Saturday, May 30, 2009

Fully Aware

I am fully aware that next Saturday will mark eight months since Felicity entered Heaven. I am also fully aware that we already have many activities happening that day and the week leading up to it. Please lift me up in prayer this coming week as I am already feeling myself slipping into a fog. I realized today that this week marks more time missing Felicity than time spent anticipating her arrival. We've known her longer as a memory than a reality. Oh, that hurts! Some moments it hurts so badly, I don't think I can stand it.

I thank God daily for my boys as their presence has truly sustained me physically these many months. While God has sustained me spiritually and emotionally and Paul has been my all-around supporter, without Ethan and Elijah to love and care for, I really think the past 8 months would've been quite different. I don't even like to think how different. But I ache to think of other grieving moms I've met who don't have any other children to help them through this deepest of valleys. So boys, someday when you look back on this time, please know that you helped me so much!

And thanks to you all, who have faithfully prayed for me and my family. I don't know what I would've done without you all. Thank you for sharing your own stories of loss and helping me see the path ahead of me.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Our Garage Under the Deck

Anyone who's anyone out in the country has outbuildings. Large modern barn-like structures (or actual barns) that shelter their animals and/or equipment like tractors, motorcycles, mowers, and the like. We are less than anyone, as we have no outbuildings - unless you consider the newly constructed chicken coop. While outbuildings are nice, they also increase one's property taxes.

When we move here a little over two years ago, we didn't have the money to build any outbuildings. We still don't. And we're okay with that. During one of our many trips to Menard's (like a Lowe's or Home Depot if you don't live in the midwest), we noticed someone buying a product called a "garage in a box." It doesn't takes much explanation to tell you what it is. It's a $300 product that has a basic frame to which you attach a large tarp and voila!

We didn't want to spend $300 for something that would be destroyed easily by the high winds in our area, but when we bought our tractor (aka "the other woman") we knew we'd need a place to store it. So, my handy (and handsome) husband built us this:

A GARAGE UNDER THE DECK! Originally it was constructed of tarps but the winds quickly destroyed them so this past fall, my dad (who always seems to get roped into Paul's projects) and Paul, put up wood sides. There is also a "door" which is removed during the spring-fall seasons. Did I mention my husband is a mechanical engineer and very smart? (Though I was the one who actually had the idea first.)

This year a pair of birds decided they'd like a home under the tractor canopy. We still can't quite agree if they're phoebe birds, king birds, or bank swallows. But there they are and there's even eggs in the nest. They should be hatching any day.
Here's the resident groundhog. Elijah was downstairs one day and called to Ethan and I and said he saw a "big girl" (big squirrel) though we had no idea at the time that's what he meant. We ran downstairs and saw this guy peeking out through the edge of the "garage" and the "door" that was propped up against it. We haven't seen him since, but Paul has seen holes farther back on our property that mostly likely are his doing.

We flew this kite for a short period on Memorial Day. It kept getting stuck in our recently transplanted black walnut trees.
And as for those pesky chickens who keep pooping everywhere (like inside the real garage - eww!) and digging up my garden, they are laying VERY nicely. If you want to know if your eggs from the store are fresh, the yolks should look like these, with a very vibrant orange color. YUM!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A Plethora of Things

Okay, pizza's in the oven and I've got approximately 25 minutes to pound out a post. I'd really rather be reading my favorite blogs or on Facebook, but I feel like I need to catch up on here. There are so many thoughts and feelings swirling through my brain lately, it's been hard to think about a topic for a post, so I've just avoiding writing one. I used to thrive on multi-tasking, in fact I could rarely do just one thing at a time. Now I feel like if I'm going to get anything done, I need to focus on one thing at a time. It's been a weird transition.

Lately I've felt like I've been doing a pretty good learning to live with grief. It's hasn't caught me unawares lately, but I also haven't been able to bid it adieu. So, I've just accepted its presence and it seems like we're starting to be tolerable roommates. It's like a quote I heard, "You can go to Griefville, just don't pack an overnight bag."

We've had our share of allergies (Ethan) and sleep issues (Elijah) around here lately. Can anyone suggest any good remedies for dark circles under one's eyes? Plus we're trying to wrap-up our homeschool year. We have about 12 days left. I always plan on doing some stuff during the summer, but not much. The garden's mostly planted. Now it's time to start weeding - ugh! We've been having bizarre weather lately. Yesterday is was 96 degrees, but it's only 66 today. Give me 66 degree weather year round and I'd be very happy. With the weather at least.

The chickens are busy pooping everywhere, but are also laying nicely. I hear our rooster, Peter Drumstick, crowing quite regularly. Like many things, I'm learning to ignore it. A couple weeks ago we had a visitor, a groundhog in our "garage under the deck." But that's a post for another day. I know I promised a post about septic tanks, but the chicken poo has squashed my enthusiasm for the subject. It'll happen eventually.

And there's the timer for the pizza. I hope my homemade whole wheat crust is edible.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

A Sign

I don't believe in coincidences, fate, or luck. I believe in the providences of God. I believe that He is all-knowing, all-powerful, and present everywhere.
I believe He gave me this as a sign of His Goodness and His Faithfulness!

PINK blossoms on Felicity's apple tree!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Faith's Lodge

"FAITH - Sorrow looks back. . . Worry looks around. . . Faith looks up."
For those of you who didn't know, Paul and I went to Faith's Lodge last weekend. We left the boys with Gramma and Papa and traveled up to Danbury, WI on Thursday evening. We are only about 75 minutes from Faith's Lodge, though I know that people from all over the country travel there.

Faith's Lodge was dreamed up and built by Mark and Susan Lasek after their first daughter was born into Heaven because of an umbilical cord accident. While I don't know whether the Laseks are followers of Christ, they named their daughter Faith because they knew they'd need a lot of faith to get through life after her death. It's amazing how this couple has used their love for their daughter to touch so many people.

Faith's Lodge is a beautiful retreat for parents and families who have a sick child or a child who has died. It is situated on 80 wooded acres. The planning and building took a few years and the Lodge will have it's second anniversary in June. It is a beautiful "home" with eight suites, a movie room, kitchen, dining room, library, craft room, and family room. It is an amazing place! Here's a picture of the back of this little cabin in the woods. Paul and I sat in the middle set of chairs, right outside our suite late Friday morning and had devotions. A barred owl listened in from about 100 ft away.

About 30 minutes after we arrived, we felt totally at home. Carla, the "house mom" for the week, played a big part in this. As a mom who has lost three of her children, she truly knew our heart ache. There were five other couples there, all who have lost a baby. It was heartbreaking to hear each story. But I think we learned a lot from each other, despite differences in beliefs. We were also blessed to have Sherokee Ilse, the author of Empty Arms and international speaker on infant loss and her business partner, Tim Nelson, the owner of A Place to Remember with us on Friday and Saturday. They have co-written a book called Couple Communication After A Baby Dies - Differing Perspectives which we all received.

Paul and I spent much of Friday making a variety of crafts to remember our babies. (Paul, thanks for being such a real trooper, since crafting isn't your favorite activity.) These are the stones we made for Felicity and Jeremiah. We left them at the Bridge of Hope with the stones of all the other children who's parents have visited Faith's Lodge. It is such a heartbreakingly beautiful place.

We made a garden stone to remember Felicity.

Paul burned this piece of wood and I made an ankle bracelet with Felicity's name on it.

On Saturday, we had a long session with the other couples, Sherokee, and Tim. It was really emotional as we each told the in-depth story of our child's life and death. The time at Faith's Lodge is usually very unstructured to accommodate each family's needs. Our weekend was a special weekend paid for by First Candle, which is why Sherokee and Tim were there. (The Lodge usually asks that families donate $25/night, but does not turn anyone away if they can't afford to do so.) We were not required to participate in anything we didn't want to and that truly is the beauty of Faith's Lodge. Paul and I were able to build some relationships as well as retreat together to spend time alone.

I love how the lodge gives us so many opportunities to remember our children. We made so many things with Felicity and Jeremiah's names on them. There is also a journal in each suite where you can write your child's story. We never made it up to the full-size tepee they have out on one of the trails, but we were told we could take a marker with us and write on the walls of the tepee if we wanted.
On Sunday, Mother's Day, we left late morning. That morning it was "nice" though to be around other grieving moms and know that I wouldn't be the only one with tears in my eyes. The hardest thing though was knowing that we were the only one going home to living children. All the other couples had lost their first child. I can't imagine that pain.

This is a beautiful quilt we got to pick out and take home with us made by The Thimbleberries. What a beautiful remembrance of our babies and our time at Faith's Lodge. I've already ordered a quilt hanger for it, so we can hang in on the wall.
I can't say enough good things about Faith's Lodge. If you are a grieving parent I encourage you to check it out. They have schedules of who they take and when so that while you're there, you're in the company of other couples in similar circumstances. The only advice I'd give is to stay there as long as you can. We could have checked in on Tuesday and stayed through Sunday, but couldn't due to Paul's work schedule. We hope to go back to Faith's Lodge again in the future and know that we will be praying for this unique organization.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

A Letter From Heaven

If you're a mommy missing her precious baby in Heaven, please read this!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Seven Months

I can't believe it's already been seven months since our lives changed forever. In a moment we stepped from a normal life into a life of shock, chaos, confusion, and pain.

I remember the moment my doctor walked into my hospital room and told us that they hadn't been able to resuscitate her. I remember holding my girl's almost ten pound body so careful because she seemed so fragile. I remember Paul praying over her and asking God to breathe life into her body.I remember trying to memorize in my shocked state what she felt like in my arms. I remember not being able to smell her sweet newborn smell because my nose was so stuffed up from crying.

I remember her long toes and her head of dark hair. I remember how soft her skin was. I remember the kindness of those around us in the hospital, how gentle they were with us and how lovingly they held and cared for Felicity. I remember looking at the painting that was hanging in the hospital room, thinking it looked like Felicity grown up in Heaven. I look at that painting every day, because it now hangs in my living room, inscribed by the artist 'in loving memory of our precious Felicity Faith.'

I remember thinking almost immediately, "I'll just have another baby. That will make everything okay."

I remember the pain of hearing about Ethan's excitement over his sister turning to tears of sadness when Paul had to tell him she was in Heaven. I remember how lovingly Elijah held her and touched her, like he too was memorizing her. I remember seeing my husband in pain and anguish, in a state I'd never seen him in before.

I remember the intense desire to keep my girl in my arms forever and the overwhelming longing to be home with my boys. I remember the confusion over planning a funeral when I should've been learning to nurse a newborn again. I remember having to send out the email telling everyone what had happened. I remember going through the few girl clothes we had and picking out what she would be buried in.

I remember so many painful memories and yet they are ALL the memories I have of my daughter. So I embrace the pain, remember her, thank God we had her for as long as we did, and hope for Heaven, when I will see her again and be able to look into her eyes for the first time. And there will be no more tears or sorrow or weeping!

I miss you sweet girl! Until Heaven, I will hold you close in my memories. You are always remembered, always missed, always loved.

Felicity's apple tree, soon to be in full bloom. I'm wondering what color the blossoms will be.

Felicity's brothers

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


My original slant when I started this blog a couple of months before Felicity died was, "a city girl's perspective on life in the country". I realize I've not written much about my perspective on life in the country, but am resolving now to begin doing so. And it was all inspired by the gift I received on Saturday from my sister-in-law, Annette. Yup, that's the gift on my head - a bonafide gardening hat.

And if the above picture fails to give a good view of this hat, here's another photo from the side. (That's a frog on the side. And don't worry he's not lonely. There's a bee, ladybug, flower and sun to keep him company, not to mention all those sunflowers.) If I wore this hat in the city, I'd get some looks, but out here in the country, it's actually quite the fashion. With our lack of trees and major wind here, this large of a hat could make me airborne. But, hey, the boys would love it. For once I'd be a fun mom. And if all else fails, this hat could certainly be hung on the wall for decoration.

Along with the hat delivery, my brother-in-law brought us four new family members. We've named the hens Feathers, Omelet, and Henny Penny. In my opinion, naming our animals is half the fun of owning them. Of course, I may regret doing so if we butcher them later in the year and my children have bonding issues later in life.

And this handsome guy is Peter Drumstick. Peter is in honor of my bro-in-law.

With the rising food costs, we're going to put them to work right away. So far we've received one egg (unfortunately brown, not golden). They are free-ranging it for the first time today. Hopefully after two days of being cooped up (literally) they'll willingly return to the coop at the end of the day. I'm also hoping they'll lay their eggs in the nest boxes rather than under our pick-up truck, though I doubt Elijah would have any problems crawling under the pick-up to retrieve eggs. I'm just not sure the eggs would survive.

So, as a former city girl I'm learning about caring for chickens. The advantages are the eggs and the experience for the boys. The drawback would definitely be the poo. I didn't realize chicken poo is so large.

And lastly, while it doesn't have anything to do with chickens, I thought I'd further embarrass my stud of a husband in this photo taken at our AWANA carnival last week. My women's group always does a theme game and this year we all dressed up as Egyptians. It was A LOT of work, but also a lot of fun (for about an hour :)
Stay tuned for another country living post sometime in the next week. Topic: Septic tanks. Seriously.