Cecilia’s Birth Story

This is the birth story of our third baby, first home birth and first daughter Cecilia, written in 2014.

For the birth of our third baby, we decided a home birth was the best option for the birthing environment we desired. After a very fast labor and chaotic hospital delivery with our second baby, we didn’t want the stress of worrying about whether or not we’d make it to the hospital. That coupled with the fact that my labors and deliveries have been uncomplicated, we felt that home birth was completely safe.

Our baby was due March 31. I really had no feelings whatsoever regarding whether baby would arrive early, on time or late. My second son arrived 9 days early so based on that, I thought there was a strong possibility this baby may arrive early also. Of course, babies are unpredictable so I prepared myself for 40 plus weeks of pregnancy.

This pregnancy went well. I dealt with morning sickness and food aversions from weeks 6 to 14. The second trimester was wonderful and the third trimester started well. Around 32 weeks, I started to have severe hip and pubic pain. Thankfully, frequent chiropractic visits with hip and pubic bone adjustments with an activator helped tremendously, keeping the last weeks of pregnancy from being miserable.

On Wednesday, March 19, I woke up and decided that my first priority of the day was a visit to the chiropractor. The day before I had bad pelvic/pubic pain and knew I needed an adjustment as soon as I could get one. And, I definitely wanted to be freshly adjusted for labor. I think I subconsciously knew that baby would be arriving soon. A friend offered to watch the boys on Wednesday but I told John David, “I told her no because I think she’ll have them tomorrow.” I don’t remember saying this but he told me that I did.

After arriving home from my adjustment, the day proceeded mostly as normal. During rest time, I did crawl in bed to rest and started reading birth stories from Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth. I read several birth stories which were encouraging, inspiring and just what a woman who subconsciously feels labor coming on needs to read!

A little after 5, my husband called to tell me he had a meeting at 6:30 and would be home late. Around 5:30, my sister called and we chatted a few minutes and I told her, “I’m pretty sure baby is a boy!

The boys and I ate supper around 6 and by 6:30, I started cleaning the kitchen. As I began cleaning, I started noticing light contractions, nothing painful, just low pressure. I was able to keep cleaning through them and wasn’t timing them at all at this point because they were painless. After I finished cleaning in the kitchen, I decided on a whim to clean both bathrooms. I encouraged the boys to start picking up the playroom and when I finished my cleaning, I joined them in there. We were finishing up tidying the playroom when John David arrived home around 8:30. I told him that I was having some occasional contractions and he downloaded a contraction app to start timing them.

Then, John David’s parents Facetimed with the boys while I sat in the living room and timed contractions. They were light, not very painful at all since I was able to just sit through them. We finally started the boys bedtime routine around 9:15 and I texted my midwife, Michelle, to let her know that there was a 10 minute pattern in my contractions. (She had told me to look for a pattern).

Once we read stories and prayed with the boys, I ran a warm, lavender bath. I got in the tub around 10:15, hoping that the water would speed things up. It didn’t work – they stayed around 10 minutes apart the entire time. But, baby was super active the entire time I was in the tub. The feet were pushing against my left side and the bottom was against my right and my belly looked like a football – it was wild looking! I really tried to enjoy those movements and feeling baby move around inside since I was really beginning to think things were real and baby would be arriving soon. John David was in the bathroom with me and I told him, “my final gender guess is boy!”

I stayed in the tub through 4 contractions (about 40 minutes) and decided it was probably best to try and get some rest since they were still 10 minutes apart. I got ready for bed, read more birth stories from my Ina May book and then laid down around 12. I had contractions at 12:10, 12:21, 12:33 and 12:44. With each, I’d wake up, hit the start button on the timer app, hit the stop button and fall back asleep.


After the 12:44 contraction, I decided to try my birth ball. The next few contractions started averaging 5-6 minutes apart once I was on the ball.

Since contractions were now 5-6 minutes apart, we decided to call my midwife around 1:15 and she arrived around 2:00. I continued timing contractions, which were still averaging 5-6 minutes apart, until 2:30. At that point, Michelle was at our home and didn’t need to know the frequency, I was feeling the baby descend with each contraction and I felt that keeping track and seeing that they were still 5-6 minutes apart was discouraging to me.

Once I stopped focusing on timing contractions and the time, I was just taking contractions one at a time. I am pretty positive they stayed 5-6 minutes apart. They never were painful, intense or close. With every contraction, I felt baby burrowing further and further down. The sensation of the contraction was just from the pressure of baby lowering. I had absolutely no back labor this time which made the contractions seem easy.

Finally, I started feeling a little pushy and sat on the edge of the bed. I was feeling like I wanted to push but when I tried I just couldn’t. Michelle told me maybe it wasn’t time to push so I just embraced the contractions and tried not to think about pushing. I did change positions and started to squat in front of the bed. After a few contractions, I kneeled on my knees and was given a pillow to kneel on.

Finally, I was comfortable and started to really feel pushy. I started pushing and felt a little helpless for the first time during this labor but knew that this was transition and the end was near. I was trying to think about meeting our baby but couldn’t focus on that thought due to all of the pressure. Transition happened quickly and before I knew it I was pushing.

Pushing seemed intense and was definitely the hardest part of this birth. I pushed twice and felt baby’s head come out and felt some relief but knew I had at least one more push to go. I pushed hard and felt the rest of baby come out. Michelle put baby between my legs, right in front of me. I glanced down and thought baby was a boy, which was what I was thinking. I then put my head on the bed to rest and Michelle told me, “look at your baby, pick up your baby.”

I looked back down and saw the cord draped between baby’s legs and again thought it was a boy. I moved the cord and saw that we had a girl! I was surprised at that moment – a daughter, our Cecilia Rae! I scooped her up and started crying.

John David, my midwife and her assistant helped me onto the bed where I started nursing my baby girl and easily delivered the placenta. My midwife  mashed on my belly and had me drink juice while I was nursing. Then I was given toast and honey to eat and it was so, so good after labor!

I asked about the time of her birth and they told me that she was born at 5:21 am. I was amazed that she was born so late. I was in active labor for 4.5 hours and nearly 11 hours total labor from the start of contractions. Of course, the 4.5 hours were slow, steady labor but I was amazed it took that long.

About an hour after the birth, the midwives helped me get out of my clothes and walk to the bathroom for a warm herb bath with baby. How wonderful that felt and it was nice to get cleaned off in such a soothing way. After the bath, I was partially dressed and climbed into bed to be examined- no tears with this baby that needed stitches!

Then, we started focusing on Cecilia. She weighed 7 pounds, 4 ounces and was 20.25 inches long and everything looked wonderful during her newborn exam.

After Cecilia’s exam, my midwife dressed and swaddled her and gave her back to me to nurse. She gave us some instructions about the baby and me and then left around 7:30.

John David and I put Cecilia between us and were able to sleep, in our bed, until 8:15 when Weston woke up.

Weston walked into our room, saw Cecilia lying in the bed and asked, “whose baby is that?” We told him that she is our baby. Weston climbed int the bed and started looking at her. We let him hold her and oh, how precious that moment was!

A few minutes later Paxton staggered into the room. He was still half asleep and climbed into the bed with us without noticing the baby. After a few minutes he noticed and we told him that he had a baby sister! We let Paxton hold her and then spent some time in bed talking with the boys and admiring our new baby – a memory I’ll cherish forever.

We’re so thankful for our calm, relaxing home birth. Everything was so peaceful and our boys slept through everything which is exactly what we were hoping for.

The births of all of our children have been wonderful moments in my life but this birth evokes nothing but positive thoughts and memories. The calm atmosphere, the comfort of home, the care of nurturing midwives, not being separated from my baby and being able to sleep in my own bed after the birth are the wonderful benefits of having a home birth.

And, we’re still in awe of our sweet baby girl.

My other birth stories:

First Baby: Paxton’s Birth Story

Second Baby: Weston’s Birth Story

Fourth Baby: Laura’s Birth Story

April 2020

April means it’s time to start planting!! Cecilia was my little gardening helper!

The local school system has been providing free ‘school lunches’ for pickup at various schools in the county. The drop point school in our area is less than 5 minutes away so we’ve picked up lunch a few times. It’s a big treat for our kids since we rarely eat out and don’t purchase packaged/convenience foods. We enjoy eating our lunches outside on our picnic table.

I stopped in one of our local thrift stores and was able to snag a bread machine for $2.50!! It was priced at $5 but everything was half off. Worth every penny!

Our family on Easter Sunday. 

Cecilia has been loving wearing her ‘prairie dress’. I adore this shot John David got of her and Buttercup with Copper and the chicken coop in the background. 

Paxton turned 10 this month!! 

One of his gifts was this little kayak. They boys have been loving it in the pond and the pool!

Cutie pie Laura. She’s such a little ray of sunshine!!

Weston’s Birth Story

This is the birth story of our second son, Weston, written in 2011.

Weston is definitely our surprise baby. With Paxton, everything was planned, we were trying when we got pregnant with him and he was induced according to our plan. With Weston, we weren’t  “trying” to get pregnant (although we were thrilled when we found out) and his entrance into the world was quite a surprise too.

I was due December 31st but hoping I’d be a day or two overdue so he’d be born in 2012 (Paxton was born in 2010 and I liked the thought of even birth years, plus December is associated with Christmas.) I just knew since he was my second baby that I’d be miserable around 32 weeks to the end of the pregnancy but I was wrong! I felt fabulous throughout the entire pregnancy, I had quite a bit of energy and I was still able to do everything as normal with Paxton (including putting a sleeping 20-month-old into his crib at 38 weeks pregnant!)

Since Paxton’s birth was so fast for a first time birth – 5 hours from the time they broke my water and started pitocin until the time he was born – I was convinced that my second baby would come quickly and one of my fears throughout this pregnancy was not making it to the hospital on time.

On Tuesday, December 20, I was 38 weeks 3 days pregnant and I had quite the day. I cleaned our home thoroughly, did some pre-Christmas de-cluttering and a lot of laundry. By the end of the day I was tired from all of the ‘nesting’. That night when I laid down to go to sleep, I felt what could best be described as a burrowing sensation. I could feel his little head moving further down. I had never felt anything like that with Paxton. I didn’t sleep very well that night and then Paxton woke up around 2 am and he slept the rest of the night with us. I had trouble sleeping, I kept tossing and turning and just couldn’t get comfortable.

Wednesday morning I woke up feeling really good especially considering the rough night I’d had. I did decide to take the day easy though since I didn’t want to do anything that could put me into labor, especially since John David was working late that night. Paxton and I stayed in our jammies well into the morning. I updated our finances, scheduling our mortgage payment so we wouldn’t have to worry about that on January 1. The day was pretty typical except for John David being gone all evening. I put Paxton down around 8:00 and I was feeling tired too so I decided to go ahead and get in bed after starting a load of diaper laundry.

I stayed up waiting for John David to get home and he finally arrived around 10. We stayed up talking and playing Words with Friends until 11:30. Once again I felt the burrowing sensation when I laid down. I was having an occasional contraction but they were typical Braxton-Hicks. I went to sleep fairly easily.

Between going to bed at 11:30 and 1:30, I woke up 2 or 3 times having a mild contraction. While I was having the contraction, I’d walk to the bathroom, pee and then walk back to bed and go back to sleep. They were slightly uncomfortable but nothing painful. After the contraction I had around 1:30 I was unable to get comfortable so I got out of bed, went to the bathroom again and then turned on my lamp.

I had another contraction at 1:40 and decided to start timing them since it was appearing that they were getting closer together. I had contractions at 1:40, 1:48, 1:54, 1:58 so they were very quickly getting closer together. I wasn’t incredibly uncomfortable as long as I was standing so I could sway my hips and move around with the contractions. I had a little bit of back labor with Paxton and these contractions were very similar, the contraction would start in my back and move around to my belly and my back hurt more than anything! I decided to run out to the laundry around 2 to run the final rinse on diapers and I came back in and my contractions were still 4 minutes apart.

I still wasn’t sure if I was really in labor or if it was false labor. I knew you were supposed to go to the hospital when contractions were 5 minutes apart but I really wasn’t in horrible, unbearable pain. Around 2:30, I woke up John David and started packing the hospital bags. I still wasn’t convinced I was in real labor even though the labor book we were referring to at this point indicated that I was in active labor. Finally, we decided it was labor and we needed to start really preparing to go to the hospital.

John David called my friend Ashley around 3:20 to see if she would come stay with Paxton. While we were waiting on Ashley, I was packing a bag for Paxton and gathering stuff for our bags while John David was loading the car. (I should add here that John David got the clean diapers out of the wash and hung them on the drying rack. I had been very concerned about leaving dirty diapers at home when I went into labor so this was a relief.)

Ashley arrived around 3:35 and we gave her a few instructions for Paxton and we left after I had a contraction while attempting to get into the car. At this point, contractions were 3-4 minutes apart and I had about 3 contractions which were so uncomfortable since I couldn’t move much. Riding in the car made contractions even worse.

We arrived at the hospital around 3:30 and got a front row spot so I was able to walk in. We went into the registration room where I had 2 more contractions. After I was checked in, they sent us to a waiting area and I had 3 contractions which were very intense and I had the urge to push.

A nurse came out and we went to an admitting room where I changed into a gown through another contraction. I was checked and was dilated to 10 centimeters. I was wheeled into a delivery room while having contractions lying flat on my back which was so uncomfortable. At this point, I also was fighting the urge to push.

We got into the delivery room and I was moved onto the bed. I was hooked up to a monitor at 3:58, had my blood drawn and an IV put in. At this point, I had an overwhelming urge to push and was begging to be allowed to push. The nurses kept telling me to just breathe through the contractions and not push because the midwife was not there yet. (I should add that this period of not being able to push was the worst part of the whole labor and delivery. My body was ready to do what it was supposed to do and trying not to was so hard.)

While waiting for the midwife to arrive, John David ran out to the car to grab our camera and while he was gone and as our midwife was arriving, I couldn’t fight the urge to push anymore. I pushed and my water broke. Then John David got back and the midwife was there and I was finally able to start pushing. It was such a relief to be able to push. It didn’t feel good nor was it easy but it was so wonderful to be able to do what my body needed to do.

I pushed about 4 or 5 times in a period of 5 minutes or less and Weston was born at 4:16 am on December 22. It was such a relief to feel him come out. I was so excited that I had delivered without any medication but a bit embarrassed at how loud I was while delivering him.

Weston weighed 6 pounds 14 ounces and was 20 inches long. (Paxton was 8 pounds 8 ounces, so he was considerably smaller.)

Unfortunately I did rip at the site of my old tear but thankfully it was only a second degree tear instead of a third degree which I had with Paxton. Finally, after stitches (which to me was almost worse than the delivery even though I had local anesthesia) I was able to hold him again and count his fingers and toes.


I unwrapped him for skin to skin and nursing, he latched on perfectly and started nursing right away, it was completely natural for both of us. It was amazing how much more confident I felt nursing him, I suppose 15 months of breastfeeding experience gives a mama confidence.  After Weston finished nursing, we moved to our postpartum room around 6:30 am.

We were in disbelief that labor started at 1:30 and Weston was born at 4:16. That’s only 2 hours and 45 minutes of labor.

Around 2:30 that afternoon, John David got Paxton and brought him back to the hospital to meet his new brother and spend some time with us. He noticed Weston right when he walked in the room and was thrilled to see ‘baby’.

 

We’re adjusting well as a family of four. Paxton has not acted jealous of Weston and is taking his role as big brother quite seriously.

We feel so blessed that I had a quick and easy labor and delivery and we have another healthy and beautiful son.

 

My Other Birth Stories:

First Baby: Paxton’s Birth Story

Third Baby : Cecilia’s Birth Story

Fourth Baby: Laura’s Birth Story

March 2020

Baby chicks. We are friends with one of the local high school agriculture teachers and she hatched some of Weston’s eggs as part of her classes. Once the chicks were hatched, we were able to get them. Everyone loves sweet baby chicks!

Laura is my little kitchen helper!

My birthday was March 4th and John David surprised me by building this greenhouse! So excited.

Getting seeds started. So excited about gardening!!

I feel like this is a fitting image to use for noting that on March 12th, the world basically screeched to a halt. Thursday, March 12th was a normal day for us – we went to my ladies small group that morning and then went to the library to watch Frozen 2 that afternoon (our library frequently has movie afternoons and evenings!)

When we arrived home that afternoon, we started hearing of school closures and the library closing due to Covid-19. It really was the last day of normal. Our church decided to go online and life changed. 

On week after ‘the shutdown’ our washing machine died. It had been having some issues with spinning water out properly so we knew it was slowly dying but it decided to die by cracking during a wash cycle and flooding the laundry room. That was a mess but thankfully we caught it right as it happened and were able to get things cleaned up fairly quickly.

The death of that machine led to the purchase of a brand new machine. We had been talking about purchasing a Speed Queen thanks to their amazing warranty and the fact that we do so much laundry as a cloth diapering large-ish family. It cost a pretty penny but we were able to pay cash and are thankful for a new machine that actually spins all the water out of the clothes!

Cecilia turned 6 years old on March 20th! We celebrated quarantine style with just our family. 

Our new normal – church in our living room. The girls have been enjoying bringing their baby dolls to church!

Dad’s bike shop. 

My girls. So thankful for these two. 

My seed babies are really growing!!

Our garlic is looking amazing!

Enjoying the beautiful weather during quarantine life. So thankful we have lots of outdoor spaces to enjoy during these times.

Paxton’s Birth Story

This is the birth story of my first son, Paxton, written in 2010. Looking back at his birth experience, there are things I wish I would have done differently {mainly not being induced and having an epidural}.  Even though I don’t agree with the choices I made then, we’re so thankful the induction resulted in an easy labor, delivery and healthy baby boy! 

On Monday, April 12th, we decided, under the guidance of our OB, that we were going to induce on Friday, April 16. I was 1 centimeter dilated and 70% effaced which my OB said was better than dilation. There wasn’t any medical reason to induce but according to my calculations I would be 40 weeks on the 16th.

I had some friends inquire about our decision to induce and honestly I wondered if we had made the right decision. I prayed about it and asked God to reveal to me through John David or my parents or someone very close to me if we weren’t supposed to induce. Over the next few days no one mentioned it and I had a peace about our decision.

On the 16th, we woke up at 5:00 and got ready to head to the hospital. We arrived around 6:00 and were lead to our room, room 405.

Around 7:10, a nurse came in and hooked me up to the monitors. We were able to hear our sweet boy’s heartbeat.

At 7:30 another L&D nurse came in with our OB and he checked me, at this point I was 70% effaced and a tight 2 centimeters dilated.  Then they broke my water. I was unsure about how this would go, I expected it to be very uncomfortable but it wasn’t that bad at all.

After my water had been broken and before my L&D nurse arrived and I was hooked up to my IV.

I was able to journal throughout the process and I am so glad I did because my memory of all of the events of the morning are somewhat fuzzy now.

Around 9:00 my contractions started picking up and becoming more and more intense. John David and I worked through them. I breathed and he had me count 1, 2, 3…..we got up to 45 a few times. Contractions were so strange, on one hand they were not painful but then they were absolutely horrible! Around 9:30 they were about 2 minutes apart and lasting about 45 seconds.

Working through one of the contractions. (When this one was over I looked at John David and said “I know you didn’t take a picture of me!” I am glad he did now…this picture truly conveys the way I felt.

At 9:45 my nurse came in to check me and she said, “Oh my goodness, you are 7 centimeters.” We were shocked but it explained the intensity of my contractions. She told me if I was going to have an epidural that I needed to have it done then. She told me she thought I could go natural but I decided that I was going to brave my fear of the needle for some pain relief. She also saw a little meconium in the amniotic fluid and notified the nursery, it actually was very light colored so she thought it happened recently.

Around 10:00 I received my epidural. My anesthesiologist did a wonderful job and my husband did an even better job helping me through contractions while I was getting the epidural. In fact, the anesthesiologist told us John David was the best dad he’s seen.

Losing feeling in my legs was really strange but not feeling my contractions was awesome. I felt completely relaxed and wonderful and was able to enjoy the next 2 hours and continue my journaling (I never would have been able to journal otherwise.) Since things were progressing so quickly we started joking that we’d have a baby by lunchtime. Our doctor had been telling us hopefully you’ll come in and progress quickly and have a baby by lunch. (We thought that sounded wonderful!)

Around 11:50 I was completely dilated and our nurse said we were ready for pushing. We did 3 practice pushes with a contraction and she called my OB.  While we were waiting to start really pushing I asked our nurse what she guessed the baby would weigh, she said I think he is going to be a small baby, about 7 pounds. I told her I was guessing no more than 7.5 pounds.

At 12:05 we started pushing and even stopped for about 5 minutes as the baby was crowning to wait for my OB to arrive. My OB arrived, the nursery nurse came to the room and we started pushing. After 29 minutes of pushing, at 12:34 Paxton Graham arrived crying loudly. Both our OB and L&D nurse said that is a big baby. My OB asked where was I hiding him. After he was delivered I inquired if I had an episiotomy (which I was really hoping to avoid). He told me yes, I had an episiotomy and then ripped because baby was so big he had to tug pretty hard on his shoulders.


Seeing my baby boy for the first time. He was the most beautiful baby I’ve ever seen and I was overwhelmed with emotion and crying.


Our beautiful baby. His daddy cut the cord and watched him get cleaned off.

Our OB had another patient almost ready to deliver but he waited for Paxton to be weighed before he left because he wanted to see how much he weighed.

Paxton weighed 8 pounds, 8 ounces. I think everybody in the delivery room was shocked. I really was expecting a small baby but we got a healthy 8.5 pound baby boy.

After seeing meconium in the amniotic fluid and delivering an 8.5 pound baby we were confident that inducing was the best thing for us to do. Our OB said if we had waited until our due date he probably would have weighed around 9 pounds and since it was difficult to get him out at 8.5 there was a possibility that I would have had a c-section.

We are so thankful that I had an easy labor and delivery and a completely healthy, perfectly formed baby boy. Now the adventure truly begins, parenting our little miracle.

Second Baby: Weston’s Birth Story

Third Baby: Cecilia’s Birth Story

Fourth Baby: Laura’s Birth Story

February 2020

First daffodil of the season was picked by Weston on February 7th! Daffodils are my favorite and Weston knows it!

We woke to a surprise snow on February 8! Everyone was so excited and it was beautiful!!

 

John David is mastering the art of making mozzarella.

We harvested another pig and experimented by canning sausage. It was a success!

We participated in our very first seed swap! It was a fun thing to do and we ended up with so many seeds and several new to us seeds. I’m most excited about growing luffa this year.

Organizing my seeds. Spring is so close!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

January 2020

I always enjoy the month of January – it’s a fresh start after the festivities of Christmastime, a time to set goals/objectives for the new year and enjoy the cozy long evenings.

We started this January with a pantry challenge. With the exception of a bag of tortilla chips, maple syrup and peanut butter, we didn’t buy groceries for a solid 3.5 weeks. We could have gone longer but our Azure Standard order came in on January 27th with fresh apples and we ended the challenge then.

It was a success in that we tried some new foods – like Bulgar porridge from Bulgar that had been sitting in the pantry for months, used some things that needed to be used up and got the pantries/freezers more organized. Since I didn’t buy groceries for the first part of the month, we were able to pay for our Azure order and still had grocery money left at the end of the month. I’m confident we could have lasted the entire month of January and still ate delicious, healthy meals from what we’ve preserved over the past year.

Since it’s January, I thought it was the perfect time to get started on Cecilia’s quilt. I’ve wanted to make her a quilt for a while now and had started cutting out squares from fabrics we had on hand, a few my mom had given us and some from a bag of fabric scraps I picked up at a yard sale a few months ago for $2. These patches were cut entirely from ‘scraps’ – I did not purchase any new fabrics to start this quilt.

I was hoping she’d want to help me sew it but she hasn’t been too interested – it is a time consuming task. She has been excited to watch the progress though! Here she is snuggling with the quilt top when it was about half finished.

We were blessed with mason jars this month. A couple from John David’s parents small group sent us a tote filled mostly with regular mouth quarts, a few pints and jelly jars and a friend at church gave me a box of jars! I’m so thankful for jars – I’m looking forward to filling these up with goodies from our garden this summer.

Our chickens are laying again. My chickens are laying and so are the boys’ chickens! It’s been fun not having to ration eggs.

Paxton enjoys a game of chess – here he is teaching and playing with his daddy. He decided he wanted to learn to play, purchased this book with a small set attached and has been explaining the game and coaching us all as we play with him. I enjoy it but there are lots of rules that I can’t keep straight on my own!

Baby Bright is growing well and looking more like a little beef calf than a Jersey cross. It’s fun watching him grow.

We’ve been reading through the Little House series this school year. It was fitting that it was time to read The Long Winter in January, especially since we were reading it when we had a few days of a cold snap. It was about 18 degrees a few nights – frigid to these southerners! We can’t even begin to fathom the coldness that the Ingalls experienced during the long winter – I’ve never even seen a negative temperature in my lifetime.

Two of the nights that the low was 18, we let the children sleep in the living room. Paxton slept on the couch and the other 3 slept on two crib mattresses pushed together. They loved sleeping in front of the wood stove and they were cozy nights reading The Long Winter all snuggled up in the living room.

One morning, I felt like I had a bit of a cold coming on and stayed in bed to rest. Paxton and Cecilia made me breakfast in bed. A fried egg, toast, lemon tea and garnished with a pink flower Cecilia found outside. It’s amazing having children who can cook and care enough to take care of their mama. Thankfully the rest coupled with my good breakfast helped me fight off whatever it was and I was fine by noon.

On January 25th, I attended a Homeopathy Workshop all day. It was so good. I purchased a small kit of remedies that we’ve already began using. I still have so much to learn but I’m excited about learning more about caring for my family with homeopathy.

Our friends, the Honeycutts, parked their RV here on the homestead the last week of January. It was fun having ‘neighbors’ here for several days. Our kiddos played outside together nearly all day long all week. It was fun watching all of them play together – free play outside is the best play. They left on the 30th to set out on their travel adventures – follow them on Instagram – @thehoneycuttcrew.

I canned 6 quarts of applesauce from the apples from our Azure order we received on the 27th just so we’d have a few more in the pantry and so the rest of the apples could all fit in the fridge!

January was a good month and we’re looking forward to February and starting to prep for spring – garden planning, plans to purchase chicks, working more outside and looking forward to warmer days!

 

December 2019

I officially ended the 2019 canning season at the beginning of December. My goal was to can 150 jars (quarts, pints or jelly jars) this year and I ended up canning a total of 308 jars!

The pantry is full of foods for the winter and early spring while we’re waiting for the garden to begin producing again. I learned a lot about canning and am looking forward to canning in 2020!

We’re loving the cozy evenings around the wood stove. This evening, Paxton was was grandparents and John David was working late so the rest of us ate our chicken and rice soup in the living room beside the stove.

Making cheese. We’ve been making all of our cheese – we haven’t purchased cheese in weeks. We haven’t started making hard cheeses like cheddar yet but we’re using soft cheeses in place of cheddar right now. This cheese pictured is an easy farmers cheese that I just love – especially when it’s warm.

Making cheese is almost magical – add vinegar to warm milk, stir it in and then all of the sudden the curds have separated and you have cheese and a pot of whey.

My sweet little loves. This was our Christmas picture this year.

This is what milking on Sunday mornings looks like for me. I wake early, milk then dash inside to shower, get the kids up and get their breakfast ready. Then I head back down to pour up milk and wash up the milking equipment and then come back inside to dry hair, get myself dressed and Laura dressed and make sure the big kids are ready to go. Whew.

Laura wearing a sweet little Christmas dress that belonged to her Aunt Jill.

I enjoy snuggling up with a good book. Radical Homemakers did not disappoint – I highly recommend this book! Such a thought provoking read.

Laura is such a helper. This day we were picking up sticks and other brush all around the property to burn in our fire pit to clean up and enjoy a little fire.

This gal loves ferments and pickled foods. She’s gobbling up sauerkraut and had been eating pickled okra.

I rendered tallow for the first time and made tallow candles and tallow soaps. It was easy to work with – no bad smells from rendering at all! The tallow candles are lovely and burn nicely without bad odors and the tallow soap is so soft.

With my love at his work Christmas party. We rarely take pictures together so this one is a treasure.

What my sink looks like most days now that we’re milking – there’s always several jars to wash! This particular day we amassed all these jars after feeding the calf, skimming cream and making cheese.

Sunday afternoon naps for these two.

Weston turned 8 on December 22!

It was another birthday to remember – he woke up during the night throwing up. Thankfully that didn’t continue all day but it’s no fun to throw up on your birthday and we had to miss church too. And, then his lemon birthday cake was in the oven after it had been iced and decorated and the oven was turned out. So, candle wax was all over it.

I managed to salvage most of it and it tasted very good but he was a little bummed especially since I didn’t have eight candles. We improvised with a number 5, 2 and a single candle because 5+2+ 1 single candle = 8!

Christmas Eve.

Christmas morning with my sweet little ones. Christmas morning is magical with children. We keep our Christmases simple with just a few gifts but they still are so excited and thankful. Here they are each opening their art boxes – they each had a pad of paper, a notebook, color pencils and markers.

The boys received a few small Lego sets, they all received books and card games and the girls received baby dolls from us this year.

Cecilia and Laura with their Bitty Babies.

The girls just wanted baby dolls for Christmas this year – they’re both such little mamas! Bitty Baby dolls are high quality, beautiful baby dolls but with a $60 price tag, they’re way out of our price range. I’m so thankful for the second hand market! I was able to purchase 3 dolls (one of Laura’s is not pictured) for way less than the $60 price tag of a brand new one!

Some may say it’s tacky to give secondhand items as gifts. For us, secondhand means we’re able to stretch our money even farther and the items we consume have a smaller environmental impact. (I should write another post on this…)

We ended the month – and the year – with chickens laying again!! We’ve been rationing eggs lately because we didn’t put any artificial lights on them this year – just letting them rest as nature intends.

We’re all excited to not have to ration eggs – fried eggs make such an easy breakfast! And, Weston is excited to get his egg business going again.

We’re looking forward to what 2020 holds here on the homestead.

 

November 2019

My little kitchen helper. This girl loves helping me cook.

Sipping hot tea with my girl.

We recently moved Cecilia out of her toddler bed and into a twin so the toddler bed is currently in our room where Laura’s crib was. It’s nice to have as an extra nap/rest spot or for sick kiddos to sleep in when they want to be close to us. Steel has claimed this cozy little spot as her own!

Making fresh butter from our cream. So, so good!

It’s so fun to have a fridge full of milk – fresh milk, cream, butter, cheeses and yogurt from this goodness!!

The continual state of the kitchen these days – except there are typically at least 2 or 3 half gallon mason jars in the sink or on the counter too!

Weston shot his first deer of the season on November 16th. He was just tickled!

Paxton successfully shot his first game the same day – he got a squirrel!

These two guarding the homestead. When we go check the mail which is outside of our perimeter fencing, Copper (and sometimes Steel) posts herself right here and keeps an eye on us.

All the animals love Laura.

My sweet little garden helper. We’ve been working on clearing out the garden beds – we’ve finished the lower garden but have work to do in the upper garden still.

I found this cute vintage-y metal basket at a local consignment sale and it’s been just perfect for toting milk jars.

Our November Azure order. Apples, potatoes, carrots (lots of carrots – didn’t realize 25 pounds was quite so much!), corn seeds, dishwasher and dish soap.

We have lots of carrots but we also have lots of little mouths to eat the carrots. Laura ate one right away!

I stopped in my favorite local thrift store and found a box of 12 half gallon mason jars complete with a box lids and bands that had never been opened for $5!! Such a fun find and we needed more half gallon jars for milk.

We’ve been reading the Little House on the Prairie book series this fall as part of our school work and all of the children love the books. My mom made both girls adorable pioneer dresses! Cecilia loves her and has already worn it several times. Laura wouldn’t pose for a picture but she is adorable in her little red dress.

Happy Thanksgiving!  We didn’t raise a turkey this year for our feast (hopefully next year!) so we had a roasted chicken that we raised and beef wellington with beef from a local farm.

Thanksgiving feast – beef wellington, roasted chicken, green beans (raised and canned here), homemade dressing using my grandma’s recipe, mashed potatoes (from potatoes raised here, cream and butter from our cow) and homemade cranberry sauce.

I’ve signed up for my very first seed swap and I’m excited! It’s the Save Love Seed Swap and it’s a Valentine’s themed swap. My seed packs are little valentines. The packet contains seeds and a little insert telling what type of seed it is an some basic instructions.

Play imitates life for children and these two have stocked their kitchen larder with home canned goodness. I love watching them play and imagine.

I love how their play kitchen looks with all the canned foods lined up on their shelves.

We ended the month of November making candles. The one on the far left is a beeswax candle made from combining two spent beeswax candles together and the other three are tallow candles.

November was a lovely month and we’re all looking forward to December and the Christmas season!

October 2019

Okra, okra, okra. We’ve enjoyed our okra well into October.

Sweet Laura ready for church. She’s wearing her new backpack I picked up for her at a yardsale. It was $2 well spent!

Apples! I ordered a few cases of apples from Azure Standard and have canned a lot of applesauce and experimented with canned apples too. Looking forward to enjoying this applesauce – especially on sourdough pancakes this winter.

Laura loves helping her daddy care for Buttercup. She goes out with him every morning to help him feed her, brush her and help her get used to being in her head gate to prepare for milking.

On October 14th, our family and John David’s mom took a day trip to The Foxfire Museum in Rabun County, Georgia. We enjoyed a lovely drive and really enjoyed touring the museum. There was a sweet lady there who was a weaver. She gave us a wonderful weaving demonstration as well as showed us how to card and spin wool.

We ate a picnic lunch on Foxfire grounds and then travelled back to Blue Ridge and went to Mercier Orchards for some apple treats and apples.

October 16th garden harvest. It’s still such fun finding all of these treasures in the garden. I’m going to miss this so much once it frosts.

Weston with our barn cat. He was pretty feral when he arrived but with Weston’s regular visits and animal whispering skills, he’s getting less wild and is even allowing us to touch him.

Fair time!!

We entered several items into our local fair this year including baked goods, craft items, art and produce.

Weston placed first with his homemade bread.

Paxton’s biscuits placed first!

Cecilia absolutely swept the Primary Baking! She placed first with her biscuits, muffins, corn muffins, bread and cookies. She was excited.

I was tickled that my biscuits placed first!

With my first place fair biscuits!

My green beans also placed first! There were several green bean entries and I was excited to see the blue ribbon for these.

Laura loves helping in the barn with daddy – she even helps with some of the dirty work.

Serious little girl picking okra with her daddy. He took this picture – he said she was munching on an okra pod and telling him a big story.

On October 30th, Buttercup had her calf! It’s a boy! It was such an exciting moment to see a baby calf just after he was born.

Sweet baby calf. We haven’t named him just yet but he’s adorable.

John David milking for the first time. We’re looking forward to fresh milk, yogurt, butter, cheese, cream and all the  yummy things that an abundance of milk means.

We don’t make a big deal out of Halloween but the kids do enjoy dressing up. They attended a trunk or treat at a local church and at their Mimi’s school and had a party with the sweet sitters and kids who attend childcare with them when I’m at my small group Bible study.

This year we didn’t buy any costumes, they used what they already had.  Cecilia was Elsa (in her well loved, tattered dress), Paxton was an ESPN sports analyst, Weston was a cowboy sheriff and Laura was Cinderella.

I love them and the simple joys of childhood.