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I really do not have a ton to write about.  It’s the lull before the gale, I guess.  School starts for the kids on Aug. 29, which means I should start getting sub calls soon thereafter.  My own next term starts Aug. 28, and the way it is set up, I think it’s going to be a pretty grueling 8 weeks.  But right now, I’m just kind of floating along, enjoying the last of summer break.

I finally did do some stuff with the kids last weekend, though.  All summer long I had planned to take them to Living History Farms and to a pool at least once.  But, I’ve been tired and a little lazy.  But then, I found out early last week I had screwed up big-time.  Sam was signed up for football camp and was really looking forward to it.  So, at the appointed time, I took him to the school – and found an empty practice field.  It turned out that in July an email had been sent out changing the dates of the camp to the week prior.  I had missed that email.  He was crushed and I felt awful.  I still feel really bad!  Horrible, actually.  I can’t think of or write about it without wincing.  So, in an effort to cheer Sam up I proposed to him that we have a “Sam Day” on Friday.  That seemed to perk him up, but he wasn’t sure what to do with his special day.  So, I suggested we do the Living History farms and go to the nice, expensive Ankeny pool, and eat supper at the Machine Shed, which is kind of pricey.  He liked that idea, especially when he found out I didn’t know how to fish (which was his first suggestion).

So we did all that, including McDonalds for lunch (and we actually went inside – I never do that with kids!).  Ben elected to not go to Genesis that day so he could go with us.  David got home from camp that afternoon and was able to drive up to the Machine Shed and eat with us.  It was a nice day – not too hot for LHF and not too cool for the pool.  So, I was able to knock out a couple of things on my, “we really should do” list and make Sam feel better at the same time.  Seems like a win to me!   And then the next day we went up to Waterloo to visit the grandparents, which also excited the kids. I think they had a good time.

We’re kind of cramming it all in right now, actually.  Today and tomorrow, the girls have their friends over (Arien’s little sisters).  They are all running around the house right now.  Sam is having fun, too.  He still very seriously claims that he will be marrying Lariah (one of the girls) at some point.  Friday, I have scrapbooking.  Last month I didn’t have a babysitter so I was told to just bring the kids along.  The husband of one of my friends who was scrapbooking took my kids and his kids out for the evening.  They went to Arbys, Lake Aquabi, and Dairy Queen and I was able to get quite a bit of work done.  They had so much fun that I was told I had better bring the kids every time I scrapbook from now on!  Saturday evening, Will is taking Ben to the state fair for some respite time.  And then, Sunday afternoon he and Arien are taking all the Littles, plus her two little sisters, to the fair.  David will be at the fair that day, too, so it will be just Ben and me that afternoon.  That evening is the night they honor the college students at church (the normal aged ones, anyway - I'm not included!).  Next Wednesday I get a day off when Kathy and I meet up in Omaha.  Thursday and Friday, the kids are going over to the Merritts which will give me a quiet house once again.  That will be appreciated because all my school work is due that Sunday night!  And Friday night my neighbor is planning a neighborhood hot dog get-together thing – maybe, if she can work out the details.

So, there you have it – my social calendar for the next couple of weeks!  Throw in the therapy, multiple dr visits, and a full day grocery shopping –  and you have my complete schedule.

I also have to fit in wood filling and staining my new dining room ceiling.  Will finished that today, trim and all.  I have a feeling that is going to be a bit arduous of a task.
 A couple of weeks ago we were in the van when Lizzie asked me how old I would be when Ellie is 15.  I answered (55) and then she wanted to know how old I would be when Ellie was 22 and 36 and so on.  Finally, she exclaimed, “Wow – Ellie is so young!”  Sam immediately interjected, “No – Mom is just old!”  Lizzie protested, “No, she’s not!” and Sam proceeded to disagree with her.  Seizing her trump card, Lizzie asked, “Well, then why doesn’t she have gray hair?”  Sam replied, “Because she dyes it.”  Summoning all her brain power, Lizzie then asked defiantly, “Well, then, why doesn’t she have wrinkles?!”  Sam replied confidently, “You don’t have to have wrinkles to be old!”

Apparently they forgot that I was driving and could hear everything.  They will someday probably have conversations about my presumed dementia and who gets the scrapbooks after my demise and what nursing home they should foist me upon…while I’m sitting in the same room.
 I’ve made a few changes to the kids’ schedules in recent weeks.  I re-did the chore charts.  A year ago I had to majorly overhaul them because, at that time, Ellie could not be out of my line of sight.  That meant having her do chores in the same area where I usually am and reserving the others for her siblings.  Well, she’s a little more trustworthy now so I re-did the charts, distributing the work more fairly.  That went fine.  The kids are usually pretty good about doing their chores, which is about 4 – 6 jobs a day.  But those are done right after breakfast.  I’ve long had the rule that summer afternoons are screen free.  Will came up with that idea last summer and I think it’s a good one.

However, it seemed to me that the kids were still spending way too many hours on their tablets.  They would wrap up their chores before 10 and still have 2 or more hours before lunchtime when screens were done.  And then they were on them all night until bed.  Now, I’m not SuperMom who is insistent that her children’s eyes never rest on anything emanating from a screen and refuses to buy any toys manufactured after 1955.  I think it’s ok for kids to watch tv and play on their tablets in moderation.  Tablets are a super invention and so handy for road trips and when I have to haul all the kids to a dr’s visit.  So, this was niggling at the back of my mind every time I saw them hunched over their screens.  I tried to tell myself it was temporary – school would be starting up again in a month and then they wouldn’t be doing this (although they do use quite a bit of screen time in the classroom, I’ve noticed.  Each child has a laptop for their use and, while the entire class does do learning together, they also do quite a bit on their own with the laptops).  At the same time, as summer wore on it seemed to me like the Littles’ attitudes were worsening.  They fought more.  They complained when asked to do extra work.  They whined if I didn’t let them take their tablet on a quick errand to town. 

So, one day I briefly mentioned this to Will…and boy, did I get an earful in return!  He said he has been so worried about his little siblings and their overuse of screens.  Apparently, he and Arien are taking a parenting class in Sunday School right now (I’m not in SS this year, because I am the current SS secretary and have jobs I have to do during that time) and he said he couldn’t stop thinking about the Littles and how I would benefit from the teaching he’s getting.  Hmmm….fortunately, for him he hastened to add that he thought I was a great mom, but just agreed with me that something had to change in regards to the kids’ training, especially in regard to their tablets.  So, we put our heads together and within just a few minutes, I came up with a plan.

That is working beautifully.

I call it, “Home Love.”  It’s a system I devised where, a couple of times a day, for an hour or so at a time, the kids draw jobs written on big popsicle sticks.  They don’t get to choose.  In fact, sometimes I make them close their eyes as they draw a stick out of the bag.  I have come up with probably 100 or more jobs that can be performed by any one of them.  It’s everything from washing the lawn mower to vacuuming out cupboards to changing their sheets.  I even threw in a few sticks that tell them to sit down and read an actual (not electronic) book for 15 min.  Every time they complete a chore to my satisfaction, they earn a smaller popsicle stick that is worth 10 points.  Some jobs are worth 20-30 points (like cleaning out the fridge and scrubbing the bathtub).  Each child has a little silver pail (leftover from Will’s rehearsal dinner – I tried to sell them on Craig’s List, but didn’t get any takers) that they keep their sticks in.  When they reach 100 points they can trade them in for either $2 or 30 minutes of screen time.  The kids still have about an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening that they can be on screens.  I haven’t completely taken them away – just attempted to reduce their pull.

So, this is working for now.  I know parents tend to come up with these little schemes that last for awhile until they get too busy to stay on top of them or the kids get bored with them.  I’m not sure how I’ll continue to implement this once school starts.  But for now, it’s working.  The kids appear to be highly motivated by the idea of earning points and I heap on lots of praise when they do chores that I used to always do myself.  Actually, I have been really surprised by how capable they are.  Who knew a 6 year old could clean out the fridge by herself or an 8 year old could wash and dry and entire load of dishes?

And, in the meantime, my house has never looked so good!  It’s amazing the difference it makes having 3 other people take over the chores that  you know you need to get to, but usually can never find the time (unless company is coming) to do!
A couple of weeks ago on Facebook Paul’s cousin was bemoaning the fact that her kitten had died.  She seriously commented, “Time to get drunk” in response to the tragedy and then later asked, “Why does everything happen to me?”  Usually I just roll my eyes at such dramatics, but  I must have been in a bad mood that night because her attitude really irritated me.  I didn’t say anything to her (“You really think everything happens to you?!) which was a good thing, but I found myself inwardly grousing about her self-absorbed attitude.  I think I have very little patience for this kind of thing anymore. Maybe it's just the difference between those who have Christ and those who do not.
It’s been kind of an odd summer, emotions-wise.  Just the other day, one of the women in a single mom’s group asked the question that if our life was a book, what would this chapter be entitled?  It didn’t take me too long to answer, “So, Now What?”  That’s where I am.  I’m not floundering, like I was two summers ago where I simply had no direction at all.  I have a plan for my life now.

I also know that life rarely works out like we plan.  And that scares me a bit!  More and more people are asking me about remarriage and I don’t mind the questions, but I don’t have a lot to say in response.  I mean, it’s not like men are lining up to take Paul’s place.  Quite honestly, I find it difficult to believe that any man, anywhere, would volunteer to accompany me through the rest of my life with all that I have going on.  And besides that,  remarriage, while a part of me wants it, the thought of it is very overwhelming and frightening to me.  But a year from now I am done with school.  Then what?  My plan is to spend my time raising these kids, substitute teaching, and writing my first book.  I don’t want to be so busy that I miss out on God’s nudging, if He has a different plan and direction for me.  I don’t want to be so scared that I miss out on the only opportunity for a second chance that I might ever have.  I know I think too much.

But then, I also have found myself missing Paul more this summer.  I suppose it goes back to the wedding.  That has kind of colored and dominated the entire summer, even though it took place in the beginning of it.  So that tugs at my mind and heart, too.  Maybe he’s not as far gone as I sometimes think he is.

And I suppose I just need to continue to roll with things.  Or, as Elisabeth Elliot always said, “Take the next step.”  In time, God will reveal His plans.  As I mentioned, two years ago at this time I was really wrestling with the future and in time, I came to sense that school was the next step.  So my  next step for the  time being is to complete this last year, finish my last year of homeschooling David, and everything else I have to do.  For right now.

And let the future take care of itself.  Or, let God take care of it, anyway.


  1. Truthfully, I am surprised the football people didn't send out a couple of emails! They really should have. Anyone can miss one. It might even have ended up in spam or trash, you never know. If it had been a week LATER they could have caught people easily but no, they moved it UP a week. So sorry about that. Laraba

  2. Well, that thought occurred to me, too - even a phone call when he didn't show up might have been nice. Oh, well. Hopefully, he isn't too scarred and filled with resentment the rest of his life...


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