Saturday, May 31, 2014

The Recital!!

After months and months of hard work the big night was here.  After many sit ups, lots of stretching, tons of practicing the routine and hours at the ballet bar, it was time to show what Carolyn and Elizabeth had learned.

Even though Elizabeth broke her foot, at ballet class, six weeks ago (she is out of her cast and in a walking boot now), she dressed up in her recital costume, sat on stage and did the arm movements to the routine.  Bless her heart.  She still had a great night.

This year the ballet studio did a Christian based theme.  It was so nice.  One of the older students designed the tee shirts for the opening number.  All of the students participate in the opening and closing numbers.
 My lovely young ladies.  They are growing up on Tim and I for sure.

Carolyn in her recital outfit. 

Elizabeth in hers.  When I see these pictures I am reminded of the miracles God has done in her life.  We were told she would never walk and she does and even does ballet!  Glory to God!

I love these young ladies so much.  We are blessed beyond measure.

They both did a great job.  All the girls in the class did.  The whole program (all the classes performances) was about 2 hours long and we enjoyed every minute of it.   I am always amazed from year to year how much more graceful the girls get and how much they have matured in the art of ballet.

Thank you Aunt "S" and Uncle "B" for taking the time to come to their recital and for being so thoughtful to bring them such pretty boquets of flowers.

Also, a BIG thank you to our dear friend "A" for coming to watch them dance!  She is the one who got them interested in dancing years ago.

So today as I write this post...I give glory to God for all my beautiful daughters, that God gave to Tim and myself, to raise up to Him.  For the happy memories and enjoyment, of watching these two grow, from little infants to young ladies.  May they become as the virtuous women of the Bible, living forever to give God glory.

Psalm 149:3  Let them praise his name in the dance: let them sing praises unto him with the timbrel and harp.


Sunday, May 25, 2014

Trusting God with Everything, Including Adoption

Trust is a hard thing.  To fully trust people is especially hard if trust has ever been broken.   Trust for some people takes time.  They need to see over time that someone is faithful and is trust worthy before relaxing and fully trusting.  Tim and I, over time, have learned to pray and just leave it all up to God with things in our life.  I am not saying we don't research or think things through before making decisions. We do.  But we trust God to know what we need, when we need it.  To know and hold our future and work all things together for good on our behalf.  So we are walking forward trusting in God. 

When children come into care, just the act of being taken from their parents causes distrust in adults and insecurities.  So the children are learning to trust again.  Trust, they will be cared for, not harmed, loved by everyone they knew and know and not be swept away from a home without notice again. 

We have had so many people praying for us lately and I want to thank each and every one of you so very much.  It means so much to us and we can feel God helping us every day.  Just in the last week life has gotten so much easier.  I would almost say it is going smoothly.  "B" is almost potty trained during the day hours, even using the regular bathroom potty.  I know...I rejoice about the strangest things!  The toddlers are going to bed and fall sleep on their own at bedtime now.  We are all getting good sleep and enough sleep.  That in itself makes everyone have better days.  God has been so good and I am beyond grateful.

So many people have been asking questions about how long the foster boys would be staying and if we would be adopting them, that in my last post, I explained a basic run down of the way the system works, to the best of my knowledge and experience, in our area.  Just so you could see how complicated it all is and that nothing is cut and dry and no two cases flow the same.  There are often many ups and downs, twists and turns in a case.  There is no definite answer and only God knows for sure how things will end.

I know before we ever got involved in doing foster care, 18 years ago, we had no idea what the progression of a case was or the reasons why.  We were fairly sheltered about it all and I honestly could not see a reason why any child should be taken from their mom or dad long term.  After going thru the classes and having our first few cases...our eyes were opened and we saw for the first time a part of society many people never know of, are not involved with and don't want to think about.  It is a hard and tiring job to be a foster parent physically.  But even more so emotionally, as we invest our heart and strength into these children.  We grow to love them so much, invest so much into them and worry about what environment they could be sent back into.  It is very draining if we don't keep praying and handing the heaviness of it over to God to carry.  Walking in Trust.  Trusting God with everything.  It can be a very hard thing to do at times.  He is faithful.  He has NEVER let us down.

Last post, I explained how long the two foster toddlers, we currently have, could stay with us.   The answer was hopefully, Lord willing, for the duration of their case.  For the time it takes for their case to run its course:  (1) For mom or dad to do their case plan and they go home to either one of them, as they are not together anymore.  (2) for a relative to step forward, have a back round check done and they go to live either temporarily or permanently with that relative.  (3) For the mom or dad to not do their case plan at all, "termination of parental rights" to take place and for them to be placed up for adoption.

Are we going to adopt them if termination happens???  Hmmmm...that is a serious and long term forever decision.

I try not to think about that when we go thru a case because for me, to hope to adopt a child, I have to hope for a biological parent to fail.  I am a mom myself.  One of the things I pray, is to not fail as a parent.  How could I ever pray for one to fail?  But sometimes we do come to a place in a case, where things are not going well to reunify and DFCS asks us to start to think about adoption just in case.

When we retired from foster care, five years ago, we were burned out.  Tired of hard cases, working with a broken system at times, bad decisions from those in authority.  Tired of the constant unsettled part of foster care.  We had a house full of wonderful young children that needed so much attention and care.  We had also adopted five times by then.  We, at that time in our life, decided to close and never go back.  We were thru.

It took a while for us to get used to no more new children coming and going.  For me to find my footing and identity as just a mom of the children we had.  Really it did.  I had an identity crisis.  I knew I didn't want to go back to it but also had to get used to life being a bit more predictable and not living on an "adrenaline rush" all the time.  Don't get me wrong. Life was still spicy enough.  With surprise surgeries, lots of doctors appointments and a house full of children with needs to home school.  Just more settled.

The kids grew and we enjoyed life.  Every so often I would get what my husband calls "babyitis"  Where my maternal instincts flare fiercely on me and I have a deep desire to parent more children.  Babies, toddlers, children...I just notice them all around me when we are out in public and hope in my heart for more. Tim and I would talk about it.  Once he even got me my poodle Pickles to try to fill the desire.  Sweet sweet man that he is.   But no more children ever came.  I would pray hard and wrestle with these feelings till they would be subdued again for a season.

About two years ago or so Tim and I had been talking about our life, our age and whether or not to adopt again.  We know the huge need there is for adopting children out there.  We knew we felt more settle and our children were less medically fragile and most of them more independent.  We knew we have the space and were still at an age, the Lord willing, we could raise at least one more child and give it a home.  Though we are not rich with ,money, we know God always provides and we could care for another one.  We prayed about it for a long time.   We explored all the options for adoption and believed that foster care, once more, was were we needed to be.

We did foster care for  9 and a half years last time and lost count after over 40 children came thru our home.  In that time, only 5 times did termination of parental rights happen and only in four of those cases we adopted.  In all the other cases the children went home or were placed somewhere else.  We knew just opening for foster care, the odds to have a case terminate was pretty small.  So we re-opened,  trusting God and praying fervently for God to bring to us children that needed our home and would fit well into our lives.  We decided we would re-open and do foster care for as long and God led and if after that time no children were terminated on, God didn't want us to raise any more children but just be of service in this area...and if any cases did come to termination, we would trust God that He placed these children in our care specifically for us to adopt.

Our first placement upon reopening was a new born baby girl straight from the hospital.  She stayed several days and we enjoyed her very much.  It was as if God was breaking me in slowly.  Letting me just bask in the baby love for several days.  Praise God she has not come back into care and so things must be going well with her and her family.  I pray for her and her parents every time I pray.

Our second case is the toddlers we have now.  I can not go into great details now because it is an open case but might someday be able to share more.  We shall see.

This case has been unique in that it is moving very quickly.  The dad is not doing anything at all as far as a case plan.  The mom has never showed up to court even once and has not complied with DFCS at all.  The case is very young.  We have only had the boys for three months and the case is already been moved from reunification to non-reunification.  All relative placements, that are known, have been checked out and exhausted.  They have told us to start to consider adoption because from the way things look and stand now, it is a very real possibility.

I am still praying for these little ones mom and dad.  For salvation and for their lives to get back on track.  I am praying for these boys.  For them to know Jesus from a young age and live for God their whole lives.  For recovery from neglect and that they will catch up mentally, physically and emotionally.  For bad habits and behaviors to cease.  For love and bonding to happen for them and us and for healing.

So... we come back to TRUST.  To lay our lives on the line and trust God to have good plans for us and them.  To lay our hearts on the line and trust God that this love will benefit us all, even if it hurts now or later.  To trust God with all our existence and know He has this and will work all things together for good for those that love and serve Him.  That if this case falls apart...That God intended "B" and "T" to stay and be part of our family and that God Himself will provide and help us the rest of our lives, just as He always has, to try to raise children as unto the Lord.

Proverbs 3:5-6  Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Psalm 56:3  What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.

Romans 8:28  And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.





Thursday, May 22, 2014

Foster Care - The General Flow of A Case

I have been asked by many people how long the two foster toddlers are going to be staying with us.  Several people have also asked if we are going to adopt them.  So I just wanted to write a post today to explain foster care a bit and the course a case generally goes thru.  At least in our area and from our experiance.

A referral is called into DFCS (Department of Family and Children Services) on a possible abuse or neglect of a child/children.  It can be called in by anyone.  Sometimes a concerned teacher, doctor, family member, neighbor or even the police department who made an arrest and have a house full of children that would be left alone.  So DFCS takes custody till a family members home can be found for them.

Once the children are taken into care they can be placed in a foster home or sometimes in a group home.  Sadly, sometimes they need to be hospitalized before going to one of these placements.  Once in care, there is a hearing that takes place with in three days, to determine if the children need to be kept in care.  To decide if the reason they were place into care is true and if the parents need help to get back on track.  If the children stay in care, there is another hearing in 72 days to decided if the children need to continue in care while the parents get intense help and the parents are given a case plan.  By this time DFCS had the time to check out any family members that came forward to take the children temporarily till the parents do their case plan.  (home inspection, background checks, finger printing)

If the children stay in care and there is no "relative placement" that can care for them, they remain in their placement, in foster care, hopefully for the duration of their case and don't have to go thru any  more upheavals and moves.  Sadly again, some children go thru many moves while in care.  Every time they are moved it does damage to the way they bond with people, attach and they develop a strange way to view relationships and love.  (Often these children that have been moved over and over again, develop RAD...Reactive Attachment Disorder) I once had a teen in our home, that had been in care since she was four years old. (She was part of a sibling group of three) She had been moved from home to home thru the years.  Over 10 moves.  I see her in town once in a while now, all these years later.  She is living in government housing and has had four of her five children taken away by DFCS.  All four placed up for adoption.  She is doing well with the one she has had since that time in her life, thank God.

While the children are cared for "in care", they get any help they may need. (counseling, therapy, treatments, maybe medication.  Anything that might help them progress or catch up if they are behind in any area.)  While the foster situation is working on these things, the parents are given a case plan to work on.  It could be to get safer housing, take parenting classes, go to drug rehab, get a job and keep it, get counseling or take anger management classes.  Also visits are set up regularly with their children.  In our county also parents are told about and allowed to come to any doctors appointments, therapy appointments and medical type outings.  So when the children go home, the parents will be familiar with what is going on with their kids, know their children's doctors and what is needed for them to keep progressing.

When a child is taken into "care" most of the cases are going to be labeled "reunification" cases.  That means that the goal is to reunite the children with the parents.  It also means that every point on the parents case plan will be done with DFCS helping the parent and often paying for the things needed to meet those goals.  So if the parents are supposed to go to parenting classes, DFCS would sign them up and pay for those classes.  If they are to be drug tested regularly, DFCS would pay for that.  They would try to help them find affordable housing and so forth.   They would assist in any way they can to help them meet their goals.

There is an evaluation (Panel Review) of the case every six months.  After about a year of the children being in care...If the parents are not compliant, belligerent with DFCS, don't show up to scheduled classes or visits with their children and just don't do their case plan with DFCS helping them and paying for it...  After a while the judge sees the parents are not serious about wanting their children back.   The children need stability and can not linger in foster care forever.   So once the case has been going on for a year with no progress, little or nothing done on the case plan, the judge will often move the case to "non-reunification"  That means the parents have the same case plan but DFCS will  not pay for any of the classes, drug test or treatment.  They are no longer obligated to help the parents find housing or work.  If the parent wants their children back, they will do their case plan on their own now.  They will sometimes have to pay a small amount of child support to DFCS as well.  

Often the case goes on for another year and if the parents still don't do any work on their case plan, the case goes to "termination" of parental rights.  This is serious.  It is the severing of the rights of the parents from their children forever.  They can not see their children again.  It is the death of a family.  It is very sad but very often necessary for the sake of stability and safety of the children.  What can often make the case stretch out even longer is if parents work their plan speraticly or work it and then all of a sudden fall back into drugs or bad habits and all their work falls apart.  When they do well off and on, it is harder to determine if they will be able to be stable enough long term to care for their children.  That is why some of the cases go on for so long.  To show the court and judge that the parents can care for their children long term safely.

If rights are terminated, they seek an adoptive home for the children.  Any relatives are sought out.  But usually if there were now they would have stepped forward to get the children out of the foster care system.  The children are often offered to the foster parents for adoption, as the children have been there so long and are bonded to them already.  If the current foster home is not an option, a permanent adoptive home is sought.  Sadly, many times a home can not be found and these children are placed on adoption lists and sites to try to help them find a forever loving home.  Not just infants and toddlers are taken into care.  Young children and teens are taken into care as well and end up familyless and with no one.  Many of them "age out" of the system never having found a family and end up in trouble.  No family to call their own or go home to on holidays.  No parents to seek out for advice as they go thru life.  Since the fall of man, many parts of our world are so imperfect and sad at times.

This is one of the reasons why I write on this blog.  It is why I share what goes on in our family.  So people can see that these children are wonderful kids that just need a chance.  That with God helping us, it is a beautiful experiace and enriches everyones life involved.  But to also show the reality of it all, so people can make informed decissions when making hard choices.  When the system works and children go home...Praise God!  To see parents work hard to do their case plan and be reunited with their children quickly is a wonderful thing.  But the children that are left orphans, need support and a home.  The children that are terminated on, that have special needs, are even harder to find families for, bless their hearts.  This is one reason why Tim and I feel led of the Lord, to do what we do.

It is not easy or even pretty all the time.  But what Jesus when thru for us was not easy and definitely not pretty all the time.  It was a sacrifice.  It is a sacrifice.

I won't lie.  I have fought the feelings of wanting more children often, all my life.  I feel the Lord put that deep desire to parent in me.  But this time around doing foster care has been much harder in so many ways.  Tim and I are older and were in a small way settled.  Also, these two little guys behavior was and still can be quite tough.  So it has been much different this go around...But the rewards have been even greater in so many ways as well.  Thru God, with a lot of hard days, comes huge accomplishments.  To sit and rock a toddler and sing to them.  Watching them blink slower and slower till their eyes are closed.  Seeing their bodies relax into calm and peaceful sleep.  Witnessing their transformation from tantruming, often violent, at times, little boys...into little boys that play with toys appropriately...that are starting to hug and pick each other up when the other falls down.  To see them prefer us to strangers and eat real food.  To see them pause and bow their heads when the rest of us pray over a meal.  This is it.  This is bliss.  This is our family and even though it is hard at times....we are so very happy most of the time.

So, how long will the foster toddlers be staying?  We don't really know as there are so many variables.  As far as DFCS is concerned, hopefully they will stay till the end of their case.  Tim and I have been working with the state a long time though and know anything could happen.  Also life has strange twists and turns at times.

Will we be adopting them?  I will have to put those thoughts in another post as this one has gotten really long!

May the Lord lead and guide us all, showing us ways we can help the orphans of this world.  Even if it is praying nightly for the children to find families.

James 1:27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.



Saturday, May 17, 2014

Busy Days...But Blessed

The calendar for May looked very crowded and I seem to just keep adding more and more to it all the time.  So I counted up how many appointments we have this month.  Over 30!  So I got out last months calendar and counted up the appointments we had... 28 appointments!  We are so busy.  I know I keep saying this over and over...that I am tired.  Now I can see why!  This is not counting the times we needed to go to town to get groceries, out to celebrate with family or to just purchase something we needed.  Add to all that running our normal life and all that needs to be done and I can see why I am tired.  I really try hard to get into bed before 9:00 p.m. as my body really needs that much sleep.  I am up around 6:00 a.m. every day.

I must admit I am not as tired as I was when we first started back into foster care.  Praise God our life is feeling more normal and doable.  Antonio only has a few more treatments on his toe.  We have been taking him to the doctors every four days to get some stubborn granulated tissue burned back and under control.   

Elizabeth's broken foot should be healed up in a few weeks and hopefully she will be off her crutches.  She is supposed to get her cast off and a special boot this week that we can take off for showering!  That should make life much easier.  I guess it is not a walking boot though.  So she will still be on crutches.  

The littlest boys behaviors are getting better. They are maturing a lot and know what is expected of them.  Tim and I even had a date out totally alone last night.  It was our first in three months.  The only people allowed to baby sit foster children (in our county) are people who have went thru a huge amount of expense and trouble.  (Including training, finger printing and background checks)  So we have absolutely no one to watch the toddlers for us if we want time out and alone except for another foster family.  All the foster families we know are just as busy as we are.  DFCS held an "appreciation night" for foster parents. They watched the kids and sent us out to eat. (I had to bring my own food because of my food sensitivities)  But we went anyways just to have that time out alone.  We appreciated it so much.  Our own children stayed home and had movie night and we took the toddlers to the play time that was hosted by a local church and DFCS.  It was really nice. 

My very helpful girl! She is great with the toddlers and helping me to get things done around the house.

Even though life is busy and was so overwhelming.  It is slowly getting easier and stabilizing.  God is so very good to us.  Always.  We could not have walked this walk and survived over the last three months without Him helping us every step of the way.  Thank you Lord.

Another thing that is very time consuming is I have delved into the realm of potty training "B" which is something I have not done in YEARS!  We started last Friday.  We have been working hard at it a week and he is making wonderful progress.  He will be 3 years old in September and was showing great interest in it so we decided it was time.

When the boys came they had no appropreate self calming skills.   If I put them to bed for a nap or at night they would poke their eyes repeatitively, bang their heads or hit thier heads with their hands or fists till they fell asleep, while they cried.  So for the last three months I have either rocked them to sleep for every sleep time or taken them in on my bed with me till they fell asleep and moved them to their own beds.  We always play baby praise music to them while I help them get to sleep.  After three months of doing this they seem to have mostly forgotten the old behaviors.  Tim and I started a new bed time routine with them over the last week.  I read to them and put on the baby praise music in their own room and just put them to bed. They are doing very well at getting themselves to sleep on their own now with very minimal self stemming and very little fussing.  Praise God!  I am still cuddling them and laying down with them at nap times though.  I think they still need this time with me for bonding reasons.   Putting the toddlers to bed at night in this manor is helping Tim get uninterrupted better quality sleep and he is starting to feel better.  Also it is giving me about an hour in the evening to get some house work done.   I feel I am so far behind on all of my out door type things.  The goats hooves need trimming.  I have not gotten in a garden but still want to put in a few tomato and pepper plants.  I won't even mention all that needs done in my flower beds...all I can say it has so many tall weeds in them that it looks like the "Munsters" live here!  I know in my heart these are all small things in the great scheme of things and our children are way more important.  It will all get done eventually.

We did have a few visitors on our porch for a few days.  Little bats.  So cute!

This was the last meal William made and ate before starting his diabetic diet to try to control his hypoglycemia.  He was diagnosed a few weeks ago and told to go onto medication.  But we are going to try to contol it with diet first.

We did make it to home school bowling day and "B" got to bowl for the first time.  They all had a great time!

There was even a friend of ours there that helped Elizabeth be able to participate.  Thank you "J"!

 My right hand man!  He is such a huge help on these outings and every day.
I feel so blessed every day.  So happy to be here and able to do what I do in Gods strength.   Life here is a joint family effort for sure.  The children are happy and life is so good.  I don't want to miss a moment.

Deuteronomy 31:6  Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.


May the Lord God in heaven be with you now and always.  May He guide your every decision and make a way for you thru the hard things you are going thru. 


Saturday, May 10, 2014

Mothers Day Prayer

Its 10:30 p.m. on the Saturday night before Mothers Day.  Everyone is in bed for the night and the house is very quiet except for a load of laundry washing.  I sit here in the quiet of the house after tucking into bed all five of the older children for the night and holding two precious toddlers in my arms till they fell asleep.  Tim put them in their beds for me and he fell asleep shortly after they did. 

I sit here thinking about motherhood.  How blessed I was to have the parents God gave me.  How influential a mom is in our lives.  Really, they are.  Dads are the head of the home and often they are the main or partial providers and are gone a lot in most families.  But the mom' guide the home.  They are the temperature gauge of the home.  If mom is mad the whole home feels it.  If mom is calm and peaceful the home feels tranquil.  To our children we are preachers, instructors, teachers, healthful food menu planners, cooks, sanitation crew, drill Sargent, discipliner, health adviser and so much more.  We fill the pages of our children's lives and are one of the main people that shape them into who they are and will be.  Our words can build our children up or just one word can cut them to the heart... and the "Momma Look"...Whoa.  No words necessary. 

My earliest memories are of my mom.  I remember how hard she worked being a house wife with four children.  She gardened, canned, and froze our food.  She sewed clothing for us and kept an impeccably clean home.  She sat at the table reading Gods Word whenever she had a moment.  Writing things down and then typing it all out to teach us at Bible study on Friday night.  It was her cool hand that would be on my warm, feverish, head in the middle of the night, when I was sick as a child, praying over me for healing.  Her arms I trusted to not let my head go under the water as I learned to swim .  I could ask her anything.  Tell her anything.  She played games with us and taught us about God and behave, be kind, work for the Lord and serve others in all we do, to sew, cook, crochet, needle point, and so much more.  She was super mom to me and as I grew up, she became my very best friend.  She passed away much too young at 58 years old.  That was 10 years ago.  I miss her so much.  I have so much I would like to share with her and tell her.  I am so glad I never took her for granted.  She was the best mom.

In stark sad contrast...I found out this week that the two foster toddlers, that are placed in our home...their mom got arrested this past week.  Just another sad, terrible part, of her ongoing hard life.  I feel for her, her life has been so different from my own.  When the case worker came to visit this week and told me about the arrest, I asked if it was the first time she had been arrested and the caseworker said "no." 

These boys came with some really hard behaviors.  God literally carried us all thru the first, very hard, five weeks that they were here.  It was so hard.  It was and is not their fault at all.  They are sweet boys that were never guided or taught anything at all.  From all I have been told, I can only imagine a bit of what their life was like before coming here and none of it was stable, safe, secure or good.  I am so grieved on this Mothers Day for this mom...sitting in jail.  Who has made such a mess of her life, only God could help her get it back together.  Her mind so ate up that her love for her sons is over-shadowed.  Bless her heart.  I am grieved for the relationship she could have had with them.  They are beautiful and wonderful boys.  A true gift from God to her.  Oh, how a mother shapes our lives.  

Oh Lord save her soul and bring someone along to witness to her in this time of clarity and reflection.  Father God in heaven thank you for my mom.  For her great love for all of her children and her legacy here on earth.  Thank you for all the children you have entrusted Tim and I to raise for you.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart for these two little boys, that I have grown to love dearly and that have latched onto me so tightly as their mother.  Help me be a good mom to them while they are here.  Help them, heal them and give them the peace of knowing you from a young age forever.  I thank you for all things and sit here tonight feeling so very blessed and grateful.

God in heaven, on this Mother's Day, help every mother to see the importance of her role in the life of her children.  If they are lost help them find You.  Give them Your guidance, peace and grace.  Pour out Your strength on the mothers that are struggling.  Bless them all on this Mother's Day and help them to know this blessing is of You.  In Jesus Name Amen.

Proverbs 1:8-9  My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother:  For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck.

Deuteronomy 6:6-9  And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:  And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.  And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.  And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.


Saturday, May 3, 2014

Still Very Busy

Life is getting more normal for us.  It has definitely settled into a type of routine for us on the days we are home.  Or should I say, when we are home, as we seem to have to be somewhere, for some portion of every day lately.

Boy, do we stay busy.  I keep waiting for the appointments to end for us.  For us to have more days at home than days we need to be somewhere.  It just hasn't happened yet at all.  We seem to have something on the calendar for every day of the month of May already!  Here's hopping June will be slower.  (I am not planning a big garden this year or anything extra outside that will need a lot of my attention.  I just don't have the time this year.)

I have not had much time to write or even sit for a moment till today... I fall into bed tired every night and hit the ground running every morning.  Here is what we have been up to this past week or so.

The foster toddlers are still here and doing very well.  They will most likely be here for the duration of their parents case plan.  So at least for a year.  They are learning and growing every day.  They are becoming better behaved and maturing more all the time.  This is helping us all tremendously.  They still have some bad and hard times and days but over all, for the most part, they are doing much, much better.  I know they are on a hard learning curve and I know what they have been thru and where they came from.  So I always try to keep that in the back of my mind as we go thru each tantrum, learning experience and outburst.  As an update on them...

"B" the 2 1/2 year old has come so far.  It really is such a miracle to see.  When he came he knew only about 20 words.  He could not answer simple yes or no questions.  He had no understanding and could not put two words together.  When we talked to him he just stared at us blankly.  I could tell from the second day he was here, he is very smart.  He just had not been exposed to anything.  No one had ever talked to him and his brother or let them experience life.   "B" was like a sponge from the begining.  He started learning words and things quickly.  I had him tested when he was here in our home for three weeks and he had already learned so much.  He tested as a 1yr 9 month old.   About a  year behind where he should be.  He loves to learn and so I have been doing flash cards with him and his brother.   He now knows his body parts, animals and their sounds, colors and so many words I can not count them all.  But most impressively he knows most of his alphabet and the letter sounds that go with them.  He really is just a very brilliant kid.  He has learned all this in the 9 weeks we have had him. me... that is a miracle straight from God.  He now speaks in three to four word sentenses and has understanding.  I can ask him to do something and he does it.  (Go get your shoes..give dad the block...put  your socks on...type stuff)  I can reason with him and explain things to him which diverts many melt downs and tantrums, Praise God!  He wants to do educational type things and learn all he can, so I am doing non-structured home schooling with him.  He loves it.

When the boys came they were both only fed milk bottles their whole life, chips and cookies.  Getting them to eat food, let alone healthy foods, has been a huge messy challenge.  The younger toddler "T" is 1 1/2.  He is much more willing to try new foods and he wants to eat everything off my plate of food, so he is now eating healthy.  "T" is built like a little tank and likes to eat about anything I give him now.  He is a cutie with just two bottom teeth when he smiles.  But "B" has been very picky.  He gagged a lot when he first came, while eating.  The textures were hard for him as they drank most of their nutrition from a bottle.  He was not used to many types of foods and the way they felt in his mouth.  "B" is now eating with out gagging much at all.  He has a wider variety of foods he will eat but will only eat about five or six bites a meal and is done.  "B" is built very fine boned and petite.  So maybe he just does not need as much food to keep his body in good condition.  I am giving them three meals a day and a snack at 10 and another after their afternoon naps.  I do have them on sippy cups now during the day. I have let them keep their bed time bottle, as they have no self calming skills to fall asleep with.  They either need the bottle or to be rocked for a while.  We are working on these things.  They also need their bottles for bonding and so I don't want to change everything on them all at once.

"T" tested as a 10 month old so he is also about a year behind.  But he is learning a lot as well.  When he came he knew about 5 words.  I do flash cards with him as well.  He knows all his body parts now and his animals and their sounds.  He knows a few functional phrases like "All done." "Up please."  and "More please."  When "T" came I could hardly put him down.  He is very attached to me.  He will now play in the same room I am in nicely, coming over to get a hug or up in my lap for a few moments and then down to play.  I can also go into the kitchen where he can see me and make lunch.  He will call to me and I will talk to him and he won't cry, as long as I don't get out of his line of sight.  He does not let anyone else sit on my lap, sit by me to long or hug me for very long without a fit.  Bless his heart.  They are both very clingy to me.  I can not step out of the room with them knowing it or they will cry for me.  Also if left by them selves they will still hurt each other or break things. 

Their case is pretty sad.  I keep praying for the salvation of their biological parents.

Elizabeth had her cast put on last Thursday.
She picked dark blue and has had many people sign it.   She has gotten very good at using her crutches around the house and does not get winded like she did.  She must be feeling alot better as she is getting into troulbe more and more again like she used to before she broke her foot!  She is not going to be well by the time of her ballet recital but the teacher said she is going to work her into the closing or opening number somehow.  So that pleased Elizabeth very much.

Zeke has finally gotten used to the toddlers.
He sits and plays with them a few times thru-out the day.  He also likes to play with them outside on the play ground.  He likes to push them in their swing, help them on the slide and play trucks with them.  Zeke is really such a help with the toddlers and can sit and engage them in play, distracting them, while I run to fold laundry or do a quick little task.

Carolyn, what can I say...totally a little mama.
She runs diapers to the trash and washes sippy cups.  She brings me PJ's and puts up their cloths in the closet for me.  She helps with the barn milking so it will take less time.  She occasionally makes a meal and is doing kitchen duty because Elizabeth can't right now with her broke foot.  God bless Carolyn!  She is my right hand girl and does all she does happily and in the right spirit of wanting to be of help to me and make things easier for everyone.

William, again, what can I right hand man.  He does so much around here to make life easier as well.  He has for years.   He likes to help and he likes to work.   The toddlers love him.
He sits and plays with them several times thru out the day...he will occupy them for a moment here or there if I need it and on nice afternoons he, Zeke and Carolyn, will take the toddlers out to play on the playground for a while while I sweep and mop the floors.
Yes, it takes all three to watch just two!  William has been struggling in his health for the last many years.  His dad, Tim, has Addisons so he was tested for that and praise God it came back negative.  He has had many other test done over the last many years.  Monday, Tim had to have William to the clinic for a test done fasting at 7:00 am.  It was a five hour test.  The Endocrinologist ordered it.  I can't remember the name of it.  We got the test results back yesterday and William is hypoglycemic.  It was so bad they said he will need to be medicated for it.   I have an appointment with his pediatrition on Wedneday to see if we can try controling this with diet before starting the medication.  I did not like the side effects that could happen from this med.  One was hepititis.  So we are praying we can control it all with a strict diet.

Antonio is doing well over all.
We are still having a hard time getting his toe to heal and were to the doctors yesterday to have it cauterized.  It will need to be done several more times over the course of the month.  We have been trying to get this toe to heal and stay healed for several years.  So I pray we have a game plan and are coming to the end of it being an issue for him.  Antonio, loves watching the toddlers play and talks to them a lot during the course of the day.  A huge thing that has happened for us is we remodeled his bathroom.  It was set up to be a handicap bathroom but not functional for his care.  We saved up and gutted his whole bathroom and had them tile the whole bathroom making it one huge shower type room.  Lots of room in there for washing and a long hose for rinsing!  It turned out so well!  Thank you God for providing once again and making our life so much easier!

Tim and I are doing well but more tired than we used to be. 
I think we are making headway, by the grace of God, toward having more and better quality sleep, as time goes by and these boys mature a bit.  God is so good.  Tim did let me have last Wednesday off.  Bless him really well oh Lord for being such a good hubby.  He took the kids to therapy, took "T" in for a set of shots, and the kids had a friend over to play.  He did my schedule so I could get away for a day alone with my dad and go antiquing with him.  It was really nice and a great break.

Spring has sprung here and the flowers and trees are in bloom all over the countryside.  I feel in a way I am missing it all this year.  As I am not able to go outside day after day and work in the gardens enjoying the blooms.  But here are a few pictures.

May the Lord God of Israel, maker of heaven and earth and all that is there in, pour out His mercy and grace upon you, lead and guide you and bless you as you live and grow in Him.

Jeremiah 31:3  The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.