Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Vermont VIII: Trip to Canada

Last time we were in Vermont, I realized, at the last minute, that the boys' passports had expired. This time I had all passports up-to-date which meant we could spend an afternoon in Canada. It was less than an hour from Roy & Joan's cabin in Vermont. We went right over the border to Magog.

We Bought a Farm: Learning to Live It

This boy. And this dog. Are in love. 
Both are dogs are wonderful, but Sidge is head over heals for Ritter. 
All this dog does when he sees you is rolls onto his back and asks you to scratch his belly. 
I call him my "big lug." 
I'm learning on the farm that there are seasons. 
There are times to let go. 
And times to celebrate new life. 
April was a time of saying good bye. 
To Scrubs. 
And I grieved the loss of our guinea fowl. 
Every time we lose an animal, it is really hard on me. 
But then this morning I scratched our favorite sheep: Snowball right on the head.
And I waved at her little baby girl: Ballerina (who still won't come near us). 
And marveled how baby girl, still nursing, is nearing the size of her mother.
Farming is teaching me so much. 
I'm learning every day.

My Aunt Connie sent me a great video. It really hit a soft spot in my heart. 
This is my life. 
And I'm learning to live it.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Vermont VIII: Anniversary Dinner

Firstly, a fun picture of Hannah who played hard and then napped hard.

And then, I wanted to share our "anniversary" night celebration. It was Mike and Rita's 44th anniversary. I am usually not the person who comes up with cool things. But this time I did. We decided to set a special place for them for dinner that night.

We made Sidge the waiter. He was so excited and really took his job seriously! 

We made Isaac, the man in charge of the music. This was a great job for him, and he also took it very seriously!

Abigail was the evening's entertainment. Here she is getting ready to do her ballet dance for Mike and Rita:

A great picture of the happy couple who have three kids and four grandkids now!

Tribe Life Tuesdays: The Carefree Fellow & The Failed Function

This is the second week of our new Tuesday speciality! I am seriously so excited about what the Lord is doing with my Blog, and I know that Carrie's weekly post is a big part of that. Read on to hear why her frankness in this post is comparable to a "vulnerability hangover."

I am married to a truly carefree fellow. It’s true that opposites attract—and in our case, opposites collided. In many ways, he’s the opposite of me. One of the many ways we differ is that he tends to be much more easy-going and laid back than I am.

He is everything I didn’t know I wanted, so I spent several years trying to get him to conform to what I thought I wanted. To my surprise, he was already exactly what I needed.

A few things about the carefree fellow:
  •  He is VERY patient
  • Full of empathy
  •  C R E A T I V E
  • Has this wonderful go with the flow attitude
  • Noble, gentle and kind
The list could go on and on…

If there was a painting of us, it would probably look something like this: Joe walking on top of the water (not because he’s Jesus nor do, I see him like that—but, because he has a very natural way of rising above storms) and I would be trudging through the mud. We will both eventually make it across the water to the other side. Except, I will come to shore dirty and tired, with a few more battle scars than I’d like to admit—and he would arrive completely clean, smelling like the ocean! Again, the opposites have collided.

A few months into my marriage, at my first post-wedding wellness check, my gynecologist (aka lady doctor) told me that conceiving a child would be very difficult. When I heard the news I had a carefree moment and thought “no biggie, it will happen”, almost as if those words didn’t apply to me. Maybe it was faith, maybe it was arrogance, maybe a mix of both (if that’s possible)—either way, I didn’t really re-visit those foul words again for a long while.

But, as the years began to roll by, the burn of those words started to sting. The reality of my situation began to sink in: my God-given gift to be able to reproduce was broken. Over time, my inability to conceive made me feel like I was a failure. The one thing I should be able to do as a woman—I can’t.

The truth is that it is all in timing… I am re-learning to trust the process and the creator over the process. I am finding joy on a seemingly grievous journey, and though there are moments that feel unbearable, there is so much opportunity along the way.

Sweet friends---I don’t write this oblivious to the fact that some of you are still waiting for mates or babies. If you are on that journey and it has been painful, I AM SORRY. Pain is pain and lack is lack. There are times when no amount of encouragement can help.

So, I implore you to just be and allow others hold onto hope for you when you can’t. There were many times when all I could do was rely on my carefree fellow and others in my tribe when I was at my lowest.

For now, the carefree fellow is my tribe within the tribe. 

Hope to see you next Tuesday!

Monday, August 29, 2016

Why the EpiPen is so important and why a substitute isn't as good

We have carried an EpiPen in our purse or diaper bag since Isaac was one year old. He has a severe allergy to eggs that causes his throat to close up if he even takes one bite of them. We have never gone anywhere with Isaac that we didn't have this pen with us.

We have had to administer it four times.

Folks are posting all this stuff on the Internet during the last few days that say, "You don't need an EpiPen. You can use a shot and needle instead."

One of these guys was a doctor who said, "Use what we use in the ER."

Okay. Ummm .... you are a doctor trained to administer medication. I am a mom with a child who might die.

BIG difference.

So are their substitutes for the EpiPen?

Here's the short answer:


But here's the longer answer:

We are not talking about second-best here. An EpiPen is used when a child or adult is having an allergic reaction that could KILL THEM. My son's throat closes up. This means he could end up not being able to breathe.

This means he could die. Quickly. In minutes.

The reason the EpiPen is so amazing is it is because it is basically fool proof. Could my husband and I carry one of the needles shown above? Of course we could. My husband is a doctor, and I've given myself a zillion shots, and we could do it. I believe I would be able to handle it.

But I want to know if these people who say: "Just use something second best" could do it?

Picture the last time I had to administer this to my son.

I am standing in a parking lot in Portugal and my son has just eaten ice cream that had eggs in it and he's telling me that his throat hurts and it's getting tight and he's screaming and telling me he doesn't want the shot and people are watching and I'm crying. I'm on the phone with the medical clinic and Joan is holding my other two kids, and I am having to hold Isaac down and give him a shot on the side of the parking lot.

Folks that is NOT an easy thing to do. Now add in trying to operate a pen pictured above and you can see why the EpiPen is so valued by mothers everywhere. Okay so maybe I could learn to do it, but I am not the only one who might have to do it.

Could his babysitter do it?
Could his coach do it?
Could the mother of his friend do it?
Could his sibling do it?

An EpiPen is a brilliant creation because it is VERY easy to use. It isn't a pen even though that's what it is called. It's a shot in an apparatus that looks something like a pen. But it is so simple. You seriously remove the lid and shove it into the thigh, hold for ten seconds, and race to the hospital.

That's it.

It is a device to buy time. It is a device to prevent someone from DYING.

Yes, there are substitutes. And yes, you can use them. But they are not as easy.

And not as easy is a BIG DEAL when you are talking about life and death.

So yes, I think it is a SIN that someone is charging $600 for these pens when most parents need to have 2-3 sets. I think the someone who is charging that much KNOWS that this is a requirement in every home where a child could die of an allergy.

The end.

Growing up

Following the book Raising a Modern Day Knight for our boys, we made a big deal when our Isaac and Sidge turned 7 years/7 month/7weeks/7 days old. We decided that this was the day that they became a "young man" and we had a special celebration to celebrate this. Part of the idea behind this was to encourage our boys to make more mature decisions and take responsibility.

This past month, Isaac took over full responsibility of the egg collection in our house. And Sidge wanted to take over responsibility of the dogs. This means going out right away in the morning and moving them from their sleeping area to the porch. Letting them run and play and feeding and watering them.

Imagine the look on my face when I stumbled out of my room just after 7am this morning (JB was on nights) and found this note:

Hi Mom. I went out to do the puppyes.

I was so proud. That he did it on his own. That he wrote a note. My heart is so excited to watch my boys grow into young men. And so sad to grieve the little boys that they are leaving behind. 

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Vermont VII

Abigail doing splits in the living room.

Sidge absolutely LOVED kayaking. He was so excited to do it all the time.

The only kid who wanted to try tubing was Hannah. She LOVED it.

The only kid who wanted to try tubing was Hannah. She LOVED it.

This is her saying GO FASTER!

Negative Free Me Check-In

Okay fellow challengers, leave a comment to share how you are doing. I am still doing really well but would love to hear from all of you. Are you staying aware?

So, to my five fellow challengers, how are you doing? And if you want to join in on the challenge, click here to find out what it involves!

Grace W.

Me and my crafty self

I'm not crafy. At all. But I saw this Bible verse recently, and really wanted to have it up somewhere in my girls' room as they got older. I have very strong feelings about the images we thrust onto girls and the emphasis we put in outward beauty. I worked with a gal on Etsy, and she custom-made this decal for the space above my girls' mirror in their bathroom. So excited about this. If you can't read it, it says:

Your beauty should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a 
gentle & quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. 
I Peter 3:4

I am not crafty at all. I have very few skills. So if I can apply this decal without any major errors, you can too. Please message me if you are interested, and I will give you the name of the shop I used on Etsy. Oh and I have no problem if you copy my ideas!

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Ballet Tryouts

As I have mentioned previously on the Blog, Abigail is obsessed with ballet. She absolutely loves it. However, her pensive-nature has made it a challenge for her. Last year she tried to participate in the play Cinderella that her ballet school put on, but she was unable to do it due to how overwhelming the idea of the try-out was.

We took it in stride, and she continued going to weekly classes. At the beginning of summer, she participated in two little recitals for nursing homes without even a second thought. And by that point, Hannah was doing ballet with her despite being a bit too young. Her teacher had encouraged me to let Hannah join in. So I did. (It was much easier having them both dancing then trying to entertain Hannah while Abigail took classes.) 

Then over the summer, Abigail took a week-long ballet summer camp. Her teacher bumped up her into the 6-10 year old class, and despite being only 4 at the time, she thrived! At the end, they did a performance of Jack and the Beanstalk for friends and family, and she did it without another thought. 

We therefore thought that she might be ready for this year's big production: Sleeping Beauty

So we asked her if she wanted to do it this year. She shrugged. We asked her again. Shrug. Shrug. Shrug. (It's common for her to answer us with body language instead of words. She's been this way since she was little.) 

Finally, when she failed to give us her wishes after requests over multiple weeks, we simply told her that if she didn't feel ready, we'd wait another year. To this Abigail started shaking her head vehemently. Then we would switch and ask her again if she wanted to do it. Shrug. Shrug. Shrug. 

JB finally got her to admit the truth: she really, really wanted to be in the show but she was really, really scared. We again said let's wait a year. She again shook her head vehemently. 

Okay. She wanted to do it. Next step? The try-out. 

Abigail's teacher, Ms. Lori Ann, is wonderful and I knew that even if Abigail couldn't get through the try-out, they'd let her be in the play since all the little kids simply gets roles of little animals anyway. But we really wanted her to succeed with the try-out. She loves ballet soooo much, and performing is a part of that.

Today was the day. During the hour-long meeting that precedes the try-out, I had my doubts that she would be able to do it. She was clinging to me and asking to go home. I told her that she had come this far, we had to give it a try.

Hannah went first. Oh, did I tell you that since Abigail was going to do it, why not let Hannah do it too. (Again. Way easier to let her perform than try to entertain her during Abigail's class time.) So, here is Hannah, completely unfazed by the try-out:

Number Eighty-one

Ms. Lori Ann talking to the kiddos. That's Hannah right in the middle doing her thang.

I think she is actually doing what she is supposed to!

Next up is Abigail. Her teacher is such a wise woman. Knowing Abigail would be timid, she walked right up to her, took her hand and said, "Let's go Abigail." And brought up to the front. Abigail did great! She didn't want to act out an animal, but did all the other required steps. The try-out is more of a formality at this age, but it was still so great to see her accomplish a goal!

That's Abigail on the far right. Her friend, Eliza, is standing next to her. Eliza is a friend from homeschool co-op, and her mom, Kristin, took most of these pictures. We are so glad they are in our class this year!

Way to go Abigail (far right)

Abigail (left) with Eliza

Here's a sweet picture of Abigail and Hannah with Eliza (center) after the try-out. She has a little sister, Hazel, who will also be participating.

Abigail was so proud of herself for completing the try-out. She was honestly glowing the rest of the afternoon!

Afterwards, Abigail decided to do one of her splits to show our friend Patty (who was a professional ballerina.) Patty helps us by looking at pictures and video and giving Abigail advice. On this one, she instructed us to have Abigail's knees facing more toward the ceiling. :)

Sisters. So fun!

Vermont Part VI: More Fun!

The fun continues!

Girls in the water.

Hannah warming up.

I love these pictures of Hannah and Uncle Mike fishing on the dock.

Isaac would go to great lengths to get the rocks he wanted!

Good ol' Andre Agassi