Sunday, November 30, 2008

Hard Times in the Neighborhood

In older literature you often read of people who have fallen on hard times. Or say, a homestead has fallen on hard times. It hasn't been kept up and the disrepair is disheartening. So don't read this week if you're already feeling faint of heart.

Our thanksgiving break was (I think) the most difficult entire break we've ever endured. Most breaks really are that, a break from the mundane or the struggle to keep up with your paperwork and your love for your students. This one was grossly the opposite.

Monday: Toby wakes up with a swollen side of a face. Other than that, he is not affected.

Tuesday afternoon: Tara calls. I must take Toby to the doctor. His face has become more grotesquely swollen. Dr. Arndt says it is a submandibular gland infection. Toby endures a blood draw (very patiently) and a anti-biotics shot on the front of his leg (not so patiently). But Toby and I understand each other very well, and the horror of this lessens quickly. Avery also begins throwing up after lunch on this day.

Wednesday: The first day of break. We continue to try to find our home after the move. Still in mind is the desire to visit Tara's family in South Dakota. However, we figure that maybe this is a bad idea. Toby and Avery both seem better today.

Thursday: 12:20 a.m. Tara says, "My stomach hurts." A few minutes later she proceeds to the bathroom. Her vomiting is so loud and uncontrolled that after the first round I retreat to the basement and sleep on the couch. She is up most of the night; I get a somewhat painful back from my resting position.

Tara sleeps away most of Thanksgiving. When I go up to get Avery, I find her covered in vomit. I take care of the children pretty much all day. We have pancakes for lunch and pizza or something for supper. By dinnertime Tara is perking up instead of puking up. Still it is a tough thanksgiving, one that Evan dismisses as disappointing because of the lack of thanksgiving feast.

Friday: Toby greets this day by joining the party of people who have tossed some cookies this break. We find him covered in vomit and screaming. However, he perks up quite rapidly and accompanies me to the doctor's for a recheck. The doctor pronounces the anti-biotics a success, declares him a victim of stomach flu, and sends us on our way. He also claims that Toby will throw up at least one more time, which he doesn't.

Tara makes the feast also this day. Though we can't have anyone over because of the illness, and though all of us aren't able to eat it, she makes the feast. It's really good, including the turkey, cranberries, and stuffing.

Later that afternoon, it is noticed that Avery still isn't any better, so Tara takes her in for urgent care. Turns out Avery has an ear infection and the stomach flu. It is one of Avery's particular talents to get more than one illness at the same time.

Saturday: Avery is whiny and uncooperative. She doesn't throw up so much, but still is not a cheerful participant in anything. I try to correct papers and referee the boys, who are getting crazier as the days without change drag on. I go to Katherine's Christmas Opener alone, as Avery is still unwell and can't be taken to anyone else's house. Evan and Aidan have a great time playing over at Tucker and Parker's house during the Christmas opener.

Sunday: 3:43 a.m. I wake up with a painful-feeling stomach, and yep, you guessed it. Though I typically don't throw up, instead I spend the next hour-plus on the toilet clearing my intestines completely. By morning I can sleep again but have no energy. Ken Sell graciously agrees to take my adult class. And when Tara goes up to get Avery, she is once again lying in a pool of her own vomit. We are utterly perplexed.

No one goes to church, in fact, no one leaves the house except for Evan and Aidan, who go across the street to meet one of our new neighbors, and old man who is out shoveling. They both pronounce him "nice" and say that his name is Roger. Oh, and Tara hits Walmart for a pre-mega-freezer-cooking-session shop-a-thon.

In the afternoon I read the Bible to the boys, correct papers, do lesson plans (every paper graded, every lesson planned for the first time in weeks), and read Giants in the Earth by O. E. Rolvaag. Wow, can I identify with this early 20th century novel. Maybe I'll have to blog that sometime.

Tara and I have been talking about facades lately, and how most of us keep them as unspotted as we can. For myself, I disagree. Yes, I would like you to be impressed with me. But I am as hard on myself as anyone else would be. I would love to say a few things that I haven't, and only haven't, out of respect for Christ. It is a continuous battle.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

When God Made You, He Threw Away the...

Mole. That's right. And we found him today. Evan and I were out cleaning gutters for a client this afternoon. Just as we finished, I spied the small, furry, frozen body lying on a sidewalk. It turned out to be a perfectly preserved mole. Apparently he had frozen to death between the two houses. No predator had as yet attempted to make a meal of him, so we picked him up and put him in the van. Wisely, we did not show him to Grandpa, who would have lectured on infectious diseases and the foolishness of his son and grandson.

On the way home, we stopped by the bank to do some depositing. Since we had the trailer attached, I decided to use the drive-through. As we pulled up, Evan was quiet for a moment. I reached out the window and got the carrier. As I was opening it, Evan said, "Let's send her the mole."

We were laughing so hard we almost couldn't do our banking.

*** *** *** *** ***

Well, no, we didn't send her the mole. I knew you were wondering.

I would like to say a few words about the play that we performed last weekend at Schaeffer. It was a real treat to see lots of Bereans there, mostly to support Chris in his title role of Illinois Pete. The plays went pretty well with just a few glitches. One major glitch on Friday night was indirectly my fault. We were kind of short staffed, so only Alexandra and I were back working the technical controls (I always do sound because I'm most familiar with the show and most familiar with the sound board.) We were nearing the end of Act I, which ended with the darkness and flashlight beams coming on stage and Chris diving between them and yelling "gotcha!".

I sent Evan up to the corner of the gym with the instructions to turn on the house lights as soon as he heard Chris say "Gotcha!" But when we went to blackout before the flashlight beams, the audience started clapping heavily, and he thought he'd missed it. So he put the house lights up before Chris got to say the line. Jared came out anyway to do the beaming (it was plot essential) and I guess most of the audience wasn't too troubled anyway. So thank God that we had another successful play weekend.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Change, Our Only Constant

I did not realize that life keeps getting harder as you get older. I begin to have a hunch that old people die not (always) because their bodies wear out, but because their souls wear out. They simply do not have the oomph to keep on fighting.

We have had a beautiful and difficult move. It was beautiful because of the kind help of so many people. It was difficult because of unexpected, last-minute real estate hassles. A perfect closing is very rare, so our realtors say.

I would like to say here that I fought Tara for a long time about the new house while we were in the process of buying it. I thought that it cost too much money, it seemed kind of cramped, and I wasn't convinced about a few other factors. Once we got in, I realized that I had been wrong and apologized for that. It is a good house, and we probably either didn't overpay, or didn't over pay by too much. I'm not sure yet.

Ooh, ooh, everyone!! The play is only about a week away. The kids have worked very hard, and though we still have final details to work out, I feel confident of a good show. Please join us next Friday at 7:00 or Saturday at 2:00 p.m. Tickets are available through the school office or can be purchased at the door starting half an hour before show. Illinois Pete is an action-oriented show and is suitable for the whole family. Well, maybe not pre-schoolers, but everyone 5 and above.

Parent conferences came and went this evening. They were all enjoyable and relationally productive.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Post Election Trauma

I considered wearing black today, but fought off the urge. Then I arrived at school and found two of my colleagues had had the same idea and actually carried it out. I love symbolism.

The students were very calm and academic today, unlike yesterday. Hmmm.

Meanwhile, the Republican Party needs to figure out if it believes anything. What are we about, anyway???

Here's a shout to Michelle Bachman and her victory over Elwyn Whatshisname.

And also my hope that the recount turns out the same as the count. Senator Coleman squeaks through again.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Cycle of Life Continues

First quarter ended yesterday amid much hooplah and a blizzard of impending paperwork. Of course there is also the blizzard of packing, the blizzard of parenting, and the blizzard of finishing up the play. So I feel pretty much like someone who ought to be exercising extreme self-discipline but can only manage a modicum of just hangin' on.

We packed more this morning. Due to the kindness of our colleague-in-law Tim, we have a moving truck actually parked on our property. So we've been loading regularly and waiting for our expected close on November 7. Evan asked last night if we could just call off the whole deal and not move. I said that would be pretty difficult at this point, since we'd given numerous people our word and signed some documents as well.

A few other drama people and I worked on the set of _Illinois Pete_ this afternoon. We were very blessed to have the location of doors and windows in the set be just about precisely what this script ordered. The result has been minimal crew effort with maximum results. I've mixed a little paint (fun making new colors) and rolled a few flats myself. It's been a long time since I've actually done set-building.

See you in church tomorrow.