Supper Tonight and Some Funny

Have I mentioned how much I love the fact that most of our staple foods are grown from our own little farm or another family member’s farm? LOVE this! Love. It is both consoling and satisfying knowing that our food is grown in good soil, lovingly taken care of, harvested by eager loving hands, and passed to family and friends that appreciate good food. Is there anything more satisfying? Well…probably, but at this moment, as I am smelling apple crisp pulled from the oven, chicken in the rotisserie, roasting seasoned potatoes, and sweet corn warming on the stove, I honestly can’t think of anything more satisfying to this hungry pregnant woman than sitting down with my whole family and enjoying such a feast. Everything is homegrown. Everything. *sigh* YUM.

(I’d take a picture, but I still can’t find my battery charger for the camera)

OH. And this little tidbit was funny. I was reading a friend’s blog and came across this picture…..

Yvette squeals as she says, “Mom!….you know who that looks like?!”

“Who Yvette?” I’m thinking she doesn’t really know anybody that looks like this cute old man.

“It looks like my Daddy!….just like my Daddy!”

*hmmm. Don’t know where she got that one. But it was funny.

John can’t ever know. 😉

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Alpaca 101

Llamas, alpacas, llamas, alpacas. What are they? Most people assume they are llamas because, well, that’s really as exotic as people know around here. I know when John first mentioned alpacas to me I thought, “Al-whats?” Understanding what they are and their uniqueness, I can now say that equating an alpaca to a llama is like equating a yak with a cow. They sort of look kinda alike in a different sort of way. Kind of.

Here’s scoop……

What’s the difference?
Both are from the camelid family, but each serves a different purpose. Llamas are about 300 lbs and are made for packing and/or guarding livestock. Alpacas are much smaller, between 120-150 lbs and are solely used for their fleece, which is softer than cashmere and twice as warm as wool.

Llama

Alpaca

Where did they come from?
Alpacas are a South American relative of the Camel. Closer relatives include the domesticated llama, the wild guanaco, and vicunas. This family of animals originated on the plains of North America about 10 million years ago. A common ancestor to the South American camelids migrated to South America about 2.5 million years ago. Alpacas were domesticated 6,000 years ago as a prized possession by the ancient Incas because of the quality of alpaca fleece, which was spun and woven into garments.

And so we will begin a little series I’d like to generically call: Alpaca 101

If you want to jump ahead, feel free to check out our alpaca source Alpacas of Montana. James and Sarah have been absolutely wonderful in their guidance, training, and sale of their animals. Wonderful wonderful people. Make sure you check out their site full of details about alpacas, farm set up, business tips, etc. I’ll be using a lot of the information they post as it is well read and hits all the basics and then some.

If you have a question, please ask.

Blog-Lovin’

Apparently there are a whole lot of people that read my blog. Several people comment to me either through email, through face book, or verbally. LOTS of people chit-chat with my mother about my blog posts. But the thing is, very few of you leave comments on the blog and I currently only have 12 “followers”. So……what does a woman have to do to get some blog-love? Post more often? Okay. Our canning season is winding down and I am finding more time. Done. What do you want to hear about? This blog has turned into a hodge-podge of random thoughts, simple daily life, opinions that people may or may not want to hear, or nothing at all. When I began Preserving Love, I did it with the intention of transmitting the joy of simple living. A joy in simple things that has been passed down through the matriarchs of my family…something that I want to share and pass down through my own children. I wanted to transmit the possibility of joy in simple things that are chosen not necessarily the consequence of. I try to stick to that but sometimes it just seems a bit boring or redundant. I mean, how many times can I sing the praises of my clothesline for crying out loud! Or post pics of my canning sessions. I mean, who wants to keep hearing about that?! I get some solid comments when I post “real life” things like the dissolving of a friendship, death, miscarriage, simple romance, etc. What is it you guys want to hear about?

A few posts I can foresee in the near future:
*baby prep
*natural childbirth – something I am very passionate about
*simple renovations on the house – in prep for baby
*pumpkin harvest
*alpaca stuff
*knitting projects underway
*crash course in bread making – I’m going to “teach” myself. That should be interesting!
*a few book reviews – I’m reading some good ones

And of course don’t forget about the random occasions that launch me to my soapbox. One can never plan for those times. 😉

I guess the direction I am going with this is:

PLEASE leave me a comment if you have one.
PLEASE “follow” my blog if you find yourself stalking it for current posts. I like to know that I’m liked. 😉
And PLEASE leave me suggestions because sometimes I am just at a loss so I don’t post anything.

"All Is Grace"

translation: face (left) body (right)

There you have it. Pregnant again. Though we were a little surprised that it happened right away after miscarrying. I mean, it took months to conceive our little angel Lyla Jayne. We are happy and oh-so excited to welcome another member into our family. We decided not to make any sort of grand announcement this time around as we did have some concerning times during the first couple months.
Wanna hear a sweet grace from God? In early August I began to experience some fairly serious spotting, though I didn’t necessarily have the cramps to go along with it. I was terrified! I called my doctor and discussed with him what was going on. I really didn’t want to go into the clinic only to be told (again) what I didn’t want to hear but might already know. He, being the amazingly compassionate man that he is, suggested that I rest, try to relax, and we won’t make any assumptions for a couple weeks. The lack of cramping was what gave us the slightest bit of hope and deterred any scheduling of a D&C. We’ll make a decision at 10 weeks. I waited, prayed, rested, and tried to keep a positive outlook though I cannot tell you how difficult it was having just gone through a miscarriage. The days passed and my appointment day finally arrived. I was so nervous and scared!
Tears flooded my eyes has I lay there listening to the strong, steady, rapid heartbeat of my little baby still growing inside me. Grace.

“All is grace.” – Ann Voskamp from One Thousand Blessings

Why the scare? We aren’t entirely certain though the beginning of August was a fairly stressful time for me. That is the only thing we could think of: stress.
Needless to say, we are determined to try to stay stress-free and happy for the duration of this pregnancy. Is that too much to strive for? Maybe. But so far it seems to be a bit happier around here. At least for me. Knowing my baby is happy, healthy, growing, and KICKING me! My husband is content and proud that his brood is growing once again. 😉 The kids are excited about their new baby coming.

Hayden says to me this morning on the drive to school, “Mom. What are we going to name the baby in your tummy?”

“I’m not sure Hayden. Do you have any suggestions?”

“Yeah! How about Lightening McQueen?”

“Hayden. Really? Lightening McQueen?”

“Yeah, Mom. I like that name,” he says in total earnest.

“Well, how about you talk to your dad about that,” was the only reply I could think of without totally rejecting the idea and/or laughing. He was serious. So I think perhaps it requires some discussion before tossing the idea. Hey, maybe he can nickname the baby Lightening McQueen until it comes out. I could handle that. And he might settle for that idea.

Kids. Is there anything better than their innocence? I honestly can’t think of anything.

p.s. I am due on March 19th. What a wonderful birthday gift that would be!

What’s On Your Shelf?

I’ve never been a huge reader. Not really anyway. Sure the occasional novel has drawn me in to the point where I get a little obsessed until I am done with it. But for the most part, reading just hasn’t been my “thing”. That is until a couple years ago. It was like all of a sudden I had this grand appreciation for the library and every single possibility in it. There were a couple months where I’d go through a novel or two a week. I’d walk through the fiction isles and grab titles that caught my eye. Some were decent, some really stunk, and some I read twice before returning. I’ve done the audio books also, which I think are God’s gift to busy moms! Wow. Talk about multitasking. I can fold laundry and enjoy an audio book. Drive and enjoy an audio book. KNIT and enjoy an audio book. Yup, those audio books are great. But for the most part I really appreciate cracking open a good book (both fiction and nonfiction alike), snuggling down under the covers or curled up on the couch and losing myself within the pages. A sweet escape.

At this moment I don’t really have anything too exciting on my book stack, but they are good ones.

Woman First, Family Always by Kathryn Sansone
An inspirational book written by a woman with 10 children

The Strong Willed Child by Dr James Dobson
Anybody who knows my Wyatt would smile at the fact that this book has been on my shelf for many months. I think this is the 3 time I’ve read through it hoping to use more details. He’s good, Dr Dobson. He’s very good.

One Thousand Blessings by Ann Voskamp
Such a beautiful reflection of life’s simple moments. Ms Voskamp has an almost poetic way of seeing the ordinary and in turn thanking the Good Lord for all things. “All is grace.”

Strangers and Sojourners by Michael Obrien
I’ve read his books so many times since high school and have fallen more in love with the stories and characters each time I read them. Mr Obrien writes of ordinary people, their relationships with each other, and a simple extraordinary faith in God. A must read….over and over again. Perhaps the only series just about everyone in my family appreciates equally. Which says a lot, as we are all very very very different in our preferences.

Chosen and Cherished by Kimberly Hahn
A catholic bible study written by a former protestant minister’s wife. I love the passion and appreciation of the scriptures that converts bring. Something I feel most catholics lack. Ms Hahn covers the first parts of Proverbs 31. Love this!

What is on your shelf? Anything good? Anything worth recommending? I like anything that has some meat to it. And of course the occasional Twilight novel. Yup, I caved and have read the series a couple times these past 4 years. Is that embarrassing? I feel like it probably should be, but am finding that losts of people are closet Twilight fans.
Whatever. I own them. Guilty tweeny pleasure I guess.

Headwaters Day

Our little twin towns (Breckenridge, MN and Wahpeton, ND) have an annual celebration called Headwaters Day. Headwaters Day originated after the big flood of 1997 when the entire area was completely under water. Completely. Since then there have been flood precautions made to ensure the safety and well-being of the towns. Shortly after the big flood, this celebration began to bring the communities back together. All of the local businesses participate and donate what they can. Participants purchase a button for $3 for the day. That button gets you a pancake breakfast, admission into fair ground activities, a grilled lunch, a free movie in the theater that afternoon, etc. Its really quite the bargain and a whole lot of fun! Of course there are local venders, crafters, fundraisers, etc. This year we purchased 2 ducks for the duck races. What are duck races? Well, for $5 you get a rubber ducky that is marked. At a set time in the afternoon all the duckies are placed in the river on the Breckenridge side, released, and they float down to the Wahpeton side. The winning duckie gets the grand prize of $1500 cash. Pretty awesome right?!! Totally worth it. 🙂 I think I just like the idea of hundreds of tiny rubber duckies racing down the river. Yup….that pretty much makes me smile every time I think of it.

And the parade. This town can do a parade! Wow. A handful of firetrucks. Businesses really go all out and decorate their floats, throw candy (the good kind!…like skittles, m&ms, starburst, etc)…..LOTS of candy!, they give away tickets for shows or raffles, they dance, they have the marching band playing. It is really really awesome. Hayden’s school, St Mary’s Catholic School, had a little float with K-1 graders on it throwing loads of candy, waving, and wearing school t-shirts. He had so much fun.

Okay, pictures…….I think they speak for themselves……

Wyatt, Hayden, and Yvette before the parade. Hayden was excited. Really. He was.

Such a dream come true for the day.

Wyatt looked like a little natural on that horse!

He loved it. Absolutely loved it. And was so proud to tell him dad what he did all by himself.

Yvette waiting for her brothers and dad to be done making a rope.

Such a fantastic community to be a part of! What a day.

Death’s Certainty

I don’t think people actually think about the very real possibility that just days from today they could be burying someone they love dearly….or they may be the one being buried. Death comes when it pleases. Sometimes it is expected. Sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes it is warranted. Sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes it is self inflicted. Sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes it is prepared for. Usually it isn’t. How do you prepare for death? How do you prepare for the death of a loved one? Is it even possible to? I’m not entirely certain either way. All I know is that it happens. It happens to everyone in their own way. And it effects everyone in a different way. Death. Death is as certain as…well…death may be the most certain thing there is. Life is not certain. The rising and setting of the sun is not certain. Food, jobs, love, breath, movement, those things are not certain. But death is. Death is certain for every single living creature/thing. So why the heck don’t people prepare for it? Why don’t people think about it often? Why is it so darned hard to face it? Why are people so shocked and confused when it happens? Why do people ask “Why?“ in the midst of grief? It is the most certain thing there is (in my opinion). Now, that certainty isn’t always easy to accept. And our human frailty, sinfulness, pride, lack of faith, selfishness, etc are those things that weaken us in the face it.

I ask these thing as one who struggles with this reality. I really didn’t know death until my grandfather died 10 years ago. He just died. He was 67 years old and he woke up in the middle of the night to get a drink of water and he collapsed in the kitchen. He died of an aneurysm. I didn’t go to his funeral, though looking back I probably should have. I just remember praying for him. Praying and praying and praying. And praying for my grandmother. Oh that woman is strong! Four years later we buried my great-grandmother. A dear dear friend she was. I was fortunate enough to have her so close growing up. She was my Grammy, as my other two grandmothers lived out of state and we didn’t see them much. And what a Grammy she was! Wow. Her passing was hard, but beautiful. Expected. She was ready. She was old…93 I think. She lived a long, good, loving life. And she died surrounded by her children. Her passing was a relief of sorts. But I miss her dearly. Which brings me to the most excruciating death I’ve experienced yet (aside from my 2 miscarriages). 18 short months after my Grammy passed away, my youngest brother was killed in a car accident. He was 25. Sudden deaths of young people I think bring on the most intense confusion, questioning, shock, grief. It’s not to say other deaths are not painful or less of a loss. But in my experience, it is those who pass with hardly any of their life lived that seem to leave the largest hole. One reflects on the possibilities lost, the life shortened, the “why” surfaces. And really there are no answers. To say that time heals all wounds sounds careless and maybe naive. But it is true to some degree. Stephen’s death, though in the moment seemed like an emotional hell at times and it was very very hard to see past the actual pain in the heart that it left our family, but over time we’ve all experienced a degree of peace. The pain is still there, it just isn’t as sharp and excruciating as it was 4 years ago. It is dulled a bit. But I reflect back on those days, weeks, months of fresh grief and I remember thinking “how in the world can we be happy again without him? How can we be a family without him?” Someone told me the real point of growth happens when a person can actually be grateful for the death of a loved one. I know! Grateful. I wanted to slap her! But she’s right. In hindsight I…we’ve seen and experienced many blessings, many fruits from his death. Like somehow God takes an unfortunate circumstance and turns it into good…blessings for everyone. Imagine that! People don’t think that can happen. But it can. I know this. My family knows this. More than once. You see, Stephen isn’t the first sibling I’ve lost. There was another boy between myself and Justin. He died of leukemia when he was just 22 months old (I was 4 months old). Somewhere in there, there was blessing and fruit…..my parents didn’t separate (though statistics say they should have) and they had Stephen shortly after. I remember my father saying that he isn’t sure he would have had the faith to answer a vocation to the deaconate had it not been for the struggle he and my mom went through after Ryan’s death. And right there I am grateful and I know they are too. As my dad is the most amazing Deacon in the Catholic Church. Truly a gifted man who has touched the lives of so many throughout his years as a deacon. God does amazing things through circumstances that seem to be tragic. Does tragedy even exist? People may look at Ryan’s death so young…happening to such young parents as being tragic. But look at the fruits. People may look at Stephen’s death at such a young age, leaving behind a wife and 2 young girls, and grieving (again) parents as tragic. But we have all grown and learned so much in the wake of his death. I, for one, have learned to love. Love without judgment. Love without expectation. Love and forgive. That is what Stephen’s death has taught me. So to say it was a tragedy is almost belittling it…robbing it of its beauty. Again, in the moment it is hard to see these things but in hindsight they are there. God is there. And God.Is.Good.

Today I attended a visitation service for a young woman I didn’t know. She was killed in a motorcycle accident on Labor Day. Her sister-in-law is Yvette’s preschool teacher. She was 25. It brought so much back. Please pray for her family. Her name is Mallie Ann Breuer and she is the only girl with 3 brothers…#3 in the family. Their family seems tight. Very loving. Very connected. Please pray for them.

I feel like there is more to say, but I can’t seem to find words. Perhaps later.