Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Easter 2004 vs 2015

WOW! How kids change.

As per my previous post…..I decided to go ahead and duplicate that 2004 Easter picture.

We couldn’t use the same porch as it was taken at a house that Brandy was renting, and she is no longer living there. So we used our front porch.

Close enough.

2004

Front: Nicole – 9. Tawny – 8 1/2 months. Ashley – 7.

Back: Donald – 7. Jaime – 8. Tiffany – 4.

2004

2015 

Front: Nicole – 20. Tawny – 11 1/2. Ashley – 18.

Back: Donald – 18. Jaime – 19. Tiffany – 15.

I will have to do this again in 10 or 11 years. Make it another tradition to look forward to.

Vickie

Friday, April 3, 2015

Good Friday 2015

I’ve been in a melancholy, as well as a feeling of blessings, type mood all day.

This being the day my Lord was arrested, beaten, crucified, and died on the cross for MY sins.

Good Friday.

The ending of the triumphant entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. Preparing for the celebration of the Passover. He established the Lord’s Supper (Communion) with His disciples on Maundy Thursday. The day He told His disciples that one of them would betray Him, and one would deny Him (in some ways, they all denied Him because they ran away after He was arrested).

Jesus went to His death, the death on the cross for my sins. For your sins. What a blessing. What a gift given to us freely.

Grace.

Thank you, Lord Jesus.

Twelve years ago today, we picked up three of our kids as an emergency foster placement.

Jaime, Donald, and Tiffany.  (Even though Nicole is an older sister to these three, she did not come to live with us until June of that year…she was in a different foster home).

We knew about them the Wednesday before, and we were to get them after school on Friday. We were told, two girls and one boy. When we arrived, we couldn’t figure out where the boy was….we saw three pretty little girls. Then we realized that one of them was a boy with a long-haired mullet. LOL

We took them Easter shopping right away. I didn’t know what was in their bags and I didn’t have time to go thru them before Easter (we got like six or eight, large black leaf/lawn bags of “stuff”).

We thought we were keeping the kids for 2-6 weeks at the most. They were our second foster placement and I had of yet to think of taking first day pictures of any of our foster kids. So I do not have anything but egg dying pictures of them and they are vague. No good ones of Donald and his mullet.

The next day, Saturday…..Donald asked if he could finally have his hair cut. So by Easter morning, he looked like a typical little boy. Full of smiles and dimples and a boy haircut.

About the time Donald was getting near teen years, he once told someone that it was a Good Friday in more ways than one.

What a blessing they have been.

Melancholy – Ashley had been with us for eight months by that Good Friday. Her first Easter with us as well as theirs.

This Easter, could be her last Sad smile

When she joins the Armed Forces this summer, she will likely be done with basic training and then AIT and at her new home base by Easter next year.

I realized that today when I took this picture.

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Oh sure, she may be home on leave on future Easters and at that time, she will dye eggs I’m sure. But it just hit me that next Easter…..this Easter will be her last living with us.

We cried for a few minutes together. I’d better move on with this post or I will be crying again.

Donald won’t be here next Easter either. He will be completing AIT. It didn’t hit me as hard about him because I know he’ll be back here shortly after Easter, and will continue to live in town here. So not far away.

Ashley on the other hand…..where she will be living is yet unknown. If she joins the Air Force like she is thinking, she is going to put the local Air Force Base on her list of choices to be stationed.

I won’t hold my breath and get my hopes up.

There is a possibility that Jaime won’t be here next Easter either.

She thinks she is ready to get her own place. She will be 20 in July. She has a decent paying job. She wants her own place.

Am I happy about that? Not really. Do I understand that? Totally!

If I could, I’d have all 18 kids living here for always. But that is my dream and not reality. She says she has felt ready for awhile but didn’t know how to bring it up thinking we will feel hurt.

I had to reiterate to her that it is my dream and not reality. Reality is, eventually every single one of them will be growing up and wanting to be out on their own.

I’m not happy with her living by herself. She said she contemplated room mates, but had heard too many horror stories. Some of her friends made a couple of suggestions for room mates but the people that were suggested were: 1) partiers and she does not want that. 2) had kids and she didn’t want to be taken advantage of. 3) she does not want a male room mate (whew!) 4) one suggestion was a girl that brings home different men often, and a little one to boot, so Jaime felt she be the little one’s caretaker and protector while mom was “busy”. Not that she minds babysitting, just didn’t want to be taken advantage of.

This picture is a year after we got the kids. We were in the final stages of getting our paperwork done for finalization by then. The little one behind the post is our grandson Charlie (he was two when we got the kids).

Back row: Donald, Jaime, Tiffany

Front row: Nicole, Tawny, Ashley

Where has time gone?! (I should try to recreate this photo this year. It really could be fun!)

It has been one of those days. One of remembrance. One of joy. One of sadness but filled with blessings too.

Have a very blessed Easter and keep your memories alive as well.

Vickie

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Brandy and family - 2015

The youngest of our three biological kids.

My right hand man.

Other than Dave…..my best friend.

I bounce ideas off her. Share my struggles with the other kids with her and use your wisdom to settle some issues I have with the other kids (another perspective from a younger mom).

Growing up she always wanted a little sister. We first approached adoption when she was just shy of 6-years-old. Which made the boys 8- and 7-years-old.

We didn’t have a worker that was on our side. Always always always have a case worker that wants to help your dreams come true…..not sabotage them.

Anyway…..when we finally reapplied for adoption…..Brandy was 20. We were matched with Ashley very quickly (6 weeks after the completion of our home study). Ashley was 6-years-old when we brought her home.

Now Brandy has seven younger sisters and Nicole is the closest to her age at 12 1/2 years difference instead of 14 years as Ashley is.

After we got Ashley, then the sib group of four…..Brandy watched the kids while I went to our shop. Brandy was pregnant with her second baby by this time. One day she told me she would rather be at the shop every day while I watched the kids.

I have no clue whether she was serious or just kidding around after a rough day. But I was serious when I said, “OK. I’d rather be at home with the kids all day rather than at the shop.” So…..we traded places.

She’s been doing our secretarial / bookkeeping / receptionist / office manager / gopher / interceptor / even the occasional shop helper for the past 12 years (has it been that long already!). What a blessing that has been so that I could bond with our adopted kids. Home educate them to help them with confidence and fill in missing educational and even emotional holes in their lives.

She brings her kids out here (we are 7 or so miles from town) for school and drives back into town to work, then back out to get her kids. Occasionally, on a Friday night, she will take a few of our kids with her for a sleepover.

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Brandy married a great man! Every now and again, he will tell me to drop all the kids off at their house, and for Dave and I to have a day / date to ourselves. Sometimes even having all the kids overnight.

Brandy married Robert in 2000 and he would give anyone the shirt off his back if there was a need. No matter what he has going on, if someone needs him…..he’s on top of it.

He had a rough childhood. Having to grow up way to fast to help take care of his younger siblings with an addicted mother and absent father.

He determined that when he had a family, they would not have to grow up like he did. He won’t allow his mother to even watch the kids if she isn’t clean. She can’t come over drunk or high.

He’s upset enough that his mother won’t clean up that he decided he wanted to change his last name. He said he wanted a name his kids could be proud of. A name that had respect instead of a name that when someone hears it asks, “are you related to …….”.

So two years ago, he went through the process of getting his family’s name changed……to Butterfield.

Brandy now has her maiden name back.

Robert is much happier with this name and he’s determined to keep it a respectable name around town. Now when someone says, “are you related to…..”, he is proud to say, “yes. Yes I am.”

Brandy and Robert are also our youth group leaders at church. Some of their lessons have to deal with Robert’s struggles in life …. the lessons he’s had to learn (not using Robert at all but finding Bible studies about character building. Being respectable. Honoring God. Etc.)

Brandy and Robert have four kids.

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Charlie is almost 14 and nearly 6 feet tall (Robert is 6’5”). Charlie is often called Travis. I have no clue why the slip up on my part all.the.time. Whether it is the beginning sounds in their names. Whether he kind of looks like Travis (OK a lot like Travis even to where people have asked if Charlie belongs to Travis at gatherings). I feel bad for the slip up and I hope Charlie doesn’t hold that against me in the future. He’s always been my protector. No body messes with HIS Nana.

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Hailey is seven weeks younger than Tawny…..almost 12. Hailey is also a mini Brandy in everything. Looks, manners, etc. When she is here….it is like having Brandy as a little girl again. Although I don’t call her Brandy like I call Charlie Travis. Hmmm…..weird. Hailey is also a little mama. Wanting to take care of the little kids all the time. She would rather be with the little kids or with adults than play with the other girls her age. Hailey was also born on my birthday. Pretty neat having a birthday granddaughter. We go out to lunch and do some shopping on our birthday.

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Megan….13 months younger than Hailey. Since we home school…..Megan has always done what Tawny and Hailey have done. Now that Stephanie is here, and the same age……they refer to themselves as the 4 Musketeers. All are in the same grade with school. Megan is our crafty person. Always having a project going but never wanting to finish it. LOL Sounds like me! Megan Rose is the name I had chosen if we had another little girl. Brandy asked if she could use the name. I was delighted to give it to her.

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Max….last but certainly not least. He is almost 9 but probably no bigger than a 6-year-old. I am sure he will do like Donald and Charlie and just shoot up out of nowhere one day. He can wear the same size clothes and shoes for two years. Right now size isn’t mattering to him. He is right up there with the Musketeers in his math but way behind in his reading. When he turned 5, his Sunday School teacher asked him if he was going to start reading now (like all adults getting excited for the child when they are school age). Max said, “No. I don’t have to learn to read. I have people.” And he has pretty much stuck to that too. He has his ways of getting others to read for him. This year…..we’ve been very careful to watch that and making him read. He can finally read “some” of his math story problems. Once his reading catches up….I told him he won’t need me or mom to teach him anything since he’ll be able to read all the directions himself. He said he’d still need mom “cuz she corrects my math”. LOL silly boy! Probably not even then since he’s holding about a 98% average in math.

I’m delighted that I get to be a part of these four grandkids’ lives on a daily basis. I am glad they get to know some of their aunts and uncles on a personal level…..more like siblings or best friends.

I decided a loooong time ago, if we ever move from this area, Brandy and family have to come with us. Thankfully…..they feel the same way Smile

Well…..that’s the last of our bunch of kids, grandkids, and in-law kids. With all of them, plus Dave and I….there are 32 of us.

I love it and the only thing I “might” consider even changing a little bit….would be adding, not taking away.

I have no clue what the Lord has planned for the future in that department.

Have a blessed Easter! He is Risen!

Vickie

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Jason and family - 2015

Jason is one of those kids (OK…he’s 34 now!) that when people looked at his pictures when he was young would say, “I bet he’s the handful.” They always said it was in the eyes.

Others would say that if I found him missing, check their house. There were LOTS of those too. I would have no clue where to start to look. I’d have to tell them that I would sit back and wait because they’d be paying me to take him back.

He wasn’t a bad kid….don’t get me wrong. He was just full of energy and into everything. His first full sentence was, “leave it alone”.

Such a fun kid!!

He did go thru a time of middle child syndrome though. The schools would compare him to Travis and kept asking him why he couldn’t be like Travis.

Why should he be like his older brother? He was himself. Different from Travis in nearly every way, except in looks.

Then Brandy was the baby and only girl (her update next).

This is the kid that at 6th and 7th grade he thought he had enough school to be a truck driver (it was a looong time dream of his…..long haul truck driving). We had a church friend that was a truck driver. He agreed to take Jason on a week long haul so he could get a feel of it.

Yeah….Jason came back and decided that truck driving was not what he wanted after all. Too much work! Too much reading. Too much math. LOL

He’s grown up now. He’s an amazing man.

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He has three beautiful kids. Tyler…12. Anikka (Annie)….almost 12 (they are 10 1/2 months apart). Shelby almost 10.

At 28 (five months after Travis did), he also decided to join the Army because of the economy. He thought from the beginning he’d be a lifer.

Now….he’s not so sure. He’s been deployed a couple of times. His unit was getting ready to deploy again. An opening came up for another job that he jumped on so he wouldn’t be deployed again.

He became an instructor! Of all the things I ever thought Jason would do/be…..teacher was not it. He is an Air Assault Instructor on his base.

When I think back on his growing up…..he was a teacher of many things and to many people. From the time he was very little, until present day.

He’s also a warrior for Christ. When he was deployed, before going out on duty with his unit…..he’d gather everyone in prayer. A couple of fellow soldiers were Baptized while in basic training because of Jason’s powerful witnessing.

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Seems I heard one time that he got the nick name –Preacher. That can’t be all that bad now can it?

Jason’s wife, Rhonda…..is a cosmetologist. She’s always been into nails and hair. So it only seemed natural for her to become certified and doing it full time.

Rhonda is also a prayer warrior. Any time….. for any one.

We don’t get to see Jason and family very often since he’s joined the Army. We miss them all immensely.

We did get to see Rhonda and the kids when we went to get Austin and Cody (Jason was deployed). And we saw all of them when we went to get the seven. We spent an afternoon at their house.  Especially Adam loved playing with Jason, and even wanted to change his name to match Jason’s LOL We had to burst his bubble and tell him he can’t be a Jr. to Jason since he’s our son and Jason is his brother.

Jason has still not met Austin and Cody.

I am really hoping we can get Jason and his family up here for Christmas this year along with Travis, Donald, and Ashley. Come that time….it will have been two years since we’ve seen them.

I really miss having all my kids near by.

God’s Blessings,

Vickie

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Travis & family - 2015

Now that I’ve done an update on all the kids at home…….here are the kids that are all grown up with families and lives of their own.

Nov 2014

Travis is our oldest. He moved out of the house 10 days after turning 18. I asked him why he thought he needed to move out so soon and he said, “isn’t that what we are suppose to do?”

Well yes….eventually….. but it sure didn’t have to be right away.

People told me to be prepared for him to move back home several times in his lifetime. I can honestly say that he’s never asked to move back home even once.

I don’t know if that is a positive or a negative in some ways. Positive ….. he’s never NEEDED to move back home. He’s always been independent and likes to succeed at whatever he makes his mind up to do.

Finish the task is what we always told him. Finish the season if it was a sport. He didn’t have to sign up for the sport again next season, but finish what you started this season.

Maybe that was his line of thinking.

Negative……I sure miss him. I am thankful he always remained in our area though so we could see him whenever and he could come home often if he wanted.

That is until he turned 29 and decided to join the Army. It was the time the economy turned real sour. He had his own construction business …..building had  pretty much halted. He decided to join the Army for a “season”. Now at nearly 36, I guess he’s in for the long haul.

He scored high enough on his ASVAB that the recruiters were giving him flack because he wanted to be infantry. But Travis knew to get where he truly wanted to be (Airborne Ranger), he had to start at infantry. He made Ranger pretty quickly. Then he decided he wanted to fly the helicopters that the Rangers jump out of. So he switched his MOS for a “season”.

He passed Warrant Officer School as second in his class and won the leadership award. He passed helicopter school as top three in his class and now flies Black Hawks and will cross train to Chinooks when he makes it back over to Rangers (he’s hoping for early next year).

Getting his wings

(Getting his wings…..Kendra got to pin them on)

Where they are stationed now, they truly dislike the schools. Their two girls (Ryann-11 and Samantha-10) are super bright, advanced students. The schools could not keep them challenged enough and seems to cater more to the “slow” students. Kendra decided to home school the girls for a “season” so the girls could continue to advance.

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Kendra is afraid of letting her girls down (aren’t we all!). But since she’s been working towards her education degree……we were able to encourage her in that if she can teach her own girls, she’ll be a huge asset to the public schools when the time is right.

Kendra is really a sports fanatic too (during football season…..we can hear her yelling from here LOL), and is competitive. She was up for the challenge. So far so good. They are liking it.

The girls have had the opportunity to join their local swim team and are doing very well at it. It gives them something in common with a couple of our kids and a couple other grandkids that are here.

We try to video chat with them every once in awhile. Gets chaotic here when there are 23 of us trying to talk to the four of them. Everyone wants a turn. We hook up my laptop to the TV with an HDMI cable so that we can all see them at once. It has been super nice to actually see faces.

We’ve done show-and-tell with the girls this way.

We watched them open their Christmas presents from us. And ours from them.

It is not the same as seeing them live but it helps this mama’s heart. Right now they are 2500 miles away. Clear across the United States from us. Visiting often in person is hard.

Travis has some leave time coming up and they are planning a trip home for Christmas. The first Christmas we’ve had with them in several years. I am sooooo looking forward to that.

Donald will have a week’s break from AIT and will be home for Christmas. Ashley will be at AIT by then too, so hoping she’ll get leave time.

Now….to get Jason and family home for Christmas this year.

My guess is, having 18 kids…..all beginning to spread their wings more…..this very well could be the last time that we will be able to get everyone home all at the same time except for funerals.

I am thankful that Travis did spend 10+ years around here before heading off to the Army.

I am thankful that the grandkids were born while they were still here as well, so that when they see us, they know who we are.

Sometimes, it is the little things in life that keep us sane.

God’s Blessings,

Vickie