Sunday, February 26, 2017


Just some cute pictures!
Sarah ready for Church this morning

Sarah in her room.
We are working on keeping a hair clip in her hair-it's a challenge.

Her bed (and Sam's too) is on the floor so they won't roll out and hurt themselves.  They were in cribs until we moved in 2015.  Sam still will not get out of bed until we come in and take his hand.  However Sarah will roll off all the time.  She goes through times of not sleeping good. She's been diagnosed with Non 24   She has been doing better since we started putting her to bed earlier.  We'd thought it was better to keep her up till we went to bed but the doctor advised us to put her to bed around 8pm.  It has helped.  We also work really hard on getting her outside an hour a day.  Both of them have blind child proof rooms:) just in case she wakes up!

Non-24-hour sleep–wake disorder - Wikipedia–wake_disorder

Actually our whole house is about as safe as a house can be inside.  We recently even had our bookcases latched into our walls with deep screws.  We had done that at our old house but kept putting it off here.  Plus we had newer furniture that we thought was better.  We kept seeing news articles about bookcases/dressers falling on kids.  THEN one day I was cleaning and I pushed hard against one of our bookcases and the thing fell on me!  I'm so thankful it did! Scared the crap out of me-I called our "fix-it" guy and we had the latches put in the next day.  We could have done it ourselves but our walls are thin and we did not want to mess anything up!  We also have cut all the cords on our blinds.  Anytime we here a safety report on tv-we try and heed it!!!!  Honestly I live with PTSD after the accident.  I even dream about things happening.... I HATE those dreams!  If I could afford an underground bunker and wrap my kids in bubble wrap (except for their faces!) I'd probably do it!  But life isn't that easy.....

Sarah is a stinker-she is always happy but NOT when the camera is out!  How in the world does she know?  She looks mournful in 80% of all pictures unless I'm in the picture with her and I can usually get her to smile.  But she is an unusually happy child LOL we do better with videos than still pictures.

Since November 3 of our 6 cats have been very sick.  Our one male kitten/cat Dobie had renal failure in November but recovered.  Then a young female cat Gizmo got very sick on a weekend-she was diagnosed with a UTI but there may have been some else going on.   Then a couple of weeks ago our REAL cat  Vermont (as in the only one we accepted from a friend-all the others were walk ups) got really sick and was in renal failure.  She is only about 3 years old she almost died.  It was touch and go for a few days.  We have a non profit animal clinic in town called Planned Pethood and they are absolutely fantastic.  They saved her life.  And even more than that they invest themselves into the animals.  We have since changed cat food!  We have no idea what else could be the issue.  Although the cats are all outside-we live on an fenced in acre and only one close neighbor (and he loves animals) we are very careful about any type of chemicals.  The cats do go into the little woods between our houses some but there is nothing in there that could hurt them.  I'd put a picture of the cat food we've used for years but I'm afraid I'd be sued!!!  But I can tell you we are now buying Purina Naturals.  I've got some good reviews on it.  I can't afford an expensive brand with six cats!!!  Vermont is on a special diet for now.  But hopefully she will one day be able to come off it.

This is going to be a hectic week for me.  We have appointments and a fancy banquet along with a class for me this week.  Our oldest is home on spring break and we are going to try and get a Disney day in somewhere...... Love having all five of my chicks under the roof at night.  It makes me so happy & content!

Friday, February 24, 2017

Kayaking on the Hillsborough River

Today Jon and I went kayaking on the Hillsborough River.  It's been about a year since I've gone kayaking so I felt a little rusty.  Plus the HR is a very dark river with lots and lots of gators.  BIG Gators....12 foot gators....My kayak is only 10 feet!!!  I love gators but not when they are bigger than the boat I'm in!  

 Do you see him?  Mostly his body was out of the water on the limb.  He was probably the biggest gator I've ever seen while kayaking.  His back was very wide.  Jon made fun of me because I "picked up the pace" to get far away from that big guy.

The pictures do not do his justice.  I was so nervous my stomach was hurting!

That's me rolling down the river LOL

I have gotten sunburnt on the water and it's the worst.  So I have a UV shirt and pants that I wear when I kayak with a swimsuit under (Not that I was planning on swimming at the Hillsborough River!)

Another big guy I've seen him before.

Look right above- can you see the snake?  A HUGE water moccasion.  There was a nest of them in some rocks in the middle of the river.

Fun day- got my heart rate up LOL

We're coming up on the one year mark since Jon's heart attack and heart surgery. This was a good way to celebrate!  He had a blast- me I was a bit more concerned.  I like to kayak on springs that are clear so if the kayak gets bumped-I know what bumped it!  LOL

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Happy 13th Birthday Sam!

Good morning from beautiful Florida!  It's just a little chilly today but gorgeous out~my front and back doors are open to the breeze.

We just had a birthday boy!  Sam turned 13 years old!  How can that possibly be?

Here's a cute video but you'll have to go to My Real Life By Yvonne FB page to watch it.
You have to cut and paste I'm sorry but it's precious

Sam with his Polar Pop on the Porch swing listening to "his Bro Gary"

For anyone who is new to my blog, Sam is the one who really changed our family's focus!  Here is the story.....

I was in my late 30's and we had Steve who was 8 years old.  We had lost twins 7 years before in a horrible way and I did not want to deal with any more pregnancies.  But then we realized if we were going to have another child we should do it then.  So we did some half hearted attempts at fertility drugs.  There was so much going on in my life-my career~lots of doubts if we should even think about taking the risks of another birth....  In fact my husband was interviewing for ministry jobs out of Florida.  We went for an interview in Branson MO and decided over the weekend to not accept the offer.  We had taken a few extra days off work and that Monday morning my husband made coffee.  All day I gagged....the next morning the same thing happened so I decided to take a test and it was positive!!!  Jon was jogging and I ran outside to tell him!  So it was settled LOL

The pregnancy was rough.  There were many odd problems from the get go.  From 15 weeks on I had issues with bleeding so I stayed on bed rest most of that time.  That was very very difficult for me.  Finally a lack of ammonic fluid and slowed growth  made my doctor decide to deliver him at almost 32 weeks.  Sam was breech so he was a scheduled c-section.  For two days ahead of time I was given steroid shots to help his lungs mature.  Those shots HURT!!! 

My doctor was very blunt with me-he was not sure Sam would survive because there were so many odd things going on.  Sam seldom moved which was nerve wracking after going through the late loss of twins.  So we went into the surgery with alot of unknowns and fears.  

Sam came out crying, what a happy sound!  He actually did really good at first and came off the vent after only 18 hours.  those shots worked! I got to hold him the next day and that's when he let me in on his secret.....

(BTW this picture was taken as he opened his eyes and I was not staged!  I used to not be able to look at it without crying but not anymore, it's precious that I saw it first.  It's like he was sharing it with is mama!)
Somehow in all the commotion of his birth, no one noticed he was blind....  As I held him for the first time, he opened his little eyes.... and I saw nothing but whiteness.  Also I could tell his eyes were unusually small and misshapen.  Immediately I called for the NICU doctor, he basically told me I was over wrought and silly.....  Well Bless his heart....I handed Sam over to Jon and got in the man's face and yelled at him to get a specialist in NOW or I was going to sue him and the hospital and his mama....etc......  My husband was actually afraid I was going to hit the man LOL  There's actually a hilarious story about that incident.  Years later a couple started attending our church.  After a few weeks the lady asked me if Sam had been born in a certain hospital and I said YES.  She starts giggling and told me she was a nurse there in the NICU and that the nurses still talk about me to this day.  I start stammering out an apology and telling her sometimes I'm not a very good preacher's wife....  and she stopped me and told me that all the nurses were silently cheering me on because I stood up to the doctor!  BTW that doctor lost his license a few years after Sam......

Anyhow the specialist came that night and told us what we already knew that Sam was blind and probably had Peter's Anomaly.  the specialist had only read about PA but he was pretty sure Sam had it.  He was right....

Fast forward past all the shock and sorrow...Sam's first year was absolute hell.  He was in and out of the hospital, life flighted, on machines at was a rough year but we made it through.  Jon and I both broke down sobbing at his one year birthday party because we were so happy that he lived to make his birthday!  

Right after he turned one, we heard of another one year old  blind boy in China, through crazy miracles we adopted him.  Shad it turned out was only blind in one eye and had none of the other issues that Sam had.  

Then you know when he was 8 years old we learned about a little blind girl in Ukraine....again through some really crazy miracles we adopted Sarah  and another little  girl, Selah.  

I look back at Sam's arrival with absolute awe. A few years before he was born God spoke to me in an audible voice (at least to me) and told me I'd have a son named Samuel and he would change my life.  It happened at an intersection on my way to work.  I kid you not, believe me or think I'm crazy but I heard it.  During that season in my life I was in a deep deep valley and barely holding onto God.  but He was still holding me and His words came to pass in a way I would have never ever dreamed of!  

Sam's life has changed mine so much.  It changed my focus completely and made me a much better person.  Do I think God caused Sam to have disabilities to change me?  No I don't think that at all but God knew what was ahead for me.  But Sam's life did not just change my life, it changed my husband and oldest son's lives too.  And even more importantly it changed Shad's, Sarah's and Selah's lives completely!  I can promise you we would have never ever had the nerve to adopt three children with disabilities had it not been for our experience with Sam.  I've seen families who had never dealt with a disabled child that adopted kids with severe disabilities and been in awe of them.  That would have NOT been me!  It would not have even been on my radar!   I would have been too afraid to do it and I was too selfish.  

His life has also changed our focus in ministry.  We are very focused on orphan care and ministry.  Our church is focused on it also.  I'm not sure what our future ministry looks like but I know as long as I live, that will be a something I'm a part of!

After Sam was born I felt myself starting to question God and one day I literally had an epiphany in the hospital corridor.  I determined then and there not to question God and not to blame God.  Maybe some folks would disagree with me but I knew I could not let my heart become bitter.  Believe me after the twins' death I knew what bitterness was and I knew I did not want to go back to it!  God helped me never to sink into despair again.  Yes I cried as he got various diagnosis, and had operations or was sick but God gave me a grace that I did not have within myself to keep my heart from being bitter.  I am so thankful because I know ME!  I know how deep I can go because I did after the twins.  

Because God helped me not to let my heart grow bitter I've been able to move forward.  Now 13 years later there is really nothing I grieve about Sam's condition.  I have the hope of heaven and an eternity where my boy will be whole.  I enjoy Sam for who he is.  And having Sam has changed my life!  I think of ALL that I would have missed out on if I had not had Sam..... a whole lifetime of love from three other children....

I don't want to get political but this is why I am against abortion. There are many Sam's out there who are aborted because the parents are too short sighted to see beyond their fears.....

So where is Mr Sam at now?

At 13 years old, he walks, climbs stairs, is feeding himself about half of the time, he makes his needs known in his way since he is non verbal.  He loves his Jesus music, he loves his family and gives hugs and kisses.  

the ONLY bday picture I took!  Geez!  We had a great weekend with big brother home

Here is Sam and Steve 13 years ago- Steve's first time with Sam, he was taking it all in.  We laugh and tell Steve that he was realizing his life had radically changed 

he loves his Daddy Mommy and big brother- he tolerates everyone else LOL
but because he is so bonded some doctors have felt he was not autistic...but believe me he is!
He will go to the dining room table at 6 pm whether anyone else is there or not!  HE has a sense of time and order that is unreal.  

His compliments to the chef:)  he loved the food and fell asleep!

He loved the lights on the cruise

Sam and dad in Honduras.  

Christmas 2010?
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Steve holding Sam

Steve holding Sam
Steve wouldn't put on Batman Pjs LOL

I'm holding myself back from posting about 100 pictures.  I'm trying to give you an idea of his life.  He enjoys himself and loves his family.  He's had alot of challenges but we've all made it through.  I'm so thankful for his life, how it has touched mine and many others.  I wouldn't trade that boy for a million dollars:)

Happy Birthday Sam I love you!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Sarah JOY

Sarah Walking!

Sorry you have to go to the video-it wouldn't post here.

I thought I'd do an update on each kid since I was able to update the good news on Selah.

So Sarah turned 10 years old while we were on our Christmas cruise.  She loved the cruise and loved being in our room and not with the boys LOL.

Sarah is taking some steps on her own, her therapist is really happy with her progress.  Sarah tends to make strides then STOP for awhile.  Right now she is moving forward in all areas.

Sarah has always had to eat pureed food.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with her where she couldn't eat regular food but she was never taught how to eat normally as it was easier for her caregivers just to give her baby food.  When we were in the process of adopting her, the caregiver showed me how Sarah was fed.  It was almost like torture.  She was given huge spoons of mush until she gagged and then they would say she was full.  It was so upsetting to me to watch them cram mush into her mouth.  So obviously she has issues.

When she first came home she could only eat a small jar of baby food without gagging.  As she learned that we would feed her at HER pace, she began to eat more and more.  We began giving her whatever we were eating and would puree it.  After almost 5 years I"m on my second machine.  I love my Ninja blender!  Now she is to the point she can handle a few foods not pureed!  And even the ones we puree we make it a thicker paste.  She LOVES to eat! I do alot of crock pot meals and those usually are perfect to blend up.  For several years I had to really do mostly soups as she had to have the food thinner  but not anymore!  The great thing is she moves her food around and actually chews!  She's been chewing for at least a year but it wasn't consistent but it is now.  I puree almost everything we eat unless it just wouldn't work like pizza or sandwiches.  I keep some soups on hand but she mainly eats "real food" now.

She clearly says Mama and her new word is Dada!  She loves her Dada.  As with many non verbal kids, her receptive language- the language she understands is far more than what she can express.  She knows what to expect if i ask her if she wants to eat.  She'll crawl over to the dining table and get in her seat.  If we say it's bedtime she understands and walks (by holding our hand) to her room  When she gets in her bed, she lifts her hand up to hold our's and wants to pray.  We'll say AMEN and put her hand down and she'll put that little hand back up again to pray some more (or to keep us in her room)   Monthly we see and increase in her babbling.  The first year she was home she made no sound except for a little laugh.  She has come so far.

She plays with her toys.  Until the last 3-6 months she really had no interest in toys.  She has always been so very tactile defensive.  Most blind kids are but she was to the highest degree.  But that is changing.  she has a box of toys in the living room that she will actually get into and pull the toys out and hold them.  Just holding them is great and a step for her.  But now she will make noise with them (she has a couple of toys she shakes)  she has learned how to take the rings off of her stacking toys and she has a couple of stuffed toys she will hold.  It's so sweet to see her with her toys around her!

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she fell asleep playing!
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Oh how I love this picture!  

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this is funny- she likes to hold on to that bar.  Yes I know her seat belt strap was messed up.  As soon as I noticed I had her brother reach up and fix it.  She  is terrible about that!  

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She still has low Vitamin D so we try to go outside every day.  
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She actually is catching up to her age group in her size.  She is wearing size 8-10 clothes! (when we brought her home she wore 12 month size clothes!!- she was 5.5 years old)   Probably if she was not in diapers still she wouldn't be able to wear a size 8 pants though!  I'd hoped she was "on the chart" but at her yearly check up she is still not even on the chart for a child of 10 (9 & 3/4 at check up)   But all her labs were perfect except for the vitamin D.  We're now giving her drops to see if that will get it up.  

And YES I know she needs a haircut!  We both have an appointment this weekend!!!   

Sarah is happy-always.  She loves to be with me or her daddy.  When she hears him come in, she reaches for him.  She is just precious and full of love.  I will never understand how she can be so loving and so eager to be loved after seeing where she came from.  Many children can never can get passed the neglect and lack of emotional care.  I don't know how she did.....she is unique and just perfect:)   Even if she'd had struggles emotionally I would have loved her please don't get me wrong but to have her be so loving is a blessing.  Sometimes at night we'll be on the couch watching TV or reading and she'll be sitting beside me and I'll feel her little hand come out for so sweet and trusting.  (Actually that's EVERY night!!!  LOL)   I love that baby!

In homeschool we are working on practical skills- all the ones above and also helping to dress herself.  She has learned how to pull her shirt down if I put it on her head.  We are also learning how to get in and out of the tub- that's a bit harder but she's getting the idea.  Believe me that is a skill we want her to learn as she is big enough now to make our backs hurt!!!  We are also working on her feeding herself- she has the concept.....

So that's Sarah's update:)