Monday, May 15, 2017

Our Expanding Universe (2011)

The year started off on a high note as Laurel’s adoption was finalized in January. 



Kellisa’s run of four years without a surgery came to an end. The hardware in her hips was backing out of the bones causing intense pain. She was barely getting through the day with non-stop pain medications. The hardware needed to be removed. Her orthopedic surgeon suggested cutting her muscles to loosen up her legs, since he’d be in there anyway. The brutal six week recovery was complicated by the fact that we now had a 20 month old toddler who was very curious, walking around the house, and had her own needs. For the first time, Kellisa didn’t have our full attention when she needed it. 


Playing baseball with full casts near the end of the recovery:


We spent most of our vacation time taking Laurel to visit her family in Texas, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio. We did manage a trip to New Mexico where the girls went sledding at White Sands National Monument and enjoyed a tour of Carlsbad Caverns. We also visited Guadalupe Mountains and Cuyahoga Valley National Parks. 


Kellisa has few interests and it's nearly impossible to buy her gifts that she will truly appreciate and use. We came up with the idea of giving her an experience instead of something she can unwrap. 

We started with a flight to Tampa for her 12th birthday. We also scheduled an excursion train ride just south of Tampa for part of her gift.

Kellisa and I narrowly avoided serious injury or possible death on her birthday when a train unexpectedly jumped forward as we were exiting on an attached wheelchair platform. I somehow ran and was able to jump the uneven gap that formed between platforms. As we were in the air, the platform we just jumped from tilted over. 


Middle School Field Trip- Riding a roller coaster at Universal Orlando:


By now, it should be obvious that I try and let Kellisa do everything a healthy child would do. Very rarely do I ever look back at something and think we never should have done that and letting Kellisa ride this swing high above the ground is one of those times. What you can't tell by the pictures below is that she's in a swing all by herself and I'm too far behind to help her.


 Top Left- Dance Recital   Top Right- Waterfall Overlook   Bottom Left- Backpacking to an accessible site in SC   Bottom Right- Kayaking in SC

Right- Sassafras Mountain (Highpoint of SC). Left- The trail was suppose to be wheelchair accessible, but was completely blocked by a gate. We were able to go under because we had a mobility chair instead of a wheelchair.

Two summer G-tube surgeries.

First day of school picture.

Kellisa and I went on a tour of the Upper Midwest with cousin Matt over an extended Labor Day weekend. We hiked to the top of Wisconsin, viewed several waterfalls in the rain, summited Michigan, and spent a night on the remote Grand Island in Lake Superior before visiting Pictured Rocks National Seashore.

Bond Falls, MI

Kellisa missed a couple days of school, but I told her teacher in advance about our trip itinerary. The teacher gave me a list of 4 words (big, lake, small and town) to work on with Kellisa. I made a video of  Kellisa on Grand Island with Kellisa saying her 4 new words extremely clear. Kellisa was talking up a storm and I recorded over 100 words. The teacher and other school staff were blown away. The school system was always dead set against giving Kellisa any kind of speech therapy, they preferred her to point at pictures because it was cheaper for the school system. We always fought for speech therapy, but by 2011, we were beaten down. We had Kellisa in private speech therapy with minimal results. What Kellisa learned in a few days was more than she would learn in a year under the guidance of a professional. 

Left & Top Middle- Timm's Hill, WI   
Bottom Middle & Right- Mount Arvon, MI

Top Left & Middle- Grand Island
Bottom & Right- Pictured Rocks

The mountain of gear needed for a weekend tour of the Upper Midwest.

                   Top Left- Boat ride on the St. Johns River                   
Top Right- Bike Parade   Bottom- Halloween

Thanksgiving with family in Ohio.
Left- Hiking in Cuyahoga National Park   Top Right- Christmas Train Ride   Bottom Right- Incline (Pittsburgh, PA)

Christmas Presents- A live eel and a remote control rattlesnake.



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