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

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Tree House tour

Our electric co-op is running a photo contest called "Tree houses, Playhouses & Forts."  This morning I submitted our entry.  With tree houses on my mind,  I decided to give you all a tree house tour.  So come along if you're not afraid of heights ...

Last summer, Frank decided to build a tree house for our children.  (Big benefit - it was a rather therapeutic project for him.)  He watched a how-to DVD and consulted a tree house idea book.  That is he used the book until the puppies got a hold of it and chewed it up!  Then he just started building, figuring things out as he went.   Tabby, Hunter, and Solomon helped some too. 

It's a rather historical tree house as Frank used old cedar planks that he got from his late father.  He also used wood from his late Uncle Henry.  The roof is covered in old split cedar roofing shingles.  Frank even installed a mail box, that used to belong to his late Uncle Davey.  The tree house has ladders and a slide, a swing, a basket on a pulley, skylights, numerous windows and a door, and an "escape hatch."  A rock climbing wall and fireman's pole are forthcoming.

Here is the photo I entered in the contest:

Guarding the tree house - Solomon with his bow & arrow, and Hunter with his rifle 
Now here are some other photos:

Oh no! Junk mail again?!
entering the split front door

actual skylights! (real windows on ceiling)
windows raise up and down by the ropes
Quick!  Out the escape hatch!
preparing to use the basket - it operates on a pulley system

Awww ... sweet profile pic of Solomon (this one added for ME!)
View from the back - escape hatch window is open

under the tree house - swing and trampoline (someone was throwing the trampoline out but Frank got it)

Want to make a reservation?  ;)

Friday, April 24, 2015

Various happenings

The chicks we bought, 2 weeks ago from today, are growing so fast!  They're still in a big tote bin in our dining room (!) though.  I took these pictures several days ago, and the chicks are bigger now.

As the chicks grow and we can see their personalities emerge, they begin to get names.  We have two martial artists:  "Cluck Norris" and "Ray Pullet" (named after Chuck Norris and Ray Park).  Solomon named one "Skarloey" (Thomas the Train reference) and one "Daddy Hollowell Jr. the III."  Hunter named one "Puron Refrigerant."  More (wacky) names to come ...

We added a stick to the chicks box - they LOVE to perch:

Speaking of chickens, Solomon was helping gather eggs recently.  The chickens all surrounded him and one pecked the egg basket and my usually brave boy actually started to cry!

Tabby recently drew this picture of Qui-Gon Jinn (played by Liam Neeson).  It continues to amaze me how she can crank out a drawing like this in a couple hours:

I have been doing math this year with Hunter orally.  (An OLD curriculum - Rays Arithmetic.)   But recently, when he was slow at getting a concept, I pulled out the old Math-U-See book that I had used with Tabby.  Ah-ha!  He got it then.  And he liked the Math-U-See so much that we are now using it too.  I gave him a worksheet (... "worksheet" - really need a better name for it!...) of addition problems.  A few minutes later I overheard him calculating the problems out loud.  I suddenly realized he was adding 3-digits, not 2 which was on the worksheet.  When I looked at it I saw that he was adding the problem number to the problem!  Oh ... some things I just don't think about explaining.  Well it's nice to know he can add 3 digits. 

As I mentioned in this post, I recently read Marie Kondo's The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.  It was interesting trying her folding method with Hunter's clothes.  I ended up with a lot more room in his drawer - enough to add even more things.  I can't wait to try this with my dresser drawers.

Solomon in the drawer - not folded
after - shirts and shorts folded and lined up
Last Sunday, we went to an event in a nearby town called "Touch-A-Truck."  Doesn't that scream little boy?  My brother P. came along and brought his son.  Solomon was in heaven getting to sit in so many trucks:


Ooooo - Tabby just poked her head in the door to tell me that we have a chick hatching!  (Precious has been sitting on a bunch of eggs from Tabby's Silkie Batum hens for a couple weeks now.)  All this new life is so exciting ...

Monday, April 20, 2015

A God painted sky

Tonight we had a brief but heavy storm.  After it ended, Tabby said that the sunset looked beautiful.  I grabbed my camera and we ran out to the road.  It felt like we were in one of those Thomas Kincade paintings showing light after a rain.  Sun streaks in beautiful colors painted the road.  The cows in the pasture across from us grazed in a large halo of light.  Beautiful.  Way too beautiful for my camera to capture.  But here are some of its attempts:

I love little blessings like this.  A few minutes of escape from a normal busy day can really bring a feeling of peace and calming over me.

"They who dwell in the ends of the earth stand in awe of Your signs;You make the dawn and the sunset shout for joy." - Psalms 65:8
They who dwell in the ends of the earth stand in awe of Your signs; You make the dawn and the sunset shout for joy. - See more at:
They who dwell in the ends of the earth stand in awe of Your signs; You make the dawn and the sunset shout for joy. - See more at:
They who dwell in the ends of the earth stand in awe of Your signs; You make the dawn and the sunset shout for joy. - See more at:
They who dwell in the ends of the earth stand in awe of Your signs; You make the dawn and the sunset shout for joy. - See more at:

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Peep peep peep! Our new chicks - fuzz, fun, and murder

If you saw Tabby's blog post today, you already know what I'm going to post about.  :)  

Buying chicks is probably my favorite springtime tradition.  (This is our 3rd year doing so.)  Yesterday was the day!  The kids and I went to the feed store right after we finished our schoolwork.  Less than an hour later, we were home with a baker's dozen of cute fuzzy chicks:

We bought:

3 black Austrolorp
2 gold Sexlink
3 Buff Orpington
3 Ameraucana
2 Gold Lace Wyandette

We had two broody hens so we planned to have one raise the chicks.  We did this once before and it worked beautifully.

Tabby carefully slipped the chicks under Precious.  She is our experienced mama and did a terrific job raising a flock of chicks last spring.

Precious sitting on 13 chicks

Precious sat on the chicks for a bit.  One kept escaping though.  Tabby named that adventurous one "Indiana."  (Indiana Jones)  Our nesting boxes aren't a good set up for this, so just like last year, Tabby carefully moved Precious into a big dog cage with the chicks.  However, unlike last year, Precious started freaking out.

She kept pacing around in the cage and just wouldn't settle down.  We left her there for quite awhile hoping she would go back to the chicks, but she never did.

Precious pacing after she quit her job
So Tabby fired Precious hired our other broody hen, Beru.  She carefully set Beru down on the cluster of chicks and ... success!  Beru sat there looking so proud.

We kept a check on her - occasionally when a chick tried to slip out she'd make a warning sound and give a little peck at it.  She was doing good.

But then a bit later,  I noticed a few chicks had escaped.  Tabby and I discussed it and she felt like the chicks would probably go back to Beru since the other chicks were still under her.

Beru - sitting alert and proud (or is it plotting ...)
But then later in the afternoon, chaos broke out in the cage.  Beru had suddenly gone ballistic!

I heard a terrible squawking from Beru and the peeping noises from the chicks greatly increased in volume.  I ran out to see what was wrong and the chicks had rushed to the front of the cage and several had their heads through trying to escape.  Crazy Beru was in the back and pecking at a chick which such fierceness that the chick was bouncing into the air!

What in the world?!  Beru had rejected the chicks.  So I rejected Beru and grabbed her out of the cage, and tossed her back into the yard with the other hens.

I scooped up the little chicks that were in a panicked huddled mass and put them back in the box that we brought them home in.  I counted.  Nine-ten-eleven-twelve.  Thirteen?  Where was our number thirteen?

Then I found the poor little (Ameraucana) in a tiny heap in the straw.  She was still alive, but barely.  I quickly got a soft warm cloth, wrapped her in it, and held her in my lap.

Beru's victim
Sadly, after a bit, she raised her head, gasped, and died.

Tabby and I narrowed our eyes and glared towards the coop, where Beru had run back to.


We will never look at that hen the same.

Sooooo ... no fun (and convenience!) this year of watching a mama hen raise some biddies.  We got out a big tub, the heat lamps, and set things up.  Thankfully the chicks were very happy in this new - safe! - home:

I peeked at them later that night and they were snoring away.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Easter experiments with marshmallow Peeps

I don't think I will ever go through an Easter day without remembering how cute Lilly looked in her bunny hat.  The bunny hat is now tops my Lilly tree (April's theme is lilies and crosses):

And of course I can't post that picture without posting several of Lilly herself wearing her bunny hat.  I remember that she was pretty grumpy at me for putting her in that basket!  She wore that same dress with her bunny hat to church on Easter Sunday 2011.  The one Easter we were blessed to have her with us.

I used to like decorating for holidays with a lot of decorations.  Now all that feels too overwhelming and burdensome and makes the house even more cluttery looking.  So if I put up a wreath and decorate my mantle, and of course Lilly's tree, then that is enough. 

Last Friday, for our science experiment, Hunter and I had fun using marshmallow Peeps.  I have had a box of them on my pantry shelf since last year (!) that I had bought with the intention of making one of those cute Peeps miniatures.  But it never happened.  So when I came across experiments to do with Peeps on Pinterest, I decided to sacrifice those cute marshmallow chicks.  (Note that all the follow experiments originally appeared on this blog.)

First was the microwave experiment.  I asked Hunter what he predicted would happen if we cooked Peeps in the microwave for 1 minute.  (He said they would melt.)  Into the microwave two chicks went! 

We were surprised at how BIG they puffed up while cooking.  Then when they were done and I opened the door they looked bloated like this:

They also stunk really bad!  A pretty-awful-burned-marshmallow-smell.  I went ahead and took them outside and put them into the trash can.

Next we got 4 bowls, put a Peep in each one, and then filled each bowl with a different liquid.  We used:  water, vinegar, milk, and apple juice.  (This is one time I wished there was soda in the house - that would have been a good one to use.)  We talked about which liquid might dissolve the Peeps the fastest.

Uh guess what.  None of the liquids actually dissolve Peeps!  The milk and water made some of the coloring come off.  But the next morning, those marshmallow chicks were still floating around and nothing had changed.  However, we did have one completely unexpected result ...  ANTS:

Note that the ants preferred the apple juice!  None liked the vinegar ... surprise surprise ...

Our last experiment used two of the cheapest, most exciting ingredients ever to be combined:  vinegar and baking soda.  Seriously!  Hunter would keep combining these two things for hours if I let him.  Three Peeps, sprinkle in baking soda, and pour on the vinegar:

All that wonderful fizzing and bubbling did nothing to the Peeps other than to makes some of the green coloring come off.  So we decided to up it and drop in a few Alka Seltzer tablets:

Lots more fizzing!  But ... no changes.  Even today - 3 days later - the Peeps look the exact same.  (Though the bubbles are gone and they are floating in smooth liquid.) 

This has led Hunter and I to conclude:  "YUCK!  Is it even possible for Peeps to dissolve in our stomachs?!" 

I will never look at Peeps the same.  ;)

"The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him." - Psalm 28:7