Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Last Week

Last week while Scott was here we decided to make a brief trip to Fresno to visit some dear friends of ours, Jean, Debbie, and Pat. Once we got to Fresno we went straight to their children's bookstore. Its probably the best kids bookstore I've ever seen. Think Shop Around the Corner from You've Got Mail...only much better. The store is entirely kid centered, and the boooks are thoughtfully selected. I love it. Of course everybody in our family found a book or two they coudln't leave without. I even found a fabulous book that I can't wait to share with my classroom that is apparenlty out of print. The store had one copy left, and since I found it before Scott, it gets to come home with me! Yeah!

After spending a wonderful afternoon swimming, cooking out, and talking with friends, we got up the next morning and set out to meet some other friends of ours, Steve and Lisa and their two cute kids Audrey and Joseph. We loaded up the cars (Steve and Scott in one, and Lisa and I in another) and set off for the Kings Canyon and Sequoiah National Parks to see the "big trees."

We had a fabulous time. Personally, I thought the car ride up was just as fun as anything. Catching up with friends is always good, and a car ride to the mountains was the perfect opportunity. I'm certain Scott felt the same way about his time with Steve.

Once we got there and had lunch, we began to take the hike to through Grants Grove. There were several giant sequoias on this path. The kids looked with awe... well mostly. Emily didn't really think the trees were all that big. She wasn't nearly as impressed as I thought she would be. She kept telling me there certainly were bigger trees some place else. Finally, after assuring her that no, these were the biggest, she seemed to understand the importance. Elsie seemed to be very impressed with the "Big Tees! Big Tees!"

Emily had a great time hanging with Joseph. If only we lived closer. I'm sure these two would enjoy hanging out more.

The kids all loved running up and down the path with each other. Every once in awhile Eli would get a little too far in front of the group. Elsie handled it though. She would run up to him and yell, "Eyi! Stop!" Then she would grab him by the shirt and walk him back to the group. Poor Eli. I have a feeling there will be more of this bossiness to come.
Scott and I decided to drive the long way through the Sequoia National Park to get to Visalia, and then hit the 99 back to Bakersfield. This was a great trip. We loved the beautiful mountains, the foreign travlers, and the clean crisp air. We stopped several times to see the sights, and just take in the view. This one is of Emily is looking down at the Kings Canyon Park behind her, and the Sequoiah Park is on the other side of her. Simply beautiful! There was a controlled burn going on while we were there, so I feel like it probably wasn't as clear as other days. But still, it was amazing.

On the back side to Visalia we got stuck in a traffic jam for over an hour. Apparenlty there was road work where construction crews demolished one of the lanes for a ten mile stretch. These roads are the curviest roads you can imagine, so taking out a lane on a two-lane windy road must be dangerous work. We sat and waited for the hour, and then when it was finally time for us to, we had a pilot car take us down the mountain on a one-way stretch that rivaled the show Ice Road Truckers.

Luckily for us, our fearless driver got us all home safe!

It was a tremendous trip! We are so thankful our kids could see the "giant trees" even if only Emily remembers. I hope that we can return soon when they are a bit older. Its truly amazing to see such old, strong, beauty.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


If anybody has ever flown in to LAX on the 405, you know about the horrific traffic that can plague a trip. LA is notorious for horrible traffic. The 5, the 405 the 10. Scott and I have been stuck in them all. Just a few years ago my parents and I took Emily to Disneyland (Scott didn't make it to CA that time) and we were stuck in traffic on I-5 for so long I thought my dad was going to turn the car around and cancel the trip all together. On the way home from Disney my mom and I were talking about how much fun we had, and recalling some of the things that were certain to be life-long memories. My dad could only mutter that none of that was worth the traffic that we had to endure to get there. Part of me agreed.

That is why I am dreading the trip from the airport to my parents house on Saturday morning. The 405 (one of the most traffic-plagued freeways I've ever seen) will be shut down for just over 50 hours in a section around Sepulveda Blvd. Our flight in to LA arrives just a few hours after the shut-down begins.

Time magazine has an article here that refers to this traffic mess as Carmageddon. Airlines have began offering "Carmageddon flights" from LAX to both Long Beach airport and the Burbank airport. These flights sold out in less than two hours.

Scott was looking around the web this morning and he even found there is a special app that I could download to my iPhone that would show the best ways to navigate in through carmameddon. I think we'll give it a try.

Both my mom and dad are coming in both of their cars to pick us up. We don't all fit in one car, especially not with our luggage. Surely this traffic mess will provide us with countless hours (I'm afraid this is no exagerration) of conversation with either my mom or dad. But since I remember my dad's aversion to traffic from the Disney trip, I think I'll claim the seat in mom's car.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The influential

When Emily was born we had a pediatrician in Clovis. He was supposed to be "the best of the best" and we felt fortunate that he would be our pediatrician. However, Emily had horrible spit-up issues. I mean, we packed the diaper bag with three extra outfits, and literally a half dozen burp clothes. No exaggeration. When I brought her for a two week well check up, I suspected she had reflux, and while the doctor complained about her lack of weight gain, he told me that reflux was "a laundry issue, not a medical issue." I will never forget that quote. His answer to the lack of weight gain was for me to immediately stop nursing and start her on a prescription high caloric formula. Thankfully I was able to muster all of the new mommy self-confidence I had (there wasn't much at this point) and tell him that I didn't agree. I think he literally rolled his eyes.

Since we were moving in only a few weeks, we looked forward to finding a new pediatrician here in Irmo. I did lots of research and found a pediatrician in the area that was supposed to be fabulous. Unfortunately, he was not accepting new patients, but would we like to make an appointment with his colleague? Sure. Its not like we had a lot of options.

From the moment Scott and I met our new pediatrician, we liked him. He immediately told us Em had reflux, as suspected by the spit up, but also because her poor little esophagus was worn raw. Stupid Clovis doctor! He wrote us a script for Prilosec, and while the improvement was gradual, it was there. I didn't have to stop nursing (an idea our new pediatrician was absurd) and our confidence as parents grew as Emily did too.

Since then there have been many, many trips to see our doctor. Emily once had an ear infection for weeks were she would literally scream for hours and multiple rounds of antibiotics didn't have any affect. She had tonsils the size of walnuts that caused her to snore louder than a drunk sailor. Those had to go. Surgery it was. Then the twins came along and brought their own share of hernia surgeries, potential blood autoimmune issues (this was Elsie, and while it took three weeks for the results to show "normal" levels, in the end it turned out just fine) and multiple seasonal allergy issues. With our climate and humidity Emily can get a staff infection from a bug bite, and Eli breaks out in an eczema rash if he merely looks at a tomato. They're not unhealthy kids by any means, but we've made lots of trips to see the doctor. Many times I was in tears and feared that I could be leaving with a prescription for drugs or even a referral to a mental health specialist. But our pediatrician never fails to offer comfort and assurance to Scott and I as well. He never makes me feel ignorant, or like a hypochondriac. He has young kids himself, and I believe him when he tells me that Scott and I are doing a great job.

But most importantly, he knows and loves our kids. Emily thinks he hung the moon and can fix anything. After the earthquake in Haiti, our doc went there to help offer his services for anybody who needed them. I brought Emily in for a well check up shortly after his return, and when she told him, "I prayed for you every day while
you were in Haiti" he got teary and hugged her so tight. After the "big wave" hit Japan, Emily wrote a letter telling him to go to "where the big wave was" to help all the people. She just knew he could help all those people in Joplin, MO.

When I brought Eli in yesterday for potential pink eye and allergy issues, our doc told us that he had been back to Haiti several times, and he actually partnered with a few others to open an orphanage in Haiti. He gave me the website to share with Emily so she would see their faces, and pray for them by name. He and I talked about how important it was to help our children know about the world that exists outside of Irmo/Lexington. We talked about a missional perspective of the world. I left so thankful that Emily has this wonderful person as her doctor. To not only help her with her ailments, but also to share how he's using his gifts to bless those near and far. What an amazing example.

Then I started thinking about Em's Kindergarten teacher. She just returned from Honduras with her church. I've showed Emily several of the pictures from FB of her beloved teacher on this mission trip. Emily beamed. She was proud to know her very own teacher was a missionary! Emily's class had learned all about water last year, and took action to raise money to construct a well in a school in Nicaragua. This left Emily with a beginning understanding of how life was different for children in other countries.

And then there's our own church. Several students and leaders are taking a team back to Belize. There have already been teams there to help construct a church building and to build a bridge where the only way across the gorge was the old bridge that had been destroyed in a storm. All these things have been shared with Emily in her class at church.

All of these people and experiences in her life have helped develop a missional understanding in Emily. This morning she was talking to me about how we had given up cable for the year that I was a stay at home mom. We'd been clear with Emily as to why we made this choice, and she understood that cable was a bill that we had to pay monthly. We went an entire year with no T.V. but now not only do we have cable but we also have Netflix. Emily asked me how much the cable bill cost. I told her and she walked away. Later this morning she asked me if we could donate to the orphanage if we turned off the cable. I was blown away. I think this will be a decision that she will eventually change her mind about. I told her we needed to talk with Daddy about this decision, and that we would probably need to wait until we got back from our trip to California. But that if she wanted to give up cable, that would be an excellent way to help support the Haiti orphanage. Emily beamed.

This morning my heart is swollen. Our Emily is so precious. I'm so thankful for the people in her life that show her what it means to serve God by serving others.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

The Deer

On Monday before our Fourth of July festivities began, Scott and Emily decided to go on a nature walk. The twins were napping, and it was one of those rare times when I decided to take a nap too. I was exhausted!

Scott and Emily walked out the door just before I went to sleep. I woke up over an hour later and they weren't home. I waited another hour, and they still didn't show up. My mom called, and I was on the phone with her voicing my concern and asking how long until I contact Search and Rescue when Emily bardged in to the house.

"Mom! Quick! There's an emergency! Mom! You have to come quick!

Oh no. My first thoughts were that something had happened to Scott, which made me heart drop to my toes. I quickly realized that he was coming up the stairs right behind her. Once I saw that he was fine, I had no clue what this emergency may be.

Apparently, they walked over four miles. Scott said they talked about all sorts of things while exploring nature. They followed a turtle to see where he was going. They saw all sorts of birds. They looked at all sorts of trees and vines.

And then when they were making their way back to the house, they saw a deer that had\ obviously been struck by a car. The deer was laying in a ditch on the side of the road. It could hardly be seen until they walked right up to it. It was in a lot of pain, and panting hard. They had no idea how long it had been out there.

So this was the emergency. And to Emily, it was a huge emergency.

A few years ago, my class read a series of books about expansion (think urban sprawl) and we ended up deciding to collect materials for a wildlife group here in Columbia. I remembered this group, and how they cared for hurt animals, or animals who had been displaced by construction. I called only to find out that they were closed (it WAS Independence day!) and that they referred all injured deer calls to the Department of Natural Resources.

So I called the Dept. of Natural Resoources and put in notice about the injured deer. We were told that since it was hard to see from the road, that it would help if we could wait by the deer until an officer showed up. We loaded the mini-van, and were off.

When Emily and Scott showed me the deer, they noted that it had rolled over, exposing its very broken bone-exposed legs. The poor deer! Emily was so concerned.

It wasn't until the two sherriff deputy cruisers rolled up that Scott and I fully understood what the phone dispatcher that I talked to meant when she said "officer." All of the sudden Scott and I had the realization of what was to happen next. Our head snapped towards each other as our eyes told us we were both thinking the same thing. Deputies have guns. I don't exactly know what Scott was execting, but I guess I was expecting some sort of DNR "officer" to come with an animal truck, where the deer would be loaded up and taken away to be cared for. This is absolutely ridiculous, as we live in a state with an overpolulation of deer to the point where they frequently open deer season to include doe. Why would this one deer be one they would want to save? While the deputies parked, I quickly realized I hadn't thought this all the way through.

We walked away from the deer to talk with the officers. They were totally nice and understanding about not wanting to leave an animal in such severe pain, which made me feel better about the thoughts I was having about wasting their time on a probably very busy holiday weekend.

We walked back across the street to show them the deer, all the while waiting for an opportunity to ask the deputies if they could wait before bringing out their guns so we could promptly drive away so Emily wouldn't have to see.

But as we showed them the deer, we instantly noted that it must have just died. The heavy breathing was gone, and it wasn't moving. Its eyes distant, not jerking around like before.

*deep sigh*

Emily wasn't going to have to witness the Bambi being shot by the deputies. I have to admit that I have never been so excited for a deer to die.

On the way back home, Scott told Emily that she was a person of action, and that she decided to do something when she saw something was wrong. He explained that the deer had probably been passed up by dozens of people, not to mention the car who must have hit it. I looked in the rear-view mirror and saw her beaming in the back seat. I loved that they take their nature walks together. I loved seeing the pride on her face when Scott noticed her responsibility and action. I also loved that we didn't see a deer get shot.

Thanks deer. I'm pretty sure this is one of those instances that Em won't ever forget.