Thursday, December 23, 2010

11 Months Old

I can't believe Caleb turned 11 months old yesterday. Where has the last year gone? I remember last year, being hugely pregnant and trying to enjoy the holidays, while trying not to worry about Caleb's impending arrival and health until he arrived.
He's such a happy little joy. We are in the midst of a bout of the stomach flu right now and thankfully he has stayed healthy. On Monday we were out and about and at one of our stops a middle-aged black man talked and smiled at Caleb for 10 minutes. He was so enamoured with Caleb and it made my day when he said, "He's just so JOYFUL!"
At 11 months Caleb loves to eat and nurse. He isn't much into baby food (especially not fruits), but loves to have pieces of meat, veggies, banana, avocado, and oatmeal on his high chair tray to pick up and put into his own mouth.
He still only has the bottom two teeth, but I'm pretty sure one of his top ones is going to come through within a week or two. He loves to be acknowledged for anything and claps when we clap. He likes to play peek-a-boo and gives high fives. He waves hello and goodbye. He is busy, busy, busy. I don't think I can say he's much of a cuddler unless he's nursing and sleepy, but he is starting to recognize the comfort that comes from relaxing against me or Paul.
We thought he would be walking by his first birthday, but now I'm starting to wonder. He walks along furniture and climbs up to anything and everything. He loves to stand up to the bookcase and pull all the board books off the shelf and drop them in a pile. He puts everything in his mouth. Just last week in the church nursery, I pulled out a piece of wood and a piece of cement, though not at the same time.

He's starting to point to things which is one of the cutest things babies learn to do. He also says "dis" when he points. He loves to stand up to the dishwasher and "help" load or unload. He's started to stick his butt up in the air when he sleeps. He also lays on his tummy in the bathtub which is adorable.
Merry Christmas! May you be blessed by celebrating the birth of Jesus and all that means!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas Letter and Photos

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! What a blessed year this was for our family and we hope for yours too. We were most blessed this year by the arrival of Caleb Isaac on January 22, 2010. He was 7lbs. 14oz. and 19.5 inches long. Although he had to spend the first few days of his life in the NICU due to hyperbilirubinemia, he has been healthy since. He is now 10 months old and very active. He's been crawling for over two months and is now pulling himself to standing and walking along furniture. He is a happy guy who loves eating things off the floor, trying to sneak into the bathrooms, and laying on his tummy in the bath. He has auburn hair which we hope stayes that way. While Caleb could never replace Felicity, his presence inour family has helped us with the healing process. We thank God for bringing him into the world and into our family.

Elijah is 4 and growing by leaps and bounds. While he is not officially in school yet, he joins us for part of our homeschooling day. He is learning to write his letters and identify their sounds. Just recently he has become self-motivated to do addition and subtraction problems. He loves to talk when he should be eating and eat when it's not mealtime (snacks!). He is currently wearing most of the clothes Ethan wore a year ago and if things continue this way, he may soon surpass Ethan in weight. He enjoys crafty things as well as being active. He is doing a gym class and a cooking class through our home school co-op.

Ethan is 8 and in third grade. He is learning multiplication and cursive this year. While he doesn't always enjoy writing, he is really good at it and started a blog as a way to learn computer skills and improve his writing. Check it out here. He loves to go biking, play the wii and attend AWANA. His sense of humor is blossoming and he's always making plays on words in the attempt to be funny. He is a big helper with Caleb, though Caleb is getting quite heavy for him to carry.
Paul continues on at Honeywell and has done a bit of traveling this year although nothing out of the country. We attended the Minnesota Association of Christian Home Educators conference in Rochester in the spring, which was a nice getaway with just the baby. In July, we spent a few days vacationing in Duluth as a family. In August, after helping with a church nursery remodel, I was spurned on to begin painting our house. I had been wanting some color in the house and the walls were in a sorry state since we never painted before moving in. We painted most of the upstairs level as well as the downstairs bathroom. It was quite the project with all our vaulted ceilings and with a baby in the house. I plan on painting our bedroom in the spring and possibly using the leftover red paint on the chicken coop with the help of a certain hard-working eight year old. I continue to lead La Leche League meetings, volunteer as nursery coordinator at church, and blog. We had a very bountiful garden harvest this year, especially with tomatoes, so I was able to freeze many quarts of spaghetti sauce and pizza sauce. Paul was recently voted in as a trustees at church, so he looks forward to using his time and talents in that capacity.
We have many goals for the coming year, especially in the areas of becoming more self-sufficient. We're looking at getting more chickens (ours disappeared this year, probably the victims of a local coyote gang), starting some bee hives, possibly getting a milk cow, and who knows what else! We're very blessed to have the space and land to accomplish many of these goals if we put forth the time and effort. If you're ever in the area, we'd love to have you stop by! May God bless and keep you and your family in the coming year!
Love from Paul, Rachel, Ethan, Elijah, and Caleb

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Year in Status Updates

I think you can click on this to make it larger. Kind of a fun "summary" of facebook status updates.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

A Few of our Favorite Things: Christmas Gift Edition

I thought I'd share some of our favorite toys/games/stuff. I'm always in need of gift ideas and I figure some of you may too. 'Tis the season! Rush Hour has provided hours of fun at our home (and fighting over who gets to play next!). While the original Rush Hour (the car version) says it's for ages 8 and up, Elijah was playing some of the easiest scenarios before he turned four. The object is to get the red vehicle out of the traffic jam by moving the vehicles around. Paul has mastered the car one, so I got him the Railroad Rush Hour, which is harder. These are available in game stores as well as through Amazon.
Jonathan Park audio adventures are great for teaching kids how to defend creationism from a young earth standpoint, all while listening to exciting stories. These are available from Vision Forum.
The String Along Lacing Kit is great for boys and girls. Elijah got it for his 4th birthday and has been happily creating pictures ever since. Instead of your traditional lacing kits, where you lace through holes, this lacing kit has a plastic "pen" you put your string into and then the board pinches the string as you move it from spot to spot. Then to undo the picture, you just pull on the string. It comes with many different colored strings and patterns.
These computers were purchased 1-2 years ago. We found the first for Ethan for Christmas 2008. It was the only non-brand name one we could find. The leapfrog ones are expensive and when you compare them, you're really paying for the brand name. It turned out to be a great intro for using a real computer and our boys have learned so much. We searched endlessly for another one to no avail until last Christmas. That's when we found a bilingual one. It's a little different, but still good. For only $20, these are totally worth it. AND we've yet to replace any batteries in them!
This book is an INDESTRUCTIBLE. They are for babies (0-toddler). They are non-toxic and feel like heavy duty paper. Babies can chew, bend, and suck on them and they don't get ruined. They don't have any words, but very colorful pictures. At about $5 each on amazon, they are awesome!
I hope these give you some ideas for Christmas or birthdays! I'm not getting any compensation for endorsing these products, they're just that great! Happy shopping!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Absentee Blogger

Where has the month gone? I've been meaning to blog, even started a post or two, but in the haze of school, life, Thanksgiving, and now Christmas prep, I haven't been able to finish a post.

Even now I can't really spend the time to write much. The days fly by with all the chores that need to be accomplished. We're (read Paul) in the process of converting files from my near dead-laptop to another computer which has made it more interesting.

Caleb (now 10 months old) sure keeps me on my toes these days and sitting down to blog when he's awake is pretty much an exercise in futility. He's climbing along furniture a little now and is busy putting everything he can find in his mouth. Just the other day I pulled a box elder bug out of his mouth! Ew! It was the whole thing too. I'm not sure if it was alive when it went it, but it was dead when I pulled it out. We'll all be surprised if he's not walking before his birthday.

I don't feel like I have much time to process any complete thoughts these days either. Don't get me wrong though, I'm very content! I like the slower pace the winter weather brings to our home. It seems like not as much needs to be done, and we're able to enjoy just being together more. But with kids, life always seems to be hurried.

Felicity is still in my thoughts and heart, especially this holiday time. I remember so vividly the holidays of 2008, just weeks after her death, because that's about the time I think I was coming out of the fog and really starting to process her death. I envision her often in our lives, wondering how it would feel to have a little girl around in the midst of the all the testosterone. While the ache is duller, it's still hard not to think of what could've been.

So hopefully I'll have a real post soon. Blessings to you!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A Day In The Life

I truly intended to include photos in this post, but man, this was a hard one to do. The picture part got left in the dust by about 9:30 am. So maybe the next post will just be pictures of a day in our lives.

7:00 am (approx.) - wake up and try to encourage Caleb to go back to sleep while nursing. A no go, so we get up. Ethan and Elijah are already awake and playing on their toy computers on the couch.

7:05 - After bathroom break for me, I make coffee! Coffee, COFFEE, COFFEE!!! (I like my morning joe!) While coffee is brewing I get out the vacuum and do the boys' room. I always vacuum before changing their sheets since I feel weird (hello OCD) piling their blankets on the floor when it might (probably) has dust particles and other-things-I-try-not-to-think-about on it.

7:15 - change Caleb, pour first cup of happiness, doctor it up with cream and stevia, and enjoy a little ray of sunshine before I've actually seen the sun.

At this point Elijah has already done some whining - first that he's hungry when he sees me working on their bedroom and then later when I begin his morning habit (toast with peanut butter and jelly) because he's NOT hungry yet (because he'd rather go downstairs.)

7:30 - boys eat, I begin stripping their bunk beds. (Note: while I am a bit OCD, I only change their sheets once a month typically because it is my least favorite job in the world. Ethan and I have finally got a routine down for putting the sheets on the top bunk and it's still a major pain!)

8:00 - I make our bed and try to keep Caleb from crawling into our bathroom repeatedly. He is so cute, even though he now knows how to push the door open. Do some random clean up in the kitchen and sit down at the computer to finish my coffee (which is quite cool by now). Caleb nurses multiple times during this period as it's tons of fun to nurse for 15 seconds, get down, then start fussing in 30 seconds because you want to nurse again. Love the little bugger!

8:30 - take the baby downstairs to write up Ethan's schoolwork for the day on the whiteboard. Start a load of laundry. Get the boys moving on their chores while I finish up the beds (took off Elijah's bed rail, hoping he can sleep the night w/o falling off and I can retire the bed rail to the closet for 9 months or so (until Caleb's in bed with Elijah). Ethan takes a shower and I bathe Elijah and Caleb. Normally this is an Tues./Sat. evening event that Paul handles, but we were gone on Tues. night and Wednesday night we had church.) I consider myself victorious that Elijah does not put up a fuss during hair washing!

9:20 - nurse Caleb to sleep, eat a hard-boiled egg for my breakfast, get Ethan going on school while Elijah plays and then I exercise (currently doing Workout 2 on The 30 Day Shred - love it and hate it!)

10:00 - shower and dress, Caleb wakes up at 10:30. Work on school with Ethan.

11:30 - decide to run our errands now (while the sun is still out, which makes me feel more energetic) versus later. Everyone gets ready and Elijah whines about his shoes being tight, not being able to find his hat, yada, yada, yada. Eat lunch in the car.

12:15 - arrive in Cambridge to go to the co-op, but first makes a quick run through the thrift store since they're in the same strip mall. Get groceries at the co-op, drive back to our town, return a shirt at the outlet mall, and stop at the consignment store to pick up a check for items sold ($13.00 - woohoo!)

2:08 - arrive home, baby sleeps in van while we unload and put away groceries. Baby wakes and requires immediate sustenance. Ethan and I do his social studies and math while baby nurses and Elijah plays.

3:00 - make a batch of granola, check emails while having a cup of coffee. Go downstairs with everyone and do spelling/handwriting together (Elijah joins us for this part of school - though he listens to most everything we do).

4:00 - plug our school activities into our Edu-track program and we celebrate the end of the day with a movie and snacks. (Paul was gone in CA so I didn't have to make a big dinner.) We ate leftovers while watching our movie.

7:00 - brush teeth, do devotions, and tuck the big boys in. Elijah is very concerned he's going to fall off the bed w/o a bed rail so I have to give him a pep talk. Caleb and I do our nighttime stuff (washing my face, changing into pjs, change his diaper).

7:40 - head downstairs to watch a video. Caleb falls asleep and I tuck him in. I eat a little leftover ice cream from our w/e bday celebrations while watching the movie, then do some ironing while the movie finishes.

10:00 - write this and continue to be amazed that Caleb's been sleeping for almost three hours w/o waking up.

10:40 - finish blogging and head to bed - homeschool co-op bright and early in the morning.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

9 Months Old

Yesterday you turned 9 months old, little man. Where has the time gone? You are so sweet even when sick. Unfortunately you are recovering from the flu and a double ear infection, but you are happy regardless. I love this face you make because it emphasizes your dimples.
You are into everything! You love to crawl under the table until you get stuck under the chairs. You also love the blinds on the patio door even though we don't let you play with them if we can help it.

You still love to nurse, but you are very distracted by all that's going on around you. You light up when Daddy arrives home from work or when your brothers play with you. You are definitely a boy - your playing involves lots of banging things, exploring, and moving.

This is your lounging position, though you usually have your top leg crossed over the other. It's very cute! You can pull yourself to standing (or tip toes) but don't do it very often yet. You prefer to sit on your knees. You weigh 18lbs. 3 oz. (2-3 lbs. smaller than your brothers at this age), which makes you seem so little to Mommy.
You are starting to babble a lot. You can play "Pat-a-Cake" and "So Big." You give high fives and now try to kiss. You have quite a bit of hair that's already hanging over your ears and below your collar. I don't want to cut it yet, but I also don't want people thinking you're a girl. You're eating some food, though you like it best when it's in little pieces on your tray. You make the funniest faces when I try to feed you baby food on a spoon.
You are such a blessing! We love you Caleb and are so thankful you're a part of our family!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

In Living Color: A Home Tour, Kind Of

When we first moved out to the country in Feb. of 2007 our house was about 3.5 years old. It was in desperate need of cleaning due to the previous owners' rottweilers and I was just so thrilled to be moving into our first house. It never really occurred to me to paint before we moved in.

So after thinking about it and saying I was going to do it, I finally did it! It's not perfect, but it brings much needed warmth and personality to our living space, not to mention it has covered all the marks on the walls. I learned a lot in the process, about picking colors and about the actual technique. I did not paint our bedroom, the (current) guest room, the office, or our large school/play area, which has to be over 500 sq. feet. I do anticipate painting our master bedroom once I find a new duvet cover for our bed.
So without further ado, welcome to our home. We live in the country, within 5 miles of our town and about 50 miles from the big city (Mpls./St. Paul). We have 10 acres and live on a dirt road. North of our property is 20 acres of state land and to the east is another 40. We do have neighbors situated to the west of us, but we all have 10 acres each. Having grown-up in the suburbs of the twin cities, this is very country for me. For Paul, who grew up on a dairy farm in the bluffs of SW'ern WI, it's still not rural enough. He still desires to move to the middle of nowhere.
Our entryway (looking down from the main floor) is quite small for a growing family of 5. If you're looking for a home to buy, I recommend a large entryway or at least one without stairs. Going up is our main level and going down is the walkout basement. I wanted a darker brown for the entryway because of dirty boys (big and little) coming in. Due to the lighting in this area, the color I used, tends to look a little a bit orange-y at times. Other than that, it serves its purpose well.

At the top of the stairs is the dining room with the kitchen off to the right. This is an odd arrangement in my mind. The dining room is carpeted too, which also seems odd. These are not things I really thought much of when we first saw the house though.

This is the view of the dining room from the kitchen. The hallway leads to the 3 upstairs bedrooms and the bathroom.

The kitchen is my favorite room in the house. Our apt. prior to moving had a little galley style kitchen, emphasis on little. Moving into our house was like moving into a mansion in some respects. I love the corner sink and windows, which looks out onto our property and the state land ~ very picturesque. Because of the vaulted ceilings and walls connecting one room to another, I had to decide to either paint everything one color throughout or split up the colors on some of the walls. I opted for the latter.

Here is the living room. My camera does not do justice to the colors. The red is brighter than this picture shows.

To the left of this picture is where the kitchen is, though it is a separate room. Down the hallway from the dining room are the bedrooms. The first bedroom is the boys' room. I love how this color turned out. It looks baby blue in the picture, but it actually has a grayer undertone.

Across the hall is the main bath. It is just a mild tan color. I figure that way, I can change the theme easier in it if I ever desire to do so.
This is our master bath. I actually got this color from mixing two colors. I had picked out a color called "rice wine" for the hallway, which was a pale yellow color. Unfortunately though, it looked like puke green in our dark hallway so I had to repaint it a tan color. But I used the rice wine color and mixed it with the color I used in the downstairs bathroom and got this minty green color.

Note to those home shopping: the whirlpool tub seems great at first, but the jets are hard to keep clean inside, especially if the home has been preowned. They are not comfortable either. If we were to build our own place, we'd either skip a bath or just do a deep bath tub. We hardly ever use this. (There is a standing shower behind the door.)

And lastly, this is our downstairs bathroom. Not much to say here. Obviously, there is much of the house I didn't include because it didn't get painted (or photographed in a clean state). This home tour was mostly about the color thing. In doing this I realized that photographing rooms is very difficult and I'm not good at it.

Thanks for visiting!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Celebrating Felicity's Purposeful Life

Yesterday we celebrated two years of missing Felicity. Paul took the day off which was such a gift to me. My mom also joined us.

I started preparing for Felicity's birthday a few weeks ago. I really felt an intense desire to buy a little girl's outfit so I went and bought this outfit for a friend's daughter, who was born just a few weeks before Felicity.

Caleb woke up at 6:22 am yesterday, so I was able to be up before the sun and also be up at the exact time that Felicity was born. It helped me feel more connected to her and to her birthday to be awake during that time and be able to sit and think about her.

We spent the morning decorating cupcakes and arranging flowers to be delivered to some special people later in the day.
It was then that Ethan noticed the visitor on our deck. This is something that has never happened before, so it was really special to have it happen on Felicity's Day. And I was able to get a picture.

I think he's a northern goshawk, but I'm not too proficient in hawk identification. He sat there for about five minutes after we noticed him and then he took to flight which was a beautiful sight!

After eating cupcakes, we left for our day of celebrating. First of, we stopped at the hospital that Felicity and I were transferred to. We had one special nurse that day and she was wonderfully compassionate to us in our grief. We had not been back to see her since though we spoke with her on a couple occasions after Felicity's death. She knew we were coming today, but it was still wonderful to see her, hug her, and bring her flowers and a gift.

She asked if I'd be willing to work on a sheet of resources for grieving families that they can include in the folders that are given out. I told her I'd be thrilled to do it and I am! If you can think of a book/website/resource that was helpful to you, please comment so I can include it.

Next we went to see our NILMDTS photographer. She did not know we were coming and so it was really neat to surprise her! She shared with me that she had just been viewing Felicity's photos because the day before she had done another session at the hospital. So heartbreaking to hear of another family going through such pain.

After our flower delivery surprises were complete we headed down to our favorite hiking place. After lunch drove to a scenic spot overlooking the St. Croix River. The colors were beautiful even if they were past their peak. While we were there we did this:

The balloons traveled almost straight up. What a glorious day it will be when those who have believed on Jesus rise up into the sky to meet Jesus.

After that we traveled over to the Wisconsin side of the St. Croix to hike in Interstate Park. It was a wonderful indian summer day. The blanket of golden leaves on the ground in the forest made me think of the streets of gold in Heaven that Felicity walks upon.

After all that it was time for ice cream and pizza at Schoony's, our favorite restaurant in Taylor's Falls, MN. The celebration ended with a few minutes visiting Felicity's grave.
It was a good day, although not without tears. She will always be missed and loved! I am thankful though for the healing God has provided for our family in the past two years. We rest in His promises!

Thursday, September 30, 2010


With Felicity's 2nd birthday just around the corner, I've spent a lot of my time thinking on life two years ago. I'm not so consumed by the sadness anymore obviously and for the most part am grateful for each memory I have that relates to her. Those memories are all I have to feel close to Felicity.

My due date was September 28th, the day my parents returned home from their annual two week vacation. We all thought I'd have the baby while they were gone, though I really wanted my mom to be there for the birth. We tried a natural induction on the 30th of September which involved my midwife stripping my membranes, a castor oil smoothie (ew!), homeopathics, and some other things. Labor seemed to get going and then puttered out.

I remember spending our evenings watching "7th Street Theatre", which I had purchased for our anniversary. Several times while sitting there, I thought my water had started leaking, though it was all in my head. I remember the weather getting cold and only having one long sleeve shirt and one pair of pants to wear. At that point I thought I was going to be pregnant forever. (I was 41 wks and a day when she was born, even though both of my big boys had been born in the 39th week).

I remember taking a walk with my mom the night before Felicity was born. I waddled and groaned with each step. I think I even remembering shedding a few tears, thinking my very pregnant state was going to never end. The plan for the following day was to go with Paul to a midwife appointment and then spend the day together and de-stress by maybe going to a movie or something.

I remember the intensity of labor the following morning. I remember the shock and horror of birthing a purple baby and having her cord easily tear completely in half as the my midwife pulled her from the water of the birthing tub. I remember all the people who descended upon our home when Paul called 911. The cries and pleas we both uttered repeatedly as we were taken to the hospital via ambulance still ring in my ears.

I remember how when they moved Felicity back and forth from our room in the hospital, they covered her up so that no other patients would see her and be scared because she was obviously dead. I remember forcing myself to eat a ham and cheese sandwich for lunch at the hospital, while gasping for breath because of all the crying I'd done.

I remember coming home, but to be honest the days to follow are a blur. I can't remember if I ate regular meals, slept all the time, or sat practically comatose on the couch. I remember my inability to go downstairs where Felicity had been born for the first week or so. I remember googling "stillbirth" and "true knots" and reading everything I could find.

I remember my mom and my aunt laboring to create a bulletin for Felicity's memorial service and me saying that it wasn't really necessary. It turned out amazing and it's one of my favorite things about her service. I remember going to hold and comfort Ethan as he broke down in anguished sobs when we watched the NILMDTS video of our photo session for the first time.

I remember my intense need to be hugged by everyone at the memorial service. The physical contact seemed like the only thing holding me up. I remember Paul carrying Felicity's casket at the end of the memorial service out to the cemetery.

I remember all these things and many more. They are not easy memories, but I cling to them because they are all I have.

Despite not having Felicity here, I am looking forward to her birthday. Paul gave me the greatest gift a few weeks ago by announcing he's taking the day off so we can be together as a family. Knowing that has given me the strength to do some planning. I look forward to sharing Felicity's day with you soon!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Still Here

It's been a long time since my last post. I am fully aware of it, but have been quite busy.....painting my house! Yes, I finally started torturing my husband painting the inside of my house.

It's a disease now as I pretty much can't stop. I even have a really bad idea to try a mix a leftover color with a color that did not get used because according to my 8 year old it looked like I was painting the hallway "puke green." So anywho, I think mixing the two might be just the ticket. Someone please talk me out of this quickly!

The plan is to be done this weekend though I won't be done done until I can find a new duvet for our bedroom and then paint our bedroom. I'm still not sure how I feel about the kitchen color. I was going for a sage green which the paint sample "minted lemon" looked perfect. On the way to get it I got a little concerned that it might be too yellow. I needn't have fear. It is definitely green. Very minty green. It's a little like pepto-bismol pink....only green.

Once it's all done, I'm going to take you on a tour of my home. Hopefully I can use our camera well enough to capture the true essence of the colors. That way you can tell me whether I'm done or whether the torture continues kitchen needs to be repainted.

In other news -Caleb turned EIGHT months old yesterday! I felt his first tooth just a couple of days ago. He is still a peach!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

A Whole Lotta Stuff

Elijah is four! Here's to another year of enjoying him! Ethan turned 8 a couple of months ago, but I can't post any pictures because they're on our other computer that died.
Our church nursery remodel is almost complete due to many hands and lots of sweat. Thankfully no tears! What began as a new look through painting has become a major project with a wall removal, new carpeting (hopefully being installed tomorrow) that was donated, new paint, and all-around a whole new look. I can't wait for it to be done as it's been a lot of physical and mental work!

I am more than halfway to my goal of 24 quarts of spaghetti sauce and still the tomatoes are coming. At this rate, I may even get a bunch of pizza sauce made too. I recently discoved the Norpro Sauce Master and it is my new best friend.

Caleb has been crawling for about a week! He is now over 7 months old and I've never had a baby so mobile at this age, so it's been fun and crazy. We love him to pieces!

So we've been busy, especially considering we also started school. I'm still reading your blog posts, but haven't been doing much commenting because of time.