Livestock Adventures

It’s been rather quiet around here lately. Well, just quiet on the blog…We’ve definitely been busy on the farm and in the home!

Recently we checked on our flock of sheep in Kimberly Oregon. They will soon be moving up to our farm here in Dufur. Our farm in Kimberly is up for sale. It’s a beautiful farm and it holds a special place in my heart. God is leading us on to other things though so although I shall miss the farm, I am thankful for the time we had there and our farm manager that lived there and cared for it for us. The sheep are the last bit of livestock that we still have on the farm. Although it is a little bittersweet, I am definitely looking forward to caring for them here in Dufur.

The sheep are just lovely creatures. I’ve never raised wool sheep (I had hair sheep) so I am excited about this new adventure. Eleanor adores them. Did you know one of her favorite toys was given to her by a friend (Danielle)? A little lamb rattle. It shouldn’t surprise you that the real sheep have captured her tiny heart. The chicks have also captured her attention. Speaking of chicks…

We’ve got a ton! Well not a literal ton, but it feels like it! I love working with our local hatchery to take their over-runs. Did you know that a lot of hatcheries “euthanize” their extra chicks? I sure didn’t! I was really glad to start working with our local hatchery to provide a source for them to send their extra chicks to. We’ve loved working with them!

It’s hard to predict what we will be doing one week to the next. The livestock have added new joys to our year. I think my farmer husband is even beginning to have a rather soft spot for his little friends. I get us into such a mess sometimes and yet he is so gracious. We literally had thousands of chicks last year and I didn’t help raise them very much (morning sickness was intense)…yet he was cheerful as ever and ready to take on the project with such enthusiasm. As we’ve refined our processes to make sure we don’t find ourselves unprepared with more chicks than we can handle, I find myself increasingly grateful for his character. His patience, his work ethic, his passion, his love…definitely his love.

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Motherhood | Two Weeks In…

So much in life has changed in the past two weeks. It’s the same, and then it changes all at once and one can never go back again. As Eleanor sleeps on my chest, bundled against my skin, I can’t imagine life without her and yet, it was less than a year ago that she wasn’t even in existence in our lives.

I am quickly learning how sleepless nights turn into days, how many diapers a baby can go through, how much spit up it takes to soak an outfit, and how incredibly awesome this thing called motherhood is.

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It’s not easy but all of you know that. It’s not the spit up, diapers, or even the sleepless nights that make it hard. It’s the uncertainty. It’s the desire to make the world a beautiful place for her to grow up in. It’s the desire to keep her safe physically, emotionally, and spiritually. It’s the realization of how little I control. That’s what makes it hard. All these diapers and such will go away in time…but will the world be a beautiful place for her? I don’t want her to see the greed, selfishness of the world. I want her to see the world full of opportunity, full of joy, and full of abundance. I suppose this is probably every parent’s wish for their child but I didn’t realize how much I wanted it for Eleanor until she was placed in my arms.

Watching Zechariah become a father to Eleanor gives my heart so much joy and reassurance. I don’t know what Eleanor’s future brings but when I look at them together, I know that it will all be okay. Here in this moment, we live together. We will show her the snow in December and the peach blossoms in April. We will make memories together living and loving.

When I think about motherhood in this perspective, it gets a whole lot easier.

Almost There and Maternity Photos

With less than 20 days left until we meet this bundle of rambunctious joy, I feel similar to a ticking time bomb. 😉 Zechariah and I are still working as quickly as possible to wrap up the remaining projects for the year before we settle down to meet this little one.

Our bathroom project is coming along amazingly. Zephaniah has been helping Zech figure out the plumbing (one of the last *major* parts of the project). Timothy and Josiah also helped us out with tiling, sheeting, painting, and such. Everyone’s help has been a huge blessing.

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My photography for Azure is pretty much completed for the year. I am so thankful for the opportunity I had to learn and grow this skill. Providing Azure with photos as we harvested was really fun and I also got a good bit of exercise walking up and down the orchard rows. How Zechariah’s crew walks up and down all those rows, while carrying 50 lb fruit picking bags, is beyond me. 😉 One of my favorite parts of doing pictures this year was getting to know the members of Zechariah’s crew a little more.

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Since my due date is getting increasingly closer, Zechariah and I finally decided to stop procrastinating and we took our own maternity photos. Zechariah is so good to me and helped make all of these photos possible. I couldn’t have taken these without him. ❤ Really, there were just a few pictures that I wanted captured of our pregnancy so I didn’t feel the need to hire someone else. I’ll definitely recruit someone else for our family photos though. I can’t wait for our first picture as a family of 3.

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So now I am simply wrapping up the nursery, making the last issue of 31MOM Magazine, making grape juice from the abundant concord grapes that we were blessed with this year, and editing one of my last photo sessions of the year. As much as I’d love to meet this baby today, I think I need the next 20 days to finish my list. 😉

Pregnancy Ponderings

I’m well into my third trimester now. It’s crazy how the time has flown and yet how slowly the time seems to be going by. I truly cannot wait to meet this little one, to count their fingers and toes, to memorize all their tiny features. We have so much to do still to be “ready” and yet I don’t think I’d complain one bit if baby came a little before we were ready.

Pregnancy has been an amazing journey for me. I hope this is just the first of many positive pregnancy experiences for us. I was thinking this week about how “pregnancy after loss” has changed my perspective of a lot of things. So here is a little back story on Baby Joy and what pregnancy after loss has been like.

 

I may not have “given up” trying to get pregnant and definitely still had a small stockpile of pregnancy tests, but I definitely wasn’t as excited about it anymore. I don’t know how to explain it really. Previously, I waited each month anxiously and excited to take a pregnancy test just in case “this was the month”. After two years of seeing “Not Pregnant” pop up every time I took a test, and the few times I did get a “Pregnant” reading to be discouraged and heartbroken only a few weeks later, I had really just come to peace with not being pregnant. I think part of me was a little afraid that I’d never see that “Pregnant” test again as it was almost a year exactly between our last miscarriage and our current pregnancy. Honestly, seeing other people excited about pregnancy burned a little bit…like getting salt in a cut. I couldn’t help but be happy for those around me but at the same time, I couldn’t help but remember when I was pregnant and how old our babies would have been, and wonder about what could have been.

The month we did get pregnant, I refused to take a pregnancy test. I didn’t need a pregnancy test to tell me what I knew every month. Of course I wasn’t pregnant. When my period was a week late, I shrugged it off and really didn’t think anything of it. Irregular periods have always been a part of my life and I was also pretty busy traveling that month so I just packed extra “necessities” and called it good. It wasn’t until we got home from traveling that I finally decided to take a test just to confirm what I already knew. I actually didn’t read the test. I didn’t want to. Getting that “Not Pregnant” reading always made me feel a little bit like a failure. So instead, I sent Zech to the bathroom to read the test for me while I hid under a blanket on the couch (as if that was really supposed to help).

Just writing all of this out brings back so many memories…and makes pregnancy seem so unreal….like it’s almost a dream. Yet I have a rather huge abdomen and *someone* is rather rolly this morning so I cannot deny the inevitable truth.

I remember the sound of his footsteps, I remember feeling him sitting down next to me on the couch (I was still hiding under the blanket by the way), and I remember him slowly pulling the blanket off of my face. One look at him and I knew that everything was about to change. One look at the pregnancy test for myself and I knew we wouldn’t be keeping our pregnancy a secret. I think we might have managed to wait a full hour actually. 😉

So what felt different about pregnancy after loss?

Morning sickness was a blessing really. It made me feel safe for some reason. Like as long as I had morning sickness at least I knew I was normal. Did I “enjoy” it? no. Who enjoys 24/7 nausea anyways? Not me. I hate throwing up with a passion.

Baby moving has been everything I always dreamed of feeling. Although I will add, I have a deformed ribcage (no, seriously…one side is slightly caved in and the other side has broken cartilage). It is also “extra long” according to the one doctor I visited a couple years ago. These two things combined have made it a little uncomfortable at times. Luckily, I am carrying low. I can’t imagine carrying any higher. 😉 I feel bad for anyone who doesn’t like feeling a baby move. It really is one of my favorite things even at 3am. Baby Joy loves to kick Zech out of bed. Literally. As soon as the alarm clock goes off, Baby Joy starts kicking Zech’s back.

Weight gain was even encouraging to me. I have never gained weight easily. It might seem like a blessing but it’s really not. It’s a little depressing when nothing fits because you’re “too thin” and people make the same jokes about skinny people as they do about obese people. Gaining weight felt like a huge accomplishment. Now I’m hopeful that I can lose at least some of the 30+ pounds that I’ve packed on. My midwife says she has never seen a more ideal weight gain chart so I feel pretty proud. 😉 Between you and me though, I don’t think I would have gained a pound had it not been for Zech. He would get me whatever food I was hungry for or try to find something similar to what I was hungry for. During the first trimester, this mostly just consisted of watermelon. Lots and lots of watermelon. Now, he makes sure I don’t get too unbalanced with our meals. If it were left to me, I’d probably just eat a block of cheese and and apple most of the time. He makes sure I take my vitamins as well which is awesome because I am a little forgetful.

Blood draws were extremely comforting to me as well. That sounds weird and 99% of people probably think that sounds creepy too but I don’t know what else to say. 😉 I loved being able to see on a chart exactly what my body was doing, exactly what my baby needed me to do, and see that my baby was indeed happy and safe. I felt like my body was so unsafe for babies after losing 3…I needed reminders that baby’s really are born safe and sound.

The last thing that pregnancy after loss has done to me is this. I was overwhelmed by the community of women who have lost babies. Most of them, you’d never know had lost a child. It’s not something people talk about and they shouldn’t have to. I grew to have friendships with these women though and I love each of them dearly. When I hear about someone else that is going through the loss of a child or simply waiting to get pregnant, part of me aches for them. It’s the part of me I never would have known existed had I not had the experiences I have. I can’t tell you how much I wish that each of these women would receive the miracle they are hoping for. My heart remains hopeful for them mostly because of how God has brought us a baby and I can’t deny that miracles really do happen.

Overall, this pregnancy has been amazing. God has used it to bring healing to places I didn’t know I needed it. I feel more confident in my body than I did last year.

This was a long, rambling post, but if you made it this far reading, thanks and I hope you enjoyed it.

 

Close To My Heart | Loving *MY* Enemies?

About 2 1/2 years ago something happened that shook my world. It shook my definition of love, of people’s worth, of forgiveness. It was one of those times when all that “talk” actually is tested and I got to see what I really believed.

I grew up hearing Christians say that we were to “love our enemies”, “love covers all sins”, and “love isn’t easily offended”. I believed all those things. I really thought I did. I believed that everyone and anyone was deserving of second chances, forgiveness, and love.

Then the unimaginable happened and someone very close to me committed serious crimes and hurt my family (and others) in ways that I never imagined possible. After the initial shock and disbelief wore off, I was left with so many emotions. Anger, hurt, sadness. I won’t go into the details of the situation that happened, but it has dragged out over the last 2 1/2 years.

Throughout this time, my “love” has been tested. See, love often gets confused with the amazing emotions that make us feel “in-love”. I don’t feel “in-love” towards this person anymore. I don’t have those happy feelings or think of them with fondness anymore. I think this person deserves consequences for their sins, this person not only hurt others but largely impacted their life negatively, and this person will never be part of our family the same way again. Yet through all of that, my heart feels a sadness for this person. This person has worth. This person needs love. True love. Love that all of us Christians preach about but hardly ever show. How can I expect this person to receive love from anyone if I myself am not willing to show it?

You see, it’s easy for me to love the murderer that I’ll never know, who killed someone I’ll never know. Because as horrible as that situation is, I’m removed from it. I am not personally connected to either one of them so it’s easy for me to “love” them. It’s easy for me to say that the prostitute deserves love and a better life, because I don’t know the families that her affairs have shattered. Once again, I’m removed from the situation and loving her is easy. However, when someone commits an offense against my family or someone I know, it all of a sudden becomes personal. It becomes different. It’s a whole lot easier to preach that everyone deserves love/forgiveness/a second chance…EXCEPT for that person.

It easy to love our enemies as the Bible teaches…until we are faced with loving OUR enemies.

What I’m asking you to do is call yourself out on this hypocrisy. Face it for what it is, and purify your heart. Loving people isn’t easy. Loving sinner’s isn’t easy. It’s easier for us to hold onto our hurt with pride in our hearts because of the injustice that has been done to us. The reality is, when we do this we are killing ourselves more than we are even effecting the other person. Love may be for others, but forgiveness is for ourselves and they have to be done together otherwise they are incomplete… and we’re still left drinking the poison.

 

Farm Life and Home Life

Summer is an amazing time of the year on the farm. As much as the calendar says that it hasn’t even begun yet, it certainly feels like it has. The temperatures have been in the 90’s lately and the gardens and fields are reflecting that.

Out in the fields and orchard things are growing rapidly. The vegetable patch is one of my favorite places to be right now. Row after row of lush green vegetables are growing beautifully. One of my favorite treats to grab from the field while we are out on a walk would have to be the kohlrabi. If you haven’t had a kohlrabi before, you will want to change that. It has a little bit of a cabbage flavor but it’s texture reminds me more of a radish. I had never even heard of a kohlrabi until last year and now I’m hooked.

Last weekend Mommy and Daddy Stelzer helped us plant our berry patch. Zechariah and I have lots of plans for our yard and I am so happy to see some of it coming together. We definitely couldn’t have gotten our berry patch planted without mommy and daddy’s help. We have huckleberries, boysenberries, blackberries, raspberries, black raspberries, ariona berries, and several others. It’s our dream to make this a beautiful, fun, and enjoyable place for all to enjoy. I can’t wait to watch our little ones run barefoot through the gardens.

Other than berries, we have been planting almonds. The almond trees look more like twigs that someone stuck in the ground than anything else, but I look forward to watching them grow and begin providing our family with almonds.

My “Normal” Pregnancy

I have giggled about people’s comments on my pregnancy. Blood draws and supplements are intimidating I guess…so I think that it gives the impression that something about my pregnancy is foreign. In all reality though, this is my normal and blood draws aren’t so bad. 😉 So here’s a post for all those people who wonder what pregnancy is like for me.

Before I even became pregnant again I decided I wasn’t going to let my past pregnancies cause me to miss out on the joy of this pregnancy. It has been a very deliberate choice but I wouldn’t change any part of this pregnancy.

We see our midwifes once a month. I absolutely love them. They’re so fun to talk to and very down to earth. Not to mention, they are genuinely excited about this baby and that really blesses me.

When we go to our midwife appointments the midwives usually tell us how our hormone levels are doing, we talk about any questions that have come up since our last visit, listen to the heartbeat, and then schedule my next blood draw. I have my blood drawn by a lab in The Dalles because it’s a lot closer than going to the midwives. I love the lady that draws my blood. She is so sweet, blunt, and hilarious. We go the the lab about every two weeks. We’ll continue doing this until the midwives feel confident that everything in my body is working properly and supporting baby enough.

When at home, I take a variety of vitamins and supplements. I use a bottle of Progessence in about 2 weeks. I definitely take more than what is “recommended” on the bottle but since I’ve been keeping an eye on how my body is absorbing it via blood tests, I don’t mind. I have a list of vitamins that I am supposed to be taking but I’m usually pleased if I get half the list down (shhhh don’t tell the midwives). It’s really not that big of a list so I’m not even going to make any excuses for why I haven’t been very diligent in that area. 😉

Emotionally, pregnancy has been great. I have been told that I’m “scary” and “assertive” which actually makes me laugh. As much as I try to stay “normal”, I do know that I am just a wee bit more hormonal than usual. I get frustrated with people a little more easily (usually people really can’t bother me even if they tried), and I cry a bit more easily. Like watching birth videos and reading stories totally makes me cry. Especially when the baby cries for the first time… oh. my. word…it gets me every time. I love the sound of a baby’s first cry.

So this is my normal. I really feel like aside from blood tests, it isn’t that different than most people’s pregnancies. I can’t imagine it being any different. I have loved everything about being pregnancy thus far and couldn’t be more excited that we are finally in our second trimester.