Monday, February 10, 2014

A Baby is Born!

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Ezekiel "Zeke" George was born on January 14, 2014. 

His coming into this world was quite the experience, one that I did not plan, but one that I've learned so much through.  If ever I was to put my complete trust and calm in the Lord, it was through this birth....well technically through the last two births.  I did not have the natural birth I had hoped for, I had many days of labor, and then 33 hours of active labor, followed by a rupture, and then the birth of my boy.  I will say that although I had another C-section, this one was amazing, the staff at the hospital I delivered at were so wonderful to me.  I was even able to do an hour and a half of kangaroo care after delivery with Zeke before he was bathed, where he nursed like a champ I might add. 

At birth Zeke was 7lbs 15oz, but now at 4 weeks old, he's a whopping 12lbs!  I know!  I make butter filled milk apparently, he nurses so well, I am very thankful for that.  Although I wouldn't have minded him being a small newborn size for just a bit longer.  He's trying to grow to fast on me.   My beautiful baby is the sweetest little pumpkin though, he looks at me with these big eyes, and I feel like he really knows me.  I am in love to say the least.  My heart is so full.

I was apprehensive about bringing Zeke into such a crazy house, but I have to say, it's gone much better than expected.  All of the children love him so much, even Grace, who we thought would be jealous, is super in love with her baby brother.  She wants to mother him, always bringing me a diaper or covering him up. She has also taken to mothering her bunny right along with my mothering Zeke.   Can you believe she will be two in just a few short weeks?! 

Right now we are settling in to being a family of seven, I am a mom to five kids....FIVE!!!! It still blows me away, I finally have my big family...well bigger than average :) God has blessed me greatly, Zeke and I are doing wonderfully post partum, and life is just rolling along.  Even my child who has struggled greatly over the last year is doing better.  I have nothing but praise and thanksgiving.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Reasonable Negligence

It is very early on this New Year's morning, around four in the morning to be exact, but I am fully rested.  Oh I am more than fully rested, my soul has been fed, and it doesn't hurt that neither John nor I could keep our eyes open past 8:15 last night. 

Oh we are the party people you know.

This post has been crafting itself in my mind for the last week.  My blog here, my place to capture my thoughts, to hopefully inspire others, has been neglected for most of 2013.  Oh how thankful I am for this open space to have been able to store such a miraculous Thanksgiving, because our Christmas did NOT have such a wonderful outcome. 

Why has this blog been so very neglected for the past year? 

We have struggled.

We have struggled so much as parents, our kids have really had a tough time, and we have come to many humbling breaking points.  There have been many many days in 2013 where we just floundered, tears came, and we wondered how it is that we could possibly go on.  It seemed that hope was lost on many occasions, but God is so faithful, because we would wake up and have another day.  He gives us a new chance to change every single day. 

So while we have had many hopeless thoughts, I am not without hope.  In fact over the last week, I have had many reassuring messages from the Lord.  One of those being a reflection from my own marriage.  A lot of people don't see marriage like adoption, but I think they are very similar.  We meet someone who is not a blood relative (therefore not an "obligation" to love), we marry that person, in effect making them our family.  Then comes the work.  We have to learn to love one another in a way that makes a cohesive unit.

That ain't easy folks.

In fact, John and I had years 6 and 7 of our marriage be a complete disaster.  I remember having weeks where I would cry and beg the Lord to change things.  Two years of tears, thinking the Lord had forsaken me, thinking He didn't hear me, two years of Him changing me ever so slowly.

Do you know what happened?

The Lord changed me, and then He changed John, and now at year 12, we are so much in love it's just not even comprehensible for words to describe.  I feel as though we really are one person, each of us giving one hundred percent to the other, we are a team, best friends, partners, and I stand in awe of this man I married every day.  Our years of struggle really make our marriage stronger, they make me appreciate it more, and so....

How am I to know that this isn't what is happening in our lives as parents?

I know God has a purpose for these days where I feel like I can't go on, where I feel like the ultimate failure as a mother, where life feels like there is no escape and it will be a lasting misery. 

I know that if I do not give up hope, if I keep my eyes on the Lord through this test, we will come through much better.  Both John and I have a family history of dysfunctional and unhappy homes as far back as we can investigate.  There's alcoholism, broken marriages, abuse, mental illness, and the whole gamut on both sides of both of our families. 

Oh satan loooooooves that.

It's a chain of brokenness.  Chains that are very hard to breaks, that keep people shackled to a life of hopeless living, that keep people in sin unable to see the glory of God.

We have sinned.  We have been humbled by our sin as both people and parents.  I feel like we are on the edge of breaking those chains and satan is trying to dig his heels in.  If we break that chain of brokenness, our family has a new legacy, one that lives on to glorify God.  Our children will know that we have come taken two lives built from frail pieces of glass, and through God only, created a rock solid foundation on which to build the rest of the generations. 

We have effectively done this with our marriage, and now we WILL do this as parents.  Our struggles have come due to our choices in making our family, but I still firmly believe that God called us to make those choices.  Choices that may have us suffer for a while, but in the end will be the best thing to every happen to us and future generations of our family. 

Ezekiel 36:26 says
I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit, and I will take from you your heart of stone, and give you a new heart.

Is this not powerful?

The people of Israel are exiled, they have sinned against God so many times, and yet when all hope seems lost, and God seems to have forsaken them, He tells them He will save them again.  But not for themselves.  He will save them for His glory.  He will save them so that all know He is God. 

Our family will be saved and built stronger so that our children know God is good.  Our children's children will know the power of God, and hopefully all generations to come will be firmly planted in their faith to these struggles they do have purpose.  We must keep our eyes on the Lord and never lose heart.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Best Thanksgiving

When I was about 10 years old, I experienced one of the worst Thanksgivings.  My dad has a drinking problem, anger issues, and well the childhood had some turbulence.  For this particular Thanksgiving he had taken me down the road to play while he tanked up, we were gone a lot longer than we should have been, and when we got home my mom was not happy.  She had prepared Thanksgiving dinner, and there was no one there on time to eat it.  The tempers went out the did our Thanksgiving dinner.  Yes, they threw every bit of it onto the front lawn.

It was then that I wished for a real family Thanksgiving. 

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We've had some decent ones over the years, but not since we brought home Anna and Tanner.  You see, big holiday meals are a horrible mess when it comes to my kids with major food issues.  The overstimulation of all that holidays entail bring about a misery that can't really be explained.  It leads one to dread any and all days that do not follow the typical expectations and patterns of every day life.

This year was full of overpowering dread for me.  We have been struggling this year.  After being home for more than three years, my kids still suffer.  They still have a lot of behavior issues, and every day is still daunting.  One of my kids has been really having issues, and I'm not going to lie, most days I end up on my knees begging the Lord for it to be better.

Needless to say, I was NOT looking forward to Thanksgiving this year.  A holiday with a majorly food based influence....yeah...disaster ahead.

Then today happened.

Today we woke up to one child nearly emptying all of their bodily functions into their  bed, only making it to the toilet barely in time.  But hey...a make it to the toilet save is still a win.

Then we noticed it had snowed.

I used to love snow, until my little Ukrainian kids came home and sobbed when they were exposed to it.  They HATED snow, cried, shivered, bawled, snotted, threw tantrums, and cried some more when exposed to snow.  This morning I figured we would be in for the same. 

Yet, they unexpectedly delighted in the snow.
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They happily went out for morning chores.

They even....wait for it.....PLAYED in the snow!  Yes, they really authentically played in the snow.  It is rare that they play at all.  They made snow balls, they threw them, they ran, they laughed.  They even developed a game between themselves where they would wait until both had a snowball (no hitting the other while they were making theirs) and then would just run screaming and laughing in the same direction until one could hit the other.  It was SO cute.
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Grace delighted in the snow, her first real experience with that cold, white, wonderful stuff.  She laughed, fell into, kicked, and sampled the icy goodness.

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Andy decided to use a broom to "rake" the cars off for us instead of the actual rake he tried to use last time.

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Since John has to work the actual day of Thanksgiving, and our guest couldn't make it due to weather, we decided to do it this day.  All of it.

I cooked, and cooked, and cooked, and cooked some more.  Four pies, a cake, rolls, ham, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, appetizers, green beans, mac and cheese, you name it.  Oh and freshly ground flour pie crusts are AMAZING. 

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I made up a bunch of pie crusts and had the kids sit at the table.  We let them make their own little apple pies to have with their lunch.  It went SO well.  No one cried, no one threw stuff on the floor, no one zoned out, no one got overstimulated and lost control of their behavior.  It was awesome.  One little toddler might have snuck a few bites.

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The kids hauled wood from the pile down to the house with John, rode the sled, watched Jack Frost, and....well this....

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Yes, that is Tanner inside of a box from the mail, while Andy is coloring him.

John bathed the kids beforehand, and we sat down to dinner.  Thanksgiving dinner in your feety pajamas, what could be better?

Dinner went off without a hitch!


No eating so fast that someone puked.  No Heimlich required.  No being overly obsessed with everyone else's plate that yours falls off the table.  No crying.  No spitting food.  No one had to be excused from the table for anything.  No stealing food.  Everyone made it through dessert without any problems.

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I'm shocked.

It's the first meal we've had in over three years that this has happened.

I was joyful all day, the kids (while needing a few discipline moments) enjoyed their day so much.  No one was to hyper active, tired, grouchy, pouting, whiny, or uncontrollable.  No one soiled their pants over the age of 20 months.

This was literally the best Thanksgiving I've ever had.

I sit here with my rounded belly jumping with life, sipping my tea, enjoying my dream come true. 

At one point today I had baby in my belly, Grace on my hip, my bigs all around in the kitchen, and John standing at the counter helping me roll out dough.  I helped my kids put little fingers to work pinching dough for their own little pies (something that normally would have overwhelmed us all).  I sang Christmas music aloud with all my little kitchen helpers for hours.  I read books with my girls, and threw snowballs at my boys.

I was wrapped more than once in the warm embrace of my best friend and husband of 11 years.  The man who works so hard to give his family a warm home, healthy food to eat, and really does everything in his power to make my life good. 

At the end of the day I put away the leftovers, hugged all of those grateful little people with full bellies, and gave thanks. 

For today I had the best Thanksgiving ever.  Today I am the richest of them all.  Saved by a loving God, loved by a faithful husband, adored by four little people, and pregnant with a healthy baby boy who was predicted to never be a possibility.  Our home isn't huge by today's standards, but it's warm, clean, cozy, and today was filled with love and laughter. 

Yes, today I am richest of them all.

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Friday, October 25, 2013

Goats Who Don't Mate

We have two dairy goats.  Neither is in milk right now.  They are both as sweet as pie, and really they are a delight to have around, but we need these goats to make that nourishing life giving raw milk. 

I have a lot of kids.

My kids like milk.

I have two goats.

Goats make milk.......right?

Only if they are bred, have a baby, and are milked regularly.

So what is the problem? 

Our goats don't have a mate   John found a dairy farm, called, arranged to buy a buck from them so that we could have a buck to breed our nannies with.  He drove the truck, goat trailer. and Tanner to the farm.  Where he was stood up :(  The farmer was a no show, and even worse, the farmer will not answer his phone now. 

That's weird y'all.

So here were are looking for another male goat, time is rushing away, we need to get these goat ladies bred.  This is not the first time we have been flaked out on by a farmer, what's up with that?  It is just decent common courtesy to be prompt, dependable, or at least to call if you don't want to make a deal.  We wasted a lot of gas money for a no show.  We wasted time.  What a bummer.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Off the Needles: Feet and Head

My little lady has only been alive for 20 months, well almost 20 months now, and during that time she has grown exponentially.  Anna joined our family at age 5, so she we never had a little girl to pass on items.  This has left our Grace potato without any hand me downs, thus she needs fresh yarn works.

It's okay.
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Her Momma knows how to knit and crochet....kind of...

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I still consider myself a noob, even after all of these years. I was able to crank out a pair of slippers for Grace this weekend though, she LOVES shoes like nobody's business, and is constantly carrying off another person's shoes to wear. So to say she was excited to have her own "feepers" is an understatement.

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Her head is growing as well. I mean like really growing. Big heads = big brains? We hope. A big head means a new hat! So I tried this pattern, and it turned out really cute.

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I love that part of this hat is knit in the round with a purl section.   It adds a little versatility.  I'm looking forward to knitting this hat for those even bigger headed little people in my life.

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That is how Grace currently prefers to wear her hat. She does love it though, as hats are her second obsession.


The hat can be found HERE

And the slippers can be found HERE

Friday, October 18, 2013

My Love Language

Apparently, my love language isn't romantic gestures, physical touch, or sweet's kitchen appliances.  Yup, they speak to me, they speak volumes of love into my very soul.  I use them daily, use them to death, and mourn when they are gone.

I kid..I kid...maybe....

Last month was our 11 year wedding anniversary, and for that anniversary I received two things.  One being a serger so that I could work on baby diapers, wipes, and breast pads (go breastfeeding woot woot!!!), and the other being this....

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It is a grain mill.

I've wanted one of these bad boys for years, but I just never could justify the price.  Freshly milled grain is Uh- Mazing! Seriously, bread made from freshly milled grain is fresh, moist, fluffy, wonderful, I could go on and on.  Considering that my crockpot (one died or this would be plural), food processor, and blender get use multiple times throughout the week, I finally saved up enough to get this mill. 

The benefit of a grain mill is the ability to grind up wheat berries.  Y'all know we buy our grains (oats, rye, wheat, etc) by the 50-100lb bags, but wheat flour doesn't store as long as wheat berries.  So buying in berry form allows us to store larger amounts of grain even longer.  Although I find myself going through about 25lbs a month with the bread, biscuits, muffins, and such.  Lately I have been grinding wheat on Fridays, preparing all of my baked goods for soaking, so that on Saturday I can do a big baking day.  This allows me to do a small baking day on Wednesday if needed, and I grind up extra flour to use if needed through the week. 

In the past I have tried whole wheat flour from the store for my sourdough starter.  It took about three days on the counter to smell like rotten dog doo.  Yeah, it was that bad.  This stuff though, I grind up hard white wheat berries, and it makes the most wonderful sourdough starter.  Completely 100% whole wheat.  !!!

My family is certainly enjoying the new grain mill, as I've been able to have flour on hand at all times, Andy says that biscuits are his love I guess he and I go hand in hand. 

Kidding again, although the boy does love his biscuits. 

I waited a month to write about this bad boy, I wanted to see if it was as good as I had heard.  Oh yeah, it's awesome, it might even grind rocks....but I shall never try, for I don't want to ever lose this fella. my hubby if you are that um...I have the grain mill....a mixer would be AWESOME!....just you case you were wondering.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Orphan Without Hair

Remember this girl?
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This girl had no hair, well only remnants of a really bad buzz cut grown out. She had no life in her eyes, was locked away in her own world, couldn't walk across a parking lot, couldn't close her hands due to the many many years of sucking on them. She was a shell of a little human being. A shell who LOVED hair. When we first met Anna she was enamored with my hair. Her and Tanner both, but she would run her hands through my hair, and then touch her own. She loved hair so much that we were actually able to keep her calm during her Ukrainian medical visit for the Visa by letting her sit and brush my hair for more than an hour. Unfortunately, she didn't have any hair.

But she does now!

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Oh she has about shoulder length hair now, beautifully soft blonde hair. I have only ever washed Anna in castile soap, I wash her hair and everything with it. It is gentle and it keeps her from having bad eczema flairs. She's still a little dry, but nothing like before. Had I not had her hair cut into what was supposed to be a cute bob, but turned unfortunate "down syndrome bowl" cut last year, she would have longer hair. Oh well.

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She has enough hair that it can be played with, which she adores. She loves to wear dresses and have her hair "did" pretty much every day. I don't do it fancy every day, but when I do she exclaims how pretty it is and oh thank you moms are said over and over all day.

 Her hair is seriously a dream, it dries straight, shiny, and so so soft. I'm envious (as I rock a half fro mass of ugh most of the time). Anna will also sit and let you do her hair for hours without moving an inch, she's patient, she is a hairdressers dream....or a mommy who loves to do hair.

This style was so fun to do, only took about five minutes, and I'm thinking I should spring for one of those Lilla Rose clips I keep seeing on the blogs. She would love that, she loves jewelry and hair pretties. Since she doesn't really like toys, I'm thinking something like that in her stocking this year would be nice.

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This girl who now has hair has life in her eyes.  She slips away into that other world much less often now, especially since she has this little sister that follows her around trying to brush her hair.  She lets her to, and Grace just envies Anna's pretty hair, because let's face it.....Grace is still rocking a pretty fierce mullet. 

This Anna girl of mine, she has come a long way.  She had developed a personality that continues to bloom, this girl can not only walk across a parking lot, she can run across the field with the goats, climb a fence, and twirl like nobody's business.  She hauls wood, carries laundry, pushes a stroller (her favorite activity), and really has no limits to her physical capabilities.  Her growth is amazing as is her beauty, and I'm so glad she has hair, glad that she delights in being a girl, glad that she has life in her eyes. 

She is most definitely not and orphan without hair now :)