There are a lot of words people would use to describe the year 2020. The problem is that most of them characterize it as either positive or negative, leaning generously in the latter direction despite the eternal optimists putting their thumbs on the scale.  In perhaps an act of counter-culture (for which we have been known a time or two), the Spikestons will abstain from evaluating the year, and instead describe it simply as a year filled with memorable changes.

Few changes are felt more significantly than the addition or subtraction of people from one’s family. Fortunately for us, the year was one without subtraction, and one might even find the math faster with multiplication than addition. Our nuclear unit more than doubled in size, from the three of us to the seven of us. The only cutting we did was ties with an Arlington-based foster agency that dragged its heels over 10 months getting us certified. We finally changed to a smaller, more local agency, and found ourselves certified in little over a week. The very next night, we got a phone call that would change our lives forever. 

A group of four siblings needed a stable home, and a stable home is just what we had to offer. When the phone rang that rainy night, it wasn’t easy saying yes—there are so many unknowns, after all—but as scared as we were to say yes, the four small souls who had been hurriedly whisked away from their home had to be even more terrified. As it goes, trusting in God and in the strength of our relationship, we took the plunge, more than doubling our family for what we expect to last at least a year.

We wish you could meet these four newest additions to our family. It’s one of those things where you can’t use the word ‘lucky’, because however fortuitous the timing that matched them with our family, the circumstances under which they came were anything but lucky. Instead, we will have to use the word ‘blessed’. Indeed, we are blessed to have the means to offer these children love and refuge, and they bless us each day with wisdom beyond their young years.

Privacy in the foster system is a paramount concern. The things that offer the weakest description (age, gender, race) are probably the only things we could get away with sharing, but that would not do them justice, and they have suffered enough injustices already. Instead, we will only say in summary that these are the most amazing kids, and we will add no qualifiers to that superlative.

Twenty-twenty also brought changes in our work lives. Both Sarah and J R were sent to work from home around Spring Break, and neither has returned to campus so far. Sarah was already the master of online education and had won numerous accolades for her achievements. Unsurprisingly, the transition to remote learning was a minor hiccup in her routine. Probably the biggest change was J R’s pausing his career in the education industry in order to stay home and spend more time with the family. Now he focuses on his software company, selling solutions to schools and developing new tools for clients around the globe. This will allow him enough time to assemble the team and devise the plans to open his own school in a few years.

Our farm continues to grow. We added sheep (and a much-needed ag deduction), a new calf named Quinoa (who came in with broken legs), another donkey, a mini mule, and five more goats. Truly the biggest subtraction we suffered was the loss of Black Bean. Before he could be brought to our new property, a neighbor where he was being boarded took him to the sale barn without our knowledge. We were devastated, and found small relief in knowing Black Bean’s story was broadcasted on a major DFW news station to help educate the community about estray laws.  Our other pets are doing fine. Zinc had several surgeries but if finally back to her former self, minus her ability to hear (two surgeries to remove all of her inner ear). Kai is still healthy, funky, and fluffy as ever, undergoing a small surgery to remove a benign eye tumor.

Nika started a new school in second grade. We were already considering this small private nonprofit institution before the pandemic, and the volatility of public schools simply cemented the decision. It’s a quaint little campus, complete with animals and acreage that make it feel like a home away from home. The switch to home-based learning meant we had to bring in activities as well. From private piano lessons from a professional to weekly masked gymnastics from a practicing parkour professional, we’ve made sure to provide an outlet for kinesthetic learning.

I don’t think we should write a conclusion yet, because the year is not over. If there’s anything this year has taught us, it’s that life can change on a dime.

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