Tuesday, August 8, 2017

a little update on Hannah

I put this picture of Hannah and me up on Instagram yesterday...asking for prayer for my girl.

Yesterday was the long-awaited day of her endoscopy at Children's Hospital in Seattle.  Along with the endoscopy, an MRI of her head was also scheduled.  We have no idea why she has frequent headaches or even if they are related to her tummy issues so that's why the MRI.

We left our house at 6 am for her 8:45 check in time.  Without traffic, Children's is only about 45 minutes to an hour away, but with Monday morning commute traffic, it's hard to know.  Thankfully, it wasn't too bad.  We arrived around 7:30.  We came prepared with books to read.

Waiting in the Radiology department, Hannah decided to color a few pictures.  I don't care how old you are, coloring can be therapeutic.

When I saw what she had colored, tears just rolled down my cheeks.  It gave me a glimpse into her thought life.  She isn't always one to speak her mind.  In fact, she'd rather not burden anyone with her worries or problems.

She made it to encourage other little ones who are afraid and hurting.  (not that they could read it, but a worried, afraid mama might.)  That's my girl, spreading sunshine where ever she goes even when her own life feels a little more rain-cloud like.

MRIs can be a little creepy.  Especially as you enter into a tube realizing you might have claustrophobia issues. Instead of listening to music, they provided movies to watch.  Hannah said where the screen was positioned gave her the feeling of being out in the open, which definitely helped her with keeping her mind off of being in a very small cave!  Can you guess her movie selection?

a.  101 Dalmations
b.  Goonies
c.  Captain America
d.  Storks

Following the MRI we crossed the hallway to the GI surgery center.   She found a comfy love seat and promptly fell asleep.  I grabbed a coffee and read and people watched.
I've been reading this book.  It was very popular a few years ago, but being the rebel that I am, I didn't want to read it then when everyone was raving about it.  Anyway, the take-away from it is that no matter what the circumstances are in your life - there is always something (1000 things!) to be grateful and thankful for.  She encourages to slow down enough to take the time to look for even the smallest of blessings even (or especially) when in the midst of hardships.

I read, but was distracted by my own thoughts and a myriad of bunny trails my mind goes down...
what's for dinner - did I take out the meat - so thankful Eric took the day off to be with the kids at home - I need to reschedule an appointment....
As I people-watched, I wondered what brought them to Children's Hospital.  Some parents were there with tiny sleeping infants, some with crying toddlers, only a few displayed obvious reasons why they were there.  I silently admired these parents for their bravery and strength - carrying the burden of hard news and harsh realities all the while being the strength for their children.

This reminded me of my best friend, who lives in California.  Her son was diagnosed with brain cancer when he was ten.  Most of their treatments were in California, but later on in his battle they came to Seattle Children's for a clinical trial.   That is a bravery that I have no words for.

Finally, Hannah was called back to be "prepped." She changed into her fashionable hospital gown and grippy Grover socks  We met with the nurses who would be attending her, we met with the anesthesiologists, we met with her doctor.  I was issued a pager to be notified when the procedure was done.

Startled by a gentle hand on my shoulder, only about 20 minutes later, I looked up and saw the doctor. Apparently my pager wasn't working and never went off.  I followed her into a consulting room to go over her findings.  She showed me the pictures.  She pointed out some inflammation in a few places and also some bile, which doesn't belong in her stomach (having not eaten for 24 hours!)
The doctor couldn't account for that, but overall things looked good.
So there we are.  We don't really have any answers, and yet we have something, but it doesn't look to be a horrible something - though we will know more when the pathology results are in.

Just as she finished with me, they told me that I could go back to see Hannah.  I was in the room when the gurney arrived.  They helped her into a big recliner chair and she was crying!  The nurses saw my concern and assured me it was a by-product of the anesthesia.  I turned to Hannah and asked her why she crying and she said she had horrible nightmares.  She was dizzy and nauseous, and disoriented and terrified.  I gently stroked her hair, and she slipped off to sleep again.
A little more sleep, and then a little apple juice, and the anesthesia fading a bit all helped her to feel a bit more normal.   All cleared for take - off, we headed home.

Today is a rest day.

And this...

- Carol

Saturday, July 29, 2017

365 challenge - weeks 28 and 29 and life lately


Have you ever taken on something only to discover that it wasn't what or how you thought it would be - or maybe that it was too difficult?  

Well, I have decided that this 365 photo challenge is not a good fit for me.  While I have enjoyed it, it has also been really difficult to carve out the needed time.  Frankly, my time is currently needed elsewhere.  

To give an attempt of a feeling of completion, I thought I would post the remaining photos that I have taken so far - of course, a few are missing, in true Carol fashion. 😉  I also thought that instead of completely stopping, I would try to switch to a 52 week challenge.  Just one photo per week.  I think that might be more manageable for me, but I'm not making any promises.  

Week 28
[ 191/365 - full ]

[ 192/365 - shadows ]

[ 193/365 - a self portrait ]

[ 194/365 - noon ]

[ 196/365 - five ]

- Week 29 -
[ 197/365 - little ]

 [ 198/365 - negative space ]

[ 201/365 - free choice ]

[ 202/365 - rule of thirds ]

[ 203/365 - my guilty pleasure ]

So there you go.  I hope you've enjoyed the photos.  I enjoyed taking them.  😊

. . . . . 

It's hard to believe it is the end of July!  We have worked hard (really, really hard) each weekend, and we were at it again this weekend too, but we moved all the wood and chipped all the downed branches and the front is completed!  It will be so nice to have a very good supply of firewood for this season and hopefully a few seasons to come.  There were times that I thought of the pioneers of Little House on the Prairie era and how no matter how tired and sore they were, they just kept working day after day to complete their necessary projects.   I'm glad we just worked on the weekends.  Can I just say how thankful I am to the Lord for a month of no rain? !

. . . . . 

Hannah has enrolled at the local community college for the fall.  It's such an exciting new season for her.  She is busy applying for scholarships - lots and lots of scholarships!  It's a funny thing, beginning in May she applied to probably twenty jobs in hopes for a summer job, but no one will hire her.  No experience.  Don't you love that catch-22?  - no hire - no experience - no experience - no hire.  
Well, God knows what He is doing.  Because Hannah does not have a job, she has time to apply for the scholarships.  She is diligently writing essays and in some cases making videos.

Seriously there are so many scholarships out there.  It's a big goal - apply for 100 scholarships.  You know, if she won 10% of them, she may have all of her college expenses covered!  What a blessing that would be since we don't qualify for financial aid, and we are not a debt kind of family.  

She has decided to claim photography as her major. 😀  With the way social media marketing is going and our new family endeavor she (and Eric and I) feel it's a smart choice. 

. . . . . 

I'm beginning to plan for the upcoming school year.  I've got all the subjects/curricula for each child, but now I must plan the details of how and when.  I'm looking forward to our year, but glad we still have some summer left.  I'm definitely not feeling prepared or ready. 

. . . . . 

If you've been reading here for a while then you know Hannah has digestive issues.  IBS, but nothing defined beyond that.  She's had so many tests, none of them really pointing to anything specific. She has an endoscopy scheduled a week from Monday.  We would covet your prayers.  We are hoping for answers, but at the same time I'll be honest,  not finding anything means they aren't finding big, scary things either.  I do so want my girl to have relief!  I pray for the Lord's strength to carry us through.  

. . . . . 

Summer Success...
 Mary learned to ride a bike without training wheels! 
Where did the baby go? 

. . . . . 

A reader recently made a comment that my life seemed quite crazy and chaotic.  You know, it kind of is right now, but no worries, I promise, we do take time out to smell the roses!  😀

Enjoy the remainder of your weekend.  Until next time
- Carol

Sunday, July 16, 2017

365 challenge - weeks 26 & 27


Well, I have not caught up yet, and I know I still need to fill in the blanks, but thought I would post the photos I do have from week 26 and 27.  ( Remember my corrupted SD card? 😞 )

Week 26

[ 176/365 - an errand ]

[ 177/365 - what I'm proud of ]

[ 178/365 - my addiction AND 180/365 - pink ]

[ 179/365 - alive ]

[ 181/365 - a piece of jewelry ]

[ 182/365 - change ]

Week 27
[ 183/365 - I love this ]

[ 184/365 - what I did today ]

[ 185/365 - patriotic ]

[ 186/365 - salty ]

[ 187/365 - an accessory ]

[ 188/365 - nature ]

[ 189/365 - what I see ]

Summer is speeding along.  We are taking full advantage of  our weather and on weekends, as a family, have been working hard on moving wood rounds, splitting wood, and chipping all the branches.  It's exhausting work, but we are making progress. 😀

I have been most blessed by the attitudes from the younger girls, who are more than willing to help with all the hard yard work.  We don't even have to ask, they just head outside with us.  They work hard and accomplish much for their little selves, and believe me, we so appreciate it.

As I write this evening,  the older kids are sitting outside, wearing sweaters (because it's chilly tonight) drinking hot tea, and playing cards.  I am so thankful for the relationships my children have with each other.

I can't help, but smile when I hear their laughter.

Until next time.
- Carol

Linking up with Serendipity is sweet Good, Random, Fun

Monday, July 10, 2017

Life lately...


I thought I would give you a little glimpse of what we've been up to lately along with a few photos from my phone. 

Summer has arrived in the PNW.  We've been enjoying sunny days with temperatures in the 80's for a couple of weeks now.  By enjoying I really mean taking advantage of the dry weather and taking care of much needed projects on our property.  Mostly splitting rounds for desperately needed firewood. We nearly used up all we had last winter.   We've also been cleaning up by collecting the many downed branches, running them through the chipper, and spreading all that mulch where it's needed (hydrangeas beds, chicken run, etc.)  

We come in hot, sweaty, filthy, and completely exhausted!  It feels good to work hard, to feel sore muscles.  It's even better than a workout at the gym- I'm sure we burn just as many calories and notable progress is made on the property. 😀  After work like that, we reward ourselves with ice cream cones, and don't feel a bit guilty about it!  

I even found some gluten free ones at the grocery store.  I'm so glad because we have taken Mary Anne off gluten now too.  She was exhibiting signs of intolerance with very red, rough hands. Hannah suffered just like that too.  Wanting to avoid a Hannah situation with Mary Anne, and with Sarah having been diagnosed with Celiac's... it just seems prudent.  

. . . . . 

We have a small garden this year, but what we do have is growing!  This year we planted zucchini squash (because we love zoodles), spaghetti squash because it's a great substitute for pasta spaghetti, butternut squash because we use that in our breakfast bowls, beets, basil, green beans, and lettuce.  
Oh, and weeds.  😏 So far so good. 

. . . . . 

Once we are done with school for the year, I take the rest of June to absolutely NOT think about any aspect of it.  
Now that it is July, I've started thinking about next year - what we need to study, and what curriculum we have on hand that we can use, what I need to buy, and school supplies we need.  Can you believe we have graduated half of our children?!  This year I will have one new to high school (Dan), and the three little girls.  (4th, 2nd, and 1st.)  I can officially give my kindergarten curriculum away.  😮  I've just about finished deciding on what we'll cover.  I only have a few things I'll need to buy, and then to do the nitty-gritty of lesson-planning.  

. . . . . 

So far this summer I have done ZERO canning.  Usually I buy flats of strawberries, and then flats of raspberries. Some for jam, some for eating.  There was so much rain the first part of June, that it has delayed harvest times of everything.  I kept watching for them - U-pick signs along the road are the first clue that the picking season has arrived.  I never saw a one!  I missed it.  Thankfully, Costco carries frozen organic strawberries year-round! 😀  I do hope we haven't missed raspberry season. Have you ever put a blueberry inside where the raspberry stem was?  So good!  You should try it. You should also try a chocolate chip there too.  You'll thank me!
I like to put raspberries in a quart of white wine vinegar and let it sit for a couple of weeks.  The vinegar gets infused with the raspberries.  I use the infused vinegar to make oil/vinegar salad dressings.  
My other favorite thing (besides just eating them as is) is to make raspberry sauce for pancakes and waffles.  Just cook the raspberries on low and add a bit of sugar (only a little)  It makes for a super delicious ice cream topping too.  
We will try to go blueberry picking, but if we miss that too - well...Costco to the rescue.  Yay for frozen, organic blueberries!
I used to can peaches, but I can not find a source of organic that is affordable for canning.  So - we just enjoy eating them in season.  
Last year I canned a TON of applesauce, and we have only 3 jars left!  Did you know applesauce makes a great egg substitute? (1/4 cup = 1 egg) It also makes a great oil substitute. (1:1) And, if you use a variety of apples you will not need to add sugar!  It's amazingly delicious!  

. . . . . 

We lost a goat.  
Long story long...
I had taken the girls on a little "adventure" day over to Camano Island to check it out and escape the heat.  Hannah thought it would be fun to pack along a secret treat for when we got there.  We thought it would be so fun to pack ice cream and cones to eat on the beach when we got there.  How fun is that?  Kind of a reward for a long drive.
It took us just shy two hours to get there, but when we arrived at the trail head parking, there was an ambulance.  Having never been there before (so not knowing how long the path to the beach was, and not wanting to get in the way, we opted not to get out of the car, but dished out ice cream cones in the car instead.  Believe it or not, the ice cream survived.  The girls were thrilled - almost like eating leftover pie for breakfast!
My impression of Camano Island - it's quiet and scenic.  It's what I imagine Deer Isle, Maine to be like.  I could definitely see Eric and I living there in years to come (you know the ocean is forever calling to me.) The only thing it seems to be missing is a charming little town with gift shops, an independent book store, etc.  We didn't explore the whole island, so maybe there is one.  
Anyway, the day was a hot (89 degrees - that's hot for Washington!), and once we were home the girls asked if they could sit on the back deck and play with water toys. (a bucket filled with water and toys like army men or pocket dolls or whatever.) Abbie went out first and discovered one of our goats lying on a stairs that lead up to our deck.  She came in crying saying that Kaanapali was there bleeding and missing a leg!  
We immediately thought a bear got to her, but the more Hannah and I thought about it, that didn't really fit the circumstances.  It turns out, as I looked closer, that she wasn't really missing a leg, but she had skinned it, but good and was bleeding a lot.  It was a mess! I'll spare the gore-y details, but suffice it to say, we had to put her down.   We have only three now.

. . . . . 

Ellie's chickens are doing well, even the one that was missing for a few days.  At least I think they are well.  We are only getting an egg or maybe two per day from four hens. 😒  I'm not sure why.   We quit giving them so many scraps so that they would eat their feed to ensure the proper nutrients needed for egg-laying. Ellie is good to check their water each day.  If you've have chicken experience, we'd love your advice!  (she has four hens, one was in the coop.)

. . . . . 

My calendar is filled with doctor's appointments.   For a time, while Eric wasn't allowed to drive due to his broken collar bone, I was taking him to all of them, but now I only go to the ones with the rheumatologist. (for moral support and catching details from the doctor's conversation.) There are appointments for Hannah too (still trying to get to the heart of her digestive issues), and for Mary Anne - she has begun vision therapy.  
Also - for the next few weeks I'll be taking a dear friend to chemotherapy appointments.  Nothing like that to give one a bit of perspective.  I catch myself complaining about something and then realize that I have NOTHING to complain about.  I am privileged every day to do life with my favorite people!

. . . . . 

Eric and I are just about ready to take our coffee roaster exam.  There is so much to know - from seed to cup how coffee is grown and processed, to green coffee buying, to cupping, to brewing and extraction, and of course all aspects of roasting.  It's exciting and scary all at the same time.    

. . . . . 

So life is pretty busy, but the schedule is loose, which is one of the best parts of summer vacation.  

- Carol