Thursday, August 23, 2012

FDOS 2012

First Day of School 2012.

Woohoo...happy day!  My kiddos are back in school. 

I can feel all my teacher friends casting me dirty looks as I type this.

We took the usual photos this morning:

I was supposed to work today but with all the chaos that is looming around the corner of time, I asked to take a day off.

I froze a few peaches that finally were ripe, I did loads of laundry, I tidied up the house, I talked to a friend from Chicago who I hadn't talked to in months, I made up fresh linens on the beds, and I had steak for lunch.

Yep. Steak. For. Lunch. 

I've been slowly working through clearing out/organizing my freezer and came across a yummy strip steak.  Someone gave me beef awhile back and I guess it got tucked into the corner of my freezer.  My kids are insanely picky eaters (they do get it honest) and I figured why waste a tender steak on someone who wouldn't eat it. 

So I ate it.  All by myself and it was the best steak and most enjoyable meal in a long time.  No one yelled, no one spilled anyone, no one turned their nose up.  It was wonderful. 

Tomorrow is back to work.  Not sure when my next day off will be.  But that just made today that much sweeter. 

As a fun comparison, I am posting two pics of the kids side by side.  One is from the last day of school last year and the first day of this school year.  I know, kinda backwards, but thats typical of me.

Amazing how much they grew over the summer...

School lets out at 3pm.  The boys had rode their bikes but Rhianna walked with me.  I told them I would meet them at the crossing guard. 

Rhianna came running first:

Riley next, but rode by me so fast I didn't get a picture.

Reagan finall came, riding his bike, looking so cute.  I tried taking a picture of him but he kept riding too fast and they were all blurry.  Finally he said "MOM.  Let me ride!!"

 By this time the dark clouds had broken open and the rain started to fall.  The boys rode on ahead of us girls so Rhianna and I just held hands and walked in the rain.

I tried to get her to lift her face towards heaven and enjoy the rain drops on her face.

She wasn't too impressed.

As we turned the corner onto North Second Street, the clouds went from raining to pouring.  There were no cars in sight so we walked down the middle of the street in the pouring rain.  I tried to get Rhianna to dance in the rain but again, she wasn't too impressed. Poor girl.  Her mom is sooo weird.

She told me later that she had a really bad day at school...thankfully after day three (I'm finally getting around to posting this...interent kept kicking me off with every photo I would load.) she is enjoying her class.  I honestly think the biggest problem is that she misses her 1st grade teacher something terrible.  We talked to her tonight at the park and Mrs. F said that any time Rhianna needs to talk after school to just pop in her room.  Later at bedtime, Rhianna cried saying that made her feel so much better.  I think we'll survive 2nd grade now ;o) 

The boys had great days but didn't tell me much.  All Riley reported was that they only get ONE recess this year.  (Horror to a boy.)  Reagan too, only talked about recess.  Boys.  Gotta love them.

I think we are going to have another good year this year.  From the looks of things we won't make it through the entire school year at Rittman Elementary.  While we have been preparing for this for a long time, its still bittersweet.  I love this school and have made wonderful friends in the staff and other parents.  My children have had a wonderful educational foundation here and when the time comes to leave, we will go with only good memories. 

Dazed, Confused, and Labor Pains

The past week has been a bit stressful here.  And today just was the icing on the cake.  And not in a good yummy way like icing always is. 

If I had the time and money for a nervous breakdown, today would be the day. But I have neither in excess so no nervous breakdown for me.
To fully understand it all, I have to write it in three parts.  First being the facts.  Second being the stress.  Third being God’s provision. 

Part One: The Facts
The past few weeks we’ve had some happenings here at our house.  Wasn’t planning on putting too much on the blog...this is the internet and not overly private.  But for parts two and three to make sense; I must write the facts.

Most of you know I’ve been trying to sell my house to move east to Connecticut.  While the house has been on the market for 17 months, preparations to go have been much longer.  I started praying about it in January of 2010 and made my final decision in August of 2010.  This has been my life for the past two years.  It’s been a long yet short, fun yet stressful and of course very educational (in God’s curriculum)
About 2 weeks ago I had someone interested in my house.  A week ago I signed a contract with them.  FINALLY!  Next step was the appraisal and other legal/real estate stuff that happens.  The appraisal went well so now I’m just waiting on the next few steps to be completed. 

Technically my house is NOT sold. (Don’t get too excited).  It isn’t sold until closing.  At this point a large variety of things could still happen that could make the sale of the house fall through.
BUT.  I have a contract and an appraisal.  Two things I did not have for the past 17 months.  One must remain positive, right?

Part Two: The Stress
The Stress Part should probably be broken down into a vast multitude of sections.  In comparison to childbirth labor: the pain and agony of labor pains is intense.  But the end result of a new baby is wonderful.  As is the pain and agony of the stress of selling a house (with added and unmentioned complications).  But the end result will be that I can finally move to Connecticut and get on with my life.  And that will be good.  It’s just getting through the labor.

First Stress:
Where to move if the house sells.

I have hinted and mentioned that for legal purposes, I cannot leave the county/state until everything is all wrapped up.  I’m not at liberty to say what the legal stuff is. (For protection of the innocent ;o)  So this means that I will have to rent a place.  No problem, right?  Well. Kinda yea.  Because I don’t know how long I’ll be here, I can’t sign a lease.  Also, I have to be out 10 days after closing (quick, huh?)  and that’s a really short amount of time to find a place to rent.  (And pack). 

Like I said, I will have 10 days to pack and move.  Sounds like a long time, right?  Well, I’ll be working 6 days a week for the three weeks leading up to that date.  I will also be in school, dealing with other legal garbage, my kids in school with a huge 4th grade project and football going on for Riley.  I think there’s more but I forget.
I also will be storing most of my belongings, keeping out only the necessities.  So, I kinda need to do the sorting/packing thing myself instead of begging my amazing sisters, aunts, cousins, friends and mom to do it for me.

Out of all the stresses, this is the least of my worries.  Last night a friend told me I was ‘Hitler-Organized’ and have no worries.  Not sure how much of a compliment that was if it was one at all, but coming from Bonnie*, I’ll take it as such.  Coming from her, it’s as good as it’s going to get.  Haha.   I am uber organized to where it can be a problem so I’m sure in this situation it will only serve me well.
Randy has to be involved.

We have not seen Randy since April of 2011.  So, I’m not sure exactly where he even is.  But because of the lovely laws in Ohio, by dowry rights he has to sign off on the sale of the property even though he signed off on the deed. 
If the first step in the aforementioned legal matters was completed and filed, he would not have to sign.  I will be free and clear.  So my prayer is that the first step of court will be completed within the next 4 weeks or else I have to find him and convince him to sign this paper.  To which he could deny and I could lose the right to sell my house, until the courtdate.  Which means I would most likely lose my current buyer and then be sent back to square one.

The biggest fear in this is actually facing him.  I have grown and changed so much over the past three years; but fear of him still has power over me.  And confronting him terrifies me.

I think that’s all that’s bothering me…there is probably more but I can’t feel it.  In my head, I have it all planned out. I know how to handle each situation and I tell myself to have no worries.  But I’m not convincing the rest of my body.  In making all the lists and organization, my brain must have forgotten to mention to my chest that it was not necessary to be tight and painful at all times.

I have chronic chest pains and stomach aches, waking in the morning to heart attack like symptoms.  Then tonight after being told Randy had to be involved, my hands were clawing and clamming up and I almost passed out.  I think I’m stressed.  Hmmm….  Thoughts anyone?
I’m not telling you this for pity or help or anything.  But simply to set the stage for part three.  Without knowing the previous paragraph, it wouldn’t mean as much.  And glorifying God is what I want through this whole process. 

Part Three: God’s Provisions
What amazes me is how this night was preordained months and months ago.  This fact alone gives me comfort.

Lemme explain.
A few months ago I felt like I needed to change something with my children’s Bible reading.  Like, it wasn’t happening at all and I wanted it to.

I heard on Revive our Hearts about a young mother who read a chapter of the Bible every day to her toddlers, starting in Genesis.  She told her story and how it affected her family…obviously only in positive ways.  She said she decided to do the math one day, figuring how long it would take her to read the entire Bible; one chapter at a time.  She figured  reading 5 days a week with missing the occasional day it would take her 9 years. 

I quickly did the math.

Riley is 9, Rhianna 7, and Reagan 6.  Add 9 to those and you get 18, 16, 15.  I would be reading the Old Testament through their adolescence, gospels through their pre-teens, and the epistles through their later teen years.  I’m most likely going to need all the help I can get, raising three teens on my own.  Why not prepare the way for those years?  What better tradition to have in place than to read a chapter of the Bible every night together?
So we started. 

To be honest with you, the changes we have experienced have been amazing.  Of course we still have our issues, but the unity I feel in our little family has grown so deep that I am left standing amazed.  I can only credit this to the time we spend together with God in His word and in prayer.
Back to now. 

Last night I read in Exodus 22.  Verse 22-24 quotes: Ye shall not afflict any widow, or fatherless child.  If thou afflict them in any wise, and they cry at all unto me, I will surely hear their cry, and my wrath shall wax hot, and I will kill you with the sword; and your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless.    
K. So God isn’t going to strike anyone dead who hurts our feelings or does us wrong.  I get that and don’t really want that.  But I feel (and correct me) that God holds fatherless children in a special place in His heart and this verse gives a glimpse of that part of God’s heart.  This verse shows how defensive God is to those who are defenseless.

I told the children that God obviously cares very much for them.  To not worry about our future, because He has it all planned and prepared.    
Then we read tonight’s chapter.

Exodus 23, verses 27-30.  I will send my fear before thee, and will destroy all the people to whom thou shalt come, and I will make all thine enemies turn their backs unto thee.  And I will send hornets before thee, which shall drive out the Hivite, the Canaanite, the Hittite, from before thee.  I will not drive them out from before thee in one year; lest the land become desolate, and the beast of the field multiply against thee.  By little and little I will drive them out form before thee, until thou be increased, and inherit the land.”
As I read this, my anxiety melted through me like butter.  I know that there won’t be people being destroyed and hornets won’t be flying and I won’t be farming any land and there probably won’t be beasts multiplying.  But I read it as God is preparing the way.  I can see a glimpse of the road ahead and I see these obstacles and I’m crying out going “God, why aren’t you removing them???  You promised me that I would be provided for so why are the obstacles STILL there??”

He answered me tonight by saying “You aren’t there yet.  These obstacles need to remain in the horizon for a purpose, but once you get there, the obstacles will be destroyed and removed. So don’t fear.” 
All I need to do is take one step forward.  That place in the path will be prepared and smoothed over by God.  I can’t look a mile down the road.  It doesn’t matter what’s up there…I’m not there so why worry?

As I read this, and still thinking of God’s love for us from reminiscing of last night’s reading it hit me.  God knew which day I should start reading.  He knew every time there would be a night when we wouldn’t/couldn’t read. (I only read when all 4 family members are present)  He would have every day planned out so that a few hours after hearing the terrifying news of Randy being involved, I would read these verses. 

That amazes me.

The anxiety is gone.  The stomach has quit twisting.  My hands are still cramped, but I think that’s from typing this huge post novel and not tension…hah. I don’t feel light headed and my heart feels like its beating every beat instead of once every three. 
Instead I feel contentment. 

I cannot describe my graditute to each one of you for your prayers.  I am absolutely amazed at the amount of messages, emails, and words of encouragement.  My intentions are not those of complaining but of a very realistic view of my life right now.  I know I could not do this right now without your prayers…
Thank you readers, you are truly carrying me through this.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


Over the past weeks months, I have pinned a few quotes to Pinterest.

Some make me laugh.

Others make me think. 

Some just plain describe me in all my weirdness eccentric-ness
(Is that even a word??)

Not in any particular order other than how they were saved to the 'blog pictures' file.


Monday, August 20, 2012

May - July: In random order

May-July: Pictures are in random order:

Back in late May...first strawberries to ripen.

Enjoying a hayride at the Orchard's Strawberry Festival in June.
Not sure where the pics of us actually picking the strawberries went to...

Enjoying the first of many nights of sweet corn.
There are summer nights when we eat sweet corn and fresh fruit for dinner.
And that's it.

Cousins at the Orchard's Corn Festival
Reagan working on a fire-roasted ear of corn like a man...

Cupcake Bouquet for a Special
Great-Aunt's birthday.

I told the 2 Littles to go pick a few hydrangeas for me to dry.
They picked just a few ;o)

Memorial picture from Memorial Day weekend in CT.
Landscape project left the Wiegand's yard more of a fantastic dirt pile.
This is the 'pre-wash' before the actual shower.  The kiddos had the time of their lives while the Wiegands lost (I think the majority??) of the dirt from their yard as it all went into the kids' clothes.  Haha.

Fun afternoon swimming at Dan & Virginia's who graciously let us
stop over and use their pool for an afternoon of fun. 

We had an amazing summer.  Nothing too exciting, just did small and inexpensive things.  While the summer went entirely too fast, we made the best of it and are ready for the routine of school.  Next summer is going to be very different (I'll be DONE with college!!! and we plan on being settled in CT.) and we are looking forward to the new adventures that lay ahead.  

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Corn '09

3 years ago to the date, I became a single mom.  At the time I wasn’t sure I would ever survive on my own or be able to do it alone.  In three years I have learned that I will survive, and that I can’t do it alone.  I have to accept help.

I had been in CT for a friend’s wedding for a few days.  During my visit there, the truth of what all I was dealing with came pouring out.  Only one person back home knew the extent of the abuse and was a huge support to me.  Once I started telling all that was going on, I knew things had to change or I wouldn’t survive.

That night I went upstairs and prayed and asked God to show me what to do.  I never thought leaving Randy was an option but I knew staying would kill me.  Through prayer I felt like I should open my Bible.  17 times in a row I flipped to the word ‘go, flee, or depart’.  I wish now I had highlighted each one.

I knew then that God was telling me to ‘get out.’  I just needed to have a plan and sort it all out.  On the long drive back to Ohio, I called my friend and told her all that happened in CT.  I told her how I knew I had to leave, how I had to figure something out.  She told me that she had recently been told by someone who worked with Randy that he was using cocaine and selling it out of the garage.  She knew she had to tell me but didn’t know how.  Deep down, I had known for a while but didn’t know how to respond to it.  So I acted like it wasn’t happening. Now I had to face it head on. 

Now with actual confirmation I knew I had to do something.  The abuse was getting more intense and I was in constant fear for my life. 

We made it home late Tuesday night.  Thankfully he was asleep.  The next day he got up and went to work.  As soon as I got up I called the counseling center to ask their advice.  The first question the advisor asked was “Are you safe?”  Considering I hadn’t felt safe in over 3 years I wasn’t sure how to answer it.  Once he found out he told me I needed to get out and get the kids out immediately. 

I started repacking the van and making plans.  I called my family and my friend and they were all supportive in my leaving knowing the abuse that was going on.

I got the kids out to safety (at my friend’s house…we were too afraid it would be obvious to go to my mom’s).  I went back home to finish getting more things.  I felt so scared and confused.  Fleeing from my husband just didn’t seem natural.  I wanted more confirmation.  I sat on the couch and opened the Bible once more.  I opened to where Jesus was casting out the tax collectors and merchants out of the temple and saying “My house will be a house of prayer.”  I felt as though I was getting rid of the evil from my house and establishing a house of prayer (safety) for my children.

I was instructed to call Every Woman’s House to let them know what was going on.  I called and they said they were closed.  Was baffled that a woman’s shelter would be closed….was instructed to call another crisis place but again, they were closed. crisis happened while they were closed :-/

Not sure what made me do it but I turned my van around and went to the Rittman Police Department.  I told them what was going on and an officer came out to talk to me.  He said that it was good I reported it because if Randy came in to report me missing they would tell him “I didn’t want to be found”.  They also suggested I search his garage. 

Because the garage was constantly under lock and I couldn’t get in (wasn’t allowed in it) I was afraid to go in there.  The police offered a civil standby.  Once we arrived back home I was getting very nervous.  At this point Randy could be home any minute and still did not know I was leaving.  As the cops stood there, I knew the only way in was to bust down the door.  They could not help me.  I slammed into the door with no results.  I find in humorous now.  Imagine me trying to bust down a wooden garage door.  I looked at them and said what my sister often says:
I then slammed into the door with all my might and it fell in.  I wanted to high-five the cops but wasn’t sure how appropriate that would have been.   

Once in the garage I found a few things, having been told by Randy’s co-worker what the boxes he stored his stuff in looked like.  I didn’t find anything too incriminating but enough to prove my case.

Once out of the garage, my phone rang.  It was him.   I answered and he asked what I was doing.  First thought was “oh, you really don’t want to know…”  But instead I simply said “Randy, I’m leaving you.  I’m tired of it all” He instantly started screaming and threatening all kinds of threats.  I put it on speaker phone so the police could hear.  They listened for about 30 seconds and said “That’s enough” and made me hang up.

I finally made it out of Rittman and out to my friend’s house. I did end up coming back to the house to talk to Randy.  Probably not the smartest move but I wasn’t thinking straight.  We were talking and he was screaming his usual lies.  Something in me (the Holy Spirit for sure) screamed to “flee”  It kept screaming over and over.  Finally I ran to the van and got in.  Randy reached through the window and ripped out the key from the ignition.  I happened to look down and see my spare key sitting in the coin tray.  Have no idea why it was there but believe it was put there by an angel.  I grabbed it, shoved it in the ignition, and peeled down the drive.  Randy stood there speechless for a moment.   I wasn’t sure if he would chase me, so I drove like a mad woman out of town and over to my friend’s house.  I called her to warn her I was on my way.  She had her back shed ready and waiting for me to slip my van in and hide it.

Where does the corn come in on all this?  Well, my sister had corn for me to freeze.  It was already husked and needed to be done.  She offered to do it for me but I said she could do half.  I wanted something to keep busy that night and my friend and I would do it.  SERIOUSLY JULIE?  Why would I think it would be a good idea to freeze corn that night?  My reasoning was “If I’m going to be a single mom, I need to provide food for my kids.”  Some people call me strong…in reality I’m just not totally with it all the time.  

But freeze corn we did.  She boiled it and cut it off.  My job was to bag it.  I was so scared, stressed, and plain worn out; I laid on her kitchen floor in my pj’s.  When the pan of corn would get full she’d come over and kick me and tell me to get up. 

We still laugh about that to this day.  (It was more of a nudge than a kick but I still tease her:o) We got the corn done; Randy was texting me the whole time accusing me of having an affair and being with my boyfriend.  We would start to giggle saying, “Yea.  If he could seriously see what I’m really doing…I’m freezing corn.” 

It was one of those nightmare nights.  I somehow went to sleep; having night terrors the whole night.  She slept on the couch with her dog by her side just in case he figured out where we were. 

I’m not honestly sure how the kids did that night.  They are very close to my friend and I think she just took care of them.  I would never have made it through without her.

There’s so much more to the story.  So many things that happened the next day, and the next, and the next.  It was horrible, terrifying, and my stomach hurt for months from the stress. Maybe I’ll share bits here and there…. 

I still have some bags of Corn ’09 still in my freezer.  Odd as it sounds when I go to grab a bag, I want to avoid that corn.  I don’t feel like touching the bag or eating that corn we worked on that night.  I hate seeing it in my freezer.  But it is a reminder that I am okay.  I am surviving.  Maybe sub-consciously that’s why I still keep it; as a reminder that even when times seem at its worst to just find a friend to kick me and make me get up and keep going.

God is so good.  Not only did He pull me out of a bad situation but has set me on my feet and held my hand through it all.  He still is providing; more than we deserve and in ways you can’t imagine. 

He has prompted me to move on in life…to find a way to find total peace in my situation.  After months of praying and counseling I feel His guidance in this.  I can’t share now for legal reasons.  I do beg your prayers…that it all goes smoothly and without too much stress. 

After I came to this decision, I stood in awe that God would do this for me.  While our past can never be totally erased and there will be constant reminders, I realized that God is erasing as much of my hurtful past as possible.  It amazes me that He loves me that much.

I think I’m going to start using the corn from ’09.  It needs used up.  But I will leave one bag.  One bag that is boldly marked 2009 on the front.  I’ll keep it in the door of my freezer for the days when I don’t think I can go another day. I can go to my freezer and be reminded of that night.  The horrifics of it and know that God carried me through that night and He will carry me through the rest of my life. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

$1.14 = Cheap Fun

Riley and I were at the grocery store one afternoon and he asked to buy a coconut. 

"It's only $1.14".

I wasn't sure what I would do with a coconut but I figured a night out or a craft project for all 3 usually costs more than $1.14. 

Trying to crack it could be cheap entertainment... 

We bought the coconut.

I found it quite amusing how hard the kids worked that evening and how fast they got their showers knowing the reward was to crack the coconut.

I had to Google how to do it...they are really hard!

First find the three 'eyes' on the one end. 

One is soft.

Put a screw driver or something sharp through it and make a large hole.

Wiggle the sharp tool around until there is a wide opening in the eye of the coconut. 
Once the eye is opened up, pour the milk out into a cup. 

You might have to shake the nut a bit to get it all out.

The milk of the coconut is supposed to be really sweet and have good flavor. 
If the coconut is good that is; if it isn't then its bitter tasting. 

This coconut?
Was bitter...Although three claimed it tasted so good. 
You be the judge by this photograph:
They said it was soooo good.  I tasted a sip.  It was so nasty/bitter.

Next step is to get to the meat of the coconut. 
To make the shell brittle, put the coconut in a 400* oven for 15-20 minutes.

When it has baked, the coconut will have some cracks in it. 
This is where you want to aim.

My kids thought it was great that I was letting them freely swing a hammer at food. 

Action shots aren't the best with cell photos ;o)

After quite the effort, we finally made a dent in the coconut.

Next step is to break it into pieces and peel them away from the meat.

Eat the white flesh and enjoy! 
I tried a bit of coconut and it wasn't too great. The kiddos insisted that it was wonderful.

From what I saw on You Tube videos, if the milk is bitter, the whole coconut is bad.  So, I'm not giving up on the idea of drinking fresh coconut milk and eating fresh coconut.  I'm just going to assume that they are better actually fresh off the tree instead of from a store shelf in Northern Ohio.