Friday, February 25, 2011

Busy, Beautiful Days

What a busy, busy week I've had - and it's not over yet! So I'm a little behind on, well, everything, but also on blogging.

Here I am with my new fridge last Sunday! I'm loving it. I will love it even more once Paul gets the water lines hooked up to it so I can used the handy dandy ice doorway ice dispenser! You can get a glimpse of our construction behind the doorway there. That used to be the bathroom; now it's set to become my office. Paul has been home most of this week so he's gotten quite a bit done, which is nice.

I had my pre-op appt. yesterday for my upcoming surgery. Sounds like it is going to be a bit more of a bigger deal than I thought. It will still be outpatient but my dr. told me I'll be wanting to take it easy for several days afterward. I kind of thought once the anesthesia wore off I'd be good to go, but evidently not. I really do not have time, though, to be down for several days. She looked at my cervix yesterday to help her determine which kind of ablation method to use. She says I have a super-tiny, tight cervix, which oddly enough, made me feel proud! It's only because I've never pushed a human being out that thing, I'm sure! But anyway, she's going to use the method where she inserts a camera. That way she can get a good look at the inside of my uterus first. She said if she sees any weak spots, though, she won't do the ablation. I doubt there are any of those. She said this method is a little more thorough, too.

Dr. Morgan said, "Now, there's no turning back after this - are you absolutely, positively sure you are done having babies?" But she then hastened to add, "Although it would be extremely dangerous for you to do so!" Yes, I'm sure...not liking it, but I'm done. Actually, it isn't another baby that's appealing - it's just the thought of a fifth child. I saw a pregnant woman yesterday on my way up to the office and my first thought was, "Boy, am I glad I'm done with that stage of life!" It was fun to go back for awhile with Sam, but I really have no desire to do the baby thing ever again.

After that appointment yesterday I ran out to Penneys because I had a really good coupon. But I've been so discouraged lately with clothes shopping. I have reached a point in my life where I can't find anything I like. Stores are full of these thin, drapey fabrics that you layer - and that is not me. I am more into classics and they're kind of hard to find right now. Plus, I'm ever-mindful of my age and I know that the cardinal rule with older dressing is to not show too much skin and to not try to look like a college student again. At the same time, though, I'm not ready for elastic waisted pants (although they would be comfortable!) and seersucker blazers or sweatshirts with cutesy designs embroidered on. I used to have so many choices and was limited only by practicality and money. Now, I'm willing to spend more, but I can't find the clothes! However, I did find two shirts for spring/summer yesterday, so I was quite pleased. The big thing this season is rolled up sleeves that hit just above the elbow and are secured to the sleeve with a buttoned strap. I found a worn-denim shirt like that that I bought. Of course, my upper arms are so fat that I had to get an XL in order to even feel comfortable in it. I also found a red t-shirt with red embroidery on it. But I'll have to be careful when leaning over! My big hunt right now is for an Easter dress. I'm having zero luck with that. I can either look cute, flirty, and twenty-five or I can look like Laura Bush. Maybe Barbara Bush, actually.

After that I had to show up in Pleasant Hill to decorate for the Network Formal that is tonight. I've complained about this before. It's forced servitude that I have to put in for the privilege of paying to send Will to the homeschool co-op. Not that I'm really complaining - it's just the way they do it . I've been really pleased with the progress Will has made this year in his class, so if I have to put in some hours of work to make that happen, then so be it. I thought I'd be there an hour, maybe two. Hah! I was there for over 5 hours! Silly me - I thought that because I was on the decorating committee I just had to decorate. No, I ended up ripping apart place cards and putting chairs around tables. Ugh - too much work! I was under the impression that we had a set-up crew coming in. Apparently, we were it. I didn't mind doing the extra work (well, moving a hundred or so chairs was pretty tiring) - it was the just the time because I've been on such a tight schedule lately. I had to call Paul and say, "Um, if you guys want to eat tonight it'll have to be frozen pizzas or soup!"

I had to laugh, though, at one of the decorations that went up. It was a backdrop that I didn't work on. It looks, to me anyway, like a giant woman's private parts. I kept waiting for someone to say something, but nobody did. So maybe they don't see what I do. My mind must work in perverted ways. But the resemblance is uncanny - in my opinion, anyway! Reminds me of that episode of "Everybody Loves Raymond" where Marie takes an art class and makes an art sculpture in all innocence that ends up looking like a vagina. Everyone is horrified but nobody has the guts to tell her. But I didn't say anything to anyone, lest I force them to see something that their own minds hadn't registered as being offensive. Besides, I know it was totally unintentional.

But, one nice thing came out of it. There was this gal there that looked so familiar to me. I finally found out who she was and I immediately remembered her from 21 years ago, from my year at Faith! We were classmates, although we didn't run in the same circles. Her husband, who was also at Faith that year, is in the same business Paul is. They have 3 kids and their oldest attends the Network. But what is also neat is that she works part-time for a faith-based organization that provides SCL (supported community living) skills for mentally challenged teens/young adults. That's something I'm going to have to arrange in a few years for Ben. I'm hopeful now that maybe I could go through this gal's organization and maybe even she could be Ben's worker. I don't know. But it's something I have simmering now in the back of my mind. So, anyway, we had a nice time chatting yesterday and catching up.

Last week Sam told me, "I tired. I tink I'm getting grumpy." Hah! And then one day, I was entertaining myself while doing some paperwork, by singing, "Come on, Baby, light my fire." I think those are the only words of the song that I know, so I sang them over and over again. Sam looked at me strangely and then said, "Mom! You know babies can't play with fire!" Ha, ha, ha!

Oh, I forgot to mention our anniversary. It was lovely - 18 years on the 20th. We went out on Sat. night, intending to eat at the Cheesecake Factory. However, the state wrestling tournament had brought in all these thousands of people who all descended on the Jordan Creek restaurants on Sat. night. We should have made reservations - just didn't think of it. So, it was going to be over an hour wait there. So, we went over to Johnny's Italian Steakhouse - also an hour wait! We ended up at Red Robin, which is not exactly an enclave of romance. However, we did have a nice meal.

Paul asked me what is something that is true of our lives today that I would have never imagined 18 years ago. I laughed and said, "Having all boys!" He said he would have never imagined moving away from Council Bluffs. But, then we went on to agree that probably the biggest thing is knowing that we can still have terrific disagreements (fights?) and they don't mean anything. In the early years of our marriage, they would leave us shell-shocked and wondering if we had married the wrong person, would our marriage survive, what was wrong with us that we didn't always get along, etc. But now we know that they're just fights, that's all. And it's not like they happen very often, anyway. But they are survivable. We aren't divorcing, we aren't out of love. We're stronger than we ever were before. It's a secure feeling.

On Sunday, which was our anniversary, we got an ice cream cake from DQ - $20! Good grief. But, it was good! David made us a sweet card. Then, Paul stayed up late figuring up his self-employment stuff for our tax appt. the next day and I went to bed long before him. Ahh - romance!

I have been asked to guest-blog on another gal's site in April. She has a son on the autism spectrum and most of her blog posts are devoted to that subject. April is National Autism Awareness month. She also asked if Will or David would be interested in writing about being a sibling of a child with autism. I haven't asked them yet - we'll see.

Well, I think this catches me up for now. This afternoon I have to go help with Special Olympics practice again. Will said he wants to help, which I think will be good for him. Then, later tonight I have to go back to the church and help undecorate from the formal. That's ok. It will give me a chance to see all the teenage girls dressed up and will give me an idea of what the moms wear. If Will is still in the Network his senior year, I just may force him to go to the formal - for me!

Here's to a less busy week next week - maybe? Looking at my calendar, I think not. Perhaps being unable to move for a few days due to pain will be a good thing for me!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Wrestling Right

What I want to write about has already been discussed, blogged, and debated all over. That's because the story is a week old. But I am just now getting to blogging about it. But the story is one of such significance that I still want to take the time to jot down a few thoughts about it.

Wrestling is big here in central Iowa the third week of every February. That's because the state wrestling tournaments are held in Des Moines. It's a huge money-maker for the metro. People come from all corners of the state - even people who don't have children competing. They come for the atmosphere.

Personally, I don't see the appeal. Wrestling, in my opinion, is kind of a gross sport - men grabbing eachother between their legs and pinning their heads to the mat. I'd much rather watch basketball or baseball, or even football, which I don't even understand. But, a lot of people like it. I know Will's former youth pastor was really into wrestling in high school and college. He kept urging Will to go out for it, but, thankfully, Will was never interested.

But had he been interested, I hope he would have had as much character as a certain young man from the Linn-Mar school district named Joel Northrup. Joel is a homeschooled student who participates in public school sports. Nothing wrong with that. Will does that and David hopes to, too, in the coming years.

Joel is a Christian young man and he was put in a very difficult position. He worked very, very hard to earn his spot in the tournament. So did a certain young woman. Yes, that's right. This year there were, in fact, two teenage girls competing against boys in the state wrestling tournament. Some herald this as a "great step" for women. I don't think so. So, anyway, Joel was told he had to wrestle with one of these girls. He could forfeit, but that would mean he would then have a loss and would be giving up his chance to win at the tournament. Or, he could wrestle the girl and hopefully, continue on.

On Wednesday of last week Joel indicated that he was thinking of forfeiting because he had a problem with wrestling a girl. Oh, this set off a firestorm. Many people praised his hesitation and that was my first inclination, too. But many ridiculed him. They claimed that he was "too religious" and he wasn't respecting how far women have come in the sports arena. On Thursday Joel did choose to forfeit.

I applaud him.

Let's think about this: Am I against women athletes? No. Am I one? Another no, but that's a post for another day. I think it is extremely beneficial for women of all ages to be physically fit and active. Competitive sports are wonderful for this. Do I hate women wrestlers? Um, again no. I don't understand them, but again, that's just me. But this is what I know: young women and young men have absolutely no business wrestling eachother. As parents, we teach our sons to respect women and that it's "hands off" until marriage. Why does that change if there is a wrestling mat on the floor? Wrestling is not a gentle sport. It's full-contact and quite aggressive. It is wrong for a man to touch a woman in a way that is aggressive, even if it's in the name of sports.

By the way, I am against girls playing on football teams, too, for the same reason. If a girl ever joins Will's team at Pville, I'm not sure what we'll do. I won't have him tackling her, that's for sure.

Other sports? That's ok. If men and women want to play baseball together, play checkers, basketball, I don't have a problem with that. Yes, they might collide at some point, but that's not the point of the game, unlike wrestling and football.

Frankly, I think it's a foolish idea for girls to insist on joining men's teams. I'd like to blame this on the ERA movement of the early seventies, but Iowa has, in fact, allowed girls to wrestle with boys since 1926. Kind of unbelievable! And I suppose if a girl really has her heart set on wrestling, why not have all girl teams? And this brings up another point - why can girls join the boy teams, but boys cannot join the girls' teams (think girls' volleyball, basketball)?

As I heard debate on this, one thing I quickly realized, is that young men are really, truly at a disadvantage when it comes to wrestling girls. If they win, nobody celebrates it because the unwritten expectation is that a boy should beat the girl! But if he loses, oh boy - it's social death for that young man! That is really unfair.

Having equal opportunities does not mean that decency and propriety are cast aside. Thankfully, Joel Northrup recognized this and, in doing so, made a huge, personal sacrifice. By doing so, he raised the level of character and decency in Iowa high school athletics.

Competitions (even state wrestling tournaments) come and go. But character lasts forever.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Remodeled Romance

My latest FW piece. I wrote this one for two reasons: 1) to get back "on the horse" after not submitting for several weeks and 2) to have a place to vent my frustration over the work on this house! Really! I've been battling a minor case of depression over the sawdust, bathtubs in my driveway, and piles of insulation everywhere. I was shocked at how well it did. I got 14th place out of all 113 entries and I got 11th in the Masters division. Really did not see that coming, but I'll take it!

Remodeled Romance

Grinning from ear to ear, I stepped over the threshold of our new house. Closing my eyes, I inhaled deeply. Mmmm…I didn’t smell sawdust, I didn’t smell paint. I just smelled newness.

“Better move it,” barked Neil, my husband, “Or I’m gonna run right over you.”

Jolted out of my reverie, I obediently moved. Arms full of boxes, he led the way into the other room.It was moving day. I had waited for this day for nearly all our marriage, all thirty-two years of it. It wasn’t our first house, but it would be our last -- if I had anything to say about it.

I floated into the kitchen, admiring the new appliances and marveled at the pretty, non-chipped ceramic floor. There was trim around the entire window and even a curtain rod, just waiting to be decorated. Peeking into the living room, I saw smooth walls, with not a single spot that was bare drywall needing to be mudded. I had finally arrived!

I couldn’t help giggling in delight. I had waited a long time for this day. If my calculations were correct, this was house number five. And it was the only house not referred to by our realtor as a “handyman special."

Thirty years ago we had bought our first home. It’s hard to believe I was almost as excited then as I was now. Ahh…youth. Naiveté. We spent five years in that house, ripping out carpet, taking out walls, and breathing in pounds of drywall dust. But we were young and it didn’t seem like that much work. Then, we found out we were soon to have more children than we did bedrooms. So, we ended up selling that house and actually made some money.

That’s all it took. From then on, Neil was on a mission. We lived in a succession of cheap homes that we spent hours renovating. Once, I spent an entire year brushing my teeth in the bathtub because we didn’t have the sink hooked up to the plumbing. I can’t tell you the number of Christmas pictures we have where the backdrop to the tree is unfinished drywall. I was afraid to invite the kids’ friends over lest one of them fall through a hole in a floor that we were currently re-building. And there was the time that Neil had ripped out a bathroom wall, --or was it a kitchen one?-- and threw the boards by the back step. One of our boys thought he’d play superhero and tried jumping over the pile. Instead, he ended up with a nail through his foot and we had an unplanned trip to the ER.

Neil says it wasn’t that bad, but he wasn’t the one having to search for pots to cook supper in because somebody took down all the kitchen cupboards! He wasn’t the one driving to the mall to use the bathroom because someone had shut off the water so the glue on the PVC pipes could dry. It was that bad.

But now, a new era was upon us. Neil would come home from work and wouldn’t immediately pick up his hammer. Maybe he’d sit down with the paper. Maybe, he’d talk to me. Or maybe we’d go out, like other normal people, holding hands as we leisurely strolled along, rather than inevitably ending up, as we usually did, at the home improvement store, hunting through bins of electrical fittings and debating the merits of linoleum vs. tile.

It was a new beginning, the end for which I longed through years of saws at midnight, planks positioned over holes in the floor, and maneuvering around bathroom fixtures temporarily sitting in my living room. It was the rest of my wonderful life!

“Hey, Sue--” Neil came around the corner, having dumped the final box in the corner, “I want to show you something.”He pointed to the dining area of the kitchen, “I was thinking if we took out that wall there, then moved that south wall by about four feet, we could totally enlarge this kitchen--”

I bit my tongue hard, because what it wanted to do and what it should do were two different things. And it suddenly occurred to me that, indeed, a new era was in the offing. But rather than it being a time of realizing my own home dreams, perhaps it was a time of finally accepting my husband for who he was made to be-- tools and all.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Heart Day

That's our supper last night - heart shaped pizzas from Papa Murphys. This may have to become a tradition! They are so cute!

Valentines Day was nice yesterday. Well, the beginning part wasn't so great. Ben and David were at eachother's throats and I had to re-arrange my day so that Will could take my van to his writing class because the truck had a dead battery. But it was a nice evening.

Paul got home in the early afternoon so he got some work done on the house. Then, we cooked the pizzas and I had everyone's Valentine gift by their place at the table.. Paul got me a pretty, pretty animal-print with black lace nightie. Of course that begs the question - is that a gift for me or for him? Fortunately, he hasn't realized how fat I've gotten and he got me a size too small. So I have to exchange it. And he got me chocolate, the consumption of which has led to the previous sentences! And he got me this nice card that says on the front, "I'm just an ordinary man, living an ordinary life...except for one thing" and then the inside it says, "I'm married to an extraordinary woman." That's so Paul - he has frequently referred to himself as "ordinary." I truly don't think I'm all that extraordinary, but that's nice that he thinks I am!

We had gotten Ben a Tim Hawkins DVD so we watched that as a family last night. Oh - so funny! That man has talent! The boys are excited about going to his concert in April. Three of my friend, Tammy's, kids approached me Sunday, money in hand and asked me to buy them tickets, too. We have high speed internet and they don't so we do stuff like that for them all the time. Paul and I have talked about going to the concert ourselves, but we just hate to spend $30 for that. Besides, we've probably already seen all his material in the 3 DVDs we have! I just hope Ben will be manageable. He has a hard time with self-control when he gets tickled and I hope that's not too much for Will to keep Ben under control.

So, anyway, it was a really nice Valentines Day. The weather has warmed up, which puts everyone in a better mood (well, except for my squabbling children). I'm not so fond of the muddy muss in our alley now, particularly since it gets tracked into my house. But that's spring for you. Not that it is really spring. Temps are supposed to go back down after this Thurs. and I'm quite sure we're in line for at least one more snowstorm - probably right around the time of the state basketball tournament. That's a big deal here in central IA, and it seems like there is always bad weather that week!

Oh, I have BIG news! I got a new refrigerator! I am so, so, so, so excited! It will be delivered this Sat - I can't wait!!! It is my dream fridge that I have wanted for years. It's black, side by side doors, and has an ice maker in the door. I'll be able to chew on crushed ice whenever I want!!! We hadn't really talked about buying a fridge. But ours has been making funny noises for awhile. And lately, the doors just really won't close without a lot of effort. I've been hoping it would die for years. We bought that I think in 2000. It's just a standard-issue white fridge. We bought it off Paul's brother when it was only 2 years old when they got a better fridge.

So, anyway, Sat. night we went out to eat. We were going to see a movie, but there was just nothing really playing that we wanted to spend $18 to see. So I suggested to Paul we go look at refrigerators - even though we had not officially decided we were in the market for one. So, we went over to Best Buy. And we found exactly what I wanted. A floor model had been marked down $250. The brand is LG, which we had never heard of in appliances before, but the sales girl said it's actually one of the best companies for appliances. I told her I did not want to deal with Whirlpool ever again and she assured me that LG has great customer service. So, that sounds good. They are delivering the fridge for free and taking away our old one. Good, good deal!

Ben starts practicing for Special Olympics this week. I'm really not sure how that whole program works. But I'm meeting the coordinator for it at the school tomorrow and I guess I'll find out. She said something about running and the softball throw, so I guess that's what Ben will be doing? I don't know. Today I brought Valentine goodies to Ben's classroom and while I was waiting for his aide I was chatting with the other aides about the Olympics and they were saying that sometimes they get really short notice as to when the events are held. I hope that's not true. They also said Mr. Knutson might be out until sometime in March. Ugh. Ben's doing ok without him, but it will be nice to have him back.

I discovered a new snack, recently - roasted nuts. They're healthy and delicious, which surprised me. The only nuts I've ever been real fond of are salted, dry-roasted peanuts. But in my new organic cookbook she has a recipe for soaking and salting nuts. You let them roast overnight in a low-heat oven. Boy, are they delicious! I mixed up a batch of sunflower, cashew, and peanuts, put them a storage container and I just snack on them all day long. Wonderful!

I also discovered a more local supplier of milk in the health food store. It's from a farm in Guthrie Center. They sell their milk in half gallon glass jars. I like that their cows are steroid and antibiotic free and pasture fed. But the glass jars, while cute, are kind of a pain because I can't freeze them. So, I figured I could just buy one every shopping trip and get organic milk from Trader Joes in the regular plastic gallon jugs.

Oh, and on the topic of natural health...I will never, ever eat chicken nuggets again. I was doing some of my "organic studies" which is is comprised of visiting several websites I'm familiar with, as well as continuing my reading in "Nourishing Traditions." I ran across a picture of this pink paste and discovered that is what chicken nuggets are made out of! They scrape every bit of the chicken together, grind it up, and this paste is the result. Apparently, it smells and tastes horrible so they have to doctor it up with all kinds of chemicals and additives. But since there is chicken in it, they can rightly call it "chicken nuggets." Nasty, nasty, nasty...

Well, that's all I know. I need to get back to making tonight's supper. This week is a busy one for me. But that's good because it will make my countdown to Sat.(my fridge's arrival) go faster!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Called to be Faithful

I'm feeling much better about my writing now. I'll tell you why. By the time Monday night rolled around I was in a serious funk. However, just before leaving the house, I had had a revelation, which was a source of wonderment for me. And then we conversed and well, I'll just tell you how it all happened...

I was putting away groceries out in the other freezer in the garage. The thought went through my mind as I did so that I might spend a tremendous amount of time and effort on my writing over the course of the rest of my life - and I might never see the results I want to. Suddenly, I was reminded of a little marble plaque I have sitting on my kitchen windowsill. It was given to me just a few weeks ago. It says, "We are not called to be succesful; we are called to be faithful." What a thunderbolt that was! If I am called to write - and I believe I am, by virtue of how much thought I give it - then it doesn't matter if anyone ever publishes me again. I am only to write. That is all. God will take care of the rest.

I was telling this to Melissa that night and she started nodding her head. She said it reminded her of a song by some Christian performer that I need to go YouTube. He has a song about singing on a "little stage" - if that's what glorifies God.

I then went on to express to her how I wished I just didn't feel things so much. I have often wished that in life, apart from writing. I tend to adopt a careless, "tough" attitude and it's because it's the opposite of what is really going on. I am a highly sensitive person. I also have an amazing memory. So, I can remember hurts absorbed when I was a five year old. Seriously. It's a burden. And so I'm taking writing rejection pretty hard, as a result. But Melissa looked at me and said, "But Sarah - that's what makes you a good writer! You can express emotions on the page because you've already felt them!" I had never thought of it like that before. Hmmm....

So this new purpose in life has been an encouragement to me this week. I don't have to make it big in writing. In fact, I never have to be published again. But what I have to do is to keep writing, because that's my calling.

And then, I have taken some practical steps. I am realizing that while I have some natural ability, to think I am going to make it on that is nonsense. There is always going to be someone out there more talented than I am. So, I picked up an issue of Writer's Digest the other night and I am slowly going through it. I am even reading the ads. The world of writing is SO much bigger than I realized! I'm going to subscribe to it. I also plan to buy the 2011 Christian Writers Guide. FaithWriters offers on-line classes. I'm fitting them into my days. I will never be so good that I can't get better.

And I'm just going to keep pressing forward. I don't know what will happen and you know what? It really doesn't matter. My life is just a vapor, as the Psalmist reminds us. I've probably already lived almost half of it. It really matters not a whit if someday there is a book with my name on the cover. So what? A couple of generations from now and even my descendants won't know who I was. But this is what will matter: when I make my arrival into Heaven, meet my King, and am told, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant."

That's all that matters. Nothing more.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Icy Iowa

Greetings from the frozen Artic. Today, it is warmer in Alaska than it is here. There's something wrong about that! I took Ben to school and my van thermometer read -12! It supposed to be this way until about Sat. Being on call, Paul is getting plenty of hours. In fact, this afternoon he had to beg off work for a couple of hours because some of the furnaces in one of the apt. buildings he services are down. He and Will are over there now.

Paul suggested to me today that we plan to do a movie date this weekend. It will give him something to look forward to as he survives in the bitter temps and on very little sleep.

Boy, was I stressed out this morning! This week Will is taking the ITBS tests at the school. I'm not a big fan of testing. It's ok, but it's never something I've felt that I had to do. I know he's doing fine in his studies. But if we want the good student discount offered by State Farm, then we need a test score to give them. So, Will had forgotten about these tests until I woke him up at 7:15 to remind him that he needed to leave in 15 min. I went ahead and took Ben to school and apparently whizzed right on by Will sitting on the highway. I never saw him, but that would be why Ben suddenly asked me, "What is Will doing this morning?" It wasn't until I dropped Ben off that Will called me and asked me what he should do. The truck was overheating and now he was 15 min late for the tests. Why oh why did he not call me when he first started having problems?! I could have taken him to the school when I took Ben! So, I drove over the highschool wing and went into the office and explained what was going on.

I had basically rolled out of bed to take Ben to school. I hadn't brushed my hair - had just jammed my hat over it. And, as my habit is, I took off the hat when I walked into the school building. Boy, was that mistake! When I got home I looked at myself in the mirror and about fainted! Not only did I have a bed head, but I had a blotchy no-make-up face. I have two huge and two small zits on it (high school, relived). I was wearing bedroom slippers! I actually still had my pjs on, but I had pulled on a sweatshirt and jeans over them - thankfully. And of course, the secretary was young-ish and all professionally dressed and ready for her day. I can imagine what she thinks of homeschoolers now!

But it all worked out. I raced home, cancelled my chiropractic appt for this morning, and then Will just drove my van in. Even being late, he still had plenty of time to complete his tests. And then Ben's aide called to remind me that Ben only had a half-day. I had no idea.

ARgh - what a way to start my morning!

Yesterday Ben asked me, "Do only Baptists homeschool?" I thought that showed he was really thinking. He was shocked when I told him that even some atheists homeschool their kids.

Today Sam was so cute (like he ever isn't!). He brought down a bunch of large stuffed animals into the living room and lined them up, along with some throw pillows. He informed me that he was playing "Wipe-out" which is, of course, that dumb but evidently entertaining show where contestants try to make their way through an obstacle course without being dumped in the water. Sam kept yelling, "Big balls!" as he hurtled his body on top of the animals and pillows. Of course, I knew he would get hurt sooner or later, and he did. Fortunately, it was nothing requiring more than a kiss. At one point, he came out to where I was, holding his back and saying he got hurt. I rubbed it and sent him on his way. Sam stopped, looked at me, and informed, "You're sposed to kiss it, Mom!" Oh, ok, then! A little bit ago he tripped over his feet and really wailed about that one. He even hobbled out to me, declaring, "I tink I can't walk anymore!" I looked at it, but it doesn't seem swollen. I don't know yet if he's a dramatist like David. I guess we'll see what he does after he wakes up.

I got to go out last night, which was really needed. Melissa and I met up out at Jordan Creek Mall (er, "Town Center"). We browsed for a long time and then we went to eat at Fuddruckers. I dumped on her about all my writing woes and while I know she doesn't understand, she was properly sympathetic and encouraging. I actually did feel better after talking to her. She told me I'm in a "funk" and she's right. It's not just my writing - it's everything. I am really thinking (hoping) it's because of this Depo shot that I'm on. That should be out of my system by late March/early April so maybe I'll feel better then, too. I got home around 10:30, which was pretty early for a girls' night out for the two of us. We've been known to stay out into the wee hours of the morning before!

Paul wasn't home when I got there. It was well after midnight before he collapsed into bed beside me. The phone rang at least twice during the night, but he didn't have to leave until 7ish this morning.

So, that's about all I know on this frigid Tuesday. I have to remind myself that six months from now I'll be complaining about the heat! That sure seems like a long time away, though...

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Mind of a Three Year Old

We made a boo-boo with our internet last month, I found out yesterday when the bill came. We have a 5G allowance every month and we've always stayed under that, except for last month when we went just a smidge over and our bill was $12 more than normal.

I about had a heart attack when I opened our latest bill and saw that it was $158 - which is $100 more than it normally is. Apparently, we went over by 300 MB and they charged us $100 whopping dollars for that. Holy cow! We won't make that mistake again!

I've been toying with the idea of buying a router for our two computers. But I don't know. I could buy another phonecard so then we'd have 10G a month, which is way more than what we need. But $114 a month is cheaper than $158! I just hate to spend that extra money when I know we're capable of keeping it under 5G a month. But then, the boys use the internet some for their schoolwork, so maybe we would be better off to just spring for the extra phone card. I'll have to do some thinking on that.

Sam's SS class has been studying about King David. But I didn't realize that Sam was confused until today when he came home from church and told David, "We learned how you killed G'liath! You hit him with a rock with your slingshot and then you took your sword and cut off his head!" I wonder if I should correct him or let him continue to think his brother is one of Biblical proportions? I guess he'll figure it out soon enough.

We watched "Despicable Me" a couple of weeks ago and ever since then, Sam has taken to exclaiming, "Oh, poop!" when something happens. He sounds just like a minion! It is so, so cute!

And then the other night...Sam went poopy in the toilet. When he does that I always make a big deal out of it and if Paul is home I'll encourage Sam to "tell Daddy what you did!" and then Paul will make a big deal, all in hopes that Sam will continue such behavior. So, I told Sam to tell his dad what he'd just accomplished and Sam says, "I went poopy in the toilet...and I went pee in the garbage!" While a look of incredulousness came over Paul's face, I about died laughing. Earlier that day, Sam had told me he needed to go potty. But we're down to one bathroom and one of Sam's brothers had just settled in for a long novel-reading session in the one bathroom. Poor Sam. I told him he'd have to wait but as the minutes passed, he got more and more desperate and I knew I was going to have a mess on my hands pretty soon. So inspiration hit as I was sitting at the computer and I asked Sam if he'd be willing to go potty in the garbage. To my surprise, he agreed. So I held him over the can and he did his business in there. Will and David were pretty horrified, but hey - you do what you gotta do! And evidently, it made quite the impression on Sam!

Sam isn't happy at the moment. He can't figure out why David won't let him play on the Wii right's only the biggest football game of the year! Oh, the trials and tribulations of being three years old!


The Super Bowl is on and so I'm well, blogging! I love the commercials, but not the game. Despite having a son that plays and another that is rabid about the game and another that is somewhat rabid...I don't understand football. It's just a bunch of men in tight pants running around and bumping into eachother.

Feeling kind of groggy - apparently, I napped too long this afternoon. Paul is out working. Will went to church. He has a Super Bowl party afterwards. Ben and David are still recovering from their awful allergy attacks this past weekend. Will stayed home with them this morning and I'm here tonight. Last night I did order an air purifier for our house. There were a ton of testimonials with this one so I figured I should just do it. I'm going to keep it in the living room during the day and in their bedroom at night. I hope that helps.

Well, I got rejected again this week. RBP wasn't interested in the latest piece I sent them. Oh, that stung! But I have to keep reminding myself it isn't that my writing stunk. They said it was because they already had a similar story in the publication process. But then another part of my mind thinks, well, if my writing was all that good, they would have taken it, anyway! Bummer. So, between that and Our Iowa and my lack of success with FW lately, I've been pretty feeling low about my writing.

I did upgrade my FW membership to the top level. In doing so, I get several perks. One is an e-book that I can download that supposedly tells you everything you need to know about breaking into the free lance market. The other is a discounted subscription to Writers Digest, which I've never heard of, but apparently, is like a bible to would-be writers. So, I need to look into that. And then, lastly, one of the higher-ups in FW offers some on-line courses that are free to members at my level.

Part of me wants to not have to do any of that. I'd rather submit my work and have everyone love it and beg for more pieces from my brilliant mind! But, I don't think that's going to happen. If I want to make it as a writer - and there is no guarantee that I will, anyway - I have to become a better writer. And I have to keep submitting work. If I'm going to crumble every time I get a rejection I may as well quit now.

Of course, the other part of my brain really questions why I want to do this to myself. I mean, I'm going to be 40 next month. Almost half my life is over. Shouldn't I be able to just kind of coast for the rest of my life? Watch my children finish growing, enjoy my grandchildren, finish our house, waltz into retirement... I could be happy just doing this things and enjoying a "normal" life. But would I be content? I don't think so.

One thing that gives me a measure of comfort is knowing that this ability to write is not something I did. I was born with an attraction to words and the ability to string them together in a readable way. I was also placed into circumstances that allowed me to develop those talents (as opposed to have been born in a mud hut in the middle of Africa and never learning to read or something). It's something that's God-given. And I determined a long time ago that I would only use my abilities to bring glory to God. That doesn't necessarily mean that every single story I write is going to have a salvation message but I want to, overall, point my readers to Christ. It does mean that I'm not going to write for a secular publishing house or start cranking out Harlequin romances under an assumed name, though! Oh, I'd be so embarrassed if I did that and then someone figured out I was the author of "Passionate Embrace" or "Love's Twisted Desire"! Because I have given this talent to the Lord to do with what He wants, then I can trust that He's going to direct me into taking the needed steps to get to wherever it is I'm supposed to go with this. I'll still have to do the work, but there is a definite comfort in that. It feels like more of a joint venture, I guess.

But I don't think I'm ever going to enjoy getting those, "We're sorry, but we're going to decline on your piece..." letters!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Trust His Heart

Saturday night...and I'm home, which is the usual state of things. Paul is working and Will is at a youth activity. They took the kids up to Faith today to watch a ball game and then pizza and I think games or something were on the agenda. So thankful Will is driving and I won't have to go fetch him late tonight!

Before I forget...many of you have heard of the McRae family, but some have not. I went to school with Holly McRae. She's actually younger than me, but was in my brother, Andy's class. Her older sister was in my other brother's class. I went to a Christian school which was smaller than your typical public school so everybody pretty much knew everybody. So when tragedies happen, it seems more personal. Holly has a 7 yr old daughter named Kate who has a brain tumor. I've been following their story since Kate was diagnosed back in July of 2009. They've even been on Dr. Phil and both my mom and I just happened to catch that episode, which was kind of neat, since neither one of us make a habit of watching Dr. Phil. The McRaes are a strong Christian family. But this week they found out that Kate's brain tumor has gotten bigger; there are more spots on her brain. And they're devastated. In her most recent blog, Holly said that Kate said she doesn't want to go to Heaven without her mom with her. I about lost it right there. You can read Kate's story at Pray for the McRaes. Pray for Kate.

This week I downloaded some music. I got one song that I'd only ever heard part of once before. It's by Alan Jackson, called, "Sissy's Song." I liked the few lines that I had heard, but that was all I knew. So, I listened to it in full today, driving to town. The song is about a young mother who dies. I started sobbing right then as I drove. We're coming up on the two year anniversary of Barb's death, Julie's one year was last week. One of the women in one of my groups lost her 9 yr old son to cancer a year ago next month. And then there's little Kate. There's so much suffering in this sick, fallen world. It's heartbreaking. Were it not for Heaven, were it not for Jesus, I don't know that life would be much worth living. How do people bear life's hurts without that? I don't know.

Speaking of life's hurts: on Wednesday Ben's teacher lost his father and sister in a horrible car wreck in Minnesota. A teenager ran a stop sign and plowed right into them. His mother, who just had a stroke last May, is in serious condition. How his heart must be broken! I just felt sick when I got the news. We have been so blessed by Mr. Knutson this year and I ache to know the pain he must be experiencing right now. I don't know if they're a Christian family - my guess would probably be not. What a sad, sad time.

I am reminded of a song that has always meant so much to me. It's sung by Babbie Mason and the repeating chorus is, "When you don't understand, When you can't trace His hand, When you don't see His plan...Trust His Heart." It's all we can do because so much of life just doesn't make sense.

Trust His heart.

Rehabbing is Not for Sissies

I was going to post a picture of my bathroom, but since that's too depressing, here's a picture of my cutie, instead. I'm reading the latest Sue Grafton ("U") mystery right now and one phrase she used in this book was that some parents "doted" on their little child (who incidentally, got kidnapped at age 4 and was never heard from again, which is where Detective Kinsey Milhone comes in). I realized, that's us! Sam is the child we "dote" on. By virtue of his late arrival and all-around adorableness, he definitely gets doted on, unlike his poor older brothers.

Well, speaking of my's been ripped up for 6 months now. I haven't had a bath in this house since August 5 - six months ago today, actually. But I've still had the vanity and have been able to do my hair in there. Well, not anymore! Paul didn't have to work yesterday and I ran to Des Moines in the morning and knocked out some of my bi-monthly shopping (boy, was Ben not happy with me!). I came home and my bathroom was in the kitchen. Paul got the wall between the new addition and the bathroom totally out, took out the vanity (which is still sitting in the middle of the kitchen), took out the medicine cabinet (now on the floor by the kitchen table), took out my white crate that held extra hair supplies (in the back room now), the marble sink (it was propped up against the computer desk; not sure where Will carried it off to now), my cabinet that Pastor Young made for me (also on the kitchen floor) and the big huge tub that I had filled up with bathroom stuff when he initially started ripping up the room. He and Will did get most of the new subfloor down yesterday. So now it's just one big room.

We've pretty much decided to move the bathroom into the new addition instead of putting it back where it was. My office will be there instead.

One problem has arisen though: Paul called me yesterday and said, "Uh, what do you know about black mold?" Oh no! My heart just sunk. I know two women in my homeschool group who have had to move out of their homes because of black mold problems. Paul discovered it on the drywall of the wall he took out. That was the wall that the toilet had been against. And then when he removed the medicine cabinet he found a hole in the wall where an older medicine cabinet had evidently been at one time. And the drywall in there has black mold on it, too. He's going to tear into that wall a bit more and if there's more mold, then the entire wall will have to be taken out and re-built. That's the other side of our closet. Never, never, never buy an old house. You're better off to save up your money and buy something new!

Poor Ben and David are miserable with their allergies this weekend. I'm quite sure they won't be going to church tomorrow. I just know it's from all the dust in this house from the work. I'm giving serious consideration to spending $200 for an ionizer I found on Amazon. I hate to spend the money now, because this time of year it's in such short supply around here, but I just can't have them suffering like this, either. Not that we know for sure it's the air quality. It could still be their mattresses and carpet which we'll be replacing very soon ("the DAY Uncle Sam gives us our refund!" I told Paul yesterday).

Thankfully, Paul is working today. Actually, he's a little irritated because he really needs to work on the bathroom. With it being all open now, it's going to be very cold in there. Today and tomorrow, the temps are not supposed to be all that cold. But Monday they will plummet into single digit highs for most of the week. So, anyway, Paul is on call now. He didn't work all day yesterday, but last night he had to leave around 8 to run a call and he didn't get home until one o'clock. Then, his phone rang again at 6:30. He's been getting non-stop calls ever since. It's just weird, since it really isn't that cold. I don't understand why people would be willing to pay weekend rates when it's not terribly cold. Oh well - it's their money, I guess. I met him for lunch today and his phone rang about 4 times during that half hour or so that we were together!

I am so, so tired of this house work. I am SICK of the mess! I remind myself that living in a house with a $300 monthly mortgage is what is keeping me home with the boys and therefore, worth the sacrifice, which it is. And when we get done, we will have a nice house. It's just the interim that's killing me. Actually, we just found some property not too far from here that's in foreclosure. We haven't looked inside the house yet, but it's big and we're very interested. It sits on 8 acres, which excites Paul. He wants more land. We are toying with the idea of finishing our house and then turning it into a rental property. We would make more money renting it than we would by selling it out right. But, of course, the flip side of that is having to deal with tenants and property maintenance. Paul has been talking more and more about becoming a landlord and a couple of weeks ago we went and toured a different house that was having an open house. It was too small and too expensive, but it kind of got the wheels turning in our head. But, of course, we have to finish this house first. And I'd say we have at least a year's worth of work, if not more. And then, if we were going to rent this house, there's more work that would have to be done right up front than if we just planned to continue living here ourselves.

Paul is now talking about going ahead and bumping the kitchen out into the new addition. That was supposed to happen later on, down the road. But, I guess it's going to happen sooner than that. That will give me an additional 4 feet of kitchen space along one wall. Our kitchen is already big; this will make it huge. Of course, that means we'll have to replace the flooring that we just put down 3 years ago.

And this work is costing me more than mental peace. Yesterday, while the sink was propped up against the computer desk, I ran into it - hard - with my knee. Today it is all swollen and bruised and so very painful! That wasn't supposed to happen.

So, I'm taking lots of Levare. Levare is a new product I just discovered at last week's Natural Living Expo. It's some sort of herb concoction, although I really don't know what's in it. It's specifically designed for pain relief. They gave me a sample last week and I'd been saving it for when I needed it. I finally got a good daytime headache a couple of days ago and I took the Levare instead of Advil. It totally wiped out my headache. I was so excited! And then later that same day, I got an email from the company, telling me I had won a free bottle of the stuff. That arrived yesterday. I'm hooked - if I can take something natural instead of rotting my liver with Advil, then so much the better!

Well, hopefully I'll be back later today. I need to get to work on making tomorrow's dinner and other stuff. I've got plenty to blog about; I could be here all evening.