Friday, January 18, 2013

Gifts Galore

Isn't this the greatest picture?  It's my great niece, Elli, with my Ellie, which is kind of funny, in and of itself.  Elli is just "Elli" (although I have a memory of trying to convince her mother to name her "Eleanor" when she was carrying her) and my Ellie is an "Eleanor," of course - because I'm old-fashioned and like traditional names, I guess.  Both girls are in the process of being adopted.  Paul's folks are adopting 8 year old Elli and her younger brother, Zach.  I think I heard they have an adoption date of Feb. 19.  We're still waiting for our adoption date!  But  since the appeals process is finished, I do now have the freedom to post pics of girls on the internet, my adoption worker told me.  So, I am!  This week I made a 111 picture album on Facebook of all the pics of the girls I couldn't share the last 6 months.  That was fun, although time-intensive.

I had a couple of different blessings this week that are related to the girls.  I ended up going to lunch with my new-ish friend, Kerri, on Monday.  She is actually a pastor's wife in W. Des Moines.  We were in PS-MAPP classes together and while we talked briefly in class, it really wasn't until I found her on Facebook that we got to know eachother.  And now, we really know each other!  We sat out at the Jordan Creek food court for 3 1/2 hours talking Monday.  I had no clue that much time had elapsed until we left and I saw that it was almost 5 pm!  She and her husband are going down the same path we are (potential adoption) and she had some questions.  What's really unique is that last spring it looked like her family was going to be adopting our girls, along with some of their siblings.  But then it didn't work out and we got called instead.  I had been "attracted" to Kerri and her husband in class because it didn't take long to figure out that they were fellow Believers.  What a small, small world it is sometimes.  Lizzie still talks about going swimming with "Miss Kerri" - something that happened before we knew her.

I took Lizzie in for a hair consultation yesterday with Sarah.  I'm making lots of progress with figuring out styling, but her hair still needs some help.  Sarah has some ideas and we're going back next week for a cut and some sort of chemical relaxer to make it easier.  I asked Sarah how much this would cost so I could budget it in, but she wants to give it to me.  She has already given us so much for the girls!

And speaking of giving, my friend Julie is starting her own photography business.  She's been taking classes and is quite talented, I think.  She asked me this week if she could do family photos for us - for free because of the adoption.  I would just buy a memory card for her camera and then I could print what I needed.  We're going to do both indoor and outdoor shots.  I've always loved the outdoor family photo shoots I see friends post on FB, but have always assumed something like that would cost way more than going to Portrait Innovations so I've never pursued arranging anything like that for us.  So I think I know what I'm doing for next year's Christmas cards!

I found a new therapist this week for Lizzie.  Actually, Sarah told me about her - she practices just 3 doors down from Sarah's shop in Indianola.  I talked with her yesterday and we're going to give it a shot.  If it's not a good fit she said she wouldn't be offended if I dropped her.  Now I just need to call the old therapist and fire her - ugh.  I also have to track down our adoption worker and get her to sign the paperwork for the therapy.  That may be tricky since she's a pretty busy lady.

I went to the dr. again this week.  He says I have lost more weight since I was there last month (ok, only a pound, but it's still a loss).  He's also concerned because my white blood count is down.  I have no idea what that could mean.  So, I am waiting to hear from his nurse who was supposed to be setting up a sinus x-ray for me.  He promised me that "we'll figure out what's going on!"  I sure hope so.  I had to give more blood this time, too, and this nurse was not very good at it.  Boy, did that one burn.  Two days later and my arm is still throbbing!

Sam is bugging us for a cell phone.  I think that is so funny.  This has been going on for awhile; he renewed his efforts this week.  I have tried to explain to him that his brothers were teens and we only bought their phones out of sheer necessity (just Will and David, though), but he's not buying it.  He needs a cell phone and the sooner, the better, in his opinion!

Will and David went to Winter Melt-Down up at camp last weekend.  I tried to convince Ben to go but when he found out that he'd have to be outside for some of the time, he declined.  That's my boy!  I'm not one for the great outdoors, either.  They had a really good time.  I guess Will gave another guy a concussion while there.  He wasn't a student, but  a youth leader from a Des Moines church, I guess.  I felt so terrible, but that's what happens when you get a bunch of guys playing floor hockey or whatever it was they were doing.  I guess Will chucked him right into the  cement wall and he had to go to the hospital.  But he came back, so I guess all is ok.  If he had been an actual student, I think I would have tried to track him down to check with his parents to make sure he was ok.  Will does tend to be a bit aggressive in his playtime.

Our friend, Jason, is now the activities director up at camp.  He got it in his head to tease Will and a girl from our youth group all weekend long.  Somehow he got ahold of pictures of the two of them, flashed them on the screen in the chapel, and got all the attendees to start teasing them about their "couple" status.  Poor, poor Will...

The kids had to give testimonies on Sun. night about their camp experience.  David was already shaking by lunchtime, he was so nervous.  I suggested to him that he try to imagine the audience in their underwear.  He then wailed, "That'll just make me feel worse, Mom!"  But he did fine.  Will shone - he's the oldest in the entire youth group now since the two other seniors that were there left.  He had a great testimony.  Afterwards, at least two different people said to me, "That's a fine boy you've got there, Sarah!"  Yeah, I know!

Just yesterday I found Will reading a book about abortion and our culture of death.  He's not a huge reader, so I was curious why he was reading.  He explained that he had borrowed the book from a friend because in his Developmental Psych class they are going to be studying the subject of abortion.  He said he wanted to be ready to be able to stand up and "defend the babies."  Ahh - so proud.  If you want to read some other thoughts of his, here is his latest blog post.  I was quite impressed - and I probably would still feel that way, even I hadn't given birth to him!

But then, there are other moments that make you realize you still have so, so far yet to go with your kids...

 Sunday night I was registering Will for our state's homeschool graduation ceremony (it's June 1 - you're all invited, by the way).  We had to fill in what we'd like on the diploma and how we'd like his name announced.  Well, Will informed me that he wanted just "Will Heywood" on his diploma and for the announcement.  I told him no way.  He has a fine name and we're using the whole thing.  He was not happy about that.  Paul told him he needed to "grow up."  I then felt compelled to remind him about my very painful c-section that allowed him to enter this world.  I thought about telling him about the bloody nipples, too, but decided to save that for next time...There is nothing wrong with the name, "Walter."  I love that name and had specific reasons for choosing it.  And then, we have to choose a name for our homeschool that they'll print on the actual diploma.  We never had a name - we just homeschooled.  Will seriously wanted us to call it the "Heywood School of Awesomeness" and tried cajoling me into using that for the longest time.  He was serious!  I'm still rolling my eyeballs over that one.  You think they are so grown-up and then they suddenly revert back to being about 10 years old again...

Well, I need to keep moving.  We've been watching some friends' 13 yr old son for the past few days while his sisters have surgery in IA city.  He's David's age (actually a couple of months older) but plays better with Sam.  It's been an interesting few days!  I've got a lot to get accomplished today, though, so I need to get off my comfy bed and actually go do it.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Upchucking, Upgrading, and Uplifted

It seems like everyone has been sick lately.  It's even all over the news, how the flu is just sweeping the Midwest and other regions.  Something like 11 states are declaring that they have flu "epidemics."  It makes it sound like it's smallpox or something.  Come on, people, it's just the flu!

It went through our house, although not everyone succumbed.  A few days before Christmas Will and David had 24 hour bugs.  Paul and I went on a date the Sat. after Christmas.  We ended up eating at the Bass Pro restaurant - Uncle Bucks.  I wasn't terribly impressed by the place, anyway, when I was greeted at the entrance by a 4' wooden Uncle Buck holding a voluptuous and scantily-clad mermaid.  Really?

At 4 in the morning the next day we both woke up, sick as all get out.  The older boys went to church.  We put up gates, turned on the tv, and let the Littles have a "Lord of the Flies" type of morning while we fought death, ourselves, in the bedroom.  I was up and moving by the next day.  Paul still isn't quite back to normal.  That first evening he had a massive grand-mal seizure in the bathtub.  I heard him in the other room, so I went in there and he unconscious in the bathtub, foaming at the mouth.  So I turned off the water so he wouldn't drown.  He came out of it a few minutes later, like I knew he would.  But it really affected him, physically.  We figured up that it had probably been close to 10 years since he had had a real grand mal seizure.  His new medication keeps him from seizing now and it used to be that when he would attempt to seize at night, I could interrupt the seizures and his side effects would then be minimal.  But there was no stopping this one.

I have new countertops!  Well, I have new countertops sitting out in the back room.  Paul put one in, but hasn't done the others yet.  I will be SO glad when this kitchen is finished!  I found a dark navy pattern and ordered that; to my surprise, it has bits of pink in it.  It's not terribly noticeable, but I definitely would not have ordered it had I known there was pink in the design.  I can live with it, though.  One section of the countertop is wider than a normal one - it flows out into the kitchen as kind of an island, although it's attached to the other counters.  We're going to get some stools to put around it for an eating area.  The guy asked if we wanted to bevel the edges when we ordered it (for an extra charge) but I didn't want to.  I'm wanting a clean, crisp look, which is why I ordered them without back splashes (which cost more, too).  However, I suspect that all the kids are going to have dented skulls when they are around 6 and reach the height of the counters.  It's a pretty sharp edge that sticks out into the middle of the room!  The nice thing is that even though we ordered the countertops on sale, they went on sale even more the next week.  So Paul took in his receipt and we ended up getting a $140 store credit.  Yay, Menards!

Paul's birthday was last Friday.  He had me make fried chicken for supper, which was his supper request a year ago, too.  I finally figured out the secret to good fried chicken a couple of years ago and now everyone seems to think it is the best food ever and I get requests to make it all the time.  It's rather time-intensive, though.  His parents came the next day.  They arrived an hour earlier than they had said, which threw me.  David said I was rude, but I think he's overly-sensitive.  I mean, my hair was wet, I hadn't made my bed yet - grrr.  I'd rather have someone show up late than too early like that!  They couldn't figure out why I was upset, either, which figures.

We saw the therapist again last week.  This time she told me that children are incapable of discerning truth from non-truth until about the age of 12.  Uh-huh.  I think I need to find a new who has a brain.

We did hear from the courts this week.  Well, actually, I heard from Jenn, who heard from the courts.  Nobody actually ever officially tells us anything.  I told Jenn that I feel like we are the stinky 3rd cousins nobody wants to talk to.  She said she feels like she's been dubbed the secretary by the courts!  But anyway, the appeals court did uphold the termination ruling.  So, the birth mom has come to the end of the line, pretty much, for what she can do.  It should only be a matter of time before we're in touch with the attorney and getting an adoption day date.

I want to have the girls picture taken for their adoption - a picture I can use for their adoption announcements.  Thinking it was going to be happening in December, I bought them coordinating outfits the day after Thanksgiving.  They've been hanging on a rod ever since.  I had finally decided that if I did not hear anything about the appeals process by Jan. 15 I was going to go ahead and just put the clothing in the girls' dressers.  We would just have to buy new outfits (sundresses, maybe?) when the adoption actually did finally happen.  But now, it looks like I may get to use those outfits after all!

We are going away for our 20th anniversary next month.  We started looking in earnest a week ago at some travel sites and finally booked airfare and a hotel last night.  It took all night long to figure out what we were doing, trying to get the best deal, etc, but we got it done!  We are flying out of Omaha two days after our actual anniversary to Denver.  I've never been to Colorado before.  We won't come home until 4 days later.    We're actually leaving the night before so we'll have a total of 5 days and 5 nights away.  I'm excited!  We need this time so badly right now.  I kind of look at it as an investment.  Plus, it's going to be really fun!

Perspective is always good, though.  I'm putting some real time and effort into my marriage right now - rooting out things that shouldn't be there, trying to look at myself honestly (ouch), etc.  This week a friend let me know that her husband (this is a Christian couple, even) had recently left her and their two very small children for another woman.  Wow.  There is a potential out there for devastation that doesn't even come close to touching my own life.  I am fortunate.

Ok.  I need to make that phone call now that I referenced in my last blog post.  Time to get yelled at by old, tattooed women living in trailers...the fun never stops!

Christmas Chaos

Saturday morning...and I don't have to go anywhere, today.  What a blissful feeling!  Of course, I do have to make a rather unpleasant phone call soon.  It's city stuff, to a resident who isn't following the rules.  I'm blogging now, so I can put if off for awhile longer.  I don't enjoy getting cursed at by old women in tank tops who don't wear bras.  I'd much rather write!  Or even go to the dentist...

Well, it's the new year and Christmas is over - thankfully.  I can't remember a Christmas where I was just so thankful to have it done!  I don't know if it was the stress of having two more children to buy and prepare for, just the stress of this last year, the fact that I haven't been feeling well for months...I don't know.  I hate that because I normally love Christmas!  Maybe next year will be better!

Paul was working crazy hours Christmas week.  We had intended to do our family Christmas on Christmas Eve.  But he didn't get home until 3 in the morning!  So, instead, we did it around 7 and then hotfooted it over to Council Bluffs for the day.  Paul's family is oblivious.  We had several people ask us that day, "So, who are the girls?"  I don't think anybody actually talks to anybody in that family.

The Christmas Eve service at church was really neat.  Tammy performed the piece I wrote.  I was nervous.  It was the last thing scheduled that night and my heart was just flip-flopping around while I listened to all the other musical things being done.  I had intended to go out into the foyer while she performed, but ended up just sitting and listening.  It was ...amazing.  She became Rachael (my character).  Tammy even went so far as to make up her face to look like she had been burned (you'll have to ask me for a copy of the story to understand).  Afterwards, our pastor gave a final few words and he was fighting tears - I was so touched that he was touched by my story.  But it really wasn't my story, which is why I got more and more uncomfortable the more people told me how much they liked it.  Yes, I wrote it.  But this fall I was coming up against the time Tammy needed it so she could start memorizing and I just had nothing!  So one morning I prayed that God would give me a story and very quickly afterwards, Rachael's story began forming in my mind.  So I really think I was just the fingertips God used to tell a story that He had in mind.

A few days later Tammy gave me a gift.  She had created a clay figuring of Rachael - just beautiful.  I think it was my favorite Christmas gift this year!  I put it on one of my kitchen shelves so I can look at it all the time.

A couple of days later I drove up to Waterloo with the kids.  That was nice, although a lot of people were fighting illnesses, which is understandable.  But it did diminish the fun somewhat.  Even Lizzie had a tummy ache for some of the time up there.  But she was fine.  She seems to have a pretty strong immune system, unlike her mother (me).  I stopped by and saw Sara and then came home. 

And that was our Christmas this year!  I had had thoughts that perhaps this year would be magical.  After all it would be our first Christmas with the girls.  Maybe next year will be magical.  Everything was just a little too new this year, I think.  Maybe I'll be healthier next year and Paul won't be on-call, either. Maybe I'll be in a happier mental place, too.  We'll see!