Saturday, August 1, 2015

Catching Up (Part 1)

Found our silly 15 year old cat, out on the porch, in the kids doll house.  So funny!
I have had many people ask how the new baby is doing and others in our home.  I looked back thru the blog and I guess it has been a while since I have written a "catch up" post, so here it is!

I feel like we have turned a corner lately.  A few things have happened that have made my life just a tad easier and all of it adds up to me feeling more energetic and better.  We went thru a season of life being happy but very hard and that all seems to be shifting for the better.  We are even starting to get back into a daily routine!   All the Glory to God for his mercy, grace and faithfulness.
My little pistol shrimp, peeking out of his cave, from under a blue coral.
The biggest thing is... Tim and I have went a year and a half without any kind of break from the foster children. We love them all dearly but several of them are hard children by themselves and add them all together and they can be a real handful.  Our county has such strict guidelines about who can watch the foster children for us, that we have not had any time to ourselves or away from the foster children for hardly a moment.  If we have to run to the store, we have to take them all with us.  If we have to run errands, I have to take all of them in every place we go.  They have had to be with Tim or I, at all times.  It gets exhausting.  I dreaded going to town for any reason, as it was just so much time, effort and work.  The toddlers still don't behave well in public and add to that the two infants.  Climbing in and out of the bus.  Setting up all the strollers and getting them all in and out of car seats.  Whew!  Plus my other older children.  In a year and a half we had one foster appreciation night where DFCS babysat the foster children and sent us all out to dinner.  Then one other day where Tim and I had to go to a CPR class and a foster friend cared for the toddlers for us.  Anyone watching the children basically needed to go thru everything a foster parent would, in order to watch the children for us.  From background checks to finger printing, to home inspections and in most cases, even taking the foster parenting classes.  Who would do that for us, just so we have a back up sitter?  The toddlers are a handful and add to that baby "K" and baby "A" and that would be a lot on anyone to watch for us.   Tim and I have been taking turns keeping all the children once a month so the other can get out alone or with a few of our older children, to have time to ourselves and away.  Tim does guys night out with our older boys and I do one for the girls or I go antiquing with my dad once a month.  I love all of our children but one day or evening away, can be very recharging. 
Zeke and baby "K" reading together!
Our county recently reconsidered and changed their position on who can baby sit and what the regulations are.  William is 19 years old, a mature and responsible young man.  He also, has already had a background check, been finger printed, drug tested and the whole nine yards, as an adult in our foster care approved home.   He was recently approved as a sitter in our home!  It has made a world of difference for me.  If I have to run to the store or a doctors appointment, I can leave a child with him.  I always only do it if he is willing and leave the easiest one with him. I would never leave him with all four and the longest I have had him watch a child for me, as if now, has been an hour and a half.  But what a difference!   I can also run into a store, while in town and not have to unload all of the children to take with me for every errand.  If I need to run into the store and get baby formula or something, if William is in the bus, I can just run in by myself and it takes me a fraction of the time as it would to unload everyone and take them all in.  Having this option has made a huge difference in my life.  I don't often use it, but if I need it. It is there for me/us.  I am so grateful for having this in our lives now.

Another thing that has made life easier is that Baby "A" has started sleeping straight thru the whole night.  Thank you God!
From the time I put her down, till we wake up in the morning and the sun comes up!  Ahhhh.  It is amazing what sleep does for a body and mind!  God is so good.  She is also taking five ounces a feeding, latching better, less reflux episodes and going longer in between feedings.  Wow, just amazing how this simplifies life.  Since I am writing about her, I guess I will start here.  Baby "A" is doing wonderful.  She is nearly three months old already.  She is in a size 3-6 months cloths.  She makes eye contact, coos and tries to talk/babble.  She bats at toys I hang over her head and is trying to roll over.  She seems on target so far and I have no concerns about her physical or cognitive abilities at this time.  Praise God!, considering she is a meth baby!  She is a very good baby but has a little bit of a temper. The anxiety she was experiencing all evening, every evening, since the day she was born, has just about subsided.  We love her dearly and feel blessed to have her in our home.  Her biological  mom recently got arrested and is now in jail again.  I pray for her salvation.  She named four possible fathers in this case so we do not know who the dad is at this time.

"K" is doing fantastic! 
God has done such a miracle in this little girl.  She is pulling to a stand at the couch and can ride on a "ride on" toy.  She is self feeding chopped up table foods and has learned to mange drinking from a thin straw with out choking!  This is a huge deal, as she aspirates on thin liquids and needs her bottles thickened.  It seems if she tucks her chin to drink from a straw instead of tipping her head back, like from a cup or bottle, she can manage small amounts of liquid without choking!  Praise God!  We are moving her out of feeding therapy at this time and putting her into speech, as she is still not talking or babbling much.  She has always been a very quiet child but she understands everything we say.  I can ask her to bring me her shoes and she will do it.  She is very obedient and tenderhearted.  She reminds me of William when he was younger.

"T" is doing very well. 
I finally cut his hair as he was pulling it out so much.  I hope with it being short he will stop this bad habit.  We have been working on potty training faithfully for the last five  months with very little progress but we are going to keep at it, hoping it will click at some point.  He is a very well behaved child but has a few melt downs a week because of sensory issues.(These last for up to an hour)  He definitely acts like he is on the autism spectrum.  He is starting to feed himself a little bit which has been nice!  I was never able to give him silverware because he would hurt himself with the fork or bang his head hard, with the spoon.   I bought him a softish rubber fork and he is doing very well with it.  He will load it himself a few times thru the meal and if I load it, he will put it into his own mouth.  This is huge.  I have had to feed this child every mouthful of food almost the entire year and a half he has been here.  I see him being able to self feed himself by the end of the year for sure.  Which will free up some of my time during meals.  I love this little guy.  He is very close to my heart and a mamas boy thru and thru.

"B" is progressing in many areas and doing the same in others.   
Zeke and "B" in the pool.  We have a salt water system and it ate away the top rails of the pool.  Those are being replaced next week.
His behavior is still very trying all day every day but he is learning to play in a healthy way for longer and longer periods of time.  I can still not allow him to be around the other younger children as he hurts them.  But he is making progress.  He is also beginning to self feed!  I have to tell him to take every bite but that is better then me sitting thru every meal, feeding all the children myself, by hand.  If I tell him, "take a bite", he will.  He still can not sit by anyone at the table or he throws their food on the floor and hits and pinches those around him.  But he is making slow progress in that area as well.  He is still taking a very long time to chew and pockets his food in his cheek.  So he spends a lot of time in the kitchen eating.  But over all, he is doing better all the time and I can see such improvement in him.  He is still very impulsive and has a very short attention span but he is brilliant and loves to learn.  He is way ahead of his peers.  I see such a bright future for this little guy!  

"K", "T" and "B"'s adoptions are in the works and should be completed by mid September.  I can't wait to introduce them to you, not only their real names but their sweet faces as well.

This post has gotten a little long.  I will update on the older children in the next post!

Romans 15:13  Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.



Saturday, July 18, 2015

Happy Birthday To My Oldest Baby!!

You were the one! 
The one that made me a mom! 
The one that I learned how on...
and sometimes made mistakes on.
The one who taught me the real meaning of the word patience.
The one who I truly saw what a miracle life is.
Who showed me exactly how smart children are and can be.
How fast they learn.
How fast they grow.
You taught me that we not only could be mother and son...but good friends.
You didn't want to share me ever again and put poor Tim thru the ropes of parenting ruthlessly, before loving him like a dad.
You soon became fast friends.

I loved on you for a whole nine years before having any more children.
You were a great big brother!
You stepped up to the plate of big brother over and over again.
You grew into my right hand man.
You helped me when you wanted to...and also when you didn't.  Because you cared and knew I needed the help and you loved me.
You became your own person...
got an education, a good job, grew up and left the nest.  You taught me time goes by too fast.

Thank you God, for giving me the opportunity to be Stephens mother.  Thank you Stephen, for being a good son.  For all the help over the years when you were growing up.  For staying involved in our lives and making an effort to always have a relationship with your brothers and sisters as they grow up.

I just can't believe it has been 28 years!  Love you from the bottom of my heart!

Romans 5:1-10

Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;
And patience, experience; and experience, hope:
And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.
10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

Love always, Dad, mom, Antonio, William, Carolyn, Zeke, Elizabeth, "B", "T", "K" and baby "A"

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.