Monday, July 30, 2012

Game Champion

This afternoon Russ, Logan and I played several games. Logan won every game. It was pretty funny! We also headed to the pool for a while. Since Logan is now swimming I want to get him lots of time in the water.

Logan got his knight costume for his party this afternoon! He looks so fierce.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Logan is swimming!!

Logan started swimming a little on Thursday afternoon but today he really started to take off.  He is so excited to be swimming.  He told me he was so excited he could cry.  I am so proud of him.  I know we will spend lots of time in the pool over the next month and I am excited to see his swimming really take off.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Enjoying the last few weeks of summer!!

We have less than 3 weeks left of summer so we are trying to have as much fun as possible. Yesterday we went to the pool for a couple of hours. Logan started trying to swim without his float!! Big steps. I am planning to put him in swimming lessons at thee end of the summer, especially since he is really loving the pool now. This is something new.

This morning we had a great time playing at home. Owen played trains with Logan for a while. All of us went into N's & O's room to play puppet show, bowling, farm, driving and just have lots of fun. After naps we went to the Rec Center at Dawson and had a great time playing games and ran around the gym.

Tonight we had a little Olympics watching party (just our family). Logan picked the menu- something for every color. Yellow-pineapple, Green - grapes, Red - strawberries, Blue - blueberries and black was supposed to be blackberries but there were none at the store.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Medical Update

Figured it was time for a medical update.

Nathan is making progress with his cochlear implant, which is good because we had not seen much at all for a few months.  In order to speed up the process of getting a good map, which has already taken 8 months, we are now seeing our audiologist once a month instead of the normal once every three months appointments.  We have our next appointment on August 8th.

Today we saw our Physiatrist, rehab doctor.  His is the main doctor that works with the boys for their CP.  He is planning to see both Nathan and Owen in spasticity clinic on August 9th.  In spasticity clinic they will be seen by him, an orthopedic surgeon, a neurologist, and more therapists.  Since I am throwing around some unfamiliar terms here is a definition to help explain. 

Microsoft Word - FAMGUIDE.doc
In its most general term, spasticity is “increased resistance to passive movement or muscle stretch, which can interfere with mobility, self-care, positioning, and ultimately lead to joint contractures. This occurs when there is an illness or injury which affects the brain, brain stem, or some area of the spinal cord. Individuals who have spasticity have increased reflexes and clonus ( a rapid up-and-down movement about a joint in response to muscle stretch). 

In Spasticity Clinic Nathan will be reviewed and a decision will be made if he will receive botox in his legs again, followed by serial casting for about four weeks, along with knee immobilizer, etc or if we will begin a discussion of surgery to lengthen his hamstrings.  Most of the time the surgery is done on kids who are about 4.  Nathan is going to clinic to get all this "brain power" together to figure out the best plan of action for him.

Owen will be attending Spasticity Clinic too.  Owen does not have Spastic CP, but Dystonic CP.  Owen is going to Spasticity Clinic to be seen by all the doctors and therapists even though he is not spastic so that he and Nathan can be together and I don't need to make another trip up to Children's Hospital for Movement Disorder Clinic.  Everyone will observe Owen and make a future plan of action for him too.  Here is a definition of Dystonic CP.  

Dystonia is a disorder characterized by involuntary muscle contractions that cause slow repetitive movements or abnormal postures. The movements may be painful, and some individuals with dystonia may have a tremor or other neurologic features.

We also discussed and will begin moving forward on getting Owen some augmentative communication devices.  I think right now that may look like some apps on the iPad (which he LOVES).  Everyone believes both boys are cognitively on level.  Owen especially gets very frustrated when he cannot communicate to us appropriately and when he is frustrated he tightens his muscles and it becomes painful for him.   This devise will not take place of any progress and work we are doing in verbal communication but will just enhance it, allowing Owen to not be so frustrated so we can actually work on the words he is wanting to say.  Owen is starting to say more and more words on his own and repeat what we are saying.  We have noticed that some times he has difficulty answering questions and will just move his lips and his tongue around for a while.  The doctor believes he has some dystonia in his tongue and face making it harder for his muscles to formulate a response some times.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Lots of love going around

Logan and I always do the sign for love. Here are a few of the pictures we sent back and forth throughout my trip!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Best way to get over jetlag

The best way to get over jet lag is to immediately acclimate yourself to the time zone you are in. So, even if you are dead tired for flying for 28 hours (with a few lay overs) napping in the afternoon is not an option. Check out the pictures of what Hannah and I did this afternoon to get over our jet lag.

Last Day in Cambodia

Sunday was a very exciting day on my trip. I always love to see and hear people worshipping God in another language. It makes me even more in awe of God knowing He understands all their praise and worship because He created them and their language. Worship was great, about 2 hours. We just sang for over an hour. They had all the words to the songs in Khmer and English. Most all signs in Cambodia are bilingual. The phrase that struck me most in our singing was "Break my heart for what breaks yours as I walk on this earth towards eternity". My images of the week from the beautiful faces on the kids, the diligence of the staff, the poor conditions of their home life, and their contagious personalities all flooded my heart. I want my heart to break everyday for what breaks God's heart as I return to Birmingham, both in Cambodia and at home. We were able to enjoy the sermon because it was broadcast in English over radio signal. When we entered we were given a small hand held radio to be able to enjoy the broadcast. Being a former church media person I always take notice of a churches media. I was pretty blown away by this church in Cambodia's media, much better than most of what I see in the US. Both the teachers that Hannah and I worked with teaching English this week were at worship, so it was nice to see them again.

That afternoon we gathered our supplies and headed to the garment factory area to do VBS with the children in the community. We had about 55 children and taught them a couple of new songs. They really enjoyed it. We taught them Psalm 139:1-14. After the lesson they created lots of different crafts including decorating sunglasses, which they all really enjoyed. It was so fun to see them smiling, laughing and just really enjoying themselves.

Seeing the garment factory area was a little enlightening to the term sweat shop. While I was not in a factory I talked with some people who work in a factory. People work 10-12 hours per day, 6 days a week. There is no air conditioning and some times people will faint because it can get so hot. If they are very sick they are allowed 1 day off. All of this hard work will pay them between $60-$100 a month depending on how much over time they work and their length of employment. In this community there were about 20,000 factory workers. The factory also owns housing for everyone to live. The rent is about $20/month and includes a room about 6x6 made out of concrete, a wooden slats bed (no mattress), and a bathroom (no sink..just toilet and shower head. There is no kitchen, no closet, no decorations of any kind, no bedding. There was a few very small portable shelves with some clothes on it. Four girls live here together. The wooden slat bed sleeps three, so there is just enough room on the concrete floor for number four.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

A Perfect World

Would the world be perfect if everyone was just like me? What extreme some people go to is absolutely abhorrent. Pol Pot thought the world needed to be cleansed of all people he did not see as perfect. In all he killed over 2 million Cambodian's from 1975-1979. This was over 25% of the nation's population. Today we toured S21 and The Killing Fields.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Photos of the day

This morning was spent on a tour of Phenom Penh! It was lots of fun to see many sights and experience a really large wholesale market. Today for lunch we ate at Daughters of Cambodia (a cafe, boutique and hand & foot spa all run by girls who have been freed from sex trade). You can learn more about them at This afternoon our plans for playing with the kids in the park were cancelled from the sickness spreading around. So, we took this time to help our friends move a little in preparation for their big day next week. Phat our tuk tuk driver made some phone calls and made a special trip out of the way for some bubble tea. This evening we got some take out food from the market and played Dutch Blitz. I can honestly say I was the worst of the seven of us.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Faces of Cambodia

There are many faces to Cambodia. Looking around you see beautiful buildings, landscape, people and weather. It is now the rainy season in Cambodia and it storms almost everyday. When the afternoon storms roll in they usually bring big dark clouds that are very beautiful.

Cambodia reminds me of a storm. Beautiful to look at on the outside but if you take a moment to really examine what is inside the storm it can be pretty fierce. Just like with any storm there are beams of sunlight bursting there way through the darkness. I have had the privilege of meeting many of these beams of sunlight that day in and day out go to the storm to be used by God to shine His light. The two we have had the privilege to work with directly are three people I am honored to call my friends, The Grace and Peace Gals, and Hard Places Community Center.

Let me explain to you a little about the storm. The Grace and Peace Gals are running a school in a smaller community with AIM. This community has a very high rate (up to 90% is a statistic I heard on a video from their director) of parents who will sell their children to men for sex. Since AIM came into the community most of the brothels, which had children as young as 6 or 7, are shut down...which is amazing. The problem is sex selling is now mostly underground. Their are still pimps in this area. The way it works is someone will tell the tuk-tuk driver (motor bike taxi) they are interested in having sex with a child, he calls the pimp, the pimp gets the child from the parents and he takes her to the client for the evening and brings her back in the morning. Some of them will send their children off for weeks at a time. What are ways to try and keep these children safe...have them in school, build relationships with these families and educate them on the worth of a human. Right now kids come to school in the mornings and back in the afternoon for Kid's Club. Often when they go home the parents are at work or just out of the home so a 3, 4 or 5 yr old is on their own for food and protection. The school is hoping to raise enough money to soon offer nutritional lunches to these children, allowing them to be at school all day.

Hard Places serves exploited or at risk boys in the community. Each day boys, completely of their own free will, come to the center for English classes, Kid's club, game time, soccer, counseling and all in all a safe place for them to feel normal/safe love from adults. These boys are so full of life. Just like the storm they are so beautiful on the outside with great turmoil on the inside. Because of the disease spreading around town we had the privilege of going to their homes and meeting their parents. Words can not describe, nor does Google have any pictures, that can paint a picture of their living conditions. Physical and emotional disparity in the darkness.

Hard Places also does Kid's Club in a local park. We walk around the park and gather children and some children also come walking from their home, and some of them are just street children. The park has a huge Buddhist temple in the middle, as most do here. It does not look like your average American park: no play ground equipment for the kids to play on. This park is filled with people selling there food, drinks, things people can bring for sacrifices, pimps and prostitutes. The children love Kid's club and are so excited to be there. It is so great to see their smiles and hear their laughter. They run up to you with big hugs and some of them snuggle so close to you and don't want to let go. This is because Hard Places has gained their trust and love. They are the beam of light in the storm. Each child has a different story, but similar. We saw a little 6 yr old completely taking care of her 1 yr old sister. The 6 yr old was exhausted but the 1 yr old only wanted her. She ended up falling asleep in the middle of the pavilion on the concrete. We also found out the six yr old is being sold at night. When dropping off another family in the park, the grandmother kept pushing her 8 yr old granddaughter on a pimp who was grabbing her wrist and they struggled for a while. Just unimaginable. Another little girl begged us to not walk her home for fear of being beaten when she arrived.

Many people think where is God and how can He let this happen. I assure you He is right here. He is working through these beams of light. As I was debriefing yesterday the question that came to me is, how long will the Cambodians continue to prostitute themselves to each other and to other gods. How bad are they going to let it get before they turn their hearts back to God, who is eagerly waiting with open arms to receive them. The question to myself is how is this experience going to change my life.

Note: you will not see any pictured of children because it gives them greater risk for exploitation.