Our Family Story

Welcome to Learning Together! This site focuses on our son, Isaiah and his development and education.  I am glad that you've stopped by!  Part of the blessing of being Isaiah's mom includes being his chief educator at home.  Here I hope to record what we do for our own encouragement and for the encouragement of other parents who are learning and loving with their children with a special need.

If you would like to know some more about our family, this is the place!

Thomas and I met in graduate school. Thomas had recently returned from a mission's trip to Siberia (yes, the really cold part of Russia; though it's actually quite warm in the summer time). He thought surely the greatest pick up line in the world was: "Hey, come with me to Siberia!" (just imagine this being said quite sarcastically)

We married December 27, 2003. Yes, my parents were thrilled with our marriage, even though it meant I, their only child, would eventually be living in Siberia. I do however, think that my mother would have preferred a different date, but the wedding was beautiful!

One year later

We visited Siberia together in February 2005, and we still believed God to be calling us to minister in Russia after our 3-week adventure.

At this point we both really wanted to have a baby, and in the summer of 2005 I found out I was indeed pregnant--great rejoicing! Other than being incredibly sick for a really long time, the pregnancy was fairly normal, I guess, until we discovered that Isaiah would be named Isaiah and not some girly name. On that day, which I recall being warm and sunny and maybe sometime in October, we also learned that Isaiah has spina bifida. There are many degrees of this birth defect, so for you medical buffs, his defect is between L2 and L3. His type is spina bifida manifesto, myelomeningocele in conjunction with hydrocephalus. And if you want more details, you can read here.

As you can imagine, our lives were a little uncertain at that point...NOT uncertain as to whether or not Isaiah should be born, that WAS NEVER a question! We believed then and still do now that Isaiah is our gift from God, and that God created him exactly the way that he should be. The way that our lives changed involved our calling to missions.  We weren't sure if we would be able to move to Siberia, since our child might have a disability.

Isaiah decided that he didn't want to wait for the day he was "supposed" to be born. He made his quite dramatic entrance on February 6, 2006. I won't go into all the details, but the day was difficult in many ways. After several hours I was finally able to see my precious boy, and loved him even more than I thought possible! After only 21 days in the hospital and 3 surgeries, we got to take him home.

Our first family photo

God did make it possible for us to move to Russia, though not Siberia. Isaiah has a shunt in his head to drain fluid that builds up. Should this shunt malfunction for any reason, he would need almost immediate attention to prevent any long-term damage. Unfortunately, such care is not available in Siberia, at least not that we have discovered at this point, so we moved to St. Petersburg, Russia.  At this point, it seems that God does not have plans for us to move permanently any further east, though my husband will be traveling to Siberia several times a year to fulfill his responsibilities as Field Director for InterAct's missionaries in Russia. For more about our ministry, please visit our website.
In the spring of 2009 God brought more opportunities of growth for our family. I had a miscarriage in March and again in May. We were of course devastated, but still believed that God would have us add to our family. I was able to have tests run to determine the possible causes of the miscarriages and now take medicine to help prevent any further harm to future children.

And, I suppose that I want to explain some of the pictures that you might see on this blog. Isaiah is a happy, wonderful, loving little man; but he does have some medical needs that most kids his age don't have. Isaiah cannot walk. He does an amazing "army crawl" all around the house (and in the sandbox when it's warm), that I could never manage. His defect effects his bladder and bowel; we are not sure how much feeling he has in these areas. We help him "potty" 4 times a day with a catheter and flush his bowel 3 days a week with the ACE. As his body has grown, he's been resistant to learning to walk with a walker.  He does still love to stand in his big braces (HKAFOs), so we enjoy doing school in his stander. He has had VEPT-R surgery, when an orthopedic surgeon installed 2 titanium rods in his back, one on each side of his spine to help correct/prevent further scoliosis.  Since that time his balance has greatly improved!  He gets these rods extended every 6 months for growth.  Having these rods will enable him to grow taller before a spinal fusion becomes necessary.

The Lord has since guided us to make a more permanent move back to the States.  We moved to Oregon the summer of 2012.  Isaiah's medical needs are better met in the States.  We continue to have ministry in Russia, but Thomas has accepted additional responsibilities with InterAct Ministries in OR.

Our daughter Nadezhda Grace Slawson joined us May 24, 2010, while we were in Russia.  Not to be outdone by her big brother, she also came early.  If you like birth stories, you can read her's here:  Part I, Part II, and Part III.

So those are the bare facts. If you would like to know more, please feel free to ask, anything. I'm used to explaining this all in Russian, now, so talking about it in English is a breeze!

Thanks for stopping by. I'd love to know who you are and visit your blog, too, if you have one. Please leave me a comment or email me!