Thursday, June 30, 2011

No More Oatmeal Kisses

Anybody who knows me knows what a huge Erma Bombeck fan I am. I believe I have read everything she ever wrote. My mom had a couple of her books and my grandma had them all, I think. I spent many, many hours as a child reading those books and not understanding everything I read. But I knew loved the honest way that Erma spoke. I think, more than any other writer, she influenced my own writing style - which tends to be transparent.

As a mom, I've checked out many Erma books from the library and read them repeatedly. I understand them a lot better now! Recently, I made the decision to start collecting them. Every pay day that we can squeeze out a few extra dollars, I'm going to order an Erma book from Amazon. "At Wit's End" should be arriving any day now. I'm going to have a special bookshelf, just for my Erma books.

Mostly, Erma made her readers nod their heads and laugh. Nearly everybody could empathize with her realistic portrayals of marriage and motherhood, especially in the quickly changing days in which Erma wrote. But sometimes she made her readers cry. I don't care how many times I read this particular piece of hers -- I can't get to the end without the tears welling up. Recently, I typed it up and framed it and stuck it on the wall in my office. Now I can't go into the bathroom, which is right beside the wall where I hung it, without crying. I suppose that's ok. Bathrooms are a good place to cry.

No More Oatmeal Kisses

A young mother writes: “I know you’ve written before about the empty-nest syndrome, that lonely period after the children are grown and gone. Right now I’m up to my eyeballs in laundry and muddy boots. The baby is teething; the boys are fighting. My husband just called and said to eat without him, and I fell off my diet. Lay it on me again, will you?”

OK. One of these days, you’ll shout, “Why don’t you kids grow up and act your age!” And they will. Or, “You guys get outside and find yourselves something to do . . . and don’t slam the door!” And they won’t.

You’ll straighten up the boys’ bedroom neat and tidy: bumper stickers discarded, bedspread tucked and smooth, toys displayed on the shelves. Hangers in the closet. Animals caged. And you’ll say out loud, “Now I want it to stay this way.” And it will.

You’ll prepare a perfect dinner with a salad that hasn’t been picked to death and a cake with no finger traces in the icing, and you’ll say, “Now, there’s a meal for company.” And you’ll eat it alone.

You’ll say, “I want complete privacy on the phone. No dancing around. No demolition crews. Silence! Do you hear?” And you’ll have it.

No more plastic tablecloths stained with spaghetti. No more bedspreads to protect the sofa from damp bottoms. No more gates to stumble over at the top of the basement steps. No more clothespins under the sofa. No more playpens to arrange a room around.

No more anxious nights under a vaporizer tent. No more sand on the sheets or Popeye movies in the bathroom. No more iron-on patches, rubber bands for ponytails, tight boots or wet knotted shoestrings.

Imagine. A lipstick with a point on it. No baby-sitter for New Year’s Eve. Washing only once a week. Seeing a steak that isn’t ground. Having your teeth cleaned without a baby on your lap.
No PTA meetings. No car pools. No blaring radios. No one washing her hair at 11 o’clock at night. Having your own roll of Scotch tape.

Think about it. No more Christmas presents out of toothpicks and library paste. No more sloppy oatmeal kisses. No more tooth fairy. No giggles in the dark. No knees to heal, no responsibility.

Only a voice crying, “Why don’t you grow up?” and the silence echoing, “I did.”

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Cameras, Clots, and Cars

I thought I would just sit down and blog - but it wasn't so easy. I wanted to include this picture of the infamous mud pit up at camp. That's David, there, in the middle. But then my desktop suddenly decided it no longer wished to recognize my new camera.

After being on the phone quite awhile with a Samsung tech, she suggested that I just use the camera on my laptop, which does recognize my camera. And this was after I had just downloaded Windows Photo Gallery for my desktop. Grrr...

So, it took a little bit of work, but I finally have a picture and I can begin blogging on my desktop, rather than my laptop, which is my preference. But it's a hassle now that I have to first download the pics on my laptop, save the post, and then re-open on my desktop. I know there has to be a way to force my desktop to recognize my camera, but I don't know what it is. But anyway, enough of that!

I think everyone has heard, but for posterity's sake, if nothing else - Will was involved in his first car accident last Tuesday. We're still not sure if he was at fault or not. He swears up and down that the light was green when he checked and I believe him. He is a good driver. But he ended up getting hit by an older Vietnamese couple who don't speak English. Will was so rattled by the event that he blurted out to the police officer that the light must have been yellow instead of green when he looked and therefore, he would have run a red light. So, he got a $200 ticket. I don't know yet if we're just going to pay it or go to the court date. Will was just devastated by the whole thing. And I felt so horrible, too. Not only do I have to worry about the financial end of things (our insurance premiums, for one!) but I hurt because he hurts. He worked so hard for that car and was so proud of it.

However, the car may be fixable. The night of the accident Paul was sure that it was totaled (we only carried liability on it). But after looking at it some more and then talking to the guy at the garage where it was towed to he is wondering now if he might be able to repair it. But he's been on call this week and hasn't had time to look. Speaking of the garage, though...the night of the accident we were told that there was a $3 per day parking fee there. Fine. So, last Wed. night Paul borrowed a trailer from his work and went and got the car. It was $15 a day to park it there! So, with the towing and parking fee and a $20 "paperwork" fee, we had to fork out $132 to get Will's car back.

Oh, speaking of cars... the new Pixar "Cars" movie is out. The boys have the original one and we all enjoyed it. But I'm hearing quite a bit of feedback now from my friends on Facebook that this sequel is one to avoid. Apparently, it's just a piece of propaganda, with a "big oil is bad" and "alternative energy is good" message. I'm sorry, but my kids are not going to watch it. They get enough indoctrination in the world, as it is, but I'm not going to allow it to happen under my watch - or with my money (what little there is left of it). We watched this documentary Sun. night at church called "Agenda." We had seen it previously in our SS class a few weeks ago. It was put out by an either current or former Idaho legislator. I can't remember his name. But the film is very eye-opening. It's about communism and the inroads it has made into the United States. Even things like the women's' movement of the 1970s was based in communism. I had no idea! It's an excellent film - I would highly recommend its viewing.

My dad is in the hospital. He was rushed there by ambulance yesterday because a CAT scan showed that he had two blood clots in his lungs. Kind of scary, esp. with our family history of strokes. But he's doing better today. They have found a 3rd clot in his leg - probably the source of the two that got to his lungs. However, they're letting him move around, which surprises me and they may let him go home tomorrow. He's having to give himself heparin-like shots in his stomach. And I guess he's going to be on a stronger anti-coagulant drug for 6 months, too. When my mom developed a blood clot in her lung after her pacemaker surgery in '97, they didn't let her off the bed. But this must be something different. It's times like this that I get frustrated that I don't live closer. I would love to be able to drop everything and run to the hospital or to be able to bring over meals - or anything! My mom sent an email to me yesterday afternoon but I didn't get it until last night when I got home around 9. So that put me a bit of a concerned tizzy. I was on the phone with her until around 10 and then I just could not fall asleep after all that! It was a blood clot that went to my brain on Oct. 30, 2007. As a result, blood clots tend to scare me! But I was able to talk to Dad this afternoon and he sounded very good. So I guess all is well - ??? They are running some tests, trying to see if a determining factor can be found for the cause of the clots. But we won't know those results for another week.

Last Sat. I was up at 6am (a horrible time to be awake, by the way) and loaded all 4 boys into the van. The tricky part was that I had to put the younger 3 in church clothes and then hope that they would last through breakfast and lunch in the van. I had to drop Will off at camp, which is 2+ hours away. Then, we turned around and drove back to Indianola, where we had a wedding to attend. That's the one that I didn't think I was going to get to go to. But Will suggested that I could drop him off at camp early and he could go out with some friends who were also working until it was time for him to report to work. It was a damp, cool day - probably not what the bride had envisioned when she started planning her June wedding!

It was a really different wedding from what I'm used to. I've been to many nice weddings and I've been to somewhat tacky ones (groomsmen in shirt sleeves, a boombox on stage for the wedding music, etc). But I can honestly say I had never been to a cowboy wedding before!

The groom was a young man in our church and I really don't know the bride. But I think I know her a little better now! Both were only 19 last weekend - awfully young. But, if the couple is spiritually mature and the groom is able to support a wife and any little kidlets that might surprise them -- why not? It wasn't like Paul and I were a whole lot older. He had just turned 22 when we get married and I was a month away from that birthday. And we both still had a lo-o-ot of growing up to do! Which we did - together.

But anyway. Apparently the bride likes horses. I mean - really likes horses. The entry way was decorated with a saddle and the church platform had 3 more! There was also a rustic, wood-burned sign as you walked in that said, "Will you marry me?" Wonder if that's how the groom proposed? Now I did like this: The sign-in table was covered with an old quilt. I love things like that - so pretty and country-like. The bride's flowers were yellow daisies. Oh, she also had two big wagon wheels up on the church platform, too, decorated with daisies. That was kind of cute. The bridesmaids wore dark blue gowns. I don't know - if it were me, I probably would have dressed them in gingham. And maybe the groomsmen should have worn cowboy hats. But then they'd be in church and you're not supposed to wear hats in church, I don't think. The pews were decorated with hanging mason jars with pretend candles in them. Oh, and when the pastor (the groom's brother) was marrying them he was illustrating the concept of the woman being the "weaker vessel." He said, "It's like this. You, Jake, (the groom) are a pair of work boots - all dusty and muddy. But your bride here - she's your Sunday boots that are all polished and nice!" I wanted to laugh out loud!

To each his own and I would never begrudge someone their cowboy wedding if that's what they like and is a true reflection of them. Personally, I am a little more traditional and prefer a bit of elegance when it comes to weddings, but that doesn't matter. I am thinking, too, that the older I get, the more fuddy-duddier I am getting in my thinking and I always promised myself I wouldn't do that! When my own kids get married I am going to keep my lips totally zipped and if they want to march down the aisle dressed like Star Wars characters I will not breathe a word. I may blog about it at length, but my kids will never know what they just did to their poor mother! I'll just be happy that they found somebody willing to marry them!

It may be a bit of struggle with Sam. I tried to point out to him the other day the importance of not chewing with one's mouth open. With his mouthful of food, he informed me that "I wike to eat this way!" and totally refused to close his mouth. Yeah, marrying that one off may be a bit of a struggle...

This was the same day that he ate EIGHT chicken nuggets at McDonalds. Yes, I know what I've said about those things and I would still argue that they really do not constitute food. However, when you're in a hurry and on a budget and trying to meet the desires of several short, demanding people, it's easy to let your ideals slip. But still - eight? I don't think I can even do that and my stomach has to be at least 4 times the size of a 3 year old's!

Oh, my last little bit of news. Well, it's not really news. But anyway, we ordered Paul's new wedding ring last week, finally. This is his 3rd wedding ring. I sure hope it's the last one. It's supposed to be "unscratchable" so we'll see. It's just a basic, shiny, white-gold band - no diamonds like his last one. But since he tends to be hard on his rings, that's just as well, I guess. He said now that he has his new ring the women can quit throwing themselves at him. Let's hope so!

It's going to be a hot one tomorrow and Friday. They said it will feel like 108 out. I plan to hunker down in my air conditioned house all day! I don't have any plans to go anywhere and am hoping to get a lot done. I thought about taking the boys to the pool, but it will be so crowded. Besides, we're going in a week with a bunch of moms from church. We can wait. As long as I have air conditioning, I'm happy! And it will be a treat to have a day where I don't have to go anywhere, either. Paul is on call this week so I imagine that I will not see much of him for the next couple of days. That's ok - he needs to earn money for our upcoming vacation!

Better get supper out of the oven...

Monday, June 20, 2011

Together Again

This is a good week because all my family is back under one roof! I did enjoy my "easier" week last week (esp. not having to cook!) but oh, I missed them, esp. as the week wore on! Paul, Will, and David got home around 2 and we had to leave 20 min. later to get the boys to their homeschool softball games. It was a really, really nice day even though I typically hate that last softball day of the season. It's always SO hot and we have to sit through 4 games and then risk botulism and fly-borne illnesses by eating picnic food.

Fortunately, this year it wasn't too terribly hot. And for some reason, numbers were really down at the games. I guess families had other things they had to do. Paul couldn't keep his hands off me, which is always fun - kind of a nice reminder of our dating days! That's what a week of separation will do to you!

Camp was good, I hear. Personally, I would like to shoot whoever came up with the idea of making a gigantic mud pit for the campers this year. Both Paul and David came home with ruined clothing. I had even heard about the mud pit before hand so I sent disposable clothes with David. That was fine for the first day he went in but he wore a good shirt for the second time! And Paul assured me that he had no intention of going in any mud pit, so I didn't send him any clothes. Well, apparently he changed his mind and wore a white shirt into the pit. Grrr....

Paul ended up being the head counselor in a cabin of 12 boys with only 2 of them being children he already knew. They put 2 other churches in with him, including one 18 yr old counselor. So that was a new experience for him. He has such a heart for children, though, and it was a good place for him, esp. with some of the more challenging kids he had to deal with during the week. He also had the opportunity (?) to work on some of the camp's equipment while up there.

I bought a treadmill last week off Craig's list. It wasn't until I was halfway home that it dawned on me that neither Paul nor Will was home to unload it out of my van and into the basement! Fortunately, I was able to sweet-talk our mayor into helping me! So, I've been using that every day. I'm up to 7 min. now. I'm taking it slow - no reason to rush good health!

I also bought a weed-eater for Paul for Father's Day. Now, that was a new experience, since I know approximately zero about men's tools. I had no idea there was such a wide variety available with quite a price range. So, I spent quite a bit of time at Menards and Sears, trying to figure out the best option. I finally went with a Craftsman because you can't go wrong with a Craftsman, right? Hopefully not. Paul seemed pleased with it, though, so maybe I chose well!

This weekend David wants to go to the annual Des Moines Arts Festival in the downtown. I hate downtown events because of the parking. But he's been wanting to go for sometime so I told him I would take him this year. And then Sat. I have to take Will back up to camp. I could just about cry because I'm going to have to miss a wedding at church I was looking forward to. But I guess that's part of having kids...

Today Sam etched a set of "train tracks" into my table with the edge of an ink pen. Grrr...I almost think it would be easier if he were this diabolical child who was intent on causing harm. Instead, he's always surprised when I'm not as impressed with his efforts as he is.

But then, on the other end of the spectrum, there's Will. We have been getting a LOT of rain lately. Since the walls are not done in the basement the rain keeps coming in the turning the dirt into mud that runs all over the floor. I've tried to clean what I can, but it's been pointless since it keeps raining. Today, Will moved all the stuff out of the way, commandeered David into involuntary service and cleaned and scrubbed and mopped and cleaned the whole thing up. Bless his heart. I told him how grateful I was and how his behavior was that of a man - a very fine man.

I guess I should be starting supper soon (back to cooking and all, you know). I've gotten quite a bit done today. This week shouldn't be too rough. I want to visit a couple of older friends, I need to stop at the bank and change Ben's bank account since they are wanting to now charge me $9 a month for the privilege of banking with them (grrr...). Ben has Social Skills tomorrow and I have my support group meeting in the evening. And I need to work on figuring tax witholdings with the city clerk, with a conference call to the IRS. She's also supposed to be showing me how to do water bills. So, all in all, a pretty easy week. I'm glad!

I'm cleaning the stove right now (self-cleaning). And I'm getting a headache. Better go pop some pills. I think my back is getting back to normal. My sciatic nerve flared up again so badly last week that I was practically paralyzed for a couple of mornings. I found some exercises on-line that are supposed to help, so I'm hoping that will take care of it, along with the regular treadmill exercise. I need my body in good working order!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Camp, Cameras, and Conferences

I can't believe how this day has slipped right by me! Paul, Will, and David took off early this AM for Jr. Boys camp (Will is working). This is the only day this week I didn't have to go anywhere, other than to take Ben to summer school (which I did in a torrential downpour and thunderstorm!) I wanted to make the most of it because of that. I did make a sizable dent in my laundry mounds, which is nice.

Last week was absolutely hectic beyond belief. It seemed like I had a lot to do. In addition, we had VBS every evening. The first evening we had 10 students (4s and 5s) - not bad. By Wed. night we had 21! The lowest it ever got after that was 19! Oh, my goodness - that was WORK! But I had good helpers.

I drowned my camera last week. I threw it in a waterproof bag for VBS and tossed my water bottle in there, too. Yep. The bag was waterproof - the camera, not so much! So, that was an unexpected expense!

Then, Friday and Sat. was the homeschool conference. It was really, really good, even though I only got to attend one class. I can't believe we've been doing this for 9 years now! On Friday I went to lunch with Kathy and Rich, who came just for the day. Then, Sat. my parents came down to sit with the boys. Of course, they had to admire my new bathroom and office first! It had been a year since they were here last. On my way to the conference I got a phone call from my brother's friend, Jeff. I'm Facebook friends with him, but not really "real-life" friends. Well, he and his wife were at the conference for the first time and feeling a bit lost as to what to buy for their child. So, we ended up having lunch together and I told them what I know, which doesn't seem like much. I have spent so many years "experimenting" with different curriculums for my kids and making changes that I don't know that I'm an expert. Each child has different needs. But anyway, I was able to buy most of what I need at the conference. I still need to order a Dave Ramsey homeschool course for Will's Economics class this year and I'm looking into a curriculum that might help David with his learning struggles. We'll see.

That's Ben up above, after the Sp. Olympics events in Ames in May.

Will got back on Sat afternoon while I was gone. He was at Water and Work camp, which is held in conjunction with Sp. Needs Camp. That is his favorite week of all, he tells me. He told me that one of Ben's teammates was up there! I was under the impression that Sp. Needs camp is mainly for adults - maybe not. I had no idea this girl was from a Christian family. Maybe she's not - maybe her family is taking advantage of a safe camping environment for their challenged daughter. Anyway, Will will be gone most of the summer. He got 4 weeks to work, plus he was gone last week and he'll be gone in late July for Sr. High camp.

Last night we ended up having a bit of a slumber party at our house. Some friends of ours from Council Bluffs met us in Des Moines and gave us their 9 year old to take to camp. And then the other boy from church who was going up was already planning to spend the night.

Well, that's what I know for now. I would ask for continued prayer in regards to the subject I mentioned last month (about us being crazy). We're starting to turn doorknobs now, as we seek God's will. I made some phonecalls today and we have our first meeting in a couple of weeks. I'm excited, scared to death, and trying to not let my heart engage. I promise, as SOON as I can talk about it, I will! But for now, please, please pray for wisdom for us!

Well, off to chisel away at Mt. Laundry again!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Culture Clash

Our topic was "drop-out." I did about as crummy on this one as I did on my story about the mom whose baby explodes all over her. Oh well - I think I'm in a bit of a writing slump right now.

Culture Clash

My daughter is a drop-out. Should I be more worried? After all, her chances of a good future may well be gone now. All the things that could have been hers…won’t. I imagine that people I know are probably shaking their heads as they contemplate the lack of Kaylee’s future.

I would be more concerned, except…my daughter is six months old.

It all started innocently enough. During my pregnancy my husband, Brice, and I had moved halfway across the world for his job. Technically, it was only the difference from Oklahoma to New York, but we may have as well planted ourselves in the jungles of Ecuador for the culture shock we experienced.

So, I had Kaylee and soon the walls of our little apartment were closing in on me. Everything I read assured me that motherhood would be all-fulfilling. I don’t know, but it’s kind of hard to feel fulfilled when your only companion sleeps for fifteen hours of the day and uses you as a milking machine for the other nine. If I didn’t get someone to talk to, I was going to go nuts. I suggested to Brice that we fly my mother out for an extended visit. He got this horrified look on his face and came home the next day with an address and phone number for a nearby Me and Mommy class.

So I went. Wow -- we sure weren’t in Kansas anymore! The minute I opened the door to this class I was assaulted with the smells of money, class, teething biscuits, and baby poop. I guess some smells transcend social class.

Introductions were made and one mother, who had apparently come straight from a tennis lesson, judging by the perky little tennis outfit she wore (that I would bet next week’s paycheck had never been on a court, ever), cooed to my daughter,

“And who do we have here?” Since my daughter was intent on stuffing her fist into her mouth, and, thus, unable to answer, I replied that this was Kaylee.

“Oh!” exclaimed Miss Tennis, “What an ordinary name!” That kind of took me aback. Wasn’t “ordinary” ok when naming one’s progeny? Apparently not. As the mothers took their places in a large circle, babes in lap, I started noticing the sticky labels attached to their children’s designer duds. There were a couple of “Juliets,” a “Gwyneth,” and even a “Rupert.” We sure were a far way from Oklahoma.

We clapped and sang while the babies drooled. I could be wrong, but I began to get the feeling that this class really didn’t have a whole lot to do with the children.

The mother to my right suddenly turned to me.

“Have you gotten on a waiting list yet?” she asked,

At the baffled look I gave her, she elaborated, “For preschool. You’ve got to get on a list, you know. If your daughter doesn’t get into the right preschool, then she has no chance at all of getting into Kindergarten.”

Ok, so this was news to me. I was pretty sure that all kids went to kindergarten, “right” preschool or not. But then another mother jumped in and I soon realized they were babbling about the right kindergarten. Of course.

“Well, it was nice to meet you” Miss Tennis stood in front of me, hoisting her chubby baby on her hip, “But we’ve got get going. Hugh, here, has his Chinese lesson and we can’t be late.” Uh huh. Well, I guess if China ever takes over America, then it might be handy to speak the language.

I wandered around the room for a bit, while holding Kaylee, and caught pieces of conversation:

“The French Riviera is just so hot that time of year, you know.”

“And they only paid six million for it!”

“Oh, and then our nanny said...”

And then I wandered right out the door, into the September sunshine. Kaylee babbled at a butterfly that swooped down and alighted on her stroller. We stopped in the park, got down on a blanket, and looked at the ants carrying a piece of food to their home and laughed at a puppy who got away from his owner.

And that’s when I decided that both Kaylee and her mother would be forever high society drop-outs. All the culture, prestige, and riches I was ever going to need was sitting right there, gurgling and drooling as the mid-day sun peeked through the leaves above us.

A Place for James

Funny story on this one: I totally screwed up. For some reason, I thought the topic was "outburst" - it wasn't. But I did pretty well, regardless of messing up the topic, which is supposed to be central to whatever you write about!

A Place for James

Eyeing her son, James, nervously, Anne tried to relax as the church service started.

“Please be good!” Anne silently implored her nine-year old son. As he began to slightly rock his body, Anne placed a warning hand on his thigh.

Anne needed to be in church. For months now, she had felt the voice of God calling her, pleading with her to return to the Father. Anne knew where she belonged and to Whom she belonged and her heart yearned to fellowship with other believers as she found her way back.

But there was James, afflicted with autism. As Anne kept an eye on him, hoping he would be calm and not have an outburst today, she reflected on the years that had brought her to the place she was today. Anne was a young, single mother when she realized that something wasn’t quite “right” with James. Already adrift from the Lord, Anne felt her remaining faith slip away with James’ diagnosis. The next few years were spent maintaining a balance between work and finding the best therapies for James. Mothering alone was tough enough, but mothering a child locked inside his own mind was nearly impossible at times. Sometimes Anne felt as though she would crumble beneath the weight of all she bore.


But yet, when she thought she could bear no more, she heard the voice of the One Who had borne it all. And slowly, Anne crept toward the Voice. Eventually, her creeping turned to running and she leapt into the lap of the great Comforter.

And now Anne needed a church. But she wasn’t the only one. Anne reasoned that if she needed Jesus, then how much more James must need Him, too. Her son wasn’t unintelligent. When he was calm, he could be quite reasonable. Surely, he could still be taught those needed truths.

“A-a-gh” James began to make a guttural sound of distress in his throat. Anne looked around for the nearest exit. If James did have an outburst, she needed to get him out of the service as quickly as possible.

They had already tried two other churches. The last time, an aged deacon had helplessly tried to explain to Anne, “It’s not that we don’t appreciate you coming to our services. But your boy -- we just can’t give him what he needs here.” Anne and James had been quietly, if kindly, kicked out.

As James’ rocking increased, Anne felt the old despair wash over her. Any moment now, James would erupt and no doubt, they would be asked to leave. Only this time, there wasn’t anywhere else to go.

Anne tugged on her son’s arm and urged him to stand. Her heart aching, she led him quietly out of the auditorium before a full outburst could occur.

Was there no place for James? Was there no place for his mother?

In the foyer, Anne coaxed James’ arms into his coat.


Anne turned. A pleasant-looking, middle-aged woman was scurrying her direction.

“I’m sorry,” the woman began, “But I couldn’t help but notice you leaving the auditorium.” She smiled and paused.

“I have a granddaughter with autism,” she continued simply. The kindness emanating from the unknown woman seemed to wrap its way around Anne. It was so real that she could nearly feel it.

“The thing is…” the woman paused, “I know it’s difficult. And I would like to help.”

Anne smiled, although she couldn’t imagine what kind of help this woman could offer. Help was very hard to find when it came to dealing with James.

“I could take your son for you while you attend church,” the woman offered. “I know how it is for my son and his wife. They take turns attending church so that someone can stay home with my granddaughter. But I was thinking that maybe I could take your boy into another room while you attend church and maybe he and I could have our own service.”

Anne smiled while she tried to think of a nice way to turn the woman down. She didn’t want to foist her son onto this kind woman. But yet…

Hope sprung up in Anne’s breast. Could this possibly work?

“Please?” the woman asked and Anne found herself nodding her head. And to her amazement, James willingly took the woman’s hand and walked away.


A smile crept across Anne‘s face. Today she had not only heard the voice of God, but she had seen Him, too.

Doing it All

I have 4 FaithWriter's entries that I still haven't put up on my blog - getting to them now. Here's the first, called, "Missing the Mark on Mother's Day." I'm not going to publish it here, because it's getting published in one of their anthologies. But if you want to read it, here's the link: I liked this one - it's funny. Oh, and speaking of anthologies, there's one coming out in just a few weeks - my first! I'm not sure which stories of mine will be in there, but I'm excited!!!

Ok, here's a story I wrote for the subject of "Blow-out." I knew it wasn't very good because it was all narrative and that's a no-no when it comes to writing. Apparently, it was horrid because I didn't place at all, anywhere! Maybe it was just too gross, I don't know.

Doing it All

Opening my back door, I ease into the house. I set my purse and keys down on the counter and rifle through the mail I collected before entering. It’s just sale flyers today. I see one for diapers and it doesn’t take but a minute for a memory to re-surface and a smile to form across my face.

Today was my first day on the job after a twenty-three year hiatus from the working world. And the reason for that is a diaper. A very stinky, runny, horrible diaper.

A blow-out.

I remember the day like it was yesterday. It was my first day of work at the firm of Mason-Bigman. I was all dressed up in my “power” suit - navy pinstripe, I think it was. I still remember those shoulder pads! I recall distinctly the white blouse I wore underneath it with the little bowtie around the neck. I was so proud of that outfit! I remember my husband, Mike, whistled at me as he left for his job, and encouraged me to go “wow” my new employers.

And I probably would have, except that by the time I was to enter the hallowed halls of that firm, that same white blouse was covered in icky, yellow-brown infant diarrhea.

I laugh as the memories roll through my mind. You see, I was a brand-new college graduate back then all set to amaze the world and begin my climb up the corporate ladder. But I was also a new mother. Mike and I had married the summer after our junior year of college and on graduation day, instead of marching down the aisle, I was pushing out ten -pound Kevin in the hospital.

And while Kevin was a bit of a surprise, I told myself it didn’t matter. After all, this was the eighties. Women could have it all. In fact, my professors in college assured us that, in fact, it was vital that our future children see their mothers fulfilled in the workplace. The 1950s were long gone, along with poodle skirts and sock hops. There was no such creature as June Cleaver anymore. To do anything less was a betrayal of all the hard-fought victories that had been won by the women who marched before in pursuit of equal rights. I owed it to them to do it all. I owed it to myself.

And, too, there was the certain matter of my college degree. That thing was hard earned -- how could I walk away from all that work? I just couldn’t, that’s what.

But none of those college professors told me how I would fall in love with my child the moment they placed him in my arms. They didn’t tell me how sweet the days would be and how I would lose myself in those big blue eyes. They didn’t tell me that I would creep into his room at night, just to make sure he was still breathing or that motherhood would re-define my womanhood.

But, I still clung to the belief that I could do it all. As the weeks rolled on I began to prepare myself for entering the work force. I scouted around for good daycare and ended up choosing a grandmotherly friend of a friend to watch Kevin for me.

And then the morning of my interview arrived. Grabbing the diaper bag and my new briefcase in one hand, and scooping up Kevin in the other, I prepared to enter the Land of the Modern Woman. I walked out the front door. And then it happened…

Kevin screwed up his little face, turned beet red, and exploded. Rivulets of baby diarrhea ran down my white blouse, dripping onto the briefcase. It was so disgusting. And yet, that blow-out remains one of the most defining moments of my entire life.

Standing in our driveway, holding a wailing baby, my clothes covered in excrement, while it dripped onto my high heeled shoes and the pavement, I was rocked with a sudden realization. Anybody could go work at Mason-Bigmans. But only I could be Kevin’s mommy.

And that’s why I smile today on this, my first day back to work. It came twenty-three years later than I had planned, but I learned along the way that I was right - women can do it all.

They just can’t do it all at once.

Saturday, June 4, 2011


I have my computer back! It still has a few glitches that need to be worked out, but at least I have it back. Our mayor ended up getting rid of Vista and putting Windows XP on it. I think I would have preferred Windows 7 because that is what my laptop has, but he had a disk for XP and to buy one for 7 would have cost about $70, so I decided I could be happy with XP!

I'm surprised I'm awake at all today. Yesterday my allergies were rough and I ended up taking quite a few pills, which made me woozy. Then, Melissa and I went out last night. We met earlier than normal, thinking we'd be home sooner, but it didn't quite work out that way! We did a little bit of shopping (even bought the same top at Kohls - how Jr. Highish is that? Hope we don't both show up at church wearing them on the same day!). We went to a movie out at Jordan Creek. Neither of us had been there and I was surprised at how pricey they are. Of course, had we driven back to Copper Creek ( a cheaper theater in Pleasant Hill) we would have spent the difference plus more in gas. We saw, "Something Borrowed" - a total chick flick. But it made me laugh! Then we ended up in my van talking until 12 in the morning! Why am I surprised?

I drove home listening to George Norrie interviewing a licensed hypnotherapist who specializes in taking people back to their past alien encounters. They were just getting to the good stuff - the increase in half alien babies born to humans in the past decade (apparently the aliens are a dying race due to environmental factors on their planet,as well as too much inbreeding over the past centuries) when I got home. Bummer!

And then Ben bounces down the steps at 6 this morning, all set to play the Wii until I chased him back to bed. I had to get up an hour later and take him to Respite Care. They are taking the kids to see Kung Foo Panda II today - better him than me. I had to sit through most of the First Kung Fu Panda movie and thought it was really dumb! So, I get out to Johnston and they tell me that Ben is not on the list for the day! Grrr....I had a set of email exchanges with the coordinator earlier this week that told me Ben WAS on the list. But they let him stay, providing not all the kids showed up and they would be over their staff to client ratio. I haven't had a phone call, so all must be good.

So, anyway, I'm going on about 5 hours of sleep today. I've got a list a mile long to accomplish, including going to interview my neighbors for the next issue of the Swan newsletter, which is way overdue. They are in their 80s, so I'm sure they'll have plenty of stories for me.

This next week is VBS and I'm teaching the pre-primaries. That's always exhausting. And then we have the homeschool conference on Friday and Sat. I know Paul is taking time off on Friday morning to attend a certain workshop with me, but I'm not sure he'll make it to anything else. And that's fine. I honestly didn't see any other workshops that excited me. I just need to buy books. And then next Sun. I have to get David and Paul and possibly Will packed for Jr. Boys camp and they leave bright and early that Monday morning.

And have I mentioned that we don't have air yet in our house? ARgh!!! I about cried this week when Paul had me go get parts for an AC that I assumed was ours - until I found out it was for someone else! The money from that is very much needed, but still --! I need air, too! He said he was going to work on ours this weekend, but he didn't get home last night until after 9 and he's out working again this morning. I have no idea how long he'll go today.

We attended a nice wedding a week ago. It was beautiful. They draped yards and yards of purple fabric along the church ceiling and it just gave this "tent" effect. That poor family, though! A week before the wedding, the bride's parents hosted their last son's high school graduation party out at their house. They had out of town guests staying with them by this point. Then, two days later, the brides grandfather suffered a massive stroke and he died two days after that, which was 3 days before the wedding. So, they had the wedding as planned and then there was a big funeral at church on Tuesday. I went to that and took the boys. I hope the bride's parents got some rest this week! The father of the bride is our assistant pastor and he and his wife are in charge of VBS, so there won't be any rest for them this week.

Oh, I forgot to mention Ben's Sp. Olympics event at Iowa State a week and a half ago. He played Bocce ball for this one. We drove up to Jack Trice Stadium and Sam exclaimed, "That's the Cyclones - boo!" A school bus then picked us up from there (David was thrilled, getting to ride a bus for the first time in his life!) and took us to the Lied Center. Ben's team played two rounds of the game and they got the GOLD! The medal ceremony was so neat. They have the athletes stand up on the stage and they bring the medals on a pillow and each athlete has his name announced in a microphone. Of course, Ben was more interested in the microphone and I couldn't get him to look my direction for a picture!

I threw out my back this week - bending over a shopping cart, of all things. I just felt this sickening ripple across my hips and I about fell to my knees. I've been living on Advil ever since. I think it's my sciatic nerve which has given me more trouble in recent years. I just can't depend on this body for anything, anymore!

Well, back to my list. Now I can take "Blogging" off of it!