A time to laugh

September 28, 2012

Your great sense of humour is going to be your greatest gift! –friend, via e-mail
Enough with the whining.  I’m pregnant.  I’m thirty-nine.  It’s kind of funny.

I’ve said I don’t know how many times over the past few weeks, “I have to laugh; if I don’t laugh I’ll cry.”  So that’s it.  I’m choosing to laugh.  And I wanted to share at least a few things I’ve laughed about as we’ve walked through this situation.

First off, the day I discovered I was pregnant–the same day–I logged on Facebook and was greeted, at the very top of the page, with a picture of Dr. Seuss’ Sam-I-am next to a lengthy quote, which began:  “You can get pregnant in a car.  You can get pregnant in a bar.  You can get pregnant on a hill.  You can get pregnant on the pill.”

Seriously.  I am not making this up.

Reading through, it was made clear by the end that it was a tirade about Todd Akin, who was all over the news at that point.  But I still about fell off the sofa.

My sweet husband’s first words on finding out were, admittedly, “Holy crap!”  After a pause, he brought up something I hadn’t considered:  “Wow.  Aren’t you glad we didn’t adopt that sibling set of three?”

Um….yikes!!

Two days later he and I sat in our Sunday school class and tried to keep a straight face as the teacher read one of the points for the day:  “Have you questioned God’s timing while you were waiting to be delivered from difficulty?”  Um, yeah…doing a lot of questioning God’s timing lately, thanks.

Not long after I was sitting in my doctor’s office, having an “official” pregnancy test done, and laughing (at that point, nervous laughter) about the whole ridiculous situation.  The nurse wrapped a blood pressure cuff on my arm as I murmured, “I’m going to have a fifteen-year-old, a thirteen-year-old, and a six-year-old.”  She laughed.  “You’re just going to live in your van!” she announced with a smile.  A pause while she took my pulse….and then something clicked.

Oh, my word….we’re going to need to buy a van!”

(On a side note, does anyone have a Mazda CX-9 they’d like to sell for a reasonable price?  I’d really like to avoid the whole van thing.)

It’s funny to finally start telling people, because I love to see the variety of reactions.  One is the relentlessly positive, “That’s wonderful!  Congratulations!!” from people who clearly don’t know the whole story.  Others immediately get concerned; I’m an “old” mom and they know it.  A reaction I got yesterday (which I really appreciated) was, “Congratulations?  With a question mark?”  That was a mom who understood.

My favorite reaction, though, which I don’t get very often, is when people burst out laughing.  They get it.  I know when I have a laugher that I’ve truly found someone who gets it.  Those are the people I’m planning on hanging with for the next seven months.

Because I’ve got to keep laughing.

Okay, enough baby talk…..back to my regular topics next week, I promise.  🙂

A bit of a change from my usual topics….but needed to share.

After months (years?) of discussion, my husband and I began our foster parent training classes in January of 2011.  It was the first step we had to take in adopting through the state of Kansas.  The classes were completed without problems, but once we finished attending classes and the paperwork trail began, we started hitting speed bumps.  Lots and lots of speed bumps.

First there was the delay of our final write-up, supposed to be done by a (surely overworked) social worker who helped lead our class.  After months of nagging e-mails and texts, I was assured that she had sent it–but then the office it was supposed to arrive at hadn’t received it.  Weeks later, it had finally appeared at the office; where it then had to be transferred yet again, to the actual agency we were working with.  More waiting ensued, but fortunately no more flat-out missing paperwork.  We finally (!!) had our homestudy done this January, a full year after we started our training.  More hangups followed, this time with fingerprints (getting them clear enough to read; not getting away from any criminal history, haha); at this point we were starting to laugh because the whole thing was Just. So. Ridiculous.

Finally, finally, early this summer we started receiving child profiles to read and review, to see who might be a good fit in our family.

We had a few serious discussions about a few sibling sets that came through; discussions about how many kids we could realistically handle and where we would put more than one child.  We actually pursued a sib set of three for awhile, but finally came to the decision that, depending on their needs, it would probably just be too much for us.  Then one profile came through, for one little three-year-old, and my response was overwhelming:  this is it. 

This is why we’ve been stalled.  This is why we’ve had to wait.  This is what all the hold-ups have been for.  It was suddenly all so clear.

We e-mailed our caseworker for more information; overwhelming information, to be sure, but only things that cemented my desire to continue to follow up on this little one.  We told her we wanted to continue on and be considered as potential parents when they met about the child (many more steps still to take, but finally–there’s that word again–moving in the right direction, on the right child).

Which is why it was so heartbreaking to sit in my doctor’s office parking lot a few weeks ago and call our caseworker.

“We have……a situation,” I began.

“A situation?” she laughed.  “What does that m–you’re PREGNANT!”

Yep.  And apparently I’m not the only one on her case load to call her this month, with a “situation,” where she’ll “keep our file open” and we can “get back with her” when things calm down.

This is not a “we’ve tried for years, it’s a miracle!” kind of situation.  This is a “we have a great family; we should share what we have” situation.  Why on earth would God take a family that was ready to open its doors and welcome someone in need and, instead, throw another baby at them?  Aren’t there already hundreds of kids waiting for a home?  We were passing over sibling sets of five, six, sometimes seven….why on earth would He give us another when there are already so many kids hungry for loving parents; a family they can call their own?

I have absolutely no idea what happens from here.  I told our caseworker that afternoon that we were going to have a nine-year-old, a seven-year-old, and a newborn; “as far as I’m concerned, there’s a hole to fill there!”  There’s no assurance, though, that we’ll end up with a healthy baby; we might need to muster all our strength just to deal with whatever comes our way.  I don’t understand why I’ve felt called to adopt for so long and have ended up with the rug getting pulled out from under me.  While I don’t doubt God’s wisdom, I definitely don’t understand it.  I stumbled across these words recently, though, (in I Kings, of all places), and they’ve given some comfort:

” ‘My father David had it in his heart to build a temple for the Name of the Lord, the God of Israel.  But the Lord said to my father David, ‘Because it was in your heart to build a temple for my Name, you did well to have this in your heart.  Nevertheless, you are not the one to build the temple….. ‘ ” (I Kings 8:17-19)

You did well to have this in your heart.  I don’t know if we are the ones to adopt or not–maybe we are; maybe this is just another speed bump.  But if not; you did well to have this in your heart.

This isn’t the end of the road.  It’s just a fork in the road.  I’m trusting in God’s wisdom for our family.

Any flat surface...

Any flat surface…

Technically, the verse doesn’t exactly fit.

The entire proverb actually reads, “A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest–and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man.”  (Proverbs 6:10, NIV)

Every Monday morning, though, as I begin to pick up and try to help our home recover from the weekend, I think of this verse.  A couple of days off, I think.  Just a couple of days where I didn’t do (fill-in-the-blank) and now look at this mess.  Each time a Saturday rolls around, I feel like slacking a bit (it’s the weekend, after all), and then Sunday comes, with the get-ready-and-get-out-the-door morning crunch, when things get left undone or half-done… And then it’s another Monday morning, where I look around and shake my head and wonder, how did this happen?

Oh, yeah… a little folding of the hands to rest.

Our problem isn’t scarcity or poverty…it’s just “stuff,” stuff that gets piled on any available flat surface “for now,” somehow leaving me to deal with it each Monday morning.  Our lack of routine come Friday night is screamingly apparent by Monday morning; any other day of the week I’d be on top of all this, but apparently the weekends are “playtime” and not “worktime” around here.

I’m not a huge photo-blog person; the only other photo I’ve included so far was for a guest post I wrote, whose site always used photos.  But I had to include a picture with this.  On the raised hearth of our fireplace sits a basket for library books.  Most of the time, that is the only thing sitting on the hearth (although an assortment of things might end up in the basket).  Every Monday morning, though, I come downstairs and realize that “stuff” has been sneakily accumulating over the weekend.

Every Monday morning.

Maybe it’s time to rest a bit less on the weekends…..

I was wrong

September 20, 2012

I’ve had a line for ages–a joke, really, but I sort of believed it–that “you can never have too many Legos.”  Art supplies and Legos were two categories I truly didn’t mind drowning in.  I’m quite organized and have stayed on top of both for years now, in spite of the constant influx of more.

But I was wrong.

The art supplies are still manageable, although as my kids have gotten older the things are migrating up to bedrooms.  (As old as my kids are now, I don’t feel the need to constantly supervise crayons and markers…I can trust them not to draw on walls.)  The Legos, however….I think we’ve crossed a line.

My son has a tall bookcase in his room that I put in there specifically to display his Lego “stuff.”  It was arranged beautifully for a long time, but Legos (of course) are meant to be played with, and piece by piece would be taken off the shelf to be used.  Good!  I’m all for things being used.  Since the dining room table is our normal “Lego play area,” the pieces appeared on it to play with.  Then my daughter’s Legos arrived, apparently hungry for company, and the kids spent many afternoons during the summer playing Legos in the dining room together.  (Full disclosure:  the dining room table is Lego-covered 90% of the time, until the birthday/holiday season arrives and we need the dining room quite often.  My kitchen table, however, is always empty.  Thank you very much.)

Unfortunately….while the Legos were spreading out all over the dining room table, and buckets were appearing in the corner of that room, they were also still upstairs, spreading out all over my son’s bookcase.  (Is there a law of physics somewhere, about objects expanding to fill the allotted space?)  They were also spreading out into one corner of his bedroom; which unfortunately is the corner behind the laundry basket, which is making life difficult on a fairly regular basis.

So this morning, when I started putting Legos back in his room (there was so much stuff I split the job with him), I had nowhere to put them.  Nowhere.  The shelves of the bookcase appeared full, although lots of scooting things around freed up some space.  The buckets in the corner of his room are being stacked upon, which I guarantee is going to end badly.  I have absolutely no idea where he’s going to put the things I left for him to put away.

When we’d started tackling the table last night, I mentioned that he might have, maybe, too many Legos.  And he agreed with me.  (You know it’s bad when the kid agrees with you.)  I broached the subject of giving some away, especially since we are headed into birthday season and there will most likely be even more Legos in his future.  And he agreed with me.  (Pick jaw up off floor.)  His comment?  “We could give them to the library.  They’re looking for Legos for their Lego club.”  (Sit down before I start hyperventilating.)

If he is on board, I am happy to help.  Hopefully sometime during the next week, we’ll go through all this stuff–a shelf at a time, a bin at a time, or ten minutes at a time.  I don’t know how long his willingness to pass things on will last, but I hope to make the most of it.

FYI…my dining room table is beautiful.  It’s so nice to see it again.   🙂

And then there were none….

September 18, 2012

The house is officially empty.

I wrote months ago about the loss of our sweet teddy bear of a Bernese Mountain dog, and now our crazy Australian Shepherd is gone, too.  Losing two dogs in less than nine months is not an experience I wish for anyone.  While it was hard to lose one, it’s much, much more noticable to have lost both.

I still listen for the jingle of tags everytime I come home.

I still check to see where he’s laying, as I’m carrying baskets full of laundry to and fro.

I still come downstairs in the morning ready to let a dog out.

I still anticipate barking when the doorbell rings.

I still–embarrassingly–have a bowl of dog water sitting in the corner of the kitchen.

I’m trying to focus on the positive…the freedom of not having an animal to board let our family go out of town last weekend, last-minute.

I can sleep in a little on Saturdays, not worrying about the dog needing to go out.

I can vacuum, and the floor won’t be covered in dog fur less than twenty-four hours later.

I can let people in without a “just a minute, I have to put the dog out,” everytime someone comes over (he wasn’t a fan of strangers).

I know he was sick, and I know it was time, but I’ll miss the knowing smiles from the vet’s office every time we’d bring him in:  “Oh, yes…we remember Bo.”  (Translated:  The only dog to bite the vet through a muzzle.)  I’ll miss him “herding” the kids to bed every night; he took his job very seriously.  I’ll miss him curled up next to me on the sofa, his head in my lap.  I’ll miss his “wild man” craziness after his dinner every night.  I can’t imagine a more adventurous fourteen years with a dog….I know, without a doubt, we will never find a dog again with that much personality.  (Perhaps that’s for the best.  That much personality can be exhausting.)

We won’t be a dog-free home for long.  I made a comment about maybe waiting untill after the New Year before bringing one home, and my husband made it pretty clear that was not his plan.  Until then, I’m home in a very quiet house, without my shadow of a shepherd guiding me through my day.

What a bargain!

September 14, 2012

I was scrolling through houses on the internet recently, as I am wont to do, and found an astounding price on a home a few miles north of us.  “Astounding” as in $100K cheaper than the other homes for sale in the neighborhood.  I assume it was a foreclosure, and as I scrolled through the photos, I was amazed at how genuinely beautiful the house still was–even with carpeting pulled up, and flooring missing in some rooms, you could see it was going to be a gorgeous home for someone; probably very soon.  Someone, somewhere, is about to get an amazing bargain.

I do wonder about the consequences of that choice, though.  If it’s a family who will slide right into the neighborhood effortlessly, or if it’s a family trying to reach up, just a bit, and finally score a house “in that neighborhood;” a house that would normally be out of reach but which suddenly is surprisingly achievable.  That house purchase could start the dominoes falling…

Now that they have a bigger house, in a nicer neighborhood, they have to furnish it, and fill those extra rooms they didn’t have before.  Then they’re sending their kids to school with other kids who are better off than they are, who have x and y and z, and suddenly they feel the need to get the same for their children.  Every day they’re surrounded by people who have “stuff” they don’t have, “stuff” they aren’t able to afford….but somehow that doesn’t stop them from buying it.

Maybe not.  Maybe the house will be filled with the “just-right” family; a perfect fit.  Or maybe it will be filled with a family who truly doesn’t care to keep up with the Joneses.  I just hope whoever moves in thinks through their decision.  It could be a really expensive bargain.

My new favorite question

September 12, 2012

A friend posted a link on Facebook, and the title sucked me in:  Why We Love to Hoard.  It seemed like something right up my alley, so I read it (I encourage you to; it’s a really interesting read).

But towards the end the author wrote a sentence that completely changed how I’m clearing stuff out of our home:

“…for each item I ask myself a simple question: If I didn’t have this, how much effort would I put in to obtain it?”

Wow.  That is the question, isn’t it?  All those things I’m keeping “just in case,” or “for later,” or “for someday”….if I didn’t already have it, would I ever go looking for it?  I’m seeing everything in my home with new eyes.  And it works both ways:  there are some things that are suddenly totally justifiable to me, because yes, I’d go out and buy them again in a heartbeat.  I would buy this again.  Or, the irreplaceable mementos of grandparents; the things you can’t just go out and “buy again” because they don’t exist anymore:  the “keep the quilts that great-grandma made” kind of items.  

Others, though…yeesh.  It feels like I need to go back through the house yet again, from top to bottom, and just weed.  Because heaven knows that there are dozens of things lurking in this home that I would never in a million years actively seek out to “obtain” again.

“Why do we buy movies?”

September 6, 2012

Every great once in a while, my son does or says something that makes me think I might be getting through to him.

He recently plowed through his piles of drawings, and all the ones he wanted to keep are now neatly three-hole-punched and gathered together in a binder.  He then tossed the ones he didn’t want into the recycling bin.  That’s huge.  (I don’t think I can stress enough….that’s huge.)

When he came home from a shopping trip with Grammy three T-shirts richer, I informed him that he had to get rid of three he already had.  Which he did–without protest.  (Again….huge.)

The funniest part, though, was a conversation we had in the car as we drove by a video store.  “Mom?” he asked thoughtfully.  “Why do we buy movies?”

He then went on to explain his train of thought:  we always check them out from the library, or we might go to a Redbox or video store (actually, I can’t remember the last time I set foot in a video store), or we record things on the DVR….but why do people bother to buy movies?

That’s a really good question, kiddo….

My response?  “Well, I think they just make really easy gifts.”

I looked through the movies on our shelves (we have 99 DVD’s right now, 76 of which are actually movies*), and they seem to be full of still-wrapped-in-plastic “hey, he really liked this movie–I’ll get it for him for Christmas!” types of things.  Secret Santa gifts from coworkers; birthday gifts from people who don’t know you well enough to know what you really might want….a movie is a safe, easy gift idea.  And we have two shelves full of them.

I’m fairly certain I know what’s next on my list to weed through….

 

 

*What else could there be, you ask?  TV series collections and DVD’s of concerts.  The concerts, I’m quite sure, are staying.  🙂

A few weeks ago I wallpapered the lower part of our front hallway.  I love the paper, I love how it looks, and I especially love that my front hall no longer greets people with an icky brown color.

That being said…

I’d struggled with one sheet–just one–in trying to keep the edges from curling up.  I don’t know why one gave me problems and the rest of the hall went fine, but one sheet was being difficult, and when it was all done and dried, there was a gap.

The gap, mind you, is probably less than an eighth of an inch wide, in-between two sheets of plaid wallpaper.  If you’re not looking for it, you’re not going to see it.  I was fussing over it, though, the day after I’d finished the work; about why that piece was so difficult and everything else went fine…. and my daughter looked at me and informed me, very seriously, “Mommy!  It doesn’t have to be perfect!”

I am so, so thankful, that out of all the things she’s heard me say to her in her short life, that was one that stuck with her.  As often as I’ve said it to her, you’d think I might listen myself.