Sunday, September 28, 2014

Day 482


Sept. 28, 2014

Day 482


Another Sun. night in paradise...the girls are supposed to be cleaning their room but the noises I am hearing coming from upstairs do not sound promising.  I was up there earlier today looking for Ellie's sandals, which I never did find.  But what I found under their bed was mounds and mounds of stuff - apparently they've been stashing it when they've been ordered to clean.  So it all got pulled out and now they have to clean it up.  This may take a few days, at the rate they are going.


Ellie gave me a scare tonight.  I was waiting around after church because David had a meeting for all the workers for the fall festival.  I was keeping a pretty close eye on Ellie, but all it took was one moment of me not hanging onto her arm and she was out the door.  I do not let her play outside because our church is located on a highway and I cannot trust her to not run into traffic.  I finally caught up with her on the other side of the church property - boy, was I mad!  She started bawling as soon as she saw me coming because she knew she was in big trouble!


I am toying with the idea of putting Lizzie in school next year.  I wasn't planning to write about this yet.  I guess my frustrations with the girls and their bedroom and Ellie at church brought it up in my mind.  Someone suggested the idea to me a couple of weeks ago and I had honestly never thought about it until then.  But I started mulling over the idea in my mind and honestly, it's really appealing right now!  I have grown to love Lizzie, of course, but she is a difficult child to live with.  I'm sure there are a number of factors at play that make it this way, but those are the facts.  She is hard.  She is hard to  live with, to discipline, and to enjoy.  She's actually not difficult to homeschool because she is an eager learner and very, very bright. 


I don't know what I'm going to do yet.  I've got a number of months to pray about this and seek counsel.  Already, I've brought it up with a number of different people, seeking their opinions.  Not one has said, "No, you can't do that!"  I'm fairly certain Paul would not be in favor of the idea, but I'm not living the rest of my life based on what he would or would not do.  He's dead.  I'm not.  I'm just wondering if having a break during the daytime hours would benefit us both.  But then, I have concerns, like:


* Lizzie already seems to be much more aware of worldliness (just feminine intuition?  Her early, rough years and exposure to things she should never have seen?).  She's going to be exposed to a whole lot more in a public school setting and might she choose to embrace it instead of the Christian principles I am attempting to instill in her heart?


*How can I win her heart if she's gone all day?


*Will she suffer academically? What about Common Core?


*Will she experience racism attending a nearly all-white school? I doubt this would happen, but as long as I'm coming up with a list of stuff to worry about, I may as well throw it on there.


* Will the distance that I perceive between us increase?


*What if I have a difficult time with her teacher?


* Am I simply experiencing a burnt-out time in homeschooling that will pass if I give it time?  Or, maybe the Lord is leading me away from  homeschooling altogether...




I don't know.  What I do know is that when it was time to send Ben back to public school I felt a perfect peace about the situation, even though I was scared to death.  Paul was actually very in favor of it, too, as I recall.  So maybe he wouldn't be as opposed to this as I think he might be.  With Ben, I was just completely drained, emotionally.  Puberty was a nightmare with him and I am beginning to feel now with Lizzie how I remember feeling with Ben.  I am asking the Lord for that perfect peace, though, that I experienced when I knew that I knew that I knew he had to go back.


So, we'll see.  There have been several times in recent weeks that Lizzie has been her normal, trying self and I have thought, "Oh, you are SO going to school next year!"  I'm not saying anything, though.  The last thing I want her to feel is rejected or that school is a punishment for her bad behavior.  I know that as awful as she is, she is equally frustrated by her seeming inability to make good choices.  She frequently comments about how she is "the worst kid in this family!"  We have had many, many talks about how it is all up to her and all she has to do is make wise choices instead of foolish ones, but the bad behavior still persists.  There is always counseling but I have had two bad experiences with counselors already and I am reluctant to try another.


All right...I'm going to go put my feminine miscreants to bed and then I'll get back to this.  Ben was no picnic tonight either, so I'm not just picking on the girls, either.





Ben went to Iowa City again Wed.  This time they did actual dental work on him.  It was an experiment because we didn't know how he'd do with needles and novacaine and drilling.  I knew full well they might throw up their hands and tell me Ben would have to be sedated for the work.  He was a champ - no problems whatsoever.  That tells me he could have been treated at our office in Pville instead of having to make these time-consuming treks out east.  And these are medical students working with him in Iowa City, not seasoned dentists.  And an actual dentist with a degree in Pville told me there was no way he could work with Ben.  Not that I'm irritated or anything... We go back again on Oct. 15.  I am hoping that's the last trip until we do his wisdom teeth, but I'm not sure.




Speaking of teeth, Lizzie lost another one this week.  It was her other top front tooth, so now she's toothless and adorable!  This was the third tooth she's lost in about as many weeks.  She has another canine tooth that's pretty loose now, as well.  For a couple of weeks Lizzie had this solitary top tooth that hung at an angle because it was so loose. She slurred all her words because that tooth was just in the way.  Will called her a "hick"  when he saw her last weekend (specifically, a "Nebraska  Cornhusker Hick") When she saw him yesterday, she peeled up her lip and exclaimed, "See Will- I'm not a hick anymore!" 


The tooth actually came out Thurs. when the Littles spent the day at Jenn's.  I guess James, Lizzie's bio brother, encouraged her to twist the tooth and it popped right out.  Lizzie jumped up and exclaimed, "My mom will be so happy!  Now I can get my picture taken!"  I guess I must have expressed my hope out loud that the tooth would come out by the time we take her birthday pictures in Oct!


Of course, now we may have to wait to get Sam's pictures taken.  Jenn took all 8 of the kids to the park and Sam did a face dive off some piece of equipment and scraped up his whole face.  His nose was healing and then tonight in church he accidentally scraped the scab off and now it has to heal all over again.  Sigh...


I love taking the kids over to the Merritts.  All those kids absolutely love mine and the feeling is mutual.  James and Lizzie have an especially tight bond.  When we get there, they are in eachothers arms within moments and they are always the last one hugging goodbye.  Then, as we leave, James starts flying down the sidewalk on his long seven year old legs, waving and grinning all the way.  I cannot ever move and take those two away from eachother.  They need one another.




The other day I had some time to kill while David was at Learning RX so I took the Littles to the play area at Valley West.  Oh my goodness, they poor children must be deprived.  They were SO excited and couldn't keep exclaiming when they realized where I was taking them, "You are the best mommy, ever!  Thank you SO much!" and so on.  I just sat there reading my kindle while they played.  After awhile Lizzie bounced over to where I was  and her face was luminous.  She explained that she had been attempting some sort of jump or trick on the play things and, "I prayed to God to help me do it and He DID!  I thought God just answered prayers in the Bible times but He answered me!"


My emotions were so  torn right then.  Part of me wanted to do a face palm because I would hope that most of my parenting is geared toward helping the kids realize that God is real and relevant in their own lives.  Has she missed that in the 2 plus years I've had her?  But on the other hand, I was thrilled.  God is becoming real to Lizzie and as her mom, that excites me.


Now, of course, there will come a day when she doesn't make the jump.  Or she doesn't get the pony for her birthday that she prayed for.  Or, the part in the school play goes to someone else or a young man breaks her heart.  God's presence will need to be even more real to her when He gives her a different answer than the one she prayed for.  But for right now, in her 5 year old little world, we're going to enjoy the moment and say, "Yes, God DID hear your prayer and wasn't that wonderful of Him to allow you to make the jump?!"



I think a post or two ago I wrote some about the current senate and gubernatorial races going on in the state.  I'm not going to belabor the point, but I do have a couple of funny, related stories.


So, I mentioned that I am voting for Branstad.  I'm not bowled over by his performance, but he's not terrible, either.  I definitely don't want his opponent to win, and like I said, voting for third party candidates is usually pointless.  Well, 4 years ago I did vote for a third party candidate (Jonathan Narcisse).  I got a call this week from his campaign - he's running again - asking if they could come put a sign in my front yard again.  I felt kind of guilty knowing for whom I've already decided to vote, but told them, "sure!"  I'm not sure what kind of hypocrite that makes me.  David found out and said, "So let me get this straight.  You're voting for Branstad, right?"


"Um, hm"


"But you're putting a Narcisse sign in our yard?"




"You make no sense whatsoever, Mom."


Probably not.


Straight No Chaser, the accapella group (is that their name?  I always get the order of their name words mixed up because they don't make sense to me) re-recorded Dolly Parton's famous song from the seventies, "Jolene."  It's a pretty cool version of it.  Dolly even did this one with them.  We were listening to it in the van the other day and Lizzie said, "I didn't know they made a song about Joni Earnst!"  Poor kid has been watching way too many political commercials!



Will came home yesterday.  I had a list of things for him to fix, which he did.  He couldn't figure out the fridge, though.  I've been having some on-going trouble with the ice-maker and last week the freezer itself quit freezing for a few hours.  I don't know if they are separate or related problems.  I may have to call someone about that, but I am not sure who to talk to.  Paul would have known just what to do - grr....


He had me edit a paper he wrote for his Personal Evangelism class.  Oh, it was just like old times when he took his writing classes at the school a few years ago!  I love doing that kind of thing.  I helped him firm up the paper, but actually had very little to correct, grammar and punctuation-wise.  He is a good writer all by himself.  I'll be curious to see what kind of grade we get on it!


Then, he took Ben to the Des Moines symphony last night.  He was killing two birds with one stone - providing respite for Ben, for which he gets paid, and fulfilling one of the requirements for his music appreciation class at Faith.  Will is really struggling with that class.  He  has been telling me that and I immediately started feeling guilty that we were never able to provide more than a year of music lessons for him.  But then he told me everyone in the class is having trouble and it probably  has more to do with the professor than anything.  That made me feel better.


The guys got home around 10 and I asked them how they enjoyed it.  Ben just shook his head and went off to bed.  Will groaned and said, "I almost fell asleep.  This class is totally going to ruin any of my previous enjoyment of classical music!"  Ha, ha...I remember struggling in my classical music class at UNI.  I had 8 years of piano as a child but it sure didn't help me in the class.  I just found classical music so dry.  Now, 25 years later,  there is some I enjoy, but honestly - not a lot.  I guess I'm just not highbrow enough.  I like a beat and lyrics.  Bring out the fried chicken and lemonade in a red plastic cup.   That's who I am!



Well, that's all I had to write about for now.  It will be another busy week.  I'm on the hunt for a new front door.  After all the work I went to, stripping and repainting, I've decided to just replace the whole thing.  The paint just doesn't look all that great.  I want to start over.  Plus, with getting the new siding up soon, I want the door to match what I presume will be a nice-looking exterior.  I found what I want at Lowe's yesterday, but I don't want to pay $300 for a new front door, either.  So tomorrow Sam has an eye appt and I think we'll head over to the Habitat for Humanity Restore store and see what they have.


Thursday night a bunch of us are getting together to help my friend, Deb, make pizzas for her son's wedding rehearsal dinner Friday night.  The whole wedding planning by the bride leaves a lot to be desired and the other night at church Deb was about to have a break-down over this, I think.  So several of us told her we'd help her get this thing put on.  I'm going to bake some bars for the event, too. This is what I love about our church family and it feels good to be on the "giving" side of things for a change.  Saturday, the Littles and I will attend the wedding while Ben and David are at Faithfest in Ankeny. 

But I'm sure a whole lot of other stuff will happen between now and then! And before I know it, another week of surviving without Paul will have occurred.  I've noticed that I kind of view Sundays with a sense of relief anymore and I think it's because of the whole "survival" thing.  Every week that I make it is a week that I am stronger and more ready for a future without him.  Maybe it's called progress.


Or just survival.























































Saturday, September 20, 2014

Day 474

Sept. 20, 2014

Day 474

I'm pushing upward to day 500.  I didn't realize that was coming so quickly.  Let's see, looking at my calendar, it looks like that will happen on Oct. 16.  That's already a planned busy day.  Actually, we'll be together as a family that night, all 7 of us, so that might be kind of a nice way to commemorate surviving 500 days.

Yesterday was a wonderful day, a reprieve from the daily grind and hardships that my busy schedule, grief, homeschooling, adoption adjustment, single parenting and all the other stuff brings.

We finally made it up to Living History Farms.  We had not been there in 13 years, since David was two and fell asleep, head-first into his lunch at the Machine Shed!  Last time we made a weekend of it, driving from western Iowa and spent it with our friends, David and Kristi, and their kids.  This time it was just me and 5 of mine.  But the weather was much nicer.  I remember 13 years ago we about broiled to death in the hot August sun.

We had a good time.  Quite honestly, it was more of an educational field trip than anything else, but it was fun.  The kids were full of questions and I've done enough reading over the years that I was able to answer most of their questions about what they were seeing. The place is divided up into 3 farms, a year 1700 farm (a tepee is the primary dwelling), an 1850 farm with a crude cabin and outbuildings, and a 1900s farm with a traditional farmhouse and barn.  Then they have a town that's designed to be a replica of about 1875.  Another building and cropwalk showcases farming in about 1950s Iowa.  As we were touring the farms, Sam, in all seriousness asked me, "So this is what life was like when you were a kid, Mom?" 

Will met us at the Machine Shed around 2 for a late lunch. By that time we had seen everything anyway.  Of course, the Machine Shed food is always SO good! 

He had already made plans to come home for the weekend, so after we were done eating we all headed home.  There, I had cupcakes for the girls.  Sept. 19 was the day of the girls' adoption last year.  Doing LHF was not to celebrate that.  I don't want to set any expensive precedents here!  It just happened to work out they were the same day.  I actually found a fun cupcake method on Pinterest that I tried and it worked!  They're cupcakes with mini-m&ms on the inside - pure awesomeness...

A little bit later we headed down to Pville for a football game.  I had not planned to go, but I was so much enjoying our family time that I kind of hated for us to split up in the evening.  So we all went.  The September weather was warm, with just a hint of chill as darkness descended.  The Littles had, amazingly, chosen to get along with eachother ALL DAY LONG and that continued at the game.  I felt so much contentment as I sat watching the game.  I know I groan about the constant presence of my kids at time and how draining it is to be "on" all the time for them.  But last night, I just felt gratefulness to have them all there with me.

I was just really thankful for the gift of yesterday.  This is how I described it on Facebook: 

... So much of the time, anymore, life is just plain HARD. I think it's to be expected, I know it's having a refining effect on my soul, and I'm pretty sure it won't always be this difficult. But today - today was just perfect, a reprieve. I felt like God was smiling as He gave us this gift of today and saying, "See - you're making it. You're still a family, you're figuring things out!" And like that, there's strength for another step, for the not-so-extraordinary days that await.


Today, I'm back to not-so-extraordinary.  The Littles are not being nearly so congenial with one another, I had an allergy attack in the middle of the night that left me drugged and fighting rather intense sinus pain today.  My body aches from all the unaccustomed walking it was subjected to yesterday.  But I'm still smiling because of the  sweet memories!


I've been busy wrapping up the kids' winter shopping in the last couple of weeks.  My friend, Mari, sent me her 30% off Kohls coupon and my card was sure smoking after I got done using it.  All I have left to do is buy some winter mittens, hats, and gloves.  Oh, and David needs boots.  Of course, that will necessitate finding someone that sells boots intended to fit the Jolly Green Giant.  I took him to Scheels last week just to get an accurate measurement of his feet.  The salesman proclaimed him to be a size 16, scratched his head, and said, "I don't think we sell anything that large here!"  I did manage to find him a pair of tennies on the internet - for $75.  I'm a little nervous, though, because at all the sites I perused, I didn't see any shoes offered for over a size 18.  I think I'm going to try to order him a 17 or 18 in boots, just so he can keep them longer.  Paul had very normal sized feet but we paid close to a hundred dollars every time he needed a new pair of work boots.  Whoever said raising a child to adulthood was expensive wasn't joking!  And I bet he didn't even have a 15 year old with size 16 feet...


The gubernatorial election is coming up in a month and a half, along with votes for various senate seats.  Terry Brandstad is going to win the  governor's seat in Iowa.  This will be his 6th term - maybe?  Something like that, anyway.  I'm going to vote for him.  I'm not crazy about the guy, but he's better than his Democrat opponent.  Four years ago I voted for a third party candidate who is running again.  But I've pretty much decided to stop doing that.  I'm all for third parties, but right now, they don't work.  If you don't have an R or D after your name, you're not going to win.  It's that simple.  I'm not crazy about the Republican party.  They're a rather self-destructive lot and are truly not helpful to candidates who might help change their image and actually do some good in office.  Maybe widowhood has changed me, I don't know.  Let's just be practical and expedient here.

One of the seats here in the state that is up for grabs is that being contested between David Young and Stacy Appel.  I'm not crazy about Young.  There was something fishy about how he got the nod to be candidate anyway and the PR team he has hired to make his commercials ought to be fired - talk about yawnfests!  But I'll vote for him.  I've been hearing and seeing ads by his opponent this time around, as well as last  time, when she was defeated.  She looks and sounds like a fifty-something, brassy dyed-blond, grandmother who's probably a hard to get along with person.  Doesn't appeal to me.  So the other day I was shocked when I happened to see one of her commercials where she parades her children in front of the camera and announces that  "As a mom of six, ages 5 to 17 yrs, I'm well equipped to handle problems, blah, blah, blah..."  What?  Her kids are the same ages as mine!  In fact, I've got one nearly three years older than her oldest.  That means that only 5 years ago she was pushing a newborn out her shriveled baby making parts!  All this means that Stacy Appel and I are probably pretty close in age.  This realization sent me rushing to my mirror.  In my mind, I am nothing like this woman, but perhaps there are more similarities than I am wanting to admit.  Man, there's nothing like growing older to humiliate a person and disassemble the false image of reality we prefer to sport in our minds...


David asked me this week if we could order some tracts to give out to the trick-or-treaters this year.  How can I say no to that?  So I told him to do some internet research, find the one he thinks would be best, and we'll order them.


This week I was attempting to do some schoolwork with Lizzie and told her to go get one of her workbooks.  She protested and then sighed, saying, "School just isn't really my 'thing'!" 

Lizzie did pray to accept Christ this week.  In time, she may need a prayer or reassurance or rededication, but I really think she understood what she was doing.  I tried to put her off because I'm not real excited about early childhood professions of faith.  Too often they're made without full understanding or under pressure to please parents or Sunday School teachers.  But, she is a very smart little girl so I really should not be surprised that she was able to grasp the concept of needing a personal Savior, even at the tender age of 5.  After she prayed, she was so excited and bounced down the hallway exclaiming, "I'm saved, I'm saved!"  Will quizzed her when he came home yesterday and told me, "Oh, yeah - she's definitely saved!"  Maybe we adults just make it too difficult sometimes.

My mom commented that perhaps Paul knew now that Lizzie had made this decisions.  I had not thought about that until she said that.  The idea made me smile.  I have read accusations in articles about the sharp rise in adoption by Christian households, accusing these parents of new children of adopting in order to "convert the heathen."  I can guarantee anybody that is NOT happening.  Otherwise, you'd see Christian families adopting virtual orphanages if it was all about numbers.  But I can say that, as a parent, I have a definite interest in the eternal state of my children's souls.  Knowing that, had Lizzie remained in her birth home, it would have been unlikely she would have been exposed to the gospel at this age, and seeing the early fruit of such exposure - well, all I can do is smile and tell God, "Thank you!"


I had an absolute nightmare this week.  I won't go into all the details.  Somehow dreamers seem to have this perception that those around them greatly desire to hear every single detail about their significant-to-them nighttime dreams.   I was married to someone like that.  Most of us really don't want to hear all the details of others' nocturnal brain wanderings.  But one part of the dream stuck with me.  Paul and I had been kidnapped by some really bad people.  We were taken to this building and separated.  Later, my Littles were brought to me and it was just awful.  But in my dream, I am being forced to walk around all day with these people.  I finally find Paul and he has been tortured to the point that I know he will not survive.  I stand there, hoping I'm not caught, and tell him one last  time that I love him so much.  The end of my dream approached and the bad guys told me that now they needed to decide whether to kill me or not.  In my dream, I began praying and telling God that it looked like I might be getting to meet Him in person that day and I was ok with that, although I was concerned for my kids that were now in the clutches of these horrible people.  In the midst of my praying, I woke up.  I had that sudden, relieved,  jolt of, "Oh, it was only a dream!"  But that was followed by, "But Paul really IS dead..." and I felt a bit sucker-punched in my half asleep, half awake state.


Sam's eyes are definitely green.  When he was younger, I thought they looked kind of blue/gray, which wasn't surprising since I have blue eyes and so do Will and David.  A few months ago I looked at them and thought they were now looking kind of greenish.  This week I happened to look at them again and they have a definite green tint.  Ben has green eyes, too.  Both boys got them from my mom.

Sam asked me this week in his serious, need-to-know, voice, "Mom, I've been wondering.  Just where is this 'broken road'?"  It took a moment, but I realized he was referring to the song, "Bless the Broken Road."  Oh, the literal minds of small people...


I read an article about the "kindest" thing a person can say to a widow.  It's "Your husband would be so proud of you."  I thought about that and I think I concur.  I have heard that a few times now and it leaves such a warm feeling in my heart.  I wouldn't say I'm living for Paul's posthumous approval.  I know I'm not doing everything the exact way he would.  But there is something extraordinary in thinking that perhaps he can see me and approves of the way I'm raising the kids, keeping the faith, and soldiering on without his help.

I have a new song.  I heard this for the first time about a week ago.  It's by Mandisa, called, "You Wouldn't Cry for Me Today."  The melody is so pretty and the words are really encouraging for someone who is missing a loved one.  Here's the link to hear it:You Wouldn't Cry for Me

And here are the lyrics:
All you saw was pain,
all you saw was rain,
But you should see me now.
Moments filled with tears
lasted all those years,
disappeared somehow.

You never said good-bye,
on your knees you cry.
You're still asking why, but

Blue has never been bluer, true has never been truer.
Honey never tasted so sweet,
there's a song in the breeze, a million voices in praise,

A rose has never smelled redder,
the sun has never been brighter.
If I could find the right words to say,
if you could just look at my face,
if you could just see this place,
You wouldn't cry for me today.

What you think you see,
isn't really me.
I'm already home,
you've got lay it down,
cause Jesus holds me now,
and I am not alone.

Your faith is wearing thin
But I am watching Him,
and He's holding you, too.


What may seem like years, will just be a moment
Oh, the day will come when I'll show you where you're going,
I can't wait to show you that!


 As great of a day as I had yesterday, Paul's was a million times better.  I'm so happy for him because of that, and honestly, I don't cry for him - I cry for me.  I've always known he got the best end of the deal.

   But my turn will come.








































































Monday, September 15, 2014

Day 469

Sept. 15, 2014

Day 469

A little more awake tonight than when I was when I wrote my last post, so, hopefully I'll sound a little more connected!

I had a delightful 3+ hour lunch today with two of my favorite ladies, Carol and Jeanne.  Carol is my mom's age and goes to my church. I adore her - she's so "un-old," Jeanne is 81 and a good friend of Carol's.  I met her last Jan. when her second husband was in hospice care.  Actually, her first husband was one of my professors at Faith 25 yrs ago.  Small world.  Jeanne is going to be a guest speaker on widow issues for a class at Faith next month and it sounds like I may get to tag along for that.  I'm excited!

We ended up talking about  remarriage, though.  Even though I am determined to not date until the three year mark has occurred, the subject keeps coming up with people!  I don't know if it's because I think about it or if it's because I'm past the one year mark and people are just wondering what I'm planning to do with my  life.  But anyway, I was pretty touched when Carol and Jeanne informed me that they are not going to let me make a mistake when it comes to this all-important decision - that they intend to be right there vetting any potential second husbands and making sure I'm not about to mess up my life.  Sweet friends...I appreciate their wisdom and concern for me.

Tonight the boys had their first flag football game of the season.  I had to miss my mom's group to attend which I didn't want to do at all.  I felt so torn.  Will drove down to help coach but ended up playing because they were short a player.  He was pretty tickled about that, even though he's got a bad cold right now that is working its way into his chest.  He was even more tickled when he found his good football in the tub of equipment.  That thing disappeared a year ago but he was positive he had not left it on the field and ultimately ended up replacing it.

Really, though, I'm just thankful I got to go anywhere after the day I had yesterday.  Oh, man...So, Iowa is kind of a big deal when it comes to politics.  Every year Sen. Harkin has this steak fry in Indianola, which is where I go to church.  It's held right off Hwy 92 which where my church is located and the highway I take to go home.  It's kind of a big deal for Democrats.  Actually, it's a huge deal.  This is the last one because after 40 years (! Term limits, anyone?) Harkin is finally hanging up his liberal hat and retiring.  Everyone who is anyone in the fairy tale world of Democrats was to be at this thing.  The Clintons were there, the national media was there, and all kinds of Democratic senators and representatives and people who like to hob nob with the elites paid big money to attend, too. 

I didn't really think anything about it as I pulled out of the church parking lot and onto the highway.  I'm toodling along and soon I realized I was stuck in bumper to bumper traffic as vehicle after vehicle got in line to attend the steak fry.  I just wanted to go home and eat my chicken in the crockpot.  It was kind of interesting, a little bit.  We did see a group of protesters holding up signs asking questions about Benghazi and suggesting that Obama should be impeached.  But mostly, it was all leftist propaganda.  Huge posters staked into the ground encouraged people to vote democrat if they want to solve global warming (eyeball rolling here).  Others exclaimed, "Run, Hillary, Run!" (more eyeball rolling on my part).  There wasn't a thing I could do except sit tight and enjoy the show.  I should have gone up Hwy 69, construction and all and circled back through Carlisle.  Even with the construction delays and backtracking it would have been faster than this circus.

And then, my van died - right in the middle of traffic.  Having a non-functioning vehicle in traffic is right at the top of my THINGS TO WORRY ABOUT list.  In fact, last month when I took my van in for alignment I asked them to check things out to make sure I wasn't in any immediate risk for this very type of event.  They missed something, but we'll get to that later.  Holy cow - what to do now?  There's a car in front of me and another on my bumper.  I put the van in park and restarted it, which it did,  But then it died.  Each time my battery light would come on and the engine would shoot to "hot."  I thought - alternator?  But those usually give you some type of warning they're on the fritz.  I did this twice more before I pulled over to the shoulder.  By this point I wanted to hyperventilate.  Just in front of us on the same stretch of shoulder were protesters.  These ones held up pictures of dead Palestinians and called for the destruction of Israel - or something like that.  The world is truly coming to an end.  Biblical prophecy is unfolding right before my eyes, just up the road from my own church and I have a dead van.  It would have been an excellent time for the rapture!

I called my pastor, who ultimately ended up coming with his son.  I felt so bad later when it dawned on me that it was his birthday and I had just interrupted his birthday lunch!  He assured me all was well, but I still feel bad about that.  I then called AAA but I didn't get very far with them because I couldn't tell the guy where exactly I was.  There were too many people and too many protesters for me to read the street sign up ahead.  In the meantime, David had called Will and described what was happening.  It didn't take long for Will to call back and tell us he was pretty sure my serpentine belt had slipped off.  David jumped out, popped the hood, and sure enough, the belt was not on the track where it should be.  But I couldn't fix that. 

We were waiting for Pastor to show up and pretty soon this long black car with very dark tinted widows pulled up behind us.  My first thought was, "Secret Service - I am in SO much trouble!"  But the guy that got out looked like media, so maybe he just snagged a ride with an SS guy - if that's what it was in the first place.

Eventually, Pastor made it and we pushed my van further over on the shoulder.  We got pretty close to the anti-Israel protestors and I thought it might be a shame if my van tire "accidentally" rolled over someone's foot.  They were fortunate, is all I can say.  Pastor brought me the church van, handed me the keys, helped load the kids up in it, and told me to keep it as long as I needed it.  What a blessing!  Then, he stood out in traffic, held up his hand to stop the onslaught of traffic and I was able to pull out and drive home.  That was my first time ever driving a full-size van, too.

Later in the afternoon, Will came down.  He got some tools, a remnant piece of carpet from our remodeling,  and the hydraulic jack out of the garage.  We drove over there and Will commented that last summer, while working at camp, he ended up working on two vans just like mine, so he had a good idea of what to do (God at work again!).  He took off the tire, removed the cover, and discovered that the tensioner, a piece of equipment that holds the belt had gone out.  He's guessing that when the new belt was put on last month it "snapped" enough for the mechanics to assume it was still working so they didn't know it needed to be replaced.  The past few weeks that belt has slowly been working its way off.

I shudder because I drove to Iowa City last Wed and I'm doing it again next Wed.  Yes, it was rather embarrassing and inconvenient to get caught up in the Democrat traffic jam, but better there than on the highway two hours from home.  Better to do it in Indianola where I have friends that can help.  And how fortunate am I to have a son who knew what to do and who wasn't hours and hours away at college?  All it took was about an hour of time on Will's part and a $43 replacement part.  But, thankfulness and all, I am very happy that yesterday is OVER!

Actually, yesterday's event has caused me to realize that there would probably be some wisdom in beginning to search for a second vehicle now.  I don't have anything else to drive if something happens to my van.  I want to replace our truck, anyway, with a dual cab one that would fit most of us.  David will be driving next summer and I'll need a second vehicle then.  I don't really want him driving a truck for his first vehicle but Will and I have discussed the possibility of having David start out in his car and Will take the new truck.  So, we're going to start nosing around on Craig's List and see what we can find.  As much as I intend to keep my van upkept and road worthy it's just the nature of the beast for things to wear out more and more as they get older.  I need to have a back-up in place for when those times happen.


I am getting another debit card again.  I have been going through those things like candy this last year.  It's really annoying because I have a number of payments that are tied to that card and every time I have to replace the card, I have to notify all those creditors.  I got caught up in the Target breach last winter and was issued a new card.  And then I went and lost that card a few months later and had to get a new one (grrr).  David found it in the van about an hour after I got home from the bank :( And then this summer I bought my lawn mower at Home Depot.  I never shop at that place but they were the only ones who carried the mower I wanted.  And of course the news broke a week or so ago about a credit card breach at Home Depot.  I wasn't surprised when my bank called me late last week and said, "Uh, we're sending you a new card."  Argh!  Seriously?!  This almost makes me see the value of being a cash-only customer.  I mean, I am cash only in that I don't use credit, but maybe carrying around bills with me is the way to go instead.  This is getting old.


I'm going to a concert next month with Will.  He invited me to go as his (paying) date.  He's taking a music appreciation class this semester and has to attend 3 classical concerts.  The Piano Guys are doing one night in Des Moines so he thought that would be a good way to fulfill one of the concert requirements.  I don't really know anything about them so I youtubed one of their performances and enjoyed it.  They have a unique twist on the classics.  Will said a lot of his classmates are going to this particular concert.  And apparently, he's still willing to take his mother, even though he is risking being seen with me by his peers!  I am rather flattered.  I think he's going to surprise Lizzie and take her to one of the other concerts that he has to attend later.  It was my idea and Will was agreeable.  She is going to be thrilled down to the tips of  her toes to do something alone with her big brother!

That concert, though, is the same week as the NBA pre-season game that we have tickets for - being held in the same place, too!  That will be a busy week, that's for sure.


Sara and the girls came down Friday afternoon/evening.  She brought cupcakes and party plates and treats for the Littles to celebrate the girls' one year adoption anniversary (this Friday).  How many people would think to do that for someone else's kids?  She's something else.  We went to the mall, as usual, and  ended up spending quite a bit of time at Barnes and Noble.  I found myself in the magazine section, perusing the selections.  Nothing appealed to me.  And then I realized what I was subconsciously looking for:

A magazine on widowhood

Pretty sure that doesn't exist.  They have magazines about motorcycles, weddings, Hollywood, cooking, travel,  sports, home remodeling, and electronics, but I am fairly certain there are no magazines out there devoted to the subject of death and dying.

Maybe there should be.

When I realized what I was looking for, though, I kind of laughed at myself in a rather sardonic manner.  And then I joined my kids over in the children's section and watched them play with the train set and forced myself to sit down, relax, and enjoy their moments.

They don't need to read a magazine on coping with life after death.  They're living it.  I could take a few lessons from them.