Don’t Forget

Carol has a sort of game with our young children whenever they part. She says to them, “Don’t forget!” If we are in a place where others are ignorant of the game, they may shrug their shoulders and wonder, forget what?

My mom has Alzheimer’s disease. It has been a slow process so far, and God has been so gracious to allow for that, and have my dad be able to care for her for the foreseeable future. She recognizes all of us, even all of my children (at least I think she does;)), and the things she forgets are not matters of the heart, not yet. But because her mother had this, and because her sister just died and had this, I know a bit about the progression, to a state where she may not know who I am. Dad prays for a slow deteriorating; she is old at this point so a slow fade would take longer than she has years on Earth. This is not something I have prayed with earnestness. I’m not sure if that is God’s plan or not.

We used to joke (halfway) about “shoot me when I show signs of getting Alzheimer’s”, but in recent years I have realized how horrible a thought that is. For one thing, who knows how early in my life I will start to forget.

Just in this past week I have had two very disturbing experiences. The first I can’t explain in detail, but I neglected to do something in the right way, and when thinking on it later, I had to admit that I completely forgot. I quickly tried to think of a way I wouldn’t do that same thing again, especially if I had no recollection, a next time, and cam up with a fitting act of repentance. Good for the mind and the soul.

The next day, I pulled the pork roast out of the oven from cooking overnight, put it in the crock, and tucked it in the fridge. This was to be dinner; I only needed buns. I was to take kids to work at the grocery store later, so I knew I’d have a chance to get them. Later came, and as I went in Stoodts, I walked back to the cheese case, making a mental list of what I needed to make pizza, for dinner, that night. Not until I was home did I realize I already had pork done and planned!

I know we can shoo away each of these blunders, saying, it happens all the time, you’re stressed, you have mommy brain x 13. I get it. But these were different. It was like going to a cupboard and opening the door and that thing not being there. But actually, it is like I didn’t even think to look in the cupboard in the first place. So how would I remember to look for the thing in the cupboard for next time? Me and Mother Hubbard. Think that’s her trouble?

I would love to end this with the above line. That was so clever. I love my mind, and how much it does for me each and every day, day in and day out. God has been so good to me. But if I were to start to lose some ability there, it would be very disturbing. I must remember what is important, though- the thing Grandma Carol never wants our kids to forget- I am loved.

 

 

Getting Caught Up

Saturdays are good right now for giving attention to things I haven’t all week, but for some reason I feel peevish today, and unappreciative of the ‘day off’. Maybe because it isn’t.

This week was busy. Sam has joined a basketball team that practices in Marion. We went round and round about whether we wanted to make this kind of time and distance commitment, again ( see also FCA running in Powell, see also BSF in Columbus). But it is hard to let any of our children down. Not that this was the deciding factor. I think what gave us the go ahead was Sarah becoming a licensed driver this week!!! Now we have four people who can drive him over there. And, Sam picked up his temps this week, too, making it possible for him to get some driving hours with Luke or me. It will still be a long winter, but with some positives.

I was talking to my dad about Christmas- I don’t think we will get toys at all this year. The kids don’t play with what they have as it is. What kind of things could we do instead? Are there any good games, mind building activities, or all around great gifts with longevity you can think of? Let me know.

I got a slow cooker, and slow far, slow good, ha ha ha. My goal is to use it 50 times before I break it in our hard as nails sink. I’ve been really careful when I wash the insert, taking the steps super slow. It is a slow cooker, after all.

On November 11 Luke, Aliyah, Sarah, and I are going to see Les Miserables in Cleveland. Being postpartum for as long as I can, I haven’t yet bought anything dressy. So what would I wear? I don’t really have a style, if truth be known, and I don’t know what looks good on me much. But I was able to find a couple of things at Clothes Mentor last week that look promising.

What’s Your Superpower?

If you could have the superpower of invisibility OR flight, which would you choose?

(Quick- email or text me your answer before you continue reading. Thanks!)

I love driving to Columbus on Saturday afternoons, because I can listen to public radio broadcasts. Shows like The Splendid Table and Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me are a rare treat, as I can’t get a good NPR station up in Mansfield. There was a show a few weeks ago where the host was discussing superpowers, specifically the above two choices. He put the question to many different people, and shared his analysis of their answers. One key to getting an accurate result is sticking with your first thought; if you have time to mull it over or talk to others, the other choice may look better. Another funny thing he noticed was that there were stages of acceptance of their answers- they’d think of every loophole, every what if, before settling into what they’d most like to be able to do. Also, the host had his own opinions about why we choose what we do.

So, you want to know what I chose? Flight. From my infancy I have dreamed of flying. It would be so much fun, and freeing.

I had no idea I was so unique, however. At the close of the program, the host concluded that humans are innately after a way to hide, guilty animals really, so everyone, if they are honest, would choose invisibility. What? I was surprised. It seems to me you might have an even split, both sounding so good, but it appears the host had the deck stacked from the beginning.

So, I thought I’d do my own test, at home with my children. I gave them the question and had them write their first thought on a sticky note. Later they would write a paragraph about their choice. Do you want to know the outcome?

100 percent invisibility!!! I said to myself, I’ve got the sneakiest kids around. But it may just back up this radio host’s thoughts on the subject. I can’t explain why my answer was different; wanting to fly is not a prerequisite to sainthood, but maybe it helps. I’m off to ask Luke. Will he want to soar with me or disappear completely? Heaven only knows.

Scenes From A Foot Doctor

I last posted about my feet at Easter. The tradition our family has of footwashing on Maundy Thursday gave me some concerns, since my toenails were suffering from my sneakers. They started feeling better this spring, but not looking much better.

There was an odor I was noticing on my side of the bedroom that I thought was the carpet, as we are in the room the boys used to inhabit. Blame it on the boys, right? Luke had said that he thought I had a nail fungus and I dismissed it at the time, not really wanting to think that was true. One day the odor popped up again, and I thought I’d check my sneakers, just on a whim. My right shoe smelled with that same odor! I felt a kind of shame, one because I have had this problem and have basically ignored it up until this point (way to take care of my body!), and two because Luke did say something, and I thought I knew best and totally wrote him off. It reminded me of the time (times, let’s be honest) I am stubborn to a fault. I wouldn’t let the wedding photographer put up lights in the sanctuary because I wanted to keep things natural. Things were natural all right, but they were dark. I lost a good job at a science museum in Roanoke because I wouldn’t renew my social security card with my new name when we were first married. It is a thing with me. I want to change, and to listen to my husband, especially when he has what is best for me in mind.

So my first doctor’s appointment was this morning, and I prayed on the way that things could stay simple and uncomplicated. I could just see me leaving there for the hospital and getting put under for foot surgery (I’m sorry, Ma’am, you’ve let this go too far…) I even left Chloe at home because I had no idea what to expect. But it wasn’t like that at all. In fact, my doctor sounds an awful lot like Luke. Maybe I can get good at listening to the both of them.

Our Trip To The Dentist

Elijah: Mama thought about it, and I can go to the dentist, too.

Kenan: Elijah, you probably aren’t going to get any cavities today…

So began our eventful trip. Adon and Kenan had fillings to get, Elijah didn’t want to be left behind, and Chloe couldn’t be left behind. It was a roomful of most of my youngest at the office, changing the usual quiet atmosphere there.

Not five minutes in, Elijah had his shoes off. I explained that he had to wear shoes; he could have stayed home and stayed barefoot, but he begged to come, remember? He complied fairly quickly.

Neither patient was taken back right away, which foretold how long a stay this was going to be. I would have fed Chloe twice before we were done. We settled in to read some High Five magazines, play a treasure hunt game (who can find me something red?), and messed with the window blinds before the first was called back. Elijah’s shoes came off again a couple more times, and I gave up. If I would have known how much trouble he was going to be…

Later we took a walk outside around the building (“Mama! We can’t leave Kenan here!”) for a short while. I saw a neat plant with long spiky grasses, and asparagus-like stalks up the middle with white blooms. Kinda like a hosta, but with some more class. Our dentist’s office is an old church building nested in the side of a hill, so he’s put in some stone retaining walls in back. Adon and Elijah wanted to climb them and walk across the top, but I could just see someone falling and needing more dental work, so we headed back inside.

A couple of ladies came in then, and the one asked me about Chloe and if these were all my children. I get to answer this in a myriad of ways, right? I told her C was #13, yada yada, and we had a nice talk about large families and homeschooling. I gave her my card (Did you know I have a card? Aliyah made them for me. They are handy for giving someone my digits), told her to contact me sometime. You know what? No one I have ever given my card to has ever pursued a relationship with me. The who might have had promise moved away. I’m starting to think it’s me. There is a new Ocean’s movie out in theaters, and before I see it I want to watch the other three again. While viewing the other day, I noticed Danny Ocean’s card- it just had his name on the front, with an embossed border. When I run out of these unfruitful bits, I’ll ask Aliyah to make me some like Danny’s. Maybe a con-man’s card can do better at making friends.

Giving Up

My poor baby. My big, red, four-wheeled baby. I just watched it get hauled up onto the bed of a tow truck, and what an amazing sight. The strength that the tow cable, and the motor, need to have, and the near delicacy the driver needs as he lowers the bed so that gravity doesn’t begin to work too hard against things…it was something to see. The driver asked me if I was coming along to the mechanic since I was still standing there gawking when he was done. But I just had to watch a mighty machine at work.

My last visit to the obstetrician I measured 24 inches. I was close to making that the title of this post, as just those two little words were enough to rob me of my joy and peace for a few hours…okay, days. I had thought I was further along, maybe even 26 or 27 weeks. Was baby shrinking? What was wrong? What should I do? Would I remind the doc that baby was older than that? Would I have to go back in for another check up sooner?

Then the most wonderful thoughts filled my mind. Thoughts of when Sam was born with that scary thing on his back. We had no knowledge beforehand, but if we had, I would have worried myself into a frenzy. But, all we had was ‘now’ and we made decisions from then on that were for Sam’s best quality of life. God let us in on that at just the right time, I think.

Another thought came to me- when the twins got sick. I’d just gone for a routine ultrasound, a higher level one done at OSU (hey, why not have a closer look because we can), and the doctor was telling us I’d have to have surgery that afternoon!!! We slowed the doctor down a bit, opting instead for the next morning, but we could see that this was needed to provide the best chance at life for our precious girls. God allowed us into this moment, and we were grateful there were ways we could help them.

Back to this baby. These memories reminded me of something powerful- when, and only when, the Lord sees fit for us to be involved in the care and decision making for each child, He has been faithful to let us know what is going on. The time that we spend not knowing, when He knits each in secret, is not time for me to worry and stew about anything. This was confirmed during my next OB visit, when I found out I am only 28 weeks along now, putting me at- you guessed it- 24 weeks then. Ha! God must laugh at His little ninny down here.

On Valentine’s Day I googled when Lent was. Um, it started on Valentine’s Day. We joked as a family about things we needed to give up, such as Studio C skits and movie quoting every. Single. Time. I had it in my head to confront a certain issue with a certain person, and was ready to have it out with them, that very week. But it was if a voice in my head said, why don’t you give up the control you are trying to exert over this issue? Why don’t you give that up for Lent? Wow. I’m not sure God really cares if we observe Lent or not, but the idea seemed just strange enough to be from Him, and I released any plans of pursuing my previous conversation. Here again was the Lord letting me in, not for me to get involved, but for me to see His mighty hand at work.

The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law. Deuteronomy 29:29

So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:34

 

New Mercies

I commented in my last post that I don’t miss much of it now that we don’t go to the Sunday church service. One thing I miss is the opportunity for Luke and Aliyah, especially, to play music and sing together. We do some songs in our makeshift Sunday morning service at home, but it isn’t as good as having a mic and having a sound system (hopefully behaving) projecting. The other night when Luke’s cousin visited, we sang some songs together, and it was so nice, we put more effort into it than we had been and the sound was great. This makes me want to dress up our Sunday offerings from now on, too. Plus, we’ve got Christmas tunes to practice on piano.

Luke has a controversial situation in his school system with a student that has gone on for a few years now. The student was due to be in his class this grading period, but Luke has just found out there will be some change and the student will not be in it after all. I believe this is one of those ‘He answers before you even ask’ kinds of mercies, and am hoping this is the closest Luke gets to the controversy.

I’ve been asked again to paint the window of a business in Bellville for Christmas, in time for small business Saturday. This isn’t because I have much talent; there are a lot of windows and few volunteers. Last year I volunteered, thinking, how could I not do something like this, and did a couple of holly wreaths. This year, all year, I have been thinking of a way to incorporate Christmas cookies- they can have simple round shapes and nice bright colors. I thought of a gingerbread boy and girl; the boy is putting a star on the top of a Christmas tree cookie, and the girl is looking on, delighted. I did a sketch earlier that I’m pretty happy with, I just have to decide how ornate the gingerbread people should be. Less is more on a window.

 

 

My Thing

The kids and Luke left to run just a bit ago, and I was left holding the sauce spoon, holding down the fort, holding in my complaints about the way of things sometimes. Even with bigger kids, a lot is left to me, and some days it gets hard to keep a good attitude. Part of the game is learning to love it, learning how to do, whatever my hand finds to do, with all my heart.

The other day I was moaning to Luke that I didn’t have a ‘thing’, an activity that fulfilled me, gave me some joy (I mean apart from marriage and family; that wasn’t the origin of this conversation. I can’t remember what was, ha). Luke immediately returned, “Homeschooling! You have that!” and it was like a light bulb went on, one that has been screwed in the hole for some time, just not screwed in all the way. Luke wants me to embrace homeschooling, to take it seriously, to work at it with all my heart. All these years I have tried to have as little to do with it as possible, like an acquaintance I would only see occasionally, but never dream of having into my home for dinner. Something is clicking with me. I’m not allowed to hate homeschooling. It is hurting my children, but it is hurting me more not to be all in, and allow myself to be changed through the process of teaching my children. I want to repent of this spirit asap, and am working on making time each day even this summer to get up close and personal with what the Lord might want to do in and through us next fall.

Luke and the older four leave for Lynchburg Monday for a week. While I will miss my biggest helpers (see griping above), I am looking forward to having some extra time to myself. The calendar is empty, since much of the to-dos these days involve these five. My to-do list can be a little more focused:

Read to the littles every day and take them to the library

Clean house

Read

Paint

Blog

Cook yummy things that Luke hates

Soak up some sun

If I get any of that done, the week will be well spent.

I’m learning that at this stage of my life, my ‘thing’ needs to be me enabling others to have their thing. It will likely be my most rewarding work.

“Well done, thou good and faithful servant…”

 

Monday Breeze

I got up early this morning, and stayed up. This is difficult to do, but even more difficult was getting Aliyah, Sam, and Noah up by 6:30 and out the door by 7:30. It was BMV time.

Aliyah needed to renew her temps, Sam and Noah needed an id card, and I needed to renew my driver’s license. Have I ever talked about my many mishaps resulting from an expired license here on the blog? Every. Four. Years. But who says a forty year old dog can’t learn new tricks? I’m a month early.

We got to the BMV at 8 on the dot, only to find that their server was down, and most of the services they render, renewals and photo-taking among them, were not working. I decided we would wait at least until nine, since leaving and coming another day would just be another hassle. It was rather ironic to see all of these BMV employees having to ‘wait’ for their computers to work. Ha! At one point a BMV cashier got everyone’s attention (“Okay, People…”) and explained that even they did not know when the computers would be online again. “It may be five more minutes, it may be five days.” Really? You’re telling me the State of Ohio is going to let their servers be down for five days? That would make national news. Drama Queen.

I must say I haven’t had to wait like I did this morning in forever. I can’t remember a time I was in line. Part of that is I let my license expire and don’t come as often as I should (hee), part is because I try to come right when they open in the morning. One time I came and the sun was just coming up as I emerged with my renewed license (which means it wasn’t spring or summer). It was a beautiful sight, the warm orange light peeking over the brick buildings of downtown Mansfield. I thought of a wonderful opening line to a book:

“Sunrise is beautiful in my city, and I am the only one who stirs.”

 

Working

I have a few minutes until dinner is set and eaten. Tonight we head to church, so dinner is a little early. The kids came in from playing a bit ago, planning the shirts and shorts they wanted to wear to church. Uh, I don’t think we are wearing shorts tonight. It is warm right now, but later it will cool off. Caleb said, “Mom, I don’t want to wear SWEATpants all evening…” Strange. It worked last week, and as they will be indoors all evening…

Track meets start this week. The older four and Luke will be gone til tonight for the middle school meet. We will try to go to a few in the coming weeks, but today it was simpler to have Luke take them.

Tacos for dinner. I packed some meat in a thermos for Luke. It should go over well. I don’t usually pack tacos in his lunches for work, because 1) there are usually no leftovers, and 2) he doesn’t want that twice in a row. The thermos trick I’ll have to remember.

Sean Hannity had a good rant today about hard work. I felt a little guilty again about the way I’ve been sleeping in and lazy about breakfast/ starting school/ modeling good work ethics for our kids. I want to get to where I am making every minute count, and doing all to the glory of God, but I am not there yet. I like to sleep.