Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Prepping for Fall

The last month of "summer" has been a busy one for us. I like to get all my major organizing/cleaning projects done. (I can relax and enjoy homeschooling so much more when I don't have messy corners).The majority of my food canning and freezing is done. All the kiddoes medical appointments are uptodate. It took a lot of careful scheduling and hard work to get all of this done before the first day of "public" school!

We peeled and peeled and peeled some more...

Several hundred jars were washed...



Sweet peppers in a pickling juice, free from local produce stand.


Pears canned for pie filling, free from a friend!


The rest of those free pears in a sugar syrup and the last 2 quarts of peaches.



My outdoor tomato set up. Tomatoes are a messy, dirty not fun job!


We canned 20 quarts of tomato soup, 45 quarts of pizza sauce,  50 quarts of tomato juice and approx 25 pints of salsa. That was a big, messy, extremely tiring job!


We also canned and froze peaches, 7 quarts of frozen peaches. I am still working on canning peaches. I am doing one bushel every couple days. So far we have approx 30 quarts. I may have to quit... Depends on my energy level.




We are doing 100 quarts of applesauce on Friday, with the assistance of several church ladies. That will be a huge project.

But I feel blessed to have shelves of food prepped, food that is healthy and has very little "crap" in it. The kids LOVE opening jars of food they helped prepare. There is an incredible sense of satisfaction that comes with the hard work of canning.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Pray For Us



Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    his love endures forever.
2 Let Israel say:
    “His love endures forever.”
3 Let the house of Aaron say:
    “His love endures forever.”
4 Let those who fear the Lord say:
    “His love endures forever.”
5 When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord;
    he brought me into a spacious place.
6 The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid.
    What can mere mortals do to me?
7 The Lord is with me; he is my helper.
    I look in triumph on my enemies.
8 It is better to take refuge in the Lord
    than to trust in humans.
9 It is better to take refuge in the Lord
    than to trust in princes.
10 All the nations surrounded me,
    but in the name of the Lord I cut them down.
11 They surrounded me on every side,
    but in the name of the Lord I cut them down.
12 They swarmed around me like bees,
    but they were consumed as quickly as burning thorns;
    in the name of the Lord I cut them down.
13 I was pushed back and about to fall,
    but the Lord helped me.
14 The Lord is my strength and my defense[a];
    he has become my salvation.
15 Shouts of joy and victory
    resound in the tents of the righteous:
“The Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!
16     The Lord’s right hand is lifted high;
    the Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!”
17 I will not die but live,
    and will proclaim what the Lord has done.
18 The Lord has chastened me severely,
    but he has not given me over to death.
19 Open for me the gates of the righteous;
    I will enter and give thanks to the Lord.
20 This is the gate of the Lord
    through which the righteous may enter.
21 I will give you thanks, for you answered me;
    you have become my salvation.
22 The stone the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone;
23 the Lord has done this,
    and it is marvelous in our eyes.
24 The Lord has done it this very day;
    let us rejoice today and be glad.
25 Lord, save us!
    Lord, grant us success!
26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
    From the house of the Lord we bless you.[b]
27 The Lord is God,
    and he has made his light shine on us.
With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession
    up[c] to the horns of the altar.
28 You are my God, and I will praise you;
    you are my God, and I will exalt you.
29 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    his love endures forever.
   

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Encouragement

So often going into grocery stores with a big family can be a challenge. I also don't like getting a sitter just to grocery shopping. I shop at little amish stores as much as possible. But I do occasionally need to venture into the bigger stores with the whole crew. Today was one of those days.

It didn't start off very well. I finally had breakfast done, the house cleaned up and the kids all dressed and ready to go. Someone was supposed to put the wheelchair lift down, but listening promptly wasn't a huge priority this morning.

So we were all out by the van trying to lower the wheelchair lift. But we had no power.. so we  called a neighbor for jumper cables. Apparently someone had left the lift turned on for a week, a week of not driving the van and the battery had died. sigh.

Finally on the road, but still concerned about the battery, especially since we need to operate the wheelchair lift for every in and out and we had a whole list of errands to run.

We stopped at the first store, GWood. The boys,  both 10, were nominated to stay in the van, which we locked but left running. There were only a few cars there so I was sure they would be safe.

In the store, with a loudly singing, arm swinging, Nesiah in a wheelchair, another child who is 8, but was acting 2, one who was tired and grabbing EVERYTHING, and one was helpfully pushing the shopping cart, I tried to rush through my shopping list. I have someone making a bunch of freezer meals and HAD to get the ingredients today.

At one point we passed this older mennonite lady and one of my darlings attempted to grab something in her cart.. she looked a little disgruntled, I apologized and kept moving. The next aisle we accidently blocked the entire aisle with my entourage.

At the check out I realized I had forgotten garlic powder, which I needed for the one recipe.  I was trying to maneuver the wheelchair, the grabby kiddoes, the grouchy kiddoes and the shopping cart through the one open check out line when I saw a shelf with some seasonings. I asked Elizabeth to fetch me a jar of garlic powder. It was within eye sight, but there were two carts between us and the rack. She was not impressed and after 3 tries came up empty. I was to far in line to go back myself for it and I KNEW I had seen it, but she was "unable" to find it.
I turned to empty my cart for check out. Frustrated because I need the garlic but not wanting to take my whole entourage out of line. I turned to find the lady, the same lady we had cut off etc.. earlier holding out a container of garlic powder for me.
Not only did she help me out. But something in her compassionate look told me she understood my frustration.

She was an older woman, shopping alone. She could have yelled at us. She could have complained. She could have rolled her eyes at the chaos we had. Instead she chose to reach out in compassion. It was such a small thing, yet so big to this momma.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Friday Encouragement..



This past year and more have been a journey, a long journey. I am often glad  I didn't know what I was signing up for, because honestly I would have said no way.
But God is faithful. I see Him providing for us, protecting us and guiding us. Every challenge every bump we have encountered we have found him right alongside us. He provides what we need when we need it.
The support network I have now, is stronger then ever before. The tools for parenting are better then ever... The medical knowledge seems to multiply. (a Dr asked me if I have experience in the medical field. lol nope, only hands on experience with my kids) But God has given me a love for advocating, a desire to fight for my kids, a passion for searching for answers.
I love how God has provided people in my life.. my good friend  has the gift of encouragement. She is the one I call when I am feeling overwhelmed or in need of some motivation. She has spoken much wisdom into my life, encouraged me through some pretty big challenges. She knows how I work and what I need...

I have another friend who was a nurse and her children have lots of the same health obstacles mine do. She is only a text message away, often giving advise, saving me countless Dr visits etc... Her wisdom in my life has allowed me to advocate better for my kids.

I may not have an active social life. I may not get out much. My friends may be few, but they are true friends. This is the thing I find the most disappointing and yet inspiring. When life gets hard, people who have the easy life will slowly drop away, but those who have had challenges tend to stick around. I am inspired to be that kind of friend...



Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Random Thoughts


My original goal was to write on one specific subject. But reality is, my life is scattered in a million directions. Homeschooling, canning, therapeutic parenting, foster care, medical care, special needs parenting, and Godly living are all things that are important parts of my life...



Today we did a fun day. A day I hope to repeat over and over in the next year. We worked on a schedule. I had made a breakfast casserole last night, which I popped into the oven when I got up at 6, so it was ready for the kids at 7.




We worked in some therapeutic things like a big wrestling match and a bike ride right after breakfast. I was able to add some fun rewards to the day for those who worked quickly. Everything went the way I planned... in my world that is rare.






I love watching my kids sprawled out in the living room and dining room, working on school. They like it too. They share interesting tid bits from their books. They all stop to gather for a certain interesting moment on the math program. There are often breaks for kisses from a snotty faced cutie. I allow the distractions on one condition. All work must be done and checked by 12.

Things went smoothly for the most part.  We have one who dawdles all morning, but we consider it great progress that there is no longer  playing dumb on most days from that one.. But another child stepped in right where the first one left off... We are still working on getting him through the day, we shall try again after a nap.





We have cereal or find your own lunch.. For the first time in weeks I have dinner in the crockpot.  Laundry is working well with my new system...I even got a short nap in and am now blogging. What is happening in my world?!?




I did receive my shelf for the girl's closet, so I should start cleaning out closets and organizing their room.But I do not feel like tackling that today.  The basement is in desperate need of a good organizing too... The tomatoes will be turned into salsa this afternoon. But for the moment I am going to enjoy the quiet.





I love homeschooling. I love being home all day. I love watching my kids learn and their love of learning. It's not perfect. We have complaining and whining. The floors are sticky. The living room has a tent build over the train table.There is still one child's laundry that needs folded. But I have a plan that by bedtime it will all be clean and done. So we can start over again tomorrow. lol
 But there is PEACE in my house. It is a choice I make. A choice to enjoy the good in my children. A choice to embrace the chaos.

We have some pretty big unbloggable stuff coming up. It always brings back memories of previous experiences. I hug my kids tighter, pull them closer and cherish the moments just a bit more.  I remember the battles of years past... I choose to focus on the victories...

Disclaimer; These pictures have nothing to do with the post, except for the fact that they are very random. random


Sunday, August 17, 2014

Support...

This past week was incredibly stressful and full of "fun". As I reflect over the past week, I am in awe of how God provides. The people he has brought into my life..

We had a last minute Dr appointment. I sent the boys to the landlords and the 3 girls to the other neighbor/friend. (if you know me IRL, you know I am extremely picly about where I leave my children) I have been blessed with neighbors who do foster care and understand why I am so careful.

At the Dr's office, they called the ambulance... I called all the important people from the ambulance... but didn't  call Mrs. B who had my girls until 7 pm, 3 hours after I dropped them off... Yes, she would keep them for the night and yes, she would call Mrs. S and ask her to keep my boys. If Mrs. S couldn't keep the boys she would bring all the kids to my house to sleep.
No cell service, weary and dealing with lots in the ER I gave her 2 instructions. Keep the kids safe and make sure Nesiah gets her seizure meds.  This is what I love about my current support network. They dropped everything and helped. They knew what my kids needed. They were not overwhelmed by my crew or atleast they didn't act overwhelmed. They also know what I expect from my kids so they are not afraid to give them responsibilities.

Also this is important for me, I knew they would ask me to do the same. They never take advantage of us, but they do ask for rides here and there, use of my resources, and we are all in the midst of foster drama.

When we were in the ER, I realized 2 things. 1. I had not eaten since breakfast and it was now close to 8 pm and it was looking to be a long night of sitting at the bedside. 2. My vehicle was still at the Dr's office.
My dear friend (who has bailed me out of more complicated situations) came to the rescue. She drove to my house to get a change of clothes, chargers and my spare key. Unfortunately my house was locked up so she was unable to get those things. But she still drove over 30 minutes to the hospital to bring me food!! She also got my keys so that she could bring my explorer back to the hospital for me. However because it was now close to midnight we were unsure where to park, so she went home and came back the next day. Bless her heart, this momma of 3 kiddoes dropped everything to drive into the city to pick us up and then drove me to my explorer, so I could go home! I am blessed by her willing sacrifices.

I was finally on my way home. More tired then I could remember ever being, I needed to stop at the pharmacy  for meds and then pick up my kids. I called my sitters and they offered to keep the kids longer so I could sleep. After a long nap, I was feeling refreshed and ready to deal with all my kiddoes. Unbelievably my friend who had my 3 girls, including NESIAH! had made dinner for us!! That chili and baked potato dinner was exactly the food I needed!

I was blessed by the people praying for us. The people who emailed and messaged offering to babysit. The mentors willing to come take over childcare if needed. The many people who texted prayers and just stayed in communication with me during that long evening.

I love how God provides. I don't have sisters or a mom to call in crisis. But I have willing friends who will drop everything and help! Who knew this neighborhood would become the support network I need for this season of my life!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

I just completed my first online bible study with  Lysa Terkerhurst. We did a study on her book, "Am I Messing Up My Kids".  Lysa is a mom of 5 children, several whom are adopted...

The online bible study was perfect for me as a mom. I could do it at home in the mornings before the kids got up. I got the book on the kindle (on my chromebook) for 2.99. So it was effortless and almost free.

Each Sunday morning we would get our week's assignment and a little video update from the leaders via email. There was also a ` blog with lots of interaction. I am trying to limit my internet time so I did not interact as much on that level.

I love how real Lysa is in her books. There is no condemnation and lots of encouragement in addition to real life mom stories.

I was inspired to be patient, thankful and to remember that we are all human.

During this study they had a contest where we had the opportunity to win Lysa's new book The Best Yes.  I won a copy of it!! I can not wait to receive it and read it!!

I got to enjoy the webcast of the release of her book. It was inspiring and now I need to go read the story of Abigailin the bible.

I love that there are opportunities  that us single moms, parents of special needs, toddlers and/or big families have to be encouraged and inspired.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Vacation Pictures...

Random vacation pictures... 

Sisterly love...

Mom, I am bored...

My handsome son at the Elk viewing area...



We watched lots of "man vs food"...so the kids asked if we could make some of the food they saw. We made pancakes with bacon IN them. Def not something we will do again! 

States Bingo was one of our favorite games for the week. 

Granola bars and milk were a yummy snack. 

We had some competitive Qwerkle games..

Manicures with my girls..

We had fun painting nails.


Nerds Nail Polish, who wouldn't enjoy this?!

Selfies with the girls..
Everything in life is a choice, a choice to see the good or the bad... 
a choice to focus on our blessings or the not so good things.
Living this and teaching this can be hard. This is hard as a parent. My kids learn more from watching me then from  anything I say to them.
We learn to rely on each other, to connect as a family or to wallow in what we want but can't have.

When I choose to focus on the moments of peace and joy instead of the frustrations and disappointments, my kids are watching and learning.  I must respond in a way that will teach them to respond to life's challenges...




Sunday, August 10, 2014

Corn Day

Monday Morning, bright and early we picked up 300 ears of corn, husked and ready to go! I was really dreading this project, but the  kids love corn and I am trying to cook healthy food, year round. 



The kids were excited. I asked the boys to pose with the corn before we started.. They thought they looked homeless.


The boys cleaned off the first 100 ears for me..




We cooked the corn in these big pots. I am "storing" this giant stock pot for a friend and have been incredibly thankful for it more times then I can count! 


We had a second pot with cold water and a cooler with cold water sitting outside. When the water boiled in the big stock pot, we added the corn and allowed it to boil for 2 minutes. Then we took the corn out of the stock pots and dropped it in the cooler with cold water.



After cooling the corn for 5 minutes we cut it off the cob. We had a knife (for me) and a creamer (for the kids). We were able to get it all done much quicker then I ever anticipated. The kids worked well.



Each child had an assigned task. Sometimes they had down time... in which they ate corn. lol The boys and Journi each ate 6 ears of corn in the time we were doing corn. 


After cutting the corn off the cob, we scooped it into quart sized freezer containers. Which we then place in the freezer for eating this coming winter!! 

Corn is messy. Corn is hard work. Corn is yummy! ;)

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Friday, August 8, 2014

Vacation attempt #2

This momma needed a break, a time of recharging and refreshing. So I decided to try vacation again. This time in an environment where the kids are comfortable and the area is relatively safe and requires less supervision then a place like the beach. 

This is the view from the back deck:

My father in law own a timeshare to a golf resort. This year they had an extra condo we could rent for a very reasonable price.

Another back deck view, this time from the second floor balcony. 

I connect with God and find peace in places just like this. There is something about just being here that is restful.

snack time...

We had worked hard to prepare for an easy week. Casseroles and easy meals were prepped and frozen. Mother's helper was hired, schedule laid out... I was looking forward to some serious down time.

Our breakfast view...

Unfortunately, my helper injured herself and was unable to come with us. So we did a quick revision of our week. But I was still looking forward to a week of recharging with just a little less relaxation.

Special treats like cranberry juice in wine goblets.

We arrive Saturday in high spirits. Unfortunately things did not go well the first two days, injured back, rattlesnakes, injured child, neighbors, angry child, rain and more rain...

Beach time...

But eventually with lots of prayer from many friends, we overcame the obstacles and still had fun. We had fun days at the beach on the lake, blowing bubbles, riding bikes and lots of fun games, USA bingo and qwerkle are our two favorites!

With a steady supply of coffee, lots of quality family down time, lots of tv time for kiddoes so momma could recharge, lots of sleeping in, eating breakfast in our pjs, snacks all day long, and lots of time on the back deck, just enjoying God's beautiful creation and this momma feels recharged and refreshed.


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

 Lazy summer days... I find that having a place for peaceful, quiet family interaction is so important. Moments that create happy, fuzzy feelings are so important for all kids, but even more so for thos who have experienced trauma. Trying to bring those moments into our every day chaos is not that difficult, if we are intentional.  



                                                  
Hugs from sweet Abi is a happy, fuzzy moment...


Special desserts cooked on the grill are a happy, fuzzy moment..


 One of MY favorite happy places is my deck. Dinner made on the grill and served on the picnic table is just a peaceful, happy moment. 
Everyone joins in the cooking, prepping fun...

Add some music and really good food and it becomes a fun family night with very little extra work! The kids love this as much as I do. We do it about once a week, during the summer. Simple yummy food on a beautiful summer evening...

Family: spending time together and building the bonds of attachment that will last a lifetime. We are raising the next generation. What we do today will affect not only our kids, but our grandkids and great grandkids. The moments of intentional peace, intentionally saying no to outside commitments, the moments of just "being" with our kids. It doesn't need to be great things, it doesn't need to be expensive or fancy. Just time and attention are important, relationship matters... 

Sunday, August 3, 2014

The things kids say...



The things my kids say:
Me: we need to clean this pool out! It looks like a swamp!
Son: Mom, that is Cool! Can we let it go so we can pretend we are swimming in a pond.

Elizabeth cleaned out the cupboard. I come in to find all the contents on the floor in front of the cupboard and she is no where to be found.
When I call her, she pops out of the cupboard.... deep breath and make a choice. "Do I yell or laugh?"
Later when she is all done, I check her work. Complimenting her neat cupboard but questioning her method of organizing... her answer... I left room to hide when we play hide and go seek.




Later: 6 yr old friend stops by to play with the boys. Matia had just combed out her hair. It was in a big afro. Friend takes one look at her and says "Wow, you look scary!".
 (Thankfully it t was said in  way that she did not take offense)