Thursday, December 17, 2015

Day 932

December 16, 2016


I probably won't get this all written today.  Or tomorrow.


I woke up at 5am with a nasty migraine and the pain was so bad I never did fully get back to sleep.  In fact I ended up getting up before the alarm summoned me.  My head still hurts but it's bearable.


I've got SO much on my plate right now between Christmas prep and guests coming all weekend long for hunting (although I'm very glad they are coming - Will has such nice friends and it's always fun to have them here).  I'm trying to clean my house and today I'm up to my eyeballs in getting ready for the Patch Club party at church tonight.


I just picked up Ellie from preschool and she came home with the treat bucket, which means I'm expected to fill it up with healthy snacks for her class tomorrow.  What?  I checked the snack list twice this month and Ellie's name was nowhere on it.  So I thought we got lucky.  Apparently not.  So now I have to go to the store.  It's going to be store-bought stuff because I do not have time to bake another thing today.  I feel like whining about it to the staff but...her teachers are really nice...and Ellie got a I feel kind of obligated to cough up the snacks every so often.  But today is really  not a good day for this!


Things are hard on my heart right now, too.  It's December.  Every year since Paul's death I get hit with the blues and missing him so much.  I think that's fairly common with the bereaved.  But I wish it wasn't the case.  If nothing else it makes getting done what I need to a lot harder.


And I'm really hurting over  Pastor and Marcia leaving.  I know this is God's will.  I know that He knows so much more than I do and is so much wiser.  I know this is not only for their good, but for their new congregation's, as well as for ours.  I know it's for my good.

But I don't understand.


All I know is that a major support system is being pulled away from me and I feel like I'm floundering a bit.  I'm losing friends.  And I hate that.  Marcia and I have made a lunch date for January so that makes me feel better although I'm afraid I'm going to get to the restaurant and bawl into my soup the whole time (not that I would order soup - I'm not a fan of foods I have to drink).


And on top of everything else, I'm supposed to be starting class on Jan. 11 - and my FAFSA got totally messed up which means I have no idea what I'm going to be paying to attend school yet and I can't apply for loans.  I have spent hours on the phone with the FAFSA people (each of whom does not know what the person in the cubicle next to them is doing and saying - like most government offices) and talking to my advisor and the financial aid dept. at BVU.  I even made a special trip up to Ankeny yesterday to meet with the ICAN rep who filed the FAFSA in the first place.  I think it's all going to work out.  BVU is very willing to have me go ahead and start even w/o the financial plan in place yet as long as I sign a promissory note.  But it's been stressful and has made me wonder if I'm even supposed to be going to school right now.  Is this God's way of putting the brakes on this or is it just trials I have to persevere through?


On top of all this, I am getting a very distinct impression that my job as City clerk is coming to an end.  Nobody has said anything and I can only say that this "feeling" must be from the Lord.  Of course, this throws me into a bit of a mental panic.  How will I replace that income, esp. with going to school?  I guess I could be wrong, but I don't think I am.  I'm not planning on quitting the job, but I am just certain, all the same, that I will not hold this position for much longer.  Sometimes you just know when you hear the voice of the Lord and I am definitely hearing that right now.  But it doesn't mean I'm going to be out of the job tomorrow, either.  Maybe God is only preparing me for something that's still a ways down the road.  I guess time will tell.


Wow - is this enough negativity for one post?


There are good things in my life!


Arien is coming over Sat. so I can help her shop for Will's Christmas present and so she can help me with my wrapping.  She's coming again Sunday so I can introduce her to "Forrest Gump" which she has never seen while the guys all hunt.


I am under-budget this year for Christmas buying - always a good thing.


A sweet, older lady at church slipped a $20 bill in my Christmas card Sunday.


My contractor came out Saturday and finished the work on the house! 


I have heat.  I have more than enough clothes to wear.  I have plenty of food.


I have a van with 213,000 miles on it that still starts every single time I insert the key.  Although, I need to replace the tires and the brakes are starting to get a little iffy.


David got his driver's license yesterday.  He was so nervous he was shaking as we walked into the station.  I tried to warn him ahead of time that he might not pass the first driving attempt - and that would, in no way, be a reflection of his value as a human being. He still wanted it so bad and was up early with a nervous stomach and the inability to sleep.  But he walked in there and  aced the test.  Now my insurance has shot up $43 a month.  But I have another driver, which will be a tremendous help to long as he keeps his car on the road, I guess.


And I have an i-phone now - my very first smart phone.  I am seriously wondering how I lived for so long without this thing.  It is amazing!  It took awhile to get it.  Will and I visited the US Cellular store last May to find out what would be what.  The rep we talked to was very confusing, but we came out of there with understanding we needed to wait until Sept. 1 to have enough points to upgrade, but those points had to be used by Sept. 30 because they were going to phase out the points system.


So, in Sept. we went back to a different store and were told that no, the points were supposed to have been used by Sept. 1.  However, if we wanted to pay an extra $20 per month per line we could go ahead and upgrade.  I don't think so.  So, we were going to have to wait until March which is when we could upgrade.  And then, a few weeks ago I got a card in the mail from US Cellular thanking me for being such a loyal customer and offering early upgrades.


And that's what we did.  Both Will and I walked out of the store a week ago with brand new i phone 6s - which are not the latest model, but that's ok.  And the best part?  I am paying less money per month now for better phones and a larger data plan.  Who knew?  Maybe that's why God had that clerk mess up last summer and tell us the wrong thing, so that we could get a better deal in the end.


Yesterday and the night before were kind of hard on the heart, as well.  Monday, Lizzie and Sam got off the bus, both upset.  Another child had told Lizzie to, "Shut up" and then added, "I'd like to say something else, but it's racist and I'm not supposed to say that."  Later, as she was leaving the bus, he told her, "You need to leave.  We don't want people like you here.  Nobody likes you."


Lizzie asked me, "What does 'racist' mean?"  She didn't know.  All she knew was that this boy had been very mean to her.  Of course, I was outraged.  I wanted to chase the bus down, scramble aboard, and choke this child.  How dare he?"  It's a good thing I'm not a very fast runner because it gave me time to question both kids and to think about the best course of action.


I've had the girls for 3 1/2 years now and up until we have never encountered a shred of racism.  I kind of hoped we never would - probably naive, huh?  My first reaction was  to console Lizzie and remind her that there will always be jerks in this world, but to try not to take their unkindness to heart.  But the more I thought about it, the more I decided this wasn't enough.  This child needed to be dealt with.  I don't ever want any of my kids picked on, of course, but I am definitely not going to tolerate racist statements directed toward my girls.  At the same time I don't want to be looking for offenses or giving the girls a false sense of victimhood. 


So the next morning I made sure I was dressed by the time the bus came.  As the kids got on the bus, I followed them and spoke to the driver who nodded and said this particular boy is a trouble-maker.  I didn't know it until later, but when he got the kids to school he then went into the principal's office and told him what I had reported.


In the meantime I wrote a very firm, but fair letter to the principal.  I really had to separate my emotion as I wrote because I wanted to demand that all hell rain down this child and I had to force myself to think about what would be the best possible outcome for this situation.  Ultimately, I decided that what really needed to happen was repentance on the part of this boy and an apology for Lizzie.  She also needed to understand that his actions were in no way a reflection of the school's values.  I didn't tell the principal that, other than to ask him to please advise me to what he ended up doing so I knew what, if any, further steps to take (meaning, "if you don't take care of this, I'm going over your head"!)


I couldn't be more pleased with the outcome of the whole ordeal.  I heard back from the principal twice yesterday.  He was absolutely appalled and assured me that he would take care of this immediately, adding that racial intolerance is something he will not stand for one bit.  He ended up pulling both Sam and Lizzie out of class, along with some other kids to find out what exactly had happened on the bus.  And then he called the boy's mother to come to the school.  He told me that by the end, both the boy and his mother were in tears, which made me feel bad.  I didn't want to make anybody cry!  But it sounds like the  young man is sincerely sorry and he is expected to make an apology to Lizzie in the next day or so.  In addition, the principal assured me that he will be receiving consequences both at school and home.


So, I think in the end this is a good thing, especially if it results in this kid adjusting his attitude and learning to speak with kindness - or not at all if he can't dredge up any kind feelings.  At the same time, I am still sick over the fact that Lizzie had to experience this.  I keep reminding myself that this probably would not have happened if I hadn't stuck her in public school.  Sigh...


I am very pleased with how it was handled, though,  and I think I'll take the time to write a note to the district superintendent commending the elementary school principal's fast and decisive action.


I just ordered my books for my class off Amazon - only $40 for this term, which doesn't seem too bad.  I had orientation Monday night - and I was the only person to show up!  I mean, there were only three of us scheduled, but still - why wouldn't you call if you couldn't make it?  It makes you wonder how serious they are about getting started.  I need to buy another laptop between now and then.  That will cost considerably more than my books, I think!




I am absolutely falling apart.  Yesterday it was a migraine that didn't release its grip until evening.  Today, it's my left hip.  I cannot bend over and am dying. Every move I make sends shooting pain up my back and down my leg.  This hip has bothered me since late summer when the new chiropractor took over that office in Pville where I was going.  He was so rough.  So now I'm going to someone else (40 min away!) and he's really good.  I see him today at 5 - I sure hope it's worth braving that rush hour traffic with 4 kids in the van, though.


When I got my new iphone last week the boys were showing me all the features on it, including Siri, which is the "information" part of the phone.  If you want the phone to automatically dial, you just talk to Siri and she does it.  If you want to know about the weather or the capital of Zimbabwe - you ask Siri.  So one of the boys pushed her button and she said, "Good afternoon, Princess."  What?!


Then I remembered.  After Paul's death, I had his contacts transferred into my phone and deleted most of them.  But I kept my number in there which he had stored under the named, "Princess."  Siri recognized my number and related it to the only name she had in her memory bank.  I kept that in my contacts but told Siri to just call me Sarah!





Lizzie is very fortunate she is not limping around in a cast right now.  The girls have (had) a super-heavy mirror in their bedroom that used to be part of Lizzie's old dresser that I bought off Craig's List before she came.  I got rid of the dresser last year when I bought new matching ones for the girls from Homemakers.  But I kept the mirror because it is so pretty.  I propped it up on the desk.  Something told me when I did that that wasn't a good idea, but I ignored that voice.  Well, Ellie was messing around the other night and the mirror came sliding off the desk and onto Lizzie's foot.  Fortunately, the mirror did not break - although I'm planning to get rid of it now, so I guess it would have been ok if it had broken, although that might have caused injury to the girls, which would not have been ok.  Anyway, Lizzie immediately ended up with a huge lump on her foot which made me wonder if it might be broken.  But she wasn't shrieking in pain, either.  So I put ice on it and sent her to bed with the ice pack.  The next morning, she had difficulty getting her shoe on, so instead of putting her on the school bus, I took her to Urgent Care.


They x-rayed her and said they didn't think it was broken, but were going to send the x-ray to a radiologist just to make sure.  I haven't heard back, so I assume her bones are all intact.  With effort, we've been able to get her shoes on for the rest of this week and I got her excused from P.E. all week long.  Her foot looks black where it hit - I'm guessing it would be a dark purple color on white skin like mine.  Anyway - we were fortunate.


I'm going to buy a lightweight mirror to hang on their wall.  But I'll probably wait until Will gets the panelboard up.  Two walls are still lath and plaster and they're cracking, so I'm going to get him to cover those all up.


One nice thing that happened yesterday was that when I got home from going to the high school to design Ben's baby ad with the yearbook advisor I announced that, due to my pounding head, I was going to lay down for a little bit.  Ben's SCL provider, who is a friend, was at the house (in fact, she came early to babysit Ellie and the other kids when they got off the bus so I could go do this thing with the yearbook advisor - David was out hunting with her grown sons and unavailable to watch the Littles).  When I woke up an hour later she was gone, but she and Ben had made mac and cheese and baked beans - and had fed all the Littles for me.  What a blessing!


Will had to go to the dentist again this week.  He's scheduled for a root canal on the 23rd.  But last weekend the problem tooth began causing him all sorts of pain to the point he was texting me and begging me to get ahold of the dentist NOW - which I couldn't because it was the weekend.  But I left two messages and they called me right away on Monday.  He was able to go in and the dentist opened the tooth again and got all the pus out - again.  Yuck - what a mess. There is absolutely no part of me that would ever want to be a dentist or even a hygeniest!   But he didn't have time to do the root canal early, so hopefully, the tooth will hold up until the 23rd.


Last Saturday evening was special.  It was the Single Parent Provision annual Christmas dinner.  Last year I went with my friend, Sarah, but this year I went alone - and I was really ok with that.  I brought the Littles with me because they had their own party in a different part of the hotel.  They loved it - they got pizza and presents.


I found myself mentally contrasting last year's dinner's to this years.  I enjoyed last year's, as well, to the point that I began attending the Mom's Night Out events faithfully.  If I had the time I would LOVE to get involved with one of their weekly Bible studies.  But last year I sat there thinking, "I don't belong here."  I felt sorry for myself because, unlike the majority of mothers in attendance, I didn't do anything to cause my single parenthood.  Not that all single mothers, of course, are responsible.  Some truly are abandoned.  But I felt like, the rest, to some extent, weren't blameless as to how they ended up as single mothers.  If nothing else, maybe they should have chosen better mates in the first place.


But since then I've come to recognize that attitude for what it is.




It doesn't matter how we ended up on this journey.  Goodness knows, Paul could have left me many times if he had not loved me so much or been possessed of such high moral character.  It's not like I was this outstanding wife all the time.


Our stories are important, but they're only part of the picture.  And the biggest part is that we're here now.  I don't think there was a mother in that room who doesn't love her children and desire to be the very best parent she can be, despite the hurt her kids have endured.  Our kids are not doomed because they don't have a dad.  Yeah, it's going to make things more difficult and definitely doubles the responsibility we bear as their mom.


But hope abounds.


I sat at a table of lovely women.  The one beside me was a slender, professional-looking black woman who has 6 children.  We talked quite a bit.  One of hers was adopted as well.  And she's going to college in hopes of starting a ministry to troubled children.  Another is caring for her demanding, invalid mother on top of her own teenage children.  Another is engaged to be married in a few months - not to the father of her child, but to another man who is willing to parent her daughter.  She and her daughter just came back to the States after spending 6 months in Sudan, ministering to victims of sex trafficking.  Another was just laid off from her job and is tackling potty training with her toddler son.  We all had different stories and circumstances (I was the only widow) but we had more in common than we did differences.  The roads that got us all to this particular path are different, but we're all on the same path now.


We were served a delicious meal, heard an inspiring Christian woman speak, and were blessed with gifts and goodies.  The lady who founded SPP stood up and said at the beginning, "As single moms, we often feel like we have to do everything ourselves.  It's hard to let others do for us.  I want to say one thing: I know you've got this!  But tonight, let us serve you."  Or something to that effect, anyway.


So it was nice and I am just so grateful for the community of people that came together to do things like this for us.


And that's all I have right now.  I'm going to go put Ellie down for her nap and keep plugging away at my to-do list (that keeps getting longer by the minute - I keep thinking of more things that need to be done).


Oh, and David...I was mopping my kitchen floor (painfully - this hip in unrelentless in letting me know it is NOT happy) when I said something about needing to pick up Ellie from preschool.  He quickly said, "I'll do it!" and just like that he set off on his first solo driving trip.  My heart was in my mouth as he pulled out of the driveway...but 25 min. later he was back, safe and whole.  I must have warned him one too many times about looking out for the little kids and the cars and the traffic that runs down the street as you're backing out of the parking spots at the preschool because David began to get this disgusted look on his face.  "I know how to do this," he complained.  I know...but....


He came home, quite satisfied with himself and commented that he had never felt "such freedom" before.


Those words aren't all that reassuring to me.
























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