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!

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