Saturday, May 31, 2008

Thank You!

I wanted to give a big Thank You to my friend, Amanda.

After Neal's surgery we had several friends bring us meals. Amanda told me (at the hospital) that she wanted to bring us a meal after we quit receiving them from our Sunday school class. This was the week! :o) On Tuesday she brought us a wonderful lemony chicken dish which was out of this world! I've already asked for the recipe per my daughter's request! She also brought us some yummy sides: whole grain rice and a cold snow pea salad. Yum! Then to top it off, she brought us mint cupcakes. Wow! Thank you soooo much, Amanda!

Now back to my regularly scheduled meals....


Thursday night we had a Celebration supper! Neal took his last dose of Coumadin (blood thinner) on Wednesday, and he wanted all the greens he could get! Fortunately there are lots of good veggies in our garden right now, so celebrate we did!

We had Ribeye steak, grilled asparagus and snow peas, steamed broccoli, and spinach-strawberry salad! (the asparagus, peas, broccoli, spinach and strawberries are from our garden!)

Here's a group picture. From the look on Neal's face, I interpret him to be thinking, "Why did you have to start a blog??? Can I have a meal without pictures?!" LOL

Strawberry Shortcake!

Neal has one more week at home before he goes back to work part-time. I believe he's ready health-wise, but I am going to miss him terribly! I guess that's a good thing...

His BP is coming down! Yaah! This morning the top number was only 129...bottom is still a little high, but the doctor was more concerned with the top.

For those of you who have just recently started coming to my blog, my husband Neal had open heart surgery on April 9th. He had to have his ascending aorta replaced due to it being enlarged, and while they were in there they replaced his defective aortic valve. We feel very blessed that his aneurysm was caught before it ruptured! Two days after he was discharged from the hospital, his BP and pulse dropped dangerously low, and they had to put in a pacemaker. He's doing well now, and is getting stronger every day!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Sky Watch

This was taken from my front porch. With Memorial Day being this week here in the States, I thought it was appropriate to include our flag.

Another view...

You can check out some other great sky shots at Wiggers World.

***Update*** "Anonymous" mentioned not knowing what Memorial Day is about. Sorry about that for those of you not here in the US! Memorial Day is a national holiday here in the United States. It is observed the last Monday of May, and commemorates our men and women who died while in military service to their country.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Who's That Dog?

This is a picture of our dog, Suzi, taken last fall (I believe):

This is a picture of Suzi taken this week!

Suzi and her Boy

After living with a hairy monster for over three years, I had had enough! On Friday of last week, we took Suzi to PetSmart and had her hair cut. It looked odd to us at first, but now we're used to it. I think she loves it, and I know I do! No more big ole clumps of hair in the floor.

Now if we could just shave the cat...

Project Fair

Last week we had our homeschool banquet, art display and project fair. Ben was finally able to display his postcard collection! Wahoo!!! Thanks again to all who helped out!

Here's a close-up of the postcard display (excuse the erased area -- that had Ben's name and address on it. He made the "sign" to look like a postcard.)

Here's a picture of the entire table. He made a notebook that included a page for every state. He also put our game "Snapshots Across America" on the table, and the extra postcards he received.

Here is Ben showing his display to Grandma and Grandpa.

Here is some of the art that was displayed.

Here is a picture Beth drew. She's been reading lots of dragon books lately, and drew one of the characters in her book.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Houston, We Have *Sneeze*

One of the biggest things Neal dreaded after surgery was sneezing. He knew with coughing being so painful, that sneezing would be terrible.

It may sound silly to some, but we asked people to pray that he wouldn't sneeze until it would be less painful. We had several people praying, but one person in particular we know has been praying faithfully about this -- Pam Burket. Thank you, Pam!!!

Neal sneezed tonight at 11:30 pm...six and a half weeks post surgery! The kids and I were here in the study, and Neal was on the couch two rooms away. We heard the sneeze, and at first it didn't click with me what I'd heard, then Neal said "I sneezed!" We all went rushing into the living room, and there he sat grinning. He said it wasn't too bad...kind of like a cough.

"Thank you, Lord, for holding off his sneeze until he could handle it without too much pain!"

Sunday, May 25, 2008

One Word

ONE WORD ONLY! Not as easy as you might think. Now copy, forward, or post this and change the answers to yours and pass it on. It’s really hard to only use one word answers.

1. Where is your cell phone? …………desk

2. Your significant other?…………………Neal

3. Your hair? ……………………………………auburn

4. Your mother? ………………………………Friend

5. Your father?……………………………………Heaven

6. Your favorite thing?………………………family

7. Your dream last night?…………………weird

8. Your favorite drink? ………………………water

9. Your dream/goal?…………………………service

10. The room you’re in?……………………study

11. Your ex?………………………………………none

12. Your fear?……………………………………loss

13. Where do you want to be in 6 years?……

14. Where were you last night?…………..movies

15. What you’re not?…………………………stupid ;o)

16. Muffins?………………………………………banana

17. One of your wish list items?…………smaller

18. Where you grew up?……………………Ohio

19. The last thing you did?…………………read

20. What are you wearing?…………………shorts

21. Your TV?………………………………………old

22. Your pets?……………………………………hairy

23. Your computer? ……………………………Dell

24. Your life?………………………………………fulfilling

25. Your mood?…………………………………content

26. Missing someone?………………………Dad

27. Your car?………………………………………Cobalt

28. Something you’re not wearing?……shoes

29. Favorite Store?……………………………… Amish

30. Your summer?………………………………Pool

31. Like(love) someone?……………………………Lots

32. Your favorite color?………………………

33. Last time you laughed?………………today

34. Last time you cried?………………………Friday

35. Who will re-post this?……………………..unknown

Freedom Isn't Free!

This is a tribute to the men and women who serve, and have served, our country in the military. Let's remember them and pray for them, not just on Memorial Day, but every day!

(**pause or stop the music on here before you play the video**)

"If I Die Before You Wake"

Friday, May 23, 2008

Sky Watch Friday

I found this really cool blog that has "Sky Watch Friday." Each Friday you post a different "sky" picture. Here's my first...

I love this because of the dark clouds and the bright blue sky in the same shot!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Drum Roll Please....

Ben is now the proud owner of postcards from ALL 50 United States!!! WAHOOOOOO!!!!

Thank you, thank you, thank you to all who helped Ben out on his project. Tomorrow is the project fair, so I'll be sure to take lots of pictures and post them on here!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Blood Work

Neal went and had his blood taken for his Pro-Time check. Last week his blood was thicker than it had was down to 1.9 (it's supposed to be between 2.5 and 3.0). Today it was 2.9! We both really think he had a faulty test last week. He's almost done with the Coumadin though. He comes off of it May 28th, and they said today that they don't need to check his blood anymore! Yaah! He is so happy...SO happy in fact that he ate this for supper:

Strawberry-Spinach Salad!

Those are fresh strawberries from our patch, and the spinach is from our garden! Now, lest you worry...he's not going to make a habit of least not until May 29th!

My Birthday!

Finally, at age 10 1/2, Ben has decided he likes Chinese food! Thank goodness!!!!

Beth just loves having pictures taken of herself while she's eating!

But, then again, so does Teresa...NOT!

Neal now agrees with me...International Buffet has the BEST Chinese buffet around!

This is a bit blurry because I couldn't stop laughing. It's hard to see, but Neal was at the buffet pretending to pick his what kind of example is that?!!!

After lunch, we went to see Prince Caspian! LOVED IT!!!

For supper, we went to my in-laws. We had salad and pizza. Beth made me my favorite cake: German Chocolate! Thanks, did a great job!

Isn't it pretty?

Here's a blurry pic of me blowing out the candles.

I've started collecting Willow Tree figurines. My sister-in-law, Janet, gave me this one for my birthday -- Courage! I found it very fitting after our experience these past couple of months! Thanks, Janet!

I had a wonderful 42nd birthday! Thanks for all the cards and birthday wishes!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Just a quick note to let you all know that Neal is doing well. His BP has come down a little bit, but is still running high. After today it will probably run even higher though. Today's my birthday! Yaah! And to celebrate we're going out for lunch at a local Chinese restaurant and then to see Prince Caspian. Tonight we're having pizza with my mother-in-law and father-in-law. So with all the sodium in the Chinese food and pizza, I think we'll see some pretty high BP numbers tonight (for all of us!).

Have a great week,and I'll update more later.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Prayer Request

Hello everyone! I just wanted to ask you all to pray for Neal's blood pressure. He didn't have high blood pressure before surgery, and now he's on two blood pressure medicines (and they just increased one of them). Tonight, 3 hours after taking his PM medicine, his blood pressure was 167/95. We think it may be due to the blood thinner he's taking (I haven't checked this out though). They keep increasing his Coumadin and every time they do that, his BP increases. He does come off of the Coumadin May 28th, so hopefully we'll see improvement in his BP after that.

Other than that, he's really doing well! Thank you for your prayers!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Doctor's Visit

Neal had a visit with his cardiologist today. For the most part, everything went well. He did have to increase Neal's blood pressure medicine. It's running a little high, and due to his stitches and new parts, they want it much lower. Other than that, everything looked good and he doesn't have to go back for another three months!

On May 28th Neal finishes taking his blood thinner, Coumadin. He is so looking forward to that day! I told him we'd celebrate with a grilled steak and a BIG spinach salad! :o) It will also be nice not to have to have his blood checked every week.

We're waiting to hear if his insurance will cover cardiac rehab. If it does, he'll probably start that next week. That will include working out in a "gym" type setting, but his heart will be monitored. I hope insurance does cover it, so that we can have a peace of mind about him working out.

Tonight Beth made dinner for us, and Neal's sister, Jessica came over and ate with us. She's in from Blacksburg for a few days and we had a nice visit with her! She stayed until 2:00 (am), so I'm winding down and getting ready for bed now. Neal went to bed a little after 1:00. He hasn't stayed up that late since his surgery, so he was pretty sleepy! It was great visiting with Jessica though...I wish we could do it more often!

Tomorrow I think we'll sleep in...and then do school work and go to church tomorrow night. Ben has his AWANA awards program!

Have a great Wednesday, y'all!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Mother's Day and PIGS

Yesterday (Mother's Day) we went to church with our moms. Mine and Neal's moms go to the same church, so it was nice to attend with them yesterday. After church, Neal's family had a dinner in the fellowship hall. Since all of Neal's immediate family were there, we got some family pictures.

This is the entire family including Neal's Grandpa. Back row (L-R): Grandpa, Neal, Teresa, Gary (Neal's Dad), Betty (Neal's Mom), Beth; Front row (L-R): Jessica (Neal's youngest sister),Janet (Neal's other sister) and Ben.

Here's our family minus Grandpa

And here's Neal with his parents and sisters

Once upon a time I was decorating my kitchen with roosters and in my living room I had Willow Tree figures....

Now we have had an invasion of PIGS!

The big pig is from Janet, The stuffed pig on the left is from Gary Lawhorne (that's Wilbur from Charlotte's Web), the paper mache pig was made by Beth, Janet gave Neal the rubber, squishy pig, and the Virginia Tech pig is from Jessica:

Here's Beth's pig:

Here's a pig trivet from Gary Lawhorne:

Gary (Neal's Dad) contributed this to the collection:

And here's a close-up of the pig from Jessica. It says "Somebody at Virginia Tech Loves Me." :o)

Just in case anyone has been wondering...even though Neal has a pig part implanted in his body, he has not started grunting, nor has he given up on eating pork!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day!

Here's some pictures that say Mother's Day to me:

This is my Mom and Ben after a Veteran's Day service in November:

Here are the kids and I in our aprons:

My mom, Ben and I on a train in Lancaster County, PA:

Just wanted to wish all of you mothers out there a very happy Mother's Day! I hope you spend the day doing something you enjoy!

Friday, May 9, 2008

What We're Up To...

Still not a lot going on around here...thus the lack of posts!

Let's see...what have we done this week ... or not done, as the case may be.

1. We didn't go back to church after the luncheon on Monday. Neal was just SO wiped out that we decided it would be too much to go to any more of the mission's conference services or luncheons. We were all disappointed, but we have to take care of Neal right now. :o)

2. I had to put the belt on the mower again yesterday. I don't remember if I mentioned it before or not, but I had to do this the week Neal got out of the hospital. The belt comes off track on our riding mower pretty easily, and it's a big pain to put back on. When Beth went to mow yesterday afternoon, she found out the belt was off again. I wasn't thrilled (to say the least). After 5 to 10 minutes (or in my mind hours) I was able to get it back on. Yaah!

3. Beth had piano yesterday, so Neal and I took a walk through Sams and Walmart. We decided exercise yesterday would be productive, so we got some shopping done. He didn't seem to get quite as tired yesterday, so it looks like he's heading in the right directions.

4. We all had haircuts this week. Wednesday Beth, Mom and I all went and got our hair cut. Neal's cousin's wife has a shop in her basement, and she lives about a 1/4 of a mile from our house. It's so nice! Yesterday morning I gave Neal and Ben haircuts.

5. This morning Neal and I are going to go on an errand, but I won't talk about it yet. We'll wait and make sure it goes through. ;o)

6. We haven't watched any movies this week, but we did watch Glenn Beck interview James Dobson last night. We also enjoyed his interview last Friday with Ben Stein.

7. Neal has taken over my role of Beth's math teacher (YAHOO!!!). She's seeing great improvement, and it's helped me tremendously...both mentally and time-wise.

8. Mom and I planted some canteloupe seed in our garden on Wednesday (I think). I love canteloupe and so does Mom.

I guess that's about it. We've just been doing normal, everyday stuff. Neal's learning my life here at home...what I do while he's away. I think it's good for all of us. I'm definitely getting spoiled having him home all the time. Too bad he has to go back to work!!!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008


I've been playing around with my blog tonight, and if you have sound on your computer, you've probably noticed my biggest change. I added a playlist that plays some of my favorite songs (and some of the kids).

If you do not want to listen to music while you read my blog, you can either turn off your volume or scroll down and stop the music from playing. (it's on the right hand side about under my archive.

Otherwise...sit back and enjoy the music!

Nuttin' Much

going on here! At least today there's not.

Yesterday I took Neal to our church's Mission's Conference luncheon. He enjoyed seeing some friends and listening to the missionary. Then we went to the doctor for his blood work (Pro-Time). We had to wait for an hour! But then we were 1 hour and 20 minutes early! We didn't want to drive all the way home and have to come back, so we figured they could fit us in. There was a steady stream of people waiting to see the vampire nurse. As a refresher, the first time we had his blood checked for thickness it was 1.2. That was extremely thick, but turned out to be perfect since he received his pacemaker the next day. Then the next week it went up to 1.6, the following week it was 2.0, and yesterday it was 2.3! The goal is for it to be between 2.5 and 3.0. He will get to stop taking Coumadin on May 28th, so we figure we'll have it just right by the time he is finished taking the blood thinner!

Last night Neal's parents and sister, Janet, came over for dinner. Actually they brought us dinner! They picked up some KFC chicken and brought homemade potato salad, baked beans and coleslaw. Janet picked up some cream puffs and iced them with chocolate frosting. We picked fresh strawberries out of our patch yesterday, so we topped the cream puffs off with half a strawberry. Wow! That was yummy!!!

Here's Neal's cream puff...

I tried to take a picture of Neal eating the cream puff, but he was being very difficult! Don't you see the mischievousness in his eyes!!!

Anyway, after a full day yesterday, Neal is wiped outtoday! For his exercise we did walk back into the woods to look at our raspberry patch. Earlier this year he transplanted our raspberries and put them along a fence at the edge of our woods. I don't think we'll get many raspberries this year, but they should be producing pretty good next year.

Here's another picture from the weekend. Beth bathed her cat on Saturday. If you know anything about her cat, Symon, you know that Neal refers to him as the demon cat. Symon does not like to be held, and he only wants to be rubbed in the morning...and that's only on his terms. i.e. he does the rubbing, not the humans. We took this picture because it's very unusual for Symon to willingly lay down next to anyone. Why was he doing it? He was COLD! He was still wet here and he was trying to warm up on Neal's blanket. It's really quite sad...

That's it for today. I think we're going to try to play a board game with the kids. We'll see if Neal's up for it!

Monday, May 5, 2008


Ben's project fair is week after next! He only needs FOUR more postcards! Two are supposed to be on the way, but we do not have anyone for the other two. Here's what we need:

North Dakota

Maryland (Kim Griffin's sister is going to send this one.)
Kansas (Christy Brenning is having someone send this one.)

This past week we received Louisiana and Wyoming! Thank you!!! Thank you to everyone who has participated in Ben's project. We all appreciate it!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Good Weekend

Saturday was busy with yard work and gardening. It was a nice day to do it! Neal took a couple of walks, but other than that stayed inside. He's trying to avoid the pollen right now (he still hasn't sneezed!).

Today Neal went to church. He only went to the 11:00 service. We got there early so we sat out in the International Plaza (our fellowship hall) and talked with various friends. He was pretty tired by the end of the service, so we slipped out a few minutes early. He hopes to go to one of our Missions Conference lunches this week, but we'll have to see. He's finding that he has to be careful not to do too much when he feels totally wipes him out!

Tonight we're going to watch Ironman cartoons. Ooops...they're getting ready to start. Gotta run!

Thanks for all the prayers!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Friday Update

Things are going well in our little "B" hive! Speaking of bees...Beth was sitting on the wicker furniture on the front porch when she discovered that underneath her cushion was a hornet's nest! Her Daddy came to the rescue and sprayed the nest. Thank goodness she didn't get stung!

We had a good week of school! Yaah! Things are getting back to normal. B

Today Beth mowed the grass, and Mom and I worked in the garden. Neal's Dad bought us some tomato plants today, so Mom and I prepared the soil to plant them, and we got two rows prepared to plant green beans. We'll do that tomorrow. I'll also have to use the push mower and mow the blueberry patch, our campsite, and the kids playground. It should only take me 30 or 45 minutes...not too bad.

Our friends, the Youngs, brought us a delicious meal tonight: Wet Burritos, spanish rice, salad, chips/salsa, and Dirt Dessert. Tracey called me yesterday and asked me what is Neal's favorite dessert. He said pudding and candy bars. :o) So she made a yummy dirt dessert (not sure of all the ingredients, but it's a pudding with crushed oreos on top -- I know it has more than that though.) She also sprinkled some M&Ms and mini candy bars on top. Neal LOVED it!

He and the kids are watching cartoons right now. His last words to me earlier were, "this has been a good day. We got a lot accomplished and we had a great supper!" He's so easy to please.

We watched another John Wayne movie tonight (at Ben's request) -- "Cahill." It was a good one. Last night we watched "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance." Although John Wayne was in it, Jimmy Stewart was the main character. It was a good movie, as well. I'm so thankful we have TV Guardian though. Even though these movies were made in the 70's or earlier, some of them still have a lot of curse words. As my Dad used to say "they weren't in there when they came out...someone must have added them later!" LOL

Have a good weekend, All!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

My Mom

Mother's Day is coming, and, of course, you know what that means..."what in the world can I buy my mom that she doesn't already have?!!!" No, not really, well, at least that's not all I think about. I truly am blessed with a wonderful mom, so for me it brings lots of good memories and the desire to do something special for my mom. Today I ordered her gift, but I won't post about that (someone out there might tell her what it is!).

However, I did find a way to honor Mom. Janice, at 5 Minutes for Mom is having a Mother's Day photo contest. All you have to do is post a picture that expresses Motherhood to you. The winner of the contest will receive $1,000 via an American Express gift card! (thanks to Egg Beaters) Soooo, here is the picture that expresses Motherhood to me:


My mom, Dora, joined the U.S. Army in day before her 19th birthday. My mom was a very shy person who could barely speak to a stranger, yet she had the strength to venture out and go into a world of strangers! Although she remained a quiet and reserved person, this "Army Mom" would emerge when needed during my stand up for what she believed was true and right!

Now that we're both adults, Mom has become one of my best friends! Her strength shines through every day, and I love her for the example she has set for me in her life!

Thanks, Mom!

Doctor's Appointment

Neal went to the surgeon yesterday...our last visit with him. We're going to miss seeing him! Now Neal will be seeing his regular cardiologist. His next doctor's appointment (other than getting blood checked) is May 13th.

Dr. M thought that Neal looked great! He did have to put him on an additional blood pressure medicine. It's running a little high, and with his heart healing they don't want it running high at all.

We asked him for "the story." Do you remember when I said he had something to tell that us that we would want to tell at our Thanksgiving table? That's the story I'm talking about. When we asked him he had a blank look on his face and the physician's assistant that was in the room said: "you do that all the time!" Then he said what he probably wanted to tell us is how the surgery is done. At this point we're feeling like this is kind of anti-climatic...after all we've been imagining all kinds of horrible things like Neal died on the table or his aneurysm ruptured when they opened him up. Not that we wanted any of that to happen, but that's what was running through our minds (and, after all, we knew the outcome...Neal lived!).

Anyway, we said that no, we didn't know how the operation was done. So he told us that with this particular kind of surgery (when it involves replacing the aorta) they have to bring his body temperature waaaaaay down. He compared it to the boy that falls through the ice of a lake in winter and his body temperature drops drastically. They brought his body temperature way down, and then (I'm so glad I didn't know this beforehand) they drain his body of its' blood and keep it in the heart/lung machine. Then they are able to work on the aorta! Whoa!!! Again, I'm so thankful I didn't know that was going on. It was hard enough to know that his heart was stopped for almost 4 hours!

The doctor did say that his aorta was starting to turn purple, so that means that they got to him at a very good time. I guess it turns purple as it gets bigger. I also asked if he had to have any blood transfusion while they were in there, and they said they didn't have to give him any! What a blessing!

So, although we felt a bit let down, that is quite a story!
Jeremiah 29:11

"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."