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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

Friday, December 19, 2014

The Book List - November

This morning, at 4:50 the fire alarm in our attic started screaming.  (It is part of a security system that had been put in this house by the previous owners.)  Frank had already left for work so I started running around trying to figure out what was going on.  There was no fire anywhere in the house.  No surprise - none of the regular smoke detectors were going off.  I kept punching the off buttons on the alarm control panel but to no avail.  Hunter was screaming for me, terrified by the sound.  I told him he could get out of bed and follow me.  Then Solomon came running, literally shaking with fear. 

Back to the control panel, nothing worked, in spite of me carefully following the instructions to turn the alarms off.  So I finally just ripped the thing off the wall and detached the wiring.  That alarm stopped, but the fire alarm kept blaring.  (The dogs were going absolutely bonkers and I was starting feel the same!)

I climbed up into the attic and looked at the wiring up there.  I couldn't detach anything.  So I went back down the ladder and then downstairs.  I asked Hunter if he thought I would get shocked if I cut the wiring.  He said "Pull the main switch!"  So we ran to the breaker box and I pulled it.  A few seconds later there was blessed silence in the house.  Ahhhh ....

Then I took the boys back to bed but stayed with them a bit because Solomon was still shaking and Hunter was wide awake.  It's 6:39 right now and Hunter is still awake and Solomon is very restless.  This may prove to be a still crazier day ...

Ad from the Sept. 1942 American Poultry Journal which my mother-in-law has.  I thought the feed ad showing the Axis powers of WWII was so interesting.  Chopping off Hitler's head!
 But then life just has been a bit crazy lately.  Monday, on the way to Lilly's grave, we got a flat tire.  But, thanks to God, it happened less than a mile from Frank's cousin Sandra's home.  We pulled into her driveway and her husband Gary happened to be home and was able to help put the spare tire on.  Hunter enjoyed watching and Solomon loved playing around in the yard.  If you know Solomon, you know he LOVES tractors.  Sandra and Gary had a old Farmall tractor that Solomon pretended to drive, making sound effects the whole time.

On HAPPY news - we have heat again!  After about a week and a half of no central heat, our new heating system was finally installed yesterday afternoon.  YIPEEE!!!!  The repair men are coming back today to finish up, much to Hunter's excitement.  They will be giving him some old parts out of our old system. 

For about a year now, it seems like we've been slammed with having so many things break.  It all started with having to replace our hot water heater.  Then we had to replace the clothes dryer.  Then the stove.  Even my hair dryer died.  All in between assorted car repairs for our old vehicles.  I know things are built to fall apart, but I sure hope we can catch a break for bit!

Last month I read 4 books.  Here they are:

Gettysburg by MacKinlay Kantor - We read this for Tabby's history course when we studied the War Between the States (aka Civil War).  I learned a lot of interesting things about the battle of Gettysburg.  But there was something about the writing style of this book I found rather odd.  I can't quite figure out what it was.  It was written in the 1950s and is in the Landmark Books series.  When I was young, we went to Gettysburg with an uncle and cousins.  During our tour, I remember my young cousin interrupting the guide to tell him all about his new shoes.  Unfortunately that's about the only thing I remember!

Animal Farm by George Orwell - I first read this book in high school, but didn't remember much so I re-read it when I assigned it to Tabby for literature this past term in homeschool.  I really enjoyed the book this time around, not only because I understand more about its satire of Communist Russia, but we have a little farm!  By having our own dogs, chickens, and goats it really made me think of those characters in the book in a whole new way.  I have found when I go to collect eggs from the chickens I am sure to tell them "thank you girls! I appreciate it!"  And that maybe I don't really want a pig after all.  (I've been wanting us to raise one and then butcher it for the meat.)  [I made a number of mini posters for our study, illustrating different characters and chapters.  If you are teaching this and would like a copy - just let me know!]

A 1940 issue of American Poultry Journal - look at all those wonderful eggs!

Queen of the Reformation by Charles Ludwig - Tabby has been urging me to read this book for years.  It is one of her favorites.  It is about Katharina Von Bora - a runaway nun that eventually became the wife of the great reformer, Martin Luther.  This is a really interesting historical novel which uses a lot of actual quotes.  Katharina was an amazing and tough woman that worked so hard to help her husband Martin.  I have heard and read elsewhere that their marriage was difficult at first but Martin really came to love and depend on his wife.  Katharina is a great example of what all a strong woman of God can do and is an excellent role model. 

Kids in the Kitchen: Simple Recipes that Build Independence and Confidence the Montessori Way by Sara E. Cotner and Kylie D'Alton - This book has ideas on how to make your kitchen child friendly and sequenced beginner skills to prepare your child for cooking.  The second half of the book is recipes, with each step illustrated, so that a child can follow along to prepare simple things.  Honestly, if your child already spends time in the kitchen with you helping with everything - like Solomon does with me - then you really don't need this book.  Still, I found it interesting and it reminded me of some skills that would be good to teach.  I can see Solomon wanting to follow the recipes on his own when he is a bit older.

Solomon loves chopping and cutting.  Potatoes are his favorite thing to cut.  The other day he helped me cut up ham.  He has his own little cutting board, from Haven Enterprises.  It is heirloom quality and has his name engraved on it.  It will be fun for him to pass down to his own children one day.

OK - the slab of ham doesn't make this a very appealing picture.  It isn't staged well!  To see really good pictures, of all things Haven Enterprises has to sell, go directly to their Etsy shop.
"This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it!" - Psalm 118:24

Monday, December 15, 2014

Sweet Lilly's 3rd Angelversary

Hunter, Lilly, Tabby - our Christmas card photo - Dec. 2011
  I guess time heals somewhat, but anniversaries still hurt.  Indeed the emotions seem to intensify on those days.  Today marked 3 years that Lilly passed away from this earth.  At her grave today, I didn't drop to the ground crying like I did on her first "angelversary."  But my heart still feels all ripped up.  Why does dealing with the death of loved ones - which is a normal part of life - just plain suck?

Yesterday I put together this memorial for Lilly on our living room mantel.  (It still needs some tweaking.)

Thank you to everyone that sent cards, emails, Facebook messages, and prayers our way today.  I am so grateful.  Thanks Mom for sending money for the Lilly Memorial Project.  I need to think of some new ideas to bless others with in Lilly's name. 

Thank you to the Megan's mama who sent me this beautiful, two-sided Lilly ornament:

 (Megan lived about 18 years with full Trisomy 18!)

Flowers from my dad and stepmom - notice the lilies!:

There is much on my mind yet it feels I am forcing every word I type here.  So I will put in some photos of Lilly, all taken in her last month of life (December 2011).  It's amazing how cute and chunky she got, considering how small and scrawny she started out.  And how much personality she had.  :)

Kissin' my Lilly girl
Hunter, Tabby, Lilly
Lilly and her doll

Hunter kissing Lilly
Santa Lilly
Gettin' dressed
Lilly swinging with angel ornament

Warn and snuggly in the stroller
Lilly in red
Lilly & Tabby - last photo ever
"The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." - Psalm 34:18

Friday, December 12, 2014

"Best homeschool activity ever!"

With nights going down into the 20s this week, I am more grateful than every for central heat.  That is the idea of it.  We've been without it since Monday.  However, it really hasn't been too bad.  We dress in several layers.  We have a wood stove which heats the room that it is in quite well.  And we have a space heater which has been following us around.  Baseboard heat in the bathroom is a huge blessing at shower time.  And we have piles of wonderful old quilts for hiding under at night.  Still though, I will be glad when my nose and fingers unfreeze!

We hope to get a new heating unit ordered today and put in asap.  Of course all this has been so exciting for Hunter.  He has been eating, breathing, sleeping furnaces/gas packs/heat pumps.  The best day for him this week was when an envelope came that contained pamphlets on different heating options - each containing a complete labeled diagram of the system it featured.  He used this to add to his knowledge of parts.  Plus he's watched some YouTube videos on how these units work and how to repair different problems on them.  Yesterday he got a big piece of paper and drew a very happy furnace (can you find the eyes and smiling mouth?):

Two weeks ago, I introduced "caterpillar money counting" for Hunter to practice adding money and writing down his answers:

This week, Hunter asked if we could do "furnace coin counting" instead.  I said he'd have to draw the picture for it:

I've only given Solomon two new Montessori activities in the past few weeks.  I really need to put together a bunch of new ones because he has completely mastered everything he currently has.  Right before Thanksgiving I gave him a foam turkey I made (with velcro dots) to match feather colors:

I had gotten the idea from this nice, felt button turkey on Etsy.  But that was out of my budget and so I just cut up colored foam sheets.  (I used glue for the feathers but it wasn't strong enough so I added staples.)  Maybe I can make a felt one for next year - I like that it uses the skill of buttoning to put the feathers on.

Solomon enjoys transfer activities, so I gave him a little sugar tong and some pom-poms and he got to work moving the pom-poms all from one side of the tray, then back to the other:

Tabby has been busy crocheting ruffle scarves.  She has had a couple people order them from her for Christmas.  One lady ordered 12!  (Link to scarf listing in Tabby's Etsy shop is here.) 

Tabby has also been taking a colored pencil portrait class on Craftsy:

Yesterday she wanted to try a landscape with colored pencil, so she drew Erebor (Tolkien fans will know this place):

Finally, last week we did an activity that Tabby later proclaimed "the best homeschool activity ever!"  We had been studying the phases of the moon, and I saw a fun idea on Pinterest to use Oreo cookies to show the different phases.  YUM!  I gave Tabby a moon phase chart and a stack of Jo-Jos (Trader Jo's equivalent to Oreos).  She got to work nibbling and soon had her completed moons:

With Hunter, I used phases of the moon Montessori 3-part cards which I downloaded from the Montessori Print Shop.  (Yes I could have made my own, but they were only $2.29 and worth every penny.)  He matched moon phases and the words:

When he was done with the cards, he nibbled to make his "cookie moons":


Solomon didn't want to be left out and kept asking "Me ... cookie?"  So he got a few special treats too:

Well that wraps up things that have been going on here.  Christmas is flying up on us and I have been resisting.  It's time for me to face reality.  And Monday marks 3 years since Lilly's death.  I've really been trying to avoid thinking about that but it is impossible.  Today I am going to give her little Christmas tree that we take to her grave a fresh coat of paint and add some new little ornaments.  Can't wait until I see her little smiling face again one day!

"And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” - Revelation 21:4

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The buck stops here (at least for a couple months!)

Yesterday was ... a Monday.  It started off innocently enough, but then at 6:59 the ear piercing screams of the carbon monoxide detector filled the house.   I jumped up from my desk and turned off the heater, quickly opened up windows and doors and turned on fans, then sighed.  A deep sigh.  Our heater is now DEAD.  RIP. ("Santa, can I have a new heater for Christmas?")

Hunter came running down the stairs at the horrible beeping and reminded me that the heater repair guy warned us recently that this was coming.  Then Hunter continued to talk about heaters of all kind, all ... day ... long.  Except when I made him stop for school time or he was talking to the furnace he built:

(He explained all the parts to me, but I can not duplicate it here, other than to say the fan pulls heat from the light.)

The rest of the day was filled with moments of crying children (all three at different times), an overflowing toilet, spills of every kind, and miscellaneous bizarre irritations on every level from large to small.  Amidst all that we rushed to get together projects for 4-H.  Then later in the afternoon we went to that monthly 4-H meeting.  No one was there.  We finally went back home so I could check email to see what was going on.  Oh.  It had been cancelled. (Santa can you bring me one of those smart phones too?  But only if you can pay the monthly fee for me.)

The trend continued during supper and then at devotions, when we had to stop yet again, Frank said "I can't believe this is taking so long."  I replied, "I told you it was this kind of day!"

But you know what?  Somehow ... I managed to keep my temper all day.  I know that was only by God's grace and I am SO grateful that my kids didn't see their mama throwing a fit. "And God ... please let us have a "normal" day today!"

"And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up." - Galatians 6:9

I did have a few moments of peace and calmness during the day though, one of which is when I went outside to collect eggs.  I took my camera and got a few pictures of our new goat, Billy:

"Hi ... I'm Billy!  I know Billy isn't a very creative name for a goat, but Tabby wanted to name me that and my original family called me that so my name stuck."
We bought Billy last Saturday from a homeschooling family I found through CraigsList.  The family raises and sells Nubian goats as a hobby.  (Nubians produce one of the less "goaty" tasting milks.)  They were thrilled that we wanted Billy for breeding purposes and not for eating.  (Apparently, to the dismay of their children, they had been getting a lot of calls from people wanting to buy him for meat!)  We are planning to keep Billy for several months, and then re-sell him.  We are hoping our 3 girl goats will get pregnant during Billy's stay.  (Billy may not be the handsomest goat - but we saw that he helped produce adorable babies.)

Billy and Christa
When we got Billy home, we put him in the goat pen and watched to see what would happen.  Pippi and Nutmeg stared at him calmly.  But Christa, the Queen Goat of the herd, reacted in a surprising way.  She jumped around some and kept wagging her tail.  (It's called "flagging.")  She sniffed Billy and started chasing him around.  Tabby commented, "I've never seen Christa so lively!"  I found the sniffing part amusing.  She certainly didn't need to sniff him up close to see what he smelled like.  We could smell him from a distance.  Bucks smell very ... musky.

All throughout the rest of the day, whenever we looked out at the goat pen, there was Christa, following Billy around.  Poor goat!  He looked like he just wanted a break as he jogged around trying to avoid her.

We've heard a lot of stories about how you have to be really careful around bucks (male goats) especially when they are with female goats, as they are very protective of them.  So I when I read that Billy had been bottled raised by children, was good natured, and did not have horns, I decided he was "the one."

Billy, Pippi, Christa, Nutmeg
Still, we again heard warnings from the man we bought him from and he told us how he handled Billy.  (If he's with his girls, just ignore him.  Don't make eye contact.  Don't touch his face. etc.)  So later that afternoon, I went into the goat pen.  Suddenly Billy started running straight at me!  I froze, my heart pounding, wondering what he was going to do to me.  When he reached me, he let out a "meeehhhhh!" and leaned on me.  Christa came following him and Billy moved behind me, still pressing against me.  Ha!  He was trying to use me as a shield to get away from Christa!

I started petting him, saying "I'm so sorry about her Billy!"  He responded nuzzling me gently.  And ... he wanted me to rub his face.

Tabby's encounters with him are the same.  We have declared he is the sweetest, most affectionate goat we know.  We pet and pat him some, and would do so even more if only he wasn't so ... musky smelling.  ;)

Billy in a rare Christa-less moment

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Thanksgiving and Trisomy 18 Girls on My Mind

Last week, our goats were surprised by a family reunion!  Tabby and I loaded them up into the back of our SUV (not an easy task I assure you) and we took them to the L. family's home.  As we drove down the road, I thought it was so funny to imagine if anyone driving behind us noticed the goats through the back window.  What would they think?  "What in the world - that is a strange looking dog.  Wait that's not a dog.  Uh is that a ... goat?  THREE goats?!

Probably didn't happen but it made me and the kids laugh.

"Girls - what have we gotten ourselves into now?"
Hunter,"Hey! Stay on your side or I'll tell mom!"
"Got anything in this place to eat?"
The goats were surprised, and happy, to be at their old homestead and visit with their goat family.)  Nutmeg (our goat) was soon involved in goatie play with her sister Cloves.

"Remember the drill sister!  First we butt heads then we rear up on our back legs!"
The next day we drove up to Fairfax, Virginia - where I grew up - to visit family.  It was snowing when we arrived!

Our visit was good and Saturday morning we headed back to N.C.  But first, we stopped at the grave of Julia, the little girl that had Trisomy 18 and died December 16, 2011 - the day after Lilly did. 

 I really wanted to visit her grave and leave a little gift, for her birthday, which was this past Sunday.  Julia is buried in a section of the cemetery called "Garden of Angels."  She is right next to a little boy named "Solomon" which made me so grateful MY Solomon is alive and well.

I left her a little cherub, blowing her a kiss:

There is a large tree over the little children's graves and it was full of wind chimes.  The sound was beautiful and yet sad.

Of course thinking of Julia, makes me think of Lilly.  And this time I thought of Lilly in her pumpkin hat on her 2nd Thanksgiving:

Lilly - 16 months old - November 2011
I am happy to share that little Mary-Margaret (who received one of our angel boxes) is now 2 months old!  Tomorrow that will be 2 months and 1 week.  :)  Mary-Margaret has been in the hospital with a virus.  Since Lilly almost died from both of her viruses, I was worried!  But "M&M" is almost all better and is due to go home shortly.  Before this hospital stay, she had her picture made in the crocheted dress that was in the angel box we put together.  Aren't these sweet pictures?

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
 And lean not on your own understanding;  
In all your ways acknowledge Him,And He shall direct your paths." - Proverbs 3:5-6