SAL-VA-TION: by grace

E-LEV-EN: children from 1984 to 2006

HOME-SCHOOL-ING: since 1990

DOWN-SYN-DROME: susie and gabe

GRAND-CHILD-REN: since 2010

FAITH-FUL-NESS: my steadfast rock, my biggest supporter, my leader, my friend, my love, my husband

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Gabe's Finale, or "The Lord Giveth, the Lord Taketh Away"

I very much hope that this is the concluding post of Gabe's heart episodes. From his initial cardiac appointment in November, through the near catheter procedure, the open heart surgery, and now the incision infection you have been prayer warriors for him and our family and we all greatly appreciate it.

By the way, just to spice things up a bit on Monday I received a call from Shane at 10:30 AM. The wedding was over, Keith was back in Milwaukee, our twenty guests had eaten breakfast and helped enormously with home clean up and we were packing so as to get up to our church family camp (45 minute drive) asap.
And Shane called.
From football practice.
Which normally ends at 11 AM.
He said, "Mom can you come get me?"
Hmmm, he had a bike.
I asked, "Why?"
He said, "I have to leave early."
I asked, "Why?"
He said, "I need to get my wrist x-rayed."
No problem, I was hoping to spend the day at the hospital. So what did I do? I laughed. How could I do anything else? And we both prayed. And God mercifully answered in a way that pleased us both. We were out of the ER in just 30 minutes (have you EVER heard of that?) with the diagnosis of a sprain. I think sometimes God blesses laughter and a submissive acceptance of unalterable circumstances. He certainly did this time.

Back to Gabe. On Wednesday, he was released from the hospital. The message on my phone said, "This is Keith, it's 11 AM and Children's Hospital is in my rear view mirror." I'm sure Gabe was joining me with an, "Alleluia!"

The guys stopped at home where they met the Home Nurse and received instructions for cleaning the incision site and administering the IV antibiotics.

That evening at camp, in our rustic cabin, Keith passed on the instructions and I took over Gabe's care. I set the alarm for 3:30 AM, made the trip to the building that had a refrigerator (where some of the medication had to be stored) and then to the building where there was hot running water and soap. Back in the cabin I lit three candles and started in with alcohol swabs, saline flushes, antibiotics, and the rest. Gabe woke up, of course, and I was finally back in bed at 5:30.

Thursday was spent chasing Gabe on the tennis courts, pushing him in the swing, walking down the road kicking a ball, and trying desparately to keep his incision clean and safe, his PICC line clean and safe, and the rest of him generally clean. Camp does not run strong on "clean". It was a challenge.

By Friday morning I was exhausted and knew I had to go home. Neither of us were sleeping very well, the incision site wasn't looking as good as it had (confirmed by two nurses), and we left for home after lunch. I was feeling rather guilty for abandoning my family and not putting on my best camper face and making do.

Now, Saturday evening, the guilt is gone. We returned home to a very recently delivered package of antibiotics that needed to be refrigerated. Gabe and I both slept VERY well last night, and he has been supremely happy at home with his toys, books, and Blue's Clues. His incision looked very good this morning and I am not second guessing our desicion to return home.

So, what did the Lord give? He gave rapid healing to Gabe, allowing him to leave Milwaukee in less than a week, He gave healing to Shane as his wrist improves daily, He gave me wisdom to make the best choice for Gabe's location for optimum care, and He gave and is still giving blessings to those at the camp. Praise Him!

Now what, you ask, did He "taketh"? It's really just part of the saying, and I'm not exactly blaming God for the taketh part. But Gabe came home without his I've-only-had-them-for-a-month-Glasses.

Where are they? Somewhere on the highway about 130 miles north of Milwaukee. I forgot to warn Keith about shutting the windows.....

Friday, August 28, 2009

Wedding Pictures

I am keeping my promise to put up some wedding pictures before I do anything else on here. However, so as not to keep you in suspense, I will let you know that Gabe is home!

I chose to leave the camera alone during the wedding ceremony and I will rely on our friend/photographer Bob Mainhardt to come through with his typically wonderful picture memories for us.

I did capture some scenes from before and after the wedding and will fill you in on the middle when Bob's disk becomes available.

These are from Ellen's last day at home. Everything was ready here--the dresses were sewn; the bouquets, corsages, and boutonnieres made; and the girls rested. Me? Rested? Absolutely not.

Believe it or not, this exquisite dress was second hand, given to Ellen by a friend in Guyana.

We decorated the churches (wedding at one, reception at another) with lots of help from her bridesmaids while aunts Kelly (with cousin Kent) and Pat prepared salad and punch.

The wedding rehearsal went like all rehearsals, time spent practicing to get it right the next day. Ellen and Daniel introduced their family members and attendants and Aunt Kari took over trying to get everyone into the right place at the right time.

With Keith in Milwaukee with Gabe, Uncle Tom filled in as the father of the bride. I know that some rehearsing is necessary, but Keith's part on the day of the wedding was completely genuine. His first glimpse, in four days, of his little girl was just ten minutes before he gave her away, dressed to perfection for her wedding day. It was a special moment for both of them and the intense emotion of joy and seeing the fulfillment of years of prayer was evident on his face as they came up the aisle.

And here is an example of WHY you have the rehearsal. Josiah (aka "little Daniel") was a perfect junior groomsman during the ceremony. He just had to get this out of his system.

Chris Kleven, Ellen's mother-in-law, made the cakes. Not only were they beautiful, but she made three different kinds and they were all delicious.

Sometimes the unsuspecting shots are my favorite!

Twenty-nine years ago as fellow exchange students in England we were known as Big Cindy and Little Lynn. We've visited back and forth, attended one another's weddings, and taken an educational trip with Joey, Keith, and Dana to see the Laura Ingalls Wilder sites. I guess it's really true. As you get older you see your loved ones at weddings and funerals. Between the two of us we could have another eleven weddings to attend. I hope we're together at a few of them.

I'm too tired to wait for any more downloads, so I'm going to finish off with a picture of Ellen and Daniel at the reception. Any other pictures I have will be completely outdone by Bob, and it will be worth the wait to see those when they're available.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Ellen's Next, I Promise....Gabe update

Just a note on the wedding--it was beautiful!!! I will get detailed when I put the pictures up this afternoon.

Gabe survived almost 48 hours without us and did wonderfully. They called us at each shift change to tell us how he was and who was caring for him. On Saturday night after the reception, Keith was preparing for the 4 1/2 hour drive (hoping to arrive by 1 or 2 am) and called the nurse for some information. She pretty much told him,

"I have fallen in love with your son. He's not only captured my heart but he's the star of the show on this floor. He is happy with me and doesn't get inconsolable at all. While you're gone we have 2 nurses assigned to his care, and if you return I won't be assigned to him anymore. So, please, get some rest and don't come back yet."

Keith stayed, slept, went to church, enjoyed fellowship at the potluck, and got back to Milwaukee yesterday evening. He said Gabe was more excited to see his his glasses and "Love and Learning" (Gabe calls them "Apple") DVDs than to see Keith. I guess they REALLY had fun with him!

On Saturday the put in a PIC line (not sure of the spelling, some call it a central IV line) into an artery in his right arm. He has an echo test scheduled today. I don't think I've mentioned that he DID test positive for staff infection, so they know what they're treating.

It was very hard to be missing Gabe at the wedding. I noticed it the most when a picture of just the children was taken. The tears were on the brink. However, I've taken advantage of the benefits of hosting two dozen people and visiting with friends WITHOUT having the care of a three year old tornado. I determined that God planned it this way to protect Gabe from what he might of gotten into during all of this commotion! It certainly has allowed me to relax more and tend to guests, which I've been able to enjoy thoroughly.

But now, I'm ready to hear he's coming home!!!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Gabe Again

The surgeon talked to Keith this afternoon and although things are looking very good and Gabe could be coming home Sunday or Monday, he wants him to stay in Milwaukee. He told Keith, "I want my eyes to be the ones to look and determine what needs to be done." Keith is very impressed with his compassion and desire to be so involved in Gabe's care.

Keith expressed our concern for having someone stay with Gabe on Saturday and Dr. Mitchell just said, "Why won't you just let us take care of him?" Good question, why not?

Keith will be heading home tonight after Gabe goes to sleep and we will be able to attend the wedding together. I may have trouble getting through the family picture taking without him, but I will be thankful for the ease of being Gabe-less.

In the meantime, I'm sure Gabe will be busy playing trucks, watching Bambi, and running through the halls with some very willing nurse-babysitters.

Thank you over and over again for your prayers. I have been lifted up and comforted during this stressful time. God has given peace and joy when I felt it was not to be found.

Report on Gabe

I am sorry I didn't get more information out yesterday. I didn't hear anything until almost 9 and I was up until midnight making corsages and bouquets with Ellen, Lisa, and Katie. Going on just three hours of sleep I had to go fall into bed!

Gabe was scheduled to go to surgery at 12:30 pm, but the case before him (a baby girl) ended up going 6 hours longer than expected. Her situation was certainly more serious than his!

Keith said he finally went down for the surgery at about 6:30 pm. Neither Keith nor Gabe ate all day. Gabe couldn't (in prep for the surgery) and Keith wouldn't (out of respect for Gabe).

The report was very good. The infection was contained and only affected the tissue in/near the skin. The surgeon told Keith that it had been cared for and treated properly and that it was apparent it was handled in a timely manner--i.e. I didn't wait too long or mess up my boy!!

While the very weary cardiac surgeon was in the room explaining a very simple draining and packing procedure little Gabe woke up, sat straight up in bed, put out his arms to Daddy, and fell asleep again on his shoulder. Keith said the staff was touched. He also cracked them up earlier in the day when one of the doctors was talking to him in a duck voice. Gabe was immitating him with duck noises. Then Keith asked him, "Gabe, what does a BIG duck say?" Gabe lowered his voice and gave a loud, gruff, "Quack! Quack!"

The main story is: the sternum is completely healed and looks great, the infection was very limited and most likely caused by a problem internal stitch, and the healing should be very quick.

Our next question is, which Keith will be posing this morning, is, "Does Gabe really need to be in one of the highest rated Children's Hospitals in the country under the care of an expert heart surgeon at this point?" He will be pushing to have Gabe released and sent to the hospital here--assuming he needs the IV antibiotics over oral.

We have had a number of offers from people to go down and stay with Gabe while Keith attends Ellen's wedding and we will definitely be accepting one of those offers if we need it. However, we think it would be best for Gabe to be closer to home so he wouldn't be apart from us for such a long time.

I will be decorating with the girls all morning and hope to be back home in the early afternoon with an update.

Thank you all for your prayers and your encouraging words. They matter more than you can know!

"Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen."

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Mr. Gabe

This is Dana, giving an update for my mom who has a ton to do and no time to blog.

Gabe's CT Scan came back CLEAR!!! Praise God! He goes in for surgery at about 12:30 pm (an hour and a half from now). Thank you all for praying and please don't stop. I thank God that He does all things for our good and for His glory!

Heart on Trial

I know this post says "August 20" but in my mind it's still August 19. Exactly one year after I posted The Final Straw. I was just thinking about that a few days ago when someone me asked how I could be so calm with Ellen's wedding just days away. I thought then, "God prepared me a year ago so I could take things in stride now." Little did I know what I was really in for.

I took Gabe in to the pediatrician this afternoon (19th) to have his incision site looked at. It just hasn't closed at the top and it's been a little red, but nothing to be concerned about. Until yesterday afternoon. It looked redder and the red was bigger. I emailed my Downs Heart friends who've been through this and asked for experiences and advice. I listened.

This morning the site was just as red if not a little more so and the area was warm. I made an appointment.

The doctor was not comfortable evaluating it and called in a surgeon. The surgeon was not comfortable dealing with it and called the cardiac surgeon and primary cardiologist.

It was determined that Gabe needed to head to the cardiologist. Tests were run and an antibiotic injection given and I packed up, prepared to spend the night, and drove with Gabe to Marshfield.

We got there at 8pm. The cardiologist looked, poked, pressed, measured, asked questions and ran it all by the cardiac surgeon again. They decided that Gabe should go back into surgery to have the area explored to determine the source/depth of the infection. I was told we have an 80% possibility of at least a 7-10 day hospital stay. It could be as long as 6 weeks.

So, at 10:15pm we were on our way to meet Keith so that he and I could switch places. He would take Gabe to Milwaukee while I headed home to continue with the wedding plans.

I drove out of that hospital fighting back tears and losing. I tried telling myself that crying wouldn't help and it is what it is, but that didn't help. I tried telling myself that God has all things in His hands and, while I couldn't see the whole picture, it would all work out in His glorious sovereign will. I still cried. I tried to think of benefits to this happening now. I even came up with one. My tears dried up and I even chuckled a little as I thought how very easy the final wedding preparations would be without Gabe there to get into everything. And then I immediately burst into tears. I took a deep breath and called my sister and cried with her.

It was then that I saw flashing lights in my mirror. I could only think, "What's there to pull me over for? I'm only going 20 and there's no traffic anywhere around me."

I quickly hung up, pulled over, and started to sob. Mr. Officer-Who-Just-Finished-Officer-School didn't know what to do. He was completely unprepared for me. He tried to be consoling, "Everything's going to be OK ma'am. Really. You're just missing a tail light."

I tried to compose myself and stammered, "It's...not...that.'s sick and I'm...taking him to....Milwaukee where he has to be in for 1 to 6 weeks and my....daughter's getting....married on Saturday. This just...put me over...the....edge."

He still did his officerly duty and took my license and gave me a warning.

I made it through my trials a year ago. And this will be OK, too. I think I'm out of tears (OK, probably not quite) and can begin to get practical enough to prepare myself for the scenarios and logistics of getting both Keith and myself to the wedding. I'm not making plans for "and beyond" until there is a clearer diagnosis.

Would you please make time to pray for Gabe? When I think of my sweet boy I cry again. I feel so guilty for not taking him in sooner. The cardiologist tried to convince me that it may not have mattered. The area isn't tender, there's no fever, he seem so fine, but I should have worried over that open spot.

I would appreciate you filling in words of prayer for me, I am only able to offer cries and groanings. I especially want to be able to put Gabe in God's hands so I can give my precious daughter my full attention on her day.

My heart is full of emotions that seem not to belong in the same place together.

UPDATE: 6 am Thursday, August 20. I called the hospital to talk to the floor nurse and get an update. Gabe came in sometime after 2:30. He'd received an IV in the ER and was groggy and sleepy when he got to his room. However, seeing the new surroundings he "perked right up and is busy exploring and pulling everything off that he can". He sounds so good! I think Daddy will have a hard day. She said he was on the couch resting while Gabe was in his enclosed crib/bed with a TV. This picture, taken 5 weeks ago, probably gives us all a good idea of what Gabe is up to early this fine morning.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

My Parenting Style

Last night our "official" (meaning on the job chart) dining room table wiper/floor sweeper was away for the evening. Three children were sitting at the table when I asked, "Who can wipe the table and sweep for me?"

There was silence. I reconsidered the request and asked, "I need one person to wipe the table and another to sweep the floor. Who will do it?"

Mr. Helper quickly answered, "I'll wipe!" I'm not sure if he really wanted to help or if he decided that half the job was easier than the whole job and if Mom got around to giving out the assignments he didn't want to get stuck with the broom so it was better to volunteer.

The remaining two just looked at each other and Mr. Thinker started to say, "Let's do paper, scissors, rock to see...."

I cut him off and said, "Thank you Thinker for volunteering, you'll be sweeping." I figured if he was going to go to such extremes to get out of the work, that would suffice as an offer in my book.

However, Mr. Slacker then pointed and laughed and told him, "Ha! You're sweeping. You 'volunteered'!"

His gloating didn't last long as he heard me, now from the next room, chime in with, "I changed my mind. Slacker, you're the sweeper. Thank you for volunteering even more loudly than Thinker."

They may not be jump-up-how-can-I-help kids, but if I put my mind to it the work gets done.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Best Bride-To-Be

I can be biased, she's my daughter. And this takes nothing away from my other bride-to-be-girls (I think they would vie pretty heavily for the title--but, because I wasn't the mother I didn't see all of what I see this time).

Best Bride, Here's Why

Three weeks following her engagement she left for Guyana. She chose her date and attendants and then ALL other wedding plans were postponed until her return so she could give her full attention to her work in Guyana and her growing relationship with Daniel.

Despite her dream of "her perfect wedding dress" she accepted a used wedding dress from a dear Guyanese friend. She set aside her "dream style" without hardly a thought and embraced the love of her friend and the practical aspect of a gorgeous and free dress. Besides, she is stunning in it!

She allowed me to make the other girls' dresses, saving virtually hundreds of dollars.

She told the girls to pick black sandals, whatever style works for them, because, "Who cares if you have matching feet?"

She kept Daniel involved in the plans because "it's OUR wedding".

When I asked if she wanted any decorations for the front of the church she said, "Not if we have to buy anything. WE'RE the decorations."

She accepted the available table decorations from the church where we're holding the reception and is choosing to donate the ones we will have to purchase for future weddings.

She's made a list and stuck to just doing the next most important thing.

When things have been missed, or details weren't to someone else's satisfaction, she's shrugged and said, "Yep, I missed that, there's nothing I can do to fix it, I hope people will understand," and went on.

And most importantly, her first priority has been to make time for Bible reading and praying alone and with Daniel. She hasn't set aside her relationship with him or with her Lord until "the dust from the wedding settles." They come first. An old married lady can take some tips from that attitude!

She understands that it's all about the marriage, not just the wedding.

Daniel is blessed and I will miss this girl.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

"The Boys"

From September 1992 through April 1997, between Anna Beth and Quinna, there were nine male grandchildren born in a row into the Ken and Nancy White family.

Eleven and a half years ago when they ranged in age from 5 1/3 years to 8 1/2 months I watched all nine of them (the youngest, mine, was a nursing baby) while everyone went on a sleigh ride. I remember thinking at the time, "If I think it's crazy now just wait until they're all teenagers!"

Well, they almost all are (eight more months) and when they all got together earlier this month it WAS a bit crazy. See for yourself.

OK, so they can be pretty normal too. From oldest to youngest, top right to bottom left: Patrick, Seth, Troy, Brett, Shane, Paul Michael, Kent, Jonathan, and Bryce.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

More Cousins

This post is especially for Joey & Jamie, Chet, Kenny, Cindy, Keelie & family, Keesha & Jeremie, Kip, Kaleb, Joshua & family, Jay & family, Jared, Kyla, Marty K, Keenan, Katie, Quinna, Julina. Without you it wasn't a complete family reunion, but I thought you'd enjoy taking part a little through pictures.

With six children, thirty-plus grandchildren (and one more on the way--not me), 7 great-grandchildren (and one more on the way), the offspring of Daddy and Mama (aka Papa and Grandma) usually enjoy getting together for some large family gatherings. Recently, part of the Texas contingent was up north and we all (or in groups) enjoyed: eating, playing baseball, swimming, eating, golfing, boating, eating, hanging out, tubing, socializing, and eating.

Here are some pictures from one of our picnics. It's always to nice to be at a park where there's plenty to do for all ages. The play area for the younger kids was great.

Lauren, posing beautifully on the curly slide.

Gabe using it another way.

Owen, Kirk, and Lisa at the climbing wall.

Lisa, having reached her destination.

Gabe, LOVED the little car. Lauren wasn't brave enough to join the crazy man at the wheel!

But Zachary was.. (if you noticed that Gabe HAD his glasses on and now does not, rest assured that they made it into Keith's pocket)

Owen, Jonathan, Bryce, and Sean hang out more than play.

The basketball court drew some of the older crowd.

Seth, Kent, Ellen, Daniel on Troy, Brett, Shane, Patrick

Ellen, Katie, Kent, Daniel

Katie, Kent, Seth, Brett, Shane, Troy, Patrick, Ellen

Troy, Daniel, Kent, and Seth

The park even had a Saturday evening event for spectators. They're watching....

.......lawn tractor racing. That's a lawn mower with a go-kart engine.

And then there's the activity enjoyed by all age groups...eating.

Setting up. Grandma, Kelly, Dana, Keith (supervising?)

Kyle, Keith, and Jodi

Paul and Lauren

Brett, Paul Michael, and Mark

Grandma and Papa (I love Bryce in the background)

We're looking forward to more "reunionizing" at Ellen's wedding next week!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Sweet Ride

This was it. The ride that Troy and Shane were forced to accept. It was 3:45, football practice started at 4:00, and the van key would not turn in the ignition.

To put it mildly, it is not cool to show up at school in a 1989 Jamboree motorhome and they begged me to drop them off around the corner from the entrance so no one would see them.

To put it practically, they couldn't have made it on time on their bikes!

(Note: Labeled under "Mom joys", I thought it was hilarious!)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

70's Boy

During a brief walk down memory lane the other day I showed this to some of the boys. I was a big fan almost 40 years ago, even went to a live "Brady Bunch Concert" at the Minnesota State Fair (I still have a signed photo with my aging memorabilia).

Gabe sat watching the video and halfway through looked up at me and just said,

Monday, August 3, 2009


Gabe and Lauren are two of the youngest cousins from a generation that spans 27 years. Some of their cousins have children who are older than they are. Here they are at Bryce and Kent's baseball game. We didn't even plan the outfits.

"Let's race!"

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Next Best Thing

A benefit of being an "old couple" surrounded by "young love" is the reminder of what those new feelings were like and catching the contagious romanticism in the air. And boy is it ever thick around here!

Ellen and her fiance are separated by about 150 miles and exactly three weeks,
Chet and his fiancee are separated by about 1200 miles exactly five months,

and Dana's boyfriend is in California on route to a military tour in Afghanistan--approximately one year.

Chet wrote this song for Priscilla and we're all walking around singing the catchy tune. I think it sums up the sentiments of a few people around here. I was even under the spell this week as my own sweetheart was away on business for four days (I know, it doesn't compare to the other three. But gone is gone and I'm glad he's back!!)