Saturday, August 31, 2013

Ordinary Daily Life

Now that school has begun, life has started to fall into a routine made up of school, after school jobs (vacuum, dishes etc), homework and so far we've been able to have some play time. We will probably lose that when the home work load picks up. Dance starts next week. Soccer should also.
This picture is very unusual. Max (yellow cat) is very timid. And he runs from the dogs. Especially Travis who is very hyper. Max was on the couch first, but he didn't get up and run under my bed like he usually does when the dogs are in. I really would prefer the pets not be on the couches but here they are.

Jayden looks things over from her perch.

I guess she likes heights.

Kayla has been doing really well. No aggressive behavior at school and as far as we know, she hasn't been in on the stealing Kaleb is doing. Yay for Kayla. This has given her more privileges, so she and Jasmine have been spending more time together doing things. They really enjoy playing Just Dance 4 together. I don't have pictures. I'm having a lot of camera issues so I don't have that many photos right now.

Jasmine is pretty stressed with school already. She should be in 6th grade resource math, but she is in 7th grade regular math. That' s a big jump and means she didn't learn whatever is in the 6th grade book. I think she'd finished 5th and had started 6th at the end of last year.  She is loving advanced band but I'm not love the list of all we have to buy! I thought we'd rent the band uniform, but we don't. We buy the tux pants, tux shirt, cummerbund, and bow tie. Also the school band jacket, band shoes and spirit shirt. They are going to have some used uniform pieces and jackets for sale at the first booster meeting so I'm hoping to get at least part of it for her.

Caspian has been a more willing playmate for Travis lately. He has even initiated the playtime a couple of times. Caspian is more laid back and passive whereas Travis is hyper and playful. So Caspian does not always appreciate him.

Jessica's first day of her senior year of college. We need find some cute leggings for under this. Not sure what color though, because black would be just too much black. The only other color in the dress is kind of a beige. What do you think?

I wrote this right before Jessica went into her senior year of high school, and here she is going into her senior year of college.

Dear Jessi Bear--

This week you are at band camp at a college hours from

 home, and I fear this is a taste of how life will be in just 14

short months from now when college life will be a reality.

The first moments I held you in the maternity ward, I didn't

 think I could possibly love you more, but time has proven

me wrong.

Lately the walk toward adulthood has turned into a sprint,

and I'm not sure I can keep up, but now and always I'll be

cheering from the sidelines.
I'm proud of all you are becoming. Sprint with Jesus, Jessi

Bear, because He has an awesome plan for your life.

Here's another cute outfit she likes that needs leggings of some sort under it. She likes these dresses that are longer in back and come up higher in front, but I think they really need cute leggings. Denim might work for this. Or some in the same color as the green in the dress.

Out the door all loaded down--dive gear, lunch, purse, towel, backpack loaded with books. She has one class on Tuesday and four on Thursday. None the other days. So Thursday she catches the 6:20 a.m. trolley, and someone picks her up at the college at 7:30 p.m. She has classes straight through. However, two overlap, so she may have to do the computer applications class online because the other is her diving class.

Jaden provided her own late night snack. Frog legs-raw and with the rest of the body attached!

The super powers battle it out.
There's more going on here, but with my camera problem I haven't been able to get photos. The girls room is done except for the wallpaper border, because the one we ordered was not bright colors like it was in the photo online. We haven't found anywhere here that has them in stock, and I don't want to take my chance on ordering online again.

Tyler is cleaning his room preparing to go to Job Corps soon. He will need to pack both summer and winter clothing since he won't be back until Christmas. We don't have a lot of cold weather clothing. He has jeans and long sleeve shirts but not a jack heavy enough for a KY winter, no snow boots or anything like that. As someone pointed out anonymously in the comment section a couple of posts back, there are some problems within Job Corps. Sometimes it's a dumping grounds for troubled kids. Sometimes there are drugs and other issues. Ty and I have talked about it, and he plans to go in open minded--and with eyes open. If it just doesn't work out, he can come home at anytime.

Near the end of summer we decided to watch through all the Disney movies in order. There are lots and lots of them that we've never heard of. It's been a challenge to get some of them. We are still in the 1940's. We've watched:
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Pinocchio (very long wait on netflix and we ended up buying a VHS for 75 cents)
The Reluctant Dragon
Saludos Amigos
Victory Through Air Power
The Three Caballeros

That takes us through 1944.

Anyone else watch any of these early ones?

If you didn't read my last post about what to tell your daughters, take time to read it and tell me what to add and what you've talked about with your daughters.

Hope you all have a great Labor Day weekend (in the USA).

Thursday, August 29, 2013

What We Need to Tell Our Daughters

The real title of this post is: "Things to make sure your daughter knows so one day she doesn't strut across a stage half naked losing all dignity and honor."

Not too many positive role models for our girls come out of Hollywood. But they could. Because any girl/young lady can make choices that make her a young woman of faith and dignity. I mention dignity because of Proverbs 31:25-26, 30 which says, "She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future. When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness. Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised."

These are good verses for our girls. But girls aren't always encouraged to make the right choices or to be the kind of woman mentioned in the verses, so it's up to us as parents to guide them into becoming women of faith. Women of dignity. Women of character. It should start long before their first steps, but if not, start today.

Here are some things we need to tell our daughters.
(I added some resources to help with this. Some are written by me, some are not.)

  1. Guard your heart. Proverbs 4:23 says, "Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life." The things you see stay with you. The things you read stay with you. The music you listen to has a message that stays with you. Use Philippians 4:8 as a guide for what you see and hear.
(Check out the movies you want to watch at Plugged In online to find out what they really contain HERE)

  2. Celebrate you! Psalm 139:13-14 says, "You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it." God made you who you are. He gave you the personality, talents and abilities you need in order to be who he created you to be. It's okay to work at those things and improve yourself, but don't wish you were someone else. You cheat yourself. You cheat others. Only you can be the you God made.
(Check out The Christian Girl's Guide to Me: The Quiz Book for fun ways to find out more about what makes you special HERE.)

  3. God has an amazing plan for you. Jeremiah 29:11 was written to the Jews in exile, but it's true for you too. "For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope." You are not here by accident. God has things for you to do. That's why #2 is so important. God gifted you with what you need to fulfill his plan for you. Don't sell yourself short or settle for less than the best. Going along with what everyone else is doing might be the easy road, but it's not the best one. God wants more than that for you.
(Check out The Christian Girl's Guide to Being Your Best for great advice, fun quizzes and doable crafts to help you discover all you can be HERE.)

  4. Every choice you make is important. It's easy to act without thinking or go along with the crowd. But each choice matters, even the little ones. Choices turn into behaviors, and repeated behaviors become habits. Choices have consequences. Something you do on impulse to make others laugh or get attention may not have the outcome you plan. Weigh each choice and ask yourself if this is a good thing for you and for others. Think through big decisions and discuss them with a responsible adult.

  5. Don't be an attention seeker. 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, "…whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." It's okay to get attention for good grades, good sportsmanship on the playing field, singing a solo, making the debate team or helping out in the community, but don't let that be the only reason you do them. And never lower yourself for attention. Twerking half dressed in front of a million viewers will surely get attention—the wrong kind. Is that attention worth losing people's respect, dishonoring God, and losing all dignity and integrity?

 6. Your purity is your gift to your husband. I know people don't think this way anymore, but saving yourself helps you avoid guilt and emotional baggage. Cover up and don't display to the world what you are saving for your husband. You can dress with style and still be modest. Add a cute high cut tank top under those scoop neck shirts. Put some fun leggings under the short skirts and dresses. Make your own fashion statement if you need to. Flaunting your half naked body in public doesn't show any creativity or imagination. Finding ways to be stylish and modest at the same time does.
(Check out The Christian Girl's Guide to Style for ideas HERE.)

  7. Being different is okay. You're not a freak because you don't sneak out to parties, make out with boys, wear a swimsuit that looks more like underclothing than something you could swim in, disrespect your parents or take part in questionable activities. Even a small light illuminates in a dark world. Be the light others need to find their way.
(Check out a Young Woman After God's Own Heart or a Girl After God's Own Heart HERE)

  8. Good manners never go out of style. Saying thank you, writing a note, giving deference to the elderly, respecting those in authority, taking turns, turning off your phone in restaurants and talking quietly and respectfully show that you know how to be polite. They put you a notch above others whether or not your friends agree.

  9. Your friends will influence you, so choose good ones. Proverbs 12:26 says, "The godly give good advice to their friends; the wicked lead them astray." Your friends are important. You talk to them about things you don't discuss with your parents. So make sure your friends are the kind that will give you good advice and encourage you to be your best, not go along with the crowd or be mediocre.
(Check out Girls Politics" Friends, Cliques and Really Mean Chicks HERE (teen girls) or A Girl's Guide to Best Friends and Mean Girls (preteen girls) HERE or Just for Me: Friends HERE (young girls))

 10. Live on/with purpose. Micah 6:8 says, "The Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God." Simple, huh? Live intentionally. Live as a princess because you surely are as a child of the Heavenly King. Keep that in mind and the first nine points will fall into place.
(Check out: The One Year Devotions for Girls Starring Women of the Bible for a daily dose of inspiration all year long. HERE (girls 10-14), or The Christian Girl's Guide to the Bible HERE (ages 8-12) or Just for Me: The Bible HERE (ages 5-8))

These are my thoughts. What other messages do we need to give our girls? What books and other resources have you found helpful?

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

State Road 30a

There's a little road that runs along the beaches on the Florida panhandle. It has a lot of small towns that we've seen on our travels and thought we'd go back to. We did that Sunday after church. Jessica and I worked in the nursery so we got a little later start than we'd wanted to.

Tyler, Jessica, Kayla and I went. Kaleb has really spiraled downhill in the last two weeks, so he stayed home. Jasmine was planning to go but just didn't feel up to it. She had "stomach issues." I was disappointed, but we went on as planned.

Here are some photos we took.

We did a lot of looking but no buying because the prices were crazy high. The hat Jessica was trying on was $79!

That dinky bowl of ice cream was $5.75. Yes, we did share it four ways!!
We weren't hungry, just trying it because it's Italian Gelato and we wanted to know if it tasted different than ice cream. It didn't to us.

We walked down to one of the beaches, but it was already after four so we just took a walk down the shore line.

Then we decided to try some of the food. It is very pricey. Ty went to the BBQ place, Jessica went to get a  pizza and I went to get tacos.

My order number.

This was $50 worth of food. And none of us were very impressed with it. I hoped since it cost so much, it was going to be amazing. It wasn't. : (   For the price of that dinky pizza, we could have bought four large Little Caesar's hot and ready pizzas!

Okay, so Kayla loved it. But she's more of an eater than we are. 
It was an interesting day, but due to prices, we probably won't explore more of the shops. We did pass a lot of little state parks, though, and we plan to visit those. There is a nice bike path than runs through the towns and connects them. Bike rental is $30-40 a bike per day, though, so we need to be able to bring our own. We have a rack that holds a couple, and we might be able to tie a couple to the SUV roof rack, but it would be hard to bring them if everyone came on the trip.

So that's what we did Sunday.

If you leave me a comment on a blog post, I try to respond to it. So check back after a day or two. I don't always see them right away.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

The First Week of School

Sometimes I forget what I've already said on here and what I haven't. I was thinking I told about what happened with Job Corps, but I guess I didn't because this week's posts have been a wind up of summer (with Jasmine's journal still to go) and my thoughts about the Hana Williams case.

I'll start with last Monday. On Monday the twins had their third grade open house. Their classrooms are right across from each other. Yes, Kayla is at the same school she's been attending. There was not even one opening in third grade. That's very unusual, but I guess it IS usual for third grade, though.

I'd guess it's because third grade is the one grade where you have to pass both the math and reading FCAT tests to pass. I'd guess the slots created by people leaving the school were taken up by kids failing to pass the FCAT to move on to fourth.
Kayla outside her room.

Kaleb outside his room. He's in a portable again.

Jessica went along to openhouse since I can't be in two classrooms at once. Then she came home and finish painting the wall in the girl's room. We are waiting on border, and then this should be done.

Jasmine didn't have any kind of openhouse, so she just went Tuesday for the first day of school.
Kaleb, third grade

Kayla, third grade

Jasmine was not able to be in the correct band last year because it met while she was in her resources classes. I expressed concern about band this year because she has tested into advanced, and I do NOT want her put back into beginner. Unfortunately, there was a complicated schedule conflict that results in her NOT being intensive reading and language arts this year but in a regular class. It makes her whole schedule a mess and consequently she lost her resource classes--math and science. She was supposed to be doing 6th grade math and intensive math in the resource room. Instead, she is in a 7th grade regular math class!!! And regular science. I can't really argue because doing so will land her back playing Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star with the beginners. UGH. 

Jasmine is not my only one with issues, but the other one is not documented. It's this, Kaleb understands concrete learning skills well. He can memorize how to do things. He has very little comprehension and reasoning ability though so this year will probably be a struggle. 

And he is acting like a kindergartening in some ways--putting his shoes on the wrong feet and his clothes on backward, picking up folders, notebooks, homework papers and snacks that are clearly labeled with another child's name. He's not doing his personal hygeine and grooming  and so on. It is getting old really fast. I don't know how much is on purpose and how much is true delays. 

I try not to give him any attention when he does the goofy stuff and just say  "Good job getting ready" when he does it right. If his clothes are on backward or shoes on the wrong feet--and these are high tops with velcro straps so he knows if he's pulling the velcro toward the other shoe it's on the wrong foot--I just say, "It looks like you have chosen not to have 'big kid' privileges today." He goes to bed early instead. I'm pretty sure he can tell when his pants are on backward or high tops on the wrong feet.

I started physical therapy for my foot Wednesday morning. It appears that everyone who works there is a Christian. The PT was painful and I limped around the rest of the day and was awake much of the night with my foot. Hopefully it will help in the long run.

On Monday (or it might have been Tuesday) the nurse from the Job Corps school where Ty will be going in KY called. She asked some general health questions and then said she'd clear him to attend. I asked her if she had a general idea of when he'd go. She said it might be next week. They do intake every other week. I said that didn't give him enough time to adjust to the idea. He is aspergers and need to get used to the idea of going. We hadn't heard anything so as far as we knew, it was still a ways off.

She said, no problem, he could come the week of September 9th. I knew that was still not going to really be enough time for him to mentally adjust to the change, but I didn't want to push it.

Then on Wednesday, the intake lady calls and says Ty needs to be there Tuesday. Less than one week to pack up and move from FL to KY. I told her the nurse had said Ty could go during the next intake week. She got an attitude about how the nurse shouldn't have said that, she wasn't authorized to make that decision, it was her choice blah, blah, blah. I said that he was aspergers and needed a little more time to get adjusted to the idea of going. She probably thinks he's  been sitting around just waiting, but since we had no clue, we were thinking it would be at least October. She tried to turn it into me saying he wasn't ready for the program. She didn't want to listen. She said she'd have to call someone else on the list and hung up. Now I don't know if he's going the week of Sept 9th or if she's dumped him off the list.

Tyler agreed with what I told her and has been trying to get ahold of her but has been unsuccessful. He final talked to someone yesterday who told him to call back Monday at noon. We are preparing as though it will be the 9th. Sure would have been nice if this lady had been the slightest bit understanding. The nurse was very nice when I talked to her about it. I felt like she was trying to look out for him, but this other lady couldn't care less. He's just a number and needs to come when she says.

Tyler and Jessica went to tumbling again. It's about their fourth time--and probably their last until next summer. Jessica starts her senior year of college next week and four out of five of her classes are on Thursday--the only day they have drop in adult tumbling. Tyler could go one or two weeks more but doesn't want to go without her.

Most of the pictures the kids took are blurred, but I'm going to post them anyway so you can get an idea of what they do. I guess they can pretty much choose to try what they want.

Yes, that's Tyler under there. The video shows how he got there.

So this pretty much brings us up to date. We have survived the first week of school. Oh yeah, big bus problems for Jasmine. She has to transfer twice and today the bus arrived at her school one hour late!
How was everyone else's first day or week (if you've already started)?

Your turn. Leave some comments.

Thursday, August 22, 2013


I've posted on here a lot more than usual lately because I've been finishing up posting about summer. I just realized that I haven't posted Jasmine's journal because I hadn't typed it in with the others. So there's another summer post. The kids have started school, and I'd planned that to be my next post sometime over the weekend.

But the Hana William's trial is really bugging me this week. Have you noticed the lack of interest in it in the news? I figured someone against international adoption would jump all over it and try to stop adoption. That may happen yet.

I'm going to re post part of what I posted when this first happened:
I read the whole 16 page report filed and it was ugly reading. The parents had very strict punishments that included Hana eating alone outside no matter the weather. She was often given frozen vegetables as her meal. She had to use an outside port potty and was often showered with an outside hose year round (she lived in WA state and it gets cold!). She was put outside hours at a time in the cold as a punishment. She basically lived in a dark closet. One of the biological children said in an interview that she was taken out every other day to walk around and exercise. She hadn't participated in family meals or home schooling for over a year because she was living in the closet. She had gone up to two days at a time without eating. She was not allowed to celebrate her birthday or Christmas because she didn't deserve to. She stood outside in the cold on Christmas day watching through the window. Excuse me, but wasn't Christmas about Jesus coming to give us abundant life through his own life, death and resurrection?

There was such a long list of inhumane punishments that I can't remember them all but you can find the 16 page report on line. But she finally died because she was out several hours in cold rain without adequate clothing. She was so thin she didn't survive it.

I have seen people comment that the girl probably had reactive attachment disorder and a very difficult child. There is nothing to indicate that. Her crimes were not knowing how to shower correctly or moving off a certain spot.

Even if she was difficult, she deserved food, clothing, shelter from the cold and somewhere appropriate to sleep. The price for a warm shower or meal was 30 days of good behavior--by the parent's standard of good. And if she had attachment disorders--and who could blame her--locking her in the closet days on end is not a good attachment tool!

Now the trial has started and some things really bother me. Especially things the mom has said. Like this from a news report:

MOUNT VERNON — In an interview with a sheriff’s detective hours after her adopted daughter collapsed in the family’s backyard and succumbed to hypothermia and malnutrition, Carri Williams said she thought the girl was staying outside just to be rebellious.

“I thought she was just pretending that she couldn’t walk, because she’s done that before,” Carri Williams told Skagit County Sheriff’s Detective Ben Hagglund. “I just kind of ignored it.”

Or this from the same report:
Later, when Hana was lying face down on the patio and grass, Carri Williams still thought the girl was pretending, she said. But then another daughter pointed out Hana wasn’t moving.
“And the way she was laying, it didn’t look like it was pretend,” Carri Williams told Hagglund, describing later not being sure if she felt a pulse. “I said, ‘She killed herself. I think she’s dead.’”
Carri Williams spanked Hana during the six or so hours she spent outside the night she died, but only after asking her to come inside, the 16-year-old said.
The boy said he did not see Hana shivering leading up to her death, but she did remove her clothes. Both are signs of hypothermia.
So much of this is senseless. But the stuff about the girl being outside and the mom thinking she was pretending is crazy. And in a news video it was said that the mother stated she couldn't get the girl inside. Really? She could force her into a closet for days at a time, but she couldn't force a starved, half frozen girl into the house? If that's true, it was only because the girl was crazy from hypothermia. But there were also three teen boys there. They couldn't go get one 80lb girl into the house? Bologna. 
And what kind of person thinks shaving a child's hair off, putting her in shorts and a T-shirt and sticking her outside in the cold is a good way to help the child overcome behavioral issues? I wonder who exactly had the behavioral issues. 
No one in the family was allowed to talk to Hana, and when she complained of being cold, the mother told her to do jumping jacks and exercises to stay warm. When she stopped, she was spanked for stopping. 

I know we can't really judge the parents because we don't know them. But I think it's pretty obvious that things were very, very wrong in that home.
Most of you reading this blog have dealt with adoption related behavioral issues. You know how crazy it can get. Me too. And most of us have tried all sorts of things to try and get those behaviors to end. But there is a big difference between trying to get the child to have more positive behavior and harming the child in order to have control. It appears this family was all about control. Their birth children grew up with the overly strict rules and probably learned as an infant not to break or question those rules. 
Then two older children from a totally different culture and with a different language arrived. They didn't know the rules. They didn't know how to live in this home. They may not have had enough language to even understand.
The mom (and I refer mostly to mom here because she was the one home with the kids) was disgusted by Hana's preteen issues, especially "girl issues." She had wanted a toddler. So why did she accept a preteen girl and a deaf, handicapped boy? Did she picture them automatically behaving exactly like her birth children? Really?
Someone once suggested to her that she relinquish the children because she had talked a lot about not liking the children and being disgusted by them, and she said she wouldn't wish them on anyone.
No, I don't think so. She didn't relinquish them because someone else might let Hana have hot food, a hot shower and privileges. In mom's eyes that would make Hana the "winner."
If she really didn't like Hana, she could have sent her to school. That would give the mom a seven hour break, longer if she rode a bus. And if Hana's behaviors were so bad, the school would have the same problem and would have set up a plan for her.
But that would have also kept the parents from having total control over Hana. They wouldn't have been able to beat her or starve her because the school would notice. She would get food and positive reinforcement, which mom probably thought she didn't deserve.
Sometime even those who strongly believe in homeschooling send their adopted children to school so they can learn English more quickly and so they can get special services they need. The adopted son was deaf so public school would have been a great help to him.
I hope the truth comes out in this trial. But I wonder. Saying they thought Hana was pretending and that Hana died because she was rebellious is not truthful. Her being starved over a long period of time and sent out into the cold for hours killed her. If she was truly rebellious, she could have been given a couple of sandwiches and an apple and have been sent to bed early. She could have lost privileges, but not basic rights such as food, proper clothing and a place to sleep.
Well, I am going on and on about this. And the things I've said are my opinion not fact.
Have any of you been following the trial or the story in general? What are your thoughts?
I don't know about you, but I would have taken Hana in and given her a home rather having her despised. Yeah, it might have required a lot of emotional energy along with personal and family counseling or therapy, but it would have been worth it to see this beautiful young lady blossom and grow and discover all she could be.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Best of Summer part 4

For those of you who remember that I was going to post a Best of Summer part 4, here it is :)

This is the stuff we did within two to three hours of our house. You may recognize these photos from the first time I posted them.

Rick took the kids to Lowes twice to make projects.

We took the dogs kayaking twice. They love it.

We went to the bay twice.

Tyler and Jessica went to a water park.

We went to Destin and to a new beach.

We hung out at the pool--when it wasn't raining. And it rained part of the day or all day about 90% of our summer vacation days.

And to end the summer, Kayla and Jasmine were in the play Rapunzel last week.

Kayla in the middle as Ogre #2

Jasmine as Monique, Rapunzel's mother.

So that was our summer.

What was the highlight of your summer?