Saturday, June 9, 2018

June 2018 - Catching Up!

I have done a lot of birthday posts lately.  I try not to share much of what is going on here in a birthday post and keep those posts focused on the birthday I am sharing about.  So today, I will do a bit of a catch up post.

Tim and I recently had to go somewhere that required us to dress up a bit.  A rare photo of us together dressed up.  :)

In March we had a scare with Anna-Kate.  She woke up one morning disoriented and within a few minutes started having seizures.  She had never had seizures before.  I rushed her to the pediatric doctor and they sent her, by ambulance, to our closest children's hospital.  They kept her over night, hooked up for EEG and video monitoring.  It was very scary but extra concerning and upsetting, as she is my youngest and always so healthy.  When all was said and done, it was because of low iron.  Since getting her home, placing her on iron supplementation and kale smoothies daily, she has had no other issues.  I had no idea that could even happen or that her iron had gotten low, as we eat so healthy here.  They said it was just the way her body does not metabolize iron properly.  Possibly because of bio-moms drug use while pregnant.  So, it was an easy fix and something to keep a close eye on, Praise be to God!
The children have discovered that having camp outs in the living room is fun!
 They have enjoyed lots of playground time, swimming and several fun outings.  We recently went to the aquarium.
Timothy and Billy
My own little butterfly in the butterfly room!
Daddy and his baby girl!
My two oldest still at home!
I pair these two up a lot together on outings, as Kinsley is so verbal that Elizabeth does not try to get away with anything. Elizabeth has come a long way and is doing much better.
Carolyn and Zeke participated in our county's Special Olympics!
Last year Zeke was one of the torch runners this year they both were but I could not be in both areas of running at the same time so did not get a picture of Zeke. Here is Carolyn carrying the torch.  She said it was very heavy!
Zeke likes to run so he was in some running events.
Carolyn was in 1 running event and the softball throw.
My special winners!
The Nichols cheering section!!
We had ballet recitals!
Kinsley did ballet in the winter recital and tap in this one!  She loves it!  It is so good for her from a therapy standpoint.  :)
My beautiful young lady!  Both my older girls are so graceful compared to me.  :)
On her way!  Almost showtime!  She does jazz and ballet on point!  Now that takes grace and incredible core  muscle strength.  What a miracle I have seen in her since she was born.  No one would ever believe all her diagnosis and what she can do now!  Her calves are solid rock muscle.  I tease her and tell her that they are no longer calf muscles but cows!
We had three batches of baby goats born!  Can you believe out of 8 goats born this spring only one was a girl!

 I have been gardening!  We have already been through and enjoyed strawberry season and cherry season.  We are just begining blueberry season and am currently enjoying squash, tomatoes, peppers and mulberries!
Some of my garden areas and our invaluable guardian dog Yellow.
I took some of our children to the special needs Hawaiian luau party in town!
Antonio had a wonderful time!
They all did!
I have never taken Timmy to a dance before.  Boy, did this boy dance and dance.  What joy came pouring out of every cell in  his body!
Antonio is on week six of a good spell.  It is the longest good spell he has ever had.  He has had a few small outburst but nothing like the weeks of misery in the past three years.  We are fervently praying for his complete healing and that we never have to go back to that dark place for him again.
My sweet William is growing up so much.  He is currently away on a mission trip for 10 days.   Yippee! for him...ouch for me!   I am tired and ready for his return.  God has helped me to get everything done that needs doing in his absence but I am ready for a rest and for him to be home.  We pay him to do so much around here.  I have been slowly making other arrangements for many of his responsibilities as he is growing up and moving on with his own education and path in life and we need to be able to function without his help around here.  One very special thing that happened last month for him is that...One  year ago, he was in the GED program and participating in the graduation ceremony as a graduate.  This year at that schools graduation program, he was the Keynote speaker.  As he is the EAGLE award representative for 2018.  What a difference a year can make.

The other big thing going on here is that Tim's parents move in tomorrow to live with us permanently.  Please keep us uplifted in prayer.

God is so very good and I feel we are shifting into a whole new season of life for us.  I never know if God will bring more children into our lives or not...but as of right now I have no infants.  The only one in diapers is Antonio.  This fall I will be home schooling three of the four youngest.  These early years of homeschooling are very time consuming, so I am clearing my life and days of as much clutter as possible.  Trying to really simplify our life, so I can pour into our children what they need in their foundation to be successful.  We do a lot of hands on homeschooling, so we get messy and have fun. I am looking for a nurse/sitter to come and help me (mornings) with Antonio five days a week.  I am not able to do Antonio's morning care, long term, with out help, now that William is in college and is not always available to help.  I guess what I am saying, is that my life is shifting to be busy in other ways than it has been in the last four or five years.  Out of intense baby/therapy/appointment mode, to stay at home and really do some things at home that need just as much diligent attention.

Psalms 65:4 Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto thee, that he may dwell in thy courts: we shall be satisfied with the goodness of thy house, even of thy holy temple.

May God pour out his abundant blessings, health and peace into your lives.  May He lead and guide you in all areas, showing you His path for your life as you live and grow in Him.

Blessings,

susan  


Saturday, May 26, 2018

Our Youngest Turns Three!

The last but not least, in our girls "four birthdays in three weeks" run, is Anna-Kates!
I have rarely done a post on her before.  She just turned three!!!  She is our youngest and...I always try to cherish each day with our youngest because I wonder if they will be the last child God adds to our home.  So each birthday Anna-Kate has, I feel that little tinge in my heart, that I am loosing the feeling of ever having a baby in our home again.  Don't get me wrong...I love every stage our children go through as they grow and it is always a miracle before our eyes, to see God move mountains in behaviors and health.  I love seeing each child bloom into the person He wants them to be...but I do love babies and all that entails.  So as my dearest baby Anna-Kate is growing,  I feel I might be saying goodbye to having babies around me anymore.

We got a call from DFCS over three years ago, telling us that Billy and Timmy's biological mom was pregnant again and still unstable and heavily doing drugs.  They wanted to know if we wanted the baby when it was born, to try to keep the siblings together.  That, the new baby, like the boys, had been exposed from conception to heavy drug use.  The boys have a lot of issues from this and the neglect and abuse they suffered before coming here.  Tim and I prayed about it.  Our lives were so very busy.  Every day was so hard.  From my older special needs children to Antonio's constant and physically demanding care, to several of our children's very hard daily behavior issues.  I mean, I had a 1,2 and 3 year old at the time!  So we prayed and told DFCS, that when the baby was born, we would take her on trial for 2 weeks and see if she fit into our home well.  That day a friend sent me a link, on my computer, to watch the trailer for the movie "The Drop Box".  I watched it and felt I had to watch the whole movie immediately.  Tim and I watched it that weekend.  I cried off and on through the whole movie.  I was convicted to the core.  It is a real life story, of a man and his wife, that put a drop box in their' home in South Korea.  He is a pastor and so many people left babies on his door step, that often he would not find them until they had died the next morning.  He put the box in his home, so he could get to them immediately and take them in and care for them.  He and his wife care tirelessly for their own special needs son and these special needs children, finding them placement and keeping many of the hardest to place children and raising them.  I cried and cried... how on earth could Tim and I tell DFCS we would try a child for two weeks to see if they fit in our home?  That we might say no after two weeks because it made our lives harder?  How selfish of us.  God does not receive us into the Kingdom of God and boot us out after two weeks, if we have challenges or don't get everything perfectly right from the start.  I told Tim we needed to make a commitment to this baby no matter what the drugs did to her.  No matter what!  He agreed, she was our daughter and we would love her and take her, no matter what.  So that is just what we did. 

We got the call to come and pick her up at the hospital when she was less than 48 hours old.   She was such a beautiful little thing.
I am so grateful that God had so thourally and heavily convicted my heart to embrace her, as life did get very hard.  It was not her fault at all, as her mom had used a cocktail of drugs so heavily that she just had so many major issues, bless her little heart. 
She cried a lot for hours on end with anxiety and nerves. This lasted about the first two years slowly becoming less and less.  She cried inconsolably, more than any child we had ever had.  She was born with a head full of hair but pulled her hair out and rocked her body back and forth, from the time she was born.  She only had hair on the top of her head till she was almost two, as she could not reach there.  She does not rock or pull hair anymore... just has nervousness and tantrums.  She only let me, hold her and feed her for months on end.  She was and still is, very developmentally behind in all areas.  She forgot how to latch onto her bottle in between every single feed for eight straight months!  Every feed took a very long time, as she was hungry but could not remember how to nurse/latch and we would have to work at it untill she finally latched and ate.  No one was allowed to come near me when I was feeding her because if she lost her latch it was a mess all over again or she would give up and not eat.  (Try that with a house full of kids!)  Don't get me wrong, we had moments throughout the day of sweetness and naps, when she was calm but she would blow at anytime and had no self calming skills to bring her back to quiet and happy.  I held her a lot.  She was and is a complicated little love.
As she grew she needed PT, OT and feeding therapy.  
With all of her neediness and crying, plus, all the other children's care and struggles in our home, I did not garden for two years.  I could only do the basics and necessities of keeping up our home and farm.  A whole nights sleep was a rarity and life was blessed but hard.
It was good, I was content and happy but we lived for a good three year season of our lives from the time Billy and Timmy came, till sometime this past year, in a very hard season in our lives.  A worth wile season but a season of great personal sacrifice from us all.
I was spread thin but God held me up and things got done.  I am just feeling now, over the last year, that things have hit a slow and more peaceful season in our lives now...as Anna-Kate has turned a corner in some of her issues and Timmy and Elizabeth as well in some of their behaviors.
Our days are still hard but not as full in many ways.  I am gardening again and cooking different  more creative meals...not our survival casseroles and easy throw together type meals.  Tim and I are trying to reconnect and I am finally getting good sleep and that makes such a difference in all of our lives.
She is so beautiful and looks like a little angel at times but...
unfortunately, about 70 percent of the time, she is like this.  We lovingly call her crabby but cute.  :)
She is way behind her peers but we just pray, love on her and encourage her and let her grow and such at her own pace.  We don't push her as it makes her anxious.
  She does not have the malicious type anger and meaness in her from neglect or abuse that the boys have issues with as we got her from birth.  She is very bonded to Tim and myself but still is not overly loving with anyone else in the home.  William is still working very hard to make a bond with her.  She loves him if he is eating something she likes but usually won't bother with him otherwise.
She tries hard to be good and please us but she is stuck in toddler mode and wants what she wants, when she wants it and tantrums if the smallest thing does not please her.  She is also very behind in her ability to communicate so that complicates things as well. 
Throwing a nice tantrum on the beach last summer while on vacation.  :)
So pleased with her turkey on her dress for Thanksgiving.
She has always been a very light sleeper and cries easily.  We try not to let her fall asleep during the day so she will sleep better at night.   Her behavior is much worse if her sleep is disturbed, she will be a crab the rest of the day, so when she falls asleep, we leave her totally alone till she wakes up.
She is very bonded to me but is a daddies girl through and through.  She prefers him unless tired, hungry or hurting.
Our precious girl loves dolls and pretend.  Cooking with fake food and having tea parties with all her dolls and stufties.  She loves her family and feels safe with us and loved.  Those eyes and curls....how can anyone say no to that face...Daddy has trouble there sometimes.  :)  Can you guess who she is into?  My dad put the ears in her birthday bag with a little stuff Minnie.  She loved it!  It is also what she wanted on her cake so Aunt "S" made one little girls dream cake. 
It made her day!  Even though she did not understand it was her birthday or how old she was turning she did understand she was going to have her Minnie cake and it made her day!  Thank you sister!

My littlest Princess is a blessing to our home.  I can not imagine our home or life with out her here with us.  She is worth the work, effort like any child God blesses anyone with and she is our daughter through and through.

May the Lord God in Heaven have His hand on your always.  Healing, leading and guiding you my sweet girl...as you live and grow in Him.

Isaiah 60: 1-2  "Arise, shine; for your light has come, And the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. "For behold, darkness will cover the earth And deep darkness the peoples; But the LORD will rise upon you And His glory will appear upon you.


Love, Daddy, mommy, Stephen, Antonio, William, Carolyn, Zeke, Elizabeth, Billy, Timmy and Kinsley 

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Happy Birthday Sweet Girl!!!

In my last blog post I shared how all four of our girls have their birthdays within three weeks time!  Elizabeth's birthday was first and then Carolyn's.  The next one that took place was Kinsley's.  I have not done a post on just Kinsley in a very long time.
Kinsley just turned four years old!  I can't believe that four years have flown by since God blessed us with this child, to raise for Him.

When she came to our home she could not see, could not purposefully move any part of her body or co-ordinate the two halves of her body.  She had the lowest muscle tone of any child I have ever had in our home.  So low, that her joints luxed in and out of position while dressing and bathing, as the muscles help hold everything in place and the tone was just not strong enough.  As the doctors appointments piled up, so did the diagnosis.  She is considered medically fragile and special needs.  Hypoplasia of the corpus callosum (missing part of the brain that bridges the two halves) with this diagnosis comes a slew of endocrine issues to be treated and monitored for and issues using the two halves of her body together as the bridge that sends messages between the two halves of the brain is not all there.  Optic nerve Hypoplasia (missing some of her optic nerves in both eyes)  Hypotonic Cerebral Palsy. (low muscle tone)  We prayed over her, loved her and worked hard with her and God began His work.

Slowly she started to respond to light and dark.
Then movement that was back lighted.  Then tracking objects.  Then smiling in return of a smile.
Then purposely using her vision.  Her vision is not normal but she does see, Glory to God!  She has tunnel vision and if not looking exactly straight forward has double vision.  She has no peripheral vision but can see praise God!.

When she came she could not even lift her arms.  Holding her was like holding a bag of rice.  Very cuddly but no muscles.  We were told to go ahead and put another wheel chair tie down in our bus as she would never be able to walk.  We had to pattern her, over and over, how to roll over.  Trying to teach different parts of her brain to make the connections for communication because of the missing parts of the corpus callosum.  We prayed and patterned her body movements for every milestone she needed to make.  Over and over we prayed, worked and practiced and over and over she hit those milestones little by little!
Because of her low muscle tone she also had swallowing issues but over came them as well.  She still aspirates on liquids if drinking from a cup by tipping her head back...But protects her airway well if tucking her head down and using a straw to self regulate the amount of fluid she takes in and swallows.  She can also manage using a sippy cup with a control valve just fine.  The miracles just slowly blossomed as she grew and today...even though those diagnosis are still there, you would hardly see or notice unless spending time with her.  God has really done a huge work in her body and life.  All the glory to Him!
Kinsley has always been such a blessing to our home.  All of the children are...but some of our children are just hard.   Every day hard.  Hard behaviors, hard to take care of, hard to home school, big time hard.  God gives me grace and sprinkles in a few very laid back, compliant easier children in the mix of our home.
Kinsley is one of those children.  I can count on her to be reliable in behavior and temperament.
She is so cuddly and loving.  Always a kind word for people and hug.
She is super smart and mature, a sweet and gentle soul.
I can trust her to have full run of the house without getting into things or damaging anything.
Many of our children can not have that privilege.  She is so helpful and loves to organize and be with me doing what I am doing.
She is creative and loves books, dance, art and pretending.  She is also a bit opinionated and tries to keep everyone and thing in order or what she feels is order.
So that is something we have to work on. Helping her be flexible in all things in life.

She wanted a certain dog cartoon character on her cake and my sister once again did a wonderful job blessing Kinsley with a perfect cake!  Thanks sister!


One of Gods greatest gifts to me is the children He has blessed us with!  Kinsley is a treasure to our home, little Miss Sunshine! We need all the sunshine we can get!  :)

Kinsley, Happy Birthday sweet girl.  May God do a mighty work in your life!  May you always serve and live for Him, all the days of your life.

Proverbs 20:7 The just man walketh in his integrity: his children are blessed after him.



Love,

Dad, mom, Stephen, Antonio, William, Carolyn, Zeke, Elizabeth, Billy, Timothy and Anna-Kate