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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Therapeutic Riding Round Two... Conner Gets a Turn

The girls are really loving their therapeutic riding with Stable Influence.  Conner doesn't get to participate weekly, but they promised rides whenever they had an open horse for a bit (especially when he's a great helper and scoops the poop).  Today we got there a little early so he was able to ride and was thrilled!  He has his things too, like football, but it's still nice for him to get to ride sometimes too and feel included.  Here's a little video of his ride today...

Here's a picture of his beaming smile...

Ramya let David and I trade girls so today I helped Madi and he helped Ramya.  The got to work on holding the reins today and guiding the horse, which they loved. They also worked on balancing forward, sideways, and backwards.  Here are a few photos from their ride today as well....

We are so blessed to be able to have the girls in therapeutic riding.  It's so wonderful for them in so many ways!  

Madi's New Wheelchair

After lots of back-and-forth with insurance, I am happy to share that Madi got her new wheelchair today.  She got her first at about 22 months old, her second a few years later, and this is her third chair.  She loves it and is very excited about it, especially because it sparkles.  We stuck with the Zippie Zone, the same type of wheelchair she had last time, but added a scoliosis back and foot strap.  We are saving her old wheelchair for our next little gal, so that she has something to use while we get insurance straightened out.  In the meantime, Conner is enjoying playing around with it (and is pretty bummed he can't use it out and about...).  The chair is a bit wider, but Madi is adjusting to it quite well.  Here are a few pictures of her new chair...

I also forgot I was going to need to bring 3 wheelchairs home... Madi's old chair, new chair, and Ramya's chair.  I discovered that I can fit 3 wheelchairs, with some wheels removed, but only 3 kids.  That sure won't work when our adoption goes through, so please join us in prayer that we can find a big enough vehicle to accommodate 4 kids AND 3 wheelchairs that is also affordable.  We may just have to get a big van for the time being and get something accessible later, which means continued lifting and hoisting of chairs, but thankfully that's something we are still able to do.  My dream car is a Mercedes sprinter or the new big Ford van.

(All 3 kiddos are in the middle row.  One wheelchair is sideways in the very back, then the other two in front).

It's been a busy few days with appointments, but it's so worth it!  We are thankful for such awesome care, insurance, and the ability to get equipment for our gals that give them FREEDOM!  

Ramya's New HKFOs

On Tuesday Ramya got her new HKFOs.  She was SO excited!  She picked a zebra print and really loves them.  Hopefully that will be good incentive to be up and standing in them!  Madi also got her HKFOs adjusted, so both girls have a great fit right now.

Ron adjusts our HKFOs for us while we wait, which is wonderful!  It does take a few hours, though, between our time in the room with him and him adjusting them, so we brought our school work and homeschooled on the road.  I love being able to do that when we need to!

On the way home we stopped at Urban Cookies and got gluten free, vegan donuts.  Well, Conner and Madi did, that is.  Ramya didn't want one and I try and avoid sweets.  That sure made the kids day!

Yeah for standing!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Our Christmas Chairs 2014

I realized I forgot to post pictures of the girl's wheelchair Christmas decorations.  Ooops!  And of course, for some reason, I can only find Madi's decoration photos right now.  I'll update with Ramya's chair when I find them.  Madi wanted angels flying around Santa, so this is what we came up with.  Of course battery-powered lights on the handle bars were also in order.  The girls really loved showing off the lights on their handlebars!

(it's hard to see but there are gold angels among the round colored balls)

We Started Therapeutic Riding, Hurray!

Last week we started the girls in a therapeutic riding program for kiddos with special needs through A Stable Influence.  The girls LOVE it and are so excited to tell everyone that they rode horses. They also ask every day if it's their riding day. 

While the girls are on the horses they have them ride forward, backward, and sideways to strengthen different core muscles.  They also ride with just a pad, not a saddle, so that they can feel the horse's gait better, which will in turn hopefully help them with their walking gait in their leg braces.  It's also great practice for Ramya to work on sitting back on her booty and having good posture.  The program is run by one lady and a bunch of volunteers so there are no therapist costs, like in hippotherapy, which is nice.  

Here are a few pictures of the girl's first day.  I couldn't get any great ones of Ramya because she wanted me to stay by her and hold her leg the whole time, so I did.  Next time maybe David and I will switch girls (if Ramya allows ;)) and then I can take a few better photos of Ramya.  Ramya has a huge fear of falling, and was hesitant to que the horse to walk, but did great once the horse started walking and she realized she would not fall.  She death-gripped the pad and wouldn't let go, but she did it!  I know each week she will get even more confident and I'm excited to watch her build her strength, endurance, and confidence.  Conner isn't in therapeutic riding but enjoys shoveling poop and helping his sisters to earn free rides in between kiddos :).

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Our Two Year Adopton Celebration

Can you believe today marks two years since Ramya has been home?  It is just so crazy!  It really feels like she has always been part of our family, but it's crazy to think that just two years ago I was in India, holding her for the first time, and walking out those doors with her. 

(P.S. When I walked out the doors with her, it was the 6th in India, but the 7th in the US, so we use the 7th as her adoption day)

When I think back to those first moments I had with her, I am still completely overcome with emotion.  I would have never in my wildest dreams thought I would have a daughter from India.  Before Ramya fell in our laps, I did not even know you could adopt from India, nor had I ever even considered it.  I also thought we would adopt a baby and was pretty sure we were not meant to adopt an older child.  Yet here we are with our beautiful, almost 8 year old, daughter from the other side of the world.  It's crazy and perfect all at the same time.  I'm still in awe at how God orchestrated our journey. 
There's so much I could say about adoption and our process of becoming a family of five.  Adoption is crazy hard, but at the same time, adoption is beautiful.   
Before adopting you read so much about helping your child attach to you, but really attachment is a two-way street.  You think and pray and prepare.  You read every book, every blog, and every article you can get your hands on.  Then this little (or big, but still little on the inside) human comes in to your life.  You love that little human intensely.  They want to love you, but they are terrified of you.  Everyone else in their life has left them.  They are sure you will do the same.  The more they want to love you and want to accept your love, the more they push you away.  All the while, you are trying to attach to them too.  You know you love them, but you never got to start with those "warm fuzzies".  When they scream at you, try to head-butt you, , throw things at you, take off their clothes and chuck them at you, and scream that they don't like you, it's hard.  The struggles are real.  Sometimes they seem endless.  You know beyond a shadow of a doubt you love them.  You know and feel that they are yours with every bone in your body.  You know you would do anything for your child.  But in that moment, when it's all happening and you are still trying to create those warm fuzzies, it's hard.  Just plain hard.  Even if you had a whole stock-house of warm-fuzzies it would still be hard.
Then you get those moments that fill your heart with joy.  The quiet "I love you".  The little hand in your hand.  That little head against your shoulder, snuggling in deep.  It may not last long, but it's a glimmer.  A glimmer of hope.  A little more bonding.  A little more closeness.  A little more attaching.  It may not last long, but you soak it in and it sustains you.
It is such a blessing to get to adopt.  When you adopt, you have the privilege of seeing the world a little differently.  You get to see this little being come out of their shell, slowly.  You get to see their personality emerge.  You start to see confidence.  You see smiles turn authentic and hearts begin to soften.  You start to see genuine joy.  The "I love you" becomes real and heart-felt.  And that, my friends, makes it all worth it.  Yes, adoption is hard.  Yes, adoption is crazy emotional.  But, yes, adoption is worth it.

Today we celebrated Ramya's adoption day how we always do.  It's nothing fancy, but it's special to us.  We go out to Indian food and wear our finest India outfits.  We watch our adoption video and cuddle close while we read through Ramya's adoption story book together.  We spend time as a family enjoying each other's company and remember that love makes a family, and our family is full of love.
“I didn’t give you the gift of life,
But in my heart I know.
The love I feel is deep and real,
As if it had been so.
For us to have each other
Is like a dream come true!
No, I didn’t give you
The gift of life,
Life gave me the gift of you.”


Sunday, February 1, 2015

Ramya's New Wheelchair is Here

On Thursday we got a VERY special delivery.... Ramya's first wheelchair!

Ramya has been using Madi's first wheelchair because she fit in it just fine.  She was starting to outgrow it, though, and the wheels started falling apart, so it was time for her to get her own.  She was very excited!  She picked purple, of course.

Here are a few photos of her new chair:

As you can see, the back pad is very narrow.  Because she is so very narrow in her chest/tummy (think an almost 8 year old that would still needs about a 3T waist in pants if it weren't for the fact she needs more length), they were worried if they had a wider back she wouldn't be able to get her elbows back to propel herself.  This design works great!  She is able to get her arms/elbows back well and it doesn't rub at all.
They built-up her seat cushion to help hold her legs in the correct position and also tilted it backwards a bit to help keep her back straight.  The design helps a lot with alignment.  The only issue is I can't keep her pants pulled up, high enough for long enough because she needs a size 5-6 for length, but about 3T for width (and can't wear adjustable waist jeans as they rub her tummy when she crawls), so her diaper hangs out the back when she squirms around (and let me tell you, this girl is always squirmy!).  I fix it constantly and am teaching her to check it as well, but need to think of a better solution for her. I'm thinking of some kind of peace of cloth that fills the gap between her back rest and chair cushion.   

They added tie-downs in case we ever need them in our vehicle and put on nice tall handles for me, which are easily adjustable.  There are also adjustable anti-tippers.  We did not put on a headrest because she just doesn't really need it. 

The strap around the feet is for when we are out in grocery stores and the such.  She was constantly kicking her legs out to propel herself, but in the processes ends up knocking things off shelves, so this will keep her safe in the store, but won't really be necessary in wide-open spaces. We also opted for a seatbelt she cannot undo by herself.  She struggles with emotions and regulation and when she is unhappy, she will often do dangerous things and there's no reasoning with her, so I'd rather have her safe while I give her a little more time to mature and grow emotionally.  I'm hoping to be able to switch it out soon so she can have more independence.    
Oh, and the best part is she now has light up caster wheels like Madi.  She is VERY proud of them!  I just love how much she loves her new chair!