Saturday, March 21, 2015

Day 655


March 21, 2015

Day 655


This week just flew by and I know next week will be the same.


A week ago today I was in Iowa City at the Special Olympics Dance competition.  This was the first time our district had put together a team.  I don't know why I thought that it would be a simple matter of driving out there, watching Ben perform, and then turning around and going home.  There were at least 20 groups performing.  And then results had to be tabulated and the awards ceremony had to happen.  Duh.  Why didn't I think of all this?  So my poor Littles had to sit in the stands for over 3 hours absolutely starving.  But they were really good.  Well, Ellie was mostly good and for her, that's saying something!  Lizzie was getting over her cold and had a sinus headache.  I didn't have any children's aspirin on me.  And of course, these were all loud, rocky, dance tunes that we had to listen to.  They were blaring.  So for a lot of the time Lizzie just laid her head in my lap and I tried to cover her ears so she wouldn't get the full impact of the loud music.


That was still pretty cool.  Some groups had 20-30 people and some had only one.  I watched one woman with Downs Syndrome dance her heart out in a solo act and she was amazing.  Our group did awesome.  They got silver medals.


I don't know why, but it seemed like every other group chose either Frozen songs or "Shake it Off" to dance to.  I loved those songs...not so much anymore, though!


This week was Spring Break week for Ben.  It was cooler this week than last, but the sun shined most days - even on my birthday, which is a real rarity.  Monday was a really nice day.   I found out that day that it was Dairy Queen's 75th anniversary and so, they were giving away free soft serve ice cream.  After supper that night I loaded up the kids and we drove down to Knoxville.  It was a nice way to end the evening.


I got Will's FAFSA filed this week.  The lady who did it said that he should qualify for the full Pell grant, which is more than tuition at DMACC.  If she's right - and I hope she is - that means the next two years he'll attend for free and she said there should even be enough grant money to pay for his books.  Thank you, American tax payers!  Actually, I'm kind of thinking that maybe, knowing this, it would be kind of silly to sit at home for the next 3 yrs until David graduates doing nothing - other than homeschooling him and the normal, mom stuff.  Maybe I need to give more serious thought to wrapping up the degree I started more than 25 yrs ago. We'll see.


Lizzie asked me how old I was going to turn on my birthday.  I told her and she exclaimed loudly(and yes, we were in public), "That means in just 7 years, you'll be 100!"  I said, "Uh, no" and she recalculated and said, "Oops - I meant nine years"  Who's her math teacher anyway?


Sam said, "You were born in 1950, right, Mom?"  I told him he was off by more than 20 years.  Then he wanted to know what year his Grandpa Daniels was born.  I told him and he looked surprised.  He replied, "Huh - I thought you would have said somewhere around 1870!"


David's new sandals arrived late last week - size 17s. They were $100, which is what I paid a year ago when I bought him size 15s at Scheels.  There's no skimping on name brands when you have gigantic feet.  Now I need to find him some cleats for softball.  That is going to be expensive, as well, and he'll only wear them for one season - less than two months.  Unless...his feet decide to, miraculously, quit growing and he can wear them again next year.  I'm not holding my breath, though!


I struggled more, the first part of this week, with Paul being gone.  I suppose my approaching birthday had something to do with that.  He always made those so special.  Sometimes he would actually wake me up in the wee hours of the morning  to whisper, "Happy birthday!"  He said he wanted to be the first one to say it to me.  He probably could have been the first one if he'd waited until 7am or so, too!


Also, last weekend Will had me working on a paper with him for a class at school.  Apparently, there are a number of topics being covered, one of which is the Christian and death.  Will had asked his professor to not assign this one to him, as he didn't think he could emotionally handle it.  Well, the professor forgot and gave it to him anyway.  Will didn't want to make an issue out of it, and just took the assignment.  I was going through some of the materials and they are really, really good.  I had him download them to my computer and the ipad and I am wanting to go through them again sometime.  Will commented that he is wondering if God allowed him to be assigned this project for a reason - for further healing in his own heart.  I suggested that when he presents to the class he could weave his own story of loss into the presentation but Will said he doesn't want to try that because he doesn't think he'd be able to do it without breaking down.


I wonder if some of the materials and what I was helping him with affected my own heart.  I mean, I sat at my computer, writing this outline for Will, and  soon I found myself weeping.  I was ok but then I began to think on death and found myself bothered that Paul's death doesn't seem to have affected others like it has us.  That's a given of course!  I know his death did affect others, but since we were closest to him, it had the greatest impact on us.  I kept envisioning a body of water with a rock thrown into it.  The water is disturbed at first and then it doesn't take long for it to smooth back over.  That's what Paul's death has been.  Others are back to  normal, but I know we never will be.  I found myself bothered that people can just go on living when my life has been so radically changed.


It's the way it is.  What are you going to do - insist that others live in a suspended state of reality until your own heart heals?


Fortunately, all that only lasted about 24 hours.  I'm fine now.


And then the next day I cleaned out a kitchen cupboard.  In the bottom of one I found an unopened bag of ground ginger.  Paul swore by this stuff.  Anytime he was not feeling well, including times after he'd had severe seizures, he'd take ginger baths.  I found them kind of disgusting because it turned the bathwater brown and never completely dissolved.  But I always kept a bag around for him.


He doesn't need to take ginger baths anymore, does he?  I threw it away.  I'll never use it and I don't need that kind of reminder of the frailty  of Paul's earthly body.


The rest of my week was a mix of good and bad.


Remember how I talked about the relief I felt in realizing that the craziness I see in Paul's family is no longer a burden I have to carry?  It was such a liberating thought. 


I'm not sure if God thought, " have a few things you need to learn yet!" or if Satan saw this and decided that it was time to turn up the notch on the fire of life a bit.  I suppose it doesn't matter - ultimately, it can all be used for good and growth in my life.


This week I had three upsetting encounters with members of Paul's family.  Three!  After months of silence.  Sigh...


One came at 7:25 yesterday morning as I was getting ready to leave for Omaha to attend a craft show with Kathy.  I very nearly didn't take the call.  But I thought maybe someone had died and I should answer.   It occurred to me later that I do have voicemail and I probably should have used it.  The call was upsetting to me, but I had a good, two hour drive to think and pray about it.  I didn't let it ruin my day.  Freedom doesn't mean the absence of trials.  But it does mean that I can choose the extent to which I allow them to affect me.


As it turned out, Will was getting off work at the time I'd be getting back to town last night.  I drove to his workplace and we sat for nearly two hours in my van talking about this and other stuff.  He has a really wise perspective for someone still so young.  His dad was like that at the same age.  I have a lot more clarity today, which is good because assault #3 arrived in today's mail.  But I was able to pretty much laugh it off, even though it made me sad. 


So that's that for now anyway.  And, honestly, as much as I would like to be, I may never be completely free of all the craziness but after nearly two years, I am finally figuring out more healthy ways to deal with it all.


The craft show was great.  It was a really large one, which made it more fun.  Kathy and I enjoyed ourselves so much.  We have the strangest friendship, where we go months without talking to one another - not even a text.  Kathy rarely remembers my birthday and half the time I forget to send her  a card on hers.  But when we're together we immediately slip back into a practiced familiarity, as though we just saw eachother yesterday and not three months ago.  We're both introverts and we've both noticed that tendency increasing as we age.  Kathy told me yesterday that she has other friends but when she spends time with them it feels like an effort and she comes away from those times exhausted.  She said her time with me is energizing.  That may be one of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me!  I have definitely noticed that I feel less stressed for days after spending time with Kathy.  It's worth the time, distance, and effort for us to get together.  Although, we may be a bit scary when we're 90 and still doing this.  Neither one of us has a real good sense of direction!


I am now blogging as an older woman.  I turned 44 Wednesday.  When I woke up that morning I was immediately feeling sad because Paul wasn't here and Will had to work so he couldn't come home to celebrate.


But the day ended up being really, really nice, anyway.  I got so many touching FB messages, including one from Will that made me cry.  I got tons of cards in the mail with encouraging messages.  I got texts and a phone call.  I got sung to at church that evening.  A friend brought me tulips, which is my favorite flower.  I haven't had them since before Paul died.


The Littles and David made me homemade cards, which was sweet and appreciated.  Will says I'm getting my present today.  And you know what I've discovered?  Presents are not really that important to me anymore.  Being thought of and being appreciated on my special day is the the nicest thing.  I can buy the stuff I want for myself.  But I can't buy the genuine love and affection from my family and kids.


I heard Lizzie say on Wednesday to one of her siblings, "It's her birthday - she can do whatever she wants."  She paused and added as an aside, "But don't kill us!"  So noted.


The next day (which was cooler and gray - I was so thankful that kind of weather waited a day!) Sara and her entire family drove down, just for me.  They came armed with gifts and cakes and party supplies.  And it was a nice time.


I am loved.  I am loved first by God and secondly by a whole lot of people.  Until the day he died, I had the love of a good man.


I have a very rich life, indeed.




























Friday, March 13, 2015

Day 647

March 13, 2015

Day 647


This won't be a long post - it's been a pretty uneventful week.


Other than getting sick, that is.  I've got a head cold.  I'm still moving - it hasn't been bad enough to send me to bed, but I've got the sneezing, liquid in head, shortness of breath thing going on.  I was thinking today that I have not had a healthy March in at least 5 years.  Four years ago in early March I had the uterine ablation.  That really made my life much better, but there were a couple weeks of recovery.  The next March, I had that nodule removed from my breast.  Painful.  The next March I had the nasal surgery done which is the worst surgery in. the. world.  I can't even think of that time without my nose hurting.  And then, two days later the kids started coming down with the chicken pox.  Last year, I started feeling sick on my birthday - in March, of course - with what turned out to be a nasty, nasty case of the flu.  And this year I have this rotten head cold the kids shared with me.  Just once, I'd like to have a normal March!


This has been Will's Spring Break week.  He flew to AZ on Monday to spend time with my brother and family.  He's been sending pics all week - sounds like he's been having a great adventure!


Of course, everything broke this week while he was gone!  He's coming home to a dvd player that suddenly doesn't recognize the remote (nor has back up buttons) anymore and a cracked bathroom mirror.  I also realized last night what bad shape the molding around the bathtub has gotten into.  I need to find out from him how to fix it.  I even dreamed about the tub last night, it's so bad!


After our long winter, we suddenly had warmer temperatures this week.  I guess this is the normal  time for this to be happening, but I'm always surprised when it does.  I guess I get into a mindset that winter is going to last forever.


Of course, the kids think that highs in the mid-sixties mean they ought to be running outside in tank tops and shorts.  I think one of them even suggested it was time to get the pool up.  One day Lizzie commented seriously, "You are so different from other moms!"  That was because the high wasn't supposed to top 65 and I told her she needed to be in jeans, not shorts.  I guess all the other moms were slapping sunscreen on their little ones and driving them to the pool...


My first Stitch Fix box arrived this week.  Now that was fun!  I was really excited to see what my stylist found for me, based on the information I provided for them.  I love their system.  Returns are super-easy and the check-out process is on-line.  For each item, you click either, "keep" or "return" and then let them know what you liked or disliked about each item.  That way they get to know your style better for future boxes.


They sent me: a really cute pair of mildly distressed boyfriend jeans.  But...I'm done with low-rise bottoms.  With my middle-aged, flabby tummy, there's too much spillage that happens.  So those, regretfully, went back.


...a berry colored, 3/4 length top...I also sent this back.  I thought the sleeves had a weird shape to them and the front was too low


...a gray and white horizontally striped sheer sweater with a cami...initially, I really liked this - until I put it on.  Then it was more of a "meh" thing.  It wasn't cheap, either, and if I'm going to spend that much on a top, it had better make me want to sing.


...a thin, long-sleeved navy top with white, horizontal stripes.  The cuffs are striped the opposite direction.  I love this and knew I had to have it.  I love it so  much that I am saving it to wear next week on my birthday! Sometimes you just try on something and you know it's perfect - this was one such item.


.....a necklace, that I also kept.   This purchase surprised me.  I almost always accessorize my outfits with jewelry, but my necklace choices tend to be pretty conservative.  I usually like them fitting inside my neckline and I don't like big, gaudy pieces.  The one they sent me is designed to look like the wearer has layered 3 different chains.  If I had seen that thing in a store I would have never even bothered, deeming it "complicated."  But on me - it looks great.  And it wasn't complicated at all.


Well, I won't give my readers a run-down of everything arrives in my boxes every time I order, but this first time was fun and I'm still pretty enthusiastic about the whole process.  I've set up another shipment for the end of April.  If I do this too often, I'll end up with far too many clothes.  For each season, I have in my head an approximate number of clothing items I need and I rarely overbuy, anyway.  Long ago, I realized the foolishness of having too many clothes.  You can only wear one thing a day and if your closet is stuffed, you may get to wear a favorite item only a few times during the season  (that's true for me, anyway,  because I force myself to wear everything I own before repeating).



The other day Ellie said something about, "Will's big truck."  I realized that she was referring to Paul's truck.  Will insisted we keep the thing, even though I took the insurance off it and it doesn't run at all at the moment.  He wasn't ready to let go of it, which is fine.  But I found it interesting and little bit sad that she doesn't even associate the truck with Paul.


Most who know me know there has been some tension (to put it mildly) between Paul's side of the family and me since his death.  I haven't written much about it publicly because I have no desire to badmouth the family and because the whole thing has been very hurtful to me.  It's a very weighty thing to remove one's self from a family, no matter how difficult things are - to keep my kids from having a relationship with  their grandparents and cousins.  It has caused a great deal of distress to me and I don't know that I will ever be "ok" with it.  I did what was necessary to protect our family, but oh, it's been painful.  I imagine I will pray for reconciliation until the day I die.


But this week...


Most people in the world are on Facebook these days.  I tend to be very careful about what I post there and I don't even post all that often.  I figure no one is really all that interested in my every thought or what I had for supper.  I save that kind of mundane for my blog!  But not everyone blogs and, apparently, a lot of people don't seem to care about the impression they give others by posting every thought that enters their head.


Sometime in the last week a big argument broke out between (you guessed it) Paul's dad and uncle over when the annual Heywood Family picnic should occur this summer.  Paul's dad is not on FB, but his uncle is and the argument got taken there.  Oh, my goodness...because they could not agree on a date they each picked their own date and then, tried to persuade others to attend their picnic.  I find the whole thing ironic because isn't the idea of a family picnic to bring family together?  I'm still FB friends with enough of Paul's extended family that the whole thing ended up on my feed.


Just, wow...


And then, suddenly, in the midst of reading, a bolt of understanding shot through me.


I am free


By taking the deliberate steps of separation that I knew to be necessary, I escaped all this craziness!  I don't have to hear about it anymore.  I don't have to talk things over with Paul and see him shake his head anymore.  I don't even have to read about it on Facebook if I don't want to.  It is  no longer any of my concern.  And just like that, a weight  lifts from my shoulders.


This is what freedom feels like!



Well, that kind of freedom, anyway.  Today I am chained to my to-do list, the tissue box, and the Advil Cold and Sinus.  I really want to crawl into bed, but I can't.  Tonight is our church's annual gym night.  The  kids are crazy-excited about going and I don't have the heart to tell them that I don't really feel up to it.  So, we'll do that.  And then tomorrow I get to make a 4 hour round trip to Iowa City to see Ben perform in a 2 minute and 17 second dance routine.  I deserve the medal for this one!


Next week I'll be doing some things in preparation for our Florida trip (I found out I am, indeed, a chaperone, and will have several kids assigned to me, in addition to Ben.  This is something else I should be awarded a medal for, I think), and turning 44 one day, and entertaining Sara and the girls the next day, and then going to Omaha for a craft show with my friend, Kathy.  I also want to try to soak up as much time with my kidlets as possible because I feel like I am going to feel so guilty for abandoning them while I'm on our trip.


Gotta run...or more realistically, drag myself around with a tissue permanently stuck in my nose.



























Saturday, March 7, 2015

Day 641


March 7, 2015

Day 641


Riding out a smaller grief wave today...I woke up really stiff and sore, which didn't help.  I must have slept in one position all night long.  And I woke up to Bella yowling at something which is really unusual.  She is normally a very quiet animal.


The boys have been gone all afternoon at the Deer Classic.  They had intended to go anyway, but then Will was able to get free tickets through his employer, which made it an even better idea.  So it's just been the girls and me.  I've been checking things off my to-do list and trying to get my cooking done for the month.  I've just been so tired, though.  And I'm going to lose another hour of sleep tonight with Daylight Savings time.


I've helped Will write two papers since last night.  He leaves Monday for AZ so he wanted to get some of his work knocked out of the way beforehand.  I actually find it kind of fun to edit his papers and help him figure out how to phrase things.  It makes me think that maybe, if I do decide to go back to college, I might be able to swing the coursework. 


Unless I have to take math.  Then I'm doomed.


Speaking of school...yesterday I took the Littles to meet the principal of the elementary school and tour the building.  It went very well.  I was pretty impressed with the set-up they have there and very relieved to find out that Sam will have more than an hour of recess every day.  The principal told me that they put a high emphasis on keeping the kids active and he thinks that is why the school continues to do well, scoring wise.  In fact, the school is being studied right now by a student doing his doctoral thesis. Pville has increasing poverty rates but, academically, they are remaining steady.  That usually doesn't happen. 


Sam and Lizzie were both very excited after our visit and quite crestfallen when they found out the first day of school is a good five and half months away yet.

So, it looks like I'm really going to do this.  After being such a staunch advocate of homeschooling for more than a decade and encouraging countless numbers of friends to make the same choice for their children,  I'm now reversing directions and plopping most of my kids in the government school system.


Paul would be appalled...maybe.


But I know this is the right thing to do at this time.  It's that calm voice of assurance that I felt in my heart when I knew I was done homeschooling Ben when he hit his middle school years.  It's that same voice that told me we were on the right path when we decided to pursue adoption despite all the logical reasons I had to not do it.  I know this is right.  It doesn't mean I'm suddenly anti-homeschooling.  I have no plans to quit schooling David at home.  I really think homeschooling is the best educational option out there -overall.  But it doesn't mean it's always the right choice for every child and for every family all the time.


It's not right for me right now.  And that's ok.  I am fully satisfied at the moment that Sam, Lizzie, and Ellie will thrive in the public school and will be well-educated.  Maybe not perfectly so, but well, enough, anyway.  I am learning that "good enough" is acceptable too, in a lot of areas.   But I suppose in deciding this I may be criticized by others who believe that homeschooling is not an individual choice, but a directive by God.  I can't live my life for the good opinions of others, though.


It was so cute yesterday.  Before we left for the school, David caught my attention and said, "Listen!"  Out in the kitchen, Lizzie was loudly practicing counting by tens.  She then told Sam that she sure hoped she knew enough math for the school to let her in!


At the meeting, the principal asked the three of us if we had any questions.  I had come with a list, but before I could say anything, Sam replied, "Well, yes, Yes, I do have some questions!"  Most of his had to do with lunch and recess but he just cracked me up.  I never realize how much he's been thinking until he opens his mouth.


Yesterday must have been all about schooling.  Just a couple hours after we got home from visiting the elementary and starting the registration process over at the superintendent's office, I had to pick up Will in Ankeny.  We had an appointment at DMACC with an admissions counselor.


That went well.  I have an appointment up there later this week to file our FAFSA and from there Will just needs to fill out his application and attend an orientation meeting.  It sounds very affordable and flexible.  Will has options of taking some of his classes on-line and at closer campuses than Ankeny, too.  His thinking is that he'll get his AA degree in 3 semesters and from there transfer to a 4 year school to wrap up his degree.  Hopefully, by the end of his time at DMACC he'll be closer to figuring out exactly what it is he wants to do with his life!


He has just become convinced as the school year has progressed that Faith is not for him.  He never intended to attend there more than two years anyway.  He has really enjoyed his classes and told me just yesterday that he's been discovering some real treasures in the school library.  He wants to find out if they will still let him in there just to read once he's no longer a student!  But he hasn't been overly fond of dorm life or some of the more stringent rules.  And that makes sense.  He has always been very independent and mature and I am beginning to get a better idea as time goes on just how much of Paul's role Will assumed after his death.  I rely on him quite a  bit, which I never intended to do.  But he's so capable and willing that it has been easy to hand off a lot of responsibilities to him.  So, anyway, I can see how it would chafe to have to live with things like curfews  and dorm room inspections and things like that.  Will is not a "people" person either (meaning he's like both his parents - perfectly content with their own company and not needing routine interaction with other humans) which I suppose makes communal living in a dormitory more of a pain.


I guess this may end up being the year of teeth in our family.  As I mentioned before, Ellie is having major dental surgery in April.  Also that month we will find out if Ben gets to have his wisdom teeth out this summer.  This week Will went to our new dentist for the first time for a routine check-up.  One of the things he wasn't too crazy about our old dentist was that for several years they've been pushing him to get his wisdom teeth taken out.  Well, this new guy took a look at Will's jaw and told him he'd better get them out sooner than later.  I can't remember everything Will told me but it's something about the angle at which the teeth are growing in.  So, now we need to go see an oral surgeon.


Will was supposed to build me some L-shaped bookshelves for the upstairs landing during those three weeks he's finished at Faith and before he heads back up to camp for the summer.  It sounds like he'll be recovering from dental surgery instead.  Sigh...Oh, and I was hoping Will wouldn't have his  teeth done until he's fully independent so that I wouldn't have to pay for it.  No such luck, I guess!


The other day Ellie said, "I have to go to preschool cuz I'm not grown up yet!"  I guess that's one reason.


Will and I had our taxes done this week.  For the first time in forever I didn't get a refund.  In fact, I owed money.  I was shocked.  I figured the fact that I have no real income other than a little pension of Paul's and Social Security and the fact that I'm raising fifteen million children would ensure I'd be getting a refund.  Although, I guess if I think that through...a refund implies that you paid in too much.  Since I didn't really pay anything why do I think I should be owed anything?  It had to do with the money I invested - apparently you get taxed when you make a profit on stuff like that.  Bummer.


My tax guy was pretty surprised, too.  He's also my lawyer and I pointed out to him that I had not yet received a bill for  Ben's guardianship work.  He said yeah, he knew that.  He was waiting until I got my taxes done.  So, we wrapped that up and he handed me my bill - $525, which is actually less than I was anticipating.  But still...a word to the wise.  Don't get involved in anything that's going to require a lawyer at some point.  They are expensive!  Anyway, he felt so bad about my lack of refund that he knocked $25 off the price of doing our taxes and told us he wouldn't charge for Will's. 


Really, I am ok with the lack of refund.  Will assured me repeatedly that long-term, I'm going to come out ahead, financially, doing what I'm doing.  It's really not a good position to be in when you rely on a hefty refund in order to make your bank account smile.


I read something interesting this week about black hair.  I haven't ever given a whole lot of thought to hair, black or otherwise, other than my attempts to bring it into some sort of order.  What I read asserted that the afros of the 1970s were, in fact, an "in your face" statement to the white world.  Essentially, this fashion grew (no pun intended) out of the Civil Rights movement a decade earlier.  It was a way of saying "We're not going to be repressed any longer." 

Be that as it may, I have come to realize from different adoption and hair boards I'm on, that white adoptive mothers often choose to style their black daughters' hair in what is called "free hair" meaning, it's basically an afro - sometimes slicked back with a head band or bow.  It's all I've pretty much been able to do for the last year or so since the girls' hair fell out after getting it relaxed.  But this is actually frowned on in the black community.  Also, it's quick and easy and gives my clumsy white fingers a break from attempting to make braids and twists.  So I guess the era of making a statement with their hair has passed.   Evidently, it's more acceptable in the black community to style your daughter's hair in what is called "protective" styles - corn rows, twisties. ropes, etc.  I wonder if black women can look at a black child and know immediately if she's adopted simply by looking at her hair?


PS: Tonight  Lizzie is rocking free hair and Ellie has 8 pretty impressive parts all over head.  I'm so proud of those!


I was doing some shopping the other day.  I still didn't find anything for myself.  It had better stay cold for awhile longer because I have very few clothes for this spring and summer.  I cannot find anything I like.  But, anyway, I found this shirt at Kohls (that I did not buy).  Across the front was written, "Enjoy the little things."  Think about that.  Across the front...across the chest...yeah, probably not a message you want to be imparting to the world...


 I have this custom made necklace that I bought oh, a couple of years or so before Paul's death.  It consists of a tiny little pearl hung by two 1/4" gold disks.  One is stamped with an "S" and the other with a "P."  I've continued to wear it since Paul's death.  In fact, I wore it the night of his viewing.  It's one of those things that still makes me smile and even gives a certain amount of comfort when I do wear it.  I have a little bamboo box on a bathroom shelf.  I wear jewelry almost every day so I've made it a practice to put the stuff I take off at night into the box and then I empty it every so often.  This necklace has a very fine chain that easily tangles.  Today I noticed it was wrapped around a bracelet so a little bit ago I carried the two pieces into the other room so I could work on untangling them from each other and hopefully not making any knots in the gold chain as I worked.  I got it done and to my surprise, when I held up the necklace, one of the gold disks had slipped off.  That's never happened before - ever.  I knew before I looked, though, which one it was.  Sure enough, the "P" is gone.  I'm assuming/hoping it's in that little box and I can find it and slip it back on the chain.  I haven't looked yet.


I have really tried hard to not look for meanings and symbolism since Paul's death.  I know that's a very typical response of the grieving and I've wanted to stay away from that kind of thinking.  But, I do have to wonder.  Is it only coincidence the P is no longer on my necklace?  It sure seems to be symbolic, if nothing else.


Last week I ran, ran, ran.  The next two weeks shouldn't be quite as busy, although March is definitely shaping up to be more active than January and February were combined.  On tap this week is a little bit of work up at City Hall, taking the kidlets spring clothing shopping - I have a few gaps in their wardrobes to fill and then they should be set for warmer temperatures.  I'm getting our FAFSA done Thursday and that evening Ben has a choir concert.  Friday I am having lunch with the girls' brothers' adoptive mother.  We have a family gym night in Martensdale one night.  And then Saturday I'll be heading to Iowa City for a few hours to watch Ben's dance routine - all 2 minutes and 17 seconds of it.  Oh, he also has 3 practices this week that I need to fit into my schedule.  So, yeah, maybe it is going to be kind of a busier week.


That's all right.  I just need to keep moving.  Toward what...I'm not sure yet.  I've always worked best when I've been counting down time to something enjoyable...a new baby, a trip, stuff like that.  Right now, I don't really see anything in my near or distant future that gets me all that excited. 


But that's all right.  Elisabeth Elliott always said, "Do the next thing."  I feel like that's all I've been doing for the past 21 months.


 I don't think God is displeased.






























Monday, March 2, 2015

Day 636

March 2, 2015

Day 636


March favorite month of the year -  mainly because it's my birthday month!  This one has come in with snow on the ground.  Wonder what it will be like when it leaves - the whole "in like a lion, out like a lamb" thing?  Hopefully.  I'm kind of tired of winter.


Ben has one of his yearly big meetings this afternoon.  This one is with his outgoing case manager, the new manager, a representative from Genesis, and Deb, his SCL provider.  We have to work up a new set of SCL goals for the next year and figure out when he's going to be doing Discovery at Genesis.


As soon as they leave I think I'm going to run to town, which is not really something I want to do.  I hate all that after school and work traffic.  But, I have to get my grocery shopping done this week and I have so much other stuff that has to happen, too.


This week:


* Will and I are getting our taxes done.  If Ben had earned $20 more he would have had to file, too.  I'm thankful for small things.  That's tomorrow afternoon.


* I have to get ready for the city council meeting Thursday night.  This is our biggest meeting of the year because we have to approve the budget.  Speaking of which - it is still not in my mailbox.  I may need to call our CPA and find out where it is.


*Do the water billing.  I actually did this this morning in record time.  It all went smoothly.  The guy who cursed me out last Nov - where I hung up on him - after I refused to turn his water back on until he paid up is delinquent again and I had to send a shut-off notice.  So, I will probably have another unpleasant encounter in about two weeks.  Or maybe he learned his lesson and he'll pay as soon as he gets the letter I mailed today.  Maybe.   Not holding my breath...


* Prepare a lesson for my Patch kids Wed. night.  So far, I've had the easy job of just reading the story to the kiddos.  My partner in there has asked to switch things up, starting this week.  It's not a huge deal.  Several years ago when I taught this age group I did everything on my own.


* Take Sam and Lizzie to tour the elementary school Friday and sit in on some class time and meet the principal.


* Pick up Will at his dorm and meet with an academic advisor at DMACC Friday afternoon


* Take David (and Ben?)  to and from church Friday evening for a youth group activity.


* Do some baking for Will in anticipation of his trip next week



Next week looks easier. 



I may be meeting up with the adoptive mother of the girls' oldest brothers - potentially in a week.  We've been FB friends for nearly a year now and she seems like a lovely person.  I'm just a little nervous as to where the conversation may go.  For a variety of reasons I'm not comfortable with the idea of contact between our kids, which makes me feel horrible on one hand, like I'm trying to hurt her boys and ultimately, my girls.  But I can't shake the sure knowledge that now is not the time for the kids to re-establish (or in Ellie's case, establish) a relationship.  A lot of bonding with adoptive families needs to occur first.  I hope I don't come off as a "bad guy" in this.  On the other hand, it may just be a really nice time of getting to know eachother.  I sure wish I was more of an adoption expert.


I had a traumatic experience Friday.


I went swimsuit shopping.


Three things I HATE shopping for - bras, jeans, and swimsuits.  I did make it a little easier on myself this time.  I went to a shop in the middle of Des Moines (42nd St - not sure what that area is referred to as) called "Cabana Swim."  I've heard their ads and I remembered a friend was gushing about an experience she had there a year or so ago.  I paid a little more than I would have getting something off the rack at Penneys or wherever, but  it wasn't a tremendous difference and the service was so worth it.


I walked in and was immediately greeted by an older woman.  She wanted to know what I was looking for and then asked my jean and bra size.  Before long she had a handful of suits and had me model each one for her.  I figured I was going to end up with a swimsuit with a skirt.  Paul never cared for those so I haven't worn one since I don't know when.  But he's dead now so I figure I can wear what I want and what I want to do is cover my up my white, cellulite-y thighs.  But the clerk was very enthusiastic about those same thighs and called them, "cute."  Argh - not really.  Not to mention, one of them was sporting a bright green bruise on Friday where I caught it in on my tv cabinet door a few days earlier!


But I ultimately did end up with a nice suit - halter style, brown and white...and no skirt.  I had already determined I needed a new swim cover-up, too, because the last two times I have been with the children at water parks I have absolutely frozen in the short-sleeved netting thing I have.  Cabana had one but I balked at shelling out $56 for an over-sized gauze shirt.  I ended up finding the perfect one at Kohls later that day for $17.   I liked that a lot better!


I also got some decent sandals for Florida on Friday.  Ben brought home an itinerary for our trip and we are going to be walking for miles down there - Animal Kingdom, Epcot, Universal Studios, the Magic Kingdom, etc.  Fortunately, Younkers had their Clarkes brand on sale and I had a $20 off coupon so I did pretty well on the ones I ended up getting.  But I think I will still pack plenty of band-aids and moleskin in my backpack.  Although, I wonder if the parks will let me bring in a tiny scissors (to cut the moleskin)?  Maybe I'd better cut it all up before hand.


Oh, and speaking of shopping...


I joined Stitch Fix last week and my first box should come this weekend.  I've heard of this outfit (no pun intended) before.  I saw something on the Today show about this new shopping trend, idea, fad, whatever.  A number of different companies selling different products have it. 


The way it works is that you fill out a questionnaire and join the company - no fees involved.  They wanted to know my size, clothing type preference, preferred colors, my lifestyle - things like that.  They also ask you to make a Pinterest board and pin clothing you like to the board so they can get an idea of your preferences.  At first I balked at that because I thought it was a little embarrassing that everyone who is following me on Pinterest will have a birds eye view of how I like to dress myself.  I'd rather just show up and wow everyone rather than giving them an idea of the energy it takes to dress myself!  I think too much.  But I finally started one because I know it will give the stylist a better idea of what to send.


Then, you decide when you want a shipment.  You can do it every couple weeks or once every three years - whatever you want.  They will select and mail you a box of 5 items - a combination of clothing and accessories that aren't necessarily meant to go together.  You try them on at home and keep what you want.  At the time they ship the box your credit card is charged $20 but that $20 comes off whatever you decide to keep.  If you keep everything, you get a 25% discount.  They mail you a return bag and you put everything you don't want in the mail within 3 days.  And then your card is charged for whatever you end up keeping.


The nice thing is that you can send notes to your stylist.  For example, this time I told mine that  I need some spring/summer  tops, but I don't care for sleeveless items.  If I like this and continue next fall I'll be asking them to look for another winter church dress for me.

Of course, it's brilliant marketing because anyone knows that if you can get a customer to take an item into his home his chances of choosing to keep that item go way up.  And the customer is going to be "tricked" into thinking she's saving $20 since it comes off whatever she keeps when, in reality, she already spent it.  But, because she already spent it she's probably going to choose to buy at least one item in order to not lose the $20.


So, we'll see how this goes.  I did quite a bit of research on this company before signing up (meaning I googled a few review sites).  It appears that the clothes are little more high end than what you might buy at Target or someplace like that.  But the prices don't sound outrageous to me, either.  And if I'm saving gas and time in stores, I'm willing to spend a little more. Plus, typically, higher prices mean better quality.  And, lately, I'm having more trouble finding what I like in stores.  I don't know if I'm getting pickier or fashion is getting uglier.  I'll report on how it goes.


I'm a bit scared at the moment.  My friend, G (because I didn't ask her if I could write about her) contacted me last week and told me a hilarious  story of how her doctor insisted she have a colonoscopy a week or so ago.  This is my friend.  She can make anything funny. She and I have laughed and laughed over the dumbest things over the past 8 yrs we've been friends. Anyone observing the two of us together would have the hardest time believing that we're both actually quite conservative, homeschooling, Baptist mothers - given how we carry on with one another!  At Paul's funeral his dad made a wildly inappropriate and embarrassing scene during the service.  So, a little bit later we're all at the cemetery getting ready for the graveside portion of the day.  She sidles up to me and says softly, a la Godfather style,  "You want me to take him out (Paul's dad)?  Just say the word and it's done!"  My friend is from a long line of Italians, which made it doubly funny.  So there I am, about to commit Paul's body to the earth forever and I'm laughing!  I will never forget that moment. 


So, anyway, they've found something - a growth.  It could be benign but it could be malignant.  On top of that, an MRI says she suffered a mild (I presume) stroke sometime last summer.  She had no idea. 


She's sharing this in Messenger on FB and like what is typically us, pretty soon we're cracking jokes - this time about serving bacon at her funeral dinner and at the same time she's sending me a picture of her latest boyfriend and of course, I have to give her my unvarnished opinion on that.   But all the while my fingers are flying over the keys and I'm trying not to snort out all water I just drank,  my heart is beginning to weep.  Please, God, no...let the growth be nothing.  I don't want to give up someone else to Eternity's side.  Not yet.  Not her.


I decided last week that it was time for a new Facebook profile picture so I put David to work snapping ones of Sam and me together.  The problem I am encountering is that gravity continues to wage its evil war against my body (did you know that back skin gets loose with age?  The thought had never once occurred to me until I was trying on swimsuits Friday and the ones with straps across the center of the back gathered my skin into little folds and my skin didn't even care.  It just rumpled up and laid there under the strap.  A few years ago the skin would have indignantly snapped right back into place...sigh) and as my face falls downward I'm looking more and more like I have a double chin.  David took a bunch of photos and I looked through them and complained, "I look fat in these!"  Ellie leaned toward me and put her hands on either side of my offensive face and said earnestly, "No, Mommy, no!  You not fat.  You just fine!"  I may need to keep her.


She also commented to me the other day, "I'm growing up and I know stuff!"



I had a major Mom Fail last week.  I can't remember exactly what Lizzie was talking about but it was along the lines of being overweight herself (she is not, but she is definitely a bigger boned girl).  I am going to really need to watch my comments about my own weight around her.  She was also talking about not liking her skin color or hair texture.  So I told her that there are plenty of black actresses in Hollywood - not that having her score a career in film is exactly my primary desire for her eventual adult life.  But I wanted to point out to her that you don't have to be thin and white with straight hair to be considered beautiful.  She immediately wanted examples and all I could come up with, as far as famous, larger, and black role models were Oprah and Queen Latifah.  I googled images of them and Lizzie sat down at my computer and began to scroll through them.  Pretty soon I heard her exclaim, "Oh, look, Mom - here's a picture of Queen Latifah kissing her girlfriend!"  What?  I didn't know she was homosexual!  Oh, man...I screwed up.  How does a parent protect their kids from such wordliness and sin other than moving to a cabin on the mountains?  I was trying to help her but now she has this image in her brain, thanks to me.


I got brave  last week and contacted a publisher who printed something I wrote a few years back.  I asked if they might be interested in any articles about adoption or early widowhood.  Today I received an enthusiastic, "yes!" from them which made me feel so good and hopeful about the future.  Maybe writing about my  life experiences and touching/inspiring others is going to be another one of those serendipitous "good things" I keep looking for.  So now I have to find some time to sit down and put a proposal together for this publisher because I don't know what angle she is most interested in.  We shall see where this goes...


 I'm reading a fiction, non-Christian kindle book right now (one of my Amazon freebies) about a young widow.  Just yesterday, I read this quote in the story.  It's being said by a different character in the story, an older widow:


But mostly, we've come to an arrangement: The pain gets to stay - and I try not to resist it.  It's curious, but the hurt itself has become my companion in a way.  A reminder of what I had and how lucky I was to have it.


Oh, yes - I completely understand!


Just this morning I was sitting up at City Hall, working on water statements, and mopping my eyes.  Last week was harder for some reason for me.  Maybe it's because I was coming off the heels of surviving Febrary with it's emphasis on romance and my wedding anniversary.  I don't know.  Maybe it's because I dreamed about Paul again last night and woke up today missing him even more.  Maybe it was because I wasn't at home and I knew I was free to cry without worrying the kids. Maybe it's because last night a friend and I were talking about the day in the future when I will know I'm ready to start dating again.  Whatever it was it didn't last long and I'm fine now.  But the pain does stay and like the writer of this story says, I've learned not to resist it.  It comes and goes at will and I think it's probably best that way.


On one of the walls beside my bed I have our wedding picture hung and below it the two anniversary pictures we had taken, along with a long poem Paul wrote me for our 19th anniversary.  I don't know that I spend any excess time gazing at the pictures these days but one day last week as my gaze happened to glance on them, the very clear thought came to me,


One day you will want to take these pictures down


That surprised me because it was a new thought.  I've always found it comforting to have Paul looking down from the wall at me.  I enjoy seeing pictures of us  when we were together and so happy.  But maybe it's like a couple of weeks ago when I realized I didn't want to wear his wedding ring anymore.  My need for reminders of him is lessening.  Pain or no pain, I'm moving forward.


Last week on one of my widow boards one woman asked the members of the group if she was the only one or did anyone else feel like their husband's death had "ruined" their lives.  I thought about it and I ultimately responded to her in what I hope was a gentle manner.  But my answer is definitely


No.  My life has not been ruined.


Changed...stretched...upended...shattered (temporarily)


But  not ruined.  Now, if I had been asked this that first summer, I probably would have answered differently.  My life was definitely ruined then.  I couldn't see anything in my future except continued misery as I kept on doing what I had to while I waited to do what I wanted to, which was to die myself and join Paul.


My life has been diverted.  Two parallel paths ran beside eachother.  I was on one and then suddenly, the paths converged and I found myself on the other, headed a completely different direction.  I didn't ask for the change, but it happened anyway.


But both paths had a divine Designer.  Not one path was better than the other but I had learned all I was supposed to on the one and it was time for a change.


The word, "ruin" implies utter  destruction.  Cities are in ruin after war.  Towns are ruined after a tornado rips through.  A meth addict ruins their teeth.  An alcoholic ruins his liver.


Jesus was ruined one day at Calvary...his body nearly ripped to pieces, crushed, His heart broken...


Ruined so I never would be.