Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Day 894

Nov. 10, 2015
Day 894


This day is slipping away entirely too fast and I'm not getting done nearly what I had hoped.  Oh well - story of my life, I guess.


I had to spend an hour and a half with the dishwasher repairman.  It turned out that pumpkin seeds lodged in the drainpipe were the issue.  Oops.  But he didn't charge me.  Maybe that's because he was entertained by Ellie the entire time.  While I sat in the other room and graded Geography she sat right beside the repairman and kept up a running commentary on everything from the color of his hair to how high she can count.  Then, Bella, dumb cat, went and plopped herself down right in front of him while he was trying to work on the appliance.  Bet he was glad to get to his next job...


Will turned 21 last Monday.  I bet he is one of the few 21 year olds who spent his birthday with his family.  He said  that some kids in one of his classes found out it was his birthday so he got a number of suggestions about  "hitting the bar" that night.  I remember that was such a big deal when I turned 21, too.  Like Will, I was going to a secular college at the time.  Although, I do remember that night some friends took me out to eat and I was so thrilled when the waiter offered me the wine list!  It didn't matter that I didn't have any interest in drinking.  Just getting the affirmation that I was legal enough was all I wanted.


Arien took the day off work and while Will was at school she came over and stuffed his room full of balloons - some with candy and love notes inside them.  That was fun.  I don't know how many she got stuffed in there, but it was a lot.


Then, that evening we went to David's final flag football game and then out to eat as a family.  We got home and Will, Arien, and David took off to Pleasantville to watch the rest of what ended up being their last play-off game.  And then they came home and Will blew out his "21" candle and we had cake and ice-cream.


I wonder how many more birthdays of his we'll celebrate together?  Well, ideally, he'll live next door to me and we'll celebrate them all, but realism tells me otherwise...


Tuesday was Election Day.  Will was easily re-elected to the city council.  All of the rest of the seats were filled by write-in votes.  As the clerk, I found this somewhat embarrassing.  I am the one who has to deal with the county auditor - who is very understanding, but frustrated like I am.  In late summer, I mailed out detailed instructions to all the townspeople telling them how to fill out the paperwork to get their names on the ballot.  Will was the only one who bothered to turn in the paperwork.  There was some talk amongst certain residents about who was willing to serve and who everyone ought to vote for and I didn't know what to do.  I finally decided, the weekend before elections, that I would go vote - but only for the name actually on the ballot, which was Will's.  If a person desires to serve their city in an elected capacity, but is not willing to even do the little bit of work required to get his name on the ballot, what does that say about the amount of work they'll be willing to invest into their city once elected?


An election I kept a close eye on was nearby Knoxville's.  Knoxville has a small tribute in a public park dedicated to the fallen soldier.  It features a metal cut-out of a soldier kneeling on his comrade's fresh grave.  A white cross stands next to it.  Well, someone (more than likely, an out-of-town liberal group deliberately targeting small cities) complained about the "separation of church and state" and demanded that the city remove the cross.  In August a huge rally was held at the park and I've gotten a kick out of driving around town since because people everywhere have erected white crosses on their lawns.  One homeowner even put up a sign beside his that reads, "Be Offended."   I am reminded of 1 Cor. 1:18 that says the message of the cross is "foolishness to those who are perishing."  What a literal example of that this whole event has been!


Despite the community support, the mayor and council voted to remove the cross, anyway, after Veterans Day, saying the city couldn't afford a potential lawsuit.  The citizens of Knoxville and central Iowa altogether were outraged.  Anyway, those council members that voted to have the cross removed were voted out of office last Tues. night.  The cross will still come down because the new terms don't start until January, but the promise is that the citizens will then persistently petition the city government to have it reinstated.


The other day Ellie was wearing a button down shirt.  I told her, "Oh, we need to button up one more."  She peered down at her shirt and, puzzled,  asked, "Why?  Nobody can see my boobs." 


And then there was this one that I shared on Facebook:


Ellie (age 4) and I were driving around today and from the backseat I could hear her making some soft choking and other excited noises. "Mom!" I heard her quietly shriek. Assuming she wanted me, I asked her what she needed. She replied, "Oh, nothing, Mom. I was just pretending you were murdering me."

She really scares me.


I'm not so sure a good mom would be laughing, but I am anyway!


 The other night at Patch Club, Sam volunteered to copy the night's  verse onto the chalkboard.  I had not realized how much school has improved his handwriting until I saw what he had written.  He remained at the chalkboard and a few minutes later I heard the other students giggling.  I looked up and Sam had chalked, above the verse, "Your butt."  He wasn't being blasphemous - he wrote it way above where the verse was written.  He was being an 8 year old boy, is what it was.


It was just one of the moments.  Part of me wanted to wail, "Where did I go wrong?"  But the other part of me was sort of impressed that he used the correct form of "your,"  too. 


I had parent teacher conferences last Thursday night.  This, of course, was my first-ever time to do this at the elementary school.  Next year, I'm going to put a time buffer in between the kids' scheduled times.  The person in front of me for Sam's ran over which meant we were super rushed so I could get to Lizzie's on time.  Fortunately, there was nobody scheduled after Lizzie's, so we were able to take a little more time there.


While I was waiting for Sam's teacher, I chatted a little bit with the mom sitting beside me on the chairs outside the door.  She worried me.  She wore a very low cut top and evidently, a push-up bra.  Every time she laughed, her bosom would jiggle all over the place, threatening to pop right out, I was afraid.  It made it kind of hard to concentrate on her face.  And yet, another reason for modesty...


Anyway, I totally forgave her, though, because she asked who my 2nd grader was and when I told her, she replied, "Oh, he is such a sweetie!"  How she knows that, I have no idea, unless she has helped out in the classroom or heard reports from her own second-grader (a boy, named, "Paul," which you don't hear much anymore.  Oh, by the way, there is also a boy in Sam's class named, "Stanton," which kind of makes me laugh.  It's such a dignified, upper-crust type of name.  I actually met Stanton yesterday when I picked Sam up to go get his new glasses.  Stanton is...well, how shall I say this?  By the 6th grade, he will probably have the body to be mistaken for a Varsity football player...great big kid.  He looked at me and greeted, "Hi, Sam's mom!")


So, anyway, Sam's conference went really well.  His teacher, who is younger than me by just a few years, has been teaching for quite awhile.  She said that Sam is one of the politest children she has ever run across.  She said she has also observed his peer interactions and said he is just as polite with the kids.  In fact, and she laughed as she told this story, Sam and another boy were eating lunch in the classroom the other day.  Sam had earned that privilege with good behavior in the classroom.  When the kids do this, they are free to go to recess as soon as they finish, so they have some motivation to eat really fast.  Well, that's what this friend of Sam's was doing and his teacher told me she heard Sam caution him to "Slow down - your food can't digest when you eat it so fast!"  Apparently, Sam also suggested to his friend that it would be wiser if he ate his sandwich first and saved his dessert for last for nutrition purposes.  His teacher said to me, "I could just hear his mother as he said those things!"  Hah!


Sam's reading tutor was in  on the conference, too.  I've had a couple of testy emails from her and my opinion wasn't really changed at the conference, either.  My premise with Sam's reading difficulties has been  - let's not freak out about this.  I've explained to both his teacher and the tutor that I am very willing to have Sam tutored and to go over things at home with him, but I am not going to panic about this.  He will learn to read (and he can read -  it's just not with the fluency and as many words per minute as the state demands) but if his brain is not ready, this isn't something that can be forced.  Sam's teacher seemed to be inclined to agree with me, but I could tell his tutor was less-than-impressed with my refusal to panic.  Sigh...I really hate government schools...


But anyway, the good news is that his reading has improved significantly since the beginning of the school year.  As long as he continues on this upwards trajectory he should be able to meet the required standards demanded by the state and the good 'ol No Child Left Behind act.   Summer school might be in his future at some point, but I'm not going to worry about that right now.  Besides, the kid has character - and that's worth far more than any top reading score.


Lizzie's conference went well, too.  Academically, she's doing really well.  I felt like I had totally failed her at her reading, but her teacher referred to her initial difficulties as mere "gaps" in her education and I'm totally not going to worry about that.  Every single student, whether homeschooled, public, or private schooled is going to have gaps in their education.  It is impossible to cover absolutely every single thing and to make sure the child absorbs every single thing.


Lizzie's teacher asked me what Lizzie says about school and I took a deep breath and told her honestly, "Well, Lizzie's scared of you."  And then her teacher felt bad, which was not my intent.  I told her I doubted it was due to anything she had done at all, but that is what Lizzie tells me and, besides,  she did ask...Actually, her teacher thanked me and said that showed her how she needed to communicate with Lizzie better.  And she commented that Lizzie has seemed ill at ease with her in one-on-one settings so this helps explain that.


I also talked with this teacher about  Lizzie's difficulty in making friends.  It was interesting because the same topic came up with that mom I chatted with outside Sam's classroom.  Both told me the exact same thing.  They said the Pleasantville is a great little community, but if you are new, it takes forever to be accepted.  That mom I mentioned said her family moved here 12 years ago and she still doesn't feel all that included!  Great... although, this definitely hasn't been the case with Ben.  And even by the time Will was an upperclassman on the football team, he had developed a camaraderie with some of the players.  Although, I think there is a definite difference between girls and guys, which would explain why Sam is having an easier time.  Boys are good with finding someone to toss a ball with.  Girls want to find a friend to share all their secrets with.


Lizzie's teacher showed me a paper Lizzie had written in September in which she talked about her old life, before me.  It about made me cry.  She talked about how she had to move a lot and how scared she always was.  But now she's happy.  And then she mentioned Paul's death, which made me sniff.


Lizzie's teacher said that I seem "really laid back" (yay, me - that's what I want to be, anyway, even if I'm not so much) and she thinks I am "really good for Lizzie." 


Despite Lizzie's fears, I really like this teacher.  Well, I like Sam's, too, and I want to request both for their siblings that follow in future years.
Oh, and then I dashed over to the high school (in a thunderstorm) and popped my head into Ben's classroom.  It really isn't necessary because I've always been in pretty constant contact with his two resource teachers.  Plus, we have his IEP meeting next week.  But I like them.  We ended up talking mostly about prom and senior pictures and things like that.  And then Ben's music teacher happened to poke her head into the classroom and since I had hoped to touch base with her, that worked out well.  One of Ben's teachers told me, "You have done such a good job with Ben.  You need to be proud." And the other stood there nodding her head and thanking me for being such an "easy" parent.
So, it was a good night and pretty good for my ego, too, I think.


Today there was a knock at the door that I didn't hear because I was talking with the dishwasher repairman.  Ellie did, though, and answered.  She came back into the kitchen and hollered, "Hey, Mom - there's some black people here!"  I think it's safe to say that she has become aware of differing skin colors...I was wondering when that was going to happen.  I think everyone is aware that she is aware now...
It was a couple of salesmen.  I shooed them away (gently, because they're always about the ages of my older children and I'd want someone else to be kind to them) because you have to have a solicitation permit here.  It doesn't matter who it is - these young salesmen always assure me that their bosses took care of that and then I have to tell them um, no they didn't because the permits are issued by me and I know I didn't sell one to their boss!


Yesterday, Sam and I were talking as I drove and I said something about abortion.  Sam was quiet for a minute and then said, "I think the moms and the doctors need to be charged with first degree murder because they planned to do what they did."  Of course, I've always considered abortion to be murder, but I never thought about it in terms like that before.  Sam is a very concrete thinker, though, so I am not really surprised.


I am not a great mom.  There are times I like to think I'm a great mom and I always hope that I am one...but I'm not.  Since the girls arrived 3 1/2 years ago, bedtime has always been a battle.  If I don't stand over them and tell them exactly what to do, they always end up goofing around.  Then, I get mad, throw them half-dressed into bed, and stomp down the stairs.  It's not a nice way to end the day.  I do not recall having bedtime struggles like this with any of the boys.  Maybe time has dulled my memory, I don't know.  So, anyway, this happened last night.  I was especially mad because I had taken the kids to Pizza Hut for supper in order to redeem their Book-It pizzas (a program through the school where they earn free pizza for reading a certain number of books every month) and when we got home, I told the kids to go get ready for bed, which Sam did  easily and willingly.  But the girls were up to their normal tricks and I was not a happy mother by the time I got them in bed.


It suddenly occurred to me before I went to bed that other than to tell the girls, "Go get ready for bed" I've never actually laid out for them exactly what I want them to do.  So, they may have a general idea, but nothing specific.  And then, being little kids, they're apt to get distracted and forget things, too.  So today, I made a chart, complete with clip art and written instructions of the seven steps to bedtime.  I was actually very impressed with Ellie.  She was observing my chart and then commented to me, "Don't you want us to go potty, too?"  Obviously, even though she can't read, she was able to decode the pictures and able to figure out what was missing.  I re-did my chart to include a picture of a toilet and hung it again.


And bedtime went like a charm tonight!  I sent them upstairs and then about 10 min. later I followed and they were sitting in their beds, pajamaed, sweet-breathed, and sleep caps on their curls. 


Very nice.  I may actually get this parenting thing figured out one of these days.


Well, that's all I know.  It's taken me nearly all day to get this written.  Tomorrow I will spend a chunk of my day up at City Hall.  It's supposed to be rainy and stormy most of the day - even the possibility for tornadoes, we're being told.  I kind of like rainy, cold, fall days.  Minus the tornado possibility.  After getting all this work done on the house I'll be very irritated if it gets blown away.























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.


































1 comment:

  1. LOVED the "I'm pretending your murdering me." It is terrible but wonderful. Our 4 yo says the craziest things too! I was trying to explain about Jesus on the cross one day and she furrowed her little brow and said, "Mom, when I get old will I stick on a cross too?" No, honey. Nope. Jesus did that for us.

    And oh, the permits. That is funny too.

    So glad the kids are doing well in school. I went to a little rural school from 7th to 12th grade and I felt the same way about taking a LONG time to belong. I never really did 100%, though 12th grade was way easier than 7th grade.