Monday, April 27, 2009

A Story Not About Potties

Josh had another appointment with his orthopedic surgeon today, and it's a "good news, bad news" report.

The good news is that Josh got to come out of the boot!

The bad news is that his right leg looks like it belongs on a big red elephant!

The BBB (Big Black Boot) was the last remaining outward sign of Josh's injury (other than the puffy red leg, of course). There are now no crutches, no walker, no wheelchair...and no boot. Since Josh began standing independently on that leg last week, I even moved the bath chair down into the basement today.

At least I tried to.

I was catching up on some housework while the little two were napping today, and I realized that I'd heard very little from my typically verbal (translation: non-stop talker) daughter. Had Jack been unusually quiet like that, I would have thrown the toilet brush into the air and raced like my life depended on it to see what he was into. Silence usually means trouble with him. It's the same with Isabel. I could insert a story here, but I'll spare you grotesqueness of what I had to experience last week.

But you should always, always unclog the potty immediately. Don't leave it for your husband to take care of. And really don't leave the door open to the bathroom containing said clogged potty while you're upstairs putting away laundry. Really, don't. And no, I wasn't responsible for the potty problem.

Abby isn't quite as "curious" as the littlest two, so her silence usually means she's busy doing something creative. It may be writing a story (composed completely from the letters of her first name), making a delicious play-doh meal, or collecting weeds flowers from the backyard. So when I noticed that I hadn't seen her in a while, I finished cleaning the potty and headed downstairs to see what she was up to. And this is what I found:

Does your four-year-old sit in a bath chair and read the Bible in the middle of your kitchen?

I didn't think so.

I still had a zoom lens on my camera from my session on Saturday, so you can't get the full effect in that picture. So when I got Jack and Isabel up from their naps and brought them down for snacks, I changed lenses and grabbed another shot that shows you a little more about Abby's project.

I don't think you can see them all there, but she had moved eight chairs from all over the house into the kitchen and proceeded to plop down in the previously-done-away-with bath chair for a little light reading.

Where does she come up with this stuff?!?

The best part, though, was listening to her recount a delightful (sometimes hysterical) combination of Bible stories, praise and worship songs, and Scripture. I now realize she's learned a lot about God and His Word in her short life...we just might need to work on the coherency of her retelling it!

This picture has nothing to do with anything, but Isabel's just too cute in it not to share:

Monday, April 20, 2009

Guitar Hero

I've been meaning to post this for a while now, but Josh's accident and the issues that followed knocked it right off of my radar. And now, I've waited so long that Jack doesn't really even do this anymore, but since this blog has become a modern version of my paper, stickers, and hours-of-my-precious-time scrapbook, I'm still going to put the pictures up so we can remember this cute Jack-ism.

We're a big musical family around here. It's not that any of us is that incredibly gifted with any amazing musical talent (although Josh would give his broken leg to be able to tear it up on the drums), but we all love music. At any given moment, walk into our house or take a ride with us in the car and you're almost guaranteed to hear a tune. And if you're the really lucky guy sitting beside us at a red light, you might even find one of us playing a pretend instrument or two!

Apparently the air-guitar is a little too abstract for Jack, so he likes to bring it down to a more concrete level. He'll take any old household item, hold it like a guitar, and strum away to the beat. And trust me, he's got quite the imagination!

I thought this was a kid-sized mop (yep, I start 'em early around here), but to Jack, it's an electric guitar:

You know those little eye covers for your stovetop? They're no match for Jack's musical skills!

I haven't decided if this one is extra sweet or slightly blasphemous (at least it was a Christian song he was rocking out to)! Yes, that's Josh's Bible...

And finally, talk about making lemonade when you're dealt a big handful of lemons (very expensive, painful, and exhausting lemons)...

Speaking of the crutches, I'm happy, no elated to tell you that we've moved back home. As I've mentioned in previous posts, Elderly was a nice place to visit, and it had even nicer people. I'm not even dreading my permanent residence there one day.

But seriously, we're only 31 years old. I don't want to live there quite yet.

Josh is officially crutch-free (with the exception of first thing in the morning when he doesn't have his walking boot on yet). And even more exciting (both for us and the carpool-brigade that had been driving him to work every day) is that Josh started driving last week.


It's a bit of a production...get in car, take boot off, put tennis shoe on, drive, take tennis shoe off, put boot on, and get out of car. And it's made even more challenging when you realize that Josh's right leg has pretty significant swelling and still isn't shaped quite right, but he would shove his head into that tennis shoe if it meant independence!

But I think the most heart-warming moment came when the home-health company came to pick up the equipment they had rented us when we moved onto Geriatric Lane. I'm pretty sure I had a little tear peeping out of my eye as I watched the driver load the wheelchair, walker, and "bedside commode" (his words, not mine) into the back of that truck.

To spare my precious husband unneeded embarrassment, I should let you know that the last item I mentioned wasn't used for its intended purposes during its time here. It simply served as a seat in the vanity area of our bathroom while Josh got ready for bed. Somebody tell the home-health company they can put the Clorox away.

The most difficult chapter of this journey has closed, and now we're on to the rehabilitation phase. Josh started physical therapy last week, and he goes twice a week until further notice. This will probably be a long process because Josh has a lot to relearn on that leg. Of the twelve screws in his leg, he has two that go all the way from the left to the right holding the tibia and fibula together. Because of those screws, he's got very limited mobility right now. He'll go to the surgery center in a few weeks to have those two screws removed, which should help him begin to make even more progress.

Which is good, because he needs that leg for the kick on his air drum set.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Five Six Lewis Crew

Most of you already know this, but for those of you who don't, we're super-excited to share some news with you. The "Five Lewis Crew" is growing, and we will soon be six strong!!


Well, you'll probably be more surprised to learn that I'm not pregnant.

Since November 2008, Josh and I have been in the active process of adopting a baby. How's that for throwing you for a loop?

In telling our family and friends of our big news over the past few months, we've noticed a pattern in the questions that immediately follow. So if you're just hearing this for the first time, here are some of the answers to your likely questions:

1. Why are you adopting?
You may have seen that I changed our header a while back and added some of the lines to one of our favorite songs ("Hosanna"). We fell in love with this song the first time we heard it, and we were struck deeply by the words in the bridge of the song:

Heal my heart and make it clean
Open up my eyes to the things unseen
Show me how to love like you have loved me
Break my heart for what breaks yours
Everything I am for your Kingdom's cause
As I walk from earth into eternity

God had already been working in our hearts in some really neat ways, and we had been feeling a tug toward a different direction in our lives. We began praying the words to this song, and God answered in big and powerful ways. He "broke our hearts" for Africa...and particularly the millions of children there who live with nothing.

No home. No clothes. No food. No families.

2. When did you decide to adopt?
We had been talking about adopting since early in 2007, but it wasn't until we really began to pray and ask God what He wanted for our lives that we knew this was the direction He was leading us. So we spent the next few months researching agencies, countries, costs, etc. and then began the formal process in November.

3. Where are you adopting from?
Ethiopia. (Yes, that Ethiopia!)

4. Why Ethiopia?
Well, we actually started out adopting from Uganda. But through a series of events over the first few weeks of the process, God closed the door on that country and opened it to Ethiopia. Here are a few facts on children in Ethiopia:
--there are approximately five million orphans across the country (more than the state of Alabama's entire population)
--one out of every 20 children born alive dies within his first month of life
--one out of 10 dies before reaching his first birthday

5. When will your adoption be complete?
It's hard to tell exactly. We're finished with our home study, which is an incredibly lengthy and involved part of the process, and we're compiling documents and forms for our dossier to be sent to Ethiopia right now. Our best guess for travel dates at this point are late this year to early next year. (If you know of a good pilot with his own private jet who has nothing to do around January 2010, send him our way!)

6. Who all is going to travel to Ethiopia?
We're considering a couple of different options at this point. We'll be meeting with doctors at the International Adoption Clinic at UAB well before we go to discuss that. At this point, it looks like at least the three little ones will be staying here because some of the vaccines required for travel are live vaccines, which Jack most likely can't receive because of his mild immune deficiency.

7. There are many children without families in the U.S. as well. Why not adopt domestically?
My only answer to that question is this: That's not what God asked us to do. We prayed a very specific prayer, and God answered in a very specific way. James 1:27 says, "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." We give and will continue to give to local charities that benefit children and families in our area, but God has put this specific journey on our hearts, and we willingly and joyfully follow!

8. You've been blessed with three wonderful biological children. Why would God ask you to go halfway around the world to adopt another child?
I'll totally give you that one. On paper, it doesn't seem to make much sense for us to invest the time, money, and emotional involvement needed to take this journey. But I think the Lord Himself answers this question in Isaiah 55:8-11:

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways.

As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,

so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it."

There are countless examples in the Bible of God's doing things in ways that didn't make sense to men.

Why did He choose a small and weak boy to fight the giant Goliath (1 Samuel 17)? Why did He arm him for the battle with nothing more than a slingshot and some stones? That same boy became a murderer, liar, and adulterer, yet God chose him to be a great king (2 Samuel 7).

Then God promised "a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever" (Isaiah 9:6-7).

Then He sent a baby in a dirty stable.

His ways are not our ways.

He sent Jesus to suffer a criminal's death for you and for me.

His ways are not our ways.

I'm not sure why God has put us on this path, but we know that He has. And we know without a doubt that He has a purpose in doing so. If we've committed our lives to following Him and bringing Him glory, then it's our joy to obey!

It goes without saying that this is a tremendous part of our lives right now. We would love to be surrounded in prayer for continued clarity, peace, and provision. And on an even more personal note, please pray for our newest son or daughter. Our baby's birth mother is most likely carrying him or her right now, and it would mean more than you could know to have that little baby blanketed in prayer. Please feel free to send this link to anyone you know who would join us in praying for our baby, our family, this process in general, and the country of Ethiopia. And I'll try to keep you all posted on things to come!!

Oh, and one more thing...if you need a good laugh today, check this out:
For those of you who follow us, you'll appreciate this little guy!

Thanks and we love you,
Allison and Josh

Thursday, April 9, 2009

We've Got Action!

Getting the cast off on Monday was all the incentive Josh needed to get up and go. On Tuesday, he took his crutches to work and used them throughout the day to help him put minimal weight on his leg. Yesterday, he took both of them but was able to get around better and put a little more pressure on that leg as he walked. Then today, I wasn't sure what he had decided to do until Jack ran into the kitchen this morning with one of Josh's crutches screaming "Oh no! Daddy's walk-walk!!"

Around here, "walk-walk" is synonymous with "walker", "wheelchair", and apparently "crutches".

So there it was. Josh took the plunge and only took one of his crutches to work. And I got an e-mail around lunchtime telling me that he had taken his first two steps without any help!

Which brings me to my next point. Who won the bet? I can't believe I didn't post anything, but Isabel finally took her first two steps on Tuesday night. Technically, I guess she took her first steps earlier than Josh did, but if I remember correctly, the contest was about who would start walking first. And although I don't think Josh is going to be running any marathons in the next few weeks, I definitely think he's going to be walking without any help long before Izzy is. Sorry Little Iz, but Daddy may have gotten you on this one!

But to prove she's trying to catch up, here are some photos from her practice-session with Abby tonight.

I love how well you can see her sweet little dimple in this one:

Everybody was tired from a fun trip to the zoo, a stroll around the neighborhood (that included Josh walking with one crutch, not riding in the wheelchair), and playing outside once when we got home, so we did the fast-track version of the bedtime routine and put everybody down. Jack crawled up into Abby's bed, and she asked if he could sleep with her. Now they've done this once before, and knowing it wouldn't last more than two minutes, we said sure. As expected, we were barely out of the room before we heard giggles. So when they wanted to sleep together tonight, we once again humored them by agreeing.

But something was different this time.

We prayed together, kissed their little wet heads, turned out the light, and left. We waited outside the door for the laughter to start, but we heard nothing but silence. So we came downstairs and decided to give them a few more minutes to start goofing around.

Still nothing.

I went back up a little while later and saw two little munchkins side by side asleep in Abby's twin bed. Precious.

You know me. I immediately ran downstairs to grab the camera and get a shot of them. But apparently I need to brush up on my stealth skills, because when I walked into their room, instead of turning on their closet light so I could see better, I accidentally turned on the overhead light.

Great. Now Jack's awake.

I convinced him to stay in the bed so I could get that picture, but he wasn't getting the pretend like you're asleep part, so this is the picture I got...which is actually pretty sweet itself! I love that little grin you can see in the background.

I decided to go ahead and put him back in his bed, but when I laid my camera down so I could pick Jack up, I knocked the lamp over.

Great. Now Abby's up, too.

Thankfully, our kiddos really love to sleep, so I put everybody back in their respective beds, and they were out in no time. And it's getting late, so hopefully I will be, too. Good night!!!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

So Much to Tell, So Little Space

First of all, I know you're wondering...

How was Josh's shower last night?

Unfortunately, it was a little bit of a let-down for him. It started with his standing on one foot outside the shower wondering how he was supposed to actually get into the shower. He decided hopping over the little ledge onto the wet floor was a bad idea. Smart guy.

I'm not exactly sure of the details, but based on the plethora of geriatric equipment in the bathroom this morning, I'm thinking it had something to do with an obstacle course of bath chairs and walkers.

But now for a shift in topics. Our little niece, Emma, had her first birthday party this weekend. Parties at Bethany and Bailey's house are always tons of fun, and this one was no exception. The weather was nothing short of gorgeous, and we spent most of the day outside with the kiddos.

They had fun swinging:

Chatting on the back porch:

And just lounging around:

But the highlight of the day was cake and presents. Isabel just hung out and watched the festivities (remember, this was two days pre-boot):

But the boys took to beating up Pop with blow-up toys:

Remember this post? We thought Isabel knew how to dive into a first birthday cake. Well, she's got nothing on little Emma. When Bethany first gave Emma her smash cake, she was reserved and calm. You could even say she was delicate.

Not long after that, though, she got a little more aggressive with her cake-eating:

Then it actually got a little scary. It was like a wild beast had been unleashed in the high chair. Our sweet little angel-niece turned into a crazy cake-eating fiend.

And she did this.

She's not saying much yet, but something tells me that Emma really enjoyed her first birthday!

Not to be left out of the fun, Isabel "asked" Nanny to pick her up...

...and she sweetly pointed out the cake on Nanny's plate.

And, of course, Nanny was happy to share!

There were some intense Corn-Hole games going on as well, but they'll need to wait for another day, another post.

Happy Birthday, Emma! (It should be noted that it's now Tuesday, and Emma has yet to go to bed after her party on Saturday. She's still on a sugar high!)

Allow me one tiny rabbit trail here. As we were leaving ballet yesterday, it hit me that I never posted a couple of very special pictures from our visit to Marietta last weekend. For those of you who don't know this, Josh's mom, GrandPam, is a ballerina at heart. So of course I had to snap these pictures as she was helping Abby and Jack dance to The Wiggles last weekend. Too cute!!!

Pam, if Abigail gets stage-fright at her first little ballet recital, maybe Miss Carly will let you take her place!!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Looks Like We May Need a New Water Heater


Josh's next ortho appointment is at 4:00 today. And to say that Josh is elated over the possibility of getting his cast off for good is an understatement. Last night he announced that if he gets his cast off this afternoon, he's coming straight home, booking it up to our bathroom, and taking a five-hour shower. Bless his heart, the poor guy is so tired of the bath chair!!!
I'll be back with the verdict when we get home. :-)

So we went to the appointment and after yet another round of x-rays, the determination was made.

But I'll let Josh be the one to tell you the news...

Everything the doctor told us was even better than we had hoped for! Not only did Josh get the cast off, but he only has to wear the boot for about three more weeks. AND, he gets to wean himself off of crutches over the next week. You know what that means? Look out folks, because he's going back on the road next Monday!! The doctor said he can take the boot off to sleep, drive, and shower (which made him squeal like a little girl).

Getting the cast off: $0 (after the $1,000 surgery/doctor's copays)
Eating Chipotle for a celebration dinner: $22
Watching "24" when the kids go down: $48/month for satellite

Getting to take a shower tonight: priceless

Friday, April 3, 2009

She's a Genius!

I was officially baffled. Jack's fever was up (and staying there)...he was complaining of his stomach hurting...but he wasn't throwing up at all.

Then she called.

My sweet sister-in-law called me and asked if I had thought about the possibility of Jack's illness being caused by strep. Apparently there's this weird strain of strep going around whose main symptoms are high fever, vomiting at the onset, and abdominal pain. When Jack started throwing up on Wednesday, I immediately assumed we had been discovered. The tummy bug knew where we lived. I was so far down that path that I had completely forgotten a conversation I had had with some of the other moms in Abigail's ballet class on Monday (just two days earlier) about this very thing. One mom even knew a girl who went into kidney failure before they finally pinpointed what was causing her symptoms. It never even crossed my mind again until Angie called.

Now fast-forward a few hours. We're sitting in the pediatrician's office, Jack's fever is 104 degrees, he's extremely lethargic and feeling nothing short of rotten. His bloodwork showed very elevated viral counts but a white count that was in the normal range.

It's times like this that remind me of why I love our pediatrician. He said that the bloodwork made it look like this was simply a nasty fever bug, but he just didn't have a good feeling about it, so he went ahead with a strep test (despite the fact that Jack's white count wasn't elevated). Twenty minutes later he walked in and said it was definitely positive. Jack's got strep.

Because Jack seemed to be headed downhill so quickly, the doctor went ahead and gave him an antibiotic shot rather than waiting for oral meds to kick in. And let's just say that in the past two hours, Jack has gone from feeling like he was run over by a semi to this:

So Aunt Angie, we're convinced that you're a genius! And we're so thankful you called with the strep saved us what would have been a lengthy (and very germy) visit to Children's South this weekend!

Fun Friday Photo

The pediatrician wants to see Jack this afternoon, so I'll post an update later tonight, but here's a fun Friday photo for an otherwise droopy day.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Tummy Bad

The first item of business is to let you all know that Jack hasn't thrown up in right at 24 hours!! You can't possibly understand the miracle of that without knowing or remembering these two things. First of all, Jack has an immune deficiency that causes him to react more strongly than most children do to typical illnesses; and secondly, of the two tummy bugs going around here right now, neither involves less than enormous amounts of fluid loss (through various paths out of the body).

Jack's fever is up a good bit again tonight, but the biggest battle he's fighting is with nausea. He'll go a little while feeling pretty good, and then he'll touch his tummy and say "tummy bad" and begin to cry. We had actually gone outside for some fresh air when another wave hit him this afternoon.

(you can click on the picture to enlarge really get the full effect of his pitiful face then)

So I guess tonight's prayers would be first for thanksgiving that Jack is no longer vomiting and secondly for the nausea and his fever to go away. And of course, please pray for the girls (and us)...Izzy is apparently determined that Jack should share everything with her (such as the cup she found again today and drank well as the germs it had all over it!). Aarrgghhh!

I Promise It's Clean

Little Boy feels better.

Mommy is glad.

Little Boy wants to run and play.

Mommy's not so sure that's a good idea.

Little Boy doesn't think he needs the throw-up bowl anymore.

Mommy says Little Boy should keep the throw-up bowl just in case there's a sneak attack (after all, Little Boy has a very curious Little Sister who would love to explore the collateral damage of a sneak attack).

Little Boy decides the throw-up bowl's not so bad after all!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Pray, pray, pray!!

There's a tummy bug going around our city.

But it's not just any tummy's a seriously vicious one that takes out anyone in its path. We know of at least two families whose children have had to make trips to Children's Hospital because of severe dehydration. So imagine how my heart skipped a beat when Jack threw up this afternoon at 4:15. I was in another room changing Izzy's diaper, so I didn't see the circumstances around it. He was eating peanuts...could he have choked? Maybe he tried to say something with food in his mouth? I was actually beginning to buy my own pathetic theories until he threw up again at 7:30 tonight. And unfortunately this was no normal throw-up. I'll spare you the nitty-gritty, but I do have one question. How does a child who only weighs 35 pounds expel 45 pounds worth of vomit?

Enough of that.

Needless to say, Jack's had a pretty rough night. So rough, in fact, that he fell asleep on the bathroom floor while I was cleaning up the aftermath of his dinner (why, oh why, did I make something with a red tomato base?)

(yep, that's a throw-up bowl beside him)

We pray daily for the health of our children, families, and friends, but it goes without saying that we really kicked it into high gear once we saw the direction this was going. Our family surrounded Jack as he lay on the floor, and we prayed for God to protect him, to heal him, and to keep the rest of us safe from this bug. It warmed my heart to hear Abby pray for her little brother and ask God to "help him feel better and to have a good night's sleep".

She asked God for healing. She believes that He'll do it. And we do too.

I just put Jack to bed for the night a few minutes ago, and his fever was down (from 103.5), he hadn't thrown up any more, and he was keeping down a few sips of water.

But there's another angle to this story. I kept my sister's son, Brayden, while she took their littlest one (excluding the one in her tummy) to the doctor for a well-baby visit this morning. And remember how I mentioned that Jack threw up for the first time at 4:15? I caught Isabel drinking from Jack's sippy cup at 5:00.

Pray, pray, pray!!