Thursday, November 29, 2007

More about being home

We are all home now. We brought Timmy home last night. At first, it was hard. He didn't even want his brothers and sisters to come near him. But then Sarah took him away from clinging to me and made friends with him again. After that he was okay.

They think now that he might have asthma, but there has to be three episodes of wheeze before he's officially diagnosed. He's on a puffer for the first 24 hours, then as needed. He is supposed to have it with him (like in the diaper bag) wherever he goes, just in case. Since it was a cold that set him off this time, we are supposed to give him the puffer every four hours during a cold.

It is cold and wet and rainy. We are going to work inside the house today, attacking dust, mold and clutter, and increasing the air flow. Tom put in another cold air return for the furnace Tuesday, and already the air flow is better. Saturday, while Timmy was in the hospital the first day, Tom cleaned the boys' room (the four younger ones share a room). He discovered that Ben had been collecting, in boxes, birds' nests, bird seed, and garden soil! He cleared all that out, washed walls and the floor, raised the dressers up on 2X4s, washed bedding, and bought new pillows for John and Timothy. He said there was mold in there, but since that's the room with the new cold air return, he's hoping that will fix the moisture problem.

I will be so glad when we can start remodeling the inside of this house. Besides the cold air return, we need better insulation and moisture barriers. It is the outside walls in three or four rooms that are getting wet and moldy.

I've got to get going. We all slept in this morning, but now Timmy needs his last dose of steroid medicine and a puffer, John needs his antibiotic and steroid doses, and we all need breakfast.

Thanks for all the prayers during the last week.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


It is nice to be home, with no one in the hospital. It is nice to be able to sleep in my own bed. It is nice to have other people for Timmy to cling to. It is nice to have friends who go beyond the call of duty in time of need. It is nice to be done sharing four days of isolation with a toddler.

And I never thought I'd say this, but it's nice to have something to eat other than Pizza Pizza or Mr. Sub from a hospital cafeteria (and nice not to have to pay their wretchedly high prices).

What is NOT nice is that maybe it was asthma all along, and now my toddler has to carry a puffer with him everywhere he goes. Doctor's orders.

Monday, November 26, 2007

John, Timothy and two hospitals (this is a loooong post)

Thursday Timmy started coughing. Friday, John started coughing, and Timmy started wheezing. So we said no Bible Club for them Friday night. They're too young anyway, but I'm one of the drivers. While we were discussing how we would work the transportation, the Bible Club leaders called and canceled for this week.

Friday night Timmy got worse. He was up in the night crying, coughing, wheezing. Tom moved to the couch to give Timmy bed space with me. I basically got very little sleep since when Timmy was awake he was coughing and very restless. When he was asleep, he was coughing and wheezing. A mother can't sleep when her baby is so sick.

Saturday morning we prepared to take Timmy to emergency. We discussed taking John, too, but decided to wait since he wasn't that bad. On the way to emergency we noticed that the walk-in clinic was open so we decided to stop there first. They ended up sending us to emergency anyway, so off we went.

Saturday noon Timmy was admitted to the hospital with either severe asthma or bronchiolitis. They wanted to say asthma, but since there is no family history of asthma, they settled on bronchiolitis. Either way, it got worse as the day wore on till by midnight Timmy was really gasping for air. They were only giving oxygen with a medicated mist about every 2 to 4 hours, and in between Timmy was mostly awake, struggling to breathe. They finally put him under an oxygen tent, but even that did not help. By 4 a.m. I was so sleep-deprived I couldn't think straight, so they sent me to an empty room to sleep.

While I was sleeping they called the doctor, who ordered oxygen all the time. They put a mask on him, but after I woke up around 7-ish they switched to using an oxygen tube with nasal prongs. The problem was that they only had newborn sized prongs, which were way too small, or adult sized, which were way too big. They put the newborn size on him, but it was not a good fit. He ended up with a mask on top of the prongs, which I thought ridiculous, but they thought he would get more oxygen that way.

Sunday morning, the doctor came, first thing, to see him. He decided to send Timmy to CHEO (Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario) in Ottawa. CHEO is a fantastic place, much better equipped and staffed than our local hospital, so I was actually relieved to hear this news. (The nurses expected me to be devastated.) I called Tom at home to tell him the news. He was busy getting children out the door to go to church, so he said it wouldn't take long to get there, since they were just about to leave anyway.

Tom dropped some children off at church (friends were coming to pick up the rest--we go everywhere in two vehicles now, and none of the children are licensed yet). He was in the church parking lot when he saw the orange helicopter-ambulance fly overhead. He got to the hospital just in time to greet the EMTs coming in with their stretcher to take Timothy. It took them about half an hour for them to get everything settled. During that time, the nurses and I convinced Tom to let someone else lead services and preach. We really did not have to do much convincing; he was more than ready to go along with the idea.

After they took Timothy away, Tom and I came back to the house to pick up some things, switch vehicles, and send a few urgent e-mails. (As we were driving out of Cornwall, we saw the helicopter in the air headed for CHEO. Tom wished for a camera.) We also had to check on the turkey someone gave us, which was in the oven cooking for Sunday dinner. As we pulled up, Nathanael came out of the garage, wondering why he wasn't taken to church. In the confusion, he had been left behind! Tom told him to stay home, mind the turkey and answer the phone. We didn't have time to take him back to church.

We stopped for gas and to put air in the tires, so I took the time to call Sarah at church to explain what was happening, and to make suggestions for them for the afternoon. Sarah reported that John had started wheezing. Well, what to do now? We were close enough still that we decided to go back to the church to check John, and see how bad he was. We decided that Tom would take me to Ottawa, see us settled in, then come back to take John in to Cornwall emergency. He was wheezing, but not nearly as bad as Timmy. We left his health card with Sarah, with instructions for her and Nathanael to take John to emergency themselves if they thought he needed to go. One of the women in the church was asked to help them make that decision and give them transportation if needed.

Thankfully, they were able to wait for Tom to get back. So while Tom was in Cornwall with John, I prepared to spend my third sleepless night with Timothy at CHEO. As I said, this place is fantastic. Timothy was given nasal prongs that fit, but when he started pulling at them they switched back to the mask. He hated the prongs and loved the mask. He seemed to know that it was helping him breathe, so whenever it slipped out of place he put it right back again.

By the time the night staff came on at 7:30, Timothy was already improving. He even ate some supper, the first meal he'd eaten since Friday night. Although he did much better through the night at CHEO than in Cornwall, neither of us slept much. He clung to me, practically crawling up and over my shoulders in his effort to get away from all these strange people who kept poking needles into him, prodding him with stethoscopes and staring at him through strange face masks. I tried to explain to him that these people were friends who wanted to help him get better, but a 20-month-old baby can't fathom "friends" poking him and taking his blood away.

He was on ventilation with medicated mist for about ten minutes every hour all through the night, with regular oxygen in between. He and I both tried to sleep in between mistings, but there was a problem. He would only sleep in my arms while I rocked him, and I could only sleep on the cot they set up for me.

Meanwhile, John was admitted in Cornwall. Tom got to sleep on a bed in John's room, only waking for mistings every two hours. The nurses kept doing double takes, seeing Tom back again so soon. ("Newton? Didn't we just send you to CHEO?" "No, that was Timothy. This is John.")

Monday morning, Timothy had me stuck. If I went out of his sight, he cried. Too much crying made his lungs tighten up, so I tried not to make him cry. The problem was, I needed sleep desperately. Friends who live in Ottawa had offered to let me sleep at their house, but I couldn't leave the room long enough to use the phone. Finally someone brought Timothy some toys. One of the nurses was able to play with him while I left to call the Tessiers. Luc volunteered to take the day off work to stay with Timmy (he said his boss owed him tons of time) while Sylvia took me home, fed me and put me to bed.

Actually, their 4-and-a-half-year-old daughter put me to bed in her room. I slept for about three hours, then called home to check on John. By that time he had been discharged and Tom had had time to take a short nap. He came up to Ottawa then. Timothy kept improving, keeping himself out of the ICU one doctor had threatened him with.

He has a lot of energy, but is still tied down with a mass of cords, wires and tubes. They had taped his IV needle VERY securely so that he couldn't pull it out, but he still managed to pull the connection apart twice, splattering blood everywhere. He gleefully threw all his toys out of his crib, and Tom put the rails up just before he could throw himself out. Then he stood up and paced his crib, tromping on cords and wires, and setting his monitors to beeping. We sat him down, and he set to work trying to pull the sticky pad lung monitors off his chest.

I helped Tom decide that I was the one who needed sleep the most, even though he wanted to go home and make sure John went through the night okay. We decided that I would stay at the Tessiers for the night, but first I called home to check on everyone. Sarah and Josiah reported that John refused to take one of his meds, and only took the other over strong protest. The meds are given only every twelve hours, so I decided to come home for the night, make sure John took his meds in the morning, and come back to CHEO so that Tom could come home, sleep, and make sure John took his meds.

The Tessiers brought me home since I was too sleep-deprived to drive that far (over an hour one way) in the dark and in the rain that turned to snow and then back to rain again. So here I am at home. It is late, but I could not settle to sleep right away. I've been home for about three hours, heard all the news, told all my news, reassured the children, and put an already asleep John in my bed for the night. Tomorrow after breakfast I will go back to CHEO with our van.

I don't know when they will let Timmy come home. They say he has to stay until he can go without the oxygen mask. Right now he's off it when he's awake, but has to have it in his sleep. They planned to stretch the mistings to every two hours overnight, but they don't want to push it. I would guess that he won't be home before Wednesday. I will find out tomorrow.

Now I think I can sleep. Don't anybody wake me up in the morning. I'll get up when I'm ready to get up.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

21 years

Today is our 21st anniversary. We have been so blessed. We have nine healthy children and the tenth doing fine as he gets ready to enter the world next spring. There has never been anything so majorly wrong that the Lord has not helped us overcome by His grace. Our marriage has not exactly been total bliss (what marriage is?) but it has been wonderful. We look forward to however many more years God gives us.

We got such a snowstorm that Tom postponed our night away until next week. But we did go out to breakfast and out to supper. When we got home from supper out, the children surprised us with an ice cream anniversary cake from Dairy Queen!

Since we don't do anything for Christmas anymore, we have started a new family tradition. The week of our anniversary (always the week of American Thanksgiving) we have a family holiday with no school. Hopefully as the years go by and the children begin having families of their own, they will be able to come home for a family reunion every year or so. They may not all be able to come every year, but it will still be a special time. Of course, we will need a bigger house by then (perhaps a small hotel?) since this is the wrong time of year for camping the children out in tents.

Anyway, the children are enjoying their week off from school. The snowstorm couldn't have come at a better time. They had a great time in the snow. I took Timmy out for a little while, but he couldn't walk very well in it. He'd go a few steps, fall on his face, say, "Up, up!" I'd help him up, and he'd walk a few steps, fall on his face, etc., over and over. Finally I got him to the neighbour's driveway where he could walk better. Then he said, "Bite, bite!" plunked himself down on his face and started eating the snow! I carried him over to where the others were building a fort. Then his boots kept coming off, so I took him back inside.

Elizabeth needed boots, so we got her some new ones while we were in town for breakfast. Later, we spent half an hour (no exaggeration) trying to unzip her coat (which was a bit too small anyway). So we got her a practically brand new coat at Value Village for just under $10. It's even purple, to match her snow pants. (The old one was red.)

The children and I spent most of the afternoon trying to rearrange the living room to make room for a space for boots and a rack for hanging up coats/mitts/snow pants. We have a small living room, and too much furniture, so it was a tricky thing to arrange it all. I had to take out the coffee table and my sewing table to make the rest fit.

This has been a most unique anniversary! But fun. I got boots today, too. Now I need to figure out what I can wear in the snow. Pajama pants under a dress wasn't really warm enough. The neighbours (not to mention my children) would probably go into shock if I put snow pants on. Last year Chelsea from next door was shocked to find that I would wear sweat pants under my dress. I can just imagine what she'd say about snow pants without a dress!

I am going to put the turkey in the oven to slow-roast overnight. We will have American Thanksgiving dinner a day late. This year sickness made us miss our annual Canadian Thanksgiving in October, but normally we have two Thanksgiving dinners every year. Just one of the side benefits of being U.S. citizens in a different country!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Sunday morning notes--November 18, 2007

I had the most amazing experience in Sunday school today.

I was raised in church and Sunday school. I have taught Sunday school off and on since I was 15. I love teaching, but sometimes it gets a little old because I teach children who have been in church since they were babies. They've heard all the stories so many times they could probably teach the lesson themselves. Even the application is old to them.

Today was different. Today we had a visitor, an 8-year-old girl who had never been in Sunday school before, ever. Our lesson was on creation, and the all-powerful God Who created everything. This was all new to her. She was astounded, incredulous, awed, by the whole idea. While the other three girls in my class were maybe a little bored, had all the answers, and tried to teach the lesson themselves, this girl asked questions, said things like "Cool!!!" and asked, over and over, "But HOW did God do that?" "You mean He just said it, and it was there?" "So God is sort of like magic?"

Then, right toward the end, when I didn't have any more time left, the subject of sin came up, and how sin keeps us from heaven. We described what sin is, and listed some examples (disobedience, lying, stealing, etc.). This girl asked, "But what if you only do that ONCE?"

Oh, for more time! At that point I wished I could have dismissed the others so I could talk to her alone. Instead, I told her that next week's lesson will be about Adam and Eve and how sin came into the world. We would talk more about sin and salvation then. I gave her a Bible and a Sunday school assignment paper, showed her where to read for her assignment, and told her how much we'd like to have her come back. I also invited her to Bible Club Friday nights, and she sounded excited about that.

Later, I talked to her father. He is the kind of parent that believes there should come a time in every child's life when she is exposed to religion, and then allowed to make her own choice about it. We had an "interesting" conversation that really didn't go anywhere. But I encouraged him to keep bringing his daughter back, that we'd love to have them come again, and told him about Bible Club. He said he hoped to come back.

Please pray for this family. A brother was mentioned during Sunday school, but no word was said about a mother. The father said he was raised by parents and a grandmother who went to church and were "very religious." I do not know what he meant by that. Pray that the father will take seriously his responsibility to train his daughter in true religion. Also pray that his daughter will put pressure on him to bring her back.

While you in the USA are praying, pray for cold, dead, Canada which cannot tolerate on-fire, living followers of Christ. This little girl is the product of a system that did away with God a long time ago. There are so many more children like her all over our city and nation. Bible Clubs and Sunday schools are reaching a few, but we need the power of God upon us.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Is it genetic?

I read somewhere recently that we may be genetically inclined toward one occupation or another. When studying my family tree I discovered that the Bowser line (from which I come) includes mostly farmers and medical people (doctors, nurses, medics, etc.)

For instance, my great-great-grandmother raised sheep. She sheared and spun the wool and wove it into cloth, which she then used to make a suit for her son. That son wore his new suit to college, became one of the best doctors in the county, and was my great-grandfather. His granddaughter (my mother) was a nurse. My cousin also went into nursing. Armstrong County, Pennsylvania (where I grew up) is full of Bowser farms.

My main dream all my life has been to have a family farm. I don't want to go big or anything, but I would like to have a little farm with chickens, cows, a pig or two, and sheep. And some Morgan horses. I would like to grow or raise 85-90 per cent of our food and have plenty to share with others. My favorite set of books was (is) the Little House series. I always wished I was Laura. (Now I think more like Ma. And after wearing out countless paperback sets, I finally spent $100 to get the set in hardback, which my children now read with gusto.)

My daughter wants to go into the medical field. She has also always liked animals and wants to raise goats. Maybe there is something to that genetic disposition thing.

Another interesting fact I discovered during genealogical research: I come from a LOOOOONG line of Baptists, beginning with Matthias Bausser, the first of the Bowsers (as the name became) to come to America. He was a "dunkard" who came from Germany, possibly Switzerland before that, where dunkards were being persecuted for their practice of "dunking" (immersing) as their preferred method of baptism.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Proverbs 31:10

My friend Christy has asked me to describe how she can prepare herself for that great change from singleness to married woman. I have thought a lot about this, trying to think what wonderful words of advice I might have. After all, I have been married 21 years this month--I ought to know something, right?

Actually, I often think I am just learning. I look back on my marriage and see so much failure that could have been avoided had I prepared myself spiritually, mentally, emotionally, even physically instead of thinking that there would not be much difference between my life as a single person and my life as a married woman.

Lately I have been meditating on the woman described in Proverbs 31:10-31 in an attempt to make my life more like hers. So I thought I'd do a series on her.

Proverbs 31:10 -- "Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies."

I want to focus on the word virtuous for this post. Literally, in the Hebrew, this means a woman of strength. The word translated virtuous in this verse as also been translated might, power, strength, valiant. It has been used in a military sense as army, great forces, host, company. So we are talking about one strong woman here.

I like what Matthew Henry has to say about this, so I am going to quote him here:

[She is]...a woman of strength..., though the weaker vessel, yet made strong by wisdom and grace, and the fear of God....A virtuous woman is a woman of spirit, who has the command of her own spirit and knows how to manage other people's, one that is pious and industrious, and a help meet for a man....A virtuous woman is a woman of resolution, who, having espoused good principles, is firm and steady to them, and will not be frightened with winds and clouds from any part of her duty....

The first thing a woman needs if she would be a godly wife, then, is strength of character. On a related note, we women are sometimes subject to mood swings. Biblically, those mood swings ought to be subject to us. This is part of having the command of our own spirits. You might find it helpful to read this post about mood swings.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

"It is appointed -- a day for you to die"

Last Sunday morning at a dangerous intersection near Dallas, Texas, 19-year-old Michael Billings went home to be with his Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. I never heard of Michael Billings until after his death, but I sit here blinded by tears as I try to write this. Why would God choose to take this young man, who showed so much promise as a soldier of Christ? Maybe one reason is so those young men and women who are more mediocre in their faith can be spurred on to take up Michael's torch. And perhaps those of us who are older will also be spurred by his testimony. I know this is the fourth thing this week that has affected me to the point of tears and made me question my own spirituality, or lack thereof.

To learn more about Michael Billings, please follow this link. Please take the time also to listen to the short sermon he preached a couple of years ago at the age of 17. The title of this post comes from that sermon.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Colds, colds, colds!

I stayed home today with Ben, John and Timothy. (Nathanael stayed home, too, but since he lives in the garage now, we didn't see much of him.) All of us are coughing. In fact, there were enough people in our church who were not feeling well that we canceled the evening service tonight. We have been watching the Day of Discovery documentary on the life of Eric Liddell instead.

This morning I asked Ben to bring the little boys into the living room so we could keep an eye on them while we listened to Tom's Sunday morning message from last week (which I missed because I was home with a cold). As we were getting things set up, the following exchange took place between 3-year-old John and me.

"Come and sit on the rocking chair; we're going to listen to Daddy preach."



"Our daddy?"

"Yes, our daddy."

"Our real daddy?"

"Yes, our real daddy?"

"Our real daddy who lives in this house?"

By this time I am laughing as I answer, "Yes, our real daddy who lives in this house."