Sunday, August 28, 2011

Something Beautiful

I just wanted to share with you what has become my most favorite place in the world. I could park a chair here and just sit from sun up to sun down. One day, I might just do that.

Here it is, when we first arrived this evening:

And tonight as we were loading the van to leave, I turned around and caught this:


In case you're wondering, these are the lighthouses at Silver Beach on Lake Michigan. It is a beautiful beach, and I have always loved lighthouses, but there is something about the beauty of the sky and the water there that just makes me worship the Creator of the universe.

There is a song that our choir at BeechHaven Baptist did (and probably still does) that I always, and I mean always, think of when something in God's creation takes my breath away. It is based on Psalm 8, and the words are:

When I gaze into the night sky,
And see the work of Your fingers;
The moon and stars suspended in space.
Oh, what is man that you are mindful of him?
You have given man a crown of glory and honor,
And have made him a little lower than the angels.
You have put him in charge of all creation:
The beasts of the field,
The birds of the air,
The fish of the sea.
But what is man, oh, what is man that You are mindful of him?
O Lord, our God, the majesty and glory of Your name,
Transcends the earth and fills the heavens.
O Lord, our God, little children praise you perfectly,
And so should we, and so should we.
Alleluia! The majesty and glory of Your name! Alleluia!

I wish I had a video of them singing it, but I don't, and I have found no other version that will do. :-)

Just for the fun of it, here are some pictures from the rest of our much-needed fun night at Silver Beach:

 All four girls, ready for some fun!

 Running to the beach!

 Clara kept wanting me to take pictures of the 'lake' gulls' footprints, but I would rather take pictures of hers. They have made a permanent imprint on my heart.

 Megan absolutely loved chasing the gulls! It was hilarious!!

 More chasing...

 Wet and happy!

Sometimes it is just fun to play with these pictures.

 Cold and happy!

 This didn't turn out like I thought it would, but I still think it's cute.

 Clara loved making sand angels.

 Even after scrubbing her hair twice tonight, there is still sand ground into her scalp. We will probably be getting it out for days!

 I just thought this was neat.

 Emilie loves the water.

 Clara said she was making "drag-prints". I thought it looked like (free) physical therapy. Drag on!


 ...and Glory

 Clara got tired, dug a hole, wrapped herself in a towel, and laid down. She's resourceful, to say the least.


 Megan was wiped out! She played HARD!

Have a Blessed Night!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Fun at Our First 4-H Fair!!

Since moving to Michigan, almost eleven months ago, we have made it our goal to learn as much as we can about the culture here (yes, it is VERY different), and not only learn about it, but immerse ourselves in it. That has turned about to be a great goal! It has brought our family closer, helped us settle in a little faster, helped us meet lots of people, and it has been just down right fun!

It became very apparent, early on in our adventure, that the event of the year around here is the 4-H fair. People live for it, prepare for it, eat, sleep and breathe it. As a result, we have looked forward to it for almost a year! For those of you who know my girls, they are nature and animal loving girls, and if they had their way, we would have taken goats, pigs, and llamas to the fair. (Can you guess which one wanted to take the llama?). However, seeing that: 1) 'City Mama' knows nothing about animals. 2) We live right, smack-dab in the middle of town. and 3) We had no clue what we were doing (Filling out the forms was its own kind of challenge), we decided to bake and take pictures. Actually, the pictures were a bit accidental and allowed me to know something about Emilie....we may have found her niche! To make it even better, the girls got free passes for the week for entering and the little ones were already free, so they got to go multiple times!

Here is a snapshot of our fun time!

Megan thought that roller coaster was A-OK!

This is Clara with one of our new friends, Bethany. What a sweetie she is!

Emilie with two of her friends from church, Bethany and Maragaret.  I had a ball hanging out with these girls!

Fun on the carousel.


Alyssa and her friend, Deanna...another very sweet girl.

This is Alyssa with her blue ribbon chocolate bundt cake!

We were a little nervous about the cake. Clara dumped it upside-down on the way to drop it off. Oops.

These were some cakes we were very impressed with. Can you believe kids made these?? These are the Silver Beach Lighthouses made out of gingerbread.

Emilie with her blue ribbon AND honorable mention winning photograph! We are so proud of her, and better yet, SHE is so proud of herself! Of all the sweet girls I know, this one definitely needed that little boost.

Here it is up-close.

Megan and Clara with a fairly new calf.

They both got to bottle-feed the calf. Clara, the little Mama, loved it.

However, with all the bucking and head-butting...

Megan didn't last long. :-)

We were very curious about what this man was doing. We have not been close to many tractors, and we had certainly never seen anything like this. As it turns out, that man was filling the big white thing with water to water the horse ring. That is how they keep the ring from being so dusty. That was one of the many things we learned that week. :-)

This picture was just too cute not to share. :-)

All four girls sharing their first fair and first elephant ear. We decided we like funnel cakes better, but figuring that out sure was fun!

They definitely loved the cotton candy that was bigger than their head!

 Every once in a while, I catch them acting like they like each other. Maybe there is hope, yet. :-)


Have a Blessed Day!

Thursday, August 25, 2011


In a recent post, I made a statement somewhere along the lines of:

"I never ask the question 'why?' because I find it to be a very unproductive question."


Apparently there is a threshold for everything.

Sometime around 1:00 a.m. this morning, Megan crawled into bed with me. That is not entirely unusual for her, but I realized within a few minutes tht she was shaking all over. I rolled over to cover her up, thinking she was cold, but found that she was already under all the covers.

I said, "Meggie, why are you shaking?"

She respoinded, "Because it hurts so much."

Oh, brother.

"What hurts?"

"My hip. It hurts really, really bad."

It was her left hip and as time went on, she shook worse and worse. I gave her some Milk of Magnesia, thinking that she may be constipated or have some trapped gas, and some ibuprofen for the pain. I waited a few more minutes and when it still wasn't getting better, I called the on-call physician. She was perplexed, but felt I needed to take her to the ER.

So off we went, me and my little used-to-never-be-sick girl, to the ER in South Bend, as the doctor put it, "in case they need a pediatrics unit in the event she needs surgery."

Truly, I don't handle these things as well as I used to. Last night, we were spending some time with some very dear friends from Georgia who are in town visiting with their daughter, and during our visit, Clara slammed her thumb in the front door.

Logical Jeannie would say, "Oh, no. Poor baby...she slammed her finger."

Very tired and 'had enough' Jeannie thought, "Just GREAT! One more thing."

Of course I loved on her and took care of her thumb, but I also collapsed on the couch and wanted to just give up.

Y'all, I am T-I-R-E-D.

In light of this, you can imagine my frame of mind as I drove to the ER in the middle of the night. I began to ask, "Why?"

"Is there something I need to be learning that I am missing?"

"Is this payback for something?"

"Is there something I should be doing that I am not doing?"

...and the list went on.

For the most part, they were all very valid questions....I am just not sure my heart was in the right place.

As it turns out, Megan has a UTI (at least that is the assumption until her labs come back) and she is on another antibiotic. As far as that goes, she just got off of an antibiotic...shouldn't that have given her some protection?

Anyway, she is much better today, and I am tired. We got home at 6:00 a.m., and while Megan was able to sleep until 1:00 this afternoon, Clara woke me up at 9:00 to fix her breakfast. After all, she was not in the ER all night and her little belly was ready for some breakfast! Somehow, I am making it through the day on three hours sleep, and praying this will all end SOON!

Hanging On for the Ride...

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Just in Case You Were Wondering...

I never dreamed when I started this blog that it would turn out to be one medical update after another. After all....I don't go to doctors or take medicine....remember? Remember that, God?? As is always the case, God's ways are not our ways, and as it turns out, we spend a large portion of our time and budget going to doctors and taking medicine. I know God has a purpose in all of this. I surrendered my life to Him many years ago, and in His perfect wisdom, this is where He has me. I don't understand it, but I don't have to. :-)

So....a good bit has happened since my last update, so I am going to just go through each family member and give you an update:

Jeff: Jeff's doctor had no explanation for why he passed out and could give us no precautions to take to keep it from happening again. He is still scheduled to go to a GI specialist, but at this point, we are not really expecting answers. Since his 'episode' on the way to Georgia, he has done really more pain or passing out. That's a really good thing! He is still training every day, and just did his first Sprint Triathlon yesterday. More to come on that.

Alyssa: Alyssa still seems to be least physically. I am, however, pretty sure that if something doesn't change soon, her eyes are going to be permanently stuck in the back of her head where she rolls them frequently. She is making friends and having some fun times. More on that to come, as well!

Emilie: It has been challenging trying to get all of her meds regulated, but she is no longer seeing people who aren't there or hearing voices or people trying to kill her. Thankfully, she has not been required to focus on much, since we have not started school yet, but it should be interesting once we do start school. Mentally, however, things do seem to be improving. For the most part, she has been delightful the last few weeks.

Clara: If you are one of my 'friends' on Facebook, you know that we had a rough weekend last weekend. We had just finished #6 of 6 services for Staff Revival Week with Life Action, and when she got into the car, she didn't look 'right'. I don't know how else to explain it, but I am too familiar with that look. However, typically when she looks that way, her blood sugar is low, her ketones are high, and we are headed into a metabolic crash. Her appetite had decreased significantly in the days preceding that, as well, which is usually another indicator. However, when we got home and checked her levels, her ketones were high and so was her glucose level. That was a new one for us, and to be honest, it left me quite baffled. We checked her levels all day, every two hours, and still at bedtime, her levels were high. She was so borderline, though, and we were never really sure if we should take her to the hospital. We never hit the "magic" number, though she came close, and thankfully, she never started throwing up. Had either of these things happened, it would have been a trip straight to the ER. At midnight, we decided to go into the night at home and pray for the best. She did great through the night....slept all the way through, and while she still had no appetite the next morning, her glucose levels and ketones were a little lower. Long story short: we battled her levels all weekend, but when she woke up Monday morning, all levels were normal and she was as hungry as a savage beast! I couldn't get her full!

Her geneticist had no explanation, except that she was concerned that Clara was developing a glucose issue (diabetes) in addition to everything else. We went to the pediatrician Monday afternoon and he felt she needed to see her endocrinologist at the U of M. He also did some blood work (A1C for my friends who know what that means) and her levels came back very much within normal ranges. Praise God! I can't tell you how much I needed that good news. This past Friday, we took another road trip across the state to Ann Arbor to visit with her endocrinologist. This was a very unexpected trip and one we were not financially prepared for. However, God provided in a most unexpected way, and for that, we are truly thankful!

Jehovah Jireh. God, our provider!

In addition to her glucose issues, she has also been having some breathing (air hunger) issues that her pediatrician wanted to have checked, as well. The short of that is: tons and tons of testing, labwork, and examinations and still no answers. We don't have all of the labs back yet, but all of the breathing studies that were done came back normal (thankfully), and we still do not know about the glucose stuff. I'll keep you updated.

Megan: This is a child I never thought I would have to give updates on. She's always been so healthy. I told you about her heart already. The hits keep coming.

Two weeks ago, we were in the midst of a yard sale two weekends in a row right on each end of Revival Week services. We were already exhausted from weeks of going through every single box we have getting rid of stuff, the house was is a mess, and on Monday morning, Megan tells me her ear hurts. Great. So before we left for services that morning, I called her pediatrician. However, they had no appointments because of some office renovations that were taking place and told us to go to the walk-in clinic.

Let me interject here to tell you that the last time we went to that clinic, we waited for three hours to have the child who was sick seen, and within two days, the rest of the family was very, VERY sick. Needless to say, I am not really keen on that clinic. Besides, it is always best to have your child seen by their own doctor.

So.....I decided to give it 24 hours and see what happened. Sometimes kids get random stuff that resolves itself. The next morning, Tuesday, she woke up and said her ear didn't hurt at all, so I didn't give it another thought....until that Thursday night. I picked her up to give her a squeeze and when I did, I smelled the foulest odor I think I have ever smelled and there was green pus coming out of her ear.


Once again I called the doctor, but he had no appointments. I went to the walk-in clinic after our Revival services that morning and there was going to be a minimum of three hours to wait. At that point, I was totally exhausted and I had a family at home waiting to eat. I drove her to the clinic in Granger, IN, about 15 minutes away, and finally had her seen. Keep in mind, at this point she had NO fever and NO pain.

Well, the doctor there all but accused me of child abuse. He began interrogating me, and finally, I said, "I am not a negligent mother." He finally quit with the interrogation. He took a culture of the stuff in her ears (which turned out to be a staff infection) and prescribed an antibiotic. He told me I needed to get her to the ENT as quickly as possible before she lost her hearing.

Ummmmm, excuse me....what did you say?? LOSE HER HEARING???!!!

This was the same weekend we were fighting Clara's blood sugar and she went to the same appointment Clara went to the following Monday morning. Her pediatrician added antibiotic drops to her medications and got us in to the ENT the following Wednesday. He said he would be surprised if they didn't want to remove her tonsils and adenoids, because in addition to all of this, she has a ton of trouble breathing when she sleeps, and often snores like a lumberjack. sigh...

The ENT was concerned about her ear, but felt the medicine was healing it sufficiently. She put her on allergy medication in hopes this would fix the nighttime breathing so we can avoid surgery to remove tonsils and adenoids. She will re-evaluate in four weeks. I told her we would look forward to seeing her again very soon, because Clara failed....miserably failed....her hearing test at the same aforementioned appointment with the pediatrician.


Speaking of failed tests, Megan will be visiting a pediatric eye doctor soon. (I can never remember if it is an optometrist or ophthalmologist.) She went to one at Scottish Rite about two years ago and he wanted to see her in two years. He told us that Megan would be near-sighted at a young age (how they can tell that by looking at a two year-old's eyes is beyond me), and two years have she failed her vision screening at her check-up a few weeks ago. If you see a picture of her in glasses soon, you'll know the results of that appointment. :-) I do wonder how you keep glasses on a little jumping bean?

Lastly, Me: My head is pretty much swimming. My house is still a wreck from getting ready for the yard sale, and despite getting rid of a TON of stuff, we still have too much for this house. I feel like I just moved in. I guess I can get rid of more, but I don't know what else. Not only is that keeping my mind occupied all the time because the clutter is driving me NUTS, but in a time when I would really love to have someone over for lunch or coffee, just for a much-needed distraction, I am too embarrassed. I am hoping to get organized soon, however, because it is almost time to start school. If you had asked me how I was a week ago, I would have told you I felt like I was about to smother under the pressure, but this week seems to be a little better. We have not had any huge, life-altering news, but all the little stuff  is making me crazy. In addition to the yard sale, Revival Week, and sick children, we also had to have all of our entries at the 4-H fair last Sunday. Again, nothing major....just one. more. thing. However, we had a great time at the fair...more on that later. I am sure it would help if I could get back in shape and lose some weight. I went for my yearly physical a few weeks ago and still haven't had time to get the blood work done.  I will get that up to the top of my priority list soon, and in the meantime, I have (unfortunately) discovered energy drinks. I am not getting addicted or drinking them excessively, but I have found that when there is more day left than there is energy in my body, they really help, because despite how overwhelmed, exhausted, or frustrated I am, I still have a husband and four girls who need me.

One of the things we talked a lot about at Revival Week was the idea of abiding and not achieving. I am pondering that one. I think it is just the thing I need to remember. But again....more on Revival Week later. This update is ridiculously long, as it is!

If you are here at the end with me, THANK YOU! Thank you for your concern, your prayers, and your love for my family. Please keep us in your prayers, as well as other families who are suffering greatly....exponentially more than we are. I have been dreading this update....I don't like to dwell on the negative...but I make every effort to be as honest as possible here. The next post will be HAPPY and in the midst of all of our recent 'yuck', we still have so much for which to be thankful!

Much Love!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Hillbilly Garden Update

There is a lot going on at our house, and I feel a little my priorities aren't in posting about our garden. I want to post about Revival Week, but I am still processing it all, so more to come on that later. I want to give you all an update on the kiddos, but we have gotten so much bad news on the medical front lately that, honestly, I am having trouble even breathing when I think about it all, so when I am able, I will write about that. So for today, something HAPPY!

I told you a few weeks ago about the "accidental garden" that grew while we were in Georgia. We have had so many laughs about this garden! Our neighbors have even started asking us about it. Thankfully, they have been asking in a happy way and not in the "you aren't from around here, are ya?" kind of way. Our immediate neighbors to the left even thought that it was so 'cool' they wish they had thought of doing the FRONT YARD. That made me laugh a little, too. I never would have done that on purpose, but nonetheless, we have it, and it is bountiful! We already have one full-sized pumpkin that is ready to be "harvested" and a few more on the way!

Here it is:

 This is our big, beautiful pumpkin. What do you do with a pumpkin in the middle of August? When are we supposed to cut this thing off the vine?

Here are two more that are on their way!

They have gotten very big and bountiful!

There are lots of big, beautiful blooms.

Do you remember the picture I showed you of the garden we planted on purpose? Well, the little girls were so disappointed that everything died. They worked very hard planting those seeds. I got one of those big trays full of peat pellets, and they planted various seeds in very organized rows. They watched them grow on our porch for weeks, and really, they should have been planted before we left for Georgia, but we ran out of time. By the time we got back, they were ginormous, and really should have been put outside gradually, in order to get them used to the direct sunlight. However, since we had waited so long to plant them, we just stuck them out there, and it killed them. Megan was CONVINCED, however, that we killed them when we watered them. I guess watering plants is such a foreign concept to her, living in this house, that it seemed fatal. :-) (These girls do NOT have a Mama with a green thumb). try to make them feel better (and to get a little laugh), one night while they were at VBS, Jeff and I went to Lowe's and bought some very grown-up plants at a huge discount. We went home and planted them, so the next day when they walked outside, here is what the little girls saw:

It's a miracle!

Megan is very proud of the jalepeno that has grown.

As it turns out, Megan is quite the little worker. She LOVES to help her Daddy rake the yard, and does it very vigorously. While raking in the yard last week, she said, "Mommy, God likes it when we work." So much wisdom from such a little child. What would the world be like if our society felt that way?

I digress.

Here is Megan, hard at work and having a blast doing it!!

Half the fun is playing in it when you're through, right?

Thankfully, the owners of the house, who lived here before us, planted lots of beautiful flowers. They are NO MAINTENANCE! I can keep them alive!

We will keep you updated!

Much Love,
The Southern Hillbillies in the North