kayaking on Loch Leven near Glencoe, Scotland, 2018

kayaking on Loch Leven near Glencoe, Scotland, 2018

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Despite countless trips to Sonic this summer, Eric still enjoys the variety of drink options at Sonic, trying new flavors and combinations. Yesterday, he ordered their "Ocean Water," something he and I had been curious about for months. It's essentially blue coconut flavored Sprite. (that was for Troy)

Andrew started freshmen band camp today. Eric initially thought he'd play percussion in band this year, just so he could be part of band. But he changed his mind and has decided to sit out band this fall. The doctors say to give his lungs six more months to heal, then hopefully he can try his trumpet again, possibly re-join the band second semester, and see how it goes. In the meantime, for extra-curricular activity, Eric will focus on piano and theater lessons. Next week, he's taking a musical theater class through the Children's Theater Company at the Central School here in Lake Charles.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Dad's Visit -- Last Day

Last evening, we introduced Dad to Sonic. He'd never been to one. (Gasp) He enjoyed a Jr. Deluxe burger and a lemon-berry slush.
The boys and I took Dad to Sam Houston Jones State Park this morning for a little hiking. He heads back to Pennsylvania later this afternoon.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Canoe Ride

My good friend Rodney took Dad and I out for a river ride in his canoe this morning. Beautiful day. We saw kids on rope swings, blue heron guarding the river bank, hopeful fishermen, and darting dragonflies.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Shakespeare and Shrimp

Eric and Andrew performed Shakespeare admirably today.

Post-Shakespeare lunch . . . burgers and fries at the Dairy Barn.

After lunch, we headed south on the Creole Nature Trail to the Sabine Wildlife Refuge. We were on an alligator hunt, and eventually saw a few. We bought fresh shrimp in Cameron, boiled them at home for a tasty dinner.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Pulmonary Function Test

I took Eric to Lake Charles Memorial this morning for a pulmonary function test (PFT) to see how well his lungs are working. I worked in Pittsburgh pulmonary labs for 20 years before moving to Louisiana, so this is all very familiar to me. Despite Eric recovering so well, so quickly, I knew enough not to expect this PFT to be anywhere close to normal. Yet I was still surprised by the results. For my medical friends, FVC 37%, FEV1 41%, PEF 70%, TLC, 55%, DLCO 43%. For my non-medical readers . . . quite crappy! For those out there who still pray for Eric, we need prayers for improved lung function. And this is something that I (hopefully) expect to occur over the course of many years. In the meantime, I'll choose to look at Eric clinically and not focus on the numbers. He hasn't used supplemental O2 in several weeks. He's gained almost 20 pounds. And he rode his bike over 3 miles last evening.

We attended the Governor's Program musical, Grease, this evening. We enjoyed the music and dancing, and Eric had fun seeing some of his friends from last year.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Dad's Visit--Day 2

I swear, we've had more rain in the past two days since my dad came than we've had all summer long. Especially today. Pouring, most all day. Figures, when I want to take him sightseeing.

At least the resaurants are open. Post-Shakespeare class lunch today . . . Darrell's Po'Boys. My Lake Charles readers know, Darrell's is THE place to go for Louisiana po'boys.

Speaking of Shakespeare, the boys are rehearsing their lines for Friday's performance. Eric's playing Hamlet and Andrew is (you could guess) Romeo.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


I picked my dad up at the airport this morning. He'll be visiting us for a week. It's his first trip ever to Louisiana. I gave him a little tour of Lake Charles while the boys were at their Shakespeare class, then we ate lunch at the Cajun Cafe. I'll do my best to introduce Dad to the food, music, and culture of this fascinating state. Oh, and wildlife. Hopefully, we'll see some alligators.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Theater and Thespians

Eric and Andrew started a theater/Shakespeare class today, A Midsummer's Fun. It's every day this week from 10-12. Eric got just a taste of Shakespeare recently at the Mo Ranch multicultural conference. He does seem to enjoy acting, and Andrew is curious about it. This Friday there will be a performance. I'll post photos then.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Pharaoh Reconsiders

You know the story. Despite plague after plague, Pharaoh persisted in his stubborn refusal to let the Israelites free, so in today's story time, God took drastic measures and killed all the Egyptian first-born sons, including the Pharaoh's. Finally Pharaoh consents . . . "just leave, go!" One little girl was so happy that "Pharaoh" had a change of heart, she gave Eric a hug.

Eric doesn't use his O2 at all anymore. We still carry it around, "just in case," but he hasn't used it in many days. He still gets short of breath with extreme exertion, but as soon as he stops to rest, he's fine.

Here's Eric and our pastor/story narrator, Rev. Fred Seay.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Pharaoh and Physical Therapy

Eric, Andrew, and I are volunteering for Vacation Bible School this week. The theme is "Crocodile Dock." Even though we technically have alligators, not crocodiles, in the swamps, the kids are enjoying the songs, crafts, skits . . . and stories. Eric is helping out in the Bible story center. Yesterday, he did a great job as the voice of God speaking to Moses through the burning bush. Today, he ably portrayed Pharaoh. "No . . . no . . . no . . . " He did such a fine job playing a mean, nasty, stubborn Pharaoh, the kids truly wanted to beat him up. He practically needed a body guard to get out of the church. I'm a crew leader, shepherding eleven super kids from station to station, and Andrew is one of my assistants.

Then despite having two more scheduled PT sessions, when we told Kim that Eric didn't use his oxygen the whole time (okay, there were those 2-3 minutes one day) at Mo Ranch or yesterday working out at the gym, she said, "Great, then today's your last visit!"

Eric's LAST post-PT Sonic snack . . . popcorn chicken and a grape-watermelon Dr. Pepper.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Mo Ranch Part 3

Back home again. Last night we enjoyed the culmination of the multicultural conference, our cultural dinner and celebration. Each different ethnic group prepared food and gave a presentation, ie dance, song, poetry, etc., that depicted their culture. Anglo-Europeans (us), African-Americans, Hispanics, Native American Indians, and Asians were represented. Our group made red beans and rice and beignets (that was our church, if you couldn't guess), weiner snitzel (sp?), and fried potatoes. Then the kids performed a Shakespeare skit (Eric recited the whole To Be or Not To Be spiel), and the Virginia reel. Lots of fun.

The theme for this conference was, "What's Your Story?" Everyone has one, don't they? We spent a lot of time working to overcome stereotypes, learning to not pre-judge people, etc. but to hear their story first. And we worked on getting comfortable telling others our own story.

I'm hoping Eric discovers many ways to tell his story.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Mo Ranch Part 2

Above are a couple photos from this morning's gathering; Eric and FPC's youth leader, Andre. Andrew and new friend Ben. And Andrew on the rope swing yesterday.
It's so nice here. Relaxing, peaceful. I've gone hiking, swimming, got some good color, as a friend of mine is fond of saying. Definitely hot though, triple digits every day.

Each evening for Vespers, we all file down a stone path to the grated cat walk and descend a steep flight of stairs to the tennis courts, where we lie on our backs on the hard asphalt surface, still baking from the heat of the day. There, we worship God as we gaze into the galaxies, His heavenly sanctuary splayed out before us, stars upon stars upon stars, the likes of which I've seen only once before in my life -- on a vacation to Maine some 25 years ago. How great Thou art. How great Thou art.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Mo Ranch Part 1

We arrived at Mo Ranch yesterday afternoon without a hitch. Surprisingly, the eight hour drive passed relatively quickly. We're here with several youth from our church for a multicultural conference. There are about 200 participants from Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and as far away as Georgia, and Puerto Rico.

I thought, briefly, about not bringing my computer, but opted to bring her along after all, deciding the withdrawl would be too painful.

It's beautiful here, quite hot, but not as humid as Lake Charles. Mo Ranch lies nestled along the verdant, meandering Guadalupe River. We're in the Texas "hill country," and indeed, it's quite hilly. Eric and Andrew are having a good time so far, meeting new people and making friends. Here are several photos from our first day here.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Anniversaries and Life Lessons

We've lived in Louisiana a few weeks and two years now. Hard to believe it's been that long. The thing is, I still feel like the new kid in town. I'm still discovering new treasures, hearing new phrases, listening to new music, tasting new foods, exploring new places, marveling at this fascinating culture. I'm still not used to the heat and humidity of summer, or the bugs, though even the natives complain about those things. Makes me wonder if I'll ever feel truly at home here. Or will I always feel like a transplant? Will "home" always be Pittsburgh?

If there's anything that makes Louisiana feel like home, it's the people; the amazing friends we've made here. There's no doubt that these wonderful people have made us feel welcome and loved.

Eric has been home from the hospital for two months and a day now. He's made incredible strides in his recovery, by far exceeding our expectations. He's gained 18 pounds so far. And he's progressing quickly in physical therapy. Yesterday at church, he took the 22 stairs up to fellowship hall two by two, without any oxygen. All this, and yet, it's difficult for Eric to appreciate these achievements. It's frustrating for a fourteen year old boy who's tired of using O2 and feeling short of breath with a fraction of the activity he could do prior to his illness. He just wants to be better. Back to normal. Now. And we have no idea how long this recovery ultimately will take and to what degree Eric will fully recover. What lessons we're all learning . . . patience, acceptance, gratitude, the value of prayer, hope, and faith. Thank you all for joining us on this journey.

We're headed to the library this evening to find books, audio books, and videos for the long car ride to Mo Ranch this Thursday and the return on Sunday. Also at the library, the boys are taking a comic book art class for teens.

Eric's post-workout Sonic snack . . . corndog and a Powerade slush.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Fourth of July

Happy Fourth of July! We went into town this evening for the Red, White, Blue, and You celebration; a parade, concert, and fireworks. I had hoped to post a patriotic family photo, but my camera battery died before we could take it.

Independence Day. I'd like to claim independence. I want to embrace independence from some ingrained habits that waste my time and pre-occupy my mind, decreasing my productivity. In other words, I want to write more.

Yesterday was Eric's last day for occupational therapy. But his physical therapist Kim wants to continue seeing him once a week, mostly to keep him on track, but also to see if we can wean the amount of oxygen he uses with exercise. Heavy exertion is the only time he uses O2 now.

Bob was off yesterday, so for Eric's post-PT snack (definitely more like a meal), we went to O'Charlie's restaurant. They have great food.

Eric's post-fireworks Sonic snack . . . grape limeade and tots.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

As American as . . . Apple Pie

Woke up early this morning and baked two apple pies. One was for the Lake Charles July 4th celebration apple pie contest. Good thing I baked two because the crust of the first one broke apart when I pulled it out of the oven. I do need to work on my presentation. I'm told my pies taste good, but honestly, I don't think they look too pretty. When I dropped off the pie at Old City Hall for judging, my pie was number 10, and the pies already there were quite beautiful and creative.

While at Old City Hall, the boys and I checked out a fantastic watercolor exhibit by local artist Sue Zimmerman. If you enjoy watercolors, go see it! The show runs through Aug. 1st.

Then to OT/PT where Eric played Scrabble with Mika (every 25 points earned required a certain number of wall push ups) and wowed Kim with his soccer skills. For Eric's post-PT snack, we went to the relatively new Dairy Barn on Ryan, known for their burgers. Eric ordered his with mustard, pickles, onions, and lettuce, and he said it was the best burger he'd ever eaten. AND he ordered a chocolate milkshake. Guess we'll be going there again.

This evening we attended our friend Rodney's birthday party barbecue. That's where the second pie went. I didn't win the pie contest. Maybe next year. But hopefully Rodney will enjoy his birthday pie.