Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Build -a -Pizza Party

I kept the twins out of school today.

We were avoiding halloween, it's nonsense, the over-stimulation of what they don't understand, and it's sugar.

Of course, they were all jazzed about the parties everyone was talking about, so we invited a brother-sister duo..  Peyton and Grace and had a pizza party. I even bought potato chips for a treat. YAY. no sugar. :-)

All the fixings for the pizza were there. They just had to build their own.

The twin's crusts looked okay until I tried to get them off the pan....  gluten free is the pits!

I was feeling horrid. Laid on the floor and could not get back up. The girls came home a bit early. One took over the babies... and the other two took care of choir. I slept ALL. afternoon.
In other news,
Steve met up with his brother, Peter and nephew, Andrew at the airport and took Andrew to the medical center.
They feel they got more help in three hours there
than the 8 months of craziness in Canada.

He'll be back in two weeks for the referral appointments.
The guy is so fortunate to be alive.
Hitting a moose and sustaining this type of brain injury is nothing to scoff at...
yet, the doctors in Canada have done just that,
and worse.
They even tried to sabotage the referral to this medical center in the USA 
and almost succeeded. In fact, the referral was denied...
BUT Steve and Peter worked relentlessly on this and 
won him the right to a second opinion.
It should NOT be this hard.

Prayers for his complete recovery are requested!
God has a reason for saving him alive. He has a purpose for his future.

THANKS to LEASA for finding them a place to stay.
It worked out wonderfully, and now we know where to stay when we have medical appointments in that big city!


I forgot the camera, again. What did we do without cellphones with cameras back in the "old" days?

This was good. James played very well. He had 5 little songs. I don't think he messed up once.

Missy amazed us all. She can't play without messing up.... except last night she was total concentration. She played for Mr. Morgan. He's her reading teacher... he and his family are church friends and they have great kids who also played in the recital. It was so funny to see that it mattered that she played well for him. She never even looked at her fingers.

My other children played fabulously, of course, except the one who had a panic attack and melted down. I expected that from the twins, not the 15 year old. This girl plays flute in symphony, and for church functions. She sings and preaches and speaks up front all the time (like multiple times a week lately) and never has a flicker of nervousness. BUT she can't seem to get over the piano. SHE has made enormous progress on the piano, but couldn't show it to anybody. She doesn't believe she can do it. So, that will be our little project, because I KNOW she can. :-)

I learned from Mr. Morgan last night, that Missy had a one-on-one reading class until this week. That teacher begged Mr. Morgan, whose class is maxed out to "Please, please, please take her 'cause the one-on-one was not working". IT does not surprise me.

She needs to see that other kids work hard. She needs the peer pressure. I know how frustrating it is to try and work with her when she is resistant. There's no point.

So, she is in the 1st grade special reading class with Mr. Morgan. He made special exception for her. James is in his 2nd grade special reading class.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

100 Quarts

We have been blessed with several people giving us different varieties of apples in exchange for tomatoes!

This also happens to be the day Buddy figured out how to climb out of the crib. After an hour and half of trying to get him to stay in bed for his nap we ended up putting him in the backpack to keep him out of trouble. He tends to get real naughty when he's tired. The babies were suppose to go to their parents house... Plans changed as a result of Grandma getting hit in the head by a blindfolded child with a baseball bat at a birthday party. Talk about a big headache!! She was going to help with transportation to an event as the family car is WAY too small for the whole family. They are on the lookout for a van.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Update on the Day

We never did make it to school. We worked their (and MY) tails off..

The carpets are vacuumed, floors washed, dishes done, clothes folded, tomato patch pulled up.... Only we saved a section for tomorrow, just in case someone decides they don't care to catch the bus and go to school where they can sit around all day :-)

I hadn't intended for the day to go this way. I wanted them to help me get the floors done and dishes since they would be taking up my time to walk to school, however attitudes dictated otherwise.

A pic from my phone.
I'm to tired! ha!

And so are they. They had to work hard to keep up with me.

One of THOSE days.

It's one of those mornings. The day after one of THOSE mornings. What does a mom do?

Both kids have missed the bus. We tried very hard to motivate them to get a move on.
Neither children cared.
Please get dressed. Please get moving.


They weren't growling... it was more of a "I don't care and you can't do a thing about it."

Until the bus came.

And then there was weeping and gnashing of teeth.

They are still not ready.

It does not help that He has peed in every pair of pants he owns and he has nothing left in his drawers to wear. I thought we were done with that battle, but it came quite apparent this morning that we are not. He was asked to help me get a load of just his clothes going in the wash.

She is mad that the bus left without her, so she is just standing there.

There's no point in forcing them.... but you can't let them just get away with standing there. So, what to do?

This is what it comes down to.

At least they are not raging. That was yesterday morning.  I couldn't even figure out why they were mad at me, except that the day before had been too much. It's sad that going to church in the evening is too much. It's sad that we had to decide they can't handle birthday celebrations and cake. Overstimulated, they were awake most of the night doing things they should not have been. Screaming and raging for breakfast at 10:30 AM makes no sense when I asked them to come hours earlier.

Actually, none of this makes any sense.

All I have is, "Lord, please help us get through this!"

Saturday, October 27, 2012

1st Over-Night Visit

The babies were home for 24 hours. It was their first planned over-night with their mom and dad and siblings. I totally thought this idea of having an over-night once or twice a week until they are returned home silly. I thought, if they are going to do it, do it,  BUT as we learned the night did not go well . Neither children would sleep. They were not familiar with the new sleeping arrangement and disturbed the whole house.

The mom was like, "I just so hate to admit that it didn't go well and that it was really hard on all of us."

But she also shared how thankful she was to have her whole family back together again. She sat in the rocker in the evening watching the kids play with their dad and let the happy tears roll. 

We picked up the Buddy for Sabbath School. He loves it and so his parents have offered to let us continue taking him each week. He was so tired from not sleeping. Directly after his class I took him home and put him in his bed and he slept like a log for more than 2 hours.

We then all went to his grandma's house for his sister's birthday. All the grandparents were there, aunts, uncles, the children's friends... it was a good chance to get to know people and mingle.

We brought the little ones home with us. They get to go to church tomorrow, too. The parents have both found God and are building a relationship with Him and attending church.

The girls went with Natalie and Ellie to the other Spanish church to present music. They've been in demand everywhere, lately. Since coming home from Hungary Vanessa has been able to go to our church twice, maybe. They were actually double booked for this weekend. Thankfully, they managed to bow out of the speaking engagement until a later date. With the meetings going on at Valley View the girls have been singing there a lot plus doing all the children's program.

We have had rain every day. As a result, I have had a migraine every night. I need to move to the desert.

I'm not sure when the next over -night is. Hopefully we can figure out ways to make it work better next time.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Stiring Up Laundry Detergent

I finally joined the homemade-laundry-soap band-wagon.

And I'm pleased. Very pleased.

In fact, we'll not be going back to the standard old large boxes of laundry detergent that costs me way more than my own stirred up concoction does. This cleans every bit as well - maybe better.

Our clothes are fresh.

Katie said she had started making her own and I had heard other people say the same thing, but she said it was a cinch to make, and is what convinced me to give it a go. I'm not Ma Ingalls with time to slave over the lye and ashes... I was not interested in a liquid gooey mess, either, so powder it had to be.

I've made it three times now. And I used a different recipe off of google each time, but they are all essentially the same.

The main ingredients are:
Grated natural soap 
borax - of the Twenty Mule Team variety
washing soda - not to be confused with baking soda, though you can use some of that too if you have hard water like us.

I finally found a recipe that makes more than 2 cups at a time. Good grief!! Maybe some families can get away with only doing some 8 loads a laundry in a week but in this house of 7 kids..... !!

So, I finally found someone who could tell me to dump the whole BOX of each ingredient in a bowl and wallah...we are set for a few months.

I use two tablespoons of detergent per load. If you are used to cleaner full of filler it takes a bit to get used to the idea of using so little.

I think this large batch cost me $10.

Here's the link to the blog that posted a LARGE recipe.  HOMEMADE Note she uses a few more ingredients than are essential. If you are after toxin free laundry soap then think carefully about which added ingredients you use. The borax, washing soda, baking soda and natural soap, are all okay ingredients.  I like to add some drops of lavender oil for a fresh smell.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Unique Situation

It's not impossible for the foster family and the children's family to become friends. It happens. A working relationship grows into something more and it is a pleasant thing, but it also increases the success rates, ~or so they told us when we first started out.

We prayed for this and our prayers were answered.

It's probably not often the foster family and the foster children's family live on the same stretch of road a short distance from each other, so that every time the foster family leaves home they must pass the other family's house.

I'm glad I called early.... before the meeting.

I asked what the probable plan was. She said it was recommended that there be a 4 -6 week transition.

I was stunned. Hadn't we been transitioning for weeks? Mom is ready. The kids are ready. What are we waiting for?

And so I pointed out all that we had been doing. Every single day I call the mom at 8 or so, unless she calls me first, and then we work out the details of what hours she will have the kids and I drive them back and forth -in between her mother's availability to monitor the visits and the appointments she needs to keep.

I shared how the Buddy knows they are HIS family. He loves to go home. He would jump out of his seat if he were not buckled in each time I drive up the driveway shreaking his "hi, HI!"He loves his family.

I was asked to repeat this at the meeting. Grandma also told that, though she monitored everything, the parents have been parenting almost fully. There is no need for a long drawn out transition.

Even still it didn't seem like everyone in the room was on the same page and I started praying that there would be no needless delay for the parent's sake. Slowly the tide of opinion turned. Basically some people just had no idea.

In the end everyone agreed that this is indeed a unique situation.

Starting tomorrow all the visits will be unsupervised. I am to drop off the kiddos first thing in the morning and get them back in the evening before bedtime. I will also watch them during mom's counseling sessions and by the weekend they will start over-night visits.

The duckling has decided he doesn't like the swing anymore. This is the only way he'll have anything to do with it. He wiggles himself down until his feet touch the floor and then he stands there and gazes up at the mobile. Eventually he slips down in a sitting position and he's free of that silly swing :-)
He's happy.

But he's not happy if you buckle him in.


This morning is the big meeting to plan the children's return home. Praying that the Lord will oversee the planning.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Division of Disibilities

Summer is coming.

It's not around the corner or anything, 

But I just cannot bear the thought of another summer quite like the last one...

I have to be prepared with a better plan than I had for Missy.

The way I feel about it right now is that I could not survive that again.

I finally got the paperwork filled out and taken to the DDD a few weeks ago.

Today I found out that the children have open files... have had for years. Okay, so that was easy...

Wish someone had told me.

BUT anyway, I asked for respite.

As it goes, it isn't quite like I had hoped, but I can get in-home respite for about 20 hours a month.

It's something, anyway.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Handing Over the Baton

Steve and I decided it was time to take the babe to the doctor even though he seems not to  be worse, just not better. 
Nighttime is still rough and I wanted to make sure we weren't headed towards pneumonia.
I called his mom and asked if she wanted to go with me. 
She did. 
So I dropped by her place and picked her up on the way past.
It certainly makes it easier to have two sets of hands and legs with 
two kiddos in boring doctor's office.
The babe is fine.
Keep doing what we are doing...
Which is a lot of steamy showers,
nasal spray,
elevated head in sleep
lots of fluids.

To me, it was less about the illness,
and more 
about including the mother the decisions
and care of her children.

We're in the process of handing over the baton of parenting
and we're letting them know that we believe
they will do this well.

Wednesday is the big meeting.
I'm curious as anything how the details will shake out,
but I am pretty sure the babies
will start getting overnight visits several times a week 
until the second week of November
when the judge declares they are home to stay.

And we're celebrating with them their victory over the
beast that nearly destroyed the family,
and celebrating with them in the little things,
like the new bedroom set up,
a temporary job, and
furniture filling the vacant spots about the house.
We bow in praise and thanksgiving
for the miracle wrought,
and pray for a cover of protection for the future.

This is a very exciting transition and it isn't quite like people picture....
you know, the ones that say,
"I could never do foster care. I could never give them back!"

It's a time of jubilee.
~ One more family spared
the massacre of the enemy
bent on destroying love
in this old world.


I had not been able to connect with Missy on an emotional level since the downhill slide last week. She wouldn't let anyone connect. She was miserable and she was gonna stay that way. I kept her home. James enjoyed going out to the children's meetings and off to church with the girls, grocery shopping with me, etc, but we kept her home with the croupy babies. I couldn't let her out of my sight.

Only last night was there any kind of breakthrough. First thing that facilitated that was James got himself in a little trouble and acquired himself an early bedtime.... ha. funny how that works, eh?! And second, I was trying to help her with math. We were going around and around on 0 + 6. She wasn't getting it. AT.ALL.

Finally I said, "Well, let's just put it away. You don't understand it. "

I figured the teachers would have to work their little tricks to help her get it.

She came right over to me with tears in her eyes and I said, "You don't know this stuff, do you?"

She sadly shook her head.

Curious as to what she has clued into about her class, I asked, "Do the other kids in your class know this stuff?"

And the the dam burst. She nodded and the tears rolled. She put her head on my shoulder.

"Oh. Math is hard, isn't it?"  I felt sick.

She has given us all the impression that she is oblivious... and I was happy for that, but the eyes are beginning to open and she is aware. The teacher has said she noticed she was trying to not stand out as not knowing, recently. She watches very carefully and does what the other kids do, even if she did not hear or understand the instructions. I realize this is an important step in her growth and cognitive advancement, but that doesn't make it any less painful.

I decided to give 6 + 0 one more go. And she did it. We went on to do about 8 more problems without much trouble. We could not complete the page, because it is time consuming but she made headway enough that she is pleased to show it to her teacher this morning. I hope they let her finish it. That would be important to her feeling successful.

We had a little chat about how the morning was going to go. Did she want me to remind her and tell her what to do, Or did she want me mind my own business and let her figure it out. She most definitely did want me to tell her what to do. I said, "But if you don't obey and you want to fight, then what?" She had no answer. I suggested that at that point I could go back to bed and let her figure it out and her eyes grew wide with fear. I said I didn't really know what she wanted me to do when she got angry with me for telling her what to do. She pretty much decided to listen and so, for this morning at least, she did not fight me.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Friday, October 19, 2012

Ten Gallons of Pimientos [ Belligerence is Back]

That's my Brianna Grace . . .  And I am proud to say I took this photo. Only, she had to set it up for me. All I had to do was push the button :-)

{We've had hard mornings all week. Yesterday I walked with Missy to school.

This is discouraging stuff. Today after a hard morning of trying to get her ready for school, as she was going out the door,  I told her I was done with the nonsense. She either had to stop being mean and nasty to everybody or she would be going to bed right away at the first sign of belligerence.  Even if it meant she was going to bed right after she woke up. We can't have this horrid attitude permeating everyone's day. Yesterday she had a huge tantrum and threatened to slap me across the face, but caught herself in time. We just waited for her to come around.

Two different people are offering her a kitty. I would love to get her one, but not right now. Not during this nastiness.

She has a cold like all the other little kids... }

The baby is having a hard time breathing at night.

The Buddy is a snotty mess.

The girls made supper and had friends over last night to work on their music for the upcoming evangelistic series. They had a very nice time. Supper was really good. It's fun to listen in on the college girl's chatter...

The meetings start tonight at Valley View. Vanessa is in charge of children's meetings as well as doing a lot of music.

I delivered 7 dozen eggs yesterday for James. I think I'm going to start charging for having to wash them :-) He's not able to do that job without breaking them and I would worry that they are not actually clean.  He's getting about 16 eggs a day. He paid for his own chicken feed for the first time this past week and he's proud of that.

The babies have spent a lot of time with their mom this week. Their father got a job out of town and he will travel back and forth every 10 days until the roads are bad. Not ideal but he has to provide for his family.

We're building a friendship with the family. It's good.

Steve got a little more painting done on the house. I will try to finish the trim for him on the front today while he's at work.

I took care of ten gallons of pimientos from the greenhouse yesterday. That's not ten gallons of finished product, but still it represents a LOT of cashew cheese :-) There's a bunch of green peppers still in the greenhouse. Don't know if I'll do anything with them. My freezer is full.

When she has a spare minute, Bri has been practicing being a photographer :-). I help when I can... thus the blur.

 Check out this fancy lady's shoes.
Our Vanessa Joy.... singing in the rain.
Christina Faith.... whose goldie-locks have been cut off for LOCKS OF LOVE. 
Twelve inches of hair to help a child who has none.
Good job with sticking it out on this project!

Monday, October 15, 2012

{ true story }

Toddlers are fun because everything is always new & exciting. 
Even if it isn't the first birthday party they've been to, it's the first one they remember :-).
And they are so much fun because no preconceived ideas of how things 
should be done.
They are delighted with every unexpected turn of events.... 

well, usually.

We lit the candles for Vanessa at the table.
It was a challenge not to get burned.
And Buddy was in AWE!

He was so thrilled he was standing on his chair exclaiming over each and every candle 
as we lit them.

As we sang happy birthday he kept his eyes fixed on the flames 
- drool cascading down from his open mouth. 
He was entranced.

AND then, of course, as the song ended, Vanessa drew a deep breath and blew 
them all out at once

to his absolute horror!

He was shocked,
He was aghast,
he was  MAD!!

He stood there on the chair, arms outstretched and shaking,
~ screaming at the top of his lungs,
while the whole place erupted in howling laughter.

How was he suppose to know
that the sparkling delight was lit
for the sole purpose of being snuffed out?

 I took a candle and lit it
and blew it out.
I re-lit it and invited him to blow on it,
but it took several lessons before he got passed the disappointment of blowing it out
to work up the desire puff it out himself.
Everyone cheered and he was pacified.
 A bite or two of the dessert later and all was forgotten.


The duckling has been losing this nickname in favor of a new one.
What else would you call
a fat ROUND faced baby
with a little curl on the top of his head
two little ears sticking out 
a furrowed brow.


Charlie  ?

 Okay. So this isn't him
but it surely could be,
only his curl is real and not sharpied on
and his ears are - well,
let's just say they are quite a bit more visible than this little chap's ears are.

Trust me.
He's the cutest babe around :-)
And we've got about three more weeks to enjoy our little men.

Speaking of little men.
The one permanent little man child in our house walked to school today.
And I figured out why...

Sort of why anyway,

After it was announced that the bus was approaching
I watched him put his shoes on
then take them off
and put them on
and take them off
and put them on
all the while
dancing a frantic jig...
"where's my coat?"
"where's my backpack"
"where's my homework"

which, was all right there...

I would say anxiety took over and unraveled him,
wouldn't you?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

And Then There Are The Lighter Moments.....

Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted. 
 But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
Isaiah 53:4-5

We enjoyed a stroll in the rain and the fall colors yesterday. 
It was a challenge keeping Bri and her camera dry :-) 
So thankful for the rain!!!
THE smoke is GONE!!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

{ Summersaulting Over the Cliff }

One of those mornings.

Right from the get-go.

She's been having a tantrum and being defiant all morning. Everyone is gone to church. She is on the trampoline in hopes of finding some peace all by herself. It's the second time we've tried it this morning. It didn't work the first time.

I must record that she had a piece of pie last evening for Vanessa's birthday. It was one of those Costco pumpkin pies. And some of the ingredients are those which we normally avoid for her. Truthfully, the defiance was slowly building up the last few days. It was a matter of time that the explosion would come.

I felt like we needed to handle the morning one way. My husband strongly felt we needed to handle it the other. Basically, we've done some of both and I feel both ways were equally unsuccessful. It seems like there is no way out of the trap. Once you are in - you are in. No amount of effort to stop the race to the precipice in the days or hours preceding a jump over the cliff will staunch the compulsion to do so. Such a helpless place for a parent to be. Every ounce of energy is used up for naught.

These times are most discouraging after seeing progress and having the hopes raised.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Counting My Blessings

I have a lot to be thankful for. I hardly know where to start.

Last evening James sat down and did an entire page of addition facts - no sweat. He used beads for the problems he hadn't memorized, but he did know a lot of them. When I think of last year and how we had such a hard time motivating him and the fight he would put up if he had to write more than 3 numbers, I am amazed and grateful. He's figured out that all kids do math and the fact that he is behind them isn't discouraging him, but actually pushing him to try harder. He likes to do Xtra math on the computer every evening. He was cheering for himself when he got 6 smiley faces in a row. I congratulated him and told him I was excited for him. He said, "Well, my friend, Lane, gets a lot more smiley faces. I'm not very good, but I want to".

I was blown away. Was he actually communicating his thoughts ?? . . . that's BIG folks!!

James loves to read to me every evening. He reads well. Besides the little books he brings home from school and reading class with Mr. Morgan, I have him read to me from the Bible and he enjoys it. He has always enjoyed reading, though, so it is no surprise.

His writing is the challenge, but really, what 8 year old boy is into writing sentences? His dexterity and coordination has improved much, but it's still a challenge to write legibly.

When I think of trying to teach the twins and dealing with the behaviors of the past two years it's enough to make me start crying just thinking about it..... but when I contemplate the way things are going this year... the educational help, the IEP, the high structure that keeps their anxiety down, and the improvement Missy is experiencing with the CPAP... why, it's enough to make me start crying all over again, thankful tears.

At first I couldn't get enough of the peace of the school hours. I couldn't get enough of the solitude. I willed myself to meet the bus at three and the chaos that ensued. However, I'm finally feeling more rested and I don't mind greeting the twins. They are happy to see me {which is big} and they have a little routine down for the afternoon and I wouldn't call it chaos anymore. I'm actually getting a handle on the housework that has become overwhelming.

Missy continues to do great. She is handling life without a daily crisis. She is still manipulative, but when I call her on it she does not explode. She loves school. Every day is exiting. She doesn't seem to realize that the work is hard for her. I guess they give her enough support that she is moving along, but not swamped by it. Her progress is markedly different from James' but we celebrate each step.

The Duckling has been sleeping better that last few nights. I have only had to get up a few times a night recently. He is getting so cute - so big and fat. Buddy is not talking much at all, but he understands everything. I don't know when he's going to decide that screeching isn't the best form of communication. It's absolutely ear piercing. If you heard him you would understand why his seat is furthest from the driver's at the back of the 12 passenger... The family is doing so well. I take the kids to them for the visit early quite often. So long as grandma is around they can have the kids all they want. I am encouraging the mom to have the Duckling as much of the day as she can spare. They are preparing a place to live.... and have quite a few appointments per week still, and being dependent on Grandma's schedule narrows the window a little. He needs to build that attachment to her. There is no question about the Buddy's attachment to his family. He loves them with his whole heart. It's not possible to really know the baby's attachment, but I know he and I are a bonded little pair.... and I just can't help but worry just a little.

Choir started yesterday. Oh my!! We had a ton of kids. I can honestly say that 1 out of every 5 kids is not a naturally on-tune singer. Used to be I put the child learning to sing on tune beside a strong singer, and this year it isn't even possible. I had 4 to 5 non-singers standing beside each other in a row. And row number one had only two real singers in all. Considering, the sound was not too bad. I have my work cut out for me, but I know they can learn and they will.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

She's Stepping Out

Another smokey morning in our valley.  A super busy one, but I thought to share Brianna's exciting new opportunity...

She was asked to do her first family photo shoot.

SHE's pretty pleased,

and scared.

But she'll do great.


You know I'm not the one who shoots most of the pictures on this blog, right?!  We do it together sometimes, but mostly even when I snap the photo she's telling me how.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Apple Days

 Such a full weekend!

The girls had singing and speaking engagements for two days in a row.

These girls having been singing together since they were 

knee high to a grasshopper.

They have had so many experiences together.

Apple Days is a community event at the pioneer village

commemorating the establishment of this town.

They have been asked to sing for it every year...

And of course,

there's more to it than just singing their hearts out.

They love to share the message of God's love.

Such a blessing to be treasured

in TRUE 


Sunday, October 7, 2012

Tentatively Speaking

We've been cautious to jump to conclusions.

We didn't want our hoping to taint our observing,

But I tell you (with some hesitation) that so far the CPAP 

has made a difference.

YAY! for the child who has been happy for a whole week.

There has not been one occasion for her to lose her self control.


If it proves true, we'll be 

so absolutely blessed to find one more key to unlocking this child's potential.

Life is pretty structured at the moment, so that helps, as well.

She's out with the big sisters

on a fun outing.

More on that when the camera comes back :-)