back home


Sarah’s first day back at home after surgery has been a gift.  Things like this always make me appreciate the little things in life even more.


When we arrived home, I noticed differences right away.

The morning glories are inches further up the sunflowers.
Gypsy moths are flying around.
My gardens and hanging baskets are dry and need watering.
Raspberries are ripening fast.
The grass was longer.

I know my house, my land, my gardens.  My roots go way down.


How to heal a little girl; with snuggles, stuffed animals that fit just right in a small hand, books, back scratches, ginger ale, movies, smiles, brothers and a sister, games, rides in a wheelchair, naps, words of encouragement, leaving the hospital as soon as possible, pain medicine, a nest on the couch, getting clean with a shower, soap, and combed out hair, tempting foods like fresh garden peas and wild raspberries picked by a loving sister and mama.




When your big brother comes in the house with a visitor.


And when your mom and dad leave, just for an hour, to go to a library used book sale.


The top six were for her.

another sarah story


I woke from a deep sleep and opened my eyes in a pitch dark room.

“That was NOT knocking on my door I just heard,” I reassured my very sleepy self and turned over to drift….away…..

The door opened slowly.

“Yes?” I said, politely. (I’ve trained myself through the years not to shriek)

“My stomach hurts!” said Sarah’s small voice.

“Are you hungry?”

“I….think so!” she said, uncertainly.

I didn’t realize at the time that she was looking for a different answer and simply wanted to sleep on the couch.  But yesterday was another procedure day and she had to miss meals for it and I automatically thought that a stomach ache would make logical sense from lack of food.

It was 5:15 in the morning and soon she was munching on cereal but offered up this piece of information, “Usually when my stomach hurts you say go and sleep on the couch…..”


When the cereal was gone she said, “It still hurts.”

I knew just what to say this time.  “Let’s go get you on the couch.”

She smiled.

I asked Rich why she didn’t just get on the couch in the first place rather than wake me up.

“She’s not that type of girl.  She needed to get your okay first.”


This is a photo she asked me to take of the Lego man at the hospital.  We were there on Wednesday to get her stent removed.  Unfortunately, she was very anxious about it and when it came time she started passionately crying.  The doctor asked us to come back the next day so she could be sedated.  At a children’s hospital every member of the staff knows the very best way to treat their small and vulnerable patients.  They explained that because Sarah was so young, it was important for us to avoid any procedure that would cause any lasting fears or trauma.  Even something as simple/quick as a stent removal needs to be done thoughtfully and with Sarah’s anxiety reduced as much as possible.

She liked the lego man because he was holding a picture of someone she learned about in school.  “It’s a ferret?  I mean, a fairy?  And if you catch him he will take you to the end of a rainbow for a pot of gold.”  This is what she was in the process of explaining when I took the picture.


It was 73 degrees that afternoon and we went to the woods and she played with her animals while I leaned against a solid, friendly pine tree and read a book.


A flock of chickens came walking out of the woods.

“Who’s chickens are those?” she asked, confused because they seemed to have journeyed from far away.

“Ours!” I answered.


She sat next to me and ate an orange and made me shoo away the hens if they came too near.  Which they did, because they wanted oranges, too.  We threw little bits of peel and laughed when a hen ran to pick it up and then drop it back down again, only to have another hen do the same thing because chickens don’t eat the peels either.


We were directed to not give her food after midnight and to only give her jello, ice pops, gatorade, apple juice, or water up until 11:30.  To take our mind off food we went shopping.  I don’t take her shopping too often because she absolutely LOVES it.  She carefully looks at everything in the store and makes honest, careful decisions about what to buy.  I had to remind her yesterday that there are limits and she, after all, has no job.

She picked out the pink sneakers that have lights from Target, and the sparkly pink braid from Justice.


We went back to the hospital at 2:30.  The sedation entailed two syringes of clear fluid inserted into each nostril at the same time, with four of us holding her in position.  She sat in my lap as she cried and sniffled and fidgeted with disgust, holding a towel over her nose and mouth to catch any drips.  A VERY DREADFUL way to take medicine.  But soon it did the trick and she was relaxed and smiling.  The stent was removed in less than five seconds and the two of us were absolutely  exhausted by the whole ordeal.  A whole lot of fuss for a 4 second stent removal.  UGH.

After we observed her and gave her a slushy I left her with the nurse and went on my way to the parking garage-6th floor-to get the vehicle and drive it to the hospital entrance where Sarah arrived in a wheelchair.  She was confused as to why we wouldn’t let her walk, “Don’t my legs work?  Can’t I walk?”  “Yes, you’re just a little wobbly right now.” “No, I’m not!”

They said the medicine would make her forget the procedure but I keep waiting for her to forget and she hasn’t.  The main purpose of the sedation was to make it less traumatic and it certainly did do that, she was calm and cheerful for the whole rest of the day.  We drove through rush hour traffic to the nearest Wendy’s (she always craves a #9 after a doctor’s appointment–which is a grilled chicken sandwich *no fries*)  and I got a big waffle cone with strawberry topping from across the road at Sonic.  It did it’s part to soothe my nerves.


After we came home she was full of adrenaline and we had to make her stay somewhat quiet.  However, this morning she’s all tuckered out.  The excitement finally caught up to her.  We look forward to a nice day together.  (Right now she’s watching Gordimer Gibbons).



rich’s adventure


Last Tuesday night, Rich was at the school coaching.  He had ignored some warning signs that something was not quite right in his groin area but as usual, being the man he is, he kept on going strong.  He was wrestling with the heavyweights as he’s been taking a ‘hands on’ coaching approach and it happened to be Jacob that he was working with at the time – on the mat with him wrestling with his usual aggression and speed.  Unfortunately for him, his groin finally tore with a vengeance and he was left hurt on the mat, stunned, shocked, and thinking only of the pain.

A day later, as he attempted to limp through his work schedule and not go to the doctor’s, he noticed a bulge had appeared.  He spoke with the other coaches, the trainer, our doctor, a specialist, and was advised by all to go to the hospital to get it checked out.

After coaching Thursday night’s meet, and watching his son Ethan finally win a match, he drove himself to the hospital.  The next morning, I drove through a snowstorm to join him.  Six of our children were at school, and I took Sarah with me, believing with all my heart that hernia-repair surgery would only take a short while and I could go home in the evening.


Sarah was a comfort and joy to us that day as we watched her play with her box of animals.  The kind Jamaican nurse brought a blanket for her to play on so she didn’t have to sit on the floor.  We spent the morning together, just the three of us, and then at noon they wheeled Rich to the operating room.

No one in our family has had to have surgery (other than teeth being pulled).  I wondered how he would manage and hoped there would be no surprises.  It was a relatively minor injury and surgery compared to what it could have been, so we were at peace and thankful.  Sarah and I walked around together and an hour and a half later the nurse called to tell me they were just about ready for surgery.  This was a surprise to me because I thought he would have been almost done by then.  This showed me how clueless I really was about surgery.  Even a minor surgery can be an all day affair.


The view from the 9th floor.

I took Sarah to the cafeteria for lunch.  We ate together in waiting room while she watched PBS cartoons on the TV.  After lunch we walked to the gift shop where I purchased a paperback mystery and a soft gray wolf for Sarah.  She promptly named it Soft Paws and is still carrying it around in her arms even this morning.  I don’t like hospitals but I thought it was important to make the experience as pleasant as possible for Sarah.

The doctor eventually called to tell me that the procedure went fine and that Rich did very well.  He let me know that the nurses would call me when he was taken back to his room, which would be another hour or two.

I was in his room when they brought him back and Rich was very sleepy as he recovered from the anesthesia.  He was talkative.  His sentences were slow and his reaction time was very delayed.  If I told him I loved him, it took him about 5 seconds for his face to melt into an understanding smile.  He only wanted me, the first word I heard was my name, over and over (his eyes were shut).  When he understood I was there he needed to know where his Sarah was and how the boys got home from practice that evening.  He was thankful for all the attention from the nurses and was never gruff with anyone.  Even full of drugs he used impeccable manners and would respond “yes sir” or “yes ma’am”.

When they moved him to his bed he slowly lifted his arm to point to the stretcher.  “I……like…..that……BOARD……better,” he explained to us, eyes shut.

I eventually took out a pen and paper to jot down the funny things he said.  We had a great time going over it the next day, laughing hysterically with Rich pressing a pillow to his side so it wouldn’t hurt as much.

It soon became clear that he would be staying another night.  He told me not to leave him, so I asked Isaac and Cassandra to get Sarah and take her back home.

We spent the night taking a couple of naps as nurses kept coming in the room to check on Rich.

We were glad when it was morning again and knew we would be going home.


Rich’s liquid breakfast was hysterical.  It was jello, juice, broth, and coffee.  I happily took off for the Au Bon Pain downstairs for a breakfast sandwich and coffee.


He told me that his pain level was a steady “4” because I made him laugh too much.  I took that as a compliment.  They say laughter is the best medicine, right?


Getting stronger by the minute.


He wore things on his legs to help prevent blood clots.  He admitted that he liked the hospital socks and thought they were comfortable.  (He is a harsh judge of socks because it is so hard to find nice socks for his big feet).


I stirred up a package of Emergen-C into his water.  The nurses and I had to make him drink, he didn’t seem to understand the necessity of so many fluids.  It was fun to take care of him.


Nurse Sonia checked his vitals one last time.  He truly was in great shape, with perfect blood pressure and an athlete’s slow pulse rate.  His only complaints the entire time was his terrible groin injury and then the swelling of the hernia operation.  There were no surprises, no complications, and we were so grateful.


I read my very first “Mary Higgins Clark” mystery.  It was a nice easy read to keep my mind half-focused on something besides hospitals, illness, injury, and death.  Admittedly,  it was a murder mystery, but it was entertaining and did a good job of holding my attention.


Rich had to breathe through this blue thing to exercise his lungs after surgery.  I called it his peace pipe.


He found a wrestling show on TV and it helped take his mind of his shot.


Dressed and ready to go home in a motivating t-shirt!

Before I forget, I want to take a moment to write how thankful we are for Nicole P.  She drove the boys home from practice, and took them to the school Saturday morning for their tournament.  She also brought them home again.  Brett W. and Mike P. were a huge help in coming to the hospital so that Mike could drive Rich’s truck home.  Brett and his wife Jen also had our son David overnight.  My friend Caroline K. also helped with getting Grace to school for singing, and she also took care of the little boys until Jacob and Ethan were home.  Mike helped with taking care of things at home and kept everyone’s spirits up.  We are thankful for our cherished children and their help and encouragement.  Our brother in law, Jason, went to the boy’s wrestling tournament to “stand in the parenting gap” and sent us frequent updates and pictures.  And, of course we were touched by all of our friends and family who called and prayed.  We love all of you so much!  Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.


Today we are all home together.  The children have a snow day and Rich is doing what he can to work from home.

Happy Monday, my friends!  You are loved.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  Philippians 4:6