Sunday, January 31, 2010

Stomach Bugs and Travel Snafus

I woke up Friday morning to this little voice in the darkness saying, "Mi estomago duele." My synapses don't fire too quickly before I've had my morning tea, but I managed to get Jon Felipe to the bathroom in time. He and I then hung out together the rest of the day. I didn't actually have any classes scheduled for Friday since the students I see on Friday were off at a convention with another professor. I had planned to go work in my office and had hoped to get lots done, but I really think I got just as much, if not more, done at home.

Jon Felipe did have several seizures (not uncommon when he is ill) and spent most of the time in between sleeping. When we saw the neurologist a couple weeks ago, she gave me a prescription for when he has clusters of seizures like this but we hadn't gotten it filled yet. So, I picked that up Friday afternoon thinking I'd start it with the next seizure, but then he didn't have any more. If I'd known just having the stuff in the house would cause them to stop, I would have picked it up earlier in the day.

He and I also had to miss the soup supper at Unity, Luke's school. Jon Felipe was heartbroken that he couldn't attend. He loves these sorts of events. He kept promising not to throw up at Luke's school if we would let him go. Me, I wasn't quite so sad about not getting to go. Maria went and then stayed with her friends for the basketball game. When she got home, I asked her which team won and she had absolutely no idea. She did have a very good time with her friends, though. Incidentally, Unity won.

This week, I am seeing student teachers in the Chicago area. I have four to see, so I planned to fly in on Sunday and fly home on Friday. Well, It is Sunday night and I am only as far as Minneapolis. I sat in the Sioux Falls airport for four hours waiting for my flight. It was delayed because of the weather at the airport it was flying out of prior to coming to Sioux Falls (somewhere south - Arkansas? Alabama?) Anyway, the airport people knew already when I got to Sioux Falls that I was going to miss my connection in Minneapolis so they put me on the last flight out of Minneapolis to Chicago.

When my plane landed in the Minneapolis airport, I had less than 10 minutes to run all the way across the airport to try to make my connection. I ran as fast as I could. It is a long ways from one side of that airport to the other and by the time I got there, I thought I was going to die. I have been doing some jogging to try to get back in shape, but this was an all-out long-distance sprint. I am still trying to recover. Of course, I now realize that I only had 10 minutes to departure time. They had actually closed the doors and stopped boarding before my plane had even landed at the airport.

So, I am at a hotel. I need to be on the shuttle bus on my way back to the airport at 5:25 so I can catch the first flight out for Chicago. My flight doesn't actually leave that early, but the airport people told me I would need to allow way more than the standard one hour for security first thing on a Monday morning. The airport people also tried to give me a voucher for dinner, but they have a new computer system that only went into effect today, so they couldn't figure out how to do that. Oh well, I guess that's the way it goes sometimes. It does seem like every time I travel for Dordt, though, I run into travel snafus. I wonder why that is.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


Jon Felipe survived swimming today. In fact, he had a great time. As most of you know, at the end of last school year, he had an unfortunate experience on a class swimming outing. Actually, he nearly drown which is obviously worse than unfortunate. He had a seizure during the swim outing and because both his classroom teacher and his special ed teacher were out sick that day, no one had put the plan in place that we had agreed upon to keep him safe. By the time the lifeguard figured out he wasn't just fooling around and fished him out of the pool, he was blue and needed rescue breathing.

Now, he's been swimming with us many times since and enjoys the water. However, he wasn't too sure he could trust the school people to keep him safe in the pool even though this is a different school in a different state. He was sure he would have a seizure and drown. He would even act the whole thing out and show you exactly what was going to happen. It was actually quite funny to watch. It is sad that he has experience this break of trust, but I am glad that he feels he can trust us to keep him safe.

So, I agreed to be right on deck during his first lesson today (actually the first lesson was supposed to be last week, so we built up to it and it ended up being a snow day). The PE teacher wrote up a plan and reviewed it with me, his teacher, his aide, the pool staff, everyone. She even arranged for a male to help Jon in the locker room (a young man I had in class last semester). Jon Felipe has a wonderful instructor who also happens to be our neighbor (this is what happens in a small town). Every possible preparation was made to ensure a good experience.

Well, he LOVED swimming. Now he's counting the days until the next lesson which is next Wednesday. He will have lessons every Wednesday this semester. Fun!

The second graders waiting for their group assignments.

Jon Felipe's group.

This is a beautiful facility. It was funded jointly by the community, the schools, and Dordt college. This is one of the indoor pools. There are also outdoor pools for summer use. The hockey rink is also part of this facility.

It was a beautiful sunny day today and you can see the sunshine reflected off the water in these pictures.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Tuesday, Jan. 25

One of the things I love about my job is that I have opportunities to get out into the schools and work with kids. I have been working at getting to know the staff in the schools around here and looking for those opportunities. Through Regina, I met the director of the secondary ELL (English Language Learner) program in the local school. As we talked, she shared a need for some help, particularly with the middle schoolers. Today I helped two lovely 8th grade young ladies who have only been in this country just over a year with some American history. Great fun! I am looking forward to helping out with these and other members of this group every Tuesday and Thursday.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Chocolate Lava Cake

Tony and Jacob usually come for dinner on Sunday evenings. That is often a time for us to try new recipes. Jacob and Tony are very willing taste testers. Lately, I have been on a quest to make chocolate lava cake. This quest actually resulted from a request from Tony to make this kind of cake. After trying three different recipes, I think we've found it. Colin helped me make this recipe and it was amazing. It was quite easy too. Everyone agreed, this recipe was a keeper.

Is it any wonder that I'm not losing weight :-)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Busy Day

I had a great day today. It was really busy and I'm exhausted, but it was also interesting. I started my day at the Early Childhood Center. I have a student who is currently student teaching in the special education room there. I am not her supervising teacher, but I have been trying to help her come up with some strategies to try and we both decided it would be helpful if I was more familiar with the set-up there.

The early childhood special education program is located in the same building as the Head Start program and the children in the two programs are combined for most of the preschool activities. I had a great time visiting. I probably shouldn't have worn a dress as I spent most of my time on the floor with the kids, but fortunately it was just a loose jumper so it all worked out. It will be so fun to visit again, I made a couple new buddies this morning.

I did have to head over to Dordt after that as they seem to expect that I should teach a few classes every now and again. I have back to back classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays starting at 11:00, so I eat lunch at 10:30 in the morning. I know that is early for civilized people, but I usually don't get back to my office until about 2 and there is no way I could wait that long for lunch. As it is, I usually eat "lunch part B" after class ends.

Then on Tuesdays and Thursdays, after I finish teaching, the plan is to head over to the middle school to help in the academic support program. Because of the snow day yesterday, the schedule was mixed up today so I didn't get to do that. But, I did get to go to Kid Zone later and help with cup stacking. The regular coach wasn't going to be there today because he had a meeting, but it got cancelled so I didn't have to do it alone after all. Whew!

I love interacting with all the kids at Kid Zone and cup stacking is a fun way to do it. We mostly are just having fun, but some of the kids are also quite good at it. There are a lot more rules to this "sport" than I thought there were, but we even have some kindergartners who are learning the steps. Another thing about this sport that I didn't realize is it is very loud. I get a sore throat just from trying to talk to the kids over the noise of the cups.

So now I'm sending my kids off to bed and I'm wishing I could head to bed soon too. I'm beat. Unfortunately, I have this huge stack of assignments I've brought home to mark tonight. I'm wondering now if that is really going to get done. There's always the weekend, right?

Monday, January 18, 2010

Winter Beauty

I recently met Becky at an adoption group meeting. She lives in Orange City, which is just a few miles south of Sioux Center. She seems to have boundless energy and does many things in the course of a day including reviewing books, working at the public library, creative memories, and homeschooling her five children. Like us, her family is blessed with two adopted children. Becky captured the beauty outside far better than anything I could do. If you want to see how beautiful northwest Iowa can be in the winter, check out her photos at:

Friday, January 15, 2010


Last night I didn't sleep well. The images and words of the people in Haiti kept crowding into my mind and pushing away sleep. There are Americans living in Haiti working on missionary projects or for other humanitarian causes and some of them have written about the events of this week. These accounts and the pictures they have posted are heart wrenching. Many wrote that it was a comfort to know we are praying. There is little else we can do. Several wrote very honestly and said, "Please don't come unless you know the language and have medical training to deal with horrific wounds. We have no place to house you and no food to feed you."

Pray. I don't know what else to do. One women put out a plea for help in finding alternatives to baby formula as she had many babies in her orphanage and was rapidly running out of formula. People around the world quickly researched the problem and wrote several ideas. Even so, they all required access to some type of milk or some other food source that could be used to make a broth to feed the baby. They required access to clean water. I wonder if she has access to any of those things. I wonder if she even still has access to the internet to read these suggestions.

There were so many accounts, so many stories of suffering. One woman wrote of how wonderful her day had been, the day of the earthquake. She is part of a group that runs a medical school and clinic. She had been teaching nursing students all day and it had gone particularly well. Someone brought her lunch and she had so much food, she shared it with the watchman. A group had arrived from the states and restocked all their medical supplies. She had just arrived home when the quake happened. She returned to the clinic to find that the building had collapsed, all her students were inside. The watchman had also been killed. She felt so helpless. She knew there were lots of medical supplies inside, but now they were crushed under layers and layers of concrete. She said, "There are so many injured and I don't even have a bandaid to give them."

I got up this morning with a heavy heart to a world closed in by fog. The trees were coated with frozen water crystals, just beautiful. I don't know what this juxtaposition of beauty and suffering means. Pray. I don't know what else to do.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Med Snafu

Maria gets an intravenous infusion of immunoglobulin (IVIG) every 14 days to suppress her immune system. This is necessary because she has myasthenia gravis which is an autoimmune form of muscular dystrophy. IVIG is a blood product, so it requires some care in handling, and it is VERY, VERY expensive (think liquid gold). Before every shipment we get a call to let us know when it is being shipped and when it should arrive.

Last night when the package didn't arrive, we were a bit concerned. It always gets delivered right about dinner time. We called George and Regina to see if it had been delivered to them by mistake (we recently had it delivered to their house because we weren't sure when we would get home that night and we didn't want it to freeze). They didn't have it either. When it hadn't arrived by this morning, a search was on to find it.

Fortunately, it was quickly located. Unfortunately, it was still on the truck. The driver claimed that he couldn't deliver it yesterday because there was a snow storm and the roads were too bad. Hmm, it was sunny here yesterday and we haven't gotten any new snow for several days. Obviously he picked the wrong day to decide he needed a day off. I gather he is now among the unemployed.

I do feel bad for him, although the pharmacy director from the place that provides the drug told me not to (he called me to apologize for the problem). He pointed out that we are all relying on the drug to be delivered at the right time and not getting it on time interferes with every one's schedule (the nurse, us, Maria's school schedule) and that, bottom line, this drug keeps Maria alive and functioning provided she gets it when she needs it.

So, the drug got delivered tonight. The nurse will be here first thing in the morning. We'll get Maria all "juiced up" and back on the road again. And from what I heard about the interaction between the pharmacy and the delivery company, I don't expect we'll have any future delivery problems.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

I Love Iowa

This was posted by Brigitte on her blog. She said I could "borrow" it and post it here. The author is unknown, so if you are the author or you know the author, drop me a comment so I can give credit.

I **heart** Iowa!!!


It's winter in Iowa

And the gentle breezes blow

Seventy miles an hour

At thirty-five below.

Oh, how I love Iowa

When the snow's up to your butt

You take a breath of winter

And your nose gets frozen shut.

Yes, the weather here is wonderful

So I guess I'll hang around

I could never leave Iowa

I'm frozen to the ground.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

What day is it?

The temperature is still in the negative double digits, but the sun is shining and after being cooped up for three days with snow and blizzard conditions, everyone is anxious to get out.

This picture was taken from our back deck right after the storm ended. It shows the snow drifts between our house and the neighbor's. There were four foot drifts across the end of our driveway that Colin and Dwight had to shovel out.

Dwight is just as anxious as the kids to get out of the house. As soon as he got up this morning, he sent Jon Felipe back to his room to get ready for church. Doesn't he look guapo (handsome)?

Too bad it's Saturday!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Snow, Snow, Snow

This is the view from our porch looking across the street at 10:00 this morning.

Jon Felipe is a believer in the power of prayer. He loves snow and keeps praying that it will snow. We tell him, "Enough already!" but he keeps on praying. Several people have told me that it is unusual for us to get as much snow here as we have this winter. Jon is sure all this snow is in answer to his prayers. Meanwhile, everyone is home again today, school is cancelled, and it is blizzarding outside.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Pediatric Neurologist

The pediatric neurology clinic, along with the other specialty clinics, is located on the first floor of Sanford Children's Hospital in Sioux Falls. These pics from their website ( don't do justice to just how impressive this facility is. Not only does the children's hospital look like a castle, but the inside is designed to be very kid friendly. For example, the "fire" in this fireplace is created with steam and colored lights so it is cool to the touch. At night this hospital is all lit up with colored lights. The children's hospital is just one building in a large complex of hospital and medical buildings.

The kids and I really liked the neurologist. She had reserved the entire morning for us. She spent hours asking questions and listening, examining the kids, and trying to get a handle on Jon Felipe's and Maria's medical history. As most of you know, Maria's is particularly complicated. I felt like she really listened to what I had to say and addressed every question I had.

We aren't going to make any major changes in how we handle their health, but we are going to do some tweaking and we have a plan based on how things go. We are also going to gather a bit of information on some things that haven't been explored yet. For example, as I mentioned before there is some concern about Jon Felipe's shunt. We are going to get some "pictures" of the shunt so we have a baseline to compare to in case issues develop. Apparently, he has a type that is no longer used in the U.S. and hasn't been for many years because they can develop problems.

So, it took all day, but I think it was worthwhile. Hopefully, the kids will continue to have good health, but if things should happen, I feel confident that we will be in good hands.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

New Year's Cookies

I wanted to make Christmas cookies this year, but with one thing and another, it never happened. So, today we made New Year's cookies instead. I was vetoed on using the Christmas cookie cutters so we used animal cookie cutters. Once in the oven, though, the cute little animal shapes spread and spread until they turned into cookie blobs.

Luke picked up the first cookie and decorated it as an alien complete with "cranial bumps" and the game was on to decorate all the cookies in fun and creative ways. Dwight had on some oldies music, so there was also much dancing around the kitchen. We really had a great time. The cookies turned out great, everyone had fun, and I got to use my new mixer. It was a good activity for a cold, cold day.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

The year 2009 had some challenges, but God also sent us many blessings:

1. Family Time - with the move to Sioux Center, life slowed down a bit, and we were able to once again enjoy time for family activities like taking bike rides, playing games, and cooking together.

2. Jobs - with so many struggling with unemployment, Dwight and I have both been blessed with jobs we really enjoy.

3. Northwest Iowa - we still miss our friends back in Holland, but the people here in Northwest Iowa have to be among the nicest on the planet.

4. Adoption - Jon Felipe has been home for two years now. His adoption was finalized this fall. We are so blessed that God added him to our family. We are also grateful that our whole family is now together in one place again.

5. Education - I accomplished a major goal this summer when I graduated with my doctoral degree. I am so grateful to all the people who supported me along the way. I am also blessed that I have many more opportunities to keep learning and have really enjoyed my Spanish classes this year and look forward to continuing my study of this language in the upcoming semester.

I would love to hear about the blessings God has sent to you in 2009.