Saturday, October 21, 2017

Happy Birthday To My Youngest Son!

To my little man that has been through so much and come so far.  Happy Birthday!!!!, my big five year old!

Timmy and Billy came to our home as a sibling group when Timmy was only 1 year old and Billy was 2 years old.

I had tried to suppress a deep desire to adopt more children and move into a new season of my life but just could not.  We had not had any small children in our family for years, so it was very nice to have little ones in my arms again.
 
They both had extreme issues from the abuse and neglect they had went through before coming here.
They were both exposed to drugs in the womb.  They also both had meth smoked around them regularly.  There were many more issues with Billy as he was a year older and had gone through a lot more.  Also, there personalities are very different and they learned to cope with things differently.

Timmy is a sweet, sweet soul with many issues.  He was heavily drug exposed in the womb and has autism.  Combine that with the neglect and abuse he want through and we have one sweet little boy, who is stuck as an 18 month old child.
 
Most of the behavioral issues he had from his past, have resolved over the years, glory to God!  The things he is struggling with now, are from the damage done by drugs.
 
He fusses when he has to make transitions throughout the day and when he has to do something he does not want to do.  When he came here, he used to throw many, terrible, long, tantrums daily but now he just cries it out and is over it.  Praise God.
 
He used to pull his hair out, not play with toys properly, kick everything hard so he could hear the sound of it for long spells, repetitively bang his head on things when upset, pull strings out of clothing and cry a lot.   He still fusses a lot but now can play with toys properly for the most part, if they are age appropriate for his mentality.
He can play with others, if supervised for redirection in sharing and not hitting and hurting others with toys, like a toddler needs.  He is potty trained, in that if we take him frequently, he does good but has trouble telling us if he needs to go.  He has several accidents a week.  He can not use metal utensils as he pokes himself with forks leaving marks and can not stop looking at the reflection in a metal spoon and waving it before his face back and forth. (self stemming with it from the autism)  It is such an issue, it slings food everywhere and keeps him from eating his meal. 

He has very little danger awareness so needs to be closely supervised or shadowed by an older child/adult when we go places in public.  We just recently graduated him out of a stroller as he will hold someones hand now and not jerk it away and run.
 
He has trouble learning but does learn with a lot of repetition and structure.
 
He really has a sweet and loving heart.  He makes me cry almost nightly.  He wants to kiss me good night.  I will squat down to his level and he hugs me and kisses my left and right check and then takes his little hands and rubs those kisses in a circle and says..."rub rub rub...stay forever"  I tear up every time.

He is doing structured school work daily.  He is doing Pre -K and really enjoys it.  Carolyn partners with him and they work very well together.  He get discouraged and needs frequent breaks.  He can stay focused in short bursts but gets distracted very easily.
 
We try to keep it light and fun with lots of positive reinforcement and verbal praise.   He just beams when you tell him you love him or that he is doing a great job.

He loves all things boy...cars, trains and things with wheels, machines and robots, dinosaurs and sharks.  He likes to color and build with toddler duplos.
 
He loves to ride ponies but has very poor balance.  He can not seem to tell where his body is in space and trips and falls a lot.  When we ride ponies, I have one of the other kids lead the pony, while I spot him and have a hold of him, so he does not fall off.  I have to do this with all three of our youngest for various reasons.  I am hoping in time the riding will help with their balance and ability to walk and run better.
 He tries very hard to please us but has a rebellious side that will not budge at times.
He is very bonded into our family and loves his brothers and sisters.
Sometimes it is hard to get his attention, as he spends a good deal of time, if not kept engaged, playing with his hands in the air.
He loves to be read to and has a ready smile.
Even though sounds, some contact and clothing is irritating to him, He is cuddly and loves to be held and hugged by us all.
He is growing up so fast.
He does have a sense of humor and tries at times to say funny things and make us laugh.  :)
He had a very hard time when we went on vacation.  He had a fun time while we were out at the beach or were busy but back at the vacation house, he really struggled in all areas and his potty training, eating and behavior just fell apart.
As soon as we got home everything just fell back into place for him and he was fine.
He does not like showers or water being splashed around him but did really well at the water park we went to on vacation.

Timmy is a joy to have in our home and a sweet child who tries hard to be a good boy.
We all love him dearly and want the best for him.  I pray he keeps learning and growing every day.

For our children's birthday, we let them either choose a place to eat out at (as we hardly ever eat out) or a special meal to eat at home.  I have been having conversations with Timmy for about a month, trying to help him understand favorite foods or a place he likes to eat at and he just did not understand.  We finally decided to take a picnic to a local park and let him play on the playground.  He is so easy to please and that just made his day. 

We don't encourage superhero type play but this year he wanted a certain superhero cake.  My sister did an excellent job making a happy cake for him.  It was perfect and made him feel very special.  Thank you Aunt "S", for your loving care in what you do for the children, to make them feel special.

Happy birthday my sweet boy!  We love you so much and I am so pleased that God brought you to us to be our son!  May God bring healing and health to all areas of your body, mind and life.  May you learn to love and serve Him with your whole life and heart.  May God always have His mighty hand on you, my youngest son!

James 1:17  17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.



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

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

A Full Plate

What a very eventful and busy two weeks we have had!  We have all had to work very hard at keeping the stress levels down by doing some fun, spur of the moment, things to help keep things lighter and happy. 

Antonio went six whole weeks without a bad spell.  It was the longest stretch of good days to date since the botox reaction.  He is now been going through a bad spell and is on day nine.  It is really hard on the whole family when he goes through these manic spells, so we try to keep our days happy and light to balance it all.    

Last Saturday, William passed out while we were at a friends house.  It happened so fast, no one caught him and he fell hard.  We were in their kitchen with hard wood flooring.  He hit his head on a counter while going down and put an inch and a half long gash on the side of his head. He came down with the side of his face taking most of the impact on the floor.  His whole side of his face from the temple down to the jaw was bruised and swollen.  His eye socket on that side was swelled and black and blue.  He looked like he had been in a bad fight, bless his heart.  We spent the day in the ER having tests done.  They glued closed the gash.  The EKG and blood work came back normal but the CAT scan, when read by his doctor, showed he had a concussion. (bruised his brain) He is doing really well but having trouble concentrating and doing his college work.  He is also very tired and having trouble getting his thoughts together.  I am so grateful to God for his hand of protection.  It could have been so much worse.  We are all praying for a quick and full recovery.  Also, that it will never happen again.
Another big change in our lives, is that Tim's parents will be coming here to live with us.  We are all in prayer about it and pray the Lords hand on the whole situation.

We have workmen all over the farm.  They are fixing roofs and siding from the horrible hail damage that was done in the hail storm in March of this year.  Our home was fixed several months ago but it took time for the workers to get to the rest of our farm, as there were so many homes in our area that needed fixing.  We have so many out buildings and now they are all getting done.  There are nails and screws everywhere, as they take off old roofing and siding and put new on.  We are all having to be super diligent to go over all areas regularly with large magnets so no one gets a nail in a foot, hoof or tire.

On the fun side of things, our zoo membership was going to expire this month so we took the children one last time.
My three middles.  So grown up.  Sigh.
Timothy, Billy and Kinsley
Anna-Kate...my baby is not a baby anymore!
With the cooler fall weather, the children have been riding ponies a lot in the afternoons.
Kinsley with her pony.  She and Anna-Kate share a pony.
Carolyn and her pony Millie.  They spend a lot of time together.
Timmy and Billy share a pony.  Buck-a-roo.
Billy...always the ham.

God helped the children and I build a retaining wall behind the house.

Carolyn, for years, has wanted to grow her hair down to the ground.  We trim the split ends but never cut it.  She finally decided to give up her dream and wanted me to cut her hair.  I made her wait a few days to make sure that was really want she wanted to do.  I didn't want her to regret it later.  She said she was sure and that she was tired of the upkeep.  I almost cried as I cut it off.  It is still long but not like it was.  We took off over a foot!
Her hair has natural curl and wave to it but not like the above picture.  I had her hair in long box braids before this picture and when we took it down it looks like this.
She wanted me to cut layers in it so I did.  Praise God it turned out well and still can be put up into a bun for ballet.
God is so good and all is well.  We feel very blessed in all areas and are grateful for His tender loving care, helping us through the difficult things and rejoicing in the happy moments too.

Colossians 3:15

15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.


May God have His hand on your lives as we move into fall and all the business of these next few seasons.  May we stay ever thankful for all the blessings He has poured out upon us and serve Him with all our hearts.

Blessings,
susan


  


Saturday, September 23, 2017

He Turned Six!!!

I know this sounds amazing but Billy just turned six!  It seems like just a short while ago that he and his brother came into our home as foster children.  He was the older of the siblings at 2 years old and his brother was one.
What a journey we have been on with these two.  He and his brother had some of the toughest behaviors we have dealt with.  The neglect and abuse they went through in their short lives, before coming here, was intense and had horrible repercussions that we still deal with and try to help them heal from today.  They were both exposed in the womb to drugs and had meth and pot smoked around them till they came into care.  We pray fervently over all our children, provide stability, give them love and meet their needs.  We give them structure, boundaries and at times discipline.  Ultimately, it takes a miracle from God and children wanting to make a change, for them to heal and more forward.  Looking back at what they were like when they came and seeing them now...wow...they are different children.  Amazing progress has been made but some issues still remain and are taking time, maturity and God, to help them heal and break away from.
Billy, very often has been one tough child to take care.
His behaviors have been intense and can be just as challenging as Elizabeth's at times.  He did not know how to play with toys when he came.  He would either use them as weapons, try to break them by pounding them, jumping on them, peeling stickers off them and wedging them in places trying to get them stuck. 
He was violent and tried to hurt other children and lashed out at adults.  He peed on everything.  I mean, if I put him in time out, he would take off his diaper and pee on all that could be reached all around.  If he was in bed...same thing.  Anytime our focus was off of him, he would either pee on something or spit on everything.  He would spit puddles on the floor where ever he was or spit on his hands and spread it everywhere to play with it. 
He did not know how to eat.  He had been on a bottle his whole life, so had real issues with food.  It took him and his brother many months of feeding therapy to learn to self feed, chew and eat all textures of food.  He pulled his hair out, poked his eyes, sucked on his skin to bring the blood to the surface making a bruise. 
He would pull strings out of his socks, clothing and chew holes in his cloths because he had been tied in a car seat his whole life and only had his body and the things he could reach to play with and mess with.
He still stretches out all his clothing by pulling on them all day long as a nervous habit.  Some of these behaviors are gone and some still remain and we are working on them.
Billy is extremely smart and does everything at full speed, not slowing down to think of the repercussions of his actions.  Some people would call him hyper. 
He's only still when sleeping or really focused on learning.  Even when he eats, watches a show or is riding in a vehicle he is not still, bless his heart. 
He is usually rocking, bouncing or changing positions by getting up on his knees and then back to his bottom many times every minute.
I share just some of his issues with you, to let you know the reality and seriousness, the struggles and challenges he has had to live through and with, in his short life.  We try not to focus on these issues in our children.  If we did, it would be very counterproductive.
We would feel over whelmed and frustrated all the time with a child.  Yes, I do get over whelmed and frustrated at times but it is short lived.  If I just step back and look at his past life, before living here and what he went through and the progress he has made, no matter how small or large in an area, it is so much easier to find joy and compassion.
So much easier to handle a behavior knowing that it is not him but a problem from his formative 2 years before coming here.
The Billy I love so dearly and cherish is kind hearted and tender deep inside.  He shows sweet acts of kindness.  If someone gets hurt he gets very upset and asks if they are ok now and tries to comfort someone if they are crying.  He prays the most beautiful heartfelt prayers.
I hear him asking God to help him with his behaviors that he struggles with.  I love to teach this child.  He loves to learn and never stops talking or asking questions...good educational questions... ALL DAY LONG...non-stop.   :) 
He is very bonded to me and everyone in our whole family.  He can now play with some of the other children if supervised.
He now has a good appetite, feeds himself and eats all his food in an appropriate amount of time.   He plays with toys properly for about 30 minutes before getting bored and starting to go back to his old habits. 
He cracks me up with his sense of humor, silliness and some of the things he tries to do.  Even though his behaviors are hard and we have some very hard days I love him dearly. 
I still have trouble thinking he has been with us two thirds of his lifetime and that he is now six years old.  He wanted a ninja turtle cake from his aunt.  He has never seen the show but has a few of the little action figures he plays with, from mega block sets he received.  Aunt "S" did an excellent job making a happy ninja turtle for him.  Thank you Aunt "S"!

My dear, sweet, bouncy, Billy.  You, my young man, are a diamond in the ruff and it is a privilege that God has trusted us to raise you and help you reach your fullest potential.  It has been an honor to watch the miracle of you unfold and see you conquer your issues, replacing them with positive ones.  God is so good and I know you are going to do great things and go so far in life, for the Lord!  May God always lead and guide you and may you always follow His lead.

Psalm 144:12

12 That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth; that our daughters may be as corner stones, polished after the similitude of a palace:


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