Monday, September 30, 2013

Almost One Year Home!

I cannot believe that in a week Anna will have been in our family for a year!  What an amazing, difficult, fun, crazy year it has been.  She has truly been an amazing gift to our family and always brings lots of pizzazz.  I still can’t believe that her foster home told us that she was a shy and reserved little girl.  Well that little girl is long gone!  She is a spunky, bossy, silly three year old.  Sweet as can be one minute and little miss 3 going on 13 the next.  Having 3 older siblings has definitely had an influence on her and she has no trouble getting into battles of “who can talk the loudest to get attention” with them.  Some days it is hard to remember that she hasn’t always been part of our family. 

Anna’s newest and biggest accomplishment is being potty trained!  She caught on really quickly and within a few weeks was having very few accidents.  Although she isn’t always accident free,  I’d have to say she has been one of my easiest to train.  Really this is nothing short of a miracle.  Back in January a nurse doing her urology testing told me that “THESE KIDS” can’t be potty trained.  Luckily, I held my breath and didn’t say what I wanted to, but let’s just say Anna isn’t “THESE KIDS” Yes, she has Spina Bifida, but she is her own person and she is a living miracle.  She shouldn’t be alive. She shouldn’t be able to walk and she shouldn’t be able to use the potty.  But guess what?  She is!  She shouldn’t even be part of our family but… She is! She has a God that is SO BIG!  And He has done great things for her.  One of her favorite songs is “My God is So Big” I love to hear her sing it because it is so true in her life.   I love that each and every day we can see God’s miracles and praise him for them.

This leads me into a BIG PRAYER REQUEST for Anna.  Last spring Anna had a baseline MRI done.  Initially we were told that everything looked fine.  Unfortunately, two months later when we met with the neurosurgeon we found out that wasn’t the case.  I won’t go into the details of the misinformation (not good.)  But what we did find out was that Anna has a significant build up of spinal fluid in her spinal column.  Realistically, a child with that much spinal fluid built up should have a spinal shunt put in to drain the fluid.  But as we determined earlier, Anna doesn’t follow the rules.  The surgeon looked at how well she is doing and didn’t see any reason to do surgery on her right then.  So, we decided to wait 4 months and have another MRI.  So this Wednesday, October 2nd she will have that MRI.  For the last four months we have been praying for a miraculous healing.  Every night as I tuck her in, I pray that this next MRI will show a significant reduction in the amount of spinal fluid.  Would you please join us in praying for this miracle?  I believe Anna’s God is definitely big enough to do this miracle in her body.  Please also pray for wisdom in moving forward if we don’t get the particular miracle we are asking for.  Pray that we can trust God no matter what.

Anna’s walking is coming along really well.  She pretty much walks everywhere now with the assistance of a walker or forearm crutches.  She’s pretty amazing with the crutches since most kids her age aren’t coordinated enough to use them.  The crutches allow her to have more flexibility in getting around than just using the walker, but she prefers the walker for SPEED. She had her first “running on concrete and falling face first” experience a few weeks ago.  Not a fun result but nothing too serious. Last week we met with her orthopedic surgeon.  Her left leg (the club foot leg) has several issues because of how her bones grew wrong.  Getting her left leg corrected is going to take a lot of time, and it will probably never be perfect, but we want to make sure we are doing everything we can to get it in the best shape it can be.  As we move into the spring the next step will be to correct the bone malformation in her foot.  Anna’s walking is going so well that the surgeon wants to continue to improve that.  After that surgery she may have a surgery to correct the rotation of her tibia.  This second surgery will be more invasive, so we will wait to see how things go with the first surgery before moving forward with the tibia surgery.  Basically, the better she does the more surgery she gets.  Not really the reward you look forward to, but in her case it will bring greater benefit to her mobility as she gets older.

Last week Anna started a ballet class!  She is so excited about it.  We are very blessed to have a ballet program near our home that is happy to let Anna be involved despite her disability.  We are hoping that the class will continue to improve her balance as well as being a fun activity for her.

Thank you for your continued prayers for Anna and our family.  It is hard to put into words what this year has meant to us.  One thing is for sure.  It has changed us. Anna has brought us so much joy.   She has made us cling in faith to Jesus.  She has made our family more fun.  She has loved us even when we have acted unlovable.  She has adapted and adapted and adapted some more.  She challenges me every day to love more, be silly more, and to step out in faith more. She is a living, breathing, miracle and I am so blessed to be her mom.  Tonight as K.C. tucked her into bed he whispered "I love you" she sweetly whispered back "I know."   

Monday, April 22, 2013

Six months with Anna!

Well it’s been over six months since little Anna joined our family and what an adventure it has been! 

In January and February we had weekly appointments at Children’s Mercy getting Anna’s club foot fixed and checking that she had no kidney problems.  We are very excited about the amazing transformation of her foot and also finding out that her kidneys look great.  In March Anna had a baseline MRI of her head and spine to make sure that everything was the same as we had been told from the doctor’s reports from China.  Everything looks good and there shouldn’t be any surgeries in the near future.  We pray that she won’t need any more surgeries-ever.

Anna continues to amaze us with her incredible ability to adjust and learn and push her little body to the limits.  She can now stand on her own for about 10 seconds and can walk around holding on to something.  She even tries to walk up and down the stairs!  She loves to climb and recently started doing somersaults with a little push from behind.  She tears around the driveway with her walker and loves to be outside. She’s always cracking us up with her antics and as always is Little Miss Personality.  It’s never a dull moment around our house. 

Our latest news is that we bought a new house!  It has more space for our large family and we are pretty excited about our new pool!  We can’t wait to have friends and family over this summer.  We close next week and will probably move in after the kids finish school.  We’ll be putting our existing house on the market in a few weeks, so if anyone is looking for a completely remodeled four bedroom house in an awesome neighborhood in North Overland Park let us know.  Our new house is at 10037 Farley Lane and is only about 10 blocks from our old one.  We love this area and are really glad we found a house that meets our needs without moving very far.  We also love that the new house will be easier for Anna to get around in without all of the stairs our current house has.  Plus there will be lots of room for Anna's physical therapy in the finished basement.

We continue to praise God for the blessing of Anna to our family and for providing this new home for us.  K.C. and I also just returned from a four day trip to Miami courtesy of Sprint.  K.C. won an award for all of his hard work and was selected as being in the top 1% of employees at Sprint this year.  We are so thankful to some very special Grandma's, Grandpa's and Aunts for taking care of our kids so that we could go.  We feel very refreshed and rejuvenated after a long stressful year, and hopefully we will have some extra energy now to get ready to move! Anna did great while we were gone, and we continue to be so thankful to God for helping her to understand that she is completely part of our family and that mommy and daddy will always be here for her.

Thanks to all of you for your prayers for Anna this winter during her casting and surgery.  Everything went so well.  It wasn’t easy for us, but she didn’t seem phased in the least.  She is well on her way to walking on her own and we are hoping to get her some crutches in the next few months to give her more opportunity to walk instead of crawl.  Her leg strength and balance improves daily and we look forward to the day we can post a video of her first solo steps.  She’s a true fighter and it will be exciting to see what she is able to accomplish over the next several months.

Anna flies down the driveway so fast with her walker that I make her wear a helmet so she doesn't get a head injury!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Post Surgery Update

I wanted to let you all know that everything went great today with Anna's surgery.  Thank you for all of your prayers. The doctor was able to get her foot into position with only lengthening the Achilles.  There was a possibility he would have to lengthen other tendons, but he didn't need to.  We had them give Anna a sedative before she went with the nurses, so she didn't cry when we handed her over to them.  Of course we both felt emotional, but we knew she was in good hands.  She woke up quickly from the anesthesia and we were able to head home by 11am.  By 12:00 she was eating snacks, crawling, and asking us to help her walk. She even got to go outside and enjoy the nice weather with grandma Gail. She'll have 4 weeks in her cast and then be ready for her leg brace.  It is possible that in a few years she could need another surgery if the bones don't grow correctly, but she should be good to go for awhile.

Please continue to pray for the healing process and for patience and endurance as she learns to balance and walk on her own after her cast comes off.


Friday, January 25, 2013

3 Amazing months!

Well it's been over three months since we returned home with our little Anna Yinhuan and what an amazing, chaotic, blessed three months it has been!  I am still so amazed at how she has just joined right into our family.  She acts just like any other two year old and her language skills are beyond amazing!  No one can believe that she can speak as much English as she does and she's only been here three months.  I'm pretty sure that neither of my boys had her vocabulary at 2 1/2 and they were born here!  Sometimes the challenge is getting her to stop talking, especially in the car.  She definitely wants the attention and tries to tell her siblings to be quiet or stop talking so she can be heard.  In early December she easily transitioned to sleeping in her own bed at night, which surprised us.  She really seems to like going to sleep.  This is a huge answer to prayer because that was her biggest struggle when we first got her.  She is learning how to play on her own with her toys and especially likes pretend play like dolls, tea party, and making us food at her little kitchen. She's still not best friends with Chloe our dog, but since she figured out how to boss Chloe around she's been pretty happy.  With three older siblings it's the only "person" she can find to yell at!

Obviously I've had my hands full and haven't posted in two months.  I'm still adjusting to life with a two year old and three older kids, I feel like we are getting more into the normal swing of life now that the holidays are past. This month has been full of doctor visits and castings on Anna's club foot.  She will have surgery on Monday the 28th to clip her Achilles tendon and allow her foot to fully stretch into the correct position.  We got her fitted for a brace for her right foot, which we should get this week and she will be fitted for a brace on her left foot after her surgery, before the put on her cast.  Once she gets her cast off in 3-4 weeks she will have braces for both legs and be ready to learn to walk!  We are getting so excited for her. Anna's right leg has gotten much stronger in the last few months and she is able to walk with us holding her hand, holding onto furniture, and with her baby stroller/walker.

 Here she is just a few days after getting her first cast on.

Of course we had a great Christmas, and were so blessed to have Anna home for the holidays.  I think Christmas day was a bit overwhelming for her but overall she did great with all the family gatherings and lots of new people.  She wasn't sure what to think of getting so many toys all in one day, but she's enjoying playing with them now.  She is enjoying the concept of actually having things that belong to her.  She'll point to things and say, "Huan Huan de" which means- These are Huan Huan's toys.  She still answers more to her Chinese nickname than the name Anna, but she is learning to respond to her English name as well.  She sometimes calls herself "Banana" which is cute, and I can't help but call her Anna Banana sometimes. Anna's older siblings are still in love with her and big sister Esther often plays dress up dolls with her.  We feel so blessed every day to be able to be the parents of four amazing kiddos, and the addition of Anna to our family has been a special blessing.  She brings us incredible joy and her smile and courage in the face of adversity are an encouragement to us every day.

We would appreciate your prayers this Monday for Anna's surgery.  Please pray that she does well under the anesthesia and recovers quickly from its effects. Also please pray that she would not be in pain from the surgery.  Because of her nerve damage the surgeon thinks that she won't have a lot of pain.

Below is a link to a facebook album of some beautiful family photos that our talented friend Lisa Daniels took for us: