Friday, December 3, 2010


Conceived at Halloween
Announced at Thanksgiving
Lost at Christmas
Buried at New Year:s

Conceived in Love
Announced with Joy
Lost with Sadness
Buried with Hope

This entire season hurts.  Four years ago we were expecting our sixth child.  It was a happy surprise...we thought my womb was closed for good.  In fact, when I showed Bill the positive pregnancy test, he said, "I didn't think you had it in you!"  lol 

My first symptom was nausea.  In fact, I wasn't late yet, and tested because I was so nauseous.  I figured I was wasting a pregnancy test, but it was one from the dollar store.   What a surprise when the line showed up!

We were going to see Bill's and my parents over Thanksgiving, so I had the kids make a mural of hand-outline turkeys.  When they weren't around, I added an egg at the end with "due to hatch in July" at the end.  Each set of grandparents received a mural on Thanksgiving, surprising them and the kids! 

I took my first "belly picture" on Christmas Eve.  At 10 weeks, and having recently lost 23 pounds, it was just barely popping out. 

On Christmas Day, I woke up early and got up to walk the dog.  I was a little crampy, but was shocked to see some blood when I went to the bathroom.  Instead of walking the dog, I took a shower and told Bill I was spotting.  I took it easy all day, and the cramps and spotting eased up.  The next day, however, the cramping would get worse when I got up, and last a half hour after being on my feet.  Then I realized they were getting closer and harder--labor.  I kind of arched my back with one and my water broke.  I had no idea that would happen.  About ten minutes later, lost my baby.  It was perfect-looking, just like pictures I'd seen at that gestation. 

We decided to name the baby, to choose a name that would fit either a boy or a girl.  Jacob suggested Jesse, which we all agreed on.  I think it came to his mind from the movie Toy Story, but it is also a Bible name, and the name of one of my aunts.  Our kids have Biblical first names and family middle names (except William). 

We buried the baby on New Year's Day.  It was a cold, blustery day.  The sky was dark gray, snowing lightly off and on.  William and Bill struggled to break the cold ground under a tree in our yard.  There are lots of roots that close to the surface!  I kept thinking how wrong it was for one child to dig a grave for its sibling.  We released pink and blue balloons with "Jesse, born too soon December 26, 2006" My dad gave a little eulogy and prayed.

Four years have passed, and I've had another miracle baby, Luke.  But the emptiness left from losing Jesse is still there.  Oh, it's not as big and it doesn't hurt as badly as at first.  Other losses, and other people's losses, as well as this time of year, will cause an ache like picking an unhealed scab.

I am so thankful that God carried me through these four years.  He helped me through depression, attacks of the devil, uncertainty, fear...When I thought He had left me to battle alone, I can look back and see how He carried me, just like the Footsteps poem.  Although I couldn't feel Him at the time, and often only clung to the faith of others around me, He kept me.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Chick Days

For years whenever the kids would say they wanted something, I'd reply, "Oh, yeah?  Well, I want a house in the country with chickens and a goat.  I don't get what I want; you don't get what you want."  So, a little over six years ago we moved out of town.  The following spring we got our first shipment of chicks to raise.  A couple years later we added a milk goat.

I am not a country girl.  I am not a farm girl.  I never had any kind of livestock growing up.  I never had any interaction with livestock growing up.  We had a cat my entire youth, and various dogs.  (When my mom got sick of the dog, she would give it away while we were in school, thinking we'd never miss the dog.)  What made me want to raise my own food?  I do not really know.  My older sister had chickens, goats, and sheep.  Did chasing her goats up a hill through a neighbor's property make me want them?  I don't know.  And I was pretty afraid of her free-range chickens.   

The first time we got chicks, we ordered them from a catalog.  They came in the mail, but we had to go to the Post Office to pick them up.  While my oldest son and I were gone to collect them, a friend dropped by looking for me.  Hannah told her I was getting our new chicks.  My friend said, "Oh, did she go to a farm?"  Hannah looked at her like she'd lost her mind.  "NO, she went to the Post Office!"  Who knew you can get chicks from the Post Office?

The last couple of years we've hung around Tractor Supply waiting for Chick Days.  (They didn't get them during the big Avian Flu scare, so we had to mail order them.)  They don't always know when the shipment will come in, because it depends on the weather.  Our spring weather is unpredictable, and they won't ship when it's really cold.  I do not prepare in advance for new chicks.  The day we bring them home, I am scrambling to get their brooder ready.  We keep the cute little balls of fluff in an old playpen in the basement.  There is no way on earth I have that thing cleaned, sanitized, and laid out with fresh bedding before chick day.  No, I'd much rather be scrubbing the playpen out with bleach, drying it, looking for a feeder, waterer, and heat lamp that works while the boxful of chicks sits on my dining room table, driving my cats crazy with their alluring smell and charming peeping. (Please tell me you hear the sarcasm.)

We take off school on chick day.  I seem to do all the work...Teacher In-service Day maybe?  The kids enjoy putting the peeps into the fresh, clean playpen, equipped with a removable chicken-wire screen top to keep the curious cats out and the able-to-jump/fly-way-sooner-than-you'd-think chicks in.   They dip each little beak into the waterer.  I think that's only necessary with shipped chicks, because they are mailed out shortly after hatching and can be dehydrated by the time they arrive.  We do it with the TSC chicks anyway...maybe it teaches them where to find water...maybe it just gives the kids the allusion they are "helping" me. 

The new chicks should be kept at a little over 90º, dropping 2º each week until they are fully feathered and can be moved outside.  Now we have the math/science lesson of placing the heat light at the correct distance so as not to roast or freeze the cuties.  There are a couple ways to tell if the temperature suits them, handy if you can't locate a thermometer that's safe to put in the pen.  If they all huddle under the light, it's too cold.  If they are scattered to the edges of the pen, it's too hot.  If their waterer seems to be boiling, it's too hot.  ;-) You can also listen to them from upstairs.  If there is frequent peeping, varying in magnitude, they are okay.  They are in a constant awake-sleep cycle.  They sleep until someone steps on them, or decides that little speck-of-something on them might be food and needs a good pecking.  When awake, they never stop peeping.  Too much or too little sound and it's time to check to see if the heat light burned out or if the waterer has boiled dry 

We keep our spring chicks in the basement for about five weeks.  By then they are fully feathered and can tolerate outside temperatures.  In five weeks, they quickly turn from cute little balls of fluff, to scrawny-necked, scraggly looking creatures who stink to high heavens.  My whole house stinks and I apologize to every visitor at the door.  (Fortunately it dissipates quickly once they're gone.)  They also act viciously hungry at all times.  Getting the feeder out and in again is a challenge, fighting off a flock of hungry younguns who think they want out of the pen.  They are also terrified of any action from above, and scatter in fright when you drop anything in with them.  (An instinct to avoid chicken hawks, I guess.)  Chicks will poop on anything, including their feeder, their waterer, each other, and you.  The waterer, kept warm by the heat light and filled hourly with wood shavings and poo becomes our family foe.  We fight over who has to clean in out.  We count down the weeks until they will be out of the house. 

One year we kept the chicks out in the garage in a refrigerator box.  It was much harder to maintain the temperature, though.  While they were out there, Hannah came in the house crying.  "I was kissing a chick and my gum got stuck on it."  I was busy at the time, and sighing in exasperation.  Why was she kissing chicks?  How was she kissing it so that her gum got stuck on it?  The chick was going to be very unhappy at the degumming process.  I'm too busy for this.  Before I could go out to deal with the situation, Hannah bounded back into the room all smiles. "Don't worry, one of the other chicks pecked the gum off and ate it!"  Lord help me!  How good could a wad of gum be for a days old chick?  Oh well, it survived. 

This year we've let hens hatch some eggs.  We've had 4 chicks survive.  It is so nice to let the Mama Hen do the work!  She keeps them at the perfect temperature.  She makes sure they find food and water.  If they get stinky, she deals with it in her house, not mine! 

Friday, November 12, 2010


Laundry is like a sleeping giant you know is in your basement.  You tend to it when you have to, then try to pretend it isn't there the rest of the time. 

I like doing laundry, for the most part.  I get that from my mother.  I love going through the motions:  sorting, filling the washer, hanging clothes on the line.  Few people (read: children) follow me to the bowels of the house to the laundry room.  It is a peaceful process.  It is fortunate I like laundry; eight people make a LOT of dirty clothes. 

However, I do not like hauling clothes up and down stairs.  My clothes line is clear across the yard--more hauling.  I tolerate folding clothes, but hate putting them away.  And I hate talking my family members into putting their clothes away, too. 

So, there's my feelings on the matter.  Now to dive into the matter I find in my laundry.

 One of the grossest things I've found in the washer was a worm.  It may have been alive when it went into the washer, but it was very dead when I found it.  Who had a worm in their pocket?!  Sarah tried to keep worms in a cardboard jewelry box last summer.  I opened the box to find several dried worms.  When I told her that worms can't live in boxes because they need water, she got ready to water the dead worms.  "No, sweetie, you will just make dead worm soup." 

More than once, because we have laying hens, a smashed egg-in-a-pocket has gone through the wash.  Carrying eggs in your pockets is a dangerous thing.  Carrying eggs any way is a dangerous thing.  You bend over and they fall out of your pocket.  You drop the second egg into your pocket just a little too hard.  You forget the eggs are there and whack the side of your coat with...anything.  When you hear that sound, your brain begins processing, trying to figure out just where it's heard that before.  It almost sounds like a muffled...breaking...egg...ah, nuts!!  I forgot I put that in there!  Maybe your sweet daughter smashes the egg in her pocket, doesn't tell you, and drops the coat in the laundry (that alone should make you suspicious).  Egg shells are difficult to get out of the bottom of the washer!!  Trust me on this...I did it today. 

Pens, crayons, markers:  the evil enemies of laundry. How many clothes have been ruined by this terrible trio?  I washed a load of new white dress shirts and two new blouses, only to take them out of the dryer streaked with purply-blue.  Nothing, nothing, nothing would take all of it out.  It was horrible, heart-breaking.  Why can't blue crayons and pens go through the laundry with a load of jeans?  Well, it has happened, but the effects are so much less depressing.

Now we swing into sweets.  Suckers, mints, gum, mini candy bars.  Often I take empty wrappers out of the dryer, hoping they were empty when they went in.  Sometimes the candy comes out still in the package and mostly intact.  Sometimes the clothes need rewashed to get the dryer-melted stickiness out.  If I have personally washed chocolate, I have blocked that memory.  How awful to waste chocolate...what a potential mess! 

Probably once a month I find a tube of lip gloss in the wash.  I keep one in my pocket all the times to ward off chapped lips (and to look alluringly kissable to my prince charming).  Sometimes they make it through the laundry just fine, although I've had tubes misshaped by the heat of the dryer.  Lip balm and lipstick don't always make it out alive.  There's nothing like noticing dark spots on the dried clothes, searching the dryer and finding an empty tube.  Now to treat each stain and rewash the load.  Oh, and wasn't that my favorite color/flavor? 

I have not had the misfortune of washing electronics.  I know people who have, though.  My mother was helping my sister's family out by doing their laundry.  I believe she found a cell phone and an ipod thoroughly cleaned, but no longer functioning.  In fact, I think it happened more than once.  Ouch. 

The moral of the story:  Check pockets, and hope there are no worms in one!

Thursday, November 11, 2010


No, this isn't about a math lesson.  And no, we aren't expecting a new baby (even if anyone was hoping for a New Orleans Surprise.) 

Last weekend we were facing a financial crisis.  We were going to "make it," but it was going to be rough.  What can you do but pray, and ask your friends and loved ones to pray with you? 

On Sunday morning, I was going to tithe on the $8 or $9 I had in my wallet--all I had for what could be more than a week.  I had three ones in my hand, waiting for the offering plate.  God said, "Put in the five dollar bill."  I replied that $3 of $8 was more than a tithe, and I may need that $5.  "Put in the five."  It went back and forth until I was literally squirming in my seat! If you start squirming in your seat, you'd better just obey!!  The three ones went back in my purse, and the five went in the offering plate, with a prayer for multiplication.  

At the end of service, I sold some eggs and the five was replaced.  Wow, God, that was fast.  That was the beginning.  The situation we feared was resolved on Tuesday, only a day later than "should have been."  In the following days, Bill picked up enough extra work to multiply that $5 eighty times!  Then, someone who couldn't afford it, sent us $20.  That five was replaced and multiplied over eighty-four times!

Would everything have worked out if I had just put in the three dollars instead of the five?  I don't know.  I do know that just as I reward my children for their obedience, God rewards His children for their obedience.  This is a lesson He's been showing me over and over in the last year.  Little by little I'm learning to obey faster and faster. 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

I am a...

I am a poop-cleaning machine.  Apparently. 

I came home from a quick run to the feed mill to find Luke greeting me at the door--naked as usual.  "I got poop all over me!" he announced proudly.  All over him, the toilet...Big brother had discovered it, but was too grossed out to handle it.  Can't blame him!

Our 11 month old puppy Molly sleeps with us now.  She is a decent bed-mate.  Much better than Killian, who ate up as much of the bed as Bill and I put together.  Molly is just a warm spot usually located somewhere around my knees.

Last night she went up to bed before us.  And when I went in the girls' room to make sure everyone was covered up, there was Molly looking at me from the foot of their bed.  She looked kind of guilty, and rolled submissively to her back.  Hmm.  She didn't follow me to bed, so I shut her in the girls' room.  That way she doesn't get into any middle-of-the-night trouble. 

Trouble...I stepped in her "trouble" when I walked into my dark room in my bare feet, no contacts in!  No wonder she looked so guilty and submissive!  No wonder she didn't want to sleep in my bed!  The foul creature!!  

Luke, just minutes ago, comes to me for toilet help.  He was already poopy, but needed to do more.  Not too big of a mess, and he was helpful in the cleaning process.  Then he tells me he did the rest of the deed up in the girls' room! I will be leaving the computer shortly to clean up that mess. 

Where were his panties, you ask?  He is very into freeing himself often to do his "nakey dance."  I leave him fully dressed, return minutes later to find him in his birthday suit.  I think he's my youngest stripper. 

Thank the Lord I know from previous experience that this is phase, and I will live through it!  And maybe Luke and Molly will, too!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Getting away

I highly recommend taking a little vacation at least every fourteen years...just you and your kids.   We had such a wonderful time in New Orleans.  Once I got past worrying about the kids, and then worrying about my 78 year old mother who was watching them, I had a great time!  It really took two days for me to accept that I could do nothing about anything happening back home, so I might as well just enjoy myself. 

Tuesday night, we were sitting in a little crepes restaurant (Crepe Nicole, maybe?).  Bill kept laughing at the goofy smile on my face.  I told him, "This is me totally relaxed, no stress, no responsibilities, totally happy."  Then we got caught in a downpour on the way back to the streetcar stop, where we had to wait, and wait, and wait for the streetcar.  Then we stood at the bus stop and waited, and waited, and waited soaking wet, in a nice cool breeze.  Ah, good times!

I kept crying Wednesday when it was time to head home.  I had forgotten how it felt to only be a wife, and was kind of dreading being a Mommy again.  Please, don't take me wrong...I LOVE my kids.  They are my life.  This is what I wanted from the time I was a little girl. forget how it is to be a woman, a wife...

Oh, and of course we come home to Luke still kind of crusty with blood from falling on the sweeper and splitting his forehead open--while we were in the air.  Found out on William's Facebook when we landed. Can you say "heart attack!!"  No stitches, and it's healing well now. 

Hopefully our next getaway is sooner than 14 years away.  Our 20th anniversary is in just 8 months away... :-)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

What was I thinking?

Last week we visited with a couple little girls who had the chicken pox.  (I would like my kids to get them naturally. William had them last Christmas, but didn't share a single pox with the other 5!)  After the girls left, I looked at the calendar--three more weeks of soccer, a romantic trip to New Orleans with no kids, and a 90th birthday celebration for Great-grandma coming up.  Okay, not the best time for chicken pox.  I decided the kids would not get them from those girls after all.  I mean, they played outside, and I don't think they even touched each other. 

So...what are those two itchy, blistery bumps on Bekah?  You know, Bekah who hasn't been feeling well for a couple days...