Wednesday, January 17, 2018

School Days

Well Steve is back to college-it's his next to last semester as it looks like he will be graduating next December.  He has worked hard and done really good.  It's hard to believe he is almost finished with college-dang he JUST started it seems like!

Shad is back to homeschooling.  We have started an on line program called Acellus.  He had finished the other curriculum we used through 8th grade although he'd normally just be starting 8th grade this school year.  When he tested for the new curriculum he was placed in 9th grade in English, History and Biology/Science. He did test at 8th grade in Math but that's ok-that's his one struggle.  Shad will be picking out an elective also.  I think he is going to take Spanish!  Hola!

Well yesterday Sam and Sarah started school for the first time ever!  We had felt for some time that Sam was ready for school but we absolutely were not going to send him to public school.  We've had  many bad experiences just with the homebound aspect of the public school system in our county  that there was no way we'd send them off to the public school!  We had looked at a small private school that was at our son's college that took kids with disabilities but that did not work out.  I'm not sure I could have handled the drive daily anyhow.

When I'm faced with a need, I look into things then I set back and let God take over.  I do NOT try and "make things happen"   I learned THAT lesson a few years back LOL!!!   So for the past 1-2 years I kept homeshooling and looking around.  Florida has many different ways for parents to have choice in where their kids go to school.  We applied for the Gardiner Scholarship that is a tax credit based scholarship.  There is also Step Up For Students and McKay.  I think there are a couple more -one that is called AAA but I don't know much about it.  I LOVE school choice as I feel parents should have the ability to place their children in whatever setting they feel is the best for their child. 

So last fall a friend of mine mentioned a new private school in our area that works with kids with varying degrees of needs.  I contacted them and we began talking.  Sam and Sarah have more needs overall than any of their other children but they were willing to give it a try.  We worked out all the bugs, made sure we had someone to work directly with them and made sure the class was ready for them.  Finally everything came together and they started yesterday.  They are doing a shorter day of school for now to help them orient themselves to it.  One great thing is it is only minutes from our house!!!  I'd looked at schools in three other cities and then found one down the road!  That just makes me happy.  I feel like God leads even in the small stuff.

So yesterday.....
I was very nervous for Sarah and she did struggle some but Sam had a blast!!!

Our supplies for the week

Sarah and Sam with Ms Ashley their respite care worker.

Facing the school!

Sarah in class

Sam playing

We love this picture of Sam in class

They get released earlier

Home at last with a treat

Sarah was very upset by the end of the day and couldn't even stand for me to touch her.  When we got home, it was beautiful outside so I thought if she got on her swing for awhile she'd calm down and she did.

Until the past year or so, Sam and Sarah have never had anyone other than family care for them except very limited amounts of time.  It was rare for us to leave them with anyone.  Then we began getting respite care and we had Ms Ashley in the home some.  That was a transition for all of us but very nice for us.  I began to go out more with my friends during the day and I could go shopping on my own!  Woohoo!  The kids adjusted to her quickly.

School is the biggest transition yet especially for Sarah.  She is very attached to me and she likes the security and safely of being home. She does not like loud noises.   If she can handle school I'll be happy but if she can't then it'll be ok too.  She has been through alot in her little life and I'm not one to want to add stress to her.  She made it through yesterday but was already stressed out this morning.  I can read her body language, it's pretty easy, when she is upset, she balls up her fist...both hands were balled up this morning!  Then she wouldn't walk holding hands with Ms Ashley and had to be carried in but she didn't cry.  She loves her Ms Ashley and we are so happy that she can go to school with the kids.  That helps alot because she has worked with them and has learned how to read them.  When a child is non verbal, the caregivers have to learn the child's language.  So I "speak" Sarah and Sam.  I can understand what they are wanting/needing.  My biggest fear is Sarah will think she is back at the orphanage....that might sound crazy but I don't want her to be afraid or think we've left her.  Last night I held her for a long time so she would know I was still there and she was home and safe.

With Sam we are really working on him wearing his glasses.  They help him see better and they protect his eyes.  Protecting his eye is very very important!  With Sarah we are working on getting her to use the walker again.  I have to admit it is easier to carry her or to lead her by the hands than to walk her with the walker.  But it's better for her to use the walker.  Academically we are working on them getting used to the classroom setting for now.  We are going to be evaluating the situation daily.

So now I only have Selah at home with her nurses and Shad home with me.  I feel like an empty nester!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

12 years at Grace Church

Life has been good around here. We are still in holiday mode.  Steve is home from college until this weekend.  Sam and Sarah will be starting school next week as will Shad. 

Last Sunday we celebrated Jon's 12th year as pastor of Grace Church!  In those 12 years we've basically started the church over, renovated all three buildings on the property (debt free)  and started an amazing Missions/Orphan Care program.  In 2016 our church gave about $30,000 to missions/orphans!  The year before we came to the church the whole church income was only about $5,000. Our church is not large but the folks are so very faithful to give towards missions/orphan care.  It amazes me!  With that said. this year we are making a very concentrated effort to reach our community.  some folks think it is old fashioned to go "door to door"  but I've felt very strongly about it.  Many times when I'm walking in my neighborhood I think about reaching each home for Christ.  So this year I've spearheaded an evangelism outreach.  Just this week alone the boys and I have reached over 150 families!  I'm so excited.  At some homes we just leave a little packet but at some homes we get into conversations with our neighbors.  I'm loving it! 

Also we celebrated Shad's 12 year "gotcha" day!  So on Jon's first day as pastor, I was picking up Shad in china.  Technically I got him right after the Sunday night service ended (13 hours difference)  That was an exciting day for our family!

When I was handed Shad

Two weeks later he met his dad at Tampa International Airport

don't laugh the little bag is perfect.  Sometimes i have to tape it to gates

This was our cache of invitations :)  Put together with love

You know I read a statistic once about how much more likely a person was to attend church if someone personally asked him to do so.  I want to personally ask some folks!

It's not all about church attendance I totally understand but we know we all need each other.  And the bible seems quite clear that we should not neglect the assembling of ourselves together.....   I know some would argue that they can hang out with Christians anytime anywhere and it is the same as church but if you realize what the bible indicates you would know it's not the same.  The New Testament church was only following in the footsteps of the Old Testament saints who met weekly in the synagogue to honor God....not to hang out with each other although fellowship is a part of what we all crave. 

I believe in being a part of a church and attending regularly and that's not because I'm a pastor's wife.  I don't care where you go....just go to a Bible believing church!!! 

I also totally believe in paying tithes....and that is not because I'm a pastor's wife but because I've seen the transformation in my life when I began to freely give.  The old saying "you can't out give God is very true"! 

Monday, January 1, 2018

It's a New Year!

Last night we had a good time just sitting around the fire pit.  It's very relaxing. We had some friends over and did hot dogs and smore's. 

This morning Jon and I got up and went for a 5 mile hike in the woods.  It was absolutely perfect, cool, misty rain.... 

We like to go back in far enough that you can't hear anything but nature.  This morning we heard some animals in the distance but we stopped at a trail turn.  We heard a lot of rustling in the palmetto underbrush.  I knew the sound and I was right....a bunch of little wild pigs!  I got a video of the last one as he ran out but couldn't post it on here for some reason if you want to see it go to Facebook to
My Real Life By Yvonne and watch it!  While you are there LIKE my page and you'll see occasional videos that don't make it on the blog.

Once I got home it was time to cook the traditional southern New Year's Day dinner

On the left is cornbread=gold
middle is collard greens =Green bills
right is black eyed peas = coins!

LOL now we will be rich in 2018!

So all of Florida is hoping for a little snow this week.  It's been a long time since we had any real amount of snow that was 1977 I think!   Today is a gloomy rainy day but I love days like today.  I love rainy weather.  Tonight I'm sharing at the local Lion's Club and am looking forward to meeting some new people.  

Have a great day and stay warm and safe!

Sunday, December 31, 2017


Hoping Y'all had a Merry Christmas!

We started Christmas Eve Eve  by watching our oldest son direct a soccer game.  He directed the cameras-can you see him on by the monitor?)

Christmas Eve at church that morning as a family

Christmas morning aftermath!

Shad got a basketball hoop and a bike, Steve got luggage (he said he thought we were trying to tell him something) and I got an instant pot woohoo!  Can't wait to use it

Sam had such a good time opening presents this year.  

It's challenging to buy things for my little kids.  Selah is the hardest but this year was great!  I found things that were different and that she would actually use!  

Sarah did not like to be bothered with unwrapping anything but she loved her toys.  This is an elephant that is so soft and it vibrates.  This picture was taken after lunch-the turkey got her LOL

New Year's Eve!

This is how we do cold weather in Florida!  We get to wear leggings and boots LOL  but by the time church was over ai was way too hot!  We may have snow on Wednesday!  No Lie! 

Steve and his friends after service at our favorite restaurant 

A friend gave us this for the kids, Sam loves it!

I love this picture of Sarah standing in her cute dress.  She actually wore a little choker:)  

So we've had a couple of good weeks.  I love having my college SENIOR home!  Yes he is now a senior after finishing this last semester.  He will graduate a semester early!  So proud of him!  He works part time plus and keeps up his GPA!

Tonight we have some friends coming over for a bonfire. We probably won't make it to midnight though LOL  We are wimps.

Last year I was more than glad to say goodbye to 2016-a year filled with medical challenges for me and for my husband.  2017 has been kinder to us.  We are hopeful 2018 will be a good year!

The future is very scary to me and the start of a new year is symbolic of the future.  I remember the first year I stayed up to welcome the New Year in, it was 1979-80.  I was a freshmen in high school.  That night I realized while sitting on an old ottoman watching the ball drop that the decade of the 80's would be a huge decade for me.  It certainly was!  I graduated high school and college, got my first job and first "real" job" traveled, bought my first car, and got married!  I don't know what 2018 holds but I know Who holds it!

Have a happy safe New Year!

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Happy 11th Birthday Sarah!


Our precious daughter turned 11 years old today.  We are so blessed by her.,  She is a true Joy in so many ways.  

Sometimes in our day to day life it's easy to forget the MIRACLE that brought us our girl.  I'm so thankful she is a part of our family.  She is precious.  

Recently I found this picture of Jon and Sarah at the airport the night we got home with them from Ukraine.  She was 5.5 years old and in a size 12 months outfit.  We adored her then and we still do!

Sarah is a girly tomboy.  Even though she doesn't walk, she is a tough girl.  She's built her upper arms up with all the swinging she does.  She loves being outside, loves her little pool or the beach.  She has learned to play with toys but she'd rather have me or her caregiver Ashley play with her during the day.  At night she wants to be on mine or Jon's lap as we watch tv.  She's all about the people she loves!  But if you're not part of her little group she tends to be very suspicious LOL

This morning before Jon went to work we opened most of her birthday presents  She wore a new outfit today.  Tomorrow we'll take her out to eat :)  Olive Garden her favorite place.

We love our girl and are honored to have her as our daughter.  We are grateful to her birth parents for the gift of her life!


So last night Sam got violently ill.  Jon and Steve rushed him to the hospital.  He probably had food poisoning.  We picked up some sandwiches and we assume that is what it was.  We were very concerned about his sugar going too low as he has had this issue before.  Thankfully he managed it and they gave him meds that has helped.  Today I've cleaned my house like crazy just in case it was a virus!  I hit 10,000 steps just inside the house LOL.  Steve Shad and Steve's college roommate did our yard.  We had a busy day!  But I had to write a birthday blog for my girl!  Now I'm headed to scrub the shower! 

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Colonoscopy fun!

Well I've been having "fun". 

Since I've been in my 30's I've had to have colonoscopies.  Since I was a kid I had "stomach problems"  those problems began to dominate my life.    Back then I was a probation officer and there were times in court I'd have to run over to the bailiff and ask him to hold my case if possible as i ran to the bathroom!  There were some disastrous situations sometimes out on the road too!  After learning of a relative's death from colon cancer I decided to "get my butt to the doctor"!  So at about 34 I was found to have a polyp!   The Doctor told me that had I waited till my 40's it would have developed into colon cancer!  What a scare!  I was also diagnosed  with Irritable Bowel Syndrome & told to return in three years.   

Then on the very night we did our homestudy for Shad, I woke up to tremendous pain and bleeding.  Jon rushed me to the hospital.  The diagnosis was acute colitis.  It kept me in the hospital for several days on IVs.  Actually I was quite relieved that it was only colitis based on all the blood!  I had thought I was dying. 

Since then during colonoscopies I've been told I had diverticulitis as well.  This is despite my improving diet!  Eating more plant based meals did help but a couple of years ago I added Benefiber!  Listen I could do a commercial for Benefiber-it has changed my life!  No more violent stomach upsets from constipation to diarrhea!  Just perfect poo!  LOL I know this is way too much TMI but so many folks espicially women have this problem, so if I can help someone out with my testimony I'm happy to do so! 

The past few months I'd been having some odd pain/pressure when I laying in bed.  It would come and go.  Eventually I had an ultrasound and CAT scan.  Everything was ok but the report mentioned that I had inflammation in my bowels and possibly Crohn's disease!   I did not think this could be correct so I went to the Gastro and of course he scheduled me for another colonoscopy (my normally scheduled one was only 2 years ago) 

So I did an ULTRA cleanse this time!  Lord I stopped eating solids at midnight on Saturday.  Sunday was our church's Christmas party after lunch.  I was sick to miss eating!  I went and fed the kids lol  
Then I had to start the meds on Monday and this was the worst it's ever been to me.  My doctor used a new prescription and boy it was rough on me.  I made it through but was sooooo sick and cold last night.  I'll spare you the details but let's just say I'm a pro at this and I was almost crying.  Between being hungry and all the other fun things I felt like I was pregnant.  I was quite HANGRY! (hungry/angry it's real)  

Anyhow I had the procedure today and was so dehydrated it took FIVE tries to get an IV going!  That has never happened to me before.  I got so upset but I held it in.  I was THRILLED to be put out to be honest!  LOL  Usually that part scares me but I felt awful and I knew after it was over I could drink and eat so I kept asking them when they were going to put me out LOL

Anyhow everything was fine!  I have the pictures to prove it and NO I'm not putting that on my blog LOL  The pockets of diverticulitis that have always been there are not even noticeable. No polyps!   The doctor is not sure what was seen on the CAT scan but did say I could have had a flare up (of course that's been two months ago by the time I could get an appointment to see him and then an appointment for the procedure!)  He actually told me that I can wait FIVE years to come back!!!!!!!!   WOW!  He told me that he recommends Benefiber and he thinks it's helped me.  He did do some standard biopsies but only because it's best practice.  He saw nothing that concerned him.  

So for 2 1/2 days all I did was dream about eating food!  Even on my way to the hospital I was dreaming about eating....however for the first time ever I was still feeling "sickly" after the procedure.  We did stop at my favorite BBQ place Sonny's and I got a child's plate of pulled chicken to go with a side of fried Okra ( I deserved it!)  and a sweet tea!  I could only eat a little of it.  The boys (we have an extra college boy with us this week) got pizza and I also had a small piece of it and that was it.  The only thing I want tonight is just water water and a Pepsi!  I'm still so thirsty.  I'm hoping and praying that in 5 years they will have a different prescription!  I have never felt so awful!  

BUT this is at least my 8th colonoscopy and although it was rougher than usual it's not any where near having to have surgery, chemo or radiation!!!  Or not surviving  Colon Cancer! So again let me encourage you if something is going on with you, please get it checked out!  If I had not gone to the doctor back almost 20 years ago I might not be here today!  If you are over 50 you should get screened for sure!  Doctors and staff are very professional, there is no embarrassment to the procedure and you are lightly asleep the whole time..  

Basically the day or days before (in my case) you can't eat solids and you have to drink some ungodly crap that will keep you in the bathroom.  The day of the procedure you show up, change into a gown, have an IV put in.  You're taken back to a small room.  they add a blood pressure cuff, a clip on your finger to check your oxygen level and three little stickers to check your heart rate.  A nice anesthesiologist will tell you to turn on your left side, bring up your knees and push something in your IV...  then you are out until you'rein recovery.    You'll have some gas and they will tell you to "let it go" which may go against your beliefs LOL then you'll talk to your doctor and go home!  That's it!  No big mystery - nothing much to dread.  My husband had no issue drinking the mixture down, I'm more picky so it was much worse for me but even still it's better than letting a problem turn into something awful!   I've never before had any issue afterwards but this time I was a little sick on my stomach still.  


Friday, December 15, 2017

Lettuce Lake Park

On my way to meet my friend for breakfast!

Y'all know we love to walk in the woods.  Jon wa off today so we had decided to go to a park that is very primitive.  It's called Dead River Park off 301.  We've been there before and like how few people are there and how far back it is in the woods.  We've seen lots of deer there.  Well it was still closed due to the last hurricane. 

So we went into Tampa to Lettuce Lake Park.  We've driven by there many times but never stopped.  It's only $2 to get in and the roads are paved.  There are bathrooms.  there is a boardwalk over the swampy area.  It's pretty but it's not our kind of walking!  Too many people there and we could hear the traffic & sirens which oddly stressed me out!  I like to be so far out that you can't hear traffic.  In fact at my house I don't hear traffic from the main road!  Silence is what I crave.  It refreshes me. 

But this might be a great place to visit if you'd like to see a bit of real Florida in the middle of a large city!  It's very kid friendly and all the paths are paved or wooden boardwalks, easy to push strollers on.  I prefer to walk on dirt.  Now I have issues with my heels and I've had to wrap both of my feet this afternoon! So paved paths are not a positive thing for me!  There is also a playground there.  When we first got there, there was a busload of 5th graders...loud 5th graders.  They left shortly after LOL  So yes I like a long walk deep in the woods!!! 

We coerced Shad into going with us.  He was not thrilled. 

On top of the tower

 Baby gator

Came back by and saw another turtle getting up on the log

So if you are in Tampa visit Lettuce Lake Park on Flecter Ave. just minutes from Busch Gardens.  For $2 a car load, it's worth it.