Friday, June 8, 2018

Laurel's Birthday and Total Inclusion



June 8, 2018
aka Laurel's 9th Birthday

Roseville, CA

Laurel woke up excited to be a 9-year-old early this morning, but it's what she did to make this day special for someone else is what really melted my heart. Today is her last day of third grade and her teacher said she could bring in a birthday treat. Laurel was concerned because a classmate can't eat gluten. The teacher told us not to worry about doing something extra (I think they would have provided a gluten free treat), but that wasn't good enough for Laurel. She wanted to get a treat that every kid could eat...100% inclusion for her birthday celebration. Lisa helped Laurel taste and purchase gluten free birthday cupcakes earlier in the week for her class to enjoy today. Just after Lisa delivered the cupcakes, the teacher asked Laurel's class if anyone knew, "why it was a special day?" Laurel's gluten free friend was the first to raise his hand and his answer was, "because there's gluten free treats for everyone"? I couldn't be more proud of Laurel and her staunch advocate heart.


Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Born Too Soon

May 29th

Another sorrow filled day for the Kain family. It should be a day of crazy celebrations because it's our first born, Everett's birthday. We never celebrated a birthday with Everett because he passed away from an extremely rare heart defect when he was only 6 months and 9 days old.

Everett's birth defect was explained as a 1 in 10 million births in the United States. He bounced around hospitals before we found a leading cardiologist at Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago. The doctor performed two heart surgeries and was hopeful that he would be able to save Everett, but his surgeries couldn't correct the defect. Everett spent approximately half of his short life in hospitals.

Lisa and I have seen and been through more than any two people should ever endure and be expected to survive. I'm sure some people wonder how we do it and I don't have an answer, I guess we're just adapted to endure.

Through everything, nothing compares to watching Everett slowly earn his angel wings as Lisa held him for days as we knew there was nothing left for the doctors to do. We had hoped to donate his organs so other babies could benefit with parts of Everett living on, especially his big beautiful blue eyes, but he was too weak at the end to donate.

Kellisa and Kirsten's complications are not related to Everett's and the girls are their own and separate 1 in many millions. Before adopting, we consulted with a doctor to learn the odds of a third pregnancy being completely successful. Since both of Lisa's pregnancies were unrelated and neither were hereditary, we were told that any future pregnancies had the same odds as any other healthy couple our age. The doctor wanted to place odds of two 1 in millions pregnancies happening to the same couple, but he couldn't come up with a number high enough, he left it at incomprehensible.  

I think the doctor could tell that we weren't really comforted by his information and green light to proceed, so he offered another fact. He told us that if Everett would have been born in 2007, doctors would now be able to perform successful surgery on his heart leading to a long and healthy life. Again, this did not comfort us and was devastating before we realized through hopeful reflection that Everett may have helped future babies with his heart defect survive by the experiences of his two surgeries. We like to think he continues to save 1 out of every 10 million babies born in the United States with the same heart defect.

We purchased two gravesites after Everett passed away with the plan that he would spend eternity over Lisa. We had no idea that in less than 10 years, Kirsten would be spending eternity above me and next to Everett and Lisa. About 10 years ago, we purchased the site directly before my spot for Kellisa. 


Everett's Statistics: 1 state (Illinois) and 2 hikes (Starved Rock State Park and Chicago Botanical Gardens)



Wednesday, May 23, 2018

An Evening of Train Rides






May 23, 2018

aka Kellisa's 19th Birthday

Sacramento, CA

We went all out for Kellisa's 18th birthday last year, so we didn't plan anything crazy this year. In fact, we didn't really have a plan until Lisa suggested taking Kellisa for a ride on Sacramento's Light Rail System since she loves trains so much. The plan evolved to riding the train downtown where we would find a place to eat dinner, have cake, and then ride the train back. Since her birthday was a Wednesday and it was also a school and work day, we planned her train adventure for the evening.

Kellisa's birthday started with getting ready for school in her birthday dress before catching her bus. A little later, Lisa dropped off a dragonfly birthday cupcake so Kellisa could celebrate with her teachers and classmates. Even at 19, it can be hard picturing Kellisa going off to school and living a huge part of her life without mom and dad. This hit home when Kellisa's teacher sent a picture of Kellisa taken at McDonald's for a birthday lunch. We had no idea she was going to McDonald's for lunch. A little mind blowing when we think about it.

We didn't really have a plan, just drive to the nearest light rail train stop closest to our house and take a ride downtown. We'd pick a spot to get off and hopefully find a restaurant close. Since this was our first ride, buying tickets from a machine was a little confusing, especially not being able to really see the screen due to the glaring sun, but it all worked out when we hopped on the train at Watts/I-80 West. We got off at the Cathedral Square stop in downtown Sacramento.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Kellisa's "Day of Flight" - One Year Ago Today



Lisa Marie Kain
On May 16th, we spent an entire day flying around the country to celebrate Kellisa's 18th birthday.

By now, you may realize that Chris is a bit extreme when it comes to travel. Several months ago, he started talking with Southwest Airlines (his carrier of choice) about the potential to fly as many commercial flights as possible in one day. At that point, he had been working on the plan for a while but realized he needed their help to perfect the route. They were very supportive. A route was selected, and tickets were purchased. I was informed of this plan after the arrangements had been firmed up with Southwest. Chris knows I do not like to travel and gave me limited information about what the day would entail. When I decided to participate, I told him I did not want to know the specifics because I could not handle the truth. If I had any idea, I never would have gone on this trip, but I am so glad I did.

On Tuesday morning, we boarded "our" plane in Tampa, Florida just before 6 am Eastern time (3 am for us West Coast folks). At that point, all I knew was that we would be on that plane all day, and that our plane would travel to 8 destinations. I never expected what would happen over the next 21 hours -- or even that it would take 21 hours!

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Mother's Day on the Refuge

Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge
Glenn County, CA


Lisa wanted a picnic lunch in nature and asked if we could go to a place with wildlife. We debated a few spots, but we chose Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge for a few reasons. It's not that far (90 minutes) from our house, this would be Lisa's first visit, and it's always had an abundance of wildlife from our previous visits.

Most of the water in the refuge was gone, although there were still a few ponds left from the rainy season. We observed many birds, but they were difficult to photograph for one reason or another (loud kids, radio, Evie, lighting, etc.). In addition to the birds, we saw a squirrel, two deer, a few rabbits, and four lizards. We enjoyed a short walk to the picnic area where we devoured sandwiches made by Lisa. We planned to hike a short trail, but the bugs were just coming out, so we made our way back to the car. Sadly, we didn't think to take a picture with Lisa and the girls until after Kellisa went to bed.

The best pictures are below.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park



April 2018


Laurel woke up on Sunday and asked if we could go panning for gold. The last time we visited the Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Site, we bought two mounds of gravel where Laurel found about 75 cents of gold after panning for an hour. We didn't have plans and thought it would be nice to have a picnic and see how Evie does in an outdoor setting.

Kellisa slept until almost noon, so it was mid-afternoon before we arrived at the park less than an hour from our house. Lisa made a nice picnic lunch that we enjoyed upon our arrival. Then Laurel and Evie started wandering while Kellisa wheeled around like crazy.

By the time we made it to the gold panning area, it was closed for the day. Laurel was disappointed because she was convinced it was her day to strike it rich. As she was processing the letdown, Lisa thought she saw a good friend of Laurel's from school. I turned around and sure enough it was her friend and his family. Laurel quickly forgot all about her lost gold while spending an hour exploring with her friend and his younger brother while prancing Evie around the park.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Chicago "Grub"

Taco Burrito King
Harlem & the Kennedy
Chicago, IL
April 2018

Lisa and the girls recently joined me on my business trip to Chicago to visit with Grandma. Laurel had heard food referred to as "grub" several times on this trip and she didn't understand the meaning. I'm not sure if it's a Chicago or Midwest thing, but I tried to explain it to her. On our last day, we were stopping by Grandma's one last time before catching our flight and as we drove by Taco Burrito King, Laurel asked if they had Chicago Grub. When I answered, "It looks like they would," Laurel asked if we could stop for some food. 

Lisa and Kellisa weren't hungry and I wasn't about to pass up an opportunity for a promising meal, so we dropped Lisa and Kellisa off while Laurel and I went back for some grub. Right away, Laurel thought it was odd that we entered the restaurant from an alley. In fact, the idea of an alley was foreign to her and she was disturbed by the garbage and smell. Anyway, I ordered a burrito bowl (which was amazing) and Laurel got a burrito. We didn't want to leave Evie in the car while we ate, so we carried our food back to the car. That's when Laurel saw a Rat Warning Sign on a telephone pole. She lost her appetite and was convinced that her burrito had rat meat in it instead of chicken. I assured her that while rats were common in Chicago alleys, her burrito was indeed filled with chicken. Laurel believed me once she took her first bite and proceeded to devour her burrito. Even though this wasn't Laurel's first Chicago Grub meal, it was her first lesson and as her teacher, I would rate the entire meal experience A+.



Saturday, April 28, 2018

On the 9th Day

Evie's 1st Flight

Sacramento, CA to Chicago- Midway

(Evie did great on her 1st flight despite the little vomit upon the sudden stop on the landing at Midway...
and the diarrhea on the jet bridge leaving the plane. I am happy to report no body fluid issues on our return flights.) 


Evie walking in Illinois (3/50):



Saturday, April 21, 2018

Evie


Laurel and Kellisa meet Evie
Evie Laurel Kain

April 14 & 15, 2018

Our family grew by one when we flew down to Ontario, CA to pick-up Evie, a Miniature Pinscher/Basenji mix. Lisa found Evie at a rescue in Hesperia, CA. We got very lucky that Lisa found Evie online shortly after her photo and information was posted and we were the first family to submit. Fortunately, our application was accepted.

We spent a couple of hours getting to know Evie before everyone felt comfortable. There were two spots to sign the paperwork and after Lisa signed, we let Laurel sign as she promised to love and take care of Evie. We decided to drive home instead of flying since we didn't know how Evie would travel. Kellisa and Laurel loved having Evie in the back seat and I think Evie enjoyed all the attention!

We decided to take the scenic way home through Owens Valley on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevadas. Our first stop was after two hours at a small, rundown gas station in the middle of the desert. Kellisa stayed in the car, while I went inside to buy some drinks and snacks. Laurel took Evie for a short walk and Lisa watched from a distance. Just as I was about to pay, I heard Laurel screaming like I've never heard before and when I stepped outside, I saw her crying and holding the leash. You might have guessed, Evie was not on the other end of the leash.

I looked to the south and saw Lisa running across the desert about 100 yards away. I told Laurel to stay at the car with Kellisa and I went running in Lisa's direction. After sprinting maybe 30 yards, I saw Evie running out of the brush towards Lisa. At this point, I could hear Lisa calling Evie and she ended up returning and Lisa was able to pick her up.