Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Prayer request

We recently received the news that my father-in-law has prostate cancer. He has further testing to undergo before they can make their decisions regarding treatment, etc. I will post updates whenever there is anything new to share. Please uphold them in prayer...thank you.

Mid-summer harvest

This is a very small sampling of our summer harvest. So far we have canned 14 quarts of beans, frozen 28 ears' worth of sweet corn (out of 50 ears harvested so far), and harvested 2 eggplants, nearly 150 cucumbers, and lots of tomatoes (sorry, didn't care to count every grape, roma, and beefsteak tomato!). We love our garden! Yes, it's a lot of work, but so worth it...

Monday, July 30, 2007

David's first day of school

David did great for his first day of school! He was so excited to start and wanted me to do more when we were done! Today was only 1 1/2 hours, but over this next week they will add more subjects each day until we are at full-load. (On a side note, for those of you in the North who think I'm insane for starting school in July, schools in our county start Aug. 6th. I started one week early so that we can take a week off in August for a family trip to NY.)

We have decided to homeschool, and we are using A Beka video school, so the teacher (and her class) are on video, and I sit nearby to monitor David and help him when needed. He just loved it and soaked it all up, and did very well paying attention and following instructions.

We have a direct feed system (Campus SX FM system) so that the audio routes directly to his left hearing aid (in addition to the regular volume from the television), which really helps him pick up on all of the nuances that he might otherwise miss. I wasn't sure how he would do with the phonics, but he heard it all just fine and did wonderfully (hooray!).

Abigail -- as we expected -- considers herself to be in school just like David and sat for almost the entire thing this morning. She watched for a while to see what David did, and by the end of the lessons, when the teacher would call for the girls or for the students at home to say something, Abigail would pipe right up with the answer. These two are sure going to keep me on my toes!

Congratulations, David, on being in Kindergarten!!!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Slideshow of Bruce's heart

Bruce's ASD saga

I have scattered hyperlinks (the highlighted, underlined words) throughout this epic. If you click on them, they will take you to other sites that will further explain some of the details. Although you are, of course, under no obligation to use them, I highly recommend them to anyone who wants a better understanding of what's going on! Okay, I am finally going to write out the recap of our adventure. I will skip the background, assuming that most of you have already heard/read about it -- if not, look back in my May/June archives to get the full story! We went in for Bruce's ASD device closure Wednesday, July 18th. They got the heart cath in and went in with the balloon to measure the hole precisely, and found that it was even bigger than they had thought. They didn't have a big enough device to close it up, so they pulled out and put him into ICU overnight. Another Atlanta hospital had two bigger devices, so one of the doctors went and got them and then they did a second heart catheterization and successfully closed the defect on Thursday, July 19th. Here are the details on the device: It is called an Amplatzer device (click on that link to see the device, and then click here to see an animated video of the device being deployed -- check it out if you have the time, because it's fascinating). Bruce's device size (and accordingly, the size of his defect) was 36 mm -- as in, just shy of 1 1/2 inches. Isn't that incredible?! The highest off-the-shelf size is a 38, and for anything bigger than that, they typically switch to open-heart surgery. We're thankful that we made it under the wire at 36! Anyway, they have confirmed with chest x-ray and echocardiogram that the device is fitted nicely, with no complications. More excitement came the second night, when they took out the second catheter sheath. (As an aside, the cath-sheaths they use for device closures are bigger than the ones they use for other heart caths such as angioplasty, stents, etc., and Bruce's second cath-sheath was even bigger than his first one!) They put the cath into a vein in the groin, and then after the procedure, they have to wait until certain blood levels are in the proper range before they remove the cath sheath (which looks like a hard plastic drinking straw). The first day's sheath removal was very painful; the second day's sheath was even larger than the first day's, and the cath site was a fraction of an inch from the first one, so the area was already bruised and painful from the first day. As if this isn't enough pain for one person, when they pull the sheath out, they have to apply tremendous pressure at the cath site to help prevent bleeding (necessary but nasty!). In short, the excessive pain, combined with all of the other physical stress factors of the whole ordeal, caused a vagal reaction (aggravation of the vagus nerve causes heart rate and blood pressure to drop); that is, his blood pressure dropped (to 74/42!), he was fighting losing consciousness, etc. (we found out afterwards that patients are supposed to be given pain medication prior to the sheath removal...Bruce didn't get any either time...suffice it to say that the nursing staff in his ward left much to be desired!) It was a tense little while until he was stabilized again, and it left him wrapped in blankets and towels with his teeth chattering so hard that they were knocking together (which gave him a grand headache and sore jaw the next day!). After the chest x-ray and echo showed everything to be okay, we were able to come home on Friday, July 20th. Now they will follow him as they wait for the heart tissue to grow around the device -- this usually takes 6 months-1 year to happen. The doctor said it will probably take a couple of months before the right-ventricular enlargement starts to reduce; they are unsure whether there will be any reduction in the right atrial enlargement. ...which brings us to our next piece of excitement. Bruce has gone into atrial fibrillation (a-fib) three times since the surgery. As long as that right atrium is enlarged, he is at risk for a-fib -- we knew that prior to the device placement -- but he has never had this many episodes this close together. Thursday, the cardiologist put him on a beta-blocker to try to discourage the a-fib (there is no great medical option to prevent a-fib; the anti-arrhythmia medications have some nasty potential side effects)...but Bruce went into a-fib again last night. He is on medication to keep his heart rate down, as well as on Plavix and aspirin for clotting, but they may have to put him back on coumadin (warfarin) as well (the main risk when he goes into a-fib is formation of a clot that could result in a stroke, heart attack, or pulmonary embolism). We will have to wait and see how this all plays out -- either he will just have to live with the a-fib for the rest of his life, or perhaps the Lord will see fit to reduce that right-atrial enlargement! There was also a minor complication with the cath site continuing to bleed, but that has finally closed up and isn't causing any more issues. The bruising is starting to fade now and Bruce is starting to get a little more mobility every day (though he still walks like a wooden soldier!). So there you have it...a very dramatic way to do things, don't you think?! Bruce isn't usually dramatic, so I've been teasing him that I must be rubbing off on him. :-) Thanks to all of you for your encouragement, best wishes, prayers, etc. It has been so nice to see love expressed from so many people via blog comments, emails, notes, phone messages, visits, meals, offers to help, etc, throughout an ordeal like this. God is so good. He has met our every need and sustained us with a strength and faith far beyond our own. We are very grateful that He allowed us to become aware of Bruce's heart situation prior to a more life-threatening event, and that He kept Bruce safe throughout the many aspects of this device placement. We so clearly see His hand in our lives...

Friday, July 27, 2007

Feeling sentimental

Today is the last weekday of the last summer
that my children are all little.
David starts school on Monday...from here on out, I will have a school-age (or older!!!) child. Our days of having only little ones are at their end. I am excited that he is old enough to start kindergarten, and he is REALLY excited. He keeps trying to talk me into starting sooner... may his enthusiasm for school never waiver!
It's just a little sad that
my days of having only little ones are ending!
The end of this era in our lives...

Bruce still misbehaving

We were into the doctor again yesterday afternoon because Bruce went back into a-fib overnight (Wed. night-Thurs. morning). They put him on another medication -- a beta-blocker -- and hope that this will help to keep him out of a-fib. There is no really great option to prevent a-fib except for the Lord to reduce Bruce's atrium back to normal size! All medications have potential nasty side effects, etc. Bruce doesn't usually do things the dramatic way -- I told him that after nine years of marriage, I must be rubbing off on him!!! On a good note, his cath site has finally closed up and there was no bleeding at all yesterday. Phew.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

David learns to swim solo

No water wings, no help, no worries...such a big boy!
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Fun with Uncle Caleb etc

My parents headed home yesterday and Caleb left today...it is always sad to say good-bye! I didn't take any pictures of the kids with my parents (grrr! I almost always forget until after they leave!), but here are a few of the kids and Caleb...my kids sure do love and adore their uncles!
Bruce is noticeably better today. Yesterday we had to go to the doctor to check out his cath site(s) -- the bleeding, although not a huge amount, was persistent. They said it was not normal, but not a problem at this point. He just has to take it easy for longer than originally planned. Thankfully, he is able to work from home, which takes a lot of pressure off. He feels much more mobile today...he still walks like a wooden soldier, but not quite as stiffly as he has been!

Monday, July 23, 2007


I would like to send out a
"welcome to the blogging world"
to my mom --
she has joined the ranks!
Visit her blog here.

Bruce's device closure

Sometime soon I will post the recap of the whole adventure with Bruce's heart fix...I am still wiped out and haven't been able to think straight enough to write it yet! In the meantime, here is a picture of Bruce's heart with the device implanted -- the device is the butterfly-shaped bright whitish thing at the bottom of the picture.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Home safe and sound

I am happy to report that Bruce is home safe and sound. He's in rather rough shape, but doing well -- both his chest xray and his echocardiogram showed good things -- and we are so glad to be home!!! Don't forget to sign the online get well card!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Get well soon, Bruce!

Love and best wishes
for a fast and easy recovery!
To "sign" Bruce's get well card,
just leave a comment...
this post is dedicated to him.
(If you leave an anonymous comment,
don't forget to include your name!)


I am happy to report that Bruce's ASD device closure was successful! The hole in his heart is actually over an inch long (wow!), but the device is in and looks good. The doctor let my in-laws and me go into the cath lab to see the image of Bruce's heart with the device in it -- pretty amazing. I have seen Abigail's implanted device via echocardiogram many times, and it always looks huge...but this one is definitely supersized! Bruce is in rough shape, exhausted and hurting, but doing well considering. Thanks for your continued prayers!

New surgery time

Bruce is scheduled for surgery at 3 p.m. today. He finally got to eat late last night (and practically licked the plates clean -- I don't blame him!) and got a decent amount of rest overnight. Other than the cath site being painful, he is feeling okay this morning. Will post an update later today...

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Plan B for Bruce

Surprise! The hole in Bruce's heart is too big for any of the devices they had here -- it's a really big hole! -- another hospital in the area has two that are bigger, so they will get them and try again tomorrow. Bruce's cardiologist is unavailable tomorrow, but the doctor who is head of the Emory Cardiology Dept. will be doing the surgery, so we are in good hands...and we already know that we have been in the best hands all along -- our heavenly Father's. Bruce is doing okay considering -- he is tired out and his color is pasty, but he is settled into his room in the ICU and we are waiting to hear when tomorrow's start time will be. He is experiencing some bleeding at the cath site, but so far it is under control. So please keep praying!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Farewell dinner for Bruce's ASD!

Yes, we are still on schedule for Bruce's heart surgery tomorrow. It is set for 4:30 in the afternoon. We think there is wireless available in that area of the hospital, so if there is, I will blog as soon as possible after his surgery to let you all know it's done. Again, please be praying for him...especially after the surgery, which is when there may be complications due to the enlargement of his heart. Tonight Bruce's parents came over for dinner (my parents arrived here safe and sound yesterday) and we enjoyed a feast from the garden -- our farewell to Bruce's heart defect. :-) We ate beans, cucumbers, tomatoes, and sweet corn all from our garden -- delicious! Bruce is busily eating tonight since tomorrow will be a long, hungry day! Thanks again for all of your prayers as we head into tomorrow. I will update you all as soon as I can.

Monday, July 16, 2007

...another little one lost

"But as for me, I will hope continually,
and will praise You yet more and more.
"My mouth shall tell of Your righteousness
and of Your salvation all day long;
For I do not know the sum of them."
~Psalm 71:14, 15
We found out this past week that we were expecting another baby -- and yesterday we experienced another miscarriage. Last night Bruce and I were reflecting that we have now lost more little ones than we have "kept". How very grateful we are for the two that fill our hearts and arms -- and yet we ache for the others that we will not know in this lifetime. Still we choose to look to the Lord and know that He loves us perfectly and will carry us through...the verses above say it all.

Friday, July 13, 2007

A tribute to the women in my ancestral line

Cartoon from Lion Brand Yarn website
Thanks, Mom, for sending me the link,
and thanks to you and Grandma (and many before you!)
who have passed on the domestic arts gene!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

An age-old battle

Can you guess what is happening in this video?!
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(If you aren't sure, see yesterday's post about our new pet!)

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Happy anniversary, Grandpa & Grandma

Happy 54th anniversary!
We love you.

At left: G & G in Tacoma, Washington,
in front of the house
they lived in while
my grandpa was stationed out there in the Army
(and when my mom
was born in 1955).
They re-visited this house while we were in
Washington for Jared's wedding this May
and were pleased
to find it intact!

Belated happy birthday, Uncle Chuck

Hope you had a good day -- sorry I'm a day late in posting this!!!

Uncle Chuck & David
July 2006

Kids' hearing check 7/11/07

The kids had their hearing checks today and were essentially stable
(only one ten decibel drop per kid -- pretty good for us!). Next scheduled check is August 7th.

Meet 'Sparkler'

Meet the newest member of our family --


(depending on which one of us you ask!)

It's gonna be a long few weeks!

According to Wikipedia,
Eyelashes take 4-8 weeks to grow back.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Playing roller coaster

David set these chairs up and then took a picture of Abigail "riding the roller coaster", which they played for a while yesterday.

Today they have been soldiers, campers, musicians, horseback riders... they even tried jousting with some long wooden dowels, but I nixed that one really fast! :-) I ruin all of the good fun...

We have a winner!

Of all of the klutzy things I have done in my life (and they are a countless multitude), this one may take the cake. Yesterday I was curling my eyelashes (which I have done for years without incident), and I have no idea what happened, but somehow my hand jerked away from my eye without letting go of the eyelash curler and I managed to yank out a huge chunk of the upper lashes on my right eye. Of all the stupid, klutzy things to do...!

Below, a picture of my eyes for your enjoyment at my expense. Hey, what benefit is there in moments like this if we don't laugh about it?!
Does anyone know how long it takes for eyelashes to grow back?!

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Happy birthday, Grandma McKee!

We love you, Mom/Grandma -- happy birthday!

Friday, July 06, 2007

All tuckered out

Abigail caught five minutes of shuteye during dinner last night...then woke up and finished her dinner!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Excitement on 'our' beach

Photos courtesy of Jacksonville News Channel 4
Yesterday, a WWII-era bomb washed up on shore at the beach that we go to in Florida. My parents & brothers were planning to spend the day there, but decided not to due to the weather -- look at the fun they missed!

Click below for the news article: http://www.news4jax.com/news/13620022/detail.html

or the picture slideshow:


4th of July report

We had a nice day together yesterday. Bruce worked a half-day at home, I worked in the garden (weeding and harvesting -- 18 cucumbers!), then we all went to the pool for a little bit. Later in the day Bruce did some small fireworks for the kids (the picture to the right is of them watching the fireworks).

Thought I'd share the before and after pictures of Baker -- he was lying around happily before the fireworks, but (knowing that he hates fireworks) I kept the camera on him as Bruce lit the first one! (Don't anybody scold me for being mean -- I tried to get him to come over by us before it started so that he wouldn't freak out, but he wouldn't obey -- so it's his own fault!)

...as you can see, Abigail babied him after that, so he was happy again...

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy 4th of July!

***Happy 4th of July!***
* The kids watching Daddy's fireworks on Memorial Day 2007*

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Kids' magazine recommendation

Just thought I'd share this on my blog since many of you have young children...and what mom (or aunt, grandma, etc) isn't always on the lookout for good ideas?!

We just got the latest issue of this magazine and we all enjoyed it as much as we always do. The kids snuggle on either side of me and we read it cover to cover...the kids have yet to lose interest before we finish the whole thing, and we even enjoy doing the little recipe and projects in each issue.

I loved the regular Highlights magazine as a kid, but it's still a bit over my kids' heads, so when I stumbled on this one (it just premiered this year) I was thrilled. It's geared towards ages 2-6 and has the same fun components as Highlights (e.g. Hidden Pictures), but simplified for littler ones.

Click here to see their website; it's also available through Amazon.

Monday, July 02, 2007