Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Pictures of Eliza's First Day

Here's some pictures I took today...

Eliza Bella Marie
Josiah and Eliza
Mia and Eliza
Sierra and Eliza

More later!

She's Here! She's Here!! She's Here!!!

I just wanted to take a minute to let you know Eliza arrived early this morning at 2:08am. Daddy skillfully caught her while we were in the birthing pool.

She's a doll with some brown hair and a beautiful round head, smooth baby skin... I love it! She's been very alert and so sweet. Her weight was 9lbs 8oz and she was 20 1/2 inches long. She's nursing well, pooping well, and sleeping well. All siblings were pleased as punch to meet her. Mia got to witness her grand entrance as she woke up and said she heard me and it rhymed with her dream so she knew Eliza was coming. All the pictures were taken off my mom's camera so it will take another day to get them. I know you're anxious, I'll hurry.

Praise the Lord! Thank you for Eliza Bella Marie and a wonderful homebirth experience. I'll write up the details later.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Merry Christmas

We had plans to do a nativity reenactment this weekend with the whole Nordstrom and Davis families together. Unfortunately our little baby Jesus has not had time to arrive... not to mention the road to "Bethlehem" was a little too icy. So, we had to cancel the performance. Isn't it a bummer when things don't go according to our plans? There were two other women my midwife is attending to who were due ahead of me, the 14th and 15th. Both went a little late, in fact, the one due the 15th is in labor right now. I must be next!
Christmas ended up being just right though. We had my family over, Grandma spent the night and Grandpa came up early for breakfast and presents. The present opening was nice and slow and the kids seemed to appreciate what they got which was a blessing to me. Josiah had been particularly thoughtful with a gift he bought for Mia. It was truly in the spirit of Christmas that he used his own money when he found the perfect present and then hid it so it would be a surprise. When I told Mia how much love went into that gift she was sure to express extra gratefulness. It was a full circle of love and it brought tears to my eyes. I was so thankful that I got to witness that interaction and to experience the sweetness in their hearts. His actions kick started all the kids buying presents for each other. We've been going a little stir crazy with the weather keeping us inside more and all activities cancelled, plus my edginess as I wait for Eliza, so it was nice to enjoy their wonderful side!

Later Poppy (Great Grandpa) and my brother and his family came over for lunch: Swedish meatballs, mashed potatoes, green beans and rolls. Yum! The "boys" drove the 4-wheeler I surprised Andrew with. Andrew had been talking about buying it from a friend of ours for months, first for the camp and then for fun. I just didn't see the practicality of it. But, when I kept seeing him riding the kids' little 4-wheelers around I decided he really needed one of his own if not just for the priceless look on his face. When it arrived I was astounded by how huge it is!!! Now, my yard is paying the price for not planning out where our "track" would be. Needless to say we'll need to reseed in the shape of a figure 8 this spring.
Meanwhile, the girls watched "John & Kate plus 8" about the couple who has twins and septuplets (6 at once). Made me appreciate my little family. The kids had lots of Grandma and Grandpa time, too, reading books, playing with the remote control flyer, shooting hoops, and playing with newly aquired toys. That night we all watched "Glory Road" based on the true story about the basketball coach that was the first to start an all black line up. I can't believe the crap some people had to put up with based on other people's ignorance. It was a good movie, and I love it when people who take risks persevere and find success.
Except for not having Eliza yet, it was a wonderful, relaxing day and I really enjoyed it.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Still Just Passing the Time

Yesterday I pulled out all the stops. We watched two Christmas movies, made present labels, arranged all the presents under the tree, decorated a gingerbread house and made some mini flat bread. The flat bread was something I intended to do at Thanksgiving and finally got around to it. Nothing like being snowed in to get those overdue projects done. Mia and I had ours with cheddar cheese and salsa, it was alright but needed a zippier flavor like goat cheese. Mmmm... Sierra safely ate hers with peanut butter so at least she knew if she didn't like the flat bread she could still have a snack by licking them clean. Josiah was the experienced one in the group. Part way through he remembered they made something similar at summer camp only they balled them up on a stick rather than making them flat. He had 2 of his with jam and 2 with honey just like they did at camp. His were the best by far!By 4:30pm I was out of steam. Grandma Linda picked up some pizza for us and some more movies for later and then we ended the night with calming baths.
Today it dawned on me that there are things to do further south that are not in the snow and ice zones so we ventured over to Albany and hit their Target and Costco. We also treated ourselves to Dairy Queen's Yule Tide Peppermint blizzards. Yum!
Now, here we are, ready for Christmas and still waiting for Eliza. The midwife said her heart rate is really good and she's very responsive with her movements, evidence that the placenta is healthy and doing well. She's also in a good position for delivery. My blood pressure is still really good (hard to believe at this point!) and that Eliza will be here soon. So, for now, we're still just passing the time trusting that I won't be pregnant forever.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Big Winter Wait

We've been hit with some pretty big snow and ice this winter. Actually, I guess it's not technically even winter yet! It's not been unmanageable weather but just not typical for this neck of the woods. What's been the hardest part is everything is being cancelled: PE, AWANA, Christmas parties, even Church! This gives me very little to do but wonder "When is Eliza gonna get here?!" It's been an excruciating week or so as I've come through the period of "will she come a little early" or "will she be on her due date like her brother". Now we're to the part where I wonder if I will ever have her. I know someday this whole conversation will be in the past and I'll be enjoying her sweet presence but for now, quite frankly, I'm going a little insane. My mom has come to stay with us a couple of nights just in case the roads were too bad she would still be able to be here for Eliza's arrival. It's been helpful to have her here, it's just too bad Eliza isn't. Sometimes I wish I could just curl up like Sierra at nap time and sleep through this big winter wait for baby.

Actually, this weekend has been so great having Andrew home. I've gotten some jobs checked off the "Honey-Do" list and he's a lot more fun for the kids at this point in time. He even got those stubborn alpacas to eat from his hands. I don't know how he always has the magic touch.

It would've been a great weekend to have a baby. Oh well, the wait continues.

Friday, December 19, 2008

And She Does It!

I think the blog transfer all worked out fine. Please click as a follower or subscribe to this post as you did with the previous blog. This is where I'll be updating from here on out.

New Blog

I am going to attempt a new feature that Blogger offers... exporting old blogs into new ones. Since we're not at the camp, using the camp name for my blog has seemed a little silly and requires some explanation at times. I've been working on starting a new blog at www.nordstromnotes.blogspot.com and hopefully, through the power of Blogger, I will be able to do so and still have my old posts easily accessible. This will also still hold the old blog name for me, in case something changes.

Hold on, this could be a fun ride! I'm no techy.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Hello From the Frozen Northwest

Life on the farm is different when everything is covered in snow and ice. The kids take extra bundling , the animals take extra care, and Momma needs extra coffee!!
Today is a great day to blog about though. The sky is blue, the sun is shining off the snow, making it sparkle brilliantly. The kids have gotten in some great sled runs both in the front yard area and down the big hill in the alpacas pasture.

It's especially fun watching the alpacas reaction to the sledding. They're already not sure about us and alpacas are so skitterish and uptight, yet slightly curious. It cracks me up.We had tried for a 1/2 hour or more to feed them alfalfa pellets by hand. Finally we got a nibble but we had all tired from the trying and it had lost its thrill. Then we threw them all off by sledding from the fence where we had been feeding them. When I say "we" I obviously mean just the kids!
In other news, we've already collected over 2 dozen eggs this morning. All the hens that came out of molt are really producing. Unfortunately we hit a weekend and then the ice storm back to back so we currently have 72 eggs to sell or give away. Normally Andrew brings them into work and they sell off pretty quick. The store is more convenient than our house for pick up. We need to sell as close to 2 dozen eggs a day as we can in order to cover the cost of their feed and scratch. They sure are yummy eggs, it's like they have a richer flavor. I'm really enjoying that side benefit of having chickens. If you want farm fresh eggs, delivered daily, just stop by the store!
Also, I've already been asked twice today if Eliza is coming soon and what my plan is with the bad weather coming. Today would be a good day to have her you know. I'll take it! Unfortunately, without questionable medication, I don't have control over it. I've gone on several walks, bounced on the ball until I was nearly sick, and drank plenty of tea among other things. It just isn't her time yet. Goodness, while I type this I still have 1 day left on my little count down clock. I'm not even late yet, and 42 weeks is still considered on time. I sure hope that count down clock is right! I wonder if it will self destruct tomorrow? So, my plan is to wait until I go into labor and then call everyone and if the someone can't come or is delayed I'll adjust from there.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

TAGGED: 7 Random Book Facts

Tagged by Leslie, this is kind of a short, book themed, get to know you tag. Here's the rules:

1. Link to the person who tagged you and post the rules on your blog.

2. Share seven random and/or weird book facts about yourself.

3. Tag seven random people at the end of your post, and include links to their blogs.

4. Let each person know that they've been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

#1 On my side of the bed you'll find these books, "Boundaries", "Boundaries in Marriage", "Boundaries with Kids", and "Sister Freaks" a book compiled by Rebecca St. James containing short stories about women who gave up everything to serve the Lord. On Andrew's side of the bed you'll find these books, "Everything You Need to Know About Chickens" and "Goats".

#2 For fun I like to read Francine Rivers' historical fiction novels. Entertaining and educational!

#3 I like to keep books, they are like a treasure to me. I might share them with other people but, unless I have multiple copies, I don't give them away. The funny thing is I've never had a bookcase for them until this house. Previously they were stored in boxes. Now I have them all out and can realize which ones I actually never read!

#4 I did not read Beatrix Potter as a child, well maybe Peter Rabbit, but I love reading them now with the kids. I believe it was all the Aunts on Andrew's side who first gave me our little books set when Josiah was born. Now I have two sets, the Complete Tales, and a study guide.

#5 If you read "Good Night Gorilla" did you notice the balloon working it's way up to the moon throughout the whole book? Or the people in the window watching the zookeeper go back and forth (starts with one, then two, then three nosey neighbors).

#6 I would love to write a devotional book but when I was asked to be a contributor to a local book being compiled I found I could not keep it to the minimum wordage. Hmmm, what a surprise.

#7 The book that first ignited my love of reading I can't even remember the name of but it was a biography about Helen Keller's teacher Annie Sullivan. I still love stories about peoples lives!

OK. Time to Tag...

Cheryl: Davis Family Chronicles

Beth: Finding Joy in the Journey

Alyssa: Best of the Worst

Maria: Living in Korea

Sherry: Spice Mama

Melanie: Please Don't Ride the Kitty

Krista: Fields of the HarvestLink

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Waiting for Eliza

So, in the midst of all these animals...

Survivor with his two quiet friends.
Just a few more days and hopefully he'll have some new friends.

Sugar Brown and Stormy with the girls on a beautiful winter day!

and the holiday season busyness...

Here's the kids' tree, set up in the school room.

...we're still expecting a baby.

All I told Josiah was to make sure you could see all my belly. I guess I should have mentioned to get my head in there, too!

Pregnancy wise, I'm doing well, anxious, of course, to meet this little one. If anyone ever doubted that there could be equal amounts of enthusiasm for subsequent children, once they've had their first, well, let me tell you... it actually seems to grow. Not only am I excited to meet Eliza, I'm excited to see her with each of her siblings. Since I have a few kids now, I'm fully aware of how different each child is. Who will Eliza be? Her entrance will add new dimensions to us. She will change our family. Wow!

Visiting the huge, decorated Willamette University trees.

It seems odd that at this late in the game I've been receiving a lot of questions over our choice to have this baby at home. I'm not the best at debating or convincing people - not that others need to be convinced about my choices but I guess that's a whole other conversation!! Anyway, I came across a posting on another blog that hit the nail on the head of what I've been dealing with in regard to other people and their fears or opinions. I can't wait to tell you about my experience in hindsight but for right now I'm just full of great expectation and peace.

The other night I had 3 hours of contractions and thought, "This could be it." It was so nice to distract myself with dishes and laundry and to just be myself through it all. This of course was only a taste of what is coming but I love how empowered I feel.

The practice labor was also enough to prompt Andrew to test run the birthing tub... without water of course but we needed to see how it would fit in the room.

Men really have no clue about labor.

I don't think many "homebirthers" share about their choice because of the automatic negative/shocked response that you get so frequently. The sad thing is, I'm sure I did the same thing. (Ditto on the cloth diapers... yes, we're doing that, too! It seems so much easier these days.)

As I've asked around I've been able to hear some wonderful homebirth stories and I've also seen such a difference in the experiences I had in my hospital deliveries and the ones I
found looking online at homebirthing videos and blogs. Gentle, peaceful, loving... No nurses manhandling the little ones, moving them around like little inconvenient footballs. And, rather than being checked every hour or so during labor, my midwife and assistant will be with me the whole time, constantly monitoring the baby and I. I feel very good about that.

Well, anyway, there are some of my thoughts going into
this. Hopefully it will be soon when I can tell more about it.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Life on the Farm - the Hard Part

People say, "That's so hard." Hard for who? How hard? Hard like tough or hard like painful? Each persons hard is different, too. So, really when other people tell you it's going to be hard, it's all relative. Today for us was a hard day, hard like painful. It was a day that I knew would come with all the animals. We've been taking a lot of risks and with that comes responsibility and, at times, pain.

Our little chicks were really coming along this morning. We had one little guy completely out of his shell but his umbilical cord still stuck to the shell and he toted it around with him all over the incubator. We named him Trailer since he looked like he had a trailer. The chick who had started cracking open his shell first was still working away at it and getting closer and closer to emerging. There were also two other chicks making progress on their shells. Then there were three left that we weren't sure what would happen with. Technically not "due" until tomorrow we were optimistic that maybe even they would still hatch. I was aware that 100% hatch rate is very rare but thought at least this would be a good, tiny lesson in life and death for the kids if they didn't make it.

Sadly, through human error, the incubators temperature was accidentally turned up. By the time we got back from AWANA it had reached 110*. It needs to be kept at or very close to 101*. The scene we found was hard to see after all the joy we experienced in watching the effort each chick made, celebrating the success when one came out, and anticipating the others arrival. The chick who had been working the longest to get out never made it. Despite the fact that another chick got out of the shell, he did not make it either, and was lying along the side of the incubator, lifeless. There was another chick who'd made just enough progress to poke his beak out but he was dead, too. The other eggs showed no sign of life but we're leaving them another day just to make sure. Amazingly, Trailer was still walking around, cheeping and he had finally lost his shell, though we knew it was him because of the drying umbilical cord hanging from behind (his hitch as it were). Josiah thought we should rename him Survivor. We're still not sure if he's out of the woods or if his health has been so adversely affected that it's only a matter of time. I have to say, he looked better than ever and I am optimistic. Andrew is putting together the brooder for him. He'll be lonely for a few days but we have more chicks expected next week.

We took the three chick's little bodies and buried them between some trees in the side yard. We'll add a little cross tomorrow. It's hard knowing they were so close to life and, by a mistake we made, their life was snuffed out. The kids are all taking it differently. It's interesting how they grieve with their different personalities and ages. I did have a chance to pray with them and remind them that God knows how painful death is. We can go to him and know he understands the depth of our pain. I was also thankful that I had experience with death because I felt like I was able to lead them through this in healthy ways. Still... it's hard.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


Lately I've been reading the book Boundaries. It's been hard to read but really good to. I think the easiest things to glean from it are based on raising the kids with good boundaries. The harder parts are understanding where my boundaries are not and applying good boundary setting for myself. It's hard to say, "No" and quite frankly, sometimes it's hard to say, "Yes." I think for now that's as far as I'll go into that part of things. Gotta set some boundaries on what I share you know! :)

It's also hard to allow other people to make their own choices and allow them the experience their own consequences, too. In theory I'm completely on board with that but in reality... well, it's hard to see people in pain or struggling. I think it's a natural compulsion to try to relieve other people's pain. I had to force myself to experience some of that this morning as one of our little chicks is starting to hatch. We were expecting them Thursday but I guess this little guy was ready. (Yes, I'm sure you're thinking what I was thinking, "Why does the egg get to hatch early but Christy doesn't get to go into labor early?)

He started last night with a little, teensy crack at the top of the shell and an occasional rocking of the egg. This morning we could see a tiny hole and sometimes even see his little beak poke around.

Here's the video I took of the kids discovering the hatching action... once again it's in sideways mode. I realized it halfway through but thought changing over would make people sick. Sorry! Towards the end, if you're aware, there is one little "cheep" you can hear.

By this evening he already has a tiny section cracked off, he can poke just the tip of his beak out and he's cheeping. It's been such a long, tedious process and now that he's cheeping that pitiful cheep it's become harder and harder to keep my hands off of him. I just want to rip that shell off and free him from his bondage. I know the deadly consequences of interfering though. He needs this struggle to give him life... but he's calling for me, soon he'll be able to see me and still the best thing I can do for him is to let him work his way out on his own. So, I'm keeping the end result in mind: a strong healthy chick who has overcome the biggest obstacle in his short life. Imagine the pride in doing it himself! How could I even consider taking that away from him?

An interesting thing about a chick is that the face that he first sees when hatching is embedded in his mind as being his mother, not as some evil, selfish, non-helpful bystander. Who knows what goes on in the mind of the chick to make that happen. Perhaps in the midst of his struggle he's actually cursing me for not helping him out but with time and perspective he'll appreciate the fact that he can stand and walk and he cannot help but love the one who chose to allow him those gifts rather than interfering with a short term solution that would have resulted in long term failure.

Fascinating. So many applications to life!!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

When It Rains It Pours... er I Mean...

So, you can probably guess, if 10 chickens, or for that matter 30 chickens, weren't enough then surely one horse was not enough. Today we welcomed Stormy the miniature Appaloosa gelding to our farm.

He is only 2 years old, silvery gray and he and Sugar have quickly become the best of friends. When they first met through the fence, Sugar came running up, whinnied a loud hello and stamped her foot as any independent, spirited woman would. This was the most movement we've seen from Sugar since we got her. Then she sprinted over to the gate where we were leading Stormy in, they both whinnied a lot, danced around some, and then that was it. They were friends. I expected some bickering as they adjusted to each other but there wasn't any. Both are mild mannered and they don't wander more than 5 feet from each other now. I'll have to post another picture later, it was getting dark and that's the best I can do.

Now the work begins. We need to train them to our voice commands, the saddle, and eventually to a cart. Sugar has some experience with the saddle and riders and she's working on obeying voice commands but Stormy has very little experience with any of it. By the way, when I say "we" need to start training, you know of course I mean Andrew. After all this is his venture, I just get the joy of blogging about it.

And that's not all...

We also opened the front pasture up to 6 male alpacas. It's a win-win situation as we've been wondering how we were going to maintain the field and the owners of the alpacas needed extra grazing room for the herd. It's also another opportunity to bring in a little income and get familiar with the animals without the investment of actually buying some.

Josiah and Mia got to hold the lead on two of them but both dropped the ropes when they pulled too hard. Alpacas are stronger than they look and of course they were nervous in the new environment. Unfortunately they could only catch one right away and the other ran off with his lead dragging behind him. They were all in the field, but we didn't want the lead to get him caught up in anything. So, if you're wondering, catching an alpaca isn't easy. Especially when it's their first time in a new field and they've just gotten out of a trailer. Thankfully for me, Sierra needed to go down for a nap at the same time, so I got to watch the comedy unfold from the warmth and vantage point of the house. The couple that brought them over, Andrew, Josiah and Mia were all waving their hands, arms outstretched, forming a semi circle trying to corner them on one end of the field. Those wiley alpacas though, they managed to bob and weave and work their way out of the little trap.
Pacas 1, humans 0.

They tried again, this time with all the leads they had removed from the other alpacas tied into one long rope. The alpacas saw that coming and ran all the way around to the other side of the field.

Pacas 2, humans 0.

Finally, with the extra leverage of a tree in the corner and the extension of a long branch cutting off the get away angle, they got them cornered and were able to grab the lead. Phew!

Game over. Humans win 3-2 with that last second 3 point play! It was great fun to watch!! I was thinking that I actually should have joined in, perhaps that would have sent me into labor. Oh, there's still plenty of time to chase them around.

To top it all off. Josiah found another garter snake, only this one is a lot smaller. He named him Carter. We're keeping him outside in the same little tub we used before. Hopefully he'll last longer than the other one. I'm wondering if a raccoon or some other predator got the last one. Poor thing.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

As we have entered into a season of greater peace and less stress, I can't help but reflect on how the last 4 years or so of struggling have molded us. I am eager to see how God intends to use us and those lessons to encourage other people and advance His kingdom. I read an encouraging quote by Ted Engstrom, who headed Youth for Christ and World Vision:

Cripple a man, and you have Sir Walter Scott. Lock him in a prison cell, and you have John Bunyan. Bury him in the snows of Valley Forge, and you have George Washington. Raise him in abject poverty, and you have Abraham Lincoln. Strike him down with infantile paralysis, and he becomes Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Burn him so severely in a schoolhouse fire that doctors say he'll never walk again, and you have Glenn Cunningham, who set the world record in 1934 by running a mile in four minutes and six seconds. Call him a slow learner, retarded, write him off as unable to be educated, and you have Albert Einstein. Have him or her born black in a society filled with racial discrimination, and you have Booker T. Washington, Harriet Tubman, Marian Anderson, George Washington Carver, and Martin Luther King.

The strongest world changers did not live comfortable, easy lives. They were strengthen by their adversities and therefore prepared to conquer many other challenges.

So I praise God for leading me through some rough terrain and for giving me times of respite, too. One stage breaks me down and creates a greater dependence on God, allowing me to grow as He intends. The other is an opportunity to put that growth into action.

Now, I leave you with some Thanksgiving quotes to kick off your day:

"On Thanksgiving Day we acknowledge our dependence." --William Jennings Bryan

"The Pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts. No Americans have been more impoverished than these who, nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving." --H.U. Hestermayer

"Thanksgiving Day is a jewel, to set in the hearts of honest men; but be careful that you do not take the day, and leave out the gratitude." --E.P. Powell

"What we're really talking about is a wonderful day set aside on the fourth Thursday of November when no one diets. I mean, why else would they call it Thanksgiving?" --Erma Bombeck

5 Things MeMe

My cousin Melanie tagged me with this list and I have to say, her list was more interesting than mine!

5 Things on My To-Do List:

- Grocery shopping

- Food & egg delivery

- Make pies

- Meet with midwife

- Make beds (ya! Grandma is spending the night to help out with Thanksgiving prep)

5 Things I Like to Snack On (remember I'm pregnant!):

- Popcorn & cheese

- Apples

- Starbucks!! oops, does that count as a snack?

- Ice cream

- Crackers & hummus

5 Things I Would Do if I Was a Millionaire:

- Pay off debt

- College Funds for the kids - maybe even wedding funds.

- Go to Mongolia, India and Ecuador to visit friends and see how we can help

- Buy the house

- Buy Andrew a tractor

5 Places I Have Lived:

- Oregon, Oregon, Oregon, Oregon, Oregon!

5 Jobs I have Held:

- Human Services Assistant

- Summer Sports Coordinator

- Receptionist

- Bookkeeper

- Mom!

So, I now I need to tag 5 more people...

Leslie, of What Goes Around

Beth, of Finding Joy in the Journey

Cheryl, of Davis Family Chronicles

Sherry, of Spice Mama

And finally, all you lurkers who I'd love to hear from! :)

Monday, November 24, 2008

My New Way To Grocery Shop

Well, we've had so much change lately I decided to try out a new way of grocery shopping: Azure Standard. Andrew's parents have used them for a couple of years. They are based out of Durfur, Oregon and deliver all over the Northwest. Often people set up a co-op, or some people operate as an independent drop point but either way you order your food online and it is delivered via semi-truck to the drop point.

This isn't just any food mind you. They carry the good stuff: organic, healthy, "Life Source" quality brands, etc. Once I decided to go for it I had to quickly place my order online as the deadline was that day! Then I looked for a close drop point, there are three co-ops in Salem but one is closed since it has too many people, and one was a little grouchy and said she'd only let me drop there if I joined her co-op. The other I couldn't reach. But, since I was so close to the minimum order to actually be a drop point myself, I decided to add a few things and became an official drop point myself. It's always nerve racking the first time you try something but you still gotta try it.
Less than a week later I got the call that the truck was on schedule (they have an order placement schedule and a delivery schedule so you can know when to expect your shipment). Then we set off to meet at our designated spot. I knew the semi couldn't make it up our hill to my front door so we arranged to just met out at the road. He loaded my car with all the boxes and the kids and I used the dolly to unload back at home. It was like a grocery shoppers Christmas opening up all those boxes of just what I wanted. There was no breakage or spoilage. I got wonderful sparkling juice, yummy bread, apples, potatoes, mixes for brownies and pizza dough, yogurt, cottage cheese, hummus, ice cream... The list goes on. They have such great variety and it's all the good stuff at reasonable prices! They even have sales.

By the way, if anyone is interested in ordering from Azure Standard and using us as a drop point let me know. The company will check with me to make sure I have approved it first. There is a minimum $50 order and your order will be packaged and labelled together for easy pick up.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Of Course, Of Course

Well, we have a new member of the family and I didn't even have to go into labor! Today the kids got an early Christmas present. Her name is Sugar and she's a miniature pony. She's really the size of a large dog but "a horse is a horse, of course of course" and you should've seen the kids' faces when the horse trailer pulled up. I thought Mia might burst! We kept everything a surprise for them. She told me that at first she just thought that the lady was bringing the horse over to give them rides.
Sugar's former owner had rescued her from a woman who was diagnosed with Lupus and couldn't care for her horses or mini's anymore. Then the rescuer lost her job and couldn't afford to even feed the horses any more. She's been desperately selling off animals on Craig's List. So, we brought this hungry little girl home with us. She's extremely sweet and patient with the kids, not a great size for riding unless you're under 50lbs or so, but we're looking into a cart. Apparently miniature horses are very strong cart pullers. Andrew said he wants a "Chariots of Fire" style cart, I'm looking for a romantic little two seater or maybe one with room in the back for the kiddos.

Honestly, this is Andrew's endeavor (once again) but I do like her and I even think she needs a little friend. Wouldn't two little mini's look so cute pulling our family around in a cart in a parade or something? We could give rides at Christmas time, Harvest and for the 4th of July. Oh, the possibilities.
Screamer, the neighbor's donkey, certainly did give her a warm welcome when she first arrived but he settled down quickly. At first I was worried that the old timer might have some romantic thoughts toward our young pony but he seems to have gotten over the idea.
Andrew made a little video of some of the kids' first moments with Sugar. Unfortunately it's sideways again, but it's not too long so just tip your head.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Following the Shepherd

Tonight we had a prayer service to lift up our senior pastor. He's not in good shape. This is the latest update:

They have discovered that John has a rare blood infection. In order to
monitor his heart, his blood and his vitals more closely they took him to
surgery to place a pulmonary artery catheter. That pulmonary artery catheter was
successfully placed and they are now trying to calibrate it. They are treating
the blood infection with antibiotics.The most urgent prayer request is that John
is dehydrated and his sodium levels are low. While they have been pumping him
full of fluids, his blood has not been absorbing those fluids. Instead the
fluids have been filling other places in his body making him swollen (think
Michelin man) and even seeping fluid. So, he is full of fluids but he is
dehydrated. They are now switching to a different type of fluid to work on that

As we ended the prayer service pastor Steve Fowler mentioned that God is our Shepherd. That image stuck with me as I remembered that He walks before us in this trial. He knows what lies ahead and is leading us along the best path. He's not sitting back somewhere watching us try our best to find our way. If we look, we can see him leading not just giving us direction, and we have the choice to follow or to venture off on our own. I crave safety, so for me, at least initially, it's an easy choice. Following when things don't look so great makes me question all I believe about my Leader. Each time though, I've found him to be faithful and worthy of my following. I guess that part gets easier with time and experience. The path doesn't get easier but the response time when questions arise gets shorter.

During worship I had a vision of powerful thunder surrounding me. I felt that I was in the presence of the Lord God Almighty. I was humbled to the core. Spiritually, emotionally, mentally, I was prostrate before God, acknowledging him for who he is. Physically I was still in my seat as I didn't want to cause a distraction but had I been at home I would have allowed that vision to consume me completely. It was powerful. The only other time in my life where I had a vision like this was in high school while I was attending a retreat. It was a very real and vulnerable time, we were witnessing to people at the mall and learning about stepping out in our faith not just giving lip service to it. I clearly heard satan weeping, all alone in a pit below us and as I looked up I heard the angels in heaven rejoicing louder than any crowd at an arena. Again, it was very powerful and my simple words just can't do it justice.

It's not just pastor John that I'm dependent on the Lord for. It seems like so many people I know are getting hit with major stuff these days: breast cancer, stroke, major marriage issues, infertility, a baby the doctors say won't live, undiagnosed illnesses, chronic pain, major financial issues... It is a privilege and responsibility to be in prayer for all these critical situations. Right now, in this moment, I feel overwhelmed with the needs. I'm reminded and encouraged that God's shoulders are big enough to bear all these burdens. He doesn't need my perfectly phrased prayers to bless and heal these needs. He does want my heart dependent on him for the answers to them though.

I'm also struck by the stage I'm in right now. After years of struggle and some painful experiences I feel like we're in a respite time. I want to truly and fully enjoy this time of blessing. I don't know what tomorrow holds but I know that right now my burden is lighter. I can praise him for that, I can also praise him for all that those trials taught me. I love the song "Gratitude" by Nicole Nordeman, it's on the playlist if you want to listen. That's where I want my heart to be.

Urgent Prayer Request

Please pray for our head pastor at Salem Alliance Church, John Stumbo. He is normally a healthy person, a marathoner (in fact training for an ultra marathon!). He's been battling an unknown virus for the past 3 weeks or so. He was in Salem Hospital for about a week, then released. When he got sicker, just a few days later, Salem Hospital said there was nothing else they could do. He's been up at OHSU in Portland for about a week now. I just received an urgent prayer request saying he's taken a turn for the worse. He's currently in serious condition. At Church we've been studying the names of God. The week he got sick we were studying God as our healer (Jehovah Rapha). This battle is against the flesh and the spiritual attacks. I'm praying to Jehovah Rapha for the complete healing of our pastor. May God be glorified in this. I know many people doubt God's healing power and attribute it to just a Bible times thing. God hasn't changed. He hasn't dropped some of his power or become uncaring. Because of Jesus we can approach the throne of grace with confidence. That's what we're doing on behalf of our pastor and friend.

#1 Unconcsious as of this morning, being termed life or death at this point... undiagnosed illness has left him with no muscle power and is thought that enzymes are somehow attacking his immune system.

#2 Stablized but in critical condition. Spitting up blood, may have a blood clot in his lungs. Legs are blue, may have a blood clot in his legs. Seems to be a blood infection so now doctors have a direction to go in treating him. Again, pray for healing, but also pray for satan to be bound. There is so much to these circumstances that drives me to pray in this way. May God's power be unleashed and his people rejoice!!

Monday, November 17, 2008

From Ahh! to Aghhh!!! in just 5 Minutes!

This past weekend I had the privilege of joining three wonderful women on a weekend getaway to the coast! It was refreshing. We left Friday afternoon, enjoyed dinner out and catching up, spent all day Saturday at the spa...

...dined in (thank you Jennie!!), and watched all of Pride and Prejudice (yes, the 6 hour awesome version).

I was so blessed by our time together, body and soul breathed "Ahhh" as I headed home.

Then I got home.

The van was gone so I knew everyone was out on some adventure. After all, isn't that what weekends with dad are all about? I knew that while I was gone, Andrew was going to pick up 5 more hens and might consider the rooster that the seller wanted to include in the sale. I also knew this would bring our chicken count up to around 30 and I knew that 30 chickens would look like a lot more than our original 8. But, as I looked around the property something just didn't look right. We had some chickens in the front yard, usually they stay in the back. I thought maybe this was what was throwing me off. But, no, there was something else. I could see some chickens in the backyard, too, and somehow it all just looked like... more.

I called Andrew to let him know several chickens were out in the front yard. You see I'm just not in a state to be running around rounding up chickens and we want them to stay in one central area so we can contain their laying areas and keep them all accounted for. He sounded strange on the phone, like he was waiting for something. He said he was sorry he wasn't home because he wanted to be there when I met the new chickens. What an odd comment I thought.

So, I decided I needed to investigate. I made my way through the barn and saw a couple of baskets hanging on the stall door. "Why would Andrew be decorating with my baskets?" I thought. Oh, maybe it was the girls who did that. I decided to dismiss that. Then I noticed that there was an entire horse stall filled with perches and straw. To my delight there were two eggs in the trough so I grabbed them and continued outside. This is when my, "Ahh!" changed to an "Aghhh!!!!" As far as the eye can see there were chickens... everywhere. I took a little video of my discovery. Please excuse the spacey sounding commentary. I was in shock.

So needless to say, when I left for my weekend getaway we had just finished collecting our first dozen large eggs and a half dozen bantam eggs which we plan to incubate. When I got out of the barn that afternoon I already had 8 eggs in my basket and we found more that night. Our flock is now up to 81 chickens!
I guess we're officially in the egg business. Thankfully that last big purchase included tons of egg cartons so we really are all set. Another thing I'm thankful for... Andrew found an article that said that a chicken community shouldn't be more than 80 as they can't remember more than that many fellow feathered friends and it will cause disruption in the flock. So, phew, I guess we're set.
Lord, lift me above my own narrow horizons, that I might fulfill your true vision for me. - B.J. Hoff