Sunday, December 25, 2016

New Beginnings.

My word for 2016, was health.  I started out the year with the determination to improve my health and to work on healthy relationships. I had no idea the journey I was about to take.

I started by working on my health. The last 3 years had taken a huge toll on my health. Starting in February I made some lifestyle changes and lost a good bit of weight. But the more weight I lost the worse  I felt. In October I made the decision to see a holistic Dr for my health. There is a God story behind this one too. A divine appointment in  where  God showed me that he was in this too.
I learned just how much damage, the stress and the way I handle it, had done to my body. Thanks to a whole body health approach I am feeling so much better.

Along with managing my stress, I am working through some complex relationships in my life. I put up some pretty strong boundaries during our tumultous journey through Bubbie's journey. Now that we are strong again and as my health improved, we are working finding a healthy balance in those relationships.  I discovered that is hard work, especially when one is supposed to keep the stress level down.

There has been a lot of healing in the past year. A lot of positive changes. I feel like I am getting the old me back, but maybe stronger and wiser then ever.

As a symbol of the changes in my life, I went to get my hair cut. Strange I know. But I only get my hair done once a year or so, so this is kind of a big deal. Through connections of a friend, I found this hair salon called New Beginnings. There is a long story about this, that involves lost keys, missed appointments but divine appointments that only God could orchestrate. I got my hair cut,  and I was incredibly blessed by people who care. Once again I was blown away by how God works out things. I have been gifted a year's worth of free hair cuts..

God cares about us. He knows the stress I have endured and the damage it has done. He knew the right Holistic Dr for my health, a Dr that worked with my finances to make sure I could get the help I needed. He knew the lifestyle changes I had to make to get healthy. He led me in the direction I needed. He has then gone abundantly above what I could imagine and also blessed me with the hair care that I need. (this is something I would never spend a lot of money on) I am excited to see what God has in 2017 for us!

Now for the lamb story. This is the God given wrap up to my 2017 story.
 It's a long story. But we have trying to get a lamb for Lee. We had a bit of run around. The night before Christmas eve, the farmer stopped by with a weak, cold, tiny, baby lamb for us. We took that little lamby and put it in a box with a heat pad. We attempted to used  a syringe to dribble warm, sugary milk into its mouth. It was not interested. It could not hold up it's head. It was so weak and frail. I truly did not think it would live. I was kinda frustrated and not in the mood to deal with this. But felt like God had something in this for us.
 A couple hours of warming the lamb, we gave it some honey on our fingers. That seemed to strengthen it a bit. By bedtime we were able to get up to 3 oz into it's mouth. It was still weak and we had to hold it's head up to get it to drink. We got up once during the night to feed it. It looked so much better already. By morning it was standing up. We had hope. She was a fighter.Tonight she is running around my house.
 There is something so incredible special about a baby lamb at Christmas. she loves the kids already and follows them around. It seems fitting that this lamb, a Christmas miracle would represent my year.
God is giving us new memories, new life, new beginnings. I am looking forward to what God is going to do in the next year.

We are making of a bucket list/dream big list for the next 6 years until the kids are adults.
take a week long trip to Florida
take a trip to Romania
take a long trip to explore the West
have each kiddoe continue building their own business
take a mission trip to a 3rd world country

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Christmas Came Early

Today was a day that my kids had much anticipated. Christmas with our Christmas Angels. Every year The S family brings us Christmas gifts. My kids love the gifts, love the fune evening with this family, and love hearing stories about Mesh from J. 
This morning Fayth woke up with an awful belly ache. She came out to find in me in the living room before 6. I gave her some stuff for her belly ache and send her back to bed. We had planned to babysit this morning, then head to the S family's house for dinner tonight.

Somewhere around 9 am, Fayth lost the couple bites of breakfast she had eaten.. so we made the decision to stay home! THe kids were bitter disappointed. But The S family offered to bring dinner and the gifts over for them.

Every year, this amazing family buys new shoes and new pjs for all the kids. This is a great delight for the kids and a huge huge blessing for me. We got together last year to open gifts and hang out for a bit, something both their kids and my kids loved.

They were totally excited to open their presents. I wish I would have thought to Facebook Live this!

Nesiah was quite tickled with her stuffie that prays!

Bubbie loves his backpack. He just recently broke the buckle on his favorite little backpack. This new backpack totally made his day. He loves his new shoes and his pjs too!

We were blessed by the delicious dinner that Angie had prepared for us. The Beiler's Donuts were a huge hit with the kids. The new shoes, pjs and toys a fun gift. My kids rarely get new shoes, I am a thrift shopper. So brand new shoes, straight from the store are a delight. We are so thankful for these amazing people who have themselves had some struggles this year, yet they do not hesitate to serve others.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Miracles and Real Food Blends

One of the most satisifying adventures I have undertaken in recent years, has been to switch Nesiah to a blended diet. Her team with NACD wanted me to have her eat real food by mouth.I wanted her eating healthy food. I am a firm believer in a well fed, well rested child is a well behaved child.

So we attempted feeding  Nesiah by mouth but I was not successful in getting enough calories into her. Her team kept pushing me to put more time and effort into this. So I decided to do some research and figure out a way to get real food into her without the time consuming task of feeding her by mouth. In my research I discovered some very interesting things! Most importantly I found this facebook group of mommas that feed their kids blended diets through the gtube.

So I joined this facebook group and did my research. I asked a million questions and grew more fascinated every day. These mommas are truly amazing!  There is an amazing difference in kids who consume real food vs the sugary formulas.

This from the Blenderized RN Fb page, a basic outline of the most popular pediatric formula. Pediasure.

Blenderized RN assessment 1. A regular diet should be balanced with 50% carbohydrates, fats 30-35% and protein 15-20%. Pediasure is 59% corn syrup with a total of 67% of carbs and doesn’t have the correct percentages for a well balanced diet. 2. The World Health Organization says sugar should make up no more than 5% of a child’s daily diet. The daily amount of corn syrup in this diet is 109 grams or 59% of the total diet. That is almost 12 TIMES the recommended sugar amount. 3. Protein should be derived from plant-based sources within the diet along with animal based sources. Using whey might cause stress on the kidneys because not only is the protein double the recommended amount but it is only from an animal source. 4. Because corn syrup itself doesn’t have any nutritional value the formula needs to be supplemented with man made vitamins and minerals. Essentially there is NO FOOD in this can

So after all my research I was ready to get started. I started blending food in the ninja (that I picked up at a yardsale last summer). Nesiah seemed to be calmer and happier within a day or two. Even my babysitter commented on  the difference in her personality. Nesiah is doing new things and making great progress. She was amazing all of us.. Then my ninja died.

So no blender meant no blended diet. I freaked out, cried a little and prayed a lot. It was Sunday morning. I was so upset over this. I prayed that God would provide the funds for a new blender. My research had shown that a Blendtec was the best blender for blends. They make blends that totally make your life easier. They are fast and good.. and REALLY REALLY PRICEY. So I prayed..

Not an hour later, I got a message on fb from someone who had seen a post I had made after my blender broke. They wanted to buy me a blender, of my choice. I was a little in awe of how fast God had answered my prayers and yet a embarrassed to tell this amazing person that what I really wanted/needed was a $400 blender. Long story short.. We ended up finding one on Groupon for a lot less and this amazing lady blessed us with a new blendtec.

I was so tickled to have the blendtec. It made blends so much easier and we mixed all kinds of yummy foods together for Abi. The big kids drink 5-8 smoothies almost every day. I even discovered I could make sunbutter for my peanut allergy kiddoe!! We had so much fun with this blendtec!

Then one day as I was using it, only about a week after receiving it, it started shaking and rattling when I used it. I nursed it along, trying to figure out why it was having these issues. The day before Thanksgiving I was making sunflower butter for Bubs and the blade just fell right out of the bottom of the pitcher. I was soooooo upset. But... ahhh I had registered for a warranty the day I received it! So I called blendtec. The guy says "oh, yea you have the 2015 model. We have all kinds of problems with them. I will send you a new jar immediately!" Two weeks later, my new jar arrived and we are back in business!

Now Nesiah gets to eat normal food. Today she had quinoa, chicken breast, corn, peas, carrots, coconut cream and a bit of sunflower oil. Breakfast was oatmeal, eggs, coconut cream, chia seeds and some bone broth. We just throw everything in the Blendtec and within minutes we have a creamy yogurt consistency blend which I  bolus feed in the gtube! It is truly the most satisfying feeling.

So far her bowel movements are improving, her cognitive levels are improving and she is stimming a lot less. IT is really not that much work for me since I have blendtec.

The second part of this story is only now unfolding. In my research I found this company called Real Food Blends. This company was started by a tubie momma who wanted real food for her kiddoe. I decided to look into getting this for Nesiah. Real Food Blends are foods like meat, potatoes and veggies blended and packaged then send out to families to feed their kiddoes. It works like formula but is truly real food. If I had this, I could blend once or twice a day and use this for the other meals.

The cost per day for this RFB would be approx $10 a day. We are on a strict and tight budget. There is no way that would fit into my budget.So I called the company to chat with someone about my options. I discovered that insurance will pay for RFB if a child is currently receiving formula.

So I called the insurance company, they said they would not cover it unless she had major food allergies. I just happened to stumble upon a code that was used to bill insurance. so I asked if this code would help them get me coverage. She put me on hold for a long time.. but came back and told me they would cover it after all!! Step one done.

So my next step was to call GI and see if they would write my script/orders to get these supplies. I was not very clear in my needs and stumbled a bit in explaining what I wanted. I was still trying to figure it all out and the nurse was not helpful.So she scheduled me for a medical appointment, 9 weeks away. I was not impressed but already had made an idiot out of myself so I shut up and prayed.

 I called my Durable Medical Equipment company that delivers to us each month, formula, syringes, feeding tubes, and extensions. They informed me that they would not carry this product. So I did some research and discovered that there is a local DME company that does carry RFB. So I called W.S, I spoke to a wonderful lady who was beyond helpful. They had another child that got RFB. She explained to me, exactly what I would need and how much of each and how to present it to the Dr to get the best options for Nesiah. She did a bunch of behind the scenes paperwork and got everything ready for me. She laid out to me what I would need to do etc..

So now it was time to reapproach the GI. The nurse was no longer returning my phone calls. I prayed for several days trying to find a good option. Suddenly I remembered... I have an online account where I can contact the DR himself! So I wrote out a long email, detailing everything the DME and I had discussed. I proposed my plan to blend  some but use the RFB and keep a bottle or two of the formula for each day. We have a caloric goal to meet each day. I sent the email and prayed, knowing I was going in over the nurse's head. Two days later, I received an email from the Dr. All it said was "I am in agreement. I have asked the nursing staff to take care of this." So that was yet another answer from God.

So I moved forward with getting everything set up between the insurance company, the DME and the GI.  Yesterday I got a call from the DME, my first shipment will be out next week.  I am sooo thrilled!

I will still be blending atleast 2 meals a day. I want to build a stockpile of RFB for when we travel or for those days when I am overwhelmed/tired/lazy and can not blend.

I love how God works. He placed this desire in my heart, then he provided each step of the way... Giving me what I needed.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016


I hate when people pity me...
I hate when people ignore me...
I really just want people to be comfortable around me.
Some days I wanna be real and vent about how hard the holidays can be.
But then everyone feels sorry for ya and wants to "bless you" ...
Or they shut you out of their lives, cause you make them uncomfortable....
Then you feel guilty for venting...

I am blessed beyond measure by my kids.
They love Christmas, songs, candy, presents, lights, joy, advent..
They are counting the days and hours until Christmas..
We do all the traditions, because I want my kids to have amazing memories..

But when they go to bed...
I think about what it would be like and the tears fall..
If M was still here...
If we were invited to Christmas parties..
If I could share the excitement of prepping gifts for the kids with him..
If we could sit and enjoy a cup of hot cocoa by the tree..

It's been almost 10 years..
Time to let go they say, you have to so many blessings...
But that really only makes things worse..
Because nothing can ever replace that hole that was left behind..

I am thankful for my widow group,
They understand when no one else does..
They live it too..

I am thankful for the friends that understand..
The friends that call and check in...
The friends that give grace on the rough days..

Friday, November 4, 2016


Fall is one of my favorite times of the year. I love the changing of the leaves, the cooler temperatures and the downtime on the farm.

We have Mr. Jingles visiting the farm. Hopefully the 6 mommas will all have babies next spring. We are excited already.

Ben, the steer is going to be sent away to the butcher shop. Sadly my favorite butcher is booked solid and I had to use a new one. Thankfully the big kids are ok with butchering their pet this year. Bubbie is sad and informed me that I am NOT allowed to butcher Ben, cause David LOVES Ben!

Benjamin bunny died this fall from natural causes. Mrs. Bunny is due to have babies sometime this week. Lee is hoping for Christmas bunnies to sell.

We have ordered hay and need to order more. Hay is my biggest expense with our animals.

School has been going well. Nesiah of course is thriving. Bubbie is doing a bit of preschool and a bit of participating in our unit studies. Lee and Elizabeth are doing online schooling. This is our second year wiht this and they love it. It is great for me also! David and Fayth are doing a Unit Study. This last session we did a study that included the Secret Garden. The kids LOVE when I read aloud.

We have a nice routine schedule which makes life easier. Each evening I write a soft outline for our day, pretty much every week day has the same structure with different tasks. We do animal chores, breakfast, clean up, school, lunch, clean up, run laps, free time, projects or play outside, household jobs, dinner, clean up, radio theater, chores, bedtime routines.  Each kid generally gets one or two tasks per day in addition to barn chores and daily clean up. Generally the tasks are something like doing hair (if you are a girl) or making a dessert or a meal or spending time playing with Bubbie...

The kids each have a project they are working on, idle hands are the devils tools... Matia and Journi each are sewing. Elizabeth is working on making aprons for her siblings. Fayth is making doll dresses. The boys are making a pioneer village, with teepees and cabins made from real wood they cut in the woods.

I have addressed some health issues I have been having and we finally have been able to get out and go hiking. We did 2 hikes this week. I am also trying to walk every day.

We are excited for the holidays. The kids have planned every moment of each holiday from the moment they get up to the moment they go to bed. They know what food they want, what movies they want, what games they want..

We were blessed with some post adoption funding that we used for Christmas gifts. Christmas will be wonderful this year!!

My latest challenge has been to wean Nesiah off her commercial formula and started a blended diet. We shall see if I am truly successful.

Life is busy, a different kind of busy. I am trying to savor these days. Because these kids just keep agrowing..

Sunday, October 23, 2016


Her first name means The Father Rejoices and her second Miracle. From the very first time we saw her picture on the website we knew that God had great things in store for her. Her story starts out with horror and pain. She was born perfectly normal, but at age 2 she suffered severely at the hands of those who were supposed to protect her. But God has made beauty out of the ashes.
This child has blessed everyone she encounters.

Last spring I made the decision to start homeschooling her. This was a huge step for us. But the big kids are all at a good place and I was confident in my role as a teacher. After much prayer we signed up for a program that would give me a coach and a team to guide us through this journey.

 We started homeschooling Nesiah in February 2016. It has been one of the best decisions of my life. The incredible difference we see in this child blesses me every day. It is hard. very hard. It is exhausting. It means we stay home ALOT.  But she is learning to go with the flow and we can do more and more public events.

The really cool thing that we are seeing is her great progress.
She is walking short distances with assistance. Which makes transfers and getting out so much easier. She can stand while I get her dressed. These things both have helped us get out and around much easier. My next goal is to teach her to go up several steps. She currently weighs 70 lbs and her head comes to my shoulder. I can no longer carry her.

Nesiah is eating 50% of meals by mouth. We do struggle to get enough calories so she still gets her feeding tube. Her team really wants her off the gtube formula, but feeding and getting enough calories has proven to be difficult for me. My prayer is that she would learn to feed herself. That would really make life easier for her and for us. She loves vanilla ice cream, bananas, coconut yogurt and mashed potatoes. WE have discovered that she is lactose intolerant and allergic to rice.

Nesiah can choose 1 specific card out of 3 cards when asked to choose. This all depends on her mood and sometimes she would rather choose with her chin then with her hands.

Her vision has drastically improved. She makes eye contact, watches her flashcards, recognizes favorite toys, will roll her wheelchair to the table to grab a favorite toy.

She is doing Gemiini for speech. She loves this program and will focus attention for extended periods of time. She has been making lots of new sounds. T-B- OW- and some words. She LOVES Gemiini.

She is following instructions. For example just now, Lee told me that he said Excuse me to her and she sat back so he could get through. She will also listen if we calmly and gently correct her stimming behaviors. (This is a BIG deal)

Yesterday Fayth asked her to come to her wheelchair so Fayth could feed her. Nesiah crawled to the chair for her. Later, Fayth asked her to crawl to the bedroom so she was out of the way for Fayth's project. Nesiah obeyed with minimal prompting.

Nesiah is exploring more. Yesterday her siblings were quite annoyed because she dumped out two bags of craft supplies onto the living room floor, which they had to clean up. She is reaching up on the counters and opening doors that have handles vs knobs. These have created some safety issues that we needed to address. She will crawl out the front door if given half a chance. Basement doors must be closed and locked because she can open the doors and would crawl through if not watched. She can not be left alone in the kitchen for even a minute. She moves FAST in a sort of bunny hop crawl. She stands up on her knees and is very tall, so table and counter top surfaces need to be safe for her.

She shows interest in what the other kids are doing. She wants to be at the table with us for dinner and lets it be known. She will crawl up and cuddle with me. She loves to tease, Lady the dog.

She has some bad habits. She likes to put her hands in mouth, cover them with drool and then rub them over the windows, herself, or her siblings. She loves to tap and tap at windows. She will sit by the floor grate and rub her fingers over it again and again and again. She blows snot when she feels sick. Some days her siblings get really annoyed at her behaviors. #keepingitreal

She loves horseback riding and has been doing really well at riding. She really enjoys anything that is outside.

When we did our last eval for her program, Mrs. E informed me that she had moved up one processing level. This was a surprise to me, as I felt that I was not doing as well as I would have liked with the program. The kids help with it a lot and it leaves a lot to be desired. But praising God that just being with her siblings and our meager efforts seem to be working.

But the big news. The biggest miracle yet. This child is learning to talk. She is gaining a voice.
Mrs. E has asked us to work on getting Abi to answer when we as a question. Our first goal is the word "yeah".
So the other night a friend was here, I had to run pick up my van from the garage. I asked Nesiah if she wanted to go with me. She mouth a clear "yea". We were so thrilled. The very next day at riding therapy I shared our goals. So Miss Meg was asking Abi questions.. When it was time to leave the arena, Miss Meg asked Nesiah if she wanted to go out. Abi responded with a clear and loud "yea". For the first time in since her "injury" she had a voice. She was able to express her wishes. This is a truly amazing developement.

Yesterday while taking a nap, her foot was pushed into  the bed rail. I pulled her leg out and told her "Nesiah, you must say help me, when you need help". She mumbled softly "hep me".

When I was singing to her as I changed her clothes, she made clear and consistent eye contact with me. She smiled and giggled and totally interacted with me on a level that we rarely have seen.

She has mood swings and can be quite expressive of her frustration and displeasure if someone offends her. She expresses joy and loves her siblings. She shows displeasure clearly when uncomfortable.

The other week I took her to a sitter, as I went through the door, I accidentally banged her finger. She had quite the pouty face and was looking all disgusted until I stopped, rubbed her finger and apologized.

What we have seen is that there are tiny steps and the occassional big steps, but nothing is consistent.Because her brain injury makes her brain inconsistent. From day to day her brain functions at different levels. Our goal is to change her diet so that she gets better food for her brain, to excersise her brain so that it can be more consistent and to bring her processing level to the place where she WANTS things.
For now, we celebrate every little step forward.

This is the child, when she first came to live with me, I took her to meet all her specialists. The neurologist told me that at 2 years after brain injury she would never improve beyond her current level. GI told me she would never eat by mouth. Opthamalogy told me she would never be able to see.

This is the child when I took her to get evaluated for her mental capacity, they said with her level of brain injury she should not be able to sit up. She had cortical vision impairment. She would never be able to recognize or attach to her caregiver.  She had an IQ of less then 10.  She has the Dx of autism, severe mental retardation, Cerebral Palsy and epilepsy. But she is a child of God, a true overcomer, a fighter and an  just an all around awesome kiddoe.

Thursday, October 20, 2016


This girl loves her goats...

He loves his chickens.. Except now he has started "hunting" them with a water pistol when they scratch in my flowerbeds. 

David build a hay rack for the animals. 

He worked hard and did a great job. 

This boy.. life is hard for him. He is full of energy and enthusiasm. He is dearly loved by all his big siblings and they frequently tell him he is cute, so much so that he fully believes it and tells us too.

He is having a rough time lately. I can not pinpoint the cause. Three yr olds should not have anxiety.  

He def has the three year old sass thing down pat too. He challenges me constantly. But his heart is so kind and loving. 

He adores his big brothers and wants nothing more then to be a big kid. They adore him and teach him all the things that big brothers do...

Life has been a little rough lately. I was complaining the other week that life is boring... apparently God did not appreciate my complaining. Let's just say life is not boring. I do enjoy the challenges when I can stay ahead of the game.

Monday, October 3, 2016

A Day In My Life..

A day on the Esh Homestead:
First I overslept...I got up and had a moment of quiet time before getting the kids up. I started the shower, to warm the water for Nesiah's shower. Then I started breakfast. Eggs with leftover meat for the big kids and eggs with cabbage for Bubbie.
Meanwhile the kids kept fighting and arguing, until consequences were threatened. I turned off the shower, so that I could focus in breakfast.
I set breakfast to the back of the stove until the kids were done with chores. I showered Nesiah, washed and locked her hair, lotioned her and dressed her, then stripped her sheets and hooked up her feeding tube.
Meanwhile the kids are now eating and fussing. I laid out the time we need to leave. I ran upstairs to get dressed, quickly sorted laundry and finished some small tasks. The big kids finished breakfast, washed dishes, swept the floor and got ready to head out the door. Elizabeth negotiated with Bubbie to get him to, first pick up the shoes he had thrown ALL over the porch floor, then to change into appropriate clothes to go out the door.
We were now 30 minutes behind schedule. I grabbed Nesiah to take her to the car, while hollering at everyone else to get in and buckled. I discovered that the feeding tube had not been connected correctly and she was now soaked in nasty, stinky formula. So We halted everything, gave her a sponge bath and changed her clothes.
We were finally ready to head out the door. As I sat her into her seat in the van, her pants proceeded to fall down. Sometimes I wonder what she would say to all of us, as we hustle her through life.
First stop was the grocery store. The kids got themselves and Bubbie out, got a cart and waited for me. I got the wheelchair out, lifted Nesiah from the van to the wheelchair and positioned her comfortably.
We got into the store, Bubbie was screaming because he wanted to walk. He did not want to sit in the cart. It took a good bit of negoation to get him to sit in the cart. (I was not about to go back to the van without groceries!)
We grabbed food for us, and for our trip to the homeless shelter on Thursday.
Back to the car and we loaded groceries and kids back into the car. Home, where we unloaded kids and groceries into the house. Everyone pitched in to put away groceries.
Meanwhile, Bubbie is having a screaming meltdown because we need to get back in the car and Peggy's house is too far away!!
We need to reload everyone, and 2 goat milking stands that we need to deliver today. So we manuever, wiggle, argue, push and study the back of the van. Finally we fold down the seats in the back, two children will need to stay home, but we fit the goat stands.
We load 4 kids, 2 milking stands and stack of cardboard into the back of the van and head off to Peggy's house.
We drop off the goat stands and pick up a STINKY billy goat. Peggy advises us to not haul this thing in the back of our van, but we really have no other options. So in he goes. We roll down the windows and drive as fast as we safely can.
We get home, unload Mr. Jingles and let him meet the girls. Excitement is high! 5 months from now, we shall have baby goaties again!
Now it is lunch time.. the kids fix themselves lunch, Nesiah gets her feeding tube and Bubbie gets a sandwich and apple. I address some of the disrespect and sloppy attitudes I am getting from the crew.
While the kids eat, I design a wooden hayrack I want the boys to build. One for us and one for Peggy.
I grab a bit to eat then call the local hay supplier to check hay prices.
The kids clean up from lunch and run laps around the meadow before doing their computer time.
This afternoon, they will do their schoolwork for the day. We start a new Unit Study, which we are excited about.
I will need to finish the chili I started this morning, the beans are cooking in the crockpot, the meat frying on the stove.
The house needs to be cleaned up. Nesiah's program needs to be done.
This afternoon I also have a meeting with a casemanager for Nesiah's disability services through the county. I suppose I should change out of these billy goat smelling clothes before he comes.
My life is always interesting. The older my kids get, the more work I have, in order to keep them busy. But the sense of satisfaction that they get from seeing the rewards of their labors. The boys each made $50 on their goat milking stands. Elizabeth is excited to start her own goat herd with the stinky billy goat. Tomorrow will be a whole new adventure..

Saturday, September 24, 2016

The Boat..

The boat..
Every 12 yr old boy wants a boat. Mine have been begging for a boat for months. The question remained. What would you do with a boat?! Finally one day much to their great joy, a friend asked if they could find a boat for their pond. This was big stuff. Momma agreed they could look into getting boat. A small boat.

The boys had seen a boat at a local junkyard. A little orange boat. They just knew it was the perfect boat. So Momma agreed to take them to talk to the guy at the junkyard. They faced their fears and walked hesitantly into the office. They asked for and were given permission to have the boat. FREE of cost.

They made arrangements to stop by later to pick up the boat. A couple days later, the neighbor, we shall call him, Mr. N, took them to get the boat. The excitement was high. They were finally getting a boat. They had cleaned out the garage and prepped a spot for it.

They left with Mr. N in his big truck. (I will add: we don't know Mr. N really well. His wife babysits occassionally and is a friend of Momma) Now this is where the story gets a little sketchy...
The 2 boys, both 12 yrs old went into the office at the junkyard, asking to pick up their little orange boat. After much discussion and no one really knowing what they were doing, they were informed that the orange boat had been taken by the Boss's son. 
 But.... there was good news. They could have the big blue boat. It had a trailer and everything! Mr. N and the guy from the junkyard quickly hooked the trailer before the boys could think twice.
The boys were silent on the way home, at one point one mentioned that maybe his momma would not like this big boat.

They pulled into the driveway. Momma came to the door, her eyes got big, and she scrambled to figure out what she was seeing.  She looked at Mr. N and exclaimed "That is the wrong boat!!" Mr. N dropped the boat in the middle of the driveway, waved merrily  and drove off. 

By this time the boys were feeling a little sick to their stomachs. They looked hesitantly at their mother. Would she blow a fuse?

Meanwhile Momma was just trying to grasp what had transpired and how there came to be a big blue boat on a trailer sitting on her driveway.

First question:
Mom: Where do you intend to use that boat?
Boys: The local lake
Mom: how will you get it there? Do you have a title for it? Does it run?!
Boys: we will figure it out!! The trailer must be worth something. We can do soemthing with it.
Mom: excuse me for a second while I go take a time out and pray before reacting..

After about 10 minutes in the bathroom, Momma had a full out giggling fit because it was just so absolutely beyond crazy. There was a giant blue boat sitting on the driveway, they couldn't even move it out of the way. It was completely gutted. It was almost half the length of the friend's pond.
There was a lesson to be learned here. The boys realized they had made a big mistake. Mom realized that this was an excellent oppurtunity for learning a valuable life lesson. But they needed a plan. they couldn't sell it cause they had no title. They couldn't keep it because well despite all the boys pleas, it wasn't practical. It couldn't stay on their front driveway cause the landlord would not appreciate that.

So Momma called the junkyard and asked if the boat could be returned. They said it could be and offered some lame story about how the other boat had been claimed by someone else. The boys had to go back to Mr. N and ask him to return the boat to the junkyard.

Mr. N was a very busy man and Momma was very concerned that he would wait weeks to return the boat. She giggled every time she looked at that monster. The boys got angry everytime they looked at it. Their dreams were washed down the drain. If only they had a dad. He would surely allow them to keep such a treasure.

Several days later, a young neighbor boy (we shall call him B) was helping the boys work on their wood projects. Momma knew that B loved adventures. So she offered the boat to him. For free! He could not believe his good fortune. Now, Momma expected B's parents to laugh and refuse to let him have the boat.
but... God was looking out for Momma, who was mortified by the boat sitting on her driveway. 30 minutes after B left and the family was eating dinner, they heard a tractor putt putting up the road, it stopped at their driveway.

B and his father hopped off the tractor and examined the boat. Mr. B looked at momma and said "B says you have a free boat and he can have it, is that true?" Momma with great delight said yes!! yes!! please please take the boat!!

Mr. B discussed with Little B. Maybe they could scrap some of the copper etc on the boat. Maybe they could make a clubhouse. Surely they could sell the trailer for some cash. They were so delighted to have the boat. Mr. B told Little B, we must take it out back tho so Mom don't see it.

They took that boat and drove it home behind their tractor. The boys followed in glee. They were going to help B make a clubhouse out of the boat. They ran off to enlist the help of some other neighbor boys. 

There was some question of who had the biggest grin when that boat went down the road. Mr. B who liked his free boat. The boys who did not have to get rid of their boat AND got a clubhouse out of the deal. Momma who was so unbelievably happy to have that boat off her hands. 


Many years ago, in another lifetime I worked in a woodshop.
I helped build picnic tables, swings and other wooden items. I was only 14-15 yr old. I cut, I measured, I used various tools. I actually enjoyed working with wood.

Fast forward, I am now the widowed mother of 2 preteen, homeschooled boys... they need useful things to occupy their time. They need to learn many valuable life skills. So... I am using those skills that God gave me and I bought them some tools. I taught them to measure, cut, and build things. 

God has blessed me with a son who has a natural ability to build things. Between his natural skills and my abilities we have made these goat milking stands from a couple pieces of lumber we purchased. 

 We spend approx 1-2 hours every afternoon working on these stands. There is a lot of sweat, some frustration and a lot of hard work in these goat stands. Our next goal is to make a hay rack for our animals.

The irony of how God works. Many years ago, I lived in another state, in a culture where I could not even imagine being a single mom of 6 kids. I was young and full of dreams, but even in my wildest dreams I could not dream up that I would need these skills many years later to teach my young boys how to build things. Everything in life has a purpose and everything you do is part of God's grand plan.

Saturday, September 10, 2016


This a sensitive and touchy subject. I probably shouldn't even write about it... But here goes.

Many years ago, we (M and I) attended a wonderful church that really supported us well. They did "the hands and feet of Jesus" well during our cancer journey. Soon after M's death and the start of my fostering journey I felt led to move on.. which turned out to be a God thing as that church went through a very tumultuous time. I was glad to not be caught in the storm.  But it resulted in a lot of distrust of church leadership and management for me.

The kids and I visited several churches. It was not a big deal, I had 2 or 3 kids. They were little, people were welcoming.

We started attending a Mega Church in the area. They had an amazing children's ministry. My kids learned so much. We were at church, Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday every week. We were involved in many ministries and I made some awesome new friends. (who ended up convincing me to homeschool)
After a number of years, pretty much everyone we knew left the church. We decided to search out new options.

I am telling you, it was the most unique experience. Apparently most churches in this area are not used to seeing a white momma with 5 little black people and wheelchair show up. We visited a number of churches where no one would talk to us or acknowledge us.
One Sunday morning in particular stands out to me. I had dressed all the kids, drug them out the door by 9 am. No small feat. As usual the church was not terribly handicapped friendly. But we managed to park the wheelchair in the aisle, to the displeasure of some people around us.  We intentionally arrived early so we could find a good spot. There were many young families milling around us chatting happily. We were noticed but not acknowledged.  We sat quietly in our pews until church started. As they sang a hymn that we had sung at both our wedding and M's funeral, I cried. My kids were mortified. We managed to survive the rest of the service without further drama and made a quiet exit afterwards without ever talking to anyone.

Another memorable Sunday. We live within walking distance of a little country church pastored by the older couple (80s) that lives next door to us.  We walked to church. There were maybe 3 adults under the age of 60. All I could think was this must be Heaven's Waiting Room. There were no children in attendance. MAny people came up to us  and welcomed us. They were so kind. Suddenly the Pastor who had been kneeling up front praying, got up and came straight to me and says loudly "why doesn't your husband come to church with you?!" I informed him that my husband was already in the presence of the Lord. He returned to his little kneeling pillow and kneeled for prayer. Soon he comes back again and had another weird question for me. Soon church starts. First they sing a song, then the Pastor makes announcements, then him and the Sunday school teacher have a discussion (over the pulpit) on  whether they should have a Sunday School class for my kids, beings as they are the only kids in attendance. (They were truly just so thrilled to have the kids there) Finally they made a decision and took the kids to the basement for class. By this time, I am shaking with giggles. Without a doubt the Pastor has dementia or some other age related illness. The comments, the order of the service, the pews filled with dear old ladies and men, it was just all to much for me. I could hardly control the giggles. We have never gone back, but the people are sweet and dear and as kind as could be.

We found a church that was amazingly friendly and the people were super kind,. We attend this church for a couple of years. They were truly amazing at serving and loving on people,  until we discovered that what we believed did not align with what the church stood for...

We decided to move on. We were not looking for confrontation or drama. We simply want to live as the Bible guides us, this was not well received.

Our exit created a host of issues. So much so we decided to take a break from attending church anywhere.

We started listening to Tony Evans online, having our own praise and worship time. The kids really like this and I benefited greatly from listening to solid Bible based teaching.

We have since visited several churches.  I am suffering from the trauma of our previous experiences. I am also looking for a very traditional but not legalistic church that is not afraid to be set apart from the world.

This is where it gets real.. if you don't want to be offended, skip this part. :)

We find 2 reactions when we attend church in our area. The charismatic churches will welcome us, they will love on us, they will be kind and welcoming. But they are often not prepared to tell you where they stand on the Bible and will talk about grace. It's all grace and love and acceptance and no "be different from the world". (love and grace is great!! but God is a just and jealous God)

The conservative churches will take one look at my not so little, not so traditional family and will pull their children closer and avoid eye contact. They will not speak to us or welcome us.

Now let's talk about special needs. So many churches make you take the wheelchair up the back steps, out the back way and often don't have accomadations for wheelchairs. People are uncomfortable and will stay far away from the wheelchair. It is often a barrier in any environment that prevents us from connecting to people.

Being the single mom of 6 black kids, there is often a judgement. Many people make assumptions and are shocked when they find out my background and history.

We have been attending a church, here and there for the past year. It is small. It is very traditional. The people have been incredibly kind to us. They have a young adult with special needs and as a result they are very comfortable with Nesiah. Her noises and flailing arms are not shocking to them. Many people will talk to her and tell me all about this other kid in church. For once the wheelchair has become a conversation starter.
But.. church is hard. I don't want to get connected, despite needing it. My kids hate the church because it does not have a "fun" Children's Ministry. My 2 yr old refuses to sit quietly. Nesiah is loud. I find that I spend my time trying to keep the 2 littles quiet, trying to limit the distractions. I get very little out of the messages.

So based on my personal experience in this community with churches on every corner. I have come to the conclusion that there is something out there for everyone and having so many options is not good for me.

I have noticed many churches that no longer preach the Word of God as the Ultimate Truth. Many churches have become social clubs, and there are two kinds. The clique kind where the in people are in and everyone else is out. The love everyone, where everyone is welcome (As it should be) and they will do adjust their belief in order to grow their club (throwing out the Bible)

So many churches are desperate to grow. They are more concerned with numbers then they are with teaching Truth.

So many churches have people who have attended for years, they attended wiht their grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, classmates, generations and generations. They don't welcome outsiders. They don't welcome "different".

Ultimately in the world we live in, we must seek to live by scripture, the whole scripture. We must be willing to be set apart, to be different, to stand strong in the important things. The word of God is never changing. When we are black and white in a gray world, we will pay a price.

Does your church follow the WHOLE bible and believe God's Word to be the ultimate Truth? Do they stand strong even if that means lower numbers?
Does your church welcome different people, those who are outcasts in society? Do you bypass the fatherless, the broken, at your door to serve in Prisons and in foreign missions? Does your church minister in your community? Do you invite AND WELCOME your neighbors to church?

Friday, September 2, 2016


 This week has been insanely busy.. The fine line of balancing what I need to do with what I want to do with what I committed to doing..

We are thoroughly enjoying our KONOS unit study. I feel like it is an excellent way to reach these two kiddoes. Bubbie is also at an age where he can hang out and we use him in our science experiments.

On Monday we started our day off at 6 am, right into our school schedule. Then we canned 70 quarts of tomatoes, ketchup, barbecue sauce, tomatoe soup and salsa. It was a crazy busy exhausting day. But the kids really worked hard and were quite proud of our final products. 

On Tuesday's the kids "work/volunteer" at a local horse farm where Nesiah rides. They cleaned spider webs, spread manure piles and pulled weeds while Nesiah rode. We came home and  cleaned up from our mess  on Mondya and I finally gathered my gumption and drove to the local lumber supply place to get some lumber so the boys could build some wood projects we promised a friend. 

 The trip to the lumber store was quite unpleasant and left me cranky. But I got what we needed in lumber. We borrowed a saw from the neighbor kiddo who ended up staying to help. I taught the boys how to measure, cut and assemble their wood products. Long blog post coming on that one...
Meanwhile the girls were busy cooking. Elizabeth made peach pie and Fayth made some Bubbie safe pizza pockets with my sourdough bread mix. 

Wednesday we had to take food to the shelter. The girls wanted to go out for lunch, so I got a sitter for 3 of the kiddoes, left Lee at home with a good book. The girls and I enjoyed our lunch at Pizza Hut then stopped by Good Will. We came home and I helped the boys work on their wood project. 

On Thursday we had school then I took ALL SIX kids with me to see Nesiah's specialist. We had planned to work some more on the wood projects but this momma was JUST DONE!! 

Today we had school then we ran a bunch of errands. The local hardware guy had ordered a saw for me, the boys wanted a pile of scrap wood to practice their cutting skills.. so we had to run out to get those things. 

Elizabeth and I tackled our latest project. CRASHPAD!
We got free foam ends from a local store. I taught Elizabeth how to sew the edges of a bedsheet together to make a giant cover. We then stuff the foam ends, an old bean bag, a big giant throw pillow and a comforter into our homemade cover. The kids had a total blast jumping into this thing!! It is extremely comfy to lay on. It was meant to be Nesiah's crash pad and comfy spot, for her birthday... I am not sure that is going to happen. lol

This week has been crazy insane. Way to busy. The thing I find with 4 preteens is that they each like their little projects. they can do many things, but so often I need to be the brains of the projects. By the end fo the week, with school and projects, my poor brain is just simply. tired.

I do see such huge benefits from teaching my kids multiple skills. They are at the stage where they believe they can do anything with a little help from me and google. I am thankful for all the skills I have learned over the years, skills that serve me well as I work on single parenting..

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Serving Jesus...

Once a month we traipse into the local town and serve lunch at the Homeless Shelter. 

The view driving up to the shelter.. 

This street is mostly apartments where people who have a need for stable housing while they transition from homelessness can stay. 

This month we took food once a week but did not serve every time, since I can not take the littles along and it is hard to find regular sitters. 

the view from the parking lot

It always amazes me that less then 20 minutes from my house, there are people who live in such hopeless poverty. 

We see many mentally ill people, old people, young people, families, women, and men from all walks of life. Most people are incredibly grateful and thank us repeatedly.  My kids are most impacted by the tearfilled thanks and comments like "that is just like my mom or grandma used to make" when we make things like homemade mac and cheese or warm cookies.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Fresh Air Fun

This summer our family decided to try a new adventure. We are working on serving Jesus in our home. We want to make a difference in the world. We can not travel over seas, we can not adopt more children, we choose not to do childcare in this season... but I wanted to do some sort of short term outreach this summer. I want my kids to learn to be uncomfortable in the gospel. To reach beyond their little bubbles, to help even when it means sacrifice. I also want them to learn how to share Jesus. 

So we opened up our home for 10 days to a little Lady from the Bronx N.Y. 

It was with much prayer and discussion and a little bit of apprehension that we signed up for Fresh Air Fun.

Miss M came to us on a Friday night. She was quiet and respectful. Totally in awe of this new world. She had never been out of the city. 

She thought it was the grandest thing when we built a little fire and roasted marshmallows. 

We had incredibly high temps so we had to stay home and make our own fun the first couple days.

Once it cooled off the end of the week, we did some jobs like cleaning out our garage and making homemade sourdough pizza.

We invited our friends and had a fun day at the local lake. 

We introduced her to all our animals. She was a brave little soul until one day Daddy Rabbit accidently splashed some stinky stuff on her when she was petting him. 

My lil country girl had so much fun teaching Miss M how to milk goats. 

We tried to make as many fun, simple, free memories as posssible. 

There were some tough moments in the week. Some of my children struggled to share their home with a stranger, who became like a sister. Some struggled to sleep and some got up to early. There was a need for a high level of supervision and that took a lot of my energy.
But in the end we got to talk to her about Jesus, we got to share our every day boring live with her. It was quite interesting to my kids that a child who has TWO smart phones would want to spend 10 days at their house for her summer vacation!!

We miss her and hope to see her again next year. It was def an experience worth repeating.