Thursday, October 27, 2011

Days of Fun, Furniture, and Football

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Bonfires, Windshields, and Nut-Job Mothers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Off to tidy!


Yes, I know it's been a full two weeks since I last posted, but I have been BUSY!!! We are up to our eyeballs in adoption stuff right now (more on that later), it got cold this week and Paul just happens to be on call, so he's been AWOL from home all week long, I spent 2 days in Waterloo last week, Sam's birthday is this Sat, as is the town Halloween party that two neighbors and I are planning and executing. Also, I'm trying to learn my new job of city clerk, Will is still playing football (last game is tomorrow), today was Special Olympics for Ben, and we're getting all kinds of things done on that house. For example, we moved the washer and dryer to the basement. I now have a dining room again! But I also have some holes in the walls and some painting to do where the laundry area once was.

Other than that, I just don't know how to fill my time!

As I mentioned, today was the Special Olympics bowling event in the Des Moines area. Ooh, what a madhouse that was! But Ben did well and left with a first place ribbon! I am so thankful to his coach, Maureen. Ben's practices were on Monday nights. But our adoption classes are on Monday nights. So Maureen has not only been picking Ben up from school on those nights, but she would bring him all the way back to our house, which was an extra 20 min round trip for her. She did that just so Ben could get a full practice in! And today Ben's aide drove all the way up to the north side of Des Moines to watch Ben perform. And then she insisted on taking him out for lunch before they headed back to school. She told me that somebody recently commented to her at school that she has the "best job" in the entire school because she gets to work with Ben all day. Isn't that cool?

Our foster care/adoption classes are going well. We had our third class this past week. We've had one couple drop out. We just keep getting more and more paperwork to do! They want to thoroughly vet us, I guess. I heard yesterday that several of the references we provided just received long questionnaires to fill out about us and then they are asked to provide other references to tell the state about us! I feel kind of bad about that, that they are having to do all this paperwork for us. Our first home visit was this past Tuesday. Our case worker is actually one of our teachers, too. I haven't decided if that's in our favor or against us! Paul didn't make it home for the interview, but that was ok. I spent all day cleaning, which was good because she asked for a tour of the house! There's a few things we need to take care of, like installing another hand rail, some carbon monoxide detectors, and hanging another door on the bedroom, but it's minor. She told us to go ahead and start getting a bedroom ready, which I think must be a good sign (!). Of course, it is hard to say how long it will be before a child is actually placed with us, though. She thinks it would be best if we used the big bedroom upstairs. So we are going to move Ben and David to the basement and we'll tuck Sam's bed underneath Will's loft. Then when (if) he leaves for college in another year and a half Sam can just have his bed. I need to find a bed, mattress, and dresser for our new daughter. And we have just got to replace that bedroom carpet. We don't really have the money for all that, but it would be silly to not replace the carpet while we have the furniture out. Maybe we can find a remnant piece at Menards or something. Our next visit will be on Nov. 15. At that meeting, we are going to be questioned about our marriage, losses we've experienced, and the boys will also each be interviewed. At the meeting this week, I was asked about my views on education (I homeschool - suppose I have a few views?!), some of my own history, and things like that. It was very non-threatening but I still found myself physically shaking during it! More and more I am finding myself really ok with the possibility that we may be given a child we have to give back at some point. Adoption is still my primary focus, but if we have to do foster care for awhile, it's ok. I mean, I know there will be things I won't like about it, such as being more of the "caregiver" rather than the parent. But I am slowly seeing all of this as part of a bigger picture that God is painting. And, you know, it's hard to say what the timetable on all this will be, too. We may rush, rush, rush and get the paperwork done, the room all ready, the approval stamped,...and then wait and wait and wait for a child. Who knows?

Well, what else is new? I am hobbling around on a broken toe and sprained foot. I was in Waterloo last week, jumped up to help Ben, and ran smack into the wooden leg on my parents' loveseat. Oh, man - that HURT! I couldn't believe just how painful it still was the next day and began to wonder if I had broken my foot or something. So after we got home, I drove back to town and went to Urgent Care where they took x-rays. I did break my little toe and they said my foot was severely sprained. So, I got this orthopaedic sandal thingy to wear since my foot was too swollen and painful to wear a shoe. By the second day of that I had really bad cramps going up my calf! But a 75 yr old friend at church brought me a different sandal she had from her foot surgery because she thought the one I was wearing looked too small. It was, but it was the biggest one that the clinic had. I like this one a lot better. It has a little heel on it, and that took care of my cramp problem. Now I'm just waiting for it to heal.

Other than my accident, I had a really nice couple of days up north. Matt and Kirsti were in town. So, I got to hang out with Kirsti quite a bit. She drove me downtown to pick up a copy of my marriage license that I needed for the adoption. I couldn't believe that we didn't have a copy of that thing! But we didn't. And I got to run over and see Sara for a little bit. She's popping out with the baby. This week the dr. moved her due date back by a day, but I bet this is a late February baby, anyway. She turned 40 yesterday, which kind of cracks me up, too!

Well, I have more to write, but I need to get some more work done around here, first. So, I'll be back in a little bit to post more.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Blessings and Fears

This is me this past Monday night - our first PS-MAPP class. Wow is about all I can say. What a night! They pack a whole lot of information into a little session. One down and nine to go. Within two weeks we will have our first home visit and by the first of December we will have had a total of three. They sent us home with reams of paperwork. I was up until midnight working on mine last night and still didn't get done. They want to know seemingly everything about your childhood and entire life. I had to fill out lengthy questionnaires on each of the boys. They, themselves, have paperwork to fill out. Now I'm trying to gather our references. Argh - too much! And there is a part of me that keeps whispering that in the end, we will be rejected for some reason.

And if we don't get rejected, I feel almost certain we are walking into a certain amount of pain. Maybe not. But the feeling persists. But then I keep turning to this one particular song. It's called "Blessings" and is sung by Laura Story. It came out this summer and I absolutely love it. I feel like it's really speaking to me for where we are now and from where we have been, such as during our difficult times with Ben. I've been listening to it a lot lately. Here are the lyrics:

We pray for blessings
We pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

'Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom
Your voice to hear
And we cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt Your goodness, we doubt Your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough
All the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we'd have faith to believe

'Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
And what if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know that pain reminds this heart
That this is not, this is not our home
It's not our home

'Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
And what if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
And what if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise

If you want to listen to it, here's a link. The melody is absolutely beautiful, too: This past Sunday the 43 year old mom in our church who has terminal brain cancer sang it for special music. Our pastor got up afterwards to preach and couldn't because he was so choked up. It's a very special song.

On the other hand, potential pain notwithstanding, I am starting to get kind of excited. We may have another child soon! My friend Kim, who lives in Texas, was given her first placement last week - 3 days after completing her PS-MAPP classes! It can happen!

Oh let's see, what else is new? Oh, speaking of friend Sara delighted me last week by finally letting me know she is pregnant. On the 18th of this month she'll find out the sex of the baby and on the 19th she'll turn 40! We've been trying to get together for a couple of months now and it just hasn't worked. So that's why she hadn't told me yet. Her news just made my day last week. I am filled with such joy for her family. Babies are a blessing - even if you are forty!

My friend Emily got married last Saturday. I served in her wedding. They had a full meal so I scooped potatoes for quite awhile. I also served drinks and made hors d' oevres plates. It was a beautiful autumn wedding. Unfortunately, just like the wedding we attended in late May, a grandparent of the bride died 3 days before the wedding!

My second Jewels of Encouragement post went up last week. Here's the link: I wrote about football and Will and the Christian life. My posts will now be appearing the 27th of every month. That means that I have an actual deadline every month and it's coming up next week!

I also have to get another Swan newsletter cranked out this month, plan the town's Halloween party, get costumes ready, do all this adoption stuff, get ready for Sam's birthday, and other things. Plus, I am spending hours up at city hall, learning the clerk's job. Pending the council's approval this Thursday night, I am planning to take the clerk's position starting in January. I'm not crazy yet, but it may happen before month's end...

Monday night Will had a JV game. We couldn't go because of our class. But one of his teammates broke his arm during the game. Will said it really turned his stomach to see that arm cocked at such an abnormal angle. Nasty! I'm just thankful it wasn't Will, which sounds kind of awful!

I took the boys in yesterday for the required physical for the adoption. Will didn't have to go because he just had one in August. Ben is up to 112 pounds, which is great! David weighs 88 and is just shy of 5' 1". Sam is 41" tall and weighs 40 lbs on the nose.

Sam just insisted I listen to him tell me the entire life cycle of a butterfly. How does he know words like "chrysalis"? He also told me about the butterflies flying to Mexico in order to get nectar. It must be PBS, because I sure haven't taken the time to teach him things like that! I'm amazed!

Well, I need to get dinner going so I can take Ben in for his allergy shots as soon as he gets home and then we can rush home, eat, and get to church tonight. Patch club is going well. I keep bribing my kids with homemade treats and they are so good for me! One of the moms says she is going to call me the "Sugar Teacher." I just like making them happy!

Oh, and by the way, we are special (underlined 3 times) people. I let Ben's aide know our adoption plans this week since I had to take him out of school to go to the doctor. She wrote me such a sweet note in his notebook regarding it. I don't know about special - "called" maybe. But what if it doesn't work out? Will we still be called then? I think that's a post for another day!