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Letting Go and Trying the New


I am having a rough day with my allergies.  Normally, they don’t start to bother me until the second week of August.  I hope they’re not getting a jump start on things this year!

And it’s been hot this week – so, so hot.  If I didn’t know better, I’d think there was something to this global warming business.  It’s been hot, but I have air, so I can’t complain too much.

Ellie is on the loveseat, complaining about having to lie down for a  nap.  “I didn’t ASK to take a nap!,” she is protesting loudly.   She’s been kicking around and complaining for the last half hour.  I’m not sure whether to give up or make her stick it out longer.

She hasn’t been quite so awful this week.  In fact, one day she was very industriously writing on the white board in the kitchen.  She kept telling me to “not look.”  Then, later she told me to look.  It was covered in various letters, none of which made any sense, other than “Ellie” and “Mom.”  She told me, “This says, ‘I am very sorry for all the bad things I’ve done and for telling you lies. Can you please forgive me?  And I love you very much.’”  It could be pure manipulation – I don’t know.  But after the summer I’ve had with her, I’ll take it!  And then one day this week she crawled up in my lap, laid her head on my chest, and said, “I love you!”  She doesn’t usually do things like that.  Normally, she’s just kind of emotionless and blank.  So – maybe it’s progress.

Lizzie crawled into my bed, trembling, this morning.  She told me she’d had a dream about a bad neighbor (nobody for real) and in the dream I had told Lizzie, “I’m going to be murdered.”  Lizzie said to me, “I know it’s  just a dream, Mom, but I don’t know what I would do if you died!”  Things like this make me think her defenses are mostly or completely gone.  She made me a little book this week entitled, “Lizzie’s Love Mom” book.  In it she wrote about how, if I was contestant on America’s Got Talent she would “always vote for you” and on the last page she wrote, “I don’t know what I would be doing if I was not with you.”  I’m so glad she seems to trust me now and feels this connection, but it still makes me so sad that she has this emotional injury in her past where she knows what it is like to not know where you’re going or who is going to take care of you next.

It occurs to me that this summer has been so good with Lizzie and so bad with Ellie.  It makes me wonder if Ellie senses the closeness her sister has developed with me and is intent, either by design or not, on gaining equal amounts of attention.  I don’t know.
Ben spent all week up in Ames at the Youth Leadership Forum.  All I really knew about this organization was that the purpose of this week long camp was to teach disabled young adults how to advocate for themselves in the “real” world.  Ben’s case manager and Voc. Rehab counselor had said it was a good thing for Ben and I couldn’t find any reason to object to the idea, so I agreed to have him go through the application process.  Last Sun. afternoon I took him up to ISU and, well, here’s the post I wrote when I got home:

I dropped Ben off in Ames this afternoon for a Youth Leadership Forum – a week-long conference designed to teach self-advocacy to the disabled. The idea of attending was presented to me as a “good opportunity” months ago by Ben’s case manager and his Voc. Rehab counselor. Since I’m all about good opportunities, particularly free ones, I agreed. And I’ve had misgivings ever since, particularly as the event has drawn nearer. Those fears were only heightened today when I brought him and it appeared to me that nearly every other attendee appeared to be quite a bit higher functioning than Ben. I worry. All of Ben’s life I have taken care of him. Even now, I perform a number of his hygiene needs for him, I remind him about proper behavior, I keep track of his time and manage his money. And today, I felt like I was dropping him off the side of a cliff into an unknown and dangerous wilderness. What if he locks himself out of his room? What if he loses his meal ticket? What if he can’t figure out how to operate his alarm clock? What if someone steals his money? What if his roommate is mean? But yet…I am cognizant of the fact that encountering some of these difficulties may be what helps Ben grow most. I also know that the help and care I have lavished on him his entire life will begin to become a hindrance now that he is a young adult. And he may end up being just fine this week and all this hand-wringing on my end will be for naught. Anyway, prayers for a successful week for Ben would be appreciated, as well as for his mom – as she learns to let go.

I was nervous about the whole thing.  This was the most independent Ben would ever have opportunity to be, thus far.  The counselors weren’t staying in the same rooms with the kids and there were a whole lot more campers than there  were counselors.  I never worried overly much about taking Ben up to Special camp.  Every year I drop him off and I always laugh because there are these benches lining the outside of the boys’ dorm.  They are always filled with the special camper men – and they’re all sitting there rocking.  Ben is right at home!  But it wasn’t like that Sunday.  These seemed like  pretty articulate young adults and I wondered just what I had let Ben in for.

But he did fine.  I had sent Ben’s phone with him, even though the paperwork said not to.  I saw quite a few of the students with phones, so apparently, it’s not an actual rule.  He called me a few times, for inconsequential things.  I think he just missed me!

I don’t know if Ben got a whole lot out of the week, but at least they did some fun activities that he was able to participate in.  I did enjoy the program they had for us yesterday at a luncheon.  It sounded like the week was made up of classes, motivational speakers, activism (visiting the capitol, wearing signs advocating for disability rights in the skywalk), and fun times, too.  I also sensed that they were trying to convey a real sense of self worth to each student.  They also had a resource fair yesterday with different agencies for the disabled represented.  That was kind of interesting.

I met one mom yesterday who was telling me she felt the exact same way Sunday after dropping her daughter off.  That made me feel a little better, too!


Today I spent more than five hours going to church, loading up teenagers and workers (and my own Littles) in the 15 passenger van, taking them up to camp, and coming back home.  It suddenly occurred to me, as I walked from my own parked van to the waiting church van that I have never, in my life, driven any vehicle that had a trailer attached to the back.  And our church trailer is good sized – probably close in size to the smallest Hertz ones you see bumping down the interstate.  I was a little stressed!  Plus, a 15 passenger van is quite a bit larger than my 7 passenger mini van!  Fortunately, Will sat up front with me (he is volunteering this week) and coached me along.  I did fine.  After I left camp, I had to get gas and Will had pointed out a couple of stations to use, saying that they would be good because I could make a right turn into them.  He kept saying, “Now just remember, don’t get into little spaces and make wide turns!”  So, I get to the gas station and realize that the church gas card is only for Caseys – not these stations.  Ellie pointed out that Caseys was across the street so I pulled out onto the highway, thinking the turn-off to the access road was down aways.  I turned – and discovered I had just entered a car wash!  Furthermore, there was a sign stating, “No turn-arounds.”  Well – sorry folks!  I turned around without wrecking the trailer and eventually was able to get gas.  And I eventually  made it home, without losing the trailer or sideswiping a prius with it.  But I was SO glad to get back into my mini van once I made it to church!

I was hastily putting together a lunch for the kids once we made it home and Sam was working on his sandwich when he sniffed, “You know, sometimes my eyes just get filled with water and I can’t make it stop!” and I realized he was crying as he wailed, “I miss David!”  David’s going to be gone for three weeks straight.  Sam was also up at 6 this morning (hovering over my bed, saying, “Don’t you think you should be getting up, Mom?”  Um, no – I still have 15 more minutes, thank you.  Now go away.) so he was pretty tired.  I actually got him to take a little bit of a nap today.  He’s doing fine now.

So, anyway, pulling a trailer was a new experience for me.  I tried something else new the other night.  I went to Panera Bread.  It’s a restaurant in the mall that always seems to have a lot of people in there.  Since I don’t like trying new things, I’ve never eaten there.  But, I was given a gift card to that place last spring at that single mom’s event I went to so I decided that the next time we had Single Parent Provision I would try them.  I did.  Not impressed at all.  In fact, I threw most of my food away.  Gross.  I had looked at the menu on-line before going so it wasn’t like I had to make a snap decision in an unfamiliar environment.  They must have some more palatable entrees because it sure seemed like a popular place, though.
I had a Canadian friend message me last week on FB.  She had some questions about Americans and Donald Trump.  She’s a Christian, but is finding herself so baffled by how Trump ended up getting the nomination.  She was saying that to them, he seems so rude and arrogant and she and her friends just don’t understand what is happening in American politics.  She said she thought I was the “only American friend” she could really ask.  Hah!  Ok, then…so, I pretty much told her it wasn’t that we were all that crazy about Trump – it’s just that he’s better than Hilary.  So, we’re not voting FOR Trump (well, some people are), but against Hilary.  I know as Americans, we tend to think that our politics only concerns us because we’re not too concerned about other countries’ politics.  But that’s not really the case.  The entire world watches American elections.

I took Bella to the vet last week – first time in three years since I had her fixed and declawed.  I hate spending money on animals.  But she’s been battling fleas for almost a year now and the stuff I’ve been buying isn’t doing the trick.  I wanted to find out if there was something more serious going on.  So, of course, they wanted to give her a rabies shot, which was fine.  Then they warned me that if she bit anyone (she was growling and hissing the whole time) they’d have to call Animal Control and then she’d be quarantined for 10 days.  So, I was praying she’d keep her teeth to herself!  I know one thing – I’m not taking her to the vet again without a pet carrier.  I didn’t want to spend the money, so I just brought a tub, lined it with a bath towel and put some food and water in, thinking that she’d just lie in there nicely.  Hah!  And she urinated and pooped in my van, which meant when I got home I had to treat and vacuum the floors (in a 115 degree heat index).  If she’d been in a carrier, at least the mess would have been confined.  She howled all the way to the vet’s, too.  All that trauma and all they ended up doing was giving her a pill for worms that she may or may not have and sold me three months worth of better flea treatment stuff.  I love my cat but I’m not so sure she was worth another $132.

She’s definitely  not worth $2000.  One of my FB friends has been battling some sort of chronic fatigue illness and recently got a little puppy that she calls her “therapy dog.”  Whether or not it is an actual, trained “therapy dog” is unknown to me. I suspect not, since it’s only a puppy.  Anyway, her toddler was carrying the dog, dropped it, and broke the dog’s hip over the weekend.  The cost for surgery was over $2000, which the family does not have.  Rather than euthanize the puppy, they set up a Gofundme site to raise the money.  At first when I saw it, I thought, “Oh, that’s sad – wonder if I could contribute?”  And then my next thought was, “$2000 – are they crazy?  You can get a new dog for less money than that!”  Apparently, I’m not much of an animal person.  But, they did raise their money in just a couple of days and the dog had surgery today.

Still, $2000…

Although, to be fair, I have so far, spent over $300 on my cat with both her vet visits and far more than that on her food, I’m sure.  But I wouldn’t fork out that kind of money to fix her hip.  It would be Bye, bye, Kitty…

Sometime last week Sam asked me how his dad and I met.  I don’t think his brothers have ever asked that.  It was another reminder to me that all Sam will have of his dad are the few memories his brain retains and the rest will have to come what his brothers and I can share.


Guess what starts 5 weeks from tomorrow?  Yes, I have turned into one of those moms, counting the days and hours until I am, once again, free.  No more bickering, no more, “He breathed on me!,” No more lollygagging instead of doing chores, no more using up all the bandaids in the house to cover tiny scratches,  no more, “Are you awake yet, Mom?” No more, no more…at least until I pick them up at 3:30, that is.

One of the moms of one of Lizzie’s classmates friended me on FB this weekend and invited me to a playdate in the park Wed. with some of the other elementary moms.  I felt ridiculously pleased – like I’m finally getting to be part of the “in” group! 

Although, rain is in the forecast for Wed, so it may not happen.  I’m not telling the kids about it.  And I’ll have to take off early because we have a meeting in Kville at 1 to discuss Ben’s Hy-Vee employment. 
There’s this “thing” going around on FB that just won’t quit.  It’s “Love Your Spouse” and you’re supposed to post a picture of you and your spouse and then “nominate” others to do the same.  Every time I check in, someone else has plastered a picture of themselves, beaming beside their husband.  Sour grapes?  I don’t know.  Maybe.  Probably.  I’m just tired of it.  One of my widow groups suggested the we start doing that too, within the group, but I just couldn’t.  It seemed too sad and pathetic, somehow.

I got to spend the day with Kathy last Tuesday.  That was nice, as it always is.  I drove through a thunderstorm for part of the way there and then, while we were shopping at an outdoor mall, we got poured on.  We both have curly hair – neither one of us was having a good hair day, as a result.  I had dressed in a lightweight, cotton top and shorts because it was supposed to be in the nineties.  It was just horribly hot and humid last week.  Well, because of the rain I ended up freezing that day in the air conditioning in the stores and ended up having to buy a cardigan sweater just to keep from shivering!  I won’t see her again now until the craft show in Nov.  Although, her daughter is headed to Faith this year, so maybe the two of us can meet up sometime with that.
One day last week Lizzie said to me, “Do you know what I like about you today, Mom?  You’re not grouchy!”  Hmmm….I think there’s an indictment against my parenting somewhere in there…  And then the next day she said to Ellie, when Ellie was refusing to do her chores, “You’d better get to work or we’re going to get Grouchy Mom again!”  Seriously, people?  Why do you think I get grouchy in the first place?  I would be a much more cheerful person if I wasn’t a mom!


Maybe I’ll get this done today!

After Sam had reading today I had to run some errands with the kids.  We were out at the mall, in Claire’s (Lizzie’s favorite store), and apparently, the situation was that a little boy – really little, as in 4 or 5 years old – had decided he wanted his ear pierced.  Mom was apparently ok with that (!) but then, the little boy started waffling on whether or not he actually wanted a hole poked in his ear.  Finally, Mom had enough and left the store, which enraged the little boy.  He yelled, “Mom, you’re an __________ (insert nasty, vulgar name)!”  I looked at my own kids, whose eyes had just gotten as big as saucers.  They were watching the mother, I suppose expecting her to immediately began beating the boy into pulp.  Instead, she picked up the flailing boy and began murmering to him.  I was kind of pleased to hear Ellie announce, “That boy needs a spanking!”  And then Lizzie said, “And he needs his mouth washed out with soap!”  Sam had a few choice comments, too.  I was so glad they didn’t think that was acceptable behavior!

Last night when it was time for my class, I discovered our internet, that had worked just fine a half hour earlier, was on the fritz.  Argh!  I immediately called the internet company that had a recorded message saying, “There is a wide-spread outage in your area.”  No-o-o…So, I grabbed my laptop, gave frantic instructions to the kids, and dashed up to City Hall (different internet provider).  And…my laptop refused to connect.  But, eventually I was able to connect through the city’s computer to my class.  So then I dashed back home, tucked Ellie into bed, grabbed my textbook and a pillow (for sitting for 2 hours), and drove up to City Hall again – only to discover there was no sound coming out of the computer!  But then I realized I had it  turned all the way down.  I deserve an award for all that!  Maybe I’ll get one – thru a better test score, if nothing else.  Plus, I get points for attending and participating in class. So, I had to sit up there in the buggy, too-warm office all night long.  But, we covered Emily Dickenson last night and went over this one poem that I really, really like.  It took me awhile to figure out what it was she was talking about but once I did…wow, this is good stuff!

After great pain, a formal feeling comes –
The Nerves sit ceremonious, like Tombs –
The stiff Heart questions ‘was it He, that bore,’
And ‘Yesterday, or Centuries before?

The Feet, mechanical, go round –
A Wooden way
Of Ground, or Air, or Ought –
Regardless grown,
A Quartz contentment, like a stone –

This is the Hour of Lead –
Remembered, if outlived,
As Freezing persons, recollect the Snow –
First – Chill – then Stupor – then the letting go –

This is exactly what I’ve been writing about for the past 3 years – a description of grief.

The speaker we had Sunday made an interesting point, I thought.  He was talking about pride and brought up the verse in 1 Pet. 5 of “Casting all your cares upon Him Who cares for you.”  He made the point that when we do not “burden” the Lord with our concerns, it’s because of pride.  I had never thought of that that way before.  Interesting.

Well, I am finally finished.  No more thoughts.  I think I’m going to get started on the girls’ hair now, get dinner going, and then tonight once I have the girls in bed I’ll tackle my article again.  I finally sat down yesterday and did a rough copy.  I’m wanting to change quite a bit of it, to put more “feel” into it.  I have to hustle – it’s due in 9 days.


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