Saturday, June 18, 2016


Cerebral palsy. They were the words on his chart, translated from Chinese, a diagnosis based on observation of a 5 month-old found wrapped in a red blanket. He was three before he walked, and at 9 years old he would still struggle with steps and a steady gait.  His right hand would barely grip a pencil. But when we reviewed the thin file holding his medical history, things just didn't add up, and nine months later, this spikey haired boy would become our son.

When Milo joined our family in February, his physical therapist daddy continued to wonder about the inconsistencies. His muscles weren't spastic, they were flaccid, and the presentation of weakness was asymmetrical. Our first visits with a team of specialists in March left us with more questions than answers.

This week, we spent two more days at Seattle Children's Hospital.

Milo was delighted with the ultrasound images of his kidneys, charming the tech into letting him peek at his heart.

He passed an audiology work-up with flying colors, and surprised the nurse at his ophthalmology appointment as he tried to make words out of the strings of letters on his eye exam. X-rays of his hips were proudly shown to anyone who would look, and he made it through an unsedated, 40-minute MRI of his spine, with mama holding her breath for nearly the entirety.

As the results of his tests were collected and the neurodevelopmental/rehab team of doctors put their heads together, they invited one more doctor into the circle -- an infectious disease specialist.

We sat in the brightly lit exam room, Milo writing combinations of Chinese characters and English words on a white board. The doctor sat on a spinning stool and smiled wide. "The MRI gives us answers," she said.

Tears came, not because of his diagnosis, the word she would speak, but because his diagnosis was preventable.


My son had polio as an infant, in a country that supposedly had eradicated the disease. His limbs were ravaged, his life changed, by a disease that we can stop.

If you are reading this as a parent of young children, I am asking you today to pause. There are people passionate -- and loud -- in their feelings against vaccinating. But today, I am asking you to listen to Milo. He still believes there is a brace for his leg that will allow him to run like this brothers. And although he cannot lift both arms above his head, he longs to do the monkey-bars like his sisters. His life is forever altered by a preventable disease.

As my children's passports fill with stamps, so will their exposure to diseases that we falsely believe no longer pose a threat. Please consider carefully your decision about how to protect your children...and think of the gift of Milo's life.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Three months

He now has too many English words to count. He asks less frequently for noodles and more often for "bro-co-li." His shins are bruised, and his arms are sun-gold. He knows all his letter sounds and can spell more than a dozen words (thanks to Elizabeth). He finished a 2K race. He tattles and is tattled on. Playing matchbox cars, building block cities or working through math problems...he is able to stay focused for longer stretches. He grumbles at schoolwork and shrieks with joy when daddy gets home. He sings everywhere and pets the dog. Over and over again he draws pictures of us in a house with hearts and writes, "Milo loves Mom and Dad" and presents his artwork with a countdown to the grand reveal and a hug.

This is what three months home looks like here. It is hard and sweet and exhausting and mostly just...amazing.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

One week

One full week home, and we are marveling at how Milo is taking every new adventure in stride. Aside from Monte's Labrador (who terrifies him), each new thing seems to bring him joy. Checking the henhouse for eggs (15+ times a day) is his hands-down favorite activity, but Lego-building, investigating the cats, working puzzles, helping Daddy plant trees, overseeing car repairs, playing with Moses, and eating, eating, eating...his days are full. We are watching him reach out for hugs, gain confidence in motor skills, connect with his siblings and learn new English words daily. I should have photos of these myriad firsts. But, honestly, my camera has not been in my hands. Jet lag has been a bear, and when I am not trying to catch up on sleep -- or life, I am trying to be fully present with my children. Eventually I will capture more moments on film, but until then, my heart is full.

Yes, there are transitions for everyone, and this busy little man is still a butterfly, moving from one thing to the next. But, we see him settling a bit longer at each activity, and he continues to be patient with us as we work our way through the labyrinth of language. Siblings are learning some Mandarin...and some patience with the changes in the shape of our days. And we are learning that God is faithful in all things. An emergency dental appointment for Milo was scary for all of us this week. But, we walked away with better-than-expected news about his smile -- and without a charge for his care.

Next week holds multiple appointments with specialists in Seattle. And the following week, we will try to figure out a new school routine. We are so thankful for a wonderful Mandarin-speaking friend who is also a teacher. She has already connected with Milo and is helping us understand where to begin with some elements of his education. As we count our blessings, she is among them. And I will attempt to continue to share God's gifts here, because this story isn't just ours. It is also yours. So many of you have sacrificed cheerfully, prayed faithfully and encouraged us continually throughout this journey. We are humbled and blessed.

Thank you.