Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Don't eat the apple

Don't eat the apple. I said it too sternly, but she had to know how serious I was. We have been through 9 family members with the flu (two are teenagers that barely leave their rooms, so maybe they won't get it?) and dear hubby and I were really getting tired of all the cleanup. It seems like it has lasted for months, although it's really only been a week. I have been sleepy with one eye open so I can direct the next kid coming through my bedroom doorway directly to the bathroom when their stomach bug bites. Mind you, they have to pass two other bathrooms on the way to mine, but somehow they only feel better if they toss their cookies on me, beside me, or at the bathroom doorway. One kid, so far, has actually made it to the toilet before coming to me. We have Sprite and soda crackers on hand, jello in the fridge, and I have washed my hands so much they are cracked and scaled. I spent 14 hours in bed (only getting up to calm fights, find things in the cupboard that everyone thought we didn't have, and sipping a small amount if weak tea to settle my stomach.). What I keep trying to tell the others they don't want to believe. My advice? Stop eating and drinking and sleep it off. After losing everything that is possible, my twelve year daughter saw a small window of opportunity to scope out the kitchen. She reached for an apple. "Don't eat an apple. It will just come back up. Have a cracker." She stared a me as if I was speaking Egyptian. "I feel better and I am so hungry." I tried to be sympathetic, really. But I insisted an apple was not a good choice. She ate it anyway. A half hour later she came back to the kitchen. "Mom, I was sick again." Even with my warning, do you think she could have at least seen it coming? Couldn't she have walked 10 steps to the left to the bathroom? Nope. Today, she ate jello for breakfast. Still sick? No. She just didn't eat it yesterday because she wanted that apple. If she had eaten the jello yesterday, the apple would have been great for today. After going through 9 sick people in this house, you would think they would listen when I say, "Don't eat the apple!"

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Say what?

My six year old daughter was fighting with her 9 year old brother. When I stepped in to break up the screaming, she said, "I have anger issues! I am trying to work on them." Oy. My 11 year old just told me this morning she couldn't shower because she had just gotten dressed. I reminded her she could undress and put the same clothes on after her shower. "I can't," she whined. " My clothes will get wet!" What? I am not really as amazed as I used to be when one of the kids say something odd. With 12 kids I feel like I have heard it all. Like when the 10 year old animal lover comes out of her room while the others are saying, "we have frogs!", its probably safe to assume they do...and they are probably in her room. So many times I hear it, but tune it out, like most moms do. (Or maybe it's just me ? ) "Can we go to McDonalds to get ice cream, mom?" "No sweetie, I don't have money for that treat this week." "Just use your credit card." Yeah, they don't get it. My goal these days is to find the humor in the announcements. "Dad, I need your credit card." Um, no. Dad asks, "why?" "So I can order this on line. You can even put your credit card number in the space and it will save it for the next time we need to buy something," Yeah, some things they say shouldn't be ignored!! "0ops." I heard from the kitchen. I waited, then said "clean it up, please." "It's okay mom. We have another gallon down stairs." "But wasn't that a full gallon of milk?" "Not anymore." Aren't they precious?

Monday, January 13, 2014

The Good. The bad. The ugly.

Although it seems so much longer, it has only been 10 days since we found our (prior to this event) house for sale. Ten very longgggggg days, dear hubby unexpectedly taking his first few days of vacation for the year to dry out and salvage all we can. The good news? He and our oldest son at home has now taken over 12000 pounds of wet and soggy wasted building materials to the dump, and perhaps now the drying out can commence. The bad? We have no funds to start the rebuild, so as soon as we can figure that piece out, we can start the work of rebuilding. This month marked the one year Anniversary of my mothers life in heaven, and at this instance, I am so very glad that her and dad don't have to see the damage. The stress at home could be cut through with a knife if it were visible. Some of the kids are understanding of this, but others are feeling the strain. We repeat: I think I can. I think I can. The ugly part? I am not handling the emotional part well at all. And it's just the beginning!!!!!!! So, how is that for being real? I am forcing myself to go through the motions right now. I KNOW my Father God is faithful and I know He will make a way when it seems there is no way. He is working in ways we can not see. I am standing on the promises that I have believed in. I can still say "God is good, all the time." So having friends bring coffee and prayers, having our oldest daughter tearing out sopping wet Sheetrock and insulation, and getting random calls and texts offering help when we need it is the most sanity I have felt in many days. Enjoying temps here in lower Michigan above the freezing mark and having new insulation around our pipes and crawl space walls in our "new" (yet quite old) house here so we can shower and cook is also wonderful. Knowing we have a plan and many prayers to help us keep going is certainly encouraging us these days. And perspective. My dear nephew by marriage woke to horrible news yesterday, when his sweet mother passed away unexpectedly. A life lost too soon, and a broken hearted family left to cherish her memory. When it comes down to it, life is the only thing that matters. Houses and material goods are just not as important. People matter. The rest is just an inconvenience. The good? We are all here The bad? Life is not always easy The ugly? It's an earthly life But heaven is real. God cares for us more than we can imagine. Doing what's best for eternity is what matters .

A Real life story of two girls

She has a room full of Barbie dolls and books. Her curtains are pink with butterflies and flowers, light enough to brighten her baby blue room when the early morning sun shines through the top floor window. They also block out the darkness of the night and the winter winds that howl around her windows once the sun goes down. She plays for hours in a make believe land, and if I am close enough to listen, her dolls speak kindly to each other, take good care of their pets, while traveling adventures in her neighborhood or cruising around in her toy doll car to more distant lands. She meticulously styles their long blonde hairs with her own hair ties and ribbons, and makes sure their dressed in their Barbie doll best. She has a bunk bed that is reserved for sleepover friends, but she really has only had her cousins over. She started a new school this year and is trying to break into already-formed groups, hoping to establish her own right to be friends. She is ten years old, and although her initial start to life was tenuous, she is growing into a wise, healthy and wonderful young lady, full of compassion with dreams to have a house full of puppies and kittens when she grows up and even a pony in her barn. I encourage her with hugs and kisses as I tell her she can accomplish anything she sets out for, because since her first breath, God has had a beautiful plan for her life. Hours of flight time, many, many miles away, sits another ten year old. While my daughter is fed, cared for and loved so very much, the other little girl has not been. She is a pitiful fraction of what she should be for average size, possibly wearing a toddler sized outfit because of her emmaciated body. She has been kept away from life as much as possible since her illness could have been caused by polio or cerebral palsy as an infant, or maybe malaria stole her years. Slightly crippled, she sat in darkness for hours, days, years. She has felt no value, since her culture determines children like her are not allowed dignity. She is treated less than an animal, as she slowly rots in a dark room, waiting for life giving scraps of food from kind neighbors. She lives only with a mother, as the father most likely disappears at the onset of her sickness which kept her from being "normal." She had no dollies to break the monotony of her days. She had scant and filthy clothing covering her body . She would never have considered dressing a toy to send it on fanciful daydreams. She had hours to ponder if anyone would bring her some food. Such are the daydreams of a little girl, stuck in poverty and seclusion. She has no voice to better her life, but a neighbor finds someone who cared enough to seek a life for this child. She is rescued into the sunshine, slouched and wan in a stroller much too large for her tiny, chronically malnourished frame. She appears to be a shell of a human child behind eyes that are dull and probably lost their sparkle many, many long days before. She was brought to the light by a stranger, given medical care and even more importantly, food. She is covered in filth and rashes, itchy skin conditions that our first world country has little understanding of. She is a mere 19 pound mess, at ten years old. But she is beautiful. Some say she is worth less with her dark eyes and skin, much less than the 10 year old American girl that I call my daughter. The contrast between the two is Heartbreaking. My daughter received medical care when she was born 13 weeks too soon, to a drug abusing mother, costing our state millions of dollars even before she came into our family. My taxes have paid toward her care and I would never regret all it has taken to give her the beautiful, normal life she holds now. But my daughter is not worth more than the dark skinned angel on the other side of the world. Not a penny more. They were born to different mothers on different parts of the world. One has had the extreme benefits of good health care and the love of a family. She has had food,clothing and shelter. She has experienced school and friendships, birthdays and time to grow in the warmth of sunshine. The other has been considered cursed, a "snake child", shoved into the darkness without even basic needs being met. A month or so since her rescue, she is gaining weight and eating rice and oatmeal. She had been denied so very Much, but smiles as if she was just simply waiting to live. Waiting ten long, dark years just to live. It wrings my heart into a tiny, painful place and I can hardly bare the pain she has endured. She needs our prayers, she needs a family who cares. She needs to know she is beautiful and worth whatever it takes to redeem her lost years. She needs to know that she is worth much more than the life of a dog, yet in America we value a dogs life more than this child. Would you deny her the privilege of life? How can we ever say NO because she was born there and not here? Oh that we could stop believing that America is so blessed that we can Stop caring for the least of these.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Dealing with the Unexpected - being real

Dear hubby went to our old house on Friday to turn a trickle of water on, preparing for the expected frigid temperatures over the coming days. We had left the furnace on and kept all utilities in place as we were needing to do a few small projects before listing it for sale in the new year. What was totally unexpected was pouring and gushing water in the original part of the house that my grandpa had built. A main water pipe in the second floor had burst and since mold had already begun to grow, it had probably been pouring for many days. Not trickling, but pouring! The standing water in the basement damaged the furnace so now there is also ice on all the windows, too. I can't describe how severe the damage is and you would never believe it unless you could see it. Not only is there Sheetrock soaked and fallen on several floors, but lights are hanging off the basement rafters where the pouring water had damaged everything in its path. The ceiling fans that were so pretty now had drooping blades like wilted flowers. The ceilings on the first floor and basement are damaged beyond repair and the wood floors (75 year old oak floors my grandpa put in, and all the new oak floors we had installed in the last year) are buckled and ruined. We contacted our insurance company immediately. Hubby had shut off the water and contacted a water damage company who assured us they would take care of all the issues involved and would have to take everything off the ceilings and walls. They knew the process. Rest assured. $50,000 in damages on a home we were needing to sell. It's damaged at half the value of the amount we still owe on it. And no where near being able to be listed for sale now. Then, the hammer dropped. Literally. Our expensive insurance policy is worthless for water damage. They do not cover water damage. However, we had always purchased good (and more than ample) insurance that would meet our needs IF a devastation would occur. 17 years of insurance. But when we moved in October, we had to switch our coverage to "vacancy" insurance since we didn't live there anymore. We paid twice the amount of premiums, and apparently received less than we ever had before in coverage. Yes, we should have understood our policy better. No, we should not have trusted an agent who had handled every bit of our insurance needs for the last 17 years to know the policy we had been handed. But why would we doubt his integrity now? He had always taken good care of our insurance needs in years past. But this time it's "oh, I didn't realize they didn't cover damage from water." Really? So, we struggle with tears as we survey the damage to the $30,000 addition we added 2 years ago. We cry as we pull off Sheetrock and ceilings and realize it's JUST A HOUSE. We have a lot of hopes wrapped up in this house. We had dreams and plans that need to be set aside now as we begin the major rebuild. We will work on it with due diligence to make it safe and liveable again. We estimate a year to rebuild and a ton of money for supplies. I tend to ask myself in difficult times, "what can I learn from this?" 1. Don't trust an agent, no matter how much you like him. Read policies and ask questions. 2. Keeping heat on in a vacant building will not keep pipes from freezing in Michigan winters. 3. Be thankful we were not on vacation and came home to all of our household being ruined. The majority of our possessions had already been moved to our new home. 4. Continue gratitude that there was no person injured. 5. Realize bad things do happen to good people. 6. God knows our needs and we can continue to trust him even when our situations seem devastating. So, we continue to move forward. We try to turn the financial burden and stresses involved over to a loving God, and ask that our hearts are kept strong in the tasks ahead. Whew. Not what we expected for the new year.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

New year musings

2014. Why does that sound so space age? I am looking back at the year, and wondering how to encapsulate it into a blog space. I can't. On the home front, all kids are attending school, and doing wonderful. Oh sure, some are behind their age bracket, some are above. But for each of them, they are progressing and doing wonderful. And that's not sugar coating. But it is the icing on the cake. Most of us are healthy, with just a few upsets like everyone else experiences. We have had colds, the flu, nosebleeds and emergency room visits. There have been tests run at medical centres and more on the horizon. Just typical day to day things. We have moved into a new home, and will be selling our other one. We have learned how to make new friends, start over at new schools, and shopped at new stores. We left the country and came to a big house in the city. It suits us well. Our oldest at home is 17, working full time and doing online school courses towards graduation. He sees himself moving out on his own probably sooner than we think he should, but we encourage his independence. He is growing up. We have two younger ones at home that will probably never be able to live independently. And that's okay too. We work hard, visit with the four grandsons whenever we can, and love opening our home to friends. We are loud, sometimes too rowdy, and drink a lot of coffee. We try to eat sensibly, but don't like to deny ourselves of the good things in life in moderation. We take turns getting out so someone can always be home with the kids. We miss our out of town family very much, and still hope someday they will live closer. Either way, they are doing life their way, and for that, we are thankful. I don't make resolutions, but I plan to worK towards bettering myself. Being more welcoming, more loving, less critical. I plan to seek God more faithfully, follow His will for my life to the best of my ability. I am so far from perfect, but I hope I have learned life's lessons and make my Creator proud of who I am becoming. I know this year has the potential to be life changing for all of us. Seek kindness. Love mercy. Walk humbly with God. Stay tuned for details on just how that plays out in our family. Happy New Year.