Wednesday, September 21, 2011

'Tis the Season

...For Birthdays.

Today Organique turns four! She has moments of downright civility and joyful helpfulness. I LOVE those times. Last night, after a brief meltdown wherein she would not wash her hands, she helped to set the dinner table and felt so proud of herself. :) Also, I caught her seconds before she took the scissors (again) to Baby's hair (again) the other day. A few months back she snipped off the top of her little upwards-pointing pigtail! :( I have a locking file cabinet for the scissors, tape, glue, dry erase markers, etc. and now the sewing room has a hook-and-eye lock too. We'll raise her up right, yet! :)

Rub-a-dub-dub, um....?

Big Sister turned TEN two weeks ago. It still amazes me! When did that happen? Wasn't I a newlywed, expecting that first baby, just the other day? Am I approaching "old mom" status? I distinctly remember my aunt (age 26ish) exclaiming to my mother on her 34th birthday, "GEEZ, Lor, you're only SIX years away from FORTY!!!!" and they both freaked out at that thought. I was eight then, and I remember thinking, "um, YEAH, of course you are." :) Big Sister has as many moments of drama as Organique has of helpfulness, so it balances out. Overall she is a TREMENDOUS help with Baby, and *most* times will do as she's asked. She desperately wants a horse (though that's not an option just yet), and enjoyed a few days of "horse camp" that a homeschooled teen put on for kids. We celebrated her birthday outdoors with a lot of friends, her favored oatmeal cake, and the night's fun consisted mostly of petting the calves and chasing the chickens to no end. I usually don't allow that, but so many of the little kids aspired to actually *catching* and *petting* a chicken that I couldn't help it. The chickens survived, and the children went home happy, and covered in yuck. You know it's been a good party when that's the case. :)

Big Sister after horse camp, where the teacher let her 'canter' after the other kids left. She was thrilled. :)

Baby turned 2 five weeks ago. Such a big girl! She talks, though not nearly as well as her cousin Paisley (who is a day older), but certainly outweighs her petite counterpart! She "runs with the big girls" at every opportunity, and keeps up, too! She didn't figure out how to crawl out of her crib (and a vanity dresser sits right up against it!) until right around her birthday, and that has been a blessing. Oddly, she will lay down for a nap without complaint, and settle to sleep immediately, but many bedtimes are fraught with tears and crying and endless escapes and recaptures. Such a paradox. :) Also, she will clamp her mouth shut and fight like the dickens against a tiny taste of licorice fermented cod liver oil (and truthfully, so do I!), BUT when I fill a capsule full of the same thing, she will happily pop it in her mouth and chew it up. Silly girl. [I have to fill and swallow several capsules of that flavor. I much more recommend peppermint, but it's still not enjoyable. :) ]

Baby swinging all by herself, Independence Day weekend.

So tonight will end our 5 weeks of birthday parties. I also have a niece whose birthday was last Saturday, and a nephew whose day is next Saturday (though he's not local). My brother and his wife (also not local) welcomed a little boy a few weeks back also, so this is definitely our birthday season!! Perhaps soon I will be able to get back to blogging a little better. :)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


I've been awarded the "One Lovely Blog" award!

NOT ONLY THAT... But let me just be all excited for a moment to tell you BY WHOM this was awarded me... Sheri Salatin!  Does that name ring a bell for you?

Okay, in case you don't know her, let me offer up the little that I know... The reason her *name* stands out to me is because she is the daughter-in-law of my favorite farmer, Joel Salatin. I've mentioned him more than once on this blog. Half my kids ago I bought all of his 'how to' books on farming. Sheri's husband is featured in a lot of the photos... as not much more than a kid. :) More important than all that familial notoriety is Sheri herself (and I do wonder if she's sick with being "Joel's daughter-in-law!"I hope not, since I mentioned it!). I've corresponded with her a couple times on a couple issues, and she has been so sweet to take time from their busy farm season to point me in the right direction. She loves the Lord, loves her family, works on their farm, writes, and does this all while dealing with imperfect health (would you take a moment to pray for her in that? That God would continue to use her situation to His glory, and enable her to do all He has for her? Thank you!). 

There are a couple rules, apparently.
1 - Reveal 7 random facts about myself
2 - Pass the award on to 5 other Lovelies

I'm really no good at random facts, but I'll do my best. :]

1 - My hair is to my waist or beyond, if it's not pinned up. I've had people assume this is due to a spiritual conviction, but it's not. I just *never* go to the salon. Partly because I have four children that wouldn't perform well in a room full of scissors and poisons, and partly because I'm afraid they'll kick me out for being so *not* in style. 

2 - When I was little, I always wanted a haystack. And a sister (not necessarily in that order). God has given me four daughters (who are sisters!), and now I have a haystack. 139 bales so far. :D

3 - I step out the sliding glass door, and lean over the porch rail to shake out the tablecloth (and the highchair). That's chicken food.

4 - I need a new sliding glass door.

5 - I desperately don't *want* to be a redneck. You see how well that's working out. *sigh*

6 - Before I was born, my parents were poor, and my dad saw how tame the ducks at the local lake were. He walked home to his trailer, popped some popcorn in a paper grocery sack, and returned to the lake where he endeavored to simultaneously empty the paper bag, and stuff in two ducks whilst wringing their necks (without bringing undue attention from other families feeding the ducks). Apparently it was affordable protein, but really nasty when cooked and eaten.

7 - My redneck tendencies are honestly come by, and really, seems like in comparison with my forbears, I'm not doing all that bad...

Ok, now for the five bloggers to whom I must bestow this award. I'm even worse at this. Won't everyone I don't pick feel bad? What if they're my friends? What if I have more than 5 bloggy friends? What if I give it to strangers. Are they interested? Would this be a hassle? Will I feel rejected if they never 'accept' it? (speaking of which, I think I got this award or a similar one from Benny right around the time Baby was born. I intended to 'claim' it, and I never have. Now I can worry that SHE feels rejected...).

SO. I love you all, really I do. But I'm going to give this to five people whom I do NOT know outside of reading their blogs. And THEN I'm not even going to tell them about it. YOU can, if you like, but I'm chicken, ok?

How about A Baker's Dozen? She's a photographer, and mom to 14 kids. Nine or so biologically, a couple special needs infant adoptions, and she brought home 3 teenagers from Liberia a few years ago. Amazing. 

Fur Lined Toilet Seats - Man, SHE does some serious birthday parties (I think i might've sent home squash as party favors at our last birthday). She also homeschools, has parents who are farmers (that's always a bonus, right?) to some degree, and has actual flowerbeds. *sigh*

Romantic History - She sews - OH she sews - and does history reenactments with her husband and young sons. She makes everything (mostly) historically accurate, and might be a homeschool graduate, if I recall. 

Health, Home, Happiness - Healthy food, GAPS dietary protocols for Autism (and a million other ailments), pregnancy/nursing info, she has it all - and she uses it in 'real life' with her own family too. 

Last but not least, Fisher Academy International. This family are missionaries in Peru (I think?), and they homeschool using Ambleside Online (me too, me too!). She has a lot of Charlotte-Mason-ey resources and information, and though I haven't read there long, I love it. 

Ok, that does it! If you're brave, you can go tell these people (but I'm leaving. now.), or just go and find something enjoyable. No two are alike, but they are all Lovely Blogs. :) 

Thank you, Sheri! 

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

School Photos

I've taken a few 'school pictures' for friends and family, but my own are much less formal...

For example, this brother and sister:

Isn't he cute??!?

And then, we have ours:

How does she manage to look so angelic and innocent?!? I'm glad she has curly hair; I've never had her hair cut, but SHE has cut it a dozen times or so. You mostly can't tell...

Nothing like starting school with a giant bandage on your hand. At least a) she doesn't write yet and b) she's not left-handed anyway.

"Oh, this is a good book!"


By the way, that Baby turned 2 a couple weeks ago (the day Hubby was in the hospital). I forgot it was her birthday for most of the day! She also started summer with DARK BROWN hair. *sigh* She's getting so big... :)

Sunday, September 04, 2011

2011 Schoolroom

Here are some pictures I took when I finally got our "Homeschool Room" ready this year.

First, some perspective (because my photos don't include every part!). The room is in the western portion of our house, and there are no windows on that side. It used to be a 'family room' with an entertainment center and all that. Not anymore. :)

The brown rectangles are 'built in' shelves. The long shelf along the eastern wall of the room isn't pictured. It's our "barnwood" shelf, truly made from parts of an old barn and fence posts. I don't mind that, but it's also fairly cluttered; books, jam, boxes, gallon jars, etc. The strip of floor from garage door to back door, along and under the shelf is vinyl; the rest of the room is carpet.

Above you can see (most of) the west wall of our homeschool room. We got this huge (heavy!) chalkboard when our church moved out of its former building last month. It was the grassy green of chalkboards, but I painted primer on it, then followed that with homemade 'chalkboard paint' to match what I did on both doors, and the side of my computer cabinet (you can see part of it at the far left of the photo). The short bookshelf on the left holds a stereo thing (on the right, high up is a speaker. I can plug this in to my computer and we have some nice sound in the room for listening to mozart, etc!). The picture on the chalk tray is "A Young Girl Reading" by Fragonard. I bought it for $2 at a garage sale in July, then found out Fragonard is Ambleside's term 1 artist this year (I didn't even know who painted it), and this painting was on the list. The white board holds vocabulary words out of one of Big Sister's reading selections this term. These are the words I thought she might not be familiar with. Along the ceiling is our timeline. I moved it, hence the broken parts. :)

This is a view towards the right of the chalkboard, and is the 'kid area'. Rocking horse (and rocking elephant, but Big Sister is sitting on it) The shelves hold games, lincoln logs, story and picture books, board books, dolls, stuffed animals, boxes of miscellaneous toys, play food, wooden puzzles/stackers. Lamb Chop (butchered when I was tiny) serves as the hearth rug. We do refer to him by name, and always have).

This is the view of the South wall, and a piece of the garage door on the left. We have a couch, the other speaker, and two bookshelves. The first was found in the basement of our first home (I only got around to painting it 2 years ago), and the short green one I got last year at a garage sale. It was hideously primary colors, and poorly done, but is well built. The color is what I used on my kitchen cupboards 8 years ago. I finally re-glued the southern hemisphere back onto the globe after Organique tore it off in pieces last year. The maps are National Geographic, EXCELLENT price (less than $20 for the pair) from Christian Book Distributors. They are laminated - and REALLY ARE laminated - and we love them. The white shelf holds, from top to bottom, Mama's political/parenting/homeschooling books, then Little House on the Prairie mixed with How to [farm, raise chickens, butcher turkeys, milk a cow, make cheese, build a root cellar, weave a basket], and Natural Remedy type books. Third shelf is classics like Austen, Anne of Green Gables, Story like the Wind, an old set of James Whitcomb Riley, and some spiritual books. Fourth shelf is mostly theology and bible study resources. Fifth is supplements to The Great Books, and an old Childcraft set, and the bottom holds tall things - Encyclopedia of Country Living, binders, baby and wedding books, and a basket of magazines. The green shelf is still a mess, but the top houses my paper trimmers, linking cubes, big wooden beads, then we have some MathUSee manipulatives , and current reads and resources (Handbook of Nature Study, Usborne Geography, field guides for bugs and birds. Next is some James Herriot (not sure where he needs to live, but for now he's there) and "non-twaddle" free reading books for Big Sister. Below that is some of Baby's toys, and other tall things. Lastly is Really Tall Things, some of which can't even stand upright. Castles of Scotland, Bible Atlas, Saxon teacher guides, etc. You can see the beginning of our timeline at the upper right of the photo.

Here's a corner perspective in which you can see my little corner spot. This was once a set of wide, big shelves, but two years ago in the Great Room Redo, I enclosed them, took out the 2 bottom shelves and installed a shelf at 'desk height.' I also put folding closet doors on it, but I don't usually close them very often. :\  The shelves hold various things; my printer copier, extra supplies (paint, pencils, pens, erasers, crayons), flash cards, Brain Quest things, the rest of the Math U See stuff (and we don't use their curric), page protectors, rubber bands, sandpaper (?)... Behind the upper part of the cabinet is a narrow 'half shelf' which holds some old treasures, the stamp collection my Granny helped me with, etc. The File cabinet LOCKS, and therefore holds scissors, glue, dry erase markers, and much more. :) Little Artist has her desk here, and her chair, and... a bar of soap? I guess that could be handy.. The rug here is an outdoor patio-style rug, which doesn't protect the carpet so much as it hides it. 

Here's a little more of the kids' corner. You can see it's 'hemmed in' with a coffee table (basket of baby toys, basket of schoolbooks) and Big Sister's desk. On the right you can see the window fronted by a sturdy 6-drawer dresser (holds mostly old pictures, tissue paper/gift wrap, and other things that are no-nos) topped with a dollhouse. You can't see the round dining-style table in this corner (or the myriad bits of cut up paper that usually serve as floor beneath it) or the back door, but they're there. :) 

So there we are! I do wish DOING school was as easy as the planning and preparation! :)

Thursday, September 01, 2011

The Rest of the Story

The first part here.

So there we were in the ER, Hubby hooked to every kind of intervention you can imagine. Sedated. Steroids. Antibiotics. It was as though one thing required the next.. and the next.. and the next.

When I arrived at the ER, I mentioned that all my inlaws were there. MIL and FIL and I went back to the room where they had him, and the aunts/uncles offered to watch the girls. We were for a while in the ER, where we were asked all about his medical history, the circumstances of the day, etc. The good news was that the preliminary bloodwork looked fine. Nothing amiss there. The CT scan they did while we waited also came out clear. No brain bleed, stroke, or tumors. The excellent nurse (Garth) explained what was planned and how it would work; Hubby would be moved to the Intensive Care Unit overnight, where they would keep him sedated (they didn't want to remove the ventilator until they knew he was not swelling in his throat at all, and didn't want him awake with a vent in). While they moved him, it would be 45 minutes and NO ONE is allowed in the ICU at that time. [I'm not sure why. Maybe medical experimentation, or probing.  hehe.]

We followed a nurse or someone up to the ICU waiting area where we chose the "Family" waiting room, which was very family-friendly; a large L-shaped room, kitchenette, tv, lots of seating, and doors which close to keep the little ones safe. My MIL went back to the ER waiting room to bring everyone else to where we were. She returned with an uncle, 2 cousins, another cousin and his family (from out of town, but they were passing through when they got word of the situation), both sisters, a brotherinlaw... I got a phone call from another cousin who had left on vacation that morning, but heard about it and wanted to let me know they were praying, and prayed with me on the phone. It was like a family reunion, I tell ya.

Someone was missing though. A few someones. Hubby's brotherinlaw, the father of the little birthday girl, had offered to take the kids... all the kids. I will just describe him here, so you can see why I love this. Brutha Josh is kindof short, strong build, former policeman, current mine-worker (?), future diesel mechanic, LOTS of tattoos, no hair, and (recently) trending towards cowboy. He took his 2 year old, our special-needs niece (almost 7), and my four (almost 10, 7, almost 4, and one-day-away-from-2) in my other sisterinlaw's van, and took care of business. He drove them to Burger King and bought them a late dinner - making sure my Li'l Artist had food that was safe for her - then took them to Grandma's and tucked them all in with blankies and pillows in the living room, and put a movie on. He even diapered Baby. :)

Once they had Hubby all hooked up in ICU, 2 at a time could visit him. Mom and I went in and could tell they'd washed his face. He looked much more comfortable in the bed, and - again - was hooked up to myriad machinery. Now he also had an automated blood-pressure cuff. A giant touchscreen recorded and displayed his breathing and respirations, blood pressure, heartrate, and probably more. Some of that information was displayed in the hallways on even bigger monitors. From the nurses' station, they could see every patient's heartrate at a glance. If and when something odd happened (anything outside preset parameters), things would beep, and the appropriate patient's information would flash. Did I mention that this hospital just opened in May? I think I've figured out how they plan to pay for it, but I digress.

There was no change in Hubby. Still sedated, still medicated for everything, still operating on an anaphylaxis diagnosis. I left to go check on the girls (this is midnight or so) and take their pajamas and Baby's blankie to them. And maybe check on Uncle Josh...

First I stopped in the Family Waiting Room, gave what I could for an update and sent Hubby's dad to see him. At my inlaws', the kids were watching a movie and Josh explained that he'd fed them, but was careful for Li'l Artist's limitations, etc, and was doing well with such a job. I brought in pajamas, tucked everyone in and took my sisterinlaw's van back to the hospital (I wanted to leave my van and carseats with the kids, just in case). I got back to the hospital around 1 am or shortly thereafter, and my inlaws left. Mom did tell me, however, that the IV pump had beeped (they'd not plugged it in after the transfer to ICU, and its battery was complaining). Hubby had sat up and tried to get up, momentarily. She had gone over to say "Honey, you're in the hospital." I asked her if she'd been tempted to say, "Honey, you've been abducted by aliens!" or something, but apparently I am the only one with such a twisted sense of humor... I lied down about 1:30, but the incredible amount of grit that was on my pillowcase, no matter how often I brushed it or turned it over, prevented much rest.

I got up when they came to... swab... his mouth. It was like a dentist vacuum/spray and a spongey swab, which they inserted in the last little bit of open space left in his mouth. He opened his eyes at this point too, but slept again soon.

At 4:00 a.m. they came to turn off his sedation medicine, and then they said, "Can you open your eyes?" and he did. The nurse explained that they would bring a respiratory therapist so they would be able to remove the tube as soon as possible. He nodded. At one point she left, and with his wrist strapped to the bed, managed to lift his hand a little, and make a gesture. He pointed at his face, and then made a fist and forcefully jerked his fist away from himself. I knew he was saying, "this thing: OUT. NOW." I smiled and reassured him they were going to do so right away. I also told the nurse that he had made a very clear, somewhat insistent gesture on the subject. The respiratory therapist showed up, explained some things, did some things -- like taking a sample of respiratory fluid by effectively cutting off his air and prompting him to cough, a lot. He also did something to check Hubby's diaphragm control, and Hubby was sailing through the tests, such as they were. At some point in this, they changed the ventilator (via touchscreen!) from full respiration to cpap, which is an influx of air, but the work of breathing is effectively the patient's. Hubby did well at this, but before they could remove the equipment he had to take arterial blood from his wrist and have the lab test CO2 levels, or something. The therapist very wisely explained that he would be unfastening Hubby's wrist, but the effects of Hubby prematurely removing the ventilator on his own would result in some pretty serious vocal chord damage, among other things. Hubby refrained from any efforts on this front. :) We spent several minutes playing handicapped charades. He, with hands tied down and no way to speak, trying to tell me to turn off the lights... Or that the corner of his eye needed scratched... That one took a while...

About 5:30 they were able to remove the ventilator and OG tube. What a process! He did great though. And I don't think I will ever forget the way he turned to me, and in the raspiest of whispers said, "stroke?" That was about the hardest thing up to that point, believe it or not. HE, asking ME, and thinking that's what it might have been... I don't even know if that makes sense, or if I can describe it, but I still feel my stomach twist when I think of it.

"No honey, no. All the major tests have been fine. They suspect an allergic reaction. I think the heat had a lot to do with it too, and you didn't have any water up there..." I fed him ice, then water, they removed the catheter and maybe one of the IVs. Then he dozed. I tried to do the same, and peered at a blue-clad woman as she did an EKG on him. I don't think there's a single test they didn't do.

Later I got back to my inlaws and took the girls home to catch up on some things while they moved Hubby to a 'regular' hospital room. I showered - finally! - and we fed chickens, and calves, and brought the laundry that had been on the clothesline overnight (and put out another load, and put a load in the wash!).

Hubby continued in the hospital, got an EEG (to check for seizures), and I took the girls to see him for the first time. Hubby was tired, but 'mostly fine,' and we awaited a doctor to read the EEG. Which didn't come that day, of course! :) I took the kids home and we slept in our own beds that night (more laundry switching!), and tried to get to town early Tuesday morning. One of the 'first responders' stopped by (a dairyman from south of town) to see how things were and get any updates that might help hone their expertise.

Late afternoon a doctor finally read the EEG, and it was fine. This was a big relief. He'd been itching to come home, but the doctor who does that is as busy as the doctor who reads EEGs, I think. Finally he called (I was at my inlaws') and they were NOT going to discharge him because his white blood cell count was high. *sigh* While relating most of this information to the family, the overtired doctor (he was) realized they'd given him steroids, which would do that, so they WOULD let him go after all. And there was much rejoicing.

My sweet friend who teaches a mom's bible study made us dinner that night (we had also seen her in the day, and there were cookies involved), which she delivered to us at Hubby's folks' right after we finally 'got out.' We ate it then and there, as Mom certainly expected we would've been home by then and didn't plan on us for dinner. What a blessing.

Hubby had to continue several days on a couple antibiotics to deal with the aspiration pneumonia, and had to wear a little monitor/recorder for his heart for 48 hours. His discharge paperwork noted "Heat exhaustion/dehydration" as his problem, with some concern for a cardiac problem (varied bp readings during his stay, though after he shifted position in the ICU after being un-hooked, his auto-bp registered very differently).

Last week we confirmed that there was "nothing remarkable" about his heart monitor stuff, and he never even pushed The Button (which would flag the area) for shortness of breath, or anything else. [then again, he was home watching Star Trek from dawn to dusk, because resting is a big part of pneumonia recovery!]

I had the hospital forward all of his records to Hubby's naturopath, who looked them all over. I had never followed up with the EKG, and the cardiologist nurses/technicians/assistants weren't very consistent with their answers about the meaning of "Abn EKG" written somewhere, nor very efficient at trying to track down specific information on the subject. In any case, we were very happy to hear the naturopath say that everything was within normal range - including the EKG. This was a big blessing, to be sure!

He continues to do well, working long days (but staying hydrated!) without much problem. There don't seem to be any noticeable after-effects, for which we're grateful. Well, except we all have a little more gratitude for Life, and health!

Soon to come: Cost efficiency analysis of water, vs life-flight-plus-night-in-ICU. :)