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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!


Friday, March 4, 2016

A Few Quick Updates Because SO Much is Happening

I just realized it's been quite a while since I have updated on how life is going.  There's a lot to share, so I think I'll break it down by kiddo to make it easier.  


On Monday Madi saw a new neurologist in Tucson.  So far I think I like him, we shall see.  He wants to do a sleep-deprived EEG and see how her neurons are firing and all of that good stuff.  Her appointment is in in May and the goal is to limit her sleep as much as we can for one day (4-5 hours if possible) so they can get the best EEG readings.  She can't have caffeine before the test, but you can bet I'll have quite a bit!!  After the test he wants to discuss possibly changing her medication or combining two medications to try and get her seizures more under control.  She doesn't have them often, but when she does they are big and require a lot of intervention.  

Madi and Ramya's new DDD coordinator came out today and we really liked her.  She had read our blog and was excited to meet the girls.  She gave me a list of occupational, physical, and speech therapists in Tucson so that I can start calling around and find services for both girls.  That's my next job over the next few weeks.  

Other than that, Madi has been talking about wanting to be on stage again, so I need to start looking for a place in Tucson that offers dance or plays she can participate in.


A friend who was adopting from India at the same time we were shared that her daughter tested positive for E Pylori.  I read about it and decided I should have Deena and Ramya tested.  I asked their pediatrician if we could run the test and he agreed.  Deena's test came back negative, but Ramya's came back positive.  The doctor said treating it likely won't make any short-term changes, but that we should treat it to make sure she doesn't get ulcers or have issues in the future.  Reading online I found that it's not usually symptomatic, however, when it is the symptoms (according to Dr. Google ;)) can include:

  • excessive burping
  • feeling bloated
  • nasea or vomiting
  • lack of appetite or anorexia
  • unexplained weight loss
It may be nothing, but I'm hoping treating her may help bring up her appetite and weight.  We have had swallow studies, feeding evaluations, parasite tests, etc... and never came back with any answers as to why she may struggling with having a desire to eat and poor weight gain.  Everyone tells me it is emotional, which is one reason why we were having attachment therapy.  I'm praying that this may may provide some answers for us and help make her healthier.  The initial treatment would be 4 weeks and then we would re-test and see how she is doing.


A few weeks back Deena had her first "incident" since being home.  The kiddos were riding their plasma cars and Ramya slammed in to Deena, causing Deena's leg to hit the wall.  She started crying and telling me "mom, so much pain!".  It was so sad!  I splinted her right away and then she felt a ton better.  After that her leg only hurt if it moved in a funny way, and she really didn't complain about it any more.  I took her back to the orthopedic surgeon who thinks it may been a new break.  Looking at her x-ray from December in India, though, she had a break in the spot already that she had come home with.  The pediatrician thinks she just re-injured the existing break, but our next follow up with the orthopedic surgeon isn't until next week so I am not sure his opinion yet.  He wasn't looking at the old x-ray to compare the new x-ray to, so I plan to bring that for him.  Either way she said it doesn't hurt anymore and she has been putting weight on it again, so that's great!

Last week we drove in to Phoenix and Deena had her first appointment with our pediatrician.  He had told us she would always be in pain, and was pleasantly surprised to see her so happy and doing well.  She charmed him with her silliness and I could tell he thought she was pretty special (which of course she is!).  

Deena sees our endocrinologist later this month so we can start her infusions.  We are also starting the discussion of rodding surgery and we are praying about which doctor to use for the surgery and the best type of surgery for her.  

Deena still is not on our insurance.  I was told we were approved and in the final stages of rate determination, and then haven't heard back.  I need to call again and hope she will be on soon.  I also applied for CRS (children's rehabilitative services) for her to help with doctor's bills in the meantime.  Hopefully we will hear back from both soon.  The orthopedic surgeon wrote her a prescription for a wheelchair.  We do not want to start the process, though, until she is on our insurance.  We saved Madi's last wheelchair for Deena, though, so once we have a big enough vehicle, she can start using that while we wait.


Poor Conner was sick last weekend; the sickest I have every seen him.  I started dosing him up with elderberry, vitamin C, zinc, and garlic.  He threw up twice on Saturday and didn't feel well.  He slept most of the day on Sunday, had a low-grade fever, and kept complaining of pressure behind his eyes.  I planned to take him to the pediatrician on Monday but he woke up his normal energetic self and I was so thankful! 


In other news, Athletes Helping Athletes not only gifted Madi and Ramya AMAZING hand cycles, but they also asked to feature them in their promotional materials this year.  Of course we said yes!  Monday we had their program manager, photographer, videographer, and assistants here.  It was SO much fun!!  More to come on that later, though, because I really wanted to dedicate an entire post to our day and their organization.  


Our house finally sold and closed this Thursday.  We both have mixed emotions about the sale, but are thankful that we are all in one place now and that all of our "stuff" is finally in one place as well.  It was stressful having it pending, going back and forth so much between Tucson and Phoenix, and then packing it up with 4 kids in tow, so we are glad to move past that phase of our lives.

 When we initially put the house up for sale we had dreams of renting for a while, saving, and then being able to build the girls an accessible house.  Plans changed when David's boss asked us to relocate, our adoption finally went through, and the house took longer to sell than anticipated.  Now we are here in Tucson and both our house and lot are sold.  We are working hard on trusting that God has a plan, though, and are looking forward to watching it unfold.  David is enjoying working closely with his boss and feels like it was a good move for him, which I am thankful for.  We are also VERY excited to be able to get a bigger vehicle so that Deena can start using a wheelchair.  I think the plan right now is to look for a conversion van with double opening doors that will fit all the kiddos and the three chairs.  We are hoping to find something soon!


I think those are all of the "big" updates for now.  Deena is such a sweet girl and is adjusting remarkably well.  She went with David to pick up coffee the other day, which was her first trip away without momma.  She was very proud of herself and her time with David.  It was so sweet!  She kept talking about how funny daddy is, and all the silly animal noises he makes.  

We are blessed indeed!!