Friday, January 27, 2012

Snow, Trust, the 60s, and my Scribblings

I have been short on sleep all week long and I am definitely feeling it today. I can't even sleep in tomorrow morning (Sat) because we have to be in Ankeny by 8:30 for Ben's Sp. Olympics event. Maybe a nap on Sunday afternoon?

Well, the big news around here is that ... OUR LICENSES CAME!!! Just ignore this if you're on Facebook, because I already made a big to-do about it over there. But I had prayed, very specifically, at the beginning of last week that God would let us know, one way or the other, by the end of the week if we would be licensed or not. All week long I eagerly trotted to the mailbox, only to be disappointed every day. Saturday I woke with a feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach. It was the last day of the week and there was a real possibility that the mailbox would be empty again. If that happened, I would have to painfully swallow the realization, once again, that God doesn't always do things on my time-table. I hate those moments. Or, we might get a letter, but it might say something like, "We regret to inform you..."

So I left first thing in the morning to do my bi-monthly shopping. Didn't get to go alone, of course. Ben lives for shopping and he wasn't about to let me go alone! David ended up coming too because he wanted to exchange something at Toys R Us. I stood in the bedding dept. at Walmart debating about spending $7 on a mattress pad that I wanted for the new bed that is in the extra bedroom. I wasn't about to put sheets on that thing without some protection for the mattress. But the truth was, we might never have another child using that bed, making the purchase of the pad unnecessary (I bought the pad).

I knew Paul had plans to go to a nearby auction that day. On the way home, David happened to spot Will driving the opposite direction on Hwy 316. I figured he was auction-bound, so I turned around and followed him. I couldn't believe that Paul was still at that auction! We had been gone for a good 6 hours and we had both left at the same time that morning. Sure enough, Will ended up at the auction and I found that most of my neighbors were there, as well. I found Paul in the basement of the house and he told me that he had just bought a complete twin bed for $5. Of course, my ultimate desire is that we adopt 2 children and would, at some point, need yet another bed. He saw the expression on my face though - the one that said, "I think you just wasted money"- smiled, and said, "Have faith!"

I went on home, collecting the mail as I drove in. And in the mailbox was a huge envelope containing our licenses. And the rest is history...Well, not quite. I am still waiting for the phone to ring letting us know a child is ready for us! I have a feeling that it is not going to happen until May, though. I could be wrong - I hope I'm wrong - but it's just a feeling I have.

We found out that we can register at a national adoption registry, which I did this week. I think we kind of excited them because of our experience with and willingness to consider another special needs child. Within an hour of being accepted, I already had 5 "matches" for potential children. All were little girls with special needs. And of course, ALL of them tugged at my heart! How am I supposed to know who to choose? I think for now we're going to wait and see what happens locally first. I know that inter-state adoptions can get tricky.

Want to know what else Paul picked up at the auction? A full size above-ground swimming pool. We already have the highest water bill in town - wonder how much filling that thing will add to it? I have a feeling that DHS will have a few stipulations in place if we think we're going to use it while doing foster care, too! But it might be nice on some of those hot August days. I bet the church youth group kids might like it, too.

Speaking of the youth group, Ben is going to an activity next Friday evening. I'm a little nervous because it's out at Incredible Pizza and he's going to need help with everything from getting and carrying his food (it's a buffet) to managing his pre-loaded game card and not losing it. Basically, he'll need a shadow. And Will is not going to be there. He and some of his friends have decided that Incredible Pizza is NOT where it's at, and they're going to Buffalo Wild Wings instead and then meeting up with the youth group when they get back to church. That's fine and it is does actually make the night cheaper for me, but I'd still feel better if Will was with Ben.

Last night the musical had their first practice on stage. Suddenly, I am the main parent helper and I find myself offering suggestions on wording and positioning. Kids are asking ME for permission to go to the bathroom. Like I know ANYTHING about musicals!!! I think it's more a matter of the presence of authority, although the teacher, who's been doing this for something like 30 years, is actually liking my suggestions. And I don't even like the musical! Well, actually, it's kind of cute, but there are parts I don't particularly care for. It's set in the 60s and is all about women's lib and flower power. Actually, that's the name of it - "Flower Power." Like it or not, the 60s were about rebellion and to have that celebrated rubs my fur a bit the wrong way. Anyway...

Will said that last week when he went to the auction he had Sam in the back of his car and reminded him to buckle his car seat. "So I don't die?" Sam asked. Will affirmed that and Sam said, "Yeah - you'd miss me if I was gone!"

Sunday night someone was playing a trombone solo at church. Of course, the trombone is not a "clean" instrument - it's got a, deep, gravelly sound to it. Sam heard that, laughed, and called out (softly, thankfully!) "tootie!" "Tootie," of course, is his word for a person that passes gas.

A prayer request: a young teenager in our homeschool group in Des Moines died yesterday. He had been battling a brain tumor for the past year. It's sad. Not that any child's death would be easy, but this child was a miracle baby, born later in life to his parents - their only one. And he died on their wedding anniversary, of all days! My heart aches for them. Pray for the Moede family.

A couple of my recent writings are available for your reading pleasure. The first is my most recent (finally!) FaithWriters piece. I really didn't think it was all that great, but I got 6th place in my division and 9th overall, which means it will be published. It's about a really, really embarrassing event:

And, today, at the Jewels website is a rather painfully honest post I wrote about loving the unlovable:

Well, to my delight, it is snowing outside - a lot! That is the first snow I have watched come down all season. The other two, minute, snows we got happened while we slept. Unfortunately, I really need to get the city hall sign changed today - didn't really want to do that in the snow!

I hope it's snowing wherever you are today, too!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Tape, Independence, Friends, and Abandoned Children

Ok, I swear - I am not responsible for the duct tape on Sam's face in that picture! The kid has developed a fascination for all sorts of tape in recent weeks. He has gone through three entire rolls of Scotch tape in about as many weeks. He makes "balls" out of it, with cut up pieces of my 3X5 cards and then winds the tape around them. I have tried, without success, to convince him to use old pieces of scratch paper. He wants my cards (I keep a stash of cards on my desk - I use them for my myriad of lists that keep me sane). It was yesterday that he came to me, scissors in hand, wondering where the duct tape was. This was the next glimpse I caught of him! I'm trying to remind myself that he's being creative and a few rolls of tape and cards are not really THAT expensive...

I finally started doing some preschool work with him this semester. He's flying right through it. I have pretty much decided that I'm going to start him in kindergarten next fall. I don't plan to graduate him any earlier than 18, but if he can get some basic learning out of the way when he is younger, then he'll have more options for things he is interested in studying when he's towards the end of high school.

I like dressing my kids. Actually, I like dressing myself, too. It's fun to plan outfits, I think. The only person I don't like dressing is Paul because he's a boring dresser. If he would wear the things I would pick out, then I could have some fun with him. I have an elaborate clothing schedule for myself that I follow - it involves little baggies and rolls of the dice. Don't ask - I suspect it all hints at something seriously malformed in my inner brain. Perhaps, Ben's autism is more genetic than we've ever given it credit for! But, anyway, I get a kick out of putting the boys clothes away in their drawers, carefully moving up unworn items to the top drawers and putting the freshly washed items in the bottom drawers. I even enjoy deciding which pair of their jeans will best compliment a certain shirt. My efforts are largely unappreciated. When Will got to about age 10 he informed me that he could now pick out his own clothing. It was about a year and a half ago that he refused to let me lay out his Sunday clothes anymore, as well. Maybe now is a good place to interject the conversation he and I had this morning about the inappropriateness of wearing the exact same t-shirt to class two days in a row. We finally compromised - he pulled a black sweatshirt thingy over the t-shirt in question and declared, "See - now it looks different from yesterday!" I'm shuddering here as I relate this.

David has always been a bit pickier about his clothes. I make sure that he has an ample wardrobe for each season. But he persists in pulling out the exact same 4 shirts and wearing only those. I've kind of given up on him.

Now, I have had a lot of fun with Sam. For one thing, little boys' clothing has gotten a lot cuter in the years since the older boys were this size. And another thing is that we have been given SO much for him. He's one of the best-dressed preschoolers I know. Every day I enjoy picking out his cute little-boy top and matching it to some adorable little-boy pants. And I did all that until recently. About two weeks ago Sam mastered dressing himself. That's fine - the more independence he has is all the less I have to do for him. But then, last week, the kid started pulling out his own clothes from his drawers! He pulls a little chair in the room up to his dresser, stands over his clothes, presses a finger to his lips, and says, "Hmmm, what should I wear today?" Then, he picks a shirt, goes over to the closet, where I keep his pants and jeans, and picks out a pair. And then he dresses himself! Today's high temp is supposed to be about 14 degrees. So I got out a heavy sweatshirt and some corduroy pants - good, warm clothes for a cold, cold day. I laid them on the arm of the couch, intending to dress Sam in a little bit. The next thing I know, he's prancing around the kitchen, fully dressed in an Indianapolis Colts t-shirt and a thin pair of windbreaker pants!

I give up. I'm going to have to get my little girl before I'll get to dress up another human being. And I have a feeling that may not work out so well, either!

Well, let's see...what other angst is there is my life?

Still waiting to hear from the state. Only, this week I found out that another couple in our class already has two placements in their home! That was discouraging, to say the least. Of course, they may have had a different case worker. And, as my friend, Jenny, pointed out to me, their parameters for placement choices may have been broader than ours. Trying to remember that "having faith in God also means having faith in His timing." If I have not heard by the 31st, I will be calling our case worker. Ben fell through the" cracks" for 18 months when we switched his waiver, so it's possible that that has happened again with yet another state agency. Paul did get the bed put together this week. I want to buy a mattress pad for it and then I'll put the sheets on and see about sewing some curtains and maybe a bed skirt. Foolishness or Faith?

We left the boys alone overnight for the first time last Friday. It was just the wisest thing to do. Kathy and I had been wanting to meet up forever in Council Bluffs and it just had not worked out yet. At the same time, a part for Paul's sister's furnace had been ordered and come in to a warehouse in Omaha. Obviously, the smartest thing was to combine those trips. David had an overnight birthday party to attend in Polk City on Friday. So, I loaded the boys up on movies and frozen pizzas and they had fun. Will was able to pick up David on Sat. (not in PC, though - the parents met him halfway in Pleasant Hill). Then, he did drive over to the south side of Des Moines to return the movies. I had intended to just return them on Sunday, paying the extra few dollars for another day of rental. I really did not want Will driving across town when we weren't around. But I left the movie receipt on the table and he saw it and realized that the movies were due Sat. and thought he should return them. It all worked out - he didn't get in an accident - but I would not have asked him to do that.

And Kathy and I had a great time together. I have to say, for being the "armpit" of Iowa (as my audiologist in Waterloo told me shortly before I married and moved out there), Council Bluffs has some amazing shopping now. Their mall has pretty much gone ker-plunct but all these wonderful, single, stores, have popped up on the south side of the city. We didn't even have a need to run over to Omaha because it's all there in Council Bluffs now! I wish something like that could happen in Des Moines. Our south side mall is drying up and some of the surrounding businesses are, as well. To do almost any shopping anymore, I have to travel out to West Des Moines or even to Jordan Creek. And I like Jordan Creek and Valley West, but it takes more time to get there than it did to get to the south side. And it's not even that shopping was our main point to being together. Obviously, I can do that alone. As I told Paul, they could put the two of us in a dungeon somewhere and we'd have a marvelous time, just talking away. He said, "Well, that would sure be a lot cheaper!" Hah! Kathy is one of my few friends that I can just jump into conversation with. We had not spent time together in 13 months and it was like it had been 2 days. There is never any of that awkward small-talk that often has to happen first. Of course, it probably helps that our lives and our tastes are so similar. And we've been friends now for 24 years, which probably has something to do with it, as well. Anyway, it was great!

Paul's dad said to me when we were there, "You sure don't say much, anymore, do you?" I wish I'd been quick enough to think of the verse in Proverbs that says it is better to be thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt. But instead, I just said mildly that the older I get, the less talking I am doing. Truthfully, though, it depends who I'm around. Some people I just don't care to have conversations with, anymore. Is that bad?

Oh, and you know what else was nice? Paul and I got to travel without kids! It's so free-ing to be able to have conversations without children in the background, having to find sippy cups, break up fights, stop for the bathroom. It's nice to not have to guard conversations, knowing that little super-sonic ears will pick up the slightest hint of gossip and then broadcast it.

And we're going to do it again. Paul took his Christmas and birthday money from my parents and signed us up for the GARB marriage retreat in 3 weeks. We'll just be in Johnston this time, but we'll be away from the kids! And, he told me, he's taking the day off that Friday so before the conference, we can go antiquing together all day long. We've got those gift cards from the Lozier Christmas party and I think we'll use one for a really nice lunch, too. Maybe one of these years we'll fly to Florida or Hawaii (dream on!) for a week and leave the boys home know, our 20th anniversary will be here in just 13 short months...

I am a walking bruise right now. I took a very nasty tumble Tuesday off a stepladder. I had the most horrible migraine that I've had in years. The prescription pills I have make me a little dizzy. I didn't think of that and climbed up on the ladder because I needed something out of a top cupboard. I fell backwards and landed in my kitchen laundry basket (where I toss dirty washcloths, towels, etc). I put on Facebook that it was probably something like a Three Stooges clip, landing that perfectly! Unfortunately, the basket wasn't full! And, oh, do I hurt now! If I had been about 30 years older, I bet I would have broken a hip. The good news is that my migraine did eventually fade. Maybe it's just that I had bigger hurts to distract me!

I entered a FaithWriters Challenge last night. I am SO proud of myself! I have not done that since August. Last fall was just so exhausting, physically and mentally, with all the adoption preparations. So I gave myself a "pass" on writing. Well, I still put out my monthly Jewels posts, but that was it. I finally had a faint idea of something I could write about for this week's topic and even though I really didn't have it fleshed out at all in my mind, I went ahead and sat down at the computer last night after we got home from church. I was up past midnight, but I got something submitted! I don't think it's all that good, but it's like getting back on the proverbial horse, I think. You don't expect to win the Preakness first time out of the gate!

Kind of a related funny?: I hurried and shooed everyone out the door after church, telling them that I had to "get home and write" (like I'm some big, important writer and the world is just breathlessly waiting for the next magic words to drip from my fingers). I warned them that I would only be sitting at the computer and if they needed anything, they needed to ask their dad. He would be responsible for getting them to bed and so forth. So, we're in the house, I'm sitting at the computer, and David asked, "Where's Sam?" I didn't think much of it, figuring he was somewhere. Besides, I had writing to do! Let them worry about the little squirt! It was about 15 minutes later that Paul came in the house, carrying a red-faced Sam. Paul had gone out to stuff a blanket in the dog house and when he got closer back to the house, he heard Sam screaming. Nobody had gotten him out of his car seat! He can unbuckle himself, normally, but one of the latches got stuck. Poor kid! He had been left all alone in the car, thinking he would be there all night! I did break from my creative processes and tried to comfort him. It didn't work too well. I think Sam was more mad than anything and he wanted to stew for awhile. Oops! And we wonder why the state doesn't want to trust us with more children?...

Well, I need to scoot. I should slap some make-up on and then head up to city hall. I'd like to go visit my neighbors this afternoon, too, if I have time and they're home. They get so lonely. Then, this evening Ben has musical practice. Tomorrow a storm is supposed to be moving in - could get 4" of snow. Now, that's the winter I have been missing!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Ben, Band-aids, and the Long Arm of the Law

Supper is in the oven, Paul is working late, and I have an hour and half until I have to take Ben to vocal practice. He is in the spring musical. The first practice is tonight. That was kind of a humbling/awe-inspiring experience for me. I already noted it on Facebook so I won't belabor it here. I think I mentioned before that Ben wanted to be in the musical. I was so nervous about having him try out. But he did absolutely wonderful. He sang a solo (not an entire song - just some lines) in front of his perfectly-abled peers and read lines in a group. I was so impressed! Ben knew he could do it, but I was a little slower to catch on! He got the part of an old man. I'm assuming it has minimal lines, but he got what he wanted, which was to be part of the production. I was pleasantly surprised to hear him sing. He used to be very off-key, but he's a lot better. Since he normally sits on my deaf side in church, I haven't been aware that he has become a better singer. I guess those private vocal lessons he's been getting at school are working!

So, for the next couple of months, I'll be sitting in on practice with him for an hour and a half every Thursday evening. I'm not looking forward to that so much! And maybe, after the first few weeks, I can just drop him off and pick him up when he's finished. But I want to see how things go first before I do that. He won't have his aide to help him and I don't expect the vocal teacher to be able to attend to him specially while working with all the cast.

Ben's new case worker is working out really well. She takes him to stores every week. I had told her what his old worker had said about him being a "menace." But this new one told me that was completely untrue, in her opinion. She was so impressed with Ben's ability at Walmart. She handed him a list of things she needed and he got right on it. She said when he did get in people's way he apologized. She said she can really envision Ben working in a grocery store someday. I told her that's what we've kind of been thinking for awhile.

Sam got his fingers caught in a door last week. David didn't see them and shut the door - split a couple of them right open. So we've been putting bandaids on them every day. I'm too cheap to routinely buy the kiddie bandaids with the characters on them, so at Christmas I always put a box in the younger boys' (now just Sam) stockings. This year all I could find were Snoopy ones. But Sam refused to let me put them on him. He asked me, "Did you pick out the Snoopy bandaids?" I told him yes - I thought he would like them.

"Well, I don't" Sam flatly replied. Ok, then! Guess I may be the one running around with Snoopy bandaids if he's not going to use them!

Sam was so excited after Children's Church this past Sunday. The kids learned about Heaven and they got to make papers with cotton balls and glitter (the probable reason for the excitement, I'm guessing) glued to them. Later Sam asked me, "Do you know they have gold roads up in Heaven?" That was funny, I thought. Usually you hear about the "streets of gold" but not the "roads of gold"!

Last week I had Ben and David write their Christmas thank-yous. The way I do it is to have them stand by me and dictate a note while I type, since my typing will probably be more understandable than theirs. Well, ever since then, Sam has been asking if he can "write a letter to Uncle Matt". He has figured out how to get into my Word program on the computer and he sits there and types away. It's cute!

We were in Council Bluffs a couple of weeks ago. Tell me if this is not an ultimate irony: On Dorothy's fridge was a picture of her grandson, Zach, - Paul's nephew - who is an inmate somewhere in Nebraska. He's been an off and on inmate since he was about 14. The kid - man, now - can't stay out of trouble. Well, anyway, there was a picture of him in his prison khakis taken "professionally" by someone. I don't know if this is something the prison does so the inmates can send home pictures at the holidays or what the deal was. Anyway, they position the inmates in front of an artificial backdrop. It's a picture of mountains and valleys, a peaceful stream, and an eagle swooping overhead. The one thing these prisoners CAN'T do is go out and enjoy nature because they are prisoners! It just seemed awfully ironic to me. Perhaps it would be better to have a background of bars.

We're still waiting to hear from the state on our license...trying to be patient...failing....But on that note: there is a very sad story that has rocked central Iowa this week. Last weekend a 22 year old woman in Huxley gave birth to twins all alone in her apartment. That's quite an accomplishment! I can only imagine how painful and scary that must have been. Why she would do such a thing and not call 911 is a bit baffling. Well, then she killed the baby girls because "she didn't want them" and put their bodies in the trunk of her car. The next day she went to her job at a gas station there in Huxley and a co-worker was alarmed when she noticed that the woman no longer looked hugely pregnant, but yet she refused to say anything about giving birth. So, the co-worker called the police and suggested they might want to follow up on this. They did and now this woman is facing life in prison for the murder of her daughters.

It's a sad, sad story on a number of levels. As a potential adoptive parent, it has really struck me in a different way because I would have taken those babies in a heartbeat. And I know there are hundreds of other couple in the metro who would have done the same. But now they're dead and nobody will ever enjoy those children. A family is devastated by the actions of their daughter and now they're losing her, too, as she will be going to prison for the rest of her life.

The focus of the news media has been on the "safe haven" law that Iowa has. A parent has the freedom to drop their 2 week old or younger baby off at any hospital or police station with no questions asked and the babies will be given to adoptive parents. So the media keeps crying, "Why didn't she do that?" Now, the focus has been turned in the last day to, "What did WE do wrong that chose this woman to not make that choice?" They're suggesting that there has not been enough publicity about the law. But here's the thing: she MURDERED her babies! A woman who would make the choice to do such a horrible thing would probably not have thought to herself, "Well, I could drop these babies off at the hospital 10 miles down the road, or I could just murder them. Hmm, what should I do?" No, murder was in her heart and that's what she chose. A person willing to entertain such an option is, in all likelihood, not going to choose a different, safer option. She didn't choose to kill her children because she didn't know about other options. Now, I'm sure her attorney will plead that she was suffering from temporary insanity or postpartum depression or something and the taxpayers in Story County will be footing the bill for the trial later this year. It's just sad all around.

Ugh - what a note to end on! But I have to do it anyway. Better go feed these kids and get my stack of magazines ready to take to Ben's practice tonight. Oh, there is one good thing happening this weekend - I get to see Kathy!! I haven't seen her since June at the homeschool conference and that really does not count because our time was so limited. But we are going to have all day Saturday together...I can't wait!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Reading and Writing

It's still Saturday. I just got back from City Hall. I think the key to this new job is going to be not waiting until the last minute to get everything done. If I can make lists of what need to be done and then go up periodically throughout the week, I think it will be more manageable. I gave myself a time limit of an hour and half and then put down my pen and came home.

I've been doing a lot of reading this past week. For Christmas, the in-laws gave me a 2 book set I had asked for. It's the "Marta's Legacy" set by Francine Rivers. Incidentally, they are the first Francine Rivers book that I have ever owned, even though I have read everything she has written. They were not disappointing in the least! I love, love, love Francine Rivers! I have decided that once I have collected all my Erma Bombeck books, I'm going to start collecting Francine's, too. I may need some more book shelves.

Then, Wednesday, my good friend Jenny gave me this book called "K is for Keeps." It was written and self-published by a Debbie Long Spicer, who was Jenny's sister's roommate in college. I am loving it! It's actually a set of blog posts bound into a book. The author and her husband are missionaries to Botswana and while there in 2001, they adopted a brain-injured infant. Oh, it is so good. I am just so taken with the absolute joy that this mother takes in her daughter. In recent years, I have become so convicted that I need to find that kind of joy more easily in raising Ben. At times the difficulty of being his mother and the grief at his condition has caused me to overlook the joy that is Ben.

A couple of months ago Jenny gave me a magazine that she had for some reason - I don't know why she ended up with it. But it's an adoption magazine put out by Bethany services. I found so many helpful articles in it. I finally looked up the subscription price on-line the other day and found out that the magazine is free! It come out quarterly. So I subscribed and my next issue arrived this past week! I am looking forward to going through that.

I renewed my Our Iowa magazine a few weeks ago after my subscription had lapsed. I was reading the latest issue the other night and to my dismay, discovered that the Checkerboard restaurant in Pleasantville was the featured Iowa "mom and pop" restaurant of that issue. We love the Checkerboard, so it's not a big deal, right? Wrong! I wrote an article about the Checkerboard 2 years ago and Our Iowa indicated to me that they were interested in using it but were waiting for the "right" opportunity. Well, they apparently found the right opportunity, but they published a piece written by somebody else! Grrr....

I am getting my writing "bug" back, though. The only writing I did this fall was for my Jewels of Encouragement website and these blogs here. I took a complete break from FaithWriters. I just had too much going on. Plus, the topics were a bit off the wall and I didn't have time to think my way around some of them. But, the old desire is slowly coming back. Last night I wrote my latest piece for Jewels. It's due next Tuesday. I still have some fine-tuning to do on that. I then looked up the latest FW topic. It's "commitment." Wow - that's so broad that I almost don't know what to do with it! I'll see what I can do.

And then last night I was printing off all my writing from 2011. There are two non-computer-literate ladies at church that always want to read what I write. From time to time they ask for copies, so that's what I was doing. I paused to re-read some of my writing and it just made the urge stronger. I need to write! This year, my goal is to write more non-FW stories, though. The biggest nugget I walked away from the August conference was the fact that I need to be building a "platform" of periodical articles. I have my Christian Writers Market Guide and I just need to be picking magazines and writing articles for them. In many ways, writing is a numbers game. The more articles you get out there, the more you'll have published. Of course, some will be rejected. I guess, in a lot of ways, it's like being a salesman. You have to make a whole lot of contacts in order to sell a few things.

All right. Time to step away from the writing and go do some "real" work! I'll be back.

Ron Paul, Clothing Woes, and Ben's Dreams

Here are the boys from earlier this week, when it was colder. Paul and Will went up to Des Moines to get some firewood from some guy's yard. And then when they got back, ALL the boys unloaded wood.

I unfriended someone yesterday on Facebook. It's this guy I knew from my CBF days at UNI. I just really, really hated hated to do that. But...this guy is a Ron Paul freak. Ok, that's not why I unfriended him. People are free to like who they like in politics. When it comes to Ron Paul, I actually like his fiscal views. But his military views are really scary, in my opinion. He is against any and all military involvement in anything, including Israel. I really believe Iran is shaping itself to be a horrible threat to not only Israel in the very near future, but to the rest of the world. Now - or ever - is not the time to be anti-military! Last May after Bin Laden was taken out a local radio personality had Paul on the air with him and asked him if, had he been president, would he have given the kill order on Bin Laden? And Ron Paul said that he would not have done so. I could never support someone who believes that way.

So anyway, this friend on FB is a radical Ron Paul supporter. The weird thing is, he's not the only one I know. It seems like a lot of Paul supporters are a bit freakish in their devotion. I get the sense that they are following the person, rather than supporting the ideals that he purports. It was not unusual for this guy to put a half a dozen or more posts every day out there that were in support of Ron Paul. He was very disdainful of the other candidates, calling them "neo-cons" (whatever that means). I can take that - as I said, everyone is entitled to their own political beliefs. But this bordered on obsession, I thought.

And then, Thursday, he posted a picture of a little Palestinian girl who had been reportedly decapitated by Israeli forces. It was a disturbing picture to say the least. But more than that, the words bothered me. Underneath the picture were words calling for an end to Israel's defense of their homeland (not that they said it in those terms). I just ignored it at first but as the evening wore on, I couldn't get it out of my mind. I finally decided the next day, that I had had it. I wrote a note to this guy, reminding him that the Bible promises certain destruction and curses for those that do not support Israel. I told him I was not willing to have this stuff coming across my Facebook wall and that I would be de-friending him. And then I did. Of course, he responded with links supposedly supporting his belief that Israel did commit this heinous act. And I'm not saying they didn't. A lot of innocent people get hurt in war. But we do not dare take away our support for Israel in ANY way. It was just one of those moments where I felt convicted enough to take an uncomfortable stand. And now I'm down to 445 FB friends!

On Nov. 30 I ordered an outfit from Chadwick's. I need to back up. Ok, I needed a new dressy outfit this fall and I had the hardest time finding one I liked anywhere. I finally found something I liked in Chadwicks and ordered it, only to have it back ordered twice! I was fearful that one of these days I would get a postcard stating that the item was no longer available. But it finally arrived this week. Ooh, I was excited, because the outfit is so-o-o pretty. It's a long, black pleated skirt with a lettuce hem. The top (they called it a jacket, but I beg to differ - it's a top, not a jacket) is this deep shimmery red with a rosette on the collar. And it was too small! I've noticed in the last year that I am suddenly needing an XL in my clothes instead of the L I've been wearing for decades (thanks to my long arms and broad shoulders). Melissa says it's because I'm middle aged now and my back is spreading. Lovely. Soon, I'll be picking my clothes out of the Womens' department. But I had to order this top by number size, not S,M,L. I picked the wrong number. So, I had to re-order the top in a larger size, which means not only will I be charged for shipping on that, but I'm going to have to pay shipping to send the too-small one back. That is what I do not like about ordering from Chadwicks. They gouge you on shipping. And don't ever order knits from them. They don't last. I'm keeping the skirt, although the elastic is twisted on the top and I'm going to have to cut open the seam to fix that. The quality is definitely not worth the price. If I hadn't been so desperate, I think I would have just said, "forget it." But it's getting harder and harder to find clothing I actually like. So when I do finally find something I like, I end up paying more - especially if I order the wrong size to being with! Oh, and they told me the top is on backorder now until Jan. 21. So I may have my new winter church outfit by March, maybe...if I'm lucky!

Ben is trying out this week for the school musical. This has been a bit of an ordeal for his mother. They have a musical every year. Last year, his vocal teacher called me and asked what I wanted to do. I told her let's not even mess with it. I really cannot see Ben memorizing lines, remembering cues, singing, and acting naturally all at the same time. This is a kid who can't even remember to tuck his underwear inside his jeans when he pulls them on. Well, as soon as school started last August, Ben started telling me that he intended to be in this year's musical. I gave him the vague, "We'll see" that mothers like to use when they don't want to crush their children's dreams right up front. But he didn't forget and proceeded to inform his vocal teacher, his aide, and his homeroom teacher throughout the fall of his intentions. I bet he even told the lunch line ladies and the janitors, too. So now what am I supposed to do?

In November when we had the parent/teacher conferences I chatted with the vocal teacher a bit about this. She assured me that she could find something small for Ben to do so that he would feel a part of the musical, while not being in over his head. I was thinking maybe he'd do something with the stage crew. Well, I get a note this week from Ben's aide letting me know that try-outs are next Tuesday. Try-outs? If Ben has to try out for a position, he won't succeed. Not to mention that the child can NOT have a speaking part since it would involve memorization and all that other stuff that goes with it. I'm torn because I really do want Ben to have new experiences and to have moments of success. They've been so few and far between for him. But at the same time I don't want him to be given a "pity part" and then for him to be a hindrance to rest of the musical members who are trying to put on a quality production. I understand, more than anybody else in the world, that Ben just can't do everything his peers will be able to. I don't expect him to, nor do I expect the world to accommodate him and bend over backwards. Ben has to assimilate to the rest of the world, not vice versa.

So, I wrote an email to the vocal teacher last night expressing some of these concerns. To my surprise, she responded right away. She was very kind and explained that there are actually more students this year than there are speaking parts. While she would like Ben to read some of the lines at the try-outs, it doesn't mean that he will necessarily have to speak during the musical. She told me that he will always be paired with another student, no matter what he ends up doing in the musical. And, she said, Ben's classmates are very aware and very accommodating of his special needs. They like him and they want to see him try. So, with my heart in my throat and reluctant feet, I'll be going with Ben to try-outs on Tuesday night. Who am I to stand in the way of his dreams when he's being so encouraged by everyone else in his vocal class? And then it looks like every Thursday night from now until mid-March, we'll be taking him to rehearsals. That, in and of itself, will be a big thing. His aide won't be there. We're welcome to stay and I think we will at first and maybe we'll end up staying for all the rehearsals. I don't know. As stretching as this is going to be for Ben, I have a feeling it's going to be even more of a stretch for his mama. But you also know who will be sitting in the audience crying when he does well, don't you? Yeah, I thought so...

Well, I made it through my list of things I wanted to write about. Paul and Will are back from their unexpected job. I suppose everyone is going to want to eat soon. David is hovering over me, wanting to know if he can have the computer, so my time here is finished. Maybe by the time I write again we'll have some snow!

First Week

It's Saturday and I am working through my to-do list. Blogging is on that list. And Paul and Will are -- working! This was an unexpected blessing. It's still warm out and Paul's hours were short as a result. I'm just waiting for winter to hit with a vengeance - blizzard, ice, bitter such luck yet. I mean Thursday this week, it hit 65 degrees - the first week of January!! If I didn't know better, I'd blame global warming... But first thing this morning, our neighbor Charlotte called and reported that her water heater was leaking. So Paul roused himself out of bed (we both got to sleep in - bliss!) and went over there. It has to be replaced. So, he ran to Menards and bought a new one while Will drained the old heater. At any rate, this job will create some extra money, which is helpful right now. Although, yesterday, I figured up our bills and we actually had enough to cover everything with this latest paycheck without dipping into savings. I was both pleased and surprised.

We did go to Council Bluffs last weekend. You can see Paul below hitting a "pinata" that his nieces made. Kaylee, his sister's daughter, and Elli (his nephew's daughter - technically a great-niece) had spent time making pictures for Paul's upcoming birthday, a banner that went across the basement ceiling and this "deer" pinata filled with goodies. I think they were bored. But they were insistent that Paul had to hit the pinata. They had fun!

Our New Years was pretty boring. I spent the evening reading while Paul, the boys, and his parents played Monopoly. It turned into a 4 hour game, which is precisely why I refuse to play Monopoly. Ever. I finally went to bed around 11:30 and Paul came in at the stroke of midnight, kissed me, and left the room again. I'll give him points for the kiss, I guess!

I was glad to get back Sunday evening, even though it meant stepping back into the whirlwind of my life!

I did a bunch of work this week up at City Hall. I need to get back up there today, too. So, I am officially employed now. I'm not sure why I thought I had time for this, though. Our first meeting of the new year was Thursday. I cleaned and cleaned that building - what a filthy mess! In a few years, we are hoping to build a new community center with a basement. It's going to be kind of a requirement because we are applying for grants for a tornado siren. But in order to get those grants, we need to have a place for people to go. A number of people in town do not have basements. Of course, I'm not all that confident that in the event of a tornado, they could actually make it up to City Hall.

Paul turned 41 on Wednesday. At first he didn't think he was going to have to work that day, but then his manager called and suggested that he come in and do inventory on his truck. So, that was good, even if it meant he was working on his birthday! We had a little party for him after church. I got him some new coveralls for hunting and Will convinced me that I also needed to buy him season 4 of the 24 television series!

I did go see the latest Twilight movie with Julie last week, as I mentioned I was going to do. It was go-o-od! She facebooked me the other day to let me know that we only have 10 months and 8 days until the last and final movie comes out! Now my boys enjoy Twilight and my friend, Melissa has told me that her husband and boys like it, too. But you don't typically see males at the movies. So I was surprised when we entered the theater and there was this middle aged couple (more middle aged than me) sitting a couple of rows in front of us. I bet the husband lost a bet or something. But I had to laugh when the movie was over and I happened to notice the husband - sound asleep!

We did go to the caucuses on Tuesday night. I had planned to take the boys, but we decided at the last minute to leave them home. We found out that Will couldn't caucus because he couldn't register to vote until he's 17 years and 6 months. The news was just saying as long as a person would turn 18 by election day, they could vote this time. But, it wasn't strictly true. Will will be 18 by next November's elections, but only by a few days. He can't register until this May. So anyway, the two of us went. I brought a book and I'm glad I did. It got pretty boring, hearing all the speeches. They did have a group of Knoxville homeschoolers lead the caucus in the pledge to the American flag, which I thought was neat. I was a little dismayed that nobody got up to speak for Michele Bachmann, but of course, there was someone for Ron Paul. Those Ron Paul supporters are a bit freakish. More on that later...

Now, we did get to hear a man who is campaigning for the Iowa legislature and I'm glad I pulled my nose out of my book to listen to him speak. He's a homeschooling dad of NINE from our district. His last name is Heartsill. We'll definitely vote for him in the primaries in June.

So, I voted for Michele and Paul voted for Rick Santorum. I liked Santorum, too, but I figured Michele needed all the votes she could get. As it was, Romney ended up technically winning the state by only 8 votes, and I'm baffled by that. People really want a liberal flip-flopper in the White House? I was able to hear most of Michele's speech the next day when she withdrew from the race. I was really impressed because, typically, these speeches tend to be all about the candidate themselves. But this one wasn't. Instead, she spoke passionately about what is happening in our country and how we had better wake up and stop this socialism that is insidiously taking over the country. I wanted to applaud right there in the kitchen as I listened!

I'll be back later. I need to find some lunch and then head up to City Hall.