Sunday, July 31, 2016

How Great is our God

After so many years of waiting to have a baby, finding out I was pregnant with Elijah "Sidge", was without a doubt, the greatest surprise and shock of our lives. My parents immediately sort of dedicated the song How Great is our God to Elijah. Because of that, any time that song is sung, I tear up, remembering our years of barrenness and the fact that I now have TWO "Irish twins" as a result of it.

So imagine my surprise today when I came into the room to find the boys playing How Great is our God .... together. Just a mom moment I don't think I will ever forget. I was crying the whole time I was recording.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Our Camper!

When we were overseas, we started dreaming with our kids. They had lived all over the world, but we hadn't seen very much of our own country. We told them that when we got back to the USA, we would start taking trips around America. 

It was Sidge who got it in his head that we should do this in a camper. JB and I just sort of nodded and smiled, but he kept at it and told us he wanted to see America in a camper. 

When our family of 5 turned into 6, a very frustrating thing happened. We were no longer allowed to stay in one hotel room. Hotel rooms only allow 5 people. For a bit I was able to request one room based on the fact that I could still call Hannah a "baby." But I can't do that anymore. This means that anytime we stay in a hotel it costs us at least $150 because we have to get a suite or two rooms. When we started looking at used campers, we realized that for about the cost of two two-week vacations  in a hotel room, we could buy a camper.

We've kept our eyes open since we came back to the USA. We were determined to find one that slept six pretty comfortably, and we wanted a used camper. We finally found what we were looking for! Here is our new camper! It is a 2001, and was very reasonably priced. This is a five-year camper for us. If we love the camper life, then we'll consider maybe getting one that fits six BIG people years from now. And if we don't think it works well for us, we'll just sell it. 

Either way, our Sidge is really excited. And so are we! 

USA here we come!!!!

We Bought a Farm: Training the pups to not be chicken killers

I've been working each day with the dogs in the chicken "area" trying to teach them not to go after chickens. They did really well their first two months of life, but then started chasing chickens and guineas. So far they are doing really well!

Friday, July 29, 2016

We Bought a Farm: The Shepherd and the one

Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

I have even more respect for Christ and his celebration of finding one of his lost sheep after losing a sheep and trying to get it to come home.

I did not feel love for this sheep. I felt curse words boiling under the surface. Okay, truthfully, I think I even said one outloud. JB threw a post halfway across the section of pasture. I had worn shorts out to help him and my legs were totally cut up from wayward briars. We stayed calm with each other, but were both on the brink of getting into a fight simply because we were so exhausted and so tired from trying to get this one girl to come home.

My husband is calm all the time. He is an ER doctor and gets paid to stay calm in stressful situations. I still remember when we were in the tax office and were told that we actually hadn't purchased the home we were living in! I am pacing and praying and fretting and the lady at the desk turns to me and says, "How is your husband so calm? They just told you that you don't own your home!"

(Thank goodness it was all an error, and we in fact were residing legally on our farm.)

While moving our sheep from one paddock to another on Sunday morning mere moments before we were planning to get in the truck and make a four hour drive to pick up a new ram, one of our dear sheep got separated from the herd. Usually, moving them is quite simple. You have a bucket of grain, you say "Here sheepie, sheepie, sheepie ..." and "Snowball", one of our friendliest sheep, walks right beside me and eats out of my hand, and the rest follow right behind. (Sheep are not that smart and really rely on staying together for survival.) 

But occasionally, one of them will get separated from the group. Lately, "Lotsa Freckles" has been that sheep. She was the one gal we could not catch to trim her hooves. And on Sunday morning, she was the one sheep that got separated. They went left, she went right, and suddenly she was not in the paddock with them.

Explaining to a sheep that all she needs to do is go through the part of the fence that we have opened up for her seems simple enough, but "Lotsa Freckles" wasn't listening at all. We even brought the other sheep back out to show her how to go in .... twice ... but she would not take the hint. Every time she went the wrong way, she busted to the other side of the pasture and one of us had to walk all the way around her and push her back toward the entrance only to have her bolt again.

(Have you seen our farm? The hills are incredibly steep! And did I mention it was blistering hot? It is seriously an incredibly hard mission to do this over and over and over again. I think it may be worse than your coach saying "Gimee another suicide.")

JB and I spent an HOUR trying to get this girl into her paddock. He's shouting directions "Go up! Push her down! Walk toward her! Back off!" and I am walking back and forth and back again. I bit my tongue whenever I felt my husband was being a little too tough one me. I'm a basketball player not a shepherdess for crying-out-loud! 

Honestly, an animal not cooperating is one of the only times I ever see JB even close to losing his cool. After what felt like the tenth failed attempt, he threw the post and said, "That's it! If she is too dumb to go where it is safe, she can just live outside the fence!"

My jaw dropped. "Are you serious?" 

"Yes," he said. "I'm done. We have to leave. Let her be."

He may have said something about wishing he had his gun, but I doubt he'd want me to write about that on my Blog. 

We left for our trip with "Lotsa Freckles" stuck outside the electric fence. 

And when we got home the next day -- she was back in! That sheep busted through the fence to get back with her herd even though we were unable to get her to go through the opening for an hour.

Thank you Jesus for loving me enough to try to push me back through the gate with no shortage of attempts. He never gives up! He keeps going back for us and waiting and forgiving and staying calm.

Jesus is amazing. 


Friday Funnies

This happened just this morning. I'm headed back to bed. LOL.


Hannah has been calling summersaults "Summer Rolls". She has also been calling mushrooms "mustaches."


Hannah was sucking on a rag while in the shower. I told her not to do that.
Hannah: "I'm not."
Me: "Well what were you doing?"
Hannah: "I was just drinking the water out of the rag."


Getting ready to watch "Sound of Music" with kiddos. Sidge asks "Do you think there will be battles?" John: "Well there are soldiers."


I put on a swimming skirt before going to the pool at our birthday weekend for Abigail. Sidge looked at my skirt and said, "Mom. Your skirt has a rip!"

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Review: When Mountains Move

I recently had the opportunity to review the book When Mountains Move by Julie Cantrell for in exchange for my honest review.

I want to start by pointing out that I did not have the opportunity to read the first book in this series: Into the Free. I actually didn't even realize it was part of a series until I was well into it.

There were a few things that were confusing because I hadn't read book #1, but overall, it was not an issue at all.

I have two major things I want to tell you about this book:

1) It was an incredibly well-written and had me staying up way too late to finish it as I neared the end. It was very interesting, captivating, the characters were well-developed, and the story-line resonated with me as a new wife living on a farm. (The heroine follows her husband to create a ranch in Colorado.)

2) I had difficulty with the fact that this was a Christian book. The Christian message was really weak and it was so intertwined with Native American religion that I couldn't tell where one started and one ended. Even the ending sort of left you with a message of "This is how I get forgiveness. This is my way." Almost a bit universalist in mentality. I had trouble with this part of the book and this is what really stops me from embracing it fully. Christ, from what I could tell, was never mentioned. I don't have an issue with a Christian book not being blatantly Christian, but when you mix in non-Christian religions, I think the waters can get very muddied.

That being said, I loved the book. It was an outstanding read, and I'd like to see what else Julie Cantrell produces!

We Bought a Farm: Still Grieiving

Our Sidge -- giving us a silly smile with one of our new turkeys a few weeks ago.

As my children are getting older, and can read, and as they have more opinions about what I do or don't share on this Blog, I have begun refraining from sharing quite as many intimacies of their lives. JB and I have toyed with the direction of this Blog off and on for the last two years. Ever since we came back to the States. Should I stop writing? Should I make the Blog private? I'm still not exactly sure where it will go, but I have decided that the tiny nuances of my children's lives should be their story to tell.

I have written previously about some of our Sidge's emotional stressors especially when it came to moving.) But I didn't bring them up when they began emerging about two months ago. I still don't want to go into all the nuances of what he's been dealing with, but I will say, that for the last few months, our sweet, passionate, emotional, incredibly bright little boy has been dealing with some things again. Each time this has happened with Sidge it has been stress-related. The first time was when we moved back to the States. The second time was when we moved to the farm. 

But this time, we couldn't really figure out what stressful event had sort of spun him a bit. We attributed it to the abundance of guests at the farm and decided to slow that down a bit. But in the last few days, we have sort of smacked the side of our head and gone, "Duh ... Scrubs."

About five days before his death, Sidge and I went on a hike on the property and Scrubs, surprisingly, went with us, hiking the whole way. We stopped at the top to take a bunch of pictures of our doggie and us.

I have written a lot about grief on my Blog, but to be fair, I have not lost a lot of people in my life. I've been passionate about grief and letting people grieve, but I haven't had much practice it with it for myself outside of infertility. I've lost some people, but they were expected losses that I was prepared to grieve. Scrubs was, honestly, one of my biggest losses.

I thought that I was doing Sidge a favor by not talking about it and not seeing me cry. I know I had read differently, but he is sooooo tender hearted. He is so sensitive to the emotions of others around him that I just didn't want to make him sad. So I avoided it. We decided to get the new puppies and jumped right into that. It wasn't that we stopped talking about Scrubs, but we tried to avoid ever showing we were sad. We didn't want our sadness to be placed onto Sidge.

But we have realized that he needed to see my sadness. And he needed to talk about it. And he needed to grieve more than he did. It is just in the last week that he has allowed all of this to bubble to the surface, and JB and I are truly like, "Why didn't we realize that Scrubs' death was affecting him?!"

"I think I'm forgetting him," he told me. "And I really miss that soft spot on the top of his head." As he said this, I started crying which made Sidge cry even more. I told him that our friend Shane and his dog Bonnie were coming to town to visit. This made Sidge cry. Bonnie and Scrubs were best friends. Won't Bonnie be sad missing Scrubs? "I can tell how people are feeling by looking at their faces," he told me. "I can tell you are sad."

I explained that this is how we grieve together. 

He seemed to understand that.

So this week we decided to grieve a bit together. I've brought up Scrubs quite a bit. I've talked about him. I've let Sidge see me tear up -- something I still do most days of the week. He and I went to the grave and repainted some of the rocks marking his grave and just talked about our dog and how much we wish he was still here with us.

JB has mowed a shortcut to Scrubs' grave, and the kids have taken to calling it "Scrubby's Way." Sidge asked if he could make a road sign. He came up with what we needed and told JB he could even do it completely himself. But they worked on it together and put it up this past week. I think it looks perfect. And it makes my heart happy to see it:

This parenthood thing is tricky business. I'm learning every day. But even though there are lots of things I don't know, I am pretty positive that this sign is a good thing and that it will help Sidge heal.

The Interiorista: Do you have a kingdom home?

The minute you become a parent, you embark in a dreaming journey... Will my kid be good at sports like his dad?  Will he be artistic? Will he go to collage?

Dreams are good. They prepare us for the future and set our expectations. They help us be proactive and informed.They allow us to paint a mental picture of what lays ahead. Dreams point us to what to look forward to ...

Every parent has ambitions for their kids. Every parents possesses an invisible list in their heads that tells them what a "well-rounded kid" should look like. I'm sure you've thought about that. I know my husband and I talk about it often.

I just recently read the book Raising kingdom kids by Tony Evans and I have to tell you, I'm greatly inspired by the wisdom in this book.

We live in a world where position, fame, power, beauty and wealth are desirable goals to strife for. We want for our kids to be ready, be successful, do well in life. Therefore, we spend time, money and effort to make sure we give them plenty of opportunities to acquire the proper skills. To stimulate our kids and help them learn new abilities while their brains are moldable in itself is not a bad thing, but I can't help to wonder if all those things are really preparing them for adulthood.

"In order to raise our kids with the skills to not only survive but to thrive in the world, we need to raise children with the ability to discern what the world puts in front of them to lure them into bondage-whether that be emotional, spiritual, financial or relational."

We want to train their minds and bodies but what about their hearts? We spend many hours helping our kids with homework, we drive them to soccer, piano practice, gymnastics and Spanish. We have dinner on the go and even though sometimes this rhythm is tiring and stressful, we sacrifice in hope of keeping our children busy, engaged and out of trouble. How about family time?Are we reserving some hours out of our busy schedules to teach values, to reach their hearts, to show the importance of reflecting on the Word of God as our guide in life?

"It is easy for our kids to get caught up in what our world so tantalizingly sets before them: social media, television, gaming, and peer groups. They may not even realize they have strayed off the family path. As a parent, it is your responsibility to locate them, guide them, and bring them back"

If you are a believer, I'm sure you have this dream for your kids: to see them loving Christ and following Him every day of their lives. This, in my opinion, is the highest dream we can hope for our children. Now, if this is truly our biggest ambition for our loved ones, what are we doing to achieve it?

"When parents fail to provide their children with the tools necessary to resist the culture's onrush, the rising tide of secularism washes away a generation of children like a sand castle on the shores of life."

Hear me out! I'm not saying you should talk about the Bible and sing hymns all day and don't do anything else; what I'm saying is that we need to evaluate how we manage the time with our kids and be more intentional about how to show them a living faith.

Tony Evans talks in his book about the importance of raising kingdom kids in Kingdom homes. Kingdom kids don't need perfect parents. However, they need purposeful parents who seek to understand and apply God's principles in their homes. I really like the sound of that! The question is now, how do I do it?

Allow me to share with you Tony's main points if view:

1. Lead your kids to God. 

"The single greatest reason why we are loosing our young people today is that the home is not longer a place where faith is transferred."

"Parents, if you are providing a home, clothes, food, and education to your child but not providing them with a foundation of a biblical worldview, you have not fulfill your roll as a provider."

2. Teach your children how to go against the grain when the grain goes against God.

"When you consider the vast number of hours children spend in a secularized school institutions and compare that with the amount of time parents pray for them, lead them in God's Word, and take them to church, it is frighteningly out of balance." 

Parents, train up your children in God's Word and His principles so that the Holy Spirit has something to work with when they are not longer under your direct influence- and do it diligently."

3. Have in mind God has a plan that is specific to your child.

"God has a divinely ordained destiny for your child that includes his or her passions, personality, skills, dreams, and experiences. All of these merge together to enable your child to live out all he or she is created to be."

"One of the most important things you can do as a parent is help your children discover their spiritual gifts, passions, and vision so you can guide them into their calling."

4. Be aware that love is as love does.

"Your actions must demonstrate to them that the things they are struggling with get addressed, the areas where they need comfort get comforted, the esteem that they legitimately need is awarded, and the time they crave with you gets offered, or it's just cheap clanging songs. Sooner or later they will see through the words only to hear actions instead, leaving them with a heart that was once soft toward you now bitter and cold."

5. Encourage, discipline and instruct your children.

"Parents, let your words reach deep into your children's hearts with encouraging truths that communicate to them that your know their personalities, dreams, hopes, struggles and that it will all turn out ok because of who they are and to whom they belong. Give them the hope that they need to face each day."

"Parental discipline,when done well, trains your children to apply personal discipline as they grow older, as well as prevents them from making poor decisions later in life."

"Instructing your children in the Lord means spending time with them so they can see how to live out the gospel. It means letting them see you praying and studying the Bible."

6. Teach honor and respect.

" Children need to know how to honor and respect themselves, their parents and those around them in all that they do- in their words, actions and even in their thoughts.
If you want your children to give you honor and respect, honor and respect them, too by setting a good example and being consistent in your words and actions"

7. Cultivate the communication with your kids.

"A kingdom home should  have open and frequent sharing of feelings or mutual concerns, listening, understanding, empathy, affirmation, and accessibility to discussion and information. There is no quality time without quantity time."

8. Promote table time.

Tony Evan emphasizes the importance of the time spent together during meals at the table.

" At the table, a major component for cultivating a kingdom atmosphere is the value you place in God's Word and prayer. God's Word has the power to shape your children's character and guide their behavior more than anything else"

Our world is a busy place. Our children have so many options to prepare them for the future to choose from in front of them. None of them harmful in itself. Most of them potentially good for them. However, there are only a short amount of hours in a day. And even more, there are only a few hours in a day a parent can influence his kids. This book made me reflect on the importance of the time I'm given every day with my kids. To make it count. To check my priorities. If my highest dream for my kids is to see their lives committed to Christ and for them to bear much fruit for His glory, I should invest most of my time and their time in kingdom skills. I should create and cultivate a kingdom home. Should I expose my kids to other activities like sports and such? Absolutely! As long as all those activities don't consume the time for what matter most!

What about you?  Do you need to make some adjustments in your kids' schedules? Do you see the importance of giving them the necessary tools to live godly lives? I'd love to hear what you have to say!

Until next week,



Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Review: Star Toaster

Orphs of the Woodlands at Tanglegate Review

I love finding fun AND educational apps for my kiddos! And this is one of them. Both of my boys (ages 7, and 8) had the opportunity to play Orphs of the Woodlands at Tangletree from Star Toaster and both of them really enjoyed the program.
Priced at only $1.99, this is a fantastic learning app. to get for your little one for a rainy Saturday. I can also picture using this on a day when mom is sick and needs something to occupy their reading early elementary student. You don't feel guilty because there is so much education occurring while they are playing! I really put the age-range for this game somewhere between 5 and 9. Your child has to be able to read to really play this game without a parent present. My Abigail, who just turned 5, would really be too young for this game. (Although I could do it with her or have one of her brothers do it with her.)
Orphs of the Woodlands at Tanglegate Review

Orphs of the Woodlands at Tangletree has crated a game with a three-step approach to learning. The first is that this is a READING ADVENTURE:

Orphs of the Woodlands at Tanglegate Review

With rollovers that show synonyms for vocabulary words, your child will actually learn hundreds of words while reading!

As your kiddo reads through the chapters, they must help the orphs. After completing jobs, your child can visit the orph settlement. The goal of the game is to rescue as many orphs as possible.

Orphs of the Woodlands at Tanglegate Review

In addition to be a READING ADVENTURE, this book is also an ACADEMIC TREASURE. Intertwined nearly flawlessly are hundreds of lessons on math, science, grammar, vocabulary, thinking skills, and character. There are also lessons on life skills and the art. Here are a few screen shots demonstrating the different learning that is going on while playing the game:

Orphs of the Woodlands at Tanglegate Review

Orphs of the Woodlands at Tanglegate Review

Orphs of the Woodlands at Tanglegate Review

I really feel that my boys only scratched the surface of the game. They did the basic reading and answering questions and earning stars, but I don't think they quite comprehended the strategy they could imply yet. I really think this will come as they age a bit and as they continue playing the game. And here are a few pictures of my son Sidge trying out the game. (His eyes might be shut in the second page, but the fact that he has given this two thumbs up is really saying something! He doesn't tell me something is good unless he really, truly means it.

Thirdly, this program is a REWARDING GAME. Players earn Goldstars which are the currency of the woodlands. They are used to build a settlement for the orphs. By choosing the best strategy, the settlement that is built can sustain more orphs. 

Take some time to check out this program on Facebook at on Twitter.  You honestly cannot beat the price of this program, and I don't think you have anything to lose by giving it a try. Even if your child only read and did the vocabulary, you would find it money well spent for something they are learning and  enjoying!

P.S. I was also very impressed with the customer service. I had a basic question (that I didn't understand do the fact that I didn't watch the intro video as instructed -- duh!) and was given almost an immediate response.

Orphs of the Woodlands at Tanglegate Review

Crew Disclaimer

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Tuesday Truth

Why a birth plan should be called a birth WISH LIST

As I have written about on my Blog previously, my first biological delivery went horribly wrong in every sense of the word. (Click here to read a flashback from JB who was obviously there.)  My pregnancy with Abigail was equally challenging (an appendicitis and quick flight out to Germany is proof of that.) Seeing that firsthand made me quite aware how go-with-the-flow you must be in both pregnancy, childbirth, and parenthood. I continue to hear from mom's asking me how they can plan for their birth. I asked my friend Tara, a family medicine OB in California to share her opinions on this with my readers. I find her post incredibly interesting and enlightening.


My friend Tara on her job as a family physician. Tara became one of our good friends during JB's years in medical school at The Mayo Clinic. We also travelled to Nigeria and South Africa together for six week. Tara will not tell you this, but she is truly one of the most brilliant women I have EVER met. I encourage you to read her post below and share it with everyone you know! Tara and her husband Kelvin (also a doctor) have an adorable little son -- Iver -- Hannah's twin brother lost at birth I think.

I am a family physician and see patients of all ages in my practice, but my passion is delivering babies. I believe in and support women choosing natural childbirth if they wish (had one), breastfeeding if they desire (still going strong, after 19 months), and have even used essential oils on myself (all while believing wholeheartedly in vaccines. You know what is natural?? Dying of smallpox and polio is "natural."). I am also a planner.

Image result for funny birth planThat being said, it is my opinion that, effective immediately,  birth PLANS should be renamed "birth WISH LISTS." While we all have an "ideal" (mine is a child who sleeps through the night and doesn't kick and scream with every diaper change and attempt at getting him in a carseat), a good "birth wish" might include:  spontaneous labor that is only a few hours long, with contractions that are strong enough to dilate you steadily and push a baby out without causing pain with which you can't cope, without any need for an IV, complications or antibiotics, and which ends in a vaginal birth without tears, this is not the norm. 

  • Sometimes preterm labor starts and gives you a 24-weeker who stays in the NICU for another five months. 

  • Sometimes the water breaks preterm and you need to be on bedrest with monitoring in the hospital for weeks.

  • Sometimes the water breaks prematurely, before any signs of labor, and it's safer to induce labor than to, well, just hang out waiting for infection to set in.

  • Sometimes there is hypertension, or low amniotic fluid, or growth-restriction, or baby is late (42 + weeks), and it is safer (for the baby and/or mom) to induce labor than to wait.

  • Sometimes, the body and the uterus (and the mind) get tired and there is need for medical "augmentation" (strengthening of contractions) with Pitocin or by rupturing the membranes artificially.

  • Sometimes there is a large tear which can cause pain, and even pelvic floor issues later.

  • Sometimes there is bleeding (catastrophic) like an abruption, which can lead to maternal hemorrhage, and fetal death if an emergency cesarean is not performed.

  • Sometimes there is a uterine rupture, or a cord prolapse, which requires the same, prompt action.

  • Sometimes the head is not down at term, and a safer delivery choice is an elective cesarean (if other maneuvers have failed).

  • Sometimes, after 6 hours of pushing, it's time to "call it."

Just in the past five years, I have had many patients refuse many of the above recommended management plans, because they conflicted with their "birth plans."

Image result for google medical degree mugI know I have an M.D. behind my name, and it may be tempting to feel threatened by hospitals or medical providers who learned their medical knowledge from Mayo Clinic and not Jenny McCarthy or Google University. However, please remember that I am also a moral person (and a mom), and we are all wanting the same goal-- a healthy mom and a healthy baby, and that I would be devastated by the loss of either patient.  I feel that the only thing about labor and birth that is predictable and that you can "plan for," is that labor, birth, AND PARENTING, are unpredictable. It is my opinion that birth plans need to go out the window because being flexible and relinquishing control is the first thing you need to learn about being a new parent.

I have seen babies, whose moms refuse antibiotics or didn't get adequately treated for group B strep, become septic, and need multiple lab draws, IV antibiotics, and hospital/NICU stays.  At my hospital, women still routinely refuse penicillin (or even screening for GBS), to my disbelief. 

I have not personally seen vitamin K-related bleeding in a neonate, because of widespread use of intramuscular vitamin K given at birth.  But another provider in my clinic had a case last year, because, in their birth plan, parents had decided to withhold this shot for their newborn (an alternative that some parents request, oral vitamin K, is not very effective. There is a good article, and more information on a variety of topics, on the website Evidence-Based Birth).

One of my pediatrics patient was a neonate who had to be hospitalized at UCSF NICU for apnea due to pertussis, which can be prevented, or its incidence drastically reduced, by maternal TDaP vaccination between 27-36 weeks with each pregnancy (this anti-vaxx mother had refused vaccines for her older child from birth, too).

  • I support women's ability to walk, move, and eat and drink in labor and think that the advantage of position changes and gravity are helpful for labor progress and pushing; that being said, I fully support a woman who opts for an epidural in labor, because, if it helps her cope and helps her baby arrive safely, that's all that matters (even if the original "birth plan" says otherwise).

  • I catch babies underwater for those low-risk moms who want a water birth, even though the bodily fluids (and solids) in the tub sometimes gross me out, and I fear falling in, and of having back pain from crouching awkwardly.

  • I do delayed cord clamping routinely, because it has benefits for reducing infant anemia, even though it adds a few minutes to the third stage of labor, and often makes me late getting back to clinic (or to my family).

  • I support breastfeeding, but I also support moms who for whatever reason (they couldn't, it was too difficult, or they didn't want to) chose to formula-feed (a FED and growing baby is all that matters).

  • I have routinely been performing "Gentle Cesareans", where we drop the drape and hold up baby to let mom see the baby as he/she comes out, do delayed cord-clamping on the surgical field (if baby is vigorous), and promote skin-to-skin time (and breastfeeding) and with baby on mom's chest in the operating room until the case is finished, even if it's a bit harder for me to sew sometimes with mom's head of the bed up.

  • I allow women to do anything they want with their placenta, even though I tend to gag a little when I see them chugging down placenta smoothies in the delivery room (yes, this happens).

  • If parents want to deliver the placenta attached to baby ("Lotus-birth") and keep the baby connected for weeks, that's ok by me, because I don't have to smell it daily, and the baby is out.. and presumably doing well.

  • I take care of moms who choose home births after weighing risks and benefits knowing that, for most women, it will go well, although it's still safer for the baby to be born in a hospital.

  • I want women to make empowered and informed choices for themselves, and their children, but I want them to be safe choices.

  • I just want a healthy mom and a healthy baby.

So please, if you have a "birth plan," please rename it a "birth wish list," and know that obstetrics, birth, and parenting are unpredictable and, at times, even dangerous. We are on the same team.

We Bought a Farm: Abigail's Getaway Weekend (And a new ram)

For Abigail's birthday, she wanted to go swim at a hotel pool. So we had planned a night just an hour from our house. But about that time, we got word of a ram we wanted to buy that was about 3.5 hours away from our house. So we cancelled the first hotel and booked one near where the ram lived. The six of us headed out on Sunday morning for our adventure.

My friend Claire had told us about the Virginia Safari Park, and we decided to surprise the kids and stop there on the way to the hotel. It was great fun! You drive through slowly and can feed the animals as you go. We all loved it!

After that, it was off to our hotel to SWIM!

I've started realizing that the only way to get my kiddos to do a semi-nice pose is to promise them an opportunity ...

to do a silly pose afterwards.

John captioned this photo on Facebook: "Spent the night at a "hotel with a pool" to celebrate my daughter's fifth birthday. It had a connected indoor and outdoor pool, so we spent the morning running secret missions from one side to the other trying to retrieve stolen items from the bad guys while avoiding the robot dogs with laser guns on their collars. It was touch and go at times, but I'm glad to report we all made it out alive... but I may or may not have died two or three times."

We are now too big of a family to get one hotel room. We often try to find hotels with suites, but in this area, I couldn't find one. So we got a hotel with connecting rooms. JB and I cannot fit in hotel beds together so we knew it would be me in a bed in one room with two kiddos and JB in a bed in the other room with two kiddos. We played paper, scissors, rocks to see who got the "easy" kids (i.e., the boys). JB got them. Of course. This was the first time Hannah has ever slept in a big girl bed (other than naps) and the first time she has slept with Abigail. I really need to just move her out of her crib because she climbs out of it like crazy, but I just haven't gotten around to it. It was immediately evident that this was way too close together ....

.... so I switched to the sideways trick and a pillow in the middle, and they were out in a second. (The boys always did this as we travelled around the world. But they are now too big to do it anymore!)

We woke up on Monday morning, had breakfast at the hotel, swam some more, and then headed down the road to pick up our new ram whom we have tentatively named ADMIRAL CAPPUCCINO KITSTEINER. He is tan and a BIG boy. He is in a separate paddock from the women and at the same time, we removed our five baby boy ram lambs from their moms yesterday, and they joined ADMIRAL in their new paddock. 

It is sad to pull the boys off their moms, but we know it has to be done. Our tentative plan is to process four of these boys for meat shortly before they turn one. The biggest one will stick around. We will use him to be the ram of ADMIRAL'S offspring the following year. 

One quick funny story. Catching five rams in the middle of 22 sheep is no small task. JB used his shepherd staff (which is a truly GREAT tool) and between the two of us, we snagged four relatively easily. But the fifth proved quite cunning. But at last, JB had him cornered, and we were sure he would get him. As JB used his ninja moves and his staff and went for the grab, that little guy jumped OVER JB's HEAD!!!!! It was a sight to see, and I only wish I could have recorded it. Hooved him right in the head too. Two more tries, and we had him, but it was quite an impressive jump!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Sunday Sermon

Pornography & Technology

In sticking with their "Tell the Story" theme, our church and our pastor Scott Wakefield did a sermon on sexual sin/pornography. I encourage you to watch this video, but to also watch the sermon in its entirety.

Most incredible, as a parent, are the statistics surrounding YOUR children and technology and its connection to pornographic images.

1) 1 in 5 total web searches world-wide is for porn.
2) The single largest consumers of pornography is boys BELOW the age of 18!
3) Most teenagers view porn while they are doing their homework.
4) 80% of parents report they do not know how to monitor activity and only 23% have rules about the computer.

As parents, we HAVE to keep up with the times and prevent technology from hurting our children.

Our Daily Bread for Preschoolers: 90 Big Moments with God

I wanted to do a quick review for another one of Crystal Bowman's books: Our Daily Bread for Preschoolers: 90 Big Moments with God.

Each of the 90 devotions in this book includes a Bible verse, a short devotion, a practical question, and then a short rhyming prayer.

"I am the Lord your God. I will be with you everywhere you go." Joshua 1:9 preludes a section on "God is With You."

After discussing the fact that God is with us everywhere we go, Bowman explains: "Where you go, whether it's daytime or nighttime, God is with you. Even though you can't see Him, He is there."

Then Bowman asks a question "Where do you like to go?" so that kids can discuss this with their parents before finishing with a short prayer: "If I'm at home or far away, You are with me everyday."

If you have little ones in your life then this book will be a fun way to introduce them to God. This is part of a kid-friendly new series based on the beloved Our Daily Bread devotional.

Review: Happy Harvest

Precious Moments: Happy Harvest by Jean Fisher (Published by Thomas Nelson) is one of those sweet books that makes you just feel happy. I look forward to snuggling up with my three-year-old and reading about the coziness of fall. With its plush cover and hard pages, it's size is perfect for little hands, and it offers a precious look at the season of fall.

Each page talks about different things associated with the months of September and October. Going to School, The Scarecrow, Apple Picking, Football Fun, Roasting Marshmallows, and Five Little Pumpkins are just some of the sweet poems in this 32-page book.

A Thanksgiving Dinner Prayer
I thank You, God, for turkey,
And stuffing and gravy too. 
But thanks most of all for the people who share
This day with me and You. Amen.

Down on the Farm
Down on the farm
The piggies race around.
They roll in the mud 
And they jump up and down.
Winter's coming soon.
It's just around the bend.
The all the piggies' splashing
In the mud will end.

Each page also includes a Bible verse like: "God looked at everything he had made, and it was very good." or "Your promises are so sweet to me. They are like honey to my mouth!" 

Full of beloved artwork and timeless messages of gratitude, Precious Moments: Happy Harvest is full of beloved artwork and timeless messages of gratitude. It is a sweet reminder to enjoy every season together. As the leaves change and fields yield their fruit, it is time to celebrate a Happy Harvest with all of God's creation!

I received a free copy of this book from in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Friday Funnies

John heard banging upstairs so he checked on Hannah who was (supposed to be) napping. As he opened the door, she quickly said, "This was an accident. I didn't mean to do it." (She is standing inside the metal garbage can that holds their mardi gras play beads.)


Our Sidge is Mr. Literal. We went into a bathroom at a country restaurant near our home, and he busted back out of the bathroom. "I can't go in here," he said. "The sign on the wall says it's for duck hunters only."


Isaac plays a game on his iPad where he plays piano. One of the songs is "Thriller". He said to me, "There is a famous composer named Michael Jackson."

Thursday, July 21, 2016

135 chickens in 12 hours!

Today is one of two days on our farm where we process our chickens. We are doing approximately 150 in each batch. One batch fell today. The next will be in October. We will sell about 200 of these birds and keep about 100 for ourselves. By selling the 200, we eat our 100 for free. Is it worth it? On processing day, I always wonder if it is. It is a big job.

We were really proactive and thought ahead and learned a lot from our two previous processing days last year. We put up a good shade and had everyone assigned to their stations. 

So what does a day like this look like?

Well I should first tell you that my friend Claire and her three kiddos were in town. Jacob, who is 11, was a HUGE help to us. Yesterday, he went with JB and Sidge to get all 135 of our birds over onto this side of the property. (They also relocated the turkeys and new laying hens to where these broiler chickens had been.)

First up, Isaac or Sidge would catch the chickens. (They took turns throughout the day. Normally, Sidge wants to work a lot more, but we think he got really over-done the day before moving all the animals and having tennis lessons, and he kept needing a break.) You can see the chickens in the area right behind Jacob in the picture below:

After that, Grampa Kit. was in charge of processing the chicken. It is then dunked in a scalder to loosen all the feathers. From there, Jacob stepped in. He removed the chickens from the scalder and put them in our plucker (pictured above). We did four chickens at a time. Jacob was solely in charge of this step. After they were free of feathers (which takes about two minutes) he moved them to the table pictured below:

In the picture above, you can just see a chopping block off to the left. This is where I was stationed. The one thing I said I would prefer not to do this time was to be in charge of cutting off the heads, feet, and oil gland. However, honestly, it was really the best place for me. I didn't want to do what Dad was doing and Jacob couldn't do what I did. And JB's job is really hard. So there you have it. 

I actually do fine with this process. I try not to think about it. We also talk to the boys quite a bit about what we are doing and why. We do not make jokes about the animals, and when Sidge teared up a bit when we started processing, we explained to him that this was normal. We don't like killing animals, but we are proud to be processing and raising these chickens so properly and humanely.

The only time I had a hard time all day was when I grabbed a bit of quesadilla inside the house and then returned to the chickens outside. Eating while processing did not sit well with my stomach.

Once JB has finished evisceration of the bird, Jacob would put it in a big chill tank. I must say that I was very proud of this step. We do not make much money on these birds, and we really wanted to save money wherever we could. Because it was going to be so hot, we knew we would need a lot of ice, and we didn't want to buy it. So about a month ago, I started filling up old milk and juice jugs and water bottles with water and freezing them in the freezer the chickens would go into. We used these in the chill tank and had enough to not have to buy any ice -- even with a 90+ degree day.

While we were doing this part of the process, Maggie (our WWOOFer), Grama, and Claire, did kid duty. Maggie also had to keep up on other animal chores on the farm. She did not want to participate in the actual processing which we total respected. It isn't for everyone that's for sure!

Here's a picture of what Maggie accomplished with some of the kiddos:

After a lunch break, we moved into the garage where we do a quality control check (Mom and JB), bag the birds (Dad and me), and put them into hot water to shrink wrap (Dad). After that, Maggie was in charge of weighing and marking all the birds with their total cost. Here is Maggie doing her job:

I was then in charge of figuring out what freezer to put them in. You have to be very careful when putting them in the freezers because if you just put that many warm birds in a freezer, they may not freeze before they start going bad. So you have to layer them carefully. I used ice packs and other frozen foods to help with that.

Here is Dad with our last chicken! Hip hip horray! 

We started at 6am to beat the heat and finished at 6pm. It was a very solid day of work and went way faster than we could have hoped. We continue to get faster every single time.

Afterwards, it was time for some celebratory ice cream inside the house:

And then we said good bye to our friends who will leave very early tomorrow morning. Here are Bria and Hannah who were good buds. Bria is almost 4 and Hannah is almost 3, and we were amazed at how well they played together:

So proud of ourselves.

And exhausted!