Saturday, January 25, 2014

2014 Week 4: Goodby Aunt Lois; Hi, baby Si

Monday, January 20th, Aunt Lois (94) passed away. I've been looking at photos and rereading her notes and letters. She had beautiful handwriting which began to deteriorate with the onset of macular degeneration. When she could no longer see to write, she resorted to regular phone conversations. More recently she felt even more limited, unable even to dial the right numbers.

The Hirschy sisters, Lois and Kathryn, and Dad
This is how I remember Aunt Lois, probably taken in the late 90's.

Meanwhile, Michael was mentoring the robotics team. I captured this screenshot from their live stream from the workshop.

This video is very entertaining: PhyXTGears Week 2.

Even in single-digit temperatures Mike ventures out regularly for a jog.

I enjoyed wearing my new t-shirt accessories made by a friend in Spain.

. . . and finished knitting a pair of fingerless gloves. In this extreme cold, they are good for extra warmth under gloves or mittens, or as a fashion statement to be worn indoors!

Between snowfalls there was the perfect window of opportunity to travel to Grand Rapids, MI, for my aunt's funeral. So Thursday I drove up to Winona Lake to spend the night at my Mother's.

Almost the whole way there, I was fascinated by the sky, as well as a little concerned about the snow blowing across the road. I didn't know till today that what I was seeing is called a parhelia  or sun dog (a pair of brightly colored spots, one on either side of the sun).

Photo on the right submitted to Muncie Star Press by Dave Wegiel

My brother Alan drove us to Grand Rapids and back. -5 degrees when we left at 7:00 AM!

Aunt Lois's memorial service was a precious time of celebrating a wonderful life as well as reconnecting with cousins and becoming acquainted with their children and grandchildren. 
Two of Lois and Ted's six children preceded them in death--a twin daughter who died at birth in Nigeria, and a 39 year-old son who died of cancer.
Of the four siblings present, I only managed to get photos of two.

Carol; David and granddaughter Jordan
I noticed a theme of Lois's favorite things--aqua color and butterfly pins worn by all the women and girls in the family.

On the return trip we went through the town where niece Tina lives. Alan was kind to stop so I could meet and hold month-old baby Simon.

Sweet mom and decorator extraordinaire!
I was glad to arrive home when I did. It has been snowing off and on since. 
Today was a perfect day to stay indoors, watch the birds, and get things done. 
I even dusted and cleaned our bedroom!

And I am earlier than usual with this weekly blog post. Have a good and safe week, y'all!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

2014 Week 3: Settling slowly

This week life began to slowly settle back into the accustomed routines we had before the holidays, Sam's health-crisis, and winter-related closings. Of course, 'extras' are always thrown into the mix, such as dental appointments, jury summons, etc.
I decided to review the weeks according to the Spanish calendar with Monday as the first day of the week.
Daughter Leah faces some major dental work and wanted me there.

Leah bracing herself to endure ongoing dental procedures
Kayla's tap class for mature women started back up. All three of us were there and had a lot of fun. We wish we could recruit more participants.
Mike visited Sam and wore him out playing a game of chess before heading back to Muncie for robotics.
I went to Monday night meal by myself and on the way admired the blazing sky and noticed the diminishing patches of snow.

Tuesday we experienced another emotional roller coaster. We were still waiting, hopeful for Sam's release. Surgery had been scheduled in the event that the doctors deemed it necessary. The first report of the morning was not very positive. Not long after, as Kristie was driving to the hospital, Sam called to say that the infectious disease physician had come and said all was good and he could be discharged that very day! The leakage was not cranial fluid and he would only need four more days of constant antibiotics instead of several weeks!
One final painful suture and they were homeward bound!

So much pain. So much love.
Kristie kept us all well informed via Facebook. These photos, however made me cry.
There is very much to be grateful for in this whole ordeal but many questions regarding pain still remain.
We are so  thankful for the surgeon. This is a great article describing Dr. Shapiro, the Smooth Operator.

Wednesday morning we visited with Sam at home, while Zion chattered the whole time about his imaginary pets (the pups he named Skye and Jake) and showed us his bike-riding progress.

 Kristie posted the following photos of Sam's first full day at home:

"I'd like to say Sam's first day home was uneventful. However, the home nurse, who arrived early, had to wait an hour and a half for the delivery of his IV antibiotics. After the delivery arrived at 10:30 pm last night, she proceeded to teach me how to care for Sam. After an hour of frustration, she concluded the IV pump was broken. So she left, we went to bed and Sam had to go about 18 hours with no antibiotics. Day two has been much better. The home nurse, Stephanie (pictured below), was back at 9:30, a new pump was delivered prior, and all has been well since.  

Sam and new IV pump; Sam, plugged-in and helping Zion play with the Wii
Sam, reading cards delivered by parents; Sam resting!
 A happy photo a couple days later shows Sam smiling, enjoying more family time than he'd had in a while.

Thursday was a quiet snowy day of writing.
I decided on the perfect place to hang the beautiful Chinese painting that young friend Nanxin gave me at Monday meal. She explained that it is an ancient poem describing the qualities of bamboo--very strong with each segment that grows out of another. I'd love to know the full translation.

Reminds me of strength upon strength. Somehow each trial we come through makes us stronger.

Coincidentally, this week I have been listening to a beautiful novel set in China: City of Tranquil Light. I ordered it after hearing the interview between cousin Rosie (Moody Bible Institute professor) and the author on Midday Connection Book Club. I highly recommend both.

Group exercise opportunities started up for me again this week--water aerobics and fusion.
Wednesday Mike discovered the pipes in the pottery room at the Red Barn had frozen and needed repair. So they had only one session this week, on Friday. 

When I stopped by, the room was full of busy youngsters.

Saturdays are long days for Team 1720 and for the first time they learned how to stream-live from the workshop.
Jared (Sara's son) came by to store his luggage again and we met up with friend Kaitlin, from Little Rock, who attends Taylor. Can you guess where we might have had lunch? Ivanhoes', of course!
As I was driving away, I realized I had NOT taken a picture of these special young people, duh!
I am gratefully borrowing the one Jared posted on Facebook :-)
Yes, it was very cold! (Where is your wool hat, Kaitlin?)

As promised, I took SIL Diane to a couple of bookstores (her favorite thing to do) and then the snow began to come down relentlessly, so our afternoon was cut short.

I was glad to get home when I did.

This morning, Sunday, one of the first images I saw on FB was of son Stephan's ice carving competition piece in Bay Harbor, MI.

Music Within
I liked what he wrote: This weekend I carved a 2400 pound competition ice sculpture called Music Within. It's about our own God-given passions and what motivates us to do what we do. And frankly, this piece makes me happy. 

I find writing rewarding. Mike is downstairs in his studio patiently plugging away at a wax sculpture that makes him happy.

What creative activity makes you happy?

Sunday, January 12, 2014

2014 Week 2: Slow Progress

As it turned out county schools cancelled classes all week.
The robotics team called off their very first day of build-season. Senior mentor Mike's brain did not take a break, however, even waking him up at 4:00 a.m. a couple times to continue working on drawings and solving problems.

Looks like some of the students had fun building a non-robotic structure.

I started the first days home dressing like an eskimo and fighting a sore throat and cold.

By Thursday the temperatures had risen into the 30s and I felt up to a walk in the foot-deep snow.

The picnic area out back

Meanwhile, we followed Kristie's daily updates regarding Sam's condition:
--great weakness. Slowly able to stand, began walking around the unit up to three times a day.
--uncertainty. Was it meningitis? Definitely staph infection. Anything else? Why is the incision leaking? Is the cranial fluid flowing as it should?
--setbacks. May need surgery to open up and clean out the infection. May have to insert a shunt.
--some progress. Less pain. Increased appetite.
Still waiting in hope...

 I was comforted to see Sam's smile in the selfies Kristie took on their walks together, but couldn't look at them without tearing up as I thought of our son's prolonged confinement.

The milder weather and clearer roads, allowed me to get out a couple times and run brief errands. I stopped in to visit Leah, also suffering from cabin fever and loneliness. Her charges--son Skye, three dogs, and the little guy she babysits--keep her somewhat entertained.

Saturday's progress on the robot was significant. A long day of team work, each one doing their part, got them further ahead than in years past at this point, in spite of a day off! (I wonder if they will be able to avoid the usual push and the all-nighters at the end of the six weeks?)
I confess that most of the photos this week are not mine, but rather stolen  borrowed from Facebook.

Today, Sunday's pictures, are my favorites! The boys got to see their Daddy after nine days. I can't tell who is happiest.

I hope to be able to tell you next week that Sam has been released and is home, out of danger, and getting stronger.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

2014 Week 1: Waiting in Hope

Sunday, the last one of 2013, we heard a sermon about looking back, choosing memorable moments of God's grace and constructing memorials or stones of remembrance to always remind us of what God did
My first thought was to write the story of our different Christmas and how God spared our son Sam's life.
I also recognized the same motivation behind my commitment to this weekly photo-journal--to record and not forget how the LORD is leading and working in our daily lives.

Monday I hung the last ornament, a gift from my young friend at Serenity House. It was misplaced for a few days.
Many, if not most, had taken down their decorations by then, but we hadn't had our family Christmas yet.

Tuesday, New Year's Eve.
With Michael involved in the Delaware County robotics team, we join in the downtown Muncie New Year's activities which include the ball drop, built and modified each year by the team.

Daughter Leah has great fun dressing up for the occasion. Can you see the crane and ball in readiness for the exact moment? While you wait buy popcorn and hot chocolate from the Team 1720 PhyXTGears' tent.

. . . 3-2-1- Happy New Year!

New Year's Day 2014 we celebrated Christmas 2013 as a family--meal, gifts, fun.

Christmas Dinner
Our fellowship was all the more precious and sweet because Sam was with us, though tired and weak yet.

We attempted a reenactment of a favorite Christmas photo of the three older grand-kids when they were little probably about the age and size of the three younger ones now. Not the same stair-step effect anymore.

Thursday (or was it Friday?), Mike borrowed my camera and went out in the cold to get this view of the carved tree.

On one of those days I took down all the ornaments off the Christmas tree and they are still on the table waiting to be packed away. Anyone else out there a 'hopeless case' like me? Please don't send the Christmas-decor police around!

Saturday was the start of the build season for the robotics team and hence a big commitment for Mentor Mike. 
The simulcast Kick-Off takes place on the first Saturday of January. This year's game is called Aerial Assist.

After Mike left, I had an SOS call from Kristie: Sam was in trouble again--headache, vomiting, in serious pain. I left ASAP and ended up spending three days with the grand boys, only three the first day. 

Fun times interspersed with tears and meds, all fighting flu symptoms and missing Mom.

Malachi had spent a weekend away with good friend Ben and his great family. In spite of the condition of the roads, they drove him back Sunday afternoon.
The expected snowfall and frigid temperatures continued. The big boys moved their mattresses to the warmer area, the living room.

Winter Camping
Meanwhile, Sam had been transported to Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis again where he had the third ct scan in three days and many other tests. The diagnosis: meningitis.
He has lost much weight, is weak but gaining strength daily. Blood count has normalized. Still waiting for some test results to know how to deal with the post op bacterial infections.

Monday late afternoon Kristie braved the dangerous driving conditions to get home to her boys. We are grateful she made it safely.
Mike picked me up from their place and I am taking it easy at home, enjoying the views.
Sam encouraged Kristie to stay home a day or two.

Friends of Sam and Kristie and our family have been overwhelmingly supportive. A website was launched for updates and fundraising: Walking in Victory and Hope. I get emotional every time I look at the response.