The title is a description of my old life...but these days I ramble on about widowhood, homeschooling, single parenting, adoption, special-needs parenting, & living a life I never planned for or expected - a life that God, thankfully, continues to strengthen & equip me for daily...
Monday, February 23, 2015
DIARY OF AN UNWILLING WIDOW
Feb. 23, 2015
Yes, well, I'm not feeling quite somiraculous 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
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 hadseen 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, reallynever 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
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
thatterrible 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 thisyear 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 somuch...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.