Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Principal's Office

lol. Okay. This CHILD of MINE!! 
 I got a phone call from the principal today. 
Missy had been in his office. 
She had been sent there by her teacher with a report on her academic endeavors. 

It was GOOD.

All good - surprisingly, actually, but we had been noticing better work from her lately. 
They said she was putting effort into reading and math. 
This school loves to turn things around on the parents and 
call the students in to the principal's office for being awesome. 
Several months ago I got the call on James and I bought him a box of granola bars all his own, 
so I was grateful to just so happen to have a box of those same bars in hiding for this occasion. 
She decided to share one with dad, 
 but James wasn't so lucky, 
nor was Pieter. 
Begging didn't move her in the least. 
Oh, well. They'll have to earn their own somehow. 
Here's the crack up: She thought she could sit down 
and eat however many she wanted in a row after supper. 
Good thing we caught her on the second bar!
Wouldn't have surprised me if she had eaten all 6 bars in one sitting AFTER eating her supper, but her mom is sooooo mean. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Reboot Day #1

Yesterday Wanda said she was about to start a reboot and I jumped right in and joined her.

Today was day one.

I am doing the 15 day plan. It starts off slow with salads and roasted yams along with the juice. Going straight to a juice fast is really rough the first couple days. I think this is going to be easier.

The juice is good!!  I enjoy it very much. I don't exactly like making it because it takes so much time and I spend enough time in the kitchen feeding this gang, but here goes. I've done reboot before and I felt great.

(If you don't know what reboot is watch Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead, then go to

Christina passed her driver's test today. She and Kendall spent most of the afternoon training for their Lifeguard certificate. Christina then went on to Nikki's to begin training for her triathlon. The kid is on spring break.... 'How many things can you cram into one day' seems to be the name of the game. She and Vanessa have tickets to the Youth Symphony tonight. I think I'll just go to bed. I get tired watching. At least I won't have to drive her around to everything anymore. :-)

Vanessa is much more domestic. She's digging up the front flower bed. She thinks it needs a total makeover. She also helped me plant lettuce and greens yesterday. She's happy to join me drinking my fresh juice concoctions and then she does a little cooking and a little reading for fun.

We had an unusually calm morning with the twins today. It was a treat. They were out early for the bus. Even rinsed their dishes before going out.

Their horse back riding lessons started back up last week. Today they were able to go for a trail ride.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Yet Another Story....

I can usually come up with something to say even when there's nothing...  Been sitting here with a blank page for like 10 minutes. That's just not like me.  I think I'm bored silly of my own stories. Let's see....

Court happened. The case has gone backwards ten steps.  No real surprises there. Social worker came by and visited and he pretty much said these kids are in care for a long time, so he knew the kids would have to be moved sometime in June. I suggested he start looking for an appropriate home sooner and then we can transition the children gradually and carefully. I hate to move them, but the case did not go as the SW thought it would and I already have commitments for the summer. He thanked me for the suggestion and said he'd get to work on it Monday.

The kiddos are doing well in our home, but there are struggles related to the twins. Although I never ever let the kids act out inside our home -they are immediately taken outside so that the little kids don't see, we simply cannot protect them from all of it. When things are good, it's great. When things go South it's very difficult. Some of the good is that James has learned to play with little kids appropriately.  He can now entertain them instead of freaking out over them touching his things or just getting near him. Missy has learned a lot about child care and she's quite motherly (to the point I have to remind her that I'm the mom).

Yesterday getting ready for church, Missy was crabby. She stomped purposefully and hard on Christina's bare toes (in sandals) on her way into the van. We pulled her back and had her wait for everyone else to load up. When she got in she slapped James for sitting in her favorite spot. Poor guy can't win for losing. There's twelve seats to choose from and he picked wrong! sigh. We decided if she could not be appropriate in the van she would forgo the ride. I walked with her instead. She screamed and hollered most of the way while I sang our new little theme song over and over and over. She was bent on destroying her pretty shoes. I told her we would have to return home if she was going to keep trying to wreck them so we could get her hiking shoes. She stopped, but a few blocks from the church she started doing it again. I reminded her clearly what I had said, and she even repeated after me so that I knew there was no question. I asked what she planned to do and she gave all the right answers.  As soon as I turned she did it again. I looked back at her and asked, "Were you just checking to see if you can trust my word? I do mean what I say. "

Turning around was difficult. We had walked more than 2 miles. We were almost there. She was furious with me. "Unfair, unfair!!!" Maybe. But she was testing and knew what she was gambling with. We were in the cemetery. She screamed and threw herself on the ground and threw pine cones at me and even ventured to slap me once. I just walked  but I said she was absolutely NOT to touch me. After that she acted like the stones and pine cones were meant for me as she screamed her hatred, but she threw them beside me rather than at me and so I ignored them.  Basically she screamed non-stop for those 2 miles home where she changed her filthy clothes and shoes and we turned around and walked back to church. She was done with yelling and screaming, though, it might have helped that I took her a different route through the orchards and I told her we needed to be quiet and watch for dogs. We nearly ran smack into one dog with a strong looking jaw and a furious bark. Thankfully his owner called him back before he ate us up, though. The next dog was a puppy and we were in no danger, but we had a hard time shaking him off.  It was noon when we arrived and she was much calmer, but still very willful. 

I'm sure most of you would think this was an extremely hard and stressful event. Truthfully I felt nothing. You repeat this sort of thing day after day for 4 years and you get kind of dull. I sang, I chatted with Brianna in Africa on my WhatsApp,  I also tried to make light conversation and redirect Missy's thinking.  For a brief moment I got a little teary as I thought of what she could be. I prayed silently. I thought a lot about what this would look like in a few years...  If she  becomes more aggressive I wonder what will become of her. There's only so much we can do. Only God can work the miracle needed on her heart and mind. We're doing all we humanly can.

We went for a walk as a family later and found this little sleepy guy:

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

How Goes the Battle?

James is conquering the piano.  :-) Whoohoo. He'll get his bike back by Friday.

Missy is actively looking for a battle and every situation is a potential battleground in her mind. The rest of us are dancing on landmines . . . We're not adept at the sidstep. We've caused a few explosions, but if we are going to live, we may as well dance even if there is war.

Tomorrow is court. Nothing is going to happen. There's going to be a very disappointed mommy, because I am pretty sure she thoroughly believes she has a great chance at getting her children back that day. I tried to explain it otherwise. . .

Vanessa has finished one final for the quarter and she did great. She has one today and one tomorrow. Christina has one final in all! Spring break, here we come.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

More Than Hard

and we haven't even gotten to piano yet.

BOTH kids.

Sticks and stones would hurt my bones...  (good thing their aim is poor! )

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Expecting Hard

I keep expecting her to go to pieces and she hasn't.

She got up after a couple of calls from me and went about her day with an unusual sweetness and swiftness. She was 20 minutes early for the bus and trotted down the road with a "Goodbye mom. Have a good day!"

The idea that she was hiding something flit through my head. I rejected it easily, but I had a harder time pushing aside the idea that she might want something. How awful is that? I remarked to all who would hear that she was incredibly good and I didn't even know how to enjoy it.

Today Missy had scripture reading in church. She was nervous. James was suppose to do it with her.... that's another story. She thought she was doing it for the superintendent remarks and was okay with that. Doing it for the 11 o'clock hour when the church was full freaked her out. She whispered her agreement to go through with it if ONLY Christina would stand beside her. And she did.

There are some signs of maturity. There's also sign of pride . . . balancing encouragement and rebuking the arrogance - a total walk on a tight rope.

I am expecting a hard week. James is balking progress hard. His report card shows it. His times tables show it. His music practice shows it. His homework shows it. His speaking up loud enough for others to hear him read shows it. If anyone dare ask him to raise the bar a wee bit he becomes passive aggressive to the nth degree. Music practice has become a fearful struggle for the both of us. Missy is doing hers happily, while he fights the whole process. It's quite hard for a teacher to help a kid who fakes he doesn't know anything. He's back to the beginning of the book he's had for two years... AND so, he's lost the use of his bicycle for a week or so, but he also lost his lessons with the teacher until he can show me he can play a good part of his book and point to any note and tell me what it is. I am a piano teacher, too. I don't think he knew that. He's about to find out I'm not fooled as easily. It's going to be rough. I expect it to be hard for both of us. If it were just piano I would give it up, but it isn't about piano. It's totally about character and it affects every area of his life.  He's losing to inclination. I'd like to teach him about victory over distorted thinking though I am asking a near impossible thing. We need to be armored up and supported by the Words of God. He needs to know where the power comes from. He needs a miracle or two in his own head to show him it's possible. God's grace is sufficient. His strength is made perfect in our weakness...

Pray for us. We're headed for a mini time of trouble. :-)

* Update: Practice two since we made the pact went well!! I can hardly believe it. After Sabbath but before supper we got busy. I showed him exactly what was expected of him. He was tempted twice to go down the old road, but pulled through. We are ten songs into the book since we started the review yesterday. We are going to do this! If we can have half the practices with as good an attitude as this I'll be thrilled~

Monday, March 10, 2014

Winter Break Comes to a Conclusion

Wednesday we hiked the 10 miles and the twins did great.

Thursday skiing was canceled so Steve took them and Buddy's siblings skating. Steve plays crazy hard when he plays. He's excellent on skates - as Canadian kids growing up on hockey usually are. He didn't know he could rent hockey skates though, and ended up with figure skates. He hooked the little spikes into the ice a few times and fell FLAT on his chest cracking who knows how many ribs. Doesn't stop him any, but he definitely feels it.

Friday we took the twins and Buddy's older siblings skiing. They stay mostly on the bunny hill and they had a two hour lesson so Steve and I were scott free to ski all over the mountain. We skied hard and took some really challenging runs. I ski best following him. If I'm on my own I'm uncertain and can't find my way so easily. We took the kids on the green run and Missy is doing awesome! Greg, too. James would tell you he is an absolute stunt man on the mountain, but truth is he's FREAKING out most of the time and stiff as a board and barely crawling along.  When he finally gets to the bottom he tells everyone how wonderful he is and how he's super fast. Steve was trying to help him understand that boasting like that is not speaking truth and that boasting isn't nice to listen to, that it is better to just keep the mouth shut. It makes no impression whatsoever.

The twins were doing great as far as cooperation and behavior all those days. Sabbath they woke up completely the opposite. I was at Buddy's house down the road staying with four kids as their mom had gone to a weekend retreat, and Steve was home with our tribe. When I arrived home with the four ready for church I walked into the house and saw how it was. Everyone had this flat expression and were just hanging in there, but the time pressure was making things tense.  I told the girls and Steve to grab the babies and the four still strapped in their seats and go to church and leave me with the twins.

The twins were in separate rooms getting ready or not, depending on their mindset. I waited. I kept them apart and waited for things to change. I didn't have to say much. They knew. Usually we would be at church by 9:15 or so, we three arrived at 11;15. Steve placed chairs just outside the sanctuary where the sliding door opens and had them where they could see and hear, but not be seen or cause a scene. As soon as it was over I took them and the babies home and fed them peanut butter sandwiches while the rest of the gang went to potluck with our prepared food. James pulled himself out of his mood and he was great. Missy gallantly pressed forward in rebellion.  I could not even have her at the table with the other kids. Steve came home and took her hiking in the rain over the mountain the rest of the day.  She came home completely changed and back to her rightful mind. She apologized and promised to help me with household chores the next day.

Sunday was sunny and warm and 60 degrees. All 8 kids played outside all day. They were beat tired at the end of it.  BUT we had no trouble with Missy.
Boys are dangerous!

James said he wanted someone to make an apple pie. I said if he wanted a pie he'd have to make it. I was not up to it. Good thing I had a ready-made pie crust for him....  He was proud of it.

Pieter is angry. Deep down bottled up anger is showing up in artwork. You know the kind you'd rather not see.... poop smearing. Sigh. Bathroom and bedroom walls. There's been a ton of drama regarding his family. His mother was MIA at the last visit which absolutely crushed this kid. Steve and I were kneeling around his bed as we tucked him in and I brought up the visit... No kid should have to wonder why his mom didn't care to see him. He was devastated. People went in search of her and her family gave us a  story didn't match the facts. She was to have unsupervised visits starting today and she just called me. She wonders why her visit was totally canceled today.  She gave me a different story as to where she was and why she missed the visit. I told her what it did to her boy. I spared her nothing and I don't know if that's good or not. I also told her that I didn't know why the visit was canceled... but that her missed visit could hurt her case. She was full of excuses but I could hear the fear in her voice. I'm sorry for her. I really am, but she has to stop and put her kids first. BUT that's me talking- the one who doesn't know what it is to be trapped in addiction.  Children's Services will be scheduling some sort of therapy or counseling for Pieter. Truth is  -he's gonna be angry until his mom quits hurting him, or he finds stability elsewhere.

Pieter has a giant bruise on his leg. We don't know where he got it. We only knew that it grew bigger by the day. There was talk of blo*d clotting* issues. I'm asking for a medical report. I need to understand what is going on. I might have figured out that he is getting bruised with his trike. It tips and the handle bars twists into his leg. The bruising is clearing up. There was a random email from the dad's lawyer asking for a furlough from jail* so he could attend the appointment for him regarding the bruise. I don't know what appointment that is. Neither does the social worker and so he decided to ignore the plea for a furlough.  I thought that maybe the appointment was today during the visit since mom was going to have unsupervised visit, but she didn't know about the appointment either and there's no visit...

Some of the kids Saturday night....
Daylight savings time! Ack.  Whose idea was it anyway??!

found these two almost two year olds  in my closet wearing our ski helmets...
In two weeks the kids will be off school for spring break. Don't ask. It makes no sense at all.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Winter Break

has begun.

The first day passed by pleasantly. The twins are calm and congenial. I don't know why. They worked with me to clean the house this morning. I named them Jack and Jill and we set the timer for 10 minutes at a time to see how much we could get done and to break it up.  Later we went for a good long hike {more than 10 miles) and they were great. They nearly talked my ear off which is more exhausting to me then hiking ten miles. We ditched our coats and enjoyed the warm temperatures in the sun. Eventually the clouds took over the sky and we ended the long tramp in rain, but still it was warm enough. James noted that he didn't freak out about the rain - which is totally unlike him. I noted he was still hyper-vigilant over how many raindrops were falling per square inch per nano second. He can't help it. He's wired for anxiety.

We came across wet sleeping bags and trash belonging to homeless people . . . I took time to explain how homeless people come to be homeless. The kids listened. Later Missy recounted to Vanessa her version of a tale of a homeless person that only included aspects that she could grasp. Her version had him not really doing well in school and having trouble keeping a job because he didn't really feel like putting forth too much effort. We had a good chuckle as it was a rather narrow view. In the end she said it was possible he used alcohol but I don't think she even knows what alcohol is.

There were geese and ducks and marmots and other wildlife enjoying the day out on the river... We saw trees that were chewed by beavers, and earthworms trying to cross the road. For a few seconds I had flashbacks of the nature hunts we used to go on while homeschooling the girls. All visions of replicating past excursions and the science lessons we once enjoyed evaporated when I tried to point out a marmot sunning himself on a rock. The kiddos were like, "Yup! I see it. It's really cute!" etc... Problem was no matter how hard I tried  they never looked in the direction I was pointing. They never saw it. They only say what they think I want to hear. They don't get it, nor are they much interested. I keep trying.

They expect to go skiing tomorrow.... but the Ridge is closed due to pouring rain. :-(  We're trying to come up with a replacement activity. Buddy's mom leaves tomorrow for 5 days.  Her tribe is staying with us. I'm serious about having physical activities planned that don't include racing around the house playing hide and seek.

I think I am a bit affected. Maybe a little PTSD ? I'm on edge waiting for the other shoe to drop.... and then its fine. We couldn't have asked for a better day.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

19 Years Ago Today...

someone was in a great big hurry to embrace life and living. No one was quite prepared for her entrance. . .

Not her dad, who was fiddling with the camera, intent on capturing the event and nearly missed it altogether.

Not the midwife, who couldn't make the snowy 30 minute drive in less than 15 { and was so annoyed that she'd missed the birth she said not to bother calling her next time}.

Not the neighbor lady who brought us a bag of ice chips to ease the labor... only to hear a squalling newborn already proclaiming her entrance.

Not her mother who was just starting to psych herself up for an hour of laboring, (at least)... 

Not her grandmother who had booked a flight from Zambia especially for this moment a week early only to find she was three days late.

Ah, yes. She's an unstoppable go-getter even today. She's never bored. Never lonely. Never wandering aimless. She lives each moment to the fullest. No one crams as many things into the day as she does. There's no one who is more conscious of wasted moments, (or wasted anything - money, time, food, or other resources) than this girl.  She runs, hikes, and bikes to her limit. She snaps pictures, makes music, seeks adventure and shares everything with everyone. She has a heart for the ones with the greatest needs.   She loves the Lord and trusts Him with her life and its a good thing ~ Her zest for life gets her in a few  dangerous situations. . . .

We sure miss her around here!!!!

Happy Birthday, Brianna!