We had a scare recently. Seems the girls both want to run away every chance they get. Perhaps is a strong sense of independence or the smell of adventure on the wind, either way it has been a little unnerving. Yesterday morning I was getting Nicole dressed and I thought to myself "it's too quiet." Those of you who are parents or have taken care of children know this eerie silence. So, I popped down stairs and the dead bolt on the door was unlocked and the door wide open.

At that moment, I became the bionic man scanning, running, leaping with one singular mission, to find my baby! Now, as an aside, some of you told of the perils of confronting a mother bear and her cub. Now I can't compare the two I but I was sure at that moment I could have run through a brick wall if I had to. I guess I was getting in touch with my feminine side :). BACK TO THE STORY. So I flew out of the door and my mind was calculating and churning like a super computer systematically exploring areas of highest. Rounding a corner I saw her. Walking down the street and of course jumping in a puddle along the way. I grabbed her and held her extra tight and gave her a kiss. I'd like to say I was OK right away but it took a good hour to calm my nerves of what could have been.

As I thought about it throughout the day, I remember when I ran away as a kid. Stick over the shoulder and some supplies wrapped up in a handkerchief as if I was going to take on the world. When my parents found me They were so afraid, the kind of afraid that has complete disregard for all social rules. See they didn't care about anything but getting me back in their arms. I think God longs to have us in his arms too. Even though He's never feels out of control, I bet His heart is heavier than we can fathom about His kids (all humanity) too.

Hello everyone! I just wanted to send out a quick message that we are doing well. Swimmingly in fact. We are in the process of rescheduling our Make A Wish, Sea World trip. In the mean time, we stumbled upon a great opportunity. We've been given tickets to go see Elmo tonight at the Oracle Arena in Oakland. Through the generous gift by the Nicolas Colby Found they've given us Luxury Suite tickets to go see Elmo's Green Thumb. I know we are going to have a great time, especially since we missed our Breakfast with Elmo at Sea World. What's cute is that all week Nicole's been carrying around her Elmo doll in preparation.

Dana and I wanted to take an opportunity to communicate that we've recently felt so indebted to so many of you. Our family, friends, doctors, nurses, pastors and even donors (like Make A Wish Foundation and Nicolas Colby Fund among many others). Our fear of feeling alone in this fight with cancer has never been farther from reality. Thanks again for all of your prayers and support. We'll say hello to Elmo for ya! - The Orlando's

Some may not know but we were away for a few days but now we're finally home. It's been a tough week with 3 hospital visits, one at Stanford for 2 days. All is good now. Our friends at Dominican and Stanford pulled together and figured out a plan of attack! I love those guys!

Quick Synopsis: Docs determined Natalie did (does as of this moment) have a bacterial blood infection. This is again what they avoid at all costs. Here's the good news on a couple fronts: ... Dominican found it on accident after they stopped observing her blood samples (6 days past our first blood test). Apparently, someone lab worker was just walking by and glanced over at Natalie's blood sample and noticed something odd. Upon looking closer, they spotted a type of strep bacteria. Finding it is half the battle but seeing how one can kill it is another issue. So docs determined it was not a very robust bacteria and sent us home with some by-mouth antibiotics. They said it should be out of her blood stream in no more than 12 days!

Though we missed our Sea World trip I am glad things worked out the way they did. We could not of imagined flying to San Diego only to be admitted the entire week. We'll have do do some serious schedule changes to get back on track but we are up for the challenge! Thanks for your prayers, I had some good "God-talks" with friends and staff while we were away. Everyone is so great up there, in some ways it's like another home!

The Orlando's

You will appreciate this. Natalie’s teacher was teaching the concept of "INSIDE." Last session Anne (our amazing home school teacher) has Natalie put bug stickers "inside" the boarder of a picture of a leaf. With stickers ranging from 1-6 then she had Natalie point to a sticker with a number on it and reached "inside" a container full of tongue depressors. Natalie counts them out then put them back "inside" the container. I have really enjoyed seeing Natalie's mind reaching for these concepts. She's really getting all the creative ideas Anne brings each week.

She is already recognizing all her letters now. Anne thinks she's going to be a good reader, which is so important, especially nowa days! Natalie loves learning and we love watching her. We have no hesitation that she going to be ready for school (away from home) when that phase of our plan rolls around. Since Natalie's birthday is January, she'll not start kindergarten this September, but out plan is to begin attending away from home school in the Fall. Then transition to using the school bus! (pray for that!). .

The big news is Natalie has officially begun walking (more than scooting). It's been a few weeks now and all the success can be attributed to our amazing Physical Therapist Diane Attsat. When insurance failed to pay, she stepped up and is offering her services virtually for free. Dominick and Dana are trading her for odd jobs to cover the PT service service but, the quality of work she's accomplished, (we all agree) Natalie is getting the best end of the bargain.

Dom (Sr.) had an old tricycle put away, that use to be Dominick's when he was a little boy. He refurbished it and we're planning on introduce Natalie at her next Physical Therapy session. Last therepy session we went to the park to help her to climb. Natalie is going to be a great climber becase she has such great upper body strength (when she wants to use it). We just have to show her the advantages of being mobile, and she's getting it!!!! Tha's all for now!

In addition to the prayer team I asked some of my friends on face book to pray and they did. This morning we got up at 5ish am and headed over to Stanford Children's Hospital. All was going according to plan right up until the moment we were ready to go into surgery. All the papers were signed, tubes and monitors were hooked up and all the different surgical departments had consulted with me regarding what was going to happen over the next two hours.

So, right before we headed out the door, the primary surgeon popped in and met with me for a minute. She asked if we tried fixing the line with a special procedure I had never heard of - of course I said NO. This "Plan B" was less risky since it was a procedure not a surgery. It would attempt to fix the placement of the tube (that delivers chemo directly into Natalie's heart). She then said if this new "Plan B" doesn't work, we can get surgery later today. I said, "OK, good plan!"

The surgical team called over to the Stanford (Adult) side of the hospital (since this is where the procedure would be taking place). Wouldn't you know there was an immediate opening (Never happens). I gowned up with a smock, mask and surgical hat and helped calm Natalie down as Anastesia put her under once we got there. I said goodbye and waited outside. 10 minutes later they came out. This was odd considering the team just told me it would be an hour long procedure. The first words out of their mouth was "All's fixed!" They said, "we didn't have to do anything. The tube apparently flipped back into place all by itself as they were surprised when it showed up on the x-ray monitor." AND it's in perfect placement.

Later that day as we met with our Oncologist (who ordered the surgery), said she didn't know how it flipped out of place. The angles were pretty sharp and seemed really unlikely to have come out of place and back into alignment again. Though the Surgeons claimed the issue could have been caused by a simple coughing spell, I choose to think IT WAS SOMETHING ELSE. Thanks for praying everyone :)

The Orlando's :)

We're continually being reminded in new and fun ways that our kids are growing up. The other day we took a long drive. As usual, the hum of the tires put the girls to sleep.

When Natalie woke up we heard her say the word, "Boat." "Were you dreaming you were on a boat?" we asked. She immediately said, "yes," as she rubbed her eyes. Dana asked, "Were you on the ocean?"Again she said in a sweet voice "yes!" "Were there fish?" "No!" she replied emphatically. We asked "Were there birds?" She smiled, "Yes." Then she pointed up as if to describe more of her dream, "Moooon!" Dana continued "Oh, you were on a boat at night? "Yes" she said. I then added, "Was mom there?" of course... she said "Yes!" Then she babbled a long string of words. Who knows what she was saying, but I like to imagine that she was saying that we were all there, enjoying the moon on the water, content since we were all together. What a fun insight it was into the dreams of our little 4 year old.

We often wish our kids can stay sweet and innocent like this forever. It's in these times we get rare views into who God has created(ing) them to be. More the reason to fight against the currents of our busy schedules, to be present as much as possible, because this time only comes once.

Last night we found a ripe opportunity to share with the joys of sharing with Nicole. This opportunity came about as the following drama unfolded: THE FOLLOWING IS A TRUE ACCOUNT. NO NAMES HAVE BEEN CHANGED TO PROTECT THE INNOCENT.

The Girl's love pretzels and they often can be seen walking around the house carrying little bowls of this wonderful "God given" snacks in them. Since Nicole had control of the entire bag Dana and I thought it could be disastrous for a kid to have that much goodness, so we tried to help her put a few in her's and her sisters bowl.

"OK Nicole put some pretzels in your bowl." Which she did. Then immediately after we prompted her to place a few in her sisters bowl. She reached into the bag and grabbed a hand full only keep filling her own bowl with more. This happened a few times as she contemplated relinquishing control of the bag. We said, "Nicole, put a few pretzels in your sisters bowl, so you can "share."After a few more hand fulls it seems she couldn't bring herself release her little handful of pretzels. It was the the hand just hovered there wanting to let go but the brain couldn't. The hand often diverted willingly to the mouth.

Finally she reached into the bag and pulled out a lonely, tattered and broken pretzel. This was it we said, "Come on Nicole you can do it!' 'PUT THE PRETZEL IN YOUR SISTERS BOWL..." She did it (of course she took a bite out of it first but something is better than nothing).

"Good," we said outloud, "Now take it to your sister." Each step toon an eternity as she made her way across the room. You could almost see her mind workig as she pondered the lone, injured, half eaten pretzel in the bowl. When she arrived I can faithfully report she stretched out her arm and handed her sister the bowl and did share. THE BAD NEWS WAS AS NATALIE TOOK THE BOWL, NICOLE TOOK THE PRETZEL AND ATE IT.

You don't win 'em all!

Recently we've seen Natalie explore the emotion of sadness. It's odd because we've noticed (after hours of detecting observation) that she goes to distinct areas of our house and pretends to cry. We talked about this a bit and said why does Natalie go to the kitchen and the corner of her room to fake cry? Maybe she is hiding. Maybe she wants us to find her. Or, maybe, she's looking for attention. In fact, what if she's calling out for attention rather than exploring the sad set of emotions?

After much reflection Dana figured it out! It turns out it has nothing to do with attention or hiding, but everything to do with the PLUG OUTLETS. Plug outlets? Yes! When Dana pitched her theory to me I thought she might have fallen off her rocker. Initially I couldn't connect the dots. Scratching my head, I thought to myself, maybe it was an ambient electrical current that triggered this emotional response. But since that was a stupid idea, Dana couldn't have meant that. It hit me when she said go look at the plug.
Click here to see the plugs sad face :(

This was a great holiday. Perhaps most notably was Natalie's confidence in walking. We received a special call from one of Nat's former Physical Therapists. After some time of Dana and her chatting she offered to give free Physical therapy to Natalie until we could get the insurance issues figured out. After one session yesterday Natalie has a new found confidence. Perhaps one of the most heartfelt moments was when my mom took her to school. My mom held her hand and they walked together out the door and to the car. It has been a long time coming but I never thought it would be so sweet. I feel so blessed!

Natalie Orlando

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