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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

Sunday, February 28, 2016

The Eye of Tabby - Photography for the week of leap year 2016

Tabby took her brothers and the dogs on a short walk on this beautiful afternoon.  She took along her old Kodak camera and got some great photos.  She is working on some techniques she is learning about in the photography elective she is taking at school.  I need her to teach me!

Can you tell Solomon enjoys getting his picture taken?  :)

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Chores by the days of the week

In Little House in the Big Woods, Laura Ingalls Wilder remembered that her Ma had certain work assigned to each day, which she would begin after the regular morning chores were done:

"Wash on Monday,
Iron on Tuesday,
Mend on Wednesday,
Churn on Thursday,
Clean on Friday,
Bake on Saturday,
Rest on Sunday."     

This was very typical of how previous generations tackled their chores.  We can actually get more done when we stay focused on particular types of work each day. 

Several years ago, I got a set of "days of the week" towels which I love.  Especially the Friday towel that shoes the bunny getting into the cookie jar!  (I'm assuming that's "baking day.")

I thought about this concept again last year when I re-read Large Family Logistics by Kim Brenneman.  I even came up with a written plan for my days.  But I never bothered to follow through.  I do way too much living flying by the seat of my pants and with seemingly almost constant interruptions from my little ones, I find it hard to stay focused on things.

In January, life got crazy around here with all the sickness.  Coughs/colds, followed by flu, then by pneumonia, and a hospital stay for Tabby.  Those weeks crawled by painfully slow.  I wasn't feeling well for much of it and just focused on taking care of my sicker kids and making meals.

Then when everyone was well enough to start school again, I knew it was time to get back to normal.  But what was normal?  The house was like an explosion and I felt overwhelmed every where I looked.  I had no idea where to start because I wanted to do everything at once.

Then I thought about my "days of the week" list for chores that I made last year and decided it was time to really give it a try.

I'm now about a month into it, and it is working really well.  I don't have any chore time until the afternoon, because we have school in the morning and then eat a late lunch.  But I do have a couple hours after lunch, before it's time for afternoon animal care and then making supper.  I have found it is much easier for me to stay focused on certain types of work, rather than flitting from one thing to another.  I seem to really be getting more done overall.

I know I always like seeing how other people order their days, because it might give me ideas on how to better attack mine.  So, I will share my "days of the week" below.  But just keep in mind that not all of these chores happen every week!  And some days - NONE of those chores happen.

Monday - Organizing / Tidying Day -
    - rooms, closets, cabinets, shelves (decluttering)
    - tidy/straighten each room

Tuesday - Kitchen Day -
    - baking, food prep
    - menu planning
    - cleaning appliances, counters, and cabinets

Wednesday - Cleaning Day -
    - floors
    - bathroom
    - dusting

Thursday - Office Day -
    - online orders, research, planning
    - back up photos/files
    - filing

Friday - Town / Laundry / Business Day -
    - grocery shopping
    - wash clothes, ironing
    - make things to sell or post things on Ebay
    - writing

Saturday - Homeschool Prep / Deep Cleaning Day -
    - Hunter’s school work for next week
    - Solomon’s Montessori work
    - deep cleaning (by zone)

"For God is not a God of disorder but of peace ...." - 1 Corinthians 14:33

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Tabby's late night visit to the emergency room

There is a 24-hour stomach bug making it's rounds in our area.  Solomon had it Sunday and then I had it Monday night.  Yesterday Tabby was going about her morning routine when she said her stomach suddenly didn't feel right.  Then Solomon threw up again. Then she did.  Thankfully I did not anymore.  So Tabby stayed home from school.

By mid-afternoon, she began complaining that her whole body was in immense pain.  As it grew worse, she began having breathing issues.  (She described it as her lungs feeling "crumpled" and "burning" which makes it hard to get a deep breath.  This continued until she feel asleep.  Then in the evening, she woke up and the pain was still there.  Now she said it was all over her body and that it felt like someone snapping her back into pieces.  She cried off and on.  I was looking up symptoms online and we just couldn't figure out what was up.

At about 9:30 she was crying and afraid for me to leave her because she thought she was going to die, it was so bad.  So ... I packed a little bag for the hospital and off we went.

The emergency room was hopping so we had a longer wait than I had hoped.  But finally Tabby was in a bed.  She had blood drawn for lab work, was hooked up to an IV, and had a chest x-ray done. 

Over the next couple hours, two different pain medications were give to her but neither really helped much.  The doctors were puzzled.  Lab results were good.  The x-ray showed that only a small spot of the pneumonia remained her left lung.  She had no congestion of any kind.  So they finally gave her morphine.  Oh yeah - that did it! 

Tabby was discharged about 5:30 this morning.  I was instructed to follow up with her pediatrician today.  And she was given a new toy.  A spirometer.  She is to practice breathing into it five times a day to strengthen her lungs.

Here she is, showing her "excitement" over the new device.  (As you can imagine, Hunter is fascinated by it and wanted to know all about it as soon as he saw it.)

Tabby's pediatrician wasn't totally sure what was going on either, when we saw her today.  She is going to do some research.  However, she did have one theory right off the bat.  Typically, when Tabby's body is fighting something, she gets a fever, then headache.  However, her body is still really depleted from the pneumonia.  And this time it reacted differently to fighting the stomach bug.  There are people, who's bone marrow reacts to these "fights."  And the way it reacts is for the body to feel intense pain all over.

Hmmmm.  The bone marrow and immune system work together so that does make sense.

But I just pray that this is it for hospitals for a long time for us.  We are SOOOO ready to get back to a more steady normal around here.

Monday, February 15, 2016

The Eye of Tabby - photography for the week of February 15

We've gotten a lot of sleet today.  No snow - just boring sleet.  ("Boring" if you aren't driving on it.)  Tabby enjoyed taking some nice "sleety" pictures early this afternoon. 

I think I find the picture Tabby took of herself in the car sideview mirror is so interesting.  And the tree too ...

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The book list - January 2016

Hunter experienced a huge disappointment at the library yesterday.  He excitedly signed up for his own library card, carefully selected 6 books, then marched up to the checkout.
The librarian (one whom I've never seen before) looked at me and said, "These are adult books.  He can't check them out.  There are no kids books here.  Why isn't he checking out kids books?"  (Unfortunately our favorite librarian wasn't there.  She totally "gets" Hunter and loves to see what he is reading.)
I carefully contained my annoyance and handed her my library card to put them on.  (I felt like I was buying booze for an underage kid.)  She said he couldn't check out "adult books" until he was 16.   Hunter stood there trying not to cry and said "Then what is the point of me having a library card?!  Just throw it away!"
The offending books?  The topics are:  wind energy, woodstoves, solar water heating, A/C, refrigeration, and plumbing.  Oh my.

We'll speak to our favorite librarian about this next time we see her.

How We Love: Discover Your Love Style, Enhance Your Marriage by Milan & Kay Yerkovich - A bit over a year ago, I read about this book on Trina Holden's blog.  I have always been fascinated studying personalities and why we are the way we are so the idea of this book - that the "intimacy imprint" we receive from our family when we are very young, shapes how we love and interact with others when we are an adult - intrigued me.  I didn't get around to reading this book until earlier this winter and I am so glad I did.  I would rate this as one of the most helpful books I've ever read in my life.  It was written by a Christian husband and wife that work as counselors and is based on attachment styles.  When I read the chapter on the "avoider style" I felt like I was reading my autobiography.  It was amazing.  For the first time ever, I feel like I truly understand why I have always had the particular challenges I do in relationships of all kinds.  There are five "love styles" described in the book.  The book focuses on marriage and how our particular styles bring challenges to our marriages.  However, knowing your "style" will help you understand ANY relationship better.  The back section of the book is a workbook, with many questions to help you dig deeper and then bring awareness and healing where you need it.

Some of Hunter's book knowledge (and things he's learned from repair videos on YouTube) came in handy last week when he helped me fix the freezer in our refrigerator.  Again.
Solomon's book recommendation: All my children have loved the McDuff book series by Rosemary Wells.  They are books about a little white terrier named McDuff, and are written and illustrated by the author of the "Max and Ruby" series.  I collected used copies of the books when Tabby was little and she loved them, Hunter loved them, and now it's Solomon's turn.  He was fascinated by the special treat McDuff would get to eat - vanilla rice pudding with sausages sliced on top.  So we decided to make some.  He thought that was so exciting to help me make the pudding and serve it for supper.  Turned out, none of us really cared for the rice pudding, but the sausages were good and it made a fun memory. 

Solomon eating "vanilla rice pudding with sausages sliced on top"
Ishtar's Odyssey: A Family Story for Advent by Arnold Ytreeide - Several years ago I came across a book called Tabitha's Travels: A Family Story for Advent.  How could I not get that book?!  (Tabby's real name is "Tabitha.")  It was a book that had a small reading each day for the Advent season.  It was about a girl named Tabitha and her adventures leading up to the birth of Jesus.  The author is a master storyteller and we really enjoyed the daily stories, each ending with a scripture and though provoking tie-in.  After reading that book, I learned that there were two other books in the "Advent adventure series": Bartholomew's Passage and Jotham's Journey and we read those too.  I was happy to discover a new book in the series last year, Ishtar's Odyssey.  I read it aloud to my family most nights of the Advent season (we missed some and finished in early January.)  This particular book focused on a son of one of the wise men.  Of course these books are fiction, but they seem to be very well researched, and really make you think.  And it's fun how the characters in the different books meet each other.

NOTE: Arnold Ytreeide also wrote Amon's Adventures: A Family Story for Easter which we also really enjoyed.

Into the Wilderness by Sara Donati - I read this book during Tabby's recent hospital stay for some "lighter reading."  I had wanted to read it after learning it was spin off of my all time favorite movie - The Last of the Mohicans.  The author mixes both fact and fiction in this historical adventure book, which picks up when Hawkeye is a grandfather.  This book was both interesting and annoying.  The historical aspects and story in general was interesting.  But I didn't realize until I had begun the book, that it was "historical romance."  I never read books like that and found it annoying when the story would keep stopping for some light romance.  The book is 876 pages long and could have been knocked down a couple hundred pages if all those descriptions were left out!  My apologies to those of you that enjoy those books.  That's fine.  They just aren't what I choose to read.  ;)  I was very glad to finish the book right before Tabby was discharged from the hospital. 

By the Shores of Silver Lake by Laura Ingalls Wilder - I've been continuing to read through the "Little House" series to Hunter and Solomon and they just can't get enough of the stories.  We read at least one chapter most every day, which makes me happy too!  In this book, the Ingalls family moves to Dakota Territory and Pa works for a bit for the railroad.  Hunter was fascinated with Laura's detailed descriptions of how the railroads were built.  After the railroad company moves on to the next spot to work at, the Ingalls family spends the winter in a surveyors house, joined by another couple.  What was it like to live like that with no one around for over 40 miles?  In the spring, Pa files for a homestead which ends the family's further travels west.

The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder - Through all the sickness in January, and then a long weekend of snow and ice, we got a lot of reading done.  This was the perfect book to be reading during the 4 or so days we had ice and a bit of snow outside.  Frank was home from work then and even he got caught up in hearing the story!  (So much so he now asks the boys every night at supper "So what happened in Little House today?")  In this book, the Ingalls family is living on their homestead in Dakota Territory.  A blizzard hits hard in October, and according to an Indian that comes into town, it will be the first of a long series of blizzards that winter.  Because their homestead shanty isn't well insulated, Pa moves his family into town for the winter.  He had built a store there and had rented it out, but the renters were gone and it was a nice, solidly built home for the family for winter.  I really can not imagine what this must have been like.  Blizzards, lasting 3-4 days at a time, with only a few days of sun in between.  Temperatures well under 20 degrees BELOW zero.  The trains cease running because of the snow and that means no more supplies.  The Ingalls family runs out of coal and kerosene.  They have to twist sticks of hay to burn in their stove for a little warmth.  By the end they are only eating bread, twice a day.  These stories are all so amazing, and are based on the author's real life. 

Hunter's favorite part is when Ma makes a button lamp for a little light.  As Ma tries to remember how it was done when she was younger, before their dependence on that "newfangled" kerosene, Pa understands how she is feeling.  He says:

"These times are too progressive.  Everything has changed too fast.  Railroads and telegraph and kerosene and coal stoves--they're good things to have but the trouble is, folks get to depend on 'em."

Ha!  I just laugh and shake my head thinking "Pa - if only you could see things now!"

Laura's future husband, Almanzo, is introduced in this story.  Several times the scenes involve he and his brother Royal, eating and making buckwheat pancakes.  This got Hunter wanting to try buckwheat pancakes so we found this recipe that was inspired by the book for fluffy buckwheat pancakes.  They turned out pretty good!

easy cooking on my electric stove
On a musical aside, the boys have really been enjoying listening to a set of CDs I have from "Pa's Fiddle Project."  Music was a big part of the Ingalls family and they sung while Pa played the fiddle.  Laura mentions well over 100 different songs in her books.  Some of these songs are available on these 3 CDs: Happy Land: Musical Tributes to Laura Ingalls Wilder, Arkansas Traveler: Music from Little House on the Prairie, and Pa's Fiddle: Charles Ingalls - American Fiddler.  (note the last CD is instrumental only)  There are some familiar songs, like "Oh! Susannah!" and some hymns.  But also some fascinating songs from that period, that are like little history lessons.  Just skim the lyrics of "Uncle Sam's Farm" and you'll learn some about the Homestead Act:

Uncle Sam’s Farm (lyrics found here)

Of all the mighty nations in the east or in the west,
O this glorious Yankee nation is the greatest and the best,
We have room for all creation, and our banner is unfurl’d,
Here’s a gen’ral invitation to the people of the world.

chorus - Oh, come away, come away, come away I say!
Oh, come away, come away, come right away!
Oh, come to this country and have no fear of harm,
Our Uncle Sam is rich enough to give us all a farm.

St. Lawrence marks our northern line, as fast her waters flow;
And the Rio Grande our southern bound, ‘way down to Mexico.
From the great Atlantic Ocean where the sun begins to dawn,
Leap across the Rock Mountains far away to Oregon.


While the South shall raise the cotton, and the West, the corn and pork,
New England manufactories shall do up the finer work;
For the deep and flowing waterfalls that course along our hills,
Are just the thing for washing sheep, and driving cotton mills.


Our father’s gave us liberty, but little did they dream,
The grand results that pour along this mighty age of steam;
For our mountains, lakes, and rivers are all a blaze of fire,
And we send our news by lightning on the telegraphic wires.


Yes!  We’re bound to beat the nations for our motto’s “Go ahead!”
And we’ll tell the foreign countries that our people are well fed;
For the nations must remember that Uncle Sam is not a fool,
For the people do the voting, and the children go to school.