Sunday, July 5, 2015

Happy Birthday William!!!

Happy Birthday William!  You are one of the sweetest people I have ever had the honor of knowing.  You are truly genuine thru and thru.  You are honest, kind and full of compassion.  It has been a privileged to call you my son.  You have been one of the greatest blessings of my whole life and I am so grateful that God has allowed us to raise you and enjoy you every day. It is hard for me to remember that you started out so small.

But yet it seems like not that long ago you were so young.

I could always count on your even temper and obedience no matter where we went or how many children I had in our home.

Even though you were bothered by sensory things and could not communicate for years, you always tried your best to be happy and patient.

When you were diagnosed with autism, audio processing disorder and developmental delays, I felt like crying... but when I looked at you, I knew you were amazing and loved you so much just the way God made you!

You slowly found your voice, even though you did not learn to speak so we could really understand you till you were six.

You are a cookie cutter of your dad!  You are both so simular in your looks, ways and personality.

You have always had such genuine love for all your siblings.

 As soon as you were big enough to do anything around the house or farm, you wanted to help.

You love animals, especially the companion dogs you have had over the years.

You enjoy your car and anything mechanical.

I love your joyful and playful ways.
Almost every time you walk by me during the day, you give me a hug.  I get at least 20 hugs a day! And treasure every one!

I'd say  you are growing up so fast but that time is gone!  You are grown up!  Sort of???

Your animation and art work are truly a gift and amazing! (His Youtube channel is LegoBro4 Studios)
The Mothers Day Card you made for me!
You designed the picture you wanted on your birthday cake and your very talented Aunt "S"  made it for you!!!  Thank you so much Aunt "S"!!!
We all love you so much William!  We wish you the happiest 19th Birthday ever!!

Galatians 2:20  I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

 

Love Always,
Dad, mom, Stephen, Antonio, Carolyn, Zeke, Elizabeth, "B", "T", Baby "K" and Baby "A"







Saturday, June 27, 2015

A Whole Farm of Animals!

I had a few people tell me, after my last post, that they didn't realize we had a parrot or other animals in our home.  I guess I rarely write about our animals.  I really don't know why as they are such an important part of our life.  We enjoy them all so much.

We live on 10 acres of land in the North Georgia Mountains.  My dad lives at one end and we live on the other end of the long property.  It is a very good arrangement for us all.  My dad enjoys us living so close and we all work together to keep up the property.  On this property, we have a few farm animals that we have for food and enjoyment. When I was younger and had fewer children we had so many more such as geese, ducks and horses but as I have gotten older and my spare time is more limited, we have scaled back to just what is necessary and easily cared for.

I have a farm blog, that I write posts for, when I think I have some important information to share.  It is not kept up as this one is but many visit it for information on goat care or contact me for advice.

We love living here.  It is a very good place to raise children and a healthy way to live life.  We have dairy goats that keep the pastures ate down, keep the weeds and brush down, are fun to care for and a great source of milk and manure for the gardens.

We have a few bucks!  They are very stinky boys but a necessity, in order to arrive at the end product of a doe in milk production.  :)  It is very hot here right now.  I took this around 10 in the morning and they dug into the dirt, to reach cool soil to lay on for the day, under the trees.

We also have a herd of lovely easy to milk does.  They do not smell and to me act a lot like dogs.  They are very friendly and make great pets.  Very sweet girls.  I do not  milk them all at once as they would produce way more milk than we could consume and use.  I usually milk two at a time.

We always keep a small flock of chickens.  After years of having all different breeds, the most economical are the commercial White Leg Horns.  They give the most eggs, for the longest duration of time, for the smallest amount of grain given.  I usually keep a few Bantam Silky Chickens as they are very broody.  If I want to hatch any chicks out, they are more than willing to sit for me and do that.  We have a chicken coop for them up on a hill.  We have two rat terriers that live with them to protect them and kill or run off any predators.  They have killed snakes, possums and rats.  They have run off many other things including raccoons and barked to alert us to stray dogs.

There is also a huge stray dog that showed up several years ago, that stayed.  He thinks he is guardian of the property.  He is a great dog.  His story is here.

We also have several barn cats on the property.  If a new stray shows up, I trap it, get it fixed and release it.  I don't mind feeding all the strays.  I just don't want them having kittens everywhere.  No matter how wild they are when they come, they always are my friends when I milk, as I usually pour some warm milk out to them before leaving the barn.  Needless to say we have very few snakes and mice around.  :)  One of our cats is 15 years old and another barn cat 17!  I guess all the fresh milk every day!

The children have many pets.  I think pets are a wonderful way to help keep stress levels low in a home.  I also believe they are very good for all children, especially children with special needs.  Our children are all very bonded to their pets and they are a great source of pleasure and comfort.

We have a rule here...You can ask for a pet and if you take good care of it you can keep it.  If you wanted another, you can  have it because you proved you are responsible.  If you don't take good care of the pet you wanted, than it goes to a new home and you can not ask for or get another pet for a long time.  I do not have time to care for so many animals.  I do check behind all the children to make sure they are taking proper care of all the animals they have but I don't personally care for hardly any of them. The only animals I am responsible for are the female dairy goats, my poodle,
our parrot Kiwi
and my little reef tank.

I also care for any of Antonio's animals because being in a wheel chair, he can not.  I have so many other responsibilities in home schooling, child care, the upkeep of our home and usually have the care of a garden each year, that I do not have the time to care for pets.  The children all have chores and work together to care for the farm animals.

We have had many pets over the years.  Especially, great dogs that have been faithful family pets and companions.  If my children are able, I try to let them each raise and have their own lap dog to enjoy for their childhood.  It has worked out well here and very few children were unable to care for one of their own.

Antonio loves reptiles.  He likes to watch videos about turtles and lizards especially.  Antonio is unable to do very much so any animal he wants I try to get for him and care for it for him.   He does not ask for much in life.   He has had fish tanks, hamsters and birds over the years but  his favorite, he always comes back to, is reptiles.  He asked for turtles for his 8th birthday.  We got him two thru the mail and he named them Antonio and Sid. He still has them today 13 years later!
He loves to watch them swim and sun themselves.  If I find a garden worm I bring it into them and his turtles swim frantically to get it and eat it.  Antonio's other pet right now is a leopard gecko named Franklin.
All of Antonio's pets are right in his office so he can watch them all the time.

William has his own room.  He has his little dog Dixie.  She is so young and active, it is hard for me to get a clear picture of her!

William also has a fish tank he has taken care of and kept going since he was 9 years old.

Carolyn is a very loving, tender and nurturing person.  She would have 100 animals to care for if I would let her.  I have to put a limit on what she has.  She raised up her dog since it was a six week old puppy.  Her name is Princess.  They are inseparable.
She also has a beautiful pony she totally cares for and rides very frequently named Millie.
She also has a very old hamster named Marcy and a beautiful little blue parakeet named Tom.

Having pets has helped Zeke tremendously with his Autism.  In his ability to give and receive love.  It has also helped him learn responsibility and compassion.  He has a little dog that is almost always in his arms named Roo Baby.  It is like his security blanket.  If Roo Baby is not in his arms she is in a little dog stroller that he keeps in his office next to him.
He also has a pony named Dixie.  He got Dixie when he was a small boy and out grew her but refuses to sell her to get a larger pony he can ride.  He loves her so much he would rather just enjoy her as a pet than replace her.

Elizabeth is not very consistent in caring for her animals.  Animals such as dogs that require a schedule of consistent care long term, is something she does not do well.  It becomes an area of rebellion and stress for all over time.  She however has been taking very good care of her parakeet she has had for two years now named Charlie.
And her little 10 gallon fish tank in her office area. 

The foster children are not old enough to have or care for pets yet but we did get them a little pony to start riding soon named Buck-a-roo.
My dad thinks he looks like a punk rocker!

God originally created us to tend the Garden of Eden and care for all the animals created.  I think that is why so many people love having animals around them and enjoy caring for them.  God is so good to have blessed us with such a place to live and enjoy.  A wonderful place to not only raise children but allow them to have plenty of space to play and have the experience of raising animals. It makes for having happy family memories as they grow up.

Psalm 34:8  O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.



Blessings,
susan

  
  

Saturday, June 13, 2015

All Is Well

Life has taken on a whole new meaning of the word "busy" for me since the arrival of baby"A".  I have been stretched to my limit many days (and nights)  and can feel the prayers and support of all who have been praying for us.  Thank you so much.  God is so good! 

Life is busy but good and a lot is happening. 

TPR court took place on the toddlers case and Termination of Parental Rights was granted.  They are now "wards of the state" and their case has been sent to the side of DFCS that deals with adoptions.  I met their new adoption worker on Monday.  We are in the process of adoption now, with these two, by the grace of God.  We shall see how it goes and what happens.

TPR court has also happened in baby "K"'s case.  She is now also a ward of the state and her case will be transferred to the adoption side of DFCS on July 1st.  So we will start the process of adoption on her as well next month.  We have not done an adoption with the state in many years, so I have no idea how long the process is or what to expect with all the new rules and regulations.

We have had two court hearings on the new baby but have not had the 72 day hearing yet.  That is the big hearing where all evidence is presented by both sides (bio mom and dad vs DFCS) and the judge sets the case plan.  DFCS has a lot of work to do before court, as the biological mom identified many possible dads that they need to do DNA testing on.  It is a new case, even though she is 1/2 sister to the toddlers.  So we wait and see how her story and case will unfold over time.

My days are FULL of child care, feeding and diaper changes non-stop.  It can be very tiring and often I am needed at the same time, for different things by many children.  I am grateful for the older children's love and helpfulness with all the little ones when I need it.  

Our little baby "A" has started sleeping longer hours thru the night! 
At least 6 hours at a time, which has helped me tremendously.  Glory to God.  I can see she is not far from sleeping thru the night.  She just turned 5 weeks old.  :)  So she is regulating day and night routines early.  She is a good baby and I am grateful for that.  She has filled out nicely and grown so much already.

Baby "K"....hmm.  I am not sure at what point to stop calling her baby "K"!!!  She is getting so big! 
She is the sweetest soul and I can always count on her to be even tempered and in good spirits.  She is doing very well in therapy.  She crawls like a champ now and can pull up onto her knees at the couch for a few moments.  Her legs are getting stronger but still weak.  So we daily hold her on her feet and work on building those leg muscles in hopes she will walk by her next birthday.  She plays very quietly and hardly makes a noise.  So she is in speech therapy now as well as feeding therapy.  She loves to eat and is eating textures much better but still needs her liquids thickened or she aspirates.  She has always struggled with nursing.  I am trying to get her to use a fine straw at meals.  With her head tucked down to drink she does not choke at all. 

"T" is a sweet little guy that is a little stubborn but tries to please us.  He is good most of the time now. 
I finally cut his hair!
His biggest challenge is behaviors that are from sensory issues.  He can cry for an hour or more non-stop and hits his head when over stimulated.   We have to watch him and keep things low key for him.   He has outburst about every other day or so.   "T" is very immature for his age (he will be three in four months)  and tested out at a 15 month old level in recent testing.  He still likes cause and effect toys and baby toys.  He and baby "K" interact very well together.  They play in the playroom together nicely.

"B" has the most challenging behaviors.  He can not help the fact that he is so impulsive and can not sit still for even a  moment. 
But much of his bad behavior he can definitely help.  Some of his behavior is from his terrible past but mostly it is just from lack of a discipline that is effective.  He can be very mean and that is hard.  Time out is the only discipline we can use with small children and he could care less to have to sit when he does anything bad.  It is non-stop all day long and I have to keep him separated from the other children or he quickly ends up hurting someone.  He is very, very smart for his age though and so much fun to talk to and teach.  There is so much potential in this little guy.  :)


The  other older children are all doing very well.  They are enjoying their summer off from home schooling.  They are doing some projects around the farm that need doing, swimming and playing outside like kids should do.
 

Carolyn loved this huge bullfrog she found.  She wanted to keep him so badly.
We have a little Pionus Parrot named Kiwi. 
We got him five years or so ago, as a just weaned, hand fed, baby.  He acts a lot like a toddler.  He is messy and noisy.  :)  But we love him.  He chatters, sings and talks all day long.  He gets into a lot of mischief.  Elizabeth's desk is next to his cage and if she is deep in thought in school work, he will sneak down the side of his cage and nip her or pull her hair.  He also will take toys over to that side of the top of his cage and drop them down on her head!  He can be a real stink pot!   Elizabeth asked to use the crayons to color one day last week and she forgot to put them up at lunch time.  I went into the school room a little while later to find at least 30 crayons shredded to bits!  Lesson of the week.  Don't leave crayons within Kiwi's reach. 

I was feeding the baby a bottle, watching my fish tank and saw this little stripped snail cleaning my rock work, with four baby snails cleaning his shell!  So funny.



Antonio at a recent family picnic.



Even though I am very busy we are all having a lot of fun and enjoying our time together without the added work or stress of home schooling.  God is so good.  All is well.

Psalm 34:8  O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.



Blessings,

susan

Saturday, May 30, 2015

The Ballet Recital

After many months of practice and a lot of hard work, the big day arrived.  The day of the girls Ballet Recital.  The girls did so well.  They have both come so far in discipline and technique.  It was beautiful.

Carolyn's dance was done to the song, March from the Nutcracker.
 Carolyn is growing up so much and did a wonderful job.  My beautiful young woman.
 
Elizabeth's dance was done to, Let It Go from the movie Frozen.
Her dance was just lovely.  She did a great job.  Elizabeth has to work twice as hard as everyone else because of her Cerebral Palsy.

The girls both looked so lovely and grown up to me this year.  Sigh.
The girls cousin and aunt thought that the girls, would be getting flowers from Aunt "S" as she always gives them flowers at every recital.  So they decided to give them candy bouquets.  Surprise to all!!!...Aunt "S" had the same idea this year!
Those are some genuinely happy smiles!  They hardly ever get candy!  Thank you so much Aunt "A" and cousin "A".  Also Aunt "S".  You know what they say...Great minds think alike!

So ballet is over for this season and the girls don't start back for lessons again till August.  This will give us a nice break for summer.  A time to get our footing and rest a bit from all the running.

I am so very grateful to God for salvation and my life.  So grateful for my wonderful husband and for all the children God has entrusted in our care to raise up for Him.  God is so good His mercy endures forever!

Girls you did a wonderful job.  You are both growing in to beautiful young women.  We love you so much!

Isaiah 41:10  Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.



Blessings,
susan