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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, November 30, 2015

30 Days of Thankfulness - Days 28 - 30

I never know what I am going to learn from my kids next.  The other day, the mailbox flag kept falling.  It wouldn't stay up.  I grumbled that maybe I could bend it to stay up or if we couldn't figure out how to do it, then we'd have to buy a new mailbox.  I really wasn't surprised when Hunter said, "Oh I can fix it!"  Then he took me to the mailbox, showed me the area inside the mailbox where you can tighten the flag, and that was that!  It works perfectly now.

OK - I honestly was surprised then.  I guess I had seen that adjustment area in the mailbox before, but I just never paid enough attention to it to think about what it was for and how it worked!

Hunter will probably have that bumper sticker one day that says "Question everything."  Today I asked him what sort of vehicle he wanted when he grew up.  He doesn't know but said it needs to haul a lot of stuff.  Tabby wants a Mustang.  Solomon wants a hot dog truck.  Snicker ...

Day 28 - Cleaning out & organizing:

Last Friday and Saturday, I was able to spend most of those days up in the attic.  The attic was completely trashed!  Holiday decorations, homeschool things, clothes, several bins of Lilly's things, and stuff everywhere.  It made me sick to my stomach to even go up there.

Here's a view of one side - the mess goes all the way to the end:

Friday night, I finally achieved a cleaned out and organized area on the opposite side:

I had 5 boxes and 7 large trash bags of "good stuff" to donate.  And I lost track of how many bags of trash I had.  Plus I got a nice collection of stuff to try and sell on Ebay and/or CraigsList.

I need one more half a Saturday to finish up the remaining messy area in the attic, then I will be done!

It actually surprised me just how good this made me feel mentally.  I mean I don't even go up in the attic much.  But just knowing that it is organized and much of the excessive stuff is gone made me feel "lighter" emotionally and physically.  It really did!  I'm not a minimalist by any means, but keeping too much stuff really can be a burden. 

Day 29 - Hand-me-downs:

While I was in the attic, I was able to "shop" for clothes for Solomon - he's moving up into the 3T size.  Money is extra tight right now, so I feel so blessed to have everything he needed on hand.  The things are a combination of hand-me-downs originally from "JL" - one of my brother's sons, things I bought for Hunter from Walmart (love the affordability of the "Granimals" brand), Ebay, and from friends. 

Here is Solomon dressed for church yesterday: dress shirt that JL wore and then Hunter wore, pants from Ebay, and shoes from a friend:

A fun aside about the shoes - they were originally give to Hunter from my friend Jennifer.  (She gave us a bag of nice clothes her son had outgrown, along with some toys.) Jennifer and I both grew up in the same neighborhood in northern Virginia and were on the same soccer team.  (Her dad was our coach.)  Jennifer moved to this area of N.C. before Tabby and I did.  Some of her children go to the school that Frank works at and that Tabby attends.  Her son practiced with Tabby's cross country team for a bit when the season started.  He and Tabby hit it off and ran at practice together.  They were later shocked to hear that their mom's once walked to school together!  Small world ...

Day 30 - Trim Healthy Mama style eating:

Back in September, I posted that I had realized I had gained weight, and so I went back to the "Trim Healthy Mama" way of eating.  (My post is here.)  I ended up easily losing about 17 pounds in about 3 months.  I realized yesterday that I gained FIVE pounds back over the Thanksgiving holidays.  Goodness!  I didn't think I had eaten that much more.

But I jumped back on the plan today, and know I'll lose that weight quickly.  I'm so thankful for the two sisters that have shared all their knowledge about eating!  (Super condensed version - eat low glycemic foods and for each meal/snack - have a protein with either a fat OR carb - don't mix fats with carbs.)  Pearl Barrett and Serene Allison initially wrote a huge book/cookbook explaining the eating style and more.  Then this past September, they published a simplified version - The Trim Healthy Mama Plan and a separate cookbook - Trim Healthy Mama Cookbook

My whole family likes almost every recipe I have made from the cookbook.  I like that the foods are "normal" every day types of things that are easy to prepare.

Right now, my favorite drink from the cookbook is "Good Girl Moonshine."  This drink is so healthy and has a real zing to it.  It is made with apple cider vinegar, ginger, stevia type sweetener, water & ice cubes, and optional extract for flavoring.  The health benefits are numerous:  it is slimming, and a digestive aid.  Plus it "detoxifies, clarifies, and alkalizes your body."  You can get the recipe from their website, here, for free. 

Check out the Trim Healthy Mama store for books, food, and skin care products.  (Note - they have some special Cyber Monday stuff on sale today.  They've had a hard time keeping all their products in stock, as the demand has been so high.  But their book lists alternatives in case you can't, or simply don't want to buy their stuff.  By the way - I really love their sweeteners.

This concludes my 30 days of thankfulness.  It was a good exercise for me.  I learned a little about using my new camera - especially that I have A LOT MORE to learn. 

Friday, November 27, 2015

30 Days of Thankfulness - Days 24 - 27

Day 24 - Helpful, easy to access resources:

Tuesday morning Tabby brought her white Silkie Bantam named Nicole into the house.  She said something was wrong with Nicole.  That she was squatting/walking with her tail dragging.  And something seemed stuck in her crop.  Tabby massaged the crop and that lump went away.  But Nicole still couldn't walk normally.  Tabby thought she must be egg bound.  (This means that an egg is stuck inside a hen and if it doesn't come out within a few days, the hen will die.)

Unfortunately for me, my chicken expert had to leave soon for school.  So that meant the boys and I had to play vet!  Tabby told me what to do but said I should double check in our book Fresh Eggs Daily by Lisa Steele.  (Lisa also has a blog by the same name which is very useful.)  She then put Nicole in a little dog cage that we use sometimes for injured animals.

After taking Tabby to school, I re-read the egg bound treatment section in the Fresh Eggs Daily book and then watched a couple YouTube videos.  Then I got out our supplies and enlisted Hunter's help.

We had to get Nicole to soak in a bath with warm water and epsom salts for about 20 minutes.  She seemed to enjoy it though we had to keep her pushed down into the water, instead of standing in it.

Next I toweled off Nicole and held her while Hunter blow dried her.  She liked that too!  Then I rubbed olive oil all over her vent and worked a little inside.  Neither of us liked that very much.  I put her back in the cage and gave her some water and (uncooked) oatmeal.   After awhile, she seemed like she was feeling so much better that we took her outside, so she could rejoin her flock. 

Later that afternoon I found what I think was the egg in question.  Nicole is doing great.  :)

some of Tabby's chicken collectibles

I really am grateful for how easy it is for us to get whatever information we need quickly these days!

Day 25 - My washing machine and dryer: 

Really!  Have you ever thought about how easy we have it with laundry?  Throw stuff in, I add a bag of soap nuts for my detergent, and then push some buttons.  When it's done - I throw it in the drier (or ask one of my boys to) and push another button.  How easy is that?  Just a century ago, it was so much more involved to do laundry.

I love my Samsung washer and dryer.  They even sing to me when they are finished!  Schubert's "Trout Quintet."  Ha!

Day 26 - Traditions:

I used to be super into holidays and loved decorating and sending cards for just about every one.  Now they really don't mean much to me anymore.  I'm not sure what happened.  Still though, I have two Thanksgiving traditions I really like.

The first is for my kids to each do a turkey handprint.  Then I save them in a notebook.

The second is to look at my Lilly Thanksgiving pictures.  These are from 2011:

Day 27 - An extra day:

The day after Thanksgiving always feels like a "bonus day" to me.  I do NOT go to the stores - the crowds of Black Friday do not make any money saved worth it to me.  Instead, if we are not traveling, I like to use it to get some extra stuff done.  Today I am headed up into our (scary) attic to clean out.  I can't wait!

This calendar picture turned out weird.  But I'm not taking the time to re-do it.(Smiley face is pointing at the date for today.)  Gotta get up in that attic!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Eye of Tabby - photography for the week of November 22

Tabby finally had some extra time this past weekend to get her camera out.  She took our old dog Lucia with her and went on a little walk.  Here are the results:

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The book list - October (help for curly or wavy hair!)

My July 2014 "book list" post included this picture of Solomon reading Cars and Trucks and Things that Go by Richard Scarry.  I was recently contacted by Jacqueline of the blog "Deep Roots at Home" requesting permission to use this picture of Solomon in a post she was writing on Richard Scarry.  Her finished post went up this past Saturday, and it is fun seeing Solomon's picture in it.  (Post is here.) 

As an aside, Jacqueline's blog is filled with much wisdom and helpful information.  I found her post on the benefits of turmeric that she did this summer to be especially helpful for me. 

Need a quick turkey craft for your little ones?  This is one I gave Solomon yesterday.  I pre-cut everything and he glued them on.  (He colored the paper plate first.)  He knows how to spell his name and was able to put the feathers in order all by himself.

Curly Girl: The Handbook by Lorraine Massey (2nd edition with DVD) - I had nice straight hair when I was growing up.  However that began to change after I had Hunter.  Hormones can do crazy things to your hair!  And my hair kept changing after Lilly and Solomon's births too.  (Thank you Tabby for letting me keep my straight hair after your birth!)  I had no idea what to do with my hair though and just did my best to straighten it and usually wore it in braids or a pony tail.  As soon as I washed it, I would dry it while trying to brush it straight.  Then I'd use a flat iron on it.  It would look ok for a little while, but then frizz would creep in.  Ugh!  Only Diana, the woman that cuts my hair could get my hair to look like I wanted and it would stay that way until I washed it again.

Late this summer, we were invited to go swimming.  After being in the pool, my hair air dried for the first time in years.  I was quite surprised when I finally saw a mirror that day.  I had no idea how wavy my hair had become.

Then right after that, I came across a post by a women who wrote how having babies changed her hair and she posted a picture.  It looked like my hair!  In the comments to her post, I identified with several of the people and their hair issues.  Someone recommended the Curly Girl book and me, being a book person, got a copy. 

If you've got curly or wavy hair, this book identifies the different types of curls and waves and then gives step-by-step details how to care for your hair.  The author shares which types of shampoos and hair care products to avoid and warns about never using a "blow fryer."  The book also has several hair styles explained, how to cut your own hair, and a DVD summarizing much.  There are even recipes for hair care products. 

I've learned that to deal properly with my wavy hair (that has a few curls) I need to scrunch it after washing, then air dry.  (Or at least use a diffuser on my hair dryer.)  No combing or brushing except for finger combing.  I scrunch my wet hair a microfiber towel then scrunch in some hair gel.  And that's it!  It's been sort of weird getting used to wavy hair, but it has been an enormous relief.  I don't spend much time on my hair, plus it does not frustrate me anymore.

When I started this, my hair was one length and cut bluntly.

Then I recently got it cut with long layers added in. 

(So weird - I don't even recognize my hair anymore.  I suddenly don't know how I feel about this!)

Tabby has found she has some nice wave in her hair too:

Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder - I recently read this book to Hunter.  Solomon liked hearing me read it so much that he would come and sit in my lap - every time I read a chapter.  This story is part of a book series based on true events in the author's life and should be required reading for everyone!  Laura writes about the adventures of her pioneer family as they travel by covered wagon from Wisconsin to Kansas.  They have adventures on the way, and then we read along as the family builds a log house to live in.  Indians and wolves are all around them.  I love how the books really bring history to life.  Hunter was fascinated with the detailed descriptions on how Pa built their house, barn, furniture, dug a well, etc.  Solomon liked Jack, their dog, the best.

I have no idea how many times I have read this series, since I was little.  Tabby to has re-read the series many times.  And when I finished the book, Hunter begged me to start reading him the next book in the series.  I'm still reading from the book set I had as a child:

Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield Fisher - This is a wonderful old book, first published in 1917.  I read it to Tabby when she was younger and we both really enjoyed it.  Then I read it to Hunter last month.  He really liked the story line - plus the descriptions of how things were done "in the olden times."  (He was very intrigued with reading about a sundial being cut into the window of a pantry and about an old type of hot water heater.)  The story is about a 9 year old orphan girl that was brought up in the big city by an overprotective aunt.  The little girl is frail and afraid of everything.  But then through a chain of events, she has to go live out in the Vermont country with some farming relatives that she has only heard negative things about.  This change turns out to be the best thing that ever happens to her.

Monday, November 23, 2015

30 Days of Thankfulness - Days 21-23

Day 21 - Fresh eggs and goat milk:
jar of fresh goat milk, vintage egg cups with eggs from our chickens

Eggs in a regular grocery store absolutely can NOT rival eggs from truly free range chickens.  Our chickens roam our property scratching and pecking and finding lots of "yummy" bugs to eat.  Their eggs are so healthy and the yolks a brilliant color.  It sounds silly I'm sure, but I absolutely love finding a freshly laid egg.  This never gets old for me.

"Owl" is a Brahma - she's so pretty - and a bit fiesty!
Tabby milks three of our goats every morning.  We drink the milk, cook/bake with it, and use it in soap making.  Fresh milk has so many more extra benefits to it, than what is sold in the store.

(Note that I'm not knocking store bought eggs and milk - they really are healthy.  But certain conditions make them even healthier.)

We have 6 goats in our current herd - we recently sold 2 of the young bucks and still need to sell 1 more
Day 22 - Lilly Tree:

When Lilly was alive, she was so fascinated by our Christmas tree with it's lights.  So I bought her a small, artificial tree with the idea of keeping it up year round for her to enjoy.  She died 10 days before she got her present.  But I decided to put it up anyway, in her memory, and have a different "theme" for each month.  I like having our "Lilly Tree" - it comforts me - and Solomon now is old enough, he enjoys helping decorate it.

November is "turkey theme" - Lilly's pumpkin hat is the tree topper:

I call this my "Lilly girl" ornament
This seems like the right time to say "hi" to Lilly in her pumpkin hat!

Lilly girl after a visit to the pumpkin patch (Oct. 2011)

Day 23 - Clothes:

Today is rather chilly - it's sunny but is only about 45 degrees.  I was thinking this morning how grateful I am to have warm clothes to wear.  Not only that, I am blessed to have clothes that fit pretty well, and they are in colors and styles that I like.

" For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving ..." 1 Timothy 4:4

Friday, November 20, 2015

Solomon's face update AND 30 Days of Thankfulness - Days 17-20

It's Bluebeard!  Solomon got a blue lollipop from the doctor
Solomon had his consultation with the plastic surgeon today about the lump on his face.  The doctor said it was an "epidermal includsion cyst" (aka "sebaceous cyst). 

The cyst will have to be surgically  removed at a hospital and, unfortunately, he will have to be put under anaesthesia.  (Lord willing he will handle it fine - just like Lilly did the 3 times she was put under.)  The doctor will cut along his natural smile line so that the scar will be less noticeable.  There is a cellular sac that must be removed.  It will then be tested to be sure there is nothing malignant. There is about a 5% chance that a second surgery would be necessary one day.  That kind of cyst can have "barnacles" which infect other areas outside the cell.  The cyst has to shrink down some more, before surgery, so that there's a better chance for the doctor to get everything. 

Surgery is currently scheduled for December 29th.  (They initially offered me December 15th - Lilly's angelversary date - but I knew I wouldn't be able to handle that day well.)

Sheesh!  I never knew a cyst could be so involved!  Thankfully we seem to have a very good doctor.  He has little children at home so he was understanding and gentle with Solomon.  And he was very thorough in explaining everything to me.

goofy blue toothed boy

Day 17 - Herbs:

I love herbs and continue to be fascinated by all the things to do with them.  (I don't think I could ever learn everything!)  I've developed quite a stash of them over the years.  I like make new tinctures for us to try, of different mixtures for this or that.  I even make an herbal mixture for the chickens.  As I study them I continue to marvel at all natural medicine that is growing all around us, that God has supplied.

My "chimney cabinent" is well stocked:

And this cabinet has all my bigger jars:

Day 18 - Entrepreneurial ideas:

I enjoy thinking of different ways to earn money (like our goat milk soap) and in teaching those ideas to my children.  Earlier this week, Solomon took over Tabby's old "chollipop" business.  (Chocolate lollipops made with melts in candy molds.)  We made 4 different kinds of chollipop's (dark, light, white, and peanut butter) using Pilgrim candy molds and packaged them.  I fixed them up old soda crates to put them in and Frank took them to work and put them out in the school's break rooms.  We've sold a couple - and one of the soda crates.  I have no idea if we'll sell many more, but Solomon enjoyed the process and I think it's so good for kids to develop this way of thinking.  That will give them more experience and choices about how to make a living when they are adults.

While Solomon and I were working in the kitchen, Hunter had several freshly washed mason jars drying on the counter.  He had had another order for a jar lamp!

Day 19 - Sunsets:

 I love a beautiful sunset almost as much as an amazing sunrise.  The colors are fantastic and it is incredible how fast they can change.  Try taking a series of photos over several minutes and then you can see just how fast that light changes!  Thursday evening I could see some pink out my window so I grabbed my camera and stepped outside.  Then after I got a few photos I decided to go to another area  of the yard to get some pictures without the wellhouse and fence in the way.  By the time I got my boots on and got out there it was too late.

Day 20 - Water & electricity:

When I was outside, getting some water for the goats, I started thinking about the original people that built this old farmhouse that we live in, in 1907.  We have been blessed to have their granddaughter in our home twice, and hear about her memories in the home and how the house has changed.  Probably the biggest changes were the additions of electricity, running water, and bathrooms!  I'm not sure when they were added exactly but I am SO grateful for them!  (Interesting aside - Frank grew up in eastern N.C. and they didn't have an indoor bathroom until he was about 7.  They used a "johnny house.")

Apparently, next to our kitchen sink, is where there used to be a handpump. 

And oh how I love electricity!  That is what runs our well pump now.  Plus, of course, lights, appliances, computer, heat and air conditioning, etc etc.!

"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change." - James 1:17