Heart Surgery & Other Happenings

Heart Surgery & Other Happenings


If you’ve been following our Facebook, you already know what I’m about to tell you!  But we’ve been so quiet here on our blog, and we wanted to update anyone who isn’t on Facebook on what’s been happening!

A little over a month ago, Daddy came home from work early. He’s in construction, and has his own business, so sometimes if he finishes a job earlier in the day, and can’t really start on the next one, he’ll come home earlier than usual.  So that didn’t seem terribly odd.  But then he said, “Tell Cassia to go get her stethoscope”.   You didn’t have to tell her twice…she loves any chance to “practice” on us that she can get 😉

She listened to his heart and discovered it was “buzzing” or “purring”.  It was so loud that we could hear it just by giving him a hug.  He noticed it that day while he was working, so that’s why he quit early, because he was pretty sure that wasn’t normal!  Cassia happened to be on call for our local EMS station, and she got called out right after listening to Daddy’s heart.  She ran out the door saying, “I’m not an Advanced EMT but that’s not normal…you should to to the ER!”

So he and Mommy did!


I think all of us were a bit worried, but tried to think that “everything will be ok”.  After all…Daddy is strong…nothing will happen to him 😉 However, I kept thinking about how our Grandpa Richardson suddenly passed away from a heart attack when I was eight.  My grandpa had emphysema and had smoked for years, so it was an entirely different situation, but it still was in the back of my mind and I was fearful.


They came back from the emergency room, and the doctor said he thought it was the aortic valve, and that he wanted Daddy’s yearly echo cardiogram (which was scheduled in a couple of weeks), to be rescheduled to be as soon as possible.  (Daddy’s always had mitro-valve prolapse, and goes in for yearly echo cardiograms to keep an eye on it.) The soonest we could get it rescheduled was a week later…”unless something changes” they told us.


Daddy still went to work, but brought one of us along so that we could help with some of the heavy lifting, or just running to get tools so that he could take it easy.  A few days later he had brought Noah with him to work, and around noon he called to say that he was feeling dizzy and lightheaded (which were some of the signs they said to watch for) and that he thought he should probably go to the ER again.  I drove Mommy to where he was working, so that I could bring Noah back home.


I was *ahem*...speeding…a little bit! 🙂  The road I had to take to get to where Daddy was working is very winding, and there is hardly any place to pass a slow car.  At one point, I saw a big truck pull out ahead of me.  “Oh no!” I thought, “he’s going slower than I want to go for sure!  God, can you make him turn off the road or something?”

I was coming up on him pretty quick, and right before I was about to slow down behind him, he pulled off the side of the road, let me pass, and pulled back on!!!  God…you’re amazing! 😀


We got to the house he was working at…it was good to see that Daddy was still himself, and still okay.  I was going to drive Daddy’s truck home, while Mommy took the mini van to the ER.  I’ve only recently started driving Daddy’s “big” diesel truck, so as we were walking towards it Noah told me, “It sure will be funny if someone sees this little girl driving this big truck!”  Lol!  Excuse me sir…but who is the little one here?!  It cracked me up!


I came home and found out that the girls had been praying for Daddy ♥  I updated them on what I knew, and we kept waiting for any updated texts Mommy would send us.


This time they took him to South Bend, and got the echo cardiogram done right away. He stayed in the hospital overnight and we heard that his aortic valve was getting weak, and letting a lot of blood “backwash” when it wasn’t supposed to.  That was why we were hearing the “buzzing”.  You are born with 3 leaflets in you aortic valve, but Daddy was born with two, and the valve was just getting worn out.


Interspersed with being worried, we’d get texts from Mommy that made us laugh.  Daddy was the youngest patient on the stroke unit (apparently they put heart patients there as well), so he was popular with all of the nurses because he could pretty well take care of himself, and he would get up and walk like he was supposed to 🙂  Plus, it isn’t very often that they get to hear a heartbeat like his so loud and clear, so several nurses and students came in wanting to listen to it.  They would poke their head into the room, and Daddy would tease, “Are you one of those?” Daddy would tease them that he was going to charge them for their education 😀   One student listened to it and said, “Wow!  That is so cool!” then he caught himself and said, “I’m sorry!”  But our parents assured them that they didn’t mind, and that their EMT daughter said the same thing!


We first thought he was going to have surgery right away, but in the end, they sent him home and told him that while it wasn’t an emergency, to schedule the surgery as soon as possible.

“I wouldn’t wait until next year,” said the surgeon.

“So this winter?” Daddy asked.

“Sooner than that…I wouldn’t even wait until this Fall.”

So it was scheduled for June 14th.  Daddy and Mommy told us that they said it felt weird to be scheduling it, like it was an everyday occurrence!


The good news was that his heart was still strong and pumping well, there were no blockages, and it was healthy in every other way.  It just needed a new valve.  Even his mitro-valve was fine.  They checked that, because they figured if it needed replaced, we might as well do both at once!


As the time got closer, we all got a little more stressed, I think!  There was an underlying current of uncertainty.  The surgeon does aortic valve replacements three times a week, and we found out a lot of our friends had this surgery done and were doing just fine.  But we were still kind of nervous. Daddy is a quiet guy, but we’d ask him how he was doing, and he said he was ready for it to just be over.  The day before his surgery I did the grocery shopping.  I get tired shopping for eleven people to eat for two weeks, but I love grocery shopping.  But that day I got stressed out, and as soon as I came home I went upstairs to my bedroom and cried.  Over grocery shopping for pity’s sakes!  I wasn’t even sure why it stressed me out so much…other than I knew that Daddy’s upcoming surgery was worrying me! 😀


The weekend before June 14th, the hospital called to let us know that his surgery had to be pushed out to June 17th, which is also Mommy’s birthday.  That worried us more, because we all saw a difference in Daddy from just a month before when we first found out about his valve.  He was getting a lot more tired than usual, and tiring out quickly.  They had another doctor’s appointment before the surgery, and they told us that nothing had changed with his heart, which gave us a sense of relief!


I asked Daddy if he wanted to go flying before his surgery, because I knew he wasn’t going to be able to for a little while afterwards.  He teased me, “You’re just looking for an excuse to fly!”  But he wanted to just as much as I did, so we flew down to Grissom (KGUS) and visited the Grissom Air Museum together 🙂


Heart Surgery & Other Happenings


FINALLY, June 17th came, and we got up early to see Daddy and Mommy off.  Then we got around and went to the hospital about an hour later.  Five of us girls went to be there during the surgery, and Susannah, Charissa, and the boys stayed home.  We got to see Daddy a couple more times before he actually went into surgery.  We were only allowed to go back two at a time, so a volunteer brought us back.  She saw Daddy and said, “That’s your DAD?!”  We said that he was, and she said, “He looks younger than YOU do!!!”  Lol!   Then later a couple more of us went back, so she told a guy she was helping, “Just a minute, I need to take these girls back to see their BROTHER!”


Daddy in the F4 Phantom cockpit in the museum

Heart Surgery & Other Happenings


Mrs. Forti, a lady from our church, drove all the way from Fort Wayne with a birthday cake for Mommy, and to keep us company during the surgery.  Then our pastor and his wife ALSO drove from Fort Wayne and stayed with us during that time.  We had brought books to read and things to do, but it was wonderful to have people to talk to so that we weren’t all just sitting around thinking about the surgery!


The nurse came out every hour to give us an update…she was encouraging and explained everything so well.  They were starting the surgery.  They were working on the valve.  The heart was beating on it’s own again.  Then four hours later, they were DONE!  The the surgeon came out and told us about how it all went, and told us that Daddy was their “poster child”…it went so well 🙂   Since Cassia is an EMT, she is fascinated with this type of thing, and the rest of us are pretty interested as well.   Cassia asked if they have to shock the heart to get it to beat again, and the surgeon said they do sometimes, but usually they just have to massage it a little, and it starts beating on its own again 🙂  How cool is that?!  It made me think about how gentle God is with us as well…when we feel like we can’t go anymore…that our heart has stopped…he doesn’t shock us into going again, but gently massages our heart until it beats again. ♥


He told us that Daddy got a cow valve.  Depending on the size that they need you could get a pig valve or a cow valve, so we had a lot of joking about that beforehand, and we tease about it now 😀


The nurse came and let all of us go back to ICU at once, and it wasn’t as “scary” as I thought it might be to see him with all of the tubes and wires.  He was just starting to wake up a little, and he’d nod when we’d talk to him.  Once he was moving his hand, so I tried to hold it.  But he kept moving his hand like he was trying to shake mine off, and I realized he was tapping the bed.  I thought, “What does he want?” so I teased, “Do you want me to sit on the bed?”  He communicated “no” with his hand and kept tapping, and then pulling on the blanket.  Suddenly it clicked.  “Are you cold? do you want another blanket?” and he nodded ever so slightly.  So I told the nurse and she got him another one.  It was a small thing, but it made my day that I could understand him and help him a little  🙂  He winked at Anna, which totally made her day!


We left that evening (Mommy stayed the night), and by the time we got home we heard that Daddy had been extubated, and that he was teasing the nurses asking for a double dose of the pain killer 🙂


We all went to visit him on Saturday, and it was SO good to see him sitting up and talking and eating. The boys couldn’t go back to his room, but they FaceTimed with him 🙂


Heart Surgery & Other Happenings


By Sunday (Father’s Day), Daddy was out of ICU, so EVERYONE got to see him 🙂  We stayed for a good part of the afternoon and visited with him.  He kept us entertained 😀  The pain meds they gave him were causing him to hallucinate, so he’d mention that the door hinges were falling off of the door, or that one of the boys was on the counter, or other things.  He knew it wasn’t actually, but he had us laughing so hard!  Uncle Darrell (his brother) and Aunt Jenny came to visit, and that was when he saw the door hinges moving.  He teased, “Give me my phone, I need to take a picture…because they’re moving!” 😀


Father’s Day 2016…so happy Daddy is on the mend!

Heart Surgery & Other Happenings


The surgeon originally said that Daddy could possibly come home as soon as Monday or Tuesday, but then on Tuesday the upper part of his heart started going into an irregular rhythm, which sent the nurses running into the room.  That worried us again, and Mommy had to be gone all day that day, away from Daddy, so she was especially worried.  A big THANK YOU to the many friends on Facebook who assured us that the same thing happened to them and that they were doing just fine now.  The nurses told us that it was somewhat normal for that to happen, and that it happens in about 40% of patients.  While we believed them, it was even more comforting to hear it from people we knew who had actually gone through the surgery 🙂


On Wednesday DADDY CAME HOME!!! He texted us when they were just a minute away (the hospital is an hour away), and we all ran out to greet them and hug him (gently) 😀


He is doing really well right now.  He has eight nurses (us!) reminding him to carry his pillow (you always have to have that with you in case of a sneeze or a cough…you hug it so you don’t break open the wound), or to make sure he has his medicine, and not to overdo anything. Cassia made a chart for all of his meds and checks his blood pressure, pulse, temperature, etc. twice a day.   It’s nice having an in-house nurse 😀


He can’t go back to work for at least three months, so we get to have him around the house for a while 😀  To those of you who already knew about this and have been praying, THANK YOU!   We can feel it, and they are helping!  And to those who have just found out with this blog post, we would so appreciate more prayers 🙂  The surgery is over, and Daddy’s doing well, but pray that he continues to heal quickly and well, and that he doesn’t get too bored!!!  Daddy is such a hard worker and a server, so sitting around is really hard for him!  Also pray for Mommy and the rest of us to have peace, and that we’d be able to keep encouraging Daddy 🙂






P.s. As you can imagine…we are suddenly aware of the heart, other people’s stories about the heart, songs about the heart, etc! 🙂   One amazing story we heard demonstrates that our thoughts and our words do have power  🙂  A surgeon who had finished doing heart surgery on a lady, but the heart would not start again.  There was nothing wrong with the heart…it just would not start.  The surgeon was a Christian and he got down on his knees and said, “Mrs. Johnson, this is your doctor. There is nothing wrong with your heart.  Mrs. Johnson, if you can hear me, I need you to tell your heart to beat again.”   And it did!

And that story, inspired this song:










Remember THIS post?

Well, I said I was never going to Guatemala. I’ve always felt called to the mission field, but I was pretty sure (and set on) going to Uganda Africa. I don’t think a day went by without me thinking of it!

Until an opportunity came up for me to go to Guatemala, and the lady I was going with said I’d probably leave part of my heart down there. To be honest, I didn’t really believe her. Just because I was so set on Africa I didn’t see the huge blessing God had dropped in my lap!

Even after I got back, (and yes I DID leave a lot of my heart down there! surprise lol) I still had my sights on Africa. I even told my mum that I wasn’t going back to Guatemala. Well…never say never lol!

She told me that sometimes God brings us through round-abouts to get to our ‘destination’. And now, whether I go to Africa or not isn’t on my ‘to-do’ list. What He wants to teach me in the process is what matters.

I’ll be finishing up school this May, and a calling to go back to Guatemala has been on my mind…a lot. Nothing is set in stone, but I’m working toward it, knocking on those doors and pursuing it.

And I wanted my photography to be a part of it. So I created an Etsy shop (another thing I said I was done with)

See a pattern here? I keep making up my mind, and God comes along and pops all my bubbles 😉 But I’m learning to make plans, then hold them ever so loosely, and let Him bring the story about.

Back to the etsy shop.  Taking my photography and turning it into something useful and beautiful! I’ve literally just started it, so there’s only 2 items up 🙂

For right now I’m only doing note cards, but I hope in the future I might add some calendars.

But all profit is going toward my next trip. It might be this next January, or it might not be. But when I does come around, I want to be ready! 🙂






Which Seven Sister Are You Most Like?

*smiles* Lately, a couple of us have been doing a lot of those personality quizzes to see what character in our favorite movie we are most like! Then we howl in laughter over it 😉 lol!

Then I thought, wouldn’t it be so much fun to make a quiz, so people can take it and see which one of us sisters they are most like?!

So I voiced my thoughts to my family, and everyone laughed and thought it was a fun idea…

But nobody made the quiz…we just talked about it. Until today! I looked it up and started creating it. Different sisters would come in and out of the room, putting in their suggestions and ideas, a few times we would all just bust up laughing over one of the questions ^_^


So yes! We created one! It took forever…but it happened! (plus, much thanks to our mother who helped us when we were stumped on ideas and words.)


(click on the picture to take the quiz)

Which Seven Sister Are You Most Like?


Have fun 🙂


Haiti Part 3: Prenatal Class (and my first motorcycle ride!)

I have been so behind on posting about my first mission trip to Haiti in June 2015!  Between balancing work and college (which is a post for another time…), I’ve been pretty busy! So I am trying to work a little bit here and there on these posts and hopefully finish them somewhat soon 🙂

Haven’t heard about my trip at all? Start at the beginning!

to read part one, click HERE

to read part two, click HERE

Haiti 2015

{a few of the many kids that I absolutely adore!}


The next day (and our 3rd) day, I was fascinated.  I mean, you see pictures and hear of it, but actually watching people carry heavy loads on their heads? 5-gallon buckets full of rocks or water? Um….wow.  Or  a woman carrying a basket of chickens on her head….how does she keep them from jumping out and running off?

I loved the early mornings….the perfect time to just sit there and observe people.  I’m a morning person, so I was usually the first one up, and I loved watching people go by on their way to the market, to school, or on their way to get water; watching the sun come up over the mountain; hearing the animals waking and hearing donkeys, horses, goats and chickens from a long way around; hearing people sing or talk as they get ready for the day; or hearing the neighbor chop away at his garden tirelessly for hours on end.   I loved it!!


Haiti 2015

We did two days of prenatal class. This is a class Ashley teaches about three times a year to 25 expectant women each time.  Each of these women are sponsored for a one time amount of $80 and they receive education about pregnancy, a meal, baby supplies, and a fun “baby shower”.


Haiti 2015

In this class, the expectant moms learn about the baby’s development in the womb, hygiene, nutrition, common complaints (what is normal and what is not), labor, nursing, etc.

We brought fetal dopplers down with us so they got to hear their baby’s heartbeat!! 🙂

Haiti 2015

Then, at the end of class on day two, we have a baby shower for the moms. They receive gifts of baby items (and the note and picture from their sponsor), eat cake, play baby shower games…..

….like pin the onesie on the baby 🙂

Haiti 2015






Haiti 2015


The night before it had rained and there was a leak in the roof right over the bags with the tissue paper in them. So, the tissue paper was wet.  But we discovered if we peeled the pieces apart they would dry pretty quick. That was a job that Zoe enjoyed 🙂  She would also wave them around, jumping and running to help them dry faster 🙂 (and we had dry tissue paper for the gift bags!!)



Haiti 2015

Haiti 2015



I had fun playing games with the kids (and taking pictures….LOTS of pictures!) 🙂


Haiti 2015

Haiti 2015

Later that day we road motorcycles up the mountains…the view up there is breathtaking!!!

This was my first motorcycle ride ever! I quickly learned how to balance myself and actually enjoyed it!  I’m sure if I were to ride a motorcycle here in the States now that it would be very boring. Smooth roads, no steep hills, no almost running into animals…. 🙂

Another day when we took motorcycles up the mountain, Zoe (Ashley’s 5 year old daughter) was on the same motorcycle as me and she fell asleep! So I was balancing myself, Zoe, both our water bottles and my purse, on very bumpy roads.  Does that quality me as a pro now? 🙂

Haiti 2015

It’s amazing to see how many people, animals and stuff the Haitians can fit on one motorcycle! 5 people, goats, chickens, brooms and other wares for the market, big bunches of bananas, etc. 🙂

(our team with both of our translators)

Haiti 2015


Haiti 2015

It is absolutely beautiful there!

Haiti 2015


Want to know more about the organization, Breath of Life Haiti? Click HERE!








   —–to be continued—-


My Flying Story Part 9: Dual Cross Country!

My Flying Story Part 9: Dual Cross Country

Part 1 || Part 2 || Part 3 || Part 4 || Part 5 || Part 6 || Part 7 || Part 8


My dual cross country trip has to be one of the highlights of my flight training…it was overwhelming, but SO MUCH FUN! I had scheduled the plane for the morning of August 11th, but then I had to cancel because it was too cloudy.


But then God cleared the sky for me 😉


My Instagram post the night before my cross country, when I was trying to plan it.  Oh it took soooo long that first time!

My Flying Story Part 9: Dual Cross Country!



I actually had just texted Ted to see if I could go flying to practice maneuvers, because even if I couldn’t do my cross country, I wanted to get up in the sky!  But he thought I was asking to go on the cross country, so he asked another guy who was scheduled to fly the plane that afternoon if he minded rescheduling…and we went flying!!!  (Thank you, Jake!)


My Flying Story Part 9: Dual Cross Country!


It took at least an hour…maybe two…for all of the pre-flight planning.  Ted showed me how to plot the course, set checkpoints, calculate my airspeed and ground speed based on the winds, and then calculate how long it should take to get to each checkpoint.  I also learned how to calculate fuel, to look up the airport radio frequencies, as well as the runway lengths and elevation of the airports I was landing at.


This is a picture of my first cross country flight…from Rochester (RCR), to Lafayette (LAF), to Muncie (MIE), and back to RCR 🙂  ‘Cross country’ sounds like you’re flying across the whole United States of America…but really it’s just 50 nautical miles between landing points 😉


My Flying Story Part 9: Dual Cross Country!


I discovered the power of highlighters after my dual cross country…it helps a LOT!  Because when you’re trying to fly a plane, and then you throw in a little turbulence…trying to find your thin pen line on a map full of lines is not easy! 😀


My Flying Story Part 9: Dual Cross Country!

The next thing you do is pick out ‘checkpoints’ on the map.  Either bigger towns, or highways, or sometimes railroads.  You want to make sure it’s something you’ll be sure to recognize from the air!  Then you make hash marks across your route line, and use your plotter to be able to tell how many miles are between checkpoints.  After you calculate your airspeed and ground speed (and therefore how many miles per hour you are flying), you can calculate how many minutes it should take you to fly to each check point.  This is called ‘pilotage’, which is basically keeping track of where you are without the use of GPS 😀


I was sososososo nervous about talking to ATC (air traffic control).  Ted practiced with me at the hangar, him pretending to be the tower, and me replying back.  That helped a lot.  Then I went home and practiced it with myself, with my sisters laughing, “There you go again!!”  😀  However, they have no room to talk…with her EMT training, Cassia works on and talks to imaginary patients all of the time!


Leah and I share a room, so we’d be going to sleep, and I’d start saying, “Cessna 4378Quebec, Muncie Tower….Muncie Tower, 78Quebec, go ahead….78Quebec is 10 miles to the northwest, inbound, with information Oscar…78Quebec, expect runway two-one, report when you have the runway in sight….

And Leah would tease, “I’m trying to go to sleep here!” 😀




For our first leg of the trip, from Rochester to Lafayette, Ted had me call Grissom Approach for flight following.  Flight following is when the traffic controllers give you a number to punch into your transponder.  They call this ‘squawking’, and there’s a neat article here about why it’s called ‘squawking’.   The benefit of this is that someone else is keeping an eye on you, so if you get lost, or run into trouble, they know exactly where you are, (and also how high you are), and they can help you out.  They are also like an extra pair of eyes when it comes to collision avoidance…they’ll tell you if there’s another plane in your area where you’re flying.


The transponder…what you punch your ‘squawk’ code into 🙂


image via Wikia


I can still remember the first time I called Grissom.  We had just gotten off of Rochester a few minutes before, and Ted practiced with me what to say, then he told me, “Okay, go ahead and give them a call!”

I blanked out..and I remember saying, “Oh brother!”

Ted told me, “Just go ahead and do it.”

So I did…and guess what!  I didn’t die!


Me: “Grissom Approach, Cessna 4378Quebec”

ATC: “4378Quebec, Grissom Approach, go ahead”

Me: “4378Quebec is off of Rochester, en route to Lafayette, requesting flight following.”

ATC: “4378Quebec squawk 4231”

Me: “4378Quebec squawk 4231”


My first time was not very smooth…I’d say a few words, shut of the mic and look at Ted, and he’d tell me what to finish saying, then I’d key the mic again and finish the phrase.

Talking to ATC still unnerves me a bit, but it’s gotten way easier…and I love all of that ‘pilot speak’, lol!  It’s fun to go to LiveATC.net and listen to ATC in real time while looking at an airport diagram.


Here’s another fun link…you can see aircraft flying all over the world.  Their type, altitude, and even what code they’re squawking 🙂

flight aware


For the first leg, Ted had me practice pilotage.  Once in a while he’d ask, “What town is this?” and I’d look at the map, tell him what I thought it was, and he’d tell me if I was correct or not.  I learned during this time about the tendency to descend when looking down at the map…or for my left hand to start to turn us left when I wasn’t paying attention!


It was when I started doing cross country flights that I discovered why pilots wear big watches.  You need to keep track of the time for navigating and fuel, and trying to count minutes on a small watch while also watching six (or more) instruments, and looking at your map, and making sure you’re still flying the plane is rather difficult!


The plane has a clock, but I found it hard to keep track of minutes on it because it was small, and down by my knees, so it was hard to see.  I used to not wear watches at all because I didn’t want to be bothered by them, and if I did wear one, it was a small one. Now I wear one almost every day.  And I even like big watches now, haha!  Whenever I see one of my older small watches I think, “Is this even a watch???”


When we flew over Ball State University, I mentioned to Ted that I took harp lessons there at one time, then later when he was asking me more pilotage questions, he said, “Notice I only ask you questions that I know the answers to!  If you asked me about something over there, I’d say, “Now you play the harp, don’t you?!”

I told him that that reminded me of when I heard someone say once that God never asks questions because He needs information…Ted said that was a good way of putting it…then he said, “So for right now, just pretend that I’m like God!”  LOL!  We both laughed hard at that one 😀




I asked him how he got started flying, and he told me about his solo…he and his instructor had a skydiving business, so for Ted’s first solo, his instructor jumped out of the plane!  Talk about a memorable solo!!!


Over the course of the flight, I talked to ATC a few different times…usually hearing them say “78Quebec…jibbery-jabbery-something-and-something-and-something…”  and I’d look over at Ted like, “Quick!  Translate for me!”  and he’d tell me what to say back to them.

At one point, Ted told me I was doing a good job, then he said, “You sound professional!”

I replied, “Now I just need to bring you along on all of my flights so you can tell me what to say!”

But he told me not to count on that…bother! 😀


Another time they did their “78Quebec jibbery-jabbery…” and Ted told me to tell them “78Quebec, roger”.  I repeated that, then I looked at Ted and asked him, “What did they just say?  What did I just ‘roger’?”  Haha!


I saw an airplane fly underneath me…and in Lafayette, I followed a plane while I was in the pattern.  That was very cool!


At towered airports you’re required to ‘read back’ or repeat whatever the tower tells you to do. Even though it was intimidating to read back the taxi instructions to the tower because you have to remember what all they said, it was also cool to be doing it after having watched videos on it.


Airport Diagram of Lafayette (KLAF)

The dark black lines are the two runways.  Runway 5/23 and 10/28.

The gray lines with C, C2, B, B5, etc. are the taxiways, so if you land on runway 28, and wanted to taxi to the terminal,  tower might tell you to turn off of the runway onto “Charlie 1, right on Charlie,  left on Bravo”  or something of the like (see the pink line!).


The upper left hand corner has your important frequencies.  ATIS is the frequency you tune into to listen to an automated recording tell you what the weather is in that area, tower is to talk to the tower of course ;), and GND CON is ground control…the people you talk to after you’ve landed and they need to move you around the airport!

Each hour they put out a new ATIS recording, and each hour has a letter assigned to it. So at the end of the recording they will tell you, “This is Information Alpha (or Bravo, or Charlie, etc…remember the post on the alphabet?)”.

“4378Quebec is ten miles to the northeast, inbound, with Information Charlie.”

Does that not sound cool?  Yes it does 😀



I remember that Lafayette seemed very overwhelming because there were a few other airplanes in the pattern, and trying to remember to ‘turn right base for runway two-three’ (what was ‘right base’ again?!), and repeat everything he said to me was an experience!  But that’s why you’re instructor is there, to help you how to learn to do it, one step at a time!


On the second leg, from Lafayette to Muncie, we used VOR for navigation. VOR is a radio frequency that you can tune into with your navigation radios.  The radio frequency comes from a station on the ground that has 360 radio beacons…one for every degree heading on the compass:


VOR2image via Encyclopedia Britannica for kids


Then there’s an instrument that has a needle that swings toward the signal, and you can tell which ‘radial’ or radio beacon you are on by turning that knob that says OBS until the needle is centered (the knob is turning the ring with the numbers on it at the same time). Below is a picture of the VOR indicator, and apparently this airplane is on the 360 radial (north):



image via Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge


Here’s what the VOR stations look like on a map.  You can see each of the little hash marks on the circle…those are the ‘radials’ 🙂  This is the ‘Roberts’ VOR station.  116.8 (in the red box) is what you would dial into your radio to tune into that station.




One way you can use VOR, is to fly directly to the station…like this one is in the middle of an airfield.  So if I tuned into the Bloomington VOR, I could follow that needle all the way to the airport.

VORdirect to

Another way you can use VORs is if you get lost.  (Like I have a couple of times…but *ahem* I’ll tell you about those later 😀 ). Suppose I was on my way to BMI (Bloomington) and I got lost…I could find out exactly where I was on the map by tuning into two stations that are around me, lining up the dial to see which radial the needle centered on, and seeing where the two radials cross:



Now that I have thoroughly bored you with VORs…I’ll keep moving with the rest of my story, lol!


Muncie was much quieter, but still a towered airport so I could get practice talking to the tower and get the required towered airport landings in 🙂

The last leg was from Muncie to Rochester, and we used the easiest navigation…GPS 😀

At one point, I remember that there were fluffy white clouds just above us, and I realized, “I’m closer to those clouds than I am to the ground!”  It was beautiful!


Once we got back to Rochester, we had winds gusting at 17 knots, which was more than I’m used to flying in.  I remember before I soloed we had a gusty day, and I was watching Ted handle the yoke in response to what the wind was throwing at us, and wondering how on earth I would ever be able to do that.  Then after my cross country when I was landing back at Rochester…I WAS DOING IT!  It was so cool to begin to ‘feel’ the wind and the plane.

Ted had an airport meeting to go to, so I fueled up the plane by myself, and I wrote in my notebook, “…and I parked the plane without banging it–yay!”  😀


All in all, it was a lovely day!  I felt like I was on information overload, but not so much so that it wasn’t fun.  Learning how to juggle maps, while watching your altitude, and your heading, and timing your checkpoints, plus switching back and forth between radios, talking to ATC, and then getting your bearings around an airport you’ve never seen before, was overwhelmingly fun! I liked being stretched like that. 🙂


Ted and I…only this was another flight…because I was much too focused on my cross country to take any pictures that day, lol!  Ted’s a fun instructor 🙂  I’ll ask him, “Can you take the plane while I take pictures?” and he laughs at me and lets me take a bunch!

My Flying Story Part 9: Dual Cross Country!


Throughout my flight training, I had to keep reminding myself that I was only supposed to be focusing on the step that was right in front of me…and not to try to take in the big picture all at once.  If I started thinking about what all I was supposed to be able to do in order to get my license, it was too overwhelming, and then it was likely I’d begin to get discouraged.  I SO love flying…so I chose not to think about the big picture too much, because I didn’t want discouragement to steal any of the fun of flying right now! 🙂


I remember in ground school when Jim was talking about VORs, and ATC, and radials, and pilotage, and suction gauges, and airspeed indicators….I was thinking, “How will I EVER be able to remember how to work all of that???”.  Then I’d remind myself that I just needed to focus on the next step, and my instructor would show me when to take the next step and how.  It’s amazing what you can learn to do…just one little step at a time!  You end up flying airplanes…all by yourself 😀








Hospital Wall Decor

(ok..kind of a strange title 😛 )

A good while back, one of our many Facebook friends sent me a private message telling me about the new Parkview that was being built near us, and that they were looking for local photographers to enter their pictures. I thought, “why not?!” I don’t really remember how many I entered, but they later told me they had chosen 5 of them, but I had no clue which ones they picked until last night!


A week or so ago, I received a invitation in the mail to attend the VIP open house dinner! I was like, woah, that’s cool! But I wasn’t too sure about going until Cassia found out about it, and ‘made’ me go…which I am very glad she did! In the invite, it said that business attire was suggested, and she looked at me and went “ANNA! This is like, fancy and high up!” 😉 And yes, we both felt like hick from the sticks, but that’s okay, cause we met some other people who told us the same thing ^_^ lol! So we weren’t the only ones lol!


So…last night was the dinner 🙂

All 5 of the images are in the lobby/waiting rooms! You come in the main doors, and this one is to the right!

IMG_5875 (1)

In the ER waiting room…


And these two are in the main waiting area. Several people would be like, “what’s your name?” So i’d tell them, and they’d be like “OH! I love your spider web pictures!” And during dinner, we sat with our friends and the guy who designed the building. So a lady was talking to them and found out I had some pictures there, and she goes “oh!! I just love your pictures!” 😉



IMG_5872 (1)

lol, So the invite said it was a dinner. On our way there I told Cassia, “it’s probably mashed potatoes and meat, cause that’s what everybody serves these days!” We got there and there was like shrimp and all kinds of sea food and fancy stuff. I leaned over and told her “this is NOT mashed potatoes and meat!!”


After dinner, they took everyone on a tour of the whole hospital…I think Cassia really enjoyed getting a tour of the ER 😉


The outside of the Hospital! (oh, plus that gorgeous sky? it was epic!)


Such a cool experience, and very blessed to have my work featured there!


My Flying Story Part 8: A Dented Wing & the FAA

My Flying Story Part 8: A Dented Wing & the FAA

Part 1 || Part 2 || Part 3 || Part 4 || Part 5 || Part 6 || Part 7


It’s been a while since I’ve updated my flying story…and SO MUCH has happened since then 😀  One thing is…I GOT MY PRIVATE PILOT’S LICENSE!  Oh joy and gladness!  You probably can’t tell that I’m excited by the picture, can you? God gave me the most perfect weather for it, too…it was absolutely beautiful 🙂


There’s a whole story behind that, including eight check ride cancellations, but I’ll save all of the details for later when I get to that part of the story.  For now, I’ll catch you up on what happened after I soloed 🙂




First I’ll start with how I got to meet with the FAA.  If you don’t know this already…meeting with the Federal Aviation Administration is NOT on the top of any pilot’s wish list.  Usually that means you’ve done something bad.  It’s like the law enforcement of the skies. Worse than being pulled over on the road by a state trooper.

However, my instructor handled everything and prepared me so well for each part of it, that I never felt scared or really all that nervous with meeting with the FAA investigators, or our club’s board members later on.


But first let me tell you what happened 🙂


It was a pretty, sunny day on August 8th…I had gotten the mowing done, the tomatoes weeded, and some errands done.  The tomatoes really needed attention, and didn’t get much of it this past summer.  Each of us girls picks a part of the garden to care for, and the tomatoes was my part this year. I once told Leah, “By the looks of the tomatoes, I think I’ve been spending too much time in the sky, and not enough on the ground!”


So anyway, after I finished all of that, I started thinking about going flying…because isn’t that what you should do on a pretty sunny day?!


The flight was great.  I took up my favorite airplane, 12874, and I practiced S turns and some other ground reference maneuvers, and even did some crosswind landings.


My favorite airplane, 12874

My Flying Story Part 8-A Dented Wing & the FAA


Jim was right after me with the plane, so he was there at the hangar when I came back.  I was taxiing towards the hangar, when another larger airplane was coming off of the grass ‘taxiway’ that they use to go to and from a restaurant, onto the taxiway I was using…toward me!

I got a little nervous, and was thinking, “I need to get off of the taxiway” and “I hope they see me!”.    Thankfully, they did see me, and they stopped so I had plenty of room.  But I was so fixated on them that I didn’t watch my right wing as I swung around in front of our hangar like we usually do to park it.




At first it didn’t register what had happened. It didn’t really jolt me, and I just thought I was stuck in the grass (ha!)…then I saw Jim signalling to me to shut off the engine, and I looked over and realized that I had hit the hangar with my right wing.

“No!”  I thought, “Nononononono!!!”  Things like this happen to other people.  Not me.  I’ve never even dented a car.  How could I have dented an airplane wing?  OH BROTHER!  Now what?!


The dented wing.  It might seem like a lot of bother for such a little dent, but they had to check out the whole wing to make sure other parts of the wing weren’t damaged.

My Flying Story Part 8-A Dented Wing & the FAA

Jim was very, very kind and assured me that “things happen”, and he helped me pull it out of the grass and put it into the hangar and put it out of service on the scheduler.  I tried calling Ted to tell him what had happened, but he was flying, so I texted him so he would know when he landed.  Thankfully, we have two Cessnas, so Jim got the other one ready for the ride he was supposed to be giving.


I knew that “things happen”, but I still felt really bad that I had done that to the airplane.

After every flight, I tried to write down the good things from the flight, and the things that I needed to work on.  So when I got home, I really needed to remember some good things!  I wrote down:

“Good parts:  the ground reference maneuvers and crosswind landings went well.  I remembered to put up the flaps and carburetor heat as I was about to taxi back (I kept forgetting this and would taxi all the way back to the hangar with the flaps down, lol!)

Need to work on: watching wingtips (you don’t say!), staying on altitude on ground reference maneuvers, and putting flaps UP and carb heat IN after landing.”


Jim encouraged me later when he texted me,

“Don’t let this bum you out.  Not the end of the world.  We can get it fixed.  I switched you over to 78Quebec so you can keep flying.  Ok? Keep flying.”


I still wanted to go flying, but there was something in me that felt a bit nervous about it.  Even though the incident didn’t happen in the air or really had anything to do with actually flying…just taxiing 😀

So it was perfect that the next time I flew was with Ted, for my dual cross country.  It helped get the ‘jitters’ out 🙂

I’ll come back to the dual cross country trip later (it was aMAZEing!).


They took off the wing completely and sent if off to get repaired.

My Flying Story Part 8-A Dented Wing & the FAA


Like I said before, Ted did a great job of preparing me and keeping me updated on what was happening with the plane, and what to expect when we met with the FAA inspectors.


I am immensely grateful (and terribly sorry), for all of the work that the board members did because of my wing incident.  They had insurance to deal with, the FAA to deal with, and a lot of paperwork and decisions I know nothing about, I’m sure!  And all of them were very kind through the whole thing, encouraging me to keep flying, and telling me not to worry about it.


When Ted and I were planning my dual cross country, he had a phone call from one of the members, and apparently they asked if I was okay, and if I was still flying.  He told them, “Well, we’re planning a cross country right now, so it must not have deterred her too much!”, then when he got off of the phone he teased me, “Everybody is asking, ‘Is Jessica okay? How is she feeling? Is she still flying?!'”  It’s like having a bunch of extra uncles and grandpas looking out for you! Lol!


My Flying Story Part 8: A Dented Wing & the FAA


On August 19th, Ted and I met with two inspectors who drove up from Indy to the Rochester airport.  I was glad that my first meeting with the FAA was with Ted.  Although they were both very kind as well and also assured me that “things happen”, it was still nice to have someone there that I knew!

I had to describe what happened, draw a diagram of what happened, then sign and date the diagram.  The ‘diagram’ was not the best artwork ever (you know ‘stick people’?  I drew ‘stick airplanes’!), but I guess it gave them an idea of the incident…and so somewhere in their files they have my original copy of stick-airplane artwork, lol!

Then he asked me what I would have done differently, and went over my logbook and some other things, then we walked out to the hangar so that they could see where it happened, and I could explain the incident again.


With the FAA there are accidents and incidents.  Incidents are the lesser of the two…so I was grateful that my wing dent was in that category.


Aviation is so funny in that everything is so very carefully evaluated.  Which is very understandable, but it still struck me funny when I compared it to driving.  If I ran the end of my car into my garage, and an inspector from the DOT came and counseled me on how not to do that again, and I drew a diagram of my car and the garage, and he measured the driveway, we would have a LOT less crazy drivers.  Maybe. 😀


Some of the things we’re required to do in aviation would be rather helpful in driving.  Like if you were tested in your ability to use a map…you know, the paper kind?! 😀  I’m a lot more comfortable using a sectional (aviation map) than I am a road atlas. I guess they figure if you get lost on the ground and your GPS quits working, you can get out and ask someone for directions.  If you get lost in the air, it’s not quite that easy!


Shiny new wing!

My Flying Story Part 8-A Dented Wing & the FAA

After meeting with the FAA, I helped Ted change the oil in 78Quebec, then we practiced some crosswind landings in some strong gusting winds.


When I was getting ready to go home, Ted told me, “If anyone asks what you did today, you can tell them, ‘Well, I met with the Feds, then I flew in a hurricane, and changed airplane oil…what’d you do?!”



My Flying Story Part 8: A Dented Wing & the FAA


Later, I was telling Daddy about meeting with the FAA, and he told me, “You’re making memories I never did!”  I replied, “But this wasn’t a memory I WANTED to make!!!”  Nevertheless, for having to meet with the FAA, it was a good experience.  And Ted told me, “If denting a wing is the worst you ever do in your flying career, you’re doing pretty good!”


Part of our club’s rules is that we have to meet with the board if we have an incident or accident like this.  Once again, they were all very kind…even though I did put one of our airplanes out of commission for more than a month during our busiest flying season, and caused a bunch of paperwork and trouble. 🙂  I so love my flying club…they’re the best!  Tom, our club’s president, said that he rather liked the shiny aluminum look…couldn’t we just strip the paint off of the rest of the airplane?  Lol!


I also learned from this, that you have to, have to, have to be careful and PAY ATTENTION. Because those bad things you read about in others’ accident reports CAN happen to you, and you have nobody to blame but yourself 🙂


Next time, I’ll tell you about my first cross country…it was so. much. fun!






Happy 2016!!!

Our favorite way to bring in the New Year…is to make lots of noise, and have our own ‘ball drop’ 😉

May Twenty-Sixteen be full of Jesus’ blessings in your life, and may you have new and fresh revelations of His love for you!


Happy New Year! ( Warning! You might need earplugs! 🙂 )

Posted by Trisch Richardson on Thursday, December 31, 2015



Christmas Day 2015

Christmas Day 2015


On Christmas Day…we all slept in!  Even the boys. Susannah said she got up at 7:30 and no one else was awake.  After a yummy Christmas breakfast (above), we fed the animals, did dishes, and were ready to open presents by 11:30 🙂


One of my favorite Christmas memories is laying in bed trying to go to sleep on Christmas Eve, and hearing Daddy and Mommy downstairs by the stairway, rustling through sacks to fill our stockings 😉  Now in addition to our parents filling them, we fill each others’.

Mine is the huge one at the top of the steps…because the hospital put me in one after I was born on Christmas Eve.  Leah’s is the white one right next to it.  When we were little, I always thought Leah got more things in her stocking, because hers would be overflowing, and you couldn’t see anything out of the top of mine, lol!  It didn’t occur to me that it was because my stocking was big enough to put a baby in it!

Christmas Day 2015


Handing out presents (Susannah is rattling hers to see if she can guess what’s in it!)

Christmas Day 2015




Christmas Day 2015


Noah made Daddy this little wooden airplane without a pattern or a kit!   My brothers are incredibly amazing with their building skills 🙂

Christmas Festivities


Charissa…super happy that she got the ‘toboggan hat’ that she’s been wanting 😀

Christmas Day 2015


Christmas Day 2015


Christmas Day 2015

We take almost all day to open presents, because we come up with as many convoluted ways as we possibly can to decide who opens their gift next.  We all open them one at a time, too, because we want to see what everyone is getting, and what their reaction is 😀  Once we did oldest to youngest.  Then youngest to oldest.  Then our names in alphabetical order.  Then our favorite colors in alphabetical order.  Then Daddy picked someone to start, then they picked the next person, until everyone was picked 🙂

Christmas Day 2015


Noah and Isaiah were SO happy to get a new drill 😀

Christmas Day 2015

Figuring out their new tool…

Christmas Day 2015

Noah was equally excited to get his own (orange) toboggan hat.

Christmas Day 2015



Anna, super excited over her present (which I think were new earbuds) 😀

Christmas Day 2015

Funny faces…

Christmas Day 2015

Christmas Day 2015


Susannah, with a new wallet made by Leah

Christmas Day 2015

Susannah and Cassia both love learning about anything medical.  Susannah asked for a coloring book on the anatomy of the body, so now she gets to color muscles, and eyeballs, and blood vessels, and who-knows-what-all-else.  You can tell that Noah just does not ‘get it’ why Susannah is so excited about her gift 😀  Not his kind of coloring book!

Christmas Day 2015

More funny faces…not sure what about!

Christmas Day 2015


Christmas Day 2015


Anna really wanted an essential oils diffuser for Christmas, so several of us went together to get it for her.  Cassia is helpfully looking up the directions for Anna 🙂

Christmas Day 2015

Leah excited about her gift (only I don’t remember what it is!)

Christmas Day 2015

You may notice a pattern here…Charissa is really into pink camo.  She has pink camo shoes, and a pink camo hat, a pink camo jacket, and now a pink camo comforter…she was SO happy!

Christmas Day 2015

Waiting for our turn…no wait…it must be my turn, because I’m tearing into that paper 😀

Christmas Day 2015

Susannah with a new planner she got this year.  She and I LOVE planners, notebooks, pens, papers, sticky notes and all of that ‘office-y stuff’ 😀  She was super excited about her new planner.

Christmas Day 2015

A funny, random picture.

Christmas Day 2015

Isaiah surprised me with a little wooden airplane that HE made (without a pattern or a kit)!  The main body of the airplane (the fuselage), is made from several individually cut pieces of wood.  He cut every single one of them. And sanded them down.  And glued them together.  At this rate, he’ll be able to build me a real airplane by the time he’s sixteen, lol!

Christmas Day 2015


The boys’ last present involved a treasure hunt…Mommy is helping them out with one of the clues here.

Christmas Day 2015

The hunt took them all over the house, and finally outside to the shop…

Christmas Day 2015


Isaiah’s face is hilarious.  In the anvil was the clue, along with the key to our storage closet where their gifts were.  Noah is getting the clue out of the anvil, and Isaiah has the key, with a look on his face like, “Why is this here?!”

Christmas Day 2015


They were getting really excited (once they figured out what the key was for!), and Noah was telling Isaiah, “Hurry, hurry!”

Christmas Day 2015


THIS is what was in the storage closet!  They are oh-so-happy to have these new bikes!  They’ve been ‘fixing’ theirs off an on throughout the summer, borrowing pieces from other old bikes that we have, lol!  Did I tell you my brothers are amazing?  It’s rather cute to see them be ‘little men’ and build and fix things.  We didn’t see the boys for a while after they found their bikes…they rode them around for quite a while 🙂

Christmas Day 2015


This was kind of a “two-for-one” deal…because Mommy didn’t know that Daddy had bought her a bookshelf, assembled it, and set it up in the shop where she would see it when the boys were on their treasure hunt 😀  Mommy loves books, and therefore has more books than she has bookshelves.  Something she has passed on to several of her daughters 🙂


Christmas Day 2015

Mommy after she saw the bookshelf 🙂

Christmas Day 2015


At about 5:30, we were completely done opening gifts and going on treasure hunts 🙂  We cleaned up all of the trash and got all of the food out of the oven and had a huge feast of ham, sweet potato casserole, apple marshmallow salad, rolls, green beans, and “gourmet potatoes” (potatoes with sour cream and butter and all kinds of goodness!).


Christmas Day 2015


Several years ago we girls got tired of cooking all afternoon on Christmas Day, so now we have it down to a science to where all we have to do is put casseroles in the oven, and maybe throw together a salad.  It is also very helpful that there are seven of us.  Everybody picks two or three things to make, we make the casseroles the day before, and it’s DONE! 🙂


Unfortunately, we didn’t get a picture of it all done…we were so hungry, we just ate it! 😀


To finish off an amazing Christmas, we watched a family favorite…The Muppets Christmas Carol 🙂   Okay, it’s almost a family favorite.  Some of the girls don’t like it, lol!


“It’s in the singing of a street corner choir…it’s going home and getting warm by the fire…it is wherever you find love, it feels like Chriiissttmmaaasss!” 


Anna got a picture of the Christmas moon.  The boys informed me that I would be 59 the next time we had a full moon on Christmas.  This was comforting news, haha!

Christmas Moon


And that was the end of Christmas Twenty-Fifteen 🙂



Susannah and Cassia have been working up the Piano Guys arrangement of O Come, O Come Emmanuel for this Christmas season, and so Anna went with the two of them yesterday to a local chapel to record it for you…enjoy (and be sure to watch to the end)!!! 😀

Merry Christmas from all of us!!!