Overwhelmed and Excited

Guys, I have so much going on these days. Sometimes it feels overwhelming, but oftentimes I find myself just excited about what God is doing in my life.
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Playtime with reflux

Little Man had his 2-month appointment yesterday. He is a thriving, growing boy. At 12lbs12oz he has already gained 5lbs5oz from his birth weight. He has reflux. He DOESN’T have a food allergy. After a month of dairy free living, I’ve been eating dairy all week with no reaction!!! I still have an oversupply but we’re managing it. The oversupply is likely what caused the allergy-like symptoms which led me to eliminate dairy and soy from my diet. He probably has a tongue tie, it is visible, but it’s not to the point that movement is restricted, and clearly he doesn’t have a transfer issue, so we’ll let it be for now. I was reminded once again how much I LOVE my pediatrician. She is a real human being and talks with me like I’m a thinking human being too.

His baptism is this Sunday. This is such a special time for our family as we make a public commitment to teach him about God’s love, raise him in the community of believers, and pray for him as he grows. As an infant this is a covenant baptism, recognizing that we belong to Christ even before we understand it. When he is older he will be able to go through confirmation class and make his own public affirmation of faith. But because he’s so huge, I need to do a small alteration of the baptism outfit that was worn by his Papa and uncle, and made from his great-grandfather’s wedding shirt. The alteration will be a simple crotch extender, so it won’t impact the existing garment.
Littles Monster and Miss are in preschool three times a week and love it. They come home with new songs all the time. They have stories to tell about school. I can see leaps and bounds in their development. Little Monster is also in speech therapy (aka talking school) and will begin OT next week. I am so thankful that we can provide her with the help that she needs so that she can succeed. We are working to help her as much as possible NOW, before she begins VPK. She is so receptive to the help and wants to be understood.
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The best part of baking

 I feel like I’m constantly dealing with health insurance. I was on the phone with the marketplace for 1hr15min on Monday to update our information and switch policies again (I accidentally selected a policy this year that our pediatrician wasn’t covered under. OOPS!!) While insurance always seems to be a nightmare for me, I am SO THANKFUL that we have it. I just hope we can continue to have insurance.
I am always working on too little sleep, not enough patience, and a whole lot of prayer.
My mom and I wrote a children’s book last spring titled The New Baby Went to Heaven. We had a contract with a publishing company. We got through the editing stage, but no further. We learned last week that they suddenly closed their doors. I know that this will be a blessing. We are starting to explore new avenues to get our book published. I’m also excited about the second book we wrote, and two new inspired works that I’ll be working on this year.
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Sweet Baby Faith

Already we have been blessed by another author who also happens to work with NILMDTS, and edited our picture of baby Faith into a beautiful keepsake where she actually looks like the peaceful baby that I so briefly held in my arms instead of the stillborn baby under flourescent lighting. I was so thankful that the hospital took pictures of her, but wished for better quality. One of my regrets was that we didn’t take our own pictures of her while I held her. So this is an amazing gift as we approach her one-year stillbirthday. I now have a picture I can show my living children of their sister that we lost too soon.

The women’s community Bible study started up again last week and I’m loving the new study of 1 Peter, and the fellowship with these amazing women as we learn and grow together. I have never done a study like this – a study on how to really study the Bible. It has been so enriching in just the first week!
I have not been as active on my blog as I would like. I have so many thoughts, but then never get it on screen.
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Lending Library pretties to play with

I continue to volunteer with our local babywearing chapter. I love having another outlet for my writing as I help with the blog (even though I’ve totally slacked on this lately!). This group has meant so much to me. From them I learned how to wear Little Miss with confidence so that I could care for both her and Little Monster when she was little. I have gained so many friendships through the group. They were a huge help to me when we lost baby Faith. They have continued to support me in my mommyhood journey. The group is constantly evolving as people move away or babies grow out of wearing, but the friendships remain.

The farm continues on. We are going to be adding chickens soon, once we can make the time to build the chicken tractor. I’m excited about the future of our farm. I’m excited to be good stewards of the land and animals that we have been blessed with. I learn something everyday!

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Slowly Moving into the New Year

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We’re a week into January and I’m finally starting to look to the new year and make some goals. This is pretty typical for me though. I have a January birthday, so I always give myself a little extra time to ‘debrief’ from the previous year before moving into the new one. Especially this year – 2016 was extra… eventful. I hadn’t planned it, but the themes of 2016 ended up being community, thankfulness, and family. My Bible verse for the year was Jeremiah 29:11-13, “‘For I know the Plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘Plans to prosper you and not to harm you….'”

This year I am ready to get back to work. I’m ready to feel empowered again by my work on the farm and in the house. My goals have been floating around in my head for the past month, but they’re not real until I put them on paper. I have found myself this past week sitting around, not really knowing what to do next, because I haven’t had a good to do list, because I haven’t decided how to move forward with purpose. So yesterday I pulled out my journal and started writing.

This year’s scripture is looking like it will be 1 Corinthians 13, the Love Chapter. This was our wedding scripture and has recently taken on meaning for more than just the love of my spouse. I’ll share more in another post, which is about half-drafted. For now, let’s just focus on verse 13, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” In 2016 we had our baby Faith, and then our Hope baby, Skywalker. But greater than Faith and Hope is Love. And so 2017 I will focus on loving my family, my friends, and my God in a more intentional way.

For practical goals, I really want to improve my gardening skills. Especially to do a better job of harvesting and preserving our plunder. There always seems to be so much garden waste because I either don’t harvest in time, or I don’t do anything with the food I have harvested. It would be nice to freeze more foods, but we often times run out of room in the freezers. I hope to plan my time better to can more foods. Dehydrating would be a nice addition to our preserving methods as well. I would also like to maximize production in the garden. So often I end up with a full garden bed not in use. I want to plan better to plant by the moon, which means I should plant some root vegetables this week, I just need to get some more carrot seeds and hope for the best.

I also hope to maximize our meat production. This involves better planning with rabbit breeding. We will be building another grow-out pen soon, which will house as many as six more rabbits as they grow to harvest weight – a whole litter. This year we’ll be moving from a breeding plan with the pigs to simply raising meat pigs. Hopefully this will reduce overall costs. We’ll also be able to take a break from pigs when we want to. I would also like to add beef to the freezer somehow, probably by buying half a cow. If we can accomplish all these goals, we won’t need to buy any meat from the grocery store.

Other goals for the farm include getting poultry for egg production, preferably chickens, maybe quail or ducks again, I really miss the ducks; start rotational grazing for the goats on a small scale; and finish replacing the south fence line so we can make better use of the eight acres we currently have on a grazing lease (Hubby worked on this over the weekend).

My major skills goal is to learn more about herbal medicine. I have talked about it for years, but this will be the year that I get resources (books) to learn from and plants in the garden to actually be able to use what I learn. I already have a huge yarrow plant growing. I used it after Skywalker was born to help with swelling and I healed quickly where used. I have a small hyssop plant, but I have no idea what to do with it. All I know is that they use it for cleansing in Biblical times.

After a discussion with a friend this week, I have been inspired to reduce my kids’ TV time. I have used TV as a crutch in survival mode. But now it’s time to move on with our lives and teach them how to play with all their toys again. Part of this involves creating a better routine for our family. We had a great routine going for a while, and then 2016 happened. Now it’s time to figure out what works with three kids and all our obligations.

Although I made major improvements in our house last year, I want to continue my mission to purge, simplify, and organize our home. The kids’ clothes are spilling over again. My new craft room/spare room was close to becoming the Forbidden Room again – but I saved it before it got too bad. Our kitchen needs some help in this department too. There is just too much stuff everywhere.

I want to start playing my oboe again. I had finally picked it up after not playing for several years and then I stopped again last summer when we got busy again. But this will be the year that I make an effort to practice regularly (while the girls are in school), make my own reeds, and maybe even play at church again. I miss making music. I’d also like to get back to my other crafting hobbies – sewing, cross stitch, knitting. With my craft room almost set up the way I like it, I now have better access to all my supplies and my sewing machine. I even have floor space for cutting out patterns!

I’m thinking about writing book reviews here on the blog too. Would you be interested in reading these? I’ve been reading so much and I’d love to share my take-aways on these books. Some books are simply for pleasure, some are faith-building, and some are homestead-related. There may be a children’s book review from time to time as well.

So there you go. It looks like quite the list of goals for a year, but this is why I make goals and not resolutions. 😉 What about you? What are you hoping to accomplish in 2017? Leave your thoughts in the comments!

Reminders of Faith

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Carry you with Faith – photo courtesy of Uncle Patrick

I didn’t want Little Man’s pregnancy and life to forever be in Faith’s shadow, but she shaped who we are today. Little Man wouldn’t be here if not for Faith’s tiny life. This is beauty from the ashes.

There are times when I look down at him while nursing that I realize I never got to experience those tender moments with Faith. I will never know what it would have felt like to feed her. To watch her as she dozed off, satisfied in what I can offer. Continue reading

Chicken Soup

We’ve had a cold in our house for a month, off and on. It started with Little Miss, then moved on to Little Monster and me, and finally to the Hubby. Even Little Man caught it at just a week old. We had soup on the menu a week before his birth, with plans for an easy dinner of canned soup, but when Little Miss was feeling so rough I decided I needed to feed her the good stuff. I made extra and canned it to have a super easy, delicious, healing meal after Baby Skywalker arrived. It was so nice to open up some homemade goodness in a can just days after the birth. Continue reading

Navigating Pregnancy After Loss With Littles

Pregnancy after loss is hard. There are so many doubts and fears. So much pressure to do the right thing this time. Prenatal care is treated differently. While it is a joyful time of hope and anticipation, it is also a scary time because your innocence is lost. You know that anything can happen at any time, and it is completely out of your control. All you can do is pray.

But pregnancy after loss can be hard for your children too. They saw the heartache you experienced when your baby was born too soon. They were disappointed when the little brother or sister they hoped for didn’t come home. But it can also be a blessing for them to know that there is still hope after loss.

Little Monster was 3 1/2 when we lost baby Faith. She was very aware of the loss. She had gone to every midwife appointment with me. She got excited when she heard the heartbeat. She watched my belly grow. She wasn’t there when we found out there was no heartbeat, but she knew something was wrong even before we told her. She has always picked up on others’ emotions like that. She is such a sweet, empathetic child. We explained as best we could that, just like the animals on the farm, sometimes we think we’re going to have a baby and then we don’t.

The next day we went to the hospital for the induction. My mom had come down to be with us, so she had a slumber party with my girls. For the first several doctor’s appointments after that, whenever we had childcare, she thought that she would have a sleepover. She thought maybe the new baby died. I reassured her that so far everything was ok. That we would continue to pray for a strong and healthy baby. I was sure to take her to several appointments with the new pregnancy so she could share in the joy of hearing the heartbeat.

At 32 weeks when we had our practice run to labor and delivery thanks to early contractions, the Littles came with us. Little Monster was 4 by then. That night she was so excited to meet her baby brother! But I explained that he might not come that night. As I spoke those words I hoped she didn’t think that meant he might not come at all, but his arrival would only be delayed. She continued to be excited about a birth, so I didn’t expand on the topic. She was maybe a little disappointed as we left the hospital a few hours later, but we had listened to his heartbeat on the monitor to hear that he was healthy, she got the assurance that Mommy was healthy, she became familiar with the hospital where we would eventually deliver, she was loved on by nurses there, she got to watch TV, and she got to eat in the car in the dark on the way home. In all, it was a great experience for her.

As our induction date grew nearer, we began to prepare her for what would happen. She would have a sleepover at a friend’s house. Moma would come and have a sleepover. Baby Skywalker would be born and she would come meet him at the hospital. And we hoped that he would come home to live with us.

The week before his birth we had a conversation about Jesus in heaven. She asked if he ever slept. I said probably not, since no one is ever sick or tired in heaven because it’s the perfect home. She was relieved. She was very concerned that grown-up Jesus might be sleeping on the job. She hopes He gives baby Faith boobie milk, because babies like boobie milk. She told me twice that week, ‘I hope our baby not die.’ I had to agree. Me too. I couldn’t guarantee that it would be a safe delivery because you just never know. But I chose to hope along with her.

The time finally came for us to have our baby. The girls were so excited to spend the night at their friend’s house. I know it was an anxious time for Little Monster as well. But I knew she was in good hands. Everything went well. The girls came to meet their baby brother in the hospital. They both held him. They marvelled at his tiny fingers. They counted his eyes and ears. Then Hubby took them home for their next sleepover. We told them we would be home the next day and we would bring Baby Skywalker with us.

About a week after the birth, Little Monster, out of the blue, turned to me and said, ‘I glad our baby not die.’ Me too. Me too. She has also confided that she still hopes that he doesn’t die. The thing is, what my 4-year-old has figured out, is that life is not guaranteed. We never know what is going to happen. But we can have hope. And we can share that hope. And we can face tomorrow knowing that God will love us and care for us regardless of what happens. And we can rejoice and celebrate in each new life.

Baby Skywalker is Here!

I am once again reminded that nothing is gained by worrying. I was more anxious about this birth than the others. But this baby is our New Hope. I kept reminding myself throughout pregnancy that my hope comes from the Lord. That He is in control. As induction drew nearer I found more things to worry about. Labor and delivery has never worked out exactly according to our plan, but each of our births have been so empowering and a reminder of God’s providence. I had to believe this one would be no different. Continue reading

Eight Weeks Old

The goat kids are eight weeks old now. They are fun, loving, and growing fast! Little Monster can no longer pick them up, which I’m sure they’re thrilled about! They are like little puppy dogs who always want affection. They cry when we leave their pen if we haven’t played with them enough. They cry when we’re outside in the yard but not paying attention to them. They run up to the gate when we approach. They follow us around while we move around the pen. Felicity, the one who at a week old was the more affectionate one, is now the one who is more interested in food. Although she does still love to be near us and loves to be pet. Matilda is now the cuddly one. She loves to sit in my lap and chew her cud. Continue reading

The Home Stretch

I have been such a slacker about my updating my blog lately. I have excuses, but that’s all they are – excuses. The reality is I’ve been a slacker in most areas of my life lately. At least that’s how it feels – while everyone else tells me I’m doing the right thing, listen to my body, rest as much as possible. I am constantly dragging my feet. I have no desire to clean up. I say I want to do projects but then can’t get off my butt to get them done. But this is third trimester. Continue reading