Sunday, August 2, 2015

Day 789

August 2, 2015

Day 789


Another Sunday is in the books...well, it will be as soon as I get the Littles to bed, anyway.  I got a nap today, which was nice.  But that means I will probably be up late tonight.


Tomorrow is my once-a-month shopping day.  Yuck.  And, to make matters worse, I have to take all 4 kids home right now with me.  But, I'm trying to look ahead to next month when I may only have Ellie.  And, with any luck, she can stay home with David!


Only two more weeks until all my chicks are home.  Will called last week.  He's ready to be done with camp.  He's outgrowing the desire to work there, which is fine.  Of course, David is growing into the desire to work there.  He will be home this Friday and it just occurred to me yesterday that I have no idea how he's getting home.  I wonder if that means I will be making a four hour round trip up to Clear Lake to retrieve him?  I hope not.  He leaves a week from tomorrow at 6 am for his missions trip to inner-city Detroit. 


He texted me briefly yesterday to let me know he'd had a wonderful time at Sr. High camp last week.  Camp is so important.  There will always be room in the budget to send the kids.  Always.  I was so torn because I wanted to text more with him but I was meeting friends at Burger King that I hadn't seen in several years and they were waiting on me. 


And that was awesome.  I got to see my friend, Laura, her sister, Jackie, and Laura's 18 yr old, Derek.  Laura and I have been friends since kindergarten but I haven't seen her since her last trek to Iowa,  over four years ago. She was enroute back to her home near L.A.   I am trying to convince her to move back to the Midwest and I think she's wavering.  I just need to apply a little more pressure, I think!


And then, I could not believe it, but our friend, Lani, whom we both knew from third grade on, drove two hours from LaPorte City down to Ankeny just so she could have lunch with us.  Bless her heart.  I haven't seen Lani in 6 years, although she called me a few weeks after Paul died, which meant so much to me at the time.


Even though I had my four neediest kids with me, it was still such a blessed time of connecting and fellowship.  I don't know  about that adage that claims, "old friends are the best friends" because I have some newer friends that are pretty precious to me as well.  But there's something about somebody who's seen you through your dumb playground adventures, remained friends with you despite middle school haircuts, lived through your crushes with you, and has rejoiced and mourned through all of your adult ups and downs.


I forgot to mention in my last post that Sam's glasses had another adventure.  His glasses have been found...on the ground in the yard, on the swingset, on the basement floor (many times), under the furniture, on the woodpile, in the van, on the driveway, in the mud room, behind his bookshelf, in his blankets, behind the toilet - just to name a few places.  The last day of our trip, the glasses were nowhere to be found.  I had the kids go check the pool area and we looked in the lost and found at the KOA store, but didn't see them.  I figured they were finally gone for good and planned to take him to America's Best and shell out some money for new ones (that preferably come with staples I can nail to his skull).  I started doing some laundry when I got home and when I unloaded the first load to dry, guess what was sitting in the bottom of the washer?  Not a scratch on them, either.


I have to do my city clerk stuff this week - water billing and getting ready for the council mtg Thurs night.  I also have to make some phone calls and find out what my options are for a resident who absolutely refuses to keep her dog tied up.  Last night that mutt chased Sam on his bike and he was so frightened he ended up wiping out and got a skinned knee.  He wasn't supposed to be out bike riding, which is another story, but the whole incident really raised my ire.  I have had  a lot of complaints about this dog and I've sent a letter and the owner refuses to do anything.  I also have been asked to find out warranty information on the city's six year old swing set.  I think I already know the answer to that question!  But I'll call anyway.


I suppose my ears are more tuned to this kind of news, but it seems lately, like I've heard an awful lot of stories of city clerks here in Iowa getting arrested for embezzlement.  I know exactly how it happens.  In these little towns, of which Iowa is majorly comprised, there is very little oversight into what happens in clerk's offices.  Cities are supposed to be audited every ten years but I don't know if that happens or not.  I've only been on the job for 3 years, so I guess I have 7 years to see if it really happens. Clerks are responsible for entire funds of their cities and it would be easy to divert some of those monies into cash or personal accounts.  I'm so aware of this in fact, that when I took the job and had my keys made up, I bought key covers to keep the keys separate and I put a blue cover on the one that opens my office because blue is the symbol of honor and I tell you, every single time I open my office door with that blue-capped key, I think of that word.


Anyway, I was just appalled this week when listening to the news.  One clerk here in the state received 5 years probation for her crime and has to pay back only the portion of funds she stole that is not covered by insurance. 




Why is she not responsible for the entire amount?  I understand the city was reimbursed up to a certain point already, and maybe there are laws prohibiting aquiring restitution that ultimately results in more than the original amount of lost monies.  I don't know.  But if that's the case why couldn't she be required to pay back the full amount and have the excess funds go back to the insurance company that had to pay out?


I assume this clerk lost her job, but she's still coming out ahead, financially, if she doesn't have to pay back every penny she stole.  Shaking my head...


I've been using essential oils for about a year and a half now.  I'm not a fanatic about them by any means.  I'm not selling them.  I still pop Advil when needed.  But I think they're a good thing.  My medicine ingestion and that of the kids' has dropped quite a bit.  We don't get sick like we used to and I think that's because in the colder months, especially, I'm pretty faithful about applying certain oils to our chests to ward off germs.  I have such an oral aversion to a lot of other health stuff - vitamins, shakes, and stuff, but I can rub oils onto my skin.  Some people ingest them but I've tried that and just can't do it - the whole oral thing again.


The FDA is cracking down on the industry and other natural health companies and soon it's going to be illegal to have some of the question/answer websites up that are there.  I'm not sure what the new rules will entail, but I was even told it's going to be hard to get your hands on reference books  eventually because of increased regulation.  So I went ahead and spent almost $50 this week on an essential oil reference book so I know what to use for which ailment.  That arrived yesterday.


Anyway, one oil I've been using for months for my perimenopausal symptoms is called, "Progessence Plus."  Love, love, love this stuff.  It soothes out my agitation, lessens the other symptoms, and just makes life easier all around.  I was using it last week and Lizzie wanted to know what it was for.  I told her it was oil that would help me "not be cranky."


She replied, "Oh."  And then a moment later said, "I think you should give some to David."




I read an absolutely fascinating book this week entitled, "Runaway Amish Girl" by Emma Gingerich.  She has a blog by the same title, which popped up on my news feed.  I checked it out, was very interested, discovered she had written a book, and found that Amazon has a lending library for its Prime members, which meant I didn't even have to buy the book. 


I found the story riveting.  For awhile I was really into the Amish Christian romance books.  They tend to portray the Amish in a pretty favorable light and rarely venture into some of the more grittier aspects of that lifestyle.  Emma's book tells it like it is.  And it isn't even like she was raised in an abusive home in any way.  But it was lacking so much and left her wounded, as a result.


She's one of 14 children.  Her father was, by her account, kind of lazy, which seems unusual for an Amish man.  He had these grand plans like buying flocks of sheep and then the kids would end up being responsible for all of them after he lost interest.  Her mother was continually busy and didn't have a whole lot of time for nurturing her children, which isn't encouraged all that much in the Amish community.  Emma found herself chafing against the many restraints of Amish life as she grew older.  It wasn't that she necessarily longed to be an, "Englischer" (someone not Amish) but she couldn't understand all the nonsensical rules imposed on the community.  Everything they do is motivated out of fear of displeasing God - the "Good Man" they call him.  The Good Man doesn't approve of buttons and the Good Man will send you to hell if you wear perfume and rule upon rule upon rule.  Church services last four hours and are not even given in the German language most Amish speak.  So they're nonsensical.  Nobody owns a Bible except the church leaders. 


Children are not educated very well.  School stops at 8th grade and what they do learn is a far cry from what is taught even in the poorest of our public schools today. History is not taught at all because it is deemed not relevent to the Amish.   Emma asserts that  the poor education  is a deliberate attempt to keep the children from leaving the community.


Kids and young adults know absolutely nothing about procreation.   Evidently, they do figure it out at some point, since they do keep having babies.  They even have a dating tradition where teenagers who like each other are expected to sleep together in the same bed - but not to have sex.  Although, if they don't know what that is, maybe it's not a problem.  Of course, if they do figure it out and end up pregnant, then maybe it's another way of ensuring that they remain in the Amish community.


Well, eventually Emma left.  She enlisted the help of an outsider who did business with her father and he found an ex-Amish family willing to take Emma in.  Now she's in college pursuing a graduate degree.  The best thing is that she was led to the Lord after she ran away.  The concept of grace was so amazing and so unheard of in her life until then and it's really a sweet part of the story.


Anyway, I really enjoyed reading this story and wished it was a longer book.  So far, Emma is the only one of her siblings who has left the Amish, but maybe others will follow her, eventually.


I sold Paul's freon this week.The price was dropping and I knew I needed to get it sold.  About 16 months ago I had been given the name of an HVAC owner of a  local company who might be interested.  I put off and put off calling him.  I finally did it this April and he expressed interest.  And then he never called me back.  So, I called him again in June and he was saying, "Oh yes, yes, I meant to call you.  Tell you what - I'll call you back."  This week I'd finally had it.  He obviously was not that interested.


So I checked on Amazon and put the freon on Craig's List for the lowest price that Amazon is selling it for.  Unfortunately, it's dropped quite a bit in price even since April when I first checked.   I got several texts and calls from people wanting me to sell it for even less.  I don't think so.  Will called me and said the camp was willing to take it as a donation and give me a receipt for a tax write-off.  If it came to that, ok, but I'd rather have cash!


But a guy from Omaha called me and just happened to be coming to town the next day and was willing to buy it all without quibbling on the price.  He wanted to meet at his hotel and I told him I wasn't comfortable with that (I watch too many news stories) and suggested we meet in a mall parking lot and he was fine with that.  He was perfectly nice, but I had my mace in my pocket, ready to go, just in case!  I also made all the kids get out of the van during the transaction, just in case he wanted to try any funny stuff.  I thought maybe he'd be less inclined if he saw my crew!


So, that's a relief to have that taken care of.  And it frees up some space in the garage, too.


There are some neighborhood kids who have suddenly "discovered" my  kids...unfortunately.  Not all of them live here, but they're being babysat here.  It's a situation where  two grown daughters keep having children out of wedlock and then they pass them off to Grandpa and Great-Grandma (who live together) to watch while they work.


I'm really trying to not have a bad attitude, but it's been hard.  They remind me of locusts.  They descend upon my house wanting to use the pool, play with my kids' toys, and demanding food.  I find myself so stressed.  I've finally begun to limit their visits to about an hour and a half and I've gotten quite stern with them telling them they're rude to ask for food and they may not come back after I've sent them home for the day.  The second they come I start watching the clock and when it's time to go, I loudly announce playtime is over and it's time to leave. my. house. Now.  Lizzie says I sound "rude" but these children are oblivious to hints.  I know, because I tried that the first day or two.  I made one of the little girls cry the other day because she refused to apologize for spilling nail polish on my table.  Her brother told me she's "shy" and doesn't like to talk to adults.  You know what - I don't care!  If her parents are not going to insist that she learn proper manners, then I will - or she can go home. She hasn't been back.  I probably scarred her and arrested her development.


They started bringing a three year old with them and I caught him running around my house with one of my girls' lipsticks - argh.  And then I caught him trying to climb into my pool, which gave me a heart attack.  He's too little to be in that thing without a full floater suit and supervision!   Our town does not require pool owners to have a fence so I don't think if something happened any litigious action would get too far, but I don't want him to drown, either.  I sent him home and explained to his siblings that a three year old is too young to be leaving home and I will not be responsible for him.  He came back yesterday and this time he sat down in my yard and refused to budge.  So I marched up to the grandparents' house and explained my dilemma to them.  They said, "Oh, he's not supposed to leave our house!"  But yet, it wasn't an hour later and I saw him playing in the street, blocks away from Grandma and Grandpa's with his siblings and cousins.


This kind of behavior just makes me so mad.  I really don't think - I know I am not the most overprotective parent in the world.  I don't watch my kids every single second they are outside and I am not opposed to them doing things that could potentially cause minor harm to their bodies.  I figure scrapes, skinned knees, and even a few stitches are a pretty routine part of childhood.  But at the same time, children are a huge responsibility.  There is never a moment where I don't have at least a general idea of where my kids are and what they are doing.  And I would never let a three year old out of my yard or sight for a second!


But yet, I'm somewhat sympathetic to these grandparents, dunderheads as they are.  I'm sure they never planned to be the main caregivers of their illigitimate grandchildren.  They're old.  I imagine it's a relief to have the kids outside and not bugging them inside for popsicles, tv time, and about the latest infraction of their sibling/cousin.  Being with my own children is quite wearing.  I can't imagine doing this when I'm thirty years older and that much more tired, esp. when I imagine the level of gratitude from the children's mothers is probably minimal and without financial compensation (I'm guessing, anyway).


I've wondered if there is more I'm supposed to be doing.  I imagine they think I'm a pretty cranky lady and probably feel sorry for my kids having to live with me.  Maybe I'm the only person that day who has a kind word for them.  Maybe I should make an effort to tell them about Jesus. 


I don't know.  I'm just tired of the extra kids, though, and can't wait for school to start, as a result.  But I may be missing a real opportunity here in the meantime.


The other day part of Ellie's new doll stroller broke - nothing that can't be fixed.  Sam was insistent that he be the repairman.  He tried attaching the fabric to the metal with Scotch tape (which I knew wouldn't work, but thought he should be the one to figure it out).  I finally suggested to him duct tape might be a better option.  He ran and got the roll and then I heard him saying to Ellie as he peeled off a piece, "Duct tape is the handyman's secret weapon!" 


Paul would be so proud!


I took the kids to the library again this last week.  While I was there, I found a movie for myself and checked it out - which is silly, because I rarely have time to watch movies.  I'm more of a reader.  As it is, I've been watching this one bit by bit, as I can snag a few minutes before bed every night.


It's a Meryl Streep movie and she plays a divorcee of 10 years.  She and her husband have 3 grown children and they suddenly begin to rekindle their feelings for eachother.  Unfortunately, this involves booty calls and the husband is already remarried, which is a definate no-no.  I believe that's called adultury.  I haven't finished the movie yet, but I don't think it's going to end well.


But it made my mind start to wander.  I found myself wishing that I could re-kindle things with Paul.  Which is impossible of course, given that he's dead.  But, my mind started going into fanciful, "what-if" land.


What if he wasn't dead?  What if, instead, he had just left me for the past two years?  Just walked out and didn't look back.  I would have gone through a ton of grief and anger and stuff and maybe a divorce would have happened.  But then what if he came back, like the ex in this movie, and began to woo me again?  Could I be wooed?  Would there be enough feelings not ruined by hurt?  Could we pick up where we had left off?


It's silly, I know.  Nothing productive comes from existing in a fantasy world.  But sometimes it's fun to visit and wonder what things might be like if they weren't what they are.


I still miss him.  Nearly 26 months and that hasn't changed.  I like to think I've come so far, but I'm not so sure that's really true. 


I'm still trying to exist between the planes of what was and what is.


And that exhausts me.















What I have learned in two years of widowhood:

• God is good - so, so good
• I am loved far more than I ever knew
• I have amazing, resilient children (I am reaping what Paul sowed into their lives)
• Darkness eventually gives way to light
• Strength and wisdom are mine for the asking
• I don't have to have all the answers
• God delights in carefully and tenderly mending torn-apart hearts

Psalm 73:26: My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

ow with a certain amount of anticipation, although there are still moments when I am sick at heart to think that that future will never again include him, other than the quick glimpses I sometimes see in my sons. As much as hope is beginning to seep back into our lives, I am also accepting that, for the rest of our lives, we will be among the walking wounded, forever hurt and altered by Paul's early death. As sad as that sounds, it really isn't, though. Even scarred, life is still pretty beautiful.

What I have learned in two years of widowhood:

• God is good - so, so good
• I am loved far more than I ever knew
• I have amazing, resilient children (I am reaping what Paul sowed into their lives)
• Darkness eventually gives way to light
• Strength and wisdom are mine for the asking
• I don't have to have all the answers
• God delights in carefully and tenderly mending torn-apart hearts

Psalm 73:26: My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

















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