Friday, October 31, 2014

Day 515

Oct. 31, 2014
Day 515
Halloween and Lizzie's 6th birthday...I think I'm ready for bed!  Actually, this year, the city council decided they'd rather do Beggar's Night than Halloween, like they have in the past.  Beggar's Night is a central Iowa tradition that started in 1939 because of all the vandalism that was occurring on Halloween night.  Apparently, it worked, and trick or treating has happened on the 30th ever since.  So last night was our Halloween, which works out better with Lizzie's birthday being on the 31st, anyway.
We carved pumpkins a few nights ago.  Missing Paul kind of hit me hard then.  He really enjoyed Halloween and was always present when we did the pumpkins.  Maybe one of the reasons I was missing him was because I had to carve four pumpkins by myself (the Littles and Ben)!
David and I took the Littles out last night.  We walked all around Swan.  Then, the mayor convinced me to bring everyone down to Pleasantville for more trick or treating.  I left David at home with Ben who was handing out treats. 
We're so used to the lack of crowds up here, but there were packs of children going door to door down there!  I had to hold tight to Ellie's hand.  I've always been aware of one house (actually it's our old garbageman's) that goes all out for  the holidays.  He's got blow-up decorations of all ilk.  I rather imagine he needs a separate storage building for all he has.  What I didn't realize was that he's created an actual haunted house throughout his wrap-around porch and yard.  It was amazing!  He even had red water flowing through his backyard fountain.  The kids insisted on going through twice.  Ellie wasn't too crazy about it so Steve (mayor) carried her.  But wow...David was plenty irritated when we got home and found out what it was he had missed.  Next year!
Halloween has changed for me with Paul's death.  I get a little queasy now about skeletons, graveyards, and stuff like that.  Maybe in time I'll feel better about it.  It's still pretty new.  I still love Halloween, but not so much the focus on death.
My kids, however, have absolutely no problem with it.  As I was tucking Sam in last night he had some questions about mausoleums, of all things.  Then he commented that he could see how the ribs on a skeleton would be a really great place for a spider to build its web.  Then, he said, "Hey, Mom, do you suppose since Dad doesn't have any eyes anymore (they were donated) bugs crawl through those holes?"  Eww...That kid is lucky he has me for a mom.  I may be one of the few moms on the planet who could calmly answer, "Well, I suppose that's a possibility!"
So, October is over.  Mid-way through the month it dawned on me that I just was not hearing much this year about pink.  You know - breast cancer awareness month.  It seems like every year for awhile we've just been bombarded with pink, pink, pink.  I wonder if the interest is fading away.  I'm all for breast cancer research - I've  lost two friends, my age,  to the disease.  But the continued focus was a little wearying.  David commented the same thing to me this week that he noticed there seemed to less emphasis on that, so I don't think it was just me.
I am gearing up for Ben's birthday.  Will's is Sunday - all taken care of.  He's coming home tomorrow night after he gets off work.  He requested BBQ meatballs for his birthday dinner, so I can do that.  But Ben is turning 18 in two weeks.  It's kind of a significant birthday for most kids, but it's more so for Ben.  Legally, he is an adult on Nov. 17.  That changes a lot of things.  I sent in paperwork a few weeks ago to Social Security proving he is still in school so they will continue his survivor's benefits.  I believe that's all taken care of.  But since he's 18 he is eligible for Disability.  I do not know if that will kick in as soon as he is approved or if that will only happen once he graduates and is ineligible for Survivors.  Even the guy who did my phone interview from the administration a couple of weeks ago didn't know for sure.  It doesn't really matter, I guess.  We do lose the $300 monthly family support stipend we've received for Ben's care for the past 7 or 8 years, those.  That's going to hurt.
So I filled out the paperwork this week for that.  It was dumb.  I basically had to fill out two sets of identical paperwork - one from a third party perspective and one from Ben's.  But since Ben is incapable of filling it out himself I had to do it as him and then include a note stating why I had filled it out (um, because he's disabled, maybe?!).  It was also discouraging.  I had question after question of wanting to know what Ben can and cannot do.  I got midway through and had to vent on Facebook.  Ben isn't a check-off list!  He's funny, caring, helpful, quirky, and so, so loved.  None of this paperwork shows that.  And it doesn't have to.  But I wish it could.  Instead, I will have to trumpet Ben's praises to the world because on paper, he doesn't seem like much of any use at all.
I also talked with my attorney this week about filing for guardianship.  Once Nov. 17 rolls around I will not have any say over his medical care or education.  I've decided to have Will be a co-guardian in case I should ever, God-forbid, become incapacitated in some way.  If that happened Ben would be unprotected.   So at some point in the next few weeks we may have to traipse down to the courthouse.  Although, I'm pretty sure my attorney said we wouldn't have to have a hearing, so maybe it's just a matter of signing off on and filing paperwork.  I don't know.  I guess that's what I'm paying him to know.
And, of course, November begins the slippery countdown to Christmas. 
I really don't want another Christmas without Paul.  I've tried writing my annual Christmas letter - twice - and it's still not what I want. I can be fake and sound somewhat cheerful or I can be honest and depress everyone.  I just don't have any real enthusiasm for it yet.  Then, there's the stress of figuring out gifts and doing the shopping (thank you, Lord, for Amazon!) and then finding time to wrap them all.
Somewhere in there I've got to get back down to Ottumwa and get the girls' new social security cards before the end of the year and David has to have his permit in order to take Dr. Ed in six months.  I hope I'm wrong, but I won't be surprised if his takes a few tries to obtain.  I did call about that this week and was told I have to have a certified copy of his birth certificate - which I do not have.
I don't have one for any of the boys.  I don't know why we never ordered those.  I guess because we didn't need them at the time.  So I sent off to Nebraska for that yesterday.  I don't have one for Will, still, so apparently, this was not needed 6 years ago when he got his permit.
As much as I'd just like to skip over to January, I still want to make Christmas memorable for the kids.  I don't want them to eventually start dreading the holidays because mom is a frantic, stressed-out, depressed mess during them.  Last year I did jot down a few ideas of things I'd like for us to do during the next season, which would be this year.  So I need to get on the ball and get things ready so we can do some of those ideas.
But for tonight, it's still autumn.  My kids are full of fun-sized candy bars and birthday cake.  Lizzie finally has her first Barbie dolls, and jack-o-lanterns are  grinning on the front porch.
The world is as it should be.


Friday, October 24, 2014

Day 508


Oct. 24, 2014

Day 508


Friday night...the girls are in bed, Sam is creating with legos, and Ben is watching tv.  David is at the final football game of the season.  I was going to have to pick him up but he texted me to let me know that Will had told him he was on his way and would pick him up.  Will had to go to a handbell concert tonight at Faith.  He didn't want to go and I don't really blame him.  Handbells are nice and all - our church has a handbell choir, actually - but to sit and listen to them for a couple of hours?  I'd probably take an ink pen and impale myself to end the misery...What he really wanted to do was go to the football game.  He thought and thought and even actually (!) asked my advice.  I told him to go to the concert.  It's probably going to be his only year at Faith and it's not worth the hassle of trying to get out of the concert.  Besides, it would fulfill one of his concert requirements for his music class.  So he went.  I'm just thankful I don't have to pick David up because it would mean loading up everybody and of course, it would be a traffic nightmare arriving there as the game ends.  So, all is well that ends well, including this week.


And...what a week it has been.  Ellie has continued her reign of terror.  The more I observe and look, I just don't see anything that appears to be brain-damage like to account for her choices.  I think she's just bad!  Hopefully, for a season only.  Although, to be honest, I've had visions this week of her in another decade, when she's a young teenager, dressed in stilettos and a leather bra and short, short skirt knocking off a liquor store.  I sincerely hope this is a case of my mind leaping to a worst case scenario.


This week, she:


* helped herself to Sam's birthday candy bar bouquet.  A lady at church knew Sam had a birthday this week so she did the cutest thing.  She took a mug and bought all these candy bars and taped them, along with some one dollar bills to thin sticks and made a "bouquet" for him.  He was thrilled!  I suggested he keep it in his bedroom so as to not tempt/make the girls feel bad.  That wasn't enough for Ellie.  Lizzie discovered empty sticks under her bed and promptly tattled on her sister. 


* Tuesday morning I was awakened at 4:40 in the morning.  Ellie was sitting on the couch surrounded by empty candy wrappers.  She knew where I had the Halloween candy and helped herself to it in the middle of the night.  The worst part  about that was that I was unable to fall back to sleep after dealing with her.


* took a paddle and deliberately smashed a light bulb with it - over a drawer full of clothing, which meant every item in the drawer had to be re-washed


* emptied half my bottle of peppermint oil into my expensive jar of Clinique age-staving-off cream.  It's too expensive to throw out so now I just have to burn my face every night.  Wrinkles might be the preferred alternative.


* snuck off with one of Sam's birthday cupcakes.  He requested "Spiderman" cupcakes so I scoured Pinterest and found how to make web-looking cupcakes with a tube of red frosting and a toothpick.  I then arranged them all carefully on a plate and put a big number 7 in the middle of the cupcake.  She took one and devoured it in her bedroom


* got into a small bottle of touch up paint I had made for my van.  It's oil-based and very, very sticky


The one nice thing I can report about all this misbehavior is that  the worse Ellie is, the better behaved Lizzie seems to be.  Maybe she's just relishing her role as chief reporter, I don't know.  Although, one day this week I discovered half a bottle of laundry detergent in the laundry room garbage!  Fortunately, I had just changed the garbage so the bag was pretty empty.  Otherwise, I might never have noticed.  When questioned (ok, yelled at) Lizzie shrugged and said, "I just wanted to see what color it was!"  Argh!  Mean mom that I am, I handed her a table spoon and made her scoop it out of the garbage and painstakingly put it back into the detergent bottle.



So, all day Tues. I was functioning on about 5 hours of sleep because of Ellie's nocturnal wanderings.  That night I put the girls down early and I was in bed by 8:45 - unheard of.  I got TEN hours of sleep.  Oh, boy, that felt good!


Sam just wandered into my room where I am typing and asked me what "stress" is.  He must have heard the word somewhere.  I wonder how he knew how to ask ME about that word?!


With all his classes, Will is struggling the  most with his music one.  He finally got the results back for his first test.  He was hoping to clear a 50% on that one.  He just did not have a good feeling about it all and was a little stressed that his low grade in that class might affect his scholarships.  He finally got the result this week.


He got a 95%.


I am reading a tremendously enjoyable book right now.  It's the first in a series of books written about King David's wives.  This one is about Michal, who was, of course, his first wife.  I really enjoy Biblical fiction.  Fiction books are my "language" and it just makes Bible times so real to me.  Now, because of reading this book I have this desire to go through the Psalms again.  Reading some of them in this book in the context in which they may first have been sung/prayed makes them so much more meaningful. I also want to download the other books in this series, if they're written and available yet.


A few years ago I actually wrote a fictionalized account of the fall of man in the garden for Faithwriters.  I loved that story. It was my first attempt at fictionalizing biblical history. 


Ooh, speaking of FaithWriters - my book is almost out!  Well, not MY book, but they've finally gotten around to publishing some of the editor's picks, so I'm in there.  This week they sent me a copy of my story to approve.  It's the one I wrote about the mom visiting her son in prison.  The entire story is almost all a conversation and then at the very end there's this twist that lets the reader know it wasn't as it appeared.  It isn't just a mother/son phone call.  It's Mom visiting her son behind bars.  I've always been proud of that story.  They had to change my main character's last name, because one of the other authors featured in this book has the same name.  That was total coincidence on my part.  But it was a small change.



Switching gears...


Yesterday Paul's dad had another heart attack.  I found it out on Facebook.  It doesn't sound like anything real serious, but  when you're in your seventies and you've already had a massive stroke ( a decade ago) and a previous heart attack a few months ago, I guess nothing is really "minor" anymore.  So that stirs up all kinds of feelings on my end, where I'm probing my conscience again.  Have I handled everything the best I can?  Is there something else I should be doing to encourage reconciliation, particularly before it's too late?  I have found myself praying more in the last few days that God would open my eyes to any responsibility on my end.  But I'm just not seeing it.


Still, my heart aches over everything.  I may be completely innocent here, but this is not God's plan for families.  Sigh...


And it's coupled with lingering grief, too.  Actually, the grief may always linger.  It's definitely lessening as time goes on but I don't know that it will ever fully leave.  I'm not so sure it's supposed to.


One day last week I got really kind of mad.  I am just tired of hurting!  Grief is this continual weight the bereaved wears.  Sometimes it is so heavy the wearer can barely walk under the load.  Other times, it's more like a heavy chain around the neck.  But it is always there.  I just got mad and exclaimed internally,


I'm SO tired of hurting!  I DON'T WANT TO HURT anymore!


But I still did.  It didn't go away, despite my protesting.  In the beginning, the hurt is almost comforting in a weird way.  It's confirmation that something horrible has happened.  I remember when I'd have an occasional day where the grief lifted that I would almost feel panicky.  What was wrong with me?  Was I not grieving properly because I had a good day?  Where were the expected, daily tears? After all, didn't the depth of my daily grief show how much I loved him?  So, if I didn't feel bad all the time, what did that say about my love for Paul?   And then when the hurt and grief would settle down over me again there would almost be this sigh of relief from my heart.  Ah, there is is!


But now - I'm ready to be done.  My life is changed forever.  I can't undo that.   But I don't want to hurt for the rest of my life, either.  I'm ready to start the rest of my life.  Last week at the Piano Guys concert Will snapped a selfie of the two of us.  I put it on Facebook that night.  It was a good picture.  And it didn't make me look fat. That's the main reason it made it onto Facebook.  I am that vain, yes.  The next night an older gentleman at church told me he had seen the picture and commented,


"It's good to see you smile again."


I want to smile.  I want to mean it.  I want to live again.'s been 16 months.  It's only been 16 months.  I think I'm probably being a little too unrealistic to think I can recover from losing the love of my life in less than a year and a half.


I get Facebook updates from Widows Wear Stilettos which is the book I ordered and read this summer (really, really good book).  One day this week the author made the comment that if anyone suggested to us that we should be "over" things by now or should be moving on at a faster clip, we would be rightfully offended.  But how often are we telling ourselves that same thing as widows?  It definitely made me stop and think.  I am too impatient with myself. 


Grief is a process and it cannot be hurried.  It's just getting a little more uncomfortable for me right now, I guess.



It will be a busy weekend.  Tomorrow night is our annual Swan bonfire.  I don't know if the mayor is planning a wagon ride like we usually do or not.  I would guess not since I am the one who owns the hay rack and he hasn't said anything to me yet about it!  The mayor is supposed to be buying that from me, but so far, it's still sitting out beside the garage.  So I will spend some time tomorrow cooking for the meal.


Sunday Amanda the Panda (grief services) is paying for all of us to go to a pumpkin patch/fall fun place in Mitchellville.  Will is even going to go to church with us that morning and then go with us.  It should be fun. 


The Littles have all come down with colds this week and today my throat started feeling scratchy.  Oh, no... So I've been applying thieves oil and another oily concoction I made up to my feet bottoms and chest all day.  I hope I can keep it from getting any worse. 


A funny to end with: Lizzie asked me this morning if she could wear her "yogurt" pants.  She loves those things.  They were in some hand-me-downs passed to me by someone.  I didn't have the heart to tell her they're actually called "yoga" pants.  I guess "yogurt" probably makes more sense in her mind anyway!




Sunday, October 19, 2014

Day 503


Oct. 19, 2014
Day 503
Sunday night...and the blues are kicking in.  So, what's better than a depressed person with a blog?!  My poor readers.
It's been a harder weekend.  David had major allergy problems at church this morning.  I got him drugged up (which is no easy feat - he once heard of someone dying from accidentally overdosing on OTC meds and he's scared to take a single aspirin as a result) and he was fine by late this afternoon.  I told him if he didn't feel up to going to church tonight that was fine.  I kind of hoped he'd say he wanted to stay home because then we'd just all stay home with him.  But he said he felt fine after napping but wasn't totally gung ho on going tonight so if I wanted to stay home he was fine with that.
I was tempted. 
It was never this way when Paul was alive.  If the doors to church were open and we weren't throwing up, we were there.  There was no thinking about it.
And I've still been faithful.  For the most part I've wanted to be.  My church continues to be my major source of support and socialization.  But there are sometimes, like tonight, when I just feel - meh.  I look around my messy house and think of all I could accomplish instead of sitting in church and I think my time might be better spent at home.  And sometimes it is.  But we went tonight, anyway.  Next Sun. night we have an activity that will make us unable to go, so I figured we should probably go now.  This is where I'm supposed to write about the tremendous blessing we received at church and how I'm so thankful I went.
Yeah, not so much tonight.  Nothing bad happened, other than having to chase Ellie down the main aisle after church and whacking my knee on a pew as I did so.  But I didn't come away all the refreshed, either.  I guess that's the way it goes sometimes.
Maybe it's because of the birthday card I had the kids sign tonight when we got home.  Paul's mom's birthday is Tues.  I always said I had the best mother-in-law in the world and honestly loved her.  My heart is broken over her belief that I am responsible for Paul's death.  Just shattered.  I didn't even know if I was going to get a card or not this year.  I finally did, but just had the kids sign it.  I'm not sure really why I'm sending it, even.  I don't think it will change things and that's not my motivation, anyway.  But I still love her.
Even though...
Ellie has been difficult again today.  I find myself observing her and wanting to find some sort of brain dysfunction in her that would explain her terrible behavior.  She got ahold of another knife today.  Fortunately, Lizzie caught her and alerted Ben, who took it away before any damage could be done.  I texted Will and said, "I thought you hid your knives?"  He said he has too many to hide them all.  What, is he forming some anti-government militia?  He doesn't even make sense.  My mom had suggested I get a hook and I latch for his door and that's what's happening tomorrow. 
I had several more incidents this week of Ellie coloring on the furniture in her room.  This morning Lizzie put on her tights for church and we discovered that those had been scribbled on, as well!  Seriously!  What is wrong with Ellie?
I've never been a big fan of preschool for children, thinking that it is more important that they spend as many moments in those formative years with their mother.  Truly, there is nothing taught in a preschool setting that cannot be learned at home.  But right now - I've got plans to check into the preschool program at the school for next fall.  I need a break from this child, even if it's just a couple of mornings a week.  But next fall is a long time away.  I've got to survive Ellie right now.
And I just don't get it.  Ben was a difficult preschooler.  But he was brain-damaged, so I was able to chalk up most of what I was experiencing to that, even though we didn't know it was autism at the time.  While he seemed to have a death wish he was hampered by his cp.  We still made an awful lot of trips to the ER, though, as I recall.  Any of Lizzie's behaviors - and there have been many - I can attribute to her early years of chaos and being separated from her birth family.
But what's wrong with Ellie?  Except for a three day period at the age of 10 months, she never lived with her birth mother.  She doesn't know her older bio brothers, she escaped a lot of what Lizzie did not.  So why is she so awful, then?
Maybe all it is is that she's a 3 year old girl.  It could just be that simple.  A year or two from now I may re-read this and laugh (with a great deal of thanksgiving that this is in the past).  As I recall, Lizzie wasn't exactly a picnic at 3, either.  But that's when I got her.  Maybe this is normal.  But if so - why would anyone voluntarily give birth to more than one female child? 
Sam got new glasses Wed. night.  They're cute - copper metal, rectangle frames.  My friend, Diane, who made them had these particular frames shipped to her in some sort of promotion last winter.  I went ahead and bought them then, knowing that at some point Sam would need new glasses.  She's hung onto them ever since.  He got his new prescription and she had them made up for me within 3 days.  That was Wednesday.
Yesterday - Saturday - Sam went for a bike ride with David and Ellie.  Being full of brotherly concern, David brought Sam's sunglasses to him before they set out and Sam jammed his new glasses into the pocket of his sweats.  When he came home, they were gone. 
I think my middle name must be "Frustration" because it is definitely my overriding emotion most of the time.  Seriously - he lost his $80 glasses THREE days after getting them?  Not that I'm surprised.  I have found his glasses on floors, under blankets, behind his toy shelves,  under the swingset, on the dirt pile, out on the deck, beside the pool...
I looked for a little bit, but I had to leave for a Sunday School class gathering.  David and Sam looked, but didn't have much success.  I prayed about it.  I mentioned my frustration to my friends at the gathering last night.  I was so touched this morning when one told me she had prayed about it last night for me!
I got home last night and found a pile of money on my desk with a note from David saying, "Buy Sam some new glasses."  Sweet kid.  I gave him his money back.
This morning I asked Sam if he had prayed about finding his glasses yet.  He looked surprised and said, "Well, I haven't had lunch yet!"  I've come to gather recently from other comments he's made that he seems to think praying can only happen at meal times.  I really need to rectify this belief he apparently has. One of these days.  When I'm not so busy...keeping a certain 3 year old alive.
So, after lunch I got the girls down for their nap and David, Sam, and I set off to follow the path of yesterday's bike ride.  It was a long ride!  I found myself praying off and on and as we turned to go back home, I found myself really getting irritated with God.  He heard my prayer.  He knew what it would mean, financially, to have to buy this kid another pair of glasses.  Why wouldn't He just SHOW me where those glasses were?  At that very  moment a gust of wind blew up and I imagined that I heard God's voice speaking to my heart. 
So on the way back to the house, shuffling through the leaves, hoping against hope, one of us would yet see the glasses David and I had a conversation about my frustration with God.  I can't even remember now what all was said, but it was one of those "good" talks.  
And maybe that was the whole point of this experience.
A few feet later and we were home.  I was resigned to having to buy another pair of glasses and to learning the lessons that God seemed to think I needed from this.   And then Sam exclaimed,
"Oh, here they are!"  And there they were - laying on the ground right up next to the wood pile.
Thank you, Lord.
One other frustration (aren't I just Susie Sunshine tonight?).  Someone thought it was a good idea to give my kids art crayons - like the oil based ones.  They have loved them and have colored picture after picture with those things.  We've never had them before and I didn't think too much about them.  I was straightening up the area rug in the living room late yesterday afternoon (actually while David and Sam were out looking for the lost glasses the first time) when I discovered a huge green mess to the side of the rug.  Apparently one of those crayons got underneath the rug and then was vacuumed over and is permanently imbedded in my 10 month old carpet.
Well, now I know that I will always have an area rug in my living room because that green stain isn't coming up.  I used a magic eraser on it, I shampooed it, I used Dawn detergent on it,  I made a vinegar/baking soda mixture and it is still green.  It's lighter but still, quite green.  I am going to try some mineral spirits since I am guessing the crayon was oil based.  I had the kids throw away all the other crayons like that one.
I think there's a lot to be said for never having children. 
But then, you wouldn't laugh as much.  This morning David commented to me that he was suspicious Sam was not brushing his teeth because whenever he's been going into the bathroom to do his at night, Sam's brush is always dry.  So I said to Sam, "You are brushing your teeth every night, right?"
Sam seriously replied, "Mom, I just don't have time for tooth brushing!"  I hate to think how long it's been since the last time he thought he had time for it.
I've put on weight in the last 6 months or so.  It's annoying because none of my pants fit and I have this roll of tummy now that doesn't have anywhere to go so it flops.  I'm not comfortable in my own body anymore.  I remember a few years ago I couldn't keep weight on and now I've got the opposite problem.
I don't like it but the thought of laying off the sweets and maybe going for a few walks doesn't sound all that appealing, either.  Besides, don't most women put on weight as they age?  So maybe, no matter how hard I try, it won't come off because it's more of an age thing.  So then, what's the point of putting in all that effort and self-denial if I'm just destined to be a bit overweight the rest of my life?
But then, I get in the shower and see that my thighs, who have always lived very separate lives, are now quite cozy with eachother and I hate the feeling of them touching eachother.  So, I bought some grapefruit essential oil.  It's supposed to be good for weight loss.  We shall see.
Lizzie observed me taking it this morning and wanted to know why.  I told her and she said, "Well, Mom, if you want to lose weight, all you need to do is quit eating!"
She may be onto something there.  She then added I should probably also "run for 40 hours a day." 
So last night was our Sunday School class get together.  They're doing these once a month now, which is fine.  Our class is geared toward younger families, or at least those with younger children.  I've got those so I'm still qualified to be there, I guess.
I'm actually not even attending the class right now because they're doing a marriage study.  I sit upstairs with the old people.  It stinks.  I would give anything to have a reason to be sitting in that marriage class.
Back to the get-together: I saw this as sort of a "test" for me.  How would I handle being in a situation with all couples?  Could I do it?  Everyone is still so nice to me, but things have changed because I'm not part of a twosome anymore.  I even am a lot more self-conscious about talking with married men now.  I never used to think twice about it. 
So I slipped away for a few hours and went to the gathering.  We roasted hotdogs at a home in the country and then sat around the fire.  Some of the women made a real point to talk to me and I appreciated that.  But I looked around the fire a few times and saw all these couples, with their arms around eachother because it was cold and dark and I suppose, somewhat romantic, and I felt so alone.  I honestly didn't begrudge anyone there for what they still have, but it made me miss what I've lost all the more.
But this is my reality now.  I have to learn how to function as a single in couple-oriented world.  I don't know if the fact that I have children like most couples do makes it harder or easier.  I haven't decided that yet.
Along with everything else I've had to learn to do, this is another area in which I have to learn some coping skills.  But, there is a verse that keeps popping into my head lately.
So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten...
Joel 2:25
I think this verse is literally referring to food, but all Scripture is profitable and there must be a reason this particular one keeps being brought to my mind.  Is God using this verse to assure me that these years of loneliness and barrenness will be restored someday?
Maybe.  I don't know. 
But it's kind of the message I got from Him today when I hunting for Sam's glasses.  There was that along with the reminder that ALL things are for my good and profit my growth.
And mostly, just the reminder that my  number one job is, still, to trust Him.
With my stubborn and destructive three year old.
With my absent-minded almost-seven year old.
With my future.


Saturday, October 18, 2014

Day 502

October 18, 2014

Day 502


I did it - I've made it past 500 days of widowhood.  It does feel like something of an accomplishment.  Now, to make to 1000, which should happen in another 16 months or so.


We just happened to have tickets to a pre-season NFL game that night at Wells Fargo.  I had bought the tickets way back in June, not knowing that Oct. 16 would be day 500.  So that worked out kind of cool.


Actually, all of Thursday was busy and more of a "family" day than most.  Ben had Sp. Olympics bowling in the afternoon.  He did the best he has ever done.  I always laugh when he bowls because I remember how his bowling ball holes were specially drilled to fit his extra long fingers.  He doesn't even use them.  Each time he approaches the lane, he leans all the way over and rolls the ball with two hands.  Apparently, he has perfected his method because during one game he scored 117!  He and his entire team earned blue ribbons and will be going to the state meet next month.


I didn't have a lot of time to cook after that and I wanted to make sure the kids' tummies were nice and full before the game because I wasn't about to buy concession stand food.  They check your bags there at Wells Fargo so you can't sneak in food, either, like you can at the movie theater (Yes, I'm bad...and cheap).  So we stopped at Hy-Vee and got two buckets of chicken.


We met Will at Principal Park and left his car there.  I really don't care for downtown driving on the best of days.  When it's nighttime and people are pouring in for a popular event - ugh.  So he drove us in.  We still had to park blocks and blocks away from the arena and we were there an hour early!


We quickly found out what $22 tickets bought us - seats way-y-y up high on the top concourse!  We could still see fine, but it was a little unnerving to be looking that far down onto the floor!  The game was good.  I was kind of rooting for the Denver Nuggets because I always smile when I think of Denver now, with that being Paul's and my last trip together.  But I honestly didn't care who won.  Denver led for 3 quarters, sometimes by as much as 15 points.  But then in the last quarter, it got exciting.  Golden State decided they wanted to win and put all they had into it.  It was neck and neck the entire quarter.  I even wondered if the game would go into overtime, but finally the Warriors pulled ahead and won the game by just 3 points!


So now we can say we've been to an actual NBA game.  The boys say that we now have to attend an NFL game, but I don't know if that will ever happen or not!    And actually, this game was a lot more classy, I thought, than the local game we attended there in January.  The cheerleader-dancers did have one somewhat skanky performance, but that was it.  Lizzie was disappointed.  She is fascinated by cheerleaders and we tend to have a lot of conversations about what is proper and improper around here, as a result.  The half-time show was an acrobat team that performed on this season's "America's Got Talent" so that was entertaining.


One funny thing: Lizzie kept turning around to observe the people behind us.  Apparently it was a group of international students with their American host.  I think what caught Lizzie's attention was that one of the young women was black.  As it turned out her name was Rosa and she was from France (isn't Rosa a Spanish name, though?).  But at one point, Lizzie nudged me and loudly said, of the host, "Look, Mom - that man has ice tea in a cup!"


Um, yeah...not ice tea!


It was just a busy week, all around.  Tuesday I went with my friend, Jeanne, up to Faith.  She is 81 and twice-widowed.  Her husband was one of my professors 25 yrs ago.  I met her through another widow at our church and Jeanne and I have just hit it off.  It helps that she does texting and Facebook, since those are my primary means of communication anymore.  She was asked to be a guest speaker in a women's ministry class (specifically, a class about ministering to the aged in the church) about widowhood.  I invited myself along because I just wanted to hear what she had to say.  To my surprise, she had gotten her hands on the blog post I wrote back in June right at the one year mark of  Paul's death (the post) and she referenced that post quite a bit!  It was rather flattering that she thought  I had something of import to contribute to the class.


There were only two students in the class and they both told me that they had worked with Will up at camp.  Small world.  After class, we went with the instructor (whose husband was also one of my professors oh, so long ago) to the cafeteria and had a nice lunch.  Then yesterday, I received a sweet card from the instructor.  What a nice day that was for me!


While at lunch we were talking about remarriage and both women earnestly told me that if I do remarry I must have a prenuptial agreement in place.  I wrinkled my nose and asked, "Aren't those unbiblical?"  They both assured me it is different when it is a second marriage and either spouse has children and is bringing assets into the marriage.  I had never thought about that before.  I'll have the children, but I'm not so sure how many assets I'll have left by the time I marry again, though!



Then, that evening Will and I went to a Piano Guys concert.  I wasn't totally excited by the idea because I knew it was instrumental music and, as I've mentioned before,  I have a very limited tolerance for music that doesn't involve a beat and lyrics.  I soon began to get the idea that a whole lot of people knew something I didn't because the entire Civic Auditorium was completely packed out.  Seriously.  I saw about 10 seats on the very back, top row that were empty and that was it. 


The concert was AMAZING!  Oh, my goodness.  I could have sat there for a lot longer than two hours.  Maybe I have more of an appreciation for culture than I realized.  Or maybe it's just that these performers have figured out a way to make instrumental music fun and exciting.  I think I'm going to download everything they've recorded!




Wednesday Ben had to go to Iowa City again for his teeth.  I was under the impression that this visit was the last one until we get his wisdom teeth done.  But no - we have two more trips planned now for Nov.  Ben is a champ when they do the work.   But every single time they go in to fix what they think is a simple cavity, it turns out to be something that has spread and gotten in quite deep.  The room where they work on the special needs patients is not very big and there are 4 or 5 chairs in this one room.  Different dental students work on the patients while the head instructor oversees.  Actually, it reminds me of when I was a kid and, to save money, my mom had us get our hair done at the local beauty college...  Anyway, this time, the patient directly across from Ben screamed the entire time they were working on him - seriously screamed.  His mother or caregiver was right there so I doubt they were hurting him.  It was probably a sensory thing.  But it caught Ben's attention and he kept popping up in his chair to look.


Afterwards, he wanted to go to Steak and Shake to eat.  We don't have any of those out here.  So we did.  He started to place his own order when the waiter came and my first instinct was to jump in and take over for him, but I thought, "No - he needs to learn how to do this.  I won't always be with him in restaurant situations."  So I just let him place his own order.  The only problem with that is that while I can understand Ben perfectly, I forget that his weaker oral muscles make his speech harder to understand by people that don't spend a lot of time with him.  Although, he's improved greatly since childhood.  He hasn't even been in speech therapy since he was about 12.


So Ben explained what he wanted and the waiter then turned to me apologetically and asked, "Uh, could you repeat back to me what he said?"  Poor guy.  But he still got the order wrong!



The other day Will sent me a Facebook clip of a mother/son wedding dance with the message, "Do you think you can do this?"  It was kind of a complicated dance that included all different kinds of music and moves.  Thinking he was just joking, I messaged him, "Sure - let's plan on it!"  Well, a couple of days later at the concert Will asked me seriously, "So we're going to do that dance, right?"  I told him that would be fine (!) and then he added, "You'd better get into shape first."  I may or may  not have been huffing and puffing a bit as I followed him the couple blocks we had to walk to the Civic Auditorium.  I told him not to worry.  With as long as he is taking to find the wife needed for said wedding, I have plenty of time to tone up!  Here's what he has in mind: Mother/Son dance


I did a more complicated hair style on Ellie today.  Since it took awhile, I pulled the kitchen stool into the living room so she could watch tv while I worked on her head.  Some movie was on that featured primarily black actors.  Ellie observed one of the men and then said, "Mom - you should get me a daddy like that!"  I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.


The other night Ben asked me how soon I plan to remarry.  I told him, of course, I have no idea.  He said, "Well, I hope it's soon.  I'd like to have another dad."




I dreamed last night that Lizzie drowned in our pool.  I pulled her out and realized she was dead and was completely distraught.  In my dream I thought to myself, "Oh, I guess I loved her more than I realized!"  The dream got really weird from there (I ended up baking her into a pie before I called 911) but it stuck with me in that I remembered it very clearly this morning.


Actually, Lizzie really hasn't been troublesome lately.  She's going through a good stretch right now.  Her sister on the other hand...Oh, I am so frustrated.  I cannot get her to quit coloring on her bedroom furniture.  I have cleaned and cleaned up that room, but she still manages to find pencils and markers.  Every time she does this I spank her.  And I even make a point to question her hours later, "Why did you get a spanking?"  And she answers, "Because I colored on my bed/dresser."  So I know she understands.  But then she turns right around and does it again.  The worst part is that she attempts to lie about it every time, telling me sincerely, "Lizzie did it."  So then I have to punish her not only for the crime, but for lying.  She was such a sweet, quiet little baby/toddler.  I never would have dreamed we'd go through this at age 3.  I am starting to get fearful of what she is going to be like as a teenager.  On the other hand, it serves as a good impetus to get this rooted out now.  But I am not sure how to thoroughly root it out.  I've banned her from all writing utensils, other than signing birthday cards.  Periodically, I will ask her, "What do we color on?"  She'll answer, "Only on paper!"  And then I'll ask, "Is your furniture paper?" 

"No, Mommy." 

But she still colors on the furniture! (Pulling out my hair with one hand as I type...)


Out of curiosity, I looked up decomposition rates on the internet last week.  The websites I found were quite descriptive of the breakdown of the human body once life has been extinguished.  Yuck.  Dust to dust and all that... Embalming does slow down the process somewhat, but it sounds like this far into it, there probably would not be a whole lot of Paul left that's recognizable.  I kind of wished I had not researched that.  It just made me feel even more that he is truly gone.  I mean, of course, he's gone.  He doesn't need his earthly body anymore and hasn't for some time, which is why it's rotting away.  But I guess there was some comfort in knowing that it was just underground up the road from my house. 


Right after Paul died I ordered the book, Heaven is for Real.  We started reading it as a family but never got around to finishing it.  I know there's been some criticism of that whole story by Christians, but I have always felt like, even before Paul died, that there's a good chance that this book was a gift to us from God -a glimpse of what is waiting for us.  I don't believe the the book was a hoax written by parents hoping to cash in.  Neither do I believe it was Satanically inspired.  So, a couple of weeks ago I ordered the children's version of the book.  My Littles have been so excited by that and I've caught Sam and Lizzie repeatedly poring over the pages.  It makes me want to finish the adult version now.


One of the things the book claims is that Jesus meets every new arrival to Heaven.  That thought made me smile as I thought of the morning of June 6, 2013.  Paul went to sleep beside the wife he loved and woke up being embraced by his Lord.  Does it get much better than that?


And a side note that truly excites me: about a year ago I wrote about the dream God sent me regarding Paul and Heaven.  It was very vivid and I detailed it all in my blog.  One of the things that I remember from that dream is that Paul told me the walls of Heaven are covered with Scripture.  I had never heard anything like that before so it wasn't like it was some former fragment of memory that made its way into my dream.  Well, I was looking at the illustrations in this Heaven is for Real book and guess what I saw on a page?  The walls of Heaven covered in Scripture! 


I totally got goosebumps.