December 31, 2010

Happy New Year from our family to yours!

What a year it has been ~ filled with lots of ups and downs but we made it! Here's looking forward to a happy and health 2011!

December 26, 2010

Our little Christmas Princess

Guess who's ready for her close up

Annabelle and HER boys! She's a wild woman!!

Such a wonderful night ~ such wonderful children.
Such blessed parents!

December 22, 2010

Chatting with the Jolly guy

I LOVE that she wasn't scared at all. As you can see, it took a few minutes to get her to look away from him and at us. By the time we got her attention the boys were done smiling. Isn't that always the case. Oh well, the pictures aren't to bad for a free, unexpected meeting with Santa.

Please click HERE if you would like to see more pictures from this fun family night.

December 20, 2010

More of the littles

That's what I call Ben and Belle. On Tuesday's and Thursday mornings if Annabelle doesn't have any appointments they like to stay in their jammies and play until we pick Jack up from kindergarten. They are so very cute together!

She's a car girl, what can I say. Maybe she will get some "girl" toys from Santa

Someone sure loves her big brother!

December 10, 2010

A Christmas Miracle

That title may seem a bit over the top for some, but honestly that is what my heart feels tonight. We have been given an amazing gift today and we feel so very blessed.

In yesterday's mail I received a $4,800 bill from one of Annabelle's Dr.'s. Obviously, not exactly what you want to get two weeks before Christmas. It wasn't the bill itself that sent me into tears but the note on it that said our account had been sent to their attorney's for collection and that payment was due NOW. I knew we had large bills with this particular Dr., but I had been in communication with someone from the accounting dept. to try and get them taken care of. Our insurance company has paid VERY little (approximately 20%) on each of her six surgeries performed by this Dr. so I have been filing appeals with the insurance company to have the bills reviewed. Well, as you can imagine getting this bill stating due now and being told we were sent to collections was very scary. Branden and I have very good credit and we always strive to pay all our bills on time (even when we don't have the money). So, I called the office and left them an emotion-filled message asking (begging really, through my tear-filled voice) that they not send us to collections. I let them know that I have made payments and have also tried to arrange a payment plan for the balance on several other occasions. Those of you on Facebook saw that I was super distraught by this whole situation.

Well, I moved forward as best as I could with the night. Jack could see that I had been crying and his sweet little heart was sad about that. When I was cathing Annabelle I received a call, but couldn't answer it. It was the Dr.'s office saying that the woman I had been dealing with was no longer there and that she was sorry that her letter had upset me so much. She said that she was going to speak with her Manager in the morning and that she and I could work out the payment tomorrow (Friday). She assured me it would be okay. I felt a bit better but still stressed about paying $4,800 right now.

Well, today came and guess what - it IS going to be okay. That same lady called me back today and told me that the Dr.'s office is going to accept what has been paid and that they are going to WRITE OFF THE $4,800!!! Can you even believe it?? I was in shock - tears, tears and more tears. I scared poor Annabelle but I could not even control my emotions. I went down to the office and brought them cookies and brownies and lots of pictures of Annabelle. It was a major hugfest between myself and the Office Manager. She was so sweet and was so happy to see how big and adorable (her words) Annabelle had gotten. She assured me that the bill has been taken care of and then she wished me a Merry Christmas.

Now you tell me if this wasn't a Christmas Miracle.

Decorating the Christmas Tree

December 9, 2010

The many faces of Annabelle

There were just too many cute ones I couldn't choose~

December 8, 2010

Walker for the Weekend

On the Monday before Thanksgiving Branden went to PT with Annabelle so that I could be with Benjamin at his Thanksgiving Feast at preschool. When he came home he excitedly told me that Emi, Annabelle's therapist had sent the walker home with him for her to uses at home over the Thanksgiving holiday. I won't lie, I had mixed feeling about it. It's silly, I know but it just felt sort of weird to have it in our home. I guess it's easy to be "comfortable" with it when we are at PT exercising, but I wasn't totally ready to have it in our home or our everyday life.

Well, those feeling QUICKLY changed when I saw how excited Annabelle got when I put her in it for the first time that night. She was SO excited and I swear she practically ran (in the walker) across the living room floor. I didn't even have the camera out but I can assure you I will never forget how AWESOME she did and how very proud I felt. I sent Emi a text right then begging her to talk to Annabelle's Orthopedist about getting us a prescription so she could get her own.

I think being nervous or even fearful of her equipment (braces, walker, wheelchair, etc.) is natural and I am not embarrassed or ashamed to admit it. The truth is that it all really scares me but I know now that each new "thing" will become easier and feel more comfortable over time and honestly, the smile on Annabelle's face as she gains new freedoms from her equipment is all I need to see how wonderful this stuff is.

Here she is on Saturday, November 27th enjoying some time in the walker in our kitchen

Annabelle loves playing with the gears and magnets on the refrigerator. I normally push them all to the bottom so that she can reach them when laying on the floor. Today however she got to play standing up and she was loving it. Here's a short video of her playing.

I doubt that anyone would disagree that Annabelle's progress is a direct result of her amazing spirit, drive and can do attitude, but I think it's important to point out that I believe Annabelle's success is also due in part to her wonderful big brothers. They are always encouraging her through their words and their actions. They love her so much I can barely handle it. They know that I can't help out in their kindergarten or preschool classes as often as I (they) would like because she has PT on Monday's & Wednesday and OT on Fridays but they don't complain. They just ask at pick up "if it was a good session and if she worked hard". It warms my heart to know that they will always have each other ~ she's their flower.

As always, THANK YOU for taking the time to share in Annabelle's progress with us. We are so very proud of her!

November 28, 2010

Foot Bowling

Have you heard of it? It's Annabelle's latest new sport. Okay, not really, but it is super cute to watch. These pictures and video are from November 8th. Thanks for caring enough to take a look.

Check out our little athlete!

We are so lucky that Emi, Annabelle's therapist makes exercising so much fun each week. Can you even believe how strong her legs are getting?

November 27, 2010

Halloween 2010

Annabelle, our little kitty Cat

Annabelle LOVED her costume. She was all smiles all night!

She loved hanging out with her big brothers: Jack "the knight" and Benjamin "aka Lightning McQueen"

It was a very fun, low key night spent with family and friends.

November 26, 2010

Stepping off the treadmill

During PT last month (October 27th), Annabelle's therapist thought we should see how she would do with a walker verses being on the treadmill. As expected she took right to it.

She's a bit distracted in this video but is still making great progress.

I just re-watched the video and she's super distracted. We had a "guest" at PT that day and Annabelle was very interested in her. It's still super exciting to see the progress she is making since she got her AFO's in September. Thank you for celebrating her success with us!

Our big girl is learning to color

Annabelle wants to do everything her brothers can do - I LOVE that!

Pumpkins and Apples and Walking OH MY!

Last month (October 9th) we took the kids for a super fun day of apple and pumpkin picking. Here's a few pictures of Annabelle from that day.

Okay, so she's isn't walking (yet), but her AFO's are really helping to strengthen her legs and she's taking every opportunity to practice walking. She's doing so well, if I do say so myself.

Click HERE if you would like to see and read more about this super fun pumpkin and apple picking day with the family.

November 18, 2010

How my day started

When I heard Annabelle waking up on the monitor this morning, I asked Ben to please go in and be with her until I could get her. He gladly trotted off to her bedroom. When I walked in this is what I found - adorable, right? I had to run and get my camera.

These two are just so sweet to one another.

They were just giggling and giggling - I loved it!

siblings - what a blessing!

November 14, 2010

Feeling so much better

I'm happy to report that Annabelle is feeling SO much better. We made it out to the park for a little bit this weekend and we could tell she was happy to have some fun again. She is still having moments of intense crying and eye rubbing, typically right after her nap. We are not real sure what this is about - is it pain, blurriness, or what? But she works through it after what seems like an eternity but is probably more like 10 minutes. We are hoping this will subside very soon. She also has had very goopy, glued shut eyes when we go in for the late night cathing. We have had to clean her eyes with a damp cloth to remove it. I read this was normal for the first few days so I am hopeful she won't have this much longer.

I figured everyone would like to SEE that she is actually doing better, not just read that I said so. Here are some pictures from this weekends park visit.

We go back to the eye Dr. next Thursday for a follow up to her surgery

November 12, 2010

Very quick update

Our sweet Annabelle is resting so very nicely this evening. She had a good day filled with lots of napping and cuddling with me (mommy). Her eyes are red but the swelling has gone down significantly. Thankfully, she does not seem to be in much pain just a bit uncomfortable at times. We return to the eye doctor next Thursday for a follow up on the surgery.

Rest well blogging friends.

November 11, 2010


Honestly, I am so wiped out from the last 24 hours that I don't have to much to say tonight. You can see in these pictures she is sad and uncomfortable. It was very difficult to come to the recovery room to a hysterical baby who was crying tears of blood. She didn't want to nurse (this is very uncommon for her) but did eventually drink about 8 oz of juice from a cup. They gave her 3 doses of pain medicine in the first 30 minutes because she was really struggling to calm down. Finally the medicine kicked in and she was zombie-like. This was scary for me to see.

After resting a bit the nurse offered me something to drink and some crackers. Annabelle heard the word cracker and she immediately sat up - she practically shot up off my chest. I told the nurse I thought Annabelle wanted some graham crackers. Boy was I right! Annabelle took those crackers so fast - she had one in each hand and was shoving them in her mouth. She also ate some fruit and oatmeal baby food I had in my bag. The nurse was very comfortable with how she looked and they released us at about 10:30 am - just 3 hours after the surgery.

She didn't sleep too much but would fall in and out of sleep. We all rested a bit in our bed and she returned to nursing as well as eating an almost regular diet this evening. She is currently only taking Tylenol for the pain but seems to really need it as it gets close to the 4 hours being up. She also has antibiotic eye drops that we (Branden) will need to put in twice a day. The corners of her eyes are still very red and she seems to be having a bit of difficulty focusing in on us, but it is still very early and we assume the eyes must have some healing they need to do.

We appreciate your continued prayers for Annabelle's full recovery and prayers that this surgery was a success.

The pre surgery wait

yep, Annabelle was sporting her new REDEFINING SPINA BIFIDA shirt this morning

Reading with Daddy

Waiting for the beeper to go off to let us know it's time

That's our girl - happy, happy no matter what.

Once they were ready for her, I was able to go into the OR with her. I held her hands and talked to her while they administered the gas to put her to sleep. She was afraid but didn't cry much. She didn't fight and fell asleep quickly. The Dr.'s and nurses promised me they'd take good care of our sweet girl - I pray they will.

I came out a 7:35 and was told the surgery should take about 30 minutes. it's 8:15 now so we are hopeful to hear something very soon. Thank you all for being with us today.