Saturday, June 28, 2014

Lake Winnie 2014

There is a wonderful family theme park an hour away from us called Lake Winnepesaukah (Lake Winnie).

Tim and I, years ago, started taking our children to this wonderful place.  We soon found out, after two years of disastrous trips, that some of our children are not cut out for the fun of a theme park.  Every year we went as a family, Antonio was very sick the whole time from the heat.  Zeke was having melt down anxiety attacks the whole time because all he saw around was people 
in danger on all the rides.  Also, Tim himself would be sick from the heat after a short time because the heat would take a toll on him with his Addisons disease.  Tim always ended up camped out in a very small air-conditioned room they have there as a museum for the park history.  He just as miserable as the two miserable children he had with him in there.  The third year we got smarter.  We did a change of plans and split up.  Tim stays home and plans a wonderful fun day with those who don't do well out at fun parks and I take the crew that really can have fun and enjoy it all.

Thursday was that big day.  I had a wonderful foster friend of mine keep baby "K" for us while we went to Lake Winnie.  Thank you Mrs. "H"!  It takes Baby "K" an hour to eat each feeding with lots of burping her every ounce or so or else none of it stays down.  So Tim and I thought it best to have someone be totally devoted to her for the day, so Tim could totally devote himself to Antonio, Zeke, "B" and "T".  Especially with "B" potty training and needing to be taken potty frequently.  Tim had a wonderful day planned for them all of movies, pizza, pop corn, junk food and games.

I took William, Carolyn and Elizabeth out for the day to Lake Winnie. 

The weather could not have been any better.  No rain but overly over cast and very little humidity.  The lines for the rides were amazingly short too!  They got to ride all they wanted without hardly any waiting at all.
We always take Elizabeth's wheel chair because with her heart issues she lacks the stamina to walk the whole park.  This year she used it the whole time as she is recovering from a broken foot still.

Williams favorite ride is these air planes.
He talked Carolyn into riding with him.
The planes barrel roll, unless you can keep them from doing it, by having a steady, strong hand on the controls.  Carolyn really trusts her brother on this ride to agree to ride with him.  There are many rides Elizabeth can not ride because of her heart condition but so many that she loves and can ride too.

Then of course there is this ride where they can go after each other in a safe and fun way!
The girls going after William!

They all work so hard at life, it is always so good to see them out and having a really good time.

They also have a water park included in the price.  So before we leave we always go and let the kids play for a bit on that side.  With Elizabeth's Cerebral Palsy she was not strong enough to get out of the current of the lazy river.  William had to go in with Carolyn and do a non-emergency rescue.  Well I am sure it felt like an emergency to Elizabeth, bless her heart.
Out of the current she did much better getting to her feet.

They also did the water slides a few times.

God is so gracious to let Tim and I have another wonderful day with the children making happy family memories!

Psalm 104:1-6  Bless the Lord, O my soul. O Lord my God, thou art very great; thou art clothed with honour and majesty.  Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment: who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain:  Who layeth the beams of his chambers in the waters: who maketh the clouds his chariot: who walketh upon the wings of the wind:  Who maketh his angels spirits; his ministers a flaming fire:  Who laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed for ever.  Thou coveredst it with the deep as with a garment: the waters stood above the mountains.





Sunday, June 22, 2014

Summer Fun

I have re-learned over the last three weeks that God is beyond gracious and more than faithful.  I am so grateful that He alone is giving me the strength to do all that is required.  We all work together around here but even more so now that we have littles again in our home.  Miraculously the house is kept up and the children are fed and cared for.  Don't ask to see outside the house, in the yard, gardens and barn!  :)  I have also learned I can not home school thru the summer with all the toddlers and baby girls constant needs.  So, much to my children's disappointment...(not)...we are not going to get in much home schooling this summer.  We are all enjoying it though.  We are still getting in two days a week or a few partial days here and there.  But for the most part we are enjoying summer.

One day we went to an indoor gym called KidZone. 
They have six or seven of those blow up slides, climbing and bouncing type things one would see at the fair.
I surprised the kids, took them there and just sat watching them for the morning.  Antonio loves to go there and watch all the other children play.  He is always so happy in life.  Such a nice young man and son.
 My children found out it is a lot of work chasing toddlers all over the place!
I was getting up and walking around once in a while, taking pictures, checking on everyone and found William taking a small break from it all.  He had handed off "B" to Zeke to keep up with for a little while.
It was really nice for them all and they left tired and happy.

If you are wondering why Elizabeth is not in any of the pictures that keep this blog honest and real...she had huge behavior issues that morning and a tantrum.  If I had included a picture of her sitting and watching the other children, it would have made you as sad as it makes me to see her reap the sometimes tough consequences of her actions.

The children have also been spending a lot of time in the pool.
Elizabeth is happy to finally have her cast off her foot so she can enjoy swimming with the other children!
Stephen usually comes to visit every other weekend but thru the summer months comes every weekend to swim with the kids and have some fun with them. 
I can not even step out side when they are having their water fights with out getting wet.  We have a wading pool for the toddlers but allow "B" in the big pool a little with close supervision.  Carolyn loves to help him swim around in the pool.

We have a few other little things planned for the summer I would like to see happen.  I would like to take the children to the Chattanooga Aquarium and maybe to the zoo.  I also take the children that want to go, to Lake Winnie every year.  Only a few of them like that sort of thing.  Tim stays home with the ones that do not want to go and has a fun day planned for them as well.  Of course everything now days has to be planned on the day we do it.  As things can certainly change on a dime around here now.

The children are all doing well.  Antonio is doing amazing in his new wheel chair.  I did not realize how important a seating system is for some chidlren.  His tone is so much better in this chair.  He is not nearly as tight so his joints hurt way less.  Praise God!  This is the best set up he has ever had and I am grateful. 

Stephen is working hard at his job and is buying a new vehicle next month.  He is planning on selling his little green truck to William.  William is very excited. 

William is going to be tested soon by the local school system to see what options are available for furthering his education and any possible careers or job opportunities for him. 
We are working hard at trying to tweak Williams diet so he does not have those horrible sugar crashes with his hypoglycemia.  He is supposed to take drivers ed next month and this has to be gotten under control before he gets his license.  He is embarking on a very exciting time in his life and he is a young man that likes routine and does not like change.  He is a slow mover and has to totally be on board on all levels for things to go smoothly.  So we are praying things go well for him.

Carolyn is taking private ballet lessons thru the summer to keep up her ballet skills for when classes start back again. 
She is also continuing her horse back riding lessons on her pony Millie.  She is still enjoys knitting but with summer here she usually only does it when she looses all her technology privileges when she gets sassy.  :)  I guess knitting is something she does more in the winter months.

Zeke is his usual quiet busy little self. 
He spends a lot of time doing stop animation and making movies.  I have taken him out with me alone a few times with the toddlers and baby and he is very good at being helpful with the littles and I think he enjoyed me asking him to do it instead of Carolyn.  Its hard to tell with him as his face is always very flaccid unless I ask him to smile but for him, he seemed cheerful about it.

Elizabeth is out of her cast and will be going to Physical Therapy this summer to get her strength and range of motion back. 
She might participate a little in the summer ballet lessons Carolyn is taking but we will have to see how much her foot can handle.  She has done a lot of reading while her foot healed over the last many weeks and that seems to have become a habit as she is still sitting around reading a lot.  I know I am grateful to have her back on kitchen duty.  She is the only one who keeps the kitchen clean enough like I do.

"B" is still progressing and doing better and better all the time.
I am amazed at the miracle unfolding before my eyes with these two little brothers.  They are transforming into what little boys should be.  They both still have many issues but they are diminishing with time and bonding in our family.  "B" is extremely active.  He wants me close but likes to play independently some now.  He talks non-stop asking me questions all day long.  He regularly pushes the limits and boundaries to make sure they are the same as yesterday.  He is doing really well with his potty training.  I am so glad to have got that ball rolling before the baby came.  God really does plan out our lives well.  "B" has also discovered coloring and several more mature type activities that keep his mind busy and disposition more cheerful.  He can now sit and play doing those things at the kitchen table happily while I get somethings done.

"T" is a cuddly, clingy, quiet little guy.  He is very stealthy and in trouble for climbing all the time.  He climbs where he should not with no plan on how to get down.  So I bought him a huge plastic thing with a place to climb and slide for in the house.  It takes up my whole living room but has cut down on the "time outs" he was getting for furniture climbing. 
Both boys can now be put down to bed at night with out much of a fuss but I make sure to still sing and rock him to sleep for every nap as he seems to need that time with me.  I also make sure I am available to him after his naps as it takes him at least 30 minutes to hatch out and be happy and he does it much better if on my lap or sitting next to me.

Baby "K" is just sweet, sweet, sweetness.  We have all enjoyed every moment she has been here.  I have had lots of quality time alone, nights, with her for us to get acquainted. :) 

She has a very laid back temperament and her little personality is coming out more and more as she is awake and alert a little more all the time.  She does not have tremors nearly as often as she did but still occupationally does.  She is not needing to be wrapped snugly as much as well and is enjoying moving her arms and legs a bit with out getting upset.  It takes an hour to feed her as she has some nursing and reflux issues.  She has to be burped very well and is stingy with them.  I have to keep her upright a lot.  She has gained over a pound since her arrival though praise God!.  She was giving me four hours at a stretch thru the night for sleeping but has went six the last two nights! YIPPEE! Choosing between a shower and more sleep is a tough choice.

I guess that is it from here in the North Georgia Mountains.

May God make Himself very real to you this week in a very specific way.  May you know deep in your heart that He loves his people and will never leave or forsake them.

Psalm 24:7-8  Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.  Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle.


Saturday, June 14, 2014

A Gift From God

We received an email about two weeks ago.  It was from our case worker.  She said she knew we were very busy with our family and the toddlers but thought of us to ask first and... was wondering if we would be interested in taking in an infant girl?  I got that emotion of excitement mixed with can this possibly work?  She was right.  We are very busy.  By the grace of God and no other this is working with the toddlers here and life is good.  The toddlers are settling into a routine.  They are bonding slowly but definitely bonding.  They are learning the rules of life and our home.  They are a LOT of work but I have enjoyed having them here immensely.  We can not imagine life here without them.  The Lords will be done.

Tim and I were laying in bed, just the night before, talking about the toddlers.  We don't like to ever talk about a child possibly staying, as it makes them going so much harder if they do.  These children have parents but...their case is moving toward termination very quickly.  Their case worker just came out to our home to discuss the time line and possibility of adoption this week, so we all know where everyone stands if termination happens.  Tim and I laid in bed talking hypothetically if the boys stayed would we close with DFCS?  Would we stay open and do respite for other families when they needed it?  Would we...could we... take another child?  We only had an opening for one more child according to DFCS rules.  A girl.   Tim said he loved working with the toddlers county and would only take another child if that county offered us a girl.  BAM   The next day we got this email and when I called for more info, it was a drug exposed, preemie, infant, girl from the same county as the toddlers.

The foster mom who had baby "K" was going to have surgery and needed respite but DFCS was also looking for a long term placement for her.  So Tim and I talked about it and told DFCS we would at least take her to help out while our friend had her surgery.  I prayed specifically...Lord...if you wish for her to stay for the duration of her case, help her fit in like a glove.  From the day we got her, she has fit in like a glove.  I have enjoyed the toddlers but having her here has been like frosting on the foster care cake.  I have enjoyed every moment with baby "K", even the snuggly night feedings.  The toddlers have not been jealous, Glory to God.   My other children love having her here as much as having the toddlers here.  Tim and I prayed, talked and by the second day she was here, we contacted DFCS and told them we would love for her to just stay.

So now the new normal...God has carried me daily and organized my days and times, so everything necessary is getting done.  From baths to bottle feedings.  From naps to diaper changes.  By the grace of God it is all getting done!  Baby "K" is giving me four hours of sleep in a row in the night.  So she is really only waking up once in the night to be fed.  Praise God, this is very doable and like I said...  that special time together is just so peaceful and lovely.  The little grunts and noises they make.  The smiling in their sleep as they are being burped.  That place by my neck...where only a new born can fit while having their back patted is as content as can be.

Tim and I went to a foster care meeting on Monday and someone there saw we had the new baby and the toddlers.  The next day she donated two huge boxes of gently used clothing for them.  There was several outfits in the boxes that were for little boys size 3t and 4t that will fit the boys when they grow some.  There were a few character boys shirts that the boys loved with Buzz Lightyear and Blues Clues on them that fit them now.  Also after sorting through it all.. baby "K" will have all the clothing she needs till she is 18 months old!  Then when the case worker came to talk about the toddlers case this week, she brought another huge bag some other foster parent has passed along to us, though her, which added to the first bunch.  So if baby "K" stays for a while, we don't need to buy a thing and if she goes home, her mom will be set for a very long time!  I was able to take a huge box of clothing we could not use out of those boxes and pass those along to another foster parent!  God's provision is just so amazing to me.

There have been several days over the last two weeks I have barely touched my computer.  So, being tomorrow is Fathers Day and I know I won't have time to do a post.  I just want to say thank you to my dad for being the best dad a daughter could ever have.  Also, a very Happy Fathers Day to my hubby Tim.  Thank you Tim for all the diapers you have changed, formula runs you have went on, meals you have made, baby feedings you have done so I can get something done or sleep.  That you always love me beyond what I expect or deserve and have the best attitude and outlook in life.  You are a Biblical loving supportive husband and a wonderful dad to every child we have ever had in our home.  May God bless you and all the dads out there tomorrow and every day!

We don't know how long the toddlers or baby "K" will be with us, so we are trying to make every moment count.  God is so good.  So very, very good.

May God be with us all everywhere we go, guiding us in all we do.  May He provide opportunities for us all to serve and be the hands and feet of Christ here on earth...till we go home to be with Him forever.

"My God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus."
Philippians 4:19



Saturday, June 7, 2014

Antonio's New Wheel Chair!!

After waiting for many months and a long drawn out fight with Medicaid it is finally here!

Antonio's old chair had gotten way to small and was a brand of chair we had not ever used before.  We have had to tighten every screw and bolt on it constantly and fix it, from the first month we got it, years ago.  It did not hold up to normal wear and tare of a child.  I have had to patch and repatch places.  I have been embarrassed of his chair for a long time because it looked so bad.  Antonio wore thru the seat, back and head rest padding in a very short period of time.  We have limped along with that chair for years. 

This time we went back with a brand of chair we really love.  It is called Quickie Zippy.  We have had many of them and they have been great.  We went with a different brand of chair last time because it was the only chair that would fit in our van. This time around Quicky Zippy came out with a new lower chair called the IRIS.  Praise God! 

Vans with wheel chair lifts are very expensive.  Especially, ones that will also fit our very large family.  We have, over the years, bought many run down vans and buses with lifts that we could afford but had to really put a lot of work into them constantly to keep them running.  Some with no heat or air conditioning.We drove them into the ground till there was hardly any fixing left.
Two of our old buses we drove years ago next to my son Stephens truck.

My favorite bus we ever owned.  The kids called him Clifford the big red bus.  
The van we have now, we found for sale by a family that had taken a regular large family van and put the lift in themselves, for their handicap daughter.  When their daugher sadly passed away, they sold the van to us.  I could tell it was a hard thing for them to sell this van but it brought them a little joy to know it was going to a family that would use the lift for a child, like their daughter.  Their daughter was very young and had a very small wheel chair.  So she didnt need much head space in the van.  It is a great van and the best, most newish, large, wheel chair accessable, vehicle I have ever owned.  I feel very pampered driving it. 
We are very grateful for this van.  It has both heat and air, something that we really need here in the deep south.  Especially, with handicap children that are heat sensitive.  

What we have run into now, that Antonio is the size of an adult and grown, is that most handicap vehicles have a raised roof or lowered floor to have more head space.  This one does not.  It was simply a normal van with a lift put in it.  Antonio barely fits in this van.  But praise God he does fit with a little work, so we are grateful.  We are all grateful that this new IRIS does barely fit.  We have to tip Antonio back to get him in and then set him up inside and push him forward.  His feet go under the seat ahead of him or the back door won't close.  The ceiling is pretty close to his head but a safe distance.  One tight squeeze.  We also are a tight squeeze seatwise.  All 9 seats are now occupied (more on that at the end of this post!) including the jumpseat that folds down next to Antono's wheel chair.  In order to put the jump seat down next to his chair, we have to manually lift and shift Antonio's chair over a few inches.

So here is Antonio's new Quickie Zippy IRIS! 
It fits his body perfectly and he is more comfortable than he has been in years!  We are so very grateful for it and it has made a huge differnece in his comfort and stamina during the day hours.  The whole seat tilts in space to give him presure release from bony areas that bother him from sitting all day.
We give glory to God for this wonderful blessing in our life!

Now for the promise of why the extra seat is now taken in the van.

But more on this later. :)

May the Lord God in heaven lend an ear to your prayers, answering them in the best way possible for your life.  May He help you where you need help and give peace to your heart.  May He lead and guide you in all you do as you live and grow in Him.

1 Peter 1:7 KJV  That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: