Category Archives: health

And the World Crashes

Spring Break.

Fun, sun shine filled days. Hikes, mommy daughter dates. Special shopping trips with my oldest girls.

Then the world crashed.

Emily was at a sleep over with a friend.

Lizy & Dot spent the morning playing with the boys and doing projects – cutting pictures from old magazines and making collages. Near lunch time, Lizy went to her room and Dot began making lunch. She went to fetch Lizy, and Lizy didn’t answer back. That was pretty normal. She’s 12 after all and prone to ignore her just younger sister.  I was in my room, waiting for Dot to bring Robert up so I could put him down for his nap. Dot felt prompted to check on her big sister again and did so.

She came running into my room screaming that she thought Liz was dead.

Liz and Emily had developed a game where they would tie both ends of a sheet to the top bunk and swing on it . One end had come untied and she had become tangled as she fell, with the sheet around her neck. I freed her, called 911 and began CPR.

She’s in the PICU now and it’s not looking so good. I can feel the prayers of everyone around me.

I try to be strong.

Sometimes it works.

Sometimes it doesn’t.

If you have loved ones you haven’t talked with a while. Don’t wait. Give your kids and significant others and extra tight squeeze tonight. Tell them you love them.

And, if you pray, please pray for my Lizy. And if you don’t, good thoughts work fine too.


Filed under Child loss, Children, health, Lizy

Topsy Turvy

Sometimes things flow along rather smoothly. Sure, there are a few bumps along the way (we have six kids after all) but nothing too out of the ordinary. And then things get turned upside down and inside out.

Last week I received a bit of news.

A rough bit.

I found out my father has brain cancer – lymphoma – though now they aren’t too sure what it is and are doing more tests. What they do know for sure is that he has lesions on the front and back of his brain – and it came on fast in the last month and a half (or at least, that’s when the symptoms showed up).

My dad is an amazing man. Has always been active and healthy. He taught me to love hiking and nature. He taught me to be and do my best.  He has the wackiest sense of humor – the kind where some people  can’t tell if he’s joking, but there’s a twinkle in his eye, and he makes the craziest goofy faces.

I never thought about how old he was getting (he’s 74, after all) and how he was slowing down. He always seemed invincible to me, like he would live forever. But I feel my time with him here on earth slipping away between my grasping fingers.

Maybe I have many years yet to come, I choose to hope for the best. But, in case the time is short, I am going to visit. I’ve only seen him one day in these past 3 1/2 years – because of their mission and our move – and it’s been too long. I am so blessed to have such a supportive husband and family to allow me to take off for a while to be with my parents.

I’ll try my best to blog while I’m gone, but I might not have much time. I’ll be hanging with my most amazing parents and visiting amazing old friends too. I plan on having a blast.

But, all while I’m having a grand time, I’ll be praying. Praying for my dad. If you don’t mind sending a prayer our way, it would be so appreciated. And if you aren’t the praying type, good thoughts and wishes work well too. We can feel the support from everyone around us.

And I believe in miracles.


Filed under Family, health, Religion


We are making progress – little by little.  Emily and Dorothy were back to school today.  Jacob though threw up at three this morning – no episodes since, so I think he is over it now.  I ended up taking James in to see the doc yesterday as he was wheezing pretty good.  True to baby form he quit wheezing the moment we walked into the doctor’s office. 

He did give a couple of great barky coughs for him though and a wheeze or two.  Nothing was in his lungs, which was great news, and the doctor declared that it was croup.  He wrote us out a perscription for steroids and walked us through everything we needed to do if he got really bad in the middle of the night to avoid a trip to the ER.  The perscription was for today incase he had a rough night and we felt he needed it.  James had a decent night – a few pretty wheezy moments but the stridors weren’t too bad and with the humidfier running all night long he made it through okay.

Elizabeth’s fever was down to 100-101 today without motrin. Hallelujah! Granted, it is still a fever – and her glands are swollen, but at least it was down.  The rest of the tests were all negative too – no cat scratch fever, mumps, strep, or TB – so, yay for that.  We started the new antibiotic yesterday so it is hard to tell if it is helping, or if she has a virus that is finally winding down. Here’s hoping it continues to wind down and doesn’t spike back up again.

I think I’m getting a bit of a cold – after a couple nights of rough sleep and days of sick kids, I’m not surprised.  More vitamin C and stuff down the hatch!


Filed under Children, health, Parenting

Wading Through the Mire

I have discovered that having 5 sick children is way more exhausting than having 5 healthy children.

Dorothy was fever free all day Sunday and her cold had dwindled to nothing so we sent off to school yesterday.  This morning she said she wasn’t feeling so good. She threw-up.  No school for Dorothy today.

On Sunday Emily started with a mild fever at 100 and a slight cough. She bounces between normal and 100, still coughing off and on, at least she hasn’t thrown up.  yet.

Jacob also started in on a slight cold on Sunday with a very slight fever, though it has been sitting right around normal to 99 – he’s got a pretty good cough though.

Last night James was suddenly congested – not nose congested either.  He sounded like he had lost his voice and was breathing through some pretty heavy gunk. No fever though, which is good.  We are keeping a close I on him – needless to say I didn’t sleep all the well.

And Elizabeth, well Elizabeth is throwing curve balls right and left.  Yesterday, when her fever was sitting at 104, I hauled her into the Doctor’s office.  Her swollen lymph node was slightly more swollen, and the one on the other side of her neck was swollen too.  Motrin will knock her fever down for a while, giving her at least some relief, but then it pops right back up again.  The doc gave us another perscription for a different antibiotic to fill if her fever wasn’t gone by this morning. He also ordered a mumps test and a strep test (from the blood work they took on Friday) and did a TB test too. I get the feeling he doesn’t think it is any of those, but wants to rule everything out that he possibly can.  We haven’t heard anything back on the tests yet – but I figure no news is good news. 

Her fever broke last night. She was sweating up a storm as she slept and it hit 97 (wonderful Motrin).

This morning it was back up at 101.  A couple hours later it hit 103.

 I made a trip to the pharmacy (hauling all 5 kids along with me – thank goodness they have a drive up window, and all the kids could stay in the car) to get the new antibiotic.

On the up side, during nap time (mandatory when kids are sick), I sent inmy first three query letters. Woohoo! I’m really doing something.  I expect it will be a long journey, but at least I have put my feet on the path.


Filed under Children, health, Lizy, Parenting, Writing

Mystery Illnesses – blech!

We walked in the door Thursday evening after soccer practice and were greeted by Dad. The kids were thrilled as he tickled each one as they entered and gave them a squeeze. As he gave Liz a squeeze he bumped her neck.

“Ow! That still hurts!”

Excuse me? But what still hurts? Turns out that the area where her lymph node is has been hurting (only noticible when pushed on – and then you have to push on it HARD for it to really hurt at all) since the beginning of September. Okay, so why wasn’t I notified of this issue? Apparantly she mentioned it to Paul at the time, but only as “my neck hurts a little” and was written off as a stiff neck. Nothing more was mentioned.

It wouldn’t have been that big a deal if, when we felt it, we hadn’t found a rather large lump. I know lymph nodes swell up from time to time. But she hadn’t had any fever, sore throat, nothing. She was eating normally, and had normal energy level. And, since we didn’t feel her neck back in September, we had no idea if it had appeared recently, or been there for two months. And had it grown? Who knows.

One thing we did know, was that I was getting her in to se the doctor at the next available moment. So, Friday I hauled her in. Dot was home sick with a sudden cold, but Liz was still as healthy as they come. The doc check it out and frowned. Then he checked her ears and throat, felt it again and frowned some more. “the size of a pea or a lima bean, doesn’t concern me,” he said. “The size of acorns and walnuts conerns me.” He gave another frown and looked at me. “This is a good sized acorn.” He grilled me on fevers, sore throats, and all those things I mentioned earlier. And frowned some more at my answers. He rattled off a number of possibilities, most of which include symptoms and sent us over to the hospital for blood tests.

I was a nervouse wreck waiting for those test results. I don’t do well with waiting. And one of the tests was too scary to think about. So I tried to occupy myself as much as possible. Meanwhile, Elizabeth went back to school and Dot and the boys hung out with me.

The doctor called just after his office closed, two of test results were in and, thank goodness both were negative – the one for mono, and the one looking for lymphocytes (double thank goodness). The white blood cell count was slightly elevated, indicating that she could be fighting an infection, so he called in a strong antibiotic that she gets to take two times a day.

Saturday morning she woke up and this time she did have a sore throat – and a fever. She’s been hanging out at 103 since then. The thing is, I have no idea if it is related to the swollen lymph node or not, because when it happened she was fine, and EVERYONE in the family is catching this nasty cold. Granted, the others have only had a fever as high as 100, and it only lasted a day or so. But, I would assume that it is related, you know the saying – “Don’t borrow trouble” – and believe me we don’t want to. Oh, and the other good thing is that the lump doesn’t seem to be getting bigger – though I don’t know that it is getting any smaller either – time will tell. After all, it has only been 2 days, and I have no idea how fast these things go, etc.

So, I have the whole family home from church today. Dot doesn’t have a fever anymore, but she still has a pretty bad cough and sore throat, Emily has a fever at 100 & cough sore throat, Jacob has the same as Emily. James isn’t sick yet (though he had a slight cough this morning) but I didn’t figure on his needing to attend church figuring he’s got the germs already, lets keep him home so as not to get others sick. Liz is – well the same as listed above.

I will check in the doctor about Elizabeth’s fever and stuff tomorrow and see what he says – until then we’ll just ride it out and assume the lymph node was swollen because she was getting a cold.

I am off now to seperate a batch of squabbling sick kids… 🙂


Filed under Children, health, Lizy, Parenting

There and Back Again

My morning began at 3:30 a.m. when the alarm began its screaching reminder to feed James since it was his last time to eat until after surgery.  I staggered to the kitchen, made his bottle, and enjoyed a snuggly moment while he drank. Luckily he slipped back into slumber very quickly and I got a couple more hours sleep before being jerked out of bed once again.

After we managed to get the girls ready for school, Jacob ready for his all-day playdate and James ready for surgery, I took off with James to the hospital, and Paul dropped the kids off at their destinations on his way to work.

I got James registered and checked in and the waiting began.  Just before we headed down to the OR, Paul arrived from work – James gave his first big smile that morning.  We have become a bit too familiar with Emanual Hospital – We could almost find our way to the OR and family waiting room blindfolded.  One of the funny things that I noticed right away was that the hospital changed the type of soap they used in their bathrooms.  The soap still left the skin on your hands feeling tight, dry, and sterile, but the pungeant smell that lingered for days was gone.  The soap was nearly odorless.  It was one of those odd things that stuck out from Jacob’s time in the hospital and subsequent visits. 

I was even able to read, though I had to laugh when I fished my book out of my bag.  I looked at Paul and said, “Maybe this isn’t the best book to read right now.”

“Why?” I held up the book causing him to chuckle.  “Yeah, great choice.”

I was reading “Chopping Spree” by Diane Mott Davidson (a friend loaned it to me – it’s okay, can’t say I love it.)

Despite my choice in books, the surgery went well – and although I knew the incisions would be nothing like Jacob’s I was pleasantly surprised by how small they really were.  The surgery only took an hour and a half and we were discharged from the hospital by 2:00 in the afternoon.  James has been sleeping the day and evening away.  I have been enjoying his snuggliness and am off to catch a few winks myself. I think the day has finally caught up to me.

Thank you all for your prayers, they were greatly appreciated. The day ended up being very peaceful and relaxing.  It is a relief to have it over and done.  Thanks again for the support – we really feel those prayers. We have been so blessed and lifted.  We are grateful for a wonderful family, caring friends, and a multitude of blessings.


Filed under Children, health, James, Parenting

Little Things Between the Busy

I had my eye exam last week and thankfully my eyes haven’t changed much. Because of our awesome insurance plan from Paul’s work we have great vision benefits, so I get contacts! 🙂 Woohoo! Today I had my fitting (it has been three years since I last wore contacts, and I am at a new vision clinic, so I couldn’t dodge the fitting bit) and got to order my new contacts – and wear my first pair home. Yay!


Last week when I had my vision exam, as the assistant and I visited, we tried to figure out how long it had been since my last exam. I finally figured out that it was the year before Jacob was born, and then I didn’t have another exam because of his heart surgery. She mentioned that she had open heart surgery when she was two years old due to Aortic Valve Stenosis. The doctors had told her parents that in seven to ten years she would need another surgery. She is now 28 and going strong – not yet having that second surgery. It was awesome to visit with her. It is always neat to meet adults with CHD and see that a normal wonderful life really is in store for our heart kids. 🙂


I am in the process of getting the first three chapters of my manuscript perfected to the point of being submitted to some different publishers – its rather exciting, but way, way, way more scary. Way more scary. I must say though, that I am so grateful for my awesome writing group for their support and encouragement – not to mention helping clean my manuscript up so it isn’t aweful.


Our trip to Utah is off – I’m dissapointed and relieved. I am bummed that I won’t get to see my brother from Vermont, as it has been nine years since I have seen him. There is a silver lining though, and that is that they are moving out to the Seattle area and we will see a lot more of him very soon. I am relieved because after all the business and nearly constant family (not that I am complaining – it has been so FUN!) I don’t know that I could handle a huge reunion with 26 kids – not to mention driving there with my five packed in our little van.

So, that leaves us with a week and a half of unexpected free time – maybe we’ll go camping, or maybe we’ll bash around locally. All I know is that we will have a week and a half of FUN! 🙂


We have been enjoying having my parents here sooo much – I really wish they didn’t have to go so soon – they will be taking off in a week. The time has flown by so fast. We are so thrilled to though that they are going on a third mission. We miss them, but are so proud of and excited for what they are doing. We have enjoyed listening to the mission stories and seeing all their photos. I feel like I have the most awesome parents in the world!


One last observation – it sure is hard to find time to clean the house when you are constantly on the go. 🙂


Filed under CHD, Family, health, Heart, Writing

Whew! What a Week!

I hardly know where to start… I think I will make this a random post and then focus in on specifics with photos during the next week.

We had family arrive on Sunday and a big family party, Monday we hit OMSI, Tuesday paul and I were sick sick sick, Wednesday we were better and hit the A.C. Gilbert House Discovery Village (a children’s museum in Salem), Thursday we headed to the beach and went to the Oregon Coast Aquarium, Friday we celebrated Independence day with a ton of awesome activities, Saturday Liz got sick at about 2:00 a.m. so we headed in from the beach later that morning and spent the afternoon recooperating from a crazy crazy week full of fun and family.


Today I am home from church with Liz – who is better, but we thought best to keep home today, and Emily who hasn’t thrown up, but has a low fever that seems to just be hanging about. James is home too – mainly because he can’t go many places without me. 🙂


Tomorrow my parents get in! Woohoo! And, Paul’s parents are in town too, so we are looking forward to even more fun over these next couple weeks.


James had his 6 month check-up a week ago this last Friday. He didn’t even cry when the gave him his shot – my brave little guy he is. All is well, though there is one minor issue which has us going off to see a urologist (sp?) over. His left T has not dropped yet, and as he is 6 months old, our pediatrician is concerned. Basically what he told us is that if it was going to drop on its own it would have done that by now. Even more concerning was that the pediatrician couldn’t even find it. So, we have an appt. with the specialist scheduled for the end of August. Chances are they will find it with an ultrasound and be able to give him some injections that will make it drop – if not, well – we will cross that bridge when we get there (it could involve exploratory surgery and other nasty things, so we are really hoping they find it on ultrasound). In the meantime I am focusing on being positive and not getting paranoid or worked up over something that is probably nothing – which is a bit harder than I had anticipated. *sigh*

And here are some pictures from our OMSI trip I mentioned in an earlier post – their special exhibit right now is Dinosaurs – which the kids just loved.



Walk Like a Dinosaur

Walk like a Dinosaur

Building a dino skeleton

Building a dion skeleton

The dino skeleton building spot was full of those tiny little rubber things – kinda like sand, but not. 🙂 I snapped this photo just as Jacob let loose in a moment of pure excitement.


On our way to the sub – you can see it behind the cousins – the two littlest cousins stayed with Paul (he had seen it with GuMike a month ago)

Cousings in front of the sub

Everyone got a chance to look through the periscope – here is Emily taking her turn:

Emily looking through the periscope

Torpedo Room

Submarine Torpedo Room

The Galley

Submarine Galley

And lastly a shot of the submarine going group beside the submarine propeller (minus me as I took the photo).

Submarine propeller


Filed under Dot, Em, Family, health, Jacob, James, Lizy

The Good and the Bad

OMSI was good – really good. Lots of fun, and we even went on the tour of the submarine which the kids loved – and I will post pics soon.

The bad is that I woke up sick this AM – and Paul ended up being sick too. Two parents sick with company staying is not a cool or fun thing. I really hope Paul’s bro’s family manages to dodge what we have, as well as the kids – only time will tell, and we are all scheduled to be at a family reunion on the beach this weekend.

The good is that after literally sleeping all day – except for maybe an hour or two, I am feeling amazingly better. Much thanks and gratitude given to a very sweet baby who let me sleep. 🙂


Filed under health

Stiff Necked

That would be me.  I am not afraid to admit it.  I have become stiff necked – which is why I am sitting here trying my hardest not to move (yeah right – with a toddler around?) with a heating pad.

 I woke up a few days ago knowing immediately that I had slept wrong some how as a pain shot down the side of my neck and into my shoulder when I turned it a certain way.  It will go away by the end of the day and after a good nights rest.Ummm…. yeah, its worse. So this morning I awoke desperate for a heating pad.  My heating pad was broken and had been tossed, and my little microwaveable one made of wheat had long since gone the ways of all the earth.

I’ll just make a new one, I thought.  So I hopped on line to see if there were any pointers I needed to be reminded of.  One major thing had changed – deer corn (or feed corn – the non-cracked kind) was recommended over every other kind of grain.  Partially because it holds its heat better and it poses less hazards than the others – fire type hazards from drying and over cooking, etc.

But, I don’t want to go to the store and try to haul out a bag of corn, I thought to myself. I hurt now, I want one now…Then the crying and the sobbing starts – no, just kidding.  But the idea of trying to bend over a sewing machine with a stiff neck did NOT sound like fun.  Then I hit on a quick tip for those in a pinch and I thought… DUH.

So, I did what the tip suggested. I grabbed a ziploc freezer bag (microwaveable) filled it 3/4 full of rice, left it open a bit to vent and nuked it for 2 minutes.  Then I sealed the zipper and dropped the hot rice filled ziploc bag into a pillow case (the material on a towel was too thick – I wanted to fell the heat!) and slapped it on my neck….  ahhh relief.  It works until I get time to make a new corn bag for myself. 🙂

So, if you want to make a microwaveable heating pad (I loved mine for my super cold feet in winter – though I think my hubby liked it better than me, because then I didn’t stick my icy feet on him trying to warm them up 😉  ) here is how:

What you need:

Fabric – nothing fancy, Cotton blends are best because of fire hazards in the microwave.  The suggestion I found that I am going to do this time is to make my corn filled bag out of cheap muslin and then make a pretty slip cover for it.  For one bag two 9X22 inch strips are recommended -one for the bag and one for the cover.  You can make it any size or shape you want, really – just be sure to only fill it 1/2 – 3/4 full so it will mold around body.

Corn – (not cracked corn) during hunting season you can pick up a 40 lb bag for $4 (or so) at Wal-mart, or you can find it other places.  One 40 lb bag will make up to 20-22 heating pads, depending on size – you might decide you want to make some bigger pads, etc. Because it is a natural product there is a chance that there may be a weavil egg or two laid in it.  Because of this you want to keep your corn in a sealed container, and if you don’t use it, feed it to the birds.  The Site I gathered the most info gave a ton of info on the benefits of corn vs. other grains and instructions for killing off any eggs in the corn, which I will mention later – and I will post the website too. 

So what you do is you fold your strip in half and sew your corn bag on two sides – leaving one side open and fill it with approximately 4 cups of corn – more if you are making a bigger heating pad.  Then sew the open end shut.  For a slip cover, hem raw edges on the short ends – or surge if you are lucky enough to have a serger, then fold in both ends, over lap the short edges a bit.  Sew down the long sides and voi-la you have a slip cover.  Slip covers are nice because it makes it easier to clean.

 Before you use it heat your corn bag in the microwave for three minutes, let cool, then heat again, and possibly do this a third time. This will get all moisture out of the corn and kill any eggs or germs in the corn.

Your bag is now sanitized and ready to go.  When you use it, heat it for approximately 2 minutes – it will stay warm for an hour or two. If you are reheating a bag that isn’t completely cool yet, only heat it for 1 minute.  

If you want more info on why corn over the other possibilities, why not add essential oils and things, and other useful information, such as cleaning instructions, check out this fabulous site done by a gal who researched these for a hospital – it is loaded with info, plus photo directions on making the heating pads – in case I gave lousy directions. 😉

Corn Microwaveable Heating Bags

They make great gifts – and are cheap to make.  So, may our necks be softened and our feet be warmed.  🙂

 P.S. If you need an icepack you can also toss them into the freezer.


Filed under health, Hobby