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Ice, Paint, and Fleas


I was never so glad to wake up and see my alarm clock numbers as I was this morning. An ice storm came through last night and I was very concerned that we were going to lose power. In fact, I even submitted all my assignments due today and tomorrow yesterday evening just in case that was to happen. Of course, it would have been nice to discover this a little bit later. My chiropractor called me at 7:40 to cancel David’s appointment because he said he couldn’t even get out to his car in this ice. I couldn’t get back to sleep after that.

Over the weekend, knowing this storm was coming, I had Will show me how to use our kerosene heater. Paul bought that thing in ’06 (I found the original paperwork) but we quickly found out it wasn’t working any more. We only ever used it once. In ’07, we lost power for several days. I remember because Sam was a newborn and we parked him in front of that heater. He had just gotten home from the hospital a couple of weeks before that after getting so sick with that virus. We were scared he’d get sick again. So he laid there all bundled up and stayed nice and toasty for those few days until the power came back. So, I didn’t know what to do about an alternative heat source. That was always Paul’s big thing – “You have to have alternative heat!” He got too many emergency HVAC calls that could have been less of emergencies if people had a way to stay warm in the meantime. Without the heater, I wasn’t sure what to do. Saturday I even stopped at Menards to see my options and there really are not a whole lot. Will finally convinced me not to worry about it. He said the house would be ok for about 24 hours and by then the roads would probably be treated enough that we could go to a hotel if we needed to. A hotel and a new heater cost about the same. 
Well, what else is going on?

My back is doing better. It’s still not 100%, but two chiropractic visits seemed to really help. Boy, that hurt. I’m trying to remember to do some stretching before bed at night. I have a feeling that as I get older I’m going to continue to have more sciatic issues.

Oh, Will moved out. When he said he had no plans to do this quickly, I thought maybe he’d be stretching this out over a couple of months. Not so much. It only took him a week from getting his keys to being there permanently. Sometimes I just go sit in his empty room now…and sigh. Last Monday he asked me to go shopping with him – for food and other necessities. It ended up taking several hours. He’s always been so capable of everything that it never occurred to me he doesn’t really know how to grocery shop or the things you need for basic survival. So I found myself giving him a crash course on things like “Buy this brand, not this one…if this laundry emergency happens, do this…” Things like that! Later that evening he surprised me by giving me a big hug and thanking me for going with him. He said, “I would have never known what to buy without you there!” We went to Menards that day, too, and he was so excited because this heater that looks like an actual fireplace was on sale. He’s had his eye on it for months but figured he’d have to wait until closer to spring to buy it. Not only was it on sale, but Menards was having their 11% rebate deal, too. He plans to use it as a tv stand. I haven’t been to his apartment yet, but I am anxious to get over there to see how he has it set up. I know Arien took a bunch of her hope chest things over there so Will would have the basics while he baches it for a few months.

Tomorrow Will’s internet is being set up, so David is going to go over and let them in since Will has to work.

Arien asked me yesterday how I was doing with Will being gone. That surprised me. Usually young people don’t have a clue that parents sometimes struggle with the letting go.

Saturday I stopped at the store and decided to pick up something quick for supper since I had spent all morning at a funeral (more on that later). As I grabbed a box of 22 corn dogs I had the rueful thought that well, with Will gone, maybe I’ll start saving some money on food.

Um, probably not so much. That night, the kids ate every single one of those corn dogs, even without their brother, and I heard an exchange between Ben and David, asking if the other had any plans to eat the last couple. I had two. That means the other 5 averaged 4 apiece – and I don’t let Lizzie eat more than 3 of anything, because she has a tendency to eat and eat and eat if I don’t keep on eye on her and limit her intake. That’s actually a trauma thing, I’ve learned. But, regardless, I have to pay attention to her food intake.

So, yes, this funeral I attended: This was the first young person funeral I’ve been to since Paul’s death. One of my Facebook friends, a pastor and missionary’s wife, died at age 37 a week ago after a 6 year battle with breast cancer. What a testimony she had! Both she and her husband grew up in our church. His dad and brother did quite a bit of work on my house. I hired his brother to do my siding. The husband now works in Ohio as the operations manager at Baptist Church Planters. He’s got 4 kids to raise on his own now, ages 3 – 13. I figured in a few months I may drop him a note. That’s usually about the time the attention drops off and things begin to gain some sort of new normality.

The memorial service was held at Ankeny Baptist, which is a very large church. They called it a “celebration of life” which I still don’t like, although I can sometimes see the appropriateness of calling it such. It was a very godly and moving service. Amy, (the deceased) picked out the verses and songs she wanted sung. It was packed out. She touched so many lives. I found myself very inspired to go live more like she did.

But it was also hard. I felt anxious and short of breath driving to the service. I did find some friends to sit with, fortunately – who were making me laugh right up until the service started. Maybe they did that on purpose. But afterwards I didn’t stay for the luncheon. I don’t like crowds, but mostly, I just needed to get out of there.

Too many memories. Too much remembered emotion that’s stored without me even being aware…

And, speaking of funerals…Will and I are headed to Council Bluffs on Wed. to attend the funeral of Paul’s grandma. She died Thurs. night at the age of 93. I thought about just sending flowers and if it was any other person that had died, that’s probably all I would do. But, I know she wanted one of Paul’s songs played at her funeral. I am curious to see if her wishes will be honored and if they are, I really, really want to be there. Believe me, given my history with Paul’s family since the funeral I have felt like a fish on a hook with this funeral, trying to squirm out of it. But every time I convince myself that I’m not going to go, I get this feeling like I really need to go. I don’t know why, except maybe my presence will say, “Hey – I’m not really as mean as you think I am!” Although, my goal is to not actually be seen. We’re hoping to slide in as it starts and leave during the final prayer. So, we’ll see how it ends up going.

I was astonished, though, at how many pictures of Grandma dying I had to view on Facebook. I am still friends with a lot of Paul’s mom’s side of the family. They have not been unkind to me like the Heywoods. His grandma’s death was not unexpected and in those final days the family (there were 11 kids originally) were visiting, spending time reading to her and singing to her, even though she didn’t appear to be conscious. So here is this poor woman stretched out on her deathbed, skin a ghastly white, mouth hanging open, and her children and grandchildren are posting pictures with captions like, “Spending the last few minutes with my Grandma – I’ll always love you!” And I so badly want to reply, “You know, if you love her that much, then don’t post pictures of her imminent death on social media!” Death is undignified. So is birth, come to think of it. But death is sad, unlike birth. I hope I have complained enough that my own family will think twice before doing something like that to me. Although, as Will commented, when I get to that point, I probably won’t care anymore. Still, every single moment of our lives does NOT have to be documented.

I finally got the girls’ room all painted. They picked out the paint in early August but it took me 5 months to actually use it. It seriously makes my teeth ache – bright pink and shocking purple. I ended up having to buy new carpet, too, which was not part of the plan. A paint can got overturned. Pretty sure I was not responsible for that, although I doubt it was intentional. Nobody confessed, anyway. So, I cut out the carpet around the dried paint, thinking I could just piece in something that matched. Only…there was nothing that matched. We put that carpet in 5 years ago and didn’t have any remnants (or, more than likely, they got tossed when we emptied the garage after Paul’s death). Menards sure didn’t have anything. My first thought was to install new carpet by myself. Because, you know, I’m SuperWoman and would have no problem doing that even though I’ve never laid carpet in my life. Then, it occurred to me that for the same money and a lot less time I could just buy a really big rug. So that’s what I did. I found a silvery gray one on Amazon, 9 foot by 12 foot. The girls’ new ceiling fan is silver. That gave me the idea to spraypaint the wooden letters I have that spell out their names in glitter silver spraypaint, too. I have decided to buy new ceiling tiles for the room, too. Actually, I want to do this in my living and dining rooms, to make them more cohesive. So, trying it out in the girls’ room will be my experiment to see if I can do it. They sell styrofoam panels that are supposed to be super-easy to install. We’ll see.

While I was painting, I would stick my phone in my bra because I don’t have any pockets in my paint clothes (I laid the phone down when I was actually doing the painting, lest it would tumble into the paint trays). Lizzie observed this and told me how one of the aides in her classroom stores her phone in her bra, too. But then she said, “But she has really big boobs that stick out to here!” She added, “You couldn’t do that because yours are too small.” Um, thanks…


Today is Martin Luther King day. We weren’t going to have school, anyway, because, as we all know, it was MLK’s greatest dream that school children everywhere get his birthday off school and spend the day shopping and playing video games…sarcasm intended. But, as it turned out, school would have been cancelled because of the ice. Both Sam and Ellie mentioned how their teachers were reading books to them about MLK and they were having class discussions about the man and the civil rights movement. Sam seemed really excited by this, especially. He was so indignant as he was explaining to me how black people used to have separate drinking fountains and would have to sit at the back of the bus. I suppose this kind of history is more personal to him now because of his sisters.

I think I had mentioned awhile ago that Sam had purchased a book at the school book fair in Nov. about a boy involved in the Resistance movement of Nazi occupied Holland. He showed it to me before he bought it and I was a little dubious because the level seemed beyond his ability. He started it but then was drawn back to his Wimpy Kid books that he can’t get enough of. But now he’s back into this book in a big way. He’s been using words like “unbelievable” and “breathtaking” to describe the action in the book. One night he exclaimed, “How come I never knew this stuff before?!” Yesterday he was chattering about the “Nazis” only he was pronouncing it with a short A. So, anyway, it’s been neat for me to see his interest piqued. Because I’ve read so much about WWII I’ve been able to fill in other information for him, too, and we’re just having these really neat conversations – about history. With a 9 year old!

You know, recently, I was listening to a local talk radio host and he mentioned that the number one selling book in Germany right now is Mein Kamp. This has not always been the case. But, I guess in the last couple of years it has just been flying off the German shelves. I wonder what this means? I mentioned that to Will and he pointed out that the entire German mindset that lead to allowing Hitler into power did not necessarily disappear with their defeat and his death. That’s a scary thought. It makes me wonder if Germany is mentioned in the Bible in the end times and if so, what their role will be?

Ellie informed Will that he is like a banana because “you’re tall and all white!”

She has been doing much better lately. It’s almost like night and day. Right now she’s really into acts of service. She’s been making toast for me lately (and slathering it with about a ¼” of butter – ick). Saturday she brought me a bowl of fruit loops and milk, raisin toast, and a glass of orange juice – all carried carefully from the kitchen to my room. She’s still laying out my pajamas and underwear every night. I’m not really sure what to chalk this up to. Surely therapy couldn’t be that quick and effective. But it could be temporary, too, which is why I’m not getting too excited.

I read these accounts in RAD Facebook groups and I know what could be in my future – terrible, terrible acts and horrible decisions I may have to make at some point. But then I wonder – did they do therapy when their child was younger and more moldable? Or, did they try to parent these kids like they had all their others and, as a result, ended up with a child they couldn’t reach? I don’t know. But I think some children are so badly damaged they can’t be reached, no matter how much the parents try.

A couple of weeks ago I came home from grocery shopping in the early evening hours and David had all kinds of bad behavior reports on the girls. They didn’t improve in any way, so I finally just put them to bed. It was a little after 6 pm. Lizzie’s been getting very, very sassy lately and I know it’s a direct response to her sister’s improved behavior. But anyway, this night they were both terrible. I put them to bed and then, before I knew it, Lizzie was on the steps, wanting something minor or complaining about something inconsequential. She’s done this since I got her – getting out of bed to tell me her hair is tickling her head – dumb stuff like that. It didn’t take me too long to establish a rule that for either one of them to get out bed they had better be bleeding or their room had to be on fire! So, she was on the steps whining about something and I quickly and with a certain amount of threats, shooed her back to bed. I was not happy with her! A little bit later I was folding laundry when it suddenly dawned on me.

Lizzie could have just been being a brat then. She could have been stalling about bedtime. She could have been trying to establish her own authority, like she does when she always has to get the last word. Or, what if…she was trying to see if I would still meet her needs even when I was seriously ticked off at her? It had never occurred to me before. But it makes sense. She had periods of time in her formative years when her needs were not met. On some primal level, she fears that still, today. And what better time to “test” me than when it’s obvious she’s not my favorite person at a certain point? It’s just an idea. I don’t want to excuse all sin because of RAD – sometimes a kid is just a bratty kid for the simple reason they’re selfish, pig-headed humans who think they ought to be in charge.

I mentioned this to Ellie’s therapist who was absolutely delighted. She said, “Do you realize how much your thinking has changed in just a few weeks?” It has, to a certain extent. I hope I’m not adapting to any worldly child-centered thinking. But I know I have a genuine desire to help the girls heal and I have a real fear of what the future might look like if I don’t put some effort in now. I didn’t tell the therapist this, though, but I have been asking God to fill me with compassion for the girls and a love that defies description. I think my compassion reservoirs are beginning to fill, especially now that I am not so depleted all the time by continual bad behavior. The love is coming. I love them, of course, but I want to love them more. It’s just easier to love a child who is not always in your face and who doesn’t demand a whole lot from you. With time, I expect God will answer that prayer, too.
Well, that’s all I know, I think. Will ended up coming over today. He did some schoolwork and hung my new light above the kitchen table. Then he and David went up to Des Moines to look at a leather(like) love seat for Will’s apartment. He ended up buying it and hauling it home in my van. Now it’s in the garage until he can get it into his apartment. Then he ate supper with us and watched some tv with his brothers. I also saw him taking leftovers home. That’s fine. It makes me feel good he still wants my cooking! Probably beats the ramen noodles in his cupboard…

On his way into Swan, Will shot a picture of the ditch in front of the cemetary. Our neighbor’s truck was in it, and a county snowplow was on its side. It was that icy! It’s not so bad now, but because of re-freeze all the schools are on a 2 hour delay.

Oh – Will and I turned in our applications last Monday for substitute associate work and on Tuesday I got a call at 6 am wondering if I could come in. But I had to go to Iowa City with the kids for their ortho appointments, so I had to turn them down. I found out the next day that Ben’s old teachers had specifically requested either Will or I because it was their room that needed the sub. That’s sweet! Another day…

Tomorrow is the only day this week that I can sub, so if I get called I’ll do that. Otherwise, it’s a grocery shopping day.

Nothing else to report, I don’t think. Hopefully next week I can write about the funeral and say that it all went exactly as I hoped and I am glad I did it.


I totally forgot to post this last night – got it all written and everything. They ended up cancelling school again today, which baffles me because everybody north of us had classes. So…David ended up taking Sam with him to the chiropractor and a few other errands. And then they went and sat in Will’s apartment this afternoon to let the internet guys in. And I took the girls shopping, which made a long day even longer. I’ve been wanting to get to Justice with Lizzie for jeans, anyway, because someone in my black hair group said they sell jeans that fit black butts better. So that worked out well, rather than trying to guess at her size. I did find some for her, but they were expensive for kid jeans. I have to weigh that against having her expose herself every time she sits down…and then she found some leggings that she just had to have, which meant we had to find a matching shirt and then she found a shirt that said “Justice” across the front that would be “so, so, so cool, Mom!” And I’m thinking, seriously? You’re 8 years old!! I don’t remember being aware of what my classmates or I was wearing until I was 13. I hope she plans to have a job in her teen years to pay for her expensive tastes. And then the girls wanted to spend some of their own money at Claire’s. In so many ways, it was a lot easier just having boys.

I’ll end on a couple of funnies just from tonight: I threw some frozen pizzas in the oven for the kids when I got home from shopping and Ellie informed me she wanted the “comedian bacon” kind. And then, later, I told Sam he really needed to take a shower tonight. The last time he did that was Saturday. At that time I had told him we needed to put lice (preventative – I do this once a month with all 3 kids) shampoo in his hair. But he hasn’t figured out the fine art of hair washing yet and I forgot to go in and help him and he ended up taking his shower without washing his hair at all. So I told Sam he needed to shower tonight and he agreed and seriously added, “Yeah, and I need that shampoo for my fleas!”


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