Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Nearly Wordless Wednesday

It is lovely 68 degrees outside and D is taking full advantage of this beautiful weather to finish up our shed project.

This particular project has been in the works for a very long time, it was started April of 2009.

The garage doors just need a coat of paint and the project will be completed.  I can't tell you just how much it means to me to see projects like this finished.  I love, LOVE checking things off my mental to-do list.  YEAH!  and cheers to my amazing man for all his hard work and talent.

Orange and Freckles

Bread rising slowly on the counter

Chersonskaya Squash seeds spread out to dry for planting in next years garden.

In praise of the dress up box and creative play.

Baby Sweetness!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Purple Sicily Cauliflower = Happiness

Funny, how purple cauliflower can literally make you feel happy. I can't help myself, isn't it just Gorgeous? 

It is such a perfect contrast to this day of grey overcast skies,and the creeping chill from all the mist............ and it's Monday, too. 

I don't know why Monday's seem to be difficult days for me. Many weeks I determine that this WILL be a good Monday, and some Mondays DO go better than others.  Still, Mondays have to be my least favorite day of the week.   

In less than the very best of humors, I went out to find a veggie for dinner, and instead I found beauty.  I can't help loving purple cauliflower.  This particular heirloom seed was shared with me last June, - Purple Sicily Cauliflower.  I didn't know just how much I would love it.  I really planted it just for fun and variety.
But I Do LOVE it,  it is so determinedly bright and cheerful in the middle of so much grey and brown.

Right there in the garden I stopped and I thanked God for reminders of Him, reminders of beauty and glory in the most unexpected places and I took a little soul lesson from my purple cauliflower. 

I found nourishment for our bodies, and for my spirit, too.

It really is the little things that make up the bulk of our lives.  I continue to learn what it means to truly live well and fully, and the answers are, most often, surprising. 

Thursday, December 08, 2011

And they all lived happily.....after FOREVER.

Did you ever have a REALLY long day, the kind that felt like you had been through enough for an entire day by 11AM.  A day that feels like FOREVER?

Then you will appreciate what I overheard from the play of me seven year old as he told a story in the  next room.   His story ended like this

....and the all lived happily after FOREVER."

I grinned to myself as I wiped up a dirty kitchen counter and rinsed out the sink from dish washing (and picked the legos out of the drain).  I repeated that little line to myself and then I laughed out loud.

So if you are in the middle of an extra rough portion of your own road in life, even if it seems like FOREVER, there is happily coming soon.  Keep on keeping on!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Breakthrough/Revelation

I have worked toward this moment for months and months,

and now it has come and I feel overwhelmed by the sheer pain of it all.

Shocked beyond belief and exhausted with the mental overload.

I have hoped that one day he would open up his heart.
One day he would trust me enough to share his fears,
to tell me his nightmares
to talk about his life before our family.

Now, I hold him in my arms like a baby,

He tells me about his life before he came home with us and his body shakes with sobs as his story of brokeness is finally spilled out.

Piece by piece the puzzle is fitted together before my eyes, and the stark and chilling reality is more than I can bear.

Again and again, I whisper my love and acknowledge the pain and the sobbing subsides and all is quiet for a moment and I think I have heard the worst.

More shaking sobs

More fear

More pain

More suffering

It is too much,

too awful,

too heartrending.

Tears fill my eyes and my mind flits back across the years to days when I curled up quietly in a corner reading

"Dori, the Girl Nobody Loved" -Doris VanStone
"Wednesday's Child" - Shane Dunphey

I remember this same feeling, I remember thinking, "I wish I could help a child like this".

I never knew that thought would bring me here, and suddenly I feel so selfish for all those times I was sure I just couldn't do this anymore.  What is my misery compared to this....

If only I had known.....

I find myself tormented with so many memories of incidents and times

if I had known................... I would have been more compassionate
I would have held more.............. reassured more,
I would have been more patient....................more gentle..................

I didn't know,
I couldn't know.

If only I had known................

Slowly it dawns on me............IF I had known,
 if we had really known the whole package and the whole story of this broken little life..... We would have been afraid and unsure.  God knew, He knew all of it.

Today my husband whispered, "Why?  Why did God think we could handle this?"  and I touched his cheek and said, "Cause God knows things that we don't know".

There is a lot that we don't know, a lot that I don't know.  I don't feel equal to the job that lies before me, I don't feel good enough or patient enough.  Surely, there is someone out there with less on their plate who is also better equipped to work through these very difficult things and facilitate healing.

My head splits with a pounding headache

I take a deep breathe

Trying to focus on God

Trying to be still before Him

Trying to remember that He is the healer, not me,
He turns the ashes of life into beauty, not me,
He is the God that binds up the broken, not me.

And yes, He does know things that I don't know and for some unknown reason He believes in me more than I believe in myself. He has given this life to me, trusted me to be His hands, trusted me that I would allow Him to use me in this little life.

But will you pray, please?  Will you pray for our precious son that God will bind up his wounds, and heal his heart?  Will you pray for us, for wisdom, patience, understanding far beyond our years? For mercy and compassion and strength?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Top Ten Reasons I Love My Life

Top Ten {Tuesday}
 I am privileged right now to live this life that I have been given.  In no particular order, here are my top ten reasons for loving this crazy life.
  1. Cooking daily with super fresh and healthy ingredients straight from our very own farm.
  2. Being married to my best friend for 10 years and we are still best friends.
  3. Hearing night noises- cicadas, crickets and other night insects/creatures that sing to me each night, just like they did in my childhood home. I can hear them outside my window as I write.
  4. Being with everyone in this family all day, every single day (sometimes this drives me crazy, too)
  5. Seeing new life over and over. Just this morning I watched the awe in my children's eyes as they gazed at seven brand new tiny little baby bunnies nestled in a soft nest of rabbit fur. 
  6. Learning with my kids and reading so many great books together. 
  7. Living within our means and without debt - this is freedom.
  8. Itty Bits and her soft baby cheeks to snuggle and kiss
  9. Three wonderful, dirty, energetic, growing, loud, creative boys to keep my from learning the meaning of boredom and loneliness.
  10. The sense of God's presence in and through my most difficult days. He IS a Good God!

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Perfect Peanut Butter Muffin

The quest for "The Perfect Peanut Butter Muffin"  has ended, and  I am thrilled to share this fabulous recipe with you.
 If you have any peanut butter fans in your home, you simply MUST make these wonderful little gems.  They are super moist, and possibly even better after they have been around for a day.  This is passing awesome if you are a super busy mom, like me!!!  

The male populace here has not complained  about all the test tasting, as I searched for  Peanut Butter Perfection.

Peanut Butter does not happen to be one of my favorite ingredients, but in this home I am out numbered 5 to 1.
EVERYONE else  (and I mean every single person, even down to the little Itty Bitty) adores peanut butter.
The concept of a Peanut Butter Muffin is lovely because it packs some extra protein and nutrients and makes it perfect for a quick breakfast. I was amazed how hard it was to actually fill all my requirements and come up with a truly wonderful muffin.

My requirements include:

  • Freshly ground, Whole Grains
  • Raw Sweetener
  • Natural Peanut Butter
  • Healthy Oils/Fats

 I made more than a few muffins.

  • Too dense.
  • Too dry.
  • Too crumbly

Like these peanut butter muffins pictured below.

Uggh! they look exactly as crumbly as they were.  But they were not wasted. The men just poured milk on them and asked for more.

I finally created my own recipe, an adaptation/combinatioin of several recipes that I found online.  The hardest part was the whole grains which tended, when combined with the peanut butter, to make the muffin dry and crumbly.  These are most certainly anything but dry, and even I (the non-peanut butter fan) will eat one of these muffins with  pleasure.

If you are struck with the unaccountable urge for some peanut butter in you life..  These muffins just might be what your looking for.

Perfect Peanut Butter Muffins

In a large bowl combine:
  • 1 1/2 cups freshly milled Whole Wheat Flour - (preferably soft white wheat, finely ground a.k.a. Pastry Flour)
  • 1 cup unbleached white flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1/2 tsp Sea Salt or Real Salt
  • 1 1/2 c. Raw Sugar (Demerara, Turbinado, or Sucanat), Brown Sugar could be substituted.

In another medium sized bowl wisk together:
  • 1/2 cup applesauce -( I may try adding 1/2 cup of mashed banana and see how that works)
  • 1/2 cup oil (coconut/ sunflower/or palm oil) or whatever you normally use.
  • 1 cup All Natural Peanut Butter - crunchy peanut butter is nice, but smooth is fine
  • 2 eggs -Free Range is my choice, naturally
  • 1 1/2 cups Raw Milk (we use our own fresh goat milk)
  • 1 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract

Make an indentation in the flour bowl and pour in the wet ingredients and if desired add:
  • 1 cup mini choc chips (optional)

Gently stir both mixtures together just until combined, using a gentle folding motion.  Do NOT over stir, or your muffin crumb will be dryer and more crumbly.
Spoon into muffin tins that have been sprayed with non-stick spray or lined with cupcake papers.  An icecream scoop works nicely for even proportions.  This is exactly the right amount of batter for 24 muffins.  These muffins do not rise as much as some muffins and you need not be alarmed at the rather full tins.  
Bake at 350 until set, which I believe is about 20 min but I will be honest and tell you that I have yet to time them.  I am so sorry.  I Always forget to time and just check them "at the right time".  So maybe set your timer for 15 min and then keep checking them until they are set and no longer soft in the center.  Then do me a favor and leave a comment and let me know how long that was for you. Grins.


If you like peanut butter, you might also love Peanut Butter Granola Clusters.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Finally....A Name for the Farm

Several months ago, I wrote A Farmette in Need of a Name.  This month we have finally named our farm and opened a new blog, Farrago Acres, for all my agrarian posts.  I will still be posting here. This blog will be dedicated to the more personal posts and family related topics.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Chaos & Sanity

It's been a lot of managed chaos in my corner of the world.

On most days  I am okay with this, actually great with the whole deal....

 But there are times when I am completely and totally overwhelmed.

  I really do Love my life, my husband, my kids, homeschooling, our friends, cooking, gardening....

Yet there are moments when I really just want to run away and hide.  Moments when I feel that I absolutely just can't do this anymore.

But I know I can, and of course I will.  Do you have times like this? and just exactly how do you stay sane?

Sunday, October 30, 2011

October- A Month in Photos

The cooler fall weather is here and I love being outdoors in the early morning cool air as the sun rises.  Everything is beautiful, even the ornery wethers.

D is super happy to have a tractor on the farm.  The tractor is in beautiful condition and an answer to the prayers of more than a year.

In September a dear friend came to give us a hand with planting our pasture since we still didn't have a tractor.  That pasture looks lovely this month and we are so grateful that we are now able to start on the next pasture and do it ourselves.  

Early in the month my mom and little sister came to visit us and we had a lovely time together.  We made some fun and silly memories.

The day after my mom traveled home, D  left on a little mission trip with Trav  and the next ten days I spent a LOT of time in the office keeping things running and hopefully in good shape.  I was super thankful for my mom's kindly offer to take two of the boys home with her for a bit to make my life easier.  I gratefully accepted and still had my hands more than full as it was.

While D was gone we had a tiny bit of drama relating to the little girl  I have been babysitting for the the last 4 months and the week after D returned was the last time we babysat little E.  I do miss the little muffin.

We just added ducks to our farm (while D was gone K and I picked them up). These were gifted to us like so many other animals on the farm.  In the spring they will start laying and I must say that I really look forward to having duck for dinner some night next fall.

Lexie celebrated her first birthday and we got our very first correspondence with her birthmother.  A birthday card and a tiny little note requesting more photos.  It was so sweet and touching.  

We had a lovely zoo outing with some very dear friends Kim,  Heather, and their kids.

And the hard business of cutting teeth,  Lexie just got her top two teeth this month and  is showing them off and grateful to feel a bit better again.  This time around was rough for her, and for me too.

Hope you had a lovely month!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Another Birthday Boy & Contemplating Intentional Living

The Add man just turned seven, and he informs us that he can now do more farm chores because he is older.  Sounds like a good plan to me. :-)

Here he is with his birthday cake of choice a Banana Cake with Mini Chocolate Chips. Naturally, at birthdays I think back to the baby days and about how much has changed since then.

Several days ago I found this picture taken in May 2005 when we visited family in Pa and spent an afternoon with my Granny.  She is no longer with us, and Add won't really remember her but for me the picture is special.  In this picture Add man is about 8 months old. Nick 19 months and K. is 3 years old.

I looked at the picture and I had a flash back of those very busy toddler days when all the boys were three or younger.  It is funny that I am just as busy now, but it is a different kind of busy. Can I say more stressful? I am not sure.

Then it struck me that in another seven years the boys will be 14, 15, and 16 1/2 and Itty Bits will be almost 8 years old.  WOW!

I really want to make the most of these years and not to allow myself to simply be carried on the wind of the next pressing task or duty.  I want some perspective and want my days to be filled with purposeful and meaningful choices.

But honestly, so many times I am just getting through the day and feeling overwhelmed with all my responsibilities.

Do you know what I mean?  How do YOU stop and really live intentionally every day?

Friday, September 23, 2011

11 Months of Adoptive Breastfeeding

I have previously  blogged about the amazing privilege of breastfeeding my little girl and my early experiences with induced lactation.  You can read all about it  by clicking on the links below
Part 1 Induced Lactation
Part 2 Adoptive Breastfeeding
Part 3 Adoptive Breastfeeding/ Induced Lactation

These three posts have seen a lot of traffic from all over the world. I have received quite a few emails and comments  from others interested in attempting the same thing.

In this blog I will be answering some of the questions I have received in hopes that it will benefit others who may be searching the limited available data on induced lactation and/or re-lactation.
All questions will be in burgandy italics.

Was your experience a relactation, after previously breastfeeding? If so, how long was it since you breastfed your bio child?

Yes, I have previously breastfed two bio children but my last son was completely weaned over five years before Lexie joined us. The shorter time span  between a previous breastfeeding and relactation the easier and more successful relactation will be.  It is possible however to breastfeed with induced lactation without ever having given birth or breastfeed previously!

How long were you able to continue breastfeeding your adopted daughter?
Lexie will be 12 months old in just two weeks and I have continued to breastfeed her exclusively.

If she were eating solids I don’t think I would be supplementing at all. But she still refuses solids (the little silly head).  I have continued to use a supplemental nursing system to supplement a few ounces of milk each day.
Lexie is also adamantly opposed to the bottle!
 Maybe, just possibly, I was too concerned about nipple confusion in those first few weeks?
This  refusal to eat solids or take a bottle has been a source of annoyance to my wonderful guy, who would really like a baby free date like we had with the other kids. Honestly, I kinda think that would be nice too.   I/we  have tried every bottle you can imagine.  No luck! A friend even loaned me one of those Boob Bottles.  Haha!  But no, it is just not good enough for the princess.
So breastfeed I do…. and quite happily.  Lexie is growing and thriving and developing on schedule, albeit she is still small for size, but this is genetic given her family medical history.

I saw on your blog that you did not use domperidone? Is that still the case?

I do NOT take any Domperidone or any other drug!
As I noted in my previous blogs I have used herbal tinctures and teas with success. 

What herbs did you find to be the most helpful and are you still taking them today?

In my first blog on Induced Lactation I shared what I have personally used to support lactation. You can read the full list here

Fenugreek, Fennel and Alfalfa would be my first herbs of choice. As with any herb be mindful of your body as you take them and increase slowly watching for any possible side effects.  I took a lot and had no side effects save the Fenugreek scent of maple syrup that is common and harmless.
 Normally each time I sat down to nurse I would drink tea  (hot or cold), take tincture and/or herb capsules.

I highly recommend the Nurse-Me Ryme Tea from Mountain Rose Herbs scroll down the page on this link and you will see this tea listed towards the bottom of the page
or Mama's Milk Tea from Bulk Herb Store. 

Don't forget that your diet and liquid intake will impact your milk in a marked way.  Check out this Lactogenic Food List.  

I have not continued to take herbal supplements and teas on a daily basis after my milk supply was well established – around 4 months I stopped taking these supplements on a daily basis.
 I still rely on herbal supplements each month just before my cycle.  I have found that my milk supply is reduced significantly about two days before my monthly cycle and the first day or two of my cycle. During this time I have found it helpful to use my herbal tinctures and/or tea.  I also supplement during this time with a bit more homemade formula  than I would normally give.
 Lexie normally takes a grand total of approximately 6 ounces of supplemental formula each day while nursing using the SNS Medela Feeding System. During this low milk supply phase of 3-4 days she will take closer to 10 or 11 ounces of supplement. This ounce amount is a grand total for a 24 hour period and is in addition to the breastmilk that she gets from me. She is always offered as much as she likes with each feeding.  I frequently nurse her on at least one side, sometimes both before adding supplement. Some feedings we use no supplement but normally she takes about 1-2 ounces of supplement with each feeding.  
At 7 months we stopped using the supplemental feeders completely and she was eating a tiny bit of baby food.  She quit eating and we ended up needing to supplement again.  This is no big deal since we are very used to it now and it doesn’t feel at all cumbersome.

Which  supplemental feeding system do you recommend, the Lact-Aid or the Medela SNS?
From birth to 7 months I supplemented with donated breastmilk and during this time I solely used the Lact-Aid, and kept  the SNS on shelf as back up.  The Lact-Aid is my favorite because of how easy it is to prepare milk in advance, transport it easily and feed discreetly  but…
For the last five months  I have been using the Medela SNS because I am making Homemade Goat Milk Formula and it is too thick to feed properly in the Lact-Aid.  I was forced to switch to the Medela SNS and use the larger tubing which is designed for older babies and a faster flow.  It does not flow faster with this formula but we have had no trouble with the tubes clogging.

However, the design is weak and after 3 months I had to order  replacement tubing because the tubes separate near the lid were they are attached and it starts leaking.  It has been three months since replacement and once again the tubes are leaking, so maybe the life expectancy of the tubing is around 3 months. If you know you will be using the SNS for any extended period of time,  I highly recommend that you buy several replacement tubing pieces. I no longer use the string around the neck and hold the bottle, this keeps baby from grabbing the tubes (read breaking the tubes) and really it is easier when you have been dealing with this contraption for months anyway.

You mentioned homemade formula, please explain.
The formula that I make is from - “Nourishing Traditions” by Sally Fallon

I have made several adaptions – I swap brown rice syrup in place of the lactose sugar.  Lexie did not do well with the Lactose sugar and handles the brown rice syrup fine. On the same note, I use Goat milk and cream in place of cow milk, as well as goat milk derived  bifidobacterium infantis, in place of the typical cow milk derived version.
I have chosen to make her formula because I am very uncomfortable feeding my baby Chinese sourced dairy products (just check out all the recalls), milk that has been processed at high temperatures, soy products or corn syrup. I will not belabor the point.  If you are interested, here is a great blog with the recipes and some explanations.

I believe that this answers most of the questions that have been asked. Feel free to leave additional questions in the comments and I will do my best to answer them.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

All In A Days Work

The air is crisp and cool and the back of the truck is filled with baskets and baskets of apples. It is a perfect Saturday for working outdoors.............for making applesauce with our friends. 

I hear myself assuring Kimberly (or maybe I am actually trying to re-assure myself) that doing 100 quarts of applesauce in a day is completely within our range. 

Only.....there is another factor (or maybe three or  four factors) that have not been taken into consideration.  
We are actually trying to do more than  just 100 qrts of applesauce today.

We will make a bit of cider, too.

Our little bit of sweet cider = 13 gallons.

We hung a couple sides of bacon and laid out a load of ham hocks in the smoke house to smoke while we are doing the sauce and the cider.

....and the previously smoked Canadian Bacon really must be sliced and packaged today.

                       photo courtesy of Kim B.                                                                     
And since we are outside doing all of this, someone (no, it was not me) came up with the great idea of making stock from all the bones we saved from meat processing.

We do have a formidable crew of 4 adults and 10 children. Two of which are under a year and none over 13 years of age.
That Is plenty of hands, I assure you.  It shouldn't be THAT hard, should it? 

Is it possible that someone around here is an over-achiever? or maybe they are just to dumb to know when enough is enough. 

photo courtesy of Kim B.

Either way, we really did do it, ALL of it, including the 112 quarts of applesauce.

photo courtesy of Kim B.

W couldn't have done it without our guys, they were awesome! and the kids were a big help as well!

photo courtesy of Kim B.

It's been another crazy adventure............. one we won't soon forget.

 I'm so glad today is Sunday!  It is lovely to rest and do a lot of nothing.