Monday, August 31, 2015

Lauren


Life 2 Orphans is an organization that is near to my heart.  They help the orphans in Ukraine who are "left behind" the ones who have not yet found homes.  Both of my girls had Individual Caregivers.  For Selah it meant, she actually learned to walk a little when she was 7 years old.   Her caregiver had a real love for her.  Here is a picture with us and Selah's caregiver.  She was loved by all the children, I'd see kids come up to her and she'd always have a hug and a real smile for them. 


 
 
 
Life 2 Orphans is seeking to raise money so they can help finance more Individual Caregivers for more kids!
 
The children that were in the orphanage in Torez with my girls have been evacuated.  Many of them went to an orphanage in Druz, where we helped build a well for them to have clean water.  Life 2 Orphans is involved in so many different ways in which YOU can be a part of....
 
 
There's a little girl named Lauren/Lyuda that was in the same orphanage as my girls.  We spent alot of time with her.  I'm not sure of her full diagnosis but she couldn't walk, she seemed to have some leg deformity.   She wants a family so bad!  She attached herself to us every chance she got and it was hard for me emotionally but I gave her all I could give her for the time we were there. 
 
here she is participating in the Easter play in the white outfit, Selah is checking her out. 
 
 
 
Lauren needs a family but she also needs an individual care giver to help her. 
 
If you could commit just $40 a month, it would pay for a woman from the community to come in and work with Lauren.  It would help both Lauren and the woman.  L2O is about helping the communities when possible. 
 
here's a link that will explain how you can give in various ways!
 
Thank you!!!!!
 
BTW my husband and I support a girl in the same orphanage that Lauren is in now.  Our girl, Angela, has learned to stand!  I love getting the reports on her and seeing the changes!!!
 

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Our Schedule!

What a busy week.  The little kids started back with all their teachers.

This is our weekly schedule.....
Monday
10-12 Speech Therapy Sam and Sarah
12:30 - 1:30 Vision Therapy Selah
Tuesday
10-12 Speech Therapy Sam and Sarah
10-12 Physical Therapy Sarah and Selah
11:30- 3:30 Academics Sam and Sarah
Wednesday
10-11 Occupational Therapy Sarah
12-1 Physical Therapy Sarah
Thursday
10-12 Physical Therapy Selah and Sarah
10:30-3:30 Vision Therapy Sam and Sarah

You might be wondering how we work it out when various therapies/teachers are here at the same time....we just figure it out as we go.  They work around food schedules, medicines, eye drops and diaper changes AND the occasional melt down (usually Sarah needing mommy)

It's just like having nursing in our home, it's a blessing but it's also an inconvenience, in the sense I feel my house has to be clean, I have to be dressed and at least have my teeth brushed LOL.  Generally I get up around 7 am, just to get things done before the teachers come.  Most days I have to give Sam and Sarah baths in the mornings so to do baths and feed them both breakfast, it takes about an hour.  For the record, I've usually got them all ready for the teachers on time, myself, not as much LOL.   Our nurses get Selah ready for her teachers. 

Of course, Shad leaves with Jon around 7ish to go to school.  Jon is able to pick him up in the afternoons for me.  That's a huge help!

So that was my week until Friday.....  Friday Jon was off and kept the kids while I got to spend the day with one of my best friends.  She and I were roommates in college so we visited our college (where Steve is now) and ate lunch with Steve, then toured the college.  She hadn't been back in years.  We got to see the communications lab, tv station and radio station where Steve will be working.  We also got to see the new Science building where Steve works as a  janitor. 

We recreated a picture taken about 30 years ago when we actually had to live one year in a corner of the boys dorm (where Steve lives now)  It was my sophomore year and I was quite aghast that we were moving to Bauer Hall!  The administration gave us girls one wing of the dorm with fire doors in between us and the boys.  The doors had HUGE locks on them, probably broke a few laws with the locks but heck back in the 80's you could get by with that!  They wanted to make sure there was NO way the boys could get to the girls!

 
 
I'm the one in the white sweat shirt.  Weren't we young and didn't I have a ton of eye make up on?????


Fast forward 30 years......
 
 
BTW Jan had the umbrella both times, she is always prepared!
 
What a blessing to have a friendship that has lasted all these years:)  So glad we ended up as roommates and have remained friends.
 
 
 
Walking around campus we were commenting on the "dress code".  Let's just say "back in the day" there were NO shorts, tanks, tight pants, shirtless guys, or strapless shirts!!!!   One of the last things I got in trouble for at college was running to my car in a pair of shorts.  Now the kids can go to class in shorts!
 
The students seemed so young, maybe because I have a son there but they are just so young.  We couldn't help but comment on how much of life -both good and bad- is ahead for them and they really don't have a clue, bless their hearts!  We both commented that we were quite glad we did not know ALL that was ahead in our lives back when we were in college.  

Anyhow our young college student came home for the weekend.  I cooked his favorite meals, shrimp jambalaya and steak with garlic potatoes.  I even had his favorite chips and salsa and gum LOL  I gladly did his laundry and folded it all for him.  I did everything but kill the fatted calf :)   He had a chance to go out with some local friends on Saturday night and to church with us on Sunday before it was time for him to go back to school.  I have to admit, I've not really had a hard time with him being gone but if he wasn't close enough for an occasional weekend home, I'd probably have a problem!!   Plus I'm so glad for texting and cell phones.  When we were in college, there was one pay phone per hall....it was very hard to get through on it.  I'm so glad I don't have to deal with that!!

So it was a busy week for us, as usual and I'm sure this week will be also.

We're a bit concerned about the aftereffects of the hurricane as we are supposed to get several inches of rain tomorrow.  Our road is almost underwater in one spot now.  We still have standing water in our yard in spots.  If we have a ton of rain, we may have some more problems.   Then I guess there is another one out in the Atlantic.  Just a regular August in Florida.  I love rain, but for the first time, I'm happy when it stops!  We actually went about 36 hours without rain this week, I think THAT was a record. 

Well I hope you have a great week ahead!  I'm hearing thunder right now.....we will probably have an interesting week!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Thinking about Heaven

Back when Selah was in the hospital, I "discovered" YouTube.  I had hours and hours of sitting by her bed so I found time I'd never had before to watch videos and listen to music.  I found a church, Van Buren Assembly of God in Arkansas that put out a lot of videos of their choir singing.  They sang the "old time gospel" songs that really ministered to me during that time.  They also had some sermons of their pastor preaching.  The church was "old fashioned Pentecostal" but at the same time very theological sound (sometimes you just don't get both LOL) 

This morning I saw a friend had posted one of  Pastor Bobby Johnson's sermon.  It was on Repentance, not something you hear many sermons about anymore.  My friend stated that Pastor Johnson had passed away.  I listened to his sermon and it was outstanding and I'm quite the sermon critic....    At the beginning and near the end, the Pastor said "If this was to happen to be the last Sermon I ever preach, this would be the sermon I would want to preach!"   As I was watching it, I realized that it was a current sermon as he spoke of things going on in the world right now, so I looked and saw that Pastor Johnson preached this YESTERDAY!   It was his last sermon and it is worth the listen.....just think, now he is in the presence of God, such an amazing thought after such a sermon. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k3qam3wze1s    this is the link.  You can also find many of the choir songs on vbfatv.

Just really made me think.....

At one point today I was alone with Selah for a little while.  She was asleep.  Sarah was fussy so I brought her in with me and sat rocking her by Selah's bedside.  It was a sweet quiet time, not one I have too often.  I turned on this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7MUBhGENW-s  (one of that church's songs)  Its an old song about heaven, we used to sing when I was a child.  Tears just started flowing as I thought of my daughters who both will be whole then.   Neither of them will be in wheelchairs, they will walk, talk and see.....   It's going to be a grand day for me in so many ways.

I know most people think about heaven, but I'm not sure how many people anticipate it like I do.   Suffering in this life, will make a person look forward to that day where every tear will be wiped away.   When I think of heaven now, one thing I think about is seeing my children healed and meeting my twins.....I have a lot to look forward to. 

BTW, this service is just what I grew up going to. 

I like all kinds of music but what speaks to my heart the most is the older hymns.  Recently I heard a minister say that whatever songs where being song when a person became a Christian was usually the music that spoke the most to their hearts.  It's true, I became aware of God as a child and these are the songs, I knew and sang and even to this day, they speak to me. 

So I'm thinking of heaven tonight....

There is a lot of shaking going on in this world right now in so many different areas, I think all of us should be thinking of repentance and of heaven.


Thursday, August 20, 2015

Long post, from college/school update and pictures to the Duggars (again)

Update on Mama.....I was absolutely determined not to call or text Steve after we left him.  I did not want to be THAT mother.  But I was quite happy to hear from him daily about all that was going on, he called and texted me and is having a great time!  We are so happy for him.  It feels good!   So far he has gotten a job there on campus cleaning the science building.  He has made friends and decided to add another class, RAW TV.  He will be working at the tv station too.  His major is Communications/Broadcasting and he's enjoyed every single thing about that aspect of school.  Yesterday I picked him up as he had an early morning dentist appointment today.  It was great to see him, although it was a bit rushed.  I did have to take him back this afternoon before his class and it was much easier than Saturday.  When he was walking off, though I  had this deja vu ..... I can remember walking him to the preschool door and him walking off without ever looking back.  Funny thing, he has the same walk he did as a little boy, so cute.....


 
a friend sent me this.......




 
That's the building he'll work at, brand new, just dedicated today.  


 
BTW I did not know HOW I was going to get up and get all the kids ready for church on Sunday without Steve's help.  (Jon is at the prison to do an early morning service)  Well I got up at 6 am and managed to get us to church 30 minutes early and I rushed around spot cleaning since I hadn't had a chance to clean. I was very proud!  Sunday mornings are not easy with all the little ones.  We also take Selah to church so there is some extra stuff even with having a nurse to do most of it, mostly coordination.  But we did it!
 
 
 
 
 
Monday was Shad's first day of 6th grade.   He has his same teacher that he's had for the past two years and she is absolutely awesome!  I was so happy when I learned she was moving up with them.  She has helped him to reach such high achievements.   So as far as school work goes, he is firmly in 7th grade work :)  We are expecting a great year!
 
 
The little ones don't start back to home bound school until next week but we were working on Sam feeding himself some this week.  He was good to hold the fork, but he fed himself with his other hand LOL
 
 
 
 
Sarah LOVES her toy.  She sits on it and goes all over the living room.  It makes her much braver. 

 
 
 
 the kittens love her wheelchair
 
 
 
Sam has a light up bath toy.  It turns 6 different gorgeous colors.  He laid in the tub tonight till he was almost asleep watching the toy turn the room all kinds of colors.  It's like a disco.  There bathroom is so large, it is easy for me to sit on the floor in there and let him play to his heart's content. 

 
yes he has a funny chest, and yes we've had it examined and no he doesn't need surgery.   It's called something, I can't remember right now but we've had it checked a couple of times over the years because it does become a problem for some kiddos but not for him thankfully!
 
 
Well you know I have to talk about the Duggar situation once again.....
This is what I wrote on FB
 
Well.... I defended Josh Duggar when his juvenile crimes/sins were published. I believe people can repent and change. I know I've had things in my life that I had to repent of & turn away from. I thought as a teen he had done something so stupid but was open with his family & truly repented. Obviously I was wrong.

Personally I've never cared for the Duggars, I don't like patriarchy systems like the Duggars adhered to nor did I like the way the mom related to her kids- as if... she really didn't know them & was ready to pop out some more for the other kids to raise.

I was uncomfortable with their dating system & the fact none of the older kids were encouraged to have their own life & plans.
 
I don't necessarily blame the parents for Josh's sins- we all stand alone in front of God but I doubt seriously that sexuality was discussed in a normal way in that family
 
It's a mess. I'm very sorry for his wife Anna & their children. I pray that God will give her the strength & courage to go on with her life.
 
A friend of mine who had been raised somewhat in a "Duggar style" and I were talking before any of this had happened. She shared with me that often the 2nd generation of these type families seem to run as far from God as they could go once they got a chance. That's so sad. I saw the same thing growing up in a strict Pentecostal home. So the thing I've learned is that my kids have to find God on their own. I can't make them be "little Christians" nor have I ever wanted to do that. While we've home schooled some when we had to, we have always sent them to Christian school but we've also tried never to be legalistic (nor is our school at all).

We are all sinners in need of a Savior. There is probably not one person reading this who has not sinned sexually so before you grab a stone just remember that. On the other hand IF you are a Christian God gives us a standard to live by- live by it or stop calling yourself a Christian.


I don't see this new scandal or any scandal really hurting "the cause of Christ".   I love that the bible is so very open about people's sins, even "pillars of the faith" who sinned like David or Abraham.   We are clearly all sinners in need of a Savior.  But we have a cure for our sin and that is Jesus.

I'm very sorry for people caught up in sin.  I've been caught up in sin before and it is a miserable place to be.  That old saying is so true "SIN will take you further than you ever wanted to go, keep you longer than you ever wanted to stay and cost you more than you ever wanted to pay"   Not just sexual sin, although that seems to be something a lot of folks struggle with.  But any sin...

I pray that Josh gets his life straight and gets to really know God, not just rules.  I hope that his marriage will survive and grow stronger.   And I hope this is a wake up call to people to be real about their walk with God and not just have a list of rules to follow.

One thing that really warmed my heart is a conversation I had with Steve a few weeks ago.  We were talking about Christianity and things that have happened with various folks over the years.  He thanked me again for how we raised him.  Although we certainly had some perimeters like going to Christian school, we didn't demand from him a "Christian life".  Of course we wanted him to have a relationship with God but on HIS own.  We laid it all out for him but didn't force him to respond in a certain way.  Of course we had ground rules of what he could watch or listen to at different ages or where he could go- I think even most atheists would not allow a 7 year old to watch a R rated movie!  But as he got older, we allowed him to make a lot of his own choices.  Sure there have been a couple of things we've talked to him about over the years but we've allowed a lot of choices too.  We've always keep open conversations with him about things and are doing the same for Shad.   Steve has a faith that has weathered storms and disappointments in life.  He may not be on the front row jumping up and down, or running the aisles shouting, but I have no worry about where his heart is.  He has strong convictions about some things and he has stood true.  I'm not saying we were the best parents in the world, I'm quite certain others do a much better job than we do.  I'm pretty sure he has learned some things from me that he should not have  (LOL and I'm not telling what!) and he does have a mile wide streak of sarcasm.... wonder where that came from?  Of course most pastor's kids have seen a lot.....   And that's another thing our children have always and will always come FIRST before anyone else and before the ministry.  After seeing plenty of PK (pastor kids") disasters we swore that we would never ever let that happen.  And we would never ever make our kids feel like they had to follow us into ministry.  I figure ministry is hard enough....no one will make it unless God calls them to it!  Frankly, I have no desire at all for my children to go into full time ministry.  Not one tiny shred of desire.  I've never fantasized about one of the boys becoming some well known preacher.....not one bit!     I've never ever thought about it for any of them.  If God calls them we'd support them 100% but it has to be God. 

The only ambition I have for my kids are that they serve God and that they are happy.  If one of the boys was a Catholic monk living on an island and was happy, I'd be fine with it.  If one of them is a multimillionaire like Trump, as long as he was serving God, I'd be happy.  If one of them was a janitor and didn't even own a car, if he were a Christian and happy, I would be too.  "Success" is not important to me at all.   I just want to know that they will make heaven their home and we'll be together for all eternity.  I so do not care about how something looks to someone else.  I'm happy to celebrate my kids' accomplishments but we don't push our kids in any way.  Shad is amazing academically and I will admit to a little bit of pushing him just because he thrives on it.  But it's not who he is.  If he was two grades behind, as long as he was trying his best, I'm good with that.  I've never felt like I've had to "keep up with the Jones'" in any way LOL. 

With my three little ones....we say they have "the golden ticket" as they are like young babies/children and have not reached, nor will they reach "accountability" 

Well that is my thought on all of this......Good night :)  




 
 
 

 

Saturday, August 15, 2015

College Bound!

Well this was THE day....


Here's some highlights of his "going away"  party last night

 
 
 
 Some of his gang :)






Jon and Steve. Jon gave a little speech and a short prayer.  We had to be careful not to cry:)
And yes all that pizza was eaten!

 

The car was all packed.  
 

 
 
We've had such a good time getting ready for him to go and doing planning/shopping, it was a bit of a shock to realize he was actually GOING AWAY!
 
We got there and got him all moved in.  Then it was off to do all the "stuff".  Here he is getting his ID card made. 
 
 
 
 
 We ate lunch at the cafeteria. 
It was like a family reunion, we ran into so many old friends.  FUN!
It's comforting to see our old college friends who like us, are entrusting SEU to educate their kids too. 


Obviously someone got a full belly!
 
 
Then off to the bookstore for books....Shad went back to sleep!



Several of his classes had "on line books" that were cheaper.  So he ended up that all his books cost less than $100.  And that was a good thing!  We weren't expecting to have to pay for them today.  Back in our day, they just went on our bill!!!!  Steve paid for his books and for all his stuff for collage.  He bought his laptop, sheets, towels, fridge....he is very proud that he did it all for himself.  





The library where I worked for several years- I also worked in the café but in the old one not the new one.

 
 
 
Beautiful trees by the chapel
 
 
One of the many places I lived on campus many years ago. upper right hand side.
(that's not where Steve is living!)
 
 
 
 
 
Steve in his dorm room
 


 





All tucked in before we left    LOL
 
 
So like I said, I've had fun planning for him to go to college.  I even ironed all his clothes and packed them nicely.  We went shopping together. Of course we have been working on scholarships etc....  So it was all fun and games....UNTIL  it was time to leave!
 
I'd even compared him going to college to our cat getting tired of her kittens.  Our cat Gladys that had all the nice kittens for us was a great mom but by the time they were as big as her and still trying to nurse or bother her, she'd hit them on the head, hiss at them, kick at them with her feet and try and get away from them.  I kept kidding Steve about taking over his nice room and having one less mouth to feed....and comparing him to the kittens. 
 
It didn't seem real that he was actually leaving!  And while we are thrilled with his decision, it's hard when we realize we won't see him every day anymore or get to say good night every night.....
 
As you know if you've been reading my blog for any amount of time, Steve is an amazing guy in many ways.  The three of us have been extremely close.  With the big age difference with the younger kids, it's often seemed like the three of us were the adults.  Steve's walked with us through some awful days and through everything good and bad, we've been together.  Now knowing that some of that has changed, is very sad for us. 
 
When we got everything done, we were just sitting around in his room.  Knowing that the "good-bye" was coming was making me sick on my stomach.  I'm not sure he was quite ready for us to leave but I couldn't handle it anymore!  Saying goodbye was HARD!  We did a group hug and Jon and I were sobbing.  Steve was handling it better but his eyes were pretty glassy.  When we left to walk to our car, I just had tears rolling down my face.  Luckily we'd parked in an area where there wasn't too much traffic so I could get to the car without embarrassing myself.   Then Jon and I cried off and on all the way home. 
 
Now before anyone laughs at me....I get to go pick him up next week for an dentist appointment!!!  YEAH!!!!!!
 
We are very glad he's less than an hour away but he's still not with us daily! 
 
I feel like I'm a real mom now, I've gone through all the stages with a child.....while Steve is always welcomed to come home, he is now stepping out on his own.  (And I'm serious about the fact he can always come home!!!!  BELIEVE ME!!)
 
 
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
 
Yesterday was Selah's 11th birthday. 
She was almost asleep when we came in for the traditional picture with my three 11 year olds.  The three of them are the same age for 6 weeks until Shad has his birthday.   Selah did not appreciate being bothered at all.  She did give Jon a great present, he came in her room earlier and she turned to him immediately and seemed fascinated with him.  She always loved her daddy.  When no one else can get a response from her, he always can and it was like that from the beginning. 
 

 
 
And today was three years since the accident.....that fact did not escape our thoughts despite everything else that was going on.  When I realized Steve was going to leave for school on THE day, to be honest it freaked me out a bit.  But then I realized that God got us through that day and would get us through this day also! 
 
We are so grateful that Selah is very aware of things, and very stable.  She's not been sick for over two years now and the only reason she's been in the hospital was because of hip surgery.   She is making slow but steady progress in many areas.  She has not regressed in any area.   She tracks objects and people now continually.  In fact her neurologist is seriously considering changing her status from "persistent vegetative state" to  "minimally conscious "   That might not sound like a big deal but it really is!   When you add in the institutional autism that she had before the accident, it is amazing how responsive she is.  She lifts her head and moves it on her own.  AND she has been responding  by moving her hands and arms on command consistently. 
 
Well it has been a long day.  If you think of us, you are more than welcomed to say a prayer for all of us, for all the different things we face.  One thing is Steve has received grants and several smaller scholarships including one for $1000 that he was just awarded yesterday but he still has a balance on his account.  He will be working but even with that, he may have to take out loans and that is one things we'd like for him to avoid if possible.  We are still hoping for another scholarship so please pray that it will all work out for him.   We are so proud of him for all the scholarships he's gotten and all that he has paid for so far.  He is really handling things himself and being very responsible. 

Thursday, August 13, 2015

A Bit Of A Scare!

We  a bit of a scare on Tuesday.  Shad had been complaining  a little of stomach pain since he got home.  Then he had a sharp pain and said it hurt to pee.  Well after just having such a horrible kidney/bladder infection myself, I took him to our Urgent Care thinking it would be a quick in and out since we were having Steve's going away party that night......   Well I should know better by now!  The doctor did a quick test that was negative and then examined Shad.  He turned to me and said that he thought it was Shad's appendix!  I was shocked speechless!  That doesn't happen too often. 

So we were told to go to a Hospital.  I wasn't sure which one to go to so I called our pediatrician and he told us to go to Tampa General as it was really good for things like this.   Jon came home and we hustled to get there.  Luckily it was a slow day and he was seen almost as soon as we got there.  They did an ultrasound rather than a CAT scan to begin with to see what was going on.  He had no markers for appendicitis BUT he had a belly full of poop!  So we got to go home with laxities.  Let's just say he didn't get much sleep that night as the meds worked well.  He is fine now and we are so grateful that that was all it was that we just laughed about it!  WHEW!!!!


Later I was telling a friend about my reaction when the doctor told me that he thought it was Shad's appendix.  The way I've dealt with scary situations is to get really quiet and have no reaction till it is all over THEN I fall to pieces if there is a reason to.  That's how I was when I was told about Sam, and when the accident happened, when my aunt who raised me died..... I have my reaction hours or days later.  After the accident, I had ran to the scene and there are pictures/videos of me just standing there, stone face and white as a ghost.  It was hours before I fell apart but when I did, it was rather spectacular!  I tend to throw up and pass out....but after everyone else calms down.   I felt like fainting when the doctor told me about Shad.  But I managed to take some deep breathes.  The thing with the little kids, it's not so upsetting to them if you get all upset but of course it would be to Shad.  But Shad is so strong and wasn't at all freaked out. 

Anyhow we all got through it and everything's ok!

Steve's party got rescheduled:) 

We've been busy around here getting ready for college and the start of the school year next week for everyone else.  It's good that everything is changing all at once and we'll be busy.

Hope you are having a less eventful week than we did!!!!!



Sunday, August 9, 2015

Letting Go

All my chicks are home!   Shad had a great time at Nationals, especially since his group won 3rd place in the nation.  They had a nice condo to stay in with lots of pools and got to spend some time at the Orlando attractions too.  But he has said over and over that he was glad to get home:)  That just warmed my heart.  We missed him and all of us felt incomplete without him here. 

Of course in less than a week Steve is leaving for college.  Honestly I'm not sure how Shad or Sam will handle it.  Shad and Steve have grown so close in the past couple of years.  It's funny to see them go out together, big, bearded Steve and little Asian Shad... more than once people have thought that Steve was Shad's daddy.  They go to movies together, theme parks, kayaking and out to eat.  Steve has been able to give Shad a chance to do things without all the little kids going along. Shad adores Steve.

And Sam.....he'll go and sit in Steve's room and play while Steve is watching tv or playing video games.  He goes to Steve for comfort and there are times only Steve can make him happy.  The ONLY word outside of Mama Daddy and No that Sam has ever said was "Steve".   He doesn't say it consistently but has said it before.   He also adores Steve. 

Those boys are going to be a mess. 

And then there is me!  Steve is more than a son to me, he is also my close friend.  Oh don't get me wrong I can yell at him but we are close.  We fuss at each other then five minutes later we're over it and going out to eat pizza :)   (Actually I probably will lose weight with him gone!) 

Steve was the glue that held Jon and me together at one point in our marriage.  There's a formal  picture of the three of us, with Steve in the middle holding both of our hands.  It's so symbolic, I don't like the picture but Jon does.  It reminds me of a rough time in our lives.  But it is true, our love for our son held us together through some hard times. 

Steve grew up when Sam was born.  He was 8.5 years old and went from being an only child to having a baby brother with extreme special needs.  His "new" normal became me picking him up from school and going back to the hospital.  He did his homework in a little lobby off the NICU.    From the beginning, Steve was amazing.  Not once did he complain or grumble, he always treated everything as an adventure.  He handled things amazingly well.  At the time we were just walking through such a all consuming valley, we didn't even realize how well he was doing.  Looking back, it's almost unbelievable how Steve just "rolled with the punches"

He had so much change during that time.  We moved twice, his dad began pastoring and we adopted Shad.   Again Steve stepped up to the plate.  The only time he got really down was when we moved from the house we'd leased for years to the prison.  He and I cried together about it.   BUT to be honest, he did have some bonding issues with Shad.  Shad was a two and a half year old who drove Steve crazy and vice versa.....   There were a few years of sibling rivalry!!   But as Shad grew older, they began to relay on each other and now they are very close.

During the girls adoption and our time in Ukraine, Steve was wonderful.  He had a good time but also gained many new experiences.  He handled himself great during that whole trip. 

When the accident happened, Steve was only 16 years old!  The day of the accident, he was at the Ronald McDonald House with Shad and Sarah.  No one was sure of what was going on, there were police, tv stations/reports/helicopters, EMS, Fire, and tons of on lookers.  Steve took charge of the kids, not knowing what was actually happening.  For several hours, he thought Jon, Sam and Selah had all been killed.  The staff of the RMH told us that he stayed calm and took great care of the kids.  He didn't upset Shad or get off schedule with Sarah.  When I finally could get back to them, he handled the news with grace and understanding beyond his years.  To this day I feel bad that I didn't get back to him quickly but I just didn't think about it. 

The past three years, he has been a rock.  He and Shad gave up their room and slept on the floor of the little kids' room until June when we moved to our new home.  He never once complained.  He's helped out so many times in so many different ways. 

I appreciate all of that, but when I'll miss the most is just sharing the day to day life with my son.  I miss saying good night to him, and having all my chicks under the same roof.  I enjoy Steve. 

He's not going far, just 45 minutes away but this is the start of the letting go process.

So we drop him off on Saturday, the funny thing is I have to pick him up on the following Wednesday and he'll spend the night at home so he can go to an early ortho appointment.  Boy I was so glad when they made that appointment LOL!!!!!   He'll be coming home some weekends and of course we can pop over and have lunch with him.  But it is still going to be different. 

Many of my friends will be sending their kids off to college this year, in fact some of them are sending them off to the same college as we are. Some are coming from great distances and won't see their families until Christmas break.  I keep reminding myself that it's not far and to stay strong and not to be a cry baby.

And Jon?  At first he "poo-pooed" my feelings....but the other night he broke down crying when I had some Halloween stuff out.  He said it reminded him of all the things we've shared over the years with Steve.  Now he is afraid he's going to boo-hoo the worse next week.   

Bittersweet is the only word for it.  We are proud of the boy we raised.  We love that he is going to our Alma Mater, we know he's going to have wonderful adventures and will grow in many ways.   In fact, I'm quite jealous of the adventures he'll have.  College was so fun to me.  I want him to have all of that but I want him with us too LOL!!!!!!  When Steve was the most tentative about going to college I was very much in favor of him going, now that the reality is just days away it's a bit harder.  But I feel like he has made a good decision.  We let him make the decision whether to go to SEU, continue at the community college, begin a career in law enforcement....all had positives and all had negatives.  We felt we could support him 100% whichever decision he made.   We didn't rush him or try and interfere, it's been interesting to watch him make the decision for himself. 

So pray for this little family that we won't grieve too much!  I did tell him that I was going to enjoy his room, tv etc......LOL  Sometimes my husband snores way too much!   I have to think of the positives like having my own escape room :) 

He has some fears/reservations, but I think he will do just fine and have a great time.  I feel like he's been preparing for this moment all his life.  PLEASE pray for his finances.  He has a grant and a few scholarships that covers about half of his tuition.  He will be working but even with that, there is no way for him to make enough to cover everything.  He is eligible for loans, but we are hoping he won't have to go that route.  He's been so faithful for all these years, I just feel like God will make a way for him. 

BTW, his major is Broadcasting. He has an amazing, rich and deep voice.  We joke around about his doing voice commercials.  He is interested in many aspects of broadcasting/media mostly behind the scenes.  He already has registered for classes and is taking some interesting ones.  I'm even jealous about the classes, I loved going to class. 

My how times have changed, we waited in long lines to register for classes.  In fact I know a couple that met in line their freshman year, and got married when they graduated and are still married LOL.  I told him the story and said that doing it all by computer just cut that chance out for him :) 

Well we have a busy week coming up.  Hope you all had a great weekend and are ready to hit the ground running tomorrow.  Personally I may pull the covers up over my head!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

TRUMP


First I have to brag on Shad!
The percussion group he is in, Rhythms of Grace won THRID place in National Fine Arts!  They got a superior status also.  The five of those kids and their director Rodney Probasco put in hours of work.  Three of the kids, including Shad were new to the group this year. 
 
 
 



Shad will be home tomorrow and we've missed him but he's had a good time.
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Well you know it's been quiet around here......so let me stir up things!

Donald Trump

What do I think about him?  I find him totally refreshing even his "mean" remarks. I love that he doesn't apologize or kiss anyone's butt, he doesn't run up after people and try and curry favor either.   Personally I'm so tired of politically correct people that I like when Trump says something that is NOT PC!  You have no idea how I HATE PC!  PC is not something I do.  But the majority of the world does and it drives me crazy.  I know people who believe strongly about certain things but they don't have the backbone to tell anyone else (but me it seems)  Political Correctness makes my skin crawl.  I hate it in any arena, from politics to church, wherever it shows it's ugly head.  One of my friends recently wrote on FB that I would never be accused of being politically correct!  LOL  And that's true. 

He dished it out to Rosie but she's a big girl and can take it after all the ugly things she has said of him and others.  This newest statement about Megyn Kelly could be taken several ways, the first time I heard it, I really didn't think he meant her period.  It's a statement that could have been made to a man.  People get so crazy today, they want to censor and read into every single word that is spoken or in this case tweeted.  Now he could have meant it the way some are taking it but so what?   (BTW, Megyn interviewed Jon and me years ago when we had bank robbers living next door to us) 

It seems that the media wants to portray Trump as part of this "war on woman"    I'm funny, I'm pretty traditional as far as roles go BUT I also worked a career job for years in the criminal justice field.  I didn't expect to be treated any different than a man at work.  When some woman can dish it out and works in a cut throat business, then they need to suck it up and not be expecting people to handle them with kids gloves.  So I'm not at all about a "war on woman"   There was some statement Trump made about a contestant on his show being "on her knees"   I'm guessing that that is being made into a sexual reference because she is a woman.  He could have easily said that about a man NOT in a sexual way but just meaning he beat the person out. 

I have no idea who I will vote for in the election.  I like Trump's brashness but truthfully he doesn't make me feel "safe" He didn't answer all the questions in depth but none of them really did.   But I LOVE LOVE LOVE how he has the Republican establishment bleating out dire statements about no one voting for him while his numbers are double digits above anyone else in the poles LOL!!!!!!

Just know I will NOT be voting for Clinton LOL!  And I will have to start drinking IF I have to vote for another dang Bush.  I've said I'm not voting for him but if it's between Bush and Clinton I might have to-YUCK!

 Ben Carson is just wonderful in so many areas.  We actually got to hear him speak a few months ago and he is fantastic.  Rick Santorum I like, just bought his book today, "Bella's Gift".   Ted Cruz I like, Mario Rubio is sooooooo cute :)   And he helped us to expatiate the girls' adoption. 

But Trump is the most fun!   This election year will be long, at least we have someone stirring up the pot!  Could you see an election between him and Biden????   OMG- the two of them would make so many gaffes!!!   Actually an election between him and Clinton would be fun to watch too.  She's such a loser in so many different ways. 

Did anyone notice in the debates how ALL of them refused to answer the questions directly?  That drives me crazy!  I'd vote for any candidate that would answer a question with a simple YES or NO!!  They answer with the stupidest long answers that make no sense whatsoever!  I feel like dousing them all in cold water LOL!  The interviewer is like " So do you think we should do __________?  the candidate is like " My favorite color is purple and my grandfather was a coal miner and I like dogs...."   Grrrrrrrrrr!!!!   They should have shock collars on their neck and get a shock if they didn't clearly answer the question.  Trump included! 
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Road Trip with Steve again today.  Hey I'm making the most of every minute since we are dropping him off at college in one week from today!  We went to Brandon to get his IPhone fixed and I got to take some stuff to my favorite consignment shop.  We had a really good time going to the mall, eating Chinese and I browsed through the bookstore as he was getting his phone fixed.  Even though we are on a tight budget.....don't let me in a bookstore!  I got one of my favorite murder mystery author's book - Rhys Bowen "Her Royal Spyness"  As I mentioned before I bought Rick Santorum's book "Bella's Gift"  I was skimming it in the store and had to stop as tears were welling up in my eyes.  They express our feelings for our little ones.  It brought me back to the first days of Sam's life and all the uncertainty about diagnosis and prognosis, very moving book.   Also I got Jon a coffee table book on Johnny Cash by Life Magazine.  His dad grew up in the same tiny town as JC and Jon's uncle was a close friends of JCs. 

He deserved a treat cause Jon took care of the kids last night thank God!  We got take out and let Sam drink quite a bit of sweet tea.  Well it was late and he obviously can't handle his caffeine LOL  He fell asleep on me but woke up about 1 am.....until about 6 am.....  He was making his happy sounds...LOUDLY.  Our new house is wonderful but as large as it is, it is so echoing.  So he woke Sarah up.  Both of them managed to wet their beds.  It was a long night for Jon.  I woke up after all the work was done but I can sleep through anything and so I went right on back to sleep!  I'm a great mom and I'll stay up all night with a kid if necessary BUT don't let me go to sleep, then it's like I am drugged!   Both Sam and Steve slept through the night after we brought them home from the hospital.  Of course Sam had alarms on him so when that would go off, it would get me up.  But I was blessed never to have a kid that didn't' sleep through the night till last night!  Sam was very happy just lying in his bed and laughing but  NO MORE CAFFEINE!

Friday, August 7, 2015

Working At The Carwash!

With our son leaving next week, I've been trying to get all kinds of errands out of the way before he leaves.  Today I was determined to wash our vans and vacuum them out.  Since we had all that rain and live on a dirt road....this is what one van looked like


it looked much worse "in real life".  

So today Steve and I cleaned both vans out inside (like getting up all the change, taking out the diaper bags and restocking wiping everything down)  and off we go to go to fill them up for the week and wash/vac them 

That's when our adventure began....
I paid for one car to fill up, then our bank automatically rejected the next payment.  So I went inside....with my hair up in a pony tail, old tshirt and shorts on, old flip flops....I wasn't dressed to go in anywhere!  The guy overrode it and the transaction went through.  I paid for the cars to go through the car wash there since they were so dirty. 

The car wash.....
Steve takes the grey van through as I wait in the blue van....
it doesn't work.  He comes out and asks me to go back in and tell the guy something is wrong.  Guy gives me another code and tells me a "trick" on how to make it work.  I go get in the car with Steve to "help' him.....  it doesn't work.  So Steve tells me to get out and go tell the guy that it doesn't work....we are IN the carwash.  So I dither about opening the door assuming that the carwash will start the second I open the door and I'll get caught in it and end up on the cable news shows.....  Finally I jump out and run out of the carwash and tell the guy it's not working.   He's a funny little guy...so he comes back with me and resets the whole system...  It works!!!

Then Steve decides we should get Subway sandwiches which has a kiosk in convenience store, so while he is taking the other van through, I order us food.  I'm feeling so self conscious in my old clothes, no shower, hair up in a ponytail....of course part of the football team and some cops were there....I'm sure they are all thinking "bless her heart".  

The order gets placed and the card is declined....
30 minutes later I get someone on the phone from the bank that clears it all up, we get our food and drive away.  We had planned on vacuuming the cars out there, but had no cash and couldn't use the card for it since they don't do "cash back"

So then we go to another gas station....It takes credit cards at the vacuum/air pressure machine....YEAH!....  then we start looking around for the vacuum hose....it wasn't there....  this time Steve goes inside and the worker comes out to help us.  She couldn't make it magically appear, some one had stolen the vacuum hose!  the huge hose, someone had cut it off.  For what reason would someone steal that?  So then she went off to call the Po-Po....we left to go eat our food and give up for the day!

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The rain quit and the county has been out grading our dirt roads (that means they've been fixing them and smoothing them out with a plow)  That has made all of us around here happy!  The waters are receding some around us, our yard is almost dried out but not our parking area.  Our neighbor can now use his driveway.  However it looks as if the river is higher than ever today!

Since last week I've not felt good, by Monday I felt so weak, was nauseated and had chills.  I honestly wondered if I was having a heart attack or something.  It felt like my limbs had weights on them.  By Monday night I started getting symptoms of a bladder infection. Thankfully there is over the counter meds and that got me through a miserable night.  I was at our doctor's by 8am the next morning.  Evidently I have a really bad kidney/bladder infection.  I'm on some strong meds and they are helping a lot but I don't have a lot of energy and am still taking pain killers. This was a warning to me to go to the doctor if I feel odd.  Since I didn't have typical symptoms for a few days, it could have gotten really bad for me and I could have ended up in the hospital.  People can die of infections like this and not even really know what is wrong until it is too late.   So don't put off going to the doctor if something is "not right"



Well I hope everyone has a great healthy weekend!!!!!
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Tuesday, August 4, 2015

No Ark Needed!

We had SUNSHINE today!!!!  The water has not receded in our yard much but it hasn't gotten worse.  Our road was worse today it seemed but at least there has been no new rain!!!  It was great to see the sun creeping through my window this morning.  I feel like we had a good practice run for any hurricanes or problems that could come up. 

Today we had a free day, I got to go out to breakfast with a friend.  Later Steve and Shad went to a movie and I got a little reading in.  Sarah will sit right with me as I read and she usually keeps one leg over mine so I can't get up :)  Sam took a nap- he's been off his schedule since we've moved and he is a child that needs a nap.

Tomorrow Shad leaves for Orlando and the National Fine Arts/General Council of the Assemblies of God.  He is representing the Clantons this year.  Even tho it was close to home, the move, along with Steve leaving for college and our looming September trip to NY- it was too much for us to go.  Of course seeing all the pictures, I do regret not seeing friends there but we just weren't up to it this year.   Shad's all excited.  We are hoping his percussion group will win :) 

Anyhow just wanted to let y'all know we are not needing an ark!







Monday, August 3, 2015

Rain!!!

This is day 20 of rain for our area.  We live about a mile from the Hillsborough River and 1.5 miles from Crystal Springs, that feeds into the river.  Thanks to Angelo's Recycling, who brought in truckloads of sand,  our house itself is high up but our roads are getting really bad!

Yesterday our road was under water in an area.  I am beyond traumatized about water so I stayed home with the kids from church.  That was a first!   Since we live in an area that is plagued with sinkholes, I was not driving through any water that I could not see the road under it!  It's one thing to get myself out of a vehicle, it's another to get the kids out of their car seats and out safely!  We've bought the sticks that will break the car windows from the inside in case of something like that happening. 

Well today it's worse!  Our nurse could barely drive her small car in this morning.  since rain is expected for 3 more days....I called Emergency Management.  We were actually thinking we might need to take Selah to a hotel to be safe.  EM was very helpful.  Originally I had called them per our nursing agency when we came home with Selah.  Basically they told us they had no place for our family due to all the needs.  So they told us to be prepared to hunker down.  With our new house, that is what we prepared for. BUT the nurses can't get in and out, especially the ones with smaller cars.   So the EM guy suggested that the nurses park at our local fire station and they can be shuttled back & to if they need to be. 

I love rain but....this is too much!

Forecast for today





this is our side yard, as you can see the water from the gully is over taking it
 
the picture below is our neighbor's yard, you can see it's coming in our yard.  
 
the neighbor's yard is underwater
 



This is across the street, there is almost always water here, but as you can see from the next picture, it is overflowing out to the road.  

 
the water is very swampy



More of the neighbor's yard, there is also usually water in it too



You can see our house on the left, the water is closer!!




we can't get to the dumpster





this was earlier this morning....


backyard
 





 
 We aren't really worried about water getting into the house but more about not being able to leave the house, or get back to it if we leave!   Even the ground that looks dry, isn't.  Where the sod/grass is, the water is there, maybe like a 1/4 og an inch.  You can't walk on it without sinking into the water. 
 
Right this second, it's not raining here but we are expecting more rain soon by the looks of the radar. 
 
 
This is interesting, usually we deal with hurricanes in Florida, where there is a tremendous amount of rain in a short amount of time.   Then the sun comes up and dries it all out.  This has been 20 days of rain for us, it's different.
 
 
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These pictures are from yesterday.  Sarah has on what I call her Ukraine shirt. 
She absolutely hates having her picture taken (that's her other stubborn thing!)  HOW does she know I'm taking a picture?  Seconds before she was giggling until I was ready to take a picture!  Then she got all serious.
 
 
 


Almost a smile in this one!

 
 
Well I hope you are safe and dry wherever in the world you are :)  We're trying here!!!!
 
 
 

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Juice Boxes

When I talk about Sarah, I always stress how easy going and pleasant she is...and she is!  BUT she has a stubborn streak a mile long in a few areas.  One of those areas is her drinking.  She absolutely will NOT drink from anything but a Capri Sun packet.  Publix was having a buy 1 get1 sale of another juice box last week so I bought a couple of cartons.  Since we have Sam drinking out of a Sippy cup all the time now, I even got the apple flavor which is Sarah's favorite.  It was a NO GO!  The best I did was get her to take small sips.  So I continued daily for 3 or 4 days to get her to drink from it.  Nope, only a few sips.  So I thought I'd give her sweet tea in a Sippy cup...Nope.  I tried everything, even going back to giving her drink by a large tablespoon and then switching back to the Sippy cup or to the new juice box.  Nope.....  She did let us give her her daily Pedisure shake by spoon)

I gave in!  Today I went and bought her the Capri Sun that she loves and she set down and drank two packets immediately with a smile on her face.  She won!  (btw I get the one that is 100% juice)   

Usually I never give in to a child but when the child is non verbal and not drinking as much as I think she should, I give in.  She always had wet diapers and gets lots of fluids through her food since it is all pureed with additional water or broth.  But I worried about her. 

We think she just likes the feel of the Capri sun packet.  The other juice boxes have very narrow straws, although the sippy cup did have a larger straw.  I actually used a straw from the Capri Sun to put in the other juice box, it did not work!

My funny girl and her preference for the most expensive juice box on the shelf LOL!
But I figure after all she's been through, she can have the darn things!!!!


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Continued Rain......I love rain and even I am beginning to wonder about this!   This morning I almost got stuck leaving our parking area.  The pillows on the front porch all got mildew, and had to be thrown away.   Our yard is full of water, since we have sod (thank you Habitat!) it doesn't look too bad till you start walking and the water covers your shoe!  Hopefully all this rain will just cause the trees and grass to grow and get roots. 

With the move, I've not done a garden, I miss it so much.  I can't imagine how a garden would grow this year, it's perfect weather for one!!!!!

Well the countdown is really on, two weeks from today Steve leaves for college.  Some of his high school friends are throwing him a good bye party tonight.  We are having one the week he leaves too.  (Even tho he'll be coming back a lot LOL)   It's getting way too real!  Yesterday we worked on emptying out the shed at our old house and it has plastic boxes of stuff....probably not the kind of stuff you need to go through when your first born is leaving home in a few weeks!  I went through his baby box...oh my......seems like yesterday.   We always had a sense of time passing us.....I can remember having a conversation when he was pre school about when he would start Kindergarten.  Since we were sending him to private school, we could have allowed him to start a year earlier because of when his birthday fell.  I was all for it UNTIL my husband reminded me that Steve would graduate a year sooner if we did that.  I still remember him saying "we want him with us as long as possible"   So we stuck with Steve going to school at the regular time for his birthday. 

The old saying "the days are long, but the years are short" are true, extremely true! 

Well hope you all are having a great weekend!  Stay dry and enjoy your family!!