Sunday, November 9, 2014

Haven't posted since August? Time for an update...

So my last post wayyyy back in August was "Meet our New Goats" and I could really repost that title right here in November, because a lot has happened since then.

Goat Update

The very long and emotionally charged story can be summarized in the following paragraph:

Our sweet goats had a disease that was missed by the breeders and thus had to go back to the breeders for a refund, because it is a virus that we just cannot have on our little farm (read goats would have needed separate living quarters if they had remained here as "pets").  It was so hard, most of all for me.   I was so worried about how the kids would feel after falling in love with our goats, but they did so well with having to send them back.  I was the one that cried like a baby for days. 

God worked it out that 3 days after returning these girls to their farm, we were able to bring home 2 other Lamancha goats, and while they are a little older and have different personalities than our first two, they are really growing on us and are going to be a great new start to our venture into dairy goats.

So meet Amaretto and Cameo!

These two girls were bred before we bought them, and it appears that their breeding took as they have had no signs of heat.  So that is really exciting and we should be looking at March goat babies! :)  We are really excited about this and have been watching youtube goat kidding videos to prepare. 
Oh no, I am not even kidding.  Get it???? Kidding?!?!?
Angela Update
My update is that I have been continuing with my now monthly HCG blood draw checks, that is until last month when life just got busy and I skipped it!  I will resume this month and then have a draw in December when that should be 6 months of negative HCG levels and the doctor should give us the all-clear to try to conceive again. 
We started back to homeschooling in August and that is probably the other part of why I haven't updated this blog in several months.  Schooling has kept us really busy this semester.  Not only does Isabel have a heavier workload this year as a third grader, but Ian is doing preschool activities at home and there is a lot of prep for crafts and learning activities for his age.  And then there is the activity of keeping Caroline occupied while the other two are doing their schoolwork!
The garden kept us extremely busy in August and September with the end of tomatoes, okra and planting field peas.  Last year we had great success purchasing bags of black-eyed peas from Walmart and throwing them out into the garden and had an entire garden full of peas, so we did that again this year and just finished harvesting them before the first killing frost hit over a week ago.  And then of course we had to shell them, blanch them and freeze them.  But boy, they are worth it!   I had never imagined they could taste that good fresh!
Then there is the whole "I don't feel that great" issue....and this is complex.  I've long suspected that I could have fibromyalgia, but now I'm wondering if maybe I should actually go to a doctor and find out.  I don't sleep well at night (now this got better for awhile once we purchased a new mattress), but I still feel really, really tired.  Like a type of fatigue that I think other people don't feel unless they are doing something really physically exerting....I'm not.  I'm tired whether I exert myself or not!  And lately I've just had a lot of pain in my joints and just "in my bones".  This has happened for years (the joint pain) but there are periods where it gets worse and periods where it seems better.  And then there is the brain in I can't remember what we did yesterday.  When someone asks me, "What did you do this weekend?"  I'm almost in a panic because I know it sounds really stupid to say, "I don't really remember"....but it literally is hard to remember what we did the day before.  I took a quiz this week to find out my brain age (okay here is the link, because I'm sure you will want to take it too)  Brain Age Quiz   Well, I scored the worst score.... I fell into the "0-11" category which told me I had a high risk for Alzheimer's and I could add 10 years to my chronological age to get my brain age.  *sigh*
I'm hoping to get a treadmill and start exercising early in the morning....yes, probably when I should still be sleeping! And my next plan is to switch from drinking a beer to drinking a glass of red wine.  Hey....just keeping it honest!
The Kids' Update
Isabel:  Poor girl gets her first two cavities filled this Wednesday!  Pray for her....she's nervous.  She is looking forward to showing the you know, a goat show.  We went to the NC State Fair in October and watched the goat shows and she was really captivated by it all and was taking mental notes.  I was so proud of her because she entered one of her pieces of art into the Fair and had it on display with hundreds of other pieces of art for all of North Carolina to see!  She was so proud to have a "participant ribbon" on her painting.

Ian:  Ian has been a challenge lately ;)  His strong-willed spirit has been popping up more often, although there are also times when he is trying so hard to make good choices and please Mommy and Daddy.  I think he has been craving more one on one attention with me, and I have to find a way to make that time happen in a way that is meaningful to him (which usually involves playing trains).  However the other side of that coin is that when he is done playing with me, the "end" of the time is usually really hard even though I prepare him with "okay in 10 minutes, 5 minutes, 1 minute I have to go make dinner...." or some other task.  There is usually a meltdown because the fun has come to an end.  We are working on trying to find the balance with him.  When he is not engaged or occupied he is usually trying to find a way to get into trouble.  Boredom = "let's go destroy something" to Ian.  He just lives very's like 100% love, fun, rage, sadness, excitement, etc.....whatever he is feeling, he feels it very strongly ;)
Caroline:  Caroline has been tag-teaming with Ian lately. Sometimes this is really sweet and other times it is a lot of trouble! ;)
 I have really been thanking God that Ian and Caroline were not twins....there was one time when I just prayed and prayed for twins (and don't get me wrong, I do think twins would be double the blessings!) but boy, I just don't know if I would be cut out to be a mom to multiples! ;)  But I know God gives you the grace to handle everything with His help!  Caroline's favorite word at 19 months is "No!" and she says it even when she means "yes!" so sometimes it is frustrating for us both!  She has literally exploded in vocabulary from about 20 words at 18 months, to now at 19 months repeating pretty much every word we say.  It is crazy and it is fun, and it is also a lot of talking in our house right now! Hahahah!  She loves to sing along with the Frozen soundtrack as does Ian, she loves to throw balls, she loves to do "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes" and "Ring Around the Rosies", and she still pretty much can't stand to go for car rides. 
She also thinks she can do anything and everything her big brother and sister can do.  I think she must imagine herself to be a big kid trapped in a teeny tiny body!
And those are the activities, creatures and kids which have been keeping this mama so very busy these last 3 months!  Hopefully it won't be so long before I can update again.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Long Overdue "Meet Our Goats" Post!

In May of this year we purchased two yearling Lamancha doe goats from a local (well couple hours drive) dairy goat breeder. 

Their names are Lyrical Lady and Classie Lady and they are such fun, lots of work, and very entertaining and mischievous!

We will be breeding them for the first time this fall, and in the spring will hopefully have little baby goats and lots of fresh goat's milk! 

But first we had to build a fence and a barn for them. 


Below are some pictures of the inside:
The goats are standing on the milking stand that Rob just built.  Their head goes into the section on the end (where they get something to eat) and the board on the right slides to the left and locks their head into place so they can't get away while you are milking.

We had just moved the milking stand into the barn, so the goats were eager to try it out ;)

Rob built the barn himself and we used lumber and parts that we purchased or got for free off craigslist, so we saved about $5000!

They are so much fun but they are always up to something! 
They are really sweet and will follow you all through the pasture.
We are so excited about getting milk in the spring!!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Prayers for a fellow blogger!

I know many of you know Marie from Joy Beyond the Cross, as we Catholic infertility bloggers tend to run in the same circles ;)   I was elated to find out we were pregnant at the same time and both due mid-August.  

She just had her baby, a little girl, on Tuesday, but today the baby has just been transferred by ambulance to another hospital and is having some episodes.  Please pray that the doctors can figure out what is going on and can fix it 100%! 

Our family is asking the intercession of Blessed Titus Brandsma for this prayer request.

Here is some information about Blessed Titus.

Please, please stop and take a moment to pray for their family.  I can't imagine the fear they must be going through.

Here is the link to her blog.

Thank you prayer warriors!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Oh how they are growing! A picture post.

My little ones are growing up.  Of course, it's happening every day.  But it is going so fast.  Here are some new pics so I can remember these days.

These days of playing on dirt piles.

And savoring ice pops.

And for the first time!
And wearing muck boots everywhere.

And dancing in the pasture.

And catching chickens and exploding with laughter when they do.

And drinking from the hose.

And being so happy about getting really dirty.

And almost being able to reach.

And walking!
And really walking!

And growing up.

Growing up.

Growing up.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Good news! HCG is negative for the first time since February!

So after my last blood draw on June 23rd at which my HCG level had remained at 1 for 3 consecutive weeks, my OB released me to monthly blood draws.  So I went this past Monday and I got the news that my HCG is FINALLY at zero.  Wow. 

What I was not expecting was that he wants to continue to check my levels for 6 consecutive months.  Not 3 as we had initially thought.  This is because it has taken so long for me to get to zero.  I guess the longer it takes to get to zero, there is a greater chance for those cases to develop the cancer, so they monitor your levels longer.  So 5 more  months of blood draws will take us to the end of December.

We will have been wrapped up in this for almost a year by the time this is all done. 

Anyway, I just learned of a mother who just lost her baby girl in this same way.  My heart is aching for her and her family.  Their baby made it to 19 weeks.  Would you please stop and offer a prayer for the family of baby Susannah? 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

HCG level remains at 1 and the grief hit me.

So it took 3 days to get an answer back from my doctor, but it looks like my HCG level is at 1 for the third week in a row. 

Maybe some people just don't get down to zero? 

So he said I could now do monthly checks!  Hooray! 

It's hard to imagine that I would have been really big and pregnant about now.  I had a hard time a week ago when I went to get my levels drawn and there was a new nurse who had never met me.  When I checked in and told her I was a weekly standing appointment, she immediately asked "glucose levels?" and I told her, "No, HCG."

"Oh, you're pregnant?  Well that's great!"

I started stammering and trying to make my mouth make some sort of words; my face must have looked frowny, because she looked at me and tried to correct herself (not any more accurately, unfortunately)... "Oh, just had a baby?"

"We lost a baby and they are checking my HCG levels to make sure they go down."

Finally...I got it out.

"Oh I've had a miscarriage too,"  she said offhandedly and went back to her paperwork.

I took my seat to wait for them to call my name.  My mind was reeling. 

What just happened?  Where was my usual lady?  She was going to ask about how Isabel was doing and what were our plans for the summer?  And how were the goats?  And she wasn't here.  Just this new lady asking me if I was pregnant and if I had just had a baby and then casually commenting about miscarriage as if we had both just stubbed our toe and man, doesn't that hurt?

I was trying to work it all out in my head, the odd interaction, when I got called back by the only pregnant nurse in the office.

"Do you always use the same arm?" she asked me as I thrust my left one out.

"Well, yeah, why?"  Thinking it must look bruised or messed did she know?

"Well you come here every week and I just wondered."  She paused and then continued..."because I have to get blood drawn and it about drives me crazy and I always have to switch arms."

Her now obviously pregnant belly was right at eye level as she tightened the tourniquet and asked me to make a fist.  So now I had to comment on her pregnancy, because what else could she be referring to?

"When are you due?"


"Well congratulations!  That's wonderful!"   I was happy for her.  I have not had those awful feelings of anger and jealousy after losing Francis Marie that I have had after previous losses. 

Then she said, "Yeah, that's what everyone's been saying.  But I don't know.  I was so sick the first 3 months I dropped 10 pounds and now I'm so tired I can barely stand it."

Ugh...there it was.  The ungratefulness.  The fact that this girl was quite healthily pregnant and wasn't even sure if she was happy about it.  I felt my stomach turn and my heartbeat quickened.  I had the opportunity, had I been thinking to say something beautiful...something profound...something that maybe could have changed her viewpoint.

Instead all that came out was, "Well, the tired part will only get worse!  Hahah....good luck."

And I jetted for the door taking a deep breath as I passed under the neon exit sign.

I got in the car and that's when it hit me....the grief.  For perhaps the very first time since February I was just overcome with this terrible depressed feeling.  It clouded everything in an instant, like a sweeping fog over my whole being.  I immediately thanked God for keeping this feeling from me for so long, but instantly dreaded the loss of His consolation as the grief washed over me.

I didn't want to go home to my kids and my husband.

I just wanted to sit in the car.

Maybe drive away somewhere far.

I really wanted a cigarette. 

Yep, I thought back to the time when cigarettes made me feel better.  When I would get mad or depressed and all it took was one cigarette to relieve some of those awful feelings.

Okay, nope.  Can't go buy cigarettes now at 34.   You're past that.  You've got little kids at home.  That's a bad plan.

Luckily I agreed with my subconscious and finally succumbed to the realization that I just had to go home and face the rest of the day...real life.  Still dishes from breakfast and lunch to prepare and laundry and goats and diapers...

So I went home and my dear husband realized that something was not right.  And I was able to tell him.  And he said, "Yeah, it's strange how grief can hit you at the oddest times out of nowhere."

So true.  Thankfully the grief was just for a day or two and it has passed for the time. 

Then on Sunday, the Feast of Corpus Christi, the first reading was Dt. 8: 2-3

Moses said to the people:
"Remember how for forty years now the LORD, your God,
has directed all your journeying in the desert,
so as to test you by affliction
and find out whether or not it was your intention
to keep his commandments.
He therefore let you be afflicted with hunger,
and then fed you with manna,
a food unknown to you and your fathers,
in order to show you that not by bread alone does one live,
but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of the LORD.

"Do not forget the LORD, your God,
who brought you out of the land of Egypt,
that place of slavery;
who guided you through the vast and terrible desert
with its saraph serpents and scorpions,
its parched and waterless ground;
who brought forth water for you from the flinty rock
and fed you in the desert with manna,
a food unknown to your fathers."

Wow....that just totally spoke to me.  God directed their journeying in the desert....He directs MY journeying in this desert so as to test me by affliction to find out if I would keep His commandments.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Garden End of June 2014

Here is our garden update for the end of June.

Our potato plants pretty much succumbed to the Colorado potato beetle infestation.  However, the potatoes are still in the ground and will be harvested in the next week or two.
Beans are shot because I decided to test out "what happens if you put uncomposted chicken manure on them" and my experiment failed...they die.  That's what happens.
I tried a second round in the same spot and guess what....that experiment failed too.
Planning on trying one more round in a different spot, and I'm hoping that it is not too late to put bean seeds in the ground.  I guess we will see.

Squash, zucchini, tomatoes, watermelon, cantaloupe and pumpkin are all growing well.

Okra has popped up and looks good so far. 

Of the pepper plants that survived, they are looking tiny but leaves look good.  I need to feed them.

Corn is growing on the stalks, but our stalks and leaves are not nearly as tall or lush as our neighbor's because we didn't fertilize them like he did. 

And the weeds....well, weeds are everywhere.  Between the kids and the other kids (dairy goats), there is no time to weed or fertilize or spray NEEM oil.  The garden just is what it is right now.  And we are lucky that it is producing and kind of running on it's own for the moment!

The other night we ate a meal entirely from our garden/homestead!  My brothers came over and we made a beer-can chicken (with one of the meat chickens we raised), potato salad with fresh potatoes and eggs from the garden, cucumber salad, and deviled eggs!  All from our own land!  It was truly a farm to table meal.

I'm really thrilled with how well the squash and zucchini are doing this year.  Last year it was so wet, that they did not do well at all, but we are growing squash and zucchini out our ears right now and the plants look really good!

Isabel's Humberto tomato plant

Tomatoes and weeds.  These tomatoes are starting to yellow on the bottom leaves.


New cucumber variety we are trying this year:  Edmonson, I think.  It is good for slicing or you can see it looks just like a pickle.

Cucumber plants and weeds.

Corn and weeds.

This is a bug on the fruit of my potato plant.  Potato plants occasionally produce fruit which is not edible and of no use to the gardener, since potatoes are grown from...well, from a sacrificial potato, so to speak! 

Watermelon plants and weeds...notice a theme in our garden?  Hahah!

Some squash and 2 cucumbers and kale seed pods that I will let dry out.  Found out the hard way that once they dry out they burst open on their my garden is littered with hundreds of kale seeds that I was hoping to save in a little baggie.