Thursday, December 30, 2010

Troubled Kids are a blessing in disguise.

I know the title sounds like a weird post but as I've said before this is not just about being frugal but about those things I count as Life's Small Blessings.

I was taught growing up that "Lost Boys" were meant to be in my life. These were boys that were troubled or had issues.. That my mom always made a point to be there for. Dad would talk about Sandi and her "lost boys" and I never really understood why she did it until I became an adult.

I can say that now my husband says the same about me, even though he's just as caring about my" lost boys" as I am. And wouldn't have it any other way.

You see there are many different types of people in this world non of which are "normal". But there are so many troubled kids with the way the world is changing. These kids need love and understanding, they need time with adults that show they care and can mentor them and show them it's okay to care.  These kids may seem like a bunch of trouble, they are normally undisciplined, have attention issues, and are basically unruly in every way. Most people shy away from these kids or say that they should just go away.

Not us. These children are a blessing that most people underestimate. Most do not freely give hugs, smiles or good words, so when you receive that I truly feel you are receiving a blessing. Taking a little time out of your day, a day or more a week to spend time with a child who needs a little extra love and care won't hurt you.... it will heal you.  Corey and I have been blessed with 6 lost boys in our lives since we have been together. These boys have reminded us how to laugh at ourselves and how to share love and caring with people outside of our home. They have brought us smiles and laughter and knowledge along they way. They have also taught our children acceptence of other people.

Right now we are blessed with one young man in our life. He suffers from Turrets, attention disorder, and Bipolar to name a few. His teacher at school did not like him and most people shied away from him. He rode by our house one day on his bike and asked to help work in the garden, our friendship with him has grow leaps and bounds since then. This year not only did we spend family time with him working in the garden, just like we do with our kids, but he showed up as we were carving pumpkins and though his hand shakes, between him and I we got the extra pumpkin carved and he was so happy. I don't think I've ever seen such a big smile! Since then his mother has asked us a few times if he could hang out with us while she ran errands that are hard on him to deal with. This has been a blessing to her those few hours of calm.  Supporting a single mom is a blessing to me because I've been there and the help I received was always needed and welcomed.

Corey has worked with him on how to be a man, it's good to hug your mom, please and thank you's matter. And guys do say your sorry. When our guy had an issue at home and punched some drywall he came here to calm down. Corey talked him through it and offered to show him how to repair the damage he had done.  We try to teach as we go. Yesterday, I spent an hour showing him how to care for and touch the animals in our terrarium. The laughter I heard when Hop jumped from wall to another was wonderful.  He has helped Rose with homework, showed Colty how to throw a football and helped Kyera fill buckets of wood chips outside.

I can't say it's always easy dealing with a "Lost Boy" And there are times when we have to explain to our kids that certain behaviors that they have are not acceptable, but our kids have enjoyed and learned from these young men also. They have learned acceptance and understanding along with patience. 

We don't go looking for our lost boys, they just show up on our doorstep... we love each one unconditionally for the amount of time they are in our lives.

  We are always careful and on the look out with them because of the issues they have. And we never leave them alone with our kids or in our house, we are cautious along the way.

But so far the blessings have way out weighed the burdens.
I'm not saying go out and find yourself a lost boy or girl, but next time you see that troubled kid, think more about them, their issues may not be of their making but of those in their lives and if they stop and talk to you, take a moment out of your day, give them a smile, and truly talk to them. You never know it may be the start of a friendship you never thought you'd have... It may just be a blessing in your life.

Every lost boy I have met over the years has a special place in my heart and they always will.

A few pictures....

I promised Pic's of our Animal Freinds and of the new tank.. I had a few from before the transfer and managed to get a few today before the batteries ran out in my camera.

One of our Tree Frogs

This is the 75 Gal. Tank on the old TV 
Stand  Water Jugs Stored underneath.

My Buddy Speedy he loves to be rubbed.

Another Tree frog on the tank glass a favorite Hang Out

The King of the Tank Herkamer

Salamander named Forrest

More of Speedy

Tree Frog

Tree Frogs

Can you see 3 Tree Frogs?

Now can you see Three Tree Frogs?

My Buddy Hop. He always manages to get on my hand at least once when I'm cleaning!

Hop on the wall

Speedy did not want off the leaf during cleaning.

Snowman.. he's shy

Speedy wanted attention while I was cleaning



Red Bull Swiming

Red Bull (Female)

Bandit I love his coloring!

Snowman Hiding

Hop Changing colors again

Forrest and Bandit

I removed the filter that they hide behind so you could see both Kilgore and Forest

Forrest out and eating

The bottom coloring is so pretty!


This is the filter we use in the tank

Everyone hanging out while I was cleaning leaves off

Tank with Fogger going

These are the little Crickets we feed the animals. They crawl into the toilet tube and we can pick it up and shake it into the tank. This makes it really easy to feed the Animals. The only issue we have had is when non of the Crickets decide to hide LOL. The orange balls are a liquid source and the brown powder is food for the Crickets. This "Gutt Loads" them so they have more nutrients for the animals. There are 50 in this Critter Keeper.

The Tank with the Fogger running. This helps put humidity in the air.
 The next few pictures were taken in our 10 Gal Tank before the transfer to the 75 Gal Tank
RedBull and Herkamer

Right now our tank it home to 4 Tree Frogs

  • Hop
  • Fred
  • Little Fred
  • Beauford
 3 Fire Bellied Toads

  • Bandit
  • Herkamer (Alpha Male of the Tank)
  • Red Bull (our Female)
2 Paddle Tail Salamanders

  • Forrest
  • Kilgore (Colty named him after Corey because he wanted the Salamander really bad)
2 Anole's

  • Speedy (our Newest Anole that likes to be petted :)
  • Snowman (very shy and small)

1 Zebra Fish named Fishy (He loves to eat the Salamander food)

The Toad's Frogs and Anoles Eat live Crickets. We have been fortunate to find a bulk supplier for them :) a Thousand little crickets don't look like much but they get us through about a month and a half right now.  

Our tank is set up with one filter and about a quarter of the bottom of the tank is water. The other half is gravel. We are expearamenting with a small spot of Peat moss to help hold moisture and bedding for nests.  Plenty of plastic leaves, and vines to climb and lay on.. and one big piece of drift wood. We hope to add another piece and connect the two for more upper climbing area for the Tree Frogs and Anoles. They also love to gather on the ledge between the tank and the screen lid so it's always interesting weather or not they try to escape.   We run a full size bulb and a heat lamp and have added a Fogger which really helps the humidity. We are contemplating getting a humidity /temp control to control the fogger and heat lamp durring the times we are not home.

All of our water samples have been testing perfect at this time. Once  every other week I do a half to 3 quarter water change and take all the plants out and wash them off. We only use Reverse Osmosis water it the tank and fogger. We have had an issue with water spots in the inside of the tank and were told to spray the tank walls with water and clean with a razor blade. This worked beautifully today!

We just recived a gift certifacte to our favorite pet store! So more animals and stuff on Friday :)

Being frugal it's tempting to find the store with the lowest prices.. that doesn't make you have your water tested.. But here's the thing. At the store we go to everything is 1 to 2 dollars more then the big chain pet store but.. we can pick their brains and call with questions anytime for free and they are all extremely knowledgeable on all animals. ( We brought our first tree frog and Fire Bellied Toad home and the Tree Frog went swimming and the Fire Bellied was climbing the side of the tank... a worry for us because they should have done the oppisite. Called and were reassured everything would be okay. This was when we knew wed never go anywhere else)They go through classes on each animal at the store.

As long as we keep the receipt and packaging if anything goes wrong with something it's replaced at no charge. (We had a heat light bulb that after 3 months had come unglued from it's socket) This was replaced at no charge. We order our crickets through them and get a discount. If theirs an issue getting crickets in we receive a few to get us through for free (They misplaced an order for our 1,000 crickets and we went in to pick them up. They are rushing them in and gave us free crickets to tide us over until they arive)
It's also very reassuring to know the names of everyone your working with. We really feel like they are working with us and not against us. They will tell us no that's not a good idea.. but they have a better idea for us. They know what animals we have and will make sure we don't put animals in the tank that will not be agreeable with each other.. this way we don't waste money and animals are not getting hurt.. A plus for all of us!  A good relationship with your pet store will really help you if you decide to do this.

We have been told that were the first family they have had go up to a 75 Gal Tank. Most stick with a 20. When we started the little tank for my son for his birthday I never thought we'd be going this big.. now my husband has been hinting at a 120 Gal Tank... wow what we could do with it... (and yes we do have the room)... but that's a dream that will wait for a looong while. (I want to make sure this stays a family hobby and not a mom is stuck doing it all hobby.I'm hoping to convince him to do the barking Tree Frogs in our empty 20 Gallon Tank for right now :) We are keeping our extra filter and lid and 10 Gal Tank around.  This is ready for us if we were to have animals having issues or a sick guy. Also so that when I deep clean once every 6 months I have a holding tank that is suitable for everyone.  

So that's our family Christmas in a nut shell. We didn't do the 90 Gal tank.. we did 75 Gal instead. (the only difference between the 2 was about 4  inches.. but an extra $100 for the extra 4 inches tall)
The kids so far have no unused Toys or broken toys:) And we have enjoyed so much time together both at the pet store and crowded around the tank at home. The kids help feed the Animals and the Crickets.  They all received books on Amphibians for Christmas :) (Thanks NaNa!) And it's all they want to read and talk about! 

As I have said before this may not be something for every family, but if you are considering it, it's not as much work as you might think, and it's rewarding in so many ways!