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Sunday, January 31, 2016

Dreams Deferred

David and I have had a dream of building a fully accessible house for our girls.  Last year we found amazing lot and started working toward our dream of building.  We had plans drawn up and hoped that within five years or so, with the help of my dad, we would be able to build.  Plans changed, life changed, and we made the hard decision to sell the lot because our house still hasn't sold and we had adoption and medical bills to pay.  We didn't expect it to sell quickly, because land moves slowly lately, but did feel that God was telling us we needed to try.  It ended up selling very quickly and even closed early; this Friday.  We are sad to let it go, but have peace about the choice.  We know God has big plans for our family and there's always the possibility things will change again in the future. If not, though, we are thankful for the many, many blessings in our lives, and we know everything will work out just how it is supposed to.


Saturday, January 30, 2016

Deena's Adoption Video

It was such a long wait to bring Deena home, and we are overjoyed that she is now in our arms!  Here is a video of our trip to India to bring her home. 


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Deena's First Orthopedic Surgeon Appointment

Last week Deena had her first appointment with the orthopedic surgeon.  After she came home with a fracture, I realized how important it is going to be for us to have an orthopedic surgeon close by that was a good fit for her.  I called our orthopedic surgeon in Phoenix, Dr. Goggins, and asked who he recommended here in Tucson.  He recommended Dr. Vincent  and we saw him last week. I am happy to report that we loved him!  He was very pro-walking, had great bedside manner, took his time talking to us and answering questions, and has other kiddos he sees with osteogenisis imperfecta (OI).  I also talked to him a bit on his approach with kiddos that have spina bifida and liked his answers.  I think I will be switching all my girls to him.

(In the waiting room)

Dr. Vincent recommended removing Deena's cast (she had accidently peed on it so we were planning on getting a new one), x-raying her to see where she was at with bone healing, and then re-casting or splinting once we saw how she was doing.  The x-ray looked pretty good and there is quite a bit of new bone growth.  He said we could splint or even keep the cast off all together, depending on what I wanted.  Because we are all still getting used to how to handle Deena, I decided a splint was the way to go.  That way she would have the support, but also a little more freedom and movement.  So far it has worked out really well for her. 

(Deena "helping")

We spent some time talking about our long-term goals for Deena.  Right now the plan is to go in again in two weeks and check how her bone is healing.  We will also discuss a plan of action for rodding surgery at that time.  She had two femur rods inserted in India.  They had decided she was doing well, though, and removed one of the rods.  Apparently once you insert rods it changes the way the bone grows, so removing them is not a good option.  Basically once you are rodded, you are often rodded for life he said.  The other rod is not in quite right, but it's also not terrible, so he recommends leaving it for right now and then modifying it in the future.  She will also need tibia rods. He wants me to research a bit on the types of rods, how the surgery is typically performed, and decide how many bones we want to rod at once.  He does not recommend rodding the femur and tibias at the same time, because he said there is a settling period after surgery.  He said we could either do one tibia at a time, and then the femur, or go ahead and do both tibias at once, wait a bit, and then do at least the one femur if not both.  He explained to me how he performs the surgery, what the typical hospital stay looks like, what to expect, and all of that good stuff.  He also said he believes Deena has OI type 3. 

I can tell that Deena is already feeling better because she wants to be up walking constantly.  Right now I just hold her, but I would like to get a walker for her soon.  The walkers my other girls use are a little big and bulky for her, so I would like to get her something different.  I am still working on getting her approved for insurance, though, so it will be a little while.  Until then, our days look like this...

In other news, Deena has officially started homeschooling and is doing well.  She has a pretty good attention span and enjoys doing her work.  I am starting her off very slowly, but for now, it's nice to be in a routine again.
Deena is really sweet and keeps us laughing.  She has so much personality!  She loves singing and dancing, which Madi is really enjoying.  She is doing well expressing her needs and her emotions, which I am thankful for.  She loves snuggling and is a momma's girl for sure.  She is such a blessing!


Monday, January 18, 2016

Our First Big Outing.... The Reid Park Zoo

Today was our first big outing.  David had the day off so we decided to try out the Reid Park Zoo.  It was really nice to get out and the kids had a lot of fun!  Towards the end Deena was feeling done and kept telling me she was ready to go home, but she really enjoyed herself.  Here are some photos of our fun!


Saturday, January 16, 2016

One Week Home

Whew!  This week has seriously flown by.  I can proudly say my luggage is all put away and I am mostly caught up on laundry.  Right now that feels like a pretty big accomplishment!   

When we adopted Ramya we had so much support in the way of help with the house every-other-week and meals every-other-day.  This time David had to go back to work the day after we returned from India and we aren't very connected in Tucson yet so life picked right back up very quickly.  We did have a few dinner gift cards to use, though, so we were able to order carryout a few nights, which helped.

Deena is adjusting really well and keeps us laughing.  She hates the bird and does not want it close to her, so that can be interesting, but I think eventually she will decide the bird is fun.  She mostly wants to be held or sit on my lap.  She likes me to be constantly within view and if I walk out of view I hear, "mommmmmmyyyyyyyy where arrrrrre yooooouuu".  I know the security is really important for her right now so I try to just stay close or take her with me if I need to leave the room. 

The other 3 kiddos are enjoying having Deena home.  Madi is constantly telling her that she's her best friend.  Deena and Conner really bonded in India and love playing together.  Conner told me that he thought he wanted a brother, but he's glad we adopted Deena and that he has another sister.  He's such a sweet boy and is so gentle and loving with her.  Ramya enjoys playing with her and enjoys having her home but is struggling the most with the change.  In general, I think Ramya just really struggles with her confidence and knowing who she is in this world, but obviously any time we go through change it spirals her again.  I see this divide with Ramya between what she defaults to and what she wants to be.  She wants affection, but pushes us away, sometimes quite literally.  It's like the desire is there but there's a divide and she just can't put that guard down.  She defaults to harsh words and intentionally pushing buttons, but seems like she doesn't want to act like that and knows it's not right.  She can be so very sweet too and I'm thankful for those moments. Any time there's change she stops wanting to eat again and uses food for control, even though she will say she is hungry and she likes the food.  I know she's had a lot of hurt in the past and I pray that one day she will be able to let herself fully feel love and joy; let herself see how special she is.  It breaks my heart that she is only 9 and doesn't have that childhood innocence.  No child should ever have to grow up feeling unloved or unworthy.  It saddens me that there are so many other children out there feeling that way.  For now we have been trying to give her extra love and time and have been talking a lot about how we will always love her, and how our hearts grow bigger to love Deena too, but that it doesn't change how we feel about her.  David took her out shopping with him today and I know she enjoyed her time alone with him.

Deena still prefers me but is warming up to David as well.  She asked him to hold her a few times this week and tonight she went over and cuddled with him.  She even gave him a few kisses and told him that she loves him.  It melts my heart to see them together!
Today we went shopping for some new pants for Deena.  I wasn't anticipating her coming home with a cast on, so many of the pants I had do not fit correctly right now.  I had some Gymboree bucks and was able to get her some new size 4T leggings with wider bottoms that will fit over her cast.  She did pretty well at the store and enjoyed running in to Bare Minerals with me because she got to put on some pink lipstick.  She also found a pair of sunglasses at Gymboree and was very excited!
Of course she's mastered the art of the selfie and my phone will never be the same again.  She loves taking pictures of herself!

Next week we start homeschooling and I think she will do well.  She is very bright!  This week we did a few science experiments from a kit the kids got as a gift for Christmas and she is enjoying them. 

Please be praying we can get her on our insurance before her first orthopedic surgeon appointment next month.  We need to start PAM infusions with her and she may need some rodding surgeries in her near future as well.  She also handed me a piece of her tooth the other day so I need to get her to the dentist ASAP.  We have some big expenses coming up and it would be really helpful to have her on our insurance!

A big "thank you" to everyone who has been praying for us and following our journey.  It really  means so much! 


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Finally a Video and Update

I officially have all of my luggage and can post a video of David and the kiddos meeting Deena.  It's not very exciting because David had the bird with him and couldn't meet us inside.  We were driving straight to Tucson after they picked me up and they had been staying in Phoenix.  David not only had the bird but also had our car packed to the brim.  The first thing we are going to do when our lot or house sell is get a bigger vehicle!  Without further-ado, here's a video of them all meeting for the first time.

Overall, the adjustment to having Deena home is going very well.  I would say so far it was a bigger adjustment to bring Ramya home then Deena.  I think that's partially due to their temperaments and how they did adjusting, partially due to us knowing what to expect, and partially due to the rest of the kiddo's ages.  Ramya is probably having the hardest time adjusting, which I expected, but she's doing much better.  Ramya has always seemed to struggles with her confidence and knowing where she fits.  There's something there, but she can't verbalize it.  I try to talk through it with her but she's not ready to talk yet.  It is always worse when we go through change or transition.  When Deena first came home I think Ramya was trying to show off, but was doing that by being very rude and harsh to Madi and myself.  It was starting to rub off on Deena so Ramya and I had multiple talks and things are getting much better there.  Ramya also still takes a very long time to eat, but that gives Deena and Madi some time to play and bond.  Deena was already very attached to Conner since he came with me to India.  

There's so much I need to catch up on around the house, but I'm trying not to stress about it and just to enjoy our time together.  The kiddos also enjoy "helping" so we have been slowly getting things put back in to place together.  

Deena is a very sweet girl and is already loving hugs and kisses and is already telling us she loves us.  If I get more than about 10 feet away I hear "mommmmeeeeeee, where are youuuuuuu?" in her cute little accent.  She likes playing, but also enjoys her snuggle time, being sung to, and having David or I play with her and the other kiddos.  Play-dough seems to be her favorite activity so far.  She has a spunky streak as well, but of course she wouldn't fit in here if she didn't.  Her favorite foods are noodles and pizza, which cracks me up.  She has a funny sense of humor and always has us laughing.  

In other news, I am working on getting her added to our private insurance.  We have an appointment with a new orthopedic surgeon here in Tucson in February to have her fracture and cast looked at.  I still will likely have her see Dr. Goggins, but would like someone closer to help us deal with any urgent things, like fractures, as well.  She also has an appointment with our endocrinologist in March.  I'm praying I can get her on insurance by those appointments since she will likely need a lot of testing.  We also plan on starting PAM infusions and those will be quite costly.

Thank you to everyone who has messaged or sent me a text to check in.  We appreciate your thoughts and prayers!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Happy Birthday Deena

Today we got to celebrate not only Deena coming home, but also her birthday!!  Today Deena turned 8 and we had a lot of fun celebrating her.  She wanted a chocolate cake so we ran to the gluten free bakery and picked one up for her.  She enjoyed opening her gifts and really loved the cake.  We were so excited to get to celebrate her and love her so much!!

Here are some pictures from her special day.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Whew.... Almost home! What an Adventure!

After airplane craziness, delays, re-routings, and seating issues (a huge thank you to those passengers willing to switch seats so I could stay by Deena and Conned could sit by Kariann), we are on our last plane to get home!!!!!!

Navigating the airport and keeping Deena safe from flinging bags, bumps, and crowded airport areas, not to mention navigating tiny airplane bathrooms with her, has been nuts.  We are almost home now though and that's what matters!

I can't wait for us all to be reunited again!!

Friday, January 8, 2016

Hoping We Got it Under Control

Those of you whom are my Facebook friends may have seen my post yesterday that we found lice in Deena's hair.  I was SO glad we found them here, before heading home.  It was getting late but we decided to take a taxi to the closest chemist (aka pharmacy) and get some stuff to treat us all, just to be safe.  We did the kiddos first so they could go to bed.  After using the bottled stuff we put butter in Deena's hair to make sure we had suffocated all of them.  We couldn't get our hands on mayo and had read online that butter works the same, but is safer since mayo spoils so quickly.  Next we sanitized the room and contained everything we could in to bags to go home for washing and drying.   Today we picked nits and then made sure the hotel changed/washed all the bedding and pillowcases and stuff, and also cleaned things ourselves.  After heading to FRRO we got a different kind of lice oil, which was also natural, and treated ourselves again.  After new shirts for all of us from the closest mall (so we could make sure they were clean), and showering, we are hopefully all clear.  We do have some stuff waiting for us at home as well, though, so we can triple check.  I'll also make sure to wash and dry everything very well and/or sanitize and/or quarantine it, including stuffed animals, toys, clothes, suite cases, and anything that came with us on vacation. 

A big "thank you" to everyone who shared your tips on dealing quickly with our discovery.  I'm thankful Kariann also knew just how to deal with everything and was here to help me.  Especially since I cannot bathe Deena because of her cast. She helped me clean her hair while I held her carefully across my body with her head in the sink.  Whew!  The fun just never ends!

Here's Deena's cute new dress that she picked.  It has buildings, kitties, and birds on it...


Exit Permit is in Hand

Whew.  I'm breathing a huge sigh of relief right now!  We went earlier today to get our exit permit and after quite some time, we were able to leave with it.  They asked me, multiple times, again about David and where he was at.  Then about 6 different people read through it, each time pointing out the fact that both of our names are on our CARA document.  Finally we received the stamp of approval and signature and were told we are good to go.  We head out for the airport in a few hours.  Please be praying that we do not have any delays once we are there and that our exit permit works to get us through quickly.  Thank you!!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Birthday India-Style Continued...

Conner has declared today the best birthday ever!  We went to the mall and found a fun game place that had not only games but.... a roller coaster and bumper cars!  Perfect for a little boy turning 9!  We also found taco bell (barf) in the mall and he was ecstatic since we do not normally eat there.  Here's some photos of our fun...


We Hope to be Good to Go

Today we were able to pick up Deena's Visa at the US embassy.  Afterward we went back down to the FRRO office with the rest of our copies and documentation.  The FRRO office told me I did a "noble" job of preparing my paperwork and making copies for them, but continued to ask me about David and why he was not here.  I informed them they had already talked to CARA and were told it was ok for us to leave.  The finally decided things were ok and told me to come back tomorrow to get our paperwork so that we can leave tomorrow night.  My tummy was in knots the whole time because this is all a new process, the embassy can only do so much to help us navigate it, it's not part of CARA's requirements, and we cannot leave without it.  I talked to two other US families and one was having a hard time getting what they needed.  I'm really praying when we go tomorrow the documents are all ready and we will be cleared to go back to the US.  Though we have really enjoyed our time here, we miss our families back home, and I, of course, worry about Madi and her seizures.

The last few days have been spent working on paperwork, but we have had lots of fun as well.  Yesterday we went back to MaxMed to get her TB test read, went to the embassy, then enjoyed going to the mall, out to eat, and shopping in the city.  We've also just spent some time relaxing and resting.  We have been sleeping pretty well so I am very thankful for that!! 

Please pray we can get our paperwork tomorrow and we have safe travels home.  I'll update again when I am able and cannot wait to have ALL of my babies together!

Look who found a Barbie...