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It's About the Napkin

Today is the last hot day – or so they say. I think Des Moines broke a record yesterday with the high being something like 92 degrees. David, Ben, and Sam went to a Drake football game and all came home red - faced (literally) because they forgot to take the sunscreen.

The hot weather has meant an extension in my allergies (the same allergies that weren’t bothering me too much in Aug). I ended up getting sick from them this weekend. That happens every so often when I have an attack so bad that no drugs can touch it and then I end up getting feverish and having other cold symptoms. I actually called in sick to work Friday and I have never done that before. I felt terrible because here I was already a sub and now they had to get a sub for a sub. And they just don’t have enough people working those positions right now. But I’m feeling better today – a bit draggy still and a little hollow in the head, but not like it was Friday and Saturday.

I have been working a lot lately. Last week, if I had not called in sick on Friday, it would have been a 5 day work week. The one day I didn’t work, I went grocery shopping and ran all my other errands – I always come home so exhausted from those trips. And I was actually asked to work even that day. A couple of days I got multiple calls from the different schools in the district (elementary, middle, high)! But I do know they interviewed someone for a full time associate position at the elementary last Wed. I’m assuming they hired her, unless she had a conviction for ax murdering or something in her background, so that may help with the work load. I’ve pretty much determined that right now I need to cut down on the number of jobs I accept. I can’t stretch myself so thin. David is complaining that he gets “lonely” during the day when I’m gone, which baffles me a little bit since most of the time he is holed up in his bedroom, anyway. And I think, he IS 18 – shouldn’t he be able to get through a day without me? But then, it is his senior year, so I don’t want to miss out on too much with him. But, I’m also planning to save as much of this money that I earn from subbing so that next May, when I no longer receive David’s SS money I will have it in savings and won’t have to dip into my regular savings account to cover bills. So, there’s a balance, I guess. And I need to keep my grades up. I don’t want them to suffer because I don’t have time to study or do my work adequately.

Although, right now I’m carrying a 100% in both classes. And they are not easy classes. Linguistics is just plain hard – I really do not understand a lot of what is talked about in class. But, somehow, I managed to pull off a 100% on my first test. And my British Lit class requires quite a bit of work (in fact, I have been working on our latest assignment all afternoon long). Last week my professor dropped me this note:

You are setting the bar very high in your responses and participation. I commend you for your integrity and the truly exceptional work you are submitting for this class.
Woo-hoo – I was floating all day. It’s amazing how a little bit of encouragement can just make your day! Of course, now, though I feel this pressure to keep submitting top of the line work! The amazing thing to me is that I am not even a really big fan of British literature (I prefer American)!


A couple of weeks ago the girls had therapy. Now that the girls go together the appointments take about 3 ½ hours, including transportation time. That was the day I needed to hustle back home in order to get off to Ladies Retreat. So, when I made it back, David took the girls to school so they could at least get half a day in and I could get off to the retreat. No sooner did he get back, then I got a text from the school. A water main in town had broken and school was being dismissed in 15 min. We live 10 min. from the school! So, off David went again!


Ellie made the comment recently that Sam can never become a police officer someday. Baffled, I asked her why. “Because,” she replied seriously, “Sam doesn’t like doughnuts!” Ha, ha, ha! For the past year or so, Sam has been complaining that he does not like doughnuts – says they are “too sweet.” So whenever we bring some home he gets offended now. Dude – you can eat toast. We’re going to have the doughnuts! Although last week I bought some and and he very pickily agreed to eat a couple – and chose the ones I had picked out for myself. Oh, well.

I have not gotten half the stuff done today that I intended to. I spent too much time getting ready for my Brit Lit class tonight, I think. I heard from my professor this morning. He dropped me a note regarding my first exam, which was all essay questions. I actually wrote it in a drug induced haze late Thursday night. Fortunately, I decided to wait until Friday to submit it because I wasn’t sure if my answers would make sense in the light of day! They must have because my professor said this:

I graded your mid-term exam yesterday (haven't recorded it yet) and was inspired to write comments in your document, as several statements that you made resonated with me, both professionally and personally. I will try to send it to you over my lunch hour.

It's rare to give perfect scores on exams, but yours was one of those rare 100/100 scores.



I texted this to Will and told him, “I feel like I’m smart or something!” and he responded back, “You ARE smart!” and then added, “…except in math.”

We watched an awesome movie last night. Last spring David took Lizzie to see the new Wonder Woman movie. It just came out on disc and he picked one up yesterday and asked if I’d like to watch it last night. I really didn’t. I always have this long running list of things to do and while David is really into his super heroes, I am just not. Besides – Wonder Woman, really? I could only imagine the feminist-inspired, women-are-better-than-men drivel it would contain. But to please David, I watched it.

And was blown away.

What a movie! It was amazing! The story takes place during WWI. For the entire film, Wonder Woman is dressed modestly. There is not a single swear word in the entire film. Violence is not gratuitous. You see no exploding heads, no blood soaked bodies. Even during death scenes, the camera pans away. The main idea of the story is that Wonder Woman is convinced that if she can defeat Ares, who is some bad Greek god, then the war will stop. She kills the man she believes to be Ares and while he is a bad dude and needs to die, she discovers he was not Ares. She eventually does end up in a confrontation with the god and through discussion with him, comes to realize that both good and evil reside in the hearts of all men. They have to choose which will reign and take action accordingly. I could see some strong biblical parallels in the story line. Anyway, that’s my plug. Good movie – watch it if you can.

I have a new bedskirt – and it didn’t cost me a thing. Well, sort of. I bought my old, plain white bedskirt when the boys were little. I think it was a $10 purchase. I decided last week that it is time for an upgrade, esp. since I now have a smaller bed. I had pinned the old skirt, but it was sagging down and just looked bad. So, I looked on-line and the ones I liked were kind of expensive. And then I looked at Target and the only one I liked was $35. That’s a lot of money to spend for something that hardly anyone, other than me, will ever see. I’ve come to have a “check” in my spirit when I’m not supposed to buy something and I was experiencing that. So, I didn’t know what to do. It wasn’t like I was thinking about spending a ton of money, so I didn’t quite know why I felt that I wasn’t supposed to do it.

Just last week I was looking at the bag of burlap runners and tin pails from Will’s wedding rehearsal. They never did sell on Craigs List, so I guess I’m stuck with them.

And then, Saturday night, it dawned on me. Those burlap runners would make a perfect bedskirt and would complement the rustic décor I have going on in my bedroom. I looked at skirt pins on Amazon but they all had 1 ½” shanks. That would work on a wooden bed frame but not on the plastic one that came with my sleep number bed. Hmmm…and then I remembered that I have a box of gold thumbtacks. A hammer easily drove them through the plastic.

And now I have a new bedskirt! And I still have quite a few runners left. So, maybe I will find further inspiration later.


I called my roofer again today. He says next week he will start on my roof. Of course, 4 weeks ago he told me it would be 2 more weeks, top. This was after he told me last spring we’d shoot for July. He’s highly recommended and I guess there is no real hurry, but it would be nice to get it done, soon. At least now I won’t have to feel guilty about having workers sweating in the hot summer sun on my roof. I may end up having to feel guilty about them nailing on shingles in the snow. I think I remember Paul doing that a time or two, actually. I never felt guilty, though!


A week ago today ended up being all about adoption. It was kind of odd, because most of the time I don’t give a whole lot of thought to the subject, now that we’re past the anticipation, preparation, and early post-placement years.

It was the 4th anniversary of our actual adoption day. That’s fine. I wasn’t planning on putting anything on Facebook about it because it was only year 4 – not a nice, round number like 5 or 10. I did do my grocery shopping that day. I even turned down a job because I knew that while shopping I wanted to stop and get something special like I always do for us to celebrate the significance of the day. The Sunday paper had a Krispy Kreme coupon so that’s what I did – picked up 2 boxes of doughnuts. And then Lizzie came home from school that day and told me this story. It was so sweet that I ended up posting in on FB. Here it is:

Four years ago today we made it official. The kids and I crowded into a little courtroom in the Polk Co. courthouse and a judge solemnly declared that I was now legally the girls’ mother. We celebrated tonight with doughnuts. The girls are too young to remember the date, but I always do. Coincidentally, today at school, a classmate approached Lizzie and said, “Hey – I heard you’re adopted!” (Apparently, she’s never noticed the white woman walking Lizzie and Ellie in every morning…) Lizzie confirmed the statement and this girl smiled at her and said simply, “I’m so glad that happened!”

Me, too.

Isn’t that just the most blessed thing? While she adores me, I know that Lizzie has more memories and probably a little more internal conflict over the whole adoption thing. So, for her to have this happen was just straight from the hand of God.

And then, that same evening I needed to finish up my Walmarting. I took Ellie with me and we were at the Jordan Creek Walmart, checking out. Like so many other employees there, our clerk was foreign. The first thing that happened was that while I was standing in line, everybody’s cell phones began suddenly shrieking because of an Amber alert (a non-custodial parent kidnapped her daughters in western IA – she was caught the next day). This completely freaked the clerk out. He handed me his phone and asked what was happening?! I explained and when I used the word, “kidnapped” he said he wasn’t familiar with that word. So I explained it was child stealing. He was worried that he needed to do something so I explained to him how these alerts work.

Then, as he continued to check me out he heard Ellie call me, “Mom.” Surprised, he looked at me and said, “She is your daughter?” I nodded and he asked, “Adopt?” Again, I nodded. Then he asked, “From Africa?” I then tried to explain foster care in the simplest terms to him – which was not easy. All the while I was conscious of Ellie just standing there taking it in. Then, the clerk said, “You cannot have your own children?” Now, this would probably be a rude question coming from anyone else, but knowing he was foreign, I wasn’t offended. When I explained that no, I had biological children too, baffled, he asked, “Why then, you want to adopt more?” I wasn’t about to get into the whole God-asked-me-to-do-this, it-was-a-calling-on-my-life thing, so I simply told him, “Because I wanted more children.” I could tell he was completely baffled by my mindset. So then, I managed to turn the conversation to him and found out that he is from Egypt and has only been in the U.S. since June. He said that they are taught English in school, but it is very formal and not conversational. He said he used to work as a tour guide at the Great Pyramids and that’s how he really learned English.

That explained to me, too, his confusion on the adoption thing. If he’s from Egypt, he’s probably Muslim. Muslims do not adopt – something about bloodlines. It goes against their religion. So I can see that it might seem very strange to him that people would choose to adopt children.

He also told me that Ellie is a very, “loud” child. No kidding.

When I got out to the van with Ellie I asked her how much she understood of that conversation. A lot of it, it turned out. So, we talked for awhile. I wanted her to understand that I’m not in the habit of broadcasting her story to every stranger I meet and that my reasons for adopting her go much, much deeper than what I told the clerk. I hope she understood.

Ellie has been taking cold lunch nearly every day for the past 2 weeks. That’s odd because she’s not a super picky eater and last year she ate hot lunch almost without fail. But she started asking for it. I used to write notes last year on the kids’ napkins when they would have cold lunch, but none of them ever commented on them, so I didn’t take the time this year, assuming that they never noticed. Well then, a few days into her wanting cold lunch, Ellie said to me, “You know – you can write me notes in my lunch.” So that’s what I’ve been doing – just quick notes scrawled on her napkin about how proud I am of her and how much she is loved – things like that. She wants cold lunch every single day now.

And I’m starting to figure out that it’s not about the food - it’s about the napkin.


  1. Kevin and I just watched Wonder Woman too! I really enjoyed it as well. Of course the whole Greek mythology was ridiculous, but the Ares/Diana argument about good and evil in the hearts of men was excellent. And the main male character was very noble. Plus it had its funny spots, lots of them. And yes, you are very smart. I'm blown away at what you are accomplishing in college given that you are also raising many children, working almost full time, etc. I mean, doing as well as you are without all the extra work would be impressive, but it seems downright impossible given your circumstances. You can't be sleeping enough but I guess something has to 'give' during this exhausting season of life. How sweet that your daughter wants her notes on napkins.

  2. You never fail to encourage me, sweet friend!


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