Monday, September 29, 2008

A bit of news from Monday and some more pictures.

I had a lovely conversation with Hannah this evening. Its amazing the difference in her voice from Friday to today. Apart from being a bit muffled in tone and volume, due to the splints in her mouth, she sounds just like her. I mailed her Pop up Pirate, her favourite game, and it arrived today - a big surprise as the post office said it would arrive on Wednesday- so we chatted about her game and how her day went today. Here's a bit of John's email summary of the day:

"Sorry that I didn't call earlier in the day but I realized that if I brought Hannah home directly from the appointment that I would not get out for the rest of the day. We walked up to 34 adn Broadway and then up to Central Park. We played at the park and then went to the petting zoo and the regular zoo. Hannah was not in the best space as the afternoon wore on and has not had an appetite all day. She got 3/4 of a cup of fortified milk shake down and a couple of cups of apple juice. I bought some baby food today in hopes that I can get her to try some puree food.

Hannah did really well at her appointment. The xrays she had today showed that everything was just as it needed to be. Both Drs McCarthy and Grayson had a look at how things were and gave a thumbs up. There were substantially more people at the conference today than there were when we were there two weeks ago. Hannah did a great job! She sees Grayson on Wednesday afternoon and McCarthy on Friday morning. I learned how to turn the key. Really simple!!! Twice a day (1/2 mm each turn). Dr McCarthy suggested that she would not have any pain when I turn the key. Maybe no pain but she is definitely uncomfortable.

When we got home today there was a message from the tutor coordinator. Tuesday and Wednesday are school holidays here due to the Jewish Holiday so she will start working with the tutor on Thursday. She will see the tutor 4 times per Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. They will work together for an hour per day."

Here's the link to some more pictures of their day out today.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

A quiet Sunday

Hannah was up and ready for her day at 7 am.  She seems to be totally past her surgery.  She hasn't had much of an appetite today but her energy level has stayed on high all day.  We enjoyed church and receive many cards from the kids of the church wishing her well and a quick recovery. I talked to 5 or 6 folks about being here in New York and what it has meant for us.  It is really more than just a medical procedure.  Hannah and I have lots to learn and lots to share while we are here.

Hannah spent her entire afternoon playing barbies with her friend Katherine.  All day they were in and out of our room to getting clothes and other accessories for a great Barbie day. Dinner was a fortified tomato soup meal and fortified chocolate milkshake. I tried to give her a blended mac and cheese meal but it was not going anywhere near her mouth. While Hannah really likes mac and cheese she does not seem interested in drinking it.  Monday morning will see Hannah have her next doctor's appointment.  She will have her device activated for the first time. The "key" will be turned twice a day.  Pray that she will not experience too much discomfort or pain.

That's today's update.
Hannah and John

Saturday, September 27, 2008

An email from John

Hi Honey, it is just after 10 pm here and all is well. Hannah had a great day today. She had puree cereal for breakfast, lots of applejuice, a chocolate milkshake with protein powder for her mid day meal, her late day meal was tomato soup and more protein pwd and for dinner more chocolate and protein shake. The way I saw todays nutritional content, she got calcium, protein, fruit and fat, no veggies but they combine with fruits so all in all not bad. She did want to have some mac and cheese so I cooked and blended some but when it came time to eat it she was already through a bag of shake and I think she was honestly full. At bedtime tonight she was asking if I could puree some chocolate for her tomorrow, it was so cute.
Josh, from church came by today and hung out for a couple of hours. He is a newly wed, recent grad so my guess would be in his early to mid 20's. He was totally blown away by the house and the ministry that happens here. I think God really moved in his heart and place some important seeds in his spirit for the Trinity Grace community. I really hope so, there are so many young people who could make a difference in the lives of the kids and families here. Anyway we had a lovely visit. Hannah hung out with us for a while and then took us tot he play room where she and the other kids were just hanging out. It was a rainy day here. She played kitchen with several other kids and seemed to have a great time. Katherine was gone all day and I think Hannah was really hoping they would have a chance to play today, oh well, maybe tomorrow. I have stopped trying to figure out who is new and who is not. I talked to a dad today who I have never seen before and it turns out they have been here for months. I guess some kids are in hospital and home to bed so unless you are at the door when they come home you would never see them.
Hannah really did find her stride today, it was so good to see. I noticed at bedtime that she has lost some weight so I am going to really try and get her to eat 5-6 times a day. I hope she will cooperate. She hasn't made too many complaints about her antibiotic today, but man is it hard getting it into her 4 times a day. It is suppose to go in every 6 hours but she sleep for 10 hours and I refuse to wake her up to give her drugs. So I guess she gets it 4 times in 14 hours. Thats about every 5 hours. It kinda camps our entertainment style a bit. I guess I could get a cold pack and bag and just take it with us when we are out.
I got discount coupons today for 3 shows. Spamalot, at $65 a ticket, $60 per ticket for Hairspray and $60 for the Little Mermaid. Not bad prices. I have a link to the site that the coupon are on and I will send it along later.
I didn't blog today so this is your daily update.
Signing off, your Big Apple correspondent

New Photos

John has posted new photos on Picasa. Here's the link to have peek: There are pictures of the days before the surgery - time at the park and when the big top circus came to Ronald McDonald House! There are also pictures of Hannah getting ready for her surgery and the pictures of her in the ICU.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

A Safe Return Home

Hannah was discharged today from the hospital, the earliest possible day. The doctors all felt that there was no reason for her to say in hospital and that the environment there was not a peaceful place. I can only agree. Hannah bunked in with three other children on Wednesday night. Two of the kids slept relatively peacefully, however a little baby adjacent to Hannah's bed had a hard night and cried lots. This woke Hannah up at about 1 am and it took her 3 hours to get back to sleep. For a little girl who hard her jaw broken yesterday she is doing remarkably well. She's not keen on taking any kind of medication, even ones that she admits help her feel better. So getting her to take her pain medication on a regular schedule didn't happen last night and certainly didn't happen today. Pray that she will find a way to accept having to take medication even if she doesn't really want to, especially her antibiotics.

So the drill today is clear fluids, tomorrow Hannah will have her choice of ice cream, pudding, jello or any other thick or thin liquids has wants. Same for Saturday. Sunday, I will attempt to get her to eat some puree mac and cheese. Hannah on the other hand is starving now and would like her mac and cheese tonight. Oh the tears will roll for Kraft. I wonder if there is a marketing angle here? Na, maybe not. Sick kids eat puree mac and cheese mmm mmm good.

There not really anything else to share today unless Hannah wakes up from her nap ready to roll. In that case we will venture to the pharmacy to pick up her prescriptions.


Hannah and John

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Surgery Day

Hannah's surgery was this morning and it all went very well - she came through it all beautifully. Dr. McCarthey was very pleased with how everything went and he was able to insert the semi-buried device, which is the one that we wanted. He said that there was a minimal amount of bleeding and that it all went well. Dr. Grayson finished the time off in the OR by bonding the splints to her teeth and then she was moved to the ICU at 1pm, their time. John called me from the ICU around 4pm his time to let me know that she was doing well and so that he could hold the phone to her ear so she could hear my voice. I told her I loved her and then was surprised when I heard her sweet voice telling me she loved me too. We were told that it would be a couple of days before she would be able to talk, so that was a lovely surprise to hear her say a few things. John said her main complaint at this point is that she's really hungry but it won't be until tomorrow before she can have anything and even then its only clear fluids. She won't be impressed. We have always found that she in at her hungriest after aneasthetic. So she's doing well. Thanks for all the prayers - she is being well covered.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Tomorrow's the Day

It's Tuesday night and we're ready to go. Bags are packed, supplies are in the fridge ready for Hannah's return from the hospital, NYC church family on board helping out with some meal preparation. All is good, oh, except Hannah's not interested in having surgery. If she goes to the hospital for a few days she will miss something at the house and that ladies and gentlemen, is totally not okay. Life is about activities, friends, and what's on the "chalk board" for tomorrow. Each morning before we have breakfast, Hannah and I go down to the foyer and see what is on tap for the day. Today there was an afternoon tea from 2-5, mom's support group at 4, new guest orientation at 6 and tickets to see the Mets play at Shea (bus leaving at 6). No sponsored evening meal tonight so we'll have to fend for our selves. Hannah's life revolves around what is going on in the house and can she and her friends attend? She is loving life here and surgery tomorrow is going to be an awful inconvenience.

Monday night the Heller Family Foundation hosted a carnival here at the house. The living room was transformed into a place of fun for the evening. The Heller's put out an incredible meal and then had all the children come to the carnival. There was no midway or rides but there were carnival games galore. Ring toss, bowling for points, basket ball hoop shooter to name a few. They had twisted mirrors, a mime, a juggler and a magician. Lots of Candy floss, cookies and other assorted sweets were demolished by all who came. Each child who played a game won a prize and received tickets that they redeemed at the end for their choice of parting gifts, Hannah chose the Holiday Barbie or course. Each family also received a $25 gift certificate donated by the Heller's for one to two local merchants (a grocer or pharmacy). It was a total blast. Everyone was so charged up by the end of the night that it took Hannah until 10 o'clock to wind down and fall asleep.

Wednesday is Hannah's surgery as I mentioned above. She has to be at the hospital by 6:30 am and should be out of the OR by 1 pm. I am "roomin in" at NYU on Wednesday and Thursday so there won't be a post from me until Friday at the earliest. Pray that Hannah's surgery goes well, that the device that is implanted is the lesser obvious one, and that the pain and swelling will be minimized so she can get back to living life to the fullest in the Big Apple.

That's it for now.

Hannah and John

Monday, September 22, 2008

New photos on line

Just wanted to mention that John was able to post new photos on the internet today. Here's the link: Enjoy!

Monday Morning

Hannah and I had a very sad day Thursday having to say goodbye to Judy, aka Mum. It was so good to have Jude here and for her to come and meet the doctors and others who are supporting Hannah through this entire process. We also had a tour of the floor where Hannah will be once her surgery is over. Hannah took us to FAO Schwartz so that Judy could see the piano and the Barbie display and she also took us on a horse and carriage ride through Central Park. It was really lovely. According to Hannah it was very romantic.

Friday Hannah had a CAT scan. Lots of lead up to a very quick procedure. Hannah managed perfectly as she had to stay still for about 5 minutes while they did the scan. I got watch the computer screen and that was very interesting. We then came home and Hannah spend the rest of the day playing at the house.

Hannah really likes living here. Everyday she waits until 11 am so that she can go to the playroom and hang out. If her friends are there even better. The staff are wonderful here and they take great care with all the kids and families.

Hannah and I went to a renaissance faire on Saturday. Talk about over the top. The site was about an hours drive from Manhattan, in the "mountains". Hills actually but quite beautiful none the less. This place is a permanent village. There were merchants selling clothes, crafts, swords and armour, as well as foods that you might have found in the times of Robin Hood and his merry men. The exhibiters were all decked out in period clothes and talked as if ye were in times long ago. What was incredible was the costumes of people who paid to go. Some were dressed as monks others a wenches and still others as magicians and knights. The array of costumes was impressive. They also hosted a joust. Three teams battled in front of Queen Elizabeth to win their choice of maidens from the crowd.

Hannah's made a new friend, Grifthin, he is 4 years old, they had a blast together. He will be here in NYC until the end of December having treatment for cancer. An incredible kid with a great family.

Sunday we went to church, Trinity Grace Church. The community has come around Hannah and I in a great way. They are helping out by preparing some post op food, will visit us in hospital and have invited us to hang out before and after surgery. God is so faithful!

Monday is laundry day, again. It seems that you get laundry done on Thursday and your back at it again on Monday, oh well, it means Hannah can hang out and play at the house while til everything is folded and put away, or maybe just tossed on the couch so we can go out and do something and folded once Hannah is in bed.

We have two more days until surgery so we're thinking about going to the Bronx Zoo. Keep coming back to see if we made it. I will create a new web album in a couple of days so keep your eyes peeled.


Hannah and John

Friday, September 19, 2008

Sad Goodbyes

Very sadly I said goodbye to John and Hannah at Newark airport yesterday at 4pm. We went for a snack before we took me to the departure gate and Hannah was very quiet and holding on to my arm very tightly the whole time. It was extremely heartbreaking to say goodbye. Knowing what John is going to have to live on his own now and not being able to be there to support him through it. And then leaving Hannah knowing what she is about to face. After our appointments this weeks I have a much better sense of what she is actually going to be living through and that made leaving her even harder. I have always been with her through all of her surgeries so to be so far apart from her as such a time as this is very difficult. Here is a link to all the pictures that John and Hannah have taken in New York so far - we thought you might like to see them. Enjoy.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

And a carriage ridin' we did go....

Hannah woke up this morning and one of the first things she said to me was that we had to go on a carriage ride today. There was no getting around this today. So we took our time getting ready this morning (sure now that I've adjusted to the time change I don't have to be at the hospital before 9:30 in the morning!) and we headed off to an appointment with the child life worker on the ward that she will be spending a day or two in after her surgery next week. I don't think we have child life workers in Canada - but I think we should. Their whole purpose is centered on the child and maintaining the child's state of well being while at the hospital. We met two different women and they both were wonderful. The things they have on the ward impressed Hannah immensely - every movie her little heart desires, books, games, video games, crafts, an amazing play room. And when she and the worker were discussing what kind of bandages she may have on when she comes out of surgery the offer was made that perhaps Hannah would enjoy decorating a mirror that would be hers to keep and to use the entire time she's in the hospital to look at her bandages and at her mouth. Just amazing- every single thing this gal, I think her name was Stacie, thought of it. When she asked if Hannah had any favourite board games the first two mentioned they don't have on the ward so she is going to go and try to buy them before Hannah arrives next week so they are there for her. Hannah was pretty quiet throughout most of the tour and the talk about her surgery - she is just overwhelmed by the whole thing. It wasn't until she starting looking at what movies that they have there that she really began to get into it. I think she was very happy to see the back end of the hospital at the end of the visit. She and John are back on Friday as she needs to have a new CAT scan as her last one was two years ago and then, I believe that is her last visit there until surgery day on Wednesday. I hope it is for her sake.

So we left there and took a bus up 34th st? ave? I'm not sure which - its right by the hospital - and caught the subway by Penn Station - it was carriage time. We got off the subway at 72nd and Amsterdam? I think and walked to Central Park. Interestingly enough the street we walked up was the street that the Dakota is on, the building that John Lennon lived in and was shot outside of. We walked by where he was shot. I had to sit across the street and look at it for awhile and have a moment. Then we walked into the park and through Strawberry Fields (no Strawberries) and sure enough we found our carriage. Billy was our horse. Sammy was our driver. And we had a lovely ride around Central Park (which Hannah keeps calling Stanley Park). At one point Hannah, who was sitting between John and I and was leaning up against me, said "isn't this romantic?". It was so cute. Then we went past a point of interest where our driver told us a scene from Enchanted was filmed. Well....that began the singing and for the rest of the ride we had music ala Hannah - some parts with actions - and all on the seat across from us. At one point I laughed out loud because she worked a death scene into her song - and I got into alot of trouble for that. But it was fun - expensive - but fun. We then walked all the way home to the 'house' and now are waiting dinner being brought in by an Italian restaurant tonight. Unfortunately our carriage ride and walk home made us late back here and we missed Curly Neal - formerly from the Harlem Globetrotters who was coming to the house between 4 and 5pm tonight. I was looking forward to seeing him - Hannah has no clue who he is.

Tomorrow is my last day and then I'm home - I'm sad to leave, that's for sure.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

New York Days with Hannah - by Judy

I wrote a wonderful blog entry yesterday all about our day, about arriving here and being greeted by Hannah - only to find out last night that there was an error on the page and it wasn't connected to Blogger, etc etc. So I have to start all over today. What a major pain!

First of all - for some reason - we are having trouble uploading pictures onto the blog. We're not really sure why this is - but for now its text only. I'm going to get John to try to make another Picassa album tonight and put a link here so if you'd like to see some pictures of Hannah then there is a way to access them.

So...three days together - its been wonderful to spend time together. I can't believe how their one week away felt like a month. I was so excited journeying here on Sunday -seeing Hannah's little face when I got here - fantastic. Yesterday we spent the bulk of the day at NYU medical centre, where Hannah is having her surgery. We met with the plastic surgery team in the morning, lovely to meet Dr. McCarthy who will be doing her distraction surgery. Everyone who works in the Institute of Reconstructive Plastic Surgery office at the hospital are the kindest, loveliest people. It has been touching to see how they all treat Hannah and to know whose hands I am placing her in. In the afternoon we met with a different plastic surgeon and a hearing specialist to discuss the possibility of ear reconstruction. This is the first time that we have had the opportunity to have this discussion as there is no one who specializes in this field in Vancouver. Interestingly enough when we mentioned that the one time, when she was three, that a certain plastic surgeon told us that he could remove her little ear whenever we wanted - the specialist here was horrified by this as, even a little ear, is important in the process of reconstruction. We still do not know if we will go the avenue of reconstruction or prosthetic - we have a few years to decide that, but it was interesting to have the discussion and hear what was said.

Last night at the "house" a church group provided dinner for all the residents. It was quite a gathering in the dining room. Hannah was briefly pulled away from the game she and her new good friend Katherine were playing to eat some food. Katherine is from Albania and is here because her sister is receiving treatment at one of the hospitals. She is a long way from home - and now has a new best friend in Hannah. I was so struck last night when I went to round up the girls from the 'living room' (huge room with half a dozen or so couches, grand piano, 14 foot fish tank, etc) where four 11-13 year old boys were playing a rowdy game of tag mixed with 'let me throw this mini-football really hard at your head'. Two of the boys didn't appear to be ill, may be siblings of other kids, but the other two boys are both bald and clearly here for cancer treatment. It was wonderful to watch them acting like completely normal boys, doing what all boys do when they get together in a huge room with a football. But sitting eating dinner a little girl, maybe 2 years old, came by holding Dad's hand, also receiving treatment for cancer and had tubes coming out from under her shirt and attached to a bag that her Dad was carrying. Just heartbreaking. So unfair seeing these little kids with cancer.

Today we were back at the hospital as Hannah was having her splints fitted with Dr. Grayson. The splints look very much like night mouth guards that people wear for grinding their teeth, but smaller and much thinner. There are three of them, top teeth, bottom teeth and then one they call the sandwich that goes in between. The splints will be bonded to her teeth during the surgery and then Dr. Grayson will use elastics to keep her jaw in alignment. To say the least these are going to cause her discomfort and distress. She will have trouble eating, talking, swallowing and sleeping with these in. And in they stay for several months after surgery. She will be returning home with these in still.

We found out quite alot more about postoperative eating today and what that will look like for Hannah and John. Its going to be really rough for the pair of them for several weeks. I wish I was going to be here to support them through this time.

So that's been our time so far. Its been mostly spent at the hospital, we're back there tomorrow, but that's why I'm here. I didn't come to sight see. It has been amazing to watch Hannah run around her at the Ronald McDonald house like she owns it. Its a very good place for her to be. She and John went to a Yankees game on Saturday (they lost) and then went to the last day of a fair in Central Park on Sunday where she went on different rides. And we also saw Celine Dion on the street yesterday just across from Central Park, she was emerging from a building and there was a huge crowd of people with cameras and video cameras. To begin with we had no idea who was there and when we asked someone who was standing watching this throng of people they had no idea either and then suddenly she stood up on the edge of her SUV and waved at everyone. Wow...and I didn't have my camera to capture the moment! Oh well.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Rainy days in New York

Hi everyone, welcome to the end of our first week in New York City.  We had a full day on Thursday with an appointment with Dr McCarthy's Nurse Practitioner, she is the quarterback for the entirety of Hannah's pre op, surgery and post op care.  Her name is Pat and she is a lovely lady. She has worked with this team for more than 20 years. She explained many of the details that I have been wondering about. She explained that Hannah will likely have the devise that is going to stretch the ramus bone implanted inter orally, or inside her mouth. She cautioned me that it is possible that due to the positioning of the devise and the outcome that Dr McCarthy wants to achieve that he could use an external device. Lets pray that he uses the inter oral device. She was really helpful in describing that post op expectations. Hannah will spend her first night in the ICU as the surgery will come close to her wind pipe and the swelling may require her to be intebated until the swelling goes down, intebated means a breathing tube down her throat for those who don't watch medical dramas on TV. It was good to learn this now and not the day of her surgery. Pat informs us that Hannah will be under for about 4 hours in total. Lastly we spend a considerable amount of time discussing what the impact will be after the bone is lengthened.  Hannah's chin will be brought past the middle of her face so that as she grows over the 10-12 years the chin will align in the mid line of her face.  One of the things that we had not be told was that after this procedure is complete the under developed cheek will be more pronounced.  We have been offered a consultation with the Microtia team at NYU to discuss Hannah's cheek and ear reconstruction. The appointment is on Monday so Judy will be here to come to the meeting with Hannah and I.  I am looking forward to hearing about how they support kids through the ear reconstruction process.  I understand they recommend using rib cartledge reconstruction initially, why? I don't know and am interested in knowing more.  Monday will be another busy day.  Judy should be feeling like a million bucks when we arrive for our 8:30 am appointment.

Moving from yesterday to today, we had a stay at home day today.  We had laundry to do and Hannah was not really interested in going to the park as it was raining. We did get out for a good walk and bought some groceries but Hannah spend most of her day playing with her friends in the play room downstairs.  Hannah has made friends with Taylor (3) and Maddie (5). Both girls are here for cancer treatment. Taylor goes home Saturday and will be back in a month.  Maddie is here for the next 7 weeks so she and Hannah will become good friends. 

Ronald McDonald house has a large turn over in children as they come for a week or two and then go home only to return in 4-12 weeks for more treatment.  There is a hospital here that specializes in a very complicated cancer treatment so kids are here from all over the USA and from overseas as well.  It would appear that we are the only Canadian family here at this point so we are a bit of a novelty. To be honest I like being different from all the other families here as they are having to live some really scary realities. I pray that God will bring each child and family through their treatment and bring healing to their bodies.

As is our custom here in New York (after one week) Hannah has taken to staying up until after 10 pm so it is now bed time for Hannah and I will be in bed not long after her.

Hannah and John 

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Hannah's First Appointment and a little about yesterday

Many thanks to all those who prayed about our change of accommodations and the implications. The folks at Forward Face were gracious enough to ask for nothing with our short notice cancellation.  I am really thankful to them for this. They really have Hannah, and others with facial differences, at the centre of what they are doing.

Monday was another great day in NYC. Sunny and 85 degrees Fahrenheit(28ish C). We posted some photo's on John's Facebook page and I am still trying to figure out how to post photos on the web. I got some posted to aPicassa Webalbum yesterday try this link and see 

Hannah had her first doctor's appointment today. She saw the orthodontist who will be making the splints that will be used while Hannah's jaw is being realigned.  She was amazing.  She gaged ever so daintily when Lucy, the technician, was putting the trays full of dental goo in her mouth.  We have one other appointment this week, Wednesday, with the pre op doctor, a full 3 hour deal, Hannah will do just fine for it! We came back to "the house" after seeing the doctor and shared a cab with a lovely couple.  She had just had a procedure and they were on their way home, her name was June and his name was Doug.  Doug, age about 60, has lived his entire life within 1 mile of where he lives now.  WOW. 

Hannah and I are feeling the reality of east coast time, staying up late, sleeping poorly and getting up early.  The challenge is keeping Hannah from having a nap. Yesterday, she slept while we were on a city tour.  We drove past many of the upper Manhattan landmarks, galleries, museums, the oldest Anglican Cathedral in the USA and still under construction. We drove past apartments where may famous people live or use to live, including John Lennon and Yoko Ono's apartment and the place where John was killed. We also pasted the most expensive apartment in Manhattan, it sold last year to Rupert Murdock for a whopping $44.5 million.  I guess that is pocket change for him. 5th Ave is where many billionaires live and now home to the mile of museums and galleries.  I was overwhelmed by the fact that along one mile of road was many of the worlds most famous galleries. When Judy is here next week I hope we can go to a few of them.  Hannah will love it, right?

Last night we had a tailgate party to celebrate week one of the NFL season.  Ronald McDonald House is supported heavily by the New York Giants.  Rumour has it that they give tickets to those who want to go and see a game. Hannah met lots of kids while the grown ups hung out and ate hamburgers and hotdogs.  

The last word is from Hannah, "I like to climb rocks" and her park, Central Park, all 800 acres, is full of rocks that she wants to climb.  Hannah also wants everyone to know that the playroom is a great place to hang out.

Monday, September 8, 2008

A quick addition to John & Hannah's post

I just wanted to quickly mention that the link to the Ronald McDonald house in New York is: It's pretty spectacular. Hannah was showing my on Skype last night her Ariel mermaid doll that she was given when they checked in - she was very pleased with it. In particular look at the house tour section of the website that gives you a real sense of where they are staying. John told me that there is a shuttle from the RM house to the hospital so they don't have to take taxi's for Hannah's appointments, which is awesome.

On the homefront - we are doing well. Keziah had a bit of teary night on Friday night before Dad and Hannah left but she has been doing quite well. She really missed Hannah at church yesterday morning and was quite sad about that. I think she was also quite surprised at how much she is missing her. She was thinking it would be easy to have Hannah away - not so much now that the little sister is away! We just miss them very badly. I am looking forward to seeing them on Sunday evening. Our good news this morning is that Zach is finally into Lord Byng Secondary School. So he can start school tomorrow morning. We go in there this afternoon to sort out his timetable. Should be a rude shock to his system - how will he survive!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Big Apple

On Thursday Sept 4 I called Ronald McDonald House is NYC, as they suggested, to see if there was room at the house for Hannah and I.  I left a message but did not hear back.  On Friday Sept 5, 2008 I called again and they said there was space for us. This was a huge blessing.  If you go on to the Ronald McDonald NYC website you'll see what the facility is like.  There are 83 other families staying in the house.  This means that Hannah can build relationship with other kids who are here for medical reasons.  It also gives me a chance to build relationship with others who are feeling overwhelmed or stressed out. The house will also provide Hannah with lots of opportunities to play in their well equipped play room, every child's dream.  There are lots of activities that the house puts on as well.  Dance and music classes, tutoring and access to activities around the city.  Today there were four tickets to a play and there are four tickets available for Tuesdays Mets game against the Washington Capitals.

We arrived yesterday afternoon after an amazing flight.  Due to Hurricane Hanna, the pilot flew the Calgary-Newark leg in a little over 4 hours. Fast from what the Westjet staff tell us. We arrived to find it raining and extremely humid.  I have never felt that kind of physical oppression, you can see why folks who don't have a/c really suffer. Anyway it was nice walking in the warm rain, another new experience.  Today Hannah and I set out to the grocery store.  We found out about the privilege of living on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, cost!!! Wow, I obviously had misconceptions about the cost of food here.  I was shocked to see the price meat and other staples.  Ah, but that the cost of the Upper East side, another family told me that about 12 blocks south I will find another grocery store where things are not so costly. I am so naive

Today's other adventure saw us take in a street carnival.  We walked about 6 blocks and looked at wears and trinkets from vendors along the side of the road. I will post some photo's when I can get them uploaded.  We went from there to FAO Swartz.  Hannah fell in love with the giant piano there last year when we were here so we had to go back.  Unfortunately for Hannah, there was a birthday party that got priority time to dance on the keys.  We did a long walk around south central park and found an amazing play place. We will most certainly be back there. Lastly, we went to church tonight, a congregation similar to Utown called Origins.  They meet in an old church that while it could use some paint, was spectacular. Build at the beginning of the last century, it had very high ceilings, an old pipe organ and many panels of stained glass.  Oh and no a/c.  So we really cooked.  Origins has a morning service that we will go to next week that meets closer to us and has a kids ministry, but we were too tired this morning to figure out how to get there.

So ends our first full day here in New York.  Please pray for us that we will be able to find our bearings, literally, which way is North?  and adjust to the 3 hour time shift.  Pray that Hannah's day tomorrow is peaceful and she has her first appointment on Tuesday.  I would also appreciate your prayers for the conversation that I have to have with the other organization that we were going to rent an apartment from. When I called on Friday there was no one to answer my call and so Monday am will bring a voice mail from John saying that we are not there.

Love to all.

John and Hannah

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Four days to go - and counting....

Well...after over a year of planning we are finally here. Hannah and John leave at 7am on Saturday morning for New York. I sorted out her clothes yesterday. Today I have to think about her toys and what she might like to take with her. What does a 6 year old like to play with when she has Manhattan at her doorstep? Which Barbie goes with that?

So here's where we are at. Hope Air (national charity that flies children and a family member somewhere for medical treatment) are flying John and Hannah to Newark via Westjet - so are flight costs are covered. They are staying at a studio apartment across the street from the hospital that is owned and operated by an organization called Forward Face, they work with children and their families affected by facial differences. They have the apartment confirmed thru the 11th of October and we are waiting to hear if we have it for the whole time they are in New York. Variey Club is covering our cost of accomodation - up to $5000 - and our apartment is $85 a night, so that all works out well. We raised enough money for me to go twice to New York to visit Hannah and John. The first time is from the 14th -18th of Sept. before she has her surgery, which means I can go with Hannah to some of her pre-surgical appointments. And then from the 9th-14th of Oct. the kids and I are going to go spend Thanksgiving in New York with John and Hannah. All very exciting. We are still fairly amazed at how God has answered our prayers. Here we are days before leaving and we are not having to sweat it out about money - God has just been so kind to us. Thanks everyone who has prayed for us! We really appreciate it.

Also very exciting is that Hannah went to get a new haircut yesterday and for the first time ever she now has bangs - she looks completely adorable. She spend a great deal of time in front of the mirror yesterday checking herself out!

We would just ask for prayer at this point for the next four days as Hannah has to say goodbye to her school friends and to grade one which she only gets to go to for 4 days. That you would pray for the apartment that John and Hannah would be able to stay there through to October 25 when they are scheduled, at this point, to fly home. Also that it would all work out for Dr. Pocock to come to New York to be trained in this procedure! The New York people are being a bit funny about this at the moment -so we really pray that that works out. And finally for the other kids that they would be strengthened by God's love and compassion as they say goodbye to their Dad and sister for a long time. Thanks. We'll keep you updated.