Sunday, November 28, 2010


This had to be one of the best days since having Willow. Ryan and I took the boys out with Willow, together, to an apple orchard. It was a gorgeous day, oh and did I mention, we were all together? When I was thinking about this today, I tried to resolve what made it so special. I have often seen a photograph of myself as a baby at an apple orchard with my family. It's one of my favorite pictures. One, I look really cute (in the baby photo; right now in real life, there is much work to be done before I can be called cute.) Two, well why does there have to be a two. It's just a memorable photo. So, apple orchards and family just ring special in my mind. Add that to the fact that this was probably our first outing in public with all four kids in tow. I remember entering the store on the grounds and having a teeny panic moment as I realized I had Willow in a public store. We have been reminded so often that we need to be very careful with her exposure to illness and we were home bound for weeks and weeks after she'd come home from the hospital. I simply held her almost chubby little body a little tighter to make our way to the honeycomb display at the back of the store. To see the hundreds of bees making honey was quite a thing before we made our way out to the apples.
We walked for a very long time through the orchard, sampling apples and then picking what we'd like to buy. The boys had a blast, Willow was so content being held, she never whimpered through the whole trip. We stopped for some photos (as you can see.) At one stage, Ryan took the boys to check out the Mutzu apples. I stood on flatter ground to keep my balance with the baby and slowly pivoted to take in a full view of my surroundings. There was a chilly air, but the sun was so bright and warm on my face and the trees were so green. It was one of those moments of a consuming appreciation when you take the deepest breath, as though you're sucking in even the goodness you feel. Plus, my body was probably having a Vitamin D overload after spending so many days inside of a hospital. It was awesome! I then wondered if there was enough time to ask our friends to do this with us again--apple picking usually winds up in October. Except for my "after I had the baby, baby shower" we really hadn't been able to socialize with anyone at all in about five months. So, naturally, I wondered about sharing great times like this with others.
The boys had chosen their lot of Mutzus and were carrying their heavy bags with fruit gold when we decided we were done and ready to head home. We had one fairly steep hill to walk up to go and purchase our loot. As I got to the top I saw very recognizable faces--my lifelong friend's crew were all walking toward us. It was such a treat to meet up with them. Both families could have easily taken another way in and out of the orchard. But, there we were. It was a simple thing, meeting friends. But, it was pure joy for me and I was so thankful to be able to savor that sweet, brief time. Here they were, with not one, but two of their new sons; one whom they had taken in pretty much at the time when Willow arrived in our family. Both of our families were introduced to new little ones, with comparably complicated situations. Theirs through foster care and eventually adoption of a two and three year old in addition to already having four children. Here we were, meeting unexpectedly after a pretty hectic set of months behind us, making memories with our children.
Did I mention we were TOGETHER?

Here I am, in the 70's in an apple orchard with my family.

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Special Firehouse Visit

We enjoyed a really nice visit to a local firehouse recently with our homeschool group.
I've been to several of these, but this time, this particular staff went out of their way to give an awesome tour to the children (and moms!) It was very detailed and interesting and they were incredibly friendly.
Then, I realized that the firefighter giving us the tour was THE paramedic who had taken me from one hospital to the next where I delivered Willow. He works in two towns, in one as a paramedic only. He was so kind to me all the way to the hospital as I knew my baby was arriving, but also knew it was much too early for this to be happening--and didn't even know what was wrong with her . I should have been hysterical, yet it was actually a very calm journey. Joe was a big part of that as he spoke to me about his wife and daughter. I'm grateful. It was special to introduce the boys to him and to let everyone know, he was one of my heroes.
As pictured above, the boys got to sit in the truck. My oldest's favorite part was feeling the weight of the fire hose on his shoulders. The firefighters favorite seemed to be when they pulled out all the power tools off the truck to show the kids. A few of the moms noted how their eyes lit up!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

32 Week Delivery

Our baby girl arrived 8 weeks early soon after she had stopped moving inside me. My OB immediately ran tests two days in a row and sent me for an emergency c-section. The baby came out breathing and gurgling, but had a stomach mass that took hours of tests to attempt to diagnose and finally exploratory surgery was done. She was diagnosed with a rare condition for [in utero] babies called midgut volvulus without malrotation, and a herniation through the blood vessel wall. There isn't any documentation on her condition because it is unheard of in babies not yet born. At twelve hours old, our daughter had life-saving surgery. She spent a total of five weeks in the NICU, four with an ostomy bag which was in itself a big struggle. At four weeks, one day, she was reattached and spent one more week in the NICU. At five weeks and one day old, at 4 lbs, 15 ounces, Willow came home with us. It was a rough first two months. I never had a day when I felt comfortable with her as silent reflux crept into our lives. She spent six days in hospital in July due to a blockage. Then, just as I thought we'd go a full month without a hospital stay, she ended up going back in the last day of August and days later had surgery to remove a lot of scar tissue that had caused several blockages throughout her intestines, plus a repair of the original reattachment site. This visit lasted ten days and was the stay that caused me to seriously plead with God, "no more, please." It has been a heck of a journey and has taken its toll on my other children. But, we've seen miracles and blessings and a community of support. Willow seems to be healthy, she's chubby and progressing so well. My boys' hearts have seemed to heal as well. I think with every ounce she gains, my own heart heals more and more.
Thanks for reading.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Along Came Our Pretty Princess

Our little girl came eight weeks early in late Spring and spent weeks and weeks in both the NICU and hospital and endured three surgeries. At this stage she is 5 1/2 months old and just about 12 pounds. She is healthy and chubby finally! Our boys have been so sweet with her and coped well with our absence due to numerous friends and family stepping in to care for them. I hope to share some of these experiences soon.
We've had a rough year but we have managed to continue with our studies.
This year we're studying ancient history with MFW CtG. See Sidebar if you want more info on what we use for our studies.