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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, June 28, 2016

Seeing through red-white-&-blue glasses

It seems that no sooner has Easter passed, when Walmart begins selling patriotic clothing for little kids.  The baby and toddler girl red/white/blue dresses and outfits just scream at me when I pass them.  They are just too cute and yes, they make me a bit sad.  I wish so much I could be buying something special for Lilly to celebrate another birthday in.

LillyBear modeling a scarf crocheted by Tabby, that I gave away earlier this week in memory of Lilly

Last week.  I got to experience another Lilly blessing.  Cindy, a woman that I got to know, because of Lilly, invited me over to bless me by letting me pick out something special from her clothing boutique, for free, in honor of Lilly.  Cindy sells LuLaRoe clothing and had gotten the Fourth of July clothing capsule in and was hoping I could find something to remind me of my "little firecracker."  (The red/white/blue is special to Cindy too as she is the mama of a solider!)  Cindy's generosity and remembrance of Lilly did me a world of good.

I am slowly realizing that it really blesses others to let them bless me at times.

Cindy, me, and Tabby
I have been obsessed with polka dots for years now (they remind me of vintage dresses from decades past) and so when I saw a red maxi skirt with white polka dots, I had a feeling that that skirt was "the one."  I tried on some other cute dresses and skirts too, but "the one" won out.

Cindy showed me that I could wear it other ways, besides just as a regular maxi skirt.  I could wear it as a dress too!  (Though I would wear something over it for sure.  I have a white jeans jacket that will work perfect when the weather cools back off some.)

The skirt's colors matched my "signature shoes":

Tabby tried on a navy dress that looked great on her.  But red/white/blue isn't her thing as much as it is mine.  When Cindy showed a dress that had gold in it, Tabby knew she had found "her one."

It may not be Lilly-colored, but Cindy blessed Tabby with this dress in honor of her little sister Lilly!
I plan to wear my Cindy-blessing-skirt for July 4th/Lilly's Birthday, with my blue Hello Kitty shirt that my cousin Moriah gave me.  Lilly had a matching Hello Kitty shirt!  And Tabby had a similar one.

me and my girls - July 2011
 If you are interested in LuLaRoe clothing, my friend Cindy is there to help you.  She is sweet, helpful, easy to talk to, and just a lot of fun.  Check out her Facebook site at: and website at: or follow her on Instagram: Tell her Lilly's mama referred you!  ;)

Even though our old farmhouse is actually Lilly-colored on the outside, yesterday was time to decorate for Lilly's birthday/Independence Day.  My favorite thing is to hang my bunting:

This is the same bunting you can see in this picture:

July 2011 (photo by Steve Rubin Photography)
LillyBear put on her special skirt:

And I decorated the living room fireplace:

This cute horse is Lilly's birthday present for this year:

I'm lovin' these pinwheels:

Finally, I decorated Lilly's tree and the fireplace hearth:

(Oh and you can see a peek of our tablecloth in the above picture - it is oilcloth and is white with red and blue stars.  I love it!)

tree topper

My kids are all looking forward to celebrating Independence Day/Lilly's birthday.  They like the routine of going to the parade in the morning and then in the evening, releasing balloons at Lilly's grave then watching the fireworks.  Solomon doesn't remember those things very much but he is very excited to hear that we will be having a birthday cake for Lilly.  He's already asked if he could blow out the candles.  :)

Grief really is a roller coaster and I never know what to expect.  Though I miss Lilly dreadfully, I am finding that I am looking forward to celebrating her 6th birthday, even though she will be celebrating it in heaven.  I am not having any of the crushing, sickening, depression and dread that I had last December, as her angelversary approached.  And I am thankful.

"Cast all your anxiety on God because he cares for you." - 1 Peter 5:7

Thursday, June 23, 2016

A narrowly avoided nighttime hospital visit

This past Tuesday, Tabby woke up with a stomach ache.  It wasn't terrible though, so she went through the day like normal.  However she began feeling worse and worse as the afternoon progressed.   That night, when I was reading to the boys before bed, she came into the room and collapsed on the floor crying that she was in immense pain all over her body.  Like someone stabbing her.  She said it was even worse than it was that night in February when I took her to the emergency room

Tabby laid balled up on the floor trying not to cry as the boys and I prayed over her.  Then she said that her vision was blurring.  OK - now I was really scared.  And - OF COURSE - Frank was out-of-town at a conference.

I put the boys in bed and helped Tabby to her room to lay down.  I sat with her and tried rubbing her back, shoulder, wherever it hurt the worse.  And we kept praying.  But the her vision even more blurry and so we decided she needed to go to the hospital. 

I got Hunter up and he helped me pack a little bag to take.  When were ready to go, we went up to help Tabby get on her shoes.  I figured I could just grab Solomon (who had fallen asleep) on our way out the door.

Tabby said she felt the slightest bit better, though was still in excruciating pain.  So we prayed one more time asking God to make it completely clear to her whether or not she needed to go to the hospital.  As soon as we finished praying, she said she felt God tell her to try the "healing code." 

(I learned about a book called The Healing Code written by two Christian doctors from a Christian friend that I highly respect.  I know that this book is controversial among some people.  I don't want to get into that here right now.  I will just say we have seen some great results and we give God the glory for it.)

So Tabby began to pray while doing certain pressure points on her body.  (We all know there is no controversy about whether or not pressure points work!)  Within minutes ALL over her pain was gone and her vision was back to normal.  Now she was no longer crying from pain but from amazement and thankfulness for the Lord's sudden healing.

I tell you it was awesome!  Just incredible.  She was totally pain free and in fact - felt better than she had in days!   I was stunned and SO relieved.  I hate seeing my children in pain.  And I knew the hospital visit would have cost thousands of dollars and the doctors would have shaken their heads not knowing what to do but to give her morphine again.

It's now Thursday and she hasn't felt pain since.  And it's her birthday!  Happy 15th to my girl.  :)

Goofing around with Lilly-colors:

As a special birthday treat (to drive his sister crazy!) Hunter decided to hook up his snap circuits to play "Happy Birthday" for her:

Before long, the set had FIVE speakers hooked to it.  Just what Tabby will "love" hearing all day.  ;)

Saturday, June 18, 2016

My epic Costco fail and the "dear sweet little chick"

Several years ago I read an interesting post on the Kitchen Stewardship blog called "What Does a Real Foodie Buy at ... Costco?"  I'm not a "foodie" but I do like healthy food and organics when I can afford them.  I noticed a number of my friends that try to eat the same way, and who were also frugal, raved about Costco.  And of course I've read about saving money at big warehouse clubs. So when a new Costco opened not too far away from us, I researched a bit more, then bought a membership.

One morning last month, the boys and I dropped Tabby at school, then drove the few miles to Costco.  We arrived 20 minutes before the store opened but noticed that already were about 50 people milling around outside the locked doors.  (This probably sounds weird, but it reminded me of the flies that are all over the chicken coop in the morning, waiting for me to open the doors so they can go inside.)

red gladiolas - I'm growing some outside Lilly's garden

The doors to Costco were opened 10 minutes early and the flood of people rushed inside.  The boys and I cautiously got a cart, and entered.  We went up and down almost every row in the store, checking prices, and putting some things into our cart.  It was interesting but tiring.  Hunter loved the store and looking at all the pipes and heating/cooling vents on the ceiling.

Then it was time to check out.  Whew!  The cashier rang up my items and announced my total.  After a minute I said, "I don't know why my credit card won't work in the machine."  Uh oh.  That's when I found out that the only credit card the store takes is American Express!  (Though at of the time of my writing this, they switched from American Express to Visa.)  The cashier acted like he was so surprised I didn't know.  The man in line behind me expressed his sympathy - apparently this had happened to him too.

So, we had to leave our cart and walk out of the store, feeling rather embarrassed and frustrated at the time and energy we had wasted. As we walked, Hunter said, "Why didn't they put the things we bought into bags?"

Oh my, I hadn't even noticed that.  I guess I would have had to just throw all our purchases loose into the back of our car!

the day lilies are blooming so well - and many are taller than Solomon

Really though - why doesn't Costco make those things clear?  When I signed up, I was given a new member bag with all sorts of brochures inside.  Wanting to be a wise shopper, I looked over everything they gave me.  One thing even talked about how you could pick up a phone in line and call over to the food court area and order food to go.  But they couldn't tell me about the credit cards and that they don't give bags?

Sigh.  Lessons learned.  I know we need to go back (since I bought a year's membership!) but I have been dragging my feet at the thought.  Guess I need some pep talks from all those big Costco fans out there!

my camera just couldn't capture the deep, rich beauty of the sunset
Tabby still has her flock of Silkie Bantam chickens that she is trying to sell.  There are a bunch of chicks in the flock.  They seem to keep hatching!  What we figure happened was, when the broody hens got off the eggs for a brief period to get food and water, some of the other hens hopped on the nest to lay eggs.

Anyway, we ended up bringing a total of 4 chicks in, to keep.  These chicks were too young and small to keep up with the busy mama hens and the other chicks.  They are sooooo cute and there is just something about having them in the house that makes them more fun.  The kids and I each have our own.  The names are as unique as we all are:  Hunter has "Caroline Carla," Tabby has "Perri,", Solomon has "Pilchard," and I have "Dagmar."

Today we temporarily had "Peepers."

I had noticed that for the past two days, one of the outside chicks just seemed smaller and had to really struggle to hurry to keep up with the others.  But it didn't seem unhealthy.  However today the little chick just gave out of steam.  Frank ended up bringing it inside because when he was mowing, the chick couldn't even get up to get out of the way of the mower.

Awwwww ... weak, injured little animals go right to our hearts around here.  (We just can't help but think of Lilly.  She wasn't an animal of course, but she was weak and fragile.)

Tabby was shocked at how the little chick was just fuzz and bones.   It was very weak and could barely open it's eyes.  It wasn't thriving at all. She said the chick's breathing did not sound right so maybe it was born with a respiratory condition.  

I got it to drink some water and we all held it some.  Solomon named the little chick Peepers.

Peepers resting
This afternoon, Tabby and Hunter cleaned out the chicks bin.  Then we tucked Peeper's into a special little box inside the bin to rest, so that the other chicks wouldn't bother her.  A few minutes later, I heard loud peeping and went to see what was up.

Peepers was convulsing, peeping, and her body twisting all around.  I picked her up and held her. Then suddenly she went limp.  She had died.  Awww.  We all felt sad.

Solomon wanted to bury her next to the bunny we tried to save last year.  So he took Peeper's outside to Frank to bury her.  As I walked with him, Solomon said quietly, "Oh the dear sweet little chick."  :(

Life and death.  Seems it's all around us, here on our little farm.  And there is such wonder in it all.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Thoughtless people and the modern focus on leisure

Tabby and Ed the rooster
Tabby decided to sell her flock of Silkie Bantam chickens so we posted them on CraigsList.  We got a response very quickly from a woman about them.  I heard from this woman several times, all friendly, excited messages, and she confirmed a couple times about the pickup time and date.

So Saturday Tabby and I spent close to an hour chasing and boxing up her Silkies.  We felt bad for the chickens as they were so scared once they realized something strange was going on.  Her lilac rooster even cut the comb on his head trying to hide from us.

We were sweating and tired when we finally finished.  We carried the boxes to the front yard and put them carefully in the shade.

Then we waited.  And waited.  And waited.

Tabby with two little chicks
 I texted and called the person.  No response.  I even prayed for them - that they were OK.

But finally, two hours later, we were really getting worried about the chickens being in the boxes because of the heat.  And, I finally admitted, they weren't coming.  ONCE AGAIN - another inconsiderate potential buyer.

Why is it so hard for people to just send an email, text, or call to say "Hey I'm sorry - I won't make it after all??"  Or "You know, I've just changed my mind.  Thanks anyway."  SOMETHING!  But just not showing up is so rude.  I pointed this all out to my kids several times making sure they understood how to handle situations like this.

So now we've relisted our CraigsList post and I added the blurb: "ONLY SERIOUS INQUIRIES PLEASE!"  Not that I think that will really make any difference.  People just are so self-centered these days.  (I'm not sure why this particular incident bothered me so much.  We've had no shows before.)

One fun thing out of all this is that we ended up keeping 3 of the newly hatched Silkie chicks.  Even Hunter was upset at the thought of there not being any Silkies anymore.  We just have a special place in our hearts for the little fuzz balls.  So each child has their own Silkie chick and they are currently living in a big tote bin in our dining room, under a heat lamp.

Hunter named his chick "Caroline Carla" and loves holding her:

I recently finished reading Laura Ingalls Wilder's "Little House" series with the boys.  I was so glad they really enjoyed them and were even disappointed when we finished the last book.  Hunter said he liked Farmer Boy the best and Solomon liked The Long Winter.

I've been reflecting lately on the huge shift in our overall society from working diligently all day to working as little as possible.  (This is a generalization - I know!)  But isn't our current focus on getting the necessary stuff done so we can just relax and "play?"  Or even just procrastinating what needs to be done - not worrying about "work before play" - and just jumping right to leisure activities.  Just as the art of thoughtfulness has been lost, so has the art of work.  (Again, I am generalizing.)

Consider this scene from Farmer Boy.  Almanzo is in the barn in the winter time, helping his father thresh the wheat.  They did it manually, using flails.  Almanzo, though only 10 years old, doesn't mind hard work.  But he does ask his father why he did not hire the men with the threshing machine to come and help.  A whole grain crop could be threshed in only a few days.

"That's a lazy man's way to thresh," Father said.  "Haste makes waste, but a lazy man'd rather get his work done fast than do it himself.  That machine chews up the straw till it's not fit to feed stock, and it scatters grain around and wastes it.

"All it saves is time, son.  And what good is time, with nothing to do?  You want to sit and twiddle your thumbs, all these stormy winter days?"

"No!" said Almanzo.  He had enough of that, on Sundays.
(pgs. 307-308)

 I know it is pretty easy to survive without hard work anymore.  It's not like the old days when if people didn't work they didn't eat.  And I know they had to work crazy hard.  I am so impressed with how hard the women worked just to get food on the table, clothes made, etc. and still had pride to keep their houses super clean.  I know with all our appliances, stores, etc, we don't have to work so hard in the same way anymore, but I just think a lot of character has been lost.  We walk around pushing buttons to get this or that to work for us, waste hours everyday glued to a screen of some kind, and can charge most whatever we want on credit cards.  There really is value to working hard and many of us are missing out on it.

And ... though I know many people don't believe this ... work isn't something terrible!  (I hear echoes in my head as I type this, of some of my own children shrieking "Oh no! It is chore time!")

Solomon wrote, in Ecclesiastes 3:22:  "So I saw there is nothing better for a person than to enjoy their work, because that is their lot.  For who can bring them to see what will happen after them?"

Odysseus is growing fast!  Solomon loves to help me take care of the animals
Why is it that studies have shown that Americans, in general, tend to be less happy than the majority of people in poor countries?  We have more stuff, more money, more choices, more playtime, etc etc. 

I can't help but wonder if it is because, in general, we don't like to work hard.  Therefore we don't feel that deep satisfaction that work gives and a true sense of purpose in life.

"No task worth doing is easy ...." - Theodore Roosevelt

Wouldn't Almanzo and his father be shocked to visit us today?

Finally, on an aside, Laura and Almanzo Wilder's daughter Rose was a famous author, before Laura ever was.  She incorporated stories she learned from her parents into her novels.  Let the Hurricane Roar is a great story about a young couple seeking to survive on their new homestead.  Rose Wilder Lane has a different writing style than Laura did, but I really enjoy identifying bits of her parents lives in her stories.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

The Eye of Tabby - The Big Batch part 3

Here is the last batch of pictures from Tabby's "big batch."  These were all taken at my mother-in-law's house in eastern North Carolina.  The beautiful outdoors.