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I'm not Wearing Grandma

It’s wedding month – and the countdown is on!  I have the next couple of weeks mapped out with wedding related chores for every day.  We’ll get there!  In fact, as I am typing this, I am frying up 10 pounds of bacon for the rehearsal dinner.  I wonder if that will be enough?

This week all 4 boys are in Colorado on their pre-wedding “guys trip.”  Sam was a little teary as he left yesterday morning.  He had been telling me all weekend long that he just wasn’t sure he could be away from me this long.  But it’s good for him.  And it’s good preparation because, if he wants, I am planning to send him to Junior Boys camp next summer.

I spent all day Saturday getting them ready for their trip.  That is the number one reason I do not like camping (well, besides having to be in nature, walking to the bathroom, and dealing with bugs) – the shopping and the  packing!  It is SO much work!

I woke up Sat. morning and didn’t even want to get out bed because I had so much to do.  First, I had to go to a wedding shower that morning.  This is my third one in the last 3 weeks!  No more after this one, though.  That’s all our church brides for this year!  Unlike the other showers, I felt very out of place at this one.  It was a “couples” shower which is what the church does sometimes when the bride is not from our church.  So, there were men in attendance at the shower – sitting with their wives.  I wasn’t the only manless woman there, but I still felt weird.  And then they played a game to see how well a few couples knew eachother and it just made me feel so sad to no longer have someone who knows me like those couples know eachother (well, the couple about to be married didn’t know eachother all that well – it will come).  So, anyway, I left as soon as I reasonably could.

Although, I think I was supposed to be there.  Yesterday, my friend Debbie (mother of the groom to be) effusively thanked me for coming.  And on the way out to my van after the shower I ended up falling into conversation with another older woman.  Her son was widowed this past winter and he now is a single father raising 4 children.  I thought, at first, she was just making light conversation, and I was kind of anxious to leave because I had all this cooking and packing to do at home.  But as we stood there, it suddenly occurred to me that she needed to talk, so I let her.  And I enjoyed it and as I drove away, I realized how blessed I felt after that conversation.
 Seventy five years ago  today Anne Frank was given the diary for her birthday.  That’s pretty cool. I texted David to tell him to pass that little tidbit onto Sam.
David said a couple of weeks ago at work he was carrying  someone’s groceries out to their car and they said to him, “So how’s your dad these days?”  David didn’t know what to think at first!  So he finally stammered out, “Well, sadly, he died a few years ago.” Obviously, the gentleman mistook David for someone else!  David said the guy felt so bad and so that made him feel bad for him.  So he said he tried to change the subject really fast.
Last Tuesday was the 4 year mark.  It was hard this year.  I know it was not this difficult last year.  And, normally, once I get past the 6th, I feel a lot better.  But this year I don’t.  I think it must be because of the wedding.  I absolutely do not want to do this without Paul.  But I don’t have a choice.  And it’s not just this wedding.  It will be the four remaining graduations, whatever other weddings occur, and meeting all my grandchildren for the first time.  Every single one of those will be done without him.  Most of the time, anymore, I’m really pretty content about my circumstances.  But there are times like right now where I struggle more. But I will do what needs to be done because life has to go on and, besides, it's not about me.  These milestones are for my children and I will not be responsible for raining on their parades with my own mixed feelings.

 The anniversary day itself was not too bad.  I put a blurb up on Facebook and got a lot of responses, which may be somewhat narcissistic, but it really helped me get through the day!  Ben and David were at camp all last week, so the rest of us, along with Wiill and Arien, went out to eat.  We went to Texas Roadhouse, which is place I’ve always wanted to try.  Paul would have liked it.  But it was noisy.  David called me that night from camp.  He did this last year, too.  The teenagers can’t have their phones at camp, so he had to borrow the camp director’s.  He said he wanted to make sure I was doing ok and then he just started crying.  Poor guy.  It has always seemed to hit him especially hard. 

Although Ellie about managed to crack my heart wide open a few days before the anniversary.  We were up there cleaning up the grave – washing it, clearing away weeds, etc.  I got to talking to the kids about the ascension of the dead, when graves will rip open and bodies will be reunited with souls in Heaven.  And then the rest of us will be whisked up to Heaven, too.  Ellie stood there slack jawed and finally asked, “You mean, I will finally get to have a daddy?”  Seriously about broke my heart…


The girls and I have been having “girls week” while the guys are gone this week.  We just got back from the pool and I feel like a limp noodle.  I have too much to do to feel this tired!  I’m trying to do fun stuff with the girls on top of my schoolwork and the extra wedding stuff.  Yesterday we visited a cupcake shop and then we went to Claires at the mall and I gave the girls some money to do some shopping.  They both ended up buying purses and lipgloss.  Lizzie also got a pair of fashion glasses.  She posed with her purse and glasses on afterwards.  I asked her why she chose those things and she replied simply, “Because I want to look just like you, Mom.” 

So. Much. Responsibility.

Then we went to Starbucks, which was a first for me.  But  Lizzie is a coffee lover and has been dying to try that place for years.  So we did that, along with a smoothie for Ellie.  One of these days I’m probably going to have to buy a coffee machine for the kitchen so Lizzie can have her favorite drink more often. 


Yesterday morning Lizzie had her first therapy appointment.  Of course, Ellie came along and it about killed little miss I-must-have-attention-at-all-times to have to sit out in the waiting room while her sister went to the playroom with Miss Cindy.  I laughingly mentioned that to the therapist and she smiled and said, “It’s good for her!” and I told her I had no doubt about that!

And then we went to the Indianola pool in the afternoon.  It was a good day for it – really hot and sunny.  I wasn’t surprised when the girls soon found some church kids there.  There were 3 junior high girls there.  But I was surprised when the girls informed me that all 3 of the church girls were wearing bikinis.  I hastened to tell them that we can’t judge and that different families have different standards.  But I feel like that was an incomplete answer so I’ve been mulling it over since, knowing that this issue is going to continue to raise its head before the girls are grown – and even after that.

As I’ve written before, I feel like I’ve been re-evaluating everything since Paul’s death.  I know there are things our family does that probably not every other Christian family would want for their own.  They are things that I do not feel a conviction about one way or the other and since there is no biblical command or even principle given, I feel like these areas fall under the arena of Christian liberty.

But this whole area of Christian liberty can be an excuse to get awfully close to worldliness.  Nobody else can judge where that line is, but the moment you start claiming your liberties you have to be on a very high alert and, I would say, in prayer, asking the Lord to show you if you are wrong.

When it comes to swimsuits I have always worn a one piece or a two piece that doesn’t show the stomach.  I pay attention to how far the back and front dip and how high the legs come up.  I do the same with the girls’ suits.  I don’t see that changing.  Does that mean that my standard is the only appropriate one for Christian women?  I can’t say that.  To me, those kind of standards make sense, but I don’t know that I can stand in judgment of a Christian woman in a bikini, either – or a trio of junior high girls.  Personally, I’m not putting my daughters in bikinis because it’s not too different from a bra and panties.  I feel like it is sexualizing young girls (and definitely older ones) to be in such attire.

But…there is another way to think, too.  I belong to a modest mom’s group where women showcase and talk about modest, but fashionable clothing.  A lot of them are skirt only wearers and that is definitely not my conviction.  Sometimes women will post pictures of themselves in the group asking how they can look “less frumpy” and I so badly want to tell them, “Well, for starters – ditch the skirt and get yourself some skinny jeans!”  I’ll never forget one woman asking one day for advice.  She’s a farmer’s wife and had become convicted at some point about wearing only skirts.  Her husband was objecting to her helping him around machinery in anything but pants because of concerns for her safety (you think?).  She just didn’t know what to do – she wanted to honor her husband’s wishes, but just knew God had told her  to wear skirts!  That post produced a face palm on my side of the computer…This time of year a number of the women in the group are posting pictures of the swimwear they’ve created or ordered for themselves and their daughters – either these knee-length, elbow-length, collarbone-high, skirted ensembles or a juxtaposition of bicycle shorts and full length swim shirts.  I do a lot of eyeball rolling.  God is not calling us to be freaks or frumpy in our attire.

Awhile ago Will brought this subject up to me.  He had told Arien that he would prefer to see her in actual suits once they were married and would go swimming – something she was not used to.  Her family apparently wears athletic shorts with racer style suits - at least that's what she wore last year when we went to Adventure Bay.   So she asked him what he considered modest and, in turn, he came to get my opinion.  I actually did not say a whole lot – pretty much just let him do the talking.  He brought up the point that different activities call for different attire.  If a person was to wear a one piece suit in Walmart that would cause attention to be brought to themselves (well, maybe not – it IS Walmart, after all!).  But a person in a one piece suit at the swimming pool looks very appropriate.  However, a person decked out in long shorts and long sleeves at the pool is going to get more than one curious glance because they will not look “normal” for that setting. But if everyone is wearing a bikini, will you look different if you wear a one piece?  But I can’t imagine any water setting where a one piece would be out of place, either.

So, I don’t know.  I want to be disappointed in these parents who let their daughters wear such skimpy pool attire.  But, it’s not my decision to make.  And one bad decision on the part of parents is not going to be indicative of their entire parenting skill set.  And for all I know, the girls snuck the suits out of their houses on their own and Mom and Dad have no clue what their girls were actually wearing.  I think we all need to focus on our own walks with the Lord.  As we draw closer to Him, decisions like this are probably going to be less hard to make.

Today, the girls and I went to get pedicures.  That was a first for the girls.  I went to a new place in Carlisle.  They were super nice and actually spoke pretty good English – especially the son who told me he was a student at DMACC, studying business management.  The girls really enjoyed it!  I’m not a huge fan of having my toes done because I have such sensitive feet, but I sucked it up and did it anyway.  And my toes are cute now.  Actually, the sides of both my big toes are a little tender.  I’ve heard of people developing infections after getting their nails done – sure hope the soreness is just related to having them trimmed and all the other stuff they do. 

I’m going back next week to get a manicure for the wedding (just me – not the girls – I’d have to be made out of money to take all of us in that often!).
 Tomorrow morning I’m going to get new tires for David’s car.  I’ve been driving it all week and I can tell it needs them.  It will be a surprise for him.  Then, a local theater has $2 movies in the summer for kids so I thought the girls and I would go to that.  Then we might go out to supper since its our last day of Girls Week.  We’ll see.  This lady at church called me yesterday and asked if I could use some pork.  She said she had cooked up a roast and it was just “too much” for her and her husband and besides, they were getting ready to go out of town.  Uh huh.  When I met up with her that night, she had a crock pot full of pulled pork for me, two full bags of chips, a bag full of nutty bars, potato salad, and whole big container of fresh strawberries and grapes.  I think she had this planned!  But I am very, very grateful.  God knows how busy I am right now and He is taking care of me.
We separated Sam’s gerbils.  One of them was really sad because it seemed like she never had food. She’d let out these pitiful little squeaks until we fed her.  Although, I kind of hated to do that because they did sleep together, all curled up on top of one another and it was so cute.  Sometimes they'd chase eachother all over the cage.  But then sometimes Butterscotch would get Oreo trapped in a tube and wouldn't let her come out, either. We were having to give food directly to Oreo because Butterscotch kept hoarding it all for herself and would attack Oreo when she dared tried to take any for herself.   We were also appalled at how much these things chew.  We give them chew sticks, but the brand new plastic wheel we bought for them has been chewed to pieces.  Their food dish was chewed up.  Since separating them, we figured out the culprit is Butterscotch.  She has now chewed a good portion of the floor of one of the platforms in her cage.  She’s going to keep chewing that thing and then have a surprise when it crashes to the floor of the cage!   I’m not enjoying feeding her this week, either, with Sam gone because when I reach in to put the food in her (metal) dish she tries to bite me!  “Playful” (as the store worker described gerbils) – yeah, right.  If animals had souls, I'd say this gerbil was sure showing her sin nature.  This one, at least, is out for blood!
Last week I was in Hobby Lobby with the girls when Lizzie blurts out, “Mom, what’s a period?”  Ellie immediately piped up in a condescending tone, “You don’t know what a period is?!  Even I know that!  It’s what you put at the end of a sentence!”  After ascertaining where Lizzie had heard the term (an advertisement that preceded a youtube kids’ video she was watching – grrr…) I told both girls as we strolled through the store.  They’ve got to know the information sometime.  I didn’t think I’d ever be telling it to a five year old, but it won’t be long before Lizzie probably starts menustrating herself and there’s no way I’ll be able to keep that information from Ellie then.  Besides, I’ve repeatedly told the girls I’ll always be honest with them and like our therapist says, if they’re asking questions, it’s probably time to give them information.  I did emphasize the private nature of this topic and  cautioned the girls to keep this information to themselves, though.  I don’t think all the other first grade moms at school would be grateful if their daughters came home with this kind of information!
I took all 3 kids to Dream Night at the zoo a couple of weeks ago.  Boy, was it hot!  A friend  gave me her ticket that she couldn’t use.  It’s for special needs families.  We went about 10 years ago with Ben, but haven’t been given tickets since.  Ben didn’t want to go this time, so I took 3 perfectly able bodied and strong minded children.  But we had a nice time.  Making memories.

We were riding the train and Ellie began to tell me that the person standing on the side of the platform, a worker, was a boy.  I told her I was pretty sure it was a girl – although I could see her confusion. Besides, the worker’s name tag read, “Amelia” – pretty sure I was right on this one!  But Ellie is not once to accede her convictions easily, but finally commented in a conciliatory tone of voice, “Well, maybe he’s just transgender.”  What?!  Since when did my 5 year old learn such a horrible term?  I imagine there are a lot of 5 year olds familiar with that these days, sadly.
Sunday the girls and I went to a cancer benefit for one of the fathers of Ben’s Sp. Olympic teammates.  Well, actually, he’s a stepdad and I was told he’s not actually married to the mom.  But he’s been “stepping” for a long, long time and is very passionate about Sp. Olympics.  He’s in his 40s I assume – very aggressive cancer, unfortunately.  So his fellow townspeople hosted a benefit.  It was hot Sunday – the heat index was supposed to be something like 103 that day.  Ugh.  I do not DO heat!  But I care about this family, so we went.  I ended up having a very nice chat with both of them.  I don’t know where they are spiritually.  Haley goes to Special Camp with Ben some years and the dad (whose name is Warren Beattie – cracks me up, kind of) told me he used to work at IRBC as a teenager.  I believe he said he  attended this Baptist church in Runnells, at least as a kid.  Anyway, I told them both repeatedly that day that I would be praying and they seemed grateful to hear that.  I was really impressed with the number of people that came out to support him and give money on such a miserable, hot day.  That’s the beauty of Iowa and especially of small-town Iowa (I’m sure it’s true in other states, too) – they take care of their own.
 A friend of mine was showing off her new piece of jewelry on Facebook this week – a pretty, glass heart with a swirled design.  The swirls were Grandma.  When I read that it seriously made me want to puke.  She even pointed out in her comments, “See the white parts?  That’s my grandma!”  Ugh, no, just no.  I’m not squeamish about death – I have no problem talking about it.  I even googled “decomposition rates” once because I was curious what was happening to Paul’s body.  But for some reason, the idea of wearing a dead person’s burned up body really, really grosses me out.   To each his own, I guess.  Ew.  Even writing about it makes the bile rise in my throat.
 Well, next week is going to be pretty nuts.  But it’s a good kind of nuts – happy things are in store for our family.  I could use some prayers – my big class project is due next weekend.  Yeah – that weekend.

The boys will be home late tomorrow night.  I’m glad.  I don’t think I’m going to do the empty nest well.  Although, by the time I get Ellie through her teens that quiet nest may sounds really, really wonderful…Just tonight she was in the kitchen and began shrieking at the top of her lungs and then turned and ran pell mell for the living room – which really wasn’t a good idea because I oiled the floor earlier tonight.  She didn’t make it very  far. The cause for her distress?  A wasp crawling on the floor.  I dispatched it immediately, but told her there had better be a big burly bearded man with a knife behind her before I ever hear that kind of noise coming out of her lungs again.  Yeah, I may really, really appreciate that empty nest when the day finally arrives...


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