Friday, January 15, 2016

2015 in Review

Life has been busy.

Kids are growing up, moving on, moving out. Doing their own things.

In May, Jaime moved out. She’s doing well. Thanks for the prayers. They’ve worked. She has a boyfriend and he’s kept her on track. Not too happy they’ve moved in together, but we really like Zach.

Ashley enlisted in the Army in June. Left for Basic Training some 2000 miles away ten days later on Father’s Day. It was an emotional good-bye but she was ready. She is another one that was causing some stress in the house. So our summer was more peaceful. She injured herself so much that they ended up sending her home in September for medical. She could re-enlist in six months but has decided not too. She got a job last week. Doing well.

We went camping in July. Had a blast! Can’t wait to go again this summer. Praying more often than just once.

Donald had enlisted in the Army National Guard back in March. He left for Basic Training in August. The same base where Ashley was at. That was a hard good-bye too. He’s been my right hand man for so long….but we’ve survived. He graduated Basic the first part of November and went on to AIT to be an IT guy. He got to come home for Christmas for two weeks. That didn’t go so well. Some how I made him mad and he ended up staying with Jaime most of the time he was home. Pretty stressful. He went back to AIT and will graduate in April. Dave and I are wanting to go for graduation. We will see…if he will ever get us a for sure date so we can book airline tickets.

Ashley met a guy while at basic. He also ended up being sent home for medical. He is from the south. After he got home, he began texting and calling Ashley. After about six weeks of that, he decided to make the big 2000 mile journey up this way to visit for a couple of weeks. He has since decided to stay up here and began looking for a job. He also started working in the same place Ashley is and will be looking for his own place this next week with his first paycheck. He’s a good kid. They want to get married but we won’t give our blessing yet. They both have some growing up to do. But it took a lot of courage for him to leave everything behind to come up here and get to know Ashley better and now doesn’t want to leave her.

I got sick right after Thanksgiving. Was sick for a good  2 1/2 weeks. So homeschool got put on hold sooner than is typical. Then Dave got it during my second week. He still has a cough even today.

I ended up armchair shopping for the majority of Christmas. That was kind of fun! Easier to window shop. I didn’t have to leave the kids often and stress out the little ones even more. They don’t handle me leaving for long lengths of time too often.

We started school back up this week. Hard to get back into the swing of things after six weeks or so but we are trudging along. The kids are thriving better with a routine.

Donald, Nehemiah, Jaime, and Ashley all got boy/girlfriends this year. Adam did too but they broke up just before Thanksgiving. All pretty much got their other halves the first week of June (except Ashley). Kind of wild. All are thinking / planning marriage as well. Good thing we like their new other halves really well. Lots of weddings in our future. Possibly starting in 2017.

Nicole is 21 and doing well. All of a sudden had a mental growth spurt. Don’t know where it came from but has grown and matured greatly the past few months.

Jaime is 20. Her update above.

Ashley is 19. Her update is above. Ashley’s boyfriend is also adopted.

Donald is 19. His update is above.

Nehemiah is 17. He was on the swim team this past year too. He was the second fastest on the swim team. First only about two seconds faster. He does a pretty pretty butterfly. Love it! He has a girlfriend who is also adopted. His girlfriend is Donald’s girlfriend’s cousin. So when the boys get married they will be bro-sins I guess. LOL

Austin is 17. He’s also had a mental growth spurt like Nicole. Not sure what got in the water but hey, I’ll take it.

Tiffany is 15. She is still plugging along. Nothing extra going on with her. She needs the same mental maturity growth spurt we’ve seen in Nicole and Austin. I guess she needs to drink more “water”. Maybe soon.

Adam is 15. He had a girlfriend for awhile. She wanted the relationship to move faster than he was comfortable with and he didn’t want to break any rules her parents had set. She wasn’t happy with that and said he had too many “issues” and broke it off. He still has somewhat of a protective wall around himself from his bio and foster are time. He’s broken it down around Dave and I but not around having a love interest and others. Adam was also on the swim team. He did very well.

Cody is 15. He has had a huge growth spurt in height. I thought he’d never grow. He’s been looking like a 10-year-old for so long. Now he’s passed Tiffany up in height. He needs to drink more “water” though. Cody was also on the swim team.

Stephanie is 13 as of December. She was also on the swim team and did very very well. She is getting tall too. She will pass Tiffany up here pretty soon too. She’s begun some teenage girl sass. I have to keep on her.

Tawny is 12. Down Syndrome has not slowed her down any. She keeps up with the best of them.

Dennis is 10. He is growing in his education. Reading is beginning to make sense to him. He is behind in math but catching up. He has started multiplication this week. So far he’s doing well.

Sofia is 8. She has passed Dennis up in math and reading. She’s pretty much on target. She began division this week.

Logan is 6. Still not quite ready to listen to school lessons in bookwork. Everything is still a game with him when I try teaching him. So we will continue with the living skills activities in learning for now.

The same for 4-year-old Jeremiah. He’s a little stinker. He spends quite a bit of time in time-out yet. Can’t quite figure out why he still insists on challenging the rules, but he does. I got him a set of PJs for Christmas that say, “Big trouble in a little body”. Fits him for sure.

Our business has had a superb year. Praising the Lord for all He has given and provided for us in 2015. All the glory goes to Him.

So that’s my quick update in a nutshell ….. large nutshell to get through everyone. I guess I didn’t cover the three bio kids did I? Maybe that will be another post. I didn’t want to make this one too terribly long.

A very blessed 2016 to each of you!

Vickie

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Tough Love

After more than 12 years, our first one has moved out. She spent most of last week getting her apartment ready, and then slept there the first time Friday night.

Hard on this ole mom who just wants all her little ducklings to stay home.

It has been a tough couple of months.

I wish I could say she moved out because she felt she was ready. She really moved out because peer pressure said she needed to get out from under our “controlling thumb”.

Aren’t parents suppose to ask: who, where, when, how when a child wants to go out for the evening? Isn’t that the proper thing to do?

Isn’t it the respectable thing for a child (or anyone living in the home) to let those that prepare meals know whether they will be home for dinner or not?

How in the world is this controlling?

I thought for sure it was just being a responsible, caring parent.

I guess what hurts the most….I suppose there is more than one thing that hurts about this whole situation.

1) she comes across to her so-called new friends from work as a “poor adopted homeschooled child who did not get any socialization”.

2) she has taken everything we have taught her and just thrown it out the window. I worry about satan taking her soul too.

3) since beginning her job last August, by mid October she was NOT the same child that had been living here all these years.

Oh.My.Word! The changes were / are unreal. When we tried to discuss the changes with her, she just whines and said she has not changed at all. That she is exactly as she has always been.

You’d think she get a clue whenever the kids say she has gotten mean and don’t want to play with her.

You’d think she’d see that they don’t always want to sit next to her, especially the older kids.

When her first co-worker friend even said she doesn’t care for her any more and wants the old friend back because this one is mean and rude. The other friend says, “she is just jealous that you have finally found your voice and can stick up for yourself”.

Her friends have convinced her that our rules are “dumb”. So when I’m not around she helps the younger kids break the rules because “they are dumb rules anyway” (yes, she has told the little ones this).

The younger kids are all kinds of messed up trying to figure out which to do. After all, she is more fun because she is breaking the rules, but knowing they could get in some serious trouble for what she is allowing them to do has them confused.

One of the toughest things to get through my mind…..it would be better for her to move out.

I never said that out loud. Only thought it. Not something I’m comfortable even saying out loud. Let alone for her to hear me say it out loud.

One day she was packing all her things. She told one of the other girls she’d better move out before I kick her out because I said I was going to do that (I most certainly did not). I’ve always told the kids that they couldn’t do anything so bad to get themselves kicked out of the house.

No, I never kicked her out. She finally came to me and said she was ready to move out. So we discussed what she could afford. Set up a budget. Looked at apartments. Finally found one.

I stayed with her every step of the way. Even the apartment managers were pleased to see me “teaching” her how to go about finding a place to live and they wished more parents took that kind of interest.

Well….she’s out now. There is a bit less tension in the house. The little kids are a bit calmer and more obedient.

Until today,  the tension in my heart had lessoned. Sure I worry. What mom does not. Knowing she is following peer pressure, I worry that they’ll take advantage of from her.

But today…..ugh. Today I found out she was given a new phone that I specifically told her not to get. For one: she’s in a 2-year contract with the phone she has. 2) this phone tripled her bill and she’s already two months behind in paying me (family plan). 3) she can’t afford the triple in payment let alone be behind. 4) I just read her bank statement and she has spent $1052 since Friday night. That has only been five days!!! She has no money left for rent on the first (thankfully there is one more payday before then). She has no rainy day money for when the company she is working for cuts a few hours this summer. She went to every expensive clothing store here in town over the weekend and blew it.

Sorry to vent on here. I’m just so frustrated right now. Very much worried what will happen but knowing that I can’t just rescue her either. Tough love.

We discussed this.

Discussed waiting on a more expensive phone until she knew what she could afford.

Discussed being careful with funds.

Saving funds for special purchases so she would have something to look forward too (like a phone).

Remember to dress modestly and be safe.

Being responsible.

Being grown up.

Please keep Jaime in your prayers. Of all my kids, she was the least I worried about rebelling. Total shocker. Total heartbreak.

On the plus side:

My baby girl is growing up. She has a place of her own. I’m excited for her in this next big step in life. She’s the first of our kids that has lived independently (kind of scary for me). The two older boys moved in with roommates, and Brandy married then moved out.

The first night gone, she called to talk to me because we use to sit up for a couple hours after she got home from work (she works 2-10 pm) and talk. She came over for dinner both Saturday and Sunday. She has text every day, at least once, to check in.

I miss the old her terribly.Where did time go?!

Peace is somewhat back in the house. I don’t have to worry too much while I’m gone, and she is at home causing trouble (the older kids use to beg that I not go to any appointments or errands until after Jaime left for work).

I know I have to just let go and let God. I know we did the best we knew how. I know we trained her by The Word. I know we brought her up in the Lord and she knows right from wrong.

I know all this, yet I hurt for what may be lost now.

Thank you for reading my vent as well as rejoicing in her new growth and achievement. Thanks for praying for her as well.

God’s Blessings to you all.

Vickie

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