Friday, April 22, 2011

Holy Week Sucks When You are Bedrest!!!!

     So, for the record, Holy Week SUCKS when you are on bedrest and are also babysitting your own babies!!!!  Since we attend a Byzantine Church, the "extra" church services began last night on Holy Wednesday, so I have two services down and three more to go: Good Friday, Holy Saturday vigil and Easter Sunday.  Now I can't complain because a friend is bringing me the Eucharist on Easter-life is good that way.

     But I am reminded of my late friend Kelli McWilliams, who said to me before she died, "Offer it (suffering) up is what people who are not dying from cancer tell you to do-what comfort is that?"  I didn't have a good response for her at the time-I think I may have even tried changing the subject, because at the time it hit me right in the gut that she was right.  Sometimes there really isn't a "good response" to comfort someone who is dying and experiencing depresson outside of "this really sucks and I am so sorry....."  I think the best thing that was ever said to me when I was stuck in depression ten months after my first husband died was, "Life isn't fair and the sooner you accept that the sooner you will be happy again."  I was SO MAD at my friend Wendy for saying that to me-her husband was still alive after all-but that one sentence has gotten me through so many tough days since she first said it to me.  I now repeat that same sentence over and over again to my two oldest children.  "Life isn't fair.....Life isn't fair...."

     So, I am "mucking" my way through Holy Week at home alone with my two youngest babies.  I wanted to try to do something "spiritual"-read the gospel, pray the rosary, watch a Fr. Corapi dvd, or even work on my conversion to Catholicism testimony to post on my blog-the babies weren't having any of that at all.  They were in need of my arms, lap and kisses.  But I am now issuing my God given right to say as I try to "offer my bedrest/not being able to do what I want to do when I want to do it" for whomever needs it the most, "THIS SUCKS!!!!! And I will follow you God-but THIS SUCKS!!!!"  I'm not even close to being a saint-have never been even close to being a "silent sufferer for the kingdom of God".....all I know is that all I want to do is go to church this week with my family.....and instead I am  stuck here in these four walls having had it confirmed that just going to the doctor appt causes contractions this past Tuesday.....and I know that if I went to church I would want to complete the Good Friday and Holy Saturday processions around the church and kneel before my God-not things one should do on bedrest.

     I know that (hopefully) my bedrest is just temporary and that I will be completely healed after baby Elizabeth is born in June....that in just two months I will be able to start to build up my strength again and begin completing the "mundane" activities of my life once, cleaning, laundry.....and being able to walk into church praising God with all my soul for his many blessings....but right now I am lonely and depressed and struggling with the "why" of the past after Chris died and I experienced the "loneliness" of the holidays without my spouse I could DO something about it....create new holiday traditions, focus on my kids or a charity....but now I get to experience the loneliness of "being stuck"-unable to do anything more than just sitting....and I know I should be thankful that I can still talk and write and walk to the bathroom by myself, because that catheter at Christmas REALLY SUCKED......

     But it is at times like these where I fully understand how one could become very bitter and angry at life and/or God if you wanted to-if you don't try to fight off the depression as best you can....I am  very lucky that I do have my husband and kids returning to me after they attend least I am not truly alone without human contact......and I begin to think of all those hurting souls in nursing homes, hospitals and prisons-or those who have no family or friends to comfort them or to have Easter dinner with.....and I know that I am so blessed.  God has been so good to me in my life.....I have experienced the love of two amazing men....I will soon be blessed with five miracle children with all my infertility/medical issues....I have a good father, sister and two loving "in-law families" that make up for my mother disowning me when I became Catholic...and an amazing network of acquaintances and friends that have prayed/supported me during the first trial of being a widowed single mother and now this bedrest trial.....I have been BLESSED!.....but all these "sweetnesses of life" can easily be forgotten when one is struggling in the moment with the depression.
     So, I find that I now have a much better perspective about all those souls I will be praying for during the next nine days for the Divine Mercy Novena....and that I will definitely try to go more out of my way to make sure that we extend hospitality to others, especially during the holidays....I was thinking about my late grandmother Marie earlier this week-how her pastor said at her funeral that my grandmother would notice who was at church on Sunday and who wasn't....and she personally sent the missing persons the Sunday bulletin with a short note attached letting them know they had been missed....Now  she went to a tiny Protestant church in a town of a 1000-and there was only one church service....but what a cool ministry that was-she performed it with all her other "chores" for the week up until the last few months of her life when she had to be placed in a nursing home.  So, hopefully when I am off of bedrest I can try to do better at "checking in" with people if I haven't seen them in awhile....often we assume that they just went to a different church service or they were out of town....but sometimes people are sick or going through a rough time and it is easier to NOT go to church, especially when one is depressed or struggling with God over an issue in their life....sometimes they just need a friendly invitation to return to the truest sweetness of home in life: God's Church and His amazing continual forgiveness and love!

May you all have a blessed Holy Week and a Happy Easter!

May God bless you and your families now and always,


Friday, April 15, 2011

Spring 2011 - Pictures of the Farm

Our oldest child, Joey, with middle sister Katie.

Anna next to Dad's John deer lawn tractor.

Jessie, oldest daughter, looking serious and too grown up.
Jason's bee hive.  The bees will arrive next week.
He has promised that the hive will be in our tree line that runs
parallel to the garden and not on our deck!
The newest arrivals: 2 Peking ducks, 4 Mallard ducks,
6 laying hens and 5 broilers.

Close up of Peking duck and laying hens in background.

Dinner!  Broilers will be ready for oven in 9 weeks or less.
The chicken coop made of salvaged wood pallets and recycled
wood from our previous goat shelter.
The three Muscovy hens-the only animals allowed to free range
besides the kids, dog and cats.  They at least don't come up on
my porch!
This is Duck Maul, name comes from Darth Maul of Star Wars fame.
He stands guard over the previous female ducks.
His hiss sounds nasty, but none of the chickens are afraid.
If they get lose they kick the ducks out of their duck pen...then again
they have superior numbers, 24 chickens to 4 ducks...
right now it is 5 roosters to one Duck Maul!
This was last year's garden area, 50 ft by 50 ft.
It is going to become our berry patch.
This is our 100 ft by 180 ft family garden/market garden.
Jason claims it's only four tenths of an acre, but it looks huge!
So my original post of "an acre garden" now stands corrected.
This is Snow Flake our mama cat.  She just had kittens on April 11th.
She won't let us get a good look at the kittens, so we don't know how many we have.
This is poor love starved Holly.  No one is scared of her as a watch dog.
This is our heavy duty chicken tractor made from 2x6's.  It was re-purposed lumber from some
raised garden beds and other old projects, but my husband says he will NEVER build one like this again.
You can see our Amish pole barn and attached chicken coop in background.
Here's the girls!!!  This is a side view into our chicken tractor.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Bedrest Date Night Sabotage

So yesterday I began to be hopeful that I would actually get a "date night" with my husband only to be see our last date was New Year's Eve, which was shortly before I got put on bedrest for this current pregnacy/baby due in June.  We did manage to get two quasi-dates last month when we had friends take our oldest two children to the two high school musicals being performed in town....we had just the youngest two and managed to feed them first and have the tv "babysit" them while we ate dinner by ourselves-enjoyable, but not quite the same thing as "complete alone time."

Well, yesterday the eighteen month old took her nap early-from noon to one and the toddler only slept for forty-five minutes so I began to be very hopeful for "early bedtimes."  Then I began to be even more hopeful because the oldest two children decided that they didn't want to get along with each other at know the kind of days where if one says something is green the other kid will insist it is blue just to argue? daddy said, "Early bedtime for both of you...."  I then realize that the hubby had even been able to sleep in earlier in the morning so there was potential that he would be able to stay awake past his normal bewitching hour of ten o'clock....So, the oldest two go upstairs and I almost have the toddler asleep, but the baby is losing her I stop and work on the baby....the baby falls asleep....I start cuddling the toddler to sleep....she accidentally bites me as she is nursing to sleep and I in my reflex moment smack the the toddler is crying and mommy is crying....and the baby wakes up......Even as the reality of my hopes start to die I am insistent....I still try to get the toddler to sleep as the eightteen month old baby begins to throw an actual all out temper tantrum-we're talking throwing toys and shoes that were on the floor-the works....daddy works on "holding her to calm her down..."....then I realize the toddler is starting to poop so daddy scoops her up to take her to the potty.....we give them snacks and finally at 10:45 decide that we just have to all go upstairs to "lay down to sleep".....devastation....I realize that I had been emotionally "counting the date(eggs) before it had hatched....."

By 11:30 the toddler had finally fallen asleep, but the eightteen month old, soon not to be "the baby" anymore, was still going strong....What I had done wrong that day?  Sugar-negative....late nap-negative.....where did all this endless energy come from?  (If its from a darwinian instinct to try to prevent another baby from joining the family it's about eight months too late....)  Hubby decides to go check on the chicken coop because he could hear some coyotes yapping and he had just moved the baby chickens and ducks out of the brooder into the coop....finally the baby hasn't moved in ten maybe I can talk to the hubby as he is falling asleep....the house door squeaks open.....the baby sits straight up and says "Dada" and points at the door...she remains sitting up until daddy joins us in bed at midnight....

As the three of us were finally falling asleep sometime after midnight I realize that maybe the babies just miss their daddy as much as I do during the week....some day I will miss the feeling of a soft baby body curled up next to me....some day I will lie awake worrying about the children as they make their own way in the world.....but tonight I got to have the "frustration" of this kind of "sweetness of home"......the sweetness of falling asleep listening to the deep breathing of my sleeping husband and child....and there is always the hope of another "bedrest date night" sometime during the next two and a half months....

When I finally do get to go away in July for a date after the new baby is born though I may not come home for a few days.....I mean the sweetness of home is always magnified when one has been away for awhile....:)


Saturday, April 2, 2011

Our Growing Farm

We bought our "Sweetness of Home" Farm in May 2007.  We have 8.8 acres nestled between rolling hills and train tracks.  Since that time we have opened a business in town and are now expecting our third baby in three years, making a total of five children so far; which starting in June 2011 will range in age from newborn to eleven years old.  Neither my husband or myself grew up on a farm.  We are both "town kids," though he is an Eagle Scout and both sets of my grandparents had gardens/farming backgrounds.  My father did do gardening off and on through my childhood, but I did not acquire any gardening/homesteading skills outside of a willingness to try new things in life.

So, why did we buy a farm thirty-five minutes away from our new business when we had a beautiful house that is only five minutes away from where the business is located?.....Our beautiful house was originally "my house" and I had remodeled it the way I wanted it completely-there weren't any "projects" that my husband could complete on it....we were in desperate need of an "our house."  We also were in the city completely surrounded by shade trees-I only had two small areas where we could have tried to grow any veggies-and we definitely would not have been able to feed our family from those two areas.  So my husband found a beautiful "our house" with land and we were able to sell our house in the city right before the housing/economy crash....though I will admit now that in hindsight I experienced depression for the first year that we lived on the farm.  I hadn't realized until we were packing how much of my personal identity I had "emotionally invested" in my prior house's remodeling project.

Our first experiment with raising animals other than ancient house cats, dogs and children was with goats.  I saw that an acquaintance had posted "saanen dairy goats for sale" and talked my husband into getting them when we did not have fencing or housing built - huge mistake!!!!  Thankfully a group of college students "adopted us" for a day and helped my husband put up fencing for the goats before they were delivered.  Our goats could escape faster than Houdini though - no matter what type of fencing we tried to use-we ended up calling them "free range goats."  Eventually we sold the goats after having a broken car windshield caused by the goats pushing their way into the car as our oldest children were trying to get out of the car.  Three goats inside a black dodge stratus does not equal out to a happy daddy day - though everyone else laughed about it....:)

Next my husband brought home chickens that he saw during "Chick Days" at a certain national farming store - but again the housing had not been built prior to their arrival.  Our dogs managed to eat the first two sets of six chickens and then the third set of twenty five baby chickens got stolen and eaten by a rat less than twenty-four hours after we brought them home.  A neighbor then lent my husband a brooder to raise the baby chicks in and in March 2011 we enjoyed our first homegrown eggs!  At this time we have twenty-four Buff Orpington chickens.  During the New Years weekend of 2011 my husband brought home Muscovey ducks that he found off of Craigslist.  The ducks should help eat up fly larva and are good hatchers, so they could hatch any chicken eggs that we might want to raise ourselves.  At this time we also have five Cornish Cross chickens, six more layers, four mallard ducks and two peking ducks growing in the borrowed brooder to add to the previously mentioned chickens and ducks.  My husband built our chicken coop from salvaged plywood and tin roofing from the goat shelter and pallets.  This month he built a "chicken tractor" by reusing wood from last year's attempt at raised garden beds.  I am so happy not to have anymore free ranging chickens pooping on our porches or in the kids play area!  (A little detail not mentioned in "romantic" raising chicken essays found either in books or other blogs.)  This first chicken tractor is really heavy though, so he has plans to build a lighter model and then will make the first chicken tractor into two smaller chicken tractors.  He is planning on being the first farmer in our local area to have an organic pasture poultry set up.

Note regarding our dogs and chickens: we did have to find a new home for our boxer jack russell mix.  She was the main culprit behind the killing of the chickens and any barn cats that tried to adopt us.  We found a good home for her, which though hard to do emotionally was the right thing to do for us so that we could work on growing our farm....we wanted chickens and we were in desperate need of barn cats for rodent population control.  We were blessed this last week to receive a pregnant momma cat and when my hubby put her in the barn we had finally been adopted by another cat!  So far our six year old golden lab hasn't killed a chicken or cat since we got rid of the boxer.

We did have a Dexter heritage breed dairy cow briefly this February that died most likely from tetanus.  We are looking into getting either another Jersey cow or some tethered dairy goats sometime during this coming year.  Right now we are focusing on getting a one acre garden started so that we can produce enough food for our family of seven plus my husband's mother and grandmother with enough left over to sell at the local farmer's market.  We will also be putting in a prefab house this spring/summer on our property for the previously mentioned mother-in-law and grandmother-in-law.

I look forward to sharing our adventures in homesteading, remodeling, homeschooling and adjusting to the new multi-generational living together arrangements.  Later posts will probably also focus on distributism and the "Frugal Luxuries" of life (trademark belongs to Tracey McBride) and my attempts to "downsize" our many possessions in life....I have been a "Flylady flybaby" for almost nine years now.

To learn more about frugal luxuries please see: 
To learn more about the flylady way of life please see:

I look forward to your comments....and remember that there is nothing better than returning to "the sweetness of home...."