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March Madness



Well, I’ll just jump into this with what is on my mind tonight:


Dating



And, no, I’m not.


But I went to the eharmony website tonight, just to check them out in case, you know, I DID want to date. Which I don’t think I do yet. I don’t know. They immediately had me start filling out a profile which I really didn’t want to do and the more I sat there, the less comfortable I felt so I finally just quit which has resulted in 3 emails from eharmony already asking if I really wanted to quit? Yes, I really did. I don’t think I’m ready yet.


I did some googling of reviews and eharmony actually has terrible reviews for the financial end of things. They’re expensive and it can be really difficult to get them to quit billing you once you want to quit. Ugh. I don’t want that kind of headache – or expense. But it sounds like they are pretty effective for actually finding people matches. 


There are cheaper Christian sites out there but they don’t have the high security that eharmony does (for which you are charged). I found myself kind of interested in one put together through Focus on the Family called Marry Well. I like that they really emphasize that women should not be emailing the men, but waiting for them to email first. But they just don’t have a lot of members yet which means I’d probably be matched with someone in Maine…which really won’t work.


Part of me says I need to put myself out there, that it’s time. Another part of me says I should wait a little longer – finish college, write my book…then see. The first part reminds me that my looks are only going to continue to fade with time and I had better get moving, the second voice says that maybe I’ll meet a man somewhere other than the internet and then won’t I be disgusted at the amount of money I spent on dating sites?


So…I don’t know. I’m getting more and more questions from people as the 3 year mark approaches, wanting to feel me out on the idea of dating and remarriage. I usually respond by laughing and pointing out my dirty mini-van, stuffed with children who depend on me.


I’m not even sure where I am emotionally. There are times – a lot of them, really – where Paul seems like more memory than anything. That phenomena kind of blows my mind, actually. How can someone who was an actual part of you be so quickly relegated to the past? But then there are other moments like yesterday morning when I woke up with such an intense longing for him that I could feel it and I was sure tears were probably lurking not too far below the surface. But the girls chose that very moment to run into my room and jump on the bed asking all sorts of questions (mostly about my boobs – they’re highly interested in them at the moment) and the tears got sucked back down into my heart. To shush the girls I finally rolled out of bed – which served to elicit more questions from the girls about my other body parts (it sounds like I was sleeping naked, but I wasn’t!).


Who would want to marry this? All the chaos and noise that makes up my life, not to mention my flabby middle-aged self…I’m thinking I had probably better plan on a single life for the remainder of my days and just be pleasantly surprised if God sends another man at some point.


Well, the rest of this post will probably be rather anticlimactic after that kind of start…


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Let’s see: school!



My Intro to Theory class wrapped up a week and a half ago. Grades were posted last Thursday and I came out of there with an A. I actually scored 100 points in there – got full credit for absolutely everything. Officially, I am a “student in good standing” according to BVU and I’m also a junior, I discovered. I had no idea where they had me. I’m not sure when I’ll officially be a senior, but I’ll be one for quite awhile. My professor had lots of good things to say about my final projects.



Now I’m in a Global Warming class. I think I’ve written about it before. My 75 year old professor is very, very much on the “the ice caps are melting and we’re all going to die” bandwagon. I have been quite open with my skepticism in the class discussions and he keeps telling me that that’s good and I just need to keep an open mind, but by the way, global warming is a fact and there’s no reason for you to doubt it. But hey – do your own research and for starters, check out these websites (full of G. W. propaganda, of course).


I submitted my first paper last night (on why it’s bad to plagiarize) and already got the grade today – 4.5 out of 5 points. The teacher was very impressed with my writing, he said. So, that’s good. I lost points because I accidentally sent him my single spaced copy (I’m still kicking myself) and because I didn’t quite get the APA citation right. That part is frustrating to me. I do NOT understand APA and I can’t find websites that give me solid examples. I wrote him today and asked him to send me some and he said he would, so hopefully, I’ll have some better direction before the next paper. This class is really time-intensive – lots and lots of reading and writing.


I have to come up with a proposal this week for my final project which is something we’re supposed to design to send to a law maker, having to do with climate change. Like I’d ever attach my name to something like that and actually send it…I’m toying with the idea of reproductive education for women in third world countries, if that would be acceptable. Something like that should have enough to delight children-hating liberals and I think I could put more of a spin on it than writing anything about how the sky is falling and the polar bears don’t have anything to eat and there are no more ice caps and the earth’s core is heating up and one day the earth is going to explode! Blah, blah, blah…like I commented in one of my discussion questions this week, you know the earth has been around for thousands of years. I’m not sure I buy into the global warming theory, but say it’s true – could it just be that the earth is wearing out, because, after all, nothing lasts forever…(and because it’s groaning under the curse of sin – I didn’t add that part).



It was a week ago Friday that I found out I had scored 25 out of 25 on my power point presentation on Redeeming Love. I was exclaiming about that to anyone in the house who would listen. The next day David spent the afternoon and evening in Mount Pleasant, attending a state-wide youth event featuring Carl Kerby (used to be with Answers in Genesis). He got home around 10 that night and I was at my computer and he walked into my room and handed me flowers. I couldn’t believe it! I haven’t gotten flowers since Paul was alive. I could tell he was pretty pleased with himself, but he explained that he had heard me talking about my good grade the day before and the thought occurred to him that Dad would have gotten me flowers to celebrate. He said he said something to Will about that and Will kind of grunted and said well, then maybe David should do that. So that poor boy, on his own, having never in his life bought flowers before, went to Hy-Vee, after getting back from the youth event, and figured out what to get and brought them home to me. Almost seventeen years old and he has twinkie filling for a heart – all mush. Twinkies are good.


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Wednesday was kind of a sad day. Sam went to clean out his hamster cage – and discovered Chocolate Chip was “sleeping really hard, Mom!” David frantically ran into my room and exclaimed, “I think Sam’s hamster is dead, Mom, but I don’t want to be the one to tell him!” Uh, oh. I walked into the kitchen and Sam was holding the hamster and trying to jiggle him awake. I took him and found he was stone cold and had to break the news that Chocolate Chip wasn’t going to be waking up.



Sam immediately burst into tears. This was around 4:30. He did not stop crying all night long. His response was so over-the-top that it didn’t take me long to figure out that this probably had more to do with Paul’s death than it did the rodent’s. Of all the kids, except for Ellie, who was a baby, Sam seemed the least affected at the time of Paul’s death. But he was pretty young. I spent most of the evening sitting with him on the bed and the couch, just holding him while he wailed. He was SO upset. He slept in my bed that night and cried himself to sleep.


David was in tears, too, but his were because he couldn’t stand seeing Sam hurting. I guess at youth group he even asked for prayer for Sam and was quite miffed when the other kids and even the youth leader, laughed. I can understand why they laughed, but to David, there was nothing funny about it. However, one of his close friends, Jonathan, did ask David if he thought Sam was actually re-living some of the stuff from when Paul died. I thought that was a pretty sensitive question from a teenage boy.


The next morning Sam did seem ok. David had taken a picture of the hamster and turned it into a screen saver for the kids’ computer. Sam discovered that and seemed pleased. I emailed his teacher to let her know in case he wasn’t ok at school. She called me later that day to let me know that Sam was doing all right, but she hadn’t asked him, either, not wanting to set him off, accidentally.


When Sam hopped off the bus that afternoon he told me, “I’m all over Chocolate Chip dying now” and cheerfully took the box with his body (after opening it to view the stiff little guy one last time) and buried it under the peach tree.



We’re getting another hamster this week.


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When Sam’s teacher called she also asked about Sam’s stuttering. He has always stuttered since he learned to talk. It seems to come in waves and then will subside for awhile before surging again. I’ve just ignored it. Now, earlier this year I did notice that it was getting worse when I was practicing all the timed readings with Sam at home in an effort to increase his skills that the school demands. I emailed his reading instructor who replied, “What stuttering? I haven’t noticed any stuttering.” She hasn’t liked me since I told her I wasn’t overly concerned about his reading skills at this point. So then, at parent-teacher conferences this same reading instructor asked me, “Have you noticed Sam stuttering?” Um, yes…I believe I have. Argh…


So anyway, Sam’s regular teacher asked me Thursday if I’ve noticed an uptick in his stuttering and I thought about it and told her that yes, it has been worse for awhile now. She wants to have the school’s speech pathologist observe him and get her opinion. I don’t have a problem with that, although I’m a bit dubious as to what speech therapy can do for stuttering. If they can help him, fine, but I think usually, stuttering is something that has to be outgrown. Unfortunately for Sam, it’s affecting his reading goals at school which is frustrating for him. And other kids are noticing because Sam has mentioned that. When I told Sam’s teacher that she became quite upset and emphatically told me that if Sam ever complains about getting made fun of, to get names and she would make sure to deal with those miscreants. She’s a good teacher. I’ve requested her for Lizzie next year.


So, that’s that, anyway.


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I opened a new bag of Cheetos puffs the other day and Ellie immediately commented that they were “small.” Since she talks a lot, I didn’t pay a lot of attention, but later I did happen to notice them and she’s right. They have downsized the puffs! Those dirty dogs…I sure didn’t pay any less for less cheeto, though…


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The kids are excited about Easter, which is in two weeks. I made a comment about getting a “small” gift in their Easter basket, which is usually what I do for them – something small and lots of goodies to go with it. I spend plenty on them for Christmas and birthdays and I like to treat them at Valentine’s Day because it’s about love. But it bothers me to go all out for Easter because, well, for one, I could go broke. But, two, Easter is the most sacred holiday of the year and I just get a little squeamy about the idea of making it about them. You know, I really don’t have a problem with Santa at Christmas, even though my kids know the truth. I actually can see how Santa and Baby Jesus can be presented in tandem. But, the older I get, the more I really detest the Easter Bunny. This is Easter, which is the crux of Christianity. It’s about a really, really horrible day that three days later, turned into the best day in history. And we’re going to relegate that story to Sunday school rooms in musty church basements and focus instead on an overgrown bunny giving out dyed chicken eggs? 


Sam was not buying the whole “small gifts are more appropriate” spiel and told me that he thinks at Easter we should give the biggest gifts since Easter is the most important holiday of all! Nice try, Bud…


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That multi-cultural paper pack arrived the first of the week and I sent it with Lizzie to school a few days later. I wrote an email to her teacher, explaining that, in the future, I want Lizzie to have a choice of skin colored paper when making projects. I was really nice and I explained to her that I wasn’t upset in any way with her. I told her I’m still learning how to parent children of a different race and I certainly don’t expect her to have things down when I don’t. She immediately emailed me back and was full of apologies, saying she just hadn’t thought of such a thing. So I think it ended well.



With her, anyway. With Lizzie…I don’t know. The other day she made the comment that “brown people have skin the color of dirt.” I quickly told her it’s also the color of chocolate, which made her smile, at least. She’s going through something right now where she is convinced that white, blond, and blue-eyed is the epitome of beauty. I blame it on Frozen. And public schools. And me. She just has nobody to relate to, color-wise. 



The other night she asked me, “Will I still be black when I’m in Heaven?” 


I may swing by True Bible Baptist sooner than later. This is a black church in our association – the only one in the state, I believe. It’s located on the south side of Des Moines. Which is surprising, because most of the blacks live on the north side. The Hispanics are on the south and east sides. All of that means nothing, I suppose. But maybe I can catch the pastor and get his input and maybe there would be something I could do for the girls with them.


This morning an older gentleman at church (late 70s) asked how I was doing and I made the mistake of replying, “ok.” So then he wanted to hear all about it. I wasn’t about to dump all over him but I eventually got into my concerns about Lizzie and he actually suggested True Bible to me, even though I’d long ago had the same thought. He said, “You know – maybe you ought to drop into some of their services every so often, just for the girls.” He then pointed out to me, “Those girls are black – being black is their culture and you can’t just take them away from that forever.” No, I can’t.


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Yesterday I spent the day in Iowa City with Ben. It was his dance competition for Special Olympics. I had forgotten how neat this thing is. Special Olympic sports are awesome, too, but there’s something about the dancing that’s extra special. Those individuals have worked SO hard for weeks and when they take the floor, they’re excited and downright joyful! The music they’ve selected pours out of the speaker and they’re moving. I’ve never seen more beautiful dancing than what comes out of these special dancers, some in wheelchairs, many with stiff bodies. And their eyes – they sparkle. They’re so happy. You can’t help but smile with them in the stands.


My favorite performer was a solo act by a man with Down’s syndrome. He came out dressed in cowboy gear and did a little dance to a country song, complete with plenty of line dancing steps. And then he suddenly ripped off his shirt, revealing a black tee underneath, and immediately began moving to a 1950s song. He completed his act by sliding on his knees across the floor and grinning impishly at the audience. We were howling.



Ben’s group did awesome. I think their outfits looked the best and they moved with real unity. I didn’t recognize the music, but they had a basketball theme and did great.


I found myself getting kind of choked up as I sat there watching not only Ben and his teammates, but all the other athletes. I suppose I’m more emotional since graduation is looming. But I remembered how things were when he was little. I remember how sad I was for so long because Ben and, by association, I,were never going to experience a lot of the normal things you expect to with your kids. It was a real loss and for a long time I felt like I had been given the “broken” gift – I’d been cheated. But I sat there yesterday and the knowledge resounded in my heart that I wasn’t cheated out of a single, solitary thing. In fact, I was given so much more than parents who only have “normal” children are. I wish I’d realized that when Ben was little. Days like yesterday actually made me feel sorry for parents who will never know the joy of having a child who moves to a different beat.


And to top it all off – we took home gold medals! They deserved them. We walked outside the school gymnasium and discovered that the sunny skies had turned gray and it had rained quite a bit while we were inside. It didn’t matter. Ben said he wanted to go to Steak n’ Shake, so we did. We walked in there together and I was so proud that he was with me and that I was with him and I thought once again to myself, “God never makes mistakes.”


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I’ve been kind of concerned about money lately. My income just isn’t quite covering all the expenses anymore. 16 months ago I lost several hundred dollars a month in income from a subsidy Ben got for several years. And then my insurance rates have surged so much since then. Two years from now I’ll be losing David’s social security and Ben’s won’t be too far behind. The thought fills me with absolute panic. I know I need to do something now to cover the shortfall I’m experiencing most months and I’ve got to figure out something for a couple of years from now. The whole college thing is happening because of the knowledge about losing the Soc. Security. I’m not so sure I would have gone back if not for that. In addition, I got my monthly investment statement on Friday and that money has shrunk again.  I am thinking that maybe oil wasn’t such a good place to sink some those funds into…sure, paying $1.70 at the pump is nice, but I’m not making any money with prices this low! So, all that’s there in my mind, whipping it into a frenzy of worry.



I could go out now and work somewhere but I’m not sure how to do that with the kids. I don’t have a back-up if one of them gets sick and I don’t want them spending their summers in day care. And then what happens this fall with Ben? I don’t know what his transportation needs will be yet. I have a fuzzy feeling I’ll be needed as his driver at least part of the time.


I’ve actually found a few possibilities that I could do from home and use my writing skills for. I have a number of links friends have sent me over the past year or so – write-from-home type jobs – that I’ve saved. I pulled some of them out the other day and I think they may have some potential. I have to have a resume in order to apply, which frightens me a little. What do I put on a resume? Um, I’m really skilled at making meal plans and I can read a story, check schoolwork, lay out clothes, and spank a kid all at the same time? Probably not what they’re looking for…


But, if I could find something to do at home at least until I absolutely have to go out into the workforce, that would clearly be best, I would think. Of course, I’m not quite sure how I would add doing yet another thing to my days. 


We lost an hour of sleep last night, thanks to Daylight Savings Time. And, no, I didn’t go to bed earlier in order to make up for it. So, I was really, really tired this morning. And that’s when I tend to worry about money the most – when I’m tired. I ended up sitting through Sunday School the entire hour, fretting about money. What’s going to happen? What am I going to do? 


And then before the service starts, a friend comes up to me and says, “I’m supposed to give you this.” I was puzzled because I recognized her handwriting on the envelope. I opened it and discovered a $100 bill and a note that said she’d sold her crop and “God told me to give you this.” And in that moment, I heard God’s voice that I’ve come to recognize nearly instantaneously since Paul’s death, saying, “Do you really think I’m not going to take care of you?”



And that voice was confirmed less than an hour later when I was chatting with that gentleman on my way out that I mentioned earlier. I commented to him that I was back in college and explained to him that I will be losing the boys’ social security in the next few years and unless I have a plan – like earning a degree so I can make more money - , I don’t know how we’re going to survive. And Joe looked at me and very seriously said, “Well, Sarah, I know it’s easy for me to say this, but God has promised that you and those kids will always be taken care of. You need to quit worrying right now!”

And I could feel the pressure of tears building behind my eyes as he said that because I knew he was right. God had just answered my unspoken prayer and concerns through the gift of my friend and now his encouragement. Why do I let myself get so worked up like this? Slowly, I can feel the joy starting to come back into my life and it’s like Satan is just wanting to rip it all away by causing me to worry so much about things that aren’t here yet.


This widowhood thing…it’s not just about losing Paul. I am becoming more and more convinced that God wanted something more from me – a complete trust in Him, maybe – and the most effective way to make that happen was to remove the one I trusted in more than Him. The lessons of widowhood go way beyond the filled grave.


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Oh, man…it’s almost 11 at night now. I’ve got such a busy week awaiting me, too. It’s Spring Break – but it’s going to be kind of a crazy week. No jetting off to the Cayman Islands for me (as one Facebook friend casually posted his airport check-in today)!






But my goal this week is to calm down and to trust God for the details. He will provide – He has proved Himself over and over already. I just need to quiet my spirit in anticipation.










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