Saturday, December 15, 2018

A Wonderful Young Man

Time seems to be going by so quickly.  I look at all our pictures from over the years and am in awe of how God has been so faithful in all things.  The miracles in our lives and how God brought each child into our home.  How far they have all come.  How old they are all getting!  I am amazed at it all.
As these middle children are hitting their upper teens it has been hard in some ways.  Hard to learn how to let them go a little more each year, to trust the Lord and all we have taught them.  I tend to like to hold tight to each of the children.  Protect them from  making mistakes and try to keep them close.  It is hard for me, to start handing over to them, the responsibility of making their own decisions and way in life.  I know many of them will always live with us because of their special needs but we still want them to become as independent as possible, have goals and dreams and strive to achieve them.
Zeke recently had a birthday and turned 17 years old.  He is the middle, middle.  :)  Over the last year, I have seen a huge shift in him, not only in appearance but in maturity and in the way he sees life.  He is making good choices.  He does not get upset as easily and if he does, gets over it much quicker.  He is much more relaxed in who he is and in interacting with his siblings.  Having autism makes social situations harder for him, to participate and navigate.  He is more confident lately.  I have seen him, volunteering to participate, in going on outings when invited. (especially if there is going to be food!) Or at least responding when talked to and not just standing far away from everyone else in crowds.  I have also seen him start to tease his siblings in a joking way to make them laugh, especially with Carolyn and Elizabeth. These are all huge for him.

I don't know why it is so hard for me to see them growing up, when I also see that God is doing such a work in them and they are maturing into such nice young people.  It is all God and again I am just so amazed.  Truly, they are my friends as well as siblings much of the time.  We get along well.

Zeke has grown into a quiet, kind young man.  He is helpful and always does his best at what he is asked to do.  He loves going to the work program he is enrolled in at school and every place he has worked, loves having him work there.  In his spare time he makes movies for Tim and I for our movie night.  Short 10 minute movies using his wooden railway or stop animation with legos.  He enjoys food and loves animals.  He has a little therapy/companion dog that is always in his arms when he is home.  It even sleeps with him and helps keep him calm.  He has had this little dog since it was six weeks old and it will be 14 years old in a few months.  Most of our pictures of him growing up have this little dog in his arms.

Zeke wanted to eat at home for his birthday meal.  He wanted his dad to grill out and for me to make home made mac-cheese.  He wanted my sister to make home made cheesecake with blueberries for his cake.  He loved it! My sister and her family also took him to the lego store.  He had a ball!
Zeke came to be our son because of a God given dream.  He has been through so much but has been such a good son and brother to his family.  He is a very kind and gentle soul and we have been very blessed to be chosen to raise him.  He is becoming a wonderful young man.  We love you!  Happy Birthday Zeke!

I pray God is with you now and always.  That He will have His mighty hand of protection upon you and lead you in the path He chooses for you.   That He will have a heart towards you as you have a heart towards Him.

Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.

Love, Dad, mom, Stephen, Antonio, William, Carolyn, Elizabeth, Billy, Timothy, Kinsley and Anna-Kate

Saturday, November 3, 2018

The Brothers Birthdays!

Billy and Timothy are a year apart and on the calendar each year, have birthdays exactly a month and a day apart.
These boys have come so very far, since they came to us as foster children, many years ago.
They came from a situation of severe neglect and abuse, where they were exposed to drugs and saw violence daily in the first formative months and years of their lives.
Without faith in God and His daily help and support, the job set before us would be insurmountable.  We have been blessed with so many children, with so many different needs, all needing attention in different ways, every moment of every day.   I more than rely on God.  He really does carry me.  I am in constant prayer and in His hand.  We are so blessed and content and the joy and peace we have every day, does not come from our surroundings, what we are dealing with or goes on.  Every day has hard but good things, progress and moments of joy too.  Our joy and strength comes from God and we feel it and live in it.  The children do well.  We literally see miracles all the time...any progress and healing is only through Him. 
Only God can heal this sort of insult and change ingrained behaviors and hearts.  Not just in the children but in any of us.  We still have very hard days and behavior issues that have not been conquered but they have overcome so much in their young lives and I am so blessed to have these two in our family as our sons.

Billy is such a bright and active boy.  He is moving every moment and his mind is always going, thinking and sometimes plotting.  :) 
His first instinct is to lash out at others but true compassion is rising up in him and his heart is starting to show a tender and loving side to it.  I still can not trust him to be around or play with the other children unsupervised but he can now play with them for short spells without hurting anyone.  He still destroys toys if not supervised but is doing so much better playing appropriately with them.  He is such a joy to teach and is a literal brain sponge in all areas of learning...especially science, geography and social studies.  He would let me read to him all day if I had the time and voice for it.  I am starting him on piano lessons this month.  When I take him places and spend one on one time with him, he is well behaved and does well now, praise be to God!  He wanted to go out to eat at a local restaurant buffet, for his birthday.  He has now crossed over into being a growing boy with an appetite to go with it!  I let him go up and pick what he wanted for the first time.  I always have made his plates with balanced meals from off the bar, in the past.  He actually did not do to badly with his food choices.
He wanted his favorite super hero on his cake this year and of course my sister made a little boy so very happy with a wonderfully made cake! and oh so delicious too!  Thank you Aunt "S"!
I love this son of ours so much and am so grateful and thankful to have him in our lives!

Our second birthday was Timmy's!!!  He is such a sweet, cuddly little guy most of the time.
He has autism and marches to his own drum and learns at his own pace but is definitely progressing!  His emotions are stuck at an 18 month old level and he gets upset easily because he wants his way and does not always understand the flow of things.  He likes routine and functions very well in it!   He is not tantruming at all anymore and can calm down so much quicker than in the past!  Praise God!  He loves dinosaurs and robots right now.
He is an animal lover and has a ton of stuffed animals he sleeps with.  Or rather they all sleep on top of him because he piles them all on top of him when he goes to sleep at night.  He likes the weight on him because of his sensory issues.  He still wears AFO leg braces but has learned to put them on himself now which is a huge blessing and help every day to my routine.  I try to keep schooling light and fun for him or he shuts down and will not focus.  He is learning to write and every time he rights a letter with a space in it like the space in the letter "O" or lower case "e" he puts a smiley face in that little space.  It takes him a long time to write anything because of his artistic add-ons.  :)  Actually he draws and colors very well.  It is one of his great talents.  He also loves animals from in the ocean like sharks, crabs and octopuses.  On his cake this year he wanted my sister to put a red octopus on it.  He specified for it not to look like a cartoon one but a real red octopus.  My poor sister.  The requests my kids make!  But...true to her artistic form she pulled off a very red, real octopus cake! 
So cool and cute!  The suckers and boarder are mini m and m's!  Making one little boy very happy on his birthday!  Thanks again Aunt "S"!

He has come so far in behavior, awareness, learning and bonding.  He is a sweetie that is going to do so well in life.  He loves the Lord and it is precious to hear his little prayers.  He blesses my heart daily!  We are so blessed in the family God has built for blessed.

May God have His mighty hand on our two youngest sons.  May He heal the hurts, fill in the holes and help them.  May they both find Him at a young age and live for Him their whole lives.  May they be greatly blessed and used of Him as they live and grow in Him!

John 1:16 And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.

Love, Dad, mom, Stephen, Antonio, William, Carolyn, Zeke, Elizabeth, Kinsley and Anna-Kate

Saturday, October 6, 2018

A Summer Of Small Trips pt.2

In the last post, I started to share all the smaller trips we took over the summer, as we could not do a big family vacation anywhere.  Antonio received a grant, that paid for a family membership to many local places we like to go, so we will be going to them frequently over the next year.

The first place we went was covered in the last post, The Tennessee Valley Railway.  Then we took the little boys and Elizabeth to the Booth Cowboy Art Museum.  They do not allow many photos inside the museum as it will fade the artwork and it is quite dim inside, so we don't have many pictures from that trip.  Here are what I did get and a picture next to one of the many beautiful statues out in front of the museum.

 My handsome hubby and the children we took with us on the trip.  We only took the kids we knew would enjoy the whole experience and appreciate the artwork.
 My two youngest sons, they have come so far since joining our family.  They feed off each other and cause reoccurring, really bad behaviors from their past to resurface, so I have to monitor their play and keep them separated unless supervised.  They love each other but will hurt each other.
Elizabeth really enjoyed being the oldest on this trip and tried to be helpful with the younger children.

The boys just ate up all the cowboy artifacts, art, stories from the past and history of it all.  Especially, the American Indian things.
They had an area of interactive displays that the children just loved to play in.  It was a very good day!

The next place we went to was the Creative Children's Discovery museum in Chattanooga Tennessee.  I love going there because everything is so hands on, safe and educational though interaction, that I can actually sit and watch the children just experience everything that is there.
Kinsley and Anna-Kate discovering how water flows.
Pulley's, buckets and water!  Fun at any age.
 A draw bridge over water!
Kinsley driving!
Daniel tigers neighborhood.  Her favorite!
Actually, everyone liked it.
Pretending to file mail.
My big guys.

We also went to the aquarium and an indoor inflatables play park a few times.  We had such a laid back good summer and are happily embracing fall and all that it holds right now.  God is so good and we feel very blessed.

Isaiah 12:2 Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation.



Saturday, September 1, 2018

A Summer Of Small Trips Pt. 1

We could not afford to take a big vacation this year.  It actually might be a few years until we can afford another, so we took many small local trips this year.  Most of the trips we took, were memberships to local museums and such, paid for by a grant that Antonio qualified for Praise God.  Which means, we can keep going to these same places, as many times as we wish, the rest of the year!  Now that is a wonderful blessing!

The first trip we took was to the Tennessee Valley Railroad.  We have been there many times in the past and even went to "Day Out with Thomas" when William was about five.
Tim has also taken Zeke on several "one on one" trips, to go on the long train ride (day trip) for something special.  I had not been there in years and none of the younger children had ever been there.  So this was very exciting, especially for Timmy and Billy.

There are many old, retired, trains there, to tour and see.
The children all had such a wonderful time!
The weather was perfect and children all in thier best form!  William is always teasing and joking with his siblings.
Zeke and William are pretty rough with each other, in a fun, light, playful, brotherly way.
I am so grateful to God for my husband and family.  That we all love each other.  That the children get along for the most part.  There are a few that have friction occasionally but they would go to bat for each other and support each other, through any hard times in a heartbeat.  Spats are few and far between and they are all great friends as well as siblings.  It has taken a long time but even Elizabeth has grown friendships between herself and her siblings. 
The kids had so much fun looking around in all the train cars and touring the caboose.
It was amazing to me how huge the wheels are on these trains.  All of the boys were so interested in the gears and mechanics of it all. We were so happy to have daddy with us on this field trip!
We toured the whole train yard and then the kids and dad rode the steam engine.  I stayed at the station with Antonio.  The ride goes over bridges and through a tunnel.  It ends at the "works"  or shop, where they repair all the trains.  They remove the engine and everyone watches it turn around on the turn-table and get re-coupled.  Then the train pulls them back to the station.  It is a lot of fun.
 Getting off the train, Kinsley says good bye and thank you to the conductor.
Antonio was having a good spell over the weeks of summer we took these fun trips, Glory to God!  This young man is such a good son.  :)  He has it so hard but is such an inspiration and survivor.
My sweet, sweet Carolyn.  She has always been with me.  I have always home schooled her and she has been my right hand girl. 
Oh how I miss her when she is away at school this year.  She made the choice to attend public school three days a week to participate in their special needs work program.  It is such a wonderful opportunity for her but oh do I miss her.
My youngest princesses.  These two are so happy to have each other.  I pray they always stay this close.
Sigh.  Billy had a great time but boy is he a handful every waking hour.  It can be exhausting at times.  I love him dearly but a challenge, he is.  These boys are a miracle and have come so far!
It sure was a wonderful day and full of such happy memories, that will last a lifetime.  I am grateful to God for my life and all of our many blessings!

Psalm 50:23 Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me: and to him that ordereth his conversation aright will I shew the salvation of God.


May God be with you now and always as you live and grow in Him!



Sunday, July 22, 2018

Happy Birthday To Our Oldest!

Stephen was the one.
The one who first made me a mom!
The first of many children in my life.  He had me to himself for 9 years before we had more!
The one who first filled my heart with a love that only your child can make you feel.
The one who first gave me the somber reality that I was responsible for another life, their well being, care, education and upbringing.
The one who first filled that little niche between your neck and shoulder that only a newborn fills when held.
The one who first gave me a joy, that only a parent feels, when their child does the amazing things they learn to do.
The one who first started filling my mind with special family memories of our own.
The one who first started showing me so much about myself from a child's eyes. (Kids will repeat anything you know!)
The one that first said the sweetest "I love you mom" ever to me.
The one who first made my heart rejoice with their happiness and ache when theirs ached.
The one who first brought out my mamma bear feelings of protection for him.
The one that first broke my heart by saying something in a hurtful way that only our children can do.
The one who I made mistakes on as I learned how to be a good parent!
The first one I home schooled!
The one who was the child of my youth.
The one I grew up with.
The first one to help me navigate the teen years with.
The first one I learned that I had to leave them in Gods hands and trust.
The first one I became friends with.
The first one I saw graduate.
The one I first had to let spread their wings and leave the nest.
The first one to come back to visit and have holidays meals here at the house with.
My life was full of firsts with this son of ours.
He is the one I am so happy and blessed to be mom to.
Happy birthday my oldest son!  I love you fiercely and pray for you fervently!  May the Lord God in heaven have His mighty hand on your heart and life as you live and grow in Him!

Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Love, Dad, mom, Antonio, William, Carolyn, Zeke, Elizabeth, Billy, Timothy, Kinsley and Anna-Kate