Sunday, November 20, 2011

Prayer Request

I have not forgotten the update for Sammy and Gloria.  Things are really busy, be patient it is coming :)

In the meantime, we have a prayer request.

Three kiddos are having surgery and/or procedures this coming Wednesday the 23rd.

Seth is having a fully sedated Auditory Brain Stem Response Test.

Faith is having a Frenuloplasty under full sedation.

Gloria is having adenoids removed and tubes placed in her ears under full sedation.

Please pray for the children, the medical staff and for their parents :)

Yes, this is the day before Thanksgiving.   But also, the day before a 4 day weekend.  Chosing this date, allowed us to get the surgeries in on this year's medical plan and gave us the maximum amount of time for two parents to be here for the children's recouperation.

We are not planning a Thanksgiving celebration.  This will be the first year I have not cooked Thanksgiving Dinner since I was 13 years old.  We ordered a very bare bones meal from a local company.  We will have turkey, sweet potatoes and green bean casserole with cranberry relish.  Nothing fancy, but it will feed us and allow us to tend to recovering children.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Q & A #4 Part One - Children Updates - Seth

1. Can we get an update on each of the children too? Let us know all the progress they are making since coming home!

ABSOLUTELY!!!!  We really think they are doing fantastic. 

 I will update with one child per post.

Seth is making HUGE strides.  We are so blessed by this little man's growth and ability that is coming out each day.  He amazes us. 

Just for the record ... he is not a plant.  You've heard me say that before and I am going to say it again .. so listen to my drum because I am going to keep beating it.  He is a child of God.  God has big plans for him.  I have no idea what those plans are, but Seth's life and struggles have a purpose.  His life is a life worth saving.  His life is not a life that should be locked away in some hell-hole of an adult mental instution.  He has worth and value in all that he is, in his current ability.  He has worth and value in all that he was.  He has worth and value in all that he will become.

Let's back track six years , so you can understand a bit more about Seth ...  Seth was born between the 28th and 29th week of gestation.  He weighed just over 2 1/2 pounds and was 14 1/2 inches long.  Can you picture this tiny precious child, alone and abandoned.  There was no one to love him, to talk to him, to pray over him, to comfort him, to long for his survival.  No one.  He was left by his mother, who wished for his death, prenatally and after birth.  I pray that her heart has changed, that she has or will find Jesus and will pray for her child.

After birth, he was life supported and spent five months in the hospital.  From the hospital he was taken to the baby house where no one ever inquired about him or visited him.  He was alone for six more years...

From the orphanage records, we know he sat unassisted at 16 months old and started walking when he was 3 1/2 years old. 

Now, lets get to the progress and all the pictures ... after all what everyone really wants to see if pictures, right?!!

has gained SIX pounds!!!!! 
 Here he is wearing a 3T pair of pants and a size 5 Shirt

is feeding himself with a spoon and learning to use a fork.

(((if someone can tell me how to upload a video ... you can see him feed himself)))
I tried to upload the video for 2 hours ...

is walking down the stairs

initiates contact and comes to sit on our laps

is learning how to eat in restaurants

 is playing ball ... he will roll this back and forth with a partner

plays with the dog, reaches for her, grabs her head and puts his head to hers

still loves to swing!

can sit his cup on the table or counter

is walking up the stairs foot over foot
will hand you an object at your request
will receive an object given to him
climbs in the van without assistance
has many vocalizations ... bah, guh, la, ma, ah, uh, eee, mahm
retrieves toys he has flung out of his hands
sees things he drops and retrieves
he laughs and cries
greets Aunt Sissy with hoots and hollers
feels the pages of tactile type books
helps with dressing ... pulls his shirt over his head, puts his legs in the pantleg

What he doesn't do is ...
be quiet


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Q & A #3

1. What is the one thing you wish you had known before getting on the plane?
We did not expect Seth to be as severely delayed as he is.  Our biological daughter has the same Syndrome and we thought we were adopting a male version of her.  We did expect him to be delayed, but we assumed he could talk, drink from a cup, eat with utensils, go potty, put his shirt or pants on.  I wish we could have accurately projected the costs of all the therapies.  We had calculated costs for all the medical stuff, but really had no idea what therapies would run.  Therapies are costing into the thousands of dollars and there is no light at the end of the tunnel.  Saying all that, everything we have came from and belongs to the Lord.

The children at one of Seth's therapy appointments

2. What is the one thing you wish you had done before getting on the plane? 
 I wish I would have ruthlessly purged my house down to bare bones.  Mananging the stuff of 11 people is challenging.  After being home we have set up a few systems to help me run the house more efficiently. 

We purged the kitchen and organized the pantry.

We set up a mini family closet in the laundry room.  We have placed all the children's everyday clothing on racks from The Container Store in our laundry room.  Ideally clothing comes out of the dryer, shirts and dresses are hung, pants and underclothes are put into baskets on the racks.

We found these great little strips called "Hang Away" on Amazon and installed them in all the bathrooms.

We are  bulk cooking and bulk buying.  I love Azure Standard for quality organic food.

3. Were there surprises in your children's health, or was what you were told at the SDA appointment fairly complete and accurate?
We have had surprises in that issues the SDA/Orphange said existed, do not.  We do have a few long term medical issues that will need to be followed and we are still working our way through all the ologists, but so far, we are blessed.

4. What advice can you give on helping your children (the first 6) adjust?
I don't even want to put it into words, but our adjustment has gone really well.  The emotional part of the adjustment has been really smooth.  We brought home videos and let them view the children and behaviors (especially Seth's) before we actually brought the kids home.  We already had adopted children, have good friends with adopted children and they have cousins that are adopted.  I think my children believe most families adopt children (Now, wouldn't that be an awesome truth!?!) and that it is a natural part of being a family.  We did explain to them that no one loved the new children and that we needed to show them love and teach them what it is like to live in a family.  I am pretty sure Joy thinks Gloria is her baby :) 

Teach them to pray for, with and over one another. 

5. Do you have anyone who has responded negatively towards your decision to adopt special needs children? If so, how do you respond to them?
To our face, we have not had any negative comments specifically relating to special needs.  We do get lots of comments on the size of our family, having our hands full, how they are glad it is not them, how they do not know how we do it and so on.  I try to be gracious and respond with a smile, but fail miserably sometimes. Truthfully, my response goes from fighting back tears to wanting to be really ugly.   I usually say we are blessed, children are a gift, we are following the call of the Lord,  yes I am also glad it is me and not you, that walking in obedience is not easy, but we have been called to be parents of many.  No, our life is not easy, not by any means or stretch of the imagination.  But did Jesus have it easy?  Were we called to follow Him?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

DOUBLE Blessings for a friend ...

Just in case you did not see my guest post at Wrong in All the Right Ways ... I am reposting it (word for word ... sorry but no time to re-edit)

Hello from Houston! This is Catherine's friend Jen (letsfillthevan) and I am writing as a guest blogger today. Catherine is a precious, dear friend. She was kind of in the delivery room with me ... LOL it was actually the Orphanage Director's office .. but it was almost as painful as labor! Catherine accompanied my hubby and I to the orphanage on the day we met our kids. She was a huge moral support and lovingly photographed the days events.

I am not nearly as witty as Catherine, but I am not here for wit. I am here to seriously ask for help for the girls. This is a huge request and prayer to our Heavenly Father for total provision for these girls. Catherine needs help and she does not want to ask you for it. Asking for help is hard, especially when money is involved. But, the reality is that Francesca and Victoria need surgery and I am here to ask on their behalf. Yesterday, October 17th a deposit of $4610, was needed to secure Francesca's surgery appointment. Today, October 18th, a deposit of $923 is needed to secure Victoria's surgery, totalling $5533.00

So, how can you help? First, please pray, pray for the girls, pray for Catherine, pray for their travel, pray for the doctors and the medical staff, pray for recovery and travels home. Second, if you can, make a donation - of ANY size. Third, share this on your blog, Facebook, Twitter. Fourth, pray again and keep praying.



And ... I am sure you are curious as to why a doctor in Texas is being used. The answer to that question is two fold ... Dr. F is being used because he is the best in his field. If your child were going to have their entire skull reshaped, wouldn't you want the best person to perform the surgery? If Francesca had been born in the U.S., she would have had surgery when she was three or four months old. When you look at pictures of Francesca, you can see that she is in need of the surgery. Reconstruction of her entire skull is a major surgery. MAJOR. In addition to the reconstruction of her skull, she is also having a cleft pallate repair and tubes put in her ears to help alleviate recurring ear infections.

Also, Little Catherine had her skull reshaping done by Dr. F. when she first come home.

Thank you for reading my less than entertaining but very important guest post!

God Bless!
Jen @ letsfillthevan

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Q & A #2 - I am getting a visitor and she could use your help!!!!

My friend Catherine at asks

I would love to know if you can send me some of the delicious food you make!

I certainly can, but I would rather cook some really yummy meals when you and the girls are here next weekend!

Yes, you read that right!  The famous Catherine is coming to Houston!  Whoot! 

Why you ask???  Victoria and Francesca are having surgery in Dallas.  Isn't Catherine an awesome mommy???? She sought the best cranial surgeon for the girls and he happens to be in Dallas, so we get the pleasure of seeing her soon.

There are great costs involved and a chipin has been set up to help with the girls surgery costs. 

If the Lord leads you, please give a little donation. 

In our adoption, donations of five and ten dollars grew to thousands.  No donation is too small. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Q & A #1

1. I would love to hear how homeschooling is going for your family. Are you taking a break? Did you jump right back into everything?

Homeschooling is hard right now, I am not gonna lie ;) 

We came home with the children in the middle of July.  We did very, very little schooling the first 6 weeks home.  We did work on finishing up a few subjects that we did not finish before the first of our trips to the Ukraine.

We also regrouped and changed curriculum plans for this year.  I had initially purchased and intended to teach My Father's World - Adventures, but that seemed to be a bit too hands on for this season.  Since MFW Adv. is a 2nd or 3rd grade curriculum, I plan to use it next year as the kids will be in second and third grade.  This year we are using alot of workbooks.  It is quite a bit of seat work, more than I would like, but we needed curriculum that was open and go, requiring little prep from me.

Our school year is on a year round schedule with flexible scheduling during the week.  Right now, we are scheduled to school at home 3 days per week and every other Saturday.  We have allowed one day off for dr appointments and the other day off for our home school coop that we attend one day a week. 

I am pretty uptight about schooling and scheduling ... I have a 56 page spreadsheet with lesson plans created for this year.  It has been hard not to have all my boxes highlighted at the end of each day.  It makes me nuts to carry work over to the next day.  But, alas our season of life needs to be a season of flexibility.  I just tested the kids and my first grader is reading at at 1.6 grade level and my second graders are reading at 2.7 and 4.2 grade levels.  So, I am confident (telling myself there) that they are progressing in spite of our transition.

In the last month, we have teenage helpers that are coming two days per week to work as a mother's helper.  I would love to have help full time during the day, but that is not financially possible at this moment.  So, for now, we will stick with our plan and ask the Lord to multiply our efforts.

My Second Graders are using
Math-U-See - finishing Alpha and transitioning to Beta
Pathway Readers
Explode the Code - in their own reading level
Lifepac Bible 2
Wordly Wise A
Rod and Staff Penmanship 2
Spelling Workout B

My First Grader is using
Math-U-See Alpha
Rod and Staff Reading and Phonics 1
Rod and Staff Penmanship 1
Spelling Workout A
Explode the Code

All together we do
Bible Memory and Hymn Memory
Rod and Staff Health 2
Rod and Staff Social Studies 2
Rod and Staff Patterns of Nature
First Language Lessons 2
Writing With Ease 2
Professor Harold Video Flash Cards - Addition and Subtraction

These are our books for this year.

Here we are doing bible, reading a Proverb that corresponds with the days date and coloring a page from the Doorpost Hidden Treasures book. 

2.  How do the littlest ones stay busy while you are teaching?

We are most productive when the little ones nap.  After lunch when I put the six little ones down for a nap, we school.  It behoves us to do as much as possible while Seth is in bed.  He is never quiet and is very disruptive to the children trying to learn.  He hollers and carries on a lot.  If the little children are awake while we are trying to school they stay close in the school rooms, do their own sort of school and of course play.  My nearly 3 and 4 year old girls both have workbooks that they work in or color in.  They also sort buttons, oh boy do they love buttons.  I have a large jar of colored buttons and cups with corresponding colors that they sort the buttons into. The same with sorting fruit into baskets.  We also have lots of Melissa and Doug toys. Sammy loves the stacking pegs.  Stickers - they love stickers.  I have several thousand stickers that were donated to our yardsale that did not sell, so we are using them with the littles during school.  Puzzles and shape sorters are a popular activity.  Dot markering is a favorite too.  Of course, if a helper is here, they keep the children in the play room or in the living room.  Now that the days are cooler, the kids can go out in the afternoon and play with having a heat stroke.

And then there are days when chaos ensues ... sharks are on the loose, spiders and owls are running amok along with the mouse running up the clock.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Preparing for a Q & A

I love reading the Q & A posts on other blogs and thought I should have a Q & A series.

So what do you want to know???  Here is your chance to have some of your questions answered.

Leave your questions in the comments and I will answer them in the next few posts.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Quilts!!!! Quilts and More Quilts Help for a friend -

I promise I WILL update you all on the kids really soon ... they rock! Life is so incredibly busy right now and blogging takes me a long time. 

Seth is awesome and is eating with a spoon - ALL BY HIMSELF!!!!  Remember 3 months ago he could not hold a sippy cup? 

Here are a few pics of the crew .. aren't the cute?!

Now for the real purpose of this post

My friend, Mindy, is adopting a sweet sweet boy in a couple of weeks. He is so precious.  His name is "Frank" but it will soon be Henry.  He is only 2 months old and his parents are here on work visa's.  They love little "Frank" but you see he has Down Syndrome.  In China, people who are a little different are not accepted.  He will never be allowed to go to school.  He will not be allowed to be seen in public.  His birth parents love him so much they are willing to give him to a family that will love him and give him the best life!

Adoption costs money.  The Lord called and the Churchill's said "YES!". They didn't know how they would raise the funds but the Lord does. So right now you can check out their fundraiser.  Mindy is an awesome quilter!  Please check out her blog.  You can win one of 4 quilts!!!!  I LOVE those odds!  I have one of her quilts and let me tell you....I LOVE IT!!!!

Thank you for considering!!!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

WOW! A Wild Three Weeks !!!!

It is hard to believe that three weeks ago we were fresh off the plane from the Ukraine. 


So much has happened in three weeks, I hardly know where to begin.  This is gonna be a long one, so go grab your coffee.

I need to begin by thanking the Lord for His grace and mercy, for his endless provision and blessings.  I am always amazed at how perfect the Lord's timing is.  (Ok, I really don't know why I am amazed, after all He IS God and can do all and anything.  Nevertheless, when I am experiencing His abundance, I am amazed) 

Diapers - we have FIVE in diapers.  Yes, you read that right, FIVE! We are using about 30 diapers per day.  I had a huge stash of awesome cloth diapers that I sold to help pay for our adoption expenses.  Obviously, I was not thinking I would have 5 in diapers.  I knew I needed to go back to cloth and asked friends, who asked friends and in one day, two friends supplied us with enough diapers to make it through a whole day.

Broken washing machine --- ack, just as we got into the swing of cloth diapers, my washing broke.  Not more than a few hours later, a friend was at my door and she had a jumbo pack of diapers for us and a quilt for Seth's bed.  The amazing thing about the quilt was, when I had gone into Seth's room that morning, I had noticed that his cover was a bit small for his size, I went and to a twin sheet, folded it and used that to cover him.  I noted that we needed to buy him a bigger blanket.  Can you believe how God is in the details?

Meals - in the 21 days we have been home, we have had 8 friends deliver us 10 meals.

4 friends came and spent time helping me with the kids and around the house.  Remember E, the soap maker?  She came and spent the whole day with me.  Her grand accomplishment was sorting the toys back into their proper buckets.  This was a huge task!

Clothes - we have received lots of little boys clothes and got a message yesterday from a friend at one of our homeschool co-ops that she has tubs of little boy clothes for us.  That should round out the boys wardrobe and give us a stash for them to grow into.

Pediasure - a friend picked up, paid for and delivered cases of Pediasure.

Lawn work - a friend hired a lawn care company to do our yard work.  The lawn looks amazing and I bet our neighbors and homeowners association are much happier with us.  The same friend brought her three children and weeded the flower beds in front of the house. 

I know I am missing something ... three weeks is a lot to recap!  The blessings have been abundant and we thank you friends for being the hands and feet of Christ!

These last weeks have been hard, very hard, harder than we ever imagined.  They have been hard for different reasons than I have read about.  The workload is immense. I am washing 4 – 5 loads of laundry per day.  We are running the dishwasher twice per day and we are using all paper plates and bowls … Can you imagine if we were using real tableware?  My floor is endlessly dirty.  Sweeping seems to be hourly and the shark steam mop was done three times last week.  So much of my time is spent preparing meals and cleaning up afterwards.  We implemented a new meal chore chart and changed the way the kids do table chores.  So far, it is working … not fabulous, but it is working.  I pray for the Lord to double my efforts, He is ever so faithful.  Sometimes my head spins with all that needs to be done.  I am very happy to be doing it, don't get me wrong.  The Lord has blessed us with these children and we do not see them as a burden.  My sweet friend told me a story of Elizabeth Elliot and of her struggles after her husband died.  Her motto was; just do the next thing.  When I am overwhelmed, I just do the next thing and pray.  We are praying about help for the house.  I received an offer from a friend's daughter that could help us with housework, but she is not in the budget.  We are confident that the Lord will work out our every need.  Here is an idea of the fun I am having!!!

The big girls finished their first grade curriculum – whoot!!!!!!  The big boy has just a few lessons left and he will be done to.  WHEW!!!  They are done just in time to start back after labor day!

We have been AMAZED at the children’s emotional ease of integrating into the family.  We were prepared for major disruptions and many emotional difficulties.  We were prepared for fits, tantrums, non-compliance, rejection, anger, hurt and all of those things you read about.  We did a big thing in adding three kids to an already large family and we really thought these initial weeks would be filled with many, many struggles.  Praise God, that has not been our experience.  I think the biggest emotional struggle is mine.  I so desperately want to fix Seth.  His behaviors break my heart.  If only we could have adopted him sooner.
We are making progress and are seeing growth in the children.  It is amazing how they are blossoming.  Please know that we are not taking credit and do not want to come off as prideful because this is the work of the Lord, not us.  We could never do this without the Lord, never, ever, ever. 

Seth – I can hardly believe he is the same kid.  He is progressing and growing by leaps and bounds.  He is a miracle in progress. 
The day we picked him up from the orphanage,
~ He could not hold a cup.  Four days later, he was holding the cup and drinking on his own!!!
~When he finished the cup, he would chuck it across the room.  Yesterday, he sat his cup on the island – without any prompting!!!
~He could not walk up and down the stairs.  Now, he can go up and down the stairs unassisted!!!
~When I would dress him, he was totally unattached and did not participate in the dressing.  Now, he helps put his hands through his shirt and his legs through his shorts!!!
~His main vocalization was a loud HHHHUUUUHHHTT.  He has many sounds now!!!
~He would not maintain eye contact.  He initiates eye contact! And holds it!!!!
~He comes to us and wants to sit on our laps!!!
~He sings!!!  It is Seth singing, but none-the-less he is imitating our songs.
~When we came home, he would look at the kids from the corner of his eye.  Now, he engages with the kids.  He runs up and into them LOL!  He WANTS to be part of what they are doing.
~I have been saying mmmmmaaaaaammmmmaaaaaa and putting my lips to his cheek while I say it.  Now when I start, he moves his face to mine.
~He is using a spoon with assistance!


~He is learning words and signs.  He can say: mama, milk, juuuu (juice), eeehhh (eat), papa, bye-bye, baby, bubba oh what a vocabulary!

~He loves to help around the house and is profficient at pick up things off the floor and putting them in the gargabe can.

~He clears his plate from the table.

~He can put his shirt on almost entirely unassisted.

~He slept in a big boy bed last night for the first time.  We tried other times, last night we had success!

~He is coloring using crayons and markers.

~He has mastered the Melissa and Doug Stacking Train.

~He sleeps through the night.


~She is being spoiled by her sisters, they do love the baby girl!

~She is pulling herself to standing and hanging on the sofa!

~She started "walking" with a push toy yesterday!

~She is babbling; mama and dada and blah blah!

~She gets into the somersault position.  I think before long she will be tumbling!

The other kids have been really great.  They are so helpful and are really loving and embracing the new children.