Sunday, September 6, 2015

Day 824

Sept. 6, 2015

Day 824


It's been...a week.  It's been hard and we're still adjusting.  It probably wouldn't seem that bad but my allergies have been awful, which means I'm short on sleep, my eyeballs feel like they have sand in them, and my nose is prone to spontaneously erupting into a fountain. I've had migraine like sinus pain for days now.   I can't wait for the first frost...


I have found myself missing Paul more this week but I know it's because I don't feel good.  I've been at this widowhood thing long enough to know that when I feel lousy, the missing-him feelings intensify.


Of course, the biggest thing this week has been the commencement of school for Sam and Lizzie.  Well, Ben and David started, too.  It's old hat for Ben and David is home, as usual.


Monday morning, Sam crawled into my bed at 4am, so excited he could hardly sleep.  I was having difficulty sleeping because of the allergies.  But I managed a little bit.  I had my alarm set for 6:25 and at 6, Sam exclaims, "It's 6:00, Mom!  We have to get up!"  I never did get back to sleep after that.


As we were getting ready that morning, Sam picked up his Bible and asked if I thought he should bring it to school.  I asked him why and he replied so that if anyone tried to teach him something that wasn't true, he'd be ready to show them the truth!  Maybe I've done too much warning to the kids in advance of school?  I assured him he'd be fine to leave the Bible home...but then he told me that afternoon when I picked him up that his teacher read a story about dinosaurs, purporting the 3.5 billion year theory.  First day!  Ugh.


The kids were nervous, but there were no first-day tears.  We prayed in the van before I walked them into school.  When I picked them up that afternoon they were full of stories.


The next day they rode the bus for the first time.  I introduced them to the bus driver who has been driving Ben for years now.  He made the comment, "So, you're sending them to public school now, are you?  Well, up until now, you've sure done a good job with your kids!"  I stewed on that all morning.  Was he merely complimenting me, or was he saying that until now - until I  made this poor decision - I had been a good mom.  But now, it was all downhill?  I still don't know.


When the kids got off the bus that afternoon, the first thing they had to tell me about were all the new swear words they had picked up on the bus.  Ugh.  I had forgotten about that part of public school.  I remember now being so shocked as a second grader when I first attended public school.  Little kids know some nasty words and aren't hesitant about sharing their knowledge.  If that was true in 1978 when I went, I can only imagine what it's like now.  So, we had a conversation and I imagine there will be a number of similar conversations in the days and months to come.  Sigh...


By the third day Sam had informed me he was the "third goodest" in his class.  Not sure which was more appalling - his pride or grammar.  He has also declared that he now has a "best friend" named Xavier.  Not sure if Xavier knows he has a best friend or not, but I guess we'll see!


Lizzie hasn't been so quick to report on things at school.  She says everything is going fine and that the girls are being nice to her.   Her teacher emailed me on Tuesday, saying Lizzie had cried at school when asked to write her letters.  I guess she couldn't remember how to make some of her lower case ones.  When she got home, she accused me of "not teaching" her them, but I know I did!  Sam's teacher said Sam also got teary-eyed one day this week, when asked to write.  I guess he was frustrated with himself, as well.  But she has an aide in the classroom and once the aide assisted him, he was fine again.


Both teachers were quick to respond to my emails this week and they both sent home a weekly update on Friday.  I found this encouraging, that they seem to want to be in contact with the parents.  Lizzie's teacher commented in hers that she had to tie an awful lot of shoes on gym day and asked parents to please teach their first graders how to tie!  I was relieved that Lizzie does know how to do that.


Ellie had her open house for preschool last Thursday evening.  Her school begins this Tuesday.  She has been so excited for the start of preschool, chattering about it nearly  non-stop.  So, I was surprised when we pulled up to the church where it is held at, and I opened her door, to see that Ellie had tear tracks down her face and more brimming in her little eyes. 


"I miss Lizzie!" she sobbed into my leg.  I think that loosely translates into, "I'm scared."  I told her, "You know, Jesus will be with you when you go to preschool."  Ellie looked at me and exclaimed, "No, He won't - He's dead!"  Guess she missed the other half of that story...


But she warmed up once we were inside and after a little bit, she was willing to play with the toys, although, she did not seem to want me to go very far away.


But, I reminded myself, this is normal.  Not normal was when I handed her off to the nursery the first Sunday she was in my care, on her first birthday, actually, and she didn't make a peep.  Her sad little eyes just accepted the transition.  I remember thinking to myself, "This isn't right."  A normal, attached child will fuss at least a little bit when Mom walks away.  But I wasn't Mom yet then.  I was just one more adult in a long line of ever-changing caregivers.  It wasn't but a few months until she did start to protest when I would drop her off in the nursery and it was relieving to know that she was attaching to me.


So, even if she cries this Tuesday  morning in earnest, it's ok.  I remember dropping Ben off for his first day of preschool.  It about ripped my heart out.  He was screaming bloody murder, flailing his legs against the teacher who held him, and stretching his arms out to me.  It took every ounce of willpower for me to walk out that room that fall day.  I knew he was where he needed to be.


Ellie is different.  I've never believed preschool to be necessary for the typical child, which she is - I think.  But I also believe it will do her some good.  It will do ME some good, which is a consideration as well.

I found out that Ellie got into the morning class, which is what I wanted all along, but it didn't sound like that was going to happen.  They have 13 in both the morning and afternoon sessions.  And, we got a full scholarship, which is an answer to prayer, too.


While we were at the preschool, Ellie asked me to read her the names of all the students, which were printed on this chart.  One little boy is named, "Stealth."  I have never heard that before.  Why would a parent name their child that?  It isn't even like it's a good character quality (unless they grow up to be a spy).


The other day I suggested to Will that he could name his first son, "Kinnick," after the Hawkeye stadium in Iowa City.  An older lady who writes a column for the Pville newspaper ("My Two Cents Worth" it's called) has a great grandson with that name which is the first time I've heard it.  I kind of like it and with Will being such a Hawkeye fan, it seems like a good choice.  But Will said that was "weird."  I guess he's too much like his dad - likes tradition in names.



Last Monday I was sneezing (of course) and I pulled or pinched a muscle in my neck.  The pain has been unbelievable.  I finally went to the chiropractor on Friday and he helped, but it hasn't relaxed all the way yet.  So I had that to deal with on top of the allergies.  It was so awful I couldn't sleep at night without the help of an Advil PM.  I did not know sneezing could cause an injury like that.


The kids went to the dentist this week.  I happened to mention to David on the day of the appointment that he had one and he stopped in his tracks and exclaimed, "Why didn't you tell me?"  I said, "I just did."  And he went on to tell me that no, he needed advance notice so he could start brushing his teeth on a more regular basis.  Eww.  I'd like to think he already does that.


But his teeth were fine.  Both Sam and Lizzie, however, have two cavities.  And Lizzie has to go to Iowa City on Oct. 5 for a consult with an orthodontist.  The dentist had recommended this to me last Jan, but I didn't  sense that urgency was a factor then. I mean, she's only 6.   If braces are in her future, surely they would be a ways off yet.   He told me this week to not waste any time in getting this appointment.  Her permanent teeth are a royal mess, he says.  They're obviously crooked in the front and the dentist said she's got permanent teeth growing in behind other permanent and baby teeth.  So, there's that.


And then, Sam's two front teeth have grown in in an inverted "v."  The dentist suggested that I have him place a popsicle stick behind them every day for 10 min. and press against the teeth.  He said they may straighten out doing that, but they may not, either. 


Sure hope those investments of mine do well...sounds like I'm going to be lining the pockets of orthodontists for awhile.


I am a very good mom.  At least I was yesterday.  The kids had wanted to visit a "real" pool all summer long.  One day in August we had tried to go to the Carlisle pool but it was closed, even though, according to their website, they should have been open.  I felt terrible for the kids that day.


Most pools close around the time school starts, but I had done some research and found out that the Ankeny aquatic center is open through Labor Day.  My thought was to go one day this week, but when I called up there, I found out that they are only open weekends now that school has started.  So, since tomorrow is supposed to be rainy and cool, I knew our only chance to go would be yesterday, when it was 95+ and sunny out.  Even though  I felt terrible with my allergies.  That's where the "good mom" part comes in.


So we went, and it's a really nice place, which is why they probably get $7 a person for admission.  Their big thing there are the waterslides, but I didn't want to do any of those with my neck already in so much pain.  They do have a lazy river and I enjoyed that quite a bit.


I spent most of my time in the splash/wading pool with Ellie.  Since Ben and David were off on the slides and the Littles were playing, I was alone with my thoughts and observations for quite awhile.  The pool is a good place to people watch.


I noticed a few things.  There were a number of black children - with white parents.  I still don't see that all that often when we're out and about.  But it makes sense.  Ankeny has an exploding demographic and all the residents are in higher income brackets - just to afford the housing, if nothing else.  I mean this water park we were at is built in a beautiful new addition.  All the houses are made to look similar.  They actually look a lot like beach houses in New England - clapboard siding, cupolas, "beachy" colors, a lot of rock on the foundation, etc.  None of them are mansions, although they are decent sizes.  My guess is that they start in the $300,000 range and Will laughed when I said that and said, "Um, try half a million, Mom." 


Wow.  I can't even imagine.


But, anyway, families who could afford houses like that could afford to adopt internationally, which might be some of what I was seeing with the black children.  I wanted to strike up conversations with the parents but I wasn't sure how to do that.  Some kids were black, black and it's safe to assume they probably came from Ethiopia or Ghana.  But others had more medium shading, like my girls, and I didn't want to assume they were adopted.  It would be embarrassing if they were actually just mixed and I said something about adoption to their mothers.  So, I kept quiet and nobody approached me, either.  I did notice that both Lizzie and Ellie zeroed in on these children and struck up conversations with them.  I'm going to have to do something, sometime, about the lack of diversity in their lives.  But not today.  Ellie saw one little girl with corn rows and beads and suggested I ought to do her  hair like that, too.   Sure thing.


But most people there were white because, after all, this IS Iowa.  I amused myself by watching them and reading their tatoos.  One girl had tatooed above her pelvic bone, "First you live and then you die." 




One guy there had a man bun, which is an instant turn-off for me.  If that wasn't bad enough, he had hoops strung through both his pierced nipples and a ring between his nostrils.  It made me reflexively put my hands protectively to my chest.  Why do people want to do that to themselves?  Eww, eww, eww...


And I noticed a ton of belly button piercings on women (thankfully - that would be weird on a guy).  I don't know that I've ever seen so many.  I didn't realize that fad was still happening.  A number of them had shiny jewelry hanging down from their navels but I guess I've been a mom for too long.  I could only wince as I imagined a toddler grabbing onto that jewelry and yanking.  I remember years ago my cousin relating to me how she had hers pierced and then as her pregnancy increased the stud suddenly popped out one day.  That still makes me laugh to imagine that!


One really overweight guy was in the kiddie pool and he was wearing denim shorts with a belt.  Ellie wanted to (loudly) know why he wasn't wearing swim trunks.  I was just trying to imagine what wet denim must feel like against his legs.  And a belt, too?  But maybe he would have lost the shorts without it.


The kids had a good time and I told them we'll go again next summer.  I'm sure I will enjoy my time of  observation all over again.


I made some rasin oatmeal cookies this week, which are almost all gone now.  Sam enthusiasticly told me last night how much he "loves your raisin cookies, Mom!"  Then he continued, "You know what you should do?  You should make them again, only instead of using raisins, make them with chocolate chips.  That would be really good!"


In other words - make chocolate chip cookies, I think!



I imagine this week will go by pretty quickly.  Tomorrow is Labor Day, which means I get to sleep in, if the kids let me.  I have a list of things I'd like to get finished before day's end. 


Will and I are going to pay a visit to US Cellular this week and see about upgrading our phones.  I'm feeling the need for a smart phone so we'll see about that.  Yes, a need! 


And then, Friday is Ladies' Retreat up at camp.  I haven't been there in 4 years.  I'm looking forward to it and hoping my allergies don't make it too miserable.  I think I've got everything worked out as far as child care goes and I'll be able to head out for two days without needing to worry too much.


Oh, it looks like Will may have a new job.  He has to do a "lift" test this week as a requirement for employment.  It's a warehouse job so I guess they need to see if he's able to handle heavy loads.  He's in the prime of his existence, so I don't imagine he'll have any trouble.  This job just sounds ideal, though.  He can pretty much set his own hours and the pay is nearly double what he's been getting at Sportsmans.


This past Friday was Ben's first time assisting the football team.  I didn't go to the game because of the heat and my allergies.  But I guess he's retrieving the tee after every kick-off.  He has his own jersey and everything.  The coach asked that Will sit with Ben and assist him.  I asked Will if it felt good to be on the bench again and he just nodded and smiled in a beautific way.


He's meant to be a future coach.


Of course, I have no ideas of the twists and turns Will's life may take yet.  And there will be some of those, no doubt.  But right now, it appears things are falling into place for him in so many areas.  God seems to be opening doors and revealing paths previously  hidden.  As a mother, it's kind of exciting to see these things.  It's really cool to watch your child step into adulthood and to know that things are going to be ok.


I didn't screw him up too badly.


One down...five to go.


















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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