Monday, December 31, 2012

Playing in the Snow

The kids are missing all the sled rides behind snowmobiles that they enjoyed in Minnesota.

But they have enjoyed playing in all the new-fallen snow here.

Megan and Davis built igloos for the kittens.  I'm not sure that the kittens were too excited about the experience.  

Jamison transported a snowball for Megan to make a sink. 
 I'm sure there was logic there that eludes me.  ;-P

The girls enjoyed climbing and rolling down snowbanks.

The kids like to create treasure hunts for their dad.  He loves to dig through random snow piles where they think they might have left the shovel and it's a little too easy to find stuff like a wheelbarrow when they leave it smack-dab in the middle of the sidewalk.  


Snow-fun for kids = No fun for dad 

Saturday, December 29, 2012

For the Farmers

Kenton's been wanting to get his TMR mixer under roof.

He wouldn't enjoy dealing with ice and snow in his conveyor twice a day.

So far we've had a pretty mild winter and it hasn't been a huge issue but that will probably change.

He's planning to take the roof off the area between the old milking barn and the heifer barn.

As you can see he's going to make it quite wide.  It might be forty feet.

Soon he hopes to tear the roof off the heifer barn and widen it out to match.  

We've grown faster than expected and desperately need more stalls.

As you can see he's putting in large posts in hopes that they will be standing for a long time.

They'll have to wait to put steel on until a dry day.  


As you can see we have quite the muddy mess currently.

My standard disclaimer applies here: When it comes to farming (and many other things, too) I never know completely what I'm talking about. 

Friday, December 28, 2012

Home and Healthy

Inspite of the timing with Emily, we had a special time in Minnesota.  I haven't been home in a year and half so it was wonderful to see the extended family and be with friends.  The cousins have all grown a bunch so it's nice to see them regularly.  We have been so loved by family and friends during this difficult time with Emily that it was nice to be able say how much we appreciate their support in person.

My family does Christmas Eve.   Mom made fabulous Chicken Kiev and Chicken cordon bleu.  We played the dice game, went to a candlelight service at Balsam Bible Chapel, and the kids got presents from the grandparents.

Christmas day the kids and I headed for the hospital to be with Emily and dad.  Jeff and Kim and their families stopped by to meet the newest niece in the afternoon.  I know it took time away from being with their extended families but I appreciated it VERY much.  I had been so disappointed earlier that I wasn't sure they'd have an opportunity to meet her.  Of course, it isn't quite the same meeting a puking kid or a well one but that couldn't be helped.  The room was a big one so the kids were able to play with their loot without feeling like they were sitting on each other's heads.  The highlight of the day for me was when Davis announced as we were leaving, "Thank you, dad and mom, for the BEST CHRISTMAS EVER."  Obviously cafeteria food and the hospital room didn't cramp his style too much.  It actually was a pretty nice day.

Wednesday morning Emily was released from the hospital after doing her usual quick turnaround.  We spent a few more hours hanging around mom and dad's trying to time our return to avoid bad weather through Indianapolis and Columbus.  It gave us the opportunity to show her off a little and let her unwrap some gifts.  She loves it.   She now thinks that every gift is hers to open.

Emily decided that we were getting off too easy and made the first eleven hours of the trip home a nightmare.  She screamed a phantom-of-the-opera scream repeatedly for most of the first four hours.  As her voice began to give out she switched to crying.  She cried until 3:30 in the morning.  Lucky for her the car had no eject button.  She was about as popular as a root canal without novocaine on your birthday.

We arrived home safely last night...with Emily...with no one in straight jackets.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Barf Humbug

We left early for Minnesota.  The weatherman was saying that things were going to get ugly between the Northland and Maryland so we threw everything together and took off Wednesday night.  (If we don't make it safely back home, please do everyone a favor and torch the place without entering.   It will be cheaper than therapy later.)

We got to Crooked Lake and before we took off shoes or coats...

Emily threw up.  

I thought  a lot of things I'd prefer no one see on a family site.  

Friday afternoon we headed for the local hospital.  Kenton's doing hospital duty.  

In a massive effort to avoid profanity,  I've been trying to make sense of things.  (Not very Christian of me, is it?)  Maybe the older four needed a real Christmas: you know, the kind where the house is clean, there are cookies, presents are not still in the mail (yeah, we should have a few waiting for us), cousins to play with and fun things going on.  

(Yes, I am fully aware that Jesus wasn't born in a clean house with cookies or cousins or fun....but He did pick up some gold, frankincense, and myrrh so frankly I think I have a ways to go.)

It's hard.  It's hard to be without "my baby".  It's hard to know that we "gambled" and lost the health lottery for Emily.  I dragged my family 1200 miles across country through rain and snow and still no one has seen "my baby".  

Kenton says the staff at the hospital have been VERY kind and the kids are having a wonderful time.   They've ridden sleds behind snowmobiles, played with cousins, been to a hockey game (Greenway lost 0-9), run on the treadmill, steamed in the sauna, watched a movie,  played air hockey, eaten a ton of junk, and been loved up by aunts and uncles.  The perfect kids' holiday, right?  

It would be great to have Emily home for Christmas Eve.  

I think we'll push hard for that, even if she ends up having to go back.    

Barf humbug!

It could be so much worse, I know.  It's still a major bummer.  

Before I go off to throw a tantrum (Yep, Santa Claus is putting coal in my stocking!) I did want to send a genuine wish that each of you will have a very 

Merry Christmas!
with lots of good health.  

Monday, December 17, 2012

Kidney Doc

It feels like life revolves around Emily and her health whether she's sick or not.  We've been going to the chiropractor on the off-chance that it MIGHT help.  Between hospital stays, doctor visits, chiropractor visits, trips to the pharmacy, phone calls with insurance and doctors, it gets to be a lot.

Today we went to the kidney doctor.  I'm not sure HOW I missed it before since it could be critical but one possible cause for what's going on is Renal Tubular Acidosis.  The treatment is sodium bicarbonate.  She's been getting 9 ml 3x/day since her Thanksgiving visit but her...well, some level is still low so Dr. Grossman wants her to have 9 ml 4x/day.  That's a lot of baking soda.

Not totally sure how everything falls together but some other news:
Her iron is low.
Her hemoglobin has been steadily falling since October.

More bloodwork for Emily.  An ultrasound scheduled.  More doctors' visits looming.

Hopefully some answers, too.

Here's our little ladybug when she's feeling well.

Round #7?!?

Friday was around day 15 of Emily's cycle.  Last cycle she went 21 days so we all were aware of the day but hoping for another week of calm before the storm.  The plan was to head for Minnesota as soon as she got better from Round #7.

Friday afternooon/evening we were afraid it was coming.  She had her usual bloated look and was running around rubbing her belly.  Sure enough around 8:30 she started vomiting.

I was SO MAD!  I didn't realize how much I was counting on having that extra week at home.  The only good thing was it meant we would probably be in Minnesota for the actual holiday instead of afterwards.

Saturday morning she started throwing up blood and after a call to her GI doctor we were able to head for the peds ward instead of ER.  Thank you, Lord and everyone else involved!!!

Her cycle has pretty routinely run nine days of vomiting or at least nine days until she's back to eating properly without vomiting.

BUT Sunday morning at 4:00 they were drawing blood for labwork when she woke up.  She started to jabber, ask for food, and smile!!!  That has NEVER happened this early.  NEVER.  We've had moments toward the end of the cycle when she seemed to be getting better and then would relapse, but never this early.

Emily spent Sunday talking, smiling, demanding food she didn't get, and playing.  She felt so much better she couldn't wait to share her joy.  She ran around the halls looking for people to wave at and blow kisses to.

Her hemoglobin had dropped from the time she went in until Sunday a.m. and they needed to recheck it Sunday afternoon to make sure it was lab error, etc. If it was dropping she would have needed another scope.  So, sorry baby, no food until they could make sure that she didn't need to go through that again.

Afternoon labwork came back with hemoglobin slightly up, a couple of popsicles stayed down, some cheerios also stayed put, and after a pint of beloved green beans our girl came home.


Was this Round #7?   Is she finally responding to treatment?  Was this a short flu bug?  Is the chiropractor helping?  Or is something else going on?


Unless Emily starts puking again we're planning to leave for Minnesota on Thursday.  We may be setting ourselves up for Merry baaarrrfff Christmas but we're going to try it.  

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


Emily's current favorite trick is to swipe my dishtowel and chew on it.  Eww!

If there are three towels hanging on the oven, she needs all three.  I can't have one hanging there for more than a few minutes. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Sharing a Bed

We don't let kids sleep in our bed... 

It just happens!

Oh, right!  Like anyone could sleep with this crew around!

 Since Emily's in the crib in our room, they all think they're welcome in the morning.  

Friday, December 7, 2012

You Tube

I can waste a lot of time on you tube.  It's amazing all the fun things you can find on there.  Here are some of my current favorites:

Anuna - Noel Nouvelet - Peace

King's Singers - The Barber of Seville - Total fun.  Mom would not be amused. She'd give me that look of, "I must be missing something."  Sorry, mom!

Go Fish - Joyful, Joyful -  my husband didn't appreciate my suggestion to use this for the Joy theme of advent.  If you hate it, PLEASE keep listening to 2:10.  It hits me in the heart every time.

Selah - Noel - I love it.  Turn the sound WAY up and experience JOY.

King's Singers - Seaside Rendez-vous

Okay, last one, I promise!

Aaron Copland - Hoedown

Well, I do have a thing for Copland...

Copland - I Bought Me a Cat

Okay, if you hate all this....I like my music loud, joyful, and I'm corrupting my kids!  Ha ha!
Go find your own youtube favorites.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Goings On

 If you're in the mood to play pioneer while wearing your favorite leotard, come on over.  We have the perfect free (with the purchase of a dryer) box to play in, because, you know, no living room is complete without the addition of a dryer box.  Yes, my mother five states away is cringing at the thought of seeing that dryer box in the living room the next time she comes to visit.  Don't worry, mom, by that time they'll be done with it.

Emily has learned to say cheese and smile when the camera comes out.  She also loves to color (I've never had a 2-year-old who would sit and color for more than 60 seconds before) and sing la, la, la many times a day.  She started a new trick this evening.  Go to bed and strip.  The first time it was comical.  The second time she'd peed in the crib and I wasn't amused.  I changed the sheet and found a safety pin to keep that zipper where it belongs.

Our newly turned five-year-old is having a hard time.  She's a little insecure with mom being gone so much.  Lots of whining.  I need to make more of an effort to snuggle her and spend time with her.  Tonight she made herself, Lydia, and Pinky a nest in the dryer box.

Davis keeps us chuckling.  He likes to snuggle, will spend ten minutes transcribing ONE science answer if he's feeling uncooperative, feels about John Deere like I feel about books (So many books, so little time), is a people person, wants Emily to adore him but doesn't quite have the maturity to pamper her like Jamison and Megan do, and has a big sense of humor.
One night I was riding the plank to untwist a cow's uterus (you do know about this, right?), I was a bit nervous about being between two sets of hooves as Kenton, Jamison, and Megan rolled the cow.  I added a few expressive sound effects to the drama.  When the uterus was back to normal, the little smart mouth commented, "Good show, mom!"

Megan is taking piano lessons this year (Yes, I gave up and decided the only way to be semi-consistent was to pay someone to do it.  I cringe every time I write a check.)  She's a big help. She's been busy  knitting baby hats.

Well, I guess I missed Jamison in this unintentional line-up.  He's my fix-it man.  I suspect he's a future farmer, missionary, or engineer.  He got excited about trapping this fall and built his own...well, some kind of special pigeon trap.  He loves to work in the shop.
I hate and detest science.  I read it to the kids but we're doing this horrible stuff about electricity and magnets and...ugh!  It's really horrid...I don't understand any of it.  When we get to questions, I no longer bother about being subtle, I head right to the answer sheet.  Jamison knows almost EVERYTHING...and UNDERSTANDS it.  It's kind of freaky that the kid who struggles so much in some areas, totally gets this rotten science junk.  It's wonderful, mind you, just surprising.  Carbon dating, silicate uses, magnets to run engines...I don't ever remember learning any of that stuff...well, actually I obviously never learned it, but I don't remember ever hearing it either.  Ugh!

Oh, twisted uterus, (Remember my standard disclaimer: DON'T EVER QUOTE ME!) : Sometimes the uterus twists and the calf can't come out.  The Farmer in the Dell tips the cow over on her side and lays a plank against her stomach.  Someone weights the plank (BE NICE!) while the others roll the cow over.  Seriously!
The first time Kenton told me that I was sure he thought I must be dumber than said plank.  I wasn't falling for his spoof.  Go figure, his dad gave me the same tall tale!  I was sure they were in cahoots to see how much I'd fall for.  What do you know, that is the way they do it!

Stay tuned for more exciting farm stories...did you know a cow can push out her calf bed (uterus)?

Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Doll

Emily missed Kenton's family Christmas.  She opened her gift from Grandpa and Grandma B. before Kaitlyn opened her birthday gifts.  Her doll was a total hit...until Kaitlyn opened her bouncy ball.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Another Birthday

 Set the stage:  Find yourself a nice version of  Fanfare to the Common Man.  This one is my boys' favorite.

Now wish my husband a Happy Birthday.  

(Ignore the candles.  I'm not very good at planning ahead.  He's actually 43.) 

Guarding pistachios with both hands.  

Monopoly: the new favorite game around here.    

(Good thing the kids love it, because I have standards and refuse to play any game that cannot be completed within one evening.  To make matters worse, they write up IOUs and loan each other money.  It's the game that NEVER ends!)

Happy Birthday!

(Thanks, Nick and Wendy, for the cake.  It is delicious!)

Five Years Old

 Kaitlyn had a birthday.

Grandpa and Grandma came to help her celebrate.  

Kaitlyn, Emily Bennett, and Lydia

What do you think of her new American girl doll?  

Grandma Adamson got it for her.  She also received some doll clothes and a bouncy ball.  Emily thought the bouncy ball was terrific.   

Kaitlyn thinks that now that she is five she can immediately begin Kidstuf (Children's Church for K-5th grade) and public school.  She is adamant that she wants to go to public school "like Sam and Ted" rather that be homeschooled.  She loves her little sister and is overall really generous and thoughtful with her.  I think the bit of insecurity we're seeing has more to do with mom being at the hospital for nights at a time rather than losing her "baby of the family" status.  She loves her friends Emma and Rebecca and would probably spend time with them everyday if she could.  One day she met a little girl in the playroom at the hospital.  She's been asking if Taylor could come and play ever since.   She loves girly stuff, being with other kids, and being active.  She doesn't like being left behind or being considered little.   She wants to do whatever the "big" kids are doing.  

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Sunshine and Shadows

 Maybe I've mentioned that I have a soft spot for quilts?   I also have a love-hate relationship with doing them.  When it's going well I love it; that may be half the time.  When it's not going well or I have to do the binding I detest it!

This one was a long dreamed of project.  I've always loved the Mariner's Compass pattern but knew it was WAY beyond my piecing skills.  Lo and behold I found it in an easier pattern and did the dance of joy all the way to the register.

I've been working on this comforter for Kaitlyn's bed for quite awhile.  It needs the binding stitched on two sides.  Have I mentioned that I hate binding?  Butterflies and pastels were the girls' choice by the way.

The Helping Hands group at church usually uses the Trip Around the World pattern for the comforters it does for auction.

Sometimes the pattern is known as Sunshine and Shadows.

(Note: Found this one on the internet)

Notice it's the darks against the lights that define this pattern.

It seems that this is the pattern God has for us now.  The sunshine of being together with everyone well set against the shadows of sickness and separation and difficulty.  I know the Master Quilter has a plan for the quilt of our lives that is good.
"For I know the plans I have for you, " declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."    Jeremiah 29:11

I will choose to trust Him.   

 Soli Deo gloria

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


Emily came home around 8:30 tonight.  Her progress was not particularly satisfying or "normal".  I find the situation very frustrating.  If she continues to vomit, back she'll go.

When she woke up this morning I was sure we were good to go.  Usually once she's well she self-regulates food intake just fine.  Unfortunately, I think she overate and was vomiting and miserable the rest of the day.   Several times she took a sip of water, set down the cup, and vomited.   I think we're seeing a switch where I'll have to guess the appropriate amount.  I've never been particularly good at guessing games.  Fortunately, the staff know us and Emily and let us bring her home.
She came home, demanded green beans, and has avoided any "emesis" so far.

(The first time Emily said "cheese" and smiled on demand.)

A kidney doctor looked at her this morning and ordered some tests.  If something shows up, we'll go from there.  If not, it looks like WVU will have exhausted their resources.  Next time, she may get sent to Columbus which apparently has a pediatric GI TEAM and specializes in cyclic vomiting.

(Enjoying the chaos)

Unless the kidney specialist finds something, this will be the second time Emily's been passed on.  It's hard to hear this.  But we already knew that she's one in a million.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Back In

Warning: Family diary - not going to try to be interesting.

Emily got sick last Wednesday, just in time to rearrange all the holiday plans.  Thursday morning she and I arrived back in ER.  The LOVELY (read dripping with sarcasm) resident informed me that the 30-40 times she vomited were impossible since her throat looked fine.  He was sure that what I was actually seeing was her just spitting.  He said that the physician in charge would check her out and send her home.  Five minutes later she started throwing up blood.  We've been in the peds ward since. 
She missed "Christmas" with Kenton's family, Paul and Bonnie and their kids stayed with Wayne's, and she missed the Mast get-together on Sunday.  Kenton came Saturday afternoon so I could go home, see kids, and be at the Mast get-together.
The other kids weren't overjoyed to be taken away from Grandma and cousins, but fought over who got to sit next to mom while we watched a movie...and all four slept in our room.  I guess they must miss me afterall.
The Mast get-together is always special.  I love that family.  It was hard, though, to be there without Emily.  I wanted so much to share my new baby with the family, to celebrate with them the joy she brings us.

Emily had another endoscopy on Friday.  She is not improving as rapidly as anyone hoped or expected.   Her pediatric GI mentioned that he may have to send her to Columbus, Ohio where they have a lot of experience with cyclic vomiting. 

I feel like I'm hitting a new low.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Saturday, November 17, 2012


Last night while grating potatoes I sprinkled a bit of salt on a bite.  It tasted a little...sweet.  Glancing at the salt shaker I noticed a suspicious sprinkle on the counter and that the salt shaker was mysteriously full to the brim.

Yep, sugar.

I chuckled with Kenton over the downfall of their prank while I dumped the sugar bowl out into the sugar container (just refilled with 10# of sugar)  and waited eagerly this morning for the first prankster to add a bit of salt to his/her cereal.  Strangely not a single kid took a helping, but I was generously offered some.

Doom! They'd hit the sugar bowl, too.

I had just added a sugar bowl full of salt to my sugar container.  


Then I promptly forgot in the busyness of getting the big three to chorus practice, running errands, and shopping.  


I added that sugar/salt mixture to a batch of Russian Tea.  

The perfect prank: one that just keeps on giving.

Subtle Campaign

Davis still insists that he wants another brother.  He loves Emily, but the "girls always have her" and "Jamison is always helping dad" so he wants "Alex".  (Never mind that that type of logic could keep us adopting forever.)

He's changing his tactics.  Apparently he's realized that reminding me weekly that he hasn't changed his mind wasn't getting him anywhere.

Today he started on his dad.

Davis:  Dad, I'm so disappointed that those waterwheels weren't working when we visited the Yellow River.

Dad:  Yeah, I am, too.  I wish we could have seen that.

Davis: Maybe they'll be working when we go back next year.  


Dad isn't changing his mind either.  In two words, "No way!"

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Chain Gang

The Chain Gang hanging out behind bars.

(Okay, they decided to watch a movie on the stairs while eating contraband Halloween suckers.)

The Chain Gang on work release cleaning up after Sandy.

Alright, I admit that putting my little slaves to work and expecting an immaculate house in three hours was akin to expecting ME to create the world in six days, but I did dust for the first time in...well, waaaaay too long.  So we're making progress.  Of course, the mess is still three feet deep in our room but I guess I can only blame half of that on the cherubs.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


Emily is so much fun.

  • In an ironic twist of fate, her all-time favorite food, chosen over any other, is green beans.  
  • Her paperwork told us that she is quiet.  I wonder if they were just seeing a lot of our sick little ghost or if she's come out of her shell a lot being surrounded by a family.  She's loud, joyful, and exuberant.
  • She's learning new tricks all the time.  Today she got ALL the motions of patty-cake right.  Not on the video, of course.  :-P
  • Her language is expanding although most of her words are unintelligible.  She understands WAY more than she is able to verbalize.  She is a very able communicator without words.
  • She's playing more all the time.  Of course, this is mostly in ten second snatches of destruction before she moves on to the next demolition site.  
  • Everything goes in the mouth.
  • The cereal cupboard is a favorite hangout.  

  • She is a too early riser.  Mostly sleeps well at night.  
  • She loves to be out and about, waving, blowing kisses, and being quite a charmer.  
  • She loves being outside, tolerates cats, and is scared to death of even the life-sized stuffed dog at the library.

If you haven't met our Miss Em yet, we can't wait to share her with you.

By the way, the chain gang is "working out" quite well, thank you.  :-P