Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Heart Surgery

The night before the heart catheterisation

It was 12 years ago today that Miss K had heart surgery. In many ways the heart surgery was much easier than the heart catheterisation for us emotionally and for Miss K physically. It was during the heart catheterisation that her heart stopped and as they told us "she had major bleeding." It was the night after that procedure that we were told she would not make it. Three days later she was going in for heart surgery.

I discovered an email we sent on 1 August, 2004.

Last Monday the surgeons at Xin Guang Hospital in Taipei successfully removed the stenosis from Miss K's aorta, which allowed her for the first time to have adequate blood flow to her legs. The blood pressure in her upper and lower body has now equalised and her feet no longer feel cold. We have a lot to give thanks for!

This surgery was considered to be high-risk because:1) her heart had stopped completely a few days earlier and had to be restarted, 2) she had been through a major surgery on her stomach only 10 days earlier, 3) in general, operations on the aorta in this age group have about a 15% mortality rate. Complications during surgery could have included stroke, heart attack or damage to the lymphatic system.

We are grateful to report that, thanks to your prayers, the surgery went smoothly and no complications occurred. This past week Miss K has made lots of progress -- she is beginning to breastfeed which is hark work for her and has moved out of the ICU, she is gaining weight and they are beginning to talk about discharging her.

on Friday, July 23 we were informed, in a brief phone call from the doctor's office of the cause of her heart and stomach deformities. Miss K has Down's Syndrome, which originates in a chromosome disorder and cannot be cured. We heard this news at about the same time that we learned of her need for heart surgery. After all this, we were in shock for about 2 days, but found strength in God. Still, it is a very severe trial. We are gradually adjusting to Miss K's condition now and thinking of how we can get the training we need to provide her with adequate care.

Thank you for your prayer for Miss K! God has already answered them in a wonderful way. Please continue to pray that she can recover and come home soon. She is nearly 3 weeks old and knows nothing of the world outside the hospital.

Now 12 years later I look back and remember some of those emotions. I remember sitting in plastic aqua chairs watching Chinese TV while she spent hours in surgery. I remember walking down the hall. I remember the doctor coming out and saying, "everything is okay".

As I look back on what we wrote and some of the emotions, I reflect on God's goodness. I am reminded that God is good when he healed Miss K and God is also good even when healing doesn't happen.

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Saturday, July 23, 2016

Heidleberg, Germany

Normally when we have a conference we have an afternoon of fun and exploring something local to where we are meeting. While we were in Germany we went to Heidelberg Castle and then had about an hour to walk about Heidelberg a bit.

Heidelberg Castle is somewhat of a ruin. There were parts that were just facade and some rooms and places to go through.

Our tour guide was a man from the 1600's. He had quite a bit of knowledge of that time and was also able to predict things that would happen in the future. He was the tutor of Frederick V.

Here is a facade that is remaining.

The view from there shows the town below.

It was a hot day. There were figures in each of the rows -- Greek mythical figures and Biblical figures.

We finished our tour and had some time to walk through the town. This is looking across the river.

We walked to the bridge. I enjoy the history. Often I learn more as I blog and share things that we have seen. This is the Old Bridge and the gate is part of the old city walls.

There is the castle from the river. You can see bits of the ruins.

I am glad that we were able to see a bit of Germany during the conference.

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Friday, July 15, 2016


Last week our Europe ministry team had a conference in Germany. Once a year or so we gather as a field - people from UK, Netherlands, and Germany,  and it is normally either in England or Germany. This year it was in Germany. For the children and I it was the first time we have been to Germany. We had transited through Germany numerous times and during one of those transits got our passports stamped but this was our first visit.

We were staying at a Christian Conference Centre near Stuttgart. There was another group there but we only saw them at meal times.

Our time at the conference included some teaching time from Ephesians, some time getting reports and updates of what is happening, and some time in focus groups, groups focused on the same people groups.

This is a view from an abandoned church near the centre looking towards the town nearby. We walked down there one day but it was mainly houses.

This is a door and window at the conference centre. I looked like what I think a window should look like in Germany.

It was hot. Maybe not real hot, just in the 20C/70F range but for us that was hot.

I loved the sunset one evening.

Here is another view of the sunset. You can also see the fields. There were corn in some of the fields which we don't have growing here in England.

The children spent time with some teammates children. They have been together before so they knew each other. They had some Bible teaching time and also some fun time in the afternoons while we were in meetings. They went for a long walk, played mini-golf, created a video about our team, and just had fun.

One of my favourite things to do when I visit a place it go to the local supermarket. I just find it fascinating to see the things sold, the brands, comparing it to what I know. Like I said we walked to the town but there were just a few restaurants. On Friday afternoon someone was driving to the shopping area and had some room in their car so I could go along. I had €20.

The first place we went to was a toy/game store. I think the Germans come up with some of the best games. Settlers of Catan is German and Ravensberger is also German. I bought a game. I did have to look online to find the English instructions.

Then we went to the supermarket. We were going to go to Lidl but then we spied another store. I can go to Lidl here so I was up for the other store.

Look at the selection of Nutella.

For some reason seeing Uncle Ben's rice just made me chuckle. I was not expecting to see that there though we do have some Uncle Ben's here in England. We have korma sauce and a few other things.

Walker's biscuits - we can get those here but seeing them there just made me feel a bit at home.

Heinz Ketchup - That is a brand that is know around the world. Here there are some Heinz products that you would not find in the supermarket in the USA.

There were lots of pretzels. The Pennsylvania girl in me came out. I miss good pretzels. I will also add that Pretzel Chips are a favourite of mine and it has been almost two years since I have seen those.

You can't forget the chocolate. Look at the variety of Ritter chocolate. There were other areas of chocolate as well.

That is just a bit from Germany. I will share a bit about the one afternoon that we had to explore together.

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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Happy Birthday Miss K

Twelve years ago a baby girl was born in Taiwan. Twelve years ago we became parents. Twelve years ago began a journey that would bring laughter, smiles, joy along with tears at times, and lots of prayers.

Recently I found our newsletter from September 2004. I will share what we wrote.

On July 12 at 2:25 am, Miss K entered the world weighting 6 pounds, 1 ounce and measuring 19-1/4 inches long. The excitement of becoming parents was quickly replaced with emotions of concern. Kylie was moved the NICU because of neonatal apnea. The x-rays of her lungs showed that there was a blockage between her stomach and small intestine. A little bit more than 72 hours after Miss K was born she was having surgery. The hours of sitting and waiting were long and difficult for her parents. Following surgery, she had to remain in the hospital for a week to ensure that there was no leakage from her stomach. The next Wednesday we were beginning to get excited about her recovery and anticipated bringing her home that weekend. During our morning visit, however, we were told that doctors wanted to do a heart catheterization because of a heart murmur. The prospects of bringing her home that weekend began to grow dim.

On Thursday we spent most of the day waiting for the procedure to be performed. Late hat afternoon they did it and we learned that there was a heart imbalance, but, ever more serious, there was a constriction in her aorta. There had been some complication from the heart catheterisation and she had required a blood transfusion. Things did no look good that evening. One doctor told us "prepare to face the facts." Our prayer during her entire time in the NICU had been that she would be a light in that ward. But we went home hat evening not expecting Miss K to live through the night. Our co-workers, Ron and Elinda West, as well as our pastor, sat together in our living room and prayed, committing Miss K to God's care. Meanwhile in the USA Beth's parents were working frantically to try to get tickets to come and visit.

Miss K did make it through the night. On Friday morning we met with the heart surgeon. He gave us a thorough explanation of the surge that was scheduled for Monday morning.

On Friday afternoon we received a phone call which gave us the answer as to why Miss K had the medical problems that she did. Miss K has Down Syndrome. This news was a shock to us, and caused us to wrestle with difficult emotions as we worked through changing our expectations of all the things Miss K might do in life.

Beth's parents arrived on Saturday evening. It was a blessing to have them here, visiting with us and going to the hospital. They were here for the heart surgery. "Everything is okay," were the words of the heart surgeon as they brought Miss K back to the NICU for recovery.

On August 7 Miss K was finally discharged. The nurses and staff there were all sad to see her leave. We were looking forward to finally having her home!

We saw a number of demonstrations of God's faithfulness during this difficult time:

  • We met a Christian nurse in the NICU. We visited her Christian cell group there at the hospital, since they were praying for Miss K.
  • We had opportunities to share God's love. One of the nurses told Beth, "Miss K is lucky to have you as parents as most of them are given up during pregnancy." That is very true here. Most of the babies with Down Syndrome are aborted.
  • After the heart surgery, we learned that, for child of Miss K's size, the mortality rate is 50 percent. Her survival was really an answer to prayer.
  • Through a friend at church over hospital bill was reduced more than 90 percent.
  • We are so thankful for the notes and prayer of so many people. God has been faithful in meeting our needs.
Now 12 years later Miss K has continued to show that she has determination. She keeps us laughing. She continues to learn and grow. She loves life and those around her. 

Happy 12th birthday, Miss K. Tomorrow you can begin counting down to your next birthday.

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Monday, July 11, 2016

ArtAchieve - TOS Review

I enjoy being able to include art in our learning. That used to be something that we did in co-op but since we do not have a co-op at this time it is something that I have worked to be intentional about including in our schedule. I am not an artist and so it means that I need resources and things to help me with this. Recently we were able to review ArtAchieve Entire Level II.  We had fun learning and drawing together.

Art Lessons for Children ArtAchieve Review
ArtAchieve is an online resources for teaching art. These lessons also include bits of cross cultural information. The author of ArtAchieve is John Hofland. This began when they homeschooled their children and a drawing course for beginning theatrical stage design students. Mr. Hofland has spent time in Eastern Europe studying, designing, and teaching workshops.

Art Lessons for Children ArtAchieve Review

We received a year's subscription to Entire Level II. There are 14 lessons in the Entire Level II. Each lesson has a warm-up worksheet. This is a fun page that gives you the whole picture but in bits almost like a puzzle. This is an opportunity to practice the lines and curves. The lessons are then given in both a video or a Powerpoint version. The students can work along with the presentation and create their own masterpiece.

I like to have an art project once or twice a week. Normally I would give the children something to draw while I read history. That is one way to keep their hands busy. These lessons begin with a warm-up in getting your hands and fingers ready to draw. Then the suggestion is to put on some calm music and quietly draw. J is a talented artist while Miss K struggles at time. I was looking forward to seeing the masterpieces they would each create.

The first project that we did was the Czech Cat. This is a free lesson. Each lesson gives you the object that was the inspiration for the artwork.

In a way I don't like to do it but we often have to tell Miss K to just stop that she has enough colour on her picture.

One of the first projects that we did was the Swedish Dala Horse. I liked the bits of information about the Dala horse. I felt like we were learning bits of culture along with our art.

Even me who does not think I am not artistic was able to draw a Dala horse that looks like one.

One of the projects that the kids did was a Japanese goldfish. I have many memories of being in Asia and seeing all the goldfish in a pond.

This is the elephant from Ghana. We used supplies that we had around the house. Some of the projects it was suggested to do in paint or watercolour but we used markers for most of our projects. It was suggested to use a glossy paper. I tried with some that we had but it did not work with the markers.

I think the kids found it easy to follow the lessons and create some beautiful artwork. There were times that the drawing began in a place that I thought was interesting like with the eye.

We did a nutcracker. Miss K loves The Nutcracker ballet so she enjoyed drawing this one.

One of the things that I really liked about this program was the cross cultural aspects. It was fun this past week to see some nutcrackers in Germany and remember the artwork we created.

Overall we loved the program. It was something easy that the kids could do on their own. It had more than just drawing with some of the cross-cultural aspects.

It was good for the artist and also for the beginner. We enjoyed working on these projects the past few weeks. There are even a few more that I did not show.

Art Lessons for Children ArtAchieve Review

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Thursday, July 7, 2016

Laurelwood Books - TOS Review

For the past few weeks J has been reviewing Olim, Once Upon a Time in Latin: Derivatives I from Laurelwood Books.

Latin and Penmanship {Laurelwood Books  Review}

Laurelwood Books is an online book shop for homeschooling. With more than 25 years of experience in Home schooling, Laurelwood Books has experience to help home schoolers. Laurelwood Books sells both new and used homeschool curriculum from various publishers. I enjoy wandering through used book stores and this is one that I can do online. They have a wide variety of things listed but also mention to let them know if you are looking for something specific.

Latin and Penmanship {Laurelwood Books  Review}

Laurelwood Books has also begun to publish books for homeschoolers. Olim, Once Upon a Time in Latin: Derivative I is one of the books written by Mary Ellen Tedrow-Wynn. This is a stand alone workbook or can be used with another Latin program. This is designed for fifth or sixth graders. This is a workbook with 15 lessons with a schedule to do a lesson over two weeks. In these lessons 150 Latin words are taught with various activities to reinforce the learning.

In the beginning of the workbook there are Notes to the Teacher which includes a schedule of what to do each day over a two week period for each lesson. Since this can be used as a stand alone book there is a "How to Pronounce Latin" guide and a review of Roman numerals.

Each lesson begins with 10 Latin words, the meaning and some of the derivatives of that word. Then there is a place for the student to trace the word, meaning, and derivative in cursive or joined writing. Then there are some exercises, fill in the blank or matching using the derivatives from the lesson.

There are no quizzes or tests. There is an answer key in the back of the book.

Why did I select this for a review? I find it helpful some times to understand the thinking as to why something was selected. I will share a bit of my thoughts with you. J has done Latin for the past few years but as we move to a modern foreign language I was not sure how much more Latin we would do. I was interested in this because I felt that this might give a bit more Latin.

How did we use this workbook? As I mentioned, there is a schedule in the book to do a lesson over eight days. I assigned a lesson a week for J. This was just something that I was able to give to him and he was able to do on his own. Each lesson took him about 15 minutes.

What are our thoughts after a few weeks? I realised that I underestimated how much Latin and roots J really knows. This is designed for fifth or sixth grades and I knew that would be below J's current work level but I thought it would be different. This did not challenge J.

I love the concept of a book to learn derivatives. I love the idea of a stand alone book to learn these. I like this book except the tracing part but that is just me.  It was a bit easy and not challenging but that is mainly because of age and previous learning. This would be great for the student that has not studied Latin.

Read other reviews of other books from Laurelwood Books to learn more about the books they offer.

Latin and Penmanship {Laurelwood Books  Review}

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Sunday, July 3, 2016

A Day in London

I don't think you can do London in a day. What we have tended to do it a day there here and there. 

I have a friend that lives just a short train ride from London. We have not seen her and her family for almost 10 months so we decided to down for a few days. Wednesday on our drive south it rained almost the whole time. I was concerned about the weather on Thursday. We rode the train into London. We had backed our waterproof jackets but left the umbrella at home. 

We arrived near the London Eye. Our plan was to ride the ferry to the Tower and spend most of the day there. 

I think this was the first time to take the ferry on the Thames. There are parts of the city that you can see so much better from the river. We got the ferry across from Westminster Pier.

The ferry company is not an official tour ferry but they will talk and tell you bits about what you are seeing along the river.

Our destination was The London Tower. It has been 18 years since I was there. For me it has been helpful as we have been studying British history to go and visit. We just finished with Richard III and the tower princes.

We spent about four hours at the Tower we did get to see most it but there were a few sections that we didn't see. This is the room where Walter Raleigh was kept as a prisoner.

We enjoyed a tour which helped to explain so much of the history. This was not our tour guide but another beefeater.

As we rode along the Thames, we saw the Globe. Not the original but rebuilt.

Along the river are the lions. Our tour guide might not be a professional tour guide but we did learn bits during our trip. One thing we learned is a little rhyme.

 “When the lions drink, London will sink. 
When it’s up to their manes, we’ll go down the drains.”

Cleopatra's Needle which was from Egypt. The twin of this one is in Central Park in New York City.

We made it back to Westminster Pier.

It was a fun day. We still have lots of places on our list of things to do in London. We ate Pret for dinner and got a train home. I think everyone was tired on the train.

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