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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

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Book List - September

Here it is almost October and I still haven't written my books read post for last month.  How did that happen?!  Can I have some time back?  If only!  I write my book list in a pretty blue sparkly composition book and right now, as I look over what I wrote for September, it looks like sort of an odd list. 

Hunter reading to Solomon
The Haunted Lagoon by Carolyn Keene - Last month I read Once Upon an Island: The History of Chincoteague by Kirk Mariner.  In it I learned that Harriet Adams, one of the authors of the Dana Girl Mystery books (and Nancy Drew books), had once visited Chincoteague Island to do research for a Dana Girl's mystery story called The Haunted Lagoon.  I was so surprised to see that, as The Haunted Lagoon was the very first Dana Girl mystery I ever read.  And I still have the book!  When I was young I didn't know about Chincoteague Island so even though I liked the book, it didn't mean the same thing it does to me know.  So I re-read it and enjoyed all the factual information in the book. There were even a few real people from the Island that appeared in the book. Both in the dedication and as characters in the story.

state Farmer's Market in Raleigh
 How to Raise an Amazing Child the Montessori Way by Tim Seldin -This book is full of Montessori based ideas to help parents guide their children's physical and intellectual growth, from birth to six years.  It is a nicely laid out book with full color pictures.  The contents are divided into 6 sections:  Why Montessori?, Discovery Through the Senses, Let Me Do It, Keeping the Peace, Exploring the Wider World, and The Best Time to Learn.  Though there are still some aspects of the Montessori methods that I remain skeptical about, I found much of this book to be very helpful and it gave me many ideas for Solomon.  (I hope to put up a post with Solomon's latest Montessori activities within the next week.)

I recently made my first bunting, a fall theme
The rest of the books below, were all assignments from Tabby's Veritas Press self-paced history course, 1815 to Present.  I really like historical fiction, and I like to read whatever my kids are reading for school myself, so I always read these assignments.

The Boy in the Alamo by Margaret Cousins - This was a very engaging story of the siege at the Alamo, told from  a 12 year old boy's point of view.  It gave me all new respect for the men that gave their lives defending the Alamo, fighting for independence from Mexico.  Men such as Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie, and William Travis.  The story reminded me that I want to visit the Alamo some day.

Children of the Covered Wagon by Mary Jane Carr -This book was an account of families heading West on the Oregon Trial in the mid-1800s.  The book focused on one family in particular, who were part of a wagon train.  What a journey!  Crossing rivers, Indian attacks, lack of food and water, dying animals, sickness and exhaustion, etc.  This book was the first that I have read that had so much detail, and presented such a clear picture of what it must have been like to go on this dangerous adventure.

Bound for Oregon by Jean Van Leeuwen -This was another book about the Westward expansion and the Oregon Trail.  It was based on the true story of Mary Ellen Todd and her family's 2,000 mile journey from Arkansas to Oregon in 1852.  Like the book above, it chronicled all the dangers and hardships, and joys, of the very difficult trek.  For much of their journey, this family traveled alone.  In a GoogleMaps and GPS dependent age, I marveled at how they could follow a little guidebook that told them how to make the journey.  Across rivers and mountains.  (They had to push hard to cross mountains before it began to snow.)  Surviving encounters with Indians.  Walking, walking, and more walking.  They didn't just sit in the wagon all day, but walked much of the way.  Every day for about 6 months! 

I found myself thinking about that time in history a lot.  I am drawn to the adventure and freedom and even challenges these people had.  The extreme difficulties of the journey are something I will probably never experience.  I would like to think I had enough courage to undertake a journey like that, but I don't know if I would have embraced it willingly. 

Trisomy Tea's light for Lilly - 2014 International Wave of Light
God made people remarkably able to adapt though, to all sorts of horrendous and difficult circumstances.  He is faithful through everything.

"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you." - Deuteronomy 31:6

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Consider the Lilies trivet - in honor of our Lilly

My dear friend Christina and her husband Phillip run Haven Enterprises where they team up to make heirloom quality items of wood, engraved with scripture.  Recently they opened an Etsy shop, "HavenEnterprises." 

One of their new items featured, was made in honor of Lilly!  It is a beautiful handmade, wooden trivet:

I love the engraved lily-of-the-valley (flowers) on it.  "Consider" refers to this Bible passage:

"So why do you worry about clothing?  Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?" - Matthew 6:28-30

The description of the lily trivet begins like this:

This trivet was designed in honor for a dear friend's daughter, Lilly, who was diagnosed with a genetic disorder called Trisomy 18 before she was born. Lilly's chances of living through birth were statistically not good and her parents were told repeatedly that she was not "compatible with life". "Little Firecracker" Lilly taught so many, in and out of the medical profession, and around the world that every person is here for a reason, is unique and valuable; a much needed lesson in our survival of the fittest culture. I was personally amazed at how many people she touched and changed in just 17 months of life- more than many touch in a lifetime. You can read more about Lilly's story here:

Here are the details:

This piece measures 6"x6"x1/2" and has been finished with olive oil. It needs to be hand washed and re-coated with oil as needed. It's made to be used as a trivet on your dinner table, and has a hanger cut in the back so it can adorn your walls when it's not being used on the table.

The trivet pictured is variegated made from oak and black walnut wood, but it can also be ordered in several different wood types. Contact us to find out other types of wood that are currently available. Options typically include oak, walnut, & cherry. If no specific request is made we will use whatever we currently have available. Each item is cut individually by handing using a router and every piece of wood is different, so each trivet is as unique as the trees they came from.

I received one of these trivets earlier this year, and have mine hanging in the section of our house we have dubbed "The Lilly Hall."  (There is a cut out portion on the back for hanging.)

Here is the direct link to the Lily trivet:

Take a peek at their whole Etsy shop here - there are other trivets for sale, along with spoon rests, cutting boards, bread boards, coasters, and door casings.  They take special orders too.  It's really neat how they have turned this enterprise into a family business.  My friend wrote:

My husband has the amazing wood working skills, crafting each piece by hand, and bring my designs to life. I photograph our products, and our children help me with that. They also help us oil finish each product (which is part of how they fill their piggy banks), and generally get in the way and bringing us joy. You can learn more about what goes into each piece at our website:

On a completely different note, last Wednesday was the International Wave of Light.  This is where, between 7-8:00 p.m., you light a candle in memory of your baby that has died.  Everyone that participates is encouraged to photograph their candle(s) and share the picture.  Here is my picture, with candles lit in honor of Lilly, Blueberry, and all the other babies in heaven:

My sister-in-law Nikki participated too.  She lit a candle for Lilly and one for Blueberry.  Thank you Nikki!  :)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A letter to our latest wee one in heaven - Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day 2014

Today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day.  In the past, I've remembered and written about Lilly during this month, even though she didn't technically qualify as an "infant," since she died at 17 months.  However, she was developmentally still just like an infant in so many ways.

I have decided today to share about a different aspect of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. Miscarriage.  Something many of you women reading this have had the sadness of experiencing.  I experienced it for myself for the first time, this past October 1st.  Bear with me though, I am still sorting this one out.  For me, miscarriage has been different than the loss of Lilly.  I am sharing, not fishing for sympathy, for the same two reasons I wrote about Lilly:  in case this helps anyone else out there and as a journal for my family.

Two weeks ago from today, Lilly was joined in heaven by a tiny sibling.

(To my family/relatives - you were completely unaware of this.  And perhaps this is a rotten way for you to find out.  I am truly sorry for not telling you.  Please forgive me.  I didn't feel up to verbally saying anything.)

Not really sure how to approach writing this post, I decided that letter format might work best.  That is what follows.

To my dear wee baby,

Hello from Mama!  I know you must be so happy in heaven with Jesus and your big sister Lilly.  But I just wanted you to know how much your family loves you, even though we never got to see each other.  But one day we will, and I will try to be patient until then.

I thought you might like to know some more details about your way too brief life on earth.  

I first learned of your existence on September 11.  That day is known as "9/11" in this country.  I felt excited and confused and scared all at once!  I'm 44 years old, which doesn't exactly make me a young mama.  But I am strong and healthy and had never had a miscarriage before.  I have 3 healthy living children.  And your sister Lilly - she wasn't even supposed to live.  But live she did - for 17 whole months!

Still though, I have had so many friends and relatives that have had miscarriages.  So I think that is why I felt scared.  That, and the loss of Lilly, have shown me all to well how fragile life is.

Well back to you, my dear.  After I found out, I called Daddy at work and told him to mark "May 14, 2015" on his calendar.  I told him around that date, he would meet our newest baby.  He was so surprised and happy!  I told him you were about 5 weeks old.

I told him I didn't want to tell anyone yet.  I needed a little time to get used to the idea.  And it was fun to have a joyful little secret.  Daddy did say though, "Let's not wait too long - I want people to start praying for this baby."

I felt several pregnancy symptoms.  My body temperature often shot from hot to cold.  I had trouble remembering how to spell words!  My moods were a bit crazy - though I managed to hold them in pretty well.  For a few days, I woke up with swollen lips and cheeks!  I never even knew that was a pregnancy symptom until I googled it.  I had my bottles of real ginger ale ready for any upset tummy feelings.  But those never came.

It was fun thinking about unpacking tiny baby clothes again.  Getting out the newborn sized cloth diapers.  I thought about things I wanted to do differently with you, than I had done with your siblings.  I secretly thought about how much I wanted a little girl, to dress up in Lilly's clothes.  For some reason, I had been dreaming about having a little baby girl before I found out about you.  But I also knew, if you were a boy, I would love you just as much!

Two weeks later, Daddy asked me again about announcing you.  I told him I would like to have a check up at the birthing center first.  Just to verify everything was OK.  I admit to still feeling nervous, thinking of another friend's recent miscarriage.  

A few days later, I called the birthing center, excited about making the appointment.  Strangely though, the person who makes the appointments didn't answer their phone any of the times I called.  And I didn't leave a message.  I decided I'd try again the next day.

But the next day I began to get really scared.  I was starting to bleed.  Sure there are women that bleed during pregnancy - I have too.  But I started thinking I wasn't really feeling pregnant anymore. I called Daddy and he prayed for you over the phone.  Tabby overheard and demanded to know what was going on.  I told her and she just stared at me.  I asked her to please pray.

What would happen?

God didn't leave me to wonder for long.  Mid-morning the next day my bleeding was heavier.  Then in the middle of homeschooling Hunter, I got terrible cramps and sharp pains in my back.  It was so bad I doubled over and then crawled to the couch to lay down.  

Hunter is your most compassionate sibling and he got so worried about me he almost started to cry.  "What is wrong Mommy?" he kept asking, clutching my arm.  Fear was on his face.  Finally I told him about you and that I thought you had died.  "That is SO sad Mommy!"  He climbed up on the couch by me and put his arms around me and prayed for me and you.  He kept saying how much he would like a baby brother or sister.

After about half an hour, I passed you.  I felt both panicked ... and full of curiosity.  Panicked because I didn't know what to do with you - I knew I didn't want to just throw you away. Curious because I wondered what you looked like, inside the bloody sac.  Then I remembered a dear friend who miscarried triplets, and put them in a little bag, and buried them.  

A burial.  That's what I would do.  I got a pretty green washcloth and wrapped you up.  But, I admit I studied you closely first.  Disappointed though, because I couldn't see you.  I wanted to know - were you a boy or girl?  I wanted to see your development - not just look at a generic picture of an almost 8 week old baby online.  But I couldn't. Hunter wanted to see you too.  As he looked he kept saying "This is so sad!  Poor baby!" 

I wrapped you up.  It wasn't enough.  I got a nice ribbon and tied that around your washcloth burial wrap.  

I took a deep breath and told Hunter and Solomon, "Boys, let's get on our boots.  We're going outside to bury this baby."  I told Tabby on our way out.    

I knew just the place.  Lilly's memorial garden.  

Another loss.  A different loss.  This was a real baby.  It deserves recognition.  And a name.  But what do you name your baby when you don't know if was a boy or girl?

I googled 7 week old baby.  You were a day less than turning 8 weeks.  What did you look like?  What size were you?  The size of a ... blueberry!  A blueberry?  How tiny - yet amazing.  I learned that you should have had slightly webbed fingers and toes.  That you would have been moving around a lot - like a jumping bean!  That your liver was working and making large amounts of red blood cells until your bone marrow could form and take over that job.  And you looked something like this:

For source of picture and more details click here
But what to say to other people?  It didn't seem right to say, "By the way, you didn't know I was pregnant, but I was.  Now I just had a miscarriage."  I remember in the past, wondering about other women I knew, that waited until they were 3 months along before announcing their pregnancy.  Just in case they had a miscarriage.  This seems to be a rather common practice in our culture.  But why?  That puts the mama in a terrible position.  She can't ask for prayers.  And, what if the baby does die?  What does she say then?  

Nothing much I guess.  Miscarriage in our culture tends to be a silent thing for many.  Maybe it's because talking about dead babies in general makes so many people uncomfortable.  I have encountered several people who, when I say something about Lilly, they seem to be trying so hard to find a way to quickly change the subject or pretend they didn't hear her name.  I can see the struggle in their face and imagine they'd like to put their hands over their ears and say "Nah nah nah! I don't hear you!"

Of course I suppose I acted no better, by not really telling anyone about you.  That is why I am saying something now.

And now when people ask me how many children I have, I will say "Three at home with me, and TWO in heaven."

I love you my wee baby!  You and Lilly give each other hugs and kisses, from me.


P.S. Hey - what do you think of the name "Blueberry?"  ;)

Monday, October 13, 2014

Fall Days Farm Ways at the Pantego Academy Historical Museum

Saturday we had the pleasure of attending an annual event at the Pantego Academy Historical Museum called "Fall Days Farm Ways."  Built in 1874, the old school is now a museum is located in the town of Pantego, which is in the eastern part of North Carolina.  (You can see the Academy's website here and their Facebook page here.)   My mother-in-law is on the board at the museum and I always enjoy hearing about their latest events.  So it was fun to participate in the one they had this weekend.

What would be farming without tractors?  Or as Solomon pronounces it "trac-tor."  Sitting on some of the old tractors on display was Solomon's very favorite part.

Solomon loves the feel of the wheel in his hands.  He had fun in the old Belhaven firetruck too.

Hunter's very favorite part was watching how the machines worked and asking questions about them.  He doesn't really like loud noises so he was hesitant in getting too close, but he was fascinated and spent much of his time in the area where they were set up.

Hunter had fun with the corn sheller too:

Solomon liked the table full of corn and little things to play with:

Tabby found milking the "cow" ridiculously easy.  (Remember she milks 2 goats every day.)

There was a "cow train" ride for the kids.  Hunter thought it was fun:

Solomon did not.  (I took him back out before the ride even started.)

There was cotton candy, popcorn, soups, sandwiches, and desserts, all for a donation.

After getting jacked up on sugars and dyes, is the "perfect" time to get in some school work:

There was also gourd painting.  Solomon really liked this.  But unfortunately, when we went back to get his finished gourd, we found someone had mistakenly taken it.

A famous N.C. pirate came back to life to join in the festivities.  Blackbeard - and his wife! - were sighted:

Blackbeard is played by Ben Cherry, a local man famous across the country for bringing Blackbeard to life.  (Here is a newspaper article about him.)   We studied Blackbeard in school, so it was fun to see him and listen to him.  We couldn't pass up a family picture opportunity with him:

Blackbeard put his arm around Solomon and I which made Solomon jump and turn around.  Thankfully the picture was over before Solomon burst into tears!  My mother-in-law with Blackbeard and his wife:

There was an auction in the afternoon.  Blackbeard started it off auctioning off items from his treasure chest.  Tabby and I thoroughly enjoyed listening to him - he was very funny:

All in all, it was a fun day.  We hope to go back next year.  And Tabby and I hope to join the vendors and sell our goat milk soap.  :)

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Is that a LIVE CHICKEN in my sink??!!

This past Monday, we attended a 4-H meeting.  The children were to bring something that they would enter at the North Carolina state fair if they could.  (Turned out some of the children at the meeting really were planning to enter the things they presented.)

When I think of fair entries, I think of livestock, food, or craft type items.  Hunter, of course, thinks of electricity.  He built one of his favorite snap circuit projects to present at the meeting:

Hunter with his "angles and distance" snap circuit project
Tabby, of course!, planned to take one of her Silkie Bantam chickens.  But oh the agony - which one??!!  After much pondering, she decided on a white one, named "Padme."  Monday afternoon I heard a tremendous squawking outside and then a minute later, Tabby triumphantly entered the house with Padme in her arms.  She marched over to the kitchen sink, talking about the beautification process Padme was getting ready to under go.

Let me just say, it was hilarious.  (Though not to the chicken, I'm sure.)

Tabby couldn't resist giving Padme a punk hairdo:

Padme shook her head.  No.  Spiked hair was not funny for an elegant queen.

Tabby used a little dog shampoo to lather up Padme.  And then in her rinse water, she borrowed a little of the glycerin I use in tinctures, to add a "glossy shine" to Padme's feathers.

Finally the water torture ended, and Tabby towel dried the humiliated looking chicken.

As Tabby plugged in her hairdryer, she informed me that her chicken magazines said chickens liked having their feathers blow dried.  (She subscribes to both Backyard Poultry and Poultry World and devours each issue when they arrive.)

Finally the chicken began to look like a super clean and extra fluffy version of her original self:

This look says it all:

"What are you looking at?!"

It was all worth it though, for Padme.  She was a big hit at the 4-H meeting, with both parents and children.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Just two activities; various homeschool and art books

I wasn't very good at putting together new Montessori activities for Solomon last week.  In fact, I only made one new one.  He is still enjoying his blue and green color activity, so I put together a red and yellow color sorting activity. He saw it the night I did it and was too excited to wait until the next morning to try it:

The next morning he did the color sorting activity again, and then added the blue and green color sorting pieces too.  It is a good activity, though he still seems to get colors mixed up when he talks about them.  He wants everything to be "green" or "light blue."

I just wanted to share that even though many days Solomon is very focused with his activities and quiet for awhile, there are other days he isn't very interested, and interrupts my school time with Hunter. A lot.  He can say "Mommy?" every 5 seconds.  Literally.  So all you homeschooling moms with little ones - don't think that we have some magic going here that you don't!  We have our good days and our frustrating days too.  ;)

A quick tip for getting ideas for some Montessori activities is to request a mail order catalog from a Montessori company.  I have several, but by far, my favorite is the catalog from "Montessori Services."  I have many pages dog-eared in this catalog with ideas of activities to put together for Solomon.  Of course as with most things, there are some things in the catalog I don't agree with, like their triology on the "Big Bang," evolution, and the earth's story.

Solomon really likes playing with cards.  Matching them or just spreading them out to look at.  He often plays with some of the cards I use for math drills with Hunter:

As an aside, I got printed these cards from Ray's Arithmetics and Helps by Sherry Hayes.  I printed them from the e-book on card stock and laminated them.  (I have a laminator and love it.  It is just so useful!)  Sherry Hayes is a homeschooling mother of 15 and has such useful advice, on so many things.  She blogs at:

I also have her e-book McGuffey's Primer Flashcards, Helps and Hints which is good, but I am not using it right now as Hunter doesn't currently want anything to do with the McGuffey Readers.  (I have two sets of the old McGuffey Readers:  McGuffey's Eclectic Readers Revised Editions and The Original McGuffey's Eclectic Readers.  We used both for reading last school year.)  Instead, we are using another old book series by Yesterday's Classics.  He just finished The Primer and is now reading through the First Reader. (There is also a Second Reader and Third Reader.)

Finally, Sherry Hayes also has a very helpful and inspiring book called Homeschool Sanity: Large Family Mothering's Practical Guide to Redemptive Home Education (available in print or as an e-book).  I tend to re-read this book twice a year, to get ideas.

When I was in elementary school, I had a copy of Ed Emberley's Drawing Book of Animals.  (The 1974 Scholastic version. I remembering filling out a Scholastic order form to buy it.)  I remember I loved drawing pictures from it and also using an inkpad to make the fingerprint pictures.

Not long ago, I came across a scanned copy of an old book online called What to Draw and How to Draw It by E. G. Lutz.  Its style is similar to Ed Emberley's books but the drawings are more realistic.  It was published in 1913.  The pages are filled with how to draw things like lighthouses, animals, and people.  But they are also quaint as they have that "early 1900s" look.  I thought we would use this book some in art for school this year.  I downloaded and printed a copy from here:
Note: this blog post talks about the book, gives ideas of how to use it, and the blog author gives links to several versions of the book here.  (You can buy printed copy on amazon here.)

I took my printed copy, hole punched it, and put it in a half-inch sized binder.  Do you print e-books?  If so - how do you like to store them?  I've been thinking about trying book binding and I'm always looking for tips!

Finally, I had a little while yesterday afternoon to just hold my napping boy and read.  What a simple delight:

"So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, . . ." - Hebrews 4:9