Tuesday, January 27, 2015
DIARY OF AN UNWILLING WIDOW
January 27, 2014
This will probably be a shorter post - which is good because my last one took about three days to read. I don't have a lot to report on. January has been a pretty slow month and I am not complaining one bit. I like this pace!
(Editor's note: I may have been premature to predict this would be shorter. I just wrapped up the writing and apparently I had more to say than I thought I did - oops.)
The flu is going through our house right now. In a way, it's kind of a relief. I knew it was coming because we've all been healthy for so long (the pessimist in me reigns supreme) and I was a little concerned as to when it might come. Will is going to Arizona in March and Ben and I are heading to Florida a few weeks later. Sure wouldn't want to be sick for those trips. We have a family day coming up next month for my wedding anniversary and it would be bummer if that got interrupted by illness. Not that it can't come again, but it's not as likely now. It's been a quick moving virus. I had it over the weekend. I was pretty miserable Saturday but I was not doing all that bad by evening. I'm extra tired now and my stomach is still not crazy about normal food, but I'm doing ok. Fortunately, this is a slow week, too, so I'm able to set aside my to-do list and lay around more.
Will came home late Fri. evening and had only intended to stay until early Sunday. But when he discovered I was sick he offered to stay until Sun. night. That way he could take some of the kids to church and was able to get some pizzas and feed them all, taking some of the pressure off David. Nice boy I've got. Man.
Lizzie threw up Sat. morning which is when I was feeling pretty crummy. So I was cleaning up vomit while feeling like I could add to the mess myself. That was nasty. Then she laid down and slept for a couple of hours and was back to herself after that. She's got the constitution of a horse. This is the first time she has ever had the flu since I have had her and that's been more than 2 1/2 years. It's only the second time she's ever vomited in my care. The first was last year on the way home from MN and I think that was just due to something she ate. Sam is sick now. Poor kid has it pretty bad - coming out both ends - but he even said a little while ago he's feeling a bit better now. Last night I had gotten the bathroom mopped up (with a towel - I'll do it properly once we're all done being sick) and finally got to bed at 11:30 - too late. Then I could not fall asleep. I finally did only to be awakened by Sam shrieking, "Mom!" as he vomited all over the bathroom at 12:30 a.m. I got that all taken care of, got him settled on the couch...and could not fall back asleep. So, I'm shooting for an early night tonight! We'll see.
I'm hoping everyone is completely healed by this Saturday. I am going to my first "Mom's Night Out" hosted by Single Parent Provision (the organization that put on the Christmas dinner I went to last month) in Des Moines. They take the kids for 3 1/2 hrs. They feed and entertain them and all the workers are subjected to a background check. I've been told that most moms come dressed up, like they're apparently going out to party. But I'll be in my jeans. I'm going to drop the Littles off and go find a spot at a local mall to curl up and just read, eat my supper, and enjoy not being talked to. I'm not a party mom. I talk to my children all day long. That's enough talking. I can't tell you how much I am looking forward to Sat. night! Conversely, though, I am kind of hoping I get a chance to at least meet someone while dropping off the kids that I could chat with. I guess I'm not completely anti-social.
Lizzie's word for "gangster": Jangster. I can't remember where we were but she saw some droopy panted, gold-toothed, attitude-laden character and said, "Look, a jangster!"
I was making finger jello a few days ago and Ellie excitedly exclaimed, "Mommy making jello fingers!" I have a feeling she just coined a new family term and we'll be calling the stuff "jello fingers" from now on. Kind of like how I still call hot-dogs "dog-dogs" almost 19 years after Will called them that as a toddler.
The other day Ellie came upstairs waving a dvd of Charlotte's Web and asked, "Can I watch Charlotte Dies?" I guess she's already seen it!
Oh, let's see...what else?
Last week was an expensive week. My printer died. That wasn't so terrible, really. I looked up reviews on google just to get an idea if the printer had lasted as long as it should. I bought it when I was making invitations to Will's graduation less than two years ago when my LAST printer decided to die. That one lasted six years so I was a little surprised that I got fewer than two out of this. But according to the reviews, I got about two more months than normal. I probably should have checked reviews before I bought it. Of course, I had JUST bought all new ink for it...grrr....
The reviews suggested that Epson WorkForces are good home printers so that's what I bought. I paid less than half of what I paid for my Epson that just bit the big one and I figure I'll be happy if I get 18 months out of it.
The same day I went and bought new dressers for the girls. I wrote about taking down their bunk beds which obviously means less floor space. It occurred to me that a better use of space would be to get two vertical dressers. The ones I had weren't in the greatest of shape anymore thanks to my poor painting job (one of them) and Ellie's penchant for sharp, gouging objects and permanent markers (the other one). So I stopped at Homemakers and ended up buying two identical, white upright dressers that I am hoping will last the girls their entire growing up years and maybe someday they'll want to take them with them when they leave home. If they last that long. I did buy the protection plan which guarantees them for 5 years against preschoolers and other related disasters. Oh, and the best part - the top drawer comes with this panel that has interchangeable, colored, vinyl strips. I'm not explaining it very well, but the majority of the front of the top drawer is pink now on a white background - so pretty! I lo-o-ove having girls...
I got home last Thursday night from my shopping and David and I worked. We unloaded those dressers from my van, emptied and hauled the old ones down the stairs, out the door, and to the burn pile. And then we hauled the new ones up the stairs, and David screwed on all the handles and I inserted the pink panel, and filled them with all the girls' cute, girly clothes. David suggested we wait until the weekend when Will would be home, but I didn't want to. Part of me just wanted the job done and the other part wanted to prove that I didn't have to hand off all the hard stuff to Will. David maybe, but not Will!
I was watching tv yesterday and I saw an ad for a trade school. I am not kidding, but wish I was. The name of the school was U.T.I. I think it stood for "Universal Trade Institute" or something like that. But all I could think of was "Urinary Tract Infection." Maybe I've been a girl too long. You'd think, though, that someone would have thought of that and suggested a different name when they were picking a moniker for the school.
I had a meeting last week with a representative from Vocational Rehab for Ben. I've met various reps over the years at his IEP meetings but have never been entirely sure just what it is they do. I came away from the meeting so encouraged. Their job is to start the process of finding employment for disabled young adults once they graduate from high school. The actual work of that is funneled through an agency because the case load is just too heavy for them to do it all personally. That's fine because I already have an agency in Indianola that I've been working with for several years in other capacities for Ben. So now we have a plan in place for Ben. It's helpful that he knows he wants to work retail - preferably in a grocery store. That's been his desire since he was quite young. That cuts out a lot of trying out different types of jobs to see what fits him best.
Right now, they have a program in place that lasts 4-6 weeks that is designed to train disabled adults in everything they need to know about working retail. They attend full-time for the specified period and when they get done they basically have a "degree" in how to work retail which should give them an advantage when it comes to securing and maintaining an actual job. Of course, this all depends on funding, since it streams from the government. The plan right now is that Ben will start this training probably in the late summer after he graduates. There's no guarantee the funding will still be there for the program, but I'm going to pray it is. After that, Ben will receive assistance in finding a job and if he needs a job coach to stay on the job with him that will be provided. The goal is that he will spend the next year trying out some different stores and using that time to figure out a good spot for him, where he can work well and someplace he enjoys working. Then, by his 21st birthday, he will be permanently and gainfully employed. In Ben's case, that will probably be on a part-time basis.
And to that end, one of Ben's teachers was able to persuade a local Hy-Vee to take Ben on as an employee for the rest of this school year. I don't think he's going to get paid, which is of no importance to me. But he had to fill out an application and tomorrow he had his interview. He has to wear the Hy-Vee "uniform" of khakis, a white dress shirt, and tie. He is absolutely thrilled because he's been slightly obsessed with Hy-Vee since he was very young! He'll have an aide from school with him all the time.
I am beyond delighted. When Ben got into high school I was warned that "those teachers won't do anything at all" for him by another mom of a special needs child, but that has not been my experience at all. Maybe my expectations are low, but I've been very pleased with how invested everyone has been in his life. Now that he's nearing the completion of school it just seems like his teachers are really determined to get him as much work experience as possible and prepare him as much as they can for life beyond the classroom.
And today I got the Social Security ordeal wrapped up. I think I've written about it before. It's so arduous I won't go into it all again. Suffice it to say, it took me FIVE attempts, including three trips to Ottumwa, to get the girls new social security cards. It should NOT be this difficult. Friday I received back the documents that Social Security had told me I had to have with a note telling me that no, they didn't need this. What they needed was my driver's license. If I wanted, for my convenience, I could mail it to them - who would DO that? Every single time I've dealt with them I've gotten the run-around and conflicting information about what documents were needed. By the time the mail came Friday the office was closed. So, all weekend long, in between cleaning up people's vomit and trying to get well myself, I prayed for favor in this matter. I didn't know if I needed to hire my attorney to take care of it or what.
I called yesterday morning and was connected with a worker. I turned out that, of all the people that work in the office, she was the one who had sent back my documents and sent me that last letter. She said, "I had a feeling you might be calling today!" We talked, and of course, she didn't know why I was being given all this wrong information. All she knew was that it wasn't right. I decided I'd make one more trip to Ottumwa and asked her when she'd be working the front desk. She told me that would be the next day (today) and I told her I'd be down to see her. I happened to mention the situation to my folks and they told me they were praying.
I made the trip today. Like she had promised, this gal was working the front desk. She spent a lot of time apologizing for the ineptitude of her fellow workers. It only took her about 15 minutes to get the girls' applications processed. She asked me if I wanted new numbers for the girls. I told her well, yes, I really did. There's been some concern about fraudulent activity with Ellie's number by her family of origin. But I had three workers at that office tell me it was all but impossible to get new social security numbers issued. So I had given up on that thought. But she went ahead and applied and got approval for new numbers right then and there today. God answered my prayer above and beyond what I had asked. I just wanted cards with their new names on them!
I put some of this on FB today and quickly discovered that I am not alone in this type of ordeal. A LOT of adoptive parents run into snags with Social Security when trying to get new cards. I had no idea. You would think that the government would be pleased that adoptions are happening and would bend over backwards to ensure easy transitions with all the needed paperwork. That, however, is not the case.
But it's (adoption) still worth it.
I've been spending more time in my bed with my electric blanket as I recover from this virus. In the last couple of days I discovered that one of the retro channels is now airing old Newhart shows from the 80s. I LOVED that show and am enjoying it all over again. What a classic and so full of substance, especially compared to a lot of what airs as sitcoms and family shows today. I was watching it last night and one of the characters got up and said, "I'm Larry and this is my brother Darrel...and my other brother, Darrel."
And I immediately heard Paul. He loved that line! Anytime he heard the name, "Larry" or even the word, "brother," he would immediately recite, "I'm Larry, and this is my brother Darrel...and my other brother, Darrel." He thought he was funny. I mostly thought he was annoying.
Clear as day, I could his voice echoing that classic line. It went straight to my heart. But it didn't make me sad. I was reminded how, shortly after Paul died, an older widow from church sat in my living room, and as I mopped my eyes, she told me, "Right now your memories make you cry. But someday, they're going to make you smile!"
She was right. I was smiling last night.