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The story of our precious little girl's 17 months of life with Trisomy 18 (July 4, 2010 - December 15, 2011) and of us, re-learning to live "after Lilly."
"I will praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made ...." Psalm 139:14

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Eye of Tabby - week of July 19

Tabby loaded photos and shared a bunch with me today.  Wow - it was hard to pick what to leave out so my post isn't too long!  So many interesting photo angles and effects:

I think the lily may be my very favorite.  But ... I'm not sure.  The toad is fascinating, the moon almost haunting, etc etc.

What's your favorite?  :)

Monday, July 20, 2015

Making homemade liquid hand soap

As Obama's UN-affordable healthcare plan goes into its final painful phase at my husband's workplace, I am trying to find more ways to save money to make up for the financial blow we are taking.  (I will spare you my rant about this forced healthcare.)

One thing I tried last week, was to make liquid hand soap.  We go through liquid soap like crazy around here!  And I wash my hands so much that the regular/cheap/chemical filled stuff from the store makes my hands really dry.  But I've decided, the wonderful stuff I was buying is a bit too much with our financial readjustments.

So ... homemade liquid hand soap!  This is a recipe that I have seen in several places online.

I started by grating a bar of our our wonderful, original scent homemade goat milk soap.

Then I put the grated soap in a pot with a gallon of water and 2 tablespoons of liquid [vegetable] glycerin.  I set the stove top to medium high heat.  I stirred the soap occasionally.

Once the soap was melted, I turned off the heat and left it in the pot overnight.  This will help the soap thicken up some.

The next day, I used a hand blender to mix it all together.  (Though thinking back, I am not sure this was necessary.)  Then I poured it into a empty, clean jug I had.

We have two places in the house where using liquid hand soap works best for us.  (In other places we use our homemade bar soap.)  I just had to put the hand soap into dispensers that were pretty and interesting.  So I got out two of my blue Ball pint sized mason jars and added in the dispenser part, which I got here for cheap off Ebay.

The soap smells great and works good.  BUT ... it is not quite thick enough for our liking.  Before I make another batch, I need to research online to see if I can find how to do this.  (If you know how - please share your tips!)

Another money saving tip I wanted to share was, anytime you get ready to order something online and don't have a coupon code, go to  I almost always find coupon codes there.  Plus, I have noticed lately that there are often really good coupons that are exclusive to RetailMeNot.

In barnyard news, Sherlotta has suddenly developed a terrible case of wanderlust.  Since last week, we have had at least three neighbors call us, worried that she'd be hit by a car.  (Like her wandering mama Dixie was, earlier this year.)  We decided that "The Bomb" (her nickname because she's got such explosive energy) needed a cooling off period behind bars.  So - into the goat pen for her!  (Which she actually LOVES.)

"Bomblotta" - this picture even though blurry - captures her perfectly!
Exhaust Pipe went in to visit his sister, and so did some chickens.  It looked like a barnyard party!

Of our 17 guinea keets that hatched last month, sadly there is only 1 remaining.  We named this tough little survivor "Tribulation."  Here is Tribulation with his/her ever present parents, Leah Rose and Rayford:

The next time we find a pile of guinea eggs, we hope to incubate them.  Then we should have a good success rate.

The biddies we bought this spring are really growing!  They're still not full sized chickens yet though.  I think this Gold Laced Wyandotte is so pretty.  She looks like she's on a mission here:

Finally, here is a Solomon sandwich:

What a funny way to fall asleep at naptime.  :)

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Back to Eden with redbud trees

Several years ago, one of my best friends told us about the Back to Eden gardening method.  She highly recommended we watch the free online movie about it.  Frank watched it and then prepared an area outside for a garden, using things he learned about.  He layered compost, mulch, cardboard, newspapers, chicken manure, leaves ... not necessarily in that order, and it made the soil incredibly rich.

How rich?  Simply look at our two redbud trees for a comparison.  Shortly after we moved here, we planted these two trees.  They were both looked like skinny sticks and were about 14" high.  They are planted only about 25-30 feet apart. One tree ended up in the "Back to Eden" garden area.  Here is the tree in the "regular" part of the yard:

And here is the tree in the "Back to Eden" garden:

Quite an amazing difference, isn't it?

Here's another picture of the bigger redbud, at the left edge of the garden:

Since nothing grew in Lilly's garden this spring, I have decided to follow some Back to Eden methods to get the soil in her garden really rich and prepared for some new lily bulb planting either later this fall or in the early spring.  Right now we are putting in compost.  I need to add in some cardboard when I get a chance.  Then dead leaves as I can.

Lilly's garden isn't pretty now, but I'm hoping next spring it will be beautiful enough to make up for this disappointment of this spring.

"Build houses and dwell in them; plant gardens and eat their fruit." - Jeremiah 29:5

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The book list - June

Life has been extra busy around here the last two months.  Even though I've been reading several books, I only managed to finish one in June.

Hunter has discovered the thrill of chapter books!  Here he is reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  He still prefers reading repair manuals, but is now willing to broaden his horizons some.

Feng Shui That Makes Sense: Easy Ways to Create a Home that FEELS as Good as it Looks by Cathleeen McCandless - I've heard of "feng shui" (pronounced "fung shway") off and on over the years, but never really knew what it was.  I had a vague definition that it was some weird superstitious ancient Chinese stuff.  But this year, I kept hearing "feng shui" enough that I finally decided to educate myself about it..  So I went to our local library took check out their collection of feng shui books.  I was dismayed the books were tucked into their New Age/Mystical section.  I almost dismissed the idea again, but finally settled on Feng Shui That Makes Sense written by an American feng shui consultant that has been in the business over 20 years.

Wow - what an interesting book!  Some is still rather foreign to my American way of thinking, but much of it makes sense.  Chinese feng shui has been around for about 4000 years.  From pgs. 1-2:

"Feng Shui is the study of the environment and how it affects people. ... [It] is not a belief system, a religion, superstition, or magic.  You don't need to 'believe' in it in order for it to work.  Feng shui has nothing to do with changing your luck and everything to do with helping you create a space that promotes feelings of happiness and well-being."

The author of this book examines both the inside and outside of homes in detail with lots of examples of good and bad feng shui.  Tabby read some of this book too and now we now look at our home - and others - quite differently.  If you hang out with us you might hear one of us say "Oh that's bad feng shui!"

Thinking about what I read has helped me make sense of why I have continuously felt rather overwhelmed and unsettled by a lot of my house.  (We moved here several years ago - when Solomon was only 3 weeks old.  He was a very clingy baby and I struggled with post partum depression after we got here so lets just say it was NOT an easy move.)  As I declutter (using the KonMari method - see The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo) in our home this summer I will be incorporating some feng shui principals in too.

I think many of us know that clutter/too much stuff can make us feel bad.  (I won't define "too much" - that's up to you.)  There are a number of reasons for this.  But one that I never thought of, until I finished this book, was that clutter blocks energy in the home.  (The Chinese call this energy "chi.")  We know that molecules and atoms surround us, vibrating at different frequencies, yet because we don't see them, it's hard to remember they are there.

In the 1600s, Dutch scientist Christiaan Huygens noticed that "two pendulum clocks hung side by side would eventually synchronize and begin to swing in the same rhythm." (p. 263)  Isn't that so interesting?  I keep thinking about that and that reminds me of the energy surrounding us.  What happens when you have lots of clutter or just too much stuff?  That energy is blocked.  Not good.

If you practice feng shui, I'd love to hear about it!

"For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him." - Colossians 1:16

Sunday, July 12, 2015

The Eye of Tabby: photography for the week of July 12

It's time for some more photography by Tabby!

sunset view from the car - July 4th
Can you spot the goats?
another sunset view from the car
fireworks - July 4th - looks like an Easter lily
fireworks - July 4th - Sith lightning?
fireworks - July 4th - best fireworks picture ever!
night sky in black and white
evening clouds

Can you spot the cows?

gorgeous evening sky

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Keeping busy on Lilly's - and our country's - birthdays

a beautiful Lilly colored bouquet

I'm thankful that there is so much to do on Lilly's birthday/Independence Day.  Staying busy and distracted make the day fly by and keeps me from brooding and getting too sad.  (Keeping busy and doing special things for others is a great way to beat depression in general!)

Lilly is buried a couple hours east of us.  Frank is from that area and still has family there.  So we packed up and went for a short visit.

We arrived Friday just in time for lunch at our family's very favorite place to eat.  Frank's sister Ginger owns Gingerbread Bakery & O'Neals Snack Bar in Belhaven, NC.  Frank's mother, sister Nikki and her husband Dennis, met us there.  They are big fans of Ginger's cooking too!

Solomon tried a highly recommended strawberry cupcake for dessert and added his approval:

After lunch, we went to the store to buy 5 birthday balloons to release at Lilly's grave the next day.  Unfortunately there wasn't much to choose from.  We ended up with 2 birthday balloons - both of which said feliz cumpleanos (happy b'day in Spanish) - 2 star shaped balloons (one pink, one blue), and 1 red heart shaped balloon that said "I Love You."  Hmmmm.

Lilly's birthday aka Independence Day aka the 4th of July was hot and sunny.  We headed to Belhaven for the parade.  We waited for it to start in the wonderful a/c and atmosphere of Ginger's Bakery (which was closed to everyone else).  While there Solomon sampled a chocolate cupcake.  He recommends this kind too:

Ready for the parade to begin!

It was so bright, you had to wear shades ...

The boys loved the old tractors.  This John Deere was Hunter's favorite:

Solomon and I liked the creepy gorilla best:

The float of the Pantego Historical Museum (my mother-in-law is the current president for it):

Just a plug for the museum - they are having a Fall Days/Farm Ways Community Festival on October 10.  We really enjoyed going to it last year, and even met Blackbeard the pirate!  (See my post here.)

 What's a parade without a stilt walker or grown men in little funny cars?

After the parade, we headed to the Pantego Historical Museum for a hot dog lunch.  I love the old historical school building:

Pantego Academy was in operation from 1874-1907.  Then it was Pantego High School from 1907-1981.  The museum has all sorts of interesting displays from both school life and the life of the locals, from the past.  There is also has a new gift shop area. Tabby and I were proud that the gift shop's first sale was ... two bars of our goat milk soap!  (Those are 2 Lilly-colored ruffle scarves for sale too, made by Tabby).

A cheerful student:

I love the old chicken waterers:

Tabby was able to eek out a little music on the old pump organ:

Proof that I was actually on this trip:

After that we went back to my mother-in-law's so Solomon could take a much needed nap.  Then we went to supper at Ginger's house.  Disaster struck on the way when we put down some windows to let mosquitos out and THREE of Lilly's birthday balloons flew right out the window!  Oh that was so so sad.  And I was so angry at myself for not making sure they were tied down securely inside the car.

That was seriously NOT part of the plan.  :(

But a birthday cake for Little Firecracker was:

I'm so thankful for relatives that don't mind having a party for Lilly with us.

After supper and some play time, we headed to Washington, to Lilly's grave.  We sent her up the remaining two balloons:

Finally, it was time for fireworks.  We stayed in Washington and after searching for awhile, found parking near the estuarium.  We walked out onto a pier on the Pamlico River to watch the fireworks.  Tabby got some really good pictures of the fireworks and I'll post them on her next photography post, later this week.

And that was that.  Lilly's 5th birthday celebrated all day long.

I am so grateful for the messages, emails, and cards we received from people remembering Lilly.  Here are a few pictures from people that I can share.  The first is Lilly's name written in the sand in Port Huron, Michigan.  It was sent to me by the big sister of Faith.  (Faith is a 6 year old girl living with Trisomy 18.  Her blog is here.)

Port Huron, Michigan
The other is Lilly's tree in ... Israel!  A family that lost a daughter with Trisomy 18, and I believe son with Trisomy 13, planted memorial cherry trees in their yard for their children and for Lilly.  :)  Here is Lilly's tree from winter and spring:

"The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." - Psalm 34:18

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God." - 2 Corinthians 1:3-4