Sunday, March 4, 2018

The last of the single digits

Ok is it just me or did February come and go just so fast?!   
We celebrated Abbie on the 23rd.  She turned 9.  Her last year of the single digits.  This year we had a quiet celebration at home, though that wasn't quite the original plan.  We had several inches of snow on the ground and really cold temperatures which made our road a bit challenging for those without four wheel we chose to postpone having a friend come over.  Good thing my children are each others' best friend. 

Of course, the morning went as it traditionally does with gift opening before the "workers" must leave. 

The worst part about snow on your birthday...not being able to ride your new skateboard of course.
(Neat story about that sticker - I'll explain at the end of this post.)

I never schedule school on the kids' birthdays, because, well that's a perk of homeschooling! 
The night before when we were decorating Abbie's birthday chair, Hannah mentioned that she thought Abbie needed special birthday doughnuts for breakfast.  She made an easy/baked version.  (Pretty great for just six weeks post accident!)

And...bacon is the best accompaniment to doughnuts.

 She is another of our pecan pie lovers who prefers it over cake. 

Sadly, the very next day Abbie came down with the bad head cold that Mary had.  😞
A few days with a fever and generally just not feeling well, but thankfully it was mostly gone, aside from a lingering cough, by the following week when we had a new party date.

This is Abbie's sweet friend, Alexa.

These two are such good friends.  Green-shirt kids unite.

Jessica is one of Ellie's favorite friends.

Jessica's birthday is just a few days apart from Abbie's so we celebrated both girls.

Abbie is a tender heart and sensitive and emotional. She thinks a lot.  We've had lots of talks of a spiritual nature lately.  😊

Some current favorites are
the color yellow.  She tells me that violet is a close second.
strawberry ice cream
wearing fingernail polish.

I'm looking forward to seeing how she grows this year. 

. . . . . . .

The "That Skate Fairy" sticker on the bottom of Abbie's new skateboard was created by Sarah.  She made it to sell as a way to raise funds for all of Hannah's medical bills from the accident.  Eric and I were both so touched that she did that.  I know it was her way of being able to help while she couldn't be up here with us.

- Carol

Sunday, February 18, 2018


Sometimes I think he is older than 15.  Maybe it's his sense of style and fashion, maybe his wit and humor or maybe it's because he towers over me, or maybe it's all of it. 

A birthday surprise - we all woke up to a couple of inches of snow.

This year we didn't really have specific plans for the day.  Honestly, we all were just hoping and praying that Hannah would be home from the hospital. (Yay!  She is!) 
About mid-morning I mentioned to Dan how it would be fun to head to our favorite coffee shop to hang out for a bit and play games together.  He whole-heartily agreed.  We grabbed Spot It and Snappy Dressers and all headed out in the rental car.

This shop serves specialty coffee and has such a great vibe.  Daniel chose a dirty chai.  (Chai latte with shots of espresso.)  Hannah chose a pour-over, I had an almond milk latte, and Ellie, Abbie, and Mary Anne enjoyed hot chocolate. 

Spot It is a fun game and Abbie is so good at it!  Plan to be creamed if you play against her.

Are you familiar with the game?  It's a simple card game where every card has something in common with another card.  The person that finds the commonality calls it out and collects the card.  The person with the most cards win.  Simple enough, but not so easy.   Snappy Dressers is just like it, but with animals dressed in hipster fashion.

Narrative is always packed because... great coffee and great vibe.  This was the only table available, yet it was perfect for our party of 6 with room to play. 

Everyone is our family prefers pie over birthday cake.  Dan requested pecan pie.  I made one whole pie and one just for him in a heart dish for his Valentine birthday.

Regular candles are hard to put into pecan pie.  Since I didn't have the right numbers (1-5) Matthew thought that since 7 + 6 + 2 = 15 that that was a perfect solution.  Dan's humor is so similar to Matt's that he totally thought it was great.

I really enjoy these teenage years.  Conversations are deeper and thoughtful.  Humor is silly, but not stupid (mostly - ha.) But what has impressed me most over this last year is his deepening spiritual walk.  Priorities have shifted and convictions have become his own.

I see maturity.  Then I have a thought and realize he is my youngest son who is 15!  He's the last of my boys and not little anymore.  (Duh, he hasn't been little in a while, but you know - it's a mom moment.)  Sometimes growing up is bitter-sweet with moms - at least this mom.

He's my outgoing, people loving, tender-hearted Valentine boy and that hasn't changed!

~ Carol

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

A January day - a different perspective

By Veronica Olsen

There are moments in life where everything stands still. This morning, our family decided to take a day trip to Leavenworth to play in the snow and enjoy the town. We had just started driving on highway 2 eastbound in Snohomish when we turned around a bend and saw large plumes of smoke and steam, a logging truck in the ditch, logs all over the road, and badly damaged cars strewn all over the highway. It was bad. The accident had just happened and we were the first on scene. 

Being a firefighter and EMT, Jeff quickly got out of our car and ran over to start triage. He was the only one there with emergency medical training. He quickly triaged the people involved, then began to treat the most critically injured, a young woman in the heavily damaged pick-up. When he found her, she was slumped over the steering wheel, unconscious and not breathing. He quickly repositioned her to open her airway, at which point she began breathing adequately on her own. Jeff remained with her, immobilizing her neck and keeping her airway open until on duty EMS could arrive. 

As Snohomish FD was arriving, the woman stopped breathing on her own. Jeff pulled her from the vehicle and used a bag valve mask from the on scene Snohomish County Deputy to begin breathing for her. Jeff continued to assist her respirations as she was treated on scene. As more responders arrived, Jeff cleared out and remained on location giving a report to State Patrol as she was airlifted by helicopter to Harborview. 

This was the farthest thing from our mind as a possibility of happening on our family outing, but my thankfulness is infinite for God's protection of our family and for Jeff's skills being used to assist those in their darkest hour. We were probably thirty seconds away from being directly involved in that collision and I thank God and our guardian angels for their protection and for putting Jeff right where he needed to be to help. Please, everyone, pray for the victims involved as they all have difficult healing roads ahead of them both physically, mentally, and emotionally. I pray especially for the young woman who Jeff worked on and was airlifted, that she makes it and that her family is able to be with her. Thank you Jeff for your courageous, no hesitation willingness to help the people that need you most even while off duty. While everyone stood back in horror, you ran forward without hesitation and gave her a fighting chance. God bless you and protect you always.

. . . . . . . 

We also learned that the Snohomish County deputy had been just a few cars behind Jeff and his wife, Veronica.  Veronica called 9-1-1.  Jeff, being off duty didn't have the equipment he needed to help Hannah, but the deputy did. (both the bag valve mask and the radio) Only Firefighters (Jeff) have authorization to call for medi-vac.  The fact that they were both on the scene immediately saved precious moments for Hannah.  

We also learned that getting a helicopter in the air can take time, but this day, it was ALREADY in the air, saving even more valuable time. 

Later we would learn that Jeff and Veronica have a mutual friend with Eric and me. 

Just the previous day, our pastor preached on prayer.  Our church family sure had opportunity to put it into practice.  

God's fingerprints were all over this event.  We know that He had this planned before time began for our good and for His glory.  We trust Him fully and so can rejoice.  We are thankful, of course, for Hannah's life being spared. We are thankful for how it brought our family even closer.  We are thankful for how it deepened our faith - this Refiner's fire.  We are thankful for how our friends rallied to our sides and cared for our other children.  We are thankful for now knowing just how to care for someone else who finds themselves in a similar situation.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.  ( 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 )

- Carol

a January day - one perspective

I started this post a while ago, but didn't have the chance to finish it - so here it is in all its fragmented "beauty". 

. . . . . 

As I write this, I sit in a hospital room.  It's a gray, drizzly day - the last day of January. 
My January of 2018 certainly didn't go as expected.  I guess what I expected was just the ordinary, usual tasks of home-keeping and homeschooling.  

January 8, 2018 (1. 8. 18)  Hannah was in a near fatal car wreck.  

She had taken Eric's truck that morning for a college class and was on her way home.
As I understand it, there were several cars in front of her. One of those cars veered over the center divider into on-coming traffic.  The on-coming traffic was the logging truck.  He swerved to miss her, she over-corrected and swerved back flipping her car into the ditch.  Three cars in front of Hannah swerved to miss the first car and the logging truck, but a couple of them hit the second trailer loaded with logs.  The second trailer lost its load.  Hannah had no way to avoid all the logs that slammed into her.  

She was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, the state's best trauma hospital, arriving in critical condition.  

Eric arrived at the hospital first.  The doctors told him of Hannah's long list of injuries.
When I arrived, Eric held me tight and told me the news.
2 fractured ribs
a pierced lung
lacerated liver
broken vertabra
shattered cheek bones
broken nose
deep facial lacerations
a brain bleed from the caroted artery
massive swelling of the brain

shock. terror. fear. doubt. denial. confusion. sadness. grief.  All at once.  
It was overwhelming.  I sat in a chair crying while a team of surgeons worked over her stitching up all the facial lacerations that were bleeding.  She was swollen, intubated, heavily sedated, and unrecognizable! 

A nurse gave me a bag that contained her clothes she had worn that day, but I realized that her shoes were missing.  She had worn her beloved Dr. Marten's.  I asked the nurse about her shoes, but she knew nothing about them.  

After several hours of surgery, MRI, CT scans, and X-rays, they moved her up to ICU.

News traveled fast that our girl had been in a serious wreck. Several friends and our pastor and his wife came to the hospital.  Caleb drove up from Portland, Matthew left work early.  Sarah wanted so badly to come. Friends prayed, and they told friends who prayed, and it went on like that.  People all over the world were praying for our Hannah!  We received sweet texts from friends letting us know they were praying - with encouraging Scripture.

Eric and I spent the night on the floor in the waiting room.  My eyes hurt so badly from crying.  We maybe slept an hour.  Early in the morning when we went into her room we saw a clear plastic bag next to her bed with her shoes inside!  Apparently the helicopter crew heard we were asking about her shoes and they delivered them personally.  I know that shoes are just "stuff", but because they were Hannah's absolute favorite, it was important to me.  I was so thankful they had been recovered, because I knew Hannah would be so happy.  Strange, I know, but somehow it gave me hope that everything would be OK.

They had artwork on the walls that I knew Hannah would admire so I took photos for her. 😊

After a couple of days in the ICU they moved her to ACU (acute care unit).  Moving her meant she had improved, but the only improvement that Eric and I could see was that she was off the ventilater.
We sat by her bedside 24-7.  The early days she was not awake and yet even in her sleep she tried to pull out the NG tube.  Eric and I watched over her, taking turns getting a couple of hours of sleep.  In the wee hours of the night, when left to my thoughts of what-if, I cried and I cried out to God.  Could I be ok if Hannah never got any better?  Could I trust God with His plan?

Isaish 58:8-9
"For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways, "declares the Lord.
"For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways
And My thoughts than your thoughts."

Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding,
In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.

He has NEVER failed me - and so I chose to trust.  Trust that the impossible is not impossible.

And people were so kind.  They visited the hospital. They sent flowers.  They brought bags of every kind of healthy snack.  They gave cash for food and whatever else we might need.  They sent encouraging texts, some even came to stay the night to be with Hannah so Eric and I could sleep, and they prayed.  

Even Instagram friends sent flowers!

During the day there were so many doctors and nurses (at times it seemed like a parade!) that would come and check on Hannah.  It was exhausting to try to take in all the information.  The nights were long - we were weary and often Hannah would be restless.  There were many nights where we just held her hand.  Honestly, I think it brought us all comfort. 

Caleb had gone back to Portland and returned the following weekend.  In just one week's time - Caleb could witness a HUGE improvement, which encouraged all of us especially when the doctors kept telling us "with a brain injury of this degree..." "but she is young, and healthy..."  "it will take time..."
Sometimes those were hard words to hear.

And yet right before our eyes she was improving and getting stronger.

NOT because of the diet they offered her.  (If you know me - then you know I was cringing and just a bit peeved!)

Once she was strong enough, our goal each day was to walk with her to this area called the Sky Bridge, where we could sit and look out the window.  This particular day it was clear and you could see Mt. Rainier. (Definitely a beautiful sight and change from the gray, stormy weather.)

19 days at Harborview and then she was transferred by ambulance to Providence Medical Center in Everett for in-patient therapy.  Our transfer happened on a Saturday,  which we were thankful for because we figured it wouldn't be as busy, but we met our doctor and the therapists.  His top priority was to get the NG tube removed.  Yay!  All the therapists felt the same way.   Sure enough, by Monday they took it out and Hannah was so happy.  Her sore throat went away and she had an appetite for the food that we provided.  (Well, not us - a dear friend who cooked all the special allergy free food she could have!)

She asked for coffee...and we happily obliged.

Daily therapy for three hours definitely helped.  Only 6 days and she had improved so much from a physical stand point, that it was no longer necessary for her to stay in the hospital.  Out-patient therapy would be the next step, which meant we could all go H.O.M.E.

Friday, February 2, we left the hospital for home.   Unbelievable!

There is so much more to this story, the "back story" of sorts, but I write it in another post.

Also... just hug your people extra today... just because you can.

 ~ Carol