Psalm 37:4-6

Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Our new little blessing!

Our little Miss Muffet

Born: February 20th at 11:40pm
Weight: 6lbs. 12oz.
Length: 19 1/2 inches
A perfect little piece of heaven!

She was born at home and delivered by her proud daddy! The homebirth was planned... the unassisted part was not. :) Here's how it happened...

The morning of the 20th, I felt a few contractions that were stronger than the normal Braxton-Hicks, but they were really far apart (15-20 mins) and irregular. I told FarmDad that I probably would be having the baby that night or in the next couple days.

Throughout the day they stayed the same, so we went about our normal routine. The older kids did school and the younger ones made messes and I tried to keep the house semi-clean. :)  In the evening, I debated about whether I should go to Awana's with the kids, but my contractions were still not very close together, so I went. When we got home, I could tell that my contractions were closer together, but I was so focused on getting kids to bed and the house cleaned up that I wasn't really timing them. By the time everyone was in bed and the house was cleaned up and vacuumed (thanks to my amazing husband!) I decided I'd better call my mom and give her a heads-up since she likes to come to my births. I told her that I was having some contractions, but I hadn't called my midwife yet and I thought they would probably go away once I went to bed.

I decided I would take a bath before bed, and FarmDad went out to do his late night chores. At this point, I was pretty sure I was really in labor, but since all my previous labors have been several hours long in the early labor stage, I wasn't too concerned.

While in the tub, I had a couple of contractions that were really strong and close together. That was the moment of realization that "Oh, this baby is coming now and a lot sooner than I thought!" When FarmDad came in from chores, I was frantically making preparations in between contractions and I asked him to call my midwife quick. She had an hour and a half drive to get to our place, so even then I had a niggling thought that maybe she wouldn't make it in time.

From that point on, everything progressed very quickly. I remember thinking "Wow, if my labor is already this intense and I have several more hours of this, I don't know how I'm going to do it!" I discovered later that FarmDad was having the exact same thoughts. :)

I could tell FarmDad was worried but was trying to stay calm. He kept looking at the clock. I remember hearing things like "The midwife should get here about 12:40" (It was 11:30) and "Maybe you should try lying down to slow your contractions down" (yeah, right) and "You didn't push on that one, did you??"

I remember looking up and seeing a rather panicked look on his face. I could see the wheels turning in his head as he tried to think if there was anyone he should call (911 perhaps?) and he said in his deceptively calm drawl, "Well, I think this baby is coming right now. What are we going to do?"

Of course, by this time I was totally and completely focused on birthing a baby, but I felt very much at peace and I managed to tell him that everything would be fine and we could do this!

After only three more pushes, little Miss Muffet made her grand entrance into the world and into her daddy's waiting hands. Once we saw she was breathing and looked healthy, FarmDad was quick to check and see that she was a girl. She was very quiet and immediately opened her eyes and began looking around. For several long minutes we stayed like that--me sitting on our bedroom floor, holding baby, with FarmDad right there untangling her from the cord, wrapping her in blankets and finding a little hat to put on her. After all the intensity of the labor, it felt like such a peaceful precious time with just the three of us quietly sitting there and getting to know each other. Looking back, I realize how wonderful that time was without anyone else around to poke or prod or check baby. We quietly talked to baby for a few more minutes, then we started calling everyone who was on their way to let them know they had missed the main event. :) Again, I laugh when I think of how calmly FarmDad shared the news in his slow drawl, "Well, we have a baby..."

Our midwife arrived around 12:20 (yes, she drove that fast) and my parents came about twenty minutes later. By that time, the midwives had cut the cord and delivered the placenta, and baby and I were all snuggled up in bed. A couple of hours of pictures and weighing and checking vitals ensued before both baby and I were declared healthy and perfect.  Then, we got to go to sleep with our precious little gift from God all tucked in beside us and we looked forward to waking the next morning as a family of seven!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

We're moving!!!

After nearly eight years of living in our little brown house by the river, we are now gearing up to say goodbye.

These things I will miss: our summertime swimming hole, our garden plot that somehow manages to produce the first corn in the valley every summer, the wonderful old four-story "chicken barn" with it's many nooks and crannies that the kids spend hours playing in, my flower beds, the amazingly crisp and juicy apples from our apple trees, and especially, sitting on our back porch in the cool summer evenings and listening to the soothing sound of the river rushing by.

These things I will not miss: worrying about kids and living so close to the river and road, feeling like everyone driving by is looking in our windows when all the leaves are off the trees in the winter, and especially, the log trucks that come barreling off the mountain and past our house at a hundred miles an hour--air brakes blasting at 6am. (sigh)

So...on to new adventures! But, before you get alarmed, don't worry. We're only moving about a mile away across the valley. Yep, only a mighty act of God could move us out of our beautiful valley! :)

I'm so excited to tell you about our new house, but first let me tell you why we are moving.

For the last few years, we have sensed changes ahead for our farm. For one thing, our farm is at the center of "town" and our community here and we have no way of expanding. Lately, we have struggled to keep our herd healthy as they suffer from overcrowding. We have built onto our barn as much as we are able and have simply run out of space. Poor cows...

Secondly, Grandpa P. has been talking about slowing down and "retiring" for the past few years. Of course, if you are at all familiar with farmers, you know how impossible this is--especially for this man who loves his land and his cows so dearly.

However, we all can sense that the time has come for FarmDad to transition into farm manager position and let Grandpa P. slow down and enjoy life--including his hobbies of music and dog-sledding--a little more.

Several years ago, a parcel of land and barns that used to be a dairy here in the valley came up for sale. We eyed it longingly, but were unable to buy it. It was divided into 20 acre sections and we were sure it would soon all be sold. However, the years went by and the economy plunged and only one section was sold.

Eventually, a good friend of ours who was looking for farmland to invest in decided to make an offer on the entire property. Along with preserving the farmland, his goal was to allow us to lease the land and barns and eventually buy it from him. Amazingly, his offer was accepted, and we were suddenly scrambling to adjust to the fact that our pipe dream was becoming a reality! Much number crunching, scheming and dreaming ensued, and a plan eventually emerged: we would move the main dairy and milking herd over to the new property (which still contained the bare bones of a milking parlor) and Grandpa and Grandma P. would raise all the calves at the old place. In addition, they plan to keep a small herd of milk cows to supply milk to our good friend, John--purchaser of the new property and maker of artisan cheese from our milk. See, benefits for everyone all around!

So...looking ahead...we have our work cut out for us! Here are a few pictures of the barns and milking parlor.

Just imagine the possibilities!!!
The milking parlor

The tank room

Now...on to the house. Our friend John was also given the opportunity to buy the farmhouse adjacent to the barns. It is a fun old house and we are in the process of remodeling it. It was in a sad state of disrepair, but it is coming along quickly and we hope to be able to move in soon. The plan is to get our family settled into the house in another month or so and to get the barns and parlor ready to move the milking herd over by the end of the summer.

Here are a few "before" pictures. The "after" pictures are soon to come. :)


The addition--which we are making into a schoolroom and master bedroom.

The entire floor of the addition was rotten and we had to rip it out down to the dirt!

Bathroom #1

Bathroom #2

Laundry room

Dining room

Living room
Upstairs bedroom

Another upstairs bedroom

Rough, huh? These were taken a couple of months ago, though, and everything is much improved! :) The best improvements have been the floors. Nearly every room was carpeted with dirty, smelly carpets in hideous 70's colors (forehead smack--what were they thinking???)

Considering it is an old farmhouse, we crossed our fingers and sure enough, when we ripped out the carpet (and two layers of tile and plywood) we discovered beautiful wood floors. Yes!!!

The kitchen is about 3 times the size of our present one, and I am super excited to have a separate schoolroom and laundry room. Once we get the master bedroom finished in the back, there will be six bedrooms and two bathrooms--perfect for our growing family!! I am amazed at God's goodness to us in providing a bigger house and farm for us!

Stay tuned for the "after" pictures! ;)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

One year later...(the things I'll admit now)

A little over a year ago, on November 9th, we got to bring Buddy home from the hospital. He was four days old, and he was with us from the moment he was born. I have never been happier...or more scared to death. We were taking a gigantic leap into the unknown. This was all because we had said "yes" to God's still small voice telling us to do something crazy--adopt a newborn weeks after I had given birth to our third biological child. Yes, we had been preparing ourselves for this for months, but the reality of it was still a hazy picture on the horizon with what seemed like insurmountable obstacles in our path. That day, November 9th, is as important to me as Buddy's birthdate, because that was the day that the last of those obstacles fell away and our dream became reality. That was the day that he was born into our family, even though his official adoption did not take place for another month.

This is how it happened: we were sitting in our attorney's office down in Portland, where we had been staying for two days while we waited for the courts to clear us for taking him across state lines. All the paperwork was in line--Buddy's birthmom had signed off her parental rights and we had signed everything we needed to sign. But lingering doubt hung over our heads because of one potentially life-changing bit of information we did not know yet. Buddy's birth father has Native American heritage, and depending on the percentage, Buddy could have been claimed by his birth father's tribe if he had 24% or more of that tribe in his blood. If Buddy had been claimed, he would have been taken from us and this little baby who had only been with us (and that I had been nursing) from the start would have been taken from us and we would have never seen him again. Talk about sitting on pins and needles!

Our attorney was doing everything in his power to get us that information, but you can imagine how high of a priority it might be to a tribe to figure out whether or not they can claim some random baby. We were looking at potentially enduring the unknown for weeks--not a happy prospect when you are trying to bond with a baby and want so badly to call him your own. Thankfully, God is bigger than our doubts and busy tribe officials. :)

So, our attorney sat looking at us and saying that he wasn't sure if he should file Buddy's birthmom's termination of parental rights or not. If he did and then we discovered that the tribe could claim him, he would be lost to us forever. If he waited, then Buddy could go back to his birthmom if the tribe laid claim to him. Considering his birthmom's mental state, we weren't sure which was the better option, but we did know that either way he would be lost to us.

Our attorney paused in explaining all this to us and I remember we all just sat for a minute, unsure of what to do next. At that moment, his secretary popped in with a call for him. He came back moments later with a huge smile on his face. "By chance" he had been able to talk to a tribe official who had gotten right on our case. This man had just called to inform him that Buddy's birth father was half Japanese and half Native American (which we already knew) but that his half native heritage contained another tribe as well. That made Buddy 23.78somethingorother% of the tribe and thus they were unable to claim him! The official offered his condolences, because that meant Buddy could not receive benefits from the tribe--like we cared about THAT in the least!!

Later, as we were driving home in the car, I looked back at our kids--two in booster seats and two in infant seats--and felt an overwhelming joy and peace. Once again, God had blessed us with a glimpse of his hand in the building of our family. We arrived home that day for the first time as a family of six.

So now, one year later, I'm contemplating the joys and trials of this past year with Buddy and all they have taught me. Some of the things I've learned are hard to admit, but at the chance I could be an encouragement to some other adoptive mom out there or just as a testimony of God's grace in my life here they are, for better or worse.

1. That boy's smile can light up a room.

I've never known another baby with such a ready smile that is so full of life. Buddy has a way of drawing people's attention and warming their hearts with his responsiveness. What a special gift.

Along with that, I am so thankful that Buddy has such a laid-back and easygoing personality. God knew I couldn't handle two high-needs babies at once, thankfully!

2. It took me two months to truly love Buddy.

Before Buddy was born, I heard testimony after testimony of adoptive moms seeing their babies for the first time and immediately falling madly in love. Somehow, I just expected it to be the same for me.

Seconds after Buddy was born, as the nurse wrapped him in a blanket, she turned towards me and whispered "It's your baby!" I smiled and nodded through happy tears, but a part of me wanted to say "No he's not, not yet anyway." I wasn't going to let myself think of him as mine until his birthmom had signed all the papers and we had heard from the tribe. However, even after we brought him home and he was truly "ours" I still felt like I was babysitting someone else's baby.

Oh I loved on that boy, for sure. I nursed him and kissed him and told him I loved him and soothed him and hugged him. But all the while I felt like such a liar. However, sometime during that time (you'll have to forgive my sleep-deprived memory) I was reminded of some wise words I once received from a mother of eight. She said, "You don't have to act the way you feel." She taught her kids that when they felt angry or frustrated with each other. I came to realize that the opposite is true as well when it comes to love--you can act on something you don't feel. Eventually, after time upon time of going through the motions, the love will eventually be there to bring truth to those actions. It can save a marriage, or it can create a mother's heart-bond. I suppose that love is sometimes "at first sight" and sometimes it will catch you by surprise because it has been growing so quietly all along--even a mother's love.

3. God not only preserved Buddy's life, he also preserved his health.

From the moment he emerged into this world as a roly-poly 8 pounds, Buddy has been the picture of perfect health. Considering the stresses and the under-nourishment he recieved in utero, this is truly a miracle.

Buddy has met (and even exceeded) every developmental milestone: sitting up at 6 months, crawling at 8 months, walking at 12 months. He is a very observant, diligent and determined little guy. It's so cute to watch him stack Duplos or figure out how some toy works--so serious and focused. He will sit quietly for a long time totally concentrated on the task at hand. :)

I often wish I could take Buddy in to the different doctors, psychiatrists and counselors who told his birthmom that she would be better off terminating her pregnancy and say "See, see? YOU almost ended the life of this perfect little boy." And that is what he is. Perfect.

4. Biological motherhood is one of the strongest bonds on earth.

Even though I had given birth twice before, I never fully realized the incredible bond of love that God gives a mother for her child until I gave birth to Boy Blue and we brought Buddy home weeks later. There is something about giving birth that is so miraculous. To see your baby for the first time and have him placed in your arms and be filled with that immediate overwhelming deluge of love for him is beyond words.

I came to realize how innate that bond is one day when I was busy at something (cooking? cleaning? laundry?--again, sleep-deprivation) and I hopped up to get Boy Blue who had just woken up crying. I didn't even think about it, I just got up to take care of him, semi-lost in thought. Then I realized that Buddy had already been crying, but it just hadn't registered in my brain. In my mommy-brain, the birth connection with Boy Blue was so innate that my body responded to his cries before my brain registered them. Over time, my strong connection with Boy Blue faded a bit, even as my bond with Buddy grew, until they were on an equal level. By now, I can honestly say there is no difference. Each of my children fill equal yet unique spaces in my heart. Most of the time, I forget which one came to us through adoption. :)

By the way, I can't say that I recommend giving birth and adopting two children in such a close period of time because it does make it more difficult to bond with the adopted child early on, but if I had it to do over again, I would. One hundred times over.

Okay, well, maybe just ten. :)

Let me just interject here and say that FarmDad immediately bonded with Buddy. In the hospital, FarmDad held him cuddled close constantly, except for the times when he had to be under the biliruben lights. Even now, they share a special bond that is different than the ones FarmDad has with our other three. It is the sweetest thing in the world to see Buddy light up and say "Dada!" when daddy comes home from work. :)

3. Don't over-analyze everything.

This is something I am constantly having to remind myself--I guess because I've read the adoption books exploring the psychology of adoption and how being adopted can shape a person's life, even if they are adopted as an infant. I would always catch myself thinking things like "Maybe his fear of being playfully tossed in the air stems from distrust that developed because of the loss he experienced at birth" or "What if his bad sleep routine is because he has sleep issues like his birthmom?" Even writing those things now seems silly, because they are no longer issues and in fact it is Boy Blue who has now reverted in his sleep habits and is dealing with separation anxiety! So, through it all I'm learning that there is a fine line between being aware of issues that may arise as a result of being adopted and over-labeling things that don't need to be labeled.

4. God's still working on me.

The number one thing I have learned this past year is that I have some deep-rooted pride, fear and selfishness issues that God is trying to weed out of my heart. By far the hardest for me to admit, but so true. I fight the pride when I wonder what others think about us having so many small kids or wondering if adoption has ruined our chances of having a picture-perfect little family. I find myself fearing for Buddy's future more than I do with my biological three. Most of all, this past year has revealed the selfishness in my heart. At the end of the day (or the middle of the night, or the wee hours of the morning, or at naptime, get the picture), when tiredness clashes with one or the other needy baby, I'm reminded of how utterly I depend on God's grace to see me through and my desperate need for him.

It is then that I realize that God's biggest purpose in leading us to adopt just might be to save me from myself. And I thought we were just saving a baby's life. Silly me.

Through it all, God is teaching me the beauty of adoption. Not Buddy's, but mine.

So also, when we were underage, we were in slavery under the elemental spiritual forces of the world. But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.
Galatians 4:3-7

Amen and hallelujah.