Monday, August 31, 2009

Start of a New Session

This picture is obviously not from today. Josie wanted me to put it on because she misses riding the jet ski.

Josie has officially begun her training. She was so excited to see everyone and they to see her. Przemek was especially pleased that she has a helmet (pink of course) to use when they start teaching her transitions and steps on her own. Of course we never intend to let her fall it just adds a little more protection. Sylvia said that she didn't lose much strength during her time off and that her steps actually look pretty good. That was a lot of pressure to try to keep that up amidst the craziness that took place while we were home. I am so glad to be back here where they can take over the therapy.
Tonight we had a nice dinner with Jeanie. It was great to catch up on the happenings while we were apart. After dinner we went around the corner to visit with the Eger family. Josie loves to play with Melissa and Mayra.
I am going to keep it short tonight. I have so much unpacking to do and am so tired I am going to get to it. Good night. Jenny and Josie

Sunday, August 30, 2009

We're back!!

A glow from the fire on the hills of La Canada

Josie, Raychel and Matt at the beach on Lake Tahoe

The Heydorff Family - Kalee, Holly and Mark

Golfing with Josie, Lele, Matt and Bo

Michele and Matt at the Martis Camp pool

Josie and cousin Fiona at the Delta

We are officially back in Michigan. What a whirlwind of 3 weeks. We had such a great time with the whole family including the extended family at the Delta. Happy 84th birthday Grandma Ellie. We were so lucky to all be there to celebrate our wonderful Grandma. After we left the Delta, Josie and I went to Tahoe to see Michele, Brian, Matt and Jeff. We got to spend 4 incredible days at Martis Camp in Truckee. I can't even begin to describe what an amazing place this is. Brian and Jeff are in charge of the marketing and sales for this exclusive, private family resort and community. Check it out at It will take your breath away. We had friends visiting there as well and Josie and Matt were both excited to play with Bo and Lele. We swam in the pool which is Josie's favorite. There is a family barn there that has an art loft, bowling alley, movie theater, games, karaoke, basketball court and so much more. We could have spent 4 days in there and still needed more time to do it all. The Heydorff's came over one afternoon and Mark (Kalee's dad) was so excited to get fishing that he ran straight there without even coming into the barn. It was like shooting fish in a barrel huh Mark? We loved seeing them. Kalee and her mom, Holly, joined us for art in the art room and milkshakes. Did I mention the barn has it's own old fashion soda fountain...quick get me out of there. Josie and Matt had a great time playing together. He is so sweet to her. Michele, Raychel, Josie, Matt and I spent one of the days at the beach on Lake Tahoe. It was so nice to let the kids play and to visit with the girls. Mich, Brian, Jeff and I stayed up one night just visiting and laughing our heads off. Always fun to be with my brothers and sister in law. I always tell Jeff that we are batting a thousand for in laws and if we ever got married we would inevitably mess it up!! Yeah Mich and Mike.

When Josie and I returned on Thursday, half of La Canada seemed to be on fire. Steph, Mike and Luke had to evacuate that night. They are still out tonight (Sunday). The fire was literally at the top of their street. My parents were never under mandatory evacuation but the fire was up the street so we got all the pictures and valuables out. Thanks to Jim Yundt for helping my dad while my mom was throwing a wedding shower for our dear friend, Julia Yundt. By the Grace of God and some incredible work on the firemen's part La Canada was saved. There is an enormous amount of damage to the Angeles National Forest. Josie was so cute every time she saw the fire flare up she would say run animals run. She was so concerned about them dying.

Today we got back on the plane and are settled back in Michigan. We are so happy to be back because we all know what this could mean. A couple of days ago Josie said I don't want to go back. (I had a felling I would hear this after the incredible 3 weeks we had so I was prepared with a response). I told her it was her choice and we didn't have to go. I also explained that this might be her only chance or at least her best chance of ever being able to walk. She said it is such hard work. I explained that no matter when it happened it would only be possible with a lot of hard work. I told her if you ever want to be able to walk and play with your friends you will have to do this or if you ever want to go where you want to go you have to put in the hard work. She thought for a moment and with a big grin she said yeah I want to do this let's go. and that was it. I let her have control of the situation because it has to come from her. I unfortunately can't do the work for her I can only put her in the right situation to get it done. Ok Sylvia and Prezemek we are back and ready to go!!

We will miss you all in LC and look forward to returning and being back in life with you. Grosse Pointe we are here again for a few more months of fun and will happily leave before you begin to freeze here!! (Please dethaw before we come in April!!) Many thanks to all for your love and support. This will be a big push and could definitely use the thoughts and prayers. Love to all, Jenny and Josie

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Delta

We are up at the Sacramento Delta with my mom's whole side of the family. It is a 40 some odd year tradition and a blast to be with the family. We started the day by having Roger Baumgarten and Jim Yundt mastermind the shortening of Josie's canes. What a relief to have that done. Now she can use them properly. This is how the rest of Josie's day went...took a long walk down the levee road with minimal support from mom, eggs, bacon and cantaloupe in Great Grandma and Great Grandpa's cabin with some cousins and uncles, on the boat for a ride (had a gas leak and had to come right back in) swim in the river while waiting for the boat, ride on the jet ski, another swim in the river, lunch under the trees on the beach, boat ride and tubing (by herself), swim in the river, jet ski ride where she learned to drive it and work the throttle...this child has the need for speed, swim in the river, jet ski ride, bath, dinner, bed. What a ball!! She was the happiest kid to be able to do so much. Hope all is well with everyone. Jenny and Josie

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Packing, packing and more packing

NiColle, Josie and Teresa, Caren, Marchelle, and Dawn at Mending Kids

Josie and Teresa enjoying at little sister time at Mending Kids.

Josie and her friends racing cars at the Raullis

What a whirlwind week. We had to be out of our house by Friday which meant everything must be packed and stored in the garage. Even though this was a difficult task it was and incredibly cleansing one. It was nice to rid myself of the material clutter that was slowly overtaking our lives. There were so many useless items that will be useful to others. Mending Kids got over run with bags on Friday. Speaking of Mending Kids, we have hired 2 incredible women to help run our organization. Our new executive director, Marchelle Sellers, comes to us from the Pasadena Ronald Mc Donald house that she herself established. Dawn Head is from Childrens Hospital Los Angeles orthopedic surgery clinic. Both have so much to offer MKI. We are all thrilled with the talent and enthusiasm that these two bring. Welcome aboard Marchelle and Dawn.

On Friday we had a welcome party for them and enjoyed lunch with staff, board members and the wonderful families that are currently staying at Robin's Nest (our own type of Ronald McDonald house). It really reminds me of the reason I am involved with MKI when you see the precious children that are here for medical treatment. One quick and amazing story of one of our current families is Lorana (mom) and her child Melanie from Guatemala. Lorana was our first house mom who ran Robin's Nest at the first location. After 3 or so years working for MKI she returned to Guatemala. She adopted an adorable baby girl, Melanie. About a year after her adoption as an infant, Lorana discovered that Melanie was deaf. Lorana quickly contact MKI and was brought here so Melanie could go through the process of receiving cochlear implants. If that wasn't paying it forward I don't know what is. They arrived here just after Christmas and 2 weeks ago after many procedures and surgeries Melanie got to hear for the first time. What a miracle.

We also got to go to our friends the Raulli's house before we left. It was great for Josie to see some of her friends and for me as well. I will post some cute pictures of the evening. These kids have been together since about 19 months of age. They are so sweet together and treat Josie so well.

Well we are off to on vacation to the Sacramento Delta and then to Tahoe before making our journey back to Michigan. Josie is continuing to thrive in her walking. I have to admit it is much easier to have Przemek and Sylvia work her out then me. I will be glad when they take over again. Just have to keep it up so they don't lose ground.

I will post more often. Just had to get through last week's packing and couldn't find time or energy to post. Hope you are all enjoying these hot August nights. Jenny and Josie

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Tuesday, August 11th

Hi All- Sorry for being MIA the last few days. We had a fabulous reunion on Saturday and picnic in the park on Sunday all put together by Jenny Banz Sullivan...excellent job Banz! Since then I have been at meetings on Monday and packing my house today. We rented our house while we are in Michigan and have to be out by Saturday morning...yikes. My 2 very dear friends, Camilla and Dolly, helped me soooo much today. You can't believe the amount of sorting, reorganizing and packing that they did. I love you both. Thank you!! It is much more fun to do this with company. Steph and my mom took Josie and Luke so we could really concentrate and get it done. Enough boring packing stories. I will update soon. Love to all, Jenny and Josie

PS. Happy belated birthday to Susan Knight and Sean Barry.

Friday, August 7, 2009

We Are Home!!

We made it!! What a whirlwind of 6 weeks. It is shocking to see how far Josie has come when I really reflect back on our time at therapy. I feel so fortunate to have the opportunity to return with her. I would have been devastated to get this far and then come to a halt. It will be a nice 3 week break but not without some more hard work from both Josie and I. They have put together a daily regime for Josie and I to do together while we are away so she doesn't lose any strength or her new walking.

We actually landed last night and I got home in time to go to my monthly cards group. It was so amazing to see my dear friends who I have missed so much. They are all such a source of encouragement for me. Thanks all you Dealing Divas!!

Tomorrow is my 20th year high school reunion which will be fun. Then on Sunday it is back to work on therapy. Will update soon. We miss you Michigan but so happy to see you California. Our love, Jenny and Josie

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Separated for 7 years today!!!

Teresa Left, Josie peeking her eyes to see the camera

It is with great pleasure that we celebrate the girls 7 years of separation. When wheeled into the operating room 7 years ago this morning we didn't know what the outcome would be. The only words to describe it is We Won!! We won the opportunity to have 2 angels remain here on earth with us. It has been a journey that has included so many people from day one. Our dream one day is to meet and hug the nurses that took such great care of the girls during their first 9 months of life in Guatemala City. They taught them to love and to bond. We can't thank enough the courageous medical team at UCLA Medical Center lead by Dr. Jorge Lazareff and Dr. Henry Kawamoto for saying yes and then pouring there all into helping and loving these girls. Thank you to Childrens Hospital Los Angeles lead by Dr. Mark Urata in their continued care. We have had a lot of surprises that they have dealt with so kindly and beautifully. To our communities and churches that have embraced us and welcomed the girls with open arms. To our friends who we turn to for continued support and to give us the normalcy of life in our social settings. To our therapists and teachers who continue to strengthen them everyday. To our families who we absolutely could not survive day to day without. To Mending Kids International that really rolled the dice on a case way out of anyones league and took it on like champions. To Robyn and Grandma Cris for more then anyone can ever imagine. There aren't enough words to say to extend our gratitude. And to Wenceslao and Lety for being the bravest humans I know to selflessly allow the girls to be where they can safely live out their lives near the best medical personal we can assemble. You are our heroes.

Tonight we squeeze these girls a little tighter and rejoice in the past 7 years of this miracle. They have taught us so much about strength, love, courage and pure joy. Maria Teresa (Teresa) and Maria de Jesus (Josie) we love you and honor you tonight and always.

Love, The Hulls and The Cajas

PS. Therapy went extremely well today. Will update on that later.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Tuesday, August 4th

Hi Everyone,

We finally had a hot day here in Michigan yet not humid. We have lucked out with the weather. As far as therapy went today it wasn't award winning. She did a good job on everything but the canes. I think there maybe is fear coming into play. She fells vulnerable and worried about hitting her head. She is actually a lot more stable then she gives herself credit for. Remember towards the beginning I was saying that the she was progressing so quickly that my mind hadn't caught up to her new ability? I think that is what is going on with her right now. Since it was harder for her today it was a good time for Sylvia to begin to teach me how to do the canes. I need to learn all that I can the next few days because I have my work cut out for me during the 3 weeks we are home. We can't let up for a moment and we really can't start doing it incorrectly. This is the year to commit to this and as difficult as it is and will be I owe it to her. This is her life and she deserves the most it can be. Thank you all again for your support. It is all of you that really help us get through each day.

Love, Jenny and Josie

Monday, August 3, 2009

Monday of Week 6...yes week 6!!

We begin the last week of this session. It has gone so quickly..Josie may not agree. Posted the video from today taken after her 3 hour workout. She wanted to walk a couple steps to show me that she could walk without the parallel bars near her. Another good accomplishment. She said she was nervous at first because she really couldn't fall but then she "got brave" and used to it. Little champion. Happy summer nights to all, Jenny and Josie

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Saturday at the Buick Open

Hi all- We had another beautiful Michigan weather day. What luck we have had so far with the weather. The PGA tour is here this week so we went out to the Buick Open to see some of our friends. Unfortunately with traffic we completely missed Jason Gore and Jonathan Byrd's rounds. We did get to spend some time on the range with Jason and his wife, Meghan. Luckily for us Jason will play in the group just in front of Jonathan tomorrow so we will walk with them tomorrow. We also got to see Tiger for a couple of moments. He gave Josie his ball and she was elated. She thinks it is really funny that all those guys call her uncle Bhully as a nickname. Fun to show her just a tiny glimpse of our family's past adventures.

After we got home we took a nice swim, dug in the sand at the lake and came home for dinner. What a nice day.

Many have commented that the video from a couple of days ago is private. I have unlocked it so you can see it. It is amazing to see her walk. Check it out.

Happy Birthday to my sweet friend, Mary Perkins. Hope you guys are having a blast in Sun Valley.

Best to all, Jenny and Josie