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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

Monday, June 30, 2014

The milk in that "udderly" natural goat milk soap ... And SOAP SPECIAL for the week

See end of this post for a special price on goat milk soap!  This week only!

If you've read this blog for awhile, you know that "The Goat Chick" is Tabby's nickname.  (A play on the goats and chickens she cares for.)  She blogs sporadically at The Goat Chick and has an Etsy shop with the same name.

The best seller in her business has been The Goat Chick's "Udderly" Natural Goat's Milk Soap.  This awesome totally good for your skin soap that we make starts out with fresh goat milk - supplied by our own goats.  After we have that milk, we add in these other fine ingredients:  coconut oil, olive oil, palm kernel oil, rice bran oil, shea butter, palm oil, castor oil, and eucalyptus and spearmint essential oils.

I thought it would be fun to post some pictures of Tabby milking the goats, so Saturday I followed her outside in the morning.  The lighting wasn't great and my camera batteries were almost dead, so I couldn't turn on the flash, but you can get the idea from these pictures.

When we walked into the goat pen, our three goats were so very happy to see their Goat Chick!  They knew it was breakfast time.  Goats love to eat.  Though in spite of what the cartoons lead you to believe, they do NOT eat tin cans.  Nor a number of other things.  But amazingly, they DO like to eat poison ivy!  Talk about a natural, organic way to clear poison ivy out of your yard.  :)

Tabby starts out by getting Nutmeg's breakfast and putting her in a stall to eat, so none of the other goat's steal her food.  (Nutmeg is obviously not pregnant, much to our disappointment.)

The guinea hens home is near Nutmeg's stall, so I snapped this picture of them after taking hers.  They are getting bigger but are still quiet skittish.  They are just a much more wild bird that the chickens, so they aren't thrilled about having us close to them.

Tabby next feeds Big Christa.  She puts the bowl of food in a special place on the milking stool that Frank built, and Christa jumps up to eat.  Tabby puts a bar down over Christa's neck, so that she can't jump down, and then sits down and starts milking.

Tabby's got strong hands and can really get that milk out fast and squirting into the bucket.  It makes a neat, rhythmic sound.

Christa finished her food before Tabby was done milking her and so she let Tabby know by stomping her hoof.  Tabby gave her more food and then finished milking her.  I thought that was a funny signal.  And Tabby was quick - the second Christa's leg started going up, Tabby moved the bucket to make sure that hoof didn't come back down IN the bucket.

Next it was Pippi's turn.  You can really see foam at the top of the milk by this point.

By the end, we have enough milk to fill up 3 quart jars.  We drink it, use it for making yogurt, bake with it, and still have more than we can use!  I want to try making some ice cream with it soon.  And I've heard mozzarella cheese is easy to make with it.

And of course it's the first ingredient in our goat milk soap!

Once we make the soap, it cures for at least 5 weeks, Tabby then wraps each bar with her signature labels:

Finally - a finished product that is really GOOD for your skin!

FOR THIS WEEK ONLY - I AM HAVING A SOAP SPECIAL!  A bar normally costs $4.50.  But in honor of Lilly's birthday - she would have been 4 years old - soap will only cost $4.00 a bar!  You must contact ME directly for this discount. 

Friday, June 27, 2014

In honor of Lilly's 4th birthday: a "Lilly-colored" pillowcase GIVEAWAY!

One week from today it will be Lilly's 4th birthday.  Oh yeah, and Independence Day (Fourth of July) too.  :)

I thought it would be fun to have a little giveaway in Lilly's honor.  What I will be giving away are TWO Lilly-colored pillowcases.  These pillowcases are made by Cassie, who makes and sells things in honor of her little sister, Hannah, that is in heaven playing with Lilly.  ;)

I bought the little patriotic rag doll (in the photo next to LillyBear) for Lilly's birthday present this year.  I like to add one thing to her July 4 themed collection each year.

I love Cassie's pillowcase design.  I chose the fabric and she had four pillowcases whipped up for me within days.  (I am keeping two and giving away two.) She is an excellent seamstress.  Check out her blog  at with items for sale - it includes a number of cute pillowcases.  She takes special orders too.  :)

It's not super clear in the above photo, but the red fabric on the right side has tiny white polka dots.  I LOVE polka dots.  :)  Examples:

Just contact me if you'd like to enter!  Leave a comment, e-mail me at my main e-mail address or at LittleFirecrackerLilly   ( a t) g mail. c om (remove spaces).  I will pick a winner randomly, the day after Lilly's birthday.  

So be sure to enter and then watch for a winner to be announced Saturday, July 5th.  I'm excited to see who will win!

Thank you again to Cassie for helping make this giveaway possible. Your sewing is beautiful.  Just like you.  :)

". . . And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'" - Acts 20:35

Monday, June 23, 2014

Learn to Embroidery: Check!

For a couple years now, I have wanted to learn to embroidery.  I can finally check that off my To Do list as of yesterday when I completed my first sampler and feel I have a good understanding of a number of stitches.  I started it last fall and worked on a  bit here and there.

I plan to frame it.  I bought it as a kit from Clementine Pattern Co. on Etsy.  This shop sells patterns created by a mother and her two daughters.  I didn't realize it until recently, but one of the daughters is Breezy Brookshire, the young woman that illustrated Angie Smith's delightful book Audrey Bunny.  (You may recall I gave away a copy of this book last March for Trisomy 18 day.)  You will see in the Etsy shop you can buy complete kits or just the pattern for their designs.

I was drawn to this beginner's "Sing to the Lord!" kit because I was a beginner, I liked the "sampler style" (learning different stitches), and the bird is so cute!  I also liked the "Sing to the Lord!" part which is actually a bit ironic for me because I hate my voice and don't really like to sing.

I suppose for me that is vanity and pride all rolled up "nicely" together.  Sometimes I think that if I had a good voice then I would like to sing so I'd sing a lot more.  The Bible is full of verses about singing, such as:

"Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to our God; For it is pleasant, and praise is beautiful." - Psalm 147:1

I know, I know.  I've heard all the statements like "God made your voice, you should be grateful and accept it."  And "God doesn't care what you sound like, it is what is in your heart."  "If you would practice singing more, then you would really learn how to."  Etc. etc.

That's why I said for me, singing is often a struggle of vanity and pride.  Maybe a few more sins lumped in there too.

I remember in elementary school, in 4th grade, we each had to get up and sing solo with a microphone in front of the class.  The teacher played "Jeremiah Was a Bullfrog" (!) on the piano as I sang along. I remember not being nervous or anything, just singing along.  (Kind of funny now that I think about it as I was a shy child and didn't go around singing.  We weren't one of those "singing" families.)  When I sat down after, a boy turned around and said to me "You sounded funny."

Ouch.  The next year when I had to get up to sing, I sang so softly that the teacher stopped playing piano normally and only played the melody softly with her right hand.  I felt like throwing up.  (Almost the same sensation I'd get every February when we had to do square dancing.  Square dancing in elementary school?  That was crazy!  Everybody knew boys had cooties!)

Then when Tabby was a baby, I was singing to her and a person that I shall not name said they had to leave the room because they couldn't stand to hear my singing.  Thankfully that person is no longer in my life.  (I mean really, even when you think someone's singing is bad, why in the world would you feel the need to tell them?)

Tabby made me feel better when she was a toddler when she said "I love when you sing to me, Mama."

Thankfully little children are much more forgiving.  Hunter still wants me to sing to him when I tuck him in at night.  And I sing to Solomon at times.  Lilly found singing very calming when she was upset or hurting.  I even sang to her "her songs" when I was holding her after she died, while we were sitting in the ambulance.

Still though, I sure wish I liked my voice.

Back to embroidery, Tabby decided she wanted to learn too.  And true to Tabby's quick nature, she had a whole project finished within a week or two, using whatever stitches she felt like.  She took several designs from an embroidery book I have called Doodle Stitching: The Motif  Collection, and put them into one.  The result:  chickens, chicks, and a tree showing all 4 seasons.  Peep!

I plan to frame her work too.  It's perfect decor for our old farmhouse.  :)

I have liked embroidery since I was little.  My mom made me a pink heart shaped pillow with embroideried figures all over it.  I always liked looking at it.  Tabby liked using it.  And Hunter even likes it now.  [I had planned to take a picture and post it here but wasn't able to find it.  So just imagine one!]

My ex-mother-in-law gave me this beautiful embroidered piece that she had sewn, when Tabby was born.  I still love looking at it:

Yesterday as I finished my project, Hunter was looking for something to do and asked if he could try sewing something.  He cranked out a piece that says "SAM" (backwards "S") and has a dog leash on it.  (Sam is his stuffed dog that has been his loyal friend for 4.5 years now.)

Seeing Hunter sewing reminded me of something I heard on the radio back in the 1990s.  Apparently, in schools in San Francisco, feminists pushed to have required sewing classes for boys.  Well the boys dutifully sewed, but what kind of pictures do you think they sewed?  Mainly guns and knives.  :)

I'm not sure what my next embroidery project will be.  I know I enjoy working with my hands so I will do something.  Plus I have this wonderful old box full of embroidery thread from my mother-in-law, just waiting to be used.

"Is anyone among you suffering?  Let him pray.  Is anyone cheerful?  Let him sing psalms." - James 5:13

Friday, June 20, 2014

Trisomy 18 news article and a gravestone fundraiser

The lilies in Lilly's garden are looking spectacular!  I love the burst of color I see each time I look out the window:


Some of the lilies are so tall that they are bending under the weight of the flowers.  But they're all still beautiful.

Faith is a 5 year old girl with Trisomy 18 and Monosomy 21.  I read on her blog this week, that her dad, Brad Smith, published an article on entitled "We Thought Doctors Were Helping Our Daughter With Trisomy 18, But They Were Slowly Killing Her."  Brad wrote about how when Faith was younger, he had a chance to ask Rick Santorum for advice about children with Trisomy 18.  (Rick's own daughter with Trisomy 18, Bella, recently turned 6.)  What Rick shared completely changed the way the Smith family cared for Faith.  In that journey they also learned about something scary called "Slow Code."  What is "Slow Code?"  Brad writes "it is not care, but lethal neglect or intentional death."  Click here to read Brad's entire article.  This information is SO important if you have a child that doctors consider "incompatible with life."  Here is a picture of Faith and her family with Rick Santorum:

The Smith family and Rick Santorum
Last night, I read about the need of a family of a Trisomy 18 angel.  Nalah lived 26 months with full Trisomy 18.  She died December 2010.  To date, her family still has not been able to afford a gravestone for Nalah.  They are now fundraising for one, hoping to have it before what would have been Nalah's 6th birthday.  You can read more about Nalah and donate (any amount) here:
Here is a picture of Nalah:

Here's another sweet picture of Nalah that I found on her mom's Facebook page:

Nalah and her doll
This request really touched my heart.  I love that Lilly's gravesite is marked.  I designed her gravestone before she was even born.  How blessed we were that she lived 17 months before we ever had to request that stone.  I can't believe Lilly will have her 4th birthday very soon.  We'll be visiting her grave to take her a little gift and send some balloons up to her.  :(  I've suddenly been feeling like crying whenever I think about it, the past few days.  I guess it's because it's a significant anniversary. People say the anniversaries are always the hardest.  It's true.  For me it's Lilly's July 4th birthday and December 15th angel day.

Here is a picture of Lilly's grave I took last March:

I look forward to going back and seeing the green grass and changing out her spring tree for a 4th of July decoration.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Digital Photo Organization Ideas

Yipee!  I have a new camera!  I've had such a void in my life ever since my dear Kodak died, this past March.  (I'm only slightly joking.)  Well I am thankful for parents and step-parents and an aunt who all sent me money for my birthday earlier this month.  I had just enough between them to buy a Nikon Coolpix L610 (red version!) that was highly rated by Consumer Reports.  I'm starting to figure out how to use it.

Hunter was excited too.  He set up my new camera for me and then immediately asked for my old camera to take apart.

This past February, I did a blog post asking for help handling "digital photo overload."  I heard from quite a number of you, most having the same problem.  However, a couple people e-mailed me with some good ideas they had.  Since I now have my new camera, and that means a ridiculous amount of more photos, I thought I better review those tips.  (This summer I am busy trying to get rooms in our house painted, organized, etc. so it will probably be fall when I really dig in and get started on my photos.)  Here are my favorite.

Ginny shared a link to a blog called Clover Lane entitled "How I Organize My Photos."  I really like the photo albums pictured in this article and hope to eventually get some.  Ginny said that she personally bought some photo cases (see example on Ebay here) from Michaels and spent a few days organizing all of her family's photos in them.  (I really like the smaller plastic cases which all fit inside the big case.  That way if it is dropped, everything won't spill everywhere.  That is my number one fear with my photo boxes!)

I really like both of these ideas because in my family, we tend to look at albums but we rarely pull out one of my photo boxes to look at pictures.  But of course we could never afford to print and put every picture we take into a photo album.  (Plus we wouldn't have room for that!)  So I will keep going with some in photo cases and some in matching albums.

Tesha sent me several links to a photography blog called Lil Blue Boo which has wonderful photo organizing tips.  Of course there are lots of great photography tips too!  I'd like to spend some time reading through this blog.  On the homepage, if you scroll down you will see a section called "Photo Printing, Organization, and Back Up."  There are several posts here.  Here is a step-by-step post that must have been written for me called "How to Organize and Print Years Worth of Photos."  I really liked this one too:  "Tips for Creating Simple and Timeless Photo Albums."

Here is a post from Large Families on Purpose about why they changed from paper scrapbooking to digital, called "Family Scrapbooking."  I really love making things with my hands, but I definitely see wisdom in digital scrapbooks.

the next round of lilies in Lilly's garden are starting to bloom
 Finally, I want to urge you - BACK UP YOUR PHOTOS!  And not just in one place, but two at least.  I had most of mine on an expansion drive which some how ended up getting corrupted.  These included all my Lilly photos.  I would have been devastated except that I had backed up photos on CD through June 2010.  And I have just about every picture I have ever taken with my digital cameras uploaded to Shutterfly.  Shutterfly will make dvd backups of your photos, for a fee of course, but I am so so thankful as I will get my Lilly photos that way.  (And of course we have many other valuable family pictures I want to keep.  It's just that the idea of losing Lilly photos is the most traumatic because I know I can never take another one of her.)

Here are a few pictures I took outside today:

Nutmeg - sadly I don't think she's pregnant
My favorite chicken from the latest batch - a Brahma named "Owl"
Exhaust Pipe - the sweet dog with the funny name
Dixie and Sherlotta Holmes (we call Sherlotta "Spazlotta" at times!)
Tabby has opened an Etsy shop! SEE HERE.  (The shop's name is "The Goat Chick.")  One of her items for sale is an "Herbal Mix for Majestic Poultry."  This is an herb mix she made which has herbs to help with the chickens general healthy, respiratory health, laying stimulants, and orange egg yolk.  We got the idea from the wonderful book Fresh Eggs Daily.  She is selling 7 oz. bags for $7.00.

We just sprinkle some into their feeders every few days and they all gobble it up:

We're also stocked up on The Goat Chick's Udderly Natural Goats' Milk Soap.  This has got to be some of the healthiest soap for your skin you can buy.  :)

May God bless your week!

Monday, June 9, 2014

The Book List - May and 2 health book recommendations

Sugar Love Carpet Lilies - photo by Tabby
You may have noticed, that I have started adding "this post contains affiliate links" to some of my blog posts lately.  This simply means that I signed up for's Affiliate program and use their links for books or other products I mention sometimes.  Then, if anyone uses one of those links to buy that product - or anything else after clicking through on my link - then I could earn a tiny percentage of that.  Any money at all that I earn, will be used for blessing others through my Lilly Memorial Project.  :)  You can also click through the link at the top right column of this blog.  I'm on sort of a "probation period" with them right now.  When you sign up, you have 90 days to get a sale.  If not, then you're out of the program.  So I figured it is worth a try.

Please don't feel obliged to buy your products this way.  But if you do, I just wanted to explain where any money I make off your sale would go.  Thank you!  :)

future recorder player - photo by Tabby

Before I get into last month's list of books I read, I wanted to share two books that I turn to, anytime one of us is sick or has any health issue.  They are both by the same woman and focus on ways to heal with natural methods as opposed to prescription drugs.  (Though the author reminds us, there certainly is a time for those.)  The books are:

Be Your Own Doctor - 101 Stories:  The Informative Guide to Herbal Home Health Care by Rachel Weaver

Be Your Child's Pediatrician: Responsible Home Health Care by Rachel Weaver

I used the tips in the first book to get rid of Frank's last kidney stone issue without him ever having to go to the doctor. 

The author is a mother of 9, midwife, and master herbalist.  Samaritan Ministries did a member spotlight on the Weaver family here and a review of Be Your Own Doctor here.   

Dixie & Sherlotta visited the doctor recently and got spayed - photo by Tabby
Exhaust Pipe had his turn at the vet too.  No more puppies for us! - photo by Tabby

Hit the Knee and Other Sage Advice:  A Cheeky Account of My Heart Bypass Surgery by Dennis J. Gwin - This book was written by my brother-in-law Dennis, (Frank's sister's husband.)  It is a humorous and informative story about his heart bypass surgery.  Dennis is a funny writer and I found myself laughing - out loud - at a number of parts of the story.  (You have to understand that though I have a sense of humor, I am not an "easy laugher" so this is certainly notable!)  The book made me think a lot about Lilly's two heart surgeries (one to insert a pulmonary artery band and the other was VSD repair) and made me wonder how things felt for her.  After Lilly died, Dennis wrote this sweet poem about her.  You can get paperback copy of Dennis's book at: and kindle version on amazon here.

Saved at Sea by Mrs. O. F. Walton - I recently went through a unit study on lighthouses with Hunter and this is one of the books we read.  Written in 1879, this was an intriguing tale of a boy and his grandfather and the lighthouse they help tend.  The title - "saved at sea" - has several meanings in the story.  Not only is a baby saved in a shipwreck, but the main characters are saved by becoming Christians.  We have the Lamplighter version of this book (which is the one I linked to), but if you search, you will see plenty of other cheaper re-prints.

The Nesting Place: It Doesn't Have to be Perfect to be Beautiful by Myquillyn Smith.  I always enjoy reading a home decorating book every once in a while.  We moved into our current home, a 100-year old farmhouse, less than 2 years ago.  Solomon was only 3 weeks old.  The first year here felt like survival mode.  This year, I am finally able to start painting rooms and getting the house in better order.  So I enjoyed  reading The Nesting Place and am thankful for the the inspiration and encouragement I got from it.  The author and I do not really have the same decorating style, but that didn't matter.  The author blogs at: The Nesting Place (  She says "Welcome to our home where things aren't perfect.  We trust you can relate."  One of my favorite pictures in the book shows her office staged for a magazine shoot.  Then shows a picture of her office of how it normally looks.  Quite a difference.  ;)  I'll never look at magazine house shoots the same.

the Guinea Hens just moved into their new house! (coop) - photo by Tabby
Soft Rain: A Story of the Cherokee Trail of Tears by Cornelia Cornelissen - This is a historical fictional account of a sad time in America's history.  It is about a girl and her family - and the other Cherokee Indians around them - being captured and forced from their home in North Carolina to relocate west.  Though I was familiar with "the trail of tears" this book really brought it to life and all the sadness surrounding it.  This book was one of the assigned books for the Veritas Press self-paced history course that Tabby is taking - 1815 to Present.  (I read the books and watch the online course too, because I love learning along with her.)

Super Nutrition for Babies: The Right Way to Feed Your Baby for Optimal Health by Katherine Erlich and Kelly Genzlinger - I began reading this book about the time Solomon was ready to start eating solid foods.  Many chapters are divided up into age groups, and I did not read those until he reached whatever those ages were.  So last month I finally finished the book.  This book is the ultimate way to fight back against the SAD way of eating (Standard American Diet).  It follows along with a lot of Weston Price's research.  If you follow the recommendations, you will definitely have a super baby!  I have done pretty well with Solomon, but there were a number of things that I just couldn't or didn't want to feed him.  But I'd say his health is very good - he has only been sick twice I think.

Man of the Family by Ralph Moody - I am reading through the "Little Britches" series for literature with my kids and this is the second one we've finished.  These are true stories based on the author's life, growing up in the early 1900s.  This book picks up where Little Britches: Father and I Were Ranchers left off, Ralph's father had just died.  The family must try and find a way to make money and survive.  My kids and I were continually amazed at how creative this family was!  These books are just fascinating.  Sort of Little House on the Prairie type books, though from the male perspective.  (Note - there are some cuss words in them, but I just leave these out since I read them out loud.)

25 Ways to Communicate Respect to Your Husband:  A Handbook for Wives by Jennifer Flanders - I find it interesting that in the Bible God instructs husbands to "love" their wives and for wives to "respect" their husbands.  (See Ephesians 5.)  Why does God say this?  Are those some universal struggles for us in marriage?  Like many areas of my life, I know respect is one I can do better in.  The author of this book has 25 practical ways to do this, in easy to read, short chapters.  Many of these ways can apply to anyone in our lives.  In a day and age where it seems so few people truly respect others, this book is a great tool.  The author suggests taking just one "way" a week and working on it to make it a habit.

"Respect? I demand respect!" - Tabby's Silkie Bantam rooster - photo by Tabby