Friday, December 19, 2014

School ~ Fever ~ Candy ~ The difference in Schools

Today is James long awaited appointment. . .  and he woke up sick with a fever. The kids in his class have been dropping like flies. In fact over a hundred kids in his school were home sick by Wednesday and every day more succumbed. I should have just pulled him out of school.

Missy is not sick. It is one of the things we have noticed about her new school. There is no candy stream there at the Montessori. There are no cupcake and root beer float parties, either. She has had only one cold since September. Normally she is one snotty-nosed-kid most of the time. Her behavior is much more manageable. She does not have huge tantrums and kick and try to hurt anyone anymore. I think there are two factors at work here. LESS stress - and that is the most obvious thing, and less junk food being fed her. It really frustrated me last year how little control I had over her diet and sugar, dyes, dairy and "garbage" were a constant. She has no self-control. If you put it in front of her she's going to eat it all and her neighbor's portion, too. The Montessori teachers are all health conscious people. It makes a difference. The kiddo only eats what I send her. Nothing else is offered. 

Missy is still trying to learn place value in math. She demonstrated her ability to use the abacus to us last night. She can count money, and tell the time and use manipulative, but her understanding of place value is still non-existant. She has beautiful handwriting and she can spell okay, but her writing exposes her disorganized brain. She really cannot put her thoughts in order. The teacher has sweat with her over this, but to no avail so far.

I'm glad she is in this school even if it is expensive. So far, every month I have had enough little jobs to cover the whole thing. This is thanks to the providence of God.

We had a couple of Brianna's friends spend the weekend with us last weekend. It was great to get to know them. We had a really nice time. In a few hours Vanessa's friend, Glesni is arriving for this weekend. Hopefully we can keep James quarantined. I've made everyone kale, lemon, ginger, garlic, spinach shakes for breakfast and I'm dosing them all up with herbs and vitamins as if they are all sick. What won't cure will kill...

The sun is shining. What a blessing. We sure miss the sun when the grey fog settle in. We have had rain all week until this morning.

Monday, December 8, 2014


I have entered a world of which I have no desire to experience, but here goes... I had the twins DNA tested at 23andMe and it took me a couple of weeks but I found a website that interpreted the raw data for me. And it goes without saying they have mutations of MTHFR and several others. Missy has 7 heterozygous mutations and 3 homozygous and James has 5 heterozygous mutations and 3 homozygous mutations. Even though they are twins their mutations are not all the same...  I had a sneaking suspicion that James was having issues with B12. This shows that that could VERY well be the case.  I have an appointment for James next week with a doctor specifically to look at this data and to look for ways to support and help him. I have not made Missy's appointment yet. One thing at a time. Otherwise this gets overwhelming.

It might not be Greek, but yikes...

Friday, November 14, 2014

Help Me Out

The words of his mouth were smoother than butter, 
but war was in his heart: 
his words were softer than oil, 
yet were they drawn sword.
Ps 55:21
~ First, this hilarious picture. 
I was trying to get them to stand back to back for a picture but they had their own ideas. Half an hour before someone had been doing a maternity shoot in this very location. The boys had been running around and it was not very apparent that they had been paying any attention, 
but Monkey See Monkey Do!

I am going to share a few scenarios of something that happens at our home multiple times a day. Nothing we have done has made a difference at all. It's exhausting.

Scene 1: 
School was cancelled for Missy yesterday because Montessori meets in the a part of the downtown museum and the museum was having all its hardwood floors refinished. The fumes were a good reason to cancel. Missy needed something to do so I asked her to clean the bathroom. She can do a very good job. Persistently teaching the kids to work has actually paid off. They can confidently do things about the house and yard pretty decently and they take pride in a job well done. Missy seemed fine with cleaning the bathroom. She accepted her task and went off. And then it started... She could not find a single container of cleaner, or a cloth to use in the whole house. I didn't say a lot. I'm used to the routine. I gave her suggestions here and there, but I honestly knew what it was about. After an hour of her "fruitlessly" searching upstairs and downstairs and through every cupboard fussing and complaining all the while,  I  went to the bathroom and the first door I opened revealed plenty of cleaner, but I could not see the comet. I acted as if a huge search party hadn't already happened and asked her to run downstairs and grab the comet. I didn't tell her where to look or anything. I figured after all her searching she would know where it was better than I did. She came back in 20 seconds, comet in hand.  It was all a stunt. I concluded her motive was that she was feeling lazy, and as kids are apt to do, she used up twice as much energy trying to figure out how to get out of the job as it took to clean the bathroom. Or at least that was my thought originally....

Scene 2:
When I had Missy work on her memory verse she suddenly could not read, she could not pronounce simple words no matter how hard I worked with her, and she could not remember all the little words like A, an, and, in, the AT ALL. The harder we worked the worse it became. She acted like she was totally happy to do it, but her brain would not cooperate. Nonsense! I'm quite familiar with that routine, also. She did not want to put forth effort and she worked three times harder than she needed to do the job to frustrate me. She enjoyed that. She didn't want to learn it - she never wants to learn anything from me. Was there more to it than just not wanting to learn?

Scene 3:
This scenario was from a different day, but it is a classic example of this behavior. I picked her up from school and as we are pulling out of the parking lot I asked her about her her day. She rarely offers any information. She just says it was fine. If I probe I get pat answers and often she will deny she did any reading.  She tried to have me believe for an entire month that her teacher does not ever have her read to her, that all her reading was done silently. Right! Anyway, this particular day she had nothing to say about her day, as usual, but then she remembered that tomorrow would be library day. "Oh mom, I need my library card. I don't know who took my library card! I looked everywhere and it's not in my backpack or anywhere!"  I suggested places to look and assured her that no one else would want her library card because it was in her name. I turned my head slightly and saw that all the while she was talking she was facing out the side window with her library card in her hand. When she saw that I noticed she gave me a triumphant grin. Sigh. Duped again. What is the purpose of this kind of exchange? She made no attempt to hide the library card while she made up the story. . . .

Scene 4:
Back to yesterday. After finishing her bowl of soup at lunch she asked if she could have something else to eat. I told her she could have a banana or an orange and packet of fig bars. I've been trying to teach her not to yell at me from across the room or house and call "mom, mom, mom, mom" over and over, so I have been using the same plan they use at school for consistency. She needs to come to me and talk with me not just shout. She's not interested in changing anything, of course, but when she wanted something else to eat she did come put her hand on my shoulder like they do at school and asked nicely. We were face to face, six inches apart. I clearly told her she could have a banana or an orange and a packet of fig bars. She acted like she didn't hear me. This is typical. I just said, "You heard me." So, she went and found a banana and then walked over to where the fig bars are kept. She came out with corn nuts and asked, "is this what you said?" I just shook my head. She went back and then the shouting began. "I can't find them. I don't see them anywhere!" She paced up and down the kitchen, but she never ever came up with a fig bar nor did she actually ask for help. I ignored the charade. It's all too familiar. I know that if I say what she is trying to get me to say it only gets worse. Eventually, she stopped shouting, and sat down and waited...( as if I was going to get up and get the fig bars for her! She did not ask, just sat and put on the silent pressure. This is an intense kind of battle that you could only know if you have experienced this. Mostly no actual words pass between her and I and yet the battle feels fierce).  I reminded her if she wanted a fig bar she could go get one, but after a certain amount of time I would be sending her to brush her teeth. When the time allotted passed I did send her out to brush her teeth. She fussed and fumed and cried that she was hungry. I just told her I didn't understand why she hadn't gotten the food offered if she was so hungry but it was time to brush her teeth. When I looked in the cupboard later I noticed that she had actually pulled the box of fig bars half way off the shelf and the box was ripped more than before.  IT was all an act.  This crazy charade had been more important to her than the treat. This from the kid who covets and LOVES food.

I could type scene after scene, some of them I get and some of them have me completely puzzled, but you get the drift. Can someone tell me the purpose of this behavior and how to turn it around? I'm so done with it. It's crazy making.

Their tongues are like deadly arrows;
they always tell lies.
With their mouths they speak friendly words to their neighbors,
but they are really setting traps for them.
Jeremiah 9:8

I know that most of the words out of that child's mouth are pure lies.  I don't like the idea that she is out to get me and is setting traps for me, but that is exactly what it feels like. So often she makes me out to be a fool. I want to be a good mom to her and give her the benefit of the doubt sometimes (not always, I'm usually pretty confident I know her game), but usually that backfires.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Teacher Conference and Coping with a Structure Resistant Child

We had James' parent teacher conference last evening. James is thriving with his teacher. She's the same teacher he had last year and she is really putting everything she's got into helping him succeed. He is making steady progress in everything. She gives him achievable goals to work towards.  She's moving him up one percent at a time. I know this sounds crazy, but I see how hard she is working and how much she is putting into him and it scares me for next year because no one is ever going to be able to do that for him again on that level. She has her own style and fights the system where she feels it would be a detriment to him. She knows what he is capable of and allows him to give her nothing less and really holds him accountable for that and even his behavior at home. It's making a huge difference. She suggested we should get a sleep study done on him.

We have a little foster baby. He arrived at 2 am yesterday. His case should move along quickly as this is not about abuse or neglect, but something outside of the child. I really don't know the story but mom was picked up Monday night and the baby had to go somewhere. She has been released and now has to go through the hoops to get her kiddo back. The SW is pushing for sooner than later, but the judge, or whoever must agree and go along with the plan.

The little guy is cute. He's 14 months old and gets into everything. He's funny and a copycat and very steady on his feet. He has a few words and a lot of teeth and he sleeps well. My house is a wreck. Drawers and cupboards had to be tied shut.

Steve is in Canada because of a family medical emergency. So far he has been able to prevent the hospital from discharging the family member way too soon in a  very dangerous situation. Patient advocacy is super important these days. You almost have to know all about your medical situation and terms and treatments so that you are not denied what is due.

I've gone back to making smoothies in the morning.  I tell the twins they can have a hot regular breakfast if they show up in the kitchen on time, but if they show up after 7 AM then they get a  smoothie because they can drink it fast and still be on time. Structure-Resistant-Missy's response when I remind her in the morning that she has a choice is to yell, "NO!!" which is basically letting me know that she doesn't want to be on time and she doesn't want the option that goes with being late. Well, don't we all, but that isn't how life works. We wake her up in the morning and then we let her do her morning however she wants to and whatever speed she sets herself on, because with that kid, if you push she pushes back hard. The consequences of her choices don't go away and she has to deal with it the best she can because, though we let her do her morning however she chooses, the expectations that certain things must be done before breakfast never change and she knows they are concrete. It's just up to her how she plans on getting that done. Her being late every morning feels like an attempt to push against me and the structure of our home and so we are trying hard to not push her  or offer any resistance personally to her manipulation. Fighting with an oppositional child like her can really make a person really, really frustrated if you are not careful. A funny thing is, she NEVER gets to school in pajamas, though she knows full well I would not have a problem with that if she chose not to get dressed. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014


My dad has been writing in his blog several times a week recently and I promised to start writing again if he kept it up... and so here I am. My mom even said something about my lack of writing. . . .  Problem is there are only so many hours in my day and it's been crazy busy and when I finally have a little down time my brain doesn't actually want to get in gear.

There are still a few boxes of apples and pears in the garage that need attending, there are still boxes of tomatoes to pick out in the garden and even a few potatoes to dig and pimientos to pick, but the fall harvest duties are nearly over. My kitchen "remodel" is pretty close to finished, thanks to my mom, and also the barn is clean, the potting room has more shelves and is neat and tidy. The summer accumulation of branches and boxes have been burned and a trailer load of stuff has been carted off to the dump. My mom was here a few weeks and she's a go-getter a lot was done. We even cleaned houses that are not mine - some for pay and some for not.

I have a small job with a card company stocking a couple of stores, I've been selling books on Amazon which keeps me running to the post office, and I play the piano for a Sunday church and do other odd jobs such as cleaning and babysitting to keep Missy's tuition at the Montessori covered. So far I have had sufficient money on time and even a little start towards the next month at each due date. I know that God has been providing and because He has I am more than sure that Missy is where she is suppose to be.

Missy is less intense. She is who she is, but she's not raging at all. I'll take it!!! She is liking the new school, though sometimes she tells me she wants to be homeschooled. She's heard that it's the "IN thing".  I laugh and ask her if she wants me to boss her around all day and she most definitely does not. It's not just me that needs her to go to school She really needs the break from being oppositional and antagonistic during the day. . . at school she is not, but she picks up where she leaves off in the morning  when she gets home. She still cannot just obey her parents. period. But she can obey a teacher. Somehow we need to shift that thinking, but I am at a loss and I am sure it is the RAD at play. She is constantly seeking attention. I am plain not good at handling negative attention seekers... Poor kid.

Those who have been reading since the twins were adopted will be glad to hear that James is doing well. He's happy, cooperative, and doing his homework without being told. He's offering to help and sings about the house. I see much growth towards maturity. He's also maybe a wee bit too giddy sometimes, not sleeping a lot, talking incessantly, and has me wondering when the crash is going to come. It happens every now and again. A few weeks ago it happened at church. I didn't notice at first but the girls were frustrated with his behavior in the service. It became obvious by potluck time and he grew more and more intense by the minute. By the time we reached home and were preparing to go for a bike ride he was screaming. There's no other way to explain it to anyone except to say he was "mentally unstable" there was no reason or reasoning and we had to keep him by Steve and even have him ride in a separate car from all the other kids. This lasted more than a week and then suddenly one morning he woke up happy again. He went from lethargic and extremely unwilling to offering to help.  I wish I understood why.

We had a little scene one morning that was a bit hard to figure out but he did not know how to handle some big feelings and it got a little dicey, and I ended up walking him to school and the teacher backed me up in a very helpful way. He came home and wrote me a letter of apology for being disrespectful.  First my mom read it and I could tell that she was quite taken aback by it and she indicated that I needed to read it. The letter was well written and quite amazing, actually. James was sobbing his little heart out and I held him and we talked for quite awhile. He bonded with me in that moment more than he ever has. He wants a real relationship with all of us and he hates it when he is filled with rage and anger, but of course he does not know how to handle it and I do feel sorry for him when he's helplessly engulfed.

Vanessa turned 21. She is moving along in her Registered Nursing program. Today we drove a few hours away so she could write her LPN exam. I was sick as a dog with a migraine and even though I was going along to help with driving I mostly did the crying and she did all the driving. We left at 5 AM in the pouring rain. We wondered if we would see our first snow of the season on the mountain pass but we did not. We didn't see anything, actually. It was so dark in the pouring rain.

Christina turned 17. She was doing too much, working and college and mentoring, etc... and she had hard classes and she was struggling.  She had to back off on work and mentoring and weed out the extras to keep her ultimate goal in sight. She has been finding people who can help her understand her classes. She was telling us that it's not the smart people who accomplish big things, it's people with grit. So, every time she started to share how she was feeling overwhelmed I would remind her that she's a person of grit. She would pull up straight and say, "YES! I AM!" Today she got the results from her latest calculus exam and it was an A. I reminded her it's because she has grit.

Brianna has finger in every pot. It can be a challenge when you have too many interests. Keeping herself organized is a task and a half. I haven't a clue when it comes to Spanish, but I was duly impressed when she read me a story in Spanish and translated it to me. She did a couple of photo shoots for people and the quality of her pictures has improved a lot due to her online classes...

Steve is determined to save money by riding his bike and the bus. It's a little harder now that it's dark when he leaves and when comes home. It's sort of yucky now that we are getting our fall rains, too. I'm wondering how it is going to pan out when the snow falls.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Brianna posted this picture of Missy on her blog because she enjoys photography and this is a great picture.
 Maybe not everyone can see what I see, but
 I'm sharing this picture because it is a window into Missy's soul. . .
 I love this portrait of her because it's real. 
There is no fake smile, 
or cheesy grin, 

it's the raw deal...

This child has more internal struggles than most people I know, 
but her eyes are beautiful even if they are not joyous. 

The quote Brianna posted below the photo is truth, too.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Almost 21

and almost an RN. 

We are so blessed to be Vanessa's parents. 
She is dedicated, single minded, and compassionate,
and very capable.

So thankful to be her mom.

Friday, September 12, 2014

We are Traveling

This photo depicts one of our favorite get-a ways!! 

We enjoyed a wonderful visit with friends in Idaho and took time to canoe Priest Lake and the Thoroughfare to Upper Priest Lake...

When we left home we were enjoying decent summer temperatures. As we traveled Idaho it coold a bit, but as we turned North to 
"Alberia" the temps dropped by 40 degrees and we drove through fields and fields of snow for hours. It's pretty much winter here.

We are visiting family. Yes, we pulled the twins out of school for a week when it's hardly started, but we feel it was necessary as Grandma is getting older.

Missy has had some sickness, so in all she has enjoyed 2 days of Montessori! James has been in school 2 weeks.  His days are long as his bus ride is LONG because he's on the regular  bus in the afternoon. By taking the special-ed bus he was missing half of math class. School is all of 3 miles away, but his ride takes him up and down all the canyons and he's dropped off last. I may start picking him up on days that I am not running to the other town to get Missy from the private school.

All in all the twins are doing well. Putting them in separate schools has cut the intensity of their competition by three-quarters. I'm serious!! It's wonderful. They have so much less to compete about.

We've been listening to a series of CD's by Dave Ramsey while on the road. It leads to a great deal of discussion with the teenagers in the car. We are not the best at finances.... we hope they learn something from this series than we have failed to exemplify.

Our big discussion has centered around the crazy schedule coming up when everyone returns to school. It's like having a household of adults going a hundred different directions and 2 kiddos needing some stability.  If we think we are busy now~!!

We have been canning applesauce and tomatoes and pears and peaches.... I'm not getting too far on the new blog. September has to be the busiest month of the year.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

New Blog

It's up and running. It's not quite how I want it to be yet, but the new blog is up and running. I lack time and brains, I think, but I am confident I'll eventually figure out what I am doing.

You are welcome to visit the new site.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Family Update

I haven't abandoned this blog altogether. I haven't forgotten all of you, either. This has been one whirlwind of a summer and some things just had to be shelved to wait...

Actually, there is plans in the works for a new blog. I'm making the leap from Blogger to Wordpress and I am refining my whole purpose for being online. Some in the family are not ready for me to retire this blog yet... so, if I have time infinite we'll see what happens. The new blog is not ready for unveiling. I'm totally stalemated on creating a logo. Computers are complicated things and the learning curve is steep.

Things are very good here. My sister and Vanessa and Steve did a great job holding down the fort while I was gone. Six weeks was a bit too long to be gone, though. I thought it might take more than a few days for the twins to accept me back as mom, but James and I had one day of jostling for position and Missy and I had 3 at the most. I came back ready to face the giants in our relationships once again and made it clear I was reclaiming peace and happiness for this home. The formula is simple; be at peace and harmony with all who are in the house, or find yourself with your miseries outside the house. Don't ask me why it's working right now, but it is. It might not be working next week, but any type of unreasonable combativeness lands a person at the picnic table with their lunch, or whatever instead of enjoying the company of the family at the table.

I keep praying that the children will have willing hearts. The resistance towards relationship is what causes problems. It's really that simple. And James is responding well.... He does have a heart that yearns family relationships. Missy is a harder nut to crack.... BUT she is responding. I believe God is answering my prayer.

School starts for James tomorrow. Last night we went and took his things to the school and greeted his teacher. She gave him a little hug and was all talking to him and then she stopped and looked at him... He was avoiding eye contact, turning red and quivering. She asked if he was nervous for the first day of school and he shook his head no just slightly. I let her know that he was emotional about seeing her again.... At this she said, "James!!! Did you miss me that much???" And then she gave him another big hug and he shed a few tears.  He's so excited about school starting.

Missy's school starts next week. She's torn because she considers the old school her school. One moment she's talking about her going to school there and the next she's begging me to homeschool her and before you know it she is talking about the new school. I think she hasn't quite figured out what is going on though I have explained it. She did spend a week with the new school for cooking camp and that helps, I think. I have not totally figured out how I am going to pay for it yet. Slowly the first month's money is accumulating. I took back the piano job Vanessa has been doing, and I sold a few tomatoes - (but there aren't enough to sell) and I'm looking for ways to earn a little money each week without it taking over our lives completely.

Vanessa is enjoying her small break from school. She has 9 months left to her nursing program. It's all consuming so she does not have a job at this time. Brianna has had a much harder time sorting out what she wants to do this fall, but I think she is going to move ahead to becoming a Montessori teacher, continue working with video media, and learn Spanish.  She has plenty of little jobs doing yard work, babysitting, teaching little kids art and music. Christina is in her last year of Running Start at the college. She works as a lifeguard at the high school.

Steve rides his bike to work (about 17 miles) and then puts in a 12 hour shift then rides home. Makes for very long days. We don't see much of him on work days as he gets home at 9 pm.

Thankfully, the fires seem to be under control and there is no smoke. That was a pretty serious problem all July. We are thankful.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Girls' Dean

Being a dean of girls is a challenge. Not sure I was made for this stuff. Whew! Today has been a day full of emotions. I've dealt with Sad, Glad and Mad and everything in between.... There are hurting kids everywhere. Here is no exception.

I don't pray enough.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

A Tribute to My Mother's Work in Africa

A touching post and song was written about my mom and all her work and efforts to making the AIDS orphans' life easier and productive these last 12 years. READ it here:

I am thankful people have stepped forward to take on the burden. So is my dad. He'll be glad to have her home for good. Praying that she finds her new niche.