Just what the doctor ordered

When you live in a city of 1.5 million people, a day in the forest is a much needed break, especially for Hubby and I.  We both grew up country.  Although I am not sure I could ever really fit back into rural farm life, at times my heart needs a hike in the woods, mud on my shoes, and the sound of birds rather than cars.

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This week was “Sports Week” at the university.  It is a week of track and field activities and no classes.  The Chinese teachers must participate.  They let the foreign teachers off the hook.  So, Hubby had the week off.  We used the break to rent a driver to take us out of the city for the day.  Hiking and a picnic were good for our souls.

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This is one of the first times we have hiked with Little Man not riding on my back.  Keep in mind that his prosthetic doesn’t have an ankle joint. (Once he is older and we don’t live in a remote area, there is an option to make a leg with a moveable ankle.)  At the beginning of the climb, he told the family, “This is the first time I will climb a mountain.”  He picked a walking stick and set his mind to it…and did it.  He kept asking if we were climbing Mt. Everest.  HA.  Someday Little Man, someday.  He really is a wonder and I don’t doubt that he could climb Everest if he decided to.

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Little Man’s favorite part of the day was conquering the mountain, but my favorite was find a clearing with a stream.  We sat and rested while the kids played with sticks, dug in the mud, and got wet.  A perfect afternoon in my book.

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I am so thankful for God’s creation and His provision of a day off when it is needed most.

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Ending the post with a few bonus pictures of the kids for Nana.  They sure have grown.  Probably was all the fresh country air.

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And then he did a face plant…

My first mistake was telling Little Man he could ride his tricycle to the market.  An unseasonably warm day made me unusually optimistic on how much I could carry with a kindergartener and a tricycle in tow.  Lesson learned.

A box in one arm, several days’ veggies and fruit in a bag on the other with the tricycle slung over my shoulder, Little Man and I started crossing the road to start the trek home.  He was holding the hem of my jacket as we stepped off the curb.  I am not really sure what happened next.  It all went so fast and slow at the same time.  We had plenty of time to cross the road in front of the white car that suddenly seemed to be barreling down on us when Little Man’s leg came off.  Velocity taking over, his body kept going and he landed hard on the pavement near the other side of the road.

 

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You know those moments?  The moments when you are standing in the road deciding if you should let the car run over your son’s leg or scoop him up and comfort him — all the while trying to untangle yourself from a bag of broccoli, apples and tomatoes.  AND while doing all this, you are thinking in the back of your mind….”Wow, I guess his leg really isn’t fitting that great these days!”  See what I mean?  Never in my life did I think there would be such a moment.  I chose wiping tears and checking for broken bones and blood.  Little Man was not happy with that choice, and he began screaming even louder that his leg was about to be road kill.

In enters a stranger.

Just a little cultural context.  It is not common to help strangers.  Friends and family, absolutely. Strangers, no. It is culturally common to stop and watch, but not to help.  Let’s just say, in all of my years living in Asia I have been stared at A LOT more than I have been helped.

Wednesday was different.

A man stepped out into the road, rescued Little Man’s leg, retrieved the roll away tricycle and was at my side helping me steady a weeping boy.  He held a little hand while I checked for wounds (there were none) and slid an intact prosthetic leg back in place. When I finally had enough wits to look up at the man, I said.  “You are a very nice man.”  His reply was with typical Asian modesty, “No, not at all.”

And he walked away.

We made it back home with a story to tell over dinner.  All of the kids marveled at the nice man who stopped to help.  “I want to be a nice Chinese man like that.” Little Man exclaimed.  It truly is amazing how a few moments of help can make a deep impression on those around us.  It reminds me of a statement our pastor in Michigan used to say often, “Small things done with great love make a big difference.”  Okay, rescuing a prosthetic leg from being run over by a car actually was kinda a big thing.  But, the few minutes he took to help us…well that was a small moment from his life and I am very thankful.  It made a big difference to us.

I want to be that type of person…willing to stop for a moment and help.  We can make grand plans on how to live out our faith and how to love those around us, but if we aren’t able to slow down and embrace the unexpected moments – well, it is worthless.  I am striving to live a life of service that will encourage those around me and I am so thankful when the blessing is turned my way.

 

 

Back at it

IMG_1355If you don’t hear from me for the next 12 years it is because I am now homeschooling 4 children and it is kicking my tail!  I have now done Kindergarten several times and really thought it would be no big deal to add it to our daily school business.   Well reality has hit but we haven’t hit our stride.

All joking aside, we are working hard to get into a rhythm for the semester.  Hubby has two weeks of classes under his belt (they are mostly literature classes again with a fun grad class to boot) and I have enjoyed two art projects with my special students at the orphanage.  Play-dough and dot markers are a great way to start the fall.

On the home front we are tackling Kindergarten along with 3rd, 6th and 8th grades.  Little Man was thrilled at first to have his own shelf of books and to be a “real” student.  Three days in he was asking how many days we needed to do this school thing!  Reality hits.  The girls and I are digging in a bit deeper this year and exploring some creative elements in art and writing that have been over looked in the past.  Hoping we can keep up the fun.  Soccer Dude is testing the waters with online schooling and enjoying it even though there is a learning curve.  Never a dull moment when a notice is posted on the apartment complex door that we will have no electricity when we were scheduled for a Skype meeting with his teacher and he was to do an online math test.  In the end, we packed all the kids up and took the excuse to explore a newly opened Starbucks in our city.  The kids joked that they felt like they were going to school in the States!  I guess we don’t live in the backwoods any more if we are able to order a frappuccino!

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All in all – we might not have hit a stride for the fall, but we are slipping back into routine and slowly recovering from our crazy summer.   Soccer Dude even let me take his picture at Starbucks.  He is looking good (thank you to the plastic surgeon in Detroit!) and all of his stitches have fallen out making eating so much easier.  Now, if only we could find an allergy medication to help him with the hives he’s had since the dog bite.

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Many have also asked how Little Man is doing.  I sometimes forget he had such a major surgery at the beginning of the summer.  He is back to his old self running around so much that there already is a crack forming at the toes of his prosthetic.  I wonder if there has ever been a package shipped internationally with “foot” marked as it contents.  We might ask our team of doctors in Florida to give it a try before we have toes fall off again!

Thanks again for all of your support and prayers as we have transitioned into the fall.  His grace has been so real to us over the last few months and we know it will continue to carry us.

Home Sweet Home

IMG_9530Last night at dinner Soccer Dude casually mentioned, ” Hard to believe the last time I ate noodles at this table I didn’t have scars on my face from a dog bite.”  It struck me again.

I have joked in the past that travel week for us is kinda like living out one of those sci-fi movies.  You know, where you enter a time machine and arrive on a different planet and in a different dimension.  We leave a world of grandparents, bagged salad, dryers, large yards with trees (and speaking English!) — to enter a world of friends, noodles, apartment buildings, and a college campus where we teach English and art.  They are two totally different worlds and it can be unnerving to hop from one to the other.  We really fit in neither, but love both…I struggle to wrap my brain around that, not to mention help my children navigate our two realities.

This summer has been extreme. HA, understatement!  We went from our busy world in Asia to a world of hospitals, dentists, immunizations, doctor appointments — and did I mention doctor appointments?

In a way, it has helped us to be more thankful than ever to be back “home.”  Surgeries are behind us.  Little Man has a new prosthesis that fits and he is running again. (See photo of him during a walk through the woods!)  Soccer Dude continues to heal and the stitches are dissolving.  Life is moving on.  We are beyond thankful for Father’s healing and our ability to come back to our Asian home.

It never felt better to walk in our apartment door.  Starting the routine of homeschooling in our own space has been a comfort and facing a new fall has been a joy.  There is no way we would be back here without the pr.yer and support of so many of you.  It carried us.

A mentor always willing to take a phone call when we needed a sounding board, an ophthalmologist who fit Soccer Dude for contacts the last week we were in the States because his glasses were bothering the wounds in his nose, a pediatrician’s office willing to work us in to talk about hives and swelling, friends who drove an hour to play with us at a park and express their love and concern, friends in Asia calling and sending us gifts, a simple text message saying “we are pr.ying for you”….all these things (plus many more I could add to this list) carried us and reminded us of the love of a Father who provides.

So when we are weary from jet-lag, facing another busy semester after a crazy summer, when Soccer Dude breaks out in hives again…we have no doubt Father will provide.

Wow!  This post has been full of lists!  I am sure you could make your own list.  How is Father providing for you this season?

 

Thanksgiving in August

We ate turkey dinner with all of the trimmings.  Yup.  It was August 19th and we pretended it was Thanksgiving and it was so very yummy (mostly because it was lovingly made by my mom!)

Even though it was a fake Thanksgiving, I still paused over the gravy bowl and took a second to realize how many things I have to be thankful for.  Even just a week earlier I would have been hard pressed to visualize my whole family healthy and sitting around the dinner table.   I am one thankful mom.

Two and a half weeks ago Soccer Dude was bit in the face by a large dog – a large well trained dog.  It was a freak accident.  Really.  But as freak of an accident as it was, it landed our boy in the hospital for 5 days.  He needed two surgeries to repair the damage and in the process we discovered he is allergic to several antibiotics. As you can imagine, none of us were happy about this turn in events. We were supposed to be having fun at my parents home in Michigan – not sitting around a hospital in Detroit. Every time Soccer Dude would introduce himself to the nurse coming on duty he would mumble between the hundreds of stitches in his mouth, “this is the worst summer vacation ever.”

At about the same time, Little Man was struggling with muscle weakness and the process of making a new prosthetic leg was not going well.  The physical therapist who was helping us shook her head and told us he would need months of physical therapy.

So things haven’t gone as we planned this summer. It has been a ride.  But, we are amazed at how two weeks and a lot of prayer can change things.

Soccer Dude’s face is healing and he has had no infection in his wounds. He is still struggling with crazy allergic reactions that are causing full body hives, and he has some swelling in his face.  We are starting a new journey with him to figure out what all he might be allergic to…related to antibiotics, the accident and maybe even more.  Let the fun begin!  We would appreciate you keeping him in your thoughts.

Little Man –  He has worked hard over the past two weeks and his strength is coming back.  His story also is nothing short of miraculous. When the docs saw him Monday they were amazed and instead of recommending three months of physical therapy as they expected, they declared there no longer is the need.  We were able to move forward in the fitting process of the prosthetic and he gets his new leg tomorrow.

There have been times this summer that I wondered if we would be able to return to Asia this fall as we had planned.  We still have some loose ends hanging out there, but we are taking strides to be off this coming week.  We are taking it one step at a time and are thankful for each small victory that takes a step closer.

Resting Comfortably

IMG_0964The first several days after surgery were rough, but we are seeing light at the end of the tunnel.  Yesterday, Little Man was acting more like himself.  His fever has broke, last night he slept through the night without pain medication, and this morning he is asking to go for a spin in his wheelchair.  This mom is breathing easier!

He loves the wheelchair.  Even when he was experiencing a lot of pain he was willing to push himself around.  After a month of not being able to wear his prosthesis, mobility seems like pure heaven.  He has mastered doing donuts and his favorite new game is pretending to be Pac Man.  He chases everyone (ghosts) to eat them.  Love hearing him laugh as he chases us – Don’t love those huge wheelchair wheels running over my toes!  He has also figured out how to crawl without touching his leg on the ground.  It is like some crazy knee lift push up while crawling.  He is amazing.

This week we are focusing on his continued healing and exercising his leg to keep his mobility.  It is more natural for him to keep his knee bent so they have given him a brace so that his knee doesn’t lock. Next week, we go back to the hospital for them to check his leg and fit him for a compression sleeve to continue the healing and prepare him for a new prosthetic.

We can’t thank you all enough for keeping him in your prayers.  Our family feels very blessed by your love and support!

Surgery Day

IMG_1039-1We literally rolled in on our last wheel, but we are now in Florida getting Little Man all fixed up.  We can’t sing the praises of Shriners Hospital in Tampa loud or long enough.  They really are bending over backwards to help us care for our guy.

On pre-op day they discovered that even more was going on than we had anticipated.  Rather than one bone spur needing to be removed he would need further amputation and reconstruction of his limb to remove old scar tissue.  This is much more invasive than we had planned for, but since we were in good hands we felt confident with the direction things were going.  Unfortunately, this means a longer recovery time, but we will take that one day at a time.

Yesterday was surgery.  He wasn’t feeling very brave, but when they rolled a wii into his room as they prepped him for surgery everything else seemed less important.  Mario Kart saves the day.  Unbelievable that he could be woozy from pain meds and able to win a race.

Surgery went as planned with no surprises.

We spent the night in the hospital (and may be here another one) due to his history of infection.  They are giving him iv antibiotics and pain medication.  He is having a very hard time with pain because some of the meds that usually work just aren’t working in his body.  Truly, this is one of the hardest things I have done as a mom.  Hate seeing my baby in this much pain.  He wanted to know if my leg was hurting because I was crying along with him.  Sweet boy.  No mom’s leg isn’t hurting…just my heart.

Would appreciate you praying for him that the pain would ease, that he would stay infection free, and that he heals beautifully.  I am ready to be eating this boy’s dust again!