Thursday, April 30, 2009

Thoughts on Wonderful

(This is Peanut, the little life inside my sister Jenna)
When I first began this post, I had initially titled it "Thoughts On Tragedy". My sister Jenna (you can read her blog here) is expecting a baby this August, and until a few weeks ago she thought that everything was perfect. But everything wasn't perfect as her 20 week ultrasound showed. The baby boy growing inside of her is not perfect.

20 years ago I walked into labor and delivery with a perfect daughter inside of my body. A child I had known intimately for 9 months. A child I had named, dreamed about, sang to and loved. Hours later, I lay in a hospital room with my daughter, only I felt as if she were a changeling from an old fairy story. She was not perfect. She was broken. The list of what was wrong with her was so long it threatened to wrap itself around my throat and refuse me another breath. It took a couple of hours before I could even hold her. I felt betrayed and alone. I did hold her though, and God poured his love through her eyes into mine and I saw that she was perfect after all.

I wonder now, as I think back on the life and death of my daughter Whitney, whether I would have wanted to know ahead of time what was going to be. I think about Jen, carrying her baby that for 20 weeks was perfect, was hers. Now he is someone else. She has 4 months left to think and contemplate on what life will bring when he is born. 4 months to worry if he will be okay.

There is good and bad in both I suppose.

Whitney had something entirely different than Nick and Jen's baby. He may have something far gentler, or it could be much more severe. Tests and time will tell.

I absolutely hate that my sister has to endure this. I am angry that she cannot continue to be the Jenna 'before'. But I praise God, because she will never be the Jenna "before" again. She will be so much stronger, be filled with love she never knew existed, and have an empathy born inside of her that she never knew possible "before". If you knew my sister, you would know that this is saying a lot. She is loving, caring, giving and empathetic already. She is a mother, every inch of her a mother.

I ask your prayers for little "peanut". I believe in the promises of God and the miracles that he can and does cause to be because of prayer. I know that if it is His good will, that He will heal that precious life inside of my sister, and make him whole and healthy and strong. But I know too, that if His will is something else, that it will be just as beautiful. I look at the ultrasound photo of him and my chest cannot contain the love I feel. I am literally brought to my knees with the enormity of it. I cannot imagine how Nick and Jenna must feel. He is so beautiful and wonderful. His disease is a tragedy, but he is a miracle.

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. Romans 5:1-5 ff. (NIV)

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Art Of Letter Writing

Today I opened my front door to check my mail and found this beautiful letter from my friend Shana in New York. I haven't even opened the letter yet, because the entire presentation is so artfully done and just plain beautiful that I need to just be in its presence for a while, soaking in the peace and vintage feel of the envelope.

Letter writing is a lost art. In the age of electronic communication, we have almost forgotton how to put pen to paper and write with our hands, the feelings of our hearts. I have friends that I write to all over the world. The UK, Germany, France, Sweden and India are all countries I am blessed to visit through the eyes and hearts of the women I have come to know and love. Here in the states, I receive mail from dear friends in Colorado and as the letter above shows, New York.

I also receive letters from Florida, where my friend Vonda lives. Vonda and I have been friends for over 20 years and raised our babies together in the same town before she moved away. In the last several months we have rekindled our relationship through hand written words. It is such an amazing thing to open up the envelope and feel her presence.

Words and paper are not the only thing we exchange. Often little gifts are tucked neatly into the envelopes. Tea bags, books of stamps, post cards and cute stickers find themselves nestled between the pages of the letter as a sweet little suprise for the receiver. Packages are exchanged as well filled with heart felt and well thought out gifts. It is such a pleasure to find special things that you know another woman is going to appreciate.

My friend Cate in the UK and I have developed such a deep friendship and sharing of our joys and heart aches that we do hope to be able to meet one day, whether it be in Wales or in Montana. Her children are precious to me and her friendship vital to my life and walk with Christ. We even opt for the occasional video chat via ICQ.

Shana in New York has chickens just like I do, and we share a love for simple things, for traditional womanhod and of course... for chickens.

There are some great websites out there for anyone who would like to try finding some pen friends. Here are a few of the ones I like:

Penpal International at

Christian Pen Pals at

and Sassociations at

So try it! Pick up a pen and some paper and write a letter. You'll be amazed at how theraputic it is!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

FOR TODAY April 16, 2009

Outside my window...Spring begins, filling me with hope.

I am thinking...of so many things that I need to do, paint my kitchen, bedroom and hall for one. Finish the floor trim in the living room and hall. Replace the carpeting in my bedroom. Clean the back porch and the much to do!

I am thankful for...God bringing me to Fresh Life Church where my soul is fed the spiritual food it craves.

From the kitchen...Last night I made ham and musroom casserole. Tonight for dinner I will make spaghetti using italian sausage and served with soft garlic bread and a green salad.

I am wearing...My comfy clothes of course, Navy Blue pants and a white long sleeved top that is embroidered with colorful flowers. Very hippie looking today.

I am creating...Dishcloths. I have been knitting and crocheting them both lately.

I am the College at 4 pm. I completed High School, but was missing a 1/4 credit in History in 1985. I am getting my GED so I can begin Nursing in the fall.

I am reading...Currently I am not reading anything, but next on my list is Love Comes Softly by Janette Oak.

I am praying...that I can become more patient, more loving, more quiet and that I can be a blessing rather than a burden.

I am hearing...The rumble of the dryer, which will soon be a thing of the past, for the summer at least. Mike is stretching the clothesline today.

Around the house...Life is strange. Our kids are grown and almost always gone and I am unsure what to do with me. I feel strangely useless and unsure of who or what I am supposed to be now.

One of my favorite things... Is finding old hand written recipes and thinking about the women that wrote them and what their lives might have been like.

A few plans for the rest of the week: GED on Friday, Church on Saturday, Financial Aid and registration for Nursing on Monday.

Here is picture thought I am sharing...

Spring Chickens

Here are some photos of the little girls enjoying a sunny spring morning. It took some doing to get them all out of the coop, because they are... well, chicken. But I did it, and two hours later I when I wanted to get them all back in, they weren't having any of it!

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Friday, April 10, 2009

Lasagna Gardening

Here are the beginnings of my lasagna garden. You can see that I have added leaves and greens to my little lasagna pan. This particular pan is going to be for lettuce and other partial shade loving veggies.

Here is my recipe for a 8' X 4' pan of Lasagna! This recipe is based on what I had on hand. You can make your lasagna pan any size, and could do away with the saw if you conformed it to utilize the wood that you had on hand. Lasagna gardening is great because it is a no dig method. You layer compostable material as you would for a compost pile, and it "cooks" creating delicious fluffy light soil that is the perfect medium for growing your veggies! We use the raised bed method, building boxes to contain our lasagna. You can also just layer and build right on the ground, its up to you. You can find lots of information online about lasagna gardening. Some folks are exceptionally technical when it comes to layering their "browns" and "greens". Me? I didn't worry too much about it. I layered what I had and it resulted in the most fabulous amazing flourishing garden. So try not to worry too much, unless your a techy.. and then by all means plan, measure and mark to your hearts content!

Ingredients for building the pan:

2 8 foot 2x8 boards
2 16 foot 2x8 boards
2x4 ends and pieces for holding two levels together. (nailers)
screws or nails
skill saw
tape measure
drill or hammer


1. Cut (4) 8 foot long boards.
2. Cut (4) 3' 7" long boards.
3. Create the bottom frame by making a box using two of the long and two of the short boards.
4. Repeat process to create the top frame.
5. Then take both boxes and stack on top of one another.
6. Take nailer boards and screw them on the inside of the box at the corners and the center of the long end to hold both levels together.

Walla, you have your pan. Place the pan where you would like to have your garden. Filling instructions coming next!

Lasagna Filling Recipe:


1. Browns : Fall leaves, shredded newspaper, peat, and pine needles
2. Greens: Grass clippings, manure (chicken, rabbit, horse, goat etc. Not dog or cat), kitchen scraps (no meat or protein..fruits and veg, coffee grounds etc.
3. Flattened cardboard boxes or lots and lots of newspaper to lay on the bottom.


1. Lay the cardboard down inside of your box. Make sure that all surfaces are covered. I have my hubby lift the edges of the box so I can tuck it under, leaving no room for grass or weeds to come up. The purpose of the cardboard is to make sure that nothing underneath your bed is going to come up through your garden. Lasagna gardening is a no dig method. No tilling, no digging, and as a result, very little weeding! Lay the cardboard or thick layers of newspaper down and then water them. Give them a slight soaking.

2. Begin with browns. Throughout your garden you want to keep the ratio of browns to greens, 2 to 1. Many instructions for lasagna gardening say you must begin with several inches of peat moss. Guess what? I didn't have any. I began with leaves left over from fall. Lots and lots of leaves. After each layer, give it a gentle soaking with the hose. You don't want to drown your lasagna, but water aids the composting of all of your goodies.

3. Add greens. You can add your grass clippings, manure, kitchen scraps etc. Remember that your shooting for a 2 to 1 ration of browns to greens. Too many greens can burn your veggies so you want to add those browns to balance things out. Remember to water after each addition.

4. I like to throw in some topsoil every few layers, but its not necessary.

5. Continue layers, 2-3 inches deep (you do NOT have to be technical about this point) until you fill up your beds. The deeper your bed the better.

6. I top with a layer of topsoil, and this also is not a requirement. Some folks add a layer of straw on the top and plant into it. I like dirt : )

Cook at daytime temps for as long as possible before growing season begins. This gives the materials you added time to break down and become a yummy fluffy growing medium for the tons of veggies you are going to grow in your garden!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Spring Chores

Here are the little girls in their new digs. You can see the partition that my husband put in. The bottom half allows the big girls to see the littles, and the top half allows me to go through and gather eggs.

Well the photos ended up being in reverse order, but thats okay, why not start with the finished product ? My dear husband was good enough to help me with the spring chicken chores last weekend. I am still not able to lift much weight, and therefore couldn't shovel out the coop. Bless him, he did it for me. I use the deep litter method of chicken coop bedding, which is basically adding and adding the shredded paper and wood shavings mix all through out the year. This allows a deep layer to build up for winter. The smell is almost non existent since the shavings absorb the moisture. It worked so well this winter when the temps were very cold for very long, the girls did great.

But, it does leave a good 8"-12" of shavings to be shoveled out and composted in the spring. So.. shovel he did. He then built a partition in the big girls coop so that the little ones could vacate their over crowded studio in my kitchen, and move into the manse. He put chicken wire on the bottom so that the big girls could see into the area where the littles live. This will allow them to become accustomed to the littles and hopefully not give them too much of a pecking when they finally all live together. Chickens, as sweet as they are, can be like teenage girls in high school.

Here is my husband working on the partition, and Goldie peeking in to see whats going on.

This is my son Garrett, he is stealing the hinges from the old A-Frame coop to use on the door of the partition. We needed a door as I had to get to those eggs somehow! I love how Elsie is watching him here, the curiosity of a chicken is really amazing, especially when you think of the size of their itty bitty brains!

This is inside the coop. Mike is moving the nest box down to make room for the littles. My coop is 4X12 and could accommodate 24 chickens at the 2 square foot per bird rule. Beings that I have long winters here though, I prefer to give them more than that.

And here is my lovely hubby layering the compost in the piles. This is what was left over from the rabbit and chicken poo! The majority went straight into the garden beds to cook for the month or so left before planting! I have lasagna garden beds and will be talking about those in my next post. They are amazing, and you can grow SO much in just a small space!