Sunday, May 31, 2015

Caladesi Island/Honeymoon Island

We've been going to Honeymoon Island for years but never took the ferry from it to Caladesi Island.  We finally did yesterday and it was great! 

The ferry is near the entrance to Honeymoon Island off the Gulf of Mexico.  It's $14 per adult and $7 per child for the ferry ride which takes about 20 minutes each way.  Once on the island, there is a bathhouse and a concession stand.  From the dock to the beach is a short walk on a nice pathway.  You are given a return time of 4 hours.  We left a little early and had no problem getting on the earlier ferry. 

It was absolutely beautiful -we saw dolphins, little crabs and a large crab that Shad and I chased in about 3 foot of water until it got away from us.  The water was so clear. 

Honeymoon Island is great too and is accessible by car over a causeway.  It's $8 per car but we keep a Florida State Park pass because we love the Florida parks! 

It was just Shad, Jon and me.  I believe this is the first time we've done something with just Shad.  Of course I've gone places with just Shad and so has Jon but I think this is the first time we've done it together and focused just on Shad.  He loved it and so did we and we all had a great time.  Steve was a work and the little ones with their babysitter and Selah with her nurse. 

Here are some pictures of our day.




What a fun day.  I was just thinking today of how blessed I've been to have these five kids, at all the different stages and despite all the things that have happened to us.  We are blessed!!!!!!!!!

Friday, May 29, 2015

Party Pictures


Shad thought that picture was so funny so he wanted to make a face too

Last night we had a blast celebrating our niece's 18th birthday!   It seems unreal that she is 18, I still remember the day she was born.  We were living in New Jersey after leaving our ministry position in NYC.  Jon was helping to start a new Teen Challenge but the guy he was working with was a mess.  He had a good reputation in a sense but obviously was having issues at that time.  Unfortunately since then he got involved in drugs and has now died.  I say all of that to give a little bit of the background, we were not happy at the time.  After getting the call that Anna had been born (and in quite a hurry too) I KNEW I wanted to come back to Florida, I felt we were missing out on too many things with our family.   Within 6 weeks, we loaded up and moved home!  YEAH!  And then I got some snuggles with my beautiful niece who was an adorable baby and a wonderful young lady!.

Tomorrow we are going to the beach!  I'm a beach girl, could live on the beach, love the smell and even the sand.  Steve who is not a beach boy is going to work LOL and our wonderful babysitter is keeping the little ones, so Jon & I will just have Shad.  A part of me is so happy to be spending one on one time with Shad but I'm a little sad that Steve is not coming.  But he'd rather work than go to the can that boy be mine?  We are thinking of going to Honeymoon Island and taking the ferry to Caladesi Island.  It'll be fun. 

Hope you have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 28, 2015


Yesterday I got an email from a man writing a book about  euthanasia from a Christian viewpoint.  He wants to use Selah's story in his book.  We read his email and felt good about it.  Today I talked to him on the phone for awhile and told him more details of our story, somethings that I didn't share at the time.  It brought back plenty of emotions.  When you go through a rough time, you just have to keep on plowing through it.  I didn't take the time to examine all my feelings at the time because everything was so absolutely horrible, the accident, the prognosis, being so far from home, loss of dreams etc....  Looking back I can really appreciate much more fully how good God really was to us through that time. 

This is what I wrote on FB
So I just spent 30 minutes talking to the author who is going to include Selah's story in his book. As I talked about the accident and the decisions we made to honor and care for Selah, I was reminded of my emotions during that awful time. In my mind I was freaking out wondering HOW we were going to be able to take care of a daughter in a coma at home, along with our other four children. I remember asking God HOW could we do this and quite honestly in my flesh NOT wanting do it although I knew I was going to do the right thing. All I can say is we've been home almost THREE years with Selah and God has been faithful to help us every single step of the way! We may never see great miracles happen or millions come to our church but we've been given such a miracle of really knowing that God walks with us through the absolute deepest darkest valleys of our lives. That knowledge is worth more to me than gold or silver. I have learned to TRUST Jesus in a way that I had no earthly idea of before this accident. The way I've seen the hand of God in the last few years is more precious than anything else. I'm so thankful that we have a God who is faithful to His promises and who is a very present Help in time of need. He is a Rock like no other. No matter what is ahead in life, I know God is faithful and He is a good God.

Our situation was so very public at that time, I remember praying and asking God to give me the strength not to fail him in front of a watching world.  My flesh, my emotions all were so weak and raw.  But God was so very faithful to me and to us. 

I can promise you if you turn to God during your darkest night, He will be faithful to you.  He might not deliver you completely from your problems but He will give you the Help and Strength you need.  I know because He did it for me and if He'll do it for me, He'll do it for you too!  I'm no special person and no spiritual giant LOL -far from that!  But God is bigger than me or my shortcomings and He is bigger than the situation. 

For the rest of my life, I will never doubt that there is a God.  I've walked through a deep dark valley and knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that He was and still is walking with me.  It's precious, a jewel, something I never had before to this degree. 

People can say what they want, but I KNOW that God is faithful and true.  No one will ever convince me otherwise!  Life may not be the way I wanted it to be, but that doesn't diminish  who God is- He is still God and He is still on the throne! 

If you don't know God, pray, ask Him to forgive you and then walk with Him.  He will walk with you.  I could tell you a million steps of the "right Christian thing to do" but God can speak to your heart better than I can IF you ask with an open heart and open bible.  Find a church that teaches the word of God and live for Him.  You will not miss out on anything this world has to offer and it doesn't really offer much!

It's been a life long battle to learn to trust God, but I now have a peace in that area.  There is no other God like our God, no one else to trust and no where else to go.    I hope each of you will have that peace in your heart too. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Duggar Scandal

So the Duggar sex scandal saga continues on.....

Since this blew up over the weekend, I was determined not to discuss it when I had my family to focus on but since it is still rolling, I will give my two cents.  It's like armpits, everyone has their opinions and most stink!

So Josh Duggar did some type of touching of some of his sisters and maybe someone from outside the family when he was 12-14 years old. OMG how did he escape the death penalty?

I don't want to make light of what he did.  It was a sin, it was wrong and I'm sorry that any girl had to experience it.   We don't know the actual details.  The copy of the police report I saw did not have details, I've heard that he may have touched a girl in her sleep but that's just something I read in a news article, not seen proof of it.  We don't know if in some of the cases there was mutual exploration going on and him being the boy and the oldest was the one blamed.   We don't know and frankly it's none of our business. 

First let me say in the USA we have a JUVENILE  system because we realize a 13 year old will not have the maturity or self control to make a decision as if he/she were 43 years old.....  we realize that juveniles are not fully mature in their mental reasoning abilities.  So while a juvenile may be punished for a crime, it most likely does not carry the ramifications of an adult's sentencing.   And I can positively guarantee that Josh Duggar did not meet the criteria for being labeled a pedophile in any of our 50 states no matter what idiot on the web is calling him. 

For over 13 years I worked within the juvenile justice system in Florida as a caseworker, then a probation officer and then a supervisor of all committed cases.  For over three years as a supervisor my unit had the majority of all sexual cases in our county.  I took classes to learn about sex offenders, one class made me so sick I had to go outside and throw up.  I started on my Master's in Criminal I know a little about what I'm talking about. 

In Florida during the time I worked for DJJ, Duggar's case would have probably only been given probation, consisting of community hours and counseling.  I can't say for sure that would have been the outcome but since there was no clothes off or penetration that we know of, the State's Attorney would probably not gone after him for a harsh sentence.  I can only compare it to cases that I've personally been involved with and I can say for a certainty that that's about all that would have happened to him. 

Well I'll be darned....that's exactly what happened to him in Arkansas too.  His family sent him away to do manual labor with a friend who may have also been counseling him.  A lot of rehab programs have a core of manual labor involved in them.  We have a relative who is in a drug rehab program and he works on a farm during the day and goes to counseling and classes at night in the program. 

I don't' get the big outcry from the media and all these "caring folks"   The boy was caught and confessed to his family.  They removed him from the home, and went to the police.  The family can not help the fact that the police did nothing.  They probably did not know what to expect but for God's sake they took him to the police station and did a police report!   People can always second guess what they would have done in the situation but probably most folks would have done far less!  And why do I say that.......just stories I know of things that have happened to myself and friends. 

So over the past few days I've had several conversations about this situation.  Some of my friends gave me examples of things that happened to them when they were younger.  Inappropriate  things happened to a lot of us.  My husband and I both had other children who tried to touch us, neither of us told on the kids but we both avoided them from then on.  One of the kids who attempted to touch me was two years younger but much more mature in that area than me.  Another friend had an older brother's friend who exposed himself to her and had her touch him.  I had another friend tell me that she and some of the neighborhood boys used to play "doctor" , most of the kids were older than she was.   It happens.  It happens to families who go to church and who don't go to church.  That doesn't make it right, but we need to look at it realistically. 

At 12-14 kids are going through puberty, anything sexual is exciting and they want to know all about it.  And yes some kids do things that are just plain out wrong.  But their lives should not be forever ruined because of it!

Now I'm not a big Duggar fan.  In fact I've been told I'm quite mean about that family.  I don't like how they portray Christianity with all their man made legalistic rules.  I was raised with a lot of rules and broke away from that.  I really do not like the patriarchal leadership- where the woman is expected to marry young after "courting" , have little education, use no birth control, have tons of children, at home, not allowed to work a real job, have to have long hair and wear a dress....etc.....   I HATE all of that nonsense. 

However having said all of that, I do believe they try and serve God and do what they feel is right.  I feel the parents dealt with this over 12 years ago and it should not have been brought up again!  In fact I feel that whoever leaked this to the media should be fired if they work for the government and should be sued.  Like it or not, juvenile records are sealed. 

I just hate the hypocrisy of all the media frenzy and the people who jump in and say absolutely stupid things.  My favorite is "well they are just hypocrites- look at them going to church and their son touched girls"   OMG what does that have to do with the price of tea in China?  So if I live as a Christian, I am then condemned if one of my kids does something wrong???? 

 I hate to tell you but the majority of folks reading this blog right now have some type of "sex offender" in their family.  Maybe not in their home, but an uncle or a cousin or someone that everyone stays away from because you've heart things about him.  I had a great uncle that touched me quite inappropriately when I was a young teen.   He only did it once because I stayed the heck away from him from then on out!  I told a few family members once I was in college and they were like "yeah he is like that"  What the HECK?  Why didn't someone tell me as a young girl? 

And don't think it just happens in the south.....I have had people tell me things like that from every walk of life. 

With our boys, I've never worried about "stranger danger" too much.  But I've worried about the people they come in contact with day to day.  Jon and I both had people do things or try to do things to us we did not want them to do but we knew the people.   Most of the sex offender cases I saw over my 13 years dealt with people who knew each other, not the dreaded man in the ice cream truck grabbing a kid.  We've always taught our boys that no one should touch them where their bathing suits go.  We explained that to them when they were really young in a easy way for them to understand, because there is nothing wrong with a pat on the back from someone, but a pat on the bottom would not be good.  Over the years, I've asked them each questions to make sure nothing happened when they were at other people's houses.  And we've always told them they can tell us things and we will not get mad at them. 

With our "little ones' we can't teach them things like that so we keep them close to us.  We now have a babysitter but this is the first time ever we've had one.  Over the years we've left Sam a handful of times for a few hours at the most with people we totally trusted. 

When we got the girls home from Ukraine, we had our doctor check them for any signs of sexual abuse and he saw none.  We were not as worried about Shad since there were only female nannies and all the children in his area were young.  With the girls, there were older teen boys in the same room as Sarah so that scared me to death.  Obviously they were handicapped but one boy was often nude and was fully mature.  I worried that he might abuse Sarah.  The doctor saw no signs of trauma and neither girl acted afraid of being touched or bathed.

I've chosen not to have male nurses with Selah because I just do not want that issue.  she is maturing and I'd rather a woman take care of her.  I know people will say that women can be sexual abusers too but it is so rare compared to males.

Anyhow.....I think this whole hoopla is just that...a big hoopla.  IF Josh Duggar was continuing in his sin then expose him and send him straight to prison.  But I do not believe that is the case.  I believe he repented and learned self control.  He was honest with his now wife Anna when they were "dating" and told her and her family about this so they'd know.  How hard that must have been for him to do but it's so freeing for him to do that.   He shouldn't have lost his job over this.  That's ridicules.  It's not like he was working as a nursery school teacher and there was some concern from parents.  He was working some type of lobbying job, I think children were safe from him.

The world is going to act absolutely nutso stupid if anyone that claims the name of Jesus is found not to be as perfect as He is..... but that is just it, no one is perfect.

I bet NO ONE reading this would like everyone to know everything they've ever done, even while they were a child.  I know I sure ain't going to be sharing all with ya!    For the record, I've never molested any child.  But there are other things I'd be quite embarrassed about if ALL of my past came out.  Maybe it's stuff that wouldn't embarrass you but it sure would ME! 

But as a Christian, I've taken all my sins to the cross, I've asked God for forgiveness and I've made it right with any people I've offended by my sins.  None of my sins were crimes but you might be shocked at them as I might be shocked at yours. 

So I've read some comments to some online articles about the Duggars and I think some folks would like to see Josh Duggar locked up for life, sent to the electric chair along with his family.  It's crazy!

What else I've found that makes me laugh a little is a few folks who were big Duggar fans and now they are up in arms calling for his head.  I think it is funny that I'm somewhat defending him and I don't' even like him! LOL  Some folks go with whatever people around them say without thinking things through for themselves. 

Bottom line, I think his family dealt with this a long time ago and it's beyond old news.  he was open with the people who needed to know, and none of us needed to know about it.  He has gone on to make the right choices in life as far as we know.  Leave him alone and in leaving him alone, the victims are also left alone.  The victims who seem to have forgive him also. 

Now I'll sit back and get all the comments about how hyprocritical I am for defending him and how he needs to have the death penalty etc etc etc......

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Great weekend!

What a great weekend we've had!

We started by going to Homosassa Springs on Friday.  We went there years ago when Steve was just getting ready to go into kindergarten and now he's getting ready to go to college.  The time flies so quickly. 

Homosassa Springs is a small zoo that has a big Manatee rehab department.  They have a few native Floridian wild life species and lots of birds (I'm not a big bird fan)  The main draw for Shad was the underwater Manatee observation area.  We enjoyed that area and got right up by the manatees while they were eating. 

Steve and Jon in the observation area


See the owls?

My manatee friend

on our boat ride


I suggest if you ever visit Florida, try some of the Florida State Parks to learn about the REAL Florida! 
Then that night we went to see the movie "Tomorrow Land"  it was ok-the action scenes were good but the story line not so good in my opinion.  I just love going to movies even if they aren't that good! LOL
Saturday we went to MOSI (Museum of Science and Industry) in Tampa.  I don't care for museums unless they are history museums but Steve really wanted to go, he hadn't been for years.    But before we even left, we had a visit from our Peacock friend!  It must be mating season because he has been all over our country neighborhood.  we have several in the area but this guy pretty much lives on our road. 
So at MOSI Steve and Shad did a roller coaster simulator -Jon and I didn't cause we did not want to start the day off throwing up! 
Hurricane winds
Shad and Steve suited up for the Ropes course and the Zip line!








we then watched the IMAX movie on "Journey to Space"
  I'd never seen an IMAX movie before, wow what a treat!!!!!  
What a FUN weekend we had!!!!   We are so grateful for our babysitter Anna and for the respite hours we got from a program!   We had a great time spending time with our older boys and doing some things the little ones would not have wanted to do!  They were happy at home with their Anna!
Today the girls dressed for Memorial Day Sunday



Sarah smiles all the time EXCEPT when she is getting her picture taken.  I love to catch a smile on camera!

Selah wasn't smiling when I took this picture but did fine through the church service.  She is doing so much better.  She's off any prescription pain meds and will go back to see the doctor on Tuesday for an xray to make sure everything is healing correctly.  She has her beloved Rose with her:)  
Well we've had a wonderful weekend spending time with our older boys.  Going to Homosassa Springs again reminded me just of how FAST time flies.....  just a few years ago we were there with our little boy who was just a few weeks away from going to kindergarten.....  the thought of him going off to college was no where near my head....he was such a baby.  But we blinked....and added FOUR more kids....and 13 years later our little boy will soon be leaving for college.  Times flies.....  Treasure your kids "the days are long, but the years are short" 


Thursday, May 21, 2015

Christmas Shoeboxes!

Did y'all notice the Bolts won last night?  It was all thanks to Selah!

Another day in the library study room sitting with Sam as he listens/watches his on line program for speech.  It's so repetitive, the same words over and over and over again.  and today the A/C is not working in here and I have Shad and Sarah with me also...... PURGATORY!!!

He's on his third video.  So we've watched over 80 repeats of the same two.  Purgatory for sure!

I can handle Florida heat is I'm outside.  I expect to be hot but I feel suffocated if I'm in an airless room.  I've told the library ladies and they act clueless at what to do.  Call me crazy but call the repair folks is where I'd start!  I get just a tab cranky when I'm hot......LOL

On top of that, my computer is messing up!  I've already cleaned it but something is off.  Hoe annoying!  I have horrible computer access at home and now away from home, my laptop wants to act stupid!  UGH!

Other than all of's been a good day. LOL


Christmas Shoeboxes!

We used to do these at our old school.  So a friend of mine put on FB that her mom is collecting for them.  I know you've hear of  Samaritan’s Purse's yearly gift program.  It's a great thing for kids to do for other kids! 

Well this year our church will be gathering things for this ministry.  If you live in this area, please feel free to drop things off at our church- just message me to let me know if you are dropping anything off.  Most every town has a church or two that participates in Samaritans Purses' Christmas Shoebox project.


This article tells you the best things to give and what not to give   

Here is where you can find a drop off point for your area
Place a rubber band around each closed shoebox and bring it to the drop-off location nearest you during National Collection Week, November 16–23, 2015. Visit our Drop-off Locations page to find the closest collection site. Or, call 1-800-353-5949

I'm excited to include this great ministry in our church this year! 

Of course in the back of my mind, I'm hoping we could do this for CUBA! 

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Go Lightening!!!!!!

Selah says "Go Lightening!"
Her Nurse Rose is a big Lightening fan & now we are all getting interested in them:)
So I'm at the library with Sam, Sarah, Shad and Steve.  Sam is doing his GemIIni program.  The boys are looking for books and Sarah is getting mad, she is ready to get out of her chair.
Sam has had a rough couple of days, every 6-12 months he goes through a few days of just being inconsolable, like a baby with colic.   Since Saturday he has been so upset until today!  This morning I actually called the neurologist to set up an appointment thinking we need to try another drug to help him out.   We've tried two different drugs with no noticeable change.  We don't' really like the idea of giving him any meds but if you saw him when he gets like this, you'd be ready to give him anything that could help.   It seems to come when he is making new advances so we've wondered if the GemIIni program he is on, could have been the cause for this.  Not that it caused it but it's awakening some things in his brain and this is Sam's reaction to it.  Well the appointment is not till next month so we'll see how things are then. 
  We have some special things planned for the boys this weekend.  We are going to Homosassa Springs on Friday and MOSI on Saturday.  It's been years since we 've been to either.  The little ones will be happy at home with their babysitter.   The little ones are on a wait list for Med-Wavier and this year were told that Sam and Sarah could have some respite hours.  Thankfully we know a lovely young lady who can do respite hours for Med-Wavier.  This gives us a chance to do things with the older boys that the Sam and Sarah would not enjoy.  Of course Selah stays home with her nurse too.   When Steve was young we used to take him to all the attractions in Florida but Shad hasn't got to go to as much things since it's not feasible to take the little ones.  We plan on going kayaking next weekend, it will be the first time Jon and I have gotten to go kayaking at the same time.  Usually one of us (usually me) stays home with the kids so this will be a treat!   I'm so grateful for this little break!
Well hope you are having a good week!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Random Picture Tuesday

Is it only Tuesday?   I woke up this morning thinking it was Wednesday and had everything scheduled as if it were Wednesday THEN the Tuesday teachers came in!!!  LOL  Oh well it all worked out!

For the last few days, Sarah has decided to start exploring the house.  She's lived here for three years and now we're moving and she just decided to go down the hall.  She actually opened Selah's door last night.  I hope she will do ok when we move, but Sarah is NOT big on change!
Shad and the kittens.  They are so much fun!
this a picture of our neighbor's wind chimes.....all from beer cans.  I don't think a pastor's wife could have THAT in her yard but I love the sound.  I could do it with Pepsi cans :)
me and my girl napping after lunch on Sunday!
Friday night our babysitter watched Sam and Sarah so we had some time with our older boys.  We went to one of our favorite restaurants Ling's where Shad ate oysters and frog legs! 
Hope you enjoyed some random pictures!  And hope your week is going good!