Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Day 848

 September 30, 2015

Day 848


This morning someone asked me if my boys are "yours or are they adopted, too?"  I couldn't believe the indignation that swelled up in me as I replied, "Well, they're my biological children..."  I had never experienced that before.  It was just the idea that the girls are "less real" than children I gave birth to.


I wasn't mad - just surprised at the feeling that brought up inside me.  The thing is that unless you have adopted or are adopted, it's not going to occur to you how offensive that kind of question is.  And it's not even that the question itself is inappropriate.  It's just the wording.


Anyway, that was kind of interesting to me.  Perhaps, after three years, the girls have finally worked their way fully into my heart.


The last day of favorite month starts tomorrow.  And we've finally got the cool weather to go with it, which is nice.  It's sunny out.


And I'm feeling better on the inside about the whole school thing...finally.  Man, that was tough.  Just today, I had a nice email from Sam's teacher in which she commented that Sam is opening up more in class and developing friendships with some of the boys.  I had noticed that he seemed to be talking about certain boys more often. In fact, he was just telling me yesterday that he has found a couple of Christian boys in his class and at recess they like to get together and talk about God.  I am impressed, although not surprised.  Sam is a pretty serious little kid.   He also earned some good behavior reward which meant he got to choose a treat and he chose to eat lunch in his classroom with a friend.  I have noticed that he seems to particularly relish telling me about the "bad" kids in class.  That would be his personality at play.  Just this morning he was telling me about this one boy that I actually feel kind of sorry for.  I suspect he probably isn't a bad kid, necessarily, just one lacking a lot of self-control.  Sam told me this boy cries when he gets "marks" in the classroom, which makes me feel so bad for this little boy.  I can imagine him trying to hard to be good but because of all his extra energy he just can't quite make it happen.  Or, maybe he's a devil child, destined for prison someday - I don't know.  Anyway, Sam commented that this little guy argues all the time with the teacher and, "You just can't argue with grown ups - he should know better!"


What really helped me feel better about the kids' schooling was the report I got last week on Lizzie's reading assessments.  She didn't do so well.  Her scores are better than Sam's and he's getting the help he needs.  But I was shocked.  She seemed to latch onto reading so easily and needed very little instruction from me - unlike Sam.  Lizzie's teacher explained to me that Lizzie does not know her short letter sounds and has no clue how to sound out words.  How is that possible?  I taught her phonics!  Well, what it is is that she's a good memorizer.


She's going to get the extra help she needs, so I'm not worried about that.  But this was a real eye opener to me.  How did I miss the fact that Lizzie wasn't really learning how to read? That answer is pretty simple.  I missed it because I have been stretched so thin the last few years and my attention has been bobbing all over the place as I attempted to put out fires.


I have felt like an absolute failure for putting the kids in school.  I have beat myself up thinking that a good mother would never expose her children to the worthless, ungodly public school system - particularly when I could still homeschool these few years until I go back to work.


But I couldn't.  I wasn't doing a good job because of all the other demands on me.  And I didn't even realize that.  Seeing the neat handwriting my kids are suddenly coming up with on their papers and getting these nice emails from their teachers makes me think that maybe public school isn't as worthless as we homeschoolers would like to think it is.


I'm not sure yet how it's going for Lizzie.  I don't think her adjustment as been as quick as Sam's.  She made a comment last week that indicated to me she is completely stressed out at school, mostly because she's afraid of getting "marks."  It's the disciplinary system at school - kind of worthless, as far as I can see.  They lose recesses if they get too many and if they get 4 in a single day they send home a note to the parents.  She hasn't received a single one but being embarrassed is at the top of her things-that-keep-me-awake-at-night list.  She has often commented that it is embarrassing to get in trouble by anyone other than your mom (lucky me).  I explained to her that I would only ever be upset if she got marks for being repeatedly naughty, but I'm not going to freak out if she gets one from time to time.  The last thing I want is for her to develop an ulcer over this. 


She says she enjoys lunch and recess and says people are nice to her.  But she doesn't talk about any specific girlfriends yet.  But, neither does she doesn't whine about going to school, either. I put her to bed by 8 and she's asleep within minutes, which is not normal for her.  I know she's tired every night.  So I just don't know what to think about it all in relation to her  yet.  Hopefully, time will take care a lot of her anxiety and ease my concerns, too.


Oh, and speaking of Lizzie's class...I ran across a class list her teacher provided at the beginning of the year.  It's always interesting to me to see what parents name their kids.  I think in recent blogs I've been mentioning some of the names of Ellie's classmates.  I noticed that Lizzie has a "Drayden" in her class, which is a new one for me.  But there's also an, "Earl"!  I sure hope he was named after someone and not saddled with that just for kicks. 


Ellie has a new friend at school and this whole situation is interesting to me.  Last week I picked her up and I noticed that there was a new little girl and that she is bi-racial.  Other than Ellie, the entire class is made up of white children - not unusual for Pleasantville.  This little girl's skin is actually pretty light, although it has some duskiness to it, thanks to her father.  She also has the thick,kinky hair and broad nose.  Well, that first day, Ellie ran up to me and exclaimed, "Mom, Mom!  That little girl has skin the same color as me!"


I was just astounded.  At four years of age, how did she even realize this?  It's not like this little girl (named, "Miracle" of all things!)  is dark like Ellie.  If it weren't for the hair and nose, I think she could easily be mistaken for being white.  But Ellie knew.  A few minutes later, this older lady came up to me and asked if I was Ellie's mom.  She  told me she is caring for her great-granddaughter and she said that when she brought Miracle to class that morning, her great-granddaughter singled Ellie out and made a beeline for her.  The grandma's assumption was that her great-granddaughter had recognized like skin, as well.  Both the grandma and I are white and we were both flabbergasted.


Since then, the girls are inseparable at preschool and every day, the grandma and I chat for a little bit.  The whole thing is just making it ever apparent to me that I need to be praying for some black influence in the girls' lives.  I don't understand why they need it, but they do.  What I want is for skin color to not matter and for the girls to be happy to be surrounded by all the white people who love them.  But for some reason, it is not enough.  I see the way Lizzie pores over pictures of black models in the magazines I get and how they both beg to watch tv shows that feature black actors.  I watch the way their eyes follow black people when we're out and about.


I'm just going to make this a matter of prayer and ask God to bring some good, godly black people into their lives, esp. as they get older.  For whatever reason, it is important to both of them.  My fear is that if I do not find some for them, someday they may find their birth family and the black community as a whole very inviting because they are unfamiliar with it and because they finally find a place where they don't stick out.


Oh, and speaking of black people...


David, Ellie, and I went to see the movie, "War Room," on Monday.  He paid for my ticket.  I was going to wait for it to come out on dvd, but he was very anxious to see it now.  Plus, we've seen all the other Sherwood films in the theater and he didn't want to break that tradition.


Oh, my goodness...this is a must see movie, like all their rest.  The main characters are all black, although that has nothing to do with the story line.  It is a wonderful movie about the power and necessity of prayer.  In fact, I came away from the movie with my mind whirling over practical ways I can make my own prayer life more organized and productive.  I absolutely loved it and like the rest of their movies, cried throughout most of it!  For several weeks this movie was number one at the box office - not that you heard that reported in the media, though.


The other day Will's alarm on his phone was going off in his bedroom.  He was ignoring it so we kept hearing this vibrating, buzz, buzz down in the kitchen (there is a vent between the kitchen ceiling and his bedroom floor.  At first I wasn't sure what it was, and Ellie exclaimed, "Maybe it's an explode thing!"  I think she meant, "bomb."


Oh, and I was complaining about Thred Up in my last post.  I have a post script.  After threatening to never shop with them again and leaving a somewhat menacing (for me) message on their voice mail I finally got an email from them.  They told me to keep the shoes - not that they will do me any good since they're the wrong size - and they'll not only refund my money but are giving me a 20% discount the next time I shop with them.  So, I may give them one more chance - just to take advantage of the discount, if nothing else.


My allergies have finally lifted, praise the Lord.  A couple of weeks ago David and I were watching a 48 hours interview with the prison worker that helped those two convicted murderers escape out east this past spring.  David is an allergy suffererer, too.  So, this prison worker, who is now a prisoner for her role in the escape, was sitting in her stripes, telling her story to Matt Lauer.  She was emotional and had a tissue in her lap.  At one point she lifted it to dab her eyes and David and I both looked at eachother in horror.  This thing looked like it was still half bark.  Prison issue tissues are not Puffs!  And yet, another reason to avoid jail at  all costs!


Last week, the bus driver arrived with the kids and normally he drops them off in the middle of the street and then an arm extends to keep cars from running them over while they cross to our house.  But this day, he pulled right into my alley and after my kids got out, he followed, which he never does,  shooed them off and said, "I need to talk to your mom."   I think what it was was that he was worried I was going to get all hyper-sensitive after an a incident that occurred and report the bus to the school.


I guess what happened was that Lizzie was turned around in her seat facing the back, with her knees drawn up - not real safe.  But that kid can't sit still for anything, so I'm not surprised.  The bus driver was trying to get her attention to get her to turn around and she didn't hear him.  So, this teenager in the back yells, "Hey, Black Girl - turn around!"  Well, Ben's head whipped up at that and I guess  he was about to tear into this kid but the bus driver intervened and diffused the entire situation and he told me he told that kid to not refer to Lizzie that way ever again. 


I didn't hear anything that really alarmed me.  No, I don't want people going around referring to my girls by their skin color, but it doesn't sound like it was meant to be derogatory, either.  I talked to Lizzie about it later and she didn't seem offended.  I thought it was kind of sweet that Ben wanted to defend his sister, actually.


People are just so easily offended these days and a lot of times looking for a reason to complain.  I suspect that was the driver's concern.  Actually, what I was more concerned about while he stood talking to me is that a little girl still on the bus crawled into the driver's seat and was moving the wheels back and forth!  Not the safest thing!  I'm not convinced this driver is the most capable at what he does, although he's a very kind man.


When we didn't have a porch on the house, we couldn't use the front door and Ben had to go out the back door, around the house, and down the alley to meet the bus.  We would send him out early enough to be there by the time the bus arrived.  Well, this same driver was so concerned that one day he called me and said to not send Ben out in the cold until I saw the bus.  He didn't want Ben standing in the cold waiting for him!  He also came to Paul's visitation and gave us money.  He just a nice, elderly guy - who probably should retire.


I bought a car for David last Friday.  I've spent close to a year fretting about the need for this and I finally just did it.  It helped that I'm going to have to give up my van for a couple of days to have the radiator replaced soon.  I kind of got forced into the purchase.  I started looking at Craig's List  last week and then Will did the same.  He had some time Friday after class so  he called on a listing on Thurs. night, we met up with the owner at a Perkins in Urbandale the next morning, and bought her car.  I don't know what I would have done without Will.  We got there and Will said, "Good - it's a woman!"  First, he was coaching me to "let me do all the talking!" and then he changed that to, "Well, if you could let it drop that you're a widow with 6  kids, that might be good...and maybe if you mentioned that two are adopted and one is handicapped, that'd be even better!"  By that point I was looking at him wondering just who this person I gave birth to is...  But it must have worked because he declared the car (a '98 Taurus) a good buy and wrangled the owner down a few hundred dollars from the asking price.  It seems like a good little car, even if it's older than what I wanted.  It doesn't need any work at all.  Considering that David will probably wrap around a telephone pole at some point (I hope not) I think it's a good buy. 


David has taken complete ownership of it, even though I paid for it.  He's lined the back window with his Hawkeye and Cowboys gear.  We went and got the plates for it today and he insisted on paying for those.  I didn't argue.  He says he's going to pay me back for the car, but I don't really see a need for that.  This is just as much for me as it is for him.  I needed a back-up vehicle and it will be nice once he has his license to send him off to retrieve siblings or pick up a can of soup at the store.


So that's something I don't have to worry over anymore!  Now I can direct my worrying to David's driving...


Sam and I have this silly game where when I tuck him in at night I say, "Goodnight, my little _________" and fill it in with the name of some animal or insect.  Last night I called him a "platypus."  I have a vague idea of what those are, but wasn't sure.  For all I knew, it might be an extinct dinosaur, actually.  Sam immediately sat up in bed and corrected me, "It's platypus, Mom - not platy--poos."  From there he launched into a four minute lecture on the eating, mating, and play habits of said platypus, rounding out with a minute or two devoted to the preferred habitat.  This is one very odd child I'm raising.  None of his brothers were ever into animals the way he is.  Maybe he'll be a zoologist someday.  Or have lots of pets.


I finally got to see Ben in action the other night at the football game.  Will ended up spending the game in the pressbox with one of the coaches, going over the game plays, so David stayed on the sidelines with Ben, sending him after the tee.  David has such a self-conscious element to his personality and he was relating to me later how horrible he felt when he accidentally sent Ben in at the wrong time.  I didn't notice.  He said he apologized profusely to Ben for embarrassing him like that and Ben just patted him on the shoulder and said, "It's ok - we all make mistakes."  David couldn't get over that.


About midway through the game, after Ben trotted out and retrieved the tee, the announcer announced, "And on the field we have Ben Heywood!" and the entire stands erupted into cheers.  Ben turned and faced us, smiled, and gave us a double thumbs up.  It was cute.  He's quite the kid.


There's one more home game that Ben will get to participate in.  So far, the Trojans are undefeated, so there's a very good chance they will make it to the playoffs at the Unidome in November.  I doubt  Ben would be involved with that, though.  Will's pretty excited for the team.  I wish they had played that well when he was on the team!


I read a blog piece by a remarried widow the other day.  Her point was all about remarriage and how she is finding that suddenly people don't want to hear what she has to say about widowhood anymore because they don't feel she is one.  She pointed out  that she will always be her first husband's widow, just as she is now her second husband's wife.  One doesn't cancel out the other.


I found it interesting.  In applying it to my own life, that means I'm a widow forever - at least, I will always be Paul's widow - even if I have seven more husbands ( I hope I don't have seven more husbands).  This widowhood thing is permanent.  It's not something I necessarily get to shed when I say, "I do" to another man.  It's part of who I am now for the rest of my life.


Sort of related: I am definitely concluding that now is not the time to be looking for another man.  When I think through the logistics of blending a household and all that would entail - I just cannot do that to my kids right now.  Their lives have been completely upended several times over the past few years and we need some time of quiet and stability before I go rocking the boat again.


That thought kind of depresses me because it would be nice to think I could meet someone and then I wouldn't be lonely anymore and the kids would have a dad and I wouldn't have to fret over money or houses or autos.  I'd have someone to take care of me once again.  But it's not like I'm talking about another decade or more, either.  Well, I might be.  Who is going to want a used up middle aged lady with six children?  Round and round my thoughts go when it comes to this subject...Paul could have saved me a lot of trouble if he could have just managed to stay alive, that's for sure...


Over the past few months I have been thinking more about  my marriage.  It's amazing the clarity you have when you are no longer in the thick of a situation.  I am seeing things I never saw when Paul was alive.  I think emotions get tangled up in the logic and I know in my case I just so much wanted him to see things my way that it was hard to accept there might actually be other ways of viewing the same thing.  Anyway - what's that they say?  Hindsight is twenty-twenty.  Maybe I'll write more on this when my thoughts are more clearly sorted out.  It was a good marriage.  But I could have been a better wife.


And it's that kind of clarity that makes me think well, if I do get the chance to do this again, I'm going to be so much better at it!


We'll see.  Right now, though, it's still a time to rest and to figure out who we are as family without Paul.  It's a time to regroup, refocus, and still, as needed, mourn.


It's time for the second half of my life. 
An Ellie funny with which to end:  Here's the deal.  There's no way I can remarry until she's grown.  This girl is going to take so much watching and so much of my energy that I dare not have anyone else in my life that needs attention.  If I look away from her even for a second I'm going to regret it.
We were at church tonight, waiting for the kids to come in.  I teach Patch Club and they spend the first half hour learning their music and working on the upcoming church skit.  Then, they divide up into their class rooms and my friend, Wilma, and I, work with the younger ones.  So, Ellie was coloring on the chalkboard while we waited.  She drew something and asked me to look.  I said, "Oh, that's a nice heart!"  She replied,
"It's not a heart."
"It's a butt."
"Mom's butt."






















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.








Sunday, September 20, 2015

Day 838

September 20, 2015

Day 838


It's beautiful out today - cool and sunny and my allergies aren't bothering me a bit!


I really don't have a lot to report this week.


I did get both my articles written last week, which is a relief.  I'm still hanging onto my RBP article.  I don't like it as well as I like the one that's coming out next month on Paul's death.  I have a word limit and so I felt like I had to just skim over things I would really  like to have gotten more in depth on. It's choppier than I prefer, too. I'm hanging onto it right now because am waiting to hear back from my editor.  I had to ask her just how firm the word limit is.  The Writer's Guide says one thing and the contract I signed said another.  When I hear back from her I'll send it to some friends for editing before I submit it for good.


I have to make a bunch of phone calls tomorrow.


* To Thred online consignment store.  I'm thinking I will probably never order from them again.  Last Spring I ordered a white cardigan for Lizzie  and they sent a gray one.  I kept  it anyway.  Two weeks ago I ordered some size 10 loafers for Ellie and they sent me size 7s.  I have left a message and I have emailed twice and nobody will get back to me - very poor customer service.


*The Des Moines Register - who failed to deliver my Sunday paper today


* The Marion County News - a small announcement in this week's paper mentioned that the paper is shutting down Sept. 30.  Since I just paid for a year's subscription in May I expect them to give me a pro-rated refund.  But they're not answering their phone either.


Sigh...I really do not have time for any of this.



Two little girls in Ellie's preschool class have the names, "Tatum" and "Beckett."  I've heard of "Tatum" before but it's still kind of unusual.  I've never heard of "Beckett" for a little girl, though.


I think parents are getting nuttier with names.  Now they're ignoring phonetic rules.  A friend of mine has a new great-nephew named, "Drace," but pronounced, "Drake."  Another friend teaches preschool and told me she has a little boy named, "Cien."  She was at a loss of how to pronounce it until she was informed it sounds like, "Ke-on."  Why are parents so awful to their kids like this?


Preschool is going great.  Ellie is completely confident.  I walk her in, she hangs up her coat and bag, takes her folder out of the bag, and doesn't even turn around - just gives me a backwards wave and says calmly, "Bye, Mom." 

I guess I'm not needed.


The other two are still adjusting.  I think Lizzie is doing fine.  She's starting to mention the names of other little girls more which I hope means she is developing some friendships.  I'm still having a lot of behavior issues with her at home but I'm hoping they're just sleep-related.  I moved her bedtime up to 8 every night and it does seem to be helping.


Sam has become very concerned about his reading.  It's difficult for him to do a lot of his work because he doesn't have a real firm grasp on reading yet.  I emailed his teacher about this and it sounds like they are on top of it, thankfully.  They just did some assessments this week and she told me that the kids are supposed to be able to read 59 words a minute.  Sam could do 15.  But she reminded me that Sam has not had the same type of reading instruction as most of the kids have since kindergarten.   So there's bound to be some catch-up time involved.  But, they are putting him in a smaller reading group (4 kids) and then he'll be working one-on-one with a reading instructor every day as well.  On top of that, his teacher is going to send home a list of sight words for us to work on (she said 100, which concerns me - do they not do phonics?).  She said she could tell he's had "heavy phonics instruction" because of how he tries to sound out words. 

We never did get through the last half of Sam's first grade reading material so I asked his teacher if it would be helpful to work on that here at home and she thought it would so now I am trying to squeeze that in every night, too.


The poor kid had quite the injury week at school.  He got hit in the nose with a basketball during P.E. which skinned it up.  And of course, he can't leave scabs alone so it's been bleeding off and on since and he has to wear a band-aid over it, which looks real classy.


Then, he repeatedly rubbed his back on a section of his desk chair and came home one day with blood marks all over shirt from where he had rubbed his back raw. 


And then Friday he mangled his finger in his locker latch.


But despite all that, I really do think he's having fun at school.  It sounds like the boys all play together at recess well.  He's been bringing his football and tee.  I thought it was cute that he told me some of the boys wear "shirts with squares on them," jeans, and cowboy boots and he wanted to go for that look, too.  We actually have a pair of boots someone gave us (that I threw in the toybox for dress up - my boys have always dressed more athletically than cowboy-like) and Sam dug those out.  He has several short-sleeved plaid church shirts so he picked one and a pair of jeans and Friday he sure felt good about his outfit!  In fact, he's told me he wants to dress this way for birthday pictures.  I will have to find him some plaid flannel shirts for fall and winter.


My van needs a new radiator.  I've had a slow leak for a few weeks now and I took out Friday to a guy at our church's house.  He's told me repeatedly he wants to help me keep my vehicles going, so I'm going to believe him!  He thinks I'll be ok for a few more weeks as long as I keep a close eye on my coolant levels, which I've been doing since we first noticed the leak.  This will give him time to get a couple of other vehicle repair jobs wrapped up and since he'll need my van for a couple of days I need to get serious about looking for and buying a second vehicle.  I told him I intend to pay him for his time, as well as the parts, since this will be a time-intensive job.  He didn't argue with me.


The other night I actually got my act together and we ate supper as a family.  I have a hard time with that esp. when Will isn't home.  Family meals around the table have been a lot harder to manage since Paul's death because I just feel especially aware of who is missing.  When Will isn't home, it's even harder.  Plus, it's always easier to serve up supper from the stove!  But I have to remind myself that someday, in the not-too-distant future, all the big boys will be gone and it will be just the Littles and me.  I need to get used to a fluctuating table.


Speaking of that, every Sunday afternoon, Arien comes home with us and we eat lunch together.  I am loving these times.   We do eat together then and it's loud and boisterous (too loud, actually) and giggly and - I really like it.  I find myself even more anxious for the future when I'll have more family members - married-ins and grandchildren.  Back when I used to envision the family I always wanted to have, it was times like these that I imagined - lots of food, lots of family, lots of noise, and lots of love around the table.  Of course, Paul was always part of the picture, but I guess we don't plan for tragedy.


Anyway, the other night I got dinner to the table after the kids set it and to my surprise David had set the red plate at my place.  I don't think we've done the red plate since before Paul died and about I cried as a result.  Many, many years ago Paul's mom bought all the girls in the family this red plate from the Hallmark store that says, "You are Special Today."  I guess the idea is to pull it out for birthdays and other special occasions.  Well, every so often I'd start bringing supper to the table and I'd find that Paul had randomly picked someone to have the red plate.  Then, before we'd pray, everyone would have to say something they appreciated about the person who had the red plate and then his meal prayer would specifically mention that person.  We used it for birthdays, too, but it was always more special on the ordinary days it showed up. 


So there was the red plate again, after more than 2 years in its box.  I sat down and David instructed his siblings, "Now, you all have to say something you like about Mom!" and it was nice to hear the praise coming the lips of my  kids!


I think that plate is going to make more of an appearance from now on.  We are still a family, even without Paul.



When I was at the Ladies' Retreat last weekend I walked into the chapel that first night.  Ladies were starting to make their way to the seats and a couple of men were up on stage setting the mood with a guitar and keyboard.  I looked at the men and my stomach lurched.  I immediately ran to the bathroom where my heart pounded for a minute or two.


It couldn't wasn't...but, I wished it was.


The keyboardist was a middle aged white man with a close cropped beard and no hair on the top and very little on the sides.  He was about 6 foot, not quite 200 pounds.  He had on a navy polo shirt.


In other words, he looked a lot like Paul.  For several years, the Lozier uniform was a navy polo. 


I was fine -  no tears.  I made it to my seat, after hyperventilating (not  really) in the bathroom for a minute or two.  I watched this guy and the more I did the more differences I found between him and Paul and I was not uncomfortable at all with him up there.  It was just that initial, momentary look that took my breath away.  I don't know if that has ever happened before.


I was shaken, but I was ok.


I will continue to be ok.















Monday, September 14, 2015

Day 832

 Sunday night

 Well, I see by my Facebook feed that I missed Grandparents' Day once again.  I can never seem to remember that holiday.  Maybe because it wasn't one I grew up with.  I'm not sure when the card makers decided that was an actual day.  Sorry, Mom and Dad!  You really are appreciated and quite important to my crew - even if you didn't get a card that says so!

Tomorrow marks the two week point of the school year.  They asked parents to not drop into the classrooms until after that point.  I don't really have any plans to do that, anyway.  It will also be the first late start Monday.  The school district is still trying to figure out what they want to do.  Since Ben started school 5 years ago, they've had early outs, no school at all on Mondays during the winter months, and now they're trying two hour late starts on Mondays.  Wonder what it will be next year?  But at least I won't have to get up quite so early tomorrow.  Neither will the kids.

We are all struggling with fatigue, I believe.  I know I am.  Mine is further compounded by the fact that it's allergy season and in order to function at all I have to take sleep-inducing allergy drugs pretty much around the clock.  Don't tell me about the wonders of Zyrtec.  I can only take that in the beginning of the hayfever season.  The further we get into it, the less effective it becomes.  And while it is marketed as "non-drowsy," it is not.  I know.

I've just been so weary, though, and I think it's probably deeper than having to get up early and rush the kids to a 7 am bus pick-up.  It's emotional.

I'm still struggling with the whole not-homeschooling thing.  People have been very encouraging to me about this and I am appreciative of that.  But, I feel like a failure.  I feel like I should be able to continue to do what I've done for so long.  I know the kids are not getting as good of an education and I know they are being exposed to things that are wrong.

I want to do it all!  I want the kids to have the best of me and to turn out wonderfully and to never encounter bullies or classroom boredom or all kind of other stuff. 

But I can't.  It just isn't in me anymore.

The kids are so tired.  I am seeing behaviors in Lizzie I haven't had to deal with for quite awhile.  I'm still playing around with their bedtimes.  But I hate having to put them to bed so early at night because they are gone for  9 hours a day.  That's 9 hours I don't get to influence their little lives. And then if they go to bed by 8 so they can get the sleep they need, that gives me exactly 4 hours a day to shape their characters and the course of their entire lives.

No pressure.

It's also 9 hours I get a break.  I'm not doubting the value of that, either.

Sam was very bothered the other day when he had to take a quiz and the question had to do with when dinosaurs roamed the earth.  He told me he knew the right answer was, "6000 years" but the quiz only allowed him to choose one of four wrong answers, all of which involved billions of years.  It about killed his little conscience to have to put down the answer the teacher wanted to hear.

I hate that.

However, it's real life, unless you are able to live a pretty isolated existence.  You have to pick your battles with the world.

He also seemed to struggle for a few days with math, which is Common Core and not what he is used to.  It seems to be coming along better.  After all, numbers are numbers.  Common Core is just a different way of teaching them and he's figuring it out.

Lizzie reports that everything is fine at school.  When I ask her if she is making friends, she says that she is.  But she's struggling.  I am appreciative that the school gives the kids 3 recesses a day - over an hour of outside play.  But she is losing some of that time because she says she has to stay inside and finish her writing.  I haven't heard anything from the teacher yet so I don't think it's a real huge problem yet.  I also know Lizzie and I know she doesn't like to spend any time on things she is not interested in.  Handwriting has never been something that excites her and when I homeschooled her, her writing was barely legible because she was in a hurry to get it done.

I was talking to my pastor's wife this weekend and she commented that it always took her kids about 6 weeks to get back into the groove of school after summer vacation.  So, maybe it's just going to take more time.  It's only been 2 weeks.

Ellie, on the other hand, is loving everything about preschool!  Every day she comes home with stories.  Last Thursday one of her classmates had a diarrhea accident and she talked about that all the way home. 

Of course.

There is a little girl in the class named, "Awna" which is kind of unusual.  But it sounds a lot like "Ana" from "Frozen."  Ellie has that twisted up in her mind to the point that she nows refers to this little girls as, "Elsa."

And Ben, of course, has slipped right back into the groove of high school although he is fretting more and more about next year and already missing the school, I think.  I told him he's going to miss out on today's enjoyment if he constantly borrows trouble from tomorrow.  I should probably remind myself of that more often, too, huh?

Last week the classes had their elections and Ben's senior classmates decided they wanted Ben to have a position.  So they created one for him - "officer at large."  This is primarily honorary, but when they have their meetings Ben will attend and fill in for anyone missing.  He was so tickled and I about cried over the kindness of those fellow teenagers.

Ben was telling me about it (I had to text his teacher to get clarification) and he said, matter-of-factly, "It's just because I'm so popular, Mom."  That made me smile.
The other night at church Ellie approached a 60+ year old friend of mine and asked her about her cold sore on her lip.  My friend replied, "Oh, it's just a little sore I get sometimes."  Ellie replied, sympathetically, "Because you're old?"  It's a good thing my friend has a sense of humor!
Monday Morning
Ok, so I might actually like this late start Monday thing.  All of us snagged extra sleep this morning.  I didn't feed the kids breakfast because they were actually awake enough in able to manage to do it themselves.  And there was even time for them to get a start on their after-school chores before the bus arrived.

I went to Ladies Retreat this weekend.  It had been several years since my last time there.  I did not realize how much I needed that time away until I was there.  The speaker was a college professor from Summit University (formerly Baptist Bible College in PA).  She coached basketball for 20 years and kind of loped up to the podium.  I wasn't sure if I was going to get much out of her at all.

She spoke on holiness.  But the way she did it made it seem, suddenly, accessible.  And then, partway through the first session I looked at her left hand and realized she wasn't wearing a wedding ring.  That filled me with immense gladness, which kind of surprised me.  But I reasoned it out later that this single, middle aged lady up on stage was radiant with the goodness of God and a close walk with him...and she didn't have a husband. 

Kathy and I were both shocked when we ran into each other that first day.  We had just been together 2 weeks earlier but  apparently, it never occurred to either one of us to ask the other if they were planning to attend this year!  I had a chance to talk with her pastor's wife who approached me and told me their entire Sioux City church has been praying for me since Paul's death.  She seemed to know all about my kids and said, "Thank you...for doing what you are."  I'm not quite sure what she meant - maybe, thank you for not falling apart?  For doing what needs to be done?  Not sure.

I was going to go to an optional session on Sat. morning but my friend, Jenny, and I got into an intense, sweet conversation in the basement of Jensen instead.  I think that was more beneficial.

Arien and her sister rode with us because they were working the retreat.  When Kathy found  out Arien was there, she told me she had to meet this girl who has stolen Will's heart.  I introduced them and we talked for a little bit on Saturday.  As Kathy and I walked away, she said, "She was homeschooled, right?"  I affirmed that and she said, "Yeah, I could kind of tell.  She just seemed so comfortable talking with me."  I told her I'll try to snag her an invite to the wedding.  Not an announcement...just looking ahead to Someday!

Marcia and I listened to the end of the Hawkeye game on our way home.  She is a huge Iowa Hawkeye football fan.  It was an exciting game and she was whooping it up in the van.  We were just trying to get past Ames before the game ended and we'd encounter all the game traffic.  We made it.

Jonathan had spent Friday and Saturday at my house so he could help David watch Sam and Ellie (Lizzie ended up spending the weekend with my friend, Deb).  So, Arien and her sister followed me out to my house to retrieve him.
I fed them supper and they saw I had a sink full of dirty dishes and before I knew it, those two girls had done them up, wiped down my counters, and swept the floor.  Will got home from work during the time and I'm sure he was happy to see who was in the kitchen!  But they didn't leave until after 10 - which was totally fine.  And I got to wake up to a clean kitchen, which was wonderful.

Monday aft.
I'm not getting much done today.  I did take David to a new chiropractor, which is going to cost me.  It's very hard to find any chiropractic care with his state health insurance.  He's been complaining of neck and back pain for months now so I figured I had better get it checked out.  I wanted to go somewhere other than just a bone cracker, like I see.  I had heard good things about this particular chiropractic dr. in Altoona, so I took him.  This lady was very thorough and asked all kinds of questions and even did xrays.   She thinks David's stress levels have definitely been a contributing factor, but announced that he does have scoliosis, which alarmed me.  However, it's not severe and she thinks she can take care of it through chiropractic care.  She said if the curvature was worse, she'd definitely send us to a regular dr, though.  She also said his rapid growth that occurred between his 14th and 15th birthdays could have messed with his spine as well.  His range of motion is not what it should be and she said he's just not moving like a normal 16 year old.

She needs some time to analyze all the data and xrays she took today and then we go see her in a week to discuss a treatment plan.  I'm hoping it's not too involved, given the insurance situation.  However, I want to see him healthy, as well.
Well, I think that's all I know.

Arien called me today while I was driving home, bubbling over with excitement that she just landed a full-time job.  It sounds like an ideal situation and I am thrilled for her.  It just seems like God is opening up doors left and right for Will and her - doors that will eventually merge into one, I presume.

Ok, so THAT is all I know.  Tomorrow I have to get ready for a city council meeting, Wed, I have to take David back to the chiropractor for an adjustment and then I have to write an article for an on-line publication that is due by Sunday.  Thursday I am devoting to writing the RBP article that's been hanging over my head for weeks and is due in early Oct.  Still don't know what I'm going to write for either article yet!

I'll be back...sometime.


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.