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Thursday, April 28, 2016

Hope is Home

It's a miracle; Hope is home!!  She was found 3 miles away yesterday in a lady's tree.  She got her and called the humane society, where we had done a report, and they connected us.  We went and got her right away.  She was thirsty and hungry, but so happy to be home!  When I put her in her carrier she was, quite literally, jumping up and down she was so excited.

We have so many predators in our area and it is very uncharacteristic of her to fly off.  She's a very bonded bird.  We thought we may never see her again and were so, so sad.  We are so thankful that she was found and is home safely!  It really is a miracle!!!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Lost Sun Conure Bird in Tucson

Hope got out and we can't find her.  The kiddos are devastated :(.  Please share this post and help us find her!

Female Sun Conure
Lost at 1st and Orange Grove in Tucson, AZ 
Fully flighted and very friendly


Sunday, April 17, 2016

Lots of Updates from our Casa

I can't believe how long it's been since I've been on to update.  Life just flies by!  One of my goals lately is to take care of myself in small ways, so I have been using the treadmill again at night.  It's a great way to reduce stress and I love it, but it also leaves me less time at night to accomplish things.  After using the treadmill and doing house work I pretty much fall in to bed, but it's worth it!

The last month has been busy.  We are loving going new places in Tucson and have been spending a lot of time outside enjoying the weather.  We've been meeting new friends and having play dates, which is always nice.  We've also had some trips to Phoenix, appointments, and things like that.

The Tucson Air Show

The Desert Museum

Family pampering day.... Deena's first manicure at a shop and Conner's first pedicure

Last month when we were in Phoenix for Easter we also saw the endocrinologist.  She submitted all of the paperwork to start Deena on her PAM infusions (osteoporosis medicine via IV to help with bone density) and Ramya also got her quarterly Lupron Depot Pediatric injection.  We are keeping our endo in Phoenix, even though it will mean a quarterly drive, because OI (osteogenisis imperfect) is her passion, and you just don't replace a doctor like that! 

While we were in Phoenix we also celebrated Ramya's birthday with family.  She requested a party with just family, so that's what she got!!  Since we don't have a house in Phoenix any more we had the party at the park.  She wanted a princess theme and Indian food.  It was a lot of fun!

Madi and Ramya had their yearly renal ultrasounds and appointments with their urologist.  Both the girl's kidneys look great and we don't go back for another year!  Yeah!  Since we had to drive to Phoenix for the appointment, we decided to take advantage of our drive home to go to the ostrich farm.  David met us there since it's only 40 minutes away from where we live.  The kids had SO much fun.  I think we will make it a tradition!

Deena has exciting news; she got her ears pierced!  She has been wanting them since before she came home, but we wanted to wait until we could take her, and also until she was ready to let me clean them and take care of them.  She did amazing and she is so proud!

In not-so-fun news, sweet Deena was in the hospital with a fractured femur on Monday.  After leaving the teaching store, David bent down to lift her out of her stroller.  She must have leaned forward and she just kind of rolled forward out of the stroller (David said like a little ball).  He tried to catch her but she was in a slippery princess dress and he couldn't get her in time.  The stroller is very low to the ground and has no bars on the front, which I purposely purchased so that we wouldn't bump her legs getting her in or out, so she didn't fall far, and she didn't hit anything, but somehow she fell just right and ended up with a fracture.  David said one leg went behind the other and then she sat on the ground, so we think it was just from the pressure of one leg on the other.   It was terrible even though it was an accident.   It's her first big injury for her since coming home, and we all felt awful, but especially David.  We try so hard to lift her carefully, always give her support, and make sure she's safe, but one of the hard things about OI is that fractures are a part of life, and sometimes it's the smallest things that cause breaks. 

Her left femur used to have a rod in it, because it broke frequently, but right before coming home they took it out.  You never take rods out once a child/adult is rodded though, because the bones are thinner there after having the rods to support them.  Unfortunately, though, they did remove it, and we had been planning to place it back in this summer.

Although it was an awful and unfortunate accident, there were definitely some good things that came out of all of it.
  1. Her orthopedic surgeon, who worked at Shriners for 11 years and has lots of experience with OI, PAM treatments, and rodding surgeries, was on call the night we went in to the ER.  He saw her name come up and stayed 2 hours after he was off to be able to review her x-rays.  After reviewing her x-rays the initial plan was to set the bone and then admit us for a night pain management.  After talking, however, we decided to go ahead and use that time to put the rod back in, since we had to be admitted anyhow.  His schedule the next day was pretty full, though (so full that he already had to plan to delay another surgery because he just couldn't fit it in), and he didn't want us to be sitting in the hospital, so he asked if we were ok with just doing the surgery right then.  We said yes, he left to prep, and we went off to surgery prep.  It was getting late so David took the other kiddos home to bed and I stayed with Deena.  They took her back right about 10:15ish. It was a quiet night and I was the only person sitting and waiting in the waiting area.  It gave me time to go through all her medical files again and begin writing down the dates of all of her breaks and procedures so that we could get a better picture of her past medical history. Just after 12:00am the doctor came to talk and said everything went really well.  He got the rod in just how he wanted it.  He left and then they brought me back to be with her.  She was sleepy and slept most of the time.  It took a while for us to get a room, but at about 2:30am we went up and got settled in.  Thankfully Deena slept through it all. I was exhausted, but nothing a little coffee couldn't fix!  The next morning when she woke up she was doing a ton better and said she wasn't in pain.  We kept on top of her pain meds to make sure she stayed comfortable, and she handled it amazingly!
  2. I talked with Dr. Vincent and asked if we could do her first PAM infusion while we were in the hospital.  The first infusion is done in the hospital, and then the rest at home.  Since we were going to be there anyway, it made sense to go ahead and start.  Dr. Vincent actually had her infusion paperwork with him, because he brought it so he could ask about the steps to starting it while he was at the hospital.  It worked out great because they were able to start working on getting it in the pharmacy and approved through insurance.  They weren't able to get it all done Tuesday, but Wednesday they were able to give her first infusion before they discharged us. She handled the infusion well and so far hasn't had any side effects.
  3. Another blessing out of all of this is the time it gave Deena and I to continue to work on bonding.  I know that she realized the difference it made having her momma there with her.  She told me she loved me more times in a day than I have ever heard before and wanted to hold my hand and have me play with her hair.  Though being in the hospital and surgeries are no fun, it reiterated for her that I love her and I am here for her.  She didn't have to go through the pain alone and she had me right there to help her and advocate for her.
  4. They didn't have to remove her earrings for surgery.  This might sound minor but she was SO proud of them and was devastated when they said they may have to take them out.  They were able to cover and tape them instead, and I am so thankful!  Sometimes it's the little things that make a big difference for a child when they are going through major medical stuff. 

My sleepy little warrior princess

She was SO excited for visitors! 

We made great friends with Child Life and love all the fun stuff they brought us to do

They ordered a wheelchair for her to use at home/out-and-about so we could keep her leg elevated

Reunited and it feels so good!

We have been home since Wednesday evening and Deena is doing remarkable!  She was SO excited to leave the hospital.  It was hard on her having the rest of the family away, though they did come visit, and she kept asking me when we could go home.  Her eyes lit up and she got super excited when I told her they were sending us home. 

Deena is already back to her spunky self, her appetite is great, and she seems to be healing well.  We have a follow-up appointment with the orthopedic surgeon in 4 weeks and we will take x-rays at that time to check how her healing is going.   She was getting restless and kept asking to go in the car, so we ventured out to Costco on Friday and she was very excited!

We also went to Church today and she enjoyed getting out and being around other people.  We still bring her in to service with us anyhow, so I wasn't worried about safety.  She enjoyed singing and cuddle time on my lap.

In other news, we found an occupational therapists and are excited to get back in to the swing of things.  Apparently finding in-home therapists, especially speech and PT, is insanely hard in Tucson. I have spent endless hours on the phone calling companies and trying to find openings.  I've even called outpatient therapy centers and everywhere has a wait.  I'm not going to give up, and we are glad to at least be able to start with OT. 

Oh, I also forgot to update and say that Deena is officially on our primary insurance!  Yeah!!  We have already met her $2,500 yearly deductible (it's per person), and I am so so so thankful we got her on in time for the surgery and hospital stay.  Our bills may still not be pretty but it will make an enormous difference.  On top of that, they added her at the rate they would add any child, even though I disclosed that she has OI.  That right there is an amazing blessing!

I think that's all of our big updates for now.  We are on the hunt for a bigger vehicle still, and I think we have decided on a Ford Transit with a turney seat for Madi.  She's a little over 80 pounds now, so this will help immensely with transfers in and out of the car.  Please be praying that we find just the right car for our family.  We have such unique circumstances it's been very difficult to figure out what will work for our family.

For those of you who are friends with me on Facebook, or who knew we were in the hospital, thank you for praying for our sweet girl and for checking in.  God has been taking care of us in big ways, and we are so thankful!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Something Crazy I Noticed Tonight

Deena has been wanting to read her adoption book so we have been looking through it together often.  Tonight, though, was the first time I noticed something just totally crazy.

Deena's admission date to Vathsalya orphanage is November 11, 2008.  Madi's birthday is November 11, 2008. 

On the same day, on opposite sides of the world, these girls were experiencing moments that would forever alter their history; and forever bring them together as sisters.  One child experienced a great loss, the other a tremendous gain, but now, both girls join together as sisters and daughters. 

Monday, March 7, 2016

Celebrating Ramya's 9th Birthday

Just over 5 years ago, the story of a sweet little girl in India was shared with us by another family that was looking to adopt.  We reviewed her files for them and then shared a glimpse of what her life may look like if they adopted her.  They decided they were not the family for her, but we knew we were.

Fast forward 2 years and that sweet little girl, living in a country we didn't even know you could adopt from, was coming home as our daughter.

Today, 3 years later, Ramya turned 9.    It's crazy how God orchestrates events in our lives; events we never foresaw coming, yet are so perfectly predestined. 

We celebrated with a simple family party (though we do plan to have a party that includes all of our extended family in Phoenix in a few weeks).  Ramya requested vanilla cake and Indian food, so that is exactly what she got!

The kiddos all helped me make a vanilla cake.  They even decorated it, which they loved.  Conner did the lettering and the girls made the "flowers" and put on the sprinkles.  I think the fact that they helped make it made it that much more special for them!  Conner told me that my cake was the best cake ever because it was made with a secret ingredient; love.  He also told me that I outdid myself, which I find humorous because I actually felt bad for not having something bigger and more grandiose planned.  We are trying to figure out what it means to live away from friends and family and are working on how we will have celebrations and the such in the future. 

We went for Indian food at a new family-owned restaurant I found on Google.  The girls love dosa, but not all Indian food restaurants carry it, so I made sure to find a place that did.  They loved the food and the owner was really sweet, though he did ask us if we were missionaries, ha!  David told him "no" but I don't think he believed him because he later asked me what I do too.  I told him that David works in finance and I stay at home and homeschool.  He followed us outside to say good-bye and chatted with the kids for a while.  Ramya has decided that she wants to go back to the same restaurant every year for her birthday.

After dinner we went home for cake.  Ramya was beaming the entire time.  It was very cute! 
We usually give the kiddos their birthday gifts in the summer where we have an "un-birthday" for all of them at once, because they get so many gifts at their friends and family parties and we like to spread it out.  Now that we are away, though, we may need to re-think that and give them gifts on their actual birthdays.  We gave Deena gifts on her birthday this year, but that was because she had just come home and we wanted her to have some things of her own.  Ramya was pretty happy, though, and never asked about gifts. 
Ramya declared this the best birthday ever and told me "thank you" multiple times.  I was feeling bad because I'm having a hard time figuring out the new birthday thing and trying to plan a family party back in Phoenix, but she loved it.  Go figure!  I think sometimes we get so caught up on things needing to be just perfect that we fail to see the beauty in simplicity. 
Happy birthday to our sweet, spunky, thoughtful girl!  We love you Ramya!


Saturday, March 5, 2016

Our Amazing Time with Athletes Helping Athletes/ Roadrunner Sports

A while back I posted on facebook about our need for an adaptive bike for Madi.  I was trying to pull the girls in my bike trailer, but their combined weight of well over 100 pounds was starting to slow me down.  Madi was unhappy that she had to sit in the trailer and wanted to ride a bike by herself.   We started researching bikes but we had adoption fees coming up, needed a bigger van so we could fit all 4 kiddos and all 3 wheelchairs, and found that adaptive bikes are crazy expensive.  That's when a friend asked me if I had heard of Athletes Helping Athletes.  They had given her child a hand cycle and they were loving it.  I decided to apply for Madi, and she was quickly granted a modified bicycle of her very own.  I cannot even begin to describe how excited she was.  She told everyone we met about her very own bike and how fast she went.  The independence was huge for her self-confidence and she couldn't be prouder or more excited. 


Madi learned how to use her bike very quickly and took off.  Riding her bike is one of her favorite things to do now.  It has given our family a way to be outdoors and exercising together and is truly amazing!!

Ramya didn't yet have a desire to be off riding by herself, but we were hoping seeing Madi ride would prompt her to want to a bike as well.  We knew the freedom would be important for her self-confidence, but it's also a great form of exercise and a lot of fun!  Sure enough, Ramya started wanting a bike too.  I wanted to apply but hadn't been able to yet as we were in the middle of selling the house and lots of craziness. Amazingly enough, one day the phone rang and it was Athletes Helping Athletes.  They had seen Ramya in Madi's bike video and asked if they could grant Ramya a bike as well.  Of course we VERY excitedly said yes!  As soon as I told Ramya she was beaming!  I quickly filled out the application and before we knew it Ramya had a bike as well. 

It is so wonderful watching the girls ride together.  They encourage each other, race each other, and have a blast!  Conner loves riding with them too and I love that it levels the playing field for them.  They give him some serious competition with how fast they go!


Just before leaving for India I got another call from Athletes Helping Athletes.  They asked if they could feature the girls in their upcoming promotional materials that would be in all their Roadrunner Sports locations and  wanted to name them this years "Heroes".  We knew the girls would love to participate, but also wanted to give back to their amazing organization, so of course we said "yes"!  They had given our girls such a huge gift and we wanted to do anything we could to thank them for their generosity. 

Over the next few months I chatted frequently with their program director, Erin.  She is really an amazing person with a heart for granting kids their wishes of receiving adaptive bikes.  I could tell how passionate she was the first time I talked to her and she was wonderful to work with.  Roadrunner sports spoiled the kiddos rotten and made sure to include the whole family.  They sent them clothes and shoes for the big shoot, and the kiddos truly felt like stars!

Deena was so excited for her new shoes that she brought them to bed with her.  When I say it meant a lot to them, I really mean it!  Madi was so excited she told everyone she met about how she got a really cool bike and how she was going to be famous. 

Monday was the big day.  The program director, a videographer, a photographer, the director of art, and a few assistants came to our house to take photos of the girls and Conner riding together and photos of our family.  They also interviewed each of us and recorded it.  The kids had a blast and enjoyed being in the spotlight for a bit. 


Once everything is put together they will create a video to have playing in all their Roadrunner stores during the time they promote their program, Athletes Helping Athletes.  They will also put posters and cut-outs of the girls in their stores and will feature our family in their magazine.  We are really excited to see everything once it is put together and plan on visiting one of the Phoenix stores so the girls can see it all live. 

As soon as everything is live I will post on the blog so you can visit a Roadrunner store near you and see the girls photos and video.  I also want to do a separate post on Athletes Helping Athletes and let everyone know how they can help give back to this wonderful organization that helps so many children!  

A HUGE "thank you" to Roadrunner Sports Athletes Helping Athletes program for this life-changing gift to our family!