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I am trying my best to get out for a walk in the woods every day, sometimes twice. I want to learn this new land in each season. I have a sore neck, and I told Jonny that I think it’s from looking at the ground while I walk, not wanting to miss a single plant. I usually don’t take a camera with me, but I did recently get my first smartphone, so I carry that sometimes. I wish I had it with me the other day so I could have gotten a photo of Larkspur. She was wearing six dolls using a variety of improvised carriers including this one, and exclaimed, “This is what’s it’s like having six kids ages five and under!” She looked hilarious with all those dolls hanging from her body, and she was very concerned that she might drop one. Jonny joked, “It’s okay, you’ve got so many you won’t even notice.” A conversation about how every child is precious, no matter how many you have, followed.

Thursday evening, Mabel put a piece of a tortilla chip in her mouth that she found on the floor. I was standing right next to her when she did it, but didn’t notice until she started choking. She’s at that stage of babyhood that I know so well, the one that has me spending half my life scanning the floor for choking hazards (no wonder my neck is sore. I really do spend all my time looking down!) I do believe that Mabel is the worst of all my children when it comes to putting every single thing she can in her mouth (Gabriel pulled a living housefly from her mouth yesterday, I kid you not.) Of course, Jonny, the guy who knows how to handle every situation from a broken toilet to a choking baby, wasn’t home when this happened. The situation progressed from a bit of coughing to her face turning blue in a truly unnatural way and I thought she was going to die. Panicked thoughts began racing through my mind, similar to those that I had during those minutes during Job’s birth when he was stuck. Mabel’s color was all too reminiscent of his when he was finally born. I became a mad woman, pleading for help. I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t let my baby choke, but I didn’t know how to stop it. Later, after the crisis passed, I read online what to do if a baby is choking, and realized that I did everything wrong. Had Jonny been home, I feel certain he would have calmly laid her across his lap and pounded her back just the right way. Not this terrified mama. I truly had no idea. It hurts to think back on what happened and how helpless I felt. Relating the story to my sister, she reminded me that I got that chip out of her throat and she’s alive. But if you’ve ever been in a similar situation, you can imagine that I continued to replay and regret for a couple of days. I’ve been telling Jonny for years that I want to take a first aid/CPR class. There hasn’t been a six hour stretch where I felt I could do it. In another month, I think Mabel will be able to be left for long enough that I can. I plan to. I never want to feel so incapable in the face of a crisis like that again. I’m passed reliving it now, and I’m not sure exactly why I’m writing about it. Maybe a bit of a release for me, and a nudge for us all to do what we can to learn how to handle emergencies.

Goodness, sometimes it feels like a challenge just to keep them alive. What a terrifying and awfully humbling experience. And honestly, a good reminder that ultimately God is in control (Sorry, I know that sounds cliche.) When we are in a panic holding our babies and screaming for help, and it seems there is no help to be had, He’s there.

Oh, sweet baby girl. She’s pure happiness, and she’s got a birthday next month. So I’m knitting her a little vest in some of my avocado stone dyed sport weight wool. Depending on life, there may be a cardigan too. Of course, if I don’t finish in time,So my little June baby can probably hold off till fall for an onslaught of new woolens.

p.s. Gabe had a birthday and I was only granted permission to include one photo of his adoring siblings watching him unwrap their gifts for him. I made all his favorite foods and I do think he had a really nice day. Also, one of our hives swarmed (Jonny caught it), and the baby bunnies were here for a visit. They’ll be here to stay in a few days!


  1. Oh gosh! The choking story brought back memories. I had a similar incident with my youngest son when he was a teenager. I actually saved his life by doing something I’d seen George Clooney do on the tv program ‘ER’. It’s called the Heimlich Maneuver but at first, I couldn’t get the pressure because he was too tall. So I kicked his legs out from beneath him so he was kneeling and it worked. I can’t tell you the relief (for both of us!). Everyone should look it up. Please.

  2. Hello 🙂 oh, sorry to hear that story about choking… That must have been horrible. No wonder the stress of it took a few days to pass. My husband and I (we have a toddler) took the CPR class not too long ago. We loved loved loved it. I hope that you will find the time to take it as well. I wonder if, in the meantime, you could find videos on youtube (from a reliable channel) that would teach you the basics ? For the peace of mind, and – hopefully not- in case of an emergency, it would be worth it. Good luck 🙂 All the best, A.

  3. So sorry Ginny. I know how it feels to see your child struggling for air. I had my daughter at 26 weeks and by the time she was able to drink milk at 34 weeks she would have such a hard time. The first time I gave her a bottle in the NICU the nurse left me alone with her, she choked on her milk, turned blue, went limp, her heart rate went to 30 all while I am hitting her back as hard as I think is ok for a 5 lbs baby. The nurse finally mosies in all relaxed and says “oh, that happens all the time.” I was hoping she was just wrong, but no. Even after bringing Annie home, she still had choking on milk, turning blue episodes at least 2 x a day for a month.

    All this to say-take an infant cpr first aid class. I felt so much more confident in caring for my daughter after I knew what to do!

  4. Oh Ginny, I’m so grateful your sweet girl is okay! That must have been so terrifying. Over the winter Bracken and I were visiting my mom in Florida and she frantically called to me in the other room. Bracken was choking on a carrot. (That’s a common choking hazard apparently.) There was panic and I remembered reading that if small children are choking to tilt them forward and pound on their back, between their shoulder blades. I did that and thank goodness he was okay, but it was so scary. I too have been wanting to take a CPR/first aid class. I went to a talk last year about dealing with medical emergencies, but it didn’t go into choking, and I went to a class on disaster preparedness, but again it didn’t go into that. I need a CPR/first aid class. It will help us mamas feel much calmer I believe! So much love to you!!

  5. Oh Ginny, I am glad Mabel was alright!
    We had a situation like that when my girl choked on a Playmobil part. I was glad I had done a first aid course. But I don’t know if I actually saved her life or if she got the part out by herself. 😉

    But first aid is very recommendable. I also want my kids to do a course so they know how to react in an emergency.

  6. I’m so glad Mabel was alright !! On a funny note sometimes you don’t even know till it comes out the other end lol my niece pooped out. Teeny tiny walkie talkie that went her brothers Lego !

    Please tell me what it means when you say the hive swarmed but you caught it 😳

  7. I had a similar experience when my oldest was about 16 months. At Easter lunch, he choked on a piece of fruit that I KNEW I should have cut up smaller. I completely froze. He started turning blue. Thank God my cousin, a fellow mama and also a PA, knew just what to do and laid him over her lap like you described. We still had to call 911 and he developed a respiratory infection for about a month afterward.

    So terrifying. You telling your story made my chest tighten with anxiety just remembering my own. I’m so thankful Mabel is ok!

  8. I experienced these exact feelings last summer when my 8 month old baby began choking and my husband was far away on the property and I PANICKED. Hubby has CPR, etc training for work, but my training was like 15 years ago when my first was born. Luckily everything turned out fine like you–however, I called 911 like a ninny and then eventually took our baby to the ER for an X-ray to make sure what he ended up swallowing was ok to swallow (I had no idea what he was choking on). That feeling is the unequivocally worst feeling ever for a parent! My heart still races thinking back on it and it’s been almost a year. Lots and lots of hugs to you, Ginny! xoxo

  9. Oh, I am sorry about the choking incident. I need to take CPR too since my husband has had two heart attacks. For some reason I feel paralyzed about it. I just have to do it.

    Last week we were at our house at the lake and the tulip poplars were blooming and since the deck is high I could actually see the blooms on the tree! I have wanted to see that for decades!

  10. Karen B. says:

    Ginny, you look really well in your photo! I hope that means you are feeling better! Everyone is correct about the need for CPR and something I’ve not seen mentioned, everyone should know how to call 911 (or whatever your emergency number is), even the younger children. Happy Birthday Gabe!

  11. After only being home for a couple of months after adopting our two little guys, the older one (2 yrs) decided to suck on a hotdog (they were all cut up after that) and got a good size chunk stuck. His lips turned blue and he passed out in just seconds. I yelled at my mom to help and she just looked at me like, “what can I do?” I then remembered that I had taken CPR as a 14 year old for babysitting. Never had to use it before or since but boy that Heimlich maneuver shot the hot dog across the room right into the dog’s mouth. Happy dog, happy momma and happy boy!

  12. happy birthday Gabe!!! My daughter choked on melba toast when she was around 8 months old while I sat and watched. I was terrified, I think the melba toast dissolved while she was choking and that is how she coughed it up.

    Good luck policing the floors for non choking materials, sounds never ending. (I was cpr certified and panic over took the situation….)

    I am doing my daily walk and love seeing the subtle changes of my world. Life is GOOD.

  13. Michelle says:

    So scary! My boys stuffed all sorts of things in their mouths. It was the worst – and I am an OB nurse who used to teach CPR – scared the pants off me! American Heart Association makes a product called Anytime CPR. FOr about $30 you can get an infant or an adult kit with a concise DVD, blow up manikin that is almost as good as a classroom model and extra sets of lungs. The whole family can learn CPR/choking in your home!

  14. When my oldest daughter was a toddler she chocked on my mothers button earring of all things. She turned blue, I tried pounding it out….that didn’t work so I rammed my finger down her throat & brought it up in a panic. (Also what you aren’t supposed to do!) There was a little blood so I drove like a manic to the emergency room & they said she was fine but I almost did a tonsillectomy on her!😂Praise the Lord they all made it to adulthood!!

  15. connie says:

    hi ginny…….what? mabel will be turning one already! my oh my time flies. and i love your “yarn shirt” and your hair. lovely. belated happy birthday to gabe, too!

  16. t. a. knight says:

    Oh Momma your not alone…. I had a choker once. Scariest parenting moment ever…. Child 4 of my 6 has nearly died on several chocking occasions. The worse was a a sequin in the shape of Micky mouse ears that fell off a wig we got at Disney. I didn’t know what to do, complete blank having child cpr as a teen babysitter left my head- sticking my finger in made it worse and my husband found me crying panicking with a blue baby of about that age she was about to go limp. He calmly flip her and whacked it out in one wack and we all collapsed on the floor crying. She then has chocked on a quarter, cheese (several occasions) and bread! she just jams everything in. She is 5 now and I think we are finally over the choking phase. lets hope, the last time the quarter went all the way thru! It taken a few years before I could talk about it, and I signed up for that CPR class again soon after… Please do the same!

  17. I’ve been there with the choking baby and I have had infant first aid/CPR classes (it’s been awhile but not a lot has changed). I’ve had a couple instances: I had a little girl in daycare who got a hold of one of those plastic hangie things that attach tags to clothes and I just shoved my finger in her mouth and scooped it out….my older son used to find dog fluff and he tried to eat that….my little one almost choked on dog food (again, swooped it out of his mouth with my finger). Luckily, I think we’re beyond that stage (mostly). Now, eating dropped food off the floor….still working on that (see also “dog fluff” – you know, for a dog that doesn’t shed much, he sure leaves a lot of hair around).

  18. Hi Ginny, here in Seattle you can go online and take/learn the book part of CPR/1st aide classes and then set a time to go and physically get experience for the practice/test part. I bet you can find something close to you. OR, at least get a bit of knowledge under your belt until the time comes for you to go to a class. I would suggest all your family do it, often fire departments offer a group discount. Check with a church group, the kids golf club etc. to get enough folks to take it with you. Also, adult and infant child CPR are often separate classes.

  19. Ginny, I had something similar happen with my daughter when she was 2. It was an ice cube left in a glass at a party we had hosted. I had *just* taken a CPR class, and I truly think it saved my daughter’s life. I’ve tried to keep my CPR certification up ever since. (I’d be lying if I said I’ve always had it up-to-date.)

  20. Lovely pictures! A baby choking is scary. Mine choked badly once and I was so panicked I turned him upside down by his feet and ran out into the middle of the street! Just hoping someone would stop and help me! The jarring motion of the run made him throw up and dislodged the obstruction. Afterward I asked a friend who is a paramedic with the fire department what I should have done and told him how bad I felt and he told me not to feel bad–that even for paramedics “child choking” calls are one of their scariest. So it is understandable if it panics us Mama’s!

  21. I’m so glad Mabel is okay! I can say that I truly understand that terror and feeling of helplessness. This past weekend I’m about 90% sure my kids (at least one of them) were targeted for kidnapping. We were in a mall with this guy trailing us and he started getting too close, then backing off and switching sides of the walkway, but still following us, before he finally passed to stand in a store waiting by the exit. We have no idea how long he had been there, but it was so scary and I’ve never felt so sick in my life!
    And thank you for sharing your story, because it was a nudge for me to *finally* register for the infant CPR class that I’ve been planning to take since I was pregnant with my first in 2012.
    Oh, and Happy Birthday Gabe!

    • Karen B. says:

      Allison, I’m happy everything turned out okay for your family!
      I really hoped you reported it to security! This may not not have been the first time he’s stalked and with security footage they can keep an eye out! Remember, if you see something, say something, It’s not just for terrorists! Stay safe!

  22. for me a walk outside in nature is like therapy … love, love, love it. Hope you get out to enjoy the area

    take care

  23. Lovely pictures! Our son is crawling and putting everything in his mouth too. I’m always on choking hazard patrol and am trying to teach the family the same. My daughters and I watched CPR videos on YouTube so we can know what to do in case. I made us go through it many days too so hopefully we won’t forget. I can imagine that would be terrifying.

  24. When I was a student in Catholic schools in the 70’s and 80’s, I remember regular visits from instructors to teach basic CPR. I think I also had to take a CPR class when I was a second grade teacher decades ago. Some of the information has stuck, but since I don’t use it regular (like an EMT), it’s gotten vague. I do have a book of basic first aid instructions with simple pictures that I keep handy. People think of me as a caml, capable person, but when my eldest had his first epileptic seizure in his early teens, I was glad the 911 dispatcher knew how to deal with an hysterical mother. I think my main problem is that while I appear calm, I have an overactive imagination and it takes over in these situations. All I can say is, I’m glad my husband works at home. How people deal differently with crises reminds of the Little House books – Mary’s fear usually paralyzed her, while Laura’s fear spurred her to action. No matter how well prepared you are, I don’t think you can predict how you’ll behave in a crises.

  25. My eldest child choked and earned himself an ambulance ride at 7 months old. It is so hard not to panic when your baby is turning blue. In the case of my son it turned out he had no gag reflex whatsoever so I spent a lot of time giving him the Heimlich maneuver during his 1st 18 months. I highly recommend getting at least trained in the baby version of the Heimlich maneuver. Knowing it has drastically decreased my panic response when a baby or toddler starts choking.

  26. So glad Mabel is OK! I took a CPR classes ageeees ago, when I took my baby-sitter training course. Not a bad idea for everyone to have a refresher!
    And I love your hair!!!

  27. Lori Ann says:

    Love your new photo! You look lovely! Glad the baby was ok. And Happy Birthday to Gabe – I have a 15 yr. old boy and know what the photo opportunities (or lack thereof) are like!

  28. My now-four-year-old had a choking episode when she was… oh, I dunno, perhaps between 2 and 3? Luckily she came running out to me or I could have missed it. She came running clutching her throat, choking, turning colors. I had no idea what had happened and didn’t want to take the time to call anyone, so I alternated between leaning her over and pounding her back and encouraging her to spit it up, cough it up. It took what seemed like forever, and finally a little suction cup flew out of her mouth. My heart was racing and I was sweating and I was so glad it turned out okay. My husband, who is a firefighter and took an EMT class, later told me “you did it wrong.” I was taken aback and a bit stung – she was fine! But guys like to think they have the answers, I guess. Anyhoo, there’s “more than one way to skin a cat,” as the saying goes. Every so often they update safety methods, but I did remember something about leaning children over and hitting their backs.

    My fourth, 8 months old (named Gabriel!), likes to put things in his mouth too (something we didn’t really have to worry about with the other ones). But the more kids you have, the more your attentions are divided. It’s crazy! Seriously, just keeping them all fed and alive it often my only accomplishment.

    On another note… I recently started seeing a chiropractor. I initially went because of my knee, but learned it could help with my constant headaches. X-rays were taken which shows the bones in my neck/upper back aren’t positioned/moving the way they should. The day he gave me my treatment, I was hyper aware of my neck… and I realized I look down All. The. Time. Cooking, cleaning, helping the kids… I’m always looking down! Which exacerbates the problem, I’m sure. *sigh*

    One step at a time…

  29. So glad that Mabel is OK! That would be scary. I bet your neck is quite sore if you are mentioning it here; hope you can get some relief; my Dad found a chiropractor that he got to know and trust; I think it is really great that you honour the requests of your old kids, even when it means only one photo posted. While it may be hard for you, as it is clear that you love all your kids very much, I think it speaks volumes to how you are seeking to honour each kid’s journey and independence as they get older. Sounds like a class may be good; helps you feel proactive about it all. God’s love and blessings to you this day.

  30. All of the worst accidents that happened to my oldest child, as a baby, happened when I was standing right there! For example, falling down the stairs. Often, I find the worst moments/hours/long nights of anxiety come AFTER the event, when I have time to face the possibilities of what could have happened. I feel ya!

  31. I’m so glad Mabel is alright! It is amazing that we manage to keep them alive. I’ve taken CPR/First Aid at least 6 times, and I’m not sure I could be as calm and collected as your earlier commenter! I wonder if you could find an instructor to come out to the house, or take the whole family as a group—at least Lark and the big boys—because first aid and CPR seems essential for folks who wander the woods all the time. 😉 And we’ve often done the two classes separately because it’s hard to find a long stretch of time sometimes.

  32. I am so sorry to hear about the story with Mabel. I took CPR as a teenager, and never had to use anything from it until three years ago, when John was a one-year-old and choked on a tab from a soda can that someone had discarded on the ground at a party we were attending. He was choking so badly, his face was so blue, and not a sound was passing his airway. Before I even realized it, I did three back blows, and then three stomach blows, and then three more back blows. It was so strange because I still remember it so clearly, as do all of the people who were sitting in that back yard with me (this comes up every time I see any of them, they’re always surprised by how calm I was), but at the same time, when it was happening, I felt like I wasn’t myself at all. After I had saved my baby’s life, then I started really panicking and thinking “what if”. It still makes me sick when I think how he could’ve died if my back and stomach blows hadn’t worked.

    Anyway, take the CPR class. It seems like it programs you for an emergency even if you don’t realize it.

  33. Melanie King says:

    I have recently learned that our children, no matter how much we want them are never really ours and that God is good even when we don’t understand why He takes them from us too soon. Sometimes, even despite our best efforts we can’t keep them alive and even then, with broken hearts we praise Him because we had them for a little while and He loves us and gives us what is best. That sounds like such a sad thing, and it is,but we do not grieve as those who have no hope, and what I hope you hear is that you can always trust God

  34. So glad Mabel is all right! So scary when your child is in trouble. Can’t believe you already have daisies and strawberries- we have snow and rain mixture forecast for the next few days:(

  35. You and Mabel look so lovely in the last photo. My 16 month old is still putting anything she can grab I her mouth. It is so hard to deal with it with older kids and construction projects all around the house. There are so many of us that don’t have the right skills for these situations. I’ve taken the CPR course several times over the past 20 years and I still forget. This post reminded me of this video I saw a few months ago.

  36. LEANNE PETTY says:

    Check the American Red Cross website. Put in your zipcode and select blended classes. You can now do the learning portion of the class online and just have to go someplace to take the test. I just looked it up the other day for myself and I know I saw some classes in Fredericksburg. I love just north of there.

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