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Thankful for Fleas


Not quite sure how the entire month has spend by since I last wrote.  Oh, yes I can…Where to start?

Let’s see…

Lizzie had a tube put in her right ear last Friday.  This was the first time I’ve ever sat in a surgery waiting area all by myself.  Pastor and Marcia used to go with me.  I guess I should get used to it, now.  Besides, ear tubes are pretty minor.  She did fine.

But, earlier in the week when I took Lizzie in for her pre-op physical, I got a shock.  The dr was horrified at her physical development and thinks she may have something called, “Precocious Puberty.”  It kind of makes me mad because 5 years ago I had the girls in this clinic.  We saw a PA then.  I noticed that at age 4, Lizzie already had the beginnings of a chest so I asked the PA about that.  She laughed and said, “Don’t you know that all black girls are curvy?”  Well, no, I didn’t.  How was I supposed to know?  So all this time I’ve thought Lizzie’s early development was normal because of her race.

The dr examined her and Lizzie was beyond mortified.  He left the room and she cried in embarrassment.  She is a highly  modest person, anyway, but I think I would have cried, too.  She wasn’t expecting to be examined like that and then, hearing the dr’s concerns, now felt that there was something wrong with her.  Sigh…

The repurcussions for PP are quite high  - lots of health problems, mainly.  The biggie is that it stunts growth, because, apparently, girls typically stop growing 2 years after the onset of their first period.  I did not know that, either.  So, if Lizzie starts soon, that means she’ll quit growing at age 11, which will make her far too short for her body type.  I could see obesity being a real issue down the road.  She needs the extra height her growth charts are predicting to carry the solidness of her body weight.  So, Thursday, I took her to another dr where we had a bone scan done.  Apparently, this is used to diagnosis the condition.  I am still waiting for those results.  If and when they come back positive, then we go to an endocrinologist who will put her on Luperon shots to slow down puberty.  Tomorrow, Ellie goes to the same dr to see if she is on track for the same condition.  She’s awfully curvy already, too, and I guess this tends to run in families.

The dr. told me this is found most often in Hispanic women.  The Mayo website said it’s actually highest in the black community.  I asked the school nurse what she knew about it and she said not a whole lot, but , “Oh, there’s nothing that can be done to treat it.”  Um, well, actually there is.  I hope the endocrinologist has his/her head in the game because I feel like I’m running into a number of people here who don’t know a whole lot.  Even at the xray clinic I was told I would be called by that afternoon with results and 5 days later, I am still waiting!

So, anyway, this has been a source of great concern to me for the past week.
 Sunday, Will, David, and Sam got together with some friends and did some shooting, making sure their guns are ready for hunting season.  David has a new one.  And now, thanks to it, he also has a broken nose.  He came home Sunday afternoon and I thought he had dirt all over his nose.  My second thought was that his nose didn’t look like it was in the right spot, but sometimes my eyes play tricks on me, too, so I didn’t say anything.  But, he had fired his new gun and the kickback got him right in the nose.  Fortunately, I just happened to have a small gel ice pack.  He wrapped that in a towel and kept it on his nose all night long.

I did some googling of “broken nose” and figured out that this probably wasn’t an emergency but he should be seen by someone soon.  So, I figured we’d go to Urgent Care on Monday.  I was already going to be in town with Ben doing grocery shopping and I thought David could drive up and meet us somewhere.  I was at the Jordan Creek Hy-Vee that morning and they have a walk-in clinic in the store.  I popped my head in and asked the PA on duty if they could examine David if I brought him later that day.  She said she thought all facial injuries had to be seen in the ER and even made a phone call double checking.  Yep.  So, he met us at Methodist and we were there 2 hours.  We left with confirmation of a broken nose (and yes, it IS shoved off to the side – my eyes weren’t being crazy) and a referral to an ENT.  I called them today and we see them in a week.  They want to give the swelling time to go down.  The receptionist was talking to me about David’s insurance and made the casual comment, “If he has surgery…”  What?!  I was just thinking they’d pop the nose back in place or give him a nose cast (is there such a thing?  David would die…).  So I don’t know what we’re going to find out next week.
We have a kitten in the house – that’s new since I last wrote.  I wasn’t planning to get another cat.  But, my neighbor, Kate, had two mama cats who gave birth in late Sept/early Oct. and both quit feeding their litters.  So she was bottlefeeding quite a few kittens.  A number of them didn’t make it.  She has kittens fairly often at her place and my kids like to go over and play with them.  They were so excited on Halloween night to discover all the new kitties at Kate’s and I had to pry them away to go finish trick or treating.  The entreaties began and continued into the next day.  I wasn’t seriously considering another cat, but those kittens were awfully cute. Growing up, I had a cat who would sneak under the covers with me and I loved the feel of sleeping next to a purring animal.  Bella never did that.  The most she’ll ever do is sleep at the foot of my bed.  Besides, David is her favorite person.  He has spent plenty of nights sleeping on the couch or recliner because Bella fell asleep in his lap and he didn’t have the heart to move her.And then he falls asleep!

So, I ended up taking a teeny, tiny white kitten.  She was maybe 4 weeks old at the most.  I wanted to name her Augusta or Beatrice but the kids turned their noses up at that.  So we went with Amelia.  Oh, my goodness, she was tiny.  Her eyes were a mess, too.  But I figured the vet could clean that up.  I was bottlefeeding her and she got lots of loving for a day and a half. 

Then she died.  I figured something had happened when she didn’t wake me up at 4 in the morning with her pitiful little mewling.  I immediately texted Kate and asked if we could try one of the slightly older kittens she had.  She had another white one that had caught my eye before.  So, we brought home Olivia.  I tried to name her Augusta or Beatrice again, but the kids were having none of it.  She was about 5 or 6 weeks when we brought her home.

And she’s still alive!  Oh, she is adorable.  She is white, but has a gray tail, ears, feet, and face.  She is so playful!  I took her to the vet and she has been de-flead, de-wormed, de-earmited, and is slowly getting her shots.  We are having a lot of fun.  She loves to jump on people (and those claws are sharp!) and when she purrs, it is so loud.  I have trained her to sleep in my bed most nights.  She’s such a social little thing.

Bella is not amused, however.  But I think Olivia is growing on her.  At first, Bella seemed almost scared of Olivia.  But that soon turned to disdain.  Now, I’m noticing Bella is a little more aggressive.  For example, David built a cat scratcher some time ago.  Bella was never too interested in it.  But Olivia loves it.  Today, Olivia was playing with it.  So, Bella walks over to the thing, wraps her long body around the pole, and swipes at Oliva every time she tries to get in to play with it!  As soon as Olivia gave up and scampered away, Bella lazily got up and sauntered off.  I do think it’s funny when Oliva grabs Bella’s tail with her paws or even attempts to jump on her back.  One of these days, Bella will have to make the choice to live with her new companion.  At least she’s not hissing at her anymore.  However, she does a lot of glaring at the rest of us.  She only returned to David’s lap this last week.  She was so mad that she wouldn’t even sit on him and normally, every time David sits or lays down, Bella is right there on top of him.


Ok, time for a rant.  Or a mini-rant.  The first year the kids were in public school they had a really nice Christmas program.  The children all wore dressy clothing, sang songs about Santa, and that was that – nothing too much required out of the parents.  Well, then the school went and hired a new, fresh-out-of-college music teacher.  Last year, Sam’s class had to dress up like rabbits, which I thought was kind of dumb.  But I found him some rabbit ears at the party store.  The girls still wore their nice dresses.  But yesterday I get this note from the music teacher, telling me what my kids have to wear.

I am NOT happy.

Sam’s class has to dress up in a Mexican theme.  We’re told oh, don’t buy anything new, but seriously, how many people have a sombrero just hanging in their coat closet?  Ellie’s class is all polar bears so they have to dress head to toe in white.  “Face paint would be awesome!” the teacher added.  Uh, huh.  And then Lizzie’s class actually has options.  They can either dress in a Kawanzaa theme or a Hanukkah one.  Seriously?  And is it a coincidence that two of the school’s four black children are in that class and this class just happens to be singing about Kawanzaa?  Maybe.  But I have my suspicions.

And so, apparently, parents are supposed to just pull these costumes together two weeks before the program during the busiest time of the year…grrr.

I climbed on Amazon today to look at Kwanzaa items.  But the more I did, the heavier-hearted I felt about it.  Kwanzaa isn’t even a real holiday!  It was made up by a professor at Berkley in the late 1960s as a nod to the Black Panther movement.  The Black Panthers who liked to kill people! 

So finally I decided – forget it.  I don’t care if Lizzie is black.  She is NOT dressing for Kawanzaa.  She has a blue dress that she wore in Will and Arien’s wedding.  I’ll buy her a nice white cardigan that she can use in the spring and voila – Hanukkah colors.  I ordered Sam a red dress shirt because red is one of the colors of Mexico.  He can use it for church.  I’m looking for a longer white shirt for Ellie that she could wear over leggings.  I’ll put her hair in two puffs with 2 white bows and there you have it – a little brown polar bear.

Of course, you always know there will be at least one kid in every class who, despite the instructions, will show up for the program in a pair of baggy jeans and a Sponge Bob t-shirt.  So, there are options.  But you don’t want your kid to be that kid, either.
 That horrific shooting took place a few weeks ago at that church in Texas.  Once again, you realize that there is just NO place that you can ever be completely safe.  It was just horrifying.  But what really irritated me the next day when the dead were being publicly identified, the news repeatedly referred to the pastor’s slain daughter as his “adopted” daughter.  What does the fact of her adoption have to do with anything?  She was his daughter – nothing else.  I think saying, “adopted” makes her sound “less than.”
 Oh, back to the kids’ music teacher – kind of.  I’m full of complaints, I guess.  Well, actually, I do have one praise.  In addition to learning about the great composers, the kids have also spent this fall learning about Elvis Presley, the Beatles, and some other, more recent singers.  My kids  have all liked that and now when they hear snippets of old music in commercials or whatever they can pick out who is singing sometimes.  So – they’ve learned something at school this year, anyway.  Not sure it’s something that’s necessarily needful for a successful life, but I’ll take anything I can get right now.

One thing the teacher does – and I have never understood her reasoning or the benefit of this – is that nearly every class period one child gets to be a “rock star,” I think it’s called,  They have a special sticker they get to wear and they can perform a solo dance act or choose a couple friends.  They pick the song they want.  I think it’s dumb, but whatever.  It’s probably not harming my kids, anyway.  So, the other day I was subbing with the 2nd graders and it was this little girl’s turn.  She picked the song, “Poker Face” by Lady Gaga, which is not an appropriate song for children.  I’ve always sensed that, but the teacher displayed youtube video with the lyrics while this little girl and her friend danced.  Yeah – really not an appropriate choice.

However, I had to laugh at this little girl’s innocence.  She’s dancing and all of a sudden she starts jabbing her face.  Her audience looked a little puzzled until she explained, “Um, poke her face, you know – that’s what it says – poke her face!”


It’s Thanksgiving Day.  This year it’s just the 5 kids and me.  Will and Arien are off to her side of the family.  I am not sighing – this is the way it goes when you have married children.  But still…I’d be happier with all my kiddos around.

However, a couple of the Littles are sneezing and hacking so it’s probably  just as well to minimize their people exposure right now.  We’re going to have a traditional meal.  And then last night  I went to Hobby Lobby and bought $70 worth of stuff for my Christmas tree (that adds up fast).  But I suddenly decided that it is  time for something different.  All my life I have used white garland on the tree because when I was growing up, that’s what we had.  And it suddenly occurred to me that I might like something other than white garland.  So I bought some plaid ribbon – it’s soft, like a blanket, too.  And then, for the first time ever, I bought a tree topper.

When we were younger, I didn’t feel like we could afford a tree topper so we didn’t have one for the first few years.  And when Will was around kindergarten age he decided we needed one so he made a paper turquoise star for the top of our tree.  Long after we could have afforded to buy a tree topper, I kept using his, for the sake of sentimentality.  But I decided last night that it is time for something different.  I bought a canvas frame and I’m going to decorate it and display his turquoise star during the season.  But, he’s gone now and so his star (boy, do I sound ruthless or what?).

So, we’ll eat our Thanksgiving meal and then it’s time to bring on Christmas – decorating, addressing the cards, downloading Christmas music off the computer to my phone, and starting my on-line shopping.

I honestly don’t have any place I need to be until Sunday.  I think tomorrow evening I will take the kids to see the new movie, “Wonder” about the child with facial deformities.  Everyone keeps telling me we need to read the book, too.  It must be a true story.  But anything I can do to increase the kids’ compassion levels is a good thing.
 I took Ellie in to the dr. yesterday to have her checked out.  Right now, our dr is not alarmed, but he says he wants to keep a close eye on her.  He’ll see her in a year unless I notice any changes and then I need to bring her in sooner.  He asked if the girls had the same “sperm donor” which caught me off-guard.  I had never thought of their bio father in terms like that, but, from what I’ve heard, it might be an apt description.

The dr had Lizzie’s bone scan results and her bones are showing her to be 11 ½ years old – which, of course, she is not.  But her body is. She definitely has the Precocious Puberty.  The dr. said that it is also known as the “Lolita Syndrome.”  I hate that.  Lizzie is still a little girl, mentally, even if her body has already changed into that of a young teenager.  So, now we wait to hear from the endocrinologist, so we can get this slowed down through drugs.
David was elected to the city council a few weeks ago.  His term will start in January.  He said he’d be more excited if the total turn-out for Swan voters had not been only 5!  He didn’t even get to vote for himself.  That week, David was up at camp working.  They were hosting a national camp directors’ retreat.  I completely forgot about doing absentee ballots until it was too late, so Ben did not get to vote, either.
 Last week, Ellie took a bobby pin out of her hair while we were driving at night. The next thing I knew, I heard Lizzie complaining that Ellie was scratching her.  Seriously offended, Ellie hotly returned, “I did not scratch her!”  And then in a softer voice I heard her add, “I stabbed her.” 
 Sam mentioned one day recently that there is a boy at school who keeps saying, “ain’t” in his presence.  He said, “So, I just gave him that look you always give us when we use bad grammar.”  Of course, I had to ask him what that look was and he immediately pursed his lips and raised one eyebrow.  Ha, ha, ha!  I think there’s a verse about that in Proverbs – Train them up in the way they should go and when they are old they shall not depart from it.   I’m pretty sure that applies to good grammar usage, too!

Oh, speaking of grammar…my grammar class this term is kicking my you-know-what.  You would think that being naturally able to speak it would translate into acing a class on it .  Not so much.  I have figured out that I speak it well because I have spent my entire life reading, so I understand grammar instinctively in context of sentence structure.  But, this class is going way deeper.  It is SO hard!  I took my first test (open book, no less) and quickly decided that this whole I-must-get-an-A in every class is really overrated!  C’s can be really nice, too!  I thought I failed my first test, but I guess did ok on the written portion of the test because when I checked my grade this week, it’s still sitting at an A-.  But there’s two more tests to go yet! 

My other class is Stress Management.  I’m doing fine in there, as I expected.  Every week we have to turn in a paper worth 25 points addressing some area of stress management.  I’ve gotten full scores on all them.  This last week, my professor wrote a note that said, “Sarah – I hope that whatever career you decide to go into will involve writing!”  Hah!  Maybe I’ll think about that…

I did end up receiving perfect scores in my last  term’s classes – both of them.  I’ve never done that before.  I couldn’t believe it – I never lost a single point in either class!  Of course, it helped that I really got into my British Lit class.  Even after I turned in my final research women (on the first women writers) I re-read that paper a couple of times just because it pleased me so much!
 A week ago I drove out to Council Bluffs to attend the funeral of a gentleman from our former church.  I got two calls to work that day, but I was glad I chose the funeral instead.  This man was special to me.  He and his wife drove out to our wedding, in the middle of winter, 4 hours away.  I remember eating a meal of sweet corn with he and his wife in the tiny little kitchen of our rental house.  And once, at church, Paul and I were on the steps leading up to the balcony having a discussion.  We weren’t fighting, but it was one of those intense, how-are-we-going-to-work-through-this kind of thing.  We didn’t know Richard was right around the corner and had heard everything!  At  first I was mortified when he stepped around the corner but then he talked to us and I don’t even remember what he said, but it was sweet and helpful and I was thankful.  I remember another time when I was sitting alone in church because Paul was up in the sound room and I had both  Ben and David with me.  David  started fussing, so I had to get him out of church.  I thought I was just slip out and take him to the nursery.  Well, Ben saw me leaving and began to shriek, grabbing my legs.  So I was trying to walk up the aisle with two screaming  little ones, neither of whom could walk at that point.  Richard saw my predicament and scooped up one of the boys for me so we could get of there quickly.  When Paul died he was sick and couldn’t make the funeral but his daughters came and they made sure I was given money from the family.  A couple of weeks ago Richard fell and hit his head and died shortly thereafter.

So, anyway, the funeral was good.  I loved seeing people, some of whom I had not seen in 13 years since we moved.  It was also socially nerve wracking.  I have figured out that I have what is now termed, “social anxiety” which I think is just a fancy way of stating that unfamiliar people and situations make a person nervous.  But I did it anyway and was glad I did.  I even managed to make it through the entire day without being spied by Paul’s dad who was also in attendance.  It was a good day!
 On the way there I stopped off at a Taco Johns for lunch.  It’s located in a travel center so there is no drive though.  I was cracking up though because the way TJ does their orders is that they take first names when you place the order.  Then, once the food is ready, they call out your name and you retrieve your food.  So, they had an order ready and this young employee gets up to the front and calls out, “Jesus?”  “Jesus?”  I’m just staring at him, not believing what I am hearing.  I am pretty sure that nobody has named their kid Jesus for centuries!   Then, an older employee whispered in the younger guy’s ear and he immediately calls out, “Hay-sus?  Hay-sus?” and a hispanic guy comes up and gets his food.  Ha, ha, ha!
I got a massage the other day.  It was one for pain.  I’ve been doing these every few months for almost a year now.  Along with chiropractic care, they do help.  At some point, I may have to do see an actual doctor for this hip/sciatic stuff I have going on, but I’m trying to put that off.  This time, I had a different masseuse and I realized that the one I’ve had in the past has been really rough.  Those massages hurt, but I would feel good later.  But this one was a lot more gentle.  Now, she told me repeatedly that every  night I need to get boiling hot towels and put them on my hips so I can feel “a lot better” but I’m thinking logistically, that’s just not going to work.  How am I supposed to get my own towels and position them on the back of my legs and hips when I’m supposed to be lying face down?  And it would get my bed all wet.  And by the time I got them wet in the tub, wrung out, me positioned into place, and the wet towels sort of shrugged into position on my legs – they’d be cold.  So, it’s one of those things that ideal in theory, but would not work in practice.
Lizzie has been picked for the Talented and Gifted program at school.  It kind of surprised me because I don’t think she’s anything beyond average.  She doesn’t seem overly  motivated to excel at much of anything right now.  But, she does test well.  When the TAG teacher spoke to me last week I told her I honestly thought Ellie was more naturally gifted and she said she had almost picked Ellie, too, but she could only pick a couple of kids from each class and I guess there are a set of twins in Ellie’s class who are wild little guys, but apparently, very, very smart.  I don’t care.  I’m not making a big deal out of this.  Being picked for TAG in the elementary years does NOT mean a child has a superior brain or guaranteed adult success!
I was asked this week to be one of three speakers at an upcoming single mom’s Christmas dinner.  There’s going to be between 500-600 people there.  But, I can do this.  It isn’t like I have to bring a 30 minute presentation.  I’m simply going to be sharing a little bit of my story and answering some questions from the hostess of the night.  So, I am trying to come up with thoughtful answers to the questions I was given.  I imagine I will be a bit nervous that night, though!  One of my prayers over the years has been that God will use what has happened with Paul’s death – obviously, in our lives, but also for the benefit of others.  Perhaps this is one of those ways.  If I don’t fall flat on my face, that is!
Happy Thanksgiving.  I’ve seen signs that read, “There is always, always something to be thankful for.”  That’s true, even in the worst of circumstances.  There’s the Apostle Paul who was able to sing in prison despite being in pain and shackles in a damp, filthy cell, unjustly imprisoned.  I’ll never forget reading Corrie Ten Boom’s writings.  She talked about how she and some of the other  death camp prisoners had a nightly time of praise and worship – which was forbidden by the guards.  However, the section of their barracks were terribly flea infested so the guards and a lot of prisoners didn’t want to be over there, which left them free to worship and pray in peace.  Even in the worst of times – there is much praise to be had.  And likewise, even though this Thanksgiving isn’t “perfect” in my estimation, I sure have a lot for which to be thankful.

And I am.



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