caption - title

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

Monday, December 29, 2014

Treating frostbite in chickens

Recently Tabby came inside one morning holding Bungo, one of her Silkie Bantam roosters.  He had frostbite really bad over his comb, waddle, ears, and even the feathers on the top of his head.  It was so strange looking - black and scaly. 

Tabby asked me to look up how to treat it in the book Fresh Eggs Daily:  Raising Happy, Healthy Chickens ... Naturally by Lisa Steele.  We LOVE this book though wish it had an index!  So when I couldn't find our answer quick enough, I got online and searched the author's blog.  I easily found our answer in Lisa's blog post "Treating and Preventing Frostbite in Chicken's Naturally."  She suggested treating with coconut oil, Waxelene (a petroleum jelly alternative), or her own homemade frostbite ointment

Since we wanted something right way, I grabbed the coconut oil and while Tabby held Bungo, I began rubbing the oil onto all his blackened areas.  It felt so weird to me!  But it must have felt good to Bungo because he was very still in Tabby's arms.  Except when I put it on his feathers on the top of his head.  He jumped - it must have been quite painful.

Later that day, I decided to make Lisa's Homemade Frostbite Ointment.  Thankfully I had all the ingredients in my "apothecary" and it was very easy to make.  Tabby and I treated Bungo several times with the ointment and he seemed to enjoy it and was soon feeling better. 

Bungo still has some blackened places on him.  I'm not sure how much of that will change.  I know that the comb will not regrow.  Tabby had hoped to sell some of her roosters, but she will have to take Bungo off that list as he has lost his "good looks."  (And now that he's "damaged" she and I have a soft place for him in our hearts.  Thanks to Lilly, and person or animal that is "special needs" or "damaged" in any way makes Tabby and I say "awwww...." and instantly love it.)

When I think of frostbite, I think of people getting it from having exposed skin to cold and snow.  But from Lisa's blogpost,  I learned that it is not the cold that usually causes frostbite, but the moisture and dampness. 

Tabby said that Bungo always roosts by the window of their coop.  So he must have just gotten blasted by the air.  We covered that window and will leave the covering up for the winter.  Note that ventilation is important though, and Tabby's coop still has plenty of ventilation.  See Lisa's blogpost to read about other ways to prevent frostbite. 

Tabby's chicken coop (April 2014) with some strange looking chickens in it

I have three extra 4.0 oz. tins of the homemade chicken frostbite ointment left.  If you would like to buy one, just let me know.  I will sell them for $4.00 each plus shipping.

Putting ointment on a frostbitten chicken.  One more thing I can add to my list of "things I've done that I had no idea I would ever do!"

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Ways to include your angel child in the Christmas season

Finding ways to remember Lilly during the Christmas holiday season is very important to me.  It is healing and I just don't want her forgotten.  I must still have a lot of healing to do at this time of the year though, because honestly I really wish we could just skip the whole month of December.  (I'm not sure if this is strictly due to Lilly's death on December 15, 2011 - or if it's other things too.)  But because we have three kids here, I fight my desire to be Scrooge and dig in. 

Photo used on our 2012 Christmas Card (photo credit: Steve Rubin)
Solomon, Tabby, Hunter, LillyBear, Sam the dog
We send annual Christmas cards, and I always include Lilly in the card in some way.  It just feels wrong not to, as she will always be a part of this family, even if she is living in heaven!  The above photo was the one I used on a Christmas card the first year after Lilly's death.  The kids are all wearing Lilly-colored hats and Hunter is holding LillyBear - all in honor of Lilly.  In our signature line, I always have our names printed like this:  Frank, Lisa, Tabby, Hunter, <Lilly>, Solomon.  In this year's card, I used a collage of several pictures of our kids from the year.  I included Lilly by using this photo of Solomon holding her picture:

Another annual tradition I have is to buy each of my children a Christmas tree ornament.  The ornament usually reflects something of interest from that year.  (One day, when the children move out, they will take their collection with them and have a nice start to their own tree.)  I still include Lilly in this, by getting her a different angel-type ornament each year.  For the first year it goes on our family tree:

Lily-of-the-Valley Flower Fairy
Then the next year, it goes on Lilly's tree.  The theme for Lilly's tree in December is angels:

Lilly also has her own Christmas stockings, that are hung up with the rest of the family's.  We have our "originals" that we fill.  Lilly's is an angel stocking:

We also have our really fancy, handmade stockings, that I hang on our staircase.  These were given to us by A.S., a kind woman I met through this blog:

Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep is a group that provides free remembrance photography to families losing a baby.  Their December 2012 e-newsletter had this list of suggestions of ways to honor angel children (or anyone who has passed away):

  • Ornament with you baby's name
  • Light candles decorated for your baby
  • Special decorations at the headstone
  • Decorate a special tree
  • Make a gift for your baby
  • Make a snow globe
  • Make a reindeer or something else with the baby's footprints
  • Use a special bear or similar stuffed toy given when you lost your baby as a tree topper
  • Buy a present for your baby, wrap it and then unwrap it on Christmas and add to the baby's memory box
  • Include your baby's name in your Christmas cards
  • Buy a small potted Christmas tree.  After Christmas, plant it somewhere
  • Tell the story of your baby to your family
  • Buy presents for your living children that are from your baby (their sibling).
  • Take pictures of the special gifts and mementos and add to a photo album to remember what you did each year
  • Donate preemie clothing to a hospital for other preemies
  • Make small decorations for all the babies buried near your baby
  • Buy a toy or gift for a child who is in need.  You can buy a gift for a child the same age as your baby would be
  • Give a small decoration for all the babies buried near your baby
  • Encourage others to do a random act of kindness in honor of your baby.  Ask them to write it down and put it in your baby's stocking.  On Christmas morning read all the acts of kindness done in honor of your baby.
  • Give to a nonprofit, such as NILMDTS in the baby's name 

I especially like the things done for others, in honor of your baby, that are in the above list.  I'd like to incorporate one or two of them into our December next year.

Another tradition we have is that on December 15, Lilly's "angelversary", we take a little Christmas tree to her grave.  In honor of her July 4th birthday, it is a red/white/blue tree.  The tree stays at her grave (staked down) until after Christmas:

Here are two other ways I involve Lilly in our Christmas decor.  Clive, our Elf on the Shelf, hid in Lilly's stocking, and he hid amongst her mantel memorial:

And LillyBear wears a Santa hat:

The Trisomy 18 online community has been a huge blessing to me.  Both when Lilly was alive and even now, afterwards.  I love how we remember each other's little ones.  The mama of Jordan, a little girl that lived 3 days with Trisomy 18, recently sent me this adorable fairy ornament and the picture of the New River Gorge Bridge (in West Virginia), to remember Lilly:

There's so many more ideas out there and I think that in general, including memories of your loved one during the holidays is a good thing.  Because you probably will be thinking of them anyway, so try and make the memories positive.

Photos from Christmas Day 2010 - Lilly's one Christmas here on earth:

"Santa can wait ... I need my nap!"
"See - my ever clenched fists are great for holding things!"

If you do things to honor your child during Christmas, I would love to hear what sort of things you do.

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