Goals Revisited: Part 1

Back in December I posted my goals for the next 6 months with my kids. And as crazy as time flies it’s already been 5 months! I head back to the states for a visit in a little under month so I’ve been evaluating where each of the kids are so I can figure out where to go next and try to get some things in place for while I’m gone. Sometimes it feels like my kids aren’t making any progress but looking back at where they were and where they are now I can see that they are all moving in the right direction! I decided to break them up into 2 blog posts so I can really record where they are and get a good snapshot of what they are doing. Mainly for my own records but I figured I would share for all their fans out there.

Penny (Old Goals) 

  • Basic Communication. Simple signs or choosing between 2 choices on switch.When I made this goal I did not know Penny was deaf! We’ve  tried signs with little success and after talking with a speech therapist I’m going to switch over to picture communication as I think it will click better with her.
  • Self feeding 25% of the time She’s self feeding about 20% of the time. Mainly snack foods. She can feed herself mixey food with maximum assistance. 
  • Addressing her lazy eye and swallowing issues Her glasses are helping with the lazy eye and most of her swallowing issues have self resolved. We have to give her very small sips of water but overall she’s fine. 
  • Working on army crawling. Purposeful movement to get an object she wants No army crawling yet but her rolling skills have improved. We are working on core strengthening in physical therapy and she’s holding 4 point longer than before
  • Building play skills She will play purposefully with a rain stick and balloon. Most other toys she still rolls in her hands and stims with. She could still use some work in this area. 
  • Strengthening arms with weight bearing She’s getting much better strength in her limbs! Her weight bearing is definitely improved and I’m hoping with some more physical therapy we will see more improvements. 

Moving Forward: One area Penny really needs some concentrated help in is communication. Signs have not clicked for her and do to her level of hearing loss any device that relies on hearing is out of the question. I’m hoping to spend some time creating some picture communication for her that I can introduce when I get back. I’ve seen some improvement in her strength and physical development recently with consistent physical therapy but now I think it’s time to really concentrate on communication. Also trying to get her as independent as possible with feeding.

13010592_10209664121502826_480234276779820241_n

Katherine (Old Goals)

  • Attempting a better sleep and nap schedule We are still not there! Maybe with the cochlear implant but that might be wishful thinking 
  • Looking into cochlear implant Looked into, got her approved for a free one, raised the surgery fees, got the surgery, and it should be activated at the beginning of May! 
  • Getting an in depth assessment of her vision to see how she can best use what she has. Using a light box to work on the vision she has. We got an official diagnosis of cortical vision impairment (basically its her brain not her eyes that can’t see). We’ve been doing vision therapy with a light box and have seen some improvement with her ability to track. 
  • Sensory integration (spinning, bouncing, etc) and exposures to different textures We do this almost everyday! She’s still adverse to new textures but we’re slowly working on it. 
  • Drinking from sippy cup or open cup (no more bottle) When Sarah, the OT, was shadowing in my house we were working on straw drinking. The straw we were using has since disappeared but I’m hoping to get my hands on a new one while I’m in the States and work on this goal again! 
  • Using an object schedule Katherine has an object schedule but it’s been a challenge to get her caregivers to implement it daily. I’m still trying to decide how to proceed, especially once her cochlear implant get activated. 

Moving Forward: Similar with Penny communication is going to be a huge area for us to work on in the upcoming months! I’m meeting with some auditory therapists while I’m in Texas with the hope of getting practical advice for doing therapy with Katherine to train her to hear. The first year of getting the implant is important so doing daily therapy will be a major goal these next couple of months.

DSCF4421.JPG

Caden (Old Goals) 

  • Setting up room to do his dressing changes in that can be sterilized and kept clean. We never did get this done but we have been better about storing his supplies and keeping everything clean! 
  • Getting necessary documentation and funds to take him to EB clinic in Bangalore. There was not a clinic is March but the plan is to take him to the clinic in July. I did get the chance to skype with the doctor who runs the clinic and I’m hopeful for the practical advice and resources he has. I’m also talking to him about potentially placing a g-tube in him when we go to the clinic as his throat and mouth have been blistering bad recently and its affecting his weight gain.
  • Working on crawling or movement to get toy out of his reach. He is finally scooting around to get what he wants. He’s gotten good at getting around and I’m thinking he will skip the crawling stage and go right into walking! 
  • Switching off rice and curd and onto food that has more nutrition. I’ve switched over to making more of his food so he gets more fruits, vegetables, and Pediasure. 
  • No more bottle! Drinking from sippy cup or open cup Caden is the master of the sippy cup! He loves to drink out of it and gets upset when I try to do it for him! 

Moving Forward: Medically this has been a rough year for Caden. He’s been hit hard by infections and set backs. We really need to eradicate all the infections and get his nutrition better. I think getting a g-tube can help with getting him the nutrition he needs (he needs more than the average child because of his EB) and helping keep his body stronger against infections. Also he’s ready to start some preschool concepts soon as he’s a very bright little boy!

DSCF4429.JPG

Thomas

  • Basic communication. Eye gaze for yes/no questions Still trying to figure out if Thomas is capable of this. I’m hoping to work more on communication. 
  • Better positioning in wheelchair and more time on tummy Before it got so hot Thomas spent most afternoons outside in his wheelchair! He seems to tolerate it pretty well
  • Weight bearing to strengthen arms and stretch wrists. We worked on this for a little but but it made him so uncomfortable that I stopped for right now and just us the splints. 
  • Working on a resting hand splint to get hand in neutral position. He’s wearing his splints almost daily except for when I forget to put them on 
  • Gaining weight! He’s been steadily gaining weight and is relatively healthy at the moment
  • Getting out into community more He has made it out almost once a month! India is not wheelchair accessible so it can be a bit of a feat but we’re working on it!
  • Better pain management Physical therapy 2-3 times a week has helped with some of his pain. He still has some struggles 

Moving Forward: Maintaining our recent progress and continuing to explore different means of communication. Trying to figure out how to fully tap into Thomas and getting him a more portable wheelchair for outings.

DSCF4373

 

Abraham

When I originally wrote goals back in December I had an inkling I would take another child at some point but I thought it would be an older child with physical challenges. Instead I ended up with my little peanut Abraham. We’ve mainly been trying to get him healthy and get a good understanding of all his medical needs. Thankfully they’ve determined that he won’t need heart surgery! Moving forward I want to get more weight on him and get him sitting up on his own.

DSCF4350

 

So many great steps (both large and small) in the right direction these past 5 months! Around here we celebrate success in all its forms, whether its using a switch to ask for more time in the hammock or learning to crawl! These kids blow me away every single day with their perseverance and how they knock expectations right out the window.

 

Sponsorship Challenge

Being a foster mom has many different facets here at Sarah’s Covenant Homes. Basically I help ensure that my 7 kids are getting everything that they need to thrive. That includes teaching them, managing their caregivers, and fundraising for them. SCH is run off of donations, mainly our monthly child sponsors. It costs us $300 per month per kids to give them everything that they need. One of my goals for these past 6 months was to get my kids sponsorship to halfway. I will be leaving to the States for a one month break on May 19th and my goal is to have all my kids to the halfway (or more) by the time my feet arrive on Texas soil.

What does this sponsorship money go towards? It goes towards paying for the kids’ caregivers, their nurses, their therapists, the women who cook their food, clean our homes, and the other support staff who keep us running. It goes towards their food, filtered water, and fruits. It goes towards their medicine, their doctor’s visits, paying for their medical emergencies and hospitalizations. Basically it goes towards making sure that these children get everything that they need to thrive. It’s a way to make a tangible difference in a life of a child who has been written off by society. And as a plus you get updates 4 times a year plus you get to see them grow up through my blog and newsletter.

How do I become a child sponsor? Well I’m glad you asked! First find a child that grabs at your heart. Maybe they remind you of a child you know or there’s something about their personality that grabs at you. Then figure out how much you can commit to a month. Sponsorship starts as low as $20/month and goes up to the full amount they need. Then click on the paypal link that goes to your new sponsor child, put in the amount you want to sponsor them each month, make sure to click make this gift reoccurring, and then watch your email for a welcome message.

And if getting to be a part of the life of some of the most awesome kids ever was not enough there’s a India prize package to be raffled off! One person will get to enjoy some unique Indian items (coffee, hand painted mug, pillow, bangles, and Indian snacks). To enter this raffle either share this blog post (1 entry), become a child sponsor (5 entries), or make a donation to my living expenses in India (2 entries). If you share this blog post please either tag me in your Facebook status, cc me in your email, etc or leave a comment along with your email address (don’t worry I won’t publish it) so I can contact you if you win!

Meet the 5 children in my home who need sponsors:

Thomas

Thomas is probably the child most overlooked by people who come to visit my house. But when you take the time to get to know him it is so worth it! He is a old soul who hates when the babies crowd his space. He loves to listen to books, listening to music, and hanging outside in his wheelchair. Him and Valor are best friends and spend most of their days together. Thomas doesn’t smile very often but when he does his whole face lights up! Thomas still needs $250/month in sponsorship.

Thomas’ Paypal Link

Katherine

Katherine is another child that is hard to get to know but also such a sweetheart. Sometimes I feel like she is a cranky old woman stuck in a little child’s body. Do not try to wake her up from one of her many naps or you will for sure be screeched at! We are all anxiously awaiting the beginning of May when her cochlear implants will be switched on and she will be introduced to the world of hearing. She loves to eat, sleep, and swing and hates doing new things. Katherine’s a little cuddle bug who will celebrate her third birthday in May! She needs $230/month in sponsorship.

Katherine’s Paypal Link

25016348595_3cf6a8abdf_z

Caden

Caden is our resident flirt! His new skills include blowing and giving kisses, and saying hi. Caden is a little champion enduring painful daily dressing changes to manage his Epidermolysis Bullosa. He has recently discovered the joy of scooting around and can now be my constant shadow and follow me everywhere. Caden loves to play with toys, Facetime with our friends, and  read books. Caden’s sponsorship is set higher, $500/month instead of $300, because of all the wound care supplies he needs. Caden needs $130/month in sponsorship.

Caden’s Paypal Link

DSCF3973

Valor 

Valor is my little sour patch kid. Some days he is a sweet as can be, will use his switch to communicate, and laughs a ton. Other days he cries as soon as I go to get him out of bed to do an activity. Basically he’s a typical pre-teen. Valor loves to listen to worship music, swing in the hammock, and listen to books. He is not a fan of sitting in his wheelchair and tells me loud and clear when he has had enough! Him and his best friend Thomas stick together against the younger children in the home. Valor needs $110/month in sponsorship

Valor’s Paypal Link

IMG_3673

Abraham

Abraham is my little baby and the newest member of our family! He just turned one and is currently weighing in at 11 pounds so he is a tiny peanut. Abe loves to play with hands, hold his bottle with his feet, and be held. He hates any food besides his bottle and yogurt, tummy time, and his daily breathing treatments. Abraham is starting to thrive and we cannot wait to see what he will do! Abraham needs $215/month in sponsorship

Abraham’s Paypal Link

25890809451_12c8a5a131_z

Colleen

When I first came to India I thought it would just be for a year. While my first year in India is fast coming to an end and God is calling me to come back for another year. I had been living off my savings account but after a year and several medical costs, plane tickets, and daily living expenses later it’s running a bit dry. Although I would much rather you support the kids I need some help as well meeting monthly expenses!

Colleen’s Paypal Link

DSCF3637

 

Have any questions about how sponsorship works? Or just want more information before you commit? Feel free to email me at colleen@icmin.org. I will be drawing a winner for my India prize pack when I get home on May 2o! 

Katherine’s Cochlear Implants: Surgery Time!

This journey to get Katherine hearing has tested me and had many detours but we finally have a surgery date! This Monday, April 11th, Katherine will be getting her cochlear implant! It has been quite the road to get here but finally it is happening!

Fundraising for this surgery was a challenge and there was a point where I got so discouraged I did not think it would happen. But a whole community of people pulled through and made sure that this little girl got the funding she needed. We actually got beyond fully funded! It gives me goose bumps every time I think about how so many people pulled together for a little girl they had never and probably will never meet.

At the beginning of March I was ready to start the surgery process but then there was a delay with the wire getting the money over here. Once we got the money over here and in the right account there was a problem with the hospital side figuring out where they money was. That adventure culminated with me crying in the office of the head of the hospital’s finance department and finally getting it all sorted out.Once I had everything sorted out on their side I booked an initial surgery date. When we went for our pre surgery check up the surgeon was concerned about some head fungus on her newly shaved head. We treated that for 10 days, got clearance from the dermatologist, and headed back to the surgeon one more time for yet another surgery date! It’s been quite the process and I’m convinced Katherine is going to do something great with this implant because the amount of roadblocks we have hit has been crazy.

After the surgery they will activate her implant after about 21 days. At that point she will start wearing the external processors. The processors are magnetic so they will attach to the internal part of the implant and then a part will rest on her ears plus there will be a battery attached to her shirt. I’m interested to see how well they will stay on as she has some stims due to her visual impairment and moves her head back and forth a lot. After Katherine starts wearing her external processor she will start Auditory therapy to help train her brain to recognize speech. The implant will give her the ability to hear but without training she will have no idea what all the sounds she is hearing means! The hospital we are doing the surgery does follow up therapy but I’m still debating whether to put her in therapy there or not. Eden and Katherine are the first blind children to be implanted at the hospital and I saw some of their therapy the other day and I was not impressed. I’m leaning towards just teaching her at home but we will see how Eden’s therapy goes.

We are getting everything ready for Katherine to go to the hospital on Sunday. The plan is to admit her on Sunday with one of my caregivers and then I will go up on Monday when they do the surgery and switch out. We will spend Monday evening at the hospital and then get discharged on Tuesday. We are all very excited for this next step in Katherine’s life and are so thankful for everyone who played a role in getting her here!25016348595_3cf6a8abdf_z