Monday, December 19, 2011

six strokes

I just am home this week after having spent nearly two month in the hospital. I still can't walk without a walker, have lost half of the hearing in my left ear, my left side is partially paralized and my eyes are messed up. I've had six strokes and two surgerrs since late October.
Will write more details as able. Went to chiropracter who crimped an arterey and had ambulance ride to Urgent Care. Thank you to all who sent gifts or cards - God used you in powerful ways!
Follow my husband at for updates.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

My Next Book

I'm often asked when I'm going to write my next book. In reality I've been in the process of writing a book on the life of Paul as encouragement for living with chronic pain and illness for probably close to 5 years now. Since Hannah's Hope: Seeking God's Heart in the Midst of Infertility, Miscarriage & Adoption Loss took me about 10 years to write, that may not be such exciting news because it tells you I still have a very long way to go!

What I hope is more exciting, what I would like to ask you to partner with me in prayer about as God continues to unfold His plan, is that two of my other blogs, one on beauty and (now that I've gained more focus for what I want to do with this project) specifically Harvesting Hope from Heartache™, have becoming a launching pads for what I feel God is turning into my "next" book.

Yes, I'm continuing to work on the Given Me a Thorn too, but over the past year God has me focusing more on an exploration of the Fruit of the Spirit (a passage written by none other than Paul himself) through a series of articles I've been writing for Glory and Strength and my InnerBeautyGirlz blog. I've been working on a Bible study related to what He's teaching me and I've written much more than could be presented only in my articles, so I think God's growing a book out of all of this! :)

How does the Fruit of the Spirit tie in with Harvesting Hope from Heartache? I'm glad you asked. ;) It all has to do with sowing seeds, gathering fruit, and ultimately what Source my hope springs from. What better time to look to the Lord for help than in the midst of trials? I'm very excited to see how God is tying so many themes together in my life as He's teaching me through Galatians 5 this year! I pray that this book will be as much of a blessing to you as the journey has been to me.

It is my current goal to have enough of this study written and ready to present to publishers that I can begin the query process around the end of the year or in the very early part of 2012. Will you join me in specific prayer that God will give me His words to write and that this project will unfold according to His will and in His perfect timing?

If you would like to stay updated about my progress, I've just opened a new Facebook page at and would love to have you "like" me over there. :) If you don't do Facebook or would rather get updates via feeds, please follow my long-standing Harvesting Hope from Heartache blog directly. Feel free to pass these link along to your friends as well.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

of Dinner and Crashes and Hospitals and Wheelchairs

Life can change so quickly! It seems like much longer than 10 days since we were posting about our first egg. (We've gathered eight now, by the way. We haven't figured out if we still just have one hen laying, or if a second friend has joined in egg production quite yet.)

Thursday the 15th, I had the joy and honor of attending the 7th annual I Hope You Dance benefit for Whittemore Peterson Institute. This is the 3rd year I've been blessed to attend and the first time I was able to go without my wheel chair. I have a few pictures to post (though I may have to "borrow" some from Lilly as most of mine turned out really blurry) and need to dedicate an entire post just to that event, so hopefully I will get back here soon to tell about that wonderful evening.

Due to some recent medication adjustments, my body did go into a "crash" after the excitement of Thursday night, so I spent most of Friday quietly in bed and in a fair amount of pain. It was a recovery day I hadn't mentally budgeted for, but it was doable. The kids were content to enjoy the spoils of my evening out and were great self-starters to get some school work accomplished on their own prompting.

Late Friday afternoon we received shocking news that there had been a tragic accident at our local air races, the third major disaster our community has faced since June. My Dad, who is a Chaplin for the Civil Air Patrol, was activated to go out and minister with the first responders. In the end, 11 people were confirmed dead and over 50 were hospitalized, many with injuries including amputations and other critical issues.

My sweet Daddy got a scattered 6 or so hours sleep in about 48 hours. On Sunday afternoon (while I was still home in bed in my own recovery phase) I receive a phone call from local EMTs that they had responded to a 911 call from his home and that he was himself in an ambulance on his way to the hospital. As the story was reconstructed, we learned that, though he had been intentionally conscious of drinking well, Dad had become severely dehydrated.

Between lack of sleep, the emotional strain of all he had witnessed over the weekend, and dehydration, he passed out, woke up and managed to call 911, then became totally paralyzed, unable to feel or move. Had God not provided the ability for him to make that phone call, and REMSA hadn't responded quickly, breaking down his door to get to him, he would have died on Sunday afternoon! He will be 69 in November and we are SO thankful that God still has more days planned for him here on earth.

Sunday, Monday and Tuesday I was running on adrenaline myself, spending many hours at the hospital and trying to care for homeowner's insurance claims (for the broken door) and care for other issues while my mom is out of state for her own medical treatment. (Mom's due home in just one more week now!!! She has seen dramatic improvement through FibroInnovations, another topic that will warrant its own post once she is back home and I can toughly interview her. :) ) I cannot thank my wonderful husband enough for all he's done to support and encourage me this past week.

Dad was released from the hospital on Tuesday afternoon and Rick brought him to our home for continued TLC. I was his transportation for the first few days, including getting him up to homeschool co-op to teach his Hermeneutics on Thursday (where the class met outside so that I could stay with them without triggering another latex reaction to the building that sent me to the ER a few months back), but he drove himself to his doctor's appointment yesterday morning.

Other than the need for later follow up on a blood sugar spike noted upon hospital admission (that was probably tied to the severity of his dehydration), Dad received a clean bill of health yesterday. He spent his first night back in his own bed last night. I talked to him on the phone this morning and he's going to take things very easy today. I'll probably ask him to join us for dinner again tonight if I have the energy to make anything.

In the meantime, both of our boys came down with nasty colds this week and our 11-year-old spent most of the week in bed. Even around all the craziness, we did manage to get most of a full week of school in and have studied world events outside the U.S. during the Civil War era this past week. We also read the entire Addy (American Girls) series in 5 days and started on our next Laura Ingalls Wilder book, On the Shores of Silver Lake.

In science we have looked at motion and velocity, acceleration, deceleration, momentum and force. Unfortunately most of the suggested science experiments called for the use a balloons, so we didn't do any hands on science activities this week as I find breathing preferable to latex reactions.

Surprisingly, while I am tired and have no doubt that my body has been pushed through both physical and emotional exertion over the past week and a half, I am doing better than I would typically have anticipated right now. I'm in bed this morning, but more by choice (wanting to give myself some down time to recover) than by utter necessity. I'm sore and not thinking as clearly as I would like, but I do have some reserves left to give if I need to use them, something I am not used to being able to draw on after so much upheaval from a week like this.

I'm doing well enough that Rick took our daughter away on an overnight trip this morning (the whole family had planned to go before the boys got sick), and I'm OK on my own to care for not only my own needs but for two sick boys and to be on call for my Dad too. This is so encouraging to me and helps me objectively see how far I've come over the past year. Doesn't this EMPTY wheelchair look wonderful?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Here's what we had for breakfast this morning. If you are wondering why it's so exciting, you may have missed our egg-cellent news from yesterday. :)

Big J. learned to fry an egg.

Yes, it was a small egg, but we split if 4 ways (Rick didn't want to try 1/5 of an egg) and each got one small, yet very tasty bite. :)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Weeks 5-8

Don't you love my consistent, weekly blogging technique? ;) May I make up for my lack of writing by sharing my my rose garden with you?

Since my last update, we have finished school weeks 5-8 of My Father's World in our 1850 to Modern Times year (year 5 of the 5 year cycle for those of you who are familiar with the program). We've covered states and capitals (they have the states down cold, but we still have a few capitals to get straight), Abraham Lincoln (Did you know Thanksgiving was established to thank God for Civil War victories?), the Civil War, and lots of great science activities.

Big J. and I read "Across Five Aprils" last month and now all of us are reading our way through the entire Little House on the Prairie (Laura Ingalls Wilder) series. We finished "On the Banks of Plumb Creek" last night and the kids are itching to start "By the Shores of Silver Lake" today. I don't want to get too far ahead in history with our reading as I love the way MFW paces reading suggestions to tie right into the history lessons, but I also never want to discourage my children from loving books, so we are reading pretty far ahead (and including a lot of extras as only two of the Little House books are directly scheduled into the year). This week we are talking about other world events that were happening at the same time as the U.S. Civil War.

J. Bear, or "Dimple Man" as I recently told him I should start calling him on the blog, is working hard on finishing Kindergarten so he's ready for 1st after Christmas, but he's already tagging along with his older brother and sister in much of what they do as well.

Princess R. (3rd grade) is making huge strides in reading! A few weeks back she struggled when letters were "too small" because reading was such hard work. Yesterday she brought me her Bible (small print!) and surprised me with, "Mom, I was reading this Proverb today and wanted to share it with you..." Then she flawlessly read me the entire verse and struck up a conversation about it. :) We are doing some math review with the Princess to really make sure her foundations there are strong before moving forward again, and Dimple Man (K) is trying to keep up with her review, even though it's first/second grade level. The sibling competitive spirit is an interesting dynamic to watch unfold as they each challenge one another to do their best.

I am greatly looking forward to having all three of them together on the same core program (obviously with age appropriate adjustments for each child) doing Exploring Countries and Cultures next year before Big J. (now in 7th) heads on into high school the year after next. Time is marching forward so quickly!

A couple of weeks ago the boys had a special day out with their Dad at the local water park while Princess R. and I enjoyed a Mommy and Daughter day. We baked cupcakes, did craft projects, and had a dolly tea party.

I actually forgot all about my planned culmination of the day, giving R. her Laylie Colbert A Life of Faith doll (I was able to pick her up on close-out pricing a few years ago, before the company retired the doll line), a wonderful companion for her as she starts "Meet Addy" in an America Girl glass at homeschool co-op this Thursday. I don't think R. minded too much that I forgot that day because she was a totally out-of-the-blue surprise yesterday. R. said, "Mommy, it feels so strange to get an amazing gift like this in the middle of the year!" :)

In addition the the doll class, R. will be taking an acting class (also based on American Girl history stories) and ballet. Big J. is taking a cooking around the world class, watercolor, and a class my Dad, Ralph Camp, is teaching on Biblical Hermeneutics (the art and science of interpreting literature). J. Bear will be taking self-defense, a world cultures class, and a preschool class that while possibly a bit too "easy" was the best choice for his attention span given the other possible selections offered that hour. I think my silly boy will need some time for snacks, play and run-around between his two more attention-demanding classes, don't you? (This picture captures his personality perfectly.)

And one more time, I have to share my beautiful roses. This garden is a gift from my husband, and planted in dedication of all our children, both these three living miracles and all their siblings in Heaven. Our oldest, Noel Alexis, was due just to be born 16 years ago, earlier this month.

First Egg!

I have a month worth of back posts to make, mostly school updates and a few medical ones, but I just couldn't put this one off. It's a day of great celebration in the Saake household. We have our first egg!

Thank you for joining with us in this "egg-cellent" adventure! :)

This was my great-grandmother's egg basket. How fun to be able to use it with our own chickens!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Could You Please Lend a Hand?

For the past two years my friends have been wonderful about helping to support me in my desire to raise funds for the Whittemore Peterson Institute. I was so blessed when both last year (great pictures and a full run-down of the evening) and the year before, you all send my husband and I to I Hope You Dance.

Well, it's that time again. And so I humbly come asking if you would be willing to partner with me in sponsoring our evening once again? While it is a blessing to get together with others who are like-minded in trying to solve the crazy puzzle of neuro-immune illnesses such as autism, a-typical MS, gulf war syndrome, ME, CFS and much more, what these fund-raising efforts really mean to me is hope. Only a portion of each ticket purchase goes to the actual meal, while about 80% goes directly back to supporting the research of WPI.

Even if I couldn't attend the evening (and that could be a possibility this year, depending on a few factors I won't know for sure until right up to the date), I would still desperately want to be able to purchase the tickets to support this cause. Would you please consider helping me reach this goal? Every dollar helps! (If I cannot reach a full ticket purchase price, I promise to still donate any funds raised through this ChipIn event to the Whittemore Peterson Institute, so please know your donation will still encourage me and go to a great cause either way.) Thank you so much! :)

Monday, August 8, 2011

School Week 4

We are just finishing "week 4" of My Father' World 1850s - Modern Times. Due to some medical appointments next week, we will have a short school week then, so it works out well to finish "week 4" today and tomorrow, then do "week 5" the end of this week, and early part of next. We plan to start "week 6" around Aug. 22.

So far we have been learning about the pre-Civil War days. This includes both US and world history, as well as an introduction to the Underground Railroad and some specific stories of slavery. In listening to many slave Spirituals on YouTube today, we came across this historical video my kids wanted to share with you. The audio quality isn't great, so you may need to watch and listen a couple of times to catch everything, but it's short, so worth the listen.

Here's another:

Sunday, July 24, 2011

School Days

Can you believe July's nearly over already? We've had a great first two weeks of school, though I'm very, very tired. The rest of my house is in shambles, laundry is way out of control, I haven't couponed in a month (see my growing pile), but school's going beautifully. :)

Science, beautiful science. Who new studying surface tension could be such an artistic venture?

Here J-Bear is learning foundational math concepts. If he stays motivated, we should be finishing up Kindergarten before Christmas (a good month or more before his 6th birthday) and ready to officially move on into first grade.

I'm pleased to say that Princess R. is making huge strides in spelling this year over last, after mastering the idea of letter pictures.

Speaking of pictures, here's her self-portrait with the chickens. ;)

Big J., having had very little formal language arts training through elementary school, pre-tested in at a solid B for his English assessment last week. I was truly impressed with this since some of the testing involved terms he had never been directly introduced to and I was unable to offer any instruction or explanation during testing, so he had to figure out some terminology based on context and his working knowledge of how language should flow, without the advantage of always knowing all the labels. He mastered several concepts with 100% comprehension and only has one area, out of 27 evaluated skills, that he is yet unfamiliar with.

There have been times I have doubted myself in the wisdom of a purely literature-based approach that holds off formal instruction in parts of speech and so forth until jr. high (especially when others challenge me on why we have taken this approach), but his test scores have made a believer out of me. Now that he has gained a natural feel for English through reading challenges, we have an excellent foundation to build upon this year as we explore the formalities of why English works the way it does and the technical labels for all those rules. I anticipate his end of the year scores will show a dramatic improvement this year! Thank you again, My Father's World, for your guidance in our schooling adventures.


While this isn't my primary health blog - see GivenMeaThorn if you are looking for that one, I am honored to learn today that InfertilityMom has been selected as #22 in the top 100 blogs at 100 Best Sites for Fibromyalgia or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Information. Thank you! :)

My mom's just completed her 2nd week at week at FibroInnovations. She's sore from all the work they are doing on her, but the results have already been more than we had dared to hope, and she still has another 10 weeks of on site treatment to go before several months of at-home follow-up. After basically falling into this treatment in a way that can only be described as Providential, it truly seems that it is an answer to our prayers for her after over 20 years of pain! Here she is with Dr. Kingston. I will admit that our family was highly skeptical about this program in the beginning, after too many years of "sure cures," but hearing the hope in her voice now makes me feel like this really is going to be a life-altering change for the positive for her.

Speaking of hope and life-altering changes, will you help me keep fighting for change by using your facebook account to join me in daily voting for the Whittemore Peterson Institute? If they can hold onto their current #1 spot in the Pacific region over the next weeks, they will win $100,000 of desperately needed research funding. If we could move them up from their current 6th place (contest-wide) into first there as well, they would be awarded $250,000. Voting will only take moments from your day and every vote counts! You can learn more about the importance of the Whittemore Peterson Institute in my life by reading back through my many posts on XMRV.

Vivint is giving away $1.25 Million to charities. Help us win!