Friday, November 29, 2013

The courage of Tanzania carries home

 Very Proud of Christina. Her teacher has loved her English papers and suggested that this one be submitted to the newspaper. It was accepted and this morning it was published.  Of course, an editor had to mess with a few words, which Christina did not like. :-)

Our family in TZ will enjoy this.

The courage of Tanzania carries home

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Our Thankful Tree

Small tokens of love
make it worth
all the 
Tears. Fears. Trials. Struggles. Prayers.

Best laid schemes of mice and men often go awry...

Our day did not go as planned.

There are broken water pipes causing all kinds of trouble outside. Steve has been knee deep in mud almost all day. Every time he gets close to the source of the problem the walls of sand and mud give way burying everything all over again.

Our day did not go as planned.

A certain little boy ran away from his dad in a fit of rage.
Steve was looking for him.... and had no idea the kid had run away, away....
He thought he might be hiding on him,
or being his stubborn self, but he had no idea James was away out on the highway.
A sheriff picked him up and locked him in the back of his ghost car.
It brought him to his senses. 
He actually gave the officer my phone number
and told the truth ~
That he'd been disobeying his parents and had run away.

Over and over we've been dropping to our knees in a circle and praying the last couple days.
It's been rough X's 2.

Thankfully the office gave the kiddo back to us.
Wouldn't let him out of the car until he promised to respect and obey his parents, though.

From there we took the twins to a friend's house for a few hours respite.
To give us all a little space
and a little peace.
They came home in time for Thanksgiving dinner and to help decorate
our Christmas tree.
They came in ready to resume fussing and pushing their agenda, but
I made it clear we would have NONE of it today.
They would be congenial and obedient or they could spend the day in their room.
They chose to go with the flow.

That was my thankful tag
and that this morning's crazy was not worse than it was.

Missy's Thankful tag.

Still praying for Steve working out in the cold and dark and muddy mess.

Happy Thanksgiving!

From our House to yours!!

Blessings to all of you.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Apple Pie

Brianna made this little 2 minute video of James making apple pie. He's enjoying playing the part of a movie star. The apples were actually frozen thru on the tree... and the crust is gluten free.

Bri is not really happy with the quality of her video camera, but it is what she has.... enjoy!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Know It When You See It

My little children are riddled with anger. There's so much anger in their hearts they ooze it. They can appear happy when all is going exactly as they want it to, but that is a thin veneer that dissipates in a flash when the slightest thing goes against their expectation. Their reactions are instant and devastating. These reactions are experienced a thousand or a million times a day and I know the kids have used passive aggressive behaviors all their life along with overt displays and they didn't come to live here until they were six, but as we have NOT allowed aggressive attacks and open aggressive behavior they have increased the passive stuff. The anger has not melted or gone away.... and so we have seen an increase in passive aggressive behaviors.

If someone ever tells you that providing a safe home and a loving family for a hurt and hopeless waif is enough to heal their hearts, don't believe them.  Until they personally give their pain and sorrow and anger to God and embrace forgiveness and love it will simmer and grow and change forms, but it will be there. These kiddos don't even have the language to express themselves appropriately.... Missy will rant a two word line for hours, "I hate, I hate, I hate...."  She doesn't even know what it is she hates and she directs it at whoever she can hurt most easily. Of course we can't allow them to hurt people  and the passive aggressive stuff grows and grows...

Still, this passive aggressive behavior must be addressed. Though the behavior is deliberate, these kiddos don't always actually know why they are doing the crazy things they do. It must be named. They don't get it. It must be exposed. And they don't know how to stop it. Strong feelings are not always identifiable but they rule the roost, so of course it has to be addressed because it is destructive to themselves.

Addressing the root of their anger? THAT is actual spiritual warfare.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Twibling Rivalry

The temperatures are dipping a little lower each night. It was 19 degrees F at the lowest this morning. It certainly does something bring on the holiday feeling. Just having everyone home and under our roof makes it feel like the holiday season has begun!!  Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Vanessa and Christina are so ready for a break from school so let the season for musicians begin!

I've really tried to get our Journey thru Random Acts of Kindness off the ground, but we've been crazy busy and sick. I can't seem to kick it and I'm feeling worse instead of better.  However, James and I managed to deliver our Christmas Shoeboxes on Tuesday. I wish Missy could have had more part in it, but that didn't happen.

The twins had a few good days in a row which I appreciate. Both the anticipation and the arrival of Brianna carried them through, but this morning it all fell apart. There was weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth over normal, everyday expectations. The competition between the two makes me want to weep.  They've been thru so much together you would think they would love and need one another, but instead they look to tear each other down to somehow get the upper hand. I hate sibling rivalry. My tolerance for it is extremely low. Keeping them apart and minimizing opportunities for interaction has not helped in a lasting way and so I am about to implement a whole new tactic. Don't ask too many questions. I haven't figured out what that means yet. I just know that we're going to do the opposite of keeping them apart. I'm going to make them read to each other, teach each other their spelling lists, make each others' bed, have them pick out the biggest and the best and take it to their twin, clean each others' messes, put toothpaste on the others' toothbrush (their favorite place to fight is in the bathroom over toothpaste!) ... hey, they might even have to brush each others' teeth. Yeah. Fun and good time are coming up.   Hopefully everyone survives.

If you have some awesome ideas for teaching them to serve each other, I'm all ears.

I keep thinking of this internet photo....

But I'd be worried about the physical damage that could be inflicted if they were made to be this close together.

Our neighbors with the 8 kids were 3 days from moving into their newly built custom home when tragedy struck. Some rags with stain and chemicals somehow started a fire. A fire-fighter neighbor noticed smoke pouring out a window... He figures the temperatures in the house was about 350 degrees. Everything plastic melted including water pipes. Everything else was smoke or water damaged. So sad. Only some granite counter tops were saved. They won't get to move in until March, now.

PS.Twibling Rivalry Update:

Found out I'm not the only mother with these troubles. Posting a  link here.
So, my kids don't actually call each other names. They call me names. Their aggression is generally passive aggressive in nature. James will kick Missy or elbow her on the sly as he walks by. She will respond with a scream and yell his name so that everyone will know she has been WRONGED. One will be standing by the sink to rinse their lunch plate and "innocently" BLOCK the other child access to the trash can and a fight will break out. They jockey for first position at all times and for who gets in the bathroom first and who gets the coveted car seat (both car seats are both exactly alike and there are 10 possible places to situate them). Pushing and shoving or taking things is all done without a word from James. Missy is loud and retaliatory, but she isn't always the victim - as much as she would like us to believe it.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

I'm Still Here

We are all fighting sickness. Miserable bad colds.
I've been bored with my blog, but we've been busy. I found a pinterest solution for my kitchen window.  Bought a roll of garden cover burlap from Lowes and turned it into curtains for both windows. Christina made the vases by paper-bagging old jars and then she brought in a piece of barn board from behind our barn and it covers the unfinished window sill quite nice!! I like it. I Know, I know.... but really truly the orange is a different tone on the walls than in the picture. I like my orange walls!

Then I went searching for a Christmas materials to build a wreath for the front door. I love fall....
Anyway, this collection should turn into a wreath soon...
Maybe when Brianna gets here. She comes home TODAY!!!

Missy came home with a spelling award yesterday. 
You can know we awarded the award!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

IEP Day for Missy

{IEP meetings are meetings at the school to discuss a child's  
Individual Educational Plan - for those who are not aware.}

There's no earth shattering news or revelations or fancy new plans....  I believe everybody is doing the best they can. Everyone is frustrated at their limited amount of time with the kiddo and the slow progress being made for lack of time. Her needs are overwhelming. Splintering was the word that came up over and over. Everyone is working on their sliver and no one gets the whole picture. People had hoped for more goals met this time around but had to be satisfied with reality. The poor kid has a lot to cope with.

I was late. I almost didn't get there and when I did I struggled to focus. My eyeballs were so dry and a grey fog enveloped my brain. The florescent lights made me half blind and I stifled yawns as I yearned to crawl under the table and go to sleep. I was interested but I fought with my body to be fully present and to assimilate all the information being presented. I pretended to follow along on the printed pages they handed me.  I couldn't read it for anything. The writing was too small and the letters were all jumping around. What's with that, anyway?!

One thing stood out and it stood only only because I have felt sort of criticized by a certain group of people with kiddos like mine who have voiced that I am expecting way too much from the twins.  Apparently our morning routine is way beyond what most families expect of their children.  . . I had no idea. I thought all kids had to get out of bed and get dressed and pull the blankets up and throw their laundry in the basket. Combing hair and brushing teeth are not optional, are they? I suppose feeding the dog, or taking water to the chickens before breakfast might be out of the ordinary?  Our struggle to get out the door to catch the bus has diminished incredibly with our checklist... but before we solved that problem we tried a lot of things to make things run smooth. One thing we noticed is that it matters not how much time you give the children they will USE ALL OF IT and be pressed to be out the door in time. It was kind of funny today to hear all teachers today expressing that same reality. If they give the child 5 minutes to get her pencil out and get started on a lesson she uses every second of that 5 minutes flipping through her desk to get her pencil out. If they give her ten it takes ten minutes... There is no sense of the passage of time. It wouldn't matter if she's given a half hour or two minutes it's all the same.  So, does that mean you lower the bar? Convince me.

We've had calm the last few days.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Spoke Too Soon

My van is no longer teetering on the far edge of the garden....

YES, in the efforts to get it out it managed to walk it's way through every row on that end of the garden.

Thanks to Brian, Jon, Jonah, and Sam and their tractor -
I was able to load it up with my Five Hundred Kids... 
(that's what I jokingly call this tribe)
and take the beast to the car wash.

I found this when I got it the driver's seat:

Missy blew up big time today. Vanessa and I had to call for Christina's help when we tried to contain her and I ended up down with her on top of me. We busted up laughing because I could not break free and Vanessa could not pull her off and she's all of 60lbs. Meanwhile the kid was kicking her hardest and screaming like we were attacking her. In all seriousness Vanessa said, " I think we better take a course in self-defense".  I'm thinking it's not a bad idea. Somehow we have know how to handle a sudden raging body without getting hurt or hurting her. We ended up putting her in the shower and turning it on and eventually having her lie in the warm bath  half clothed and I would not let her out until she was completely calmed. I swished the water up over her chest and talked to her and would not let her spew hateful words. Pretty soon she got too hot and I let her stand up to cool off in a cold shower. Then down again until she was relaxed and rational and read to get dressed in dry clothes for horse back riding. When she got home she wanted to go straight to bed.

Update and RAK #2

This is the last day of a week of respite for the three girls. One of them turns 7 today. We already did cake and candles and a gift. These kiddos are so beautiful and precious but way deep down inside they are somber and sad. Not the little one so much, but the middle child definitely and she picks at people for attention. It's like they are resigned to their fate whatever that may be. They had a visit with their daddy yesterday and that was a very happy occasion!! Their future is so unknown, or at least,  I have no idea what their future holds.

Saturday evening we all piled in the van and went and RAKed someone... er that would be raked their lawn with  big spotlights in the drizzling rain. It was fun and we totally surprised them. They drove up as we were getting near done. We filled our trailer to the very top. That was a LOT of leaves and it didn't take us all that long. The rest of the story is that as we pulled our trailer up to our garden to dump the leaves our van slipped off the road and into the muddy garden and two days later there it sits. We've tried everything. Steve was covered from head to toe in mud last night. Even his hair was full of mud. We guess we have to call a tow truck. It's going to be tricky. I just don't want my van ruined.

I've been holding Missy a lot. She's letting me but it's not helping.  Ha! Okay, it's only been a week, we'll keep trying.  I have been slow to get started on the new therapy exercises. It takes so much organization and energy. For some reason I seem to lack energy these days. She hasn't been screaming very much this week and someone is going to say, "See, it is helping!!" Right. She rides the waves and she's on a decent roll at the moment. One cannot tell how long it will last.  She is okay so long as nobody asks her to do anything right now, which, that's not okay or even possible to avoid. She's missed her class at church for the 3rd Sabbath in a row. I've also kept her in the mother's room with me and the baby. She doesn't like it, but I can't trust her out of my sight and Steve and the girls have all they can handle in the pew with Buddy and the little girls and James. The twins had half days (not even half) of school for the entire week and today is a holiday. We're all ready for normal again.  Christina and Vanessa are enjoying a break from school though.

Last post I forgot to mention that Missy's other positive at school is her perfect handwriting. No one can figure out how she does it since she does not use her hands to hold a pencil properly. She does not use her fingertips for anything, actually. She does not even try to feel things with her fingertips. She rolls things around in the palm of her hand and thus can't tell you what she is holding if you blindfold her and hand her object to discover.  It's one of those weird brain disconnects... One of the things we are working towards connecting in therapy.

Brianna gets home in 8 days. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


  • Sunday saw a very mentally unstable child screaming and raging for 8 hours straight. She made herself sick to the point of projectile vomiting.

  • I have wonderful teenagers who took their turns with Missy and gave me a break.

  • James and I started a journey in Random Acts of Kindness.... I'll try to include Missy as she is able. So far we have packed two Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes. One for a boy James' age and one for a girl Missy's age.

  • Monday was a LONG day in the big city over the Pass for our NR appointment. James has made tremendous gains... there's miles more to go. We are dropping two patterns from our routine and adding two new ones, plus adding an exercise to his creeping and crawling.  They are trying to address his anxiety and left brain issues that are actually visible on his right side.

  • Missy made a few tiny steps in the right direction. It is felt that she is keeping herself from being able to make progress with the rages and all that.... keeping herself in a state of high stress and possibly actually retraumatizing herself. Not sure the underlying cause but there are suspicions. We have some new ideas to pursue. Much of the old patterns and plan was thrown out the window in favor of a totally new plan.  I was cringing the whole time we were being shown and taught the new exercises. There's a whole lot of lap time and hugs and very labor intensive exercises. She doesn't like me a whole lot right now.... there will be a lot to fight. Also, I'm not exactly excited about that. I know it is needed and I am willing, but it's going to be hard to follow through when she's having a hard day. I'm not going to feel like doing any of it then. The whole appointment took 3 hours. It was intense and emotional... florescent lights make my head swim... I had a migraine almost instantly.

  • We arrived home back over the pass just in time for me to go to our English as a Second Language School to do crafts with 30 kids.
  • Tuesday I got up with the worst kind of migraine. It was bad enough to try something out of the ordinary. BUT in my fog I made a mistake and took two... HUGE mistake. Paid for that!

  • That was also  parent/teacher conference day. It actually means half days for the whole week. The kids are home by 11:15 AM !!! James conference was exciting. He has made so much progress that he's surprising a lot of people. It is projected  that by the end of the school year he will be working at grade level in all areas. His IEP goals are all being mastered and he's putting forth more than required effort in his work. I couldn't be more proud. He has an AMAZING teacher. I know I keep saying that, but it is the truth. She treats him like gold.

  • Missy's IEP shows Insufficient progress in nearly every category except math and reading. In those two areas she is moving up. She is at a grade 1.2 in reading so far. I like her teacher. Very nice lady... obviously a Christian woman who was telling me that the Lord would give us wisdom and strength and insight in dealing with Missy. I heard some interesting stories of Missy plugging her ears and closing her eyes to block out teachers she didn't feel like listening to, and I heard about her digging her heels in and giving people a hard time. . . but still they have not seen her tantrum or rage. 

  • That evening I picked up "our three girls" once again. They are here for a week. Actually, they sort of camp out here at night. They are at school/ daycare for up to 12 hours a day. Unreal. I was back in the car early this morning driving them to each their own school/daycare.

  • Today I was in charge of crafts for the homeschool group. We made sheep. Then it was choir time.... I have fewer kids this year. Older ones have moved on. I have a group of 5 -13 year olds and two teenagers. Ellie and Enjoli have become my right-hands - or apprentices, or whatever you want to call them. I am having them direct each certain songs and play the piano on others. I have a couple of boys playing piano as well. Then I have a group of girls playing chime bars and a few little soloists that I'm working with. Believe me in that hour and 15 minutes each week we WORK HARD! 

  • I left choir to start picking up kids... took me nearly 2 hours to round everybody up. As soon as I arrived home I had to dump them on Vanessa and Christina and head to the Buddy's house to babysit until 9. 

  • So anyway.... if anybody was wondering why I have been writing "so much" these days feel free to make an assumption or two based on my description of the past few days. 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Watching the Wind

Brianna and I made a pact to write daily for the month of November. It's National Novel Writing Month or something of that nature and the challenge is to write 50,000 words in 30 days. Well, we aren't novel writers and never will be. Surely I have enough drama in my life I don't need to make it up! The 50 thousand words we cut to 25 thousand and the way it's going already it will be a lot less because wordiness does not necessarily make for good reading.... but the point for us is to write. That doesn't mean we'll publish everything, either.

I'm really, really tired of writing about the ups and downs with the Missy. She is who she is and  I don't see that changing a lot baring a miracle in the next year or five.... Always we must keep courage. Always we must be consistent to the extent that we must always be changing it up. I plan to keep posting updates because it helps me sort things out, but maybe less often as long as you all will keep praying for us!

I would like to try my hand at writing out the object lessons the Lord places before me in my day to day life. I know that they are placed there for my edification but I don't always give them as much thought as they are worth. Their significance would have a greater effect if I would take them time to acknowledge and understand them. This kind of writing is a bit of a stretch - a huge stretch actually,  for me and it may take more time than I would like. With that, here's to 30 days noticing God's messages to me in the day-to-day things of my life.


Watching the Wind

The words faded in and out of my attention as I scrubbed another dish. Audio verse is a wonderful invention, but often I lose the train of thought as I focus on the task at hand.  Suddenly the words had me.... clouds, rain, planting, wind, seeds...  Trays of dirt and tiny plants, bags of soil, cuttings waiting to be planted littered my floor. These words were something I could relate to in the here and now.

"Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap. . . Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let not your hands be idle."  Ecclesiastes 11:4

I remembered when I first started growing tomatoes for marketing. Growing tomatoes had been pretty easy in our family garden and we always had an over abundance and so it was natural to select tomatoes as our experiment cash crop. I considered a successful market gardener down the road and my mom and I set out to visit him and garner from his wisdom. He was all too happy to share. We learned of his gardening techniques and the optimal dates for planting the seeds and setting the plants in the ground. He talked of varieties and tomato size. He spoke of the market and how restaurants appreciated his beautiful and large tomatoes. He was fairly successful though it was clear it was more of hobby then a business for him.

One thing puzzled me, though, he had a strong aversion to planting tomatoes in the rain. He emphasized that tomato leaves must not get wet or they would succumb to disease. He told how in the last growing season he lost all but a dozen plants out of 75 or so. It had been a wet and cold spring and he could never get his tomatoes planted in the field. . . I had never considered the rain or my tomato plants getting wet and had planted totally expecting my plants to appreciate the rain and soak it up. I hadn't lost a single plant so what was this all about?

It was another COLD and RAINY spring. We followed the dates my neighbor shared regardless of the dampness and it took awhile, but we had lovely tomatoes in abundance and I had people asking how we had ripe tomatoes before most gardeners when the weather was not cooperating. I didn't know. The blessing of the Lord and the way the sun hits our little hollow and heats the place up?

I drove slowly past the neighbor's garden hoping to see his plants thriving, but there weren't any. Off the side of his house was a window built out like a greenhouse. There were dozens of plants in there, tall and spindly, turning brown. The forecast kept predicting rain and he could never plant them. The next year I saw his plants again wither away in the window box. And then the next year it appeared that he didn't plant the seeds at all. When I brought him tomatoes from my garden there was mutterings about how uncooperative the weather had been...

Perhaps old age was having its way with the farmer and he became fixated on watching the wind and the clouds and the conditions were never right. I don't know why else a successful gardener would suddenly not have a crop when the novice just down the road was breaking her back picking fruit.

I actually thought of several lessons from this experience, but the one that comes closest to home...  it has to do with Missy, of course (even when I don't want to go there I go there!). It's easy to have hope and courage  and to want work hard to help the twin who shows promise and a workable spirit. It's so not easy to keep courageously working on in the face of daily - no,  hourly failure to reach her heart. If I'm "watching the wind and the clouds" there's not a whole of lot of indication that planting and heartfelt pruning and tender caring for the garden patch of her heart will produce a harvest ... No indication whatsoever.. but that's not actually ours to determine. So, I'm here to remind myself to keep planting seed and cultivating and praying for a harvest regardless of the rain. (I'm trying desperately not to give up in despair over this child -Just being honest.)

  "He that observeth the wind shall not sow, and he that regardeth the clouds shall not reap. To every man He has given his work, and we are not to conjecture as to whether or not our earnest endeavors will prove successful. All that we as individuals are responsible for is the unwearied, conscientious discharge of duty that someone must do; if we fail to do that which is placed in our way, we cannot be excused of God. But having done the best we can, then we are to leave the results with God. But it is required of us that we exercise more mental and spiritual power. It is your duty and has been your duty every day of the life God has graciously granted you, to pull at the oars of duty, for you are a responsible agent of God." Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, pg 183, April 30, 1894