Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Rounsaville Twins Growing and Giving

2/6/08 Chatterbox Betty Kaiser I frequently hear complaints that the media is dominated by bad news. In light of that common perception, I decided to share some decidedly good news with readers this week. Last week I learned of two stories of unexpected gift giving that I’m passing on, in hopes that they will chase away the bad news blues. This Sunday, youngsters Kaiden and Kinslee Rounsaville will celebrate their ninth birthdays. It will be a festive, special occasion with family and friends enjoying cake and showering the girls with gifts. But for this family, every day with these adorable little redheads is a special occasion. I first wrote about these beautiful fraternal twin girls when they were just two years old. They had been born prematurely to Lisa and Eric Rounsaville Feb. 9, 1999 at Sacred Heart Hospital in Eugene. Spunky little Kaiden, weighing in at 3 pounds, 2 ounces, was born physically perfect. Tiny little Kinslee, who weighed in at 2 pounds, 11 ounces, was born with nearly overwhelming physical problems. She suffers from VATER Association, a congenital condition with no known cause. At the time of that first interview, she had undergone over 30 surgeries to correct esophageal, heart, intestine, anal and limb anomalies. Those first years as a family were pretty intense. The girls were babies and caring for Kinslee was an around-the-clock job. Mom and dad also had to go to work while constantly keeping doctor and surgical appointments. Rising to the occasion, the entire extended family rallied to help in whatever ways they could. Eventually, the family moved into a mobile home on grandparents Pete and Tracey Peterson’s property, making the complexities of life easier for all concerned. Thanks to a hardship permit, the family of four will soon move into a new manufactured home on the property. Kinslee has now endured about 50 surgeries and had her chest opened three times. She is due for another open-heart surgery this spring and the family fervently hopes that this is the last one. “We should be home free after this,” Tracey said. “She tires easily and has bouts with asthma and pneumonia (and always will) but all in all, she is doing really well. With all she’s gone through, it’s been tough but she has never said, ‘poor me’ or why me?’” The girls attend London School where ironically, their third grade teacher is Debbie Henderson who also taught their mother! As an added bonus they have an on-site grandmother. Tracey is the school’s kitchen manager, turning out nutritious meals, scrumptious cinnamon and dinner rolls or homemade corn bread for all the kids and staff. Kaiden is very athletic and plays all kinds of sports including basketball, soccer and volleyball. Each one has her own 4-wheeler and Kinslee joins Kaiden in riding around the property. They’re outdoor kids with several acres to explore. Perhaps because they have known suffering, they are very sensitive to the needs of others. Everyone agrees that Kinsley especially has deep compassion for others and demonstrates it daily. Their Aunt Kerri Stevenson called to tell me how the girls put caring into action last Christmas. Daddy Eric works at Les Schwab where every year customers fill several barrels with toys to be given to abused or neglected children at Jasper Mountain. The girls always participate in the gift giving but last December, they jointly decided to use their own money to purchase something really special. Their choice of gifts was not dolls or basketballs. It was bicycles! One year the girls had noticed there was only one bicycle in the barrel. Lisa, their mother, said that this inspired them to pitch in their own money and buy one bicycle for a boy and another for a girl, complete with helmets. Aunt Kerri was very emotional as she reported her feelings. “It was little kids giving to other kids and I think that people need to know about their good deed. Two kids had a nice Christmas because of them.” Happy Birthday, girls, and thanks for inspiring us with your lives and example. Karon Hills, 68, was another person calling to praise a gift-giver. This month, Karon’s brother Garry, 61, sent her and her sister Janice on an all-expenses paid vacation to Hawaii! “He’s a working man; a prosperous businessman but not a millionaire,” Karon said. “He did this not out of wealth but out of his heart. He’s been like this all of his life, always helping others.” Why Hawaii? “Well, my father was stationed in Hawaii with the Navy,” she said. “When I was a little girl, he would send home grass skirts and other Hawaiian memorabilia. I guess that I kept the fantasy alive and always wanted to go ‘someday.’“ But someday kept getting postponed, as life kept intervening. Last summer Karon’s son was diagnosed with melanoma. Then, she had a 2-1/2 pound abdominal mass removed. It was not malignant but produced many complications, displacing other organs and leading to the discovery of other problems. A month after her surgery, her husband was hospitalized with cellulitis. It was a rough year. She was ready for a heavenly vacation. Garry’s call offering to send his sisters to Maui was a dream come true. He paid all the expenses including airfare, hotel and spending money. And then, just like a proud dad, he smiled and snapped pictures as they boarded the airplane. “This trip was like a wonderful dream,” Karen sighed. “Total indulgence. We called him everyday. It was an emotional experience. My inner child was satisfied. I came home and felt complete.” Good news is like sunshine in the middle of winter. It warms our hearts and brightens our days. Thanks for sharing! Betty Kaiser’s Chatterbox is about people, places, family, and other matters of the heart. Her columns are published bi-weekly in the http://www.cottagegrovesentinel

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