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.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015


I got a little message asking if Vanessa had passed the NCLEX.... and I realized I left some of you hanging.  She did! That girl was so incredibly sure that she had failed that she was pretty much trying to plan when she would have the time to re-study and take the test again. She was so relieved she cried every time the thought crossed her mind that she was indeed a full fledged R.N. all day!

Christina gets a bee in her bonnet every now and again to do something new, something big, something she has never attempted to do before. So, for the last 7 months she has trained and worked out and rallied friends and sisters to train and work out with her. The goal was the Chelanman, a sprint triathlon. Of all the friends and sisters who trained and worked out with her, only two were able to actually run the race for a lot of different reasons. Brianna and Anthony and Christina didn't just do it, they did it well! Brianna came in 4th in the 20-24 yr old women's category. She was actually 8 minutes ahead of Christina. She really swam fast - faster than she realized. Christina placed 3rd in the 17-19 women's category. Biking is not her thing. BUT she she can RUN. Anthony placed 3rd in the youth division. It was a really fun day. Very inspiring.  It was a revelation to me to see 70 year old grandmas out there, a man missing a leg, people who are heavy, a lady in the last stages of cancer... What is your excuse to not accomplishing your dreams? Cause really, there are no excuses.

A huge opportunity has opened up for Christina. She is 17. She is pretty close to being done her AS degree at the college and she wants to go to pre-med. The universities that she has looked at were not too excited about accepting her yet, at her age. They want them older, more mature in pre-med school. She thought to take a year out and go to a mission somewhere in Africa and get a feel for medical work in some hospital or clinic. Again, age was a factor in the rejection letters... She tried to get a shadowing opportunity at the hospital her dad works at and it was again a no-go. She was offered a job at the hospital that would have been a great fit until they learned her age and once again that was a road block. But this girl never gives up on her dreams. She heard of a doctor and family in Idaho that trains medical missionaries... She contacted them and to make a long story short, after we visited with the family and learned all that the opportunity entailed she was given a week to think about whether she could handle the responsibilities that come with the position. She didn't need any time to think, really. It is a little overwhelming, but she takes that as a challenge. She was accepted and will begin September 7.  Her duties include homeschooling the doctor's children. The youngest ones, anyway... for the mornings and working in the clinic in the afternoons. She has a place to stay with a kind elderly lady and is getting paid to work. She will be trained in all areas of the clinic and the free clinic that is run for financially hard up families and learning to educate people in healthful lifestyle. She will learn everything from drawing blood to giving health lectures. We are thrilled. This year will be the year she decides if she is cut out to be a doctor or not. She already has an acceptance letter from the Southern University in Tennessee for next year, but we won't put the cart before the horse. This year will be a learning opportunity like none she would find at a university. We are thankful. And thankful that she will only be 4 hours from here and can come home often. There is a stretch of foggy, icy road in the winter between here and there, though, so we won't bank on certain weekends, for sure.

Vanessa is at Young Disciple Camp. She is a counselor loving all her little campers (10 girls age 9-11!) and a young assistant that she is mentoring. She's a great big sister and she knows how to handle children well, but 10 is a lot. :-) She is also teaching first aid with a lot of help from her friends. She is a bit stressed and lacks appetite completely, but texted me this morning that she was able to eat a breakfast burrito today.

Brianna is off to cart veggies fro the garden to Youth For Jesus. She loves showing up and seeing her friends from last year when she was a speaker for the Michigan YFJ.

I've had a rough migraine...  BUT my brother and family from Africa, that we have not seen in a few years is arriving this evening so I need to stop laying around and get busy! We are so very excited.

I'll just leave you with this thought:

~"More than enough GRACE" ~
I loved that the moment I read it. It was paired with the incredibly too familiar, disparaging little phrase, "Not enough" - (You know that insidious little line that endeavors to invade and suck the life dry? ~ “Not enough strength, not enough talent, not good enough, not thin enough, not beautiful enough, not enough brains, not enough money, not enough energy, not enough….” And here was the antidote.

~The disease of not enough
is CURED when you give THANKS
for more than enough GRACE.
~Ann Vonskamp

Grace is a daughter cleaning an elderly church couple’s house when I should have been.
Grace is the other daughter standing by to comfort as I hunched over the bowl on the bathroom floor when I was suppose to be digging leeks and packaging herbs for her produce order.
Grace is my husband’s hand reaching for mine after he is utterly exhausted and spent from caring for patient after patient all day.
Grace is the boy learning empathy and asking, “Is your migraine better yet, mom?”
Grace is the cool breeze fluttering the sheets in the night after a stifling hot day.
Our God is good. How grateful are we for the grace extended us Through HIM day after day? . . . because HIS grace is the only thing that is ever enough.