Tuesday, July 29, 2014

First Day of School 2014

School is officially in session!
So I decided I wanted first day of school pictures, but because I am not  a fan of the boring, traditional pictures, I decided to do "in the moment pictures".

Lee, Grade 5  He likes his privacy... 

David Grade 4

He is  very social and moves from room to room. I allow him this freedom as long as his work gets done. It actually works better then expecting him to stay in one spot.   

Elizabeth Grade 4
She is an independent learner and works at her own pace, often working double the assignment. 

Fayth continuing Grade 2

She is easily distracted and works best if given strong boundaries and asked to stay sitting at the table or on her bed. 

I let the kids choose  2 subjects they wanted to start today.
Lee chose math (with great delight!) and reading. (he sat down and read half his textbook before I caught on to what he was doing)
David chose language arts and spelling.
Elizabeth chose the same.. but did 2 lessons on each one.
Fayth, is continuing with 2nd grade and trying hard to reach the end by the end of the year, so she worked a full load.

I love the excitement of new books. I love the new curriculum and I am glad that I seem to have overcome the dread I had at having to start school again!

Monday, July 28, 2014

It's a boys life..

Someone turned ten.. and it was his lucky day! I found this really cool bike at a yardsale 2 days before his birthday! His love language is gifts, so birthdays are fun for him!

David is happy go lucky child. Life is always good. He does everything with enthusiasm and a sparkle in his eye.

He is the first one to hug a hurting person or do a kind deed for someone. He is all boy, impulsive crazy and just full of energy.

He wanted suspenders for his birthday, so I bought him a pair of suspenders. lol He was quite the happy boy, riding his chopper wearing jeans and suspenders (just like his little mennonite friend)

For birthdays we do a family fun/memory day instead of birthday parties. David chose to go to the park to ride his new bike. Grandma joined us for lunch and he made some new friends at the park who had fun playing!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

VBS #2

We love VBS week at our church! This was a big year, we build a Tabernacle and learned lots about it!

The best part for momma? I don't have to cook all week! We have VBS 5 nights, dinner is served each evening for all the helpers. The kids loved the yummy dinners!

These pictures are in a random order... So bear with me! 

This is the last evening, we did our worship time in the side yard... The kids love the songs and dances they learned this year! 

We have several stations set up for kids to do activities.  Also in the middle of this area is the roped off spot for the Tabernacle. 

Miss J singing her heart out. She has an amazing gift and the kids love singing with her. 

When she is not singing, you may just find her talking to the donkeys..

Lee's group was working on the cloth that covered the tabernacle. 

Elizabeth was cutting herbs.

They worked hard and fast to build this really cool but unusual tabernacle! 

Adding some finishing touches...


The finished product. It was really cool!!

"Moses" leading the first Israelites on a tour of the Tabernacle. 

The High Priest blessed each of the kids as they walked through the door..

The boys had some questions for Moses.  I love this picture.

Now Part 2: which is really the night before Part 1. lol 

They brought in the most adorable little animals..

Someone had created this beautiful mountain and each evening the kids would gather here for story time, first with "Caleb" then with "Moses". 

A miniature Tabernacle built by the Junior Youth Group. 

We had a lot of rain, so many of our activities ended up being inside! 

The kids helped paint the pieces of the Tabernacle. 

The 3 of us spend alot of time hanging out in the nursery!! 

The baby chickies...

They had an excellent teaching and an amazing vbs this year. I spend the majority of my time in the nursery, because some of my kiddoes do not tolerate the heat well at all. I missed out on most of the storytimes, but the kids really enjoyed it and hopefully will remember this for a long time!! 

Saturday, July 26, 2014

I love the days of summer... The days of hanging at the pool, balanced with fun activities and food prep.
Don't laugh. That is the picture of my summer. ;)

We had no appointments last week and none this week, so we tried to plan a visit with my family who lives 6 hrs away, but due to circumstances out of my control, we could not go. So around noon, we made plan b.

Lee was working with his mentor for the day. The other kids were hanging out with me, listening to messages online and relaxing on the hammock. A friend called and asked if I could pick up a case a cherries for her...
So we decided to hit the road. I love shopping local.

We first stopped at the little local hardware store, run by a plain older man who always has interesting conversations going with other old men who hang out there and tell weird old stories. (funny thing is, they do not know I speak their language)   I love this place, its messy and nothing is ever where it's supposed to be, but everything is dirt cheap.

Second stop, the little locally run grocery store for 40 lbs of cherries and 20 lbs of blueberries. My goal is to freeze and can as many fruits and vegetables as possible this year.

The kids had a dinner of apples, pickles (from our garden), and cherries in the car.

Third stop, the local farm that has THE BEST ice cream and milk. The kids got ice cream for dessert..

Then on to another little amish store, because I forgot to get freezer boxes at the first store. I picked up eggs, and tons of very reasonably priced freezer containers!

Finally we were done!!! The kids had been riding along patiently, without complaint. So since we were at the other end of the county we stopped to see our old neighbors. The kid absolutely love their farm. It's huge and a kids paradise. (parent's safety nightmare!) This friend has 8 kids with the oldest only 10 yrs old!!! They have massive old tobacco barns and the kids love to run and play in them, along with the big old hay barns. They got good and dirty in the 45 minutes us momma's were visiting.

We headed over to pick up Lee, at his mentor's house. They had a fun, but hard working day of cutting up and old tree. I am so thankful for these opportunities for my kids!

After loading up my dirty sweaty boy we headed home... But the kids were begging to see Grandma E. So we turned around and made a stop at her house! Grandma has red berries growing along her driveway. The kids were in heaven, stuffing their faces with berries!!

We finally arrived home at 8:30 pm. Tired, dirty sweaty kids and lots of fruit needing attention.

I love that my kids know how to enjoy hard work. I had 2 get in the shower while the other 2 worked on the cherries and I worked on the blueberries. Elizabeth and David had a competition going, to see who could fill containers faster.   It took us 30 minutes to clean and freezer package all our berries and cherries!!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Friday Encouragement

Sometimes you face the big battles in life head on, you conquer, you fight, you persevere.  Then you have those moments when it's the little things that put you over the edge...

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Homeschool 2014

So it's time to organize school. I am switching things up this year, trying something new. What we had last year worked, but it wasn't great. I didn't feel like the kids retained as much as they should have and a lot was just boring, rote type learning.

I have 2 that are naturally hungry for knowledge, devouring books, flying through school work, everything comes naturally. Then I have the other 2. I think, maybe, cross my fingers, they have attained a love for learning.

David was given a break from school work 2 years ago. I provided books and learning opportunities, but only as he wanted. They were there for him, but he was not on any schedule. I had fought many losing battles and decided that until he liked learning we were not getting anywhere.... Once the pressure was removed and he was able to work at his own pace, things turned around. He has adhd and some delays, he would much rather run and play then do schoolwork, but now he truly enjoys learning, most of the time.

Faythe... her education is an ongoing challenge. She is finally now after 3 years of school, (no preschool) almost halfway through second grade and will hopefully in this 4th year, finish second grade. I have tried everything for her. Nothing worked. She was happy to go through live without learning a thing. This summer, I decided to try Christian Light Education... for the first time ever, this child is making steady progress and SHE LIKES HER WORKBOOKS!! She remembers things she learned and gets excited about it! She is reading chapter books!!

Everyone has a box which they decorate for their school books. The box is stored either in the basement or their bedrooms. This allows us to do school, upstairs, downstairs or on the go without much hassle. We have a box of teacher books and a bag with school supplies, that just float around. Our art  and craft supplies and toys are all in the basement. But mostly the kids prefer to sit around the table or in the living room to do school. The basement is more of a play area and creativity center.

We are also trying co op this year. I am a little nervous about the time commitment, especially since we will be babysitting again and have some other unexpected weekly commitments.

These are the classes the kids are taking for the fall co op:

Lee: science  and  research paper
David: build it, history and research paper

Elizabeth:Sewing and art
Faythe: history and social studies.

This is my curriculum for the year. (all is subject to change!)

Math: Teaching Textbooks for everyone except Fayth who is doing CLE
Science: Lee CO OP, the other 3 CLE
History: David and Fayth CO OP, Lee and Elizabeth, Abeka
Grammar: CLE for everyone
Spelling: A reason for spelling for everyone
Bible: CLE for everyone
HAndwriting: a reason for writing for Fayth
Social Studies: Co op Fayth, CLE for everyone else.
Music:  easypeasyonline early american
P.E.  running club, ymca?!?
Art: Tia CO OP, everyone else  easy peasyonline
*Christian Light Education (very conservative but the kids find it interesting)

full schedule
Math, grammar, history, spelling, bible
Wednesday: visit day/library 
Math, grammar, social studies, bible
Full schedule
Friday: co op

goal/rewards: accomplish all goals for the week for a special Friday dinner.

Over all goal:
Fayth be done with grade 2 by Christmas
sign up for spring co op
have all kids through xtra math by the end of the year
My kids do Xtramath in exchange for free computer time. It has really strengthened their math skills.

Favorite Ways to Relax & Refill

As a single mom with lots of kiddoes, it is really important to find ways to take care of yourself. It is also extremely difficult to take that time for yourself.

Quiet time each morning, along with coffee and a daily "to do" list are my daily moment of recharging.

Almost 2 years ago, one night all my church friends went out for their "Mom's Night Out". I could not find a sitter, as usual.  So in "poor me" moment, I bought myself a gift. A beautiful hammock for my backyard! This was one of the best things I ever bought for myself! I love laying out here in my backyard watching the kids swim or enjoying the quiet after they are bed. It's a sacred spot for me and I always feel refreshed and reconnected to Jesus.

Occasionally I even get treated to a pedicure while relaxing! These little moments are quick recharges and is almost better then going out for ladies night!

My second little recharge/guilty pleasure is my coffee. I love coffee, I need coffee. During some of the more stressful times of foster care, I allowed myself a mcd's or starbucks coffee with each appointment I attended. Def an extra expense so I savor each cup as a special treat, picturing it as a gift to myself.

I don't need a big vacation or dinner out in order to recharge and refresh. Quiet time on my deck, a special coffee from the coffee shop (even when kids are whining and fighting in the backseat), music, and hammock time are all little ways I take care of myself each day. You can not give to others out of an empty tank...

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

July 4th

We had a low key July 4th. We stayed home and relaxed all day, swimming and reading, our favorite summer activities.

In the evening, I had just put all the kids to bed. Yes, my kids go to bed at 8 on summer nights! It's the key to my sanity.
So kids are all in bed, I am getting ready to relax when my phone rings... my friend's husband had bought a bunch of fireworks and they wanted us to come over to enjoy them!

I summoned the pj clad kiddoes from their beds and much to their delight, informed them that we were going to go shoot off some fireworks!! 

They had so much fun, playing with sparklers and watching Mr. A light the bigger ones!

Our church had camped for the weekend. We were unable to join them for the entire weekend but did join for the Sunday morning worship at the camp ground. 

After worship and a yummy lunch, we went swimming at the campground pool. Miss Nesiah made a new friend and had loads of fun playing in the pool! 

Mr. J had her giggling and laughing in the pool. She absolutely loves to be in the water! 

Mr. D and Mr. J decided to teach Abi to walk! They were rather unsuccessful but they had fun trying!

There were no other kids there so my kids were having a total blast swimming with the adults. Mr. S and Mr. D helped the boys dive and swim in the deep water.

Lee is a natural in the water and has had level 3 swim lessons so he is completely confident in his abilities. David is still learning to dive. He had fun working with Mr. S.

We hung out for several hours, I love watching my kids mentors interact with my kids. The boys especially thrive on that attention. We are incredibly blessed with our church support. 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

She smiled and said "mama"

Taking care of a child who shows little emotion, is not able to talk, make eye contact or interact with you can be a thankless job. Changing diapers on a 7 yr old is NOT fun, personal care is time consuming.  A very big 7 yr old who on a good day helps you by pushing her arms through her shirt sleeves and sings to entertain you and a bad day sits silent as a lump on her wheelchair is not always easy. She gets bigger and bigger, her care gets more time consuming and the reality of long term care weighs heavily. 

I am not complaining. Just stating facts. I love Nesiah and she has been one of the greatest blessings in my life. She has a sweet, uncomplaining spirit that is always pleasant to be around. She is easy going and goes with the flow of our craziness. She is truly a pleasure to care for and I consider it a pleasure to do so.

In the last year I, as a mother, have been stretched to new heights in various ways. I have faced some pretty big adjustments in parenting... Many days I pray that God would fill the gaps where I don't reach. (and he has even provided me with willing people to step in and help as needed) 

I have struggled with giving it up to God, knowing He called me to this. But get this, despite my "weaknesses"  in the last year, Nesiah has learned so many new things. She has learned to crawl and pull up. She has learned to "ask" for attention, in some good ways and in some bad ways... She has slowly pulled out of her own little world. She is doing amazingly well at school and learning things I never thought she would. She is eating a lot of food by mouth. She is working on potty training..

Best of all, she is learning to show more emotions, more  then just happy and sad. She notices when people talk to her. She even makes eye contact occasionally with her special people.   She grabs toys from siblings and fights to hold her own. She knows when she is playing rough and that I will stop her when she does get carried away. (she tries to do things when I am not in the room) She understands "no" and "stop that" and "I love you".

I have felt great guilt because I can't provide everything she needs here at home. She needs school for therapy. She needs school for stimulation... The negative aspect of school, she was gone from 8 to 5, 4 days a week!!! AGH! Evenings were harried and crazy, so there was def not a lot of one on one with mom and I felt I was losing my bond with her.

I have been working on spending more time with her. Being intentional for the past 2 months. But still often failing.

Everywhere we go, we get comments on how she has changed. She has started repeating words and several times now has spoken spontaneously.

Most of the time when I am feeding, dressing, changing her I am multi tasking, giving attention to a second or third or even a  fourth child while caring for her. She just lets me do my thing and we move along, I do chat or sing to her but generally not intentional conversation. She never responds much or ever makes eye contact, just lets me do my thing.


Several times today I noticed that she smiled directly at me when I talked to her. I wasn't sure if this was intentional or not..

Tonight I went to get her out of her chair to move her to her bed. 

As I walked up to her I said "Ok, girl are you ready for bed?"

She made eye contact, reached for me and said MOMMA, MOMMA... (she has never ever said momma in a purposeful way, even tho she HAS said it when she was away from me. )

I smiled and giggled at her, Girl, you said Momma! You are so smart!

She grinned back at me as I interacted with her, holding eye contact and her full attention!!!

I lifted her and carried her to her bed, chattering at her and put her down. She said "Momma" again and reached out to touch me!!"  All while giggling and laughing with me. Interacting with me, without shutting down for more then 3 minutes!!

It's the little things that melt my heart..
Her first name means "the father rejoices" and her middle name means "miracle". I gave her that name because I believe God will work a miracle in her life.
We praise God for His healing touch on her life!