Wednesday, June 30, 2010

a day at the zoo

Today we spent the day at the zoo. Mom-mom and Pop-pop had given Jonathan a family membership as an early birthday gift. The day was extra special because cousin Andrew and Mom-mom and Pop-pop went with us. Daddy had to work so he missed out on all the fun.

As part of our membership we got to go on all the "rides". This was a highlight of our day. The swan boat ride was a favorite as the boats became bumper swans as some of us had difficulty steering.
Jonathan loved seeing all the animals. He kept asking if we could bring them home. He seemed to understand when I said no they wouldn't fit in our car, but was very persistent in attempting to get me to agree to take one home.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

an ordinary saturday

The family that works together...

Amanda our weedwacker!

Jonathan our future lawn mower, getting his mower ready!

Tyler our lawn mower

Jonathan pulling weeds

Jordan pulling weeds

Our cucumber plants are going crazy!

Carrots from our garden.

Gets to play together!

Ben and Jonathan seeking cover

One rule- can't wet Mom when she has the camera! Although they did get me soaked when I put the camera down!

Monday, June 21, 2010

a simple day

Last night we made a memory. It was a simple thing. Going to a drive-in movie to see Toy Story 3. It is a rare thing for our family to see a movie in the theatre. It was the first for the kids to go to a drive-in. The closest drive-in is a little over an hour from our house. We decided we would have father's day pizza for dinner and then head out. We got to the drive-in about 7:30 and spent the next 1.5 hours playing games as a family.

It was fun watching the kids play hangman, cards and chess together. They tossed a ball, we ate fun snacks and had a great time. The 1.5 hours really went by very quickly.

At 9:00 the movie began and everyone loved watching the movie under the stars. Jonathan was a little distracted when a helicopter flew over nearby. The movie was over at 11:00 PM and we were home safely a little after midnight. As I type this it is 9:30 AM and only 2 kids out of 5 are awake.

Why can't every night be like last night? I realize that so ofter I create my own chaos. I try and do too much. An example. We had heard about an opportunity to host a Chinese exchange student for 2 weeks this summer. We had been praying for an opportunity like this. It is our desire to continue to broaden our children's worldview as well as reach out to those in need. It is our desire to not become complacent in our living to fall back into our comfortable routine.

If we hosted a Chinese student this summer it would mean that the kids and I would be on the road at least 4 hours a day driving the student to and from their class which is about an hour from our home. I thought I could do that no problem. Then we had our Shriner's visit and the realization hit me that some of Jonathan's prosthetic appointments will most likely fall during that 2 week period. Yesterday as I was thinking through all this I began to realize I was creating my own chaos. I was feeling overwhelmed by all the driving and working in possible appointments and it is still 5 weeks away! If I am feeling overwhelmed now how will I feel actually doing it all. God bless my husband. In talking it out with him, he told me to call and cancel our appointment with the coordinator for today. I do not serve a God of chaos. My kids are young. There will be many more opportunities like this one where we can serve as a family. I am realizing God wants a willing heart. A heart that is willing to step out and serve Him. I know God's plans do not create chaos, but rather they bring peace.

My new goal for this summer- keep it simple. Spend more time under the stars with my kids. Don't create my own chaos. Don't fall into a routine. Be open and willing, but remember God is a God of peace.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

God surprises are the BEST!

Where do we go from here?

Today was our 6 month follow-up appointment at Shriner's Hospital. Both Jeremy and I went with the idea that nothing big was going to happen today. At our last appointment we got the impression that they were going to wait awhile before they fitted Jonathan with a prosthetic. I even told some friends yesterday that most likely nothing would happen today.

We were wrong- God surprised us!

They were amazed at Jonathan's ability, and who wouldn't be? Apparently, he is exceptional for his age, but we knew that. They felt he is more than ready to get a prosthetic. He will be getting a prosthetic leg complete with bending knee. He had his first fitting today. They measured him and wrapped a plaster like substance around his waist to create a mold of sorts. It was very interesting. We will get a call in about 2 weeks to go back for a second fitting and then about a month after that fitting we should have a leg! After he gets the prosthetic he will of course need physical therapy to learn how to use it. We will either have to return to Shriners for therapy or they are hoping to find a place closer to home for us, but apparently not all physical therapists are trained to work with children and esp. children with the type of prosthetic he is getting. Everyone is confident that he will adapt quite quickly to using the leg.

As a bonus, we were able to meet a 10 year old young man from Ohio, who was at Shriners for a week of therapy. He has the same type of prosthetic that Jonathan will be getting. Unless you looked closely it was difficult to tell that his leg with a prosthetic. It was interesting to listen to him talk about learning to use the prosthetic without crutches. It is our goal that with time Jonathan will be able to get around without his crutches, BUT this is a very physically and mentally demanding achievement. This young man told us that when he is out he uses the prosthetic, but when he comes home the prosthetic goes off and he uses his crutches. The one physical therapist confirmed for us that that is a normal pattern because of how physically demanding it is to use a leg prosthetic.

We showed this picture to the doctors and they were so impressed with his strength and ability that one of them is going to be using it in a presentation they are doing.

Almost forgot, we did go to Great Adventure on Monday. Everyone had fun and we didn't lose any kids or adults. Jonathan loved the rides but it was a LONG day for everyone.

Loved seeing the Flash and Robin, but can you tell it was a long day!

Favorite ride- the Airplane- rode at least 3 times in a row- benefit of Great Adventure not being crowded

Giraffe's got up close and personal!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Everyone is Special

I never thought June would be so crazy. It all started back with our Memorial Day Camping trip which was a very successful family vacation. The following weekend, Jeremy and Jordan went to Father/Son overnight at Camp Haycock. This was a great time for Jeremy and Jordan. It is easy for Jordan to get lost in the middle of this crazy gang. So, Jordan had a blast spending time “just with dad”.

This weekend it was Amanda's and my turn. Amanda and I headed out to a hotel in Lancaster, PA. We spent the weekend completing the “Passport to Purity” program. If your not familiar with the program, it is a great resource to share the “facts of life” with your child. But, in addition to that, it is also a great discussion starter for such topics as friends, peer pressure and putting your relationship with Christ first. Amanda and I had a great time talking together and completing the projects. I have been blessed to have a great relationship with Amanda and I pray that this weekend will only serve to open the door to many more discussions between us as she gets older. We finished off our weekend, by attending Psalms of David, which is a Sight and Sound Performance. We both really enjoyed this program. I bought her a t-shirt to remember our weekend by. Her response. “I don't need a t-shirt to remember the weekend. I just will. It was fun.”

Jeremy and I make an intentional effort to spend time alone with each of our children. For Tyler that means games of chess with dad. For Ben it means a one-on-one shopping trip. When you have 5 kids, this is NOT easy, but the rewards of that one-on-one time outweigh what some would consider an inconvenience. This month, one-on-one time took the form of an overnight away. This was the exception. Typically, I have tried to make it a priority to take Amanda out for a meal or even just a snack once a month. This gives us time to talk and it gives me time to show my appreciation to her. Amanda being the oldest and the only girl can often get stuck with extra chores or helping with her brothers. It means a lot to her when we go out and I say “thank you” to her for all she does to help out. It also gives her the opportunity to share what is going on in her life. Jeremy and Amanda will usually walk the dog together in the evening. This gives them time alone to talk.

We have also attempted to do similar outings with the boys. The boys are now eagerly awaiting their weekend away with dad. They now know when they are about to enter sixth grade they will get to go away just them and dad. We think it is great that they are looking forward to spending time with their dad.

Tomorrow the kids and I are headed out for a fun filled day at Six Flags Great Adventure. Thanks to free tickets through their reading program! We are going with 4 other families. Due to all the time off for China, Jeremy is stuck going to work. (insert sad face here) Not sure who will have the easier day, but I am sure my day will be exciting. I can't wait to take Jonathan through the safari and Ben has been talking about riding the Wiggles Cars with Jonathan.

On Wednesday, Jonathan will get his one-on-one time with Mom and Dad. We will be taking him back to Shriner's Hospital for another evaluation. Not sure what will come of this appointment, but we will keep you posted.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Camping Fun Continues

Jeremy and Jordan went to Father/Son Camp at Camp Haycock. They had a lot of fun. It was really good for Jordan to get away just with Dad. Jordan loved having all of dad's attention to himself.

Jeremy and Jordan had so much fun, they wanted to take all of us back for Haycock's Open House on Sunday. So, we spent Sunday afternoon riding horses, shooting bb guns, taking a hayride and swimming. Jonathan loved riding a horse. It is so much fun to watch him experience all of these firsts.

My twins!

On Saturday, Tyler, Ben, Amanda, Jonathan and I took the train downtown with Mom-mom to go see a play at the Walnut Street Theatre. Jonathan loved the train ride and actually sat through the play only asking 100 times when we were going on the train again. Some day we will do a post about how Jonathan brings out the best in people.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


Some day we will launch our new blog, but for now one more post. I have come to the realization that life is busy. I am not getting as much done as I used to. With warmer weather comes a whole new schedule. We are outside more, garden work has begun, pool days have begun, Jonathan and Ben never stop moving. Yes, I don't really know why I feel like I am behind.

This weekend, we celebrated a milestone in our family. We took our first family vacation as a family of 7 and we didn't just survive we thrived. We went camping - OK it was in a cabin, but we were told there were bears in the woods. We had indoor plumbing and a shower, but we also did a campfire. It is my idea of roughing it! We went with 3 other families and had a wonderful time. Jonathan loved our cabin. He did ask to go home a few times, but was easily distracted. He loved having "his friends" show up at our door at 7:00 AM in the morning. He loved playing with his friends all day and sitting by the campfire with them. He experienced his first smore, canoe ride (which he LOVED), first game of capture the flag, and first time at the beach (really a lake with sand). At least they were all firsts as Jonathan Futing Shafer.

Jonathan has developed a fan club of sorts. As I said earlier, we went with 3 other families for a total of 16 kids among us. All of the other kids love to dote on Jonathan, who of course eats it right up. It is really sweet to watch the kids interact with Jonathan, talk with him, include him and look out for him. He is one blessed boy to have so many friends. It was a wonderful weekend. When we got home, Jonathan kept asking to go back to his cabin and he wanted to know where his friends were. Yes, we may not be getting a lot done around here, but we are having fun!