Sunday, December 31, 2017


Hoping Y'all had a Merry Christmas!

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

Christmas Eve at church that morning as a family

Christmas morning aftermath!

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

Sam had such a good time opening presents this year.  

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

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

New Year's Eve!

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

Steve and his friends after service at our favorite restaurant 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a happy safe New Year!

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Happy 11th Birthday Sarah!


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Colonoscopy fun!

Well I've been having "fun". 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Friday, December 15, 2017

Lettuce Lake Park

On my way to meet my friend for breakfast!

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

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

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

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

On top of the tower

 Baby gator

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

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

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Family Diet!

Sarah has had a huge growth spurt!  Just last year her winter PJ's were size 7/8.  Now they are 14/16!  LOL  She could have probably wore a size 10/12 but only for this winter ( all 2 weeks of it )

My Little Elf :)

I t just amazes me how much she has grown.  When we adopted her she weighed 19 pounds at 5.5 years old.  Now she weighs 68 pounds at almost 11 years.  She is still small for her age but she is quickly catching up.  In fact Sarah, Selah and Sam are all around the same weight and height!  

Sarah still eats basically only puree' foods.  I'm on my third Ninja /Magic Bullet.   She usually eats whatever we eat, just put through the blender with a little added liquid.  Tonight we had BBQ chicken, mashed potatoes, baked beans and green beans.  Then she had ice cream for dessert!   She does move her food around in her mouth and chew a little.  If we are out, I can get her soups or softish foods and mash them up for her.  She basically eats food the consistency of oatmeal.   When we first got her, everything had to be liquid or she would choke.  

For breakfast she eats Grits and applesauce. 
Sarah also likes pureed eggs with bacon and sausage.  It smells good but looks absolutely awful!   She will ONLY drink Caprisun juice.  She likes the pouches and the tiny straw but I can't trick her to try anything else unless i want to spoon it into her mouth!  I buy the organic ones when they are BOGO at Publix.  

For lunch she usually has left overs from the night before or one of her frozen meals.Then she gets a banana and a can of fruit pureed together for lunch.  I puree containers of food for her.  When I make something like spaghetti, I make more and then puree it into single serve containers and freeze it for her.  That way she has meals  for when we have something that is not a food we want to puree like pizza!    

For supper she eats whatever we are having unless it's sandwiches or pizza. She has 2 Activa yogurts for supper.   I cook alot in the crock pot, those type of meals are easy to puree.  

My "go to meals" are 
Crock Pot
Mexican chicken
Taco chili
regular  chili
BBQ chicken 
beef stew ( every great once and awhile)

spinach lasagna 
chicken & dumplings (haven't tried this since going gluten free) 
Meatloaf (just bought GF breading) 
chicken and rice
chicken noodle soup

All the above are very easy for Sarah.  She eats gluten free along with the rest of us.  Frankly I can't tell a difference in any of us except Jon and I don't feel as sleepy/stuffed after eating.  I'm trying to redo some recipes to make them GF.  Walmart has wonderful over ready GF lasagna!  OH MY!  It's so good-can't tell the difference.  

I cook with much chicken.  Even with chicken I have to make sure that it's low fat.  I usually only use breast meat, every now and then I do cook some chicken legs with a special spice on them but they are so much higher in fat.  I also use ground LEAN chicken in place of hamburger meat.  It has to be the "fit & lean" 100% from the breast or it'll have as much fat as hamburger has!  

People always say it's so expensive to eat healthy.  It absolutely is not!  I figured up how much last night's Taco  meal cost.  2 pounds of ground chicken $5.49 each pound.  Can of fat free refried beans $1  can of organic black beans $1.19    Yellow rice packet $2   Taco shells $2   Salsa $3   Fat free cheese $2.49 (bought at BOGO sale so actually $1.24) = $21.41 divided by 6 =  $3.55   Plus we have more than one meal out of it, plenty of left overs and a couple of containers for Sarah in the freezer!  Sometimes I add a salad, last night I did not.  
Jon and I ate lunch at a Mexican restaurant this past week and the cost was about $21 for just the two of us!  

I love to eat out but I also love to eat at home.  When we eat at home I can control what goes into the meal.  And I know I save money, plus it's so much easier for Sarah.  There are a few restaurants that we can't go to because there is nothing I can mush up for her.  Traveling is challenging.  

I always keep on hand applesauce, grits, oatmeal, cans of fruit, cans of soup, fruit pouches,& Caprisun,  for Sarah.  All of that is easy to take with us so I keep it in her bag in case we end up somewhere and have nothing she can eat.  I shop at Publix and I love their BOGO sales.  They will only allow 4 deals at a time but I can always come back the next day for more!   

Sam eats everything we do basically.  He hates sweets other than a few fruits.  You couldn't make him eat ice cream!   Every now and then he is interested in something like that until we get him a taste-then he acts like he was given poison!!  He'll gag!  One of his doctors was very interested years ago about his aversion to sweets.  He will drink sweet tea and soft drinks.  But he mostly drinks juice or water.  

Selah takes all her food through gtube.  She has a good formula that has REAL food in it.  I had to fight for it but it's been great for her.  She also has some baby food daily-usually prunes.  She gets cranberry juice and Aloe Vera juice during the day along with water.   I'm very happy with her nutrition.  I feel she is satisfied and getting very healthy food.  for a year she was on pedisure and she looked swollen and gained too much weight.  

It has been challenging to meet the girls' needs but I feel we have it worked out for the best for them.  With them both being on a liquid diet, we have to ensure they get the right kind of nutrition, not empty calories!  

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Being a Preacher's Wife

When I was a little girl I looked up to my pastor's wife.  My church was a bit crazy so over 17 years, I had plenty of pastor's Wives (PW) to look up to.  We averaged about a new pastor every year or so.  One of my absolute favorites was Sister Lola.  She had beautiful red hair that she wore in a bun to church  and always stood so straight. ( I spent the night over at their house- I was friends with their daughter- and saw her bun on a head mannequin!!!!  I was shocked!)   She played the piano and sang.  Her husband really tried to help our church change but the folks wouldn't have no part of it.  So she had to deal with a lot of adversity-I even recognized it as a 12 year old and admired her all the more for it.

Being 12 years old I remember telling her one time that I wanted to be a pastor's wife.  I was standing in her kitchen and she was frying chicken. She looked at me and said "Oh no you don't!" And she was right!

As a young girl, I do believe that God was leading me into full time ministry despite my many shortcomings.  There was always a desire in my heart to be in ministry.  Growing up I was in church every time the door was opened-I had no choice but it wasn't a real big problem to me.  Oh I did hate missing out on Sunday night's "the Wonderful World of Disney" but other than that our church was extremely entertaining.

 Church was such a big part of my life.  There was Sunday School and Sunday morning worship, then Sunday night worship.  Sometimes there was a ladies meeting before Sunday night service.  Then we had Wednesday night Family Hour (basically another Sunday school class)  During the summers I had to go with my aunts every Thursday mornings to Ladies Prayer Meeting.  I have to admit I absolutely dreaded the Prayer meeting.  It was very Pentecostal and I was usually the only kid there, actually I was usually the only one under 50 years old there. There was our church's attempt at Girl's Scouts called Joybells ( I kid you not!)  As I got older there were various youth meetings and outings.  There was always at least two revivals a year and sometimes they'd go on for weeks every single night but Saturday night.  And believe me, we went every single night!  Then there were Camp Meetings and youth camps, and Vacation Bible School  in the summer.  Do you get the picture?  I certainly was always in the right place to feel a nudge!

So as a high school grad, I feel called to go to Bible School even though by that time the bible school was more a Christian Liberal Arts school.  We had chapel daily and were required to go to church on Sundays.  We had various spiritual emphasis weeks AKA revivals.  It was pretty strict back then and that was ok with me for the most part although I did do some rule breaking.

Through it all I knew I was called to ministry, it wasn't just that I was always involved in church.  I can remember lying awake at night and praying-while I was praying I'd see people of every nationality in my mind's eye.  Over the years I had a few "God dreams" in which I knew God was speaking to me.  There were some confirmations too.

Then after dating a lot of guys I met Jon.  We  totally clicked.  We got married one month after we met (28 plus years ago)  I knew he was THE ONE!  Or at least I thought he was.....
Then a few weeks after we were married we went to my hometown so he could meet my family.  While there I found an old journal that another favorite PW (Frances)  had me start writing in.  In the journal I had a list of goals for my life (one included adopting!)  But the most amazing thing in the world is on December 7, 1982 I'd written a prayer for my husband to be.  That was one Sunday I missed church.  It was extremely cold and our water pipes had frozen.  Honestly I can count on ONE hand the times I missed church and it mainly had to do with deaths in the family!   Anyhow I prayed that God would save my husband to be if he wasn't a Christian yet and call him into ministry.  Well...

On that morning Jon went to a full gospel church for the very first time in his life and responded to the altar call!   I kid you not!  We both freaked out a bit while reading the journal!  Wow!  What are the chances????   I'd forgotten all about that journal it was now 1989 -7 years later....  We kept that journal for years.  We boxed it away when we moved to NY and it may still be in my brother in law's shed LOL   I wish we had taken better care of it.  What a confirmation to us.  BTW that was the only prayer I have ever written down.

Anyhow now I was married to a minister.  We envisioned a grand far reaching ministry.  Maybe we would be a new Billy Graham or David Wilkerson....  Our heart was always in out reach, we met working in a homeless shelter (actually we'd met in a class but didn't really talk till years later)   So we wanted to reach those outside the church doors......

The reality of ministry is a lot less glamorous.  Oh we've traveled a lot of the years sharing the ministry we were working for.  Lots of hotels and long rides, sometimes even forgetting what town we were in....believe me that is not glamorous!  Jon's been a pastor of a small rural church now for almost 12 years ( in just about 3 weeks it will be our anniversary there)  He's been a prison chaplain for over 20 years ( he pastors and he is a full time chaplain)  Since he is at the prison all week long (40 hours a week)  much of the administration stuff falls to me at the church.  I've dealt with remodeling & contractors, new roof, septic tank issues, well issues, toliet and plumbing issues, tree cutters, snakes, snakes and more snakes (real one) name it and I've dealt with it or got someone else to deal with it!

There have been times when I've actually screamed "they didn't teach me this at Bible school"   The last time I screamed that i was trying to get a water moccasin out of the church without him getting away (wouldn't that make for a fun Sunday morning service?) or having to kill him on the foyer tile! Yep true story!

Well today I got up early and had our wonderful sitter coming in early just so I could meet a funeral director at our church's graveyard....yep we have one!  Some graves are unmarked and he was supposed to help me find them so relatives could buy markers for them.  We'd also been falsely told that no one else could be buried there anymore and just recently found out that was not true.  Anyhow it was a very cold morning (in the 30's) and it was early....on my way there I thought about dear Sis Lola and smiled :)  My funeral director stood me up, called and told me there was an emergency but hopefully I'll soon get the chance to add this to my repertoire!

There have been times I loved being a PW and times I absolutely hated it.  There has certainly been times I've not lived up to the title too!  And if you haven't figured it out, I'm not a typical Pastor's/Minister's wife.  I don't sing or play the piano.  I'm not sweet at all.  My counseling is pretty much "suck it up buttercup-life is hard"  I love missions and orphan care and our church folks love my heart and make allowances for the rest of me!  Thank God!

So Sis Lola you were right but you were a good example to follow....  You'll never know how much this little girl looked up to you.

(dedicated to Lola Brewer who was an inspiration  She recently passed away....on a Sunday..

Tuesday, December 12, 2017


Bullying is all in the news right now although it is nothing new.  I grew up being bullied.  Living in a non nuclear family (great aunts rather than parents) having freckles and glasses, spending alot of my childhood having to wear dresses....yep I was ripe for bullies.  I remember when I was young thinking at least once I became an adult I would haven't to deal with bullies anymore....LOL   We all know that's not true!

But I have to say my family gave me skills for dealing with bullies WITHOUT giving me skills.  Back in the day, kids had to deal with kids on their own.  Parents didn't step in, schools didn't step in.... you were on your own.  Well that's the absolute best thing a kid can learn.  That kid will always have to deal with bullies and no one can save him.

This recent video that has been all over the internet is awful.  I'm sorry for the child if this story is true.  Regardless I'm sorry for the child.  I'd absolutely never ever record nor upload such a video of my child.  There are now questions being asked about the situation- I'm not going to point fingers but I do wish folks would learn a little discernment and not jump on every FB bandwagon that comes along!

We parent our older boys and our little ones totally different.  Obviously we are the advocates for our little ones.  Believe me I've been bullied in their place especially dealing with the local school board.  They do not understand things and are non verbal.  But even in their limited understanding we try to make them as independent as possible.

But for our older boys, we've taught them to deal with issues with other kids on their own.  I don't think I've ever talked to another parent about how their child treated my child.  I did talk to a teacher once and found that MY son was the instigator in a situation.  From that point on that kid was on his own!

There are times when a parent has to get involved.  One time we were in a restaurant and three grown men began making fun of Shad, his Chinese background and his eye.I heard them over the partion of our booth and I tore around that booth so quick and was in their faces shaming them  before they knew what hit them.  That was a bit different, Shad was six years old and these were grown nasty men.  Believe me the whole restaurant was watching that show.  I handed them their butts on a platter so to speak LOL   But we have talked about it many times there will be a time when Shad is made fun of that he has to stand up for himself.  I hope I gave him some confidence by being bold that he will use if he ever needs it.

We have a funny story about our oldest son.  When he was in 9th grade he was dealing with an awful bully.  I listened to him complain about the situation.  One day I picked them up from school and he told me that he had knocked the boy down.  I parked the car just knowing that he was suspended for this.,   I hurried into the school and met with the principal.  The principal told me that if Steve hadn't knocked the boy on his butt he would have suspended Steve!  LOL   I'm sure that is an unique way of handling things but it totally worked!  In fact, Steve never had to deal with another bully and the story has grown over the years.  Now it is a legend with his friends!

But as much as I felt  bad for my son as he was dealing with the situation, I did not intervene.  Why is that?  Because he is now a grown man, in college, working several jobs, I can not fight his battles for him today and he needed those experiences as a child to give him the confidence to deal with things today.

Just because a person becomes an adult, bullying does not stop.  I was bullied in jobs, in ministry and in church situations, those things I learned as a kid has done me well in the adult situations.  My adult son has had some hard things happen in jobs and at college, he deals with them.  He might share with me the situation, sometimes after it's over, but he has to deal with it.  His dad and I can not do it for him.

I'm sorry for children being brought up today by helicopter parents.  How will the children cope when they are grown?  The only time we've ever intervened with our kids are in cases where we did not want our kids to be around other kids because of issues such as drug use, bad behavior etc.    There were times we did not give our kids the choice but not too often.

I want my kids to deal with life and not be little snowflakes that can take any heat.  Life can be hard.  My hope is that they will be able to stand when someone is mean to them or disagrees with them.

My advice to you if you have children who have no special needs, let your children work things out on their own.  Listen to them, talk to them but don't make them a victim.  And don't make it be the end of the world either.

We've all met adult victims, everyone is out to get them, everything is against you really want to enable your child to become a person like that?  I sure do NOT!   I want my kids to be able to let most things run off their backs but I also want them to have the backbone to stand up for themselves and others if needs be too.

Honestly my generation and the generations of parents after me have turned kids into wimps.  It's sad.  The kids can not handle any adversity, whether it's a bully, a hard class, a mean will these kids make it in the real world???   One summer my oldest son had the employer from hell.  the guy hated Steve (which was odd because most people love him) but we did not let him quit.  He really didn't ask to quit but we didn't give him any encouragement that way.   We just laughed and encouraged him to make it through the summer.  He did make it through and he was so happy when it was his last day there.  That job has made him appreciate the jobs he has now!  It was good for him, even at the time I thought it was good for him.

So I encourage you to teach your kid backbone and courage.  Don't coddle them.  Don't fight their battles for them.  Let them learn how to deal with hard things.  It's actually good for them.

And I don't want to get messages saying "BUT you don't understand...."   No unfortunately it is you who do not understand.  Even if you child has some impairments, they can still learn through things.
Sam and Sarah have a bit of a sibling rivalry going on.  Sam is loud and Sarah does not like that.  Often if he's loud in the living room which is HER area she will just cry and cry.  I do comfort her but I try to talk her down and calm her.  It's not the same as bullying but to her I think she thinks he is being a bully.  I'm teaching her to ignore and deal with things.  She needs that skill also. Every child needs to develop skills as best as they can to cope with life.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Happy Birthday Jon

Happy Birthday Jon!
A smirking Gingerbread man and a lemon cake is what you get LOL
He also got new cowboy boots and a giant coffeemaker and special spicy boiled peanuts.  We love boiled peanuts in the south!  

We have gone Gluten free/Low carb  99% at home- trying to be as grain free as possible and honestly it's not hard at home.  GF is actually easy!  Eating out is more of a challenge.  The challenge is most recipes are not low fat which Jon has to have.  I substitute unsweetened applesauce for oil or butter and it works pretty good.  And of course I use  egg whites instead of whole eggs.  We try everything to be as heart healthy as possible. 

Before Jon's heart attack the only cholesterol that was a little high was his triglycerides.  But since it was only a few points over, the doctor did not even push him to go on a statin.  Everything else was perfect no high blood pressure or sugar or anything out of whack.   Of course a week and half later he had a heart attack with five complete blockages....   That just makes me a "little stressed" 

Now he is on statin drugs, his cholesterol is very low.  His numbers are crazy low but for his situation that's how it has to be.  So I continue to do everything I possibly can to ensure he has a lot more birthdays!!! 

I think I still am in shock that my husband had a heart attack.  Knowing his family history he was so careful.  I can remember having a conversation with him when we first got married about eating healthy.  The only reason I thought about diet back then was to lose weight.  I didn't think about my health at all.  I loved anything fried! 

His dad's doctor had told the boys that they'd better be careful or they'd also end up on the operating table!  So he was determined NOT to do that!  On his dad's side there were 8 siblings I believe and all but one had heart issues and I think that was what they all died from.  Then Jon's younger brother had a heart attack in his 30's.  He had two male cousins die from heart related issues.  As i began cooking, I learned to cook healthier than how I was raised.... we loved fried food!  In 28 plus years of marriage I don't think I've fried more than maybe 10 times.  Sometimes a girl has to have fried green tomatoes!  I do have an air fryer now that is wonderful.  But that's healthy! 

When Jon had his heart attack and surgery I felt like the rug was pulled out from underneath my feet.  We did everything right!  We ate right, exercised like a fiend, watched blood pressure, sugar, weight....  His doctor said Jon's situation was unavoidable and probably Jon managed to put it off by 10-15 years because of his healthy life style.  He also said Jon survived a very serious situation because of his good lifestyle and the fact he had no other health issues.  The doctor said 99% of heart patients he sees are there because of poor life style choices. 

i don't think I shared on here but prior to the surgery, the surgeon told me it was very serious and an emergency surgery (they had planned to do the surgery the next morning)  He could not promise me that Jon would make it.  To say I was scared was an understatement, my legs shook.  I look back at some pictures we took just prior to all of that and I get stressed- we had no idea what was ahead! 

So I'm grateful for the almost two years that have passed since that day.  I'm really grateful the heart attack did not take place when we were staying in Ukraine adopting the girls or when he was alone in the woods on one of his hikes.  God was merciful to us. 

Because of everything we've gone through we tend to take health things very seriously!.  We go to all our check ups and if something seems off we get it checked out.  At this point I'm probably a hypochondriac!!!!    But I want to encourage you NOT to put off any medical issue you have going on!  Get it checked out!  Do all the screenings!  Eat healthy Exercise!  Walking is the best exercise and it's free and can be done anywhere!!!

And if you exercise all morning that's what you'll do in the afternoon!  LOL  Sarah will NOT keep socks on no matter how chilly buy she loved her fleeced shirt and pants. 

For his birthday Jon took Selah and her nurse to Orlando for a doctor's appointment.  Before we bought Selah a van I took her everywhere but I just can not drive her van.  It's so big and tall.  I knew this was going to happen but we got such a good deal on it, we just couldn't' pass it up.  I tried one time to drive it and I just could not do it!  Honestly I don't even like to ride in it!  But Selah absolutely loves her van.  It is very easy to tell, she relaxes and enjoys the ride.  It's easy to tell when she does NOT like something, and sometimes she'll be so upset at a doctor's appointment but when she gets back in her van, she is all relaxed and calm and the frowning face is gone. 

I'm thankful today that the terrorist attack was aborted in NYC! The terrorist was reported living in Brooklyn and came off the ACE subway line (that was our line when we lived there)  Last summer when we were in NYC we went to Penn Station to change the kids and change to a bus.  I saw a video streaming of the ground floor and people running and actually saw the bathroom we went in.  I have a vivid memory because believe me it was quite the production to change the kids there!!   Anyhow it's so sad to see the city we lived in, be terrorized! 

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Sunday Pictures

It is hard to take pictures of Sam and Sarah.  They don't understand why they have to be still and smile.  But today I got some of the cutest pictures of Sam!

He posed himself

Little businessman

I had to get a picture of Sarah and her Norway outfit.  It was quite chilly this morning so she opted for something warm!

I get to church early so Shad can go to Sunday School.  Then I can take pictures of the little ones before anyone gets there.  Sometimes if I wait till after church somebody might have an accident & require a costume change!  It happens.....

It is chilly today.  I went for a walk after lunch and was miserable till I hit about 2 miles then it was perfect.  I don't like to be hot but I don't like to be cold either lol.  I can NOT stand to wear heavy jackets or turtlenecks.  When we lived in NYC, I could hardly stand to button my jacket no matter how cold.  I get very claustrophobic-I guess living in Florida we aren't used to wearing much clothes LOL  It's even hard for me to wear long pants, it just seems like too much material on me.  Capri pants are ok but i generally live in skorts or shorts.

We celebrated Jon's birthday early today.  It was a little quiet since our oldest son wasn't here.  He has finals this coming week but worked as a camera op this whole weekend in Orlando  He works free-lance for a college friend of mine occasionally.  What really made me happy is he got the job on his own with them.  Only after he was hired did they realize he was our son!  He also works for two other companies free lance as well as weekly for the college in media services.  He stays so busy but he loves what he does.  This weekend his food and a hotel room was included.  He loves that!  I do too, I hate to worry about him out late driving!!

Well hope you have a great start to your week tomorrow!!

!!!!!!!  Our church took up an offering today for the Druz orphanage in Ukraine and we met our goal of $150 so they can be fully funded for Christmas!  !!!!  Our folks are so generous-we had to make up just a little out of another fund.  But I love their hearts.  I shared like 2 minutes about what we'd been asked to do and people gave even though they hadn't expected to have a new project today!  It is a blessing!

If you still would like to give to Life 2 Orphans please do there are other orphanages that need help!

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Prison Ministry

Today was the prison's annual Volunteer Banquet.  Technically I'm a volunteer but I usually only make it to the banquet LOL  Jon works at a very unique prison.  It has several mental health units, a hospice unit, a medical unit and an elderly  unit. 

 He has developed a strong volunteer base, I think he has the most volunteers per inmate ratio in the state- or he had the last time I heard the statistics.   While Jon is a conservative protestant, his volunteers come from every religion and christian denomination.   He tries to have a volunteer for each religion/denomination represented by the inmates, so their spiritual needs can be met if they desire it. 

The volunteers are very committed.  It's a lot of work to go into a prison, paperwork, time involved and travel.  Even coming through security takes awhile.  Jon has been at this prison for 8 years and for 8 years I've been seeing the same faces every year at the banquet.  It's very good to see such commitment. 

This is Jon's 20th year of being a chaplain and he absolutely loves his job.  The administration and staff are good folks to work with, people have a good work ethic and are pleasant.  He has support of the chapel programs by his warden and assistant wardens. In fact today's meal was made and served by staff who came in on their day off!   His prison is very rehabilitation and restorative based.  .They want to help the men to be ready to go back to the outside world with good skills!  They don't want to see them unless they come in to volunteer AND that happens!  I met the most pleasant man today who by God's help has turned his life completely around.  He's been out a few years and his life is going great.  He is fully serving the Lord and in ministry.  He is now a volunteer at the very prison he was in!  I LOVE stories like that! 

Jon surprised me today and brought me up on stage.  He told the group that I supported him and made it easy for him to do his ministry.  I had a few minutes to talk and shared to them how much Jon truly loves what he does.  I shared that when he first became a chaplain I was not too thrilled because I was more on the "law and order side" as a probation officer.  But over the years how I've seen how the chaplaincy can make a difference in inmate's lives. 

The main speaker was another chaplain who is actually a Ukrainian!  It was good to have some time to talk with him.  Plus he is a good speaker.   It was a good banquet and everything went great. 

If you are interested in prison ministry, call your local prison or even county jail and ask for the chaplain's office.  They can tell you how to apply to volunteer. 

Well I don't know if you've seen the news but there was snow in Florida....about 200 miles north of us!  But it is COLD here- my thermometer  reads only 58 degrees. Yall know we are not used to that!  It's supposed to be cool for about two weeks.  We usually don't have this kind of weather in December.  Usually we have a few weeks of cold weather in January but this is nice.  We get to wear our cold weather clothes for a few days:)  I just bought Sarah the cutest fleeced sweatshirt.   I'm rather addicted to buying her clothes.  I can't hardly buy Selah any clothes because she has nurses that adore her and she has a fan club LOL  Her closet is not as deep as my closet but it's only a little smaller and is filled with clothes.  I have to buy the practical things for her.  Selah is a little bigger than Sarah but they have such totally different body shapes that they seldom can wear the same clothes.  Shad and Sam are the same way.  But we are looking forward to our little winter for the next few days before we get back to regular Florida weather. 

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Biological Family

As an adoptive mom sometimes it is hard for me to think that my adopted children have biological parents.  For me, I feel the absolute same about them as I do my biological children.  I'm not saying that to sound like some type of perfect mom, it's the truth.  But the reality is the Sarah, Shad and Selah have biological families.

In the girls' adoption we were given a little information on their parents, their names, birth dates and addresses.  We also know a little about their siblings, names and birth dates.  Selah has a brother and sister who were adopted in Ukraine.  One of her sisters was adopted in the USA and we have a little contact with her family.  We also know some information on how the girls came to be in the system and when they went into orphanages.  Ukraine allows parents to give up their children for several reasons so it is not against the law.  In fact it is often recommended to the parents if a child has special needs.

In China it is different.  It is against the law for parents to give up their children.  We do know the details of Shad's situation from the time he was found.  I was honored to be able to go to the very spot he was left by his parents.  My heart just broke, I cried so hard that even the taxi driver tried to comfort me.  Driving there my stomach was churning, once we got to the spot I got out and took pictures.  It was a busy area and believe me a big blond crying American got a plenty of attention!   What blessed my heart is that there was a police station only halfway down the block from where he was left.  That showed me his parents cared and wanted him found quickly.  It meant a lot to me that they took him to such a safe place.

For years I'd thought about looking up the girls' parents.  So one night I was waiting up for the boys to get home from the movies and I took all of their names and looked on Facebook.  I came up with someone I thought was related to Sarah and I sent a message.  My message was just something along the line of "We have an adopted daughter who has a similar family name.  Could you possibly be related?"

A few days later I got back a gracious response saying that he would try to help me.  Then I was asked if  I was speaking of Vicky.  My hands shook so much because that is Sarah's Ukrainian name.  I knew immediately this was a relative.  I wrote back "YES" and the response was "she is my daughter"  !!!!   WOW!

I had found her birth father!  We had a beautiful emotional conversation via Facebook messenger.  The tears were running down my face.  I was able to tell him how much we love Sarah.  He had some regrets but I was able to share with him that we actually knew how they must have felt when Sarah was born.  We had gone through the very same thing when Sam was born.  It was a very scary time for us.  I was able to give him information about Peter's Anomaly and how very rare it is.  They had no one in their families that had Peter's Anomaly either, just like us so they were shocked when she was born.  Also I was in Ukraine for almost two months and I realize that there are no resources for families with children who are blind.  I could totally relate to the feelings they had plus I know that families are encouraged to put their children into programs in Ukraine.

We have been able to share some things about our lives back and to.  I LOVE knowing a little more about Sarah's history.  I LOVE Sarah so much so I also love her father!  He is now a part of her life.  I send him pictures and videos.  I hope one day to be able to have some contact with her mother too.  I've seen a picture of her and Sarah resembles her very much.  We have to translate our conversations so sometimes it's a little hard for me to understand and I'm sure it is the same for him.

We pray for him that God will be with him and protect him.  We feel honored that we have contact with him!  He said that God worked out all the everything for Sarah and I feel exactly the same.  I would love to meet him one day-who knows?  Maybe we will have the chance!   I feel like he is our relative now.

God allowed us to adopt Sarah- He moved in all of the details.  What an honor that she is our daughter.  I'm so grateful to her birth parents for giving her life and doing the best they could do for her.  She is a true Joy. 

The last few days I've been so sick with sneezing and coughing.  Last night i went to bed early and Sarah started calling for me "mama Mama mama"  Jon had to play with her and take her mind off me:)  Then today I had a doctor's appointment and our sitter said she kept asking for me even though she was happily playing.   Once i got home all she wanted was to sit on my lap and wrap her arms around me.  She is just absolutely precious.  I always say if no one else loves me Sarah does:)   I'm blessed to be able to care for her now and be her Mama!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Druzhhkovka Orphanage Christmas Cheer

We've been a part of the international adoption community for 12 years now.  My experience with Shad was good-everyone was pleasant and helpful.  My experience while adopting the girls and after has not quite been that good.  It has caused me to step back from much fund raising outside of the few ministries I know to be above board,  Several times I've given money to families who ended up not adopting the child I was raising money for.  That has been very disheartening for me.  The last few years I've mostly raised money within my church and friends for projects for orphans

Also the great need and hurt in the orphan world has taken my breath away and broken my heart.  It's so hard to do much to make a change.  We do have a good friend who runs an orphanage in Haiti that I've been able to partner with.  We have another friend who runs a ministry to street kids in the Philippians and our church denomination has an orphanage there also that we are involved with. . 

But I'm determined to get back to advocating more for adoptions & orphan care! 

So this blog is about Life 2 Orphans a humanitarian charity that helps the children left behind in Ukraine.  They have several programs.  Both of our daughters had individual caregivers who worked with them that were sponsored by Life 2 Orphans.  I think it made a huge difference in their lives! 

This Christmas as every Christmas Life 2 Orphans will be providing Christmas for children all over Ukraine who are in orphanages and institutions.  I've committed to give towards the orphanage that our daughters would be at if they still were orphans.  Because of the war their orphanage/mental institution was closed and the children/adults were all sent out to other institutions.  Most of the children I knew including Angela the girl we have supported for 6 years ended up at Druzhhkovka.  It is a very good place and many of the children I know have made great strides there. 

You can donate by going here

Or by mailing a check to
 Life 2 Orphans
6326 East Sandra Terrance Dr
Scottsdale AZ 85254

Our church will be taking up an offering on Sunday and I was able to send $200 from some funds I had already received.  I'd like to send another $150 there are about 300 children there so that's really about $1 a child!   I'd be so thrilled to hear of donations to them.  If you donate can you just comment and let me know?  I'll share how much our offering is on Sunday also.  I'd love to bless these kids.  Little things mean alot. 

Thank you for helping me reach out to orphans!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Fall 2017

Look at me blogging two days in a row!!!

And y'all know we had a Cat 3-4 hurricane go right over our house didn't you?  That was "fun"  We were without electricity for 3 days.  Our big house generator decided to die on us too.  Evidently the condenser went bad !  For over 24 hours we didn't have water as we are on county water and they ran out of gas to fuel their generators.  We actually did quite fine as a family (plus we had Steve's college roommate) 

To be honest I slept on the floor with Sarah as the storm went over.  I woke during the eye of the storm because it got so quiet.  When the winds came back I did think our porch was gone but there was absolutely nothing I could do about it so I went back to sleep!  My husband says I must have a pure conscience.  I have slept through every hurricane we've gone through LOL  We didn't have any damage just limbs down.  We did have a dead tree removed hours before the storm hit.  We'd been on the company's list for awhile but they were amazing to get out and get it down before the storm!  I am sure we would have had issues with it had it not got taken down. 

Our nurses maintained their shifts thankfully.  We had to charge some of Selah's equipment in our cars but we worked everything out. 

I've lived through quite a few hurricanes but this one did get me anxious went I went to the store ahead of time and there was nothing on the shelves.  I buy in bulk so I didn't really need alot but I did buy us some comfort food that we don't usually keep at home LOL   When i got back from that trip I needed some type of anxiety pill!!!  I had to make myself calm down and quit freaking out.  cause I didn't have a pill! 

We discussed going to a shelter  but we were told years ago by our county's emergency management to shelter in place due to our circumstances.  The days leading up to the hurricane as the predictions for our area keep getting grimmer- I did contact them but the alternatives they gave us were not something we felt comfortable with doing.  Basically our family would have had to split up and that was not a consideration for us.  I prayed that we made the right decision and God gave me some peace.  Looking back I know we made the right decision and having gone through this monster we probably will always stay home.  We do have hurricane proof windows and that's a biggie. 

Here are some random pictures from this fall.....

Shad and me watching the eclipse.  We made friends with all the folks around us by letting them borrow our glasses. 

One of my BFFs- my college roommate and me waiting for the eclipse.  We had such a fun day!

While we were waiting Shad picked out his birthday present. A drone!  It's a really good one this is a picture of our backyard. 

Here's some pictures of our area.  Jon and I continue our walking/hiking  Our basic goal is 10,000 steps a day but we really try for 15,000.  He often hits it. 

This picture is not far from our house.  The "hill" is actually dug out of the ground where phosphate was mined.  It looks pretty doesn't it?

Leaving my neighborhood one morning

On a walk down our road.  Yes we live in the swamp and I love it

Near our house

So after having this kit for over two years...I FINALLY finished it with the help of the above pictured friend LOL  

We have some special moments on here
At 12 is our recent family picture
1 is a picture from our wedding of Jon's whole family
2 is Jon, Steve and me around Sam's crib the day after he ws born
3 is feeding the gators at Gatorland
4 is the moment I was handed Shad
5 is us in Hondraus
6 is Jon and me in Cuba
7 is us at Gettysburg
8 is us at Chimney Rock
9 a Halloween party 
10 is very precious to me
It's a picture of all the kids at Honeymoon Beach before the accident.  It was truly one of the happiest days of my life
11 the moment we met the girls! 

these are some wonderful memories
I'm so thankful for my family

Ok we have another kitten HOPS  We are still not completely sure of it's sex.  I think it's a boy.  Hops has a bob tail and is handicapped.  His back legs do not work normal.  He hops around and is adoreable.  I took him to the vet and it is a genetic thing that happen to bob tail cats sometimes.  overall he's healthy and we sure have enjoyed him.  He fits right in.  He has no idea he is handicapped LOL  He is very bold

Steve had his 22nd birthday.  He was busy so we went and took him lunch at college

Sam loves his big brother

Our beautiful alma mater & our son's school of choice:)

The next weekend was Homecoming 17
we have not gone in years but now that the little ones have respite care we were able to go.  
Banquet on Friday night

So fun to see folks that we hadn't seen in years!

Southeastern has a football team now and our son is the producer.  We watched him work for awhile.  Amazing to think I have a son doing this! 

Lots going on

He started as a camera op.  I'm pretty sure he likes working in his nice cool studio now LOL  Florida football is HOT!  I mean it's a good 90-95 degrees on the field!!!

There was a funny moment when I couldn't hear the announcer and I texted him to turn up the sound.  For some reason he and his crew thought that was hysterical :)

Thanksgiving weekend we all went for a walk in the woods

I found some new swings on line for Christmas.
Kids who are blind actually crave vestibular movement and they can get it by swinging.  
Since we finally have wonderful weather and the kids can be out every day I gave her her two new swings early 

Sam likes it too

She also got the green one on the left.  she likes it too but she likes her old swings also

This is the 3 of them at Urgent care last week.  I thought this picture was cute

Church a few weeks ago

I love Sarah's dress.  Thrift store find:) 

Selah at church in her new dress  She had just gotten out of the van and was processing everything.  Normally she is much more relaxed

Sarah playing with her favorite sound toy in her Christmas shirt and leggings 

Jon and I at a Christmas Banquet last night.

So just a few pictures of us to show y'all we are still alive and well!

When I first started my blog I really enjoyed blogging.  I just wrote for the heck of it-never really thought anyone much would read it.  Then it became an issue when we were adopting because of ALL the craziness that goes along with Ukrainian adoption.  Not so much the Ukraine government but other people in the adoption community.  I put it on private for quite some months.  

Then after the accident happened this blog became my way to put my thoughts down and to cry out to God.   But obviously there was so much I could not say because you never know how someone might take things.  

As time went by the reservations I had about the adoptive community grew-I withdrew myself from many groups and really kept my on line interactions with many people I actually knew in real life.  

There has been so many things that I've wanted to share but sometimes have felt I didn't have the words to share but I think I will be writing more in the future.  I write for my own self and maybe for my kids to read later on.  Sometimes I write because of the absolute madness in this world on so many levels.  If you want ot continue following me please feel free to. Thanks!