Botox number three is complete.

Audrey’s right clubfoot repair is complete.

Hallelujah.

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This caption would maybe say, “I love Versed.”

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This caption might say, “Post-op can be a booger.”

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And this caption might say, “…but then there’s MyON-Q.”

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And this caption might say, “Post-op recovery=Lots of TV!”

We’re not picky.  Olympics.  Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  Duck Dynasty.

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And, “I saw Uncle Si for the first time and thought he was Gollum.”

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And, “Thank you, Jesus for Narcotics.”

The hospital staff at Shawnee Mission was wonderful, as ALWAYS.  And they told us that they just especially love our girls.  I don’t know how anyone couldn’t love our girls, but it’s still good to hear.  We really appreciate them and the girls’ surgeon, Dr. Gupta.

The girls are doing great.  They gained much coveted range in their joints and are feeling mostly wonderful.  They’re looking forward to being reunited with Sibby Cat.

A blur

Life’s been a blur lately.  For real.

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We drove up and back to Kansas in one day to have Audrey’s first post-op cast removed and for her to be fitted with a second.  Audrey’s cast removal was uneventful and her incisions looked great.  The second splint was then cut along both sides just as if it was going to be removed, but then supported with straps for more wear, creating a bi-valve cast.

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About half the way home, we realized that the cast wasn’t going to work.  So from Friday to Tuesday, Audrey wore Eva’s stretching splint.  Not ideal, but fortunately the girls feet are nearly the exact same size.  Then on Tuesday the girls’ PT made another cast which looked really good but once we were home, we found that due to Audrey’s foot position, she consistently rubbed along one of the walls.

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Sometimes you can create a cast or a splint that looks great and then the body just rejects it.  Sometimes, despite a custom fit, you realize that it’s not going to stay fit.  Either it’s too loose and the foot moves or that it’s too tight and then creates potential pressure sores.  Or the sides are too short and don’t provide great support or they’re too tall and an area rubs.

I will never forget making a splint in grad school that literally fit like a glove.  It was gorgeous.  For 15 minutes.  Then my lab partner noted that her new, gorgeous theraplast glove was creating a very sore place along the styloid process of her ulna, which I had forgotten to “flare out” (basically heating the splint and making a little half bubble around the bony prominence).  In fact, I will absolutely never forget because at that point our instructor walked by and decided to use my splint as an example for the class of what not to do.  Ouch.

You can have a perfect fit and get an awesome position for a hand or foot only to realize that overtime, your splint will not work out in daily life.

And in Audrey’s case, she essentially has three specific points that we’re wanting the cast to support and maintain post-op with the most neutral position possible:

the heel cord-keep that heel down with the foot at about a 90 degree angle with the leg

the midfoot-keep it straight and not curved in a “C” shape

the calcaneus heel itself-keep it straight down, not curved “inward” like it used to be where Audrey’s point of contact with the floor was only the outside of her foot.

So just imagine how difficult it can be to juggle all those corrections, if you will, with leaving enough room but not too much room.  It’s a tricky business.

What we ended up doing was using an extra Dafo 3.5 with a softy shell.  Resolving all those foot issues took about a week.  The good news is that we’re able to manipulate Audrey’s foot to get it into a good position and keep it that way without too much discomfort on her end.  And in another week or so, Audrey’s custom orthotic should be in.IMG_3385IMG_3386

And Sibby finally recovered from her declawing surgery which was just one week after Audrey’s surgery.

Her surgery was performed using a laser which was supposed to be a lot more humane and easier to recover from.  Well, I pity the cats who had the scalpel.  Laser is bad enough.  Poor Sibby was so stressed that she licked herself a couple of bald spots.  I read that self-induced alopecia in cats is common after a stressful event, like moving their litter box.  In that case, I suppose we should consider ourselves lucky that Sibby only liked off two patches. (For any would-be-haters:  Sibby has cerebellar hypoplasia and is not nor will ever be an outside cat where she would need those claws for defense.  She will forever be an inside cat where the situation was was kinda like get rid of the cat or get rid of the claws.  So. Surgery.)

And we celebrated our nation’s independence.

And we celebrated my dad’s 50th birthday.  Happy birthday, Dedu!

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And we’re chugging on with summer school, which includes daily lessons from How to Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons and the occasional educational movie.

The girls are picking out words they can read from some of their favorite books and making up the rest.  It’s great.

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The girls are still enjoying Inquisikids (from Mathtacular) and are learning some very basic air, plant, and kitchen science.  We jumped on the plant science bandwagon this week and did some leaf crayon-rubbing, checking out the stems and veins and dancing with notions of chlorophyll and photosynthesis.

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Here’s to a relaxing four weeks until Audrey’s next surgery.

Happy 7th Birthday, Evalena Claire Claire!

Eva just turned seven.  Oh, my goodness. That girl.  My heart.

Eva’s bright little life has now reached the point where she’s spent the same amount of time in our family as in her orphanage.

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Seven years old.  What a blessing Eva is to our family.  She’s so bright and kind.  Such a gracious little girl.

We celebrated her birthday just a few days ago.

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This girl loves her coffee!

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And she (thankfully) really enjoys educational dvds.  This one is Inquisikids, by the Mathtacular guys.

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Eva LOVES using her hands.  It’s a lot of work for her, but she absolutely enjoys the challenge and asks to “hold” things all the time.  She uses her trunk and shoulders to move her arms to “pick up” toys and put them into containers or just move them and play with them.  So she was really excited to get some Eva-sized toys.  She has a whole set of farm animals now.

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And Eva-sized letter manipulatives.

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That night we all stayed up past the girls bedtime and watched The Incredibles. The girls loved it.

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And in keeping with tradition, Audrey received a gift on Eva’s birthday.  A ribbon wand.  Audrey was ecstatic.

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As was Eva.

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And no family celebration is complete without some chocolate covered strawberries!

Enter Lily’s dark chocolate to the rescue.  Vegan.  Zero sugar.  Stevia sweetened.  Score.

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Eva, we hope your seventh year is full of joy.  You are such a delight!

Surgery, surgery, surgery

Audrey had her first surgery today. She had a club foot repair. Her left foot received a medial midfoot release, hydrodissection to release her Achilles’ tendon, and a gastroc release. Her surgeon did very well and so did Audrey!

Her left foot is now in a beautiful, neutral position for future standing and walking! Following hydrodissection, her foot could be manipulated to 10 degrees beyond neutral. Like, out of toe-pointing down ballerina position into slightly toes up/heel down position.

Praise Jesus.

She is recovering pretty well, post pain meds;)

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A Year With Audrey

It’s now been a year since we met our Audrey Mae and became a family of four.  Overnight, Audrey became a daughter and a sister.IMG_0768

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I asked her if while she was waiting in China, she wanted a family.  She said a big yes and then I asked her how she knew she wanted a family and how she even knew what a family was…She said, “I don’t know but I just did.”

When people meet Audrey, they always comment on how pretty she is and what a nice smile she has.

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And so she does.  But when I think of Audrey, her kindness, willingness to serve, and tender heart come to mind.  I think of how she has adopted Eva as her little sister and loves her so well.

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Now that Audrey’s language has progressed, some afternoons I ask her to tell me about her life in Inner Mongolia.  There are big gaps in her story and filling those gaps helps us to better know our girl.

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Most often, she tells me little stories where she felt a sense of injustice.  Stories from when she was without an advocate.  Stories like how a boy drew on the floor, blamed her, and she was punished for it.  We then talk about forgiveness and how no one can do right all the time.  How even as an adult, it’s hard to always know what’s right or best or even who’s telling the truth.  How Jesus knows that we sin, can’t follow the rules all the time, and can’t be kind all the time.  How he loves us anyway and died for us, taking the punishment for those sins.  Audrey will quip, “How his body was broken on the cross for us.”  Yes, Audrey Mae, you are so right.

Sometimes though, the stories are more  varied and interesting.  She always ends these stories with a grin and a “So..”  And then she’ll start again on another.  It’s during those times that I get a vague sense of being Pipped.  You know, from Great Expectations?  When Pip gets back from the eccentric Miss Havisham’s house only to be grilled on all the details from his sister and uncle?  I can’t help but think that she’s going to start telling me how the director and nannies rode in black, velvet carriages and how there were huge dogs eating veal cutlets.  And that the children ran around the them all waving flags.  The carriage and flags  haven’t come up yet, but when they do, I’ll be ready.  With pen and paper.

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This girl is going places.

Audrey Mae, it’s been a lovely year getting to love and know you.  Keep on loving.  Keep on serving.  Keep on building.  Keep on imagining.  You can do anything you set your mind to.  We’re so proud to call you ours.

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