Tag Archives: memories

A Trip Down Memory Lane!

I survived my first plane trip and wanted to share a little bit about my trip down memory lane with all of you! Be prepared because as my Pop-pop would say, ‘This might take a while’.

Last week proved to be one of the most stressful weeks I can remember. I have been trying to refocus my life in so many areas. And on top of the everyday stresses of a large family and back to school worries I got the call that I really needed to head back to my childhood home.

While I call Florida home right now I was born in Pennsylvania. I grew up about an hour from Philadelphia in the mushroom capital of the world, Kennett Square.

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Funny the things you didn’t know, huh? We were also very close to the Amish and Mennonite communities. In fact several of my siblings were delivered by an Amish midwife.

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Photo by Randy Fath on Unsplash Continue reading A Trip Down Memory Lane!

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Midweek Progress: Vacation Pics, Unplugging, and Movie Night

**Please note this post does contain affiliate links to which I may, possibly, earn a small commission from if you click on and purchase an item. This helps to support to support this blog and my family. For full disclosure click here

Hey everyone! Yesterday I posted about the ‘Summer Slide‘ but I really want to post these vacation pictures. I really hope everyone had a great a Father’s Day weekend as I know we did. While we didn’t see the Altamahaha on this trip we did make some really great memories. (The Altamahaha is a local legend dating back for centuries.)

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Picture from: Deviant Art

It was a little stressful and chaotic getting ready for the trip but we all managed to survive. We went to the Altamaha Regional Park in Brunswick, GA. We stayed the weekend in one of their rental cabins while some of my family stayed in tents. I wasn’t quite brave enough to do this with so many kids in tow. Continue reading Midweek Progress: Vacation Pics, Unplugging, and Movie Night

Last Minute Craft: A Thankful Book

My kids have done an amazing job at sorting out their toys and straightening up around the house this morning. They even cleaned under the couch and the kitchen cart…. AMAZING!

DS5 is into so many things and his brain is always coming up with creative ideas. For the past week they have been going around the table at dinner time giving each person a chance to say what they are thankful for. DS5 wanted to take it one step further. He wanted a book, A Thankful Book to be exact, for everyone to write what they are thankful for.

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Continue reading Last Minute Craft: A Thankful Book

Family Outing: Jacksonville Zoo 6/10/2017

Well a couple of weeks ago I mentioned that we had a special outing planned. Unfortunately we did not get to go the weekend we planned to go because of the weather. We did go this past weekend and it was so much fun!

As you can imagine trying to take a many kids as we did (we took 7 kids, ages 4-14) can be a bit daunting but we managed. One of my sisters was also able to join us which helped out alot. Continue reading Family Outing: Jacksonville Zoo 6/10/2017

May 28, 2017

I pray you are all having a wonderful Memorial Day weekend. This past month has been extremely busy around here with this past week being the busiest of all. It has been a blast though and many memories have been made.

Our homeschool will be wrapping up this coming week with a special surprise outing planned as a treat. We are all looking forward to just having a little fun and maybe getting to relax a bit.

My youngest child just turned 4 this month! I can hardly believe how fast time has flown and how much has changed since the day we brought him home. My kids amaze me everyday and I am so blessed to be able to stay at home and watch them as they learn and grow.

My oldest son came to visit this past week! Yay! We had not seen him in almost 4 years because of his employment. He also brought along his beautiful wife, my first daughter in law, who I had not met before. We had such a great time. It was hard to say goodbye but I know that they will be back soon. All we can do is trust that God will watch over them and keep them safe along life’s journey.

Amongst all of the visiting, homeschooling, and other normal routines of the house I also had my square dancing. Ahhh… if anyone had told me a few months ago how involved I would become in square dancing I wouldn’t have believed them. I probably would’ve laughed a little but it is amazing how things can sometimes just fall into place.

Our club in Starke, the Silver Fox Squares, has been very busy and we dance every Friday night. We have also had some special dances, visitations, and other activities that we attended throughout the month including a Luau and a banner raid. I have earned two new dangles this month. As the publicity chairman for the club I am constantly busy with updating the sites, planning new events, and looking for new ideas.

In addition to the Friday nights, we also have dances and classes on Tuesday nights in Fort White. We have been trying to recruit new dancers and had a covered dish dinner on the first night of class. So far we have a couple of couples who have come to join us and we are looking forward to seeing some new faces this coming week.

And then we have the Clay Allemanders in Middleburg on Mondays. Our caller and co-caller from the Silver Fox Squares are the callers there as well. This club has also been extremely busy with the transition to the new callers and the fact that we moved to a new dance location this month.

I am also the caller’s assistant to one of the callers so I have been busy with a few other details as well. We went to visit the Grand Squares, in Gainesville, earlier in the month and I got to meet a lot of new people. He was also able to reconnect with some people he had not seen in awhile. Square dancing has definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone, in a good way, and allowed me to expand my horizons and meet a lot of new people.

My youngest son, and my oldest son and his wife, attended the dance this past Tuesday. It was a lot of fun to have some of my children there. My little one didn’t make it through the night before he curled up and fell asleep. My oldest however did seem to enjoy himself and caught on quite quickly. I hope to be able to expose my children to it a little bit at a time and eventually get them involved more with square dancing.

I have been trying to squeeze in some blogging between all of the different activities that are going on. I have so many drafts started that it would make you go cross eyed if you could see them. The topics are quite varied as well because I get so many ideas and just try to write them down as I think of them. I hope you all have enjoyed the ones I have managed to publish and I pray that you do find something that helps you or inspires you in some way.

As i write this and think about it I am completely amazed at the awesomeness of God! He has a plan for each of us and He knows what He is doing. He has been working in my life in so many ways and He has been preparing me for where I am now for quite some time. All I had to do was let go and trust Him to guide me to where I needed to be.

Well, my little one just climbed up on the stool beside me and is sneaking sips of my cold coffee. Another one has mentioned that he was ready for snack a minute ago so I will get off of here and set out some snacks for them to hopefully hold them over until lunch time. I pray you all have a blessed day and week to come!

Yellow Rocks (hugs) to all!

Links to club updates will be posted soon:

Silver Fox Squares: June 2017 Updates

Clay Allemanders: June 2017 Updates

March 16, 2017

I had planned on putting together a study unit for Easter, similar to what we had done for Advent, but it didn’t happen. It is still in the works and I will continue to work on it a little at a time. I’ll also be sure to share it with you all as well.

This Easter was a little crazy as I’ve had two children who have been consistently trying my patience on a daily basis. I know this is just a phase and it will pass soon but it had been utterly exhausting.

Luckily I have family and friends to support me and offer advice. Sometimes the best thing you can do is just take a step back and look at things through someone else’s eyes.

We have truly been blessed with the friends we have and there is one person in particular who has went above and beyond to help me lately. He may never know what a blessing he has been to me and my family over the past couple of months. He is so awesome with my kids that it is truly a blessing.

He is a constant source of encouragement and he motivates me to be a better person. The crazy thing is that we probably never would’ve met had I stuck to my idea of what I thought I needed. God knew all along and has so far exceeded my ideas and expectations, just as he always does. It is so amazing to see what God does when you let go and hand your life over to him.

So getting back to Easter, we didn’t do a big get to together or go visiting like we normally do. We stayed at home and had a small cookout with family. It was nice and it was simple.

My older kids did hide some eggs for the younger ones yesterday. The younger kids were too smart and found them all in a minute or two. This prompted the older ones to ‘up their game’ and rehide them so they could have more of a challenge. The challenge was accepted and they found them again super quickly.

It was time to eat after the second go round and everyone was starving. My youngest two surprised everyone with the amount of food they ate yesterday and the lack of complaining about what they didn’t want to eat.

Of course, the kids were all super excited and didn’t want to go to bed. They were hoping to see the Easter Bunny… and get lots of candy.

Well this morning they awoke to a big Easter basket on the kitchen island. It had a small toy for each child and some candy and games as well. I decided several years ago that doing one basket was much easier than individual baskets. I also want to try to keep the focus on the real reason for Easter which does not involve a bunny or candy.

After breakfast we had a mini lesson using our Resurrection Eggs that I found at the thrift store last year. I will post a few pics at the end of the post. We went over the meaning of each item and talked about the real meaning of Easter before letting them inspect the basket.

We didn’t buy new Easter outfits, I had thought about it though, as we could all still wear the outfits we bought for big sisters wedding last year. My dress hadn’t even been worn, or tried on until yesterday, as I had decided on a different dress.  I did find a couple of cute hats for the girls that match with their dresses too.

Later this afternoon, probably after nap time, we will make the Empty Tomb Rolls. I usually try to make them the day before but it just didn’t happen this time around. I will go over the Easter story again while we assemble the rolls.

Then hopefully we will get to color some eggs later on this afternoon as ‘Mr. Awesome’ has said he will come by later today to help with that. I will try to add some of those pics to this post as well.

Life is never going to be perfect and things are going to happen beyond our control. So we need to stop waiting for that ‘perfect moment’ and just live in this moment. Stop procrastinating and looking for excuses as to why you can’t do things. Instead focus on ways to make things possible in some way, shape, or form. Make those special memories and be sure to let each and every person around you know how much they mean to you.

We are living in uncertain times right now and we have never been promised a tomorrow. So take a moment to appreciate all that you have been blessed with and cherish this moment and time in your life.

I pray that you have all had a very blessed Easter!

It took forever to get a decent picture where almost everyone was smiling and (almost) looking in the same direction. Big sister didn’t want to wear her matching dress which was OK. The little girls had snuck into some chocolate while I was getting ready. They smeared their chocolate hands on the fronts of their dresses too. We got them spot cleaned and off to church we went. It was really nice to have 6 of my 9 kids in church with me today too.  While at church the same two girls tore holes in their dresses…. I will have my work cut out for me trying to repair them… but that’s life!

We did make some Empty Tomb Rolls after nap time. This was a fun experience and the kids helped assembling the roles while discussing the meaning of each ingredient. Then they had them for a snack.

We also managed to squeeze in some egg coloring! Oh what a fun day we had!

Life in 2016

Reflections of 2016

December 30, 2016

December 27, 2016

December 21,2016

December 6, 2016

December 5, 2016

December 3, 2016

December 1, 2016

November 28, 2016

November 27, 2016

November 26, 2016

November 20, 2016

November 18, 2016

November 8, 2016

Reflections of 2016

Can you believe that this year is almost gone? I can’t but I am ready to start 2017 with a fresh, positive, and energized outlook. I know in my heart that this new year will be better than last year. I also know that God has some truly amazing things in store for me and my family. I can’t wait to see what He has planned for us in the upcoming months!

We have been through alot this past year. The year started off really rocky. There had been some nasty rumors and gossip that caused us to leave our church and lose contact with some people. It was also filled with some nasty messages, hateful comments, and posts from people who chose to believe the rumors.

I’ve learned to forgive even if you don’t feel that they deserve forgiveness. Forgiveness lets you move on and heal from the pain.

My oldest daughter finished up boot camp and then DD17 and DS21 took a road trip to Missouri to bring her back home. Then we had a lot planning to do for DD19’s wedding. It was really hard to stay strong for my kids and my family but I refused to let the chaos and nastiness get me down.

I filed for divorce after being separated for nearly 2 years. It was a painful and difficult decision that I prayed a lot over. It was not the outcome I wanted but it was what needed to be done at the time to protect my family and myself from his behaviors and actions. We have come a long way since then and are working to be the best parents we can be to our children.

I am learning to be content in whatever situation I am in and wherever I may be. I will change the things I can change, focus my attention on God, and let Him handle the things I have no control over.

Our family got larger with the additions of a niece and a nephew, both of which I absolutely adore. There was a camping trip where I got to go salt water fishing for the first time and I loved every minute of it. This was a welcome relief prior to the stresses of the wedding where we had last minute changes that threatened to ruin the whole thing. I am pleased to say that it was a success and it is now a beautiful memory for us to cherish.

During those stressful times I found out who my true friends were and became closer to my best friend. She really came through for me when I needed her. I had another friend who also came through and was a lifesaver, quite literally, and he was the calm in my storm on a few occasions.

There was a brief romance where my already tender heart was shredded and ripped apart. This was harder on me than my divorce as it came at me unexpectedly and then it was over without any warning or explanation. I lost someone who I considered to be one of my best friends with the end of that relationship. I know that my questions will continue to go unanswered and I know that there would never be anyway to get back what it was that we had. It still brings tears to my eyes but I do treasure the moments we had.

I am learning that it is much easier not to question God when something happens but rather to embrace it and trust that He knows best. 

Then I attempted online dating which I quickly learned wasn’t for me. I did meet a couple of really nice people and I went on a couple of dates but we didn’t really click. I quickly found that dating by text is not for me either. I need to be able to see the person and hear their voice. I want to know that they are not a figment of my imagination. I did make a friend through the dating site and we still text on a semi-regular basis.

We had another camping trip where I took the five kids and myself. It was an adventure that we all enjoyed and thankfully survived. There was moment that I wasn’t sure if I would make it as I had fallen in the river. Luckily I had a life vest on and I was able to stay calm until someone was able to reach me. The crazy thing was that he was able to walk out to me but I was just a little bit too short to reach the bottom.I think I swallowed my yearly quota of river water that day.

I’ve had many more episodes of the gossip mill. There were days and weeks that I felt I should just write a soap opera about my life. I finally realized that the problem wasn’t really with me but with the ones who were starting and spreading the rumors. This was a big turning point for me and the way I handled the stress and drama from those situations. I also had some painful revelations about family and friends.

Then there was the flu bug that hit us around Thanksgiving. I was upset that we were not able to visit with family but fortunately God did give me the strength and supplies to make our own impromptu dinner. I wasn’t able to eat but I made up for that at Christmas dinner with my daughter and son-in-law. That was definitely a dinner to remember as the police showed up twice!

I have learned to be ready to receive a blessing at any moment and any time.

These are just some of the ups and downs of my past year. There have been a lot of firsts like the salt water fishing, a low country boil (I actually had twice this year), and online dating. I can say that I have lived, loved, been loved, and have been truly blessed. Life has taught me a lot about myself, relationships, and God’s will for my life. There have been many surprises, good and bad, but all in all it was a wonderful year.

I hope you can also look back on the past year and see what has happened. Take a moment to reflect on what you’ve experienced and then think about what you want to experience in the 2017. I pray that each and every one of you will be blessed abundantly in the upcoming year. I pray that God will touch your lives and supply your needs, whatever they may be.

 

 

 

Making Childhood Memories Count

I came across this while reading the other day. This really is something that we need to think about. Our children are only little once and the time we have with them is so precious. They grow up so very quick.

I know how hard it is to juggle all the responsibilities of being a single parent. Some days it’s really hard to get to everything that we feel needs to get done. Sometimes we just feel so overwhelmed and maybe we get a little grouchy. Our kids can feel more like an annoyance or distraction at times.

We must remember that they should always be a priority. It is such an awesome gift and responsibility to be a Momma. It can also be so demanding at times, I know. Just take a minute and read this poem to get a little insight on life through a child’s eyes.

Only One Childhood

I stopped to watch my little girl busy playing in her room. In one hand was a plastic phone; in the other a toy broom. I listened as she was speaking to her make believe little friend And I’ll never forget the words she said, even though it was pretend.

She said, “Suzie’s in the corner cuz she’s not been very good. She didn’t listen to a word I said or do the things she should.” In the corner I saw her baby doll all dressed in lace and pink. It was obvious she’d been put there to sit alone and think.

My daughter continued her “conversation,” as I sat down on the floor. She said, “I’m all fed up, I just don’t know what to do with her anymore? She whines whenever I have to work and wants to play games, too. She never lets me do the things that I just have to do?

She tries to help me with the dishes, but her arms just cannot reach… And she doesn’t know how to fold towels. I don’t have the time to teach. I have a lot of work to do and a big house to keep clean. I don’t have the time to sit and play — don’t you know what I mean?”

And that day I thought a lot about making some changes in my life; As I listened to her innocent words that cut me like a knife. I hadn’t been paying enough attention to what I hold most dear. I’d been caught up in responsibilities that increased throughout the year.

But now my attitude has changed, because, in my heart, I realize… I’ve seen the world in a different light through my little darling’s eyes. So, let the cobwebs have the corners and the dustbunnies rule the floor, I’m not going to worry about keeping up with them anymore.

I’m going to fill the house with memories of a child and her mother… For we are granted only one childhood, and we will never get another.

Everything we do is being taken in by our little ones. Do we want them to have memories of us cleaning and running around like a mad woman all the time? Do we want them to remember all the times we got upset about spilt milk or chocolate handprints on the wall? Or do we want them to remember when we took the day off to go to the park and have a picnic lunch. Maybe they will remember the time we spent showing them how to make a proper mud pie.

So please remember to take some time to create memories with your children. Find ways to spend time with them and take time to spend with them. Try to find a balance between the housework and the fun times. You will all appreciate and cherish these memories later on in the years.

December 5, 2017

Good morning ya’ll! Today is a work in progress for me. I woke up with a bad case of vertigo and then both of my legs were asleep! This made it quite a difficult, and probably hilarious, trip to the bathroom as I really had to pee. Anyway I am feeling much better now, Thank you Jesus!, and our morning is going along quite smoothly. I am almost afraid to say that as I don’t want to jinx myself.

I have the Christmas music playing, the kids have had breakfast and are playing quietly in the play room, there has been no tattling, and the kitchen is clean. DS4 brought the hamper to the laundry room (without being asked), loaded the washer, and took the hamper back to his closet. What is happening here? Did I mention that DS21 was home and carried the trash out to the road? I really hate doing that task and I am so thankful he was here and that he took care of it.

Instead of questioning, I will just thank the good Lord for his blessings and enjoy this moment of blissful peace. These moments are few and far between but I am thankful for each and every one of them. What are you thankful for today? Take a few moments and think of at least five things to thank God right now for. You will feel so much better. Often times we remember Him when we need something but we forget to thank Him when things are going good.

Is there someone in your life that you are truly blessed to have? Let them know how much they mean to you. Do a little something special to show them how much you appreciate them. This will not only make you feel better but it will also encourage them and lift them up. The holidays can be really stressful for everyone for a variety of different reasons and you never know when your actions or words can be just what they need to go from having a bad day to having a great day!

In another note, I am also working with a couple of different companies to receive some products for our homeschool activities and for my special needs son. I will be reviewing these items and hopefully showing how we use them in our daily life here. I am so excited for these opportunities and pray the God will continue to bless our family and use our lives to bless others.

 

Routines

I know, we’ve all heard about how important routines and schedules are. Some of us may have every minute of every hour planned out on a ‘perfect’ schedule while others would rather just have a  ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ kind of routine. I’ve always been kind of in the middle while I can say that at different times of my life I have leaned more towards one side than the other.

How do we find a balance? Well, the answer is not the same for everyone, every family, or every situation. For instance, there are some children who thrive on strict routines and schedules and they don’t like change, I have one of those children. Then there are some families who are extremely busy with things, maybe a home business, and there is no way that they could guarantee that they would be home by 5:00 every day to eat dinner. Then we have work routines where sometimes there are deadlines and things that must be completed in a certain time frame.

I went through a period of time when I was really sick. I went from being a vibrant young wife and mother (who also held down a 40 hours + job) to almost being bedridden. I had a couple of different surgeries, followed by infections  and long recuperation periods. These illnesses triggered an autoimmune response in my body and I have been plagued by chronic pain ever since. I had been diagnosed with scoliosis, DDD, herniated discs, IBS, GRD, hiatal hernia, migraines, and fibromyalgia among a long list of things.

My doctors prescribed a cocktail of medications to help with the problems but those medications caused lots of side effects. I was extremely fatigued, developed seizures, and was constantly having various rashes and other conditions that couldn’t be explained.

During this time my housework really suffered. My house wasn’t a total mess but it did get pretty bad. The more I tried the worse it looked. This caused major problems between my spouse and I. I was trying to keep up with the inside of the house, the outside of house, the garden, the animals, and the kids. I was OVERWHELMED!

Then I found an index card system for housework. They also have a book called Sidetracked Home Executives which I never bought but maybe should have. I immediately jumped in and began to use the system. I tweaked it here and there to make it work for our family. I then developed a similar system for work and it made an amazing difference in my productivity levels.

Unfortunately my spouse wasn’t as thrilled with my new found method. I could never keep our home as ‘show place perfect’ as he felt I should. The marriage fell apart and I moved with my four kids to our current home. This is where I found FlyLady, who has been a life saver to so many people. (You may want to check out the site for yourself.) A lot of the routines I will list below follow along with her basic plans. I again tweaked them to work for our family.

My house is not ‘show place perfect’ nor will it ever be. My house is lived in and it shows. I do get a lot of compliments like, ‘I would never know that you had so many kids here.’.  I’m not quite sure what they expect my house to live in but I am pleased to surprise them.

The outside of my house is a bit of a mess and I am working on that. Many people have stopped as they thought I am running a daycare. I guess I kind of am in a way. Some of the mess is beyond my control as it doesn’t belong to me.

I really believe that everyone should be proud of what the Lord has blessed you with. Be content where He has put you and make the best of it. I pray that you will find some helpful tips and suggestions as you read through the links. (If a link isn’t working I probably haven’t been able to work that on it yet, but keep checking and I will get them up.) Please remember to use these as a guideline for setting up your own routines. If something isn’t working then change it and make it work for you. Don’t get discouraged!

Getting Routines Started 101

Morning Routines

Kids’ Morning Routine 

Daily School Routine

Afternoon Routines

Evening Routines

Weekly Routines

Monthly Routines

Yearly Routines

Laundry Routines

Yearly kids chores by age

Age appropriate chore charts

FlyLadyPlusFlyLadyPlus for iPhone

FlyHelper | Personal Organizer for Android

He marches to the beat of his own drum

As many of you probably know I have a special needs son. He has Down’s Syndrome and ADHD among several other diagnoses. He just turned 14 and he is almost as big as I am. Mentally though he is only about the level of a 3 or 4 year old. As frustrating as things can be for me I know that it must be extremely frustrating for him as well.

When he first came to live with us in 2010 I wasn’t prepared, I thought I was, but I wasn’t. I didn’t get any kind of instructions, no special training at all. What I did have was a lot of love and determination to do whatever was right for him.

It was a very hectic and chaotic time those first few weeks. He wouldn’t sleep without medication, which we did not have for the first week or so. He would just run around the house creating mass destruction. Not to mention the fact that his little sister had also been placed with us and she had been diagnosed as emotionally disturbed. She wasn’t even two at the time.

He was not potty trained and he would not tell you when he had soiled or wet his pull up. It took us over a year to fully potty train, we still had and still have times when he refuses, but when he reached the goal of being able to wear ‘real’ underwear the change in him was remarkable. He had gained self confidence and a sense of independence that he had never known before. Even his teachers commented on his new attitude.

He was mostly non verbal at the time also. I bought the Your Baby Can Read Dvds and began to play them everyday. Amazingly his speech began to improve and he began talking more and more everyday. And he hasn’t stopped! He can communicate pretty well now unless you want him to explain why on earth he was playing in the toilet or with cat poop in the play yard.

The placement was only temporary at first.  We had good days and we had bad days. The good days were few and far between. The bad days were often really bad and exhausting. I was thankful for every little tip his teachers and doctors were able to give me.

Eventually we started to develop a rhythm. Then he would do something totally unexpected. We knew that he did not sleep well and he had a history of getting up and sneaking out at night. Fortunately he has never tried to sneak out of the house but he has gotten up at night. (We actually installed a cheap alarm on his door that we turn on at night to alert us if he sneaks out of his room.)

There was one night his older sister found him in the kitchen making a ham and cheese sandwich, but he had put horseradish on it instead of mayonnaise. Then another night right before Thanksgiving he had gotten up and decorated all of the pies with blue icing.

When he got accustomed to our routines and when he began to feel safe we started to see improvements. They were slow, very slow, but every bit of progress was so exciting. Then we would have relapses and he would go back to his old ways and behaviors. It was so frustrating. I would often just sit and cry and pray to God for help and guidance. He would touch me and renew my strength and patience each and every night so I could wake up refreshed and ready to face the next set of obstacles.

I read up on every article I could. I talked to the doctors and specialists. I carried a huge notebook around with me everywhere so I could write down everything they told me. I checked out books at the library and took notes. Then I would try out a few ideas and suggestions at a time. If it worked that was great, If it didn’t I just crossed it off and tried again with something new.

I might add a little note here that what works today may not work tomorrow with him. Each day is a new day and he has a toatlly different outlook, personality, and attitude from day to day. So I just kinda have to judge him when he gets up in the morning to see if he needs a hug or if he just needs me to stay away.

I found ways to encourage and motivate him. When everyone said he couldn’t be potty trained I knew he could. I wasn’t trying to prove a point that I was right and they were wrong but rather prove to them that he was capable of more than what they believed he was. They told me I just needed to accept the fact that he would always be in pull ups.

He also hated and still hates loud noises. With that being said he is one of the loudest kids I’ve ever been around. He hums, he sings, he yells, he makes all kinds of noises at all times of the day with no apparent rhyme or reason. Let me get up and turn on my exercise video in another room and he is yelling at me to be quiet.

Normally he stomps through the house making as much noise as possible everywhere he goes. He sounds like a raging elephant unless he is trying to be sneaky. Then he can tiptoe and sneak up on almost anyone.

During that first year we also had another sister placed with us. She had her own set of challenges with being almost blind in one eye from a dog attack, ADHD, and ODD. I know that bringing her into the home helped him feel more secure as he was constantly asking about her but she also required a lot of attention. He did have some major relapses but we eventually worked through them.

His behavior is good most days now.I can remember the first doctor’s appointment I took him too. He was literally climbing the walls. I’m serious, I went straight to Wal-mart and bought one of those monkey backpack leashes for him. Yes, I got a lot of criticism for putting my child on a leash but I’d rather have him safe then be explaining to the paramedics how he ran away in the parking lot.

I can remember several meltdowns in public places when I thought for sure someone would be calling the authorities on me. I remember all of the ‘If that was my child…’ or ‘My kid would never act like that…’ from strangers who didn’t know the situation. I just smiled and sat in the floor with him wrapped in my arms until he calmed down. Then we would finish what we could finish and go home.

This child also loves food. He will wolf down two plates of food before I can finish half of my plate. We have had to work with him to help him slow down his eating so he can digest his food better and to keep him from choking at every meal. There has only been two things I’ve found that he wouldn’t eat, one was the horseradish I mentioned earlier, and the second was a ‘Monkey Milkshake’ his older sister made for him.

I also researched food allergies and sensitivities. I learned a lot by keeping track of his behaviors and checking them with our menus. After a few months I was able to take my notes to the doctor and show them what we had found. The doctor then wrote a note to the school and we had his diet modified. What a difference that made in his behavior!

He was in public school until he transitioned to middle school. He did not like the change and he rebelled in many ways. His new teachers did not know him and his little quirks and no matter how many times I tried to explain things to them or how many notes I wrote they just didn’t ‘get’ him. (Please note that I am not condemning public school and I know the teachers have a lot put on them. It just didn’t work for our family.)

The other problem they had is that he is just so sweet and convincing at times. He was on a modified diet but he would convince the teacher and aides to give him snacks and extras that he was not allowed to have. This resulted in serious issues and he began to get sick every time he went to school. I was picking him up, taking him to the doctor, doctor writing notes, keeping him home until the issues cleared up, sending him back to school, he would get sick again, I would pick him up again and back to the doctor…. it became a vicious cycle and something had to stop..

The last time I took him to the doctor he had lost a significant amount of weight from the diet issues. I had already spoken with her about homeschooling and she agreed that it would probably be the best route for him at that time. So that was his last week at public school. We’ve definitely had our ups and downs trying to get our routine set and getting him to understand that Momma doesn’t take ‘No’ for an answer.

His fine motor skills are not great but we work on that almost every day. When we first started he would absolutely refuse to write anything. He would simply say ‘I can’t’. If that didn’t work he had a pocketful of excuses that worked on the teachers at school.

‘I’m hungry’

‘My stomach hurts’

‘I’m sleepy’

‘I need to go potty’

This last one was a favorite at school. They would send him unsupervised and his older sisters found him several times wandering about the school campus alone. Sometimes the custodians would find him and ride him around the campus on their buggies. There was a time I went to pick him up for an appointment and they couldn’t find him anywhere. I tried my best not to panic but I was scared to death.

Oh, I almost forgot, maybe the favorite excuse was actually pretending he couldn’t hear anyone. I felt it was selective as he could always hear a bag of chips opening two rooms away with the door closed but the teacher insisted he couldn’t hear her. It got so bad that I took him to the doctor and had his hearing checked. I even asked for a referral to a specialist to double check. Not a thing wrong with his hearing. He just had everyone fooled.

He quickly learned that he had to at least try to do what I had asked him to do. Often I would offer a game or puzzle as a reward once he finished a certain amount of work. This was just the encouragement he needed and now most days we can get our work done by alternating ‘work’ with educational videos, games, or puzzles.

He is now reading at about a first grade level. He gets so excited when he reads a whole sentence by himself. This makes me happy because I know there are certain things that he needs to be able to do to be semi-independent. He will soon be an adult and I am not sure what the future will hold for him but I want him to be as prepared as he can be.

We focus on some reading and some basic math. We also do a lot of Life Skills. He can put his clothes in the washer and dryer. He can also fold them and put them away. He does help to prepare simple meals. He is learning to load the dishwasher but I have to supervise or else he will be licking the plates clean. He makes his bed and is responsible for keeping his room straight too.

He can now shower by himself which was a major achievement and he can do most of his basic hygiene routine without prompting. This has helped him to feel more independent. Also it helps me and everyone else as we don’t have to stand and supervise him and we can give him a little privacy. Bath time was at one time a screaming session because the water was too hot, too cold, too wet, etc. It always sounded like a scene out of a horror movie when I needed to wash his hair.

There are things we have had to learn along the way. Every morning I clean the bathrooms and do a quick check through the house. Every person has their own bathroom basket of toiletry items that they can take to the bathroom when they shower. If anyone leaves anything then he will be the one to find it and most likely destroy it. He has also been known to shave his eyebrows.

I learned early on that if there was something out of place then he would find it and it would call his name. I left a cabinet door open on my desk one time and he passed by it as he went to the bathroom. In less than two minutes he had completely taken apart my fax/copier/printer and destroyed it.

He is also obsessive about certain things at times. The toilet paper must be on the roll a certain way or else he just loses it. He will destroy the bathroom in a matter or minutes if someone has turned the roll around.

If we are moving furniture around or rearranging rooms we have to do it when he is outside or asleep. He gets upset to see the room(s) messed up or not in their normal state.

When he is playing he will line up toys, books, or whatever he is playing with in a certain order or sequence that only makes sense to him. If you ask him to clean it up then he has to do it his way and in his own time. He also does this with his socks and shoes… there have been many times when I go in his room to find an odd arrangement of clothing in the floor or on the bed.

Since he has come to be a part of our family I have definitely done many things that I never thought I would do or say. I won’t list them all but they have included things like ‘Don’t lick the wall, the window, the door, etc.’.

Heaven help us all if this child ever had to have stitches because he thinks he is dying when he gets a scratch that bleeds the tiniest bit. If he steps on a sand spur be ready to call 911. When he was in public school he had a small red spot from his flu shot and he made such a big deal about it that they had bandaged up his whole upper arm. Needless to say I freaked out a bit because I was wondering what kind of injury he had sustained at school to warrant such a bandage.

He loves to work on the tablets and the computers. The child who can’t complete his assignments without me standing by his side will be the one playing games on other sites the minute I walk away.

Movies are something that can absolutely capture his attention. He can watch a movie one time and have the whole thing memorized word for word. This is the same kid who can not remember his sight words from five minutes ago.

He loves to be outside, most of the time, except for when he doesn’t. I know that doesn’t make a lot of sense but it would if you knew him. He will whine and ask nonstop to go outside. Then he will want to come right back in saying it is too hot, too cold, too windy, etc.

He is definitely a jokester too. He is constantly knocking on the wall in his room and making us believe someone is at the door. He can also imitate a variety of noises and have us thinking all kinds of crazy things are going on around us.

Sure there will be things that he can’t do but most things he can do just in a different way than others. He has a lot of trouble with buttons, zippers, and ties. That doesn’t keep him from dressing himself as I just try to buy pants with elastic waistbands, pull on shirts, and Velcro shoes. We will continue to work on these things but right now I feel it is best for him to be as independent as possible.

For now we will continue to focus on the things he can do and keep building his self confidence and independence. I will continue to pray for wisdom, guidance, and direction for what we should be doing and how to handle the obstacles that will come along.

If you will also please pray for our family and other families with special needs kids. My day usually starts about 4:00 am with him up singing or yelling, depending on his mood. It just gets busier throughout the day and doesn’t ever really end. Then there are the countless number of doctor visits, trips to specialists, and his least favorite, the dentist. We need everyone’s prayers for strength, health, and patience.

He processes things much differently than you and I do. In other words, he marches to the beat of his own drum. Someone has taught him how to ‘whip’ and ‘nay nay’ so he is dancing and saying ‘watch me whip’, ‘watch me mayonnaise’…. lol… don’t try to argue with him either because he is always right, even when he is wrong.

You can also read the following for more details about our adventures:

Our Homeschool Beginnings

Our ever changing homeschool routine

Dear special needs parent

Take a peek into my morning