Get Real Life

Dr. Mom and The Alligator Forceps

On Saturday morning, April 10, 2020, several of our younger boys ages 9, 10 and 11 came running out of their room yelling, “Mom, Bob has a bean in his ear! He put a bean in his ear!” Five year old Bob came trailing after them, crying and a bit shakey holding a cupped hand to his ear. He was clearly in pain based on his short bursts of crying. I grabbed my cell phone off the counter and flipped the flash light on to peer into his ear. There, lodged deep inside, was a small red bean wedged perfectly in his narrow ear canal. I had no idea what to do and when a child is crying in pain it tends to scramble my thinking. All the thoughts came through my mind. “What should I do? Can I get the bean out with tweezers? What if I can’t.” My brain was trying to tell me that this was not worth stressing out over but the urgent cares are all closed and the crying in the background made it hard to think straight. “ Do people go to ER’s for this? I don’t want to go to the ER right now.  Would they even let me come in with him? Is this event an emergency? I hate that I don’t know what to do.”  Thoughts flew through my mind a mile a minute. So while I tried to gather my thoughts, I prayed for Bob that this bean would come out and that there would be no problems.

Thankfully my husband was home. Having a nurse in the family is handy, but he wasn’t quite sure what we should do. In our area, all doctor offices and urgent cares had been ordered to close due to the coronavirus pandemic. Doctors were conducting office visits via Facetime and people were urged to stay at home for all but the most serious emergencies. I knew for certain that no remote doctor visits were going to solve this problem. 

Mike & I decided to gather any tools that might be useful to try to remove the bean. So we gathered various assorted tweezers and a very thin dental irrigator and water. After several attempts to grab the bean with tweezers, it was clear it was wedged too far in and too tightly. Any attempts to remove it were painful. Next I tried to slip the thin wire dental irrigator behind the been to flush it with water. No luck. Nothing happened. Bob just cried more. This was not working.

We have been teaching Julia, age 2, to pray for people when they are in pain or need healing. So we went to go find Julia so she could pray over Bob. At the time she had just had a bath, so she only wore a diaper as she ran around the house. After asking her to pray, Julia put her dimply hands on Bob’s head and said in a small sweet voice… “All pain go now.” 

A few minutes later, Bob put his head on a warm heating pad and promptly fell asleep.

Meanwhile, I decided to try and reach my uncle Tom who is doctor. After sending him a text for advice, I also made a quick call to the Children’s Hospital nurse’s line while I waited for him to call me.  I explained the situation and they redirected my call over to the Akron Childrens ER where I spoke to Nurse Ratchet. I told her the situation and asked her what she thought my options were. In a nasally voice, she replied “Well, the first thing you need to do is call your doctor. I really can’t tell you what to do…” “Ok; I replied, “But can you tell me if this is the sort of thing you usually handle in the ER or is this something that they handle in a doctor’s office?” (Nine kids and this is the first and hopefully last one to put something in their ear.” 

“Well” said Nurse Ratchet with a slight rasp through her nose,” I really can’t tell you what to do. You can bring him down here into all this craziness if you want.”

“Ok then, thank you for your time”


Thankfully Uncle Tom called me back a few minutes later and was much more helpful than the nurse. He informed me about a few handy doctor tools that are not available in the drug stores. The one that seemed most interesting and probably the most helpful for the bean was allligator forceps to remove things from the ear. He assured me that this  bean in the ear was not an emergency despite what Dr. Google and my active imagination said.

So off to Amazon I went hoping that I could get some delivered in a couple days. Initially I had no such luck and started to panic. It was April 10 and every pair of alligator forceps said they could not be delivered until May 2 due to prioritized shipments for essential items. Three weeks…would Bob be o.k. with a bean in the ear for 3 weeks? This felt essential to me! A bean in the ear for 3 weeks could not be healthy! Thankfully, after a bit of searching, I found one pair of rainbow metal alligator forceps that could arrive in 4 days. Despite Google’s warning that beans should be removed immediately and could swell or cause infection, we were going to have to wait 4 days and just believe he would be fine. 

As I tried to figure out what to do, Bob took his nap. When he woke up, he kind of bounced up and hopped off the couch. All  the pain was gone! Praise the Lord!. Over the next several days, I would continue to check on the bean. The pain never returned and Bob didn’t have any discomfort either. 

On Tuesday evening, one of the kids realized that a small manila padded envelope had arrived with the mail. The alligator forceps had arrived early! Minutes after the package arrived, we were ready for extraction. The little tool looked something like a cross between scissors and pliers with a bend in the handle. I called for Bob to come so we could get that bean out. My poor kids, I do not tune in to anxiety well. But as soon as Bob saw the tool, he started shrieking at the top of his lungs and sobbing.  Despite our assurances that this would not hurt, he did not calm down. Mike held Bobs head still and in a completely anti climatic moment, the little forceps took 2 seconds to grab the red bean glistening with earwax. Bob was still whimpering when the bean was out… and it changed to a nervous laugh of relief. I should have grabbed a camera to snap a picture of the moment of victory but it didn’t happen. Instead I just thanked the Lord…for the nurse that lives in my house, a praying little girl, a doctor uncle to talk me through and Amazon’s quick delivery.

In hindsight, the bean drama showed me that when I encounter a situation with a lot of unknowns, that is when I feel a disproportionate amount of stress. It was easy to slip into fear and it seemed more significant (at least initially) than it should have.  Unknowns are around the corner every day of our lives. Life is like shifting sand sometimes and without an anchor, even the stable ground can move from beneath my feet. I love the verse, “Those who trust in the Lord will not be disappointed.” I Peter 2:6. It has become an easy baseline for me to remember to gauge if I am trusting or if I’m fearing…and has helped me move from fear to trust many many times.

Blog · Get Real Life

The Spiral Staircase

The big rambling beach house stands in the second row from the beach. Its tall ceilings and huge rooms are the perfect place to relax. We are staying here for a few days to get away from the Ohio cold. It’s lovely and has been such a nice retreat as we recharge. On one side are two giant sun porches…one on the 1st floor and another on the 2nd floor. Both have several sets of double doors leading inside the house. Both are connected to each other by a tight white metal spiral staircase in the corner. I love spiral staircases. They are unique, fun and more adventurous than regular old stairs. They are also another thing to worry about with young children!

Our two year old is very adverturous. Normally, she is up for anything and runs full speed into anything interesting. She jumps first and thinks later. She is quite a handful and keeps all 8 of her siblings busy keeping tabs on her. But this staircase, she has not been so adventurous about. We have been here for several days and she will walk up to the stairs and peek up through the spirals. She might climb a stair or two before cautiously backing down again. Strangely, we have not had to blockade the stairs or be super vigilant. She has been more than careful.

This morning, she found me sitting in the upper sun porch reading. She sat with me for a minute listening to a book and sipping my flavored water. But before the book was over, she was up walking toward the stairs in corner.

“Do you want to go down there Julia? Do you want me to help you?” I moved over to the stairs hoping to get there before her. She can get places so fast. As we stood at the top of the stairs, I held her hand and tried to lead her down and hold her hand as she stepped forward in front of me as I followed. She pulled back and took a few steps away clearly not quite ready. So we switched places and I faced her and backed down the stairs in front of her while holding her hand. So step by step we went down the stairs. She held my hand with one of hers and the railing with the other. And as we made a slow descent, she looked me in the face and was completely happy to go down one step at a time. There was no fear.

And as she looked at me, I thought of my heavenly Father who does this for me. He goes before me and leads the way through situations that feel uncertain or fearful. If I keep my eyes on Him, there is no reason to be afraid. He is right there and I peacefully do what He asks me to do and know that He will keep me safe.

Isaiah 26: 3 – You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.

Deuteronomy 31:8 The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.

Blog · Get Real Life

Get Real Friday…Scary Laundry!

Have you ever seen those pictures of the perfect laundry rooms?  Maybe your facebook friend remodeled or maybe you are just flipping through the latest home and garden magazine for inspiration. Well, I’m here to let you know that has never been my reality. In fact, very little of my life is pinterest perfect. Actually none really, if I’m telling the truth! So here is an honest peak into my house. I didn’t pick up before snapping my messy house pictures. These are for real! Welcome to my messy life!

My very real, very unpolished laundry room
My very real, very unpolished laundry room

In our last house, we actually had a separate laundry room. Well sort of… It was a room in the basement with no door that had a toilet in the corner, with a shower spigot next to it and the washer and dryer next to that. It was classy. You know…brick walls, no door. If you wanted to leisurely read on the toilet, you could do so while keeping the laundry running. Multi tasking at its best. We did upgrade the room eventually. We added tile floors and painted the walls white so they were no longer dingy and stained, but that room never became Pinterest perfect or achieved facebook bragging rights.

After living in that 750 square foot house for 5 years, we upgraded to a bigger house on 3 acres. The main floor needed a complete remodel. We borrowed and penny pinched our way through $50,000 in renovations, but unfortunately, we never touched the basement. Yet again, my laundry room is in the basement. Only now, we have 8 children instead of 2.

Here is a fun fact about having lots of children. You would think it would cost a fortune to clothe them. But, it doesn’t, because once you have a bunch of kiddos, you are the target of every generous heart out there willing to give you second hand (and new) clothes. The dillema is, they come in trash bags…often multiple bags at a time. The Lord has been good and usually there are some great items in those bags. I take what I need and then probably a few more (because little boys think clothes are disposable and manage to destroy good clothes on a regular basis). So back to my dilemma…there are bags of clothes leftover. Clearly I need to improve my method for passing along these items because they end up sitting in my basement for a couple of months before I send them to the thrift store. This is of course on top of the mountain of clothes we have that we are keeping.

Laundry 2

Some people wonder how we keep our clothes organized. Years ago, I decided that dressers were a bad idea. Little kids like to pull out the drawers and dump them or change their outfits 5 times a day. I’m not a terrible housekeeper but I’m not great either and who has time to constantly refill drawers or do the sniff test to sort out the clean from dirty on the bedroom floor. Not me! So, I decided to defer to the method of using a family laundry closet. It is brilliant after all…you don’t haul laundry baskets up stairs only to have them dumped all over. You don’t have unsorted baskets left in the livingroom to become dress up clothes for the little kids. If they are unsorted, they stay out of sight and keep the rest of the house from looking like a wreck. Clearly I had a problem getting laundry folded in the past, because that really was part of my thinking. Fast forward to today having lived in this house for 9 years. Somehow, we have never remodeled that basement.

Laundry 3

We have cubby type shelves lining one wall with a long rod above it to hand shirts on. Seems like it should work. As it turns out though, even this method has it’s challenges. The first problem is that kids still go in that room and pull clothes out that end up on the floor. Only now, they are spread on the yucky basement floor instead of a bedroom floor. If they spend much time on that floor they smell musty and need rewashed anyway. The second problem is related to having everyone’s clothes in the same area. Gonna take a shower and need to grab clothes…better check them twice or you might get underwear that are too small or pants that are too long if your sister put them away on the wrong shelf. Clothes get mixed up and put away wrong and as it turns out, cubbies don’t hold clothes in place the way a drawer does. I still prefer this method to a dressers in the bedroom but full disclosure…it isn’t perfect.

On the day this was taken, most of the laundry was done and most of it folded, but it still looks messy. Maybe someday I’ll have a tidy laundry room…probably when my kids are grown…but until then, get real!