Wednesday, July 23, 2014

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!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Burdock and B&W

David is my accident prone child, I have had him in the ER 3-4 times. He had a needle in his knee, a sledding accident where he split his eyelid, damage to his eye from playing in the creek and now his latest.. Which thankfully did not send us to the ER.
We were mowing our neighbors yard, we had two mowers running with everyone alternating turns on the mower. While on his break, David decided to explore the woods.

Suddenly he comes screaming to where I was mowing, blood flowing from his foot. It was an awful lot of blood, considering it was his foot. I had him take his shirt off  and used it to apply pressure to stop the bloodflow.  When I finally examined at the wound I was surprised to see only a small but very deep puncture wound.  Thankfully he had been wearing his barn boots, I hate to imagine what could have happened had he been barefoot.

I cleaned his foot up and had him sit until we were done. When we came home, I carefully cleaned it. But didn't really think to much about it, until the next morning when he complained of it hurting.  Suddenly I realized that this was RUSTY old fence that he had stepped on.. Rusty.. Fence.. Puncture wound... I should probably be taking extra precautions. Especially since there was now some swelling and yet the tiny surface cut was healing shut.

I called his Dr to see if he was uptodate on his tetanus shot. Then I called the B&W lady. She is a local mennonite lady that does the burn and wound treatments for hospitals.

She loves, loves working on people and I have seen the results of her burn care.
She was happy to see us that afternoon. Her whole family gathered round to take a look at his foot.

She wrapped him up and send some extra supplies home with us.  I dropped David off at VBS with his foot wrapped up in burdock leaves. When he came home it looked soo much bettter all the swelling was gone, but there was still a small red mark. 

Crappy picture but it was late and I was tired.. the little white mark is where the fence went into his foot.

First I boiled the burdock leaves in hot water..

Then I carefully wrapped them around is foot..

3 leaves

I am def not a nurse..

I finished it off by wrapping  it in gauze  and a stretch wrap.

He went to sleep with this on. 10 hrs later, I took all the wrapping off and found the foot perfectly fine. No swelling, no redness and very little pain. So I applied the homemade salve and a gauze for the day.

I love finding ways to protect my kids without it affecting their bodies. This was a natural product that was easy to use and made a big difference for him.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Friday Encouragement

Today hug your kiddoes, look them in the eye, listen to their stories and remind them that you love them. 

Love them enough to teach them, to correct them, to tell them about Jesus, teach them to care about others!  
Because someday they will be gone. Someday they will be the ones making decisions about your care. :)

Create in me a pure heart, O God,
    and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence
    or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
    and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
    so that sinners will turn back to you.
14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
    you who are God my Savior,
    and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
15 Open my lips, Lord,
    and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
    you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
17 My sacrifice, O God, is[b] a broken spirit;
    a broken and contrite heart
    you, God, will not despise.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Zucchini: cooking for a big family on a budget

 Feeding growing boys and keeping a clean house with lots of kids are both endless tasks.
A friend gave me a couple zucchinis. I decided to see how many different ways I could cook zucchini.

This was our #2 favorite. Zucchini personal pizzas. I brushed the zucchini with oil and grilled one side. After I flipped them I added garlic salt, cheese, pepperoni sausages and pizza sauce! I grilled them for almost 15 minutes! They were so yummy!

I buy shredded mozzarella in bulk, 10 lb bags at a time. I take each bag and divy it out into small freezer bags!
I make my own pizza sauce from local tomatoes.
The sausages were from a foster parent food program. One of those weird foods that require great creativity to use up!
I have also made large batches of gluten free zucchini bread (not cheap, even when you buy in bulk).
I have made zucchini with butter, garlic salt and cheese. I have made zucchini with butter and garlic salt. Sauted, grilled and baked....

I also made zucchini patties with eggs and cheese... Zucchini pizza crust was another hit with the kids.

I currently have 6 zucchini's needing attention. Elizabeth is going to shred 4 of the larger ones and freeze the zucchini in large baggies. The 2 largest ones will be more pizza!

Friday, July 11, 2014


I am extremely paranoid about where I leave my kids. I am extremely picky with sitters and even people I know who are left alone with my kids. They have had to many bad things happen already and I will do my absolute best to protect them. Bad things happen everywhere. Pedophiles can pass background checks. Our children are vulnerable.  I could tell you stories that would stop you from ever letting your kids go anywhere without you.
However, I can not expect my children to live in a protective bubble all their lives. They need to practice using the skills I have taught them. I need to trust as they get older that they will be able to protect themselves and that God will give them wisdom when I am not around.

So yea, things like camp and VBS are hard for me. I want them to participate, I want them to enjoy these things. Yet I can't just drop my kids anywhere.

The other problem is that it is a royal pain for me to load and unload the littles alone, 5 nights a week for traditional VBS. For the record, there are atleast one vbs every week in this general area in the summer time.

MY kids are all into the spy thing and investigating things.  So when I saw the ad in the local paper, international spy academy and it was 1.5 hrs on Friday, 5 hrs on Saturday and 2.5 hrs on Sunday. Now this was my kinda VBS.

I signed the kids up and got permission for me to stay for the Friday evening event. I generally trust my gut when meeting people. My mother instincts are rarely wrong, so spending the evening Friday would be a good indication of what to expect or if I could trust my kids all day on Saturday.

When we arrived Friday evening, we were pleasantly surprised to see our friends from church were also there! They knew most everyone at this church. That really set my mind at ease.
We were pleasantly welcomed and the kids were thrilled to be there. I sat in for the first introduction part. I had the two littles with me. Nesiah was happily welcomed. Many people took time to stop and say hi to both her and I. (this is unusual in many churches) They welcomed me to help Nesiah participate.

The weekend was a great success and the kids made many wonderful memories and new friends!