Saturday, August 29, 2015

Three More Nichols!!!!!

I am overjoyed to announce the adoption of three of our foster children!  I feel so very humbled and blessed, to know that God would entrust us to raise these children as unto Him.  That God answered my earnest prayer, to raise more children, if it was His will.   To gift us the gift of these lives, into our family, to call our own forever.  That we are now and forever, family!

I no longer have to refer to them as "B", "T" and baby "K"!  I no longer have to hide their sweet faces!

Introducing Billy, Timothy and Kinsley!
Kinsley, Billy and Timothy!

This was before we went into the court house.
After we went to court, the first place we went was to meet Stephen for lunch to celebrate!  Then we took Billy, Timothy and Kinsley to the store to let them each pick out adoption day toys!

Billy had been wanting a farmer and animals for a while so he picked out this tractor and a Robot.
Timothy picked out two cars, two dinosaurs and a football.
Kinsley had never shown interest in dolls but grabbed this one and has not hardly put it down since.  She also picked out a stuffed giraffe that plays lullabies.

Since we were all dressed up I took some pictures.
Billy and Timothy.
William, Zeke, Carolyn and Elizabeth.
My grown ladies.
William and Zeke.
My "Bigs" and "Middles".
Happy new parents!
I am so very content and my heart beams with happiness in this event in our lives.  The miracle of how they came into our lives.  How far they have all come and who they are now, is such a testament to God and His faithfulness, mercy and grace.  That His Word is true and we can stand on it and believe. 

Thank you Dear God in Heaven for all you have done for our family.  May we always be as faithful to you as you are to us.  Amen!

Matthew 18:5  And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.


Friday, August 28, 2015

Antonio Update!

I just wanted to send out a quick post to let everyone know how Antonio is doing.  Thank you so very much for all the prayers.  God is working and quickly restoring Antonio. 

About four days ago Antonio began to be able to speak in sentences!  As of today he is back to his smiley self and is happy and smiling all the time.  He squeals with excitement again often and is asking about the people in his life that need prayer.  He is not as chatty as normal but can tell us his wants, how he is feeling and carry on a conversation.  He can move his right arm, his head and blink his eyes normally now.  He is only taking one nap a day now.  He is also swallowing again which is wonderful.  Antonio did mention how bad it was that he wanted to talk and swallow but could not.  So he had his wits about him thru this whole ordeal but just could not move his body.  Poor baby. 

His body is still not back to 100% but Praise be to God he is doing well and on his way to be restored as before this happened.  We and the doctors are in communication about how to not let this happen again.  We do not know if this was a reaction to the brand name Botox as he has been given the generic in the past and the generic is actually more pure.  It could have been because of the larger amount they gave him this time. It could also have traveled out of the areas given, to the rest of his body.  So we have a lot to think on and figure out before giving him any injections in the future.  I NEVER want this to happen to him again.  This whole situation could have gone very badly as I saw how it effected his breathing.

God is so good and protected Antonio over the last few weeks.  Antonio has lung disease and colds and flu have put him in hospital in the past.  He does not have a productive cough and a cold can turn into pneumonia fast.  God spared Antonio from getting the horrible respiratory virus that went thru and he was the only one who did not get the stomach virus that came thru.  Thank you Jesus.  

Thank you again to everyone for your letters of concern and prayers.  They meant so much to him and us.  God answers prayer!

Psalm 19:1-6

19 The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.
Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge.
There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.
Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun,
Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race.
His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof


Saturday, August 22, 2015

Catching Up (Part 2)

Life has been a whirl wind as of late.  So many appointments and sick children to care for.  We had a bad cold virus go thru.  It took several weeks to go thru everyone.  Praise God Antonio and baby "A" did not get it.   Now we are in the midst of a tummy flu. Not fun at all with so many in a house hold. 
A bumper crop of table grapes this year. The children have eaten hundreds!
I had received so many kind inquires, about how the children were doing, that several weeks ago I wrote an update on our youngest children. (Catching Up part 1)  Today, I will update on the older ones.

Having so many children, can make life so busy but I must say, that in life right now, deep in my heart, I am happy and content.   Tim and I have raised several groups of children.  Stephen was our child for nine years before any other children came into our lives and home.  Then Antonio, William and Faith Anne were all a year apart.  The next group was Carolyn, Zeke and Elizabeth.   They were all about a year apart.  Of course now, the four little ones in our home are all about a year apart.  Each time another grouping of children were added, the older group became such a big help in caring for and playing with the younger group.  Also, in helping around the house.  I can not say enough good about the older children in our home.  God has blessed Tim and I mightily with such wonderful older children.  They have such giving, loving and helpful spirits about them.  There is no way to get life done without us all working together.  It is a ministry and they know it and live it, without complaint and with joy and patience.  Truly, God is so good and builds families.  

Stephen is still doing well and living and working in a town about 45 minutes from us.  He comes to visit every other weekend to see the children and spend time with us.  Sometimes he brings his girlfriend and we get to enjoy having her here as well.    

Antonio is very slowly improving.  I would like to thank everyone who has been praying for him.  He does understand what I am saying and I know it is blessing him and encouraging him to know you are praying for him.  He is improving a little every day and I know it is only because of fervent prayer.  It has now been three weeks since his Botox incident and his body is still very lax and he can not move it much at all.  But he is now able to move his head a little and raise his right arm once in a while.  The biggest and most encouraging thing is he is mumbling some and speaking a little.   It takes him a few moments but he is answering yes and no when asked questions now about 50 percent of the time and has said a few short sentences over the last few days.  Yesterday he even asked for an oatmeal cream pie.  :)  He has not been able to eat by mouth over the last few weeks without choking, so since he asked, I did break very small pieces off for him to eat and he did very well with this.  So, I will begin introducing food orally to him little by little as he can tolerate and manage it.  He is still not smiling much but does several times a day and when I catch him with his old smile on his face, it blesses me so much.  He also used to squeal many times a day in excitement and had not done this since the Botox shots.  He has now squealed one time when Tim came home from work yesterday and again when Tim told him he was going to take him to see the new Shaun the Sheep movie last night.  (one of his favorite shows) 
This was at dinner after the movies last night.  His eye lids are less droopy and he is drooling less too.
Please continue to pray for him as the Lord lays it on your heart.

William is doing very well.  He has been working on his GED, over at our local college, under the disabilities act.  He has been driving over twice a week and working one on one with a tutor.  They have been working on Social Studies for the last six months.  His teacher thought he was ready to take that part of the GED, so William took it on the 5th of this month and passed!  We are so pleased with him and he is very excited.  He is now working on the Language Arts portion.  William is still working on his stop animation hobby, in his spare time and just finished his longest segment yet.  It was about 1700 frames long!  Over three minutes long.   It is called "Fish" and can be found here.  William is also working with the local 4-H archery program again this year.  He uses a recurve bow.  William has been such a help to me always but now especially since Antonio has needed more care. 
He is my right hand man and I can always count on him to help me when I need it.  He still struggles with his health and has bad days and good days.  We are trying to get him in to another specialist to have him tested for mitochondrial disease.

Carolyn is gearing up for another year of ballet lessons.  She has already started doing daily stretches, sit ups and other things she knows will help her do well in ballet.  I don't tell her to, she just does it.  She is hoping to be on "point" this year.  (wearing point shoes that keep her way up on her toes)   She would still do a class in flat as well.  Carolyn goes out and rides her pony often and it blesses my heart to see her out there lunging her pony and riding.  She works so hard at her schooling and helping me with all the little children, that I love to see her out enjoying herself and having fun.  She is my right hand girl. 
We just had her tested this week by the school system, to get a current psychological done and accurate assessment of her abilities.  With the results in hand, we will be able to help her form long term goals and make realistic plans for her life.  She will be 16 in the spring, so is growing up and we need to think about these things.  She is enjoying working more on life skills this year and being given more freedom and responsibilities.

Zeke is becoming such a gentle giant as he grows and matures.   He is slightly taller than I am and takes a size 11 mans shoe!  He still has outburst but for the most part is now even tempered and co-operative most of the time. 
He also works in his spare time on making stop animation movies and also does Thomas the tank engine movies for us with is wooden railway.  He is a joy to have around.  Zeke still can not remember to do the simplest of daily living task, such as remembering to get dressed, take his dog potty or brushing his teeth, without a chart.  He can, when asked, do very simple chores and tasks to help around here though and that makes him feel special and important.  Zeke is still struggling so much with his education and Tim and I are looking into possibly finding him an educational program for two days a week.  I would not consider this for most of my other children but Zeke has no outside extracurricular activities he can participate in. He has no social outlets and we think it would be good for him to have something, just for him, to participate in.  It might be a huge mistake and backfire because he is extremely routine oriented and the routine is what keeps him feeling stable and ok.  But I would love to see him make a friend or feel like he has someplace special for him to go, that the other children don't do.

Elizabeth is also getting ready for another ballet season.  She had lost the privileged of taking ballet this year, from bad behavior over the summer but has slowly earned it back.   She actually had a really ruff summer with her behavior.  The worst it has been in quite a while.  I spent a lot of time praying and sitting and talking with her about her age, actions and consequences.  I had to give her a lot of grace in many areas.  I love her and want her to be able to participate in the many fun things we do around here.  Sometimes, I just have to give her grace, so she can go.  Like when we went to Lake Winnie, have girls night out or went to the gem and mineral show. 
I think a lot of  her behavior is stemming from the fact that she is entering puberty and struggling with mood swings and hormones.  She knows ballet season is starting soon and she really loves it.  She has been working harder at her behavior over the last three weeks and is slowly earning back the things she has had take away.  In her spare time she has been enjoying her animals, doing art projects, playing outside, reading novels and making bracelets on her rubber band loom.

The weather here is cooler in the mornings when I go out to milk the goats.  I can see the leaves on the trees turning slightly.  Fall is around the corner and we are ready.  I can see my calendar has much fewer appointments written down thru the fall months and hopefully it will be a time of health, good routine, schooling, field trips and rest.

May the Lord God in heaven be with you now and always as you live and grow in Him.

Isaiah 26:3  Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.


Friday, August 14, 2015

Prayers Appreciated For Antonio

I can't sleep.  So I decided to get up and write.  We have so many huge things going on right now and our schedule is full to the brim with appointments.  I will be sharing some of these things soon but today my heart and mind are full with praying for and caring for our sweet Antonio. 

When we started adopting children with special needs, we did it with the full knowledge that there were going to be times they would need extreme care, be in the hospital, need surgeries and in general just be a lot of work.  We knew there would be times of great joy, times of stress on the family and times of great worry.  These children God blessed us with, are worth it all.  Where to start...???

Antonio has Hypo tonic Cerebral Palsy.  His muscles are so tight, that as he has gotten older, the doctors worry about them snapping his bones when he contracts them.  He is so tight, that it is very hard to dress him and diaper him.  He gets the "generic brand" of Botox shots, in his tightest muscles, every six months or so, to give his body relief from the extreme tone and pain, that tone causes to his joints and body.

His last appointment to get those shots was canceled because Medicaid would not approve it.  We resubmitted and waited.  They finally only approved, if we used the name brand of Botox.  No big deal.  He was so tight by this time we just needed it done.  Tim took him in to have it done and Antonio was so tight and had so many areas that needed it, that the doctor used the full limit amount of Botox possible, for Antonio's body weight.  Antonio had never received that much before.  Right away the next day I started to see changes and slowly day by day Antonio slipped into a non-responsive semi-vegetative state.  As soon as I realized what was happening and that this was from the Botox, we jumped into action.  The doctor wanted to do tests to rule out anything else but I knew what this was.  I am his mom and have seen him in almost every situation from shunt failures to sicknesses.  They drew blood-work to rule out infection.  It came back perfect.  They ordered an emergency CatScan, that Medicaid denied to pay for, to rule out a shunt failure.  I am still trying to get the results from it but imagine it was fine or they would have called and rushed Antonio in for surgery.  This degrade in Antonio's health is from to much Botox or from using the brand name instead of the generic.

The good news is, Botox effects peeks at 7-10 days and we are past that.  So he should not get any worse but he can not move at all.  He could not move much of his body before but could move his right hand enough to play with is Ipad by using his thumb or knuckle.  If we put a marker in his hand he could color.  Now he can not safely eat.  He also can not speak.  Praise God we have his g-tube to feed him till this wears off.  I feel so badly for Antonio.  He sleeps most of the day and night.  He just stares at us blankly when we speak to him.  He is usually such a chatter box.  Once or twice a day he may say a weak yes or no to a question.  Since he was a little boy we could always put him on the potty in the morning and he would do his business for the day.  He now can not control his bowels.  I know deep in my heart he is in there and coherent.  He opens his mouth when we go to brush his teeth and a few times a day he will acknowledge a question we ask him.  But mostly it is just a blank stare. 

We are trying to keep things as normal and upbeat as possible for him right now.  We just talk to him like we always have and include him in everything.  There is absolutly nothing he can do now, so we just keep playing his favorite movies for him.  I also put him in front of his turtle tank and gecko tank, to watch them, like he always loved to do.  I know he is in there.  I know he is thinking but just cant respond, so I went out and bought him a new lizard to cheer him up inside.  Something new to look at and enjoy till he can talk and respond again.  He loves his reptiles.

Please keep Antonio in your prayers.  He is one of the sweetest and kindest, pure souls I have ever known in my whole life.   He normally has such a positive attitude daily, no matter what he is going thru and facing.  A huge smile never leaves that young mans face.  He is flaccid now.  He has always love the Lord with great joy and prays constantly for others.  We are trusting in God for this to wear of quickly and have no ill effects on his future health.

James 5:16  Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

May God move mightily in all our lives, as we live for Him.


Saturday, August 1, 2015

Catching Up (Part 1)

Found our silly 15 year old cat, out on the porch, in the kids doll house.  So funny!
I have had many people ask how the new baby is doing and others in our home.  I looked back thru the blog and I guess it has been a while since I have written a "catch up" post, so here it is!

I feel like we have turned a corner lately.  A few things have happened that have made my life just a tad easier and all of it adds up to me feeling more energetic and better.  We went thru a season of life being happy but very hard and that all seems to be shifting for the better.  We are even starting to get back into a daily routine!   All the Glory to God for his mercy, grace and faithfulness.
My little pistol shrimp, peeking out of his cave, from under a blue coral.
The biggest thing is... Tim and I have went a year and a half without any kind of break from the foster children. We love them all dearly but several of them are hard children by themselves and add them all together and they can be a real handful.  Our county has such strict guidelines about who can watch the foster children for us, that we have not had any time to ourselves or away from the foster children for hardly a moment.  If we have to run to the store, we have to take them all with us.  If we have to run errands, I have to take all of them in every place we go.  They have had to be with Tim or I, at all times.  It gets exhausting.  I dreaded going to town for any reason, as it was just so much time, effort and work.  The toddlers still don't behave well in public and add to that the two infants.  Climbing in and out of the bus.  Setting up all the strollers and getting them all in and out of car seats.  Whew!  Plus my other older children.  In a year and a half we had one foster appreciation night where DFCS babysat the foster children and sent us all out to dinner.  Then one other day where Tim and I had to go to a CPR class and a foster friend cared for the toddlers for us.  Anyone watching the children basically needed to go thru everything a foster parent would, in order to watch the children for us.  From background checks to finger printing, to home inspections and in most cases, even taking the foster parenting classes.  Who would do that for us, just so we have a back up sitter?  The toddlers are a handful and add to that baby "K" and baby "A" and that would be a lot on anyone to watch for us.   Tim and I have been taking turns keeping all the children once a month so the other can get out alone or with a few of our older children, to have time to ourselves and away.  Tim does guys night out with our older boys and I do one for the girls or I go antiquing with my dad once a month.  I love all of our children but one day or evening away, can be very recharging. 
Zeke and baby "K" reading together!
Our county recently reconsidered and changed their position on who can baby sit and what the regulations are.  William is 19 years old, a mature and responsible young man.  He also, has already had a background check, been finger printed, drug tested and the whole nine yards, as an adult in our foster care approved home.   He was recently approved as a sitter in our home!  It has made a world of difference for me.  If I have to run to the store or a doctors appointment, I can leave a child with him.  I always only do it if he is willing and leave the easiest one with him. I would never leave him with all four and the longest I have had him watch a child for me, as if now, has been an hour and a half.  But what a difference!   I can also run into a store, while in town and not have to unload all of the children to take with me for every errand.  If I need to run into the store and get baby formula or something, if William is in the bus, I can just run in by myself and it takes me a fraction of the time as it would to unload everyone and take them all in.  Having this option has made a huge difference in my life.  I don't often use it, but if I need it. It is there for me/us.  I am so grateful for having this in our lives now.

Another thing that has made life easier is that Baby "A" has started sleeping straight thru the whole night.  Thank you God!
From the time I put her down, till we wake up in the morning and the sun comes up!  Ahhhh.  It is amazing what sleep does for a body and mind!  God is so good.  She is also taking five ounces a feeding, latching better, less reflux episodes and going longer in between feedings.  Wow, just amazing how this simplifies life.  Since I am writing about her, I guess I will start here.  Baby "A" is doing wonderful.  She is nearly three months old already.  She is in a size 3-6 months cloths.  She makes eye contact, coos and tries to talk/babble.  She bats at toys I hang over her head and is trying to roll over.  She seems on target so far and I have no concerns about her physical or cognitive abilities at this time.  Praise God!, considering she is a meth baby!  She is a very good baby but has a little bit of a temper. The anxiety she was experiencing all evening, every evening, since the day she was born, has just about subsided.  We love her dearly and feel blessed to have her in our home.  Her biological  mom recently got arrested and is now in jail again.  I pray for her salvation.  She named four possible fathers in this case so we do not know who the dad is at this time.

"K" is doing fantastic! 
God has done such a miracle in this little girl.  She is pulling to a stand at the couch and can ride on a "ride on" toy.  She is self feeding chopped up table foods and has learned to mange drinking from a thin straw with out choking!  This is a huge deal, as she aspirates on thin liquids and needs her bottles thickened.  It seems if she tucks her chin to drink from a straw instead of tipping her head back, like from a cup or bottle, she can manage small amounts of liquid without choking!  Praise God!  We are moving her out of feeding therapy at this time and putting her into speech, as she is still not talking or babbling much.  She has always been a very quiet child but she understands everything we say.  I can ask her to bring me her shoes and she will do it.  She is very obedient and tenderhearted.  She reminds me of William when he was younger.

"T" is doing very well. 
I finally cut his hair as he was pulling it out so much.  I hope with it being short he will stop this bad habit.  We have been working on potty training faithfully for the last five  months with very little progress but we are going to keep at it, hoping it will click at some point.  He is a very well behaved child but has a few melt downs a week because of sensory issues.(These last for up to an hour)  He definitely acts like he is on the autism spectrum.  He is starting to feed himself a little bit which has been nice!  I was never able to give him silverware because he would hurt himself with the fork or bang his head hard, with the spoon.   I bought him a softish rubber fork and he is doing very well with it.  He will load it himself a few times thru the meal and if I load it, he will put it into his own mouth.  This is huge.  I have had to feed this child every mouthful of food almost the entire year and a half he has been here.  I see him being able to self feed himself by the end of the year for sure.  Which will free up some of my time during meals.  I love this little guy.  He is very close to my heart and a mamas boy thru and thru.

"B" is progressing in many areas and doing the same in others.   
Zeke and "B" in the pool.  We have a salt water system and it ate away the top rails of the pool.  Those are being replaced next week.
His behavior is still very trying all day every day but he is learning to play in a healthy way for longer and longer periods of time.  I can still not allow him to be around the other younger children as he hurts them.  But he is making progress.  He is also beginning to self feed!  I have to tell him to take every bite but that is better then me sitting thru every meal, feeding all the children myself, by hand.  If I tell him, "take a bite", he will.  He still can not sit by anyone at the table or he throws their food on the floor and hits and pinches those around him.  But he is making slow progress in that area as well.  He is still taking a very long time to chew and pockets his food in his cheek.  So he spends a lot of time in the kitchen eating.  But over all, he is doing better all the time and I can see such improvement in him.  He is still very impulsive and has a very short attention span but he is brilliant and loves to learn.  He is way ahead of his peers.  I see such a bright future for this little guy!  

"K", "T" and "B"'s adoptions are in the works and should be completed by mid September.  I can't wait to introduce them to you, not only their real names but their sweet faces as well.

This post has gotten a little long.  I will update on the older children in the next post!

Romans 15:13  Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.