Friday, May 30, 2014

Getting Ready for Graduation!

This has been a very busy week for me!

A Graduation ceremony and party is time consuming!  The last couple of days, I've spent most of the time focused in someway or another on it or on Steve...  Today I've been running since this morning, and   I tracked down a tassel for his cap!  YEAH!  Finally printed out all our beautiful pictures that my friend took and I put some pictures on canvas for Steve, that took hours.  Then he helped me clean our whole house, and do a bunch of things today. 

Can't help but think of my high school graduation.  No one attended it just to come for me.  I had no family that attended, my great aunt didn't really leave the house at that point and no one else cared enough.  Of course I had friends who were graduating  and some of their families who loved on me but it's unreal to think I graduated with no one there for me.  Back then I took it in stride, I felt like I was an adult and didn't need anyone anyhow.  Looking back, I was so young, just 17 years old and really for the most part alone in the world.  It's very sad to me to think about all of that. 

My college graduation was also very odd.  My "birth mother" who I'd only seen a few times in my life came to it.  At that time I was dating a guy who was a youth pastor and several people came from the church for both of us.  (In fact the SAME church that we now pastor....."it's a small world")    But we just went out to McDonald's afterwards and then my mother took me and my boyfriend out to's was a bit surreal to me.  I didn't want her there but he had invited her.  Back then, I was a bit  nicer so I didn't say what I thought like I do now.   Any ceremony or big occasion is stressful, even if it is a good thing so to add the stress of having her there, really bothered me on top of the stress of the graduation.  Can we say awkward????

What a difference for Steve, surrounded by his family and friends.....

Thank God that He is a restorer.....

I determined that I was going to walk in God's ways, and be faithful to raising my family in God's truths.  In my heart, I was determined not to see my children toss around like I was.  Living for God not only affects YOUR life, but it affects your children too. 

In my growing up, I reaped the harvest of bad decisions my mother and father made.   They sowed to the wind...and I reaped their whirlwind.  But even in all of the pain, God showed me that things didn't have to stay the way they were.  I'm not sure I had a clear picture of just how I wanted my life to be but I knew I was going to make decisions to follow after Gods ways.  And God was faithful to give me a husband who knew what a "normal" family was like, he'd had good examples in his parents. 

After a pretty disastrous relationship with a guy who had a MESSED UP family, I KNEW I'd never ever get serious with anyone who was in the "same boat as me".   So when I met Jon, I wanted to meet his folks right away.  I met them the week after Jon & I met!  As soon as I met them, I breathed a sigh of relief!  I could tell there was no "funniness" about them....just good southern folks who'd worked hard and raised their boys.  No secrets in their closets, no problems hidden, just nice normal people.  Then I was ready to get serious with Jon, I'm not kidding, that was the most important thing to me. 

So I think of the contrasts, and the blessing that our children have because of the decisions we've made to live for God.  Every action has a reaction.....whether Good or Bad. 

So tomorrow is the BIG day and I'm already tired:)  It's going to be great and I'll be posting the video my friend made for Steve.  It has pictures on it set to music that really show Steve's heart.

Shad had his field trip today to Disney Quest.  He had a blast!  Disney Quest is a game room.  I've never been to it but the boys have and love it.   The good thing about living in Florida is many field trips involve Disney....and I don't' have to go LOL  One of my close friends rode the school bus with the kids, she works for the school.  She had a good time, I'd have probably jumped out a window LOL!  Me, kids and unair-conditioned school buses do NOT mix! 


I told him I had to take a picture for his fan club:)
Well I'm guessing we did not win the handicapped accessible van.  We didn't' get a call or email and today was to be the day.  Oh well, I still appreciate ALL the effort you all put into voting for us!  It meant a lot to me, that folks would take the time to vote!

Well just wanted to jump on here and say HI and let you know all was well with the Clanton family, just a very busy time! 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Memorial Day 2014

Hope everyone had a good weekend~

On Memorial Day we went and visited Jon's dad at the hospital.  Please be in prayer for him, he is still having a great deal of difficulties.  I'm thankful he seems comfortable and that he is loved and watched over closely.  He really has been like a father figure to me as well.  He's been a faithful father to his children and his wife.  And he certainly taught my husband by example how to be a great dad. 

That night we went to our close friends home and had a cookout with them and some other family members.  I say this all the time but there is nothing like having life long friends who've been there in the good and bad times.  When we first got married, there was a group of us, all newly married.  Most of us knew each other from college days also.  We've all remained friends to this day, over 25 years of friendship, it's precious...we don't always agree, and we can pick at each other (my little bro in law is part of that group and he is CERTAINLY the "little brother I never had" LOL)  but we love each other!  But it's all sweet..... here is a picture of some of my favorite teens in the world:)

My dear friend and former roommate in college did a video presentation for Steve's graduation party that is so amazing.  I've watched it about 20 times and just feel so much emotion every time.  I'll post it on here following his graduation Saturday.  It captures the last 18 years so sweetly. 

So Steve is graduating Saturday, we are having a ceremony with some other homeschool grads from our church.  It's a surreal feeling for me to think his school days are over (of course unless he goes to college) 

My advice for young moms...
1.  Take LOTS of pictures (you want some good ones for his slide show)  this is the #1 thing!

2.  the days are long but years are short

3.  ENJOY your child and treasure each day

4.  Make memories-you don't have to spend a ton of money to make memories!

For us we committed to keeping Steve in private school when he was very young.  To be honest, my husband had a stronger conviction than I did in the beginning.  I worried about the "MONEY" or the lack of it!  But we just started with kindergarten and took one year at a time and God provided.  Steve finished his last two years out as a home schooled student, using the same curriculum as his school did because while we were in NY with Selah, he had to go under a "umbrella" for testing purposes so we used a Christian company, Lighthouse Christian Academy.  So he did his work and sent it in to them for grading and keeping tabs on.  Their subject curriculum was different than the private school he attended here.  So since he did his junior year under them, he would have had extra classes (just different ones) to take if he went back to the private school.  He still got in the state required classes and then some but it was just simpler for us.   I admit I've enjoyed him being home, not only is he a huge help but it's been a time that we've talked a lot, and got to do some fun stuff during the school day with other home school families.  If you home school like we did, we bought our curriculum so it's like being in a private school in that sense.  It's not "free"   In some ways I'm very happy with his school years.  The first school he went to preschool-4th grade had a very hard curriculum and I think it gave him a good base.  The one he went to from 5th grade- 11th grade and the curriculum we used for 11th & 12th grade is not my favorite but it is very strong in English grammar, reading comprehension and that is my strong area and I feel if one has good comprehension skills one tests well and picks up new skills easier.  

Steve's got a lot of "life skills", maybe a bit too much of life skills but I feel he is well rounded emotionally and ready to face life.  In that area, he is much more mature than his dad or I were!    I love that he has traveled with us and seen so much.  He certainly has learned life is not easy, but he's learned how to cope with the things life has thrown our way.  As you can tell, we are just a little proud of our boy. 


Update on Sonya-she had the surgery and is doing fine.  The parents are very happy with the results but pray for her post op pain and care.  I'm so thankful to God that He provided for this little girl's surgery and that we could be a part of it! 

Connie had successful brain surgery on the tumor. She still doesn't have the whole pathology report but is scheduled for chemo so we know it is cancer.  Please pray for her, we just love her very much.  She has been such a support for my husband in the prison ministry.  She is busy working for God.....she even cleaned our church!  She told me she knew I'd be praying hard for her to get better!!!! 

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Saturday in the Kitchen.....

UGH I have a sore throat that I can't get rid of, usually hot tea and vitamin C will cure me.  Hope I don't have the MERS....  doesn't take much for me to become a  hypochondriac!  Believe me, I usually don't share the places my mind goes LOL! 

Lazy Saturday, the kids played outside for a couple of hours while I cooked.  We are really really trying to not eat out.  It is so hard! So I cooked three meals....  cooked a pot of spaghetti, 2 casserole dishes of spinach stuffed shells, spinach mashed potatoes, AND a huge pot of 15 bean soup with sausage & ground chicken & made 3 gallons of tea......MAYBE that will last the weekend? LOL!  We do good if food is cooked but if it takes awhile, that when we head out for fast food.  We are really trying to get on a strict budget since soon we will have a house payment!   When  I look at our bank statement it is embarrassing how often we eat out or grab some type of fast food.   When we eat at home, we eat organic but it's not that easy to eat good healthy food when you eat out.  There are a few places that we will not eat at, and there's one place my family loves that I will not even go to.   We have decided that Wendy's is the "healthiest" fast food place.  Please no emails telling me how bad it is LOL.  I REALLY don't' want to know!  My goal is to get us down to eating out ONCE a week on Sunday after church.  There are the occasional weeks we actually do that, but if we get busy, that is just out of the window.  My family LOVES to eat!  Sarah and Sam may be small but they are BIG eaters and Sam has absolutely NO patience whatsoever!  With Sarah we have to blend everything but she can chow down.  Her favorite place is Olive Garden, she can get endless soup for about $4.  She will usually eat at least 3 bowls of soup, they blend it for her at the bar and she eats it.  The servers are always amazed at her :)  The nice thing there is my three 10 and under eat for about $4, about what they'd spend at a fast food place.  Jon and I usually have soup & salad so the only expensive one is Steve.    BUT my goal is to only eat out occasionally.  I'm very good in all other areas financially, but the eating out is my Achilles Heel!   Plus it is so much healthier to eat at home.

Well we are getting ready for graduation around here.  Steve is graduating next weekend along with two boys from our church who also homesechool.  I'm putting together a video of Steve's life and it very emotional for me.  I pulled out all the pictures to use out of our 40+ photo albums.  Up until the accident, I was GREAT at keeping up with pictures and putting them in albums in chronological order.   Right now I have a huge bag of pictures to put in albums and 3 memory cards to print pictures from.  I'm so overwhelmed but yet too anal for them to be put in by anyone else because they HAVE to go in chronological order!   It is a requirement ...yes I have issues....

Anyhow we are excited about focusing on our boy.  He's been nothing but a joy to raise & we are just blessed to have been given him by God.  It's been emotional going back through pictures, to look at the past 18 years of our lives....some photos are incredibly meaningful to us for various reasons.   He won't let me use the first picture of him......still with the umbilical  cord attached ....I LOVE that picture but he forbid it!  I will obey! 

Trying to figure out a meaningful graduation gift....that's been hard, still not sure on that one yet.
He's ready for new furniture for his new room, you know the one that isn't built yet....but we don't have room to store it.  Don't think that is quite what we are looking for anyhow.

Shad has a great field trip scheduled for next week, he can't wait!  Next week is the last week for many of Sam's, Sarah's and Selah's teachers from the school program.  Summer is coming!!!!

We are going on vacation in June with some close friends.  Both families are renting cabins at a Florida State Camp ground.  Last November we all went to Fannings Springs and rented a cabin, it was a blast even though it was quite cold.  The Florida Parks are absolutely wonderful, most cabins are about $100 a night, with 2 bedrooms, a bath, large living room with a fireplace and a full kitchen.  They all have wrap around screened porches with rockers and a big swing on them.  We all like to kayak and I'm not even sure how many kayaks we have between us all but we have a bunch.  We're going to another spring and this time our cabin will be on stilts, really looking forward to the view.   It's really a blessing in so many ways to have life long friends who you love being with and love their kids, just doesn't get much better than that!    This site is not too far from my home town so I'm looking forward to seeing some of my Perry Peeps:)  There is something sweet about going back to the place you were raised.  At least for me, it just brings back the good memories. And I'm going to eat at Deal's Restaurant, one of the best places I know of to eat seafood!!!!

Hope you all have a great weekend and for my American friends....Happy Memorial Day!  Thankful for the men and women who have served our country!


Violence has come to Torez Ukraine....

there is a video of the building we went in to the day we got to Torez to sign paperwork for the girls.  Unreal to see that!  Please pray for our friends in that area, and the orphans!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Off the Chain!

Ok today was just an "off the chain" day!

Got up early, had so many plans....but....Sam found my glasses and broke them while playing with them.  I was in the shower.  He is into everything, just like a toddler.  So that changed everything.  Jon was already out in the woods, so Steve had to drive me to New Port Richey, an hour away.  We go to St Luke's Eye hospital.  Somehow it had been FIVE years since the last time so I had to have a full eye exam.   Honestly I thought my eyes had gotten worse but there hadn't been too much change, the bottom part of my bifocals are going to be stronger so maybe I won't need a magnifying glass to read.  Yes I use one after I've read for awhile because if not, my eyes start hurting.

St Luke's is great for adults, they did some new things to me today.  Gone is the air in your eye to test for glaucoma, now they put a drop in to deaden the eye and then touch it with a little machine.  For someone who gives a bzillion eye drops, I found it quite hard to TAKE the two eye drops!  And as far as them touching my eye, I "had a moment" where I had to calm down.  I kept thinking of  poor Sam who has had so much done to his eyes....  Then I think they over dilated my eyes....OMG I looked like I was as high as I could go.....

So with all this, I got so nauseated.  I have terrible terrible motion sickness and having on my prescription sunglasses for too long makes me sick, I can not stand the tint.   Then throw in all the tests, I was afraid I was going to barf!  They don't have an optical section there so I took the prescription to Walmart in our town....well.......

By the time I got there, it was all I could do not to throw up.  I walked in with Sam and this girl and mom who were standing up at the register were staring so hard at him.  I said "please don't stare at my child so hard"  I should have just thrown up on them, that might have discouraged their staring!

Then as I was finding a frame, Steve goes to pick up a few things (cat & dog food so we are not killed in our sleep)  I had the debit card so once in line he had to run over to me.  I didn't know I had the card, thought it was in the car, so Shad is running around, till I find it in my pocket.  Remember the WHOLE time I feel like I'm gong to since it took so long, we thought the cashier had deleted his stuff so all the kids came in the optical area and waited with me.

Found the frames, did all the measuring....and BLESS THEIR HEARTS, they found an old frame to put my old lens in so I didn't have to wear my prescription sun shades until the new glasses get in.  It's hard to get used to them, they are a bit off and things are blurry around the sides of them but I think I can make it! 

So I pay for the glasses and then  remembered we needed shampoo, I walk out with the kids and head for the shampoo aisle, still quite sick....Steve follows with the buggy full of cat & dog food and bottled waters and Sam & Sarah.  The cashier starts screaming.....I had NO idea she was screaming at us so I kept walking, she ran after us screaming "Sir STOP" "Come back here" I finally turned around thinking someone was running out of the store, NO it was Steve she was yelling at.  Mind you, we were headed INTO the get shampoo.  She told Steve that she had to keep her eyes on the cart & he couldn't take it back in the store.  She told him to get the kids out.  Steve is looking like a deer caught in the headlights and says "she (meaning Sarah) can't walk".  I'm trying to figure out what is going on as EVERYONE in the store is looking at us.  Steve is no help, he starts laughing, I'm thinking "what the heck is going on here, did I miss something?"  Thankfully a manager comes up and tells us we can go and finish shopping.  He knew us, at least by here is a teenager pushing a buggy of cat/dog food and two blind kids, a little Chinese guy and a sick mom with a Ukraine T-shirt we didn't already look like a parade.   Did we really look like we could bust out of there with no one noticing?  LOL

The manager followed us and apologized- I actually thought it was quite funny.   So then a sales clerk had to help me find the right shampoo since I couldn't see anything, my eyes were still so dilated and numb feeling.   Then as we were leaving, the cashier apologized to us.  I told her it was fine, I worked as a probation officer and  don't trust anyone either.    I probably looked a mess, no make up, eyes dilated, slightly green.....she had a right to suspect us LOL!   Evidently she still had our stuff on her register even though she was taking other people in line and IF we'd walked out then she would have been in real trouble.   Steve thought it was cool that he was tagged as a shoplifter LOL

So much for my grand plans of the day, all of that took most of the day.

Jon on the other hand was free all day so he walked in the woods for 4 hours, he think he walked about 15 miles.  He is happy:)  He loves being out there, in nature.  That's where he thinks/prays and works on his sermons. 

So  a crazy day for us, nothing went as planned but at least I spent time with my kiddos. Time in the car is the best time to talk.  My eyes were mostly shut so you know Steve had to trick me once by gasping and grabbing my arm!  He got punched  on the shoulder and  laughed and laughed.  I told him paybacks are rough......  After yesterday's near accident. I'm a bit squeamish in the car!


Some Updates.....

Katie who tried to commit suicide by shooting herself is in reconstructive surgery today, please pray that the surgery will be successful. 

Luke who was in a car accident is doing great and being released from re-hab!!!!!  He still needs prayer as he gets mentally tired easily but overall he is doing great!

Sonya is having her surgery today I believe.  pray that goes well and her pain will be gone.

My father in law is doing good and is stable.

Little Sabrina is home from a hospital stay.  Her parents have not been given good news as far as her long term development goes.  Please pray that God will touch this little one and help her parents!


Hope you all have a great weekend!  Stay safe!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Our lives were spared!

On the way home this afternoon we almost had a terrible car wreck.  I'm still a bit shaken up by it....

Today I thought all our therapists & teachers were not coming for various reasons, so I made plans with one of my besties to eat lunch together.  Steve wanted to go & of course that meant the little ones too....  I had gotten confused, one therapist was still coming but we cut the therapy short.  I had also agreed to go shopping with a friend whose sons are graduating with Steve next weekend.  So we got that done quickly, got home and took off again with the kids.  We had a great lunch with my friend, lots of laughing & kidding around.  Then we picked up Shad early from school.

We were on the way home, Steve was driving and I was texting about 6 different people arranging various things regarding graduation and a few other things..... we were almost home, the last big curve and I looked up.  I must have sensed some movement that was out of the ordinary and I saw a rock truck almost on top of us.  It was over the line, headed right towards us, I am not sure still how we did not get hit.  Steve handled the car perfectly, he swerved but did over compensate.   We were going at least 60 and surely the truck was also.  There is a quarry down the road from us and we have lots of trucks-about the size of a garbage truck or a small semi going up & down the road as they get rock. 

If we had been hit, we would have all surely died.  I am so thankful to God for His grace today.  I'm thankful that Steve did not over steer and turn us over.   He handled things perfectly.  It is a miracle I'm sitting here typing this blog! 

There are many mysteries in life, I certainly do not understand them all but I understand our lives were spared today.  And for that I am grateful! 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

MRI & Ticks & Amobas

Selah had an MRI today to see if there has been any negative changes in her brain.  We won't get the results for a few days, it has to be compared to the other MRIs she has had since the accident.    Selah did fine, just got upset when we got home & had to have some meds. 

Since I had the old MRIs with me, I walked down to the doctor's office a half a block or so from the hospital to give the CDs to the doctor, while Selah was in the MRI.  It was a beautiful day, but I had already told Selah's story a half of dozen times so I was fighting tears walking to the doctor's office.  It never gets easy to tell the's a Cinderella story.....  a little girl rescued from an adult mental institution....a little girl that was not originally part of our adoption plan.....the homecoming, the wonderful few months that she got to experience so many new things....then the first family trip....and the accident....everything stops then....the Cinderella story with the wrong's still so raw to me.

Then on the way home, we stopped to pick up Shad and then we took the nurse and Selah out to see the property.  The nurse was thrilled with the location (it's closer for all our nurses)  he was ready to move us out there today LOL  This was the first time I've taken Selah out to the site, we didn't get her out since there are a lot of bugs- specifically horse flies that I believe come straight from hell!  I got bit again today out there.  I'm sure when all the bush is cleared, there will be less horse flies.  This is just the time of year for them, we have some here at our house too. 

Poor Shad came in from outside and told me he had a tick in a "sensitive spot"    I was ready to go to the ER with him but he wanted me to try and get the tick off with tweezers.....I got my magnifying glass and tweezers, and got it first try THANK GOD!  I had told him if I could not get it the first time, we were going to the doctor!  Yes we live in the country......THAT was a first!!!!!!!!!  Poor baby!   Although he took it like a man and laughed about it, he is a tough boy!

Well we got a phone call from Walmart and now I can go and "rebuy" my kayak.....going after supper to get it!  Geez....I was so wasted by our trip, I didn't even have the energy to fight anymore, glad they called me! 
Go to this site
It was made to educate people about water amoebas by one of Sam's doctors.  He & his wife lost their son to this disease -  Amoebic Meningitis. 99% lethal. 100% preventable.  As you know I grew up in Florida, been in all kinds of water, when I was young I didn't care, dirty pools of friends....etc....  (I also swam in many lakes where I could see gators all over....just plain craziness. )   Well now I know about this amoeba that is in lake water, dirty pools (even clean looking pools) etc....  Even springs are not excluded although the doctor did say if the temp is under 80 degrees chances are slim that the amoeba will grow there.   Salt water is safer.   It's best to wear nose clips....we've stayed out of lakes since their son died and been careful of pools too but now I'm going to push my kids to wear nose clips.  Wish me luck!   Please take the time to read, nothing will bring the Dr Gompf's son back but they want to prevent others' deaths!   And I just want to say I appreciate this doctor so much, he took great care of Sam over the years when he was in & out of the hospital constantly.  I liked Dr G because he is a doctor who listens to parents' concerns.  I was just devastated for them when this happened, it actually happened while Sam was in the hospital-a different hospital.  Everyone was so sad for them.  As a parent, I am glad to know the information they are sharing to help prevent other deaths.  God bless them! 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014


My father in law was taken by ambulance to the hospital tonight.  He is stable now, my husband went to see him.  Please keep this sweet man in your prayers.  He has always been a good father in law to me as was my mother in law before she passed away.   I've always said they've been better to me than my own family was.  And they certainly raised a good guy for me to marry:)   He's in his mid 80's and has a lot of health problems.  He lives with my oldest brother in law & his wife and they take wonderful care of him & see that he has good caregivers.   Thanks for your prayers for this sweet man. 
For all the Shad fans, he helped me make a Giant Gingerbread man tonight.
It was good, poor Gingerbread Man is missing some of his extremities now.....
My poor collards....
something was eating them up so Steve cut them all back and then we doused  them with Dawn ...we will see what happens with them.  I've never had a problem with collards before this year.

Also this year my pepper plants have just turned to stems!!!!!  Then almost the same with the tomatoes too.  The squash plants I bought died but the ones I raised from seeds are fine.   The eggplants have done fine and the lettuces lasted till just last week.   The herbs are all good except for the one Rosemary that I cut and took to a friend, luckily she knew it was NOT rosemary, it was dog fennel a weed!  I took it back to the plant store I bought it from.  THAT was the same store I've bought from for years, same brand of plants and I'm having all these issues. 

The potatoes and carrots are good too, same with the onions. 

I never usually even have bad worm problems till July and it's still May and I'm having issues.  Strange year for me in my garden!

And while I'm on the frustrated  rant.... this was my FB status tonight....
well ....'Whoop-de-dang-do' to finish out this "wonderful" day I get the FIRST email from Walmart saying they are refunding me the money on my kayak order. So I call Walmart since this is the FIST and only email I've gotten from them. So the kayak is at the store....but the paperwork is done for it to be sent back so they can't resell it to me. Did I mention this was the ONLY contact I had from Walmart ? The kayak was only there for FIVE days, they said they usually keep something for 7-14 days....I'm so not happy! By the way, this was my Mother's Day present.

So I've been waiting for my ordered Kayak to come to our local Walmart.  I'd ordered it almost a month ago, it was to be my Mother's Day present but I knew it wouldn't be in the store till after may 15th.  So I waited for the text & email that I've gotten in the past notifying me that what I'd ordered was in.  Nothing till I get an email saying they're refunding my reason given.

I called the store and am told that they HAVE the kayak but are sending it back.   I apologized for not rushing in but since I'd gotten NO notification saying it was there, I have a few other things that I have to do besides stalk Walmart......  I then asked how long they hold things....he said 7-14 days...I reminded him that it had ONLY been FIVE days since it supposedly got there.....

BUT since the paperwork is done, I can't "rebuy" it   The Kayak must go back.....I'm so annoyed!  AND I want my kayak!  I don't' usually whine too much on here but I just think this is the most foolish thing I've personally encountered recently.....

So their computer system had a glitch, didnt' notify me, and the paperworkis done days before things are normally sent back....the kayak is STILL in the store....yet I can't buy it back....makes perfect sense huh?

Ok let me shut up and go to bed....


Tomorrow Selah is having a sedated MRI to check to see if she has "lost" any section of her brain.  If there has been radical changes since the last one, then the neuro will assume she has small seizures.  We have not seen any regression on Selah's part so I'm not too worried about this.  But it will answer the seizure question hopefully once and for all.   Please pray that Selah will be calm and not get stressed out.  I feel like this is a waste of time but if there is anything to be learned that will help Selah, I guess we should do it. 

Thanks for listening to my rants tonight:) 

Sunday, May 18, 2014


Hope you've had a great weekend.  Yesterday we did a phone interview for Rochester Ronald McDonald House's annual telethon.  We've been involved with various telethons and fund raisers for RMH.  We just love and appreciate them so much.  If you ever want to contribute to a place that does exactly what it's mission statement says....give to Rochester NY Ronald McDonald House.   They are so focused on helping families who are struggling with children in the hospital.   We've stayed at several RMHs over the years, NONE are on par with Rochester NY RMH, they are the top of the line from their volunteers, to the love that is one can compare:)   We always appreciated them, but after the accident, we were just surrounded by love from them.  Thank you again Rochester RMH!!!!

After we finished the interview, we went to a square dance.  I didn't bring my camera:(  boo!  Square dancing is so much fun and really great exercise.  I only danced one set but had a blast.  Our little ones Sam & Sarah both were a bit needy this time and didn't want to just sit and listen to the music, they wanted us to hold them!  So we were a little occupied with those two.  Steve danced all the sets, and Shad finally danced a couple of them too.  Everyone had a great time.

We are having such beautiful weather in Florida but I think it is going to get back to normal soon.  Today was gorgeous, I laid on our swing, and almost fell asleep.  THIS is why folks move to Florida....

After we ate lunch, we took our friends out to see the property where the house will be built.  It still doesn't seem real to me.  But I've certainly bonded with the property.  We drove around the area, trying to figure out if the neighbors have wells or if there might be "city water" LOL    There is a phosphate plant not too far so it might be best if it is city water.   I love the area, wish the plant was further away, it's maybe 2 miles away from the property.  That is the only thing I worry about.  One thing tho is I look at all the plants/trees/wildlife in the area and it seems good.  We found a spring that used to be open for swimming but now only allows a few people in at a time.  Steve ran over a snake accidently and we loved exploring around! 

This week promises to be busy for us.  Hope you all have a great start to your week .....

Friday, May 16, 2014


Someone sent me a message to let me know we are Semi-finalists in the van contest:)
Evidently the choice of winners is more than JUST how many votes someone gets!  So we'll keep our fingers crossed!  Winners are notified on May 30th.  We REALLY need a van now that we will be moving.  When we no longer live near the church, it will be hard to get Selah to church on the weekend.  We like for us to keep that tradition together as a family.  It's thanks to all of you that we made it this far!!!  And especially to Denise who nominated us:)

Well I got my first sunburn of the season:)  I sat outside talking on the phone and didn't realize how much sun I was getting, I have some red legs tonight!  We are having the most beautiful weather, it will be the last little "cool spell" before we hit summer temps.  If only Florida could stay like this all summer long!

Well this is short tonight,  Steve & Shad went with some friends to see Godzilla:)  We've been chasing the little ones around all night.  Sam got all the soaps/shampoos he could grab during his bath, then he leaned over and started pooping while Jon was getting him dressed, I caught it...BEFORE it hit the floor...yep, something new every day... I KNEW I should have set him on the toilet.  LOL  THEN he grabbed a cereal box and turned it upside down on the kitchen floor.....It's funny all these little "toddler behaviors"  he really has just started doing things like this.  he never used to get into things but now he grabs everything he sees!   And for some reason, Sarah was very needy today and wanted to be held, a lot....AND she ate FOUR fudge popsicles bars.  She cried for another one but I started rocking her in the rocker:)   So they kept us busy!

The ONLY thing Jon wants in the new house, is a built in baby gate to keep Sam out of the kitchen!  he gets into everything....daily! 

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!!!!!!!!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Pictures of the property & some medical news

We're still catching our breath over here you can imagine the new house is quite the topic of conversation with us and our nurses:)  Exciting times!  Steve went and did 5 hours of our "sweat equality work" at their thrift shop today.  He had a really good time, you'd thought he got paid for being there as much as he liked working:) 

Yesterday I took Sarah to the neurologist.  He confirmed that she has CP.  Actually he seems to think it is worse than we thought.  He believes she may have some issues with her hips.  We've had an appointment for her to see someone but that is not until August.   I don't' think the doctor thinks she will walk independently  ever.....  I've been coming to that conclusion myself.  She has hit such a plateau in all her motor skill areas, this might be as far as she goes.  IF she'd been worked with as an infant and toddler, it might have made a difference.  But being tied to a bed, didn't help matters. 

After talking to her PT today, I do know I'm not agreeing to any type of surgery, it just wouldn't give her much change and it would be at a high price to her.  I can't see my Sarah in a body cast (worst case) for months.   She doesn't have the understanding & I'm just not sure she could handle it emotionally.  She has NO pain from the impairment at all. 

The neurologist could see how bonded Sarah and I are and he remarked on that since most kids coming from a mental institution have bonding issues, not my girl:)   After Sarah decided he wasn't going to give her a shot, she warmed up to him and played back & to with him. 

I'm ok with all of this......we adopted Sarah knowing full well what we were committing to.  We'd hoped we could have eye surgery for her, and that was impossible due to her eye's condition.  We really hoped she'd walk on her own but....   Nothing changes our love for her.  We adopted her where she was and are committed to whatever happens.  It's not a big deal for us, and she is a happy girl regardless.  She has love now and plenty of food and that's enough for Sarah:)  Love my girl!

Well here are some pictures of the property:)

this is taken from the back of the property looking towards the front right side.  There are too many bushes to get all the way back

the old house that is being torn down is behind us.
We are about 30 feet from the back property line

Not sure what this fir like tree is, but we had one in my front yard growing up!

this is from the front of the old house, love that we are further back from the street.
Also love the whole time we were there, no cars went by:)

the boys exploring off the side of the yard

inside the garage (that is staying and becoming a shed)


outside of garage

Beautiful property!  The neighbors on the left side are on the other side of their property. Can't even see their house.   The neighbors on the right side are closer but the shed is in between us and their house is set back.   No one across the street and not sure about behind us since the trees/bushes were so intact.  I can't believe I lived in NYC, now just being in Tampa stresses me out, I don't feel like I can breath deep till I get on some of the back roads:)  I'm so glad this is not a subdivision or in town!  I guess you can "take the girl out of the country but you'll never get the country out of the girl"  LOL
An update on Sonya
ALL the money came in and they are going to have surgery this month!
BUT the last bit $14,000 came as a loan, which is great BUT we'd like to see them not have any debt from this surgery if possible.  Please think about giving still.....please pray that more will come in.
And please pray for Sonya that this will work, with no complications!
Also an update on Connie, the lady I requested prayer for:
the surgery went good, no complications, they got all but a small amount of the tumor out.
the doctors are concerned that it might be cancer.  The results are not yet in.  She is already home!!!!!
Please pray for her!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

We are approved!

God is faithful......

We were approved by Habitat for Humanity for a 6 bedroom/3 bath home.....  We are in awe of God's goodness to us.  I had turned the paperwork in last summer and just assumed we were turned down when I didn't hear back.  At the time, we were fighting with insurance to retain Selah's nurses so that was my focus.  Another first homeowner program had turned us down because we basically have no credit.  When I quit working when Sam was born, we paid off our credit cards, cars and from then on used cash only.  We did not feel we could afford to maintain any debt.  We actually thought that was the best thing to do, but we learned that's not what banks want to see.  However HH looked at our credit situation differently.  So when I got the call last week, I was floored. 

Being in ministry we had always leased a home, so we would not get a call to move and then have a house payment.  Owning a home, was not a big deal to me and if you know my husband, he really is not one to feel he has to acquire things.  Our idea was more to be flexible.  When we took this church, and moved to the parsonage, it was great.  We were able to remodel it based on our family at the time, just the three boys.   We were able to squeeze the girls in and things worked well for us.  Even after the adoption, we felt like we could manage with all of us living here.  We love the area, the property and living in the country.

When the accident happened, we realized that we would have to evidently move.  Some people wanted us to remodel the church's parsonage.  But I knew  that wasn't a good idea since this is not our own home.  If Jon were to resign as the pastor or retire, we'd have to move.  If we'd put a lot into remodeling an area for Selah, it's not like we could take it with us.  PLUS we needed time.  After a traumatic event, people are counseled not to make big decisions for at least 6 months.  I felt a bit pressured to make some decisions at first, but the only thing I could think of was just getting home with Selah.  It took us six months to get her home.  Then we had to adjust to our "new normal"  having nurses in the home 24 hours a day, the boys gave up their room and sleep on the floor in the little kids' rooms.  They've never complained.....   But I think we needed that time to just catch our breath. 

Once we got turned down last year by the one first time homeowner's program, I didn't think this route would work for us.  So I just prayed and told God our needs.  I was able to give Him the situation.  And I refused to let myself get worried or anxious about it, nor would I get envious of other's situations.  I really believed God would work out WHAT we needed, WHEN we needed it.  I didn't want to rush the situation and we have so much to concentrate on anyhow, that I just "let it go"

The one thing I couldn't help but worry about was Selah.  I want everything to be perfect for her, but there are things that are complicated now and will only get more complicated as she gets older.  Giving her a bath is hard, Just carrying her down the hall, makes her stiffen up and it is hard to turn her in our small hallway to get her in the bathroom door when she stiffens up.  Her wheelchair barely fits in the hall/doorways and she has lots of equipment we have to put in other rooms, or awkward places since there is just not room for it in her room.  It makes it inconvenient on the nurses and for Selah.  Also the nurses have to empty all her secretions and mucus in our bathroom, Selah has MRSA in her nasal/trach areas and that has been a concern for the rest of the family.   And obviously in such a small home, if one of the other kids gets sick, it's harder to shield the nurses and Selah from them. 

BUT we have managed and we have managed with plenty of smiles.  Our family rolls with the punches and this has been a big punch, almost a punch out but God has given us grace.  Since our life changed with Sam's birth, I've determined "to learn to be content in whatever state I was in"  I truly believe we get ourselves in trouble when we are discontent and complaining.  I'm not saying I'm Ms Mary Sunshine all the time LOL but when it comes to our home life and what we have, I'm very careful to keep my heart from uncontentment and envy.  I try to count my blessings, not my needs or wants. 

I'm not sharing this to prove how good of a Christian or a person I am but to share how God helped me maintain my heart.  When I'd begin to feel unsettled, I would pray about it and remind myself that most people in America including myself have a higher standard of living than the majority of the world by just having clean drinking water.  I'd think about the orphanages I've been to and realize, my life is easy to compared to so many. 

My kids really had hoped that Extreme Homemaker would chose us, as someone had sent in a recommendation but even tho that was fun to think about, I was a bit hesitant really in my heart about that.  We just live a bit more simpler than that.   This is more, us.  We are involved, we will be working and we will also have a mortgage.

God has been so faithful to walk with us through the darkest deepest valley.  He was with us in the good times, He provided for our adoption of the girls and He was with us every second during the crises time following the accident.   I don't have all the answers of WHY things turned out this way.  But I know His hand has held us.  He has taken care of our needs, helped us with the nursing situation, given us the strength to work through the grief of a near drowning and how that changed our lives forever while still making new memories with the other children.  When you have four more kids, you learn life goes on despite heartache.   And once again He is providing for our family in a way, that we could not have imagined a week ago.  We believe "every good gift comes down from above"  so we look at this gift with thankfulness. 

So my heart is thankful and of course we are excited.  The boys are really excited about having their own rooms!  YEAH!  I have to brag on them, they aren't perfect but they've never really complained about anything, not about losing their room, not about having to have all their stuff put in the church's office in boxes, not about having so many nurses/therapists/teachers come in our home.  They've made our lives so much easier by keeping a good altitude.  I appreciate Steve & Shad a lot for NOT adding to our stress and burdens.  In fact after living in ONE room at Ronald McDonald House for over 4 months, and then almost 2 more months in a hotel, our house seemed quite big when we finally got home after the accident.  It was like a dream to even be home.  And they were great when we were at the RMH and the hotel.  Steve did his schoolwork and watched over the little ones AND volunteered at the RMH as did Shad.  I appreciate those two a lot! 

So the next steps are to work on the plans of the house so it is suited for our needs.  We are going to start on our hours - we have sweat equality hours to do-  Steve is starting tomorrow at 9 am:)    The old home on the property will be torn down and the property cleaned up.  Actually building won't start till October, but that time will go quick. 

We have grateful hearts tonight, now the burden & worry Selah's ongoing physical needs is gone.     She will have an area devoted to her.  We are blessed and humbled by this.  That is what means the most to me (although I am quite happy to have my own little bathroom!!!!!) 

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Happy Mother's Day 2014!

Love being a mom to my five blessing- they each have a story of how they miraculously came into our family both by birth & by adoption. Each story is unique, each story is unusual & I love it! You know we can't do things like everyone else:) Thank you God for Steve, Shad, Sam. Selah & Sarah! I'm BLESSED!

I love this selfie my bearded baby took of us.  I still remember our first Mother's Day with him while we were living in NYC!  I was THRILLED to be a mom:) 
After 6 years of marriage, I really didn't know if we'd ever have kids, and was SHOCKED beyond belief when I found out I was pregnant.  I never knew that baby I was carrying would bring me the joy he has.  I've enjoyed him from the day he was born, through all the stages, which were easy with him, to today, growing up, getting ready to graduate.....  He gave me a very easy introduction to motherhood:)

My boys!

me, Sarah and Jon
We ate at Cracker Barrel on our way to visit a church member in the hospital.  I usually hold myself back but hey it's Mother's Day so I got fried shrimp, hushpuppies, and 2 servings of fried okra.  Plus biscuits and honey.....YUM!
As you can see, my family can't quite stay up with me when it comes to southern food....This is what the backseat looked like on the way to Tampa!

This is not staged and I almost wrenched my back to get this picture!  I do believe Shad is his father's child LOL!!!!!
Hope you all had a marvelous weekend!  If you are a mother, Happy Mother's Day.  I know for many Mother's Day is hurtful, it was for me for many years.  When I was a child, I didn't' have a "real " mother and that was embarrassing  (although I loved my aunt)    Then as an adult, I didn't have children for many years.....I know the sting.  We just do not make a big deal of Mother's Day at our church.  I guess knowing the sting that many women have felt, we realize it is a sensitive area.  The church we pastor, used to do a full big production for Mother's Day and I saw several women grieving for various reasons.  Over the years, we've scaled back and it's mentioned, but not promoted.  It really happen unconsciously, and now I'd certainly find it hard to start emphasizing it.   I think we are at church to have our  minds on God, not earthly relationships...that's just my opinion, based on years of knowing how some can be hurt on Mother's Day.  It's probably a different perspective, but it's where we are more comfortable.  Y'all know I LOVE being a mother, but I see church as more a time to focus on God and our relationship with Him.  Go out afterwards and celebrate your mom.....
Totally off the beaten path here.....but I REALLY feel a church service and sermon should be devoted to God.  I'm not comfortable with any Non spiritual emphasis such as the 4th of July or Father's Day, Mother's Day....preaching about politics, anything like that....
When we were in NY and Selah was so sick in the hospital, we went to a church and the preacher 's WHOLE sermon was on the upcoming 2012 election.  I was so broken inside, I didn't give a fart about who the president was going to be at that point (and I find all that interesting)  But you see, that pastor didn't know a broken hurting mom sat in his congregation that morning. All he cared about was getting his views across (and I agreed with most of them, but it was not the time or place)   When we left I wryly said to Jon "Good thing I didn't need a word from God this morning" 
So in the same sense, you do not know what pain someone is bringing to church with them.  Maybe they don't need to be reminded of losses.....of their mom, of a child, of infertility, .......  they need to hear a word from God that will give them the strength to carry on.....
Ok off my soapbox......
Please pray for our church member and dear friend Connie.  Her husband is our Spanish pastor and they both volunteer in the prison ministry on a weekly basis.  She has worked with Jon for years (having just retired from the prison as administration)  She cared for the inmates when she worked with them and she still does as a volunteer.  She loves my kids, Sam usually sits with her during church now......Anyhow she has a brain tumor that is causing seizures.  At first it was thought to be non cancerous now, they don't' know.  She is having surgery tomorrow at 1 pm.  PRAY that the doctor can get it all out and that it is not cancer.   She is such a blessing to so many people and dearly loved by her family.   We were able to go and sit with them in the hospital today, her room was a room full of joy as she recounted stories of how God had worked miracles in their lives, brought her and her husband together, how she became a Christian.....just uplifting and precious.   If you heard all the laughter and praises in that room, you'd have NO idea anyone in there was going to have brain surgery in less than 24 hours!  God be with her is my prayer!!! 


Saturday, May 10, 2014

Pool Party


Sarah loves the pool

Shad and the lizard

For all you Shad fans....
this is how you know the day was fun LOL!

we went over to my close friend's house to eat pizza & swim.  The kids had a blast.  Jon kept Sam since Sam can't go into pools with his implant but Sarah loved the pool.  Steve kept her in for about 30 minutes and she was thrilled.  Plus we had ice cream and that makes her really happy!

The voting for the van is over.....we had 11,736!   That is a lot of love for our family!  Thank you!
the winners will be contacted May 30th.  I was actually going to look on the site to see if we are in the top level with the votes but I don't see how to access anyone else page.  Oh well, we will find out soon!

Speaking of finding our soon, we will find out next week if we are selected for Habitat for Humanity's home project.   Lots of things to look forward to!!!

Hope you all have a great weekend! 


Friday, May 9, 2014

Last Day to Vote-----two years ago HOME!

This is the last day for voting for Selah in the wheelchair accessible van contest!!!!!
Today's answer is TRUE!
Thank you all for the time and effort you made to vote, we've had over 11,000 votes!!!!

We went and got a hitch put on our van today, first step towards getting a trailer for hauling our kayaks.  I've gotten very tired of trying to put them all in the van and the back being open.  The last time we were kayaking it was just crazy! 

Sarah got the xray for her tummy to make sure she is not impacted anymore.  Lord knows I hope she is fine because I do NOT. EVER. want to have to do a TWO days of Mirelax with her again!!!!!!
Shad also got a "pee" test done.  He thought it was funny.  He is going to start taking a pill to help him stop bed wetting.  Since his surgery last year he has almost quit.  It seems to be a physical problem more for him than anything.  We were BOTH excited to hear about this medicine! 

We got home to find out Selah's hospital bed has quit working or at least the head of it has quit working.  So I called the company and she'll get a new one on Monday.  In the meanwhile, we have turned her around in bed since she likes some elevation of her head.  When I came in, she was lifting her head up and seemed a bit ticked off:)  I LOVE when I see her show anything-even irritation! 

So it was a long day and we went out to eat for Mother's Day since Sundays' tend to be quite busy for us.  Sarah ate THREE bowls of Pasta Fagolia soup at Olive Garden.   The waitress seemed surprised.  I love OG since they will puree the food for her.  It makes her very happy. 

Thankfully this morning I started a beef stew in the crock pot- crock pots are so very wonderful1
And so easy
potatoes, carrots, an onion, celery, and some stew meat pieces
I use a packet of "beef stew flavoring" and I use beef broth to give more flavor AND a lot of pepper:) 
Cook it for 8 hours and YUM!
Today is two years since we came home from Ukraine with our girls.
I love this picture taken the day before we left Ukraine
Sam, Jon and Selah taking a nap in our Kiev apartment.
Who knew in just a few weeks that the three of them would be involved in an accident.  Look how Selah is holding Jon's hand, so sweet.  I'm so glad I took this picture, I was afraid I'd wake them up but I didn't and I got this sweet picture!


Look I'm still smiling in between Selah and Sam somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean:)

Jon held Sarah the whole trip basically.  She was a snuggle bug!

Sam is quite the world traveler:)  Sitting by Steve

Selah did not like the seat belt!
Finally in Tampa!

All the kids together in the van!

Selah finally in her crib!

Sarah in her crib, sound asleep on her tummy
she doesn't sleep like that now but did for months.

Sam had a matching crib

So glad my girls are home, their region is in turmoil now and I doubt their adoptions could have been thankful for being able to get them home!!!!
Hope you all have a great weekend! 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Sad News again......

Again I have sad news.....little Yuri passed away.  It seems he had an infection and went in to septic shock.  A volunteer tried to save him after he'd been ignored for 5 days....and then he died in the volunteer's arms.  Poor baby.....   please say a prayer for his family who were coming for him.  My fear was that Sarah would die before we got to her, she seemed so weak, I can imagine how they must feel.

You know often I am asked "WHY international adoption when there are so many kids that need homes in the US?"  This is so many countries, there is just not the resources  or the care for special needs children.   The American foster care system is not perfect, but when something goes wrong, the people involved are punished and investigated.  Not so in so many other parts of the world. 

For us personally, we NEVER thought about really doing an adoption.  After Sam was born, we were MORE than overwhelmed.  BUT God allowed us to see Shad's picture and we knew he was our son.  Then we were done, three boys, didn't think again about adoption....THEN God allowed us to see Sarah's picture....we were in love with her......then God allowed us to see Selah's picture.....and she was our child too....   I can't explain it but these three were our children.....just like they were our biological, somehow the stork just put them in the wrong country......  so it's not like we set out to do this.....God showed us and opened the door for us and we CHOSE to walk through that open door instead of looking away!

I believe Sarah would not be alive today if we had not adopted her, she was weak, and had lost her will to live.  She was like a shadow of a tiny little bird.  It was beautiful how she opened up to us, even while in the mental institution.  Now she is so happy and such a tough girl. 

Thank you if you gave towards Yuri's adoption.  I don't know his parents plans but maybe after they have time to grieve, they may find room in their heart for another child.   I will let you know when I hear something.  You can follow their story on their FB page.


Our friend who did the photo shot for us won a photography contest with this picture. 

this is what she wrote about it
Kandi Fields Bailey To me this picture sums up the whole story. Sarah couldn't even hold her head up when they got there. Her head was shaved bald, confined to a crib all day. Many people would see her as irreparable, undesirable, too much work. The Clantons saw her true worth and have loved her unconditionally and thoroughly since they first laid eyes on her. Before that even! This picture captures the contented smile of a little girl who has known what being forgotten feels like. She is leaning into her mommy, who loves her, holds her, cares deeply for her. Truly, truly a new chance at life. What a gift!
Her words made me cry:)  Sarah is such a gift to us, I love how she is hugging me tight in this picture and smiling as she always does (except when she knows someone is taking a picture LOL). 
Shad and Princess fell asleep on my bedroom floor after school one day.  I thought this was so cute.  Shad falls asleep like an old man.  He is so busy, that when he stops, he stops! 

And this was dinner tonight!
Taco lasagna, yellow rice and Mexican corn
strawberry angel food cake for dessert.
I have a happy family tonight!
todays' answer is .....FALSE!
So thankful for a few friends who post this almost daily!
Jerry, Lori, Paula & Betty
they remind ME!
we are at 11,555!  Can't believe so many people took the time to vote for us!  WOW!
Yesterday I got the last bit of paperwork in for the Habitat for Humanity Home.  We should know if we are chosen by Tuesday!  You know that is ALL we are talking about in our home:)  The kids are dreaming, the nurses are dreaming....LOL  I am dreaming of my own bathroom......lots of dreaming going on:)  
Update on Selah, her high heart rates are gone.  In fact she is back down in the low heart rates now that she has that new medicine for spascity.   She has an MRI scheduled for this month at St Joe's, we are not giving her the seizure meds until we have some proof she is having seizures.  The doctor thought she was but the EEG really didn't show any real proof of them.  IF there has been any negative changes in her brain, then we will give her the meds but we are not anticipating that at all.  We also have not given her the new med that could "wake her up more" based on the changes she'd had and the high heart rates she'd had, again we are waiting for the MRI to decide what to do. 
She is on Mirelax now and really going to the bathroom on her own:)  That seems to help a lot too.  We are all so happy about her poop:)  Believe me that is quite the conversation of some of our nurses!!! LOL  They are all very happy with things!
Please keep little Yuri's family in your prayers.  Thankfully we know where he is now and he is not in pain, in fact he may understand things a lot better than any of us do now.......