A grateful heart

Houston went for his first post-hospital orthopedic check-up on 7/18. It was a rough appointment for him, getting the old cast sawed and pried off, an x-ray done sans any cast, and his bright-red hard cast put on.

But Houston was a trooper. The orthopedist said that the intense finger pain he has been experiencing intermittently (usually at night) is normal, since those nerves are so closely tied to the elbow. The doc added that Houston should feel a greater sense of comfort and relief with each passing day.

Mommy & the dudes hang w/ the penguins @ the brand-new SciQuarium.

And most importantly, the x-ray showed that his elbow is healing extremely well, especially considering how severe was the break. Thank God!

I mean, just to think about the close calls we’ve had with the 3 Amigos’ health … Houston’s Horner’s Syndrome, Gabe and Zeke’s Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome, Zeke’s CCAM and lobectomy, now Houston’s elbow. My heart just overflows with gratitude for prayers answered and awe of the Lord.

Before the hard cast, I decided to let Houston go to the Children’s Museum on the first day of Mercy Hill’s Kids Week on 7/16. I was apprehensive since it was a drop off, but I was confident he could handle the outing, since he was with brothers and responsible adults whose rules and guidelines he’s used to following at church.

Amazingly, Houston can still do Legos even w/ a broken elbow & a hard cast.

But the next day’s Mercy Hill activity was a pool party. Of course, I didn’t want to torture the poor kid by taking him, so Houston hung out with the J-Crew that morning and went to see a dollar movie instead. Thanks, Miss Christie!

That way, I was able to volunteer for the event and at least let Gabriel and Zeke see their church friends and continue the week’s Bible lessons. Plus, I don’t want the twins’ swimming to come to a total halt just ’cause big bro can’t get his arm wet, so we’re working it where we can.

Gabriel & Zeke enjoy an impromptu hug & Mommy actually catches the shot!

The last day of Kids Week was at BounceU and coincided with the orthopedic appointment. Gabe and Zeke got to enjoy some jumping and sliding, while Daddy and I took Houston to the doc.

Since the hard cast, I’m not as anxious about Houston getting out and about. We went to the Science Center last Friday to see an omni-sphere movie and take brothers to the newly opened aquarium in the morning. That evening, the dudes attended a “Brave” party at Miss Christie’s house.

Gabriel questions the eye placement for his horse craft made @ Mercy Hill’s Kids Week.

Houston is a bit more mobile, too, being able to enjoy more typical child’s play, like running, pretend play, sandbox fun, etc. Hence, we have some more jaunts planned for later in the week and hope to keep things as normal as possible while Houston endures this lengthy healing process.

Kids Week was a great opportunity for me to get to meet and know better some of the other Mercy Hills parents and children. And it was a phenomenal learning experience for the twins.

The lessons were cowboy-themed, which obviously was a big hit with Gabe and Zeke. The gist was that God made Saul into a follower of Jesus, so the outlaw became a cowboy. And Jesus, the great rancher, always ensures this his cows and cowboys (followers of Christ) are cared for. Cool, huh?!

Zeke reaches for a stingray in the SciQuarium petting tank, but the fish weren’t feeling too friendly that day.

Moreover, if the kids memorized a Bible verse, they got to swing at a cowboy-boot piñata on the final day. Gabe and Zeke were quite inspired by the possibility of hitting the papier-mâché container filled with candy, so they quickly learned and recited the verse.

Random happy news: I have been backyard power walking for a few months now and also counting my calories since early June and have lost about 15 pounds. I still have a ways to go to get to my target weight, but needless to say, I am psyched!

“In summer, the song sings itself.”

First off, Houston’s recovery is going amazingly well thus far and he has a nice attitude to boot (which is saying something, since big bro’s usually quite pooty when he’s sick). Honestly, Houston’s biggest complaint these days is his itchy left arm. Yeah, casts are very unforgiving in that regard.

As far as the fall goes, Houston explains, “It just felt like a growing pain. That was it.” I assume he was in physical shock right then due to the severity of the injury. It’s just an awesome thing the way God made our bodies capable of coping with such immense pain.

Asher & Houston, a.k.a. Big Hashy, get rowdy after seeing a Greensboro Grasshoppers baseball game for Houston’s 6th birthday!

And the couple instances that Houston’s elbow has hurt him during this week’s recovery, he describes that too as “a growing pain” sensation, but with a “burning” feeling. Luckily, those episodes have been rare and fleeting.

Since the healing seems to be going fairly well, Houston and I met up with the J-Crew at the Science Center’s brand-new aquarium (shhhh, don’t tell Gabe and Zeke, who are still staying with Gramsey and Papa). I was a tad apprehensive about the outing, but Houston did a great job of using his noodle and playing it safe.

Our season before the broken elbow was bustling and brimming with fun. As the quote from William Carlos Williams says in this blog’s title, summertime’s magic has a way of doing that, despite the heat and the almost daily downpours of rain.

“But now I am six,
I’m as clever as clever.
So I think I’ll be six
now and forever.”
— A.A. Milne

Houston’s birthday was on 6/26. He got to pick the outing for his celebration and Houston chose going to a Greensboro Grasshoppers baseball game. Stephen worked a half day and then we headed downtown with the birthday boy, brothers and Houston’s best bud, Asher, to catch the daytime double header.

Zeke works hard washing Daddy’s car, which was Stephen’s Father’s Day gift from the 3 Amigos & Mommy!

It was an extremely steamy day, but luckily, Daddy bought us shady seats behind home plate. All the dudes behaved impressively well, especially considering the heat and the lengthy playtime, and learned a bit more about America’s Pastime by drilling Daddy for some play-by-play information.

Houston and Asher even got to participate in some between-innings entertainment on the field with bat dog, Miss Babe Ruth. Each was supposed to try to coax the black lab over to grab a baseball, but she kind of brushed past the both of them. Houston ended up winning a shirt and “Big Hashy” got to be seen by all on the stadium’s big screen.

That evening, we had neighbors Dixie and Maddie, as well as CC buddies, Alex and Olivia (who also live nearby) over for cake and ice cream. Asher stayed for a sleepover, rounding out the day’s birthday activities.

Gabriel relaxes in Miss Heather’s pool back in mid-June; he no longer needs the inflatable dolphin, since he & bros swim like fishes these days!

But the festivities continued on when Aunt Dina and Cousin Kara rolled into town the following day, staying till 6/29. It’s always great seeing our Virginia crew … thanks for the fun visit, girls!

“Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

From 6/30-7/5, we took our greatly anticipated low-key family vacation to Surfside Beach, SC. We stayed in a hotel (mostly paid for with points from Stephen work travel days!) and didn’t do much more than play in the surf and sand, hit the hotel pool and hot tub, and eat out at good restaurants.

It was particularly relaxing for me, since there was no laundry, no dirty dishes, no housework period. Ah, how incredible it is to use a fresh towel every day when you take a bath … or have someone else prepare your meals and deal with all the clean up.

The weather was tempestuous the first part of the week. Huge, dark clouds would roll in and rain (and sometimes hail) would pour, yet beach-goers kept on doing their thing. It’s like we all collectively shook our fists at the sky and said, “Stormy weather can’t chase us away from our vacations that easily!”

They ain’t scared! … Houston & Stephen are steadfast in battling Surfside Beach’s onslaught of summertime storms.

One turbulent storm, though, gave the kids quite a fright. The temperature dropped in an instant and violent winds battered the beach. In fact, Stephen had to hold on to our canopy with both hands and I with one, while my other arm wrapped around our shivering, cold and scared boys.

We survived, were no worse for the wear and just kept on plugging away at vacation. Ah, such is life at the beach.

Independence Day “ought to be celebrated by pomp and parade … and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other.” — John Adams

Of course, the 4th of July featured some impressive fireworks, most of which were amateur shows put on by other vacationing families. But from our hotel balcony, we could also see the faraway professional fireworks displays north over Myrtle Beach and south over the Surfside Pier … pretty cool to be able to view such a patriotic spectacle while wearing pajamas!

Gabriel, Zeke & Houston pose for the obligatory shot under a palmetto, the state tree & enduring symbol of South Carolina. And yes, according to brothers’ shirts, I suppose Gabe did it!

The 3 Amigos swimming really blossomed while at the beach. Before vacation, the kiddos has been working diligently on their aquatic skills: at Miss Christie’s community pool; in our neighbor Miss Heather’s above-ground pool; with our CC pals, Miss Rissa and her kids (the aforementioned Alex and Olivia); and at the Y with Daddy.

And with each water adventure, the boys improved by leaps and bounds. And that was no exception at the beach. They swam confidently in the ocean, tackling waves and handling their few tumbles in the water like such brave, determined dudes.

“The water is your friend. You don’t have to fight with water, just share the same spirit as the water, and it will help you move.” — Aleksandr Poplov, Olympic gold-winning swimmer

And their aptitude for swimming continued to unfold and impress in the hotel pool, with Houston pretty much “officially” swimming and the twins being not too far behind. Way to plug away at it, darlings! I promise to take y’all for lots of indoor swimming at the Y when summer’s over and Houston’s arm is healed.

Gabriel & Zeke try to befriend one of the peacocks @ the Science Center, where we love to visit outside sunny days or inside on rainy days.

June was particularly challenging on the home front because Zeke decided to make a (thankfully brief) return to the dreaded stage of toddler tantrums. They weren’t daily, but their intensity certainly harkened back to the age-2 episodes of yore.

One day, Zeke started to have a meltdown when leaving church on the last day of VBS, that is, until he saw the baptismal fountain/pool. He looked at me, smiled and simply said, “It washed away my sin, Mommy!” And so the freak-out had run its course. Amazing!

That was such a miraculous happening that we joked about making our own baptismal at home in order to help Zeke gain his composure, if necessary, at our makeshift holy spot. Interestingly, the tantrums started to subside around this time, and all has been happy on that front ever since vacation.

Perhaps seaweed was the clincher, but Zeke’s aberrant behavior began to turn around @ the baptismal fountain last month & was near-perfect @ the beach. Way to transition, Z-Bird!

Last but not least, I want to send a shout out to Granny for her constant visits to help us with the 3 Amigos, giving us some much-appreciated spare time to tend to our to dos and also to cherish each other as husband and wife, not just mom and dad. You’re awesome, Granny!

And a huge thanks goes out to Gramsey and Papa, too. We are truly grateful to y’all for taking Gabriel and Zeke for the last six days and nights, so that Houston could heal as best as possible this first week since surgery. Our Virginia posse rocks!

Climbing trees may lead to this!

So, this is what happened to big bro yesterday around 11:30 a.m. According to Houston, he was trying to get out of a tree in our backyard that he and Zeke were climbing. He says his foot slipped on the wet wood and then he fell on his elbow when trying to avoid a branch on the way down.

The x-ray of Houston’s “broken left humerus” (read: broken elbow).

Zeke says that Houston was attempting a “sliding” trick. But then again, that info comes from the dude who supposedly refused to get help after the fall and told Houston, “That’s what you get.” (Yeah, that has caused some animosity with the injured party, which will be dealt over the coming days for sure.)

I spotted Houston walking through the yard with a sourpuss face and went to find out what was wrong. I immediately saw his disfigured left arm, began to freak out, plopped him down in a deck chair and ran to get Stephen.

Strangely enough, Houston never cried, but I, on the other hand, was hysterical. His arm just looked horrible and I simply couldn’t think straight for a while.

Stephen was pretty flustered, needless to say, but decided that we could get Houston to the ER faster than could an ambulance. Now, just how to load Houston into the van?

Here’s what Houston’s elbow looked like on the outside. Can you understand why a mother might get a bit hysterical after seeing this?!

The couple attempts we made at barely moving Houston caused him to scream in pain. My emotions subsided briefly enough that I came up with a workable scheme: let’s just load the chair with him in it into the back of the van.

Thankfully, that worked quite seamlessly and my calm and common sense had been redeemed. I rode in the rear with Houston as Daddy sped off to the closest hospital with the entire clan in tow.

We pulled in at noon and Houston’s surgery began at 2:37 p.m. The doc had to manually reassemble his broken elbow bones, fitting them back into proper place like a puzzle. And then he inserted two pins to secure the healing fracture.

The operation only took about an hour and everything went well. God was surely guiding the hands of the surgeons, nurses and anesthesiologists.

I spent the night with Houston, while Granny (who raced into town when she heard news of the injury) helped Daddy with the twins back home. And Houston was released from the hospital about 3 p.m. today and is now resting peacefully in bed.

A much-happier Houston from earlier today is psyched and ready to head home. Thank God for watching over our sweet boy!

Gramsey and Papa are going to take Gabe and Zeke for a few days, so that I can kick off this first week of recovery giving Houston full-time care and attention. But I know this is going to a long and arduous recuperation: soft cast for 10 days, then a hard cast for four weeks, followed by physical therapy. Ugh.

The biggies now are that we keep Houston out of harm’s way (another reason we wanted to have brothers visit Virginia); minimize the swelling and maximize the movement in his fingers; and continue to pray that the growth plates in his elbow mature unabated so that Houston will again have full mobility of his left arm.

It just breaks my heart that my little fish’s dreams of summertime swimming are dashed and that the next couple of months aren’t going to be what he had hoped. But I also know that Houston’s injury could’ve been much worse and that his surgery could’ve gone horribly awry. We’re doing alright, and for that, I am eternally grateful.