Family Photo Friday


Another Friday is here. And it's the last Friday of September. The months just fly by. 

Here are a few photos I wanted to share.

My daughter has been done with Girl Scouts for over a month now. The troops' last big hooray was a weekend of tent camping at the end of August. My daughter loved it, especially since the camp had horses to ride too! 

I took pictures of my daughter's vest after just 1 year of being in Girl Scouts, to see her progress with patches and badges. Here's the front. The badges on the front are earned, through specific steps (usually involving some educational component and a fun, practical component). She's earned badges for Sign Language, Theatre, Bugs, Horses, and a few others.

And here's the back. These are "fun patches" which means they are related to some kind of fun activity she participated in - camping, canoeing, selling cookies, a luau party, a build-a-bear party, serving at the soup kitchen, donating items to Goodwill. There are a few patches that we bought just for nothing - one that said "homeschooling" and one that said "August Birthday." You can see that the back is filled up after just 1 year of scouting... I can now understand better why Girl Scouts has the girls buying a new vest (in a new color, with a new "level" of scouting) every 2 years. 

My daughter and I had some playdough fun one evening. Almost every night this last week she and I played Uno, which we both enjoy. We taught little brother to play too, so that added a fun new element. 

Here's my little guy saying good-bye to Dad one morning as he headed off to work. That's a tradition at our house - the "good byes" each morning as Dad leaves.

Our neighbor Sarah was over one day to play with the kids. They enjoyed making crazy creations with Fuzzoodles. My daughter had a belt with 3 eyes on it, a ring with 1 eye on it and a headband with scary teeth on it. I made some kind of a little buddy standing on the table by the globe. Sarah had earmuffs and a scarf made entirely out of Fuzzoodles. My son had a yellow sword. Fun times with a fun toy!

My daughter has been excited lately to work in the kitchen, baking and cooking. One evening she made us banana bread... ALL BY HERSELF! In this picture, she was making something called Twisters, which were like a biscuit that is rolled thin and twisted up to bake. She added green food coloring just for the fun of it. I'm encouraged to see her budding into a little chef who is getting more comfortable in the kitchen.

Happy Friday to you!

Field Trip: Amish Acres


Recently we enjoyed a field trip to Amish Acres in Nappanee, Indiana.  Amish Acres is a great place to visit to learn a bit about the Amish culture and step back to experience life in simpler times. 

The field trip included a visit to an old-time blacksmith shop.

This man explained how the Amish would make apple butter over an open fire.

We toured an old-time Amish house and discussed a lot about Amish culture, clothing, day-to-day routines and traditions. We saw a smoke-house (used for meats), a drying house (used for drying vegetables or fruits, much like a dehydrator is used today), and a huge outside brick oven that could bake over a dozen loaves of bread at once!

We also visited an Amish schoolhouse. 

It wasn't all educational. There were fun and games too. Everyone enjoyed the straw maze. 

There was even pumpkin bowling. 

We took a wagon ride around the farm, which was the highlight for my son.

At the end of the field trip, we visited the gift shop. My daughter found an Amish outfit for her American Girl doll that was in her price range, so she snatched it up. 
An Amish American Girl doll - that's something you don't see every day!

This field trip was organized by the co-op we are part of and it was another benefit of homeschoolers joining together to experience the same great field trips that elementary school students enjoy.

I find learning about the Amish to be fascinating. I admire their commitment to living out their beliefs despite persecution, despite the fact that the majority of people think they are crazy. Amish Acres provided a perfect opportunity to talk with my daughter about what we believe and why, about some of the choices we make and why. 

Once again I say, "Hooray for field trips!"

New Life

New Life. 

Back at Easter, I wrote this blog post about miscarriage and new life. At that point, the focus was on new life in heaven and rejoicing in the fact that my miscarried babies were enjoying life in heaven. I shared this picture of a beautiful blue hydrangea plant which was a memorial for my lost babies.

Now we're celebrating new life in a different way, as we rejoice with a new pregnancy that is so far progressing just fine. (Thank you, by the way, to those of you who have been praying for us!)

I wanted to share what has happened with that hydrangea plant since Easter. It was full of big blue blooms for months, as I kept the plant inside. Mid-summer we transplanted it outside. The big blue blooms quickly turned brown and shriveled up. We suspect the plant didn't like the summer heat or our backyard soil. But we left the plant there. A week or two ago, my husband cut off the old dead blooms and was shocked! He found these beautiful small pink blooms hiding in there! 

I just found the new blooms to be encouraging. 
New life, even when it's unexpected. 
New life, hidden behind the remnants of the past. 
Beautiful reminder of God's plans, God's timing, God's hidden plans, God's always-working-behind-the-scenes work to bring about good. 

I praise You, oh God, for new life all around!

Garden Update


 Our garden is nearing its end. It's bittersweet, really. We've all enjoyed different aspects of gardening. In this picture, you can see that the corn is completely gone - on the far right. And the far left had the cucumbers, which are now completely done also. In between we have the plants that are still producing.

Here's what we've harvested one day recently. We had three big cantaloupes. I still harvest green beans every 2-3 days and get enough for one meal. Our cherry tomatoes peaked a week ago but are still producing a good amount.

Our first-year garden experiment has been a success in every way. We've grown a lot of food that we've enjoyed during the summer as well as stored some away for winter. We've learned what grows well in our type of soil and what doesn't. We've all learned that it takes a lot to make a garden grow - our hard work of tilling, planting, weeding, watering, and harvesting. Not to mention God's part of the equation!

 These last two pictures don't really have to do with our garden, but with our backyard in general. 

Here's a silly squirrel on our bird house.

My daughter saw a hawk on the neighbor's deck one day and took this picture. Neat!

I know that we are blessed to have a big enough yard for a garden and to have creatures around to enjoy and study too. We are trying to be good stewards of what we have, to use it for good, to learn from it, to share with others.

Pregnancy after Repeat Miscarriages: What's Different

That's me at 24-weeks pregnant, back in 2007.


I've had 2 miscarriages in the last 15 months. Now I'm pregnant again. Things are a little different this time. 


We decided to tell people that we're pregnant, even though it's still very early. You can read about that decision here.

I will say that it feels a bit freeing to have told people, to know that people are praying for us. Dealing with the dread of "what might happen again" is a heavy burden. By telling people, it's being shared instead of me carrying it around secretly and alone.


Things are quite a bit different this time around as far as medical care. When I suffered my second miscarriage, my doctor told me a few things that we would do differently "the next time." 

A. Prenatal Vitamins. My doctor indicated that I should start on prenatal vitamins immediately upon finding out I was pregnant. He gave me an ongoing refillable prescription so I had access to prenatal vitamins as soon as I would need them. Therefore, I started on prenatal vitamins over 2 weeks ago, when I first began to suspect that I might be pregnant. 

B. Folic Acid. My doctor advised me to buy some over-the-counter Folic Acid and have it ready. Again, this should be taken immediately after a positive pregnancy test result. So, I had this on hand and began taking it immediately, along with the prenatal vitamins. 

C. Early Medical Testing. My doctor told me to seek immediate medical treatment when I found out I was pregnant. I did. A series of blood tests were ordered to confirm that my body was producing pregnancy hormones in the appropriate quantities. We don't know what caused my previous miscarriages, but one possibility (with any miscarriage) is a lack of the hormone progesterone. If the mom isn't producing enough of this hormone, a miscarriage is likely. My early test results showed that I was producing a normal amount of progesterone with this pregnancy, though it was at the low-end of normal. My doctor prescribed a low dosage of progesterone hormones for me, just to help boost those numbers. 

As encouraging as it is to know that things look good now... I know that doesn't guarantee the outcome. 


I feel different this time around. For the last week I've had a feeling of dread in the bottom of my stomach. People ask if I've experienced morning sickness. Honestly, it's been hard to tell the difference between morning sickness and the dread/anxiety/butterflies that make my stomach feel constantly queasy. 

Although I am a control freak, I have guarded myself from letting myself go into "planning" mode. I am not even thinking about names, the nursery, maternity clothes, the "stuff" we might need, or even the due date. I'm not letting my mind go beyond the next few weeks. Part of that is self-preservation, because I've been here before. I've let my mind go, I've marked up my calendar for the next 35 weeks, I've thought of names, I've pulled out maternity clothes when I was not even close to needing them yet. I thought through detail after detail. Then I've lost the baby and had a lot more ground to cover in grief than I might otherwise have had. 

This time, I've decided that this baby - whether "with me" for just a few days or for a full-term pregnancy - is going to know praise. I've been more conscious than ever of humming and singing praise to the Lord. I want this baby to know joy, because this baby's mama knows joy. I want to live with joy today, knowing full well that tomorrow might hold sorrow. I want to embrace this moment for what it is and celebrate. For today, I am pregnant. For today, there is new life growing inside of me. For today, I am joyful and hopeful and giving all praise to God who is the Life-Giver!

Big News Day


It's a big news day. 
It's my mom's birthday... and I'm pregnant! 

We're excited, very excited. 

We're also realistic. 
It's still early in the pregnancy - 7 weeks - which means that there is still a chance for things to go wrong, still a chance for another miscarriage. We're fully aware that a positive pregnancy test does not guarantee a baby in our arms in about 9 months.

We decided this time around that we would share the joyous news that we're pregnant. The last two times we've been pregnant, we have kept the secret, then lost the baby and shared the sorrowful news with the world. 

This time, you get to celebrate with us. And if the unthinkable happens, you will get to mourn with us. You can experience the range of emotions alongside of us. I'm just tired of being the bearer of bad news, of posting of my miscarriages after-the-fact on Facebook. 
This time, I am sharing good news. 
This time, you get to "rejoice with those who rejoice."
Please join us in prayer.
Pray for health and survival for this baby. 
Pray for our hearts that are excited, yet fearful. 
Pray for God to be glorified through it all. 

Happy Birthday, Mom! 
It wasn't that long ago that I was lamenting not being able to share joyful baby news with you in a meaningful way.  Well... in God's timing, today that joyful news became your birthday present.

Homeschool Co-Op


This school year, we've added something new to our homeschool plans - a homeschool co-op. 

What is a co-op? It's a cooperative, a chance for homeschooling families to get together to share some of the schooling. The idea is to get together one morning per week for 10-13 weeks per semester and supplement the schooling you're already doing at home. 

I heard about a co-op in our area over a year ago, but due to our own family crisis, I decided it wouldn't work for us last year. This year, I decided to go for it, to see how it would fit with what we already do for school. So far, it's been great! 

First, our co-op is made up of Christian families. There are many things about our co-op that make it distinctly Christian - we meet at a church, we open in prayer each week, we spend a few minutes worshiping together, and each mom spends 1 of the 4 class hours of the day in a prayer group with other moms. I like that a lot and it adds a much deeper dynamic to the group than would be there otherwise. 

My daughter is old enough to get to choose from a variety of electives for the 4 classes she takes. This semester she is taking Ballet, American Girl Book Study, US Geography, and Space Camp. Other options included: Cooking, Martial Arts, Sign Language, Wars, Missionary Studies and more that I can't even remember. These electives will be different for each co-op and each semester, as they depend on what interests the children have and what the moms can teach.

My son is in PreSchool, so he doesn't have electives to choose from but has a wonderful former Preschool teacher for his class who runs the show just like a formal Preschool. His biggest adjustment has been not having me in the room with him. He enjoys himself each week, but still is uncomfortable with me leaving the room each time. 

Of course, the idea behind a co-op is that there is give and take. So in addition to my kids enjoying great classes, I am teaching one class and assisting in others. US Geography / States and Capitals is my class. I like geography, so it was an easy choice for me. 

Our co-op has 50 families taking part, which equates to about 200 people. The leaders have organized it so well - everyone knows where they are to, what their role is, and everyone seems to enjoy themselves.

There are many benefits of a co-op. There are new friends to be made - for the kids and for the moms. Kids can do group games and gym time in a way that simply cannot happen with our small family at home. There's a greater opportunity for expanded learning - since we're not limited to only what I know or can teach (foreign language is a great example... my kids aren't limited to only what I can teach them, since other moms within the co-op know other languages and are willing to teach them). The co-op isn't meant to replace the learning that takes place at home, which is still the core and the basics (math, reading, writing, etc). It's meant to supplement the at-home learning and provide some of the benefits of traditional group-learning settings, without having to enroll in public school. 

We're 3 weeks into the fall semester of our co-op. My kids and I agree that it's been great, adding a fun new dynamic to our school weeks. 

Garden Update


It's the middle of September already. Some of our garden veggies are done, while others are still going strong. 

Our green beans surprise me by continuing to produce very well. Green peppers are doing well also. But our biggest current producer: cherry tomatoes. We pick at least one bowlful daily and sometimes more. We share these with anyone and everyone!  And we still have enough left over to enjoy snacking on them all day and adding them to a salad with supper.

No picture of the cantaloupe, but we've eaten a few more of them recently and still have a handful getting close to ripe in the garden.  

No picture of the broccoli either, but it continues to produce very small heads. I cut these off every few days and more grow back. What I harvest is not even enough for 1 serving, so we eat it with other veggies too. 

Thought for next year: consider planting the broccoli in a flower bed around the house. It's a big green leafy plant that looks similar to sedum, in my opinion. Around the house would take less space in the garden - it is a big plant, with very little that's edible - and it's hardy enough to grow in any soil. It doesn't have to have the tilled in, compost-rich soil in the garden. 

Here's broccoli. 

Here's sedum - low to the ground in this picture, but does grow up taller too.

My philosophy - why plant just nice-looking plants if you can plant nice-looking plants that are also edible?! I'll keep that in mind as I plan next year's garden.  

The cucumbers made it through last week. Now the plants are turning brown, shriveling up and dying. My daughter hates to see them stop producing - she loved to eat cucumbers straight from the vine, skin and all, as a snack while she was playing outdoors. 

We found this tree frog in the garden on more than one occasion this summer. He's tiny - half the size of my thumb - and lives on my green bean plants. 
I plan to share at least 1 more update, along with some overall lessons learned from our experimental first-year garden.  

Happy last-days of Gardening!

Putt Putt Golf


Each summer my kids insist that "putt putt golf" makes our list of must-do fun events. On Sunday we finally made it out to a new-to-us course and had a lot of fun.

The course had lots of waterfalls and ponds that made for pretty backdrops.


My daughter is improving as the years go by. She enjoyed herself and kept her ball under control. 

Last year my little guy didn't want to play at all. This year, he was trying to play baseball with that golf ball! Ahh! With all that water around, you won't be surprised to learn that his ball ended up in the water more than once. 

Baby News and Blues


We had a great time visiting family in Wisconsin last weekend. My brother Brett and his wife Natasha announced that they are expecting their 3rd baby. Surprise! 

Their news caught me off-guard. I wasn't expecting it nor had I really considered how I would feel or react upon such news. 

Don't get me wrong. I am excited for them. I am happy and want to rejoice with them. A new baby - any new baby - is a wonderful blessing. New life is a gift from God. 

As I mentioned last week, life and death are all around. My thoughts just keep returning to my two babies in heaven. My baby Hope would've been due in the next month or so. How different our lives would be right now if we were preparing for a new baby. But we're not. 

Honestly, the hardest part of hearing my brother and sister-in-law's baby news is a small thing - a silly thing, really. It was just the telling of the news. 

Back in December 2002, we shared our first-ever baby news in a very creative way. We wrote this poem from the baby's perspective and wrapped it up as a Christmas gift for my mom and dad to open. 

Hear ye! Hear ye!
This news is great.
You can soon expect
Grandchild number eight!
Number eight for you,
But a first child for my dear folks,
Who are new to morning sickness
And baby kicks and pokes.
But they just couldn't wait 
To share this news with you.
I'll appear next summer
August 1st is when I'm due.
-Itty Bitty

 I still remember the looks on their faces as they read the poem. I just loved getting to share the news! 

With my second child, it was the spring of 2007 and I was on a Girls Getaway Weekend with my mother and 3 sisters-in-law. I was sharing my testimony and story of infertility. I'd never shared the infertility struggle with them. They were all surprised to hear how hard it had been, as I shared it through many tears and losses of composure. At the end, though, I was able to shock them all by saying that after the years of struggling, I was pregnant! It was a story of God's faithfulness, of answered prayers, of victory. 
Again, I loved sharing the news!

Now tears fill my eyes again as I remember sharing the news of my other 2 pregnancies. Instead of creative ways, instead of happy announcements, I've called my parents to tell them all at once "Yesterday I was pregnant but today I lost the baby." I've made that phone call twice, through many tears and losses of composure. 
I hate sharing that news!

When I found out I was pregnant with baby #3 in June 2011, one of the first things I got excited about was the sharing of the news. How would we tell people? What creative way would I tell my mom? I started jotting down thoughts and writing another poem, this one for telling my mom that she now had a dozen grandchildren. That baby would be #12. But I miscarried the baby. That baby, Grant David, would never meet my mom nor be counted among the living grandchildren. 

When I became pregnant again in February 2012, I referred back to this poem. No other grandchildren had come along in the meantime. This baby, yes, this baby would be #12. I could still use the poem. I pulled it out and worked on it some more. But again, that baby went to heaven before ever being held in our arms. That baby, Hope, would never meet my mom nor be counted among the living grandchildren either. 

Now the story comes full circle, back to the recent news of a new baby. There will be no place for this poem, a poem sharing baby news for the 12th grandchild. My brother's wife is carrying that child and they've shared the news in their own way, as is only right.

And so I grieve, even though I rejoice at new life. 
I grieve, even though I praise God for a new niece or nephew in the family. 
I grieve simply for what might have been, for the babies that will not be counted on this earth, for dashed hopes, for how unfair life can sometimes be. 

This poem symbolizes all of that for me, so I share it here because there is no other time or place to share it.

A dozen. A dozen.
What's so special about a dozen?
Eggs come by the dozen, 
Cans of soda and roses too.
There are 12 days of Christmas -
the song we sing with you.
Dozens are cheaper
They sometimes say 
And dishes, pencils, socks
And cookies all come that way.
A dozen. A dozen.
What's so special about a dozen?
Kane, Brandon, Briannah, Danielle
 Zeke, Corban, Naomi and Isabelle 
Christa, Titus and Trinity
And now #12 - little old me!
A dozen is special, now you see!

Mustang Ride

While we were in Wisconsin last weekend, my brother took the kids for a ride in his Mustang convertible. Lots of fun rides in Wisconsin this time - tractor ride, 4-wheeler ride, and now a ride in a convertible! 

As you can see, they enjoyed every minute of it!

Wisconsin Luau



We traveled to Wisconsin for the long holiday weekend and we attended a luau! Last year my mother took the trip of a lifetime to Hawaii. Ever since she's wanted to throw a luau party back in Wisconsin, for the family. Last Saturday she did it and it was a lot of fun!

My mom had purchased Hawaiian accessories for everyone to wear... at least for some pictures. 

Here's my mom, ready for the party.

Our family picture 

My hubby and daughter looking very festive. 

Most of the party was outdoors. There was a pool for the kids. There were bubbles and scooters and sidewalk chalk and many other options for the kids to stay busy. The adults sat around, reminiscing and laughing hard. My hubby was the exception for a few minutes while he got into the pool with our son.

Here's a picture of my mom with 10 of her grandchildren. My two are sitting on the bench side-by-side.

  Here I am with my 3 brothers - Brian, Todd and Brett.

We also paid my dad a visit on the farm. The kids enjoyed a tractor ride, 4-wheeler ride and got to see inside Uncle Brett's semi-truck! 

Here they are driving the tractor with Grandpa. 

And the 4-wheeler ride down the road, through the pasture, through a field and back. Yahoo!

My little man was especially impressed with the semi! 

And my hubby... well, he was impressed with the lawn mower. :-)

It was a wonderful visit with my family. It felt relaxed, with no tensions, and we were able to see everyone we'd hoped to see. I thank God for my family and the memories we share.