caption - title

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

Friday, May 27, 2016

How to express your condolences

Earlier this week, I was contacted by someone from  She shared with me her new advice page on how to write a message of condolence to someone that had lost a loved one.  I looked at her page, and it is really, really good!

When someone dies, people can feel awkward and not really know what to say, or they may not say anything for fear of saying the wrong thing.  I know - I've felt that way myself.  But after experiencing the loss of Lilly, I know that it hurts the most when people don't say anything.

So for some very helpful ideas, go to

Condolence Definition

noun: con·do·lence pronounced [kənˆdou ləns]
plural: con·do·lences pronounced [kənˆdou ləns iz]
- See more at:
The webpage has ideas on how to begin your card/letter, what to put in the body of the card/letter, and quotes and Bible verses to use.  It also discusses using social media to express sympathy.  I printed the page out and am going to keep it in my box of sympathy cards.

I know social media is the norm for what seems like everything now, but I personally feel that sending a card in the mail (or delivering it personally) means the very most.  Simply because a person has to put more effort into it so it means more.  To me anyway.  I know we're all different.  I have two HUGE boxes of sympathy cards in the attic from when Lilly died.  I don't know if I'll ever be able to read through them all again, but it gives me comfort in just having them.

Our kitchen table covered with flowers sent right after Lilly's death

Lillies in memory of Lilly

A dear friend drew this Lilly and wrote out Matthew 6:25-28 (verses mentioning lilies) - such a meaningful gift!

Never forget - EVERY life is valuable:

photo credit: Steve Rubin Photography

Choosing the Perfect Words of Condolences
Choosing the Perfect Words of Condolences
Choosing the Perfect Words of Condolences

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Library Donation & Salves for Sale

Last year, we donated FIVE books to our local library in honor of Lilly's 5th birthday.  (See my post about it here.)  Yesterday the boys and I were at the library and I had my camera with me.  So we pulled the books they picked for donation and I took their picture:

My favorite part is the inside of the book cover:

July 4th will be our angel Lilly's 6th birthday.  Wow.  I have several ideas, but haven't settled on anything for sure yet, to do in her memory.  It will most likely be some sort of donation though.

Herbal salves are great for your skin.  Herbs are some of God's natural medicine for us and I really enjoy learning different ways to use them.

"Along the bank of the river, on this side and that, will grow all kinds of trees used for food; their leaves will not wither, and their fruit will not fail. They will bear fruit every month, because their water flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for medicine.” - Ezekiel 47:12

Green Salve

There are two herbal salves I make from kits, which I purchase from Bulk Herb Store.  I buy the premixed herbs, mix them into quart jars with sweet almond oil, heat on low in my crock pot for 3 days, then strain.  Next I melt beeswax in a pot, add in the oil from the strained herbs, a few drops of Vitamin E oil (as a natural preservative), then pour it all into tins.  Leave out overnight to harden.  Put on lid and label.  Easy!

However - if  "easy" sounds like too much work - then I have two types of herbal salves to sell.  (I made way more than I needed to try and sell at the recent Hand of Hope event.)

The first is our favorite called "Green Salve."  (I know - it really needs a more catchy name.)  This stuff is great for just about everything:  scrapes, bites, burns, cuts, blisters, stings, rashes, dry and cracked skin, cold sores, psoriasis, eczema, poison ivy, etc.  And pets!  I've used it successfully to treat several skin issues on both our dogs and goats.

We try to put the salve on bites and stings as soon as possible.  That is the most helpful.  A few more applications and that's usually all you need to take out the itch and heal it.  I've been super impressed in how fast the salve can heal wasp stings.  You can use it as often as you want.

Green salve ingredients:  Plantain Leaf, Calendula Flower, Comfrey Leaf, Yarrow Flower, Rosemary Leaf, Echinacea Root, Echinacea Leaf, beeswax, vitamin E oil.

I also make "Muscle Salve" which we use occasionally.  I sell a lot of that one to others though, who say it really helps with sore muscles.  (One woman ordered 2 quarts of the stuff!)  My mom says it even helps bring relief to soreness from clenched jaws.  The salve penetrates the skin and soothes damaged muscles, while reducing inflammation.  Rub onto sore muscles as often as needed.

Muscle Salve
 Muscle salve ingredients:  St. John's Wort, Arnica Flowers, Lobelia Leaf, Comfrey Leaf, Peppermint Leaf, Cayenne, beeswax, vitamin E oil.

I have two tins of Green Salve (2 oz.) for $4.00 each.  Green Salve in 4 oz. tins is $6.00 each.  (Plus shipping, if applicable.)

Muscle Salve in 4 oz. tins is $6.00 each.  (Plus shipping, if applicable.)

If you are interested in buying any, just let me know!  I am willing to ship anywhere within the U.S.

Our goat Pippi has been enjoying the benefits of Green Salve for the past few days.  She quickly developed mastitis in one teat after her kid was born last week.  It seems Odysseus only likes to nurse on one side.  So unfortunately, I have to keep her other side milked out.  I was going out every other hour to milk her, then massage Green Salve onto her teat - especially the lumps.  Now she is doing quite well and her lumps are almost gone.  Thankfully as of today, I'm not having to milk her quite as much. 

Here's a few baby goat pictures from yesterday:

Baby goats are too cute!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Lilly's Garden

Last Friday, during our weekly Walmart shopping trip, we stopped in the garden department.  I told both boys that they could each pick out one (cheap!) flower and then we would plant them.  Then it was their job to water their flowers and watch them grow this summer.

It was interesting to me, just how interested they both were in looking at the flowers, and asking me the names.  I don't know many flower names so I showed them where to read the names for each plant.  Solomon finally chose a purple Petunia.  (He said he liked the name "petunia" because it was like a character on Veggie Tales.)  Hunter choose a white Impatiens.  We thought the name could help him remember to be less "impatient" at times.  ;)

I helped them plant their flowers in pots that afternoon:

Hunter has such a problem of looking at the camera for pictures.  Solomon loves giving silly grins for the camera.

Last spring, NONE of the lilies I had planted in Lilly's memorial garden from the previous years grew.  It was so upsetting.  This year I waited awhile just to see if anything would happen but nothing did.  I planted a couple calla lilies that I had been given several weeks ago, and those are both growing.  Then while buying the boys flowers, I bought two Asiatic lilies for Lilly's garden.  These worked out great because each had three bulbs in their pot them so when I broke them apart, I ended up with six lily plants. 

And, even though they aren't lilies, I bought three Lilly-colored plants.  I thought would add some nice color around the lilies.  Red, white, and blue.

After shopping, we load up our purchases into our car.  Then Solomon likes to help me return the cart.  We give it a push into the cart return then he "uses the force" to push it in all the way.  It's so funny:

On a completely different note, if you or someone you know has struggled with infertility, you may find comfort in a guest blogpost that my friend Megan did.  Click the title to read "Infertility Is Not A Curse." Megan and her husband went through so much pain, and five miscarriages, in the six years they tried to have children.  (They have no living children.)  But the Lord finally redeemed and healed them from that dark time, in an amazing way.

Now, by popular demand, here are some baby goat pictures!  (Christa still hasn't given birth to her kids.  Yet.)

Sundrop and baby Dandelion
Christa checks on her daughter (Sundrop) and granddaughter

Pippi's baby Odysseus

Solomon petting Odysseus
Pepper says "Hello!  Just what is going on around here?!"

Pepper - I am pretty sure she is NOT pregnant!
Happy Pentecost!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

The surprise kids

Early this morning when I walked into the goat pen to do the milking, I heard a tiny little goat noise.  A little "maaahhhhh!"  I thought "Oh how cute.  It sounds like a baby goat."  Then I walked around the corner and I was shocked to see a baby goat!  SHOCKED!

Ummmm - I didn't know that our goat Pippi was even pregnant!

I stood staring and said "Oh God - show me what I need to do!"  We've had goat kids before but I was always ready for those.  This morning I just felt totally confused.

Pippi was cleaning up her new baby, so I decided to milk Christa while I thought about it.

By the time I was done milking, I had my wits about me.  I hurried to get fresh hay and then spread that in one of the stalls.  I put in a bucket of fresh water and a bowl of goat feed.  Then I ran to the house for iodine and scissors (to cut the hanging umbilical cord which the nanny goat bites it but it never is very short), my camera, and a child to hold the kid.

Hunter and I ran back out.  He was laughing and surprised too.  He held the little goat as I cut the cord, then poured iodine over the area to sterilize it.  We saw that it was a little boy.  (This is Pippi's 4th kid and all have been boys.)  We got mama and baby into the fresh stall and got a cute (blurry!) picture:

Now - what to name the little guy?  "Odysseus" came to my mind for some reason.

So how did Pippi get pregnant in the first place?  Well she must have gotten pregnant by the last boy goat that we sold, right before we sold him this past winter.  I hadn't suspected a thing!  My eyes narrowed in suspicion as I looked at our other three goats.  Hmmm ... could they be pregnant too?

When goats eat a lot extra, their stomachs get huge.  I jokingly call them "wide loads."  Well lately three of our goats have been "wide loads" but I thought they must have just been eating lots of extra leaves off the trees because, well, it's springtime and the leaves are growing like crazy.


Later in the morning, I picked up one of my goat books, and reviewed the "signs of coming labor" section.

Oh my.  Three of our goats have been acting weird this week.  And there were several of the signs listed right there on the page.  Now remember - I already knew about these things.  But ... I was not expecting any of our goats to be pregnant.

I thought more about these things this afternoon while I was working in the kitchen.  I started having a strong feeling that I needed to stop, and go outside, and get the other goat stall prepped with fresh hay.

Solomon and I went out into the goat pen and there he was.  ANOTHER goat kid!  Sundrop was a proud little mama and was busy licking him clean.  This was the strangest one to me because Sundrop is not quite a year old and she is still nursing occasionally on her own mama!

So.  Back to the house.  Iodine, scissors, camera, and Hunter to hold the goat still while I cut the cord.  Sundrop and baby then go into the fresh stall.  Add water and feed, and leave them alone to bond.

Since Sundrop was named after a yellow wildflower, Solomon thought "Dandelion" would be a good name for her new baby.

Now as I finish this post up, it is time for Solomon and I to go back outside and take care of regular afternoon animal chores.  I'm almost afraid to.  Will Christa be standing out there with her new baby this time?!

This scripture makes me chuckle:

"There are three things that are stately in their stride,
    four that move with stately bearing:
30 a lion, mighty among beasts,
    who retreats before nothing;
31 a strutting rooster, a he-goat,
and a king secure against revolt." Proverbs 30:29-31

Friday, May 6, 2016

S is for Symphony

Solomon spends a lot of time these days asking me how to spell words.  He is fascinated with letters.  Hence the title of this post.  My brain is just locked in spelling mode.  ;)

Yesterday the boys and I got to go to the symphony for our monthly field trip with our Charlotte Mason group.  We went to Meymandi Concert Hall in downtown Raleigh to see a special program for children performed by the North Carolina Symphony.

ready to leave for the show

The only thing Hunter didn't like about the symphony was that he had to wear "church clothes."  

inside and waiting for some of our group to arrive
The place was packed with homeschoolers, private schooled kids, and public school kids. Solomon had to sit in my lap because his chair kept closing up on him.  (It was funny to see it folded on him and his legs sticking straight up!)

waiting for the performance to begin
The conductor was Welsh and very good at interacting with his audience.  We heard familiar classical pieces and were introduced to each section of the symphony.  

Hunter declared he liked the tuba best because it reminded him of Larry from Veggie Tales.  Both boys liked hearing "The William Tell Overture" because they recognized it from an episode of "Thomas the Train."  (That song always makes me think of a funny scene from my past - I remember my brother Patrick playing it at the piano.  My stepmom had a pet bird in a cage named Habirdy on top of the piano.  Well Habirdy would start headbanging every single time Patrick would play "The William Tell Overture."  It was too funny.)

I wanted to get a picture of the boys outside the concert hall after the performance, but it was POURING outside.  So we simply ran.  (Got in my running practice.)  We ran down the street to a parking garage.  A very memorial ending to our field trip indeed.

Music is such a gift.  Especially live music.  I love hearing Tabby practice the piano.  It is just soothing to my soul. 

"And whenever the harmful spirit from God was upon Saul, David took the lyre and played it with his hand. So Saul was refreshed and was well, and the harmful spirit departed from him." - 1 Samuel 16:23

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

SSS - Sense & Sensibility & Soaps

Tabby was in her school's drama production last Friday and Saturday nights.  She played the part of 12-year old Margaret in an adaptation of Jane Austen's "Sense and Sensibility."  She got a lot of laughs and really enjoyed her role.  It was fun to watch and the play was quite professional.

Photography was not allowed during the play, so I could only get pictures of Tabby after it, in her last outfit.  She had several other period dresses she wore - with nice puffed sleeves ;) - and also a hat in the outdoors scenes. 

My brother Patrick teaches at the school.  He also does design work.  He and his wife Kaylie designed the programs and posters.

If you're ever looking for someone that does print services (like flyers, brochures, business cards, etc.) or a website, Patrick and Kaylie do this work.  Their business name is "Halbrook Designs" and their website is here: .  I love their slogan:  "saving the world from visual mediocrity ... one pixel at a time."

Sunday we participated in Hand of Hope Pregnancy Clinic's annual Walk for Life as vendors.  Several friends from church and I had a tent together and offered things we made to sell.  We didn't have a whole lot of sales, but it was fun. My table had our goat milk soap, Hunter's lamps, and two salves I make (green salve and muscle salve).  Tabby also had several beaded necklaces she made.  The main thing I ended up selling was goat milk soap - in the Thieves blend.

It was pouring rain when we were setting up, but thankfully it soon cleared up and the sun came out.  They had a walk, and a 5K and 10K.  Tabby ran in the 5K.

Lately I've had the itch to try running.  But I don't know if I will ever do more than run to the mail box and back, at this season of my life.  ;P

If you live in our area, and know of any craft fairs coming up, please let me know.  My friends and I would love to try and sell things again.  But at an event where people are coming specifically to buy things.  Thanks!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Today is International Bereaved Mother's Day

“A mother is not defined by the number of children you can see, but by the love that she holds in her heart.” - Franchesca Cox

International Bereaved Mother's Day?  No - this isn't another money making Hallmark holiday.  Because the original intent of Mother's Day has been forgotten and no longer seems to include all mothers, CarlyMarie (of Project Heal) has started a movement back in 2010 to also recognize mother's who have dealt with the loss of a child.  CarlyMarie writes about Mother's Day:  "If you have experienced the death of one or more of your children, struggle to conceive a child or are unable to fall pregnant at all, this day can often bring up feelings of isolation, unworthiness, pain and sadness."

The history of Mother's Day is very interesting.  CarlyMarie wrote in a blogpost:

American, Anna Jarvis, founded the official Mother’s Day in 1908 to honour her own mother, Ann. Ann Jarvis gave birth to around a dozen children. Only 4 survived to grow into adults. Most of her children who died, passed away from diseases such as the measles and typhoid fever. The history of this Mother’s Day is fascinating. With such heartfelt and meaningful roots, it is devastating to see how through the years, the true meaning of mother’s day has been some what lost and is now what some would describe as a commercialized mess that large companies make millions of dollars from. The worst thing is that bereaved mothers are usually completely forgotten.

Mother’s Day was created in honour of a bereaved mother. It’s time to take this day back to its roots. For us to educate the rest of society on the true meaning of Mother’s Day, we must use our voices. We become mothers the very moment that we open our hearts to the idea of conceiving a child. Let us remind people of this truth.

 CarlyMarie has tips on how to help bereaved mothers and ways to celebrate Mother's Day, rather than just survive it.  See her blogpost here. 

This past winter, I came across an image of this sculpture and it was entitled the "Child That Was Never Born."  I found the image so touching that I printed it out and have it hanging near my desk.  It makes me think of my own children in heaven.

Yesterday I googled the sculpture to learn a little more about it.  It ended up being different than I expected.  I found out that it was created by a young Slovakian art student named Martin Hudáček and that the real title is "Memorial to the Unborn Children."  The purpose: "to draw attention to the devastation abortion can bring to the woman, and to the fact that through the love and mercy of God, reconciliation and healing are possible."  The author of the article I read noted about the sculpture "Praised by many as an extremely effective representation of post-abortion trauma, the work sensitively communicates this reality, and draws out many emotions and interpretations."  Hudáček said his sculpture “expresses hope which is given to believers by the One who died on the cross for us, and showed how much He cares about all of us.”  You can read more about the artist and sculpture in this article:

In my google search I also stumbled upon an Etsy artist ("The Midnight Orange") that sculpts baby and child memorials.  She makes quite a variety - including for the loss of multiple babies.  The images are beautiful to look at.  Here is the direct link to those little sculptures. 

I suppose this post has taken a sober tone.  Child loss, at any stage, is sad and painful.  But there are still blessings in it.  Some people think it would have been best for me if Lilly had died before birth.  I strongly disagree.   I am thankful for every minute I got to be Lilly's mama on earth.  Yes it hurts, and yes it affects many others including fathers and siblings.  We all have to cope with death in our own ways.  But most of us would still take every moment we had again.  And if we lean on the Lord, we will come out stronger in the end.

"He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” - Revelation 21:4

snuggles at the park

me speaking at Lilly's graveside

photo by CarlyMarie