It was only a dream

Warning:  Side effects of reading this blog may include: tears, sobs, and the resulting head ache.  Please proceed with caution. Do not read if NOT taking MAOIs. Heh.  Just kidding… kind of.

I had a bad dream last night.  I woke up this morning with that feeling like I will never be happy again.  Do you ever have those lingering feelings from a vivid dream that last far longer than you think they should?

In my dream, Isaac was dead.  I can't remember what happened or how long he had been gone, but I missed him terribly.  There was just a feeling of aching for him; wanting him so badly that I could taste it.  My dream just consisted of different scenes of normal life situations and that aching pain.  

Randall, Asher and I were in a crowded room, sitting on bleachers.  I suppose there was a game going on or something.  But I looked across the room and there he was.  I knew Isaac was gone and that I'd never see him again, but in my aching I imagined him there.  I saw him and our eyes met and he smiled reassuringly at me from across the room.  I put my hand on Randalls knee and asked him if he saw Isaac across the room.  He did.  Asher saw him, too.

There was this creeping hope inside that maybe I could live life imagining Isaac in it.  A few more everyday situations crossed the screen in my mind where I'd see Isaac and know he wasn't really there, but found hope in that I could still imagine him.  It was a short dream without much content, it just left a vivid and lasting feeling of despair.

But it was only a dream.  

Last year, I studied the book of Genesis in depth in a local Bible study.  When I started reading the story of Abraham and Isaac, it seemed like I was getting a message from many different sources.  Something we talked about in church, in youth, and then in my Bible study all seemed to ask me, would I be willing to surrender every part of my life to God.  This is a question that Christians ask themselves a lot.  But at this time in my life, the question got really personal.  In my Bible study, the question was asked metaphorically, "Are you willing to give your Isaac to God."  Metaphorically, this meant, "Is there something in your life you are holding tight to that you're unwilling to surrender to God?"  For many women in my group it was their addiction to food or laziness or the grudge they were holding that they just couldn't surrender yet.  For me, I've always struggled with those metaphorical "Isaacs", but at this point in my life, the question seemed literal.  How would my faith be tested if God demanded the life of my son, Isaac?

My natural response to God was, "Don't you dare! Don't you even think about taking one of my kids from me.  I don't know if my faith can handle it."

In my short life, I've seen too many mothers lose their sons.   I've seen mothers forced to watch their sons suffer from incurable diseases.  I've seen mothers have to cut their sons off for the safety of their own family.  I've seen sons reject their mothers. I've seen mothers bury their sons.  

In each of these situations, these women have had great love and respect for their heavenly Father.  With grace, they endure the unspeakable hurt, turning their faces ever closer to the God who comforts.  Their knees are worn from constant prayer.

Maybe I should look like them because I am a mother.  I have not lost anything so precious to me as a son. But I have a son (two of them!).  They are sweet.  They are kind.  They are fun.  They are here and in the flesh.  I can kiss them and hug them and hold them.  They teach me about God.  They teach me about love and the beautiful world around me.  Maybe I should be on my knees in constant prayer for them before I lose them!  My face should be turned ever closer to my Father because I am a mother who has been blessed beyond my wildest dreams with my two boys.

For you who have lost or are losing your sons: Thank you.  I have watched you.  I have learned how faith can be tested and grow in spite of unspeakable pain.  I can only imagine and dream about the real aching you feel constantly.  And my heart aches for you.  My eyes leak for you.  My chest heaves for you.  My body sobs for you.  But thank you for showing me that faith in God can withstand the ultimate sacrifice for he endured that same pain.  And that God loves us still and comforts us and gives us what we need to not only survive but thrive in life after "death."  I am on my knees in prayer for you, too, today and many days.

How to Make a Friend 101

Step One: Find a kid at school that looks and acts exactly like you.

Step Two Six: Invite him to your house (be sure to give him your address).

Step Two: Have your mom write a nice note to your new friend's Mom/Dad/Great Aunt/Legal Guardian.

Step Three:  Have your friend's mom call your mom.

Step Four: Set up a time and place to meet on neutral ground.

Step Five: Meet up at the park (Be sure to check your fly).

You know this school phase of life is so new to me.  There are so many little things I didn't realize I wasn't prepared for when I sent my baby off to play and learn with strangers.

For instance, what happens when Isaac makes a friend?  I'm horrible at making friends, myself.  I remember this specific time in college when I had a lab partner that I really liked.  We seemed to click in our one class together.  When finals came I knew I wanted our relationship to branch out of the classroom but I couldn't do it.  I remember finishing my final and thinking, this is it...  It's now or never.  My heart pounded as I considered passing her a note.  How do I give her my number or ask her to hang out sometime without it seeming like I'm asking her on a date?  I never figured it out and left the would-be-friendship in that classroom.  Lydia, if you're out there, I really liked you in a totally platonic way.  We should hang out sometime!

Last week, Randall picked Isaac up from school on Friday.  All the way home, he was talking about his new friend, Jake Rushing.  Isaac asked if he could come over and play and we agreed that would be fun.  When Isaac got home, he stood at the mailbox and waited.  Randall asked him what he was doing.  He was waiting for Jake Rushing to come over.  Apparently, Isaac had invited him over already.  

Randall asked, "Did you tell him where we live?"

"No.  Where do we live?" 

Randall reminded him of the address.  

Isaac then started chanting our address aloud to remember to tell Jake Rushing (there are two Jakes in Isaac's class so Jake may forever be Jake Rushing to us) the next time he saw him.  

I then explained that we needed to talk to Jake's mom or dad first before inviting him over.  But I didn't really know how to do that.  I have never seen this kid, much less his parents.  

So I decided that I'd write a note explaining that I was Isaac's mom and that Isaac would love to invite Jake over sometime to play.  I wrote down my phone number and asked to be contacted so we could set up a time to meet and play. 

I didn't know if he lived with his mom or dad or grandparents or a legal guardian of some sort.  I didn't know how to be politically correct and say in a polite way that I don't trust my kid to play with you and you may not trust your kid to play with me, so we better meet and get to know each other a little better before our kids become blood brothers.

But I sent a cordial note in Isaac's bag on Monday and Jake Rushing's mom called on Tuesday and we set up a play date with the boys at a nearby park for Wednesday.  

Wednesday came and Isaac could do nothing but talk about going to the park with Jake Rushing!  We kept busy all morning and sent Isaac to school.  When we picked him up from school we went straight to the park.  Jake Rushing had to take the bus home and drop off his school stuff and then drive back to the park. So we had 20 minutes or so to ourselves at the park.  It was a good thing, too, because as soon as we got there, Asher had to poop.  

So I took Asher home (there are no bathrooms in our small neighborhood park) and decided to change into shorts myself.  I threw on my shorts, wiped Asher's butt and was back out the door and to the park.  The Rushings showed up shortly after we arrived for the second time.

Jake Rushing gets out of the van and runs across the street to Isaac.  They scream and immediately get to playing.  I sit and commence the small talk with Jake Rushing's mom.  But what's funny is that Jake Rushing seems to be the perfect match for Isaac.  They are both fair skinned, blond boys.  And they are both running around screaming their heads off at the same pace.  I can't keep up and they're driving me a bit crazy but it's comical how similar these boys are.  Mrs. Rushing says that Jake told her that Isaac was the silliest boy in class. .  .  Great.

But the boys (and all three siblings, Asher and two more Rushings) are getting along very well and Mrs. Rushing and I are too.  An hour goes by quickly and that's when I noticed that my fly was down… Thank God I was wearing a long shirt that covered it completely.  I found a chance to xyz as I chased after Asher who was swinging a thick stick, twice his height, way too close to the other kids.  Zip! Zap!  Crisis resolved.

The kids wrestled all over the ground and pushed each other in the swings and played super heros and "video games" on the picnic tables.  Asher put mud war paint all over his face, arms and legs as well as on Jake Rushing's and Isaac's shirts.  The kids ate cookies and drank juice boxes and got all their energy out.  The play date ended well and there is even talk of a second date in the near future.  

And Zip! Zap! that's how it's done folks!

The Girl Next Door

I have to tell you about a little girl we met on the way to school the first day of Kindergarten.  She just happened to walk out of her house as we were walking by and decided to walk with us to school one day and many days since.  Her name is Michelle.  She makes me smile.

I don't have girls and maybe I'm not the average girl myself but Michelle is.  She has long brown hair and a pink Disney princess book bag.  She wears shirts that say "I am berry cute" with pictures of grapes and berries on it a lot.  And she talks… a lot.  Her mother speaks in broken English and Michelle sometimes struggles with English herself.  She can't say the f sound.  She replaces the f sound for an s sound.  And she loves to talk about girly things like "butterslies." 

One day last week as we were passing her house, she ran out and had big news for Isaac.  I think she waits at the window for us to pass every day.  Because as soon as we get to her corner, she'll run out and yell for Isaac.  And she always has big news for Isaac.  That day it was, "ISAAC, ISAAC, GUESS WHAT?! I like TRUCKS!  Isn't that COOL?! I can play with boys, too because I like trucks and cars, too!"  She said that she had a "mote contol caw" (remote control car) that was actually her brothers but she liked to play with it too.  So now she and Isaac can be "sliends."

When we get to school and the other kids (she calls them her "classmates") start showing up, she calls them all by name.  She learned their names the first day of class and is best "sliends" with them all.  So every kid that arrives is greeted by her smiling face yelling their name and inviting them into her game.  Which for the first two weeks was running around telling everyone that they were fired… or "slired".  Where these kids get these things I don't know.

This week however, she decided to sneak up and scare Mr. Salt (Isaac's teacher).  She called each classmate by name and asked them to hide right next to the front door so that when Mr. Salt opened the door to collect his class, they'd jump out and say "BOO!" and scare him.  I wanted to take a picture so badly as 13 kids lined up next to the front door trying to shush each other and stay quiet as they anxiously waited for their teacher.  But as every new kid would arrive, Michelle would run out and take their hand and drag them to the front door to hide explaining the plan all the way.  Unfortunately, Mr. Salt hasn't been collecting his kids this week.  He sends his student teacher to do it for him.  But she plays along and does the dramatic "Oh!  You scared me!" thing for the kids and they love it.  And I smile.

I don't know if I'm explaining how cute this girl is… But she is a ray of sunshine to everyone around her.  Thank you God for Michelle.  Thank you that she invited Isaac to be her friend on the very first day of school.  May she always be as accepting as she is.  May she always bring a smile to those around her.  Help us to be a good friend back to her. May we strive to be light to everyone around us, like Michelle.

I have a cute picture of Isaac and Michelle sitting next to Mr. Salt but I don't feel right about posting pictures of her without her permission.  Here she is in the background with her pink book bag and cute little pony tails here with her mom.  That's safe since you can't really identify them right?IMG_7714
 And doesn't Isaac look just like Randall in this picture?!

Apple Picking

Sunday, Randall had to work, but some friends invited us to go apple picking so I thought I'd take the boys and get a few apples and then do it again sometime with Randall.  We went to Thierbach Orchards in Marthasville, MO.  (I had to put the MO part there because I did drive over an hour to get there.  We could have been in KS for all I knew…)

It was a ton of fun.  They had goats and chickens, bouncy houses, and a large pool full of corn.
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After playing so hard, the boys were pretty sweaty.  It was a shorts and t-shirt kind of day.  Not the perfect crisp weather I normally pick apples in but I just couldn't wait for Fall to start and picking apples seems to be a necessary part of my Fall celebration. 

So we took a cool tractor ride to the orchards.
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Hmm.  I just noticed that Asher is holding some woman's hand.  That's probably Kim.  
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Kim is Betty Crocker.  She is always picking local seasonal fruits and veggies or growing her own.  She makes bread and cans her goods for the winter.  Last year she gave me a jar of her homemade apple butter and it was the best I had ever tasted.  And I've tasted a lot of apple butter… (more on that in the next post).  I have a slight crush on Kim…

Moving right along…

So we got to the orchard and had our choice of three kinds of apples to choose: Jonagold (a blend of Jonathans and Golden Delicious), Empire (a tart red), and an apple called something like Ultra Red Delicious. 

Now I know that many of you don't like the red delicious apples because they're the first to get grainy.  But they're the sweetest right off the tree and if you know how to pick the crisp ones, they're my favorite.  

So we sampled some Super Ultra Extremely Red Delicious apples.
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And chose a few for eating at home.  And then got some Jonagolds to make caramel apples with. 
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Isaac climbed up the tree all by himself to pick the best ones at the top.
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Isn't he cute?
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See his front left tooth (on our right)?  It's kind of sticking out.  It's loose.  He was really excited about it at first, but now I think it's freaking him out a bit…

Then we picked some Empire apples to mix with the Jonagolds to make Kim's delicious apple butter.  They're stewing in my crock pot as we speak, making my house smell like Fall.  I'm loving it!

Now if only, I'd quit dreaming and realize it's not quite Fall yet and turn my AC back on… It's 85 degrees in my house!