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Celebrations and Growing Pains

Ahhh….the post Halloween, post birthday drag is happening today, fueled by a late bedtime, too much walking and way too much sugar…

I was so thankful I did not get  asked to work today!

Sam is actually home today.  After complaining all morning long while we got ready for school about various aching body parts he started crying, which is not like him.  I figured it was just fatigue, but let him stay home – sent him back to bed.  I don’t know if he actually slept any more or not because by the time I got home from taking the girls to school and then the hour round trip to take Ben to Genesis and back, he was up.  So, I’ve had him helping me around the house, which he has been very willing to do.  Sometimes we just need a “down” day.

So yes, yesterday was Lizzie’s birthday – and Halloween, of course.  I had suggested to her that we break things up and celebrate her birthday on Monday night, but she didn’t want to do that and I couldn’t blame her.  Instead, Monday night was David’s last night of homeschool flag football.  So, we all went to that and then out to eat to celebrate his last football game, ever. 

So then yesterday was kind of crazy.  I had to bring Lizzie’s treats to school (and no quick rice krispie bars like Sam wanted – she had to have double-stuffed oreos on a stick dipped in almond bark and sprinkled with pink and purple sprinkles – rather time intensive) for her treats!  I came into the school around 11:30 so I could eat lunch and go to recess with her (again – not my idea, but hers.  Actually, Sam asked me to do that for him last week, too) and the secretary says, “Didn’t you just do this last week?”  Um, why yes, yes I did.  I told her I was just thankful my other two fall babies are out of school now!

I made a quick supper and got the kids ready for trick or treating.  Will and Arien came over.  I suggested to Ellie that because it was so cold and we would be doing so much walking she ought to consider wearing her tennis shoes.  She rejected the idea immediately.  I thought about forcing her to change, but I am learning that experience seems to be  the best teacher with her.  So, I took the kids around Swan myself, which didn’t take long.  Only about a half dozen houses had their lights on.  But, you have to stop and chat with each person who does.  Some, knowing my kids were coming, went all out – little Halloween gifts, etc.  Then, Will and Arien went with us down to Pville.  That took forever and my hip is killing me today.

It was so cold last night that the kids had to wear their winter coats and gloves and hats.  It didn’t take long for Ellie to start complaining about her feet.  I reminded her of my earlier suggestion for tennis shoes and she immediately protested, “But, Mom – fairies don’t wear tennis shoes!”  Well, that may be true, but I doubt they are tromping miles all over the place in hard silver sparkly shoes with socks that won’t stay up, either.

As we left Pville, Will and Arien made a detour – and picked up some pint sized plastic lawn chairs that someone had left out curbside for garbage pick up.  That made me smile, to know that they are thinking of the day that they’ll have little bottoms at their house that will fit them!

So then we came home and celebrated Lizzie and Will’s birthdays together.   That took awhile.  And then Will and Sam had to go kill a possum that had the misfortune to wander up on our deck (actually he’s been hanging out there for several days, so it was a good thing to get rid of him – he’s been eating the cat’s food – oh, yes, did I mention we have a new cat?  More on that later).

So, anyway…it was a long, late night.  But I know Lizzie had a good birthday.  Arien is such a good big sister to her.  One of Lizzie’s gifts was a long-requested coffee maker.  Arien helped me find the right one on Amazon and she taught us both how to use it last night.  I told her that it reminded me of my childhood, when my grandparents would come over for birthday celebrations in the winter.   The coffee smelled like family.  It’s a pity I can’t stand the taste of it.  And then I also gave Lizzie some play make-up and brushes she had requested.  So Arien taught her how to apply it.
 Sam’s birthday was 10 days ago.  That was a big one.  We started the day by attending a huge church in W. Des Moines.  He was just curious to visit someplace else because he’s attended the same church all his life.  It was definitely different than what we’re used to and all the kids said they were glad we go where we do!  Of course, I about had to scrape all their jaws off the floor when a new associate pastor was introduced…and it was a female.  Yes, well….

Then, we ate lunch and went to a trampoline park.  That went well – no ER visits afterwards!  We then headed out to Bass Pro where Sam picked out a few things.  And then we went home and Will and Arien came over and we had a nice time.  They’re probably getting tired of seeing us.
 I cleaned out the fridge a couple of weeks ago.  Lizzie peered into it afterwards and made the comment, “I feel like we’re poor now!”  (because it was no longer over-flowing with Rubbermaid containers of moldy food).
 Ben has taken it upon himself to start highlighting verses he likes in his Bible.  I don’t know where he got that idea.  Paul had a Bible that he highlighted with colored pencils (different colors for different themes) when he was about Ben’s age.  Will and David share that Bible now.  But I doubt Ben would know anything about it.  Maybe I should show it to him. 

He’s been dealing with some anger towards his dad.  It’s probably been there for awhile but it’s been popping out in conversation lately.  So we’ve been talking.  I hope we haven’t given the kids the impression that their dad was a saint.  That can happen sometimes when a person dies – “Don’t say anything negative about the dead!”  But I’ve been talking to him about focusing and remembering the good things and reminding Ben how much his dad loved him.  He’ll work through it.
 A few weeks ago David picked up the Littles from school.  When they got home, I could tell Ellie had been crying.  She immediately launched herself into my arms and started sobbing, “I missed you so much!”  The kids said they had been halfway home when Ellie suddenly began crying, saying she missed me.  That was a little odd.  Well, later that night Ellie shared with me something that had happened at school – she had not been treated fairly, it sounds like and I suddenly realized where the tears came from.  It wasn’t, “I miss Mommy” but “I need Mommy.”  Somehow, that made me feel good.
 The kids started practicing for the school Christmas program a few weeks ago.  Sam came home and told me the words to one of their songs: How could a little baby make the angels sing, How could a little baby grow to be a king?  I think that’s awesome.  Of course, I realize it’s just a nod to the Christian celebration of Christmas.  I subbed with second graders one day last week and was in their music class – where they worked on a Christmas rap song for the program!  The teacher happened to have all the songs for each grade listed on the white board and I saw that there are plenty of Santa songs, a Kwanzaa song, and Hanukah song, and apparently, one song about baby Jesus.  But, you know, it’s public school, so we’ll take w hat we can get!  Anyway, Sam said, in reference to the words of the song, “If people would just read their Bibles, then they would know!”  Ha, ha, ha…he’s no dummy.  Sam also commented – and I thought this was very astute of him – that while the song is about Baby Jesus, nowhere in the song is the name, “Jesus” sung. 

Ellie related that a little boy in her class wanted to bring or did bring a book about Jesus, but the teacher  told him that was not allowed.  Sigh…it’s no surprise, of course.  But my kids go to these schools.  I work in them.  And if there is anything our public school system needs, it’s Jesus.

Of course, my own kids need him, too.  One day last week I could hear Ellie messing around when she was supposed to be doing her after-school chores.  I asked, “Are you doing your work?”  She saucily replied, “Is it any of your business?”  The night kind of went downhill from there…
 A couple whose wedding we attended at church in July recently announced that they are expecting – a honeymoon baby, apparently, because he/she is coming 9 months after the wedding.  I told the kids this and Lizzie exclaimed, “But they hardly kissed at all at their wedding!” 
 I had a stressful couple hours yesterday – on top of everything I else I was doing to prepare for trick or treating and Lizzie’s birthday.  I received an email from Ben’s boss wanting to switch his days and hours.  That’s fine, but it’s not so simple with Ben.  Before I could agree to any changes (while keeping in mind that this store is being very gracious in hiring Ben in the first place) I had to contact the cab company, his special Olympics coach (because their practices are usually in the late aft and his boss is now wanting him to work then), Genesis to switch his dayhab, and all the while remembering that Ben sometimes struggles when dealing with change.  I have a couple of loose ends to tie up, but I think that is going to work out.  Ben’s actually pretty excited because now he’ll be working on Friday afternoons and Fridays are when Hy Vee has their big sales.  So, I was up to my eyeballs in emails and phone calls about that when the news broke that one of the insurance companies in the privatized Iowa Medicaid system is pulling out, effective Nov. 30.  It’s Ben’s insurance!  This is the company that not only covers his medical and dental care, but all his waiver services.  The waiver services include his SCL and respite care, his transportation to and from work, and his dayhab.  ARGH!!  I will forever be mad at Terry Branstad (former governor) for messing up the Medicaid system in Iowa by allowing the privatization.  And, I have yet to hear from Ben’s case manager about this (her salary is also paid by Ben’s insurance).  So, I don’t know what is going to happen about this.  I kept reminding myself yesterday when tempted to panic, “God’s got this!”
I was picking up a birthday cake two days ago on the south side of Des Moines when I realized I would have to switch lanes because a car that I thought was turning into a business had its rear end sticking out into the lane I was in.  So, I switched lanes.  It wasn’t until I drove by the car that I realized that, for whatever reason, this car had jumped the curb and there was a shopping cart crumpled underneath the front of it.  It was a great big long car and an elderly woman sitting in it.  I felt bad for her.
 I visited the dentist this week – no cavities.  While I was there I visited with the dentist about David’s wisdom teeth.  He says David definitely needs to have them out and because David has Medicaid, we’ll have to go to Iowa City to have it done.  Ugh.  So, I need to put that on my to-do list.  It will probably take two visits, a consult and then the surgery.  But, since the state of Iowa will be paying for this and I remember shelling out nearly $1000 to have Will’s done (and that was with private insurance) I really can’t complain.  The dentist did say that once David turns 19 his office won’t be able to take his insurance anymore because of these regulatory hoops they have to jump through for Medicaid patients over the age of 19.  I told him that didn’t matter to me – I will just pay cash for David’s teeth needs.  I’m not going to lose this dentist!

Oh, and speaking of dental insurance:  I received a nice little letter from Wellmark letting me know that they are cancelling my dental insurance as of Dec. 31.  No reason given.  My dentist said it’s because Wellmark is cancelling all their privately held insurance policies, medical and dental.  I guess that would make sense.  My agent found me a policy through Delta Dental but it’s going to cost me an extra $15 a month over what I had been paying for the Wellmark policy (approx. same coverage).
 We do have a new outdoor cat.  He showed up about 3 or 4 weeks ago.  He has a lot of personality (if personality means he sticks his claws through my new $50 screen door and yowls until you bring him some food).  He likes to be petted and will rub right up next to you when you come outside.  He also tries to shoot inside the house upon occasion and one day this week he got into the mud room and ate half my lunch I had out there (in a lunch bag in case I got called into work).  David named him Casey.  Actually, right now my neighbor has 3 week old kittens she is bottle feeding.  The kids are trying to talk me into a companion for Bella.  I don’t know.  I have a feeling she likes being solitary.
 Oh, and I finished my last term classes…and got 100% in both.  I never lost a single point on any project or exam.  And these were hard classes!  But I did it! 

But pulling off something like that creates a certain amount of stress.  That’s why I was actually relieved last week when I took my first Stress quiz (Stress Management – if the university would really like to help with my stress levels, they should just give me the 3 credits and not make me take the class – just my opinion) when I missed a question.  The pressure was off – no 100% to maintain for the term.  And then, the professor went and changed my grade back to 100%!  Apparently, I did have the answer right and the computer system was off.  I remember thinking it was odd I had missed that one.  So if I’m really lucky on this week’s quiz I’ll miss an answer again and I can quit stressing over my GPA.

8 more months to go and I am a free woman…
 Not much else to write about, which is  good because I’ve covered a lot of space here.  Our church is voting on a new pastor this coming Sun. night.  I like this couple.  They seem to be making an effort to get to know the members of the church.  In fact, Will and Arien are having them over for supper tonight.  I hope I’m off to a good start with the female half.  Sat. night we had our annual fall picnic – such a nice time.  Well, she’s going around taking pictures of church members with them holding a white board with their name on it so she can match names to faces – clever idea.  She said something to me about “rounding up your husband” when I came in.  I didn’t say anything because I was caught off guard.  Later on, she took a picture of me with another widow lady instead.  Well, somewhere in there, someone must have told her I was widowed and I guess she felt just awful and caught me later and was apologizing all over the place.  I told her she had no reason to feel badly – she had no way of knowing.  Anyway, I’m looking forward to getting to know both of them better in the months to come, should our church vote to have them be our new pastor and wife.

Friday I am driving out to Council Bluffs to attend a craft show with Kathy.  I can’t wait!  David changed the oil in the van for me yesterday, which was an ordeal.  Kias are just strange vans, we’re finding out.  Plus, that’s what the guy at Auto Zone said when David went there needing help getting the oil cap off.  But the guy didn’t take it off for him and instead sold David a tool that didn’t work and in the end David got it off with a big wrench after breaking a different wrench and what should have been a 30 min. job lasted for several hours.  And I offended David greatly when I mildly suggested that his brother was coming that night and could help him if he needed it . I never realized how much David feels in the shadow of Will until recent months.  He is determined to do things himself, which is good, but it makes for a lot of drama because David is dramatic and sensitive and determined to gain skills that just don’t come super naturally for him.  He’s learning.  We'll survive this, too, and on the other side of it, David will be a fine, capable man.

All right.  I’m finished for now!



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