Monday, December 29, 2008

Goodbye Girl!

Nala had brain cancer. We just put it all together today when the final symptoms made themselves known. Before that, the things she had didn't really point to anything except "age."

When Clint woke up this a.m., she had lost coordination, had dizzyness and etc. Every thing matched up 100% with brain cancer, something that is not usually caught until it is in the final stages. The next steps were paralysis and then suffocation. She was put down quickly and gently this afternoon to spare her from going through that.

Our family can rejoice that we had nearly 14 wonderful years with her! She has been a part of our family, not just a dog. She would often get to our crying babies faster than we did and then look at us like "Where have you been? Why weren't you here sooner?" :-) She guarded over our children, watched over our livestock, was a companion on many trips and outings, kept us company during illnesses, etc. She defended us from illegal hunters with guns, angry people who meant us harm, wildlife, etc. There wasn't a single adventure we had that she did not want to be a part of with us. If we left her behind, she would stop eating, so we always tried to take her with us.

She had a wonderful day yesterday hanging out with the family. When Caleb separated from the group to go riding his bike up and down the driveway, she went and kept watch over him. That's what she considered her job.

We are sad, but thanking God for the many wonderful years with a fantastic dog. She will be the dog by which all other dogs we know will be measured by.
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Saturday, December 27, 2008

The L&D Story

I've been asked how labor was. Labor wasn't that bad. I got the epidural hoping to slow labor down so I could rest after that rough weekend. I was really wiped out going into it but the i.v.'s and naps I was able to get helped immensely.

The nurse in L&D was in a WICKED mood. We asked to have her replaced with another nurse twice and were refused--they said no one else was available because not enough nurses showed up. I have never realized just how blessed I have been to have good nurses until I got this one.

She was belligerent, rude, nasty, evasive, etc. She clearly did not like Clint asking questions and would ignore or snap at him. He stayed calm and told her "Hey, we don't know this stuff and you are our only source of information. I am not asking you to give you a hard time. I am asking you because I want to know something." This was not the only time we had an issue with anti-male attitudes. At one point, I asked an argumentative woman, "Why can't he make decisions for the baby's health care?! He is the child's FATHER!" She had no answer for that.

Nurse Grump would not call for the epidural. My doctor was there "hanging out" watching interns and had told me on one of his visits to call for him if I wanted him. I asked for him 5-6 times and she refused to get him for me.

She deliberately hurt me many times. I was not sure if she was doing it on purpose or not. I wondered if I was so tired it seemed like she was being rough, you know? I had planned on saying something to Clint as soon as she left the room. Amanda came to me while the nurse was in a corner and said "Mom, she isn't taking good care of you. She's not listening to you either."

Clint HAD been watching her and thought she had been intentionally rough too. She yanked on my i.v. hard again and he came out of the chair so fast she flinched and stepped back. I don't remember what he told her but he basically said she needed to take more care in her treatment of me or she'd deal with him. She was better after that.

I asked for the heartbeat monitor to be turned up so I could hear it. She told me it was broken and "proved" it by pushing a button--nothing happened. Later, the doctor told her to turn it up and she pushed a different button..and it worked just fine!

It is a good thing Hannah was estimated to be 7 lbs or so. She felt that way inside the womb too. Speculation is that she was very deep into my pelvic bones which made her feel smaller. If they had told me she was 10+ lbs, I would have worried about pushing her out. When he said 7, I figured, "That's easy. I've done 9 lbs 13 oz, so 7 lbs should be nothing! I can do this one in five pushes." I gave it all I had the first push and delivered her head. The next two pushes delivered her shoulders. I was exhausted, but DONE!

After the baby was born and Clint and the doctor had left the room, Grump started ignoring me again. I told her I was cold a dozen times. I was shaking so hard, my teeth were chattering! Amanda, on her own, started raiding the supply drawers and pulling out gowns, the thick pads they sit you on, etc and draping them over me. When the nurse saw that, she finally brought me two warmed blankets.

This is how the hospital visit started off and it just went downhill from there. When I had Emily, it was great. I had an excellent nurse who thanked ME for letting her be a part of my birthing experience and for answering her many questions about mothering. The facility has run down so much since July 07 (Emily's birth), that I will look into another hospital if God chooses to bless us again.

I am more wiped out from this birth than any of them, probably due to that nasty third trimester, the weekend just before, the heavy blood loss and the respiratory infection. Clint is home another week and can take off an additional three, if we need it.

Thank you for the prayers and e-mail. It meant a lot that so many thought of us during their busy holiday plans. I'll catch up on e-mail next week.

Christmas Morning

Here they are waiting to get to those presents.
Amanda holding Emily, Joshua, Brandon holding Hannah, Bethany and Caleb
Notice Emily, held by Amanda, has one pink and one white sock :-).
Hannha is wearing a Christmas outfit Clint's mother gave to Amanda in 1994.

We hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas!
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Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to everyone!

Thank you for the e-mails and for rejoicing with us that we are HOME.

This is Hannah on the quilt her Grandma Susan made for her. She's in the going home outfit Clint picked out for her just hours before she was born. I think every nurse we had made a fuss over the shimmery silver dress. It has such a soft lining inside.

I have a double ear and upper respiratory infection. I noticed my lymph nodes were swollen last week and assumed I was fighting something off. We are wondering if that affected Hannah's breathing or blood work results. We aren't really sure what was going on...if anything. A lot was going on at the hospital...inner politics, very new nurses, holiday plans of the dr and nurses, most of the experience nurses were out for the holiday, communication issues between nurses and the doctor, nurses angry with us because we make informed decisions about each procedure and don't just "go with the flow", etc, etc, etc. Our heads are still swirling trying to process it all, but God put us there and had us go through it for a reason.

It has been awesome celebrating Christmas with a newborn in the house. Things weren't picture perfect, but they were very, very good! Hannah has been in someone's arms all day.
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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Just A Few Minutes Old

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Hannah Michelle

Here she is!
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Her Hair

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was the talk of the nursery. The ladies loved that she has "natural blonde highlights." You can see them a little bit in the pictures.

We are HOME!

What a blessing it is to be home and with all of our children! PTL!

We will post pictures of Hannah soon, probably tomorrow. Hannah, Clint and I are all very tired. We are also trying to get presents and something to eat ready for tomorrow.

Thank you for your prayers!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Early CHRISTmas Present for Our Family

When people have asked me what I wanted for Christmas, I told them I just wanted the baby to come early so I could rest and get some relief. I was staying hungry, tired and was feeling very frustrated by the battle with HG.

Saturday night, I was very, very ill. I threw up repeatedly and then had contractions for hours. I think the heavy vomiting is what put me in labor. We were up until 6 a.m. Sunday. I was having contractions and passing plug that a.m. and did not want to be in labor feeling that weak and worn out. I asked for an epidural when I arrived at the hospital that evening hoping it would allow me to rest and recover a little. Long story short, I had to go through a lot and wait two hours to get it even though I was 6 cm when I arrived. I am so thankful Amanda came as she took better care of me than the lazy nurse assigned to me did.

Hannah Michelle was born early today at 2:31 a.m. after 8 hours of labor. She is a doll! She latched on and nursed right away.

Everyone who has been following along knows we thought Hannah would be smaller than Emily and we actually thought she would be our smallest baby. This is because I kept losing weight the entire third trimester and she felt much smaller in the womb. We are not sure how she hid those 10 lbs and 3.4 ounces, but she did.

She came out in three pushes!!! Her shoulders got stuck on the second push and the doctor told the nurse and Clint to bend my knees back to my shoulders. I looked like a pretzel, but she came out with some wrangling by the doctor. The pediatrician says she looks great all the way around and will sign papers for her to go home in the a.m.

Clint is soon going to head home and pick up the rest of the children so they can meet Hannah.

I have been ravenous. Whereas I had to force myself to eat before she came, I am eating everything in sight now. What a blessing it is to be able to eat again without pain or fear of vomiting!! I can already feel my strength returning! PTL!

Thank you to everyone who prayed with us and encouraged us along this amazing journey. Hannah is here! The hard part is over and the rejoicing has begun!!

We'll post pictures after we get way to do it from the hospital.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

House Down the Road From Us

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Clint took me out to see the house they are elevating this a.m. There were people living in it at the time Hurricane Isabel flooded it but it has sat empty since. They had to tear off the large, old general store that was on the front of the bottom picture. I think this is as high as this house will be elevated. Clint and I will be watching it to see how quickly or slowly it progresses.
If you click on the pictures, they will enlarge and you can see more details.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Hospitality 2

The rest of the story: The engineer, Thomas, called his workplace and they brought him a key from Portsmouth. This was the second time Thomas locked his keys in the truck. The first time, he was with his boss. He told Brandon he was worried his boss would think he was incompetent. Brandon enjoyed talking to him and sharing the woes of Algebra 2 and Calculus.

There is some concern about elevating the back porch (which was closed in for a laundry room) probably because it is on wooden piers. The piers look like telephone poles. I am hoping they do not need to tear that off. We need all of the square footage we can get. Our file is suppose to have an official letter saying our deck, addition and the back porch were all approved as part of the elevation.

As the children poured into the room to say hi to Thomas, he started looking left to right and said "Just how many children do you have?!" LOL

A house similar to ours, just down the road from us, is being elevated. It is up on wooden trusses. I'll TRY to get down there to get a picture soon. Clint told me about it and I am eager to go out and see it. I just need a good day.

I have had contractions every few minutes for the last 2 hours. Earlier I tried to nap in case it gets like it did last night, but that didn't work out. Like most women at the end of pregnancy, I am uncomfortable. Throw in the nausea and vomiting, sore throat and fluid in the ears and I am a barrel of laughs.

The children are counting the days to Christmas while I am counting the days to the baby's due date...and praying she comes sooner! LOL


I had hard contractions until about 6 a.m. Then, I finally was able to drift off to sleep. Clint had told the children to let me rest as long as I needed.

I woke up at 11 and Amanda came to tell me the engineer (FEMA) was here and had locked his keys out of his truck. Brandon was keeping him company in the rain under our little awning by the front door!! I was horrified! I grabbed a quick shower, threw on yesterday's clothes (wrinkles) and asked him to come in the house. I brushed my wet hair in front of him....didn't want to make him wait any longer.

I thought he had been out there for hours, but Brandon said it was only about half an hour since he finished the job and locked his keys in the truck. So maybe we didn't do too bad on the hospitality.

Please keep Luke in your prayers. He's in the hospital with possible pneumonia.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Thing About Mark

Thank you to EVERYONE who has joined us in prayer through Mark's illness. I have been asked how the family is doing and when Mark would be laid to rest. His obit is below. I have removed the identifying information to afford his family the privacy they deserve. His wife and children are with family in PA until early January. Clint had wanted to go to the service, but with me so close to having the baby, he did not want to be so far away.

Mark Xxxx Xxxxx, 53, of XXXXXXXX Va., died December 12, 2008, in his home following a brief illness. He was born January 11, 1955, in Kxxx, Pa., and was the son of XXX and XXX.

Mark was a fun-loving man, a devoted husband, father and a wonderful uncle. He will be greatly missed by his family and friends. Mark was employed as an electrician with Xxxx Inc., Williamsburg, Va. He graduated from Xxxxx High School in 1973, where he enjoyed playing football.

Upon graduation, he joined the US Navy as an Aviation Electronic Technician, deploying on the USS Forrestal and the USS Saratoga. While serving 20 years, he was awarded "plankowner" for being the 10th man assigned to a new class of amphibious assault ship, LHD-1 USS Wasp. He participated in Operation Desert Storm and retired from the Navy in Sept. 1993.

Mark is survived by his wife, Sheila; two sons, Christopher, Robert; and a daughter, Samantha Rose, all of Xxxx Va. He is also survived by three brothers, two sisters and several nieces and nephews.

A memorial service will be 3 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 18, 2008.

For those of you who joined us in praying for Mark, I wanted to give you a little bit of who he was. The thing about Mark that touched me deeply was his concern for his family. Through Clint, I learned Mark did not ask "Why me?" He did not have pity for himself or say he didn't deserve his illness. His concern was for his family. He knew his death would hurt them deeply and that reduced him to tears. He said THEY didn't deserve that kind of hurt. I love that a big, strong man who served our country and worked so hard to provide was tender to the needs of those around him while facing his own death. I have met most of the people my husband works with, but I never got to meet Mark. I feel like I missed out on meeting someone very special.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Hesitant Christianity

The love of Christ in us enables us to "rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep." (Rom 12:15) We are exhalted to show His love to the world. (Matthew 25: 35-40) Showing His love to the "least of these" requires action on our parts.

Many times, godly people want to do something to show they care for someone going through a difficult time, but are hesitant for fear their expression of Christ's love will be rejected or resented. Fear is not of the Lord and I do not believe hesitant Christianity is either.

The only permission you need to reach out to someone in Christian love is your Father's. You do not need to wonder if it will be welcomed or rejected. That is between God and the recipient. If they reject you, don't take it personally, they are rejecting Christ.

If God has equipped you with a way to minister to another through a similar experience, you should do it and soon. He tells us it is through our own trials that we learn how to "comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God." (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

If you feel God's leading to do something, do it! He says "Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin." (James 4:17)

Upon God's leading, Clint and I have reached out many times to strangers during their personal crisis and never once have we been rejected. Instead, they welcomed the fact that our family cared enough to be moved into action on their behalf. Some of them have become steadfast friends of ours. A card, a shared story with what helped us through something similar, a monetary gift to those undergoing financial hardships, a candle, a teddy bear, meals, a "just because" gift, etc--all have been well received. We have often been told we were the only ones who did something kind for them. That says some very sad things about the Body of Christ, don't you think? Don't assume someone else is reaching out; you might be the only example of Christ's love they experience!

Love is an action verb! Let Christ move you into action to show His love to another soul. Be His Hands and Feet. It will bring you to a new level of faith and joy.

Christmas Stocking Filler Ideas

We don't do Santa Claus, so we use fabric gift bags that we call Wise Men Bags in an effort to keep the focus on the Reason for the Season-the amazing and wonderful gift of Jesus Christ. Filling those bags for everyone in a large family can get expensive fast. We try to fill them with practical things and healthier choices than the traditional chocolate Christmas candies.

Here are some of our favorite items:

nuts (buy in bulk and use small sized snack bags)


pretzels (drizzle white and dark chocolate on them to make them festive; ditto on the buying in bulk and using snack bags)

individually packaged fruit snacks, fruit leathers

pretty pieces of fruit

exotic fruit like star fruit or clementines

homemade cookies

individually packaged granola bars

combs for the boys

brushes for the girls

deodorant for the teens

razors (shaving) for the teens

sample items/snacks we receive in the mail

flashlights with batteries for everyone

homemade perfumed body lotion for the older girls

homemade lip balm for everyone (recipes online are easy to find and make)

fish food for the ones who have fish bowls* in their room

cat treats/toys for the ones who have cats* (that are constantly sneaking into the house)

lip gloss for the teen girl

keychain and a tire gauge for the drivers

sippy cups and toddler sized spoons for our 17 month old

pacifiers for the baby

card games

toothbrush-everyone gets a new toothbrush-great timing with it being in the middle of the cold and flu season

nail clippers-everyone over 5 gets their own nail clippers

pencils and pens with Bible verses or other novelty sayings/pictures on them

a new box of crayons for the younger ones (purchased with school supplies when prices are low)

a water color paint set (the ones found in dollar type stores) for the youngers

glue or glue sticks for the younger ones (purchased with school supplies when prices are low)

various crafting supplies for our creative teen daughter

small books we find in the thrift store

safety scissors for the younger ones

birdseed/treats for Caleb who has parakeets*

We put initials on some items for easy identification.

Any small gifts they are getting that will fit also go into the Wise Men Bags.

*Our children are expected to pay for their pets food/treats/toys with their allowance so they appreciate the food as a gift. The exception to that is that we do buy dry cat food since the cats work on the farm keeping pests away.

A wonderful idea for homemade Christmas gifts is to make your own homemade marshmallows with a toasted coconut topping. Packaged in cellophane gift bags with a festive ribbon and name tag, these are very attractive. You can find recipes online and they are relatively easy to make. Give with a homemade cocoa mix and coffee mugs in a basket. I have found nice baskets in our thrift store for under a dollar and spray paint them (if needed) for gift giving.

No bake cookies are a good gift for busy moms to give too. I also like putting a nice big bowl with popcorn and homemade popcorn seasonings with a good family movie in a basket.

Wise men still seek Him.

"Seek ye the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near." Isaiah 55:6

Don't wait until it is too late!

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Miracle of Christmas by Stephen Curtis Chapman

I just love this song!

This can't be imbedded, but you can listen to it and watch the video here:

I really, really love this one from Brandon Heath. It can't be imbedded either.

Friday, December 05, 2008

And Later-Light Saber Battle

You'll note all of this happened while I was quietly watching t.v.!
If I wasn't sick with the pregnancy, I'd be right in the middle of them!
Once again, they are all going after Brandon!
I believe my words were "Alright, if you are going to cut up, at least go get the camera for me so I can document it."
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Sleepy Baby

All of the horseplay was too much for Emily so she found a quiet corner.
Note her dirty socks...that happens when Mama is sick and can't mop the floors!
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Caleb Putting on the Finishing Touches

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Daddy DOWN!!!

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Now He's In For It!

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Get DAD!!!!

Only a brave man would get down on the floor in this house with all of these rough and tumble children!
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Caleb Hanging on Clint

The pictures I am posting are from Thanksgiving Day.
Thanks Aunt Denise for the warm hoodie-Caleb LOVES it!!
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Maddie's Message: Important Child Safety Warning

We saw this on our local news and felt it was worth sharing especially since you may be rearranging furniture to fit in the Christmas decorations. This family learned a hard lesson and is sharing their experience to protect other children.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Prayer Need

Our friend Carla's SIL, Anna, is 8 weeks pregnant, but has started having some serious symptoms involving numbness on her left side from her face to her leg. It is growing worse. The doctor can not do an MRI in the first trimester so they can't diagnose the problem or treat it. Carla has asked us to pray for her.

Update on Mark

I heard briefly from Sheila. I do not think Mark was able to come home for Thanksgiving. It sounds like he was never released from the hospital. She says he is ready to go home and in good spirits.

They gave him a diuretic for the fluid accumulation, but it worked "too good" and his kidneys stopped working. They took him off the medication and his kidneys have resumed normal function.

At first, they said it was melanoma (which can be internal) but are now calling it carcinoma. They are sending his labs to the Mayo Clinic for more info.

Sheila is going back and forth from the hospital and home to care for their children. Please pray for her strength, endurance and an extra measure of grace as she tries to be there for everyone.

Clint is stopping by the hospital to see him right now. He's in that area for classes this week.

I've been asked where can cards be sent as a way to minister to the family. If you want to send one to:

Clint C. Asbell
c/o Mark B.
P.O. Box 244
Achilles, VA 23001

we will make sure it promptly gets to the family.

Thank You Gramma Susan!

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Emily saw the quilt Gramma Susan made for the new baby and tried to claim it as her own.
Gramma Susan made her this colorful fish quilt. Emily likes fish since we have them in our aquariums. She sat on the blanket and pointed to all of the fish even lifting up her hiney to point to the ones under her!
I've been on complete bedrest since the weekend because I was spending too much time with Betty the Trashcan (aka barf bucket). My throat is RAW and I keep losing my voice. I'll catch up on e-mail when I can.
Everyone else is doing great! Clint is taking a class in Norfolk. The shuttlebus is still in the shop because they did indeed have to order a special part (although not from Timbuktu). When it came in, it was the wrong part, so we are still waiting...
Please keep Luke in your prayers.