Blog 2004 January 9, 2004 - A couple of nights ago, my wife showed me Kika's latest "trick." While Kika lays on her back, my wife holds her right leg, just below the knee joint, in a vertical position. As long as Kika is relaxed, the lower half of her leg remains limp, but as soon as you tickle her or she struggles a bit, her leg slowly rises until it is pointing straight up! It shows there is strength in her leg although she doesn't quite know how to control it voluntarily. Her therapist has told us she wants us to get Kika some "walking braces" as she feels she will soon be ready to walk with their aid. We are very excited about the prospects of this new development and are praying that before long we can announce Kika's first steps. January 19, 2004 - Kika's latest need are some new braces to prepare her to walk. She has been making steady progress with her therapy and her muscles are getting gradually stronger. Once we get the braces she will start off by learning to stand on her own and then begin taking steps. We're really praying for this and are excited with the possibilities. Kika is also on a diet as she is getting a bit chubby and needs to keep her weight down. This is a common problem with kids with spina bifida. One factor is simply that of being confined to a wheelchair and unable to run around and get exercise like other children. The other factor is that to make them happy and content, they tend to derive pleasure from eating. So we're cutting out snacks or making sure they are non-fattening ones. If she gets too heavy, this will greatly affect her ability to learn to walk. So we're going to do everything we can to avoid that. April 14, 2004 - Kika has been talking more and more! She keeps coming up with new songs that she sings, ones that we never taught her but she somehow picked up. She also says the alphabet up to "M." We're going to renew our visas next week and are taking our whole family so it should be quite an experience! We'll be traveling in our Chevy van so stay tuned for news of our trip. April 26, 2004 - We finished our visa trip which was a little over 1400 miles from Guadalajara to Reynosa and back. This time we took the whole family in our "new" van. The kids did pretty good considering that it took us around 16 hours there and 16 hours back. We stayed with friends in Monterrey the first night and then in Reynosa the Lord supplied a free room in one of the hotels. On the way Home, just a couple of hours from Guad the tread ripped off our back tire and we had to stop. When we went to change the tire we discovered that the lug wrench was the wrong size. So we had to flag down a car to ask for help. A super sweet guy name Pedro stopped and offered to drive ahead and get a tire repair guy for us. He did and came back again himself to make sure the guy showed up. So in a little bit, we were back on the road again. Then, the SERVICE ENGINE SOON light started going on and off, which was a little disconcerting, but we made it anyway. So we are happy to be back home although it took us a bit to recuperate--ha! Kika did just great and was happy and chipper with all the sweet people we met along the way. August 6, 2004 - We just received an email from someone we never met before who has sent us a donation by mail! It is the largest single donation we have received so far and will be able to cover Kika's new walking braces and more! We are so very thankful for the Lord's faithful supply of Kika's needs. Kika is beginning to speak more and more Spanish. She loves to play "tea party" offering everyone something to eat or drink, saying please and thank you in Spanish. It's really cute! August 11, 2004 - Well, this will have to be a day to remember, we just picked up Kika's new walking braces! After they put them on her, we stood her up and she just smiled and smiled saying, "I'm walking! I'm walking!" I think it was almost like seeing your child take his first steps. Then we brought her home, put her braces on and called all the kids to see her--they were thrilled as well. We wanted to say a special thank you to Angela, Ruth, Dr. Reagan and Libby whose donations helped towards the cost! God bless you and may He repay you an-hundredfold! August 15, 2004 - Kika's birthday party! We had a simple party at home for Kika and Steve (his birthday is on the same date). Actually, we celebrated a day late for various reasons. On the 14th we went singing and then to the circus. Kika had missed her nap and so fell asleep halfway through. But, she did enjoy the part she saw :-) September 12, 2004 - Redesigned Save Kika website and moved it to a new location. November 1, 2004 - We got back home safely from our trip to Texas with new visas and lots of stories to tell. While there we were able to obtain some donated items for Kika—two walkers and a stroller-type wheelchair. We will be passing on the wheelchair to someone else here in Mexico. We also purchased a jogger for Kika which has been a real blessing in getting around with her at parks and on rougher terrain. We also made contact with a few places who have agreed to donate children's wheelchairs for us to distribute here. Please pray that we can get these without any problems.