Thursday, May 21, 2015

about kaya

After writing about K'Tyo, I thought it would be fun to do a post on each of the kiddos in their different stages of life.  Today is all about Kaya.

Kaya also just finished up another season of soccer.  To be honest, we have been a bit thrown by her budding interest in sports.  She's always been a bit of a, shall we say princess?  That's not a bad thing, but wow, are we now seeing a whole new side to her personality!  She is eager to learn and practice, and even more exciting is that we see her applying the things she's learning when game time rolls around.  She has also learned that her legs are strong and will not only carry her quickly where she wants to go, but they can also send a ball from a long way out right into the goal!  She scored in this fashion during her last game over the weekend, and I love that she still looks for us with that little smile of excitement to make sure we were watching.  Kaya has also shown enthusiasm for basketball and plays often with her brothers in the driveway.  It will be fun to see if she continues enjoying these things or discovers other interests!

Daddy got to help coach Kaya's team this spring, which was so fun.  Being immersed in school work these last few years has not afforded him the opportunity to be involved in this way, so it was a neat experience for both of them!

Kaya is also doing really well in school and has some neat friends.  On her report card her teacher wrote, "Kaya is such a great student.  She is a role model to her classmates and is kind to them." Learning to read and write and add and subtract is all important, but I hope even more for their development as people...People that care about others, that know how to build up others, that know how to apologize, and that know how to forgive, so for her teacher to point out those kind of attributes is such an encouragement to Kaya and reinforces the good stuff!

What a joy it is to see this girl grow, challenge herself, and laugh...a lot! :o)

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

about k'tyo

May 9th (I know, I'm a few...ok, 10...days behind) marked FIVE YEARS since we landed in the United States with K'Tyo.  He's now been part of our family for longer than he wasn't, which is kind of hard to fathom at this juncture because I cannot imagine life without him in it.

Just recently, we discovered that he needs glasses for school (he can still get by without them for sports).  When we were at the eye doctor's & found out we would be picking out frames, he looked at me so serious, and slightly worried, and said, "Mom, will you help me pick some that look good?" Bless him.  You can't see in the picture, but these are very cool because the inside of the frames is bright green.  I think he looks great in them!

Soccer continues to be a favorite activity for K'Tyo, and it's been a great tool for drawing parallels with the game of life.  He just finished his first outdoor season with a travel team & we could not be more proud of the character he has shown.  A coach from another team tracked down our phone number to call & commend K'Tyo on his sportsmanship.  During our game with that team, one of their players was hurt during the game.  When the game was over, K'Tyo took it upon himself to go see if the player was doing okay.  He is a serious competitor and plays with his whole heart, but he knows that when it's all said and done, people matter.

He is also a good teammate, celebrating when another has success and encouraging others along the way.  Last week I arrived to pick him up from practice a little early.  They were running ladders, which can be exhausting.  K'Tyo has pretty good endurance when it comes to running & tends to finish at the head of the pack.  When he finished, one of his teammates had just gotten to the opposite end of the field & was alone.  Without being prompted to do so, K'Tyo took off down the field again, gave him a pat on the back, & led the way back.  What a privilege to see him growing, learning, & experiencing so many things!

This past weekend, we got to witness his team come from behind in two tournament games to win the championship!!  After the first game on Saturday, K'Tyo said, "Mom, we were losing, but we didn't give up.  You shouldn't ever give up."  That thinking served them well the next day when they found themselves behind again against a team they hadn't beaten during the regular season.  Well, that & the fact that I remembered to kiss him on the forehead.  You see, before all big games, I kiss the child on the forehead & tell him to play hard and have fun.  Before the championship game, we were having a hard time parking, so we let him out of the car while we took another loop to find a space.  I suddenly realized I didn't kiss him on the head! Well, I have no time to worry about what people might think, so I marched myself out during warm-ups & kissed my boy on the head! It's something we kind of joke about, but I share this because this really is an important thing.  You see, I've realized that in all the moments of playing catch up for his first 4.5 years of life with rules and words and how-to's, the best thing we are learning is how to love each other.  And when I kiss his head, he doesn't get all weirded out like you might think.  He smiles with a knowing that I'm his biggest fan. 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

daddy's "congratulations"

This past Saturday it was, as Kendi says, "Daddy's Congratulations".  We decided that was quite a way with words.  While Daddy officially finished his doctoral degree last August, the actual graduation ceremony happens in the spring.

Initially, Joe wasn't sure he was going to participate but was encouraged to do so by several people.  Little did I realize how much we needed this.  It really did feel like a wonderful "congratulations", but it also felt like closure after a very rigorous undertaking.  It meant so much to have everyone there except Kearsten (she is teaching in SC, so too hard to squeeze in that trip) because it truly was a team effort as Daddy worked through this program.

For whatever reason, every family event involves piggyback pictures.

And here's the moment.  Graduating with a doctorate is it's own thing.  Dr. Wilson officially placed Joe's hood on him, which was extra special because Dr. Wilson was not only the chair of Joe's dissertation committee, but he's been such an amazing mentor.

So, do I get to be "Mrs. Dr."? ;o)

Dr. Savage is in this picture with our family, another important person in Joe's journey.

All too soon, Kaya.  All too soon.

Happy Congratulations Day, Daddy...Your team is so proud of you & loves you bunches!!  May God bless you indeed as you continue to seek His plans to use your gifts & passions for His glory.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

busy, busy

I don't know about you, but we seem to have hit busy mode full stride as this school year winds down.  Joe has had many speaking engagements, Kyler & Kam just finished their semester at college, Kade has been playing travel basketball, & K'Tyo & Kaya have been playing soccer.  All good stuff, but goodness it makes time go fast & the laundry seems to be multiplying.

We've had some doctor appointments, & Kemeri continues to heal well.  She still needs to wear a splint with some protective bandaging as the incision is not quite done healing.  The other night after doing some exercises, it was time to reapply her dressing & Kendi was adamant that she wanted to take care of it.  I love the intent expression on her face...she only needed a little bit of help from Mommy.  And please take note of Kemeri's ensemble.  She has a serious eye for fashion...layers, fuzzy scarf, zebra print...the only thing missing is her leopard print newsboy hat, furry vest, & sunglasses.  I'm telling you, she rocks individuality!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

they stick together

Kemeri's cast removal was yesterday. This had to be one of the sweetest things ever...When Kemeri became apprehensive about the loud noise so near, Kendi grabbed her hand for reassurance & held it the whole time.

Her incision is healing beautifully, but there's still a bit of swelling. The most amazing thing was seeing visible movement in her thumb already. I'm anxious to see what happens once OT begins in a few weeks! In the meantime, she is sporting a snazzy pink splint with orange straps (we all kind of raised our eyebrows at the color selection, but it actually looks quite fun!).

Thursday, April 9, 2015

a recap of surgery day

We were up bright and early at 5:00 a.m. this morning and out the door by 5:40 a.m.  We had to be at the hospital at 7:10.  Kemeri was such a trooper about the early road trip.

Once checked in, she was dismayed to discover plain blue jammies laid out for her.  She wanted to know where the ones with sparkles were.

Her special item of choice to keep with her today was her dolly she just got for her birthday (remember, the one with a hand and scar just like her!).

Sparkles were heavy on this child's mind.  When they asked her what color cast she might like, she immediately said, "Pink AND purple WITH sparkles".  Hmmm.  I happened to look into the gift shop while walking downstairs, and this guy caught my eye.  Pink, purple, AND sparkles.  Being tired and having one's baby in surgery for 4 hours is not a good recipe for restraint, so of course I did.  I was also concerned that the request for the multi-colored cast complete with sparkles may have been too tall an order.

Behold, a pink AND purple cast for my girl AND her special doll.  Not only that, the doctors dug around and found a silver sharpie to draw a flower on each cast for "sparkle". Bless them.

The doctors (she has 2 specialists) were happy with the tendon transfer and feel it is well secured in her thumb.  They were both fascinated, though, because as they were examining the options, they discovered that Kemeri is missing the nerve that most people have in that part of the hand.  The reason they were fascinated is because by all rights, she should have no feeling in her thumb.  That's not a good thing, especially in children because they are unaware of injury or inadvertently causing harm to an extremity.  However, she has some kind of sensation going on there.  What an amazing blessing!

Sweet girl asked, "You come snuggle 'wif' me?"  So, into her hospital bed I went.  I am reminded in these moments when all she wants is the comfort of Mommy just how very far we've come.  Love her beyond words.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

hand surgery {take 2}

Last year, I posted this update following Kemeri's first hand surgery.  She has continued to make some progress, but not quite as much as her specialists think is possible.  She has a very slight amount of "squeeze" between her new thumb and the rest of her hand, but not enough to be super helpful.  We were told in the beginning that more than one surgery was a possibility, and here we are.  We are scheduled for tomorrow morning to have a tendon transferred with the hope that it will enable her to have more strength and movement in her thumb (think zippers, buttons, & all kinds of other everyday things people don't typically think twice about).  Thankfully, this surgery is not as intensive as the other one, so the recovery time should be less.

I do want to address something as best I can.  Someone recently made a snarky comment that put me a little on the defensive (I try not to go there, but you know, I'm human).  The decision to opt for surgery on Kemeri's hand is NOT for cosmetic reasons and was not made lightly.  After lots of research, discussions, opinions, etc., we decided surgery was worth pursuing to increase the practical functionality of Kemeri's left hand.  To be honest, her specialists have talked of doing a toe transfer, but we didn't feel like that was an avenue necessary since Kemeri has one fully formed hand.  If that's something she chooses to pursue down the road, we would fully support her in that.  However, the best chance for success with the tendon transfers and release are while she is young, so those decisions we had to make for her based on what we felt was in her best interest now.  Every child with a limb difference is unique in what might be a good intervention or not.  We love our Kemeri Abigail's little hand, period.  We are not trying to make it look a certain way, but we are trying to bring her some strength and greater functionality.  She is talking openly about her surgery tomorrow and is excited that we are trying to make her thumb move more so she can hold things with her left hand...she practices all the time!  Anyway, I never, ever mind someone asking about our decisions at all!  It's really quite amazing and interesting to see and learn about all of the different options, so I am more than happy to share.  I just don't do so well with assumptions that are contrary to reality. :)

I will try to update from the hospital tomorrow...we would love your prayers for a successful surgery!