Wednesday, September 30, 2015

:Potty Training in Relaxed Mode or Pee Happens

After many kids I have learned one thing about potty training, they do better when it is their idea.  I would rather have the child be potty trained than me trained to take the kid to the potty.

Benjamin is showing huge signs that he is getting ready.

He occasionally wants to wear panties.

Sometimes I find him sitting on the potty (he has a diaper on). He is getting real close. At this point he will push his diaper to the side and pee on the ground. That is a new one for me!

Problem I have is I am not ready for it.  At this point he is just as happy to play in the toilet as pee in it.  He refuses to use any children potties, he wants the real thing.  He also likes to play in the water and put entire rolls of toilet paper in there.

He is also very fast.  In the time I went to check on my mom he took his diaper off, peed on the bathroom floor, got in the sink to wash his feet and flooded the bathroom.

So right now we are doing it the relaxed way.  If we see him pulling at his diaper we take him to the potty using the appropriate words.  He will tell me after the fact, we are looking for some before the fact warning.

Anyone else in the middle of potty training?  How do you tell it is time to start?

Monday, September 28, 2015

Baby Kisses


We celebrated Vaida turning one this weekend.  It is hard to believe that she is a year old already. The time just flies by and she is growing up so fast, too fast.  The baby year is gone and we now have a toddler.

 In true fashion for our family we procrastinated a bit and were making goodies up until the guests arrived.  They may have helped decorate a bit too.

We had a potato bar, which I would do again. (if anyone is interested in how we served 50 potatoes let me know) and several dips and chips.  We made a small cake for Vaida and had a bigger cake for guests.  Tasha also make some delicious pinapple cupcakes.

Everyone got plenty to eat.

Vaida loved being sung to, she knew that she was the center of attention.

Not sure how it happened but the cake exploded.  Once she got a taste of that chocolate she didn't hesitate to dig right in.

I love it when family and friends gather to celebrate.  So many blessings gather around the table.

I have a feeling that Vaida may be a little spoiled during holidays, she has a huge family that loves her.  Family members from both sides of the family, to include my ex and his wife, were all present. Many friends joined us.  My mom got up and joined us, Vaida is her only great grandchild.

There was a lot of love in the house Saturday.

I wonder what the next year will bring.  I am sure that it will be interesting.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

You've Been Served

We are on the homestretch. We are pretty excited, Benjamin has been served. Now we wait for a GAL visit and a court date.

We are also exhausted.  Benjamin has given up taking naps.  He literally goes all day long.  These pictures were taken at 7 pm.  I have never had a little one give naps up at such a young age.

He is a happy camper but I feel like I need a nap! I think I am going to bed early tonight (maybe, I am painting my kitchen) I used to get stuff done during nap time.  Now I am cleaning up after Benjamin and trying to keep him safe from himself.  He is now opening the freezer and helping himself to food in there.  I caught him eating a frozen toaster strudel this morning.  He must have liked it that way, he ate most of it.  He also opens the dishwasher and stands on the door to get his favorite cups out.

Any suggestions for Christmas gifts for him? He loves his workbench and is often found playing with it.  I need stuff that will challenge him and engage him.  Most of the baby/toddler toys bore him. He is a very loving baby, one of his other favorite toys is a monkey and bottle.  He often feeds him a bottle and kisses on him.

Hmm, I have a video of him at Target kissing on the stuffed animals.  Since I am posting pictures anyways I might see if I can upload it.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

How old are you?

Over the weekend we went to a birthday party at the skating rink. At one point they had races based on ages.  They announced a race for kids ages 7 and under. Emma raced up there to enter the race.

After the end of the race I asked her why she went up, she isn't 7 and under.  She looked surprised and then said, oh yea I'm 8.  No, I said, you are 9.  Total look of surprise on her face.  She knows that she is 9 at a certain level but inside she is 7.

I think that if someone walked up to her and asked her how old she was she would not say 9 unless she had time to think about it. It is as though she lost that time when she was moving from home to home. At this time the loss is about 2 years. I am sure that at one point she will catch up.  However, she lost an important part of her childhood. She lost those fun preschool years. Those important developmental years.  This was why I wanted her to repeat 2nd grade.  She is not emotionally with her peers.  Academically she is behind as well since she really doesn't apply herself.  Her inability to apply herself was a struggle last year and it continues to be a struggle with homeschooling. At least with homeschooling she is able to have more one on one time and can't get lost in the crowd.

So, bit by bit and day by day we work on growing up.  Growing with thestability and support of a family. Who knows, perhaps we will get to age 8 this year.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Christmas Shopping Yet?

Anyone ready for Christmas? I have so many kids to shop for that I have to start early.  Every year I say I am going to cut back and every year I struggle to do that.  I do think that I have cut back some, the sheer number of children that we have dictates that!

The other day I was in Target and saw this cute collection called Lori.  I picked up the camper, car and a few dolls.  I would have gotten the house but it was damaged and they only had one. As soon as I saw it I knew that it would be perfect for Larissa.  She still plays with dolls and such.  She and Emma play together real well.

I got home and looked online at Target and they don't have any of the Lori collection online.  I sneak peeked at Ebay and was shocked at the prices.  That house at Target costs $50, some Ebayers are selling it for almost $300.  It is a shame that I can't find an item because people are buying it to sell.

Today we went to Target to buy a birthday gift and Larissa saw the small display.  They had a dance studio, one car and the broken house left.  She loved it.  Wanted to know if she had enough in her allowance account to buy some of the dolls.  Mentioned that she wanted the house, but not the broken one.  Also, the car and dance studio.  I was happy that they didn't have any campers left, she doesn't know that they make one.  Now I just have to keep her out of Target.  I have Tasha and friends looking for one of the houses.  Hopefully I will find a house by Christmas.  If not, that is fine because I know she will love the camper.

Tonight I peeked at Anthony's computer.  He was looking at some kd shoes.  I asked him if he liked that pair and he said yes.  Well, that is a good thing because I had purchased him that exact pair.  I was worried that he might not like them. He is crazy for Nike so I imagine he will have some clothing under the Christmas tree.

Emma has mentioned that she wants the Elsa dress up costume complete with the wig.  They had that on sale a JCPenney's last week so I have that stashed to include the shoes and another costume.  She loves to dress up. Not sure what else she will get.  Those costume and accessories sure are expensive.

Of my younger kids that leaves Michelle and Benjamin.  Benjamin is easy.  So far he has a remote controlled car for toddlers and a bouncy horse.  Michelle is hard.  Once again I have no idea what to get her.  She doesn't play like the other girls do and when she tries it never ends well.  She does seem intent on collecting all the American Girl books so I probably will go look at her collection and add to it.  I did pick her up a bicycle as she needs one. I really don't like not knowing what will make her excited.  With the other kids I know their interests.  I know what will make them excited. I wish that Michelle could be herself and share that with us.

I have also started shopping for our adult kids.  I can't talk about that here since some of them read my blog!  Kassi has asked that Tasha and I help decorate her home and make it feel homey.  We have a lot of work ahead of us in that area.  She needs it but I dislike that you can't wrap that and put it under the tree.

Anyone else start their Christmas shopping?  Christmas is right around the corner and will be here quickly.

Friday, September 18, 2015


Larissa turned 10 yesterday.  Although we didn't get her straight from the hospital, we did receive her as a baby.  She celebrated her first birthday with us. She has such a good relationship with all of her siblings.  We celebrated her birthday the same as all the other summer birthdays; dinner of their choice, 4 gifts and a cake.  It has been a year of simple celebrations.

I think that one difference is that when the word went out about her dinner meal, more adult children made it. Yes, it was a free meal for them, but more than that, they all have a great relationship with her. Our family has grown a lot since that first birthday.

A struggle with having kids with such varying ages is working on developing positive relationships among all the kids regardless of age differences. Sometimes it is a challenge, especially when there are difficult behaviors.  Still we try, we plan family vacations and get together as often as possible. Often our gatherings include food, that typically will bring an adult child home! Once home they are free to develop their own relationships.  I can't force it, I can only foster it. 

Anyone else with huge age gaps between kids?  How do you develop the relationships?

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

When You Say Yes

March of 2014 we received a call from DSS. They asked me if I would go to the children's hospital, take infant CPR classes and pick up a newborn from the NICU. They had a baby with a heart condition that needed a foster home.  I said no.  We were going to stop fostering.  We had decided that we would go through adoptions for a placement.

We were weary.  Years of fostering had worn us down.  The wait, the unknowing, the attaching and moving of kids was hard on all of us.  Anthony and Larissa has been with us for 3 years before they got TPR.  There was a point towards the end when the biomom was offered housing and we thought for sure that they would go home.  Almost 3 years in our home, at some point they became ours.

For another foster child I took many trips to the burn clinic in August. A 6 week old baby with an iron imprint on his face.  He had to be held constantly.  We took turns holding him. We loved on him. I still have all of his baby pictures and one of his little jackets.  He went home.  His mom took a parenting class.  Today I still worry about him.

The baby girl, she went home to her mom.  While she was in care her mom had another baby.  She came into care the baby and went home no longer the baby.  The instability in that family.  I worry about her.  Her mom signed her back into care.  We were upset, they didn't call us.  I have all her baby pictures and her Bumble Bee Halloween costume.

And it went on. So many children, babies.  So much hurt and pain in their lives.  We offered a brief safe place.  A place of love and caring.  Sometimes a permanent home.  Still, all those little lives and their stories take their toll on you. You start to really worry about our society.  You begin to wonder where the good parents are. Little pieces of our hearts are scattered among all those children who went home. Some to a good home, some to a place that hadn't really changed. Some days the problem just seemed too big.  Seriously, we ended up with 11 children.  We never planned on having 11 children.  The need is deep, the need is real.  These children need homes, good homes. We are capped out,  no longer able to take in children. Other people need to step up and help.  The children need it. More people need to say yes, I will help a child in need.

That day in March, DSS told me that the baby they needed a home for would be short term, he was going to an aunt.  I agreed. I knew that they called me because I do transporting and he would need to go to Columbia to see the heart specialist on a regular basis.  He also needed around the clock heart medication.  He also needed to be held, all the time. He wouldn't even fall asleep in the car seat, he hated that thing.

We had no idea that when we went and took those CPR classes that they would be for our future son.

We had no idea that when we said yes we would be taking on a little red headed firecracker.

We had no idea what a blessing we were saying yes to.


Today I heard water coming from the bathroom and I went to investigate.

This little one had climbed up onto the countertop. and was very busy. I don't know how he got up there.  He was very proud of himself.

He was brushing his teeth.  I felt that perhaps he felt his feet needed cleaning too.

He sure keeps me on my toes.  There is no resting while he is up.  Of all my children he is by far the most active.  Child safety devices don't slow him down.  We do have the covers for the door knobs but so far he has only taken one apart.  I worry that he will get out of the house without anyone realizing it.  I am super vigilant and am always asking where he is.  You see, he thinks that he is about 10 years old.  He tries very hard to keep up with the other kids.

Among the things he does...
He walks up and down steps without using a hand rail
Turns on and off light switches
Can open bottle caps
Opens doors
Knows where every stash of candy is in the house
Opens the fridge and freezer
Broke all the safety latches on the cabinets
Climbs up to the top of the slide and slides down
Opens just about any type of packaging
Knows how to use the computer mouse
Takes clothing off
Can sometimes put shorts on and shoes
I have lost track of his words
Helps with chores, sweeps, puts trash bag in the trash can, gets grandma a drink, vacuums
Blows kisses and "feeds" his animals, us and Vaida
Starting to show signs that he is about ready to potty train
Pushes boxes and chairs around to get into stuff
Gets into stuff....all day long
Side benefit of all that is he sleeps all night, about 12 hours.

Anyone else with an active toddler?  Anyone else tired out there?!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Emma Turns 9

Emma turned 9 and her request was dinner at Moe's. I snapped this picture of her and I thought that she looks so much more relaxed than she used to.

She has grown in so many ways and is a pleasure.  However, I still have some concerns. Homeschooling has allowed me to see where she has some educational deficits.

Every year I have asked to have her speech and every year they have said that her speech is fine. Last year her teacher requested a speech evaluation with the same results.  I am looking at getting my own speech evaluation.  When she reads for me I often have a hard time understanding what she is saying.  It is frustrating for both of us.

Larissa has unmedicated ADHD so my lessons are designed to work with that.  We do short lessons and constant reviews.  Larissa is retaining the lessons, Emma is not.  I am not sure.  I believe that she has to engage with me more than she ever has with a teacher.  I can see how in a classroom she could totally disengage and not do the assignments.  She attempts to cheat with me, during reading she will try to get by with reading only the beginning and end of an assignment.  Since we discuss the assignments one on one she is not able to get away with that, I imagine she did in school. I have determined that I need to get her evaluated. Either something is not clicking or she is totally disinterested in learning. She has not tired of homeschooling or asked to go back to public school,

She is working on reading me.  Any time I am tired she will ask me if I am mad at her.  I tell her no, I am just tired.  I guess my tired look looks the same as my disapproval face,  I see it as a positive that she doesn't want me to be mad at her, she seeks my approval.

It has been interesting to see the relationship between Larissa and Emma grow.  For the most part they get along real well.  Emma had her feelings hurt the other day when Larissa wouldn't play with her.  Larissa also wasn't engaging in school work either and I realized that she must have had a bad night and needed more sleep.  I sent her to bed and she woke in a better disposition and played with Emma. Emma has been learning to read Larissa and is getting better about accepting that sometimes she is not feeling well.  Today Larissa went to bed for a short time with a headache and Emma was more understanding about it then she has been in the past.

One of our huge issues has finally resolved, her early morning rising and waking of the household. She is still an early morning but she now gets up quietly and comes down without waking everyone. She is allowed to watch some cartoons until everyone else gets up.  She wakes at 6 and the baby gets up at 8ish so it is so nice that she doesn't wake him.

Funny, the other day I was looking at pictures of the girls when they first came.  Emma came over and asked who that blond haired girl was.  It was her, she didn't recognize herself from that time frame.

For the most part my concerns about behaviors have really diminished.  She is still emotionally a lot younger but she is growing.  At this time I am more concerned about her educational challenges and wonder if I can get some answers about that issue. Pretty amazing for a child who moved to 7 different homes because of her volatile tantrums.

Happy Birthday Emma!  May this be a year of great growth and happiness.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Junk Boxes

Some people have a junk drawer.  I have junk boxes.  To me the stuff isn't necessarily junk but stuff that I don't know where to put.  I have too much stuff that I don't know where to put!

This is my day.  I wonder if my problem is that I don't think it is all junk.  Hmmmm.

Anyone with a junk drawer.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Finished Bathroom

I finally finished a project! Sure it is the smallest room in the house, a half bath, but it is the most used room in the house!

I used the extra paint from the kitchen (which I am still working on) and it came out quite bright.  I painted the mirror the teal color and wiped it off for a hint of color.  Then I feel that the room was calling for a peacock.

This evening after all the kids were in bed I got out my paints.  It was so nice to paint something.  I haven't had time to do any lately and I really do miss it.

You can't see it but I also finished the floor.  We had put simple sheet vinyl in after the tile kept popping off but we had never finished it off so naturally the vinyl got torn.  I got some vinyl two-sided tape and cut a piece to fit the torn area.  It came out great and I put a threshold piece in so it won't get damaged.  Such a simple project but it took me forever to get to it.  Sometimes I have simple, quick and easy projects that need done and I never seem to get to them.  However, when I actually get to them it feels nice to get it done.  Then I wonder why I waited so long to finish it!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Day Trip

Among other things we have been dealing with some family emergencies.  John found out that one of his sisters has cancer and his other sister here is going through some rough times.  One of her daughters came to town at my request and has been staying with us. Today we took a break and went to the beach for a few hours.  Benjamin's first beach trip.

Benjamin wasn't too sure about the huge ocean at first but he quickly warmed to it.

And had great fun digging big holes.

We did a little shopping.

And stopped to eat on the way home.  This is a very rare picture, when he is taken out of his car seat he never stays asleep.  Guess the beach wore him out.

We had a great day and no one got sunburned.  I worry about that with my little red head.

Saturday, September 5, 2015


We were working on compound sentences and Larissa had great success and understanding.  Emma struggled and Larissa enjoyed helping her.  One of the benefits of homeschooling is the opportunity to go at the speed the child needs and to have many more successes than failures.  Larissa had so many failures in school that she felt that she couldn't do anything.  Even at home she is hesitant to speak out answers.  Slowly that is improving as she is gaining her confidence back.

In remodel news, the flooring got cleared and cleaned.

Teddy bears got fed.

The flooring got laid.  It is commercial vinyl tiles that have to be glued down.  They are supposed to look like cork and have a 20 year life span.  We assume we will get 10 years out of them.  Some folks have said that the pattern reminds them of underlayment, either way, it hides dirt real well!

We got the chairs in from Overstock and they were more yellow than I htought.  Guess we will add yellow to our color scheme.

The chairs swivel and the kids love them.

Vaida the grandbaby got to come and spend the night.  She will be one at the end of this month and is growing so fast. Love, love having a grandbaby to spoil.

Of all the little kids Larissa is her favorite.  Larissa is great with babies.

John helped take the chair cushions off so I could cover them.  He had a helper.

Three yards of fabric covered all 8 chairs.  I bought all that they had the local Hobby Lobby and didn't have enough to cover the back to the bench.  Heading to another Hobby Lobby this weekend to hopefully get more fabric.

Now I am working on the trim work and more painting. Oh, and still declutteirng. Working on the third Goodwill trip.  Anyone else in a declutteirng mode.  Is this a preadoption thing?