Saturday, September 27, 2014

Chicks, More Chicks, and the Lame Chick...



The director of Levi's institution said that whenever they didn't know where he was, they could find him with the chickens.   So when Levi came home we got three silkie chickens because after a little research, we found that silkies are a hardy and gentle breed, perfect for pets.  We put Levi to the task of taking care of them, with some supervision from Maggie.  Well, it soon became apparent that Levi really loves chickens, and loves the idea of chickens, but really doesn't understand that they are not toys.  Levi is gentle as the day is long, but he is also impulsive and does not always understand the consequences of his actions.  He's learning.  But in the mean time, we lost two of our chickens, which was very sad.  We were down to one, so as my last post showed, we went and picked up four more silkies so that Cauliflower would not be lonely and we would lose her too!

When we got home, it occurred to me that there had been a rooster in the pen with the chickens we brought home.  Just on a whim, I told Maggie to keep any eggs that were layed in the first three days, and mark them with an X.  (It is only later on that I learned we could have kept more days than three, as a hen can lay fertile eggs for up to three weeks afterwards!) Cauliflower is the one who sat on the eggs, which is funny because she is the one chicken we know did not lay the eggs.  So, she adopted them.  :-)   I did not really expect anything to come of it, so we were absolutely elated to discover a little, wet chick underneath Cauliflower one morning, exactly 21 days later!!


How absolutely exciting!  The kids named her Macaroon.



 Here she is a few hours later, all fluffy and dry.












Well, that was way more than I had hoped for and we were so happy.  I told Maggie to let Cauliflower sit on the other two eggs for a couple more days, but there likely would be no more chicks.  Well, wow!  The next day a second chick hatched!  Everyone was so excited!









The kids named the second one Sour Cream.

























 Cauliflower is a very good mother.  She always takes care of her chicks and protects them.  The little chicks snuggle in under her wings.  It's so cute.








 Biscuit is so interested in the chicks, she can hardly contain herself.  She is a very good and well behaved dog, so she will sit as close as she can, and you can see it is taking everything within her to not bother the chicks.  By nature, Biscuit is a herder, so she may have that instinct going on.  She would sit in the grass and inch forward closer and closer to the chicks, and when she would get a chance she would dive in and lick one of them, which would immediately be answered by a nasty peck from Cauliflower! 




Oh the temptation.  In the words of Pooh Bear, "I wasn't going to eat it; I was just going to taste it."  Oh bother. 








 Silas has developed into a stellar photo bomber.



 So, what began last December as the one chicken coop, has expanded into this grand chicken complex.  Maggie is the main caregiver of the chickens and she is awesome at it.  She takes such good care of her chickens.  We integrated the play house and a dog house into the whole area.  This way they can be out in the open, and not bothered by the dogs or anything else, and there is a separate area for Cauliflower and the chicks to roam about.












 Sour Cream, Mashed Potatoes, Sugar-Pie, Mozzarella, Cauliflower, and Macaroon. 


 

 So, lots of chicken pictures, I know, but that's kind of a highlight around here right now.


And now for  
More Chicks...




This has got to be one of the cutest outfits on Eden.  I just love it.  Thank God for hand-me-downs from friends.




 So here are a whole lot of pictures of my girlies from last Sunday morning.  We watched some old videos this week, and it is so hard to believe my little Eden butterball has become such a long-legged beauty.  Where did my baby go?

But the sass is still there.  She came home brimming with personality, and not a thing has changed in that department.  See if you can feel her personality shining in these photos:






















 And I thought Eden was growing up too fast!  Who is this young woman??



 Beautiful sisters.











































 Oh how I love these girls!!!









 And now the  
Lame Chick...



So, no matter how bad things got, the one blessing I could count as I lay down exhausted each night, was that I had Hannah's help each day.  I would so often say, "I don't know what I would do without her!"  She does so much for me.  She runs to the store, runs errands, takes the kids to gymnastics, helps me when I need Micaiah lifted, comes with me to doctor appointments, and plays with the kids and teaches them all sorts of athletic games, and just is my right hand.  I don't know what I'd do without her help!  
Well, I guess I was going to find out!

Hannah, as you know, is extremely athletic.  Her job and her hobbies all revolve around athletic endeavors for the most part.  She had been going to a gym once a week where college kids would come and practice break dancing moves, cheerleading moves, and just general cool stuff like you would see in parcourt.  She loved doing this.  And she had developed so many really cool moves.  So this night she had been flipping for over two hours, and was working on her flash gainer.


And yes, she can do this.  She said she was beginning to feel her legs getting wobbly and told herself she should stop, but then she just had to practice one more time.  She landed, heard a "pop" sound, and said her leg felt like it couldn't hold weight and was all tingly.  An MRI later, and we learned that she had torn the ACL in her knee.  



 So this Wednesday, she goes for surgery to repair it, and then begins the long process of rehab and physical therapy.  She cannot work during this time, and it is a major bummer to her.  I am enjoying having her around more, but that is probably the only good thing about this.  Please pray for Hannah, for her surgery, her recovery, and for us as we try to take care of the many tasks around here.  I had already reached the breaking point, and now this.  Pray that she will stay encouraged, and that she can make good use of the down time. 


But at least she can say she injured herself doing something cool.
 








 And we'll finish up with a picture of Isaac's latest haircut.  He's a cutie!



Isaac and Levi.  Brothers <3 




,

 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Almost Fall..

Can it be almost fall?  I have lost track of time.  Almost a year since we were planning our trip to the Ukraine?  A year ago, totally oblivious to the degree to which our lives would change.  We thought we were seasoned veterans of adoption.  How hard could it be? hahahahaha!

 "I spoke of things I did not understand." 

So where did we leave off?  Has it been a month?  Two?  Somehow life has just melted into the daily urgency of every moment.  I remember when I used to do things: play the guitar and mandolin, do artwork and crafts, crochet and sew, try new recipes, take my homeschooled kids on field trips and outings, take showers, brush my hair, complete a coherent thought...   I had no idea....

And now, it is all just one foot in front of the other.  There are good moments, and then the rest of the time, which is just taking care of the urgent, present needs.  I am part of the adoption community.  I read the Facebook pages of those who have done this too.  And have done it better than me, with more grace, with more patience, with more faith...   And here I am.  

So... where were we?   Let's start with the first day of school.  We managed to pull that off somehow.  Laz attends a school with a different schedule, so he started school about three weeks before the others, so here is his first day picture:








 The others continued to enjoy the last few days of their summer break.  Here they had an impromptu dance time, as they often do. 
 I think a lot these days.  I have always thought a lot. These things do not go by me silently.  I sit and watch and think.  Here my able-bodied and able-minded, without being asked or even suggested, are dancing in costumes with the others, indeed, making them dance!  Everyone was enjoying themselves and the joy filled the room. It was a moment to stop and smile in the midst of it all.



 Look at Micaiah.  He is delighted.  He is holding Eden's hands and dancing.  Does anyone remember when he first came home?  Who has followed his journey?  He ignored the other children when he first came home; he had nothing to do with them.  And yet, see now.  Well, Eden is hard to resist; I have to give her that. 



 Sweet Ruby is getting bigger and older.  Ahh... why must it be so?  With children and pets, it's all the same.  And Hannah loves Ruby as much as I do.  They both sit and enjoy the morning sun together, and they both keep getting cuter!




 Every one of our children has learned Hannah's love for experiencing nature.  She has taught it to me, and has passed it down to her siblings.  Even the newest ones!  Here Levi has brought in a baby snake to show me.  Hannah has taught her little siblings so much.  So many times, so many, many times, I have expressed to her how much I would have loved to have been her little sister.  Oh what a treasure these kids have.  She has taught them so much, and they know which snakes and insects and lizards are safe to pick up, and how to pick them up.  Even Levi who has only been home a short time!  And yet, the respect and love and admiration for nature is there.  Who can we attribute it to but Hannah?  




 We survive by the generosity and donations of a few who understand what we are going through, and how difficult it is sometimes, and have not forgotten us. This is a small but important group of people! 
 My good, local friend, at times throughout the year, calls me to stop by and pick up some hand-me-downs.  Happily, she called me right before school started this year!  My kids have worn the clothes probably every day since we picked them up, and they have also enjoyed the full box of dolls that she passed on to them.  There were three American Girl dolls too!  Do you know how much American Girl dolls cost??  We have only had one in our life times and she had been repaired several times.  Oh how my girls welcomed these dollies.  And the others each picked a baby to love and care for.




To my surprise, even Micaiah and Levi wanted a doll.  Micaiah wanted a baby, whom he named "John".  When Candice asked if it was his son, he clarified that it was his baby brother.  Levi wanted a doll with a lot of beautiful, blond hair and a crown (he loves pretty things).  Maggie and Eden enjoy dolls, but particularly play with them for the sake of their other siblings. 


 So here we are, ready for the first day of school for all four IEP kids.  Micaiah, Levi, Lazarus, and Kiki, all have IEPs and all are enrolled in different special needs programs in four different schools.  Maggie, Silas, Eden and Isaac, I continue to homeschool.  We have three buses coming each morning, beginning at 6:30 in the morning, and three buses letting kids off in the afternoon.  I drive Kiki to her school and pick her up, because she is just too little right now. 



 Kiki's first day.  While she did enroll for school in the spring last year, she only had a few months of kindergarten, and we requested that she be kept in the same class this year, so that she could have a good, solid year of kindergarten under her belt.  She is in a class for the developmentally delayed, and she loves her teacher and her classmates.  While I wondered if she would digress any over the summer break, it has actually done her good, and she started the year off with a bang.  She loves school even more than she did before, and every day her teacher tells me what a joy she has been. 




 Micaiah is in the same high school he was in last year.  He did not attend very many days due to his medical problems and hospitalizations, but he loved school.  This year his class has a new teacher, but many of the same classmates.  He loves it.  Levi is attending a new school.  He began school last year in the spring and went to the Newcomers' School.  His teacher was beyond awesome, but it was still a mainstream class. His teacher made huge concessions for him, and she was amazing.  But we opted to have an IEP done for him, and have him begin this year in a special needs class.  He actually is enjoying school even more.  He tells me that he likes school and he likes his teacher.  Perhaps it makes a difference that he is in a special needs class addressing his needs, as opposed to making exceptions for him.  His class is small, eleven kids, and his teacher is wonderful.




 So on the first day that all four IEP kids went to school, we went on a little field trip with my four homeschool kids.  We were down to just one chicken.  Levi loves chickens, but he almost loves them too much, if you catch my drift.  He loves the idea of chickens, and he loves playing with them, kind of like toys.  But he does not yet understand the idea of caring for them as animals.  So, after we lost two chickens, we banned him temporarily from interacting directly with the chickens without supervision.  Candice's twin sister is in her final year of college, majoring in these types of animals, chickens and farm animals (I can't remember the major right now.)  Her expertise and knowledge and experience is really exceptional.   She has advised us a lot about how to care for the chickens.  Chickens get lonely when they are left without companionship, and we wondered what best to do with the one left chicken.  She began to not eat or get out and peck around like she used to.  We finally made the decision to go out and see about getting her some more chicken friends to play with.




 We went out to the same place where we got the first three chickens.  We wanted to keep with the silkie breed because they are amazingly hardy in hot or cold weather, and at the same time they are very calm and make for great pets.  They can handle being handled and snuggled, and they are not at all aggressive. 
When we got out there, it turned out they only had white silkies for sale, so, going by the price, we were able to bring home three more.  They were mostly happy on the long ride home.


 They seemed to be pretty happy when we got home and introduced them to Cauliflower.  They are still sorting out the pecking order, but it is all under the control of Maggie, who has taken over the task of feeding, watering, and making sure they all get along. 


 So the four of them are Sugar-Pie, Mashed Potatoes, Cauliflower, and Mozzarella.  I am not sure that I have named them in the right order, but frankly, only Maggie really knows which one is which. 



 Being homeschooled is exhausting work.  Eden has not taken a nap in decades, but here she is, passed out in the middle of the day.  Go figure.




Kiki copying Maggie and soaking up some of the last rays of summer.  




 Well let's take a family picture of the kids.  It has been several months since we tried this.   Just get them all out in the front yard on their way to load up for church on Sunday, and snap about three dozen pictures in a row.  Surely one will have to turn out okay.  Except for the fact that I forgot that there was a blue tarp out in front of the garage as we painted and worked on a Craigslist piece I picked up last year.  Well, it's good I got a lot of shots. 



 The blue tarp does not show in this one.  What do you think?




I don't feel bad because if you took eleven people, even if they were entirely cooperative, it would be hard to get a good picture of them all together.  Good luck to us on the Christmas picture.  And people wonder why we take photos without Art and I involved.  It's not easy!!










Kiki with Candice.  They are bestest friends together!





 Okay, now what?  Hannah.
Is it my imagination, or is she absolutely beautiful?  She is fit, athletic, beautiful, pure, godly, kind, sweet, smart, athletic, energetic, spiritual, patient, smart, kind, compassionate, and simply wonderful.  One of the biggest burdens in my life is that a godly man out there has not yet discovered her.  My daily prayer; my daily burden.  Oh but when he does... he will wonder where she has been all his life.  She is so awesome.  She helps me so much.  But I would trade it all to see her happily with the one God has destined her to be with.  Where are you?  Don't be shy now!  






 More photos.  We looked at this one and thought it was pretty good, .... and this next one....



 Yeah,  these are good.  Maybe this is the one.  And yet,,, is something missing??
Oh yeah... Micaiah!!  He is sitting there smiling behind Candice's head.  Oh well.



So how about this one then?


 And then a few of my big kids together.


 My lovely ones.


 He loves her...


 And still loves her too.  Praying that next year I may have a photo with four.


 Okay there's the face that really makes me smile.



 Me and my princess, the Faithful one who keeps me going each day, and carries so much of the burden.  God bless her greatly and soon. 











 So, every year Mrs. Cindy's birthday kind of sneaks up on me, but this year we were determined not to forget.  We had a few ideas of things to make for her beautiful yard.  Then we went to the Farmers' Market and saw someone selling bird houses made out of gourds.  They were also selling the dried gourds.  So we bought some to make our own!




 We also worked together on a beaded, hanging planter with a beautiful bougainvillea that we found at the Farmers' Market too.  It reminded me of Florida.












 All four kids worked on the projects.

 

 Beautiful!



 Maggie did the painting on the bird house.




 She made a design with a hummingbird, vines, flowers and a butterfly.







 Then they worked on some more bird houses for our trees.







 Hannah didn't want her picture taken, but she is adorable.  She was reading to the kids while they were painting their bird houses.  





And yes, she is reading them Sherlock Holmes, complete with all the voices and accents.  They love it.








 The finished products.  Can you guess whose is whose?  Bottom left is Maggie's, bottom right is Eden's.  Top left Jimmy-Gourd is Silas's and top right is Isaac's.






 So here is homeschooling in our house when the other four are at school.  Right now, Hannah does a lot of it, because there is just so much else to do for the others, even when they are at school.  It takes hours of every day.  I would much rather be teaching them, but I am very thankful for all that Hannah does.  She is a very gifted teacher.










 Ruby chilling during the lesson.







 So how many swimming days are left?  Not many, but we'll make the most of them!




Nobody could enjoy going swimming more than Eden...




 And nobody could be cuter!









 

 New haircut for me.



And hoping that I can get these photos posted before another month goes by.  It is not a simple time right now, and there is much I hope to write about one day.  I write a lot in my head while driving to appointments and schools and such stuff.  Preparing to adopt is a hectic time, but exciting too.  Once they are home, it is always a time of adjustment.  But as most who read this blog know, this adoption has been particularly challenging.  We have faced situations we had never dreamed of and certainly never would have willingly taken on, and questions and dilemmas that we still feel helpless and unqualified to sort out.  There is much we do not understand, but we continue to pray for wisdom, guidance, strength, resilience, hope and encouragement.  We appreciate your prayers for us as we try to access the help we need and make the right decisions.





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