Monday, December 28, 2015

According to the Measure

 But every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Ephesians 4:7

She is all the way across the country with the GYC Pre-conference Outreach Mission and selling books door to door in Kentucky. I cannot say I am not a bit nervous about having not just one, but two of my daughters walking down different dark, wet streets by themselves in a strange city so far from home. Of course I pray for and trust in God's protection, but I am also eager for each and every text notification lighting up my phone to let me know that all is going well.

A smile spread across my heart as I grasped the significance of that latest text message:  

"I feel bad for some of my team-mates. 
It's not going as well for them. 
Some of us have it unfairly easy!" 

Oh really now!  Is this the same daughter texting that just a half a week ago had come to me in tears because she seemed to be exceedingly deficient in certain endowments that so evidently flourish in her friends? She had been at the point of questioning if she even had any very useful talents that would mean anything in the cause of God. To be fair, it had been an overwhelming couple of weeks. The days just before Christmas are always very, very full of opportunities for musical concerts to bless people and she had played her violin and sang and stepped in as a minute man, planned the Christmas service for the church, organized practices with young people and small kids and even written the script. She had work to do for GYC registration and some calls to make for a friend. Old people were depending on her to help them get their Christmas tree put up, while little kids needed her to help them with their crafts. She was starting to drop the ball here and there on some of the details. Logistics are clearly not her forte and she felt disorganized and unable to meet people's expectations and that's when she realized maybe she was trying to do too many things and some of those she really was not cut out to do. She has fantastic friends who can organize an army, plan a conference,  run businesses, feed the world and still harmonize their bedroom closets by the Lean Principles touted by Toyota. That's just not her, however, and she was beginning to only see what she can't do well instead of what she can do with grace.

Humanity is like that. We are all like that. We  compare ourselves among ourselves and we lose sight of the God-given gifts bestowed upon us.  The Bible says we are not being wise when we do that, of course. Right then, though, what she needed was a hug and someone to point out that not everyone was suppose to be created with the same gifts and talents and she clearly was not meant to be an organizer general.  This world would certainly fall apart without those kind of people, for we most definitely need planners, organizers, coordinators and facilitators, but definitely she was not designed to be all of that.

"But I don't know if I can remember what I can do!" She lamented.

"You are a people person; a connector. Why, you could sell a carrot to a farmer with ten rows of carrots in his patch. Not because he needs it, and not because you have a great sales pitch, but because you connect and people respond to that connection. They feel loved and they are drawn to reciprocate . Think about some of the people in the community you have connected with recently."

"Oh my! I think I want to go visit that old lady I met at the Christmas concert that was one of 9 in the family that camped with their sheep in the mountains all her growing up years . . . "

I smiled again as I re-read her text message:
"Some of us have it unfairly easy!
The people I meet are typically interested. . . "
And I  remembered the prayer I had prayed that the Lord would show her some of her special gifts given to her especially from Him.  I typed back:

"I think some people have excellent people skills. 
Like we talked about."

"Yes", she texted back, 
"It's a blessing".  

. . . . Some have the gift given them of God to act as organizers. Others fill their place as they work in retirement, feeling themselves little and unknown, with but few to recognize their work, and none to pity their mistakes and praise their victories. But the Lord uses all these elements. No one man can fill every place, and God’s great work must go forward. . . . In every age God has His workmen, and at the needed time preparation is made for some man with talent, with some gift, to come in. Thus the Lord reveals that He has the supervision of His work. The most essential work now to be done is to consider the words of Christ, “All ye are brethren.” Each must stand in his lot and place to do the work appointed him, in perfect harmony with his brethren. All are to seek to strengthen and build up the waste places to hold aloft the Bible standard, to voice the third angel’s message, to live the truth, to exercise mercy and the love of God, and be ready for any work that may be next in the service of God. MS 116, 1898

Monday, November 23, 2015

They Really Want to Go Swimming

We've had a hard, hard week. The twins have been pushing against their responsibilities.  I have not budged, but they keep pushing back harder. It's not like anything has changed. I didn't really add anything new, I just am holding the line where I've been holding it and they have been trying to strong-arm it away. Missy has had tantrum after tantrum and the harder I try to work with her the worse she gets. And so when I go places I won't take her with me, and she tries to bully me into taking her. Forget it kiddo. Change the behaviors first. I have gotten really tired. (Brianna gets home tonight from Oklahoma. YAY!)

This morning they did not get out of bed until 7:30 or later. Breakfast is at 7:30 except on the weekends it is at 8:00.  I drove Vanessa to the bus stop and got myself behind the school bus. All the kids in the countryside are dressed and have eaten and are on the bus and my kids are still laying in bed and had no motivation to get up and get the day going. Missy came into the kitchen about 7:35 and said, "I will be here for breakfast at 8:00."

I just said, "Today is Monday. Breakfast is at 7:30."

She turned around and walked out. I went about my business.

Neither kid showed up again for a long time - like 2 hours. If they happened to pass me they did not speak to me or look at me. My experience has taught me that there is nothing I can safely say at this point that won't throw us into a power struggle when they set themselves against the schedule hard like that. I remained silent. At  9:45 I took two pieces of paper and wrote their names on the top. Then wrote out a math problem for them regarding how many minutes late they were to breakfast and a list of jobs. On the bottom I wrote that if they expected to go to swimming tonight they would be working very hard today.  I set out a bowl of lentils and a serving of corn chips and a kiwi each and wrote for them to help themselves to their lunch when they were ready. I went in my bedroom and locked the door.

I heard them go and eat. I heard dishes being washed. I heard the vacuum running. Math got done, their laundry is nearly done, their rooms are vacuumed, and so are the stairs, the kitchen is clean and the floor is swept. I've come out and made vegetable soup and they are still hard at it. The bathrooms are being cleaned. The eggs are gathered and sorted, the garbage cans are emptied, the shoes are put away....


I reminded them that skipping their personal responsibilities, like teeth brushing, was invisibly on their lists as well. Suddenly they were both brushing their teeth. The lists are completed but they continue to look for things that need doing because they know if I catch them sitting around it's not likely going to sit well but I won't say a word and so they would be left guessing. They used up their free time this morning, as far as am concerned. They really do want to go swimming tonight.


5:30 AM. 24 degrees. 17 miles. And he's off to work on his bicycle. I really did offer to drive him but he's dedicated to his health. 😶 yesterday it took him an hour and a half to get there - something to do with how cold and how dark it was. At least today he can snag a bus for part of it. Yesterday he was chased by a big German shepherd. Last week he nearly hit a dead deer... But until the snow gets too deep he's riding. #determined #onecarfamily #reflectivegear #lovethatmanofmine

Monday, November 16, 2015

Raising Lions

It was Sunday and James was standing outside wailing loud and long enough for the whole valley to hear. It was time to clean the barn. He didn't want to. Every week is the same song and dance.

I was so tired of it. He's been calmer, more appropriate, and easier to live with, but he's still extremely repulsed by work, or anything he perceives as hard, and anything that takes muscle or mental effort. That's pretty much life so we endure tears frequently. His physical therapy team is about to dismiss him because he will. not. work. on strengthening his muscles. They say he shuts down the second he perceives that he must exert himself in the least. He's stuck physically, mentally, socially, emotionally, and developmentally because he won't do the work it takes to move on. Not a hair.

Vanessa bailed me out. She took him running. They ran along the irrigation ditch as far as it goes West, and then turned around and ran back and around the mountain so that they went as far as it goes West on that side. Then they ran along the road and up over the mountain to our side again. He decided to clean the barn without another word. If a barn could sparkle....

Meantime I cried and then prayed and then got on google and typed "lazy 11 year olds". Desperate times call for desperate measures!!  :-)

I scrolled through a few useless things and very nearly scrolled right on past a recommendation for a book. Raising Lions The Art of Compassionate Discipline by Joe Newman did catch my eye and I downloaded it to my Kindle app and sat down to read.  And READ. I read it all before the evening was over.

Raising Lions is a book for parents or educators dealing with behavior problems.  It is simple, straightforward, practical, and encouraging. James is William of the story of chapter 4. He is passive and content with his state of affairs. He has every avoidance technique mastered and exercises very little self-regulation.   Missy is Emma of chapter 5 who is manipulative, oppositional, emotionally volatile, will not accept correction or consequences or direction, wants everything to be fair,  and is super competitive. Both children are stuck in the stage where they believe they are what the writer terms omnipotent. They are the most important person in their world. They must control everything or everything will spin out of control. They have not reached the developmental milestone of interdependence. Consequently they have are not really developing relationships and it's no wonder they don't worry about hurting feelings, or destroying friendships. They don't get it.  As for us,  I've become the authoritarian parent and Steve is moralizing till we are all blue in the face. This is born of our utter frustration and burnout. We are getting close to six years of this...

I quote from " Raising Lions challenges us to re-examine our interactions and relationships with children, re-think the root causes of behavior problems and find new ways to support healthy, happy development."

I'm going to let you scour for reviews online. They are out there. Here's one to get you started:

We've done some things right. We have done some things wrong. I can see how having the kids do jumping jacks for a minute or two when they are struggling goes right along with the writer's plan, except we are creating stimulation instead of boredom, but it has been working. Having the door alarms goes along with the plan, too in that it creates a safe place to put a stop to behaviors - but I can see how I can do it differently and not leave them for longer than they absolutely need in order to reward their efforts at self-control. I can see how bringing them home to educate them cut out a lot of people in their lives that might have been catering to their "disabilities" and also created a consistency that is necessary. It cuts a lot of their power in being "disabled" out. We need to empower them to develop to their full potential, not bow to their "omnipotent" power of controlling the world around them to keep everything the same.


I have a podiatrist appointment Wednesday.
We are dealing with more than plantar fasciitis. I could survive the fasciitist on its own, but I compensate for the high arch by carrying all the weight on the outside of my foot. From what I can gather I am dealing with lateral column overload.... We shall see if I'm right and if there is anything we can do about it.

Monday, November 9, 2015

A Success Story in the Making

Sometimes I want to write and I just can't get there. It's not like there is a reason not to I'm just struggling with a mindset. But here's the truth. My house is clean from top to bottom, save one major closet, and a few dishes in the sink.  I can almost never say that so I HAVE to say that. Harvest season is over, there's no canning to do, my greenhouse takes very little time to look after right now, and I might as well wait for the rest of the leaves to fall before we rake them again. We've had a string of wonderful, interesting young people coming and going and today the last of them left for the airport. Brianna left for a couple weeks, too.  We've even gone on our last weekend outing until winter is over. It's like we we turned a page and completely entered a new season starting today. Until today we have had plans and people and things to look forward to. . .

 So, let me share some good news that I've wanted to write concerning the twins. Steve and I decided to start them on the Feingold diet several weeks ago. I've been considering it for some time, but it's a bit overwhelming to get started. When you are already dealing with overwhelming behaviors it's really hard to want more of that.

#1. We noticed that on the Feingold Diet that Missy was calmer right away. Eventually James calmed, too. My kids have always fluctuated, though. We have had days of peace and relative calmness in bits in pieces over the last 5 years. Never consistent, never both kids at the same time time, and never for long. I thought it might be a fluke at first. The first few weeks of the diet were calmer, not super good or anything, just calmer. Things improved over the next couple weeks so much so that when we went to the church camp for the weekend the kids behaved like normal children. They enjoyed their whole time there. There was no pushing the boundaries, no attention getting behaviors, no inappropriate behavior, no fussing. They even accepted the fact that they could not eat everything served in the dining hall without any issue. It was unreal. We were quite amazed. We have NOT ever had a peaceful weekend like that with the twins since they joined our family. I do mess up on the diet sometimes, and I really messed up this past weekend. We totally paid for it with a screaming, raging, swearing and hateful tantrum on Sunday, each. Today they are fine. I see through the window that they are playing "Journey to Bethlehem" on the lawn together. They are even singing Mary Did You Know at the "manger".

#2. We really, really, really enforced the NO whining, no huffing and puffing, and no saying "No" to authority. Ever. Period. We did burpees and pushups and sit-ups and such for any and every infraction. We were on top of it. Brianna and I were a team and the twins were either with her, or me 100% of the time so there was no getting away with it ever. It was exhausting. The first week all we did was push-ups and burpee. They were doing so many ALL day long that we had to get creative and use jumping jacks and other things so as not to over-work their little muscles. Missy can now pump push-ups like nobody's business. James not so much, he doesn't put out any effort to build any strength and one can actually do all the activity and not build a single muscle if that is your goal. By the third week we were only doing them 6 or 7 times a day. By the fourth and fifth week they were doing them maybe three times a week.  Let me note that the heart is not at all changed by these exercises. That is still my number one goal, but expect that will happen "sooner than we think and longer than we wish".

#3. We put up the chart I explained in the last post and enforced it to a T. The first 2 weeks the kids took turns missing out on the blessings offered. They both missed sometimes and we had some phenomenal tantrums over that, but we stuck to it like the ten commandments. And then they went two days without missing and then three and then they were able to go almost a week without missing a single blessing.

#4. Tantrums were relegated to the bedroom with the door alarm on. This is a change from having their tantrums outside on the porch. If they wanted to destroy anything it would be their own property in their own rooms. They have both put holes in their bedroom doors and that is about it. I'm not going to fix the holes. Those will serve as reminders.

#5. We put Missy on a low dose of ADHD med. I can't tell if it is helping. I think the diet is more beneficial at this point, but desperate times call for desperate measures and we were desperate. Kind of bad timing on my part. The doctor was worried it would affect her appetite. She need not fear. That child could eat a horse anytime.

view from the house
It is quite obvious to everyone in the house that we are experiencing a measure of success. Yesterday's big tantrums were a reminder of where we have come from. We don't want live in that zone anymore. I can't wait to figure out just exactly what in the diet is effecting their ability to be calm and controlled. It's going to take patience though.

I'm thankful.

I am beyond grateful.

*And I'm burned out.*

I've been exercising like crazy and it is helping me but I have a serious problem with my feet. Some days I'm a total cripple. I'm waiting for my appointment to the podiatrist and hoping he can work a miracle. But I don't think that is going to happen. I have to figure out how to keep going...
Colchuck Lake Hike

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Blessings Chart

There's a couple of new things we are trying with the twins.  Number one is that we have them on the Feingold diet. It's not an easy diet to follow, but it was time to try it. We generally eat very well so it's hard to think a diet might help my kids out any but here goes. The diet removes artificial colorings, dyes, artificial flavors, chemicals and salylcilates from the diet completely. That means in phase one we also remove the fruit and vegetables that have naturally occurring salylcilates such as apples, grapes, berries, cucumbers, etc. it's not all the fruit and veggies. They can have pears and broccoli😎. Phase one last 6-8 weeks and then you begin adding in the fruit and veggies one by one and the other foods slowly over some months to see if there is any kind of reaction. Sometimes kids will have an immediate reaction of melt down with tears or tantrums or they get hyper or other behaviors show up. Sometimes there is a delayed reaction.

We've been going almost a week now with a big mess up on the weekend. So far I can only sense that Missy is calmer. She is not hovering in the red zone of her behavior chart as we have been experiencing. She is still Missy but it's easier to redirect her and she's not screaming or flying off the handle. While we were gone for the weekend she was very willful, pushing for total freedom from parental restraint. She has learned somewhat to be more subtle so the scene is not always obvious to by standees, but if looks could kill.... The harder she pushes against restraint the tighter we draw her close to us. After awhile I get fatigued.

I see no difference in James at all. He's fine when he's fine. He's weepy when asked to do something. He's antagonistic towards his twin and will not be redirected.

And so the new Blessings Chart:.  
Our introduction of the chart went over well with Missy. She had a broad smile and later that evening when reminded that we are here to be a blessing instead of a curse she got it and acted accordingly. James did not accept the chart or its meaning at all. He cried when referred to it to bring out a positive trait and eventually shut down completely and had to be sent straight to bed as it was evening and there was no use working with him. A sense of despair threatens to discourage me over this kid. He's smart enough. He's capable. He could easily see that he has every opportunity to have blessings bestowed rather than blessings removed and he quite clearly makes the choice to give in to all the wrong choices without so much as a slight nod to the possibility of blessings bestowed.  He just did not even entertain the possibility of being a blessing. He doesn't want to be bothered, period. He wants things to be without thought or consequence. Tomorrow is another day. I hope that he thinks it over and changes his mind and does not reject it right off the bat again tomorrow.   I'm trying to put everything in a positive light. 

Monday, October 5, 2015

Standing By. Claiming the Promises

I've been rather mixed up today. First I thought the twins both had dentist appointments at 8 this morning. Glad I figured out last night that the appointments aren't until Thursday. Then I was all prepared for the Department of Developmental Disabilities yearly Social worker visit at ten. I had to hurry my walk and shower and rearrange my schedule, but when she didn't show up I went back and looked and I am exactly a month early.

James is feeling mixed up, too.

I've taken over from Brianna so she could have a break from his mixed up behaviors. I'm standing by watching over him as he is in total shut down mode. He's not saying a word or uttering a sound. He doesn't want to do his assigned work and that is that. It could be a long day.

I've offered to talk him through it but he refuses to communicate. He knows what his choices will lead to. There's absolutely nothing to do but wait, and pray, and claim the promises that God will do something in this kid's heart and life.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Camping AGAIN!

We've been camping. Took the kids to the pathfinder camporee.

It was fun. Lots of work for me as I planned and executed all the meals for two clubs.... and I had Hayden and Drake. Christina was able to join us. It was the first time we had seen her since she went to Idaho.

We are so thankful for our tent trailer... LOVE having my little home away from home. It's especially nice with little kids to take care of. Hayden and Drake love camping and they were not ready to be done. They were exhausted and cranky and totally done physically, but begging me not to take them home yet. I think part of the reason it was so hard to go home was their Daddy had moved into a bigger house over the weekend and change is scary and hard still.

Life jackets are a must! This boat ramp....  Hayden took off his socks and shoes to dip his toes in the water and got way more than he bargained for. This ramp is covered with algae. One step and he was down. He stood up and took another step and went sliding down the ramp backwards. I saw the look in his eye... and I made quick steps towards him just as he slid backwards another foot. So much for dry shoes. I stepped towards him into the water and suddenly I was skating wildly down the ramp, past the kid with those big brown eyes open wide with fright... sliding, sliding almost waist deep! A kayaker paddled quickly towards me and stopped my downward glide before I completely fell in just as I heard a splash behind me. Christina, our trusty lifeguard slid in down low and scooped up Hayden. So glad he was wearing a life vest. So weird that I could do nothing to grab the kiddo.

Steve and I are taking the tent trailer on a get away, just the two of us tomorrow. We'll be back by the weekend. Brianna is keeping the kids and Vanessa will help in the evening. We try to keep these little get aways short so as not to wear out the girls.

Brianna is doing well teaching the twins. She's very strict about whining and fussing and huffing and puffing. These kids are doing so many push-ups, sit-ups and burpees they have got to hurt. Whenever they get negative she has them on the floor in a flash working those muscles... Negative is their main mood, so you know, it's been a little rough, but it is GETTING BETTER.

Brianna is strict about time, too. Both twins have taken turns at missing out on stuff because they were not ready when the clock struck the hour. Bri just leaves without them. Their first class of the day is PE at the high school track at 6:30 am where Brianna is coaching a little group of homeschoolers. Monday is art class and she has two classes of kids. Wednesday is homeschool group and Brianna teaches one class. Then of course, there is Therapy on Tuesdays.

The TWINS are cleaning the kitchen every day. If they are too slow they don't get to go on the library outing or whatever is planned for the day so they are learning to move along. I'm seeing a difference in their ability to help. Missy is, at this moment making applesauce. She is being taught all the steps and has to do everything herself except the parts that use the stove.

The door alarm has been a lifesaver. Missy has had some real crabby days... so crabby I thought to get respite while we went on the campout. BUT just saying that Missy decided to do a 180 and became an angel child ~ for two days. She was SO good and so pleasant to be around. It was so nice to see that it is possible. I let her choose a treat at the grocery store. She chose caramel flavored rice cakes. I didn't think to read the label. And my husband isn't on board with this, but I am certain it affected her. She turned into El GROUCHO out of control. She screamed non-stop all Friday.  It was unbelievable. I was so glad for the door alarm because she was more than any of us could manage to be around for very long. I read the label later. Artificial this and artificial that and all this stuff that I had been keeping her off of. Of course, then it was too late to get respite. However, she was fine on the campout. James wet his pants at the campout every day.... and since he packed his own suitcase we had a serious lack of clothing. On the last day he smelled so bad that I told him he had to have a shower before we could leave. HE threw himself on the grass facedown and proceeded to have a two year old tantrum. It's quite the scene for all the campers to see. There's no shame somehow. Eventually Vanessa picked up his arms and i picked up his feet and we carried him into the shower and washed him and all was fine again.  There again, no shame at all. Both of the twins completely lack modesty and I can't figure out how that does not come naturally to them.

 Brianna and I joined a cross training class for ladies in the morning at 5 AM in the elementary school gym. Several of our friends are doing it too. Okay, wow. I am thinking I am going to be sore tomorrow. (*understatement of the year!! I can't move!) I have been slowly learning to run. I started off in July walking more and adding a few minutes of running here and there and slowly built up using a 5K app on my iphone. It was great until the end it upped the progress too quick and just when I had ONE run left to complete the series on the app I could NOT do it anymore. Had to take a break and go back to walking and biking. My knees and feet hurt too much. They are back to feeling okay, so I'm going to back up and work up again, but I think I needed some strengthening exercises to help me build muscle in the knees and ankles and figure out how to manage the plantar fasciitis. So far I have lost 6 lbs and working very very hard to do that. I lost more inches than pounds so maybe it was more than 6 lbs of fat. :-) One can hope.

Well, I'm off to get the tent trailer ready for our next excursion.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Door Alarm

A couple of people shared with me where I could get a door alarm and how useful it would be. I bought one within a few hours. They can be found at Walmart in the household section by the smoke alarms. I bought one for under $7. It is about 2 inches big. I put it in the drawer and almost forgot about it for nearly a week... and then came yesterday.

Missy is pushing boundaries. She delights in seeing just how far she can get over the boundaries we have laid down for her safety and happiness. If you have been reading long you know that  being late is her favorite way of staying out of reach. She has been late for  breakfast for years. Every morning is a potential for a brand new battle on getting done our chores and being on time for breakfast. Mostly I don't talk to her about it anymore. It just is. She will move as slowly as she can and she will be late. Various things we have tried have not worked more than a day or two. The most recent one is "the Last one to breakfast washes the dishes".  So, she's been washing the dishes and she is making it take hours thus cutting into her school time.  It's a no-win situation and she knows it.

Our church was closed this weekend for the Valley Wide Campmeeting. The older girls took the opportunity to take Drake and Hayden's siblings for a day long hike. They were not sure if they were going to invite the twins or not. The intensity of the twins' personalities are exhausting and the girls were needing a refreshing day, not an intense one. Eventually, though they decided they should just invite them. I put a clause in their invite. Anyone who was ready and had a good attitude could go, and anyone not able to fulfill the requirements would go to campmeeting - which was still a good option with all the youth programs planned, etc...  Steve and I watched the morning progress. I said Missy was not going to make it. Her usual exaggerated slowness was quite apparent and I hadn't seen a single lighthearted look, never mind a smile. Steve wanted her to go. He wanted her to be successful. Truth be known, I wanted her to learn a lesson.

It's a good thing we are happily married cause this kid would destroy our marriage if possible. We had to keep making adjustments to our relationship just watching - IT'S THAT HARD TO WATCH! Missy got more and more intense and more and more demanding and we just kept trying to regulate each other to let the experiment play through without any feelings showing. A half hour before time to leave I starting eating crow. It seemed that she was going to make it after all. All she had to do was brush her teeth. Oh, but wait. . .  SHE HAD TO BRUSH HER TEETH . She doesn't brush her teeth without a battle every day, three times a day, so much so that I'm tempted to skip meals sometimes so we don't have to brush any teeth. Yeah... That was all that lay between her going and her not going.

Steve reminded her to go brush her teeth. She shrugged her shoulders and rolled her eyes and said, "I don't have time." I said she wasn't going unless she brushed her teeth. About fifteen minutes later she finally gave in and went in the bathroom stuck a toothbrush in her mouth and then promptly put it away. Um sorry, it does not work that way with braces.

And then she blew.  She was screaming she didn't have time to brush her teeth and she was not going to do it. No one really said anything. The girls, Steve, the other kids, me.... we just kind of watched her dance around screaming. Finally the kids and the girls hightailed it out and left. It was clear to everyone she had created her own demise and there was no point in even waiting for her, though I would not have let them. Somewhere, somehow we have to draw the line on the drama and quit letting her get through by the skin of her teeth (pardon the pun) and giving her grace to squeak past and to abuse over and over again.

Little Miss had three hours of fight in her. Steve patiently held her, prayed with her, sang to her, worked with her, gave her Bible promises and got firm with her all those hours. Her heart was hard and she never gave up or gave in.  Steve appealed to her heart to let Christ take over to no avail. I don't know how long she would have fought except I remembered the door alarm and I installed it. We gave the kiddo all she needed, had her use the restroom, put a few good books in her room and a doll and an art project and told her that she could NOT open her door for any reason and that it would be very loud and frightening if she did. And that was it. We walked away and while I heard some crashing around in her nearly empty room for about 2 minutes, after that it was quiet. Pretty soon I heard her reading her Bible story out loud.

End of story.

Here's a 30 second video the kids on the hike made of their adventure. They went to 8 Mile Lake.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015


The twins are homeschooling. Brianna is a Montessori teacher and has taken on the role of the main teacher. They don't seem to miss going to school at all and are quite happy to join her in the school room each day. They don't always cooperate but we are only in the second week of school for us and nothing is too intense yet.
The geese won Grand Champion in open class at the county fair.

James won an award for his poster on his chicken cage at the fair.

Brianna is quite determined they will learn some life skills that they are more than old enough to learn, so she has been teaching them to clean the kitchen, do the dishes and sweep/wash the floor before they can start their "school" day. James seems to have taken to the tasks quite well. He was proud to get started without being told this morning and was done when the clock struck the hour that he needed to be done. Missy on the other hand.... tries to do the job in a slip-shod manner, is late to get started and slow to work and is pretty much late for everything. She is annoyed that I started making her smoothies for breakfast again, but we don't have time to dawdle over food when she comes an hour late every morning. She actually can do the job well, but is not inclined to take pride in the job well done.  She actually has been challenging everything and RAD has made itself quite known. She's missed out on some things though and she hates that, so has toned it down a bit. This child is rarely happy. I'm thinking of getting a respite weekend in the next month or so. The harder I try to work with her the more resistant she becomes. If I ignore her or at least keep my interactions to a minimal she is less combative. It seems so wrong.

the county fair is right at the end of our 1 mile road, so we can hear the goings on even when we are bed.

James is doing very well. You would not expect it after the hard, hard time this summer we had with him. He was a firecracker ready explode on a moments' notice. He had such an attitude and had zero respect for me. It didn't seem to matter who was here or who was not here. If he was asked to do something and he didn't want to, or if I said no about anything he went straight into a big tantrum. Sometimes up to three times a day and it seemed every day for a few weeks. Then one day he started up and I lit into him like he was not expecting and was made to sit on his bed with a very clear command not to move or get off the bed to wreck anything. After a pretty intense 5 minutes with me in his face he gave in and did as he was told. The next day he blew up over a wheel barrow load of pine shavings he had dumped in the wrong place. I had asked him to move them and when he refused he got left home by his sisters who were going lap swimming.  I was weed whacking which turned out to be a good thing. I would not let him get behind me and I revved the motor every time he got too close but I had ear protection on and I really could not hear the screaming and name calling and just kept at my job. Pretty soon, to get some attention, he threw the city garbage barrel and it broke. He hadn't expected it to break and he figured he was in real trouble now. I just told him he could pick it up and finish his work without anymore screaming and we would forget it, or he could keep screaming and name calling and trying to threaten me and he would then have to face dad. He turned and did the job. He's had a few screaming fits since, but no name calling or threatening behavior at all. 

Since school has started however - and it's been a very relaxed start, he has started wetting his pants. There's no reason. He just does it. There's not a lot I can do about it except to send him to the bathroom all the time. If he wants to pretend he's going then there is not much I can do. It seems like there's always a need for both the kids to have something they control that we don't like but can't do anything about.
  Here are some of Brianna's art students. She is doing private and group lessons of various things; art, music, etc... She has a couple of kiddos scheduled into her week for a few hours of Adventure /patherfinder club type honor classes.  We are really sad about not having the schoolhouse. The insurance company decided to be a stinker so here we are.

We did respite for nearly a week for two kiddos that used to be our foster kids. Their adoptive parents were needing a break, but it wasn't much of a break because they packed up their whole house and moved in that week. These were kids that came to use straight from their original home all black and blue from beating each other up. There are three siblings (4 now) and they were WILD!! But it is amazing how a settled home can make a difference. They have grown and changed a lot. One of them, at least is dealing with RAD, but still, it's amazing the difference.

probably our last 100 degree day of the season - last weekend.

Our little Drake and Hayden and siblings' mom went to treatment. She gets out tomorrow. She was court ordered, or highly recommended to go if she wanted lesser charges.... She is begging me to let her see the kids. I really didn't think it was wise but I put the question to their father and he said no. I still have to break the news to her. I'm sharing scripture stories with her from the life of Jesus when He healed people. Apparently she shares them with the other people in her unit.

Drake and I are still buddies
snooping around on facebook I found this picture of Missy.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Summer Fun

the nerdy bunch
This has been one incredible summer! 
Suddenly it feels like it's over, but it's still August.
It's really not over, but the busy part at our house is. All our relatives and friends have gone home and the house seems a little empty.  We didn't stick around to feel it empty after everybody left, we all scattered and went camping. Steve and I took the tent trailer and headed out to the ocean. 
 We took our bikes and rode the ferry and toured an island that we had not seen before. We just rested and were just together. We didn't do anything super fancy, just enjoyed the sea breeze and the walking trails and rode our bikes. On our way home it struck me ~ it was the first time in 5 years that we could just be the two of us and the conversation did NOT center around the twins. That is progress. :-)
Vanessa took the twins on the Pathfinder Campout. It was my job to organize their menu... That was a big task, but I have three menus now for three different weekends. The kids really enjoyed this campout and they worked on their birding honor and a Bible honor.

Brianna and Christina talked some friends into climbing Mount Stuart. 
It was quite a hike... 
The elevation is 9,415 feet, and it is the second highest non-volcanic peak in the state. Christina had some trouble with fear of heights near the top... 
It took Brianna's step by step encouragement 
and the help of a stranger with her backpack for her to make it.  
BUT she conquered. 
And more importantly they were all safe.
The only regret was that Caleb was not there to do it with them.

check out the smoke in our valley.

Mount Stuart
The next adventure on Christina's bucket list is Glacier Peak.
The date is set and there are men who know the mountain going, so I am confident all will go well.

Speaking of smoke...
The whole state is on fire with little to no relief in sight.

My greenhouse is finished!!
I am thankful for so much help. My brother, Jason did a lot to help Steve get things done. The electrical wiring and thermostats, fans, doors, plastic, and even the dirt got done in record time with Jason and my mom and dad's help. So thankful. So glad to be planting seeds in it now.
We so enjoyed having all the family here this summer.
My brother and his wife from Africa with their three girls
my mom and dad from Tennessee
and my sister and her kids from the Yukon
plus friends from Vermont and North Carolina joined us.
It was busy and crowded
and we swam a lot
and ate a lot of garden melons and in-season fruit and 
worked and played together. 
Good memories.


big crowd, big food! Homemade vegan macaroni and cheese.

I have some fun pictures that were taken on Brianna's camera, but I'll have to save it for next time.

Steve's mom died last week.
She was a sweet lady all the way to the end.
We head to Canada for the memorial service soon.