a good report for Sarah



The nature photos are from the ambling walk I took yesterday evening after dinner (chicken parmesan) and Rich had fallen asleep on the couch….


Worry weighs a person down, an encouraging word cheers a person up.  Proverbs 12:25

Good afternoon!  This is the first chance I’ve had to sit and blog today because first thing this morning Sarah, Seth, and I got ready and went to another one of Sarah’s follow up appointments for her kidney.  Remember last year she had surgery?  Well, I am happy to report that after an ultrasound today on her kidney everything looks great and they don’t need to see her in the office again for a year.  (She will be taking a 24 hour urine collection test next month to see if we have been able to increase her water intake and her citrates.  But they will call with the results).  We are praising God for this news!

waiting room selfies


Isn’t it fun when you’re put in an exam room and left to wait and wait?  No, we didn’t think so, either.  But we did read a book and color and count the change in my purse and that was sort of fun.



As soon as the doctor came in Sarah became anxious, had a threatening face, slapped a high five as hard as she could, and HISSED.  The man said he used to be a marine and he could take it and was very patient with Sarah.  Sarah was a little less anxious when the women came in.  (She had three appointments back to back; radiology, nephrology, and urology).  It was interesting to see that she still had some fears lingering from her lengthy experience a year ago, but all in all she did very well today and of course any doctor’s appointment with “no shots” is a good one in her book.

Visiting the gift shop is always a treat after her appointments.  They each picked out a fidget spinner.



And then we ate lunch downstairs in the cafeteria where Sarah got a hamburger, Seth a slice of pizza, and myself a salad.


Last but not least, a stop at the store and then at the farm stand to get a dozen ears of corn, “Corn AGAIN?” Sarah asked.  Yes, I’ll be buying it constantly while it’s in season!  It’s so good this time of year.

“He shall feed his flock like a shepherd;  he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.”  Isaiah 40:11

“It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace.”  Hebrews 13:9








This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior, all the day long.

For almost a year we have been taking our youngest child to doctor’s appointments for what began as a UTI that kept coming back.  Because of the UTI, we were sent to a specialist and learned (after tests) that by the age of five, she had a large amount of kidney stones in her right kidney.  She endured an 8 hour robotic surgery in January to have them removed, then another procedure a month later in which she was asleep for 2 hours to remove the stent they had placed and to check to make sure every stone was indeed gone (they were).

A month or so later, during an ultrasound follow up visit, we were told she had hydronephrosis of that same kidney, which may or may not have occurred because of the stone removal surgery.  However, two of the doctors had also been questioning why that kidney ended up with so much stone and believed that she had an intermittent blockage and/or kink in the ureter.  So we went for more tests.  The MAG-3 (in which she was put to sleep) showed that the right kidney was at 14% function, while the left was at 86%.  We also learned from another test that she had reflux on that same side.  Therefore, another robotic surgery was necessary, to remove the part of the ureter that showed the blockage.  She had this surgery, which was about 6 hours long, on July 6.

A month later, we went in for another “magical sleep” so that she could have the stent removed which was in place after the surgery in July.  While talking to us afterwards, the doctor was optimistic, but very cautious, with her report– leading my very vivid imagination to imagine the worse (although hoping, in a very small degree, for a good outcome).

We got a call two days ago telling us that the doctor who performed Sarah’s surgeries had  left the hospital to pursue a private practice and I was absolutely floored.  We had formed an attachment to her and I never dreamed she would “vanish”.  I almost cancelled the follow up appointment because I didn’t want to see a doctor that was unfamiliar with our case.  There was an opening for next week with another doctor that we’ve seen many times before, but I was so anxious for the results of the appointment that I decided to go ahead with the unfamiliar Doctor.

It turned out for the best (God) because low and behold this Doctor had indeed been there for us–the very first time we had walked in the doors of the medical center with the “UTI” issues.  Although I did not remember her, she remembered us.  We had come full circle because this time, instead of passing us along to the Surgeon, she was able to give us much better news.

THE KIDNEY LOOKS AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

She wasn’t able to see all the images from radiology, (which was the first time she had this “glitch”), but with shining eyes she showed us the one image she had — and also shared with us the words from the Radiologist who had studied ALL the images, “It looks so much better”.

I spent the rest of yesterday exhausted from so many months of anxiety suddenly gone.  Happily, tearfully, radiantly, thankfully, exhausted.  After the appointment, Sarah and I went, as is our habit, straight to the gift shop and the cafeteria right there in the hospital.  Then we went shopping at the mall where she selected things with sparkles and glitter on them.  We held hands.  I texted Rich, Mom, and Dave to give them the report, but I didn’t proclaim anything from the rooftops (so to speak) because the Doctor had said she would call me after she had seen the rest of the images, and depending on how she thought things looked we would be back in a month or three months.

She just called.

Everything looks great and we don’t have to go back for three months.

Everything really does look great!!!!!!!!!!!!!

((Will Sarah get another kidney stone?  Probably.  She is definitely a “stone maker” but with the kidney draining properly she is more likely to pass them before they get to be a big huge problem like last year.  She’s drinking a lot more and they also told us to give her an orange a day.))  

Sarah was nothing but a bouncing bubbling little girl after her appointment.  She’s only six but she knows happy news when she hears it.


I’ve been taking photos of these early fall days;


shades of light pink and deep pink



The whiteness in the berry cluster in the middle is a spider’s nest….what a nice place to live.




brown moccasins & wool socks


the stream is low and shines like a mirror


Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
O what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.


Perfect submission, perfect delight,
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
Angels descending bring from above
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.


another creature home; is your door surrounded by lovely green moss?  I wish mine was!


orange rainbows on a dead log


food for the birds


chickadee on a sunflower


Perfect submission, all is at rest
I in my Savior am happy and blest,
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.

this is my story
this is my song
praising my Savior
all the day long


“He who gives you the day
will also give you the things necessary for the day.”
Gregory of Nyssa




now and then

We just got home from running errands, Caleb, Seth, Sarah, and I.  Now Seth and Sarah are playing together and Caleb is curled up at the other end of the couch reading a book.  I bought it for him at Costco; Treasure Hunters, Peril at the Top of the World.  He says he will probably finish it today.

When I was his age, my favorite thing to do was get a big stack of library books and read, read, read.

When I was a little girl, I lived on a very quiet country road.  The lawn was green and soft and the air was sweet.  I loved going outside whenever I finished my books.  I would go for walks, climb trees, make a fort, pick flowers, walk down the crick, turn some cartwheels, or ride my bike.  I did some of these things alone, but mostly with my aunt or cousins or siblings.  There was never a lack of playmates and the farm was busy then, too.  We could visit the calves or kittens in the hay barn.  We could wave to Grandpa as he passed by on his Tractor.  If we walked by Grandma’s house she would come out on the porch to wave and say hello.

I liked the smell of the farm.  I liked it when Dad got home in the afternoons and we all ate dinner together.  I didn’t like my mom’s macaroni and cheese but I do now.  My Dad and brothers liked to play basketball outside and sometimes they would try to shoot baskets from as far away as possible.  Dad was good at side shots.  Dave and I would race but we always tied.  We kids all went barefoot all the time.  I loved my cut off jeans.

We could always find mom in the garden or in the kitchen.  Just knowing she was there made us feel secure.  I think I had the best childhood.  I felt surrounded by family but I also felt like my own person, too.  I was free to do whatever I wanted and think my own thoughts.  My life wasn’t controlled by my parents, it was loved, nurtured, and there were rules like there are in every family, but I felt that my days were my own.  I lived off fresh air, family, freedom, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch.

We went to church on Sundays.  In the car, I sat in the seat behind my Dad, who drove with Mom by his side.  Church, like home, was a safe place, too.  I loved going to church, singing hymns, spending time with my special friends whom I only saw on Sundays.  I loved the comfortable feeling of sitting so very long listening to a sermon in Pastor’s familiar voice and style with my stomach getting hungrier and hungrier.  Every time I looked at my Mom she would smile at me.  As I got older, I was able to help in the nursery and I loved playing with the babies.  I liked listening to the ladies talk and visit.  I observed all the women in the church.  I liked to see how they fixed their hair and make up, the way they dressed and walked.  I especially loved the musicians and  I longed to play the piano like our church pianist did.  The older ladies and men were the friendliest to us children, and they smiled at us and spoke to us with love.  I loved all my teachers and the things they did to make church a nice place for children.

These are just a few of my memories from childhood.  I’m thankful for the way I was raised and even though it certainly wasn’t always sunshine and roses, it all became part of who I am today and God was near to me then just as He is now.  It was a slower life back then, which is why I think it is important to be nostalgic now and then, so I can remember to slow down now, too.  I can remember to simply let my own kids play, realizing that they don’t need “ME” in ALL of their activities, knowing that just “finding me in the kitchen” is a comfort to them.  I can remember to look forward to their Dad coming home just like I did my own Dad.  And perhaps I will very soon bake up a nice big bowl of my mom’s delicious homemade macaroni and cheese.


Yesterday Sarah had a procedure done to remove the stent she’s had since her surgery on July 6th.  She was very anxious and the doctors and I had to lay her down on the table and put the mask on her.  I held her in my arms and let her look at my face as she fought sleep.  Each time she started to relax she would get afraid and clutch at me again.  Her little arm was up around my shoulders.  It was quite heart wrenching.

She woke up sobbing and upset.  She didn’t like the way she felt, “Why am I tired?” she cried.  Thankfully the whole experience only took a few hours and soon were were back in the truck going out to lunch.  Sarah insisted on tacos.  We had to carry her into Moes but she ate her taco fast and determined with the hospital bracelet on and a bandaid from the IV needle, looking pale as a ghost.  Then she shared my food.

Later on, I took her outside with me.  It’s been hot here but yesterday evening was cooler and it was such a lovely ending to a very stressful day.

I wanted to show her the flower she gave me when she was still in school.  She planted a marigold seed and gave the plant to me for Mother’s Day.  It is now almost as tall as she is and covered in buds.



Then I showed her a giant sunflower.  She carried her little blue owl every where she went.


She helped me give the plants some water.


David was with us, too.  So I took a sister and brother photo.

These are from this morning:


I have a morning glory vine in one of my front garden beds (which need a lot of help).  It’s been a nice surprise to watch it grow all summer.  I’ve been training it up to the porch railings.








Q U E E N    A N N E’S  lace, growing near the side steps.  Sherlock wants to be let in.


Today Ethan and Tessa are celebrating their one year anniversary of when they became a couple.  So they went to the beach with Michael, Zach, Grace, Caleb, and David.


It was after I took this photo that they left and then I left with the little kids to run our errands.


I found fiestaware at the Goodwill!!

Happy Tuesday, friends.


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.

what my brother did for me


About a week or so ago, while my poor brother Dave was in pain passing a kidney stone, he read my blog post about how and why I was a fan of Rosemary Wells.

And guess what that thoughtful guy did without me knowing a thing about it?

He emailed Rosemary Wells with the blog link and she read it!

She emailed him back and said thank you for the once in a lifetime review and asked for my address so she could mail my family the newest books.

They came today!


I love how she wrote “For Shanda’s family”.

I will treasure these books for the rest of my life.


I already read them out loud to Sarah, of course.  She liked the Warthog’s wedding story best because it had an *ibunny phone* all throughout out it, with a flap she could lift in order to see a map.   The green dot on the map was where Max and Ruby were in the hotel as they searched for a lost wedding ring.

Anyway, aren’t brothers the best?  I’m so thankful to have three of them and Dave is now my absolute favorite because of what he did.  (((LOL) only teasing, Nate and Isaac!)))

To think, she saw my post!!  And sent me two hardcover books!

It was just the uplifting mail we needed today because………..


…….tomorrow little Sarah bird is going back to the hospital for another surgery.

This one is to fix a “congenital obstruction of the ureteropelvic junction.”  The surgery is a “robotic UPJ/pyelopasty”.

It is expected to last 6 hours, or more.

This obstruction is what the doctors believe caused the large amount of kidney stones which they removed in January.  She also has reflux but they told me that as a rule they fix the obstruction first…..so…..ugh. (hoping we are reaching the end of this adventure but I know we have a few months and procedures left)

Gratefully, Sarah is happy.  We are all acting like it’s an exciting sleepover with Mama.  She knows that she will get to watch movies in the middle of the night if she can’t sleep.  And during the day she can go to an art class and the family resource center and the toy room, so in the knowledge of these joyful prospects, we conveniently forget about the surgery part.  And besides, she’s asleep the whole time and it doesn’t hurt when you’re asleep!  (that’s what we overheard her telling Seth in a very authoritative voice).

We have our bags packed.

The best part for me is that Rich has the entire week off and will be with us the whole time with no pressures to get back to work.

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little bouquets by the kitchen sink


hugging the best cat ever

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a soft sweet neck and little whisps of blond

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a pair of cardinals that I photographed this morning from the porch, while it was raining




By the pond there is a Pinxter bush about to bloom.  I remember my Grandparents had one of these wild shrubs on their beautiful country farmhouse lawn.  Two years ago I noticed a nice one growing on our own property by the pond.  It took me over five years to notice it because it was hidden behind a boulder and snuggled into a pine tree.  Of course whenever it blooms I think of family, and Grandma.  The comments in the National Audubon Society Field guide say they can be transplanted into wild shrub gardens.  As there is also a large healthy one growing down the road a bit, the next time I go outside I will take a shovel and see if I can find a smaller one growing near it to move into my garden.

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One of my favorite birds is the Catbird.  Why, you ask?  Admittedly, it is a very common gray bird but I don’t care as much about it’s simple looks, what I enjoy the most about the humble catbird is its beautiful songs.  Almost every time I go outdoors the song of catbirds stops me in my tracks.

I was tickled pink to see that one was making a very nice nest in a tree by the pond.  The nest is on a branch low enough for me to look at easily, too.  It is constructed of dry straw and wet mud, which is probably why the wise bird chose to make one near the pond.  The stream is nearby as well.  I bent the branch down carefully to look inside.  The mud was still wet but the nest was lined carefully with dry grass, and the cavity was deeper than I expected.  I looked into it once and am now determined to keep my distance and wait to see if a family is raised.


The children were all busy cleaning the house on Saturday and while I was taking some pictures, Seth came all the way down the lawn to find me and ask if this cleaner could be used on windows.

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chicken house

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hummingbirds are frequent visitors to the porch


I went to check the development of the Lady’s Slippers on the dam trail.  This one was opening but still green.

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This one was up and fully open.  It was interesting to me that the two I saw on the left side of the trail were still closed, but the three on the right hand side were open.  It must be sunnier on that side.


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Another name for them is “Pink Moccasin flower”

Comments:  “One of the largest native orchids, this species is found both in low sandy woods and in higher, rocky, mountain woods.  Several hundred of these striking flowers can sometimes be counted within a small area.  Nevertheless, like other woodland wildflowers, it should not be picked.  Nor should it be dug up for transplanting, as lady’s slippers reproduce poorly and are very difficult to grow in wildflower gardens.”

Lady’s slippers are a family favorite.


These wild Lily of the Valley grow in a large patch close to the ground in the woods.  (Thank you to Johanna for helping me identify them!)


Then I visited the spot where the wild columbine grows and sure enough, it was up and in bloom.  We called these “honeysuckle” when we were children, and we nibbled the honey-filled ends.


They grew on the side of the road but the ones I visit now grow on an old rock wall in the woods. And I haven’t nibbled on them in many many years.

“This beautiful woodland wildflower has showy, drooping, bell-like flowers bearing distinctly backward-pointing, tubular spurs, similar to those of garden columbines.  These spurs contain nectar that attracts hummingbirds and long-tongued insects…….”



wild geranium, growing on the side of the road


an interesting fuzzy flowered bush that grows by our stream


unfurling ferns


interesting patch of tall grass by stream


A little bouquet of common wildflowers.


in an Ivory fiesta tumbler

I like it when David comes to visit me while I am reading on the porch.  David is currently:  reading The Outsiders, trying to grow his hair long, drawing, wearing & caring for a leather coat that he bought at a second hand store, making facial masks using youtube videos, and doing a lot of jumping/flipping/twisting on the trampoline.





And now for a short story:  As much of you are aware, Sarah needs surgery to repair an obstructed kidney (it doesn’t drain correctly, which is why she developed infection and stones).  After these particular test results came back, she had a specially-made appointment scheduled ASAP for surgery consultation— for May 24th (today).  When I checked my calendar later that day, I cried because it was the day of her very first field trip, which she was very excited about.  I felt so terrible for her,  “She’s been through so much this year she shouldn’t have to miss any of her fun day for such a dreadful thing like surgery consultation.” (the only reason why she has to attend the visit is so that they can be billed—as they should be)  So I called to ask for advise and to see if I could make the appointment a different day….but no, the doc’s schedule is very full and they had to work it to get Sarah in so quickly and in their opinion, Sarah would have other field trips and this appointment needs to be prioritized, so on and so forth.  So I agreed but didn’t tell Sarah because I didn’t have the heart.

Well………………….this came home yesterday in her folder:


That’s right.  The field trip was moved to May 31st!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It’s raining!


It’s like God said to me, “I got this.”  🙂



life is a continual feast



We found out on Monday that Sarah was born with a congenital obstruction in her right kidney.  And she also has reflux on that side.  The mystery of how she had the stones in the first place as been solved.  Unfortunately, this obstruction has caused her right kidney to lose most of it’s function.  Thankfully, the other kidney is doing the job of keeping her healthy.  (kidneys are amazing)  The next step is to meet with the doctor about doing surgery on the ailing kidney to help it drain better…..because with no treatments she will most likely end up with ongoing infection.  There is a chance that she may lose the kidney, but the doctor believes that even though it has lost significant function, it still appears to be healthy and he is leaning toward surgically fixing the blockage.  We meet with a second doctor next week for her thoughts as well.


Of course, I am not a doctor and I don’t know much.  I do not have the wisdom of the doctors, but I do have the wisdom of a mother.  As a mother, I was very upset by the results of these latest tests.  Truth be told, I did a lot of crying and lost my appetite for a day (but in the midst of it I felt I would be sad forever–strong emotions & dramatics have always been a talent with me).  But the doctor and nurse were both calm and reassuring.  As specialists, they told me that they see children all the time with the very same situation as Sarah so they know she will be okay.

Jesus was and is always near, so near, and I had time reading the Bible yesterday in which I read many verses that comforted and stayed my soul.  I also had a nice long talk with Gary (our pastor) and my dearest mother (with Dad listening, too).

Jacob’s girlfriend Emily comforted me as well.  I told her some of my imagined fears and rambling sad thoughts and she exclaimed, “Don’t think about those things!”  Which is such simple advise, but TRUE, and I tell you, do not be afraid to share (some) things with your teenagers because they very often have just the words you need to hear, sweet simple childlike faith……..”out of the mouth of babes”.

Enough about that.  All will be well.  Doctors are a gift from God with God-given healing wisdom and talents.  What a wonderful world we live in, where there is knowledge and support for so many medical conditions!  This world is full of people trained to help in many ways and I am thankful for everyone I meet who shares a smile, or a kind word, or gives time and energy to be active in the schools and community.  These sorts of people make me always to want to do the same.  The world is much bigger than a kidney.  🙂  You can quote me on that.

And by the way, Sarah Joy is pain free and completely healthy.  Like I said, the healthy left kidney is taking over for the lack in the right one.  So this is a huge blessing!  And she is on a daily antibiotic to keep infection at bay.  She’s happy and growing and active.  Not only that, but she’s still young enough that she isn’t worried about a thing (until we are in the doctor’s office!).




Last week, Rich took me to the Brimfield antique show and we had such a nice afternoon together.   I saw these Tasha Tudor books and looked through them.  I didn’t buy because they were on the pricy end (probably worth it but not to me).


Birds we love.


Necklaces made from odds and ends.


Just as we are.


What we purchased on that day.  We came home and I scrubbed everything up.

The disc pitcher and 7 tumblers are vintage and are for display only.  I did tell the children that when they grow up and have a baby we will do a toast with them at that time using these valuable tumblers.

The covered casserole and three light yellow bowls are retired yellow.

The mugs were chosen by my husband — two lapis and one shamrock.

The divided vegetable bowl is a retired piece in Ivory.

Three cereal bowls in lemongrass, white, and paprika.

And then two pasta bowls in paprika.


I put the disc pitcher up high, next to my priceless Lilac one.


My sweet Grace.


darling cat paws


nature is confused…we had a second round of toads this year.


Remember the vultures?  We searched for the Death Thing and we found it… a very dead muskrat waving in strips in the stream.  EWWWWWWW


My children; 19, 18, 16, 13, 10, 7, 5


Rich and I went on a date Friday and found a restaurant close to home that we enjoyed very much.  My salad had roasted potatoes, tomatoes, crumbled cheese, and grilled shrimp on it.  Rich had a seafood pasta.


Like I said before, nature is confused this spring.  We have toad nurseries in BOTH ponds now.  I took this picture because the toad was funny.  As soon as it sensed my presence it completely froze in this position.


Rich and I went to a Farmer’s market and I was completely impressed by this handmade jewelry—made by tatting!  I bought an ankle bracelet for Sarah and she hasn’t taken it off.


Grace is going to Prom on Friday.


“For the despondent, every day brings trouble; for the happy heart, life is a continual feast.”  Proverbs 15:16




I am currently sitting on the couch fully dressed and ready to go to yet another Children’s Hospital appointment with Sarah Joy in regards to her kidney.   I have my robe on over my clothes because I am freezing.  It’s 46 degrees outside with a very strong and persistent wind.  In other words, it feels like a rather blustery day, today.  I will take the robe off before I pick Sarah up from school, hopefully, and put on a winter coat.

I am exhausted.  I am thinking about all the things that my family has planned for the next month:  prom for Grace, Senior banquet for Grace (who is dating a senior) and Ethan (my senior son), baccalaureate, graduation, field trips, concerts, a church picnic and baptism at which my son Caleb will be baptized, graduation party for Ethan, Rich has two business trips, and all this along with the little league games that happen several times a week and the little surprises that life throws at us now and then…..and I am exhausted.  Did I mention I am tired?


I keep thinking:  “Do one thing mindfully at a time with as much love and care as possible.”  This is easier said than done.  Especially the “mindfully one thing at a time” part.

I also keep thinking “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

And lastly, I keep thinking “I want to sleep, but at least I’m not crying or anxious.”

This morning I found nine fiesta bowls, three plates, a bunch of paper plates, and four mugs in the basement, left there by Ethan, Grace, Caleb, Kylie, Zak, David, Caleb, and Zach.  (all teenagers) Seriously?  What I have to say is this:  “There is to be no more eating downstairs, my dear children.”  


The other day (when it wasn’t 46 degrees), David and his friends played in the stream.  It’s funny because of of them is named Michael, and since we already have a Michael here all the time, we differentiate them by calling the younger one “up the road Michael”.   (Because he lives… up the road.)


I was attempting a photo of the hanging baskets which are so pretty, but you can’t really see them very well.   Thankfully, the house, garage, and lawns are pretty tidy at this point and there won’t be much to do to prepare outside for the picnic and party.   I’ve been doing a lot of gardening, which is probably why I’m so tired.  My body is trying to get back into the swing of things after a long winter.


David could not find a golf tee so used a pencil.  Genius (although it took about five minutes to get the ball to balance).


Entrance to the trails (we call one the Dam trail and one the Adventure trail) by our house.




Fringed Polygala

“this exquisite, orchid-like wildflower resembles a tiny airplane without a tail.”


Lady slippers, almost ready to bloom





The largest wintergreen berry I ever saw.  And then I ate it.


make a wish!


I picked a small bouquet of violets, buttercups, bluets, and Kentucky bluegrass.

There is something quite calming about looking through the grass for just the right flower, bending, picking, adding it to the bouquet and then doing it over again and again until you’re done.


And this little bird…a very dark photo….which is a hazard of shooting in manual mode but then seeing something you have to photograph before it flies away so you don’t think to change your settings and then the picture is either blown out or too dark.  However, I can identify the bird as an…..OVENBIRD.  Thanks to my Merlin ID app on my phone (indispensable!!) “Secretive warbler that lacks vibrant colors, but compensates with its enormous voice.”

Yep, that’s right.  I got a photo of a secretive bird!  I do feel proud.


Well that about does it for this blog post and thank you all very much for listening.  As a writer of blogs and journals, I do feel better after a good scratch of the pencil  or tip tap on the computer keys!

“If you’re completely exhausted
and don’t know how
you’re going to keep giving this much of yourself
day after day
you’re probably a good parent.”
Bunmi Laditan

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).



kidney stone adventures, con’t

I’ve thought this a thousand times since yesterday but I took Sarah to her second procedure by myself because Rich was on a business trip.   I’ve thought it frequently…..not because I’m resentful of the fact but because I’m proud of it.  If you only knew the way I was when I was first married, in my early twenties I was still having heart palpitations and driving with my hands whitely clutched to the steering wheel as I drove on the highway, for goodness sakes.  In my mind, highway driving was a near death experience.  Yes, if you only knew how I was from childhood.  My mother told me that people didn’t think I could talk when I was so very small, because I couldn’t bring myself to answer their friendly questions.  I would rather die than get up in front of a crowd and speak.  If I’ve done anything extra brave, its because I was taken over by a power greater than I, namely, love –for music, producing solos, for babies, producing many doctor’s visits and going through child birth seven times, for God– in leading Bible study one year, for travel–in boarding an airplane, etc (that’s about all the brave stuff I have done).  LOL  Perhaps this affliction is more common then I believe (am I a freak?), but the truth remains– I have lived life nervously but I.have.lived.it.regardless!  Amen.  I would be a timid mouse in an underground hole if I didn’t have a family to bring me out into the world.

Sarah had robotic surgery in January to remove a bucket-load of kidney stones.  At that time she was given an internal stent.  So this next procedure was using a scope to look in the kidney to make sure everything was indeed cleaned out and to take the old stent out.  It was scheduled to last about 2 hours.  (last time was 8 hours)

So yesterday when the two of us left home we went to Barnes and Noble.  Sarah didn’t have to be to the hospital until 11:30 so I wanted to pass some time doing something fun.  She picked out a shopkins keychain and I bought two Harry Potter books (3 and 4).  Then we went to the children’s play area in the mall so she could play.  She soon became tired so we walked down the hall and back before getting back into the car.  We made it back to the highway and into the city.  I found the parking garage and got the car parked up on the 6th floor.  It was freezing cold, as usual, and we shivered our way to the lobby to take the elevator down to ground level.  We crossed the street into the hospital…Sarah, myself, and my big brown bag full of stuff we needed.  We checked in and received our identification stickers and made our way to 4G for surgery registration.

A lady took us in her little office to check us in.  Then, we waited for a few minutes in waiting room before another lady took us down a floor to triage where the patients get prepped for their surgery.  Sarah used the bathroom before we put her adorable hospital pajamas on.  I forgot to mention that she had a bath at home before we left and I combed her hair back and braided it.  She looked small and sweet, like a squeaky clean piglet.  Since we had surgical experience, we were not as nervous as the first time.  She asked for an iPad and the nurse got her one that had an Elmo case on it.  Sarah promptly found a Lego game to play and I read Harry Potter #2 and was interrupted many times by friendly nurses and doctors, asking many questions which I answered, calling Jacob one time so that I could get the exact name of the antibiotic that Sarah was taking daily.  Jacob was all stressed out because he couldn’t find his special cord that he needed to print his paper.  He wanted to tell me all about it which made me laugh because in his mind it was much more important than having a child in the O.R.?  He didn’t think of it that way, I’m sure.  I love him so much….and he was helpful to the extreme yesterday as he watched the kids after school (and he did get the paper printed so it all worked out).

One cute thing was that Sarah rated her hunger pains as a 6 on the pain scale (10 being the worse).  Poor thing!

Well, after over an hour of waiting for surgery, it was finally time.  The hospital has small motor cars for the kids to drive down the halls to the O.R. if they wish. But Sarah became sad and decided at the last moment NOT to drive.  The two of us decided it would be nicer if Mama carried her so I did, wearing yellow scrubs, and brushed the little tears off her face.  She was quietly upset…no shaking or talking…just silent tears.  I took her in the room where there were about 7 or 8 people, I think there were two of everybody.  Two doctors, two nurses, two anesthesiologists, etc.  Sarah sat cross legged and facing me as they put the mask on her and encouraged her to breathe deeply and make the balloon close and open.  There were numbers on the screen and they cheered her on to see if she could beat the previous record of that day which was in the 600’s.  She promptly got 724 and started to melt in my arms.  Down she went, gently onto the bed sound asleep.   Meanwhile, I felt like I was suffocating with the surgical mask over my nose and mouth.  I pulled it down and kissed her cheek and left.  I was a little sad but felt mostly like “okay, lets get this over with”……plus I was starving.

The nice male nurse walked me back to my stuff and said that Sarah was exceptional because usually when kids get nervous and cry like that on their way to the room, they end up having a complete breakdown once they are in there and fight the mask and everything.  Nothing wrong with that of course…and I did see the look of panic that flickered in Exceptional Sarah’s eyes as she made the choice to breath and not fight.

They put our coats and Sarah’s bag in storage and I took my purse to the cafeteria and got a bowl of salad and a package of fig newtons.  I brought my food back to the waiting room and the quiet room section was free of people so I went right in there and set up my Kindle, put in ear buds, and watched two TV shows which I had downloaded at home that morning.  I ate my salad, drank some coffee, and texted with Mom and Dad, Rich, Colleen, and Hannah.  I updated FB and was cheered by all the instant encouragement there.

After a while, a hospital worker updated me that the Doctor was “removing stones”.  This information caused me distress as I imagined that her kidney had more stones in it then we had previously believed.  I braced myself for a long wait as Hannah encouraged me to replace every worry with a truth from God.  I had just opened a magazine when in walked the doctor telling me they were through and that Sarah was doing great!

I was so surprised and grateful.  I followed him to a small conference room and he went over all they had done.  He said it took longer then they originally thought–not because of stones–but because he had put dye in her system to see how her urology system flowed and he believes he may have found the area that could be a partial blockage.  She will need further tests but he had not not ever seen a child with as much stone burden as she had when he first saw her back in October so he tends to believe there must be some abnormality somewhere that CAN BE FIXED when and if we figure it out….there is even a chance she could outgrow the problem.  In the meantime, her right kidney (which is the one causing all these problems) is swollen which to me has been the freakiest bit of information so I asked him several times if that was okay and would she be okay.  To make a long story short, he said her kidney is like a stretched out balloon at this point and now that the stones are out it could and should heal.  He said she should have further testing to see if her stone making condition is metabolic but I said she already did that (with another doctor) and there was nothing abnormal except citrate levels so he said that was very good.  He said we should do another 24 hour urine collection test at some point.  He said we are just letting her heal and recover now but there are tests to be done in the future to check for a blockage or a reflux abnormality.  If they do find something she will need more surgery.

She goes back on Wednesday to get her stent pulled out, which is now attached to a long thread-like string taped to her leg.  This is a blessing because if he had put in the other kind of stent she would have had to go to the O.R. again.

He walked me to Sarah in recovery and she was sitting up with two nurses leaning close to her.   She was groggy, pale, shaking slightly, and crying.  She had red circles under her poor little eyes and as I got close I smelled that smell of the gas (or whatever it is) that they use to put her to sleep.  Ugh.  They were giving her Morphine which helped settle her down and she dozed as I talked with the nice nurse and called the pharmacy to make sure they had the prescriptions I needed to fill.

We left after an hour.  I went first to go get the car and they wheeled her out in a wheelchair.  Off we went through rush hour traffic (white knuckles? not too bad).  I finally made it to the entrance of the highway for the first time like ever, without making wrong turns and getting lost (even with the map on my phone, lol).  CVS was crazy busy, Sarah peed her pants in the car but thankfully I had extra clothes and helped her change as I was in the line to the drive through pharmacy window.  Sarah spent most of the trip home on my iPhone watching a movie.  They said it would take a half hour for the medicine to be ready so we went to Wendy’s drive through.  She wanted a chicken sandwich.  I did have to carry her inside to use the bathroom again but she was able to slowly walk back herself, holding my hand.

After we got the medicine (18 dollars for bladder spasm medicine, pain meds, and antibiotic) we headed home.  My head felt as if it was going to explode.  It was about 7 or so when we arrived and all the other kids were home.  Before I had even sat down, Rich pulled in the driveway.  I was utterly relieved, boy did that hug feel good and Rich confirmed what I had been thinking—that I had done a great job taking care of Srarh.

Sarah screamed and moaned the first few times she went potty at home.  Grace was upset and spent a bit of time with her and I gave her a good dose of the narcotic pain medicine they gave us which helped tremendously.  I thought Sarah was amazing.  While she was in the midst of pain she said, “I wish I was somebody else right now.”  To articulate this was smart and completely understandable, I thought. She got through the night just fine without me, which amazed us as well.  I saw her at 6 when she came in to ask if she could turn on a show.

She has a slight addiction to ginger ale at the moment.  🙂  She said it tastes just soooo good.

She’s cheerful today.  She happily did a little painting with Jacob which was precious to see.  She had the tape on her arm from the nurse bandaging her after pulling out the IV and she said it bothered her all night.  I promptly took it off which she didn’t appreciate but at least it was gone, leaving behind just a small bruise from the needle and red tape burns.  She still has the white circle chest stickers on and after what I did with the last bandage she won’t let me near them.  She managed to get one off herself after a bath.

She hasn’t needed any pain medicine today!

That’s about it for kidney stone news.  This has been quite an adventure.  🙂  But we aren’t complaining because we believe this is a childhood issue for her and won’t be something that will effect the quality of her entire life…so very thankful for that.  Time will tell.  We have today and it’s been a lovely one of relaxing and snuggles and also truffles with my girlie.  Right now she’s bored and can’t wait for the boys to get home (mean mommy said no more TV).  She loves her lamb from Dad, too.

Speaking of her Dad…Rich and I have got to get out tonight and get prepared for tomorrow, which is Ethan’s 18th birthday and he’s having a bunch of friends over.


at barnes and noble


play scape


in the bathroom…she was excited to see a picture of Snoopy!


playing the iPad provided by hospital







back home! Rich gave Sarah gifts–nail polish and a stuffed Lamb.
Sarah was busy eating Pringles.


we had a long day but we were glad to be home


painting with Jacob



she added a cardinal because we saw one out the window as she was painting


me and my little girl ❤