Monday, April 30, 2012

One of the Downsides of Foster Care

Sending the confused little people off to their visits with drivers they don't know and feeling their anxiety at being "taken away".

The Buddy has three visits a week. Each time it's a different driver and then that can change from week to week. We've had about 6 or 7 drivers in the two months so far.

He didn't used to care. He liked everybody. In fact it worried me just a little that he would go to anyone without reservation. But that is changing. He doesn't want to be away from us. He just left screaming and fighting the car seat, the tears pouring out everywhere because he didn't want to go with that lady. He was reaching out for me and even his beloved bottle was no fix.

Such a little heartbreaker!

Miracles Can Happen

She didn't just make it to school on time,

she got there early!!!


She was so proud of herself, too.  What a miracle.

But of course, we can't have a perfect morning.

Her brother was the one having trouble getting out the door. He told me he had fed the animals, but when I checked I knew he had not. He never showed up to breakfast. (so I made him a shake to drink on his way out the door).

He started screaming at me when I required him to go back and feed the cats. My thought is that he didn't get enough sleep, and he just couldn't get going and then being called on his slothfulness he chose anger.

When I asked him to wash his face he started shrieking. I did my best to calm him down and I told him I would be getting in the car and waiting for him. I always have to turn my rig around and when I started moving it backwards he lost it completely. I sat him on the outside bench and told him to wait,  that screaming would not help him solve his troubles, and his troubles would not be the cause of Missy being late the first day that she really tried to be on time. I told him I was sorry he wasn't ready, that he could not scream at me like that, and I left him with Christina. He probably shrieked for most of the ten minutes I was gone, flower bouquets were strewn all over but when I drove up he was sitting on the bench smiling.

I had to weigh the pros and cons of taking such action. He does have a certain amount of fear of being left behind. I figure he uses it to his advantage sometimes, though,  to try make us do what he wants. The pros outweighed the cons this time.... he needed to face his fear, know that he could not control others by his fears, and  he needed to know what the worse thing that could happen was if I did leave him at home.

After having him clean up his mess we had a chat.

"I wasn't planning on leaving you behind, I was turning my vehicle around like I do every day, but what's the worse thing that happened when I did leave without you?"

"I had to wait"

"Is that so bad?"

"I believe you knew I had no plan to leave you, but it seems you wanted to make it an excuse to scream at me. I felt like you were wanting to control the situation with screaming. How did that work out for you? Did it help you and get you what you wanted?"

We went through several scenarios. He had all the right answers and I loaded him up and headed towards his teacher's house. When we arrived his attitude was showing and he was dragging his school bag open and spilling out across the field. I called him back and asked him what he was doing and he told me exactly what I knew was going on. I took the bag since he wasn't caring for it and told him to go and apologize to his teacher for being late. He then started dragging his feet and acting out, so I called him back and sat him down in the car and we had a prayer (on his suggestion)  and talked about what kind of boy he wanted to be today... It took awhile.

He finally went in and I finally was able to go home, but I feel despite the nonsense and the attitude the whole story was ultimately successful. He had to come to terms with each of the things that happened and he had to take responsibility for his own actions. He has come far enough that he understands enough about himself and right and wrong that we could work through it decently.

I am here to say that God is faithful and amazing and HE has brought me a long, long way with these kiddos. I never even flinched, my blood pressure never varied, my heart didn't pound, I had zero negative reaction and not an ounce of frustration at any point in this whole scene.


Sunday, April 29, 2012

Full Blossom

I don't think I've seen a year quite like it. All the blossoms are out at once.

Apples, pears, cherries, nectarines, peaches...

A perfect day for a picnic!

A picnic, a swim in the irrigation ditch, a stroll through the orchards, happy kids...
What more could you ask for?
There's no prettier place to live than here.


Many of you have been complimenting me on my great photography.
Thank you very much.
I must give credit where credit is due.

I actually do enjoy taking some pictures, but a majority of the photos are taken by my personal photographer.

She is enjoying participating in the Sunday Snapshot.


Christina is sporting new braces....
 We went on an amazing hike yesterday with lots of friends.
I figured out that if I post where we are going hiking on Sabbath
on facebook
there are a lot of people who will join you.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Lifestyle of Learning

Missy is learning.

I was never so shocked as last week when we were in a  big city that had digital signs over each lane of the freeway giving the speed limit for that lane.

Missy was calling out the numbers; "Forty-five", "thirty," " Sixty"....

Nothing short of amazing.

They say she is a sponge at school. I know for a fact I could not have gotten her this far. She would have been too busy being ornery. She is also getting a break from the struggles of attachment. She is getting a lot of positive feedback at school. She likes it a lot. She is gone 2.5 hours and then she's home. It's working for us right now and I am going to send her again next year. Only, I think I'll have the special ed bus pick her up.

James is learning, too. His learning is less academically noticeable, partly because his deficits are not so great, and partly because he is learning things of a broader scope. He seems to be able to read whatever he wants to know. He has trouble with road signs and such because they fly by too fast. He can't focus that quickly, but if the phone is ringing he will tell me who is calling after he reads the caller ID, he reads food boxes, and instructions. We haven't learned a pile of math facts, or written much.... I have found when I push academics he shuts down because he has a weird picture in his head about what subjects are. They don't relate to life in his head.

Yesterday he asked when he would be old enough to have a bunk bed. I laughed and told him it's not about age, it's the fact that he's the only boy (besides the baby) that he gets his room to himself. I said, "think about it. How many girls are in the far room?
"How many beds do we need then?"
"How many girls in the other room?"
"How many beds do we need in there then?"
 "You got the math right."
"That's math???????????????"
 "Well, of course it is. Whenever you figure things using numbers and counting, that's math."
"OH!" (Light bulb moment)

However, he is growing in life experiences and his world view is expanding exponentially. He has been exceptionally cooperative and energetic and content. Yup, we have our moments when he is stubborn, but I see emotional growth happening. He's very happy when he is outside shoveling manure. He's most happy when something crazy happens and he has a story to tell. YES! He who previously could not string sentences together is most happy telling stories. Mrs. C has show and tell EVERY day that they have class. He loves it. He prepares ahead filling his school bag with items that go with his story. When we bought our new vehicle he was giving strangers (to my embarrassment)  the tour and telling about how the wheel fell off on the old car on the Pass.

He is responding to a LIFESTYLE OF LEARNING.

I'm reading a book called Different Learners by Jane M. Healy, Ph.D. and the more I read the more convinced I am that he needs this style of learning for a long while yet. I've had a lot of outside pressure to have these kids "catch up" academically and to have him "DO" school work the traditional way, but it doesn't work for him and I recognize the beauty of a Lifestyle of Learning.

It's not that I have been unfamiliar with a Lifestyle of Learning. I used it with my first three. We used some curriculum books here and there, and I used tutors and science classes designed for homeschoolers in town during their upper grades, but for the most part people would consider our style pretty lax. However, I can say it worked. Vanessa has a 4.0 at the college most quarters. (She got one B in a class so far and that ruined her perfect over-all 4.0.  Brianna is very close behind. They want to learn. They are excited about learning. They have not been burned out and exhausted on academics. Christina just took the standardized test for 9th grade. I can't tell you how she did yet, but it was her first time for Iowa Basic Skills Test and she was disappointed because the math never even touched close to what she understands. They didn't go near algebra and she is in algebra 2. My girls had some learning "differences" to overcome. If they had been pushed they would have become learning disabilities, I am convinced one hundred percent.

Having said all that, I am trying to make up my mind whether 2 hours of one-on-one classes at the school would be the right thing for him or not. It's working for his sister.The school is going to test him next week to give us a baseline to understand his strengths and weaknesses. They would like to have him for those two hours...But  I'm leaning towards keeping him home. Mrs. C the lady that teaches him for a few hours a week agrees that he should be home for social reasons. She feels he will get laughed at and it will effect him. If he's one-on-one, though, he wouldn't have much time to mingle.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Class Bear

The OT supervisor called to talk to me about appointments for James and she asked how Missy was doing with school, so I told her about our trials with getting to class. She had several suggestions. The one that works the best for her little students is to put something in their hand that they need to deliver to the teacher.  She couldn't think of what to have her deliver exactly, and neither could I.

When I picked her up from school I found her teacher and told her about the suggestion. She had an immediate answer, "Oh, Missy, would you be willing to take care of our class bear for us? He needs to be on time for school every day because we use him to count with. Are you responsible enough to do that for me?"


She proudly brought home the class bear and he's tucked into her bed.

I have to say that she is much calmer today than I have seen in a long while. I am not sure what to attribute it to. Everybody has noticed. She played with play-dough and entertained herself quietly this afternoon. She hasn't been so crabby or in-your-face, though she is visiting with me and having conversation. She's singing "I'm Happy Today."

This is day two of her candida diet. The diet completely eliminates sugars of all kinds including natural sugars in fruit. We are only trying it for a few weeks just to see. We are calling it her happy diet, though the intention is to help her bowels not her temper, but hey, that would be a great side effect! I give her extra avocado or nuts or something else that nobody else gets to make up for the things she can't have. So far she has a good attitude about it, but I sure don't want to do this long term.

Thanks to all who commented on the last post. Much appreciated!

Wicked Witch of the West

I recently found a new blog. It's new, new... like it has maybe 5 posts so far. It has been very interesting to read because the stuff she is talking about describes my kids to a T. She describes how she handles things. It's called the Deep End. I even had to read a few short parts of it to Steve and his eyes grew wide like, "seriously? That describes us." Vanessa didn't know I wasn't reading my own blog.

When you are dealing with the hard stuff... the very, very frequent, or shall I say, constant stick poking and acting out, it messes with your head. You begin to think that maybe you are the problem.  Just figure out what makes her happy, already!!!!  Alas, it's like banging your head on a concrete wall, and so reading someone else describe the very SAME scenarios and promoting the same sort handling of those scenarios is a strange comfort.

James is doing very well. Relatively speaking, he's doing fabulous. He has certain things that he just won't do, though, and when confronted with these little things he delves into the world of manipulation. Used to be he would not tie his shoes, use the toilet, fold his clothes, tuck in a dress shirt, make a bed, etc...  but months and months of working with him on them and he will do those things now without ado. The list is still long. For example he won't fold his collar down. Not on his shirt, not on his jean jacket, not on anything. Won't do it.  Never has the two years he has been mine.

Missy is all over the place. There are not certain things. She is way more random.

This week it has been untying her shoes. Won't do it. Particularly on the way to school when she should have already had her shoes on she doesn't because they are tied and she won't untie them. She ties them herself, and has untied them for two years. Suddenly she can only slip them off and can't untie them. It's only one more way to try and get a reaction because she knows I hate dropping her off at school late. Suddenly she can't buckle her seat belt either, etc.... etc....

Yesterday I waited in the car in the church parking lot for more than thirty minutes for her to get her shoes on. After she finally got her shoes on, I asked her what she had to say about it all. First she said, "Sorry, I not be nice." Then she said, "Sorry I not obey"....  all very scripted and routine words with little meaning anymore. I just kept looking at her like there must be more she needed to say from her own heart. Finally she said, and it was very hard for her, "I sorry I pretended I can't untie my shoes". Her very own words.

Today, I told her if they were not on by a certain street we would come home and she could work on it on our front porch. She fussed on the front porch for 40 minutes. Her fingers were "too tired", she didn't "like" untying shoes, she "couldn't", she cried.... Well, instead of undoing the laces she chose to tighten them into a huge knot.

Steve had just said to me that she has zero problem solving skills. I didn't know whether or not to agree with him... I went out on the porch and saw that indeed the knot now was bigger than ever and impossible, so I told her, "there's only one thing left to do now "

and she started yelling, "DON'T CUT IT!!!!"


NO problem solving skills, eh???

I did indeed cut it and then I drove her back to school


We had this whole song and dance for nothing.

I burst out laughing.

I guess if she is going to be that late it's better to be late when no one is waiting for you.

This is so typical. Both of the kids will pretend they can't complete the task and they will work very hard to prove it. They want you to believe you are asking too much, that you are the Wicked Witch of the West and after awhile I start to wonder if I am. When I watch their hands at first glance I see them "working" very hard trying . . . but if I watch more carefully while they think I don't see I will notice that they do and undo their task over and over.

It takes a HUGE amount of patience to see a task through and a million times you wonder if it's worth it.  The best approach so far has been for me to say, "I have all day. Take your time. In fact, I have all week so I'll wait until you do". Then WALK AWAY (lest I buy in to the power struggle.)

The new plan is; velcro shoes.  She will not get to wear her school shoes to school anymore. I have to find a way to eliminate the battle because she could make this an issue for the rest of the school year.

The only other thing I could do to take away the battle is to do everything for her . . . .


I am not sure is the right thing. My guess is that she would figure out how turn that into grief as well.

Any thoughts?

How do you other moms deal with this? Do you face it head on and wait for them to get with the program, or do you take away the battle? Would you buy her new velcro shoes, or make her wear her well used, old ones? It's only manipulation game number 5364.... and we are sure to face thousands more so how would you handle it?

Our last choir program at Abundant Life

Monday, April 23, 2012

Hiking Pictures

This is my favorite time of year.
We're up on the hills around home. 
In fact we live at the base of the hill to the left of the picture.

 Can you believe an 8 year old used my camera to shoot this picture?
Hello? Do you schedule appointments for 
family photos?
 Laughing cause we don't look 20 anymore.... and nothing we do makes us photogenic.


LOVE hiking.

So glad little Buddy no longer has Saturday visits. 
He enjoyed the hike immensely.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Farmer Freckle

Comes by his new moniker 

quite naturally...

It's like summer out there,
thus the flaming red cheeks to go with the freckles.
The start of a mustache is really
a battle scar   -  from a fight with the gander
where the silly goose never got so much as within 50 feet of him.
The kiddo saw him out of the corner of his eye 
and did a complete flip over the garbage can he was putting out for the garbage truck.
We saw it all through the window.
That scratch is nothing,
You should see the deep purple bruise on his side!!!

He's gotten over a lot of his fears,
but his fear of the geese,
well, that's another story.
It doesn't help that the geese know he's afraid.

We might actually have to give them away.
But they are nesting right now,
so we'll wait.

Missy's another case altogether.
She sees that gander coming with his head down low
honking and hissing
and she goes straight at him,
grabs him behind the head and pins his neck to the ground.
And then around and around they go.
Too funny!!

BUT I digress...

The farmer is not afraid of his chicks.

In fact,
he's doing a fabulous job of caring for them.

 Today he had them out on the lawn.
and he was cuddling one in his hands
singing at the top of his lungs.

I could hear him all the way to the greenhouse.

"I Love the LORD, I love the Lord".
He was making it up as he went.

 Brianna says later he started preaching to them.
He said with great pathos,
"Hear ye, my little chickies,
harken unto me
and I will teach you the fear of the LORD."
 Brianna asked him,
"What's the fear of the LORD?"

"Hmmmm. I don't know."

"Oh," She said, "It means to Love the LORD with all your heart",
and James finished with much 
"SOUL and MIND!"
It's amazing to see him open up and blossom - to see him full of 
enthusiasm and life.
To hear him spout the Word of God
like it's a part of him.

The chicks have been a good thing
so far.
We are one week into the experiment.
Every chick is vigorously healthy, and since they sent us a couple extra
we have a total of 27.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Why Do I Forget?

I write to help me remember....
but sometimes I still forget.

Our life gets busy and Brianna has been really busy with school. She's been missing having the daily violin lesson with Missy. It's been kind of hit and miss.

Yesterday, we got home and Missy was exhibiting some negative behaviors and I just wanted to close my eyes and pretend I didn't exist, but I had to get to work. So I went down to the greenhouse. It's my favorite place to go. Kind of a sanctuary...

And while I was busy watering and killing slugs, Bri gave Missy a violin lesson.

Do you know that turned her completely around?

She came down to the greenhouse and visited and helped me afterwards. She was peaceful and happy and friendly. We had a genuine good time together.

There's something about music.
There's something about making music.
Whatever it is, let's DO it EVERY DAY!!

Today we have a great big choir program at Abundant Life with my Children's Choir. I'm a bit scattered, but I think the kids are prepared. The theme is the Great Controversy between Christ and Satan.

Little Buddy slept about 13 or 14 hours straight last night. He's so chipper this morning!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Drive It Until the Wheels Fall Off . . .

{then put them back on and drive it some more.}

I'm home.

And I've never been so glad to be home.

Steve has so precious little time off work that yesterday when he was done with his endoscopy case at 3 PM he decided to head over the mountains to check out a vehicle. It meant calling and arranging for them to stay overtime, but it all worked out.

Since we were having such an incredible RADical day 
with our wonderful RADishes 
and the buddy's visit was canceled, 
I thought what better way to get a change of air than to load up the little kids 
and go with him.

We liked the vehicle,

there was a problem with the headlights that 
the lot needed to take care of before they could sell it.

So, we couldn't trade in the old chariot and we headed home.

I was dozing on and off. 
The baby was sleeping. 
The twins wouldn't close their eyes if you paid them.

Suddenly we were careening down the freeway crazily...

 just after the first mountain pass,

going 60 mph.

Then the front left wheel popped off.

Did you know there are no brakes when the wheel is gone?

Angels guided the suburban to the side of the road - though it seemed to take forever.

The baby was screaming because his sleep was so rudely disturbed.
James was thrilled with the tow truck ride.
Missy was freaked out and jabbering.
Steve and I were just thankful.

We stayed at motel across from the auto shop.

Today the car was put back together.
and I drove home in it,
over the second mountain pass,
while Steve took the bus back to get the new vehicle.

So glad to be home.

The twins did great on the trip... but as soon as we arrived home
they turned back into RADishes.


I think I'll go to bed.

PS. Steve found the tire on the way back with our new vehicle.
IT was on the opposite side of the highway
and about 25 feet into the bushes.
I am so thankful it didn't hit an unsuspecting, oncoming car.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Buyers Remorse In Reverse???


Something is wrong with my trusty chariot.


Shoulda bought that vehicle we test drove last week...!

*Missy has not been so steel plated . . . Can you spell relief?

Little Buddy's visit schedule has been completely changed to fit our family's needs. So thankful! Now he can go with us on our hikes and we don't have to stay within a certain radius of home.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Choices; Lonely or Friendly

I'm on a roll this morning...

Was late dropping off Missy at school because a piano moving truck was sitting in the middle of our narrow road. The driver was on his phone. I waited and waited and waited.... Finally, I got out to talk to him and he up and drove away from me.

Came home and spilled a whole cup of carrot juice... down the counter and all over the floor.

Barely got that cleaned up when I realized the little man who wanted to play in the carrot juice had a diaper blow-out from half way up his back down to his knees.


Missy didn't want to go to school today for the first time ever. She wanted to stay home and hold her chick, but she wasn't really verbalizing it. She was fussing about her lunch. I told her I could make her one if she really wanted me to, or she could let me pick her up early during the lunch time and she could eat with us in town before her speech appointment at the hospital. Of course, she would rather eat with us but she was crying and crying as she said so.  Finally, I asked what all the tears were about and she  said she really wanted to hold her chick.

Sunday afternoon had not gone very well for her. She was refusing to do anything asked of her.  When the easy job that she was suppose to do (lining up the shoes in the closet, and picking up in the entryway ) was finished off by a big sister I asked her to pick up the stray branches in the orchard from pruning instead. She didn't want to. There were tantrums and the whole nine yards. I said she could only come in when the job was done. It should have taken 15 minutes, but hours later we were still in the orchard when it got too dark to see anymore.

I was calm towards her, BUT inside I was completely frustrated. She has been completely sabotaging my every effort to get close to her. I cannot connect, because she won't. I told Steve, "I think she hates me." And he had the nerve to disagree ... :-}

I wouldn't let her go to bed. Told her to go sit in the rocking chair  - because we were going come to some sort of resolution come fire or high water. ONLY I  wasn't exactly in a place to have a "Mommy loves you so much, can we be on the same side?" kind of talk. Steve prayed with me until I could.

As I rocked her, I basically told her that I knew she was putting a ton of effort in keeping herself distant from her family, but it was only serving to make her lonely, and angry and sad. She said she didn't know what "lonely" meant. I explained that she was all alone and sad... and the rest of the family had each other. We wanted her to be friendly with us so she wasn't lonely anymore. When she was being obstinate and awful, she was really pushing us away, pulling herself apart and making herself lonely. She was alone by her own choice, but she could choose to be friendly and she wouldn't be lonely anymore. It might have been ten o'clock at night, but I think, for once, she saw it.  It made enough impression that the next day she was more open. I would ask her here and there, "are you lonely today or friendly?" Even today she answered "friendly".

I believe I saw that haunted look in her eyes when she was crying about wanting to stay home and hold her chick. She may think she will fulfill her lonely needs with her new pet, but she might, with or without really realizing it, long to connect with home and family... I almost had a sense that she wished to be with me.

Two and half hours is a long time, though... when I pick her up will she view me as her enemy or her mom?

Sad, eh? Two years and she hasn't figured it out yet.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Home on the Range... { Or something like that }

Mowing season has begun. Christina was teaching James to mow the field. 
She had to keep a hand on the mower at all times 
otherwise the lines were all swerving... 

This is not a good thing.

Caught a flock of cute little tweedy birds

systematically snipping the apricot blossoms off one by one.

They caused quite a bit of damage in a short amount of time.

So we posted a guard.

She had to do homework anyway.

And the view was good.
The sunshine pleasant.
The hum of the bees deafening. ;-)

Today is chick day.

James is the official 
Farmer Freckle

24 chicks are his.
There are silver laced wyandottes
black Australorps
and Easter Eggers.

I'd say he's in business, but they are all of two days old 
and he won't have any blue, green or brown eggs for sale 
anytime soon.

Missy has one chick. 
The white one.

Exciting day!
This is an educational and business venture for James.