Monday, February 23, 2015

Day 629

Feb. 23, 2015

Day 629


Yes, well, I'm not feeling quite so  miraculous today!  The last two days have been hard.  Friday was wonderful, inside and out.  I went to bed that night feeling so utterly blessed and so thankful for the day.  I'll write more on that later.  But then as Saturday went on I found the wisps of that happiness floating away.


Of course, it didn't help that the dishwasher started leaking on Friday.  I got it mopped up before it warped the floor and put a fan on it.  Will examined it and offered his opinion that it was "toast."  I briefly toyed with the idea of not replacing it, but then I remembered how many people live here and decided I still had better have one.  We bought a used one a year ago - I'm never buying a used appliance again.  So that meant I had to go buy a new dishwasher.  And then it's not just the dishwasher you have to decide about.  It's the extended warranties they want to sell you.  Will and I stood in Best Buy going back and forth over whether to buy a dishwasher there or one we had  seen at Sears for $50 less, but since it was a close-out it came with no manufacturer warranty.  And we finally went with the more expensive one only to be told that well, yes, it did have the one year manufacturer warranty but they would require us to ship the dishwasher to them.  What?  So then we had to decide all over again whether or not it was worth it to plunk down an extra $60 for 3 years of guaranteed parts and service.


I just wanted Paul to make this kind of decision.  Or better yet - have him fix my old dishwasher.  I don't know that he could have.  Will is pretty skilled and I trust his opinion that if something is beyond fixing it really is.


I ended up with a Bosch brand dishwasher, which is the Cadillac brand of appliances.  Although, this dishwasher is made for their poorer shoppers because it didn't cost $1300, which seem to be what most Boschs sell for.  Hopefully it will last for awhile.  It's got a stainless steel interior which is supposed to provide for more energy savings.  We'll see, I guess.


The whole thing was discouraging.  And then it kind of hit me, not for the first time, as we drove back into town Saturday, and passed the cemetery, that Paul is really, really dead, lying 6 foot under the frozen ground.  And I am really, really on my own, and he is really, really  never going to come back and help guide me through the rest of the big decisions I have to make for the rest of my life, which will probably be a really, really long time yet.




Plus, I'm fighting some sort of virus now.  I'm not dripping and sneezing, for which I'm thankful, but I've got chest and sinus pressure.  I have been at this widowhood thing long enough to realize that when I don't feel well, physically, I feel more sad about Paul.  There's a very strong connection between the physical body and the emotions.   The good news is that in a few days, I will probably be feeling much better, body and emotion wise.  So I just probably need to hide out for a few days until I do.



Ok, onto other, happier stuff...


It looks like Ellie will be going to preschool next year, after all.  After the morning she's had today that's a very good thing, for both of us!  Last Friday the mayor of Pleasantville was in my kitchen collecting a water sample (he does the water duties for our city) and he asked how my plans were coming along for putting the kids in school next year.  I explained the problem I had run into with the preschool and how I was unwilling to have her gone all day long.  He commented that some relative of his owns the other preschool I had found on Google and he knew for a fact that it was still open, despite my inability to get ahold of anyone there.


He gave me the owner's name and number and I called, but I didn't leave a message because the kids and I were leaving after lunch for our family day and I didn't want to have an involved conversation in the middle of that.  The gal called me back, though, within a half hour or so, even without a message.  We had a really nice conversation and the set-up sounds just perfect.  Preschool is held Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays for 3 hours, either morning or afternoon, depending on parental preference.


The only possible hitch might be over the issue of vaccinations but I doubt it's going to be a real issue.  I told the owner that I do not vaccinate my kids and asked how they would handle that.  She seemed stymied and said she'd never run into that situation.  More than likely all that would be needed is a religious waiver which is used for non-vaccinated kids attending school.  But I may not even need that.  Ellie received everything during her first year of life that is recommended.  I don't even know if there are other ones typically given by 3 or not.  So I'm not too worried about it.


The other day the Littles were looking at some family photos hanging on the kitchen wall and one of them asked the other, "So who do you think should die next in our family?"  I about choked, but I kept quiet, curious as to how the conversation would go.  They brought up different names and all were in agreement that it shouldn't be Mom - thankfully.  They seemed to have a hard time deciding between Ben and David, actually.  What terrible, morbid, little children I have!


So why did this make me laugh then?


Something else that made me laugh - and this has no morbidity to it: At Faith, the students are divided into "quads" I think they call it.  There are two rooms, with two students each and they share a bathroom and socialize and I don't know what all else they do.  Well, all 4 of the guys in Will's quad are homeschool graduates.  At Faith, that's not really so remarkable, given that 30% of student enrollment has a homeschool history.  But Will has been entertaining us in recent weeks with stories of one the guys in his quad who is a stereotypical homeschooler - tucked in plaid shirt, dark blue jeans, flip phone in a case attached to belt, and the social skills of a slug.  It's not really his fault.  His parents are CBM missionaries, which means that the family lives in an RV and travels from church location to church location to help with building.  When one is done, they're on the road again.  It would be a very difficult life, I would think.  Homeschooling would be the best option in a case like that, but it sure doesn't allow for a lot of relationship building outside the family.


Will said one night last week this kid was complaining to him about all the work he had to do yet before class the next day - a test to prepare for, a paper to write and it was already something like 11 pm at night.  Will suggested that well, he could use one of his chapel skips the next day in order to give himself some more work time.  The students are allotted 10 of these a year.  Will said this guy drew himself up and huffily replied, "I Do.Not.Skip.Chapel!"


The story made me laugh, but I also sighed somewhat.  This is a young man who doesn't understand grace and is living a very performance-based life.  It gives me a glimpse into what his home life was probably like and it's just sad.  Granted, I'm more than twice his age and just now figuring all this out, so I'm not going to be too hard on him.  But I wonder just how old he'll be before he realizes the freedom that is truly his?


A year ago this month I went to an activity at Amanda the Panda where they had us make these framed heart pictures.  The idea was that on the heart we wrote things we remembered about our dead loved one.  I ended up getting really creative with mine and instead, cut mine into two different hearts with family member names and then wrote some of Paul's character traits on the outside of the hearts.  I liked how it turned out.  Anyway, if you want to see it, it's hanging in my hallway.  So, I got an email from Amanda the Panda last week, advertising the same activity for this year.  And guess what picture they used to promote the event?  A picture of MY heart that I made last year!  I'm pretty flattered...


Ellie has to have surgery two months from today.  I took her into the dental specialist because she has obvious tooth decay on one of her front teeth.  This same lady did some work on Ellie a year ago.  Well, it turns out that one tooth is just the tip of the iceberg.  She has TEN bad teeth.  I don't know how many teeth a typical 3 year old has, but I'm guessing this means that about half her teeth are rotting.  The dentist said this is caused by a bacterial infection that is genetic in nature (so I'm off the hook on this one).  If we don't get it taken care of then Ellie will eventually be in a lot of pain and get really sick.  They're going to do caps and crowns and possible extractions and root canals.  She thinks it will be a 2-3 hour surgery.  It'll be done over at Mercy, where Lizzie had her tonsils out last spring.


Ben had something similar done when he was 3, although I don't know if it was this extensive or not.  Like Ellie, he had to have his two front top teeth capped, among others.  He had such poor oral skills that food remained in his mouth for extended periods of time.  Plus, when he was little he had that  terrible eczema and bottles at night were one of the few things that helped him sleep - which didn't do his teeth any favors.  But within a couple weeks of the surgery he chipped his front teeth on something so for the next 4 years until his baby teeth fell out he had half silver, half white teeth!  But the dentist said technology has advanced since then and Ellie's will be white, through and through.



Will said that the church he's been attending this school year is going to have a 6 week trial period of extending their Sunday morning service and dropping the evening service.  Hmmm....


I guess I don't really have a problem with that.  Sunday evening services are more tradition than anything.  A whole lot of churches don't do them anymore. Again, it's grace - God is not putting a tally mark by your name every time you attend church.   My only concern would be is the reason for dropping it because of the hardness of the church goer's hearts, that they can't be bothered to interrupt their Sundays twice?  If that's the case, then the church has a lot bigger situation to deal with than whether or not they should have evening services.  Personally, I can see some advantages to only having one service on Sundays and it wouldn't break my heart if our church ever decided to go the same route.  I think that is probably a ways, away though, if it ever happens.  We're pretty steeped in tradition!  What I would miss would be the more informal time of fellowship that a Sunday night offers and the way that it provides some real relationship building time.  I will be interested to see what Will's temporary church home ends up doing once the trial period is over.


Yesterday in Sunday School one of the attendees made this comment: she said that for years she tried and tried to love God more.  But she couldn't.  He's just so great and mighty and she's so sinful and every time she tried to love Him more she felt like a failure.  But then she realized what she needs to do is love herself less.  I'm still mulling this one over.  But it definitely caught my attention.



So Friday was our Family Day.  It went beautifully.  In fact, it went so well that I'm actually a little worried now.  I'm worried because, at heart, I'm a pessimist, and I know that one of these years we're bound to have a family day that doesn't go so well.  I hate knowing that's out there, lurking in the shadows, just waiting to spoil some year.  I am hopeless.


But this  year was great.  We met Will at the State Historical Museum, which is a fun place.  I've been there twice before, including the year that Paul and I drove out to Des Moines to celebrate our 10th anniversary.  I wasn't sure what the kids would think of it, though.  Well, I guess the older boys went the last time I did, but that was the summer I was pregnant with Sam - quite awhile ago.  Anyway, it seemed to be hit with everyone.  This place is really a gem here in the state and it's completely free!


We spent a couple of hours there and then we went to this laser light mini golf place at Jordan Creek.  Personally, I thought it was a little lame, but the kids seemed to enjoy it.  Basically, it's just golfing in the dark with neon lights.


Then we went to the new Jethro's Bacon Bacon restaurant in W. Des Moines.  I L-O-ove Jethros so  much...They kept messing up Friday night, though.  They brought me the wrong sandwich and brought Ellie fries instead of the applesauce she wanted.  And then when they brought me the bill they brought me someone else's bill, along with their credit card!  That could have been bad if I wasn't honest.  The waitress commented that she'd working since 8am, but I'm not so sure it's a good idea to offer excuses when you're already in the wrong.  But I love their food so much I decided to forgive them.  Will and I were talking and we've decided that when he gets married someday we're going to find out if Jethros would cater the rehearsal dinner meal.  That would be so awesome!  But he needs to find a girl first.  Which means he needs to start noticing them.  Right now he's more interested in saving money than anything else.


This kid is SO cheap...he's had a cold for the past couple of weeks - nothing serious, but annoying.  When he loaded up yesterday morning to go back to Ankeny he told me he was taking my last two boxes of tissues, which was fine.  He then made the comment that he had run out mid-week and had to resort to using toilet paper all week for his nose.  I asked him why he didn't go to the store and buy a box of tissues rather than subject his poor nose to cheap toilet paper?  Aghast, he exclaimed, "I'm not going to spend MY money on tissues!"  But he's apparently more than willing to let me spend mine.


So, after we ate we went home.  I got the kids pj'd up (and Ellie wiped down since she'd let her bladder go on the way home - yuck) and then we put in my brand new copy of "Mom's Night Out."  I ran over to the Christian book store after we were done golfing.  David and I had rented a movie Wed. night in preparation for Friday but when I told Will what it was he looked it up and said it didn't look very clean.  I wasn't sure if the boys would go for a chick flick or not, but they loved it, which made me really happy, for some absurd reason.  Why is it important to me that my kids enjoy what I do?


What was kind of neat was that after the movie was over we watched all the extra features.  One of those was an on-set devotional that Alex Kendrick (He's written and produced movies for the Sherwood films - he acted in MNO, but I'm not sure if he did anything else) gave to the crew while they were shooting the film.  He talked about how the tough times in life are shaping us.  It just seemed especially poignant to me, given that Friday was supposed to be wedding anniversary, but wasn't anymore because my husband is dead.  Tough times, indeed.


So I went to bed very happy on Friday night.  I survived another anniversary without Paul.  I can do this.


Not on my own, of course.  I thank God for the creativity He's given me to help me think of ways to make it through these difficult dates.  I'm grateful for the collection of kids I have which offers a lot of distraction on difficult days.  They also make me feel especially grateful to Paul because without him, I would not have them.  And I'm so grateful for the love of friends and family.  I'm so pleased that people still remember what Feb. 20th means to me.  In fact, Will told me before he left school on Friday that at least three people stopped him and told him, "Hey - tell your mom I'm praying for her today."  I am amazed by that.  How did they even know?


And I love that we now have this new tradition of Family Day.  It's like a lot of things that have come about because of Paul's death.  They're good things brought on by something terrible.


Kind of redemptive.


































Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Day 624

Feb. 18, 2015

Day 624


A month from today will be my birthday.  I'd like to figure out something special to do that day, but I haven't settled on anything yet.  I'm not even sure if we'll be able to go out to eat like we normally do since it's a Wed. and we'll have church.  But I'd like to do something to make it more than an ordinary day.  I'll keep thinking.


It is so-o-o cold today.  I've been trying the kids' summer clothes on for the past week or so, which seems somewhat ambitious given the below zero wind chill today.  I talked to my contractor over the weekend.  He says I am first on his list as soon as the weather breaks.  Not looking forward to the mess, but I can see my newly dressed house and garage in my mind, which makes me smile!  I think in honor of Paul's second Homegoing date this June I'm going to get a barn star for the garage.  It's something I wanted anyway, but tying it to a date of significance makes it more special - and easier to spend the money!



I have learned something very disturbing this last week.  I made a cake for Valentine's Day and it rose less than an inch.  The exact same thing happened a couple of weeks ago when I attempted to bake a different cake.  At that time I just assumed I messed up the added ingredients somehow.  But this time I didn't.  So, I googled the issue.  I figured I'm not the only one having this problem and I'm pretty sure the altitude of my  house hasn't shifted - there has to be a reason WHY my cakes are no longer rising.  Here it is - cake manufacturers have decreased their boxes by about 3 oz and boy, are bakers mad about it!  I found forum after forum on the internet decrying this new practice.  The cake manufacturers are shrugging their shoulders and saying, "Hey - all you have to do is buy TWO boxes and then take about 1/2 C from one package and add it to the other."  Seriously - that's what they are advising their irate customers.  And, of course, they haven't decreased the price of their cake mixes, either.  From my reading, it looks like if I add 6T of flour to every cake mix and beat it extra long I should be ok.  But I shouldn't have to do this!


I was contacted by the girls' birth mom this morning on Facebook.  It really bothered me because I have taken steps (I thought) to ensure our privacy.  I know there are further things I could do, such as delete my Facebook page altogether and make my blog private.  But the drawbacks to doing those things outweigh the benefits - right now anyway.  I'm also torn because I do have a certain amount of compassion for this woman. She is not a horrible person.  If I had lost my children, I would be desperate for any scrap of information I could obtain about them.  But...there is a reason she lost her children and why I was able to adopt them.  That doesn't happen for petty offenses.


Someday, I fully expect the girls will want to meet her.  I'm pretty sure if I had been adopted I would have desired  that, too.  Everyone wants to know where they came from.  I'm not sure how I'll feel about that when the day comes, but I hope I will find it in my heart to support the girls in their endeavor.  I also hope that by adulthood they will be equipped with knowledge, understanding, maturity,  and clarity that they can't possess right now.


So I blocked her friend request on Facebook.  I didn't even realize that was an option.  Will suggested it.  It keeps her from seeing anything on my page, including pictures.  It means she can't send me messages.  I feel kind of crummy about taking these measures, but I have to protect the girls and the rest of us.  My heart is at war with itself.


But, I will continue to pray for her.  As time has gone on, I have found it easier to do this.  Every so often, Lizzie prays that someone will tell her birth mom about Jesus.  Wouldn't that be an amazing, full-circle event if this woman came to Christ someday?  In the meantime, the girls are mine.  I am under no obligation to share them or to expose them to people who may cause them eventual harm.


I just hope that I'm not the one causing them harm by slamming the door on any type of relationship right now.



The other day the vice president went to Ankeny.  Of course, that's where Will works and attends school.  He happened to be working that day when the motorcade first went by his store.  The streets were all blocked off for the event.  I believe he had a presentation on why community college should be free over at DMACC.  He wrapped that up and left town during the start of rush hour.  Will said people were trapped in the parking lot at his store and were NOT happy!


The other day I was driving along I-80 and kind of in a "zone."  After awhile it occurred to me that I was still behind the same white van I had been behind quite a few miles ago.  And not only that, but everybody was passing us.  So I passed the van at the next opportunity.  As I did so, I read the sign on the side of his truck.


It read, "Spee-Dee Delivery Services."


As I mentioned, I am weeding my way through the kids' summer clothes.  Ellie had about 150 tops/outfits that would have worked for this summer.  I am NOT exaggerating.  Between what has been given to us and what has been passed down from her sister, she is more than set.  I am narrowing that amount down to a month's worth of clothing, and saving the rest for next summer and giving away what I know won't fit her a year from now.  What a job.


I was trying clothes on Ellie today and just like last week when I was trying things on Lizzie, the other sister was hovering nearby, curious as to what cute things I might pull out of the tubs for them to try on.  Ellie made some sort of odd noise and Lizzie commented, "You're weird, Ellie."  Without missing a beat, Ellie snapped back, "I'm not weird.  I'm pretty!"


I ran across one shirt that read, "Daddy's Girl."  Ugh.  This has happened before.  That went straight to the give-away pile.  I don't know if I'll ever lose the guilt that comes from not being able to provide a dad for these Littles.  But, one thing I am noticing as time goes on is how much all three of them cling to Will.  It's probably more apparent now that he doesn't live at home.  So often with Sam it's "Will this" and "Will that" in his conversation.  Will is taking David and Sam to the Deer Classic in Des Moines in a couple of weeks.  Sam is SO excited about that event and, apparently, Will has promised to take him rifle shooting the weekend that the rest of us are all gone to Florida, Prom Alternative, and a friend's house.  He can't stop talking about that, either.  The girls are always hanging all over him when he comes.  I like it on one hand.  But the other hand worries that it's not natural and it's not ok, for Will especially.


I have decided not to send Ellie to preschool next year.  I think I probably knew what I was going to do from the time I hung up the phone a week and a half ago after chatting with the preschool director.  Also, they have not sent me the paperwork that they promised to get in the mail that day, urging me to get it filled out right away.  I wonder if that's a divine "sign."


I've talked to a number of people about the decision, and like I knew I would, heard a variety of opinions.  I've sensed real bafflement from those that encouraged me to definitely send her.  It's like they can't fathom why this is even an issue for me to have to think about.   But in the end...I just can't.  I'm having a hard enough time with the idea of sticking Sam and Lizzie in school full time next year.  This will be my last year with Ellie.  And she will only turn 4 this July.  That's still pretty little.  She needs me.  And I have a lot that I need to be teaching her between now and the day I drop her off for kindergarten in about 18 months!


I do have an appointment set up for the other two to visit the school on March 6.  I didn't hear back for a week so I called the school again and talked with the principal.  He told me he'd have to check with his superintendent to get permission to have the three of us tour the school and sit in some classrooms.  I'm puzzled.  To me, it's a no-brainer that of course, you would want to provide a certain comfort level for children who had never been inside a classroom in their lives.  It's not like we were asking to move in!  But he sounded young on the phone so maybe he's still afraid to make decisions on his own.  I don't know.  But to his credit, he called me back that afternoon and we set a date and time.


 I also checked this week on flag football for Sam.  He'll have to give that up, along with homeschool softball in the spring if he does start going to school.  So I had had the thought that perhaps he could join the league in Pleasantville.  I inquired yesterday but found out that the teams practice for 2-3 nights a week in the fall.  Wow - that is a real commitment!  With a half dozen kids I just don't think I can do that.  And I'm not so sure it would be conducive to good family life, either.  Will never played football until 8th grade.  I don't think it's going to kill Sam to have to wait until he's a little older.  But I wish there was a way to do it all.



Sunday the Littles and I went to a swim party put on by Amanda the Panda.  It took some coordination to get the older ones squared away for the afternoon, although they would have been welcome to come, as well.  They just didn't want to.  David stayed at church to eat lunch and attend this special group for the teens he's involved with.  He was starting to get pretty miserable with a head cold by that point and I offered to run him home, but he was convinced he could make it.  He told me later that was a  mistake.


Then, I drove up to the Merle Hay Fazolis and met Will for lunch.  The Littles hardly ate anything because their excitement about swimming was mounting by the moment and they were anxious to get moving.  Will and Ben spent the afternoon doing respite stuff.  The Littles and I ran up the road to the Ramada Inn. 


I heard a few years ago that they had put in a water park but I didn't know what exactly that meant.  A lot of hotels are doing this now to attract those tourist dollars but there can be a big disparity in what "water park" means to different people.  I was pleasantly surprised by this one and would like to return at some point.  It's a really nice set-up


I figured I would spend most of my time chasing Ellie and making sure she didn't drown, but I honestly didn't have to do that.  After awhile she discovered a little slide that was just her size in the one foot pool and found a gaggle of preschoolers to play with.  "They're my fwends, Mommy!" she proudly told me.


Sam and Lizzie stuck pretty close together and spent a lot of time going down the water slides and playing in the 3 foot pool.  That left me free to sit on the side of the pool area reading and sitting in the blissfully hot-to-boiling hot tub that was only open to adults.  Ah-h-h...


I enjoyed it.  The relaxation was nice.  And it was all free.  And they fed us.  Of course, the Littles were anxious to get back in the water and didn't want to sit and eat.  Plus, they must have eaten something at lunch and complained about being "too full" for more pizza.  I didn't blame them.


I have decided that I need to remember to bring a hair band the next time I am at the pool.  I always forget how curly and frizzy my hair gets when wet.  As I've aged it generally behaves itself outside of the pool and a lot of people are surprised that I actually have quite curly hair because I am now able to style it pretty flat.  So, I was pretty appalled at my appearance at the party but consoled myself that it was ok because there was nobody there that really knew me. 


Until one of the women who had been in my support sessions last winter spied me and ran up to me and gave me a big hug.  It was nice to see her, but I was hoping that my wild, frizzy do would make me unrecognizable to others.  Evidently not.  This woman actually doesn't speak English well but her daughter was right beside her interpreting for the two of us as her mother talked a mile a minute in Spanish.  I asked her if she was doing better, a year out now from when I had last seen her.  She said she was.


Time heals.


And then while the kids and I were sort of eating a young gal came up and said, "Hi-i-i!  I thought that was you!"  And I'm looking at her thinking, "I don't know who you are!"  But after a couple of minutes it dawned on me that I did know her - she goes to my church!  Oh, my memory is getting so bad these days...So we had a nice little talk.  It turns out she works at the hotel.  I did not know that.


And then, this bar employee comes up to me and says, "I know you from somewhere."  And I seriously had no clue who this woman was.  It wasn't my faulty memory this time.  She was a stranger.  But I've had this happen over and over since I became an adult.  People are insistent that they know me from somewhere or that I must have a sister they know.  I think I must have a universal face that makes people think this.  I don't know.  So this woman just stands there staring at me, trying to figure out where it she knows me from.  And I'm in a swimsuit with crazy, curly hair, feeling very, very uncomfortable.  I wasn't sure what I should do - start listing every single place I've ever been and see if there's a match with her life experiences?  Eventually, she shrugged and went back to the bar.




And, last Saturday, was, of course, Valentine's Day.  I was perfectly fine leading up to the day, so I was a bit surprised when, late that morning, I found myself beginning to battle some bluesy-type feelings.  After a few hours, though, they dissipated. 


The girls made Valentines for me and insisted on giving them to me first thing in the morning.  That was so sweet.  I wonder if it will ever occur to their brothers that they could make Valentines for their mom, as well?  We had our heart shaped pizzas that night and I gave the kids their candy and gifts.  I really did enjoy that.  Without children, the day could have been very long and sad.  Of course, it would probably help if I learn to just stay off Facebook on that day (everyone posting pictures of their Valentine flowers and gifts from their husbands), too!  Overall, though, it really was not a bad day. 


And in two days it will be Feb. 20th.  So far, I'm ok.  I remember last  year feeling like there was an oncoming train with "February 20th" emblazoned across the front - and I was powerless to hop across the tracks to safety.  I absolutely did the right thing by getting out of town and being busy that day.  That made the impact from the train a lot more bearable.  And I know I'm doing the right thing again this year by having plans in place.  It sounds like it's going to be snowy on Friday, but nothing that will interfere with the places I plan to take the kids.


I don't know how I'll be on Friday.  I know this morning I felt this momentary zap of pain right to my midsection.  It was grief - I know that feeling all too well by now.  But as quickly as it came, it left.  And I've been ok today.  Who knows, maybe in time, I will cease to regard Feb. 20 as the Day that Should be Celebrated Differently than it Is and I will simply think of it as our annual Family Day.


But I will never, ever forget what that day was the first year it became important - and all the years afterward.  Some things are engraved on the heart too deeply to ever be forgotten.


I miss him.  I don't think that's ever going to change.  But, I'm learning to live without him more successfully with each passing day and more than I ever thought I could.


They say that time heals all wounds.  For the most part I would agree.  But as time goes on I am becoming convinced there is a spiritual component to healing the grieving spirit.  I am a member of a few Facebook widows groups.  The contrast between the saved and unsaved is nearly like night and day.  I don't know that the saved grieve any less than the unsaved, but there is an element of hope that is so evident.  They don't seem "stuck" in their grief like so many of the non-Christians.  I've met women who are more than 7 or 8 years out on this journey and have barely moved a bit.  I know there's no reason to rush the process but moving forward is healthy and needed at some point.


God heals the broken hearted.  That is the only way it happens.  I guess maybe that's why I had the reference of Psalm 34:18 engraved on my widow's ring. 


I'm not ready to date again and I'm not taking Paul's picture off my desk or boxing up the last of his belongings.  Tomorrow or Friday I may be a sniffling mess again.


But I am being regenerated from the inside out.  A miraculous thing is happening in my heart.




































Friday, February 13, 2015

Day 619

Feb. 13, 2015

Day 619


David is mad at me and says I have "taken away his joy."  He achieved some high level in a video game he plays and posted the news to his Facebook page.  His game name is "Cheif Awesome" and all I did was point out to him that "chief" is misspelled.  Things deteriorated from there.  Sigh...


It's Valentine's Day tomorrow, which I'm ok with.  But they timed the release of the movie, "Fifty Shades of Gray" for the holiday.  So everywhere I turn, it's 50 Shades everything.  Even every time I turn on my kindle this week, up pops an advertisement for the book or movie.  Ugh.  The Today show has been all excited about the movie release this week and have been chattering about it non-stop.  Lizzie listened and then commented, "We should go see that, Mom!"  I suppose I should be dismayed by all the hype, but I find it hard to get worked up about a whole lot anymore.  Yeah, it's bad.  I may or may not have leafed through a copy of the book when it first came out several years ago.  I very quickly put it back on the bookshelf.  The writing itself is so poor that I am surprised a publishing house actually paid for this thing.  But more than that, it's porn.  And it's not just erotica, which is also pornography, in my opinion.  But it's dangerous, demeaning pornography.  Although, I don't think there is such a thing as non-dangerous porn.  Anyway, it's all bad news.  But I don't feel inspired to read any more articles about why it's so bad or watch any interviews with the stars.  I have no desire to sign a petition for "Christian Women against 50 Shades and for  Biblical Morality."  Yes, that did pop up on my newsfeed today.


I just don't care.  Ok, I kind of care, because this is the world in which my children are growing up.  But today - I don't care.



I am completely losing my mind.  Today was my Zaycon bacon pick-up.  They sent me numerous texts and emails in the last couple days reminding me that I needed to be at this certain church at 8 am to pick up my 36 pounds of bacon.  And do you know when I remembered I needed to go?  At 7:59 this morning.  Ugh!  What is wrong with me?  I have always been rather proud of my powers of recall.  I am a person whose first memory occurs at 18 months of age.  I still remember what Paul and I wore on our first date.  I have always been the one to get our family where it needs to be in plenty of time, remembering everything we need.  Paul's memory was not nearly as good as mine and as the years went on I kind of became his "back up" memory. But I can't remember anything else right now!


I called Zaycon and was able to get my bacon two hours later at the next stop in W. Des Moines.  So it all worked out.  Except for my dumb GPS.  I had never been to this particular church so I plugged in the address and that dumb computer made me drive through the entire downtown Des Moines and then all along Grand Ave (which has a 35 mph speed limit) out to W. Des Moines.  I could have just hopped on the by-pass and gotten there a whole lot faster.  Grrr....


I started trying on summer clothes this week for the kids.  Normally I would not do it this early in the winter, although, really, it needs to be done by the second week of March.  We have been known to have temps in the 70s and above by then.  Of course, this being Iowa, it's also not super uncommon to have snow storms in April (or May, like two years ago!)  But with Florida coming up, I needed to see what Ben and I have, at least.  I've never been there, but I'm fairly confident I am not going to need to bring long underwear and winter coats.


Ben has not grown a single bit since I packed away his clothes last fall.  I had a feeling that was the case.  His feet have not grown for about two years now and I wasn't sensing any real height gain.  So, that's great.  He doesn't need anything.

I got Lizzie's taken care of, too.  It was kind of funny.  She and Ellie were both so excited as I pulled clothes out of tubs for her to try on.  Ellie was jumping up and down and handing items to Lizzie, saying, "Oh, I think you will look good in this!" She is such a little diva and clotheshorse.   Lizzie needs quite a bit for summertime wear.  Last summer she wore a 6X-7 top, edging into 8s by summer's end.  Now, she's in a 10-12, with a waist size of 10.  She's grown an awful lot.  Frequently I hear her  comment now, "Oh, I shouldn't eat that - I don't want to get fat." Or she'll ask, holding out some sort of food, "Will this make me fat, Mom?"  I just hate that.  She is only 6 years old.  I don't care if she weighs 300 pounds by the time she's an adult.  I don't want her to spend her entire life worried about her weight.  Life is too short for that.  But I'm struggling to find the balance between encouraging her to make good eating and exercise choices and not having it turn into an obsession.  There is so much more to life than one's weight.  At the same time, being obese can make life needlessly more difficult.  And this could just be a phase on her end, too.  Perhaps the best thing I can do is ignore it all.


Lizzie may just be more aware than other kids her age, I'm thinking.  When I was 6, the last thing I cared about was my appearance.  Yesterday, I caught her taking some sticky strips of cardboard (they had been wrapped around some new pairs of socks I got her) and placing them on the sides of her face and ripping them off.  When I questioned her she told me she was "trying to get rid of my sideburns."  Her sideburns?  I looked and saw what she was talking about.  Yes, there is some fine dark hair snaking down the side of her face.  I explained to her that she has to live with it for now, but it's not uncommon for darker skinned women to develop hair on the sides of the face and sometimes above their lips ("What?!" she then shrieked, "I'm going to grow a mustache, too?!").  I told her when she's older if it bothers her we can get it all waxed off.  She's 6, People...SIX.


I overheard Ellie tell her sister earlier this week (talking about me): "She's not your mama - she's only MY mama!"


Lizzie did bring up the subject of her birth mom again last night.  I don't remember all the details.  She used to cry for her but that hasn't happened in a really long time, since that first year I had her.  Oh, I remember now.  She was wanting to know why I wanted her to wait until adulthood to visit her birth mom.  That's kind of a hard thing to explain to a child, but we got through it.  And then later before I went to bed I was reading my  latest issue of "Lifeline" magazine (put out by Bethany Adoption Services) and they covered this very topic.  This entire copy of the magazine was good because they dealt with transracial adoption in a couple other articles and then the article I read last night had to deal with sharing the child's story with them.  It's tempting, as an adoptive parent, to gloss over the horrible events that may have occurred in your child's life that enabled them to be adopted by you.  But your child needs to know that stuff - obviously, as their age and understanding allows.  So, after having that earlier conversation with Lizzie and then reading the article I felt like maybe I could pat myself on the back a bit.  This is all such unfamiliar territory for me.  I feel like I am walking blindfolded through a very rocky terrain at times!


The kids' pictures and mine ended up on the front page of the Des Moines Register yesterday (must have been a slow news day).  It was from last week when we went to see Clifford.  My first thought was sheer embarrassment when a friend posted a picture of the paper to my FB newsfeed.  My  hair looked awful!  I had just gotten it highlighted a few days earlier and didn't care for the way it turned out.  It's too blond.  I just wanted a few blond strands in the brown to disguise the gray and give it some life.  Not this.  So I saw the picture and ran in the bathroom wondering if I needed to go get some brown hair dye and tame this stuff down some more (I had already done it once).  But I'm wondering if it was the camera flash more than anything because I really don't think my hair looks as brassy as it did in the photo.  Anyway, that was my first, vain, thought.  My second was, "Oh, I hope Birth mom doesn't see this!"  Ellie and I are identified by name under our picture.


Although, I've never shared with Birth Mom the new names I chose for the girls.  And I don't know if she reads the paper.  I don't even know if she still lives in the area.  But I have made a point to not include my address or last name when I mail yearly pictures and an update to her grandmother.  I would think if she saw that picture she would instantly recognize Ellie.  But maybe not.  And even if she did, I have nothing to hide.  I'm not going to live in fear of this woman.  Although, I say that, and yet, the fear of being with the girls someday in some public arena and running into her makes me knees feel like jelly.  But that's a worry for another day.


It's late afternoon now and I have managed to accomplish exactly zero on my  list.  I just got done with a two hour meeting.  Ben's case manager came, his new case manager, and some representative from a company hired by Medicaid to help determine supports Ben will need post-graduation.  I am absolutely broken-hearted that Ben is losing his case manager.  She has been amazing at helping me navigate the system and get Ben the help he needs.  She has attended every one of his IEP meetings and advocated for Ben.  She's been a tremendous encouragement to me in parenting Ben and the others. When Paul died, she came.  She's a neat, neat lady...but her case load has grown so heavy that DHS is making her re-distribute some of her cases.  Since we are closer to Des Moines than where she lives in Knoxville, she's being forced to give us up.  Oh, I hate this.  Maybe her replacement will be just as good.  She seemed nice enough today...but I couldn't help but smell the cigarette smell on her, notice the poorly dyed hair (like I have room to talk on that one), the lack of fashion awareness...all of which will probably have nothing to do with how well she does her job.  But mostly...she's not Lisa.  I haven't even told Ben yet.  The thought of having to makes me sick.


Ok...well, it is Valentine's Day tomorrow.  Will will be coming after work and we'll have our own little celebration with our heart shaped pizzas from Papa Murphy's.  It will be a nice evening.  I really need to get the kids' gifts and candy all put together.  That is on my to-do list for today that I have yet to get to.


One day this morning the Today show was on (like it is every morning) and there was a surprise proposal.  Lizzie exclaimed, after viewing the happy couple, "Oh, that is SO embarrassing!  And that kissing - yuck!"  I'm totally going to remind her of her anti-kissing stance someday when she's grown.


I am living on Advil today, again.  My mouth finally healed up enough that I was no longer having to pop it around the clock.  And then last night I slipped in mashed potatoes and smashed my arm into the counter top.  I am in so much pain from my wrist to my elbow, it's unbelievable.  Nothing is swollen, so I'm pretty sure I didn't crack any bones.  I'm kind of glad because that avoids having to explain to medical personnel that I slipped in mashed potatoes.  I did, cleaning up the kitchen last night.  Who knew potatoes could be so deadly?


Something interesting happened to me Sunday and I'll close with this (I sound like a preacher, don't I?  Promising my listeners that I'm JUST about done - hang on with me a little bit longer!).  I still have Paul's wedding rings.  He has two - the one he wore for 15 years and the titanium one I bought him for our anniversary 7 years ago.  And, of course, I still have my set.  My thinking is that there are 3 rings, so I will probably save them for the Littles since there are 3 of them.  But every so often, I take Paul's newer ring and wear it on a chain around my  neck.  I like the way it makes me feel - closer to him, reminded of our marriage, etc.


So I went to do that Sunday and as I clasped the chain, I suddenly thought to myself, "I don't want to wear this."  At first, I thought maybe it was because the length of the chain wasn't quite right, but even as I went into my closet to get a different chain, I knew that wasn't it.  I put the different chain on with the ring, regardless.  I stood there in the bathroom looking at myself and I knew the ring had to go.  I wasn't going to wear it.




And even though I didn't really want to admit it to myself right then, I can do it here.


I'm moving on.  I no longer have this intense desire to still feel close to Paul.  I miss him, sometimes with more intensity than other times. I wish he was here, that I wasn't widowed, that I wasn't alone.  There is a lot I miss about him.  I may always miss those things, for the rest of my life.  But it's not such a desperate feeling anymore.  I'm not devastated like I was at first.  I no longer feel ripped in half all the time.  There are still moments of desolation, of course, but the feeling of being constantly injured just isn't there anymore.  How do I say this?  I feel like my arm feels today after popping a couple Advil.  When I woke up this morning it hurt.  When Paul died, I felt like a semi had rammed its way through my body.  I was broken apart, injured beyond what felt like repair.  Physically, I hurt, even though the damage was all emotional.  I went around that first summer with what felt like a bowling ball in my stomach.  I very quickly learned that grief has a physical presence.


But right now I feel like my arm after a couple of painkillers. It hurts, but it's not throbbing.  If I accidentally hit it on something or use it for awhile (like right now while typing) it flares up.   It's not unbearable.


It may flare up tomorrow night when I think to myself of how I am probably the only person in the world not being given a Valentine this holiday.  It may flare up  a week from today when I am running all over Des Moines with my kids trying to execute a fun, "Family Day" in an attempt to try to forget that I should have been celebrating my 22nd wedding anniversary with Paul, instead.


But flare ups don't last. 


Who knows - I may wear that ring again sometime.  But maybe not.


Healing takes courage.  And we all have courage,

even if we have to dig a bit to find it.

-Tori Amos -