Sunday, January 31, 2016

Day 969

January 31, 2016
Day 969

Well, it did come.  And I got through it.  Not without tears, but I wasn't a sobbing mess like I was afraid I would be.  I didn't stand up to give a testimony, because that would have been pointless - I would have just cried into the microphone.  But I wrote Pastor and Marcia a letter this week and found a card at Hobby Lobby that said something to the effect of, "Heaven is going to be the best place ever because there will never be any good-byes."  I had each of the kids sign it.  I did nearly lose it after church, though.  Pastor was actually sick today and couldn't be there (of all the days!) but Marcia and most of her family were there.  They had her and kids line up in the foyer after church, like she and Pastor would do every single Sunday.  And a couple of her kids hugged me and then Marcia wrapped her arms around me and I leaned my forehead on hers and she said (like she has every single time she's seen me since Paul's death), "I love you, Sarah" and I couldn't say a word back, but just closed my eyes and nodded my head.

But then, fortunately, I think it was time for the potluck meal and I was suddenly surrounded by needy children demanding to know who got to sit where and why couldn't we eat now and why did we have to wait in line, and why couldn't they go sit with their friends and would I please tell their sibling to stop breathing on them and if I was going to cry then it was going to be for an entirely different reason!

Afterwards, I finally got loaded up.  Will rode with Arien because she was coming to our house for rest of the afternoon and evening.  I got halfway down the road and I suddenly realized David wasn't in the van!  I don't think I've ever forgotten a child before, so I'm not going to beat myself up too badly.  Like David said, morosely, when I sped back to church to retrieve him, "After all, I'm just the third child..."

Actually, it worked out well because I guess he was wanting to tell Marcia good-bye and me forgetting him gave him a few extra minutes to do so

We came home and after I dealt with Ellie (a regular occurrence lately) we all watched, "War Room."  I love that movie!  It meant more tears for me, of course...I'm feeling a bit wrung out by now, actually.
Ellie is still being...Ellie.  On top of the many, many lying incidents (although today she actually told me the truth right away - she pointed out to me - when I found lipstick scribbled all over a bedroom chair...I guess I'll give her points where I can) she's showing a great desire to be large and in charge.

There have been a couple of times in recent weeks where's she's put her hands on her hips and informed me, "You're not the boss of me!"  I wish I was a better mom.  It seems to me like a good mom would just smile sweetly and let things like that sail over her head.  Instead, I hear that and it sounds like a challenge to me, so much so that I turn around and say things like, "Uh, wanna bet?"

Yesterday morning we were in a hurry to leave for Woodward so Ben could participate in Sp. Olympics.  Ellie was dragging her feet so I told her to grab a poptart for breakfast.  She said she wanted some orange juice to go with it.  I told her that there wasn't time for that and to just get some water. 

Oh. My. Goodness.

You would think I  had just proposed we forget her birthday this year, throw away all her toys, and make her wear boy clothes from now on.  It turned into this screaming fit

I want orange juice!! 

 You're not getting orange juice.  Drink some water.


You'd better hurry up.  We're leaving.


Lizzie looked at me and asked, "Wouldn't it be quicker to just give her some juice?"

Yep.  I explained to her that it is important that I "win" all these confrontations that Ellie seems to wish to engage in lately.  But honestly and lately,  it sure doesn't feel like winning overly much...

But, I am hopeful that this is just a stage of learning and that, rather than envisioning stripes and jail cells in Ellie's future, I just need to hang on for this bumpy part of her growing.  She may be genuinely delightful in another couple of years.

I hope.
Tomorrow is caucus day.  I had not planned to go this year, ever since I found out BVU has their classes on Monday and Thursday nights.  But this term, my professor is only having us meet on Thursdays.  But I still wasn't going to go because I went the last two or three times and they were kind of boring and crowded.

But then after going to the Cruz rally last weekend I felt kind of guilty about that so I decided I would go.  But this time I'm not taking the kids.  Will will join me when he gets off work.  I really do want to see Cruz win this.

Or I want to see Trump defeated.

Either view works for me, I guess!

We have just been inundated with ads.  I see friends complaining about getting 20-30 political calls in a single day but I haven't gotten a single one.  I do occasionally get telemarketers on my cell phone, but I guess my number isn't on too many lists yet.  But every single day for the past couple of weeks I've been throwing away probably 5-8 political fliers that come in the mail.  And the commercials...oh, my goodness...

Carly Fiorina has a radio ad that has a line in it that's been driving me nuts all week.  I'm not against her as a candidate - I really don't know all that much about her.  But this one radio ad lists her accomplishments and tucked right in the middle of a recitation of the most impressive, is, "And Carly fought cancer and won!"

What?  How is that an accomplishment?  The ad makes it sound like she beat it by sheer force of will.  Cancer couldn't stand up to her, by golly!  I recognize that a good, positive attitude can have a lot to do with how a person's body responds to medical crises, but nobody beats cancer on attitude alone!  I can think of two friends who had great attitudes throughout their entire cancer ordeals and the both still died.  So that commercial bugs me.
And then another one this week was anti-Cruz and that's not why I didn't like it.  But in the ad, the complaint is that Ted Cruz doesn't tithe.  How on earth would someone know that?  That's between a person, God, and the church treasurer.  And even if he doesn't tithe, what possible bearing does that have on a political campaign?  To be perfectly honest, I'm pretty sure there's a real paucity of tithing candidates in any political race anymore.

And then yesterday I was doing a complicated style on Lizzie's head which meant several hours of work (broken up - I'd do a couple rows of twists and then we'd break for awhile).  So I parked the stool in the living room in front of the tv.  Over and over and over again Hilary Clinton ads ran.  I wanted to throw something at the tv.  One ad would show Hilary unabashedly proclaiming that she was, "pro-choice, pro-marriage equality, and pro-healthcare" and proud of it and the next would be one where she claims to have invested her life into fighting for children - making sure they have hope for a better future and access to all of life's possibilities.

It doesn't work both ways.  You don't say you're for baby murdering in one ad and pro-child in the next.

What a wicked woman.

What a wicked world.

Sam said last week one of the boys in his class was talking about how he hoped Bernie Sanders would win.  Sam said he so badly wanted to tell this boy that he really "ought to consider Cruz" (his words) instead, but he didn't have the courage!

I suppose if nothing else, my ranting shows that these ads are working since I remember them and because they raise my blood pressure enough to elicit a response from me.

Well, tomorrow night it will all be over.  All the candidates and media will be headed for New Hampshire.  After that primary, we'll see more than one candidate give a tearful speech in which he or she thanks God, his supporters, his staff, and his family and intones that it's "just not his time" and the field will be narrowed.

That is, if they can get out of Iowa that night.  We've got a blizzard moving in.  They're saying Monday night should be ok, but a blizzard warning goes into effect at 3am on Tuesday for much of the state, including central Iowa.  So they may all be stranded for awhile.

For some, probably mischievous, reason, that thought makes me smile!
Yesterday, on the way up to Woodward for Ben's event, I had my mp3 player plugged into the van's radio and was listening to my music (have I mentioned how much I love having a smart phone?  It is so amazing to have all kinds of tools in one single gadget!  And a couple of weeks ago I got my first regular bill after paying off the new device fees and it was a full $38 less than I've been paying the last two years.  Awesome!). Ellie finally quit screaming about orange juice when we got to the by-pass, 10 minutes from home.  A long ten minutes.  So, then I could actually listen to music.  The song, "Sweet Lorraine" came on.  I remember mentioning this song in a blog post that first summer that Paul was dead.  I still love the song.  It was written by a 94 year old widower about his wife.  He submitted it, handwritten, to a radio station that was having a song-writing promotion and they liked it so much they had it professionally recorded for him.  The simple song goes,

Oh Sweet Lorraine 
I wish we could do 
The good times 
All over again

Oh sweet Lorraine
Life only goes around
But never again

Oh sweet Lorraine
I wish we could do
All the good times all over

Lizzie wanted to know the explanation for the song's lyrics and I told her what he was saying.  She commented that if the author could go back, then maybe he could tell his wife when she was going to die and then they could do something to avoid it from happening.

Her words immediately began to cause my own mind to start spinning and I began to think what life would be like if I could go back and "do the good times all over again."  I thought of the ways I would have been a better wife and a better mom.  I thought of words I never would have said and things I would have said more often.  If I could go back, I would have made sure that Paul never fell asleep the night of June 5th.  I would have held his hand and talked to him all night long just so he'd still be awake when dawn came - and he'd still be alive.

But as quickly as I had those thoughts I also thought of other things I would have done.  There were things that Paul  occasionally said or did that I would not have tolerated if I went back in time.  I would have stood up for myself more in some areas - like with his parents.  And then, if I had done that,  that might have led to other relationship problems that we never had because I was quiet instead.

So, maybe it's a good thing that life "only goes around once, but never again."
This week Ellie made a comment about wishing she had a dad.  It nearly ripped my heart out to hear her say that. I wrote about it on Facebook because it was gnawing at me and I knew I could write something worthwhile about the incident.  And I put a positive spin on it because nobody ever knows how to respond when you post negative things.  And, also, writing what I did (I'll include it below) was actually an encouragement to me because I wrote truth.  It's what I believe and I needed to remind myself of that truth in that moment when I was feeling only hurt for my baby girl.

This was my Facebook post:

"I wish I had a dad." Ellie's matter-of-fact, out-of-the blue statement whipped right through my heart as we stood at the counter together this afternoon, she making her sandwich and me preparing supper. "Why do you wish that?" I asked and my 4 year old replied that everybody else she knows has one. I nodded. It makes sense. Her memories of her fathers - Paul, as well as the man who fostered her in infancy - are faint, if existent at all. Once again, I feel helpless to assuage this hurt in the hearts of my children, a pain that differs for each. I am reminded that no matter how good of a mother I am, I will never replace what they have lost. I point them to God who has promised to father the fatherless but it's not the same as having a daddy in the home who can wrap his big arms around them and love them like only a father can do. I can remind them of God's sovereignty, care, and provision - but it doesn't change the fact that a hole exists in our family.
It isn't fixable - but it is bearable. My children are learning early the truth of John 16:33 - "In this world you will have many troubles..." Life won't be all pain-free. Sometimes it's not fair. Hearts break. All I can do is faithfully point them to the second half of that verse, "But rejoice - for I have overcome the world!" It's temporary. Someday, all wrongs will be righted, we'll be free of these heavy shackles, and good-byes will never again be uttered.
Hope abounds.

This has still been on my mind, several days out, and then today, God spoke to my heart.  It was such a clear thought that I have no doubt where it came from.  I heard Him say to me, "Don't you think that if I wanted your children to have a father - if they needed to have one - they would?  Do you really think I am going to withhold something from them that they need?"  My mind immediately went to Matthew 7:9 where Jesus says, "What man among you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?"  No decent human parent would do something like that, of course.

And God won't either.  In my humanness and in my deep love for my kids, all I see is the hurt and loss.  I see the articles on the importance of fatherhood and I see kids out at the mall perched on their daddy's shoulders and I get fliers from school advertising an upcoming Daddy-daughter dance and I feel so terrible for my children that they don't have someone to fill that place in their heart.  I see my inadequacy as a single parent and know that I will never, ever be able to make up for that loss in their lives.

But God knows.  There are far greater happenings right now than I can possibly imagine.  My kids don't have a dad right now because ...

Well, I don't know the reason, actually.  But God does and He is bigger than all the hurt that surrounds us because of this loss.

And once again, we're back to trust.  For nearly a thousand days I've been pouring words out of a broken and now-healing heart and all of them boil down to really just four words.

Will I trust Him?



Sunday, January 24, 2016

Day 962

January 24, 2016
Day 962

I had to buy a new dvd player  for my bedroom this week and I've been tripping over it for the past 3 days.  I figured I'd have to catch Will at a rare, non-busy moment and ask him to hook it up.  David wandered into my room a little bit ago and said, "Hey, I can hook that up for you" and proceeded to do so.  He's getting more and more useful around here!
Oh, I'm was busy.

Remember in my last post I kind of jokingly said I need to get Ben to a Ted Cruz event?  Well, Monday, my friend Mari texted me and said, "Hey, I just read your blog and guess what?  Ted will be here on Sat!"  So, I immediately sat down and ordered 7 (free) tickets, thinking we'd all go.

I asked Will if he thought Arien would be interested in going, too, but he didn't think it would work out because her brother was going to be visiting all weekend.  But, as it turns out, she was very interested in going.  When I attempted to get her a ticket Thurs. night I found there was a waiting list.  Hmmm....but then she had the idea that maybe her mom could watch Ellie and she could take that ticket - which sounded great to me.  I didn't think Ellie would mind.  Arien has two little sisters, so the girls would enjoy some playtime.  And then the next day Tammy messaged me and suggested that I bring Lizzie over, too, and then Jonathan could take that ticket.


So, we made the kid exchange late this morning and then we all ate lunch in the van and I drove up to Ankeny. 

Oh, my goodness...we ended up standing for nearly FOUR solid hours.  First, we had to wait outside, in the cold for an hour for the doors to open.  But we had pretty good spots.  By the time the doors opened, the line was snaking clear down to the end of the parking lot.  We got in and they "searched" our bags (meaning, they glanced in our purses and if they didn't see a bomb or gun, they nodded us through).

And then the goodies started.  We were handed yard signs, t-shirts, and signs for the rally.  We opted to stand because we were there early enough that we could get close to the front. 

We waited an hour for the rally to start.  Then, there were inspiring speeches by David Barton of Wallbuilders (he just did a brief introduction), Rep. Steve King, Bob Vander Plaats, and Glenn Beck.  The rally was supposed to go from 2-3 but Cruz didn't come out until 3 and he spoke for almost an hour.

Poor Sam.  He wanted to be there today (earlier in the morning when Lizzie had been ribbing him about not getting to go to Spencer's like she and Ellie were, Sam sniffed, "Well, at least I care about my country!") but his little legs and stamina just had a hard time  We had piled all our coats on the floor so he sat down there most of the time.  It wasn't like he could see, anyway.

I came away very impressed.  I decided quite awhile ago that Cruz was my guy, but hearing him today totally solidified that in my mind.  A few weeks ago I really began praying for him and I was so pleased today when he was enumerating the things he needs from his supporters and he wrapped up his speech with asking for consistent, faithful prayer from his supporters.  He is a man of God and our country needs him.

And right now I need to go to bed.  After the rally, Will left with Arien and Jonathan (he joined us after he got off work around 1) and I ran a couple of errands in Ankeny.  I got home and Sam and I pounded our new Cruz sign into the frozen front yard.  Then I made a quick supper, did some more laundry, and now...I am really, really ready for bed!

Today was Pastor's last  time to preach.  It was also the last time to walk through the greeting line after church and get my hug from Marcia and handshake from Pastor.  This week he hugged me, too.  And blast it all if I wasn't tearing up after both services!

Next week is going to do me in, I'm afraid.  It will be their last Sunday.  Our state rep will be doing the speaking and then we'll have a potluck dinner (we ARE Baptist, after all).  And then...they're gone.

I don't like this.  I may have mentioned that before.

Once or twice.
Something I do like...

Will had mentioned to me that Nathanael and Janie were going to be coming down to Indianola for the weekend to butcher some deer with his folks and they wanted to swing by my house first - which is fine.  I hope they both know my door is always open.  So, they came and I was sitting in the chair, fixing my jeans.  We chatted for awhile and I told them that I had made some cookies.  As soon as I got my jeans done I'd get those ready and open some pop and we could have a nice snack.  Nathanael replied that they had actually brought dessert - which is good, too!

So, I got done with the jeans and walked out to the kitchen to serve up what they had brought.

Now, some background: I have this cake recipe that I would always have to make for Nathanael whenever he came over to spend time with Will.  It's called, "Better than Sex" cake and is the best thing ever - german chocolate cake with sweetened condensed milk and caramel topping poured into it, and then coolwhip spread on top with Andes mint pieces sprinkled over that.  Yum.  When Nathanael was engaged and we had his bachelor party here he requested that cake for dessert.  I remember Will made some funny sign for the top of it in regards to its name and the whole bachelor party theme.

So, I walked out to the kitchen and there was this cake.  Sitting on top was a sign Nathanael or Janie had made that read, "Better than sex cake?  If it were better...we wouldn't be expecting!"

Yay!  I can't say I was bowled over with surprise - after all they've been married a year and a half now, are home owners, are financially stable, and both come from exceptionally large families.  I assumed that baby making wouldn't be too far off in their future!  But it was still very happy news and I was so touched that they wanted to tell me and chose to do so in such a creative way.

I kind of feel like an expectant grandma now (although I am much too young and too good looking to actually be one yet) because Nathanael has always called me his "second mom" and I've told him repeatedly he's my "other" son.

So this summer I'll be cuddling a new baby, which is always a beautiful thing.

The Littles were asking me the next day the specifics of how babies get into tummies and they were obviously doubtful of my standard explanation, which is that babies are lined up in Heaven on shelves and God picks one and sends it down a chute to the mommy's tummy.  Hey - the older boys bought it!  Then Lizzie said, "Well, this is what I think happens: an invisible angel brings the baby down and puts it in the mommy."  I like that - invisible angels.
Another good thing is Sam's reading.  I was in the school this week picking up Lizzie for her dental appointment (she had two teeth pulled Wed. to make room in her mouth) and Sam's teacher saw me and waved me down.  She was nearly jumping up and down as she asked Sam to tell me the result of his FAST test reading (an assessment they do three times during the year - it's federally mandated and puts a lot of pressure on the schools and teachers to have every child labeled "proficient").  At the beginning of the year Sam had scored a 15 in reading and was immediately slapped into all kinds of remedial tutoring and brought home packets of materials we've been working on.  Anyway, Sam proudly told me he scored an 88.  I am so proud of him - he was worked so hard to get that score up.  I'm still not quite sure where that places him in regards to where they want him (we have parent-teacher conferences in a couple of weeks and I'll ask that then) but it's a tremendous jump in his reading ability.  I've noticed lately that he's beginning to read signs and other things and he's so pleased when he can do it!    He's also consistently getting 100% on his reading flash cards.

Lizzie's teacher showed me some of her scores too, and in her general understanding ones (the way a child puts together all the information regarding reading/Language Arts, I guess) she's also jumped over 60 points from her first test.  Her first-of-the-year scores weren't enough to score her in-house tutoring but I know her teacher was a little concerned.

So, it's all good I guess.  I still don't know if Sam is in danger of having to repeat the third grade or not, but I guess we'll cross that when we get to it.
Ellie had a rough week.  Who am I kidding?  Life has been nothing but rough with her since she turned three!  But lately, she's been lying left and right.  She's been in Obedience Training more than she's been out, I've spanked, I've taken away electronics and toys...and Wed. night she came down into my bedroom and reported that Lizzie had opened up this corner shelf I've had sitting up the girls' room for a couple of months.  I bought it to display the special china doll that was given to Lizzie for her birthday last fall.  But Will is planning to put panelboard over the plaster walls so I'm just going to wait to put it up now.

So, I went up stairs to see what was going on.  Sure enough, the shelf had been opened.  Lizzie protested her innocence and when I looked at the shelf I saw that it had been scribbled on with a pencil.  It wasn't but two days earlier Ellie had gotten in huge trouble for, once again, coloring on her bed.

What am I supposed to do with this child?  It's bad enough to tell a lie to get out trouble, but it's another thing altogether to deliberately tell a falsehood in hopes that someone else will get in trouble!  So, I texted Ellie's preschool teacher and told her Ellie would not be going to school the next day because of repeated offenses.  I explained to her that I am finding it difficult to find things that hurt her enough to induce her to choose good behavior.  I felt bad because I know the teachers plan on having a certain number of kids there.  I also know they think the world of Ellie and are convinced she is an absolute darling.  I hated to disabuse them of that perception, erroneous as it is.

When I told Ellie what I had done she cried, which encouraged me.  And the next day when I got home from doing some shopping I asked, "So how was preschool today?"  She just stared at me and then I smiled somewhat evilly and said, "Oh, that's right..."  Several times that day I insisted she tell me why she had to miss preschool and she was able to answer that it was because she had lied and colored on the shelf, so I know that she knows.  This girl can also very succinctly explain to me how that disobedience causes her to step outside God's "umbrella of protection" and leaves her vulnerable to getting hurt - which is a word picture I've used with the kids.  She knows but she chooses disobedience anyway.

Like I explained to Ellie's teacher when I texted her - if I do not break her strong will now we're both going to be in a world of hurt a decade from now.  And the teacher was very, very understanding.  She said she's a mom of 4 teenagers/college students and is "exactly where you're afraid of going."  So it was nice to have that support.

I hope it worked.  Otherwise, I just don't know what to do with her.

The next day I had to run a few errands.  Ellie wanted to come along and I let her.  We were in Walgreen's and she exclaimed, "Look, Mom - crotches!"  My head whipped up because I didn't know what she was talking about, but I knew it couldn't be good!  She was pointing at crutches.

And then we were in Target checking out and the clerk, an older lady, exclaimed to Ellie, "Oh, you are so cute!  Did you know that?  You are just CUTE!" 

Ellie replied, "I know.  Everybody tells me that."

I felt it necessary on the way home to once again launch into my "pretty heart/ugly heart" and "tell me what's most important - a pretty face or a pretty heart?"  spiel.
I had a dream about a week ago that has stuck with me.  In the dream, the girls were not adopted yet and for whatever reason I had decided that I would only adopt Ellie (why, after this week I would choose to do that even in dreamland, I do not know...).  So, a new foster mother was coming to pick up Lizzie.

She arrived and I was so distraught that I could barely speak.  The new mom wanted to know information about Lizzie and I was trying to tell her but I ended up falling to my knees and sobbing uncontrollably because I was giving her up.

It was kind of nice to wake up from that dream and I actually found the emotion of it somewhat comforting.  For so long, I struggled to love that girl because she was so difficult.  I did all the loving, parental things, but I didn't feel it in my heart.  We're a long ways past that now and she has definitely worked her way into my heart.  But there are times she's still bristly and annoying and reverts to past behaviors and I wonder if we've come as far as I like to think we have.

But then I go and have a dream like this and I know that I know that I know that I would die for this child and that I don't think I could love her more if she were biologically mine.

It's comforting.
Tomorrow I will spend a good portion of my day reading since I got none of my college reading done for the past 4 days.  We have some sort of, "post and respond" assignment tomorrow on the class site and then I need to get started writing my first paper which is due in a week.  I don't even know how submit papers electronically yet, either.  It might be good to find that out between now and then!

I'm going to lunch with a friend on Tuesday and that evening should be a hair night.  Today I watched a couple of youtube videos and I think I understand now how to do flat rope twists so I want to try some on Lizzie's hair.  I ordered some soft, squeezy beads last week - maybe they'll arrive in time and I can work those into the twists, too.

Wednesday I have a hair appt. for myself and I'm getting my eyebrows waxed, which will be a relief.  Those things are starting to look scary!  Then, Lizzie's teacher informed me that I signed up to help with the Valentine party and we have a meeting after school that day.  I have a vague recollection of volunteering last August to make some Valentine treats - which is a far cry from helping with an actual party for 19  seven  year olds.

Thursday I have class and Friday morning I'm hoping to make it down to Pville.  The superintendent is going to have this thing at the coffee shop where he'll be talking about the schools and parents can chat with him one-on-one.  I'd like to go.  If I'm going to do this public school thing I want to know what's going on in my kids' classrooms.

Saturday morning I have to drive Ben and the Littles up to the Woodward-Granger school (an hour away) for a Special Olympics basketball event.  David will be at Winter Meltdown at camp so I won't have his help.  Will will be helping Pastor and Marcia load the moving van.

And then it will be a week from today and we will have said good-bye to Pastor and Marcia for the last time and I will be facing a lifetime of having to stand a little more steadily on my own two feet.

I'd like to slow this week down so that Sunday never comes.



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.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Day 956

January 18, 2016

Day 956


Martin Luther King Day...Lizzie was picking out bands for Ellie's hair and  she commented that she had chosen "Christmas colors."  Then she asked, "What 'color' is Martin Luther King Day, Mom?"  I know I'm terrible, but I immediately replied,




I forgot to record a funny incident that happened last month when I took Lizzie in for her foot.  The nurse asked her how she had  hurt herself and Lizzie told her that her sister had dropped a mirror on her foot.  Then the nurse turned to  me and quietly asked, "Did she say she dropped a beer on her foot?"  Ha, ha, ha...she was probably already mentally dialing Child Protective Services in her mind!


David and I went to the bank last week and opened up a checking account for him.  Another sign of impending adulthood, I guess...Actually, I've found it easiest to just get the kids their own debit cards once they start driving.  That way they can buy gas and then I reimburse them.  It will be a good opportunity for me to teach him bank skills, as well.


Lizzie was complaining the other night that her foot (not the one with the previously broken bone - the other one) had been hurting all day and as a result, she said, she had been, "humping" all day long.  I couldn't help it.  I laughed outloud!  I realize she meant, "limping" but what she said was so much funnier!


Bernie Sanders was at the high school last week.  I assumed Ben would miss the event because it was his day to work at Hy-Vee, but they made arrangements to have him come back early just for the gathering. 


I'd just as soon they'd left him working.


Ben got home and the first words out of his mouth were, "Can some Democrats have good ideas?"  It made for a good conversation but ever since then, Ben has been on the Bernie bandwagon, no matter how much his brothers and I have tried to explain to him that Bernie is a Socialist.  I also pointed out to him that we would have to pay for the free college (the subject he was particularly hard hitting on at the high school that day) he wants to give out.  But Ben isn't quite persuaded. 


I need to get him to a Ted Cruz event.


I've started working on Ben's scrapbook for his graduation party.  A long time ago I was on the ball and did his book by the year.  The last page in there is the year he was 9...  So, now I'm going through the albums digging out pictures to copy and scrapbook. 


I was looking through 2008s today and was struck by how happy we used to be.  Not that life was ever perfect - it can't be - but there were so many genuine smiles in those pictures.  Ben, unfortunately, was a little vacant in his expressions, but that was normal back then for him.  It just makes me wonder if we will ever be happy that way again this side of Heaven.


I don't know.  I hope so.


Lizzie told me that sometime recently her teacher asked each student in the room to name something out loud that they appreciate about their moms and their dads.


I understand that it's a good idea to coax small children into thinking outside their own myopic little worlds and learning early on to feel and express appreciation is a good thing.


But knowing that a child has lost a parent, why would a teacher suggest this activity?  Lizzie said she isn't the only child without a dad in the room and the teacher said they could say something they are thankful about regarding another male relative.  But everyone knows that's not the same.   It does nothing but cause a child additional hurt.


By the way, what she said she appreciated about me is that, "she feeds me."  Important stuff, I guess!


Family Day is coming up in about  4 weeks.  I did some research today for options for that day.  As time goes on, I would definitely say the need for distraction on that day is diminishing.  Although, I think the idea of the day is a really good one, so I don't want to ever abandon it, altogether, either.


It would have been 23 years this year.


I had to read a story today for my class.  It's called, "The Story of an Hour" by Kate Chopin.  She was a writer from the 1880s.  We're reading another of hers right now, a novel about a discontented wife.  This was a short story we had to read today and I am starting to sense a theme with Ms. Chopin's work.  This one actually cracked me up in a morbid, dark way, though.  The story regards a woman who has just received the terrible news that her husband has been killed in a tragic railroad accident.  The news appears to be confirmed and she is gravely (hah - no pun intended) informed of the sorrowful event by her husband's co-worker.  She immediately bursts into noisy tears and insists on retiring to her room, despite the fluttering of her sister and other females in residence.  I found myself really being drawn into the story - no doubt because of my own widowhood experience.


Once in her bedroom, I can imagine the main character doing a fistpump, although I don't think such an action was a thing 130 years ago.  Several paragraphs are dedicated to her overwhelming sense of newfound freedom.  While she didn't wish any harm to her husband, she is delighted that she is suddenly completely free of the man and free to do whatever it is she wants.  Her sister hovers outside the keyhole, begging her to come out, so at long last, the new widow emerges, forcing her jubilant features into the solemnity the occasion demands.


She walks to the top of the stairs and just then the front door opens and in walks her husband.  The last line reads, "When the doctors came, they said she had died of heart disease - of joy that kills."


Oh, that reminds me - I guess I haven't written about my class yet on this blog.  Last Monday all we had to do was introduce ourselves.  There's 15 of us - all women - in the class.  We're located all over the state (the beauty of internet learning).  Most are moms, although I think I won the award for having the most children.  Our teacher is up in the Mason City area - a farmer's wife.  It's just amazing to me how much college has changed since I was last a student 24 years ago.  I mean, I'll be sitting on the bed in my pajamas listening to the professor instead of tapping my foot on a concrete floor in a cold classroom.  Awesome!


Thursday night I drove over to Newton and my adviser showed me how to access the Blackboard Collaborative on my laptop. I just sat in the office and did the class there that night.  The teacher had her powerpoint on the screen and we could hear her talking.  We had the ability to speak, ourselves, if we wanted to into the computer and be heard (we could also show ourselves, too - I hope I never accidentally press THAT button!).  Off to the right of the screen is where we "talk" by typing.  It just struck me as funny that as the professor is giving her lecture, students are interjecting comments by type and then sometimes the teacher would respond to those.  In a normal classroom nobody would ever just interrupt the professor in the middle of her talk!  Computers make everything so much less formal.


I had spent the week reading the textbook that the lecture was supposed to cover and I just felt dumber and dumber as the week went on.  I didn't understand any of it!  But I felt better after actually attending class Thurs. night.  I might be able to handle this after all.


My professor has been very personally encouraging to me, praising my writing that she's seen just in my notes to her and introduction to the class.  She said she's "already impressed" with me...hope I don't let her down once I start submitting papers!


Oh, and cue the Disney music to "It's a Small World After All"...I was so flabbergasted to discover after doing our introductions a week ago that Paul's cousin is in class with me!  Of all the universities and all the classes out there and we end up in the exact. same. one.


Holy cow.


We quickly became Facebook friends after we made the connection.  She's actually Paul's second cousin, the daughter of his first cousin.  Her daughter was born 4 days before Sam, too.  She commented that they don't see too much of the other relatives (this is Paul's mom's side of the family) so I don't know if anything will ever get said, but it makes me wonder if it will ever come out to Paul's family via this cousin that I'm back in school.  Not that it matters, I guess.


Well, it's after 8.  I have one more kid to shoo into bed and then I need to go through my nightly check-list so that I can get these kids onto the bus in the morning. 


Another week starts...


































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.