why they talking 'bout Jesus' blood?" I had a cd of Christian favorites playing and he was listening to the words. So I gave him a sanitized version of Calvary. He was shocked! "They put nails in Jesus' feet?" Then later he asked me, "Did God die on the cross, too?" Well, technically...But I didn't want to try to explain the Trinity to a three year old, so I just told him, "Only Jesus died." It will be neat in the coming years to lead another sinner to the cross.

For those of you who receive my blog posts by email, I'm sorry if you're suddenly getting all these old posts. I'm in the process of going through and de-tagging them all. I didn't like the cluttered look I was getting on my home page. The only way I have figured out how to do it is to remove the tag and then re-publish the blog post. It's tedious work. Just ignore them if they're coming into your IN box.

I had the most amazing dream Sat. morning. Last Friday was the one year anniversary of my friend, Julie's, death. So she was on my mind and I'm sure that's why I dreamed about her. In the dream, she had come back to see me. Only, she was in my parents' old house, sitting on their old couch I grew up with. She was explaining to me how in Heaven, God's love is ever present; you can't escape it. She described it as a "cloak wrapped around you" at all times. It was so real. It was Julie's voice and her vibrant red hair. At one point I asked her if my grandma was in Heaven, which I really don't know why I would ask that. My grandmother was very stubborn in her rejection of Christ all her life and I have no reason to expect to see her ever again. But Julie told me she wasn't allowed to divulge that information - I'd have to wait and see myself someday. And then there was one funny thing she said as my dream ended. She told me that a lot of communication in Heaven takes place by email - only up there, they've had it for generations while we've only had it for about 15 yrs down here! I woke up smiling from that one!

If only I could have floated on that dream all day Saturday...but no, reality soon kicked in. At one point during the day, I walked into the kitchen to find the floor was all wet in this huge circle and Sam was "cleaning" it with his formerly-dry and formerly-white socks. I asked him, "How did the floor get all wet?" So he showed me. He took a drink of kool-aid (made with cane sugar, though!) out of his sippy cup and spit it on the floor and then proceeded to mop it with his socks. ARgh! I know, I know a little girl would never have thought to do such a nasty thing!

I did get away on Saturday, morning, though. I went to a Natural Living Expo at Hy-Vee Hall. It was a bit of a disappointment. Apparently, there is supposed to a bigger one in April, though. They had a number of chiropractors and people peddling nasty drinks that are supposed to clean you out, make you healthy, and give you a long life, all in one. My favorite booth was the one where they were selling jewelery. What that has to do with natural living, though, I'm not sure! I did have a nice long conversation with a young farmer from Chariton. They raise pigs and chickens, totally antibiotic and steroid free, completely free-range. So, I got some pricing on buying a pig if we want to do that at some point. I did ask them about raw milk sources. I seem to be striking out on that. Apparently, Iowa has some pretty tough penalties for farmers who sell milk. It must just be for cow's milk because I never had trouble buying raw goat's milk for the boys when they were babies. So, anyway, farmers are reluctant to risk that kind of punishment. I have heard it is really easy to make homemade butter - if you have raw milk. And that would be a huge financial savings. The farmer's wife did tell me that she knew of some ladies that used to go to Missouri to buy raw milk because it's not illegal there. However, they were taking a risk because transporting raw milk across state lines is a federal offense! Can you believe that? You'd think I was trying to score crack cocaine or something. Although, I'd apparently have an easier time finding the cocaine.

Afterwards, I was hungry and my first thought was to hit a drive-through, preferably Burger King, because I love their onion rings! But I could not bring myself to do it, for health reasons. None of their food is organic and study after study shows how unhealthy it is. I remember hearing out at my old dr's office that one of the dr's there had a happy meal on a plate that had been sitting out for 2 years, totally preserved. I don't want that junk in my body. Fortunately, I had brought along a bag of organic pretzels from Trader Joes, so I just munched on those instead. It's a pain in the neck becoming healthy...

Muscle Man

Here's Will, playing with his new "toys." He had a gift card to Scheels from Christmas and went out there last week to use it. They're some sort of exercise/push-up device. He's got a set of weights up in his bedroom and from time to time we hear this "thump" through the ceiling. Getting his body into prime football shape seems to be his goal these days, which is good. He's drinking lots of chocolate milk though and insisting I buy him V-8 Fusion drinks. I don't think milk is a healthy drink at all (pasteurized and homogenized - raw would be terrific), so I don't encourage that, but the V-8 is fine. I just wish he'd be willing to go healthier on his eating. Although, I did make organic chocolate chip cookies over the weekend and he's been chowing those down, so maybe there's hope! Those cookies I made are SO good that I can't believe they're good for you! But they are. I'll definitely be making them again.

I'm taking a break from deep-cleaning my bedroom. I just moved the mattress and box spring and about broke my arm. I can't believe how much dust is in that room. One wall is dark green and I can just see all these dust bunnies clinging to it. I'm sure I'll be sneezing before I get all done with it.

Potty training is really coming along for Sam. He' s been telling me all last week that "only babies wear diapers." He's doing really well at telling me when he needs to go. I'm hopeful that by summer he'll be in underwear full time. Even the poopy training is coming along. Although, right now the only way that works is if I sing to him. I think I wrote about that. I've been doing a lot of singing lately. Sam will even tell me, "I need to go poopy, so you need to come sing to me." It's hard to believe I'll have one trained this early. Of course, this is probably normal, but the other boys were all 5+ before they trained!

The next thing we'll have to work on is the screaming. Sam has decided it's appropriate to scream whenever he's displeased. That is one year old behavior, so I am not happy about it. I'll probably have to start thumping him on the lips when he does that. Very annoying.

Well, my allotted time is up. I'll post this and then get back and do another one in-between bouts of deep cleaning. I could never make it as a maid - too hard of work. Paul's aunt moved back to Iowa in the last year and that's what she does. People pay her $25 an hour to clean their houses. She almost has enough clients to be up to 40 hours a week now. Wow...I'd rather sit at my computer and make up stories, I think!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Long Days, Short Years

This is my most recent FW piece. I wrote this with completely no regard for winning, which is good, since I didn't! They haven't posted highest rankings yet so I don't know if I made it into the top 30, but I doubt that happened, either. It's a departure from my normal short fiction. I'm just telling a true story here. And I promise, every word in this is the absolute truth! This happened back in 1999 at the Super Saver grocery store in Council Bluffs, Iowa and has always stuck with me.

Long Days, Short Years

I don’t remember what season it was or what day of the week it was, either. I’m doing good to remember the year. To be honest, most of the days during that period of my life run together in a blur of memory. Lack of sleep can do that to you. Children can do that to you, too.

At the time of this story, I had three of them. I had three born within a four year period. For some reason, we thought that was a good idea at the time. Now, I wonder--what were we thinking?

I was grocery shopping when this incident occurred. Yes -- grocery shopping with three small boys. You understand, I’m sure! Our oldest, Will, was four and while he’s always been a well-behaved boy, he was still only a pre-schooler. So that meant having little legs that tired easily and sometimes, when one is four, it’s really hard to stand still while Mommy stops the cart and tries to make decisions. And let’s not forget the capricious bladder of a pre-schooler!

And then there was Ben, who was two at the time and not nearly so well-behaved as his older brother. Ben was born with a number of special needs and was quite developmentally delayed. But in his third year of life he suddenly figured out how to move and decided to make up for his first couple of years of inactivity. Having no fear whatsoever, he quickly became a menace both himself and others. I have plenty of stories that I’ve unsuccessfully tried to block from my memory… So, to keep him from hurtling himself out of the cart, I would sit him down in the back of the contraption and thread a Velcro strap I had through the slats of the cart and around Ben’s tummy. He was trapped! That worked until the day he figured out how to pull the strap apart –but that’s another story!

At the time of this incident, Ben also had severe eczema. We eventually got it under control, but for a long time, the poor kid looked like he’d been on the losing end of a fight because he was missing patches of skin on different parts of his body. He was kind of pathetic looking and I could be sure of receiving comments from horrified on-lookers, no matter where I took him!

And then there was the baby. David was just a few months old at the time and had a perpetually purpled mouth because of the anti-thrush medication he had to take. That also elicited a few comments from passer-by! I would set his infant seat on the seat portion of the cart, which left me a space of about twelve inches within which to place all my groceries.

So this particular day was a normal day in this season of life. I was in the store, trying to make decisions on a very limited budget. I had a running total in my mind of what I’d already chosen, all the while trying to encourage Ben to not smash the potato chips with his feet, assuring Will that I’d take him potty just as soon as I could, and hoping David wouldn’t suddenly decide it was time to eat.

As I checked out that day, a little old lady was in line behind me. Hunched over, she had hobbled through the store and was now placing her items on the belt behind mine. As she did so, she suddenly leaned forward and said to me, “These days are the best days of your life, you know.”And, quite honestly, I wanted to deck her! If this was the best season of my life, then there wasn’t a whole lot else to look forward to!

But, of course, she was right. Two of those little boys are now teenagers, daily plowing through my fridge and cupboards like starving refugees. And the third is right on their heels (and just as hungry). I look at them at times, and while I can honestly say I’m enjoying this season of life, too, I’d love to go back to those sweet, early days. Amidst all the struggle and plain hard work of that time, I had a treasure in those little boys.

And then, one of these days I’ll be the little old lady in the grocery store assuring the young, harried mom with the wisdom born from experience.

Maybe I should duck first.

A Glimpse of the Moon

Here is a FW entry from a couple of weeks ago. Our assignment was, "Once in a Blue Moon." I knew there was an old, old song entitled, "Blue Moon" and the story just grew from that. I worked SO hard on this one and was quite disappointed that I didn't place. Ok, I was crushed! But I'll survive. I did make it into the top 30 (barely) but it was a small consolation.

A Glimpse of the Moon

Nestled in Jack’s arms, May swayed across the dance floor. The low tones of the 1934 hit, “Blue Moon,” played by the band at the Tiger Ballroom caused her to smile up into Jack’s face. Happy beyond belief, she hugged Jack even tighter and wished the night would never end.

May shook herself out of her reverie and called to her sons to dinner.As they ate, May told the boys, “Now, I need to hustle, I’m going to go see Dad this afternoon which means you’ll be alone tonight.“

The boys nodded their assent. They didn’t ask to go along and May didn’t suggest it.Watching her boys eat, May marveled once again at the children she and Jack had made. Tim was thirteen now and considered himself to be the man of the house. And, at nine, little Mikey wasn’t so little anymore. But there were nights that May heard both boys’ muffled sobs through the thin walls and her heart would break all over again.


After reminding the boys to lock up tight, May caught the bus and settled in for the long ride to Ridgeville. Jack had been a patient at the Veterans’ Hospital there for two years now and like it always did during these trips, May’s mind drifted to events in the past.

Jack had been twenty- eight when Pearl Harbor was bombed. The boys were little and May was horrified when Jack enlisted. How could he leave them?

“How can I not, May?” Jack had pleaded with her.

And so May had let him go. She lived for his letters, which sometimes arrived with lines blacked out by the censors. Always, before he signed his name, Jack would draw a little picture of the moon. Sometimes it would be a crescent, sometimes a full moon, but always, it was there. It was a reminder of “their” song, the one they had danced to back at the Tiger Ballroom, and later, in their little kitchen, after the boys had been put to bed. And it was also a reminder, Jack told May, to look at the moon and to remember that, no matter how far apart they were, that same moon was shining on both of them.

And now Jack was back from the war. Well, Jack’s body was back, May corrected -- but Jack wasn’t back. Normandy Beach and a German bullet had changed everything. Now Jack lived his days nearly silent and motionless. Although there were the rare times that he did speak, whispering. The bullet that had shattered his spine had also sliced through his voice box. The doctors and therapists worked tirelessly with Jack and assured May that someday he’d be well enough to come home. He’d be in a wheelchair, but he’d be home. May wasn’t sure if she wanted that to happen.

She wanted Jack to come home, not this lifeless shell of her husband. She still loved him dearly, of course, but May longed for a glimpse of the man she’d waved good-bye to, all those years ago. She wanted the strong Jack who worked so hard and loved her so tenderly. She wanted the Jack who read bedtime stories to the boys and wrestled with them on the floor. If she could just catch a reminder, a small fragment of that Jack, May thought, then things wouldn’t seem so hopeless. It wouldn’t have to happen all the time, but if she could just see something, then she could go on.It wouldn’t matter then that now she had to be both mother and father to Tim and Mikey. It wouldn’t matter that she had to work part-time at the diner to pay for the bills that Jack’s pension didn’t cover. If she could just catch a glimpse…


To her surprise, Jack was sitting in a wheelchair when May arrived at his room. She smiled brightly and began to chatter about her week. Jack stared blankly ahead. Out of words, May turned on the room’s small radio. To her delight, the sweet strains of “Blue Moon” spilled out of the box.

But then, to May’s utter amazement, Jack nodded his head, and whispered, “May I have this dance?” With a broad smile, May rose to her feet, and began to push Jack in a slow semi-circle around the room, all the while swaying to the dulcet sounds.

And as she looked out the window she saw the moon rising, brushing the tops of the trees.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

God Knows

There's the literary not-so genius at work. For this week's FW entry, I made myself type it on my laptop. I have a hard time typing on that thing, because I am not used to the different keyboard. But I need to learn. Plus, it's been so cold out in the backroom without having the woodburner going for the past ten days! (The backroom is where our other computer is) And we've been in a bit of an Artic freeze for a few days now. Our highs have been something like 10 degrees. So, anyway, Paul had to get a picture of me, actually working on my new laptop, not just checking Facebook or email.

A week ago Ben went to respite care. Like the last time he went, the planned activity was swimming. Well, last time Ben never brought home his towel. So this time, I emphasized the importance to him of bringing home his towel. He agreed that he would. I forgot to pack a plastic bag for his wet trunks, so I instructed him to roll them up inside his towel and then put the towel inside his book bag. So, when I went to pick him up, I felt his bag - yep, there was a towel in there.

Well, the next day, I opened up the bag and discovered that Ben had, indeed brought home a towel. But it wasn't HIS towel! He grabbed some other kid's towel! Argh!!!!! Can you sense my frustration? His mind is just not where it needs to be. To that end, there's a new herbal tincture I want to try on him. My friend Melissa was telling me about it this week. It seems to be helping her spectrum kids, anyway. It's just like the cups. Over and over I have instructed Ben that when he unloads the dishwasher he needs to place the cups to the BACK of the cupboard instead of placing them right at the front. In addition, it is not acceptable to have cups tipped over and laying on their sides in the cupboards. But no matter how many times I tell him this, it still keeps happening! I hope it's pleasant in the little world that he lives in his brain, because it's sure not pleasant for us here with him!

Last week Will commented that Paul and I should go away for a few days by ourselves. His timing was kind of funny because Paul and I had actually just been discussing doing that very thing. I don't think it's going to happen this year but we definitely want to go away in two years for our 20th anniversary, and we might even do something next year since we have this second trip we ended up getting at the home show. So, I said to Will, "That is so thoughtful of you!" He said, "Yeah, I know. Plus, if you go away, then we could order in pizza every night." Well, we know what's important to that kid!

I'm a reader - you all know that. I have been reading non-stop since I taught myself to read around age 4. So, multiply that by 36 years and you have a good idea of how many books I've read - thousands. There are just a handful, though, that I can say have literally changed my life. The first was, "Not my Will" by Franscesca Arnold. The second was, "Redeeming Love" by Francine Rivers. Her Mark of the Lion series might fall into that category, too. Funny thing is, I don't own ANY of those books I just mentioned. Neither do I own the following: Terri Blackstock wrote a 4-book series called the Redemption series - 1)"Last Light" 2) "Night Light" 3) "True Light" 4) "Dawn's Light"

I read the first two in the series the summer I was pregnant with Sam. Wow - what an impact those had on me. The books deal with modern-day civilization and what happens when it all stops. Some sort of meteorological event - they call it the "pulses" wipes out all the world's electricity and anything motorized. Computers don't work, cars don't work, nobody has electricity. The world comes to a complete standstill. Suddenly, people who's former concerns dealt with jobs, shopping, vacations are scrambling to survive. They're tearing up their manicured lawns to plant gardens. They're hunting in the woods, hoping to kill deer and rabbits so they can have supper that night. They're getting to know their neighbors for the first time in their previously tidy neighborhoods. Eventually, they start schools and churches on their own. And in the midst of this literal darkness, the darkness of some men's souls bursts forth. Crime happens like it never has before.

The stories center around the Branning family, an upper-middle class family in an Atlana suburb. Anyway, I have never gotten "over" these books in the 3 yrs since I read them. They changed the way I view so much of my own life. The third book came out a couple of years ago, and I read that one. And then, a couple of weeks ago I picked up the final book at the library.

Oh, my goodness! It is SO good. Not only does the book deal with the on-going aftermath of the Pulses, but the book addresses some very basic, basic questions of Who is God? Where's God when my heart has been ripped out? Why doesn't He prevent all evil, particularly evil done to His children? Is God STILL good when tragedy happens - tragedy that could have been prevented? I cried and cried all the way through the second half of the book. Like I said - life changing. Read the books. You will never be the same again.

I remembered one other blessing from this week and I'll close with this. I was on my way to W. Des Moines Tues. night to go to my mom's meeting. I started scanning through the radio stations and I stumbled across Focus on the Family. The thing is, it was on a station that broadcasts from Pella. Normally, that station won't come in once I get to Carlisle because it's too far north. But by God's grace, I pulled it in strong all the way to the church, clear out in the Jordan Creek area!

The broadcast was an interview with Chuck Colsen and his daughter, Emily. She has written a book about her 19 yr old autistic son, called, "Dancing with Max." I'm going to have to buy it. The broadcast was such an encouragement to me and I know God wanted me to hear it that night. I am not alone. Many, many others are walking the same path we've been placed on. I just praise God for his encouragement at just the right time. He knew about the towel incident and He knew about the upcoming Battle of the Cups. And He even knows about my kids' drippy noses.


Well, into all lives a little rain must fall...

A few raindrops from this past week:

* I've been having nasty, nasty headaches all week - migraines, actually. Tuesday it was so bad that I laid down. The head pain was absolutely agonizing and I just laid there, as the waves of pain crashed through my skull, over and over. I eventually fell asleep. When I woke up, the headache was gone, but I knew I'd had another mini-stroke. Fortunately, my recovery time from those things is fairly rapid anymore. But the headaches have not stopped yet. I wake up in the middle of the night and my head is just pounding. I don't know WHAT is going on. I'm trying to wean myself off pop, but I really don't think that's the culprit because I'm taking it slow. I went one day, pop-free, and then I had some. The next, I went two days, and so forth. And, by the way, my goal is not to eliminate pop consumption, but it's to make it more of a rare treat than something that I imbibe daily.

Oh, and then this afternoon a glass crockpot lid crashed down off a high shelf in the mudroom and hit my head. If I didn't already have a headache...

* I worked so hard on my last FW story. I researched and researched for that one and I just poured myself into it. I got a lot of positive comments on it, too, all week long. I was crushed when I didn't place this week. I did make it into the top 30 entries (out of 118) - barely. It frustrates me because I know I can write well - but what more do these judges want from me? It makes me want to just quit. Maybe I'm fooling myself with the writing. I can probably write well compared to the average non-writing, literate person, but I can't compare to real writers. But Paul asked me if I was going to quit and I quickly told him, "no." So, apparently, I'm trudging onward.

* The boys allergies really have me discouraged this week. Ben asked to come home from school Thursday morning because he was experiencing a severe attack. His nose didn't dry up until Friday night. I am at my wit's end. I don't know what to do for he and David. Their allergies have never been so severe in their lives. I suspect the contruction on the house may be a culprit. I'm reluctant to get David started on shots because Ben has been on them for 2 years and I am seeing absolutely no results. These boys are half drugged all the time. Their allergies flare up anywhere and anytime. David just came in from being out in the field and he was having a time of it, allergy-wise. So, it's obviously not limited to the house.

So, I have an appt. with a chiropractor on Monday for the boys. I know chiropractic care can help allergies sometimes, but not always. That, in and of itself, was a feat. The boys have two different kinds of insurance. Between the two, there are three different insurances at play. It took me, literally, all Thurs. afternoon to find a chiro that takes at least two of the insurances. As it is, we'll be paying some on David's care, out of pocket. I've also been doing some research on herbs and tinctures for allergies. I have a list of possibilities that I want to run by the chiro when we meet with him on Monday. Fortunately, I found a website this week (thanks, Melissa!) that sells herbs at a fraction of what we've been paying, buying them at Campbells, and even through the co-op.

And we've already determined that we're going to buy new mattresses and carpeting for the boys' room as soon as we get our tax return. And I'm going to look for something called an ionizer to help for now. I shot off a FB note to a friend of Paul's folks who is very knowledgeable about natural treatments and herbs today. He replied, but not in as great of detail as I had hoped. But I did get a little bit of help from him.

I'm frustrated. My boys need help and I don't know how to give it to them. All I can do is to keep trying different things, I guess.

I'll have a couple more things in my next post - not raindrops or blessings, particularly...just stuff.


I had a pretty good week this week, despite a little bit of negativity that crept in. Some of the good things:

* As I sit here typing, Paul and the boys are out cutting wood. That's because he got his truck running today!!!! We've been burning propane for the past week and a half because we ran out of wood and had no way to get more. Now, all is well again. Next step: buying a car for Will. Then our vehicle trials are OVER!

*My moms group met Tuesday night. Just three of us showed up. What a blessing it was, still, even with the small numbers. As it turned out, the three of us who came all have children on the autism spectrum, so a lot of our conversation centered around that. I came home so refreshed.

* A salesman came to our house Mon. night to try and sell us a cooling system for our attic. I think we're going to do it, but do it ourselves. We can buy the same material he sells from Menards and I think we can do it quite a bit cheaper. But, while we waited for Paul, the salesman was telling me about his son who has Kawasaki syndrome. That's what I believe John Travolta's dead son had. A lot of the symptoms are autistic in nature. He and his wife are attempting to decide what to do about schooling. When he learned I homeschooled, he was very interested, as it is something they are considering. I almost hated to tell him I'm not hs Ben anymore, though!

* I made it to Bible Study this week. Oh, what a tremendous blessing that was to me. We're doing a series on the home. What we do is listen to part of a message by the dead preacher, Adrian Claiburn, and then we fill out worksheets and discuss them. It was a group of 7 of us that met. I came away, very uplifted in spirit.

* And I went to scrapbooking last night. I don't think I had made it since before football season started. I got 30 pages done - a good night!

* A friend of mine called with the results of her cancer testing - negative! This is my neighbor, a woman a few years older than my parents. She told me, "You're a good friend, Sarah." That warmed my heart, for some reason.

Well, now there's a postscript to Blessing #1. A few minutes ago I had to drive down and rescue Paul and the boys. He got the truck stuck in the woods. Now he's home, as darkness is settling, trying to find chains and jacks to free the truck. And so it goes...

My next post will cover some of the not-so-great things of this past week - something to look forward to for you! :)

Monday, January 17, 2011


Almost done with my house cleaning, thank goodness. I'm not used to this kind of work! Hah!

I'm having a problem with really brittle finger nails. It's been going on about 6 months now. I'm hoping my friends might have some idea of the problem, because I sure don't. Any time my nails get beyond the end of my finger, they almost immediately crack and break off. And, now, in the last week I have had two nails crack clear down in the nail bed itself, halfway down the fingernail. Oh, that's painful! I don't know what's going on. I'm eating better than I ever have - you'd think that would cause me to have strong, healthy nails. But I'm starting to get really annoyed.

Well, we have our vacation plans made for this year. We had been contemplating a trip to Kentucky to see the Creation museum and then from there, heading up to Michigan so I could attend my FW conference in August. But now that's changed.

In recent years we've managed to take some really nice trips on promotional dimes. I don't feel guilty or embarrassed about it because we probably would not have been able to take the boys places we have w/o them. We've gone to the Wisconsin Dells, Branson, and Lake Okaboji for really low cost, all in return for listening to a sales promo on time shares. Well, at the Home Show the other night we got stopped by salesman offering us the same thing. He claims they aren't a time share company, though, but some service type deal. Anyway, by the time all was said and done, we ended up scoring two two-night, three day trips, as well as tickets to a show in Branson.

We've been wanting to take the boys to Worlds of Fun in Kansas City for awhile now. So what we're going to do - probably in July - is to go down to KC and do that. And then we'll go on Branson. We've heard marvelous things about the Noah show down there. It was actually supposed to end in 2010, but they've extended it through 2011. So, we're going to buy tickets for the boys to see that and then we'll find some other fun things to do down there for a couple of days.

That won't be a long trip, so we're considering the possibility of going to Family Camp for a couple of days and then maybe visiting the zoo in Omaha one weekend.

My thinking is, then, that hopefully, we could visit the Creation Museum in 2012. They are getting started on a to-scale replica of Noah's Ark and it would be neat to visit after that's completed. But that may be a several year project, so it might not work out anyway. Both of us just feel driven to get some more vacations under our family belt since Will graduates in 2013 and I'm not sure he'd ever be able to go with us on another trip, with college and working.

And then, as far as my conference goes, I'm going to look into seeing what it would cost to just fly out there. The thought of that frightens me to death because I have never flown alone. But millions of people do it every day, so I'm sure I'm capable. We got to thinking by the time we'd pay for gas and then stuff for Paul and the boys to do while I'm attending the conference, we might be better off to just have me fly. But I won't know for sure until I check into ticket prices.

I've also arranged for Ben and David to take swimming lessons once a week this summer in Indianola from my friend Megan. So, it's going to be a busy, busy summer. Before it gets here, we have to sit down and figure out what's going on, week by week. Will plans to work at camp again and I'm sure he could get every week in June and July if he wants to. I need to find some activities for Ben and then once we get into August, football starts up and Ben goes back to school. Oh, and we're also going to spend a day at the State Fair that month, too.

I'm reminded of a verse - in James, I think - where we are reminded to "not boast about what tomorrow will bring" since God is the only one who truly knows what is going to happen. So, with that in mind, the above are my summer plans, but, of course, that could all change.

You all know my interest, lately, in eating better. To that end, I have been scouring stores like Trader Joes and the health food section at Hy-Vee. I've come home with a few products made by a company called "Annie." She makes cereal, gummies, crackers, cookies, etc. I have been absolutely delighted with their products. The taste is so, so much better than comparable products. That surprised me since I figured healthy food would have to taste a little more bland. Not Annie's products! They are much better tasting and better for you! Of course, being healthy, they are expensive. But a friend alerted me that Amazon sells Annie's stuff. So I browsed through there the other night and got so excited! The products are still more expensive than buying generic or even name-brand cookies and crackers, but it's a little cheaper than buying them at Hy-Vee or Trader Joes. But you have to buy them in a case. So I think every payday, I'm going to order a couple of different of cases of her stuff until we have a good selection of our own.

And then I found out how to order from Azure, so I am hopeful that will be a new source for me to get a lot of the other stuff I can't get around here, like 50 lb bags of white whole wheat flour, cane sugar, etc. I don't know if I mentioned it or not, but more than likely we're going to lose our ordering club for the warehouse in Iowa City that I've been involved with for the past year. Our group is small anyway, and one of our biggest orderers just moved to Missouri! That's still a little up in the air, but I'm not too hopeful at this point.

Well, off to complete my list. Today and Wednesday are the only days this week I get to stay home. Well, Saturday, too, I guess. Tomorrow I'm meeting a friend for lunch and then I have my moms group in the evening. Thursday evening is Ladies' Bible study at church and I'd really like to make it to that, since I haven't in, oh, a couple of years. And then Friday night is scrapbooking. I need to fit in a visit to our neighbors this week, too.

I can't believe any of you actually enjoy reading this stuff. What a bland and boring blog...

Monday, Monday

Here's a picture of the boys in the pool at our recent hotel stay.

Well, let's see - what is new today? I'm cleaning up the house because we have a salesman coming over tonight - oh joy! We went to the Home Show Sat. night and Paul got to talking with a guy that puts foil in attics as an extra layer of insulation. I know that is something he is interested in. I know he won't pay someone else to do it, though! So the poor salesman is going to be wasting his time, as I am in cleaning up my house.

While we were at the show, we ran into our old pastor and his wife. They do a lot of engraving/laser type work and show their wares at various shows. But it never once occurred to me that they might be there. So that was a pleasant surprise. While we were there, Evelyn told us they had just gotten word that an elderly lady from our old church had taken a fall that day and was at the ER. I thought that was too bad - old people can take a long time to recover from falls.

Well, we got home that night and Paul found a voice mail on his phone from Evelyn (our former pastor's wife). This lady who had fallen had taken a turn for the worse. Her brain was swelling and she wasn't expected to make it. Wow! All from a fall, no less. So today I got a phone call from my friend Stephanie (and I was deeply appreciative of the phone call), who told me, "Wilma has gone Home." Now, my first thought was, "Hey! That's great! - must have been a lot of nothing." But Stephanie was sniffling so I quickly deduced she meant Home-Home, as in Heaven-Home. Just another example of why I'm not real fond of euphemisms for death. You die, ok? You don't pass away, you don't pass on - you die. But I digress. I could write a blog on that topic alone. I just may someday! So, anyway, it's kind of sad. Wilma lived a full life and now she's reunited with her husband. So, really it's only sad for those left behind who loved her. My heart is a little sore today. Paul is toying with the idea of going out to Council Bluffs for the funeral. I guess we'll have to see what his work schedule is this week. how to segue from that into something else?! My denim shirt died - will that work? This was my oldest piece of clothing. I remember buying it from Penneys in 2002 for $5 on a clearance rack. Over the years it had washed itself into the softest denim and I loved wearing it. I took it out the other night and discovered a big rip across the back of one of the sleeves. It must have been so worn that it caught on something in the washer and ripped. Bummer! I don't even know if denim shirts are in style any longer. I'll have to do some looking around.

We watched the BEST movie Friday night - "Despicable Me." I loved, loved, loved it! Will had an all-nighter youth activity at church and David was at a slumber party, so I bought some nicer pizzas and rented this movie, per Ben's request. I could watch it again, it was so good!

Sam is getting closer to getting potty trained. In the last week he has started taking himself to the bathroom. And when I do suggest that it's time to go, a lot of the times he refuses to let me come with him, insisting that he will take care of things by himself - and he does! I'm impressed! I've even gotten him to have two "poopies" on the toilet in the past couple of weeks. Now, to make this happen, I have to sit on a little stool between his legs and sing to him in order for him to relax enough to go. I think that for the rest of his life, he's going to associate the "Itsy Bitsy Spider" and "My God is So Big!" with having bowel movements. That's really sad! And I find myself a little sad, even, that this era is coming to an end. The zipper on Sam's diaper bag broke last weekend so I ordered him a new one this week ( - neat, neat bag website! - and cheaper, too, than other sites!) and I realized that this will be his last diaper bag. Wah-h-h! I'm nuts, aren't I? I should be happy he's almost bowel-independent!

I'm starting to get really excited about my latest FW piece. I loved how it turned out. These characters that I made were so real to me! My friend Kristi suggested that I may want to turn this piece into a book. I don't know. It's a period piece, which makes me nervous. There's so much more to mess up when you're writing about an era in which you never lived. I'm getting some nice comments and they all caught what I was trying to convey, which was the fact that beauty can still be found, even in the midst of extreme trials. So, I am anxious for Thurs. to arrive, to see what the judges thought.

Well, off to do some more cleaning to impress a salesman...I'm pathetic.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Power of Recognition

I realized that the next few things I wanted to talk about all kind of fall under the same heading - thus the title. But first, a funny: Ok, it's a funny where I couldn't laugh out loud but since I was in the other room, just overhearing it, I was safe. Will and David were talking one day last week and Sam suddenly decided that HE needed to talk to Will. So he attempted to interrupt David, but David kept right on talking. Sam got so frustrated that he finally yelled, "Dabid - SHUT UP!" It's horrible, but it tickled my funny bone, just the same!

Ok, on to my topic: Yesterday was an exciting day because I got a package from RBP. Inside was the March 6, 2011 issue of Horizons. And there's my name, right on the front! And then I about fell over when I opened it up because inside, alongside my story are about 6 family pictures that I sent RBP. I'm confused because they had originally requested some family pics and I sent them. But then their graphics guy suggested we find some pictures of our church ministering to Ben and other sp. needs kids since that was what the article was about. So, my pastor sent them about 20 different pictures. And then they ended up using my pics instead! I really, really hope the article with the pictures doesn't come off as self-serving. That wasn't my intent at all. And then after the article there is a little blip about me and names Paul and the boys. I only sent that information in because they requested it. So anyway, Will looked through the article and then breathed, "We're going to be famous!" I don't really think that's going to happen. All I did was write a story about our experience with Ben and how the church can help meet the needs of families with special needs children. So, if there's any notoriety, it will be limited and short-lived, I'm sure!

Also, yesterday, I went to the bank. I do this every two weeks when running errands. We bank in Des Moines, which makes this next event even more amazing, in my mind. It's not like Des Moines is a small town. It's the capital of Iowa - biggest city in the state! So anyway, I pull into the drive-through and the teller greets me, "Hi Sarah!" You know, the last time I was there I thought she had used my name, but I wasn't sure. But it was definite yesterday. All I did was pull up. I hadn't put my deposit through yet, so that she could read it off my slip. She knows me! And then she repeated my name again when I left. It's such a little thing but wow - impressive!

And then today, I received a message through the FaithWriters message system. It was a thank you from another writer, whose name I did not recognize. She told me that a couple of weeks ago I had commented on her piece and what my words meant to her. She said tears streamed down her face as she read my note and she felt as though she now had the courage to continue writing. That sure intrigued me because I sure didn't remember writing anything exceptionally positive to anyone. So I did a little digging and found what I had written. At the time I wrote, I didn't know, of course, to whom I was writing. When we comment on other pieces, it's generally during the time when we don't know who has written what yet. But she's in the Beginner level, brand new to FW. I had commented on how much I enjoyed her writing and suggested some ways she could "clean up" her writing so as to make it more enjoyable to the reader. I think she has some real potential. But I wasn't gushy or anything and I didn't tell her she was the greatest thing since sliced bread. It was just a note. But to her, it meant everything. What a lesson to me!

Well, time to get cracking on supper. Suppose my family will give any recognition for that? Yeah, I can keep dreaming...

Family Weekend

Today was supposed to be Ben's first day back to school after Christmas break. He was so excited! We got everything ready, but as I watched the weather, I was a bit dubious things would go as hoped. Indeed, by 9 last night, Pville was already on a 2 hour delay. They were at 7 this morning, too. But by 8, school had been cancelled. We've got about 7 1/2" of snow now.

And tomorrow Ben and his brothers all have dental appts. first thing in the morning, so Ben will probably miss all morning at school. Oh well - that's the way it goes when it's winter. And you live in Iowa.

We had a nice, busy weekend. Friday evening we went to Walnut and stayed in a motel. The room itself was fine. We got a room with 3 beds for $100 - decent price. But they didn't tell me when I booked it that that particular wing is separate from the rest of the hotel. And the pool is in the other building. So we had to walk outside, in the frigid Jan. temps. with our wet swimwear and heads! NOT good! Although none of us are sniffling, so I think we did survive without catching our death of pneumonia or something. And then, when I called down to the front desk, requesting more bath towels, they told me I was welcome to come GET THEM! Excuse me? I have never stayed anywhere where towels were not delivered to me. By the way, this is the Super 8 motel in Walnut, Iowa. Save your money and stay elsewhere. Although, in their defense, the next morning, they had a really nice desk clerk on duty. She fussed over Sam and when he left his sippy cup down in the breakfast area (we didn't know this had happened) she brought it to our room. I thought that was really thoughtful of her. And they didn't have bed bugs. I'm a bit paranoid about that these days, so we checked all 3 beds and even stripped one down, just to make sure.

We antiqued all afternoon in Walnut and you know, for the first time ever, we didn't buy a thing. Half the stores were closed, which didn't help. I only found two things I was remotely interested in but decided in the end I was more interested in keeping my money.

Oh, another word to the wise about Walnut. Do NOT eat at Aunt B's restaurant. The food is ok, although none of us were impressed with how our white buns crumbled off our sandwiches - obviously, they use very cheap food. But the service was awful. When the waitress brought the food she didn't bring Ben's. And then she claimed that we had never ordered it. Uh, I think we know what we ordered! Not a good experience, at all!

Late that afternoon we travelled on to Council Bluffs where Paul's mom had a sloppy joe supper waiting. A bunch of family came out and we celebrated both Paul's birthday, and his nephew, Chris', birthday, who was turning 30 that day. That's a picture of them you see there. Paul's mom made Paul's cake an "under construction" theme with cement blocks and all, as a nod to our current situation. That was actually my idea!

So, it was nice and I got to see my beautiful great-nephew, Aiden again. Just in a month, he's grown so much!

Then, the next day we visited our old church. I always enjoy that so much! One of my friends there ended up sitting with me downstairs during the SS hour and we talked about writing. I picked her brain on my current FW story that I'm working on. It's a period piece and she is one of the few people I know who were alive then! Mary is 84 and told me she's already planning her 85th birthday party this year and wants to make sure I come. I'll be there! She's also taking a writing class at the Senior Center in Council Bluffs. THAT is how I want to be when I'm 85 - active, independent, and still learning. I knew one other old lady like her who greatly influenced my teenage years. She was in our church and became a very good friend. She died at age 101, which was her goal. She wanted to be able to say she had lived in 3 centuries. She was born in 1899 and died in 2001, so she made it!

We ended up eating lunch out on Sun. with Paul's parents. We ate at KFC, which is really good, but really bad for you. All I could think about as I was eating was how crummy this stuff was for my body! Paul's dad's behavior, of course, left much to be desired there at the restaurant. I thought it was interesting that the next day, Ben commented to me on it. He's supposedly mentally retarded (although you know how I feel about that dx) but even HE recognized wrong behavior when he saw it. But I digress...

We got on the road at a decent time and planned to stop at our church for the evening service. But then west of Stuart, traffic came to a standstill. It was snowing pretty hard. Eventually, we got up to the Stuart exit and were forced off by the police. We couldn't see anything, but found out later that east of the exit, a pick-up truck had crossed the center line and collided with a semi, which jack knifed. It was a fiery mess and two people died. That could have been us! We ended up taking Hwy 92 all the way home, which was a nice drive through Winterset and other communities. So we were home by 8 or so. I got everything unpacked and put away and even got all the birthdays entered on my new calendar!

So, it was a good weekend. But after 4 trips in the last 4 weeks, I'm done traveling for a long time - staying home for a long, long while!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Lordy, Lordy, Look Who's Forty

As the old saying goes! That's Paul last night, celebrating the big 4-0. I had to post about it on Facebook and might have said something about being married to an "old man." So of course, Will zinged back, "March is coming and then he won't be the only OLD person in our house!" Hah!

I made Paul a fried chicken dinner, per his request. As I mixed the batter ingredients, I couldn't help remember my reading last week that MSG actually kills brain cells. Oh well... We had a nice dinner and then a little party for Paul. I also had the kids go around the table and list things they were thankful for in their dad.

Monday David and I had gone out to the Brass Armadillo, an antiques store in Ankeny. I had never been there before, but would have liked longer to poke around. Paul had mentioned some Tonka trucks he saw (but I couldn't find). But we got him a few things. David insisted on buying the John Deere sign for him with his own money. And Will had a John Deere knife that he had picked up at another antiques store some time back. Paul had admired it, so Will wrapped it up for his dad. I have such sweet boys!

We had gotten home Monday from shopping and Sam saw our purchases. David must have told him that they were for Dad's birthday. So that night when Paul got home, Sam announced, "It your bertday. We got you John Deere!" Paul turned to me with a bemused expression on his face and asked, "Is he supposed to be talking?" I guess David isn't the only one now who can't keep a secret!

Sam was pretending to be a lion the other night, running through the house, over and over, hollering, "Rawr!" Then I took him upstairs for his shower and he was running his fingernails up and down the shower stall and told me he was "sharpening" his claws! I told him his middle name (Leo) means "lion" but I don't know if he understood me or not.

I got a new collage frame Monday at Hobby Lobby. I am such a sucker for those things! I just love displaying family photographs, I guess. I was looking for something to fill my new empty space on my living room wall and I kept coming back to this gorgeous frame. It would just go so well because it has a reddish background and then underneath all the photo openings the word, "Blessings." But it was a $70 frame! However, I did have a 40% off coupon and $20 worth of gift cards from Christmas. So, I stewed and stewed about it. At one point, I had picked something else and was in line. But I got out of line because I just couldn't decide! I finally decided to go with the collage frame and, to my delight, discovered that it was already marked 50% off. There wasn't a sign, so I didn't know that. So anyway, after all was rung up, my $70 frame cost me only $17! When I got home I ordered some pictures from Snapfish to fill the openings and with a discount code I had with them and some credits to my account, my entire order, including shipping was $3!

So, I had to find individual pictures of the boys for the frame. I was able to get ones of Will, Ben, and Sam very easily, ones taken this fall. But I had the hardest time finding one of David! I couldn't believe it. I guess I just don't take enough pictures of him. Or the ones I do take, he's clowning around in, making faces. He does fancy himself to be a bit of a comedian. His latest thing is making up jokes about everything. But they aren't that funny. And then he gets offended when we don't laugh. Somehow, I just don't think his future is going to be found on the comic stage! So anyway, I had to go clear back to June to get a decent picture of him. And then it was one taken with his brother, whom I was able to crop out. So, I need to try to get more pictures of him, I guess.

Tomorrow will be a busy day for me. I have to go to the chiropractor's. Then, in the afternoon, I am going to a FEMA mitigation meeting with another council member down in Knoxville. We'll get back from that and there's a city council meeting at 6:30. I wonder if Paul will want to do a date night tomorrow. Don't know. And I also have to cook dinner somewhere in there.

Friday evening we are driving to Walnut (the antique "capital" of Iowa, they claim - but now that I've been to the Amanas, I'm not so sure they're right on that) and spending the night in a hotel. Then we're going to antique all day long on Sat. Then that evening we'll drive to Council Bluffs and celebrate his birthday with his family. And then on Sunday we'll visit our old church and then come home. It'll be busy, but it should be enjoyable. Paul needs these respites, I've noticed. He'll work so long and hard and then he just has to have a break. So we get one and then he's good to go again.

Speaking of breaks, Ben's Christmas one, and ours, will end next week. It seems like all the other area schools went back this week, but not Pleasantville. He needs to go back. I need him to go back. And I need to get back into the routine with the other boys.

My surgery date is March 8. We got that set up this week. I got my last Depo shot yesterday. Wow, those things are wicked. By evening, my leg was numb! But I'm fine today. I guess I'm kind of neutral on the surgery. I can't say I'm looking forward to it, but I'm looking forward to the results. I suppose that can be said of any surgery. Does anyone ever look forward to being operated on? Probably not. Then, my goal is going to be avoiding a hysterectomy. I've got some herbal things I want to do to that end. I'm going to be kind of unhappy if I go through this ablation and then still have to get my uterus yanked out down the road.

Well, I think I'm going to trot upstairs and take my shower. Do you know what I'm looking to most about this weekend? The bathtub at the hotel. Seriously! I have not had a bath since Aug. 6 and I want one! The thought of submersing my body in boiling hot water, covered by bubbles - about as close to Heaven on earth as you can get, I think!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

What Love Sounds Like

Here's my latest FW piece. It was another one of those times when I didn't know what I was going to write, so I just sat down and started typing. Our topic was "communication break-down." By the time I got to the end, I was pretty pleased with what I had. And I was even more pleased when I saw that only about half the normal amount of entries had been submitted at the Masters Level. I figured that upped my chances considerably of placing. Well, you'd think so, wouldn't you?

Hah! In my division I placed 8th, which wasn't very honorable, considering there were only about 15 entries. But I did get 13th, overall, which warmed my cockles a bit.

I suppose I should have had my characters actually work out their problems, because as warm and fuzzy as things are at the end, poor Bess is going to end up frustrated at Norman again by week's end. If they'd given me more than 750 words, maybe I could have worked some more magic for them!

What Love Sounds Like

“I don’t know why you think we need to be here,” Norman Heigler groused, his arms crossed defiantly over his chest. Well, he was hoping the gesture conveyed defiance. In actuality, his arms just rested atop his ample belly, so the look didn’t have quite the impact he liked to think it did.

“I told you why,” cajoled Bess, his wife, “Mary Schlotz told me that Dr. Higgens did wonders for her and Hank’s marriage. And her cousin and husband --you know Nancy What’s-her-name from down in Clarksville --we met her at Mary’s grandson’s wedding last year --they were on the verge of divorce and Dr. Higgins saved their marriage!”“Hmph,” Norman snorted and waited in silence.


“So, why are we here today?” Dr. Higgens, the young, perky therapist asked, once introductions had been made. When Norman had seen that Dr. Higgens was no older than his oldest grandchild, he had rolled his eyeballs and snorted once more. Bess elbowed him.

“We’re here for marriage counseling” Bess announced primly.

“I see,” said Dr. Higgens, “So tell me about your marriage and what seems to be the problem.”

“We don’t have a problem,” answered Norman, just as Bess declared, “We don’t communicate at all anymore.”

“Hmm,” said Dr. Higgens.

“What do you mean, ‘we don’t communicate’?” demanded Norman.

“It’s true!” cried Bess, “Communication is the cornerstone of any solid relationship and we have none. We have a complete breakdown of communication in our marriage.”

Norm eyed his wife of forty-four years. “Have you been watching Dr. Phil again?” He finally asked.

“See!” exclaimed Bess to the doctor, “He always does this! When I try to tell Norm something important, he always brushes off what I have to say as if I’m some --weak-minded female or something!”

“Hmm,” said Dr. Higgens, beginning to write notes on her pad.

“We communicate all the time,” Norm insisted, “Every single day we talk!”

“Can you give me some examples of this?” Dr. Higgens asked.

“Why sure,” said Norm, “Every morning I ask Bess if the coffee’s hot and where’s my paper. Then, every evening I ask what’s for supper. And then every night I tell her she ought to let that dog out so he doesn’t mess up the rug and then I tell her good-night.”

“Uh, huh” Dr. Higgens was scribbling furiously on her pad.

“That is not communicating!” Bess screeched, “This is exactly what I’m talking about!”

Norman looked at his wife, puzzled. “What’re you’re getting so upset about?”

“Norm -- I want more. I want to talk with you. I want you to share yourself with me. Tell me what you’re thinking, your hopes, your dreams,” Bess raised her hands in the air in a gesture of frustration.

“My dreams?” Norman paused for a moment, a look of confusion written across his features. “Bessie, I don’t need to tell you my dreams because I’m living them. I lived them with you. I’ll never forget the first time I saw you, checking groceries in your dad’s store. I knew right then and there that if I didn’t make you mine, none of my dreams mattered.”

A look of wonderment crossed old Bess Heigler’s face as Norman continued, “The day we got married was the happiest day of my life and I’ve never once regretted it. I think of the life we’ve shared and I’d go through every hard thing all over again if it meant I could still have you by my side. I always liked how you always kind of knew what I was thinking and how you weren’t one of those women who had to have her jaw flapping every time she got a new thought. We just fit, you know? And I wouldn’t have wanted to miss a day of it.”

Bess fumbled in her purse for her a tissue as Dr. Higgens flipped through her notes, announcing, “Well, I’ve outlined some strategies here that I think will help aid you both in effective communication--”

Bess interrupted as she stood, “I’m sorry for wasting your time, Doctor.” She gazed at Norman lovingly, “I don’t think we’ll be needing your help, after all.”

Helping her husband raise his ample girth out of the chair, Bess continued, “It seems like we actually communicate pretty well.”And without looking back, Bess and Norman left to continue communicating in the way that had worked for forty-four years - - a way that didn’t always require words, but spoke volumes about love.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Milestone Year

Well, it's officially 2011 now. I think I'm supposed to be making some New Year's resolutions, but I don't have any. There's things I'd like to do this year, such as to write more and eat better and be a more thoughtful wife, mother, and friend. But I may or may not. I woke up with a migraine which may not be a good omen for the year ahead!

Christmas was good. We spent it in Waterloo. You may have seen the picture to the left on Facebook already. Paul had been so busy all week long getting my van running. He tends to be a last minute shopper (he's male) so my expectation were not real high this year. And I honestly didn't care. I had collected receipts from him one night last week and there was one he wouldn't let me have, but told me it was for $36 from Menards. Well, I knew then he had replaced my under the counter cd/radio that had died on me this year. So on Christmas morning I was a little mystified to see that the radio was from the boys, but not from Paul. In fact, I didn't see anything from him. When I got done with my gifts, Paul handed me a card and on the back of the envelope it read, "Sorry, I didn't have much time to shop this year." But then I opened it up and saw all these cardboard letters inside with the instructions that I had 10 seconds to figure out the puzzle and earn my Christmas gift! This picture was snapped just as I realized that the letters spelled out, "LAPTOP."

I couldn't believe he'd do that for me because Paul knows virtually nothing about computers. But he had spent time visiting computer stores during the week (they were sold out) and calling people, including my brother, to get advice on laptops. And then he gave me his Christmas bonus money and some other cash for me to combine with what I had saved in my laptop fund. So Tues. night we went shopping and got a 3g Dell from Best Buy. I love it! Now I'll be able to write in the privacy of my room, away from traffic and people talking to me.

On the way home from the store I reverently held the Dell box in my arms and dramatically declared, "My future lies within this box." Paul quipped, "I sure hope so - I want to retire!"

Thursday the boys and I went up to Waterloo again to see Matt, Kirsti, and the kids one last time. They flew home today and I'm not sure when we'll see them next.

So, that's my Christmas report and first of the year entry.

2011 will be a good year, I'm thinking. I turn 40 and I'm really looking forward to that. It's going to be a milestone year.