Saturday, November 28, 2009

Every Move You Make

Dearest Caleb,

Every move you make brings me such happiness. Each kick and turn causes me to offer up a silent prayer of thanks to God, for you and the hope you are bringing into our family. I also pray for your continued safety in the coming weeks. I ask God to allow you to come home with us. I plead with God to keep us from feeling more pain and I ask that He would protect your brothers especially.

We are so excited for you to be here! I feel you moving around as I type this on the laptop, though I'm running out of lap with which to hold the computer. Whenever Daddy and your brothers are playing or wrestling, I envision your participation and wonder what life will be like with three active boys.

No matter what happens we are very blessed. And I will continue to memorize your movements and enjoy each day with you. I look forward to holding you in my arms soon!


Saturday, November 21, 2009

Caleb Update and Life on the Range

I'm a bad blogger.

I'm getting so caught up in all that needs to be done this time of year, that writing blog posts has been put on the back burner.

Last weekend my parents took the boys so that Paul and I could have a little alone time and time to get some projects done around the house. On Saturday we drove into WI to pick up the 1/2 beef, 1/2 pig, and chickens we ordered from a small farm that does 100% grass-fed beef and pastured hogs and chickens. That took up the majority of the day, but it was fun to talk with Paul and not be interrupted by little ones. Sometimes it feels like all we ever talk about when we're alone is the boys, but it certainly didn't feel that way last weekend. Plus, we now have two (yes, two) standing freezers full of meat for the coming year. If you've never purchased meat this way, we highly recommend it. Especially if you can get it grass-fed. It's a hit on the bank account, but then we don't have to buy much other meat so your monthly grocery budget decreases greatly.

I'd also like to say that my cooking skills have improved as I have tons of different cuts of meat that I wouldn't normally buy at the grocery store. This is our second year doing it, and last year, I had to learn how to cook certain cuts that I had never done before.

We also got the top bunk put together for Ethan. Both boys were sleeping together on the bottom, which is a double, but that stopped working this past fall and we had to have Ethan sleep in the spare room. Ethan is thrilled to be sleeping on the top and it has become his favorite place to read as well. And I'm thrilled to have them back in the same room and have our spare room back. I'm all for keeping them together as long as possible.

I did a bunch of cleaning in preparation for Caleb while the boys were gone too. Got out the changing table to some of the clothes. I ordered wipes. Next month I'll buy some disposables. I do cloth diapers at home mainly, but in the beginning, it's nice to have disposables on hand too. I buy wipes and disposables on, because it's much cheaper. Especially if you do the 'subscribe and save' option. Not to mention the free shipping and delivery to your door.

Once the boys' came home it was craziness again as usual, with school and AWANA and getting Ethan ready to spend a week with his dad for Thanksgiving. They left very early this morning to fly to Alabama where the majority of Ethan's paternal family lives. (His dad and new stepmom live in OH.) I miss him like crazy already. We've had some issues with him lately, but things have been improving greatly and I really felt the changes we had made are drawing us closer to him. It's hard not to have him with us and he wasn't too keen on going, knowing what he'd be missing out on at home. He's still adjusting to being with his dad once or twice a year and reconciling that wiht the rest of his life here. Definitely hits home to me that God hates divorce. I can see now how much better our lives are, but there's still many ramifications, the majority of them being for Ethan who is the innocent one in it all.

It will be weird parenting Elijah as a single child this week. But it will give us an opportunity to focus on him, especially before Caleb arrives. Plus Paul is on vacation the entire week - WOOHOO!

Yesterday was Caleb's 30 week MCA scan. He did well again. I read into everything the doctor says, of course, while Paul's able to remain completely objective. I got the feeling that Caleb's numbers were "okay" as opposed to "great" like in past scans. We don't have to go back for two weeks and by then, we'll be nearing the home stretch. We still have a birth plan to write and decisions to make about delivery. Our closest hospital does not have a NICU, so we're debating about delivering in the cities, so if something does happen after birth, he won't be separated from us. Please pray for wisdom in making these decisions.

Have a great weekend and a blessed Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Dealing with Chickens

I don't often write about "a city girl's perspective on living in the country" which was the original slant on my blog when I started it before Felicity died. Well, some of you have made comments about the chickens and so I thought I'd do an in depth look at owning chickens. And by in-depth I mean, sharing the little I know about chickens. If you're friends with me on Facebook, you know that our chicken ownership has not been trouble-free.

We got our chickens in early May of this year. They were full-grown, hand-me-downs from my brother-in-law who had too many to feed keep track of. We originally were given one rooster and three hens, if my pregnant memory serves me correctly. Our goal was that they would be "free-range," eating bugs and such during the day and then roosting in the coop my hubby and BIL constructed at night. We, I mean Paul, would lock them up every night to keep them from being eaten by coyotes, foxes, etc. Because we wanted to have the healthiest eggs possible, we bought them organic feed. (They need their free-range diet supplemented with feed to ensure their health, and thus their egg laying ability.)

To accomplish their returning to the coop each night, we had to start out by keeping them
in the coop for a few days so their little chicken brains would associate the coop with home sweet home.

This worked for awhile until one night Paul reported that our rooster, Peter Drumstick, was not in the coop when he locked them in. We made the safe assumption that he had been eaten though we couldn't find any evidence of this. Then the following night, guess who was back in the coop? This continued for awhile, with Peter home for a night, then gone for two, then home again. We didn't know what to make of it, until we noticed him at our neighbor's place. They also have chickens. Finally Peter chose to defect to the neighbors permanently. We figure their hens must be cuter or nag less.

After a few weeks of owning the chickens, we had quickly learn their quirks and by quirks, I mean all the annoying things they do. First of all, they poop EVERYWHERE! We could no longer leave the garage doors open for any period of time because sure enough, every time we did, they'd leave a messy surprise for us. And let me tell you, chicken poop is not little! It's like owning multiple cats that never make it to the litter box and who've eaten something that didn't agree with their digestive system. Is that too descriptive? They even poop on our front step!!!

Secondly, they dig EVERYWHERE!!! We have 10 acres, but they like to dig in our new landscaping the most! I can't tell you how many times I've waddled down the steps and out the front door because I've spotted them digging up the mulch all around the edges of the landscaping. When we first found them doing this, Paul moved their coop into the garden as our veggies had since froze been harvested. We thought the chicken wire fencing around the garden (originally meant to keep them out) would keep them in. But no! We soon learned that the rooster (our replacement rooster) can fly out and then crows at the hens until they fly over too. So Paul electrified the landscaped area with some 6 inch tall fencing and they still get in there and dig it up. Nothing like having your front entryway covered with ankle high electric fencing (and chicken poo). Sure makes for a humorous blog post though!

I'll even admit to chasing them with a hoe one time and throwing tomatoes at them after they'd pecked holes in ones I'd just picked. And no, it wasn't pretty. Originally we told the boys "not to chase the chickens." Now they have free reign to terrorize the chickens. In fact when the boys and I harvested all the pumpkins and acorn squash left in the garden after a night of freezing temps, one boy helped carry them to the garage, while the other chased the chickens so they couldn't peck the squash we had just picked.

Thirdly, we learned immediately that roosters crow ALL THE TIME! While Peter Drumstick only graced us with his presence for a short time, we have since received another rooster from my BIL. (We didn't bother to give him a nice name, he's known only as "Stupid," "Dumb Chicken" or "Gimpy" because he walks funny.) The hens can be pretty noisy too. They go under our deck and made bizarre noises like they're being strangled.

On the 4th of July, I actually saw a couple of coyotes take one of our hens. My BIL brought us more and then we lost another to the elements. We currently have 1 rooster and 4 hens.

Originally our hens were each laying an egg a day. This production rate was pleasing to us and Paul was even able to take some of our extra "organic/free-range eggs" to work and sell them for $3/dozen. This helped cover the cost of some of the organic feed. (A 50lb. bag costs about $17 which last maybe 6 weeks.) Now we're only getting 1-2 eggs per day. Paul even rigged up a heat lamp and extra lights for them, as light and heat determine their egg production. But we're not seeing much improvement. We don't know what's going to happen next but Paul's thinking, "Off with their heads!" I'm okay with that, as long as I don't have to help in any way. Sorry Babe!

We would love to have chickens again next year, but have no clue what our plan of action will be. As you've noticed, I've done very little to no work when it comes to the chickens and I don't think I'm going to have much free time next year to dedicate to raising chicks. So we'll see. It's nice to start off with ones that are already laying. We had three cows in '08 and while I didn't do any of the work there either, it was WAY less work (for Paul) and money than the chickens have been. You just don't get the daily benefit of eggs from beef cows.

I'll keep you all posted on the developing chicken saga. And Paul, thanks for all you do around here. I don't thank you often enough for how hard you work, at work and at home! I'm dedicating this post to you, Babe!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

28 Week MCA Scan

Thanks for your prayers! Caleb looked great again on Friday's MCA scan. They also did the Bio Physical Profile which he passed with flying colors and a growth scan (that wasn't scheduled). We found out he's gaining well, at just over two pounds. It'll be interesting to see how accurate they are with actual weight when he's born.

We are so thankful to be going another two weeks without having to go down for another appointment. I'm also finally off my progesterone injections as of a couple of weeks ago.

I finally mailed out the dishrags to those of you who won them. All except one and she'll understand why when she actually gets hers.

We've finally had some beautiful fall weather here and yesterday we went down to Taylors Falls for a little hike (and pizza and ice cream!). It's always fun to get out with the whole family.

And finally, I'll be the first to admit I'm the most boring blogger in the world and push 'publish post' now and put you out of your misery.


Thursday, November 5, 2009

Going Backwards?

It's starting to hit me that Caleb could be here in 6 weeks.

I don't think I've explained this before. Because of the risk of anemia, if Caleb stays healthy until 34 weeks and then develops anemia, they would take him out (method to be determined) and do a blood transfusion afterwards, rather than doing an intrauterine one which involves more risk.

I don't particularly want him to be born that early.

My biggest concerns about when he is born are his health and how long he would have to be in the hospital, though I will admit, the idea of waiting until the end of January is not appealing.

I feel like my thoughts have gone backwards in terms of birth. I am still an active supporter of homebirth (having had two) and an advocate of natural childbirth (no drugs/medical interventions), but have found myself in a position where neither is an option. Homebirth is COMPLETELY out of the question due to the risks involved with Hemolytic Disease of the Fetus or Newborn, though I haven't ruled it out for a future baby who does not carry the little c antigen. And as for natural childbirth, at this point I am planning an induction around 38 weeks.

After losing Felicity at 41 weeks, the thought of waiting for labor to happen naturally (should Caleb remain healthy, with no sign of anemia) is terrifying. I know I would constantly be worried him being stillborn. Even now at almost 28 weeks (tomorrow), I worry A LOT! I am so thankful whenever I feel him moving inside. Those movements or the movements of future babies will never be taken for granted. Those movements tell me my baby is alive!

So this birth will be an interesting journey. We won't even know up until the point of induction/c-section where Caleb will be born or what the days/weeks after his birth will hold.

I am NOT ready for Caleb to be born in six weeks. There is so much to be done around here to prepare for him: meals to make and freeze, changing table to be brought out and stocked, clothes to wash, bassinet to be purchased, car seat to install. I'm ready to do all these things and yet, I'm not. While I pray daily for a healthy baby and truly believe he will be born okay, the thought of having to pack all the stuff away should something go wrong is so unbearable.

Tomorrow is Caleb's 28 week MCA scan and Bio Physical Profile. Pray for us tomorrow and in the coming weeks. Pray for good communication between Paul and me. Pray for Caleb to stay healthy. Pray for peace for the boys as this is hard for them too. I want to tell them their brother will be fine, but I can't, not after what happened with Felicity. We are very appreciative of your faithfulness in prayer!