A Dear Man

I just have to share this…..

After high school I spent 2.5 years doing full time volunteer work. My home was in Oxford, MI but I/we travelled all over the place all the time. I lived with other volunteers and women who consecrated their lives to Christ and building His Kingdom. We worked with groups of junior high and high school girls doing retreats, leadership training, pilgrimages, and various other activities. I loved it! I absolutely loved it. I formed life long friendships with the women I worked with. I acquired lot of “little sisters” whom I continue to pray for and are in contact with. And the parents we worked with were amazing!….some of the most inspiring examples of motherhood, marriage, and service. I really am so very grateful for having spent that time with such wonderful people.

One of the regular activities I was responsible for was a monthly trip to Toledo, OH to meet with a rather large group of girls there. Myself and a very dear consecrated woman would spend an entire weekend meeting with the whole group, putting on some really fun activities, meeting with the girls and their families, etc. And of course we needed a place to stay. One particular family opened up their home to us almost every single month. It was so wonderful to have a regular place to stay. And there was something particularly special about this home. It was the home of Bob and Fran McCartney, the grandparents of a few of the girls we worked with. Now, Grandma and Grandpa McCartney (Grandpa insisted we call him that instead of “Mr. McCartney”) were a slice of heaven to stay with….to KNOW. Mariana (my teammate) and I would talk about them all the time. The love they had for each other was most amazing. There was this unspoken, tangible, heart melting joy and happiness that they held together. And I am honored to have known such a couple.

A few weeks ago Grandpa passed away. Though my heart was sad, I rejoiced in the knowing that he must be in heaven as a soul such as his would only bring joy and glory to God. Truly a most amazing man. He was such an example for me. An example of the virtue, the respect, the uprightness and true masculinity that I sought in my future husband. Bob and Fran shared the kind of love that every single married couple ought to seek. And with pride I can say that I have found such a man and I can only pray that in 60 years we will be as in love, Christ-centered, and blissfully happy as Grandma and Grandpa were/are. How grateful I am to have known and loved such wonderful examples.

Thank you Bridget for sharing this beautiful post about your grandfather.


Winter’s Goodness

Just when I think I can handle everything and I can do all I set out to do, I am humbled. And gratefully so. My mother came a few weeks ago to help me can. I honestly didn’t think we’d actually do anything more that visit and clean up the garden. But when she walked in the door, along came a gust of busy-ness and motivation. The woman came prepared! I mean ready.to.go. She wasn’t even here 10 minutes and my kitchen was piled high with canning supplies, apples, frozen berries, treats for the kids, and much more. I’m pretty sure she knew how things would go. I had every intention of canning all the apples myself…AND berries into jam/jelly. But the smart lady she is, she wasn’t really counting on a whole lot of my help. She came to work. She came to help. She came to SAVE ME. And save me she did. The night she arrived we cooked down and juiced gallon bags full of concord grapes for jelly. The next morning the applesauce canning began. She went about her saucing while I tried to help in the middle of my daily duties of mothering, wifing, cleaning, chauffeuring, etc. And quite honestly my attempts were good, but the success was fleeting. Just as I’d get my hands washed and a few apples peeled I’d hear a “Mom, Wyatt stinks” or “Mom, dad is on the phone” or screaming and fighting or meals needing to be prepared, etc. It was a whirlwind. By the end that day we she successfully canned 30+ quarts of applesauce, 9 jars of raspberry jelly, 5 quarts of grape juice (for jelly), and 7 jars of grape jelly. The next day I don’t think she canned anything, but we did play outside for a while and dug up three 5 gallon buckets full of yukon gold potatoes, picked pumpkins and squash, and packed her things and she left before 2pm. Did I mention that she made breakfast (french toast, bacon, and eggs) for everyone. Seriously, the woman is SUPER WOMAN. And I am so so so grateful for her. Here are a few pictures of some of our canning from this season. I say “some” because most of what isn’t pictured is stored in boxes on shelves in the basement.

50 quarts of peaches
30+ quarts of applesauce
18 jars of jelly
70 quarts of spaghetti sauce
50 quarts of stewed tomatoes
60 pints of salsa (needing to be made)

As my mother would say, “Winter is going to taste SO good!”

Yvette’s Birth

A little prelude to Yvette’s birth. From the time we found out we were pregnant to the day she was born and after was quite possibly the most stressful and rocky time in our marriage and just life in general. It was NOT because of the pregnancy. Quite the contrary, being pregnant with her helped keep us grounded, together, and hopeful.

My youngest brother passed away in a car accident when I was 29 weeks pregnant. Actually, he died on our wedding anniversary which really seemed like the candle on a very volatile cake. It wasn’t good. And so the grieving process was a bit hard. Steve and I were on the mend from a pretty nasty fight. So you can imagine the things left unsaid, undone were weighing on me. On top of that, John and I were in a very sensitive “stage of reconstruction” (so to speak) in our marriage. And being that pregnant and wanting to grieve without restriction was difficult. Everyone (including myself) reminded me to “stay calm, rest, don’t hyperventilate, eat, etc”. When really all I wanted to do was scream bloody murder at the top of my lungs until I felt like the whole world could hear me. I wanted to beat something I was so angry. I wanted to curl up and forget everything…everyone. I wanted to march into church and spit, curse, give God a piece of my mind. Everything in me wanted to burst. And holding it in seemed to make it worse. But I managed to put on a face, stayed as collected and “calm” as possible, and counted the weeks until I could explode.

We couldn’t afford to pay out of pocket for a homebirth. We had moved back to central Minnesota and were able to use my childhood doctor as our baby doc. I trusted her and was comforted to know she was fine with everything we wanted for our birthing experience. But as the weeks went on I became more and more anxious. I begged her and pressured her to induce me. And finally she told me we’d give it a try with a date set just before my 39 week mark. I was relieved. John, though he didn’t like my decision, tried to be supportive. All I could think about was being done so I could grieve. All John could think about was me and what an induction would most likely mean. I listened to him but reassured him that I could handle it. I was scheduled to arrive in the evening and they’d induce me with a patch that would bring on labor and then it could be removed once I reach a certain point. The thing is, when the doc went to insert this patch on my uterus, I wasn’t quite dilated enough which made things a bit uncomfortable. Finally the patch was put in place and I was monitored. All night. Nothing happened. Absolutely nothing. No progression. No hard contractions. My doctor came back in the morning and sent me home. I was mad. I was embarrassed. I was frustrated. And I was impatient. Clearly my body was not ready…..my baby was not ready. And so I waited for another week. Eight days later we went back in determined to not leave without baby in arms. I had progressed a little bit more making it easier to insert the patch again. This time contraction came on strong! So strong in fact that a few hours after placing it, they decided to remove it thinking my contractions would keep up. Not the case. With the patch I reached 4 or 5 centimeters and stalled for the rest of the night. We walked. I bounced on the ball. I labored in the tub. I tried to sleep (with no success). Nothing. I was far enough along to be mildly uncomfortable and unable to rest though I was not progressing despite my efforts. My doctor came in early morning to check me and suggested pitocin. I was exhausted and game for anything. I was hooked up to pitocin and about 2 hours later they broke my water. By that point things were really going. Oh my was I in pain! The pitocin was causing contractions….HARD contractions that I wasn’t geared up for. These contractions felt worse that the contractions you’d feel during transition…and I was hardly 5-6 centimeters! I was not ready for that. Plus having my water broken forced things even harder. I understood why women demand the drugs at that point. I beared with it for a while. Laboring in the tub and mostly on the bed. I forget all the details that led up to this next part, but I reached a breaking point. I completely lost any control/calm/focus that I had had. I was breathing through a particularly hard contraction and leaning on John and someone (I can’t remember if it was John or my doctor) said, “Theresa you are doing so good. Keep going. Breath through it. Offer it for Stephen.” I broke. I mean hyperventilating, body spasms, burst into tears breaking going on. It was like I couldn’t do it anymore. The focus had shifted and everything that I had pent up inside came barreling out PLUS the contractions. What the heck is a laboring woman to do?! The only way they could calm me down before another contraction came was to strap on some breathing mask and give me a small dose of some sort of sedative. It took the edge off but it wasn’t enough. I was exhausted and too far along to quit and too grieved to focus. That small dose of painkiller turned into a full blown epidural shortly after. Oh that thing felt good! Wow. I managed to get a 4 hour nap in while my body finished dilating. The doctor came in and told me I was ready to push. I didn’t feel anything so I just took her word for it. Now, I KNOW what that “uncontrollable urge to push” feels like and since I didn’t have it and I couldn’t feel anything down there I had a hard time pushing. Apparently I was kinda pushing. But how does one know?! Baby was still high, my pushing efforts were not doing much, and we were going on 12 hours since water break and 24 hours since onset of labor. By that point I had submitted to everything that I didn’t initially want. I was frustrated too. I pushed and pushed and about 1.5 hours later my doc tells me that either we turn off the epidural and kick up the pitocin so I can FEEL when to push or we start getting the forceps or vacuum out or we discuss surgery. None of those sounded nice at all. I knew what the pitocin would do. I’d turn into a crazed lunatic with no energy to handle it if we opted for that. The instruments were NOT going to happen. And after some tears and some reassurance from my loving doctor, I consented to surgery. John was so worried. I was completely exhausted. And my doctor, though not liking the surgery decision either, saw it as our best option by that point.

*note: baby was fine. I was fine. Neither of us was in distress or under any health concerns. My doctor said that my body had been forced into labor and was working so hard that it was swelling making it harder for the baby to move down. Plus the time factor.

It was a matter of 15 minutes between giving my consent and being strapped onto the operating table. It went fast. And it was a bit of a blur. I remember John sitting right next to me, both of us a bit teary eyed. I remember feeling some pulling/tugging and then less than 15-20 minutes later I was being stitched up and wheeled back to my room. John went with the baby and met me back in my room.

Yvette Mariana Backowski was born on Thursday, October 18, 2007 at 9:21pm. She weighed in at 8lbs 9oz and 21.5 inches long.

I was wheeled back to my room where John and Yvette greeted me. She was beautiful! And John was relieved to have us both in the room. I couldn’t hold her for several hours because my body was reacting to the drugs I had. I had the shakes really bad followed by severe headaches. I was worried I’d drop her because I had no control over them. All I wanted to do was cuddle her and nurse her but I couldn’t. I couldn’t. So her first 24 hours she was fed by the nurses and held mostly by visitors. I was too weak and shaky to. We stayed in the hospital until that following Sunday.

Recovery was harsh. Because I had labored so hard to the point of pushing before ultimately having surgery, I suffered from both vaginal and abdominal recovery from labor. It wasn’t fun. It took almost 10 weeks before I finally started feeling like things were getting better.

Though we were both a bit disappointed with how things went, I suppose it could have been expected. I’ve had several friends and family members who have gone through similar birth experiences…
Wanting to try to do it naturally…getting anxious and opting for induction…which in turn usually (not always) leads to epidurals, vacuums, forceps, and/or surgery.
It’s a common pattern. And it works for people. It just wasn’t how we desired things to go. But in the end we went home with a healthy beautiful baby girl – which is what we wanted. Is there anything better than that?

Get Dressed!

Attention Stay At Home Moms!!!

The Get Dressed Challenge!

What is the “Get Dressed!” Challenge? It’s a one-month motivotional (motivation + devotional) where you are encouraged to go from “frumps” to “pumps” in the everyday. Why a month? The goal with “Get Dressed!” is to help you build into the habit of getting dressed and looking nice everyday.

Are you ready? Let’s get dressed!

Miss Sarah Mae from Like A Warm Cup of Coffee is hosting this challenge. It sounds like the kind of thing I need given the cold weather coming in. It is so easy to stay in my warm jammy pants, slippers, and hoodie until I feel like getting dressed, which to be honest with you, is sometimes closer to lunch time than I’d like to admit. “Puddling” is what we call it here….puddling around in comfort. I know I feel more put together, ready for the day, and prepared for the occasional visitor if I am dressed and ready for my day before everyone else. And when I do manage that it is usually jeans and hoodie. I’ve got some cute maternity clothes that are just sitting in a box so I really have no excuse. Here’s to stepping it up a notch. Everyday “visitor-ready”……

Join me! Grab a button on Sarah Mae’s page…..

Daily Bread (part 1)

I love to cook. And for the most part I am fairly successful at it. I don’t usually try to make a recipe up…I’m not that creative. However I have been known to try a new recipe a few times and tweek it a little before settling on a version that suits us best. I love to try new things. New recipes are awesome and fun. However, I have been an utter failure at 2 things:

1. Pie crust
2. Bread

The thing with the pie crust is that it works when I do the recipe WITH someone. But never when I’m going solo does it actually turn out to be edible. Figure that one out.

And bread. Oh, the lost art! My mom wasn’t a bread maker. And my great-grammy wasn’t one either, at least not in the years that I noticed her cooking. Apparently Grammy baked bread daily for her brood of 9.……years and years slash generations ago. 😉 How I wish I could be a fly in her kitchen when she was in her prime. What an experience that would have been.
Anyway, the extent of my bread making has always been with a bread machine. Sure bread in the bread machine is homemade, but there is just something about bread “the old way” that makes a heart melt and a tummy satisfied. Every single time I’ve tried handmade bread it either doesn’t rise, turns out too flaky and dry, it’s a brick, or it tastes like nothing. Not one single time do I remember a loaf that was successful. And believe me, I’ve tried. I’ve tried different techniques like in which in theory works. I know it has worked for my parents. It has worked for friends of mine. But me? Nope. Or of course there’s my good old friend Betty Crocker who always pulls through for me. Except in the bread department. I’ve tried the old church cookbooks. I’ve watched tutorials. No success.

Until today. I decided it was time. Early this year John’s Aunt Maralene came for a visit and brought me a Sam’s Club sized package of yeast, some bread making tips that work for her, and this cookbook I was grateful and I tried a couple recipes but they didn’t quite work out for me so the cookbook has been sitting on my shelf for months. Today I thought I’d give it a whole hearted try. I literally “slaved” over the very first recipe all day. I spent this morning following the recipe step by step. I was patient and loving in my attempt. And guess what. The most yummy, perfectly golden, evenly shaped, moist and not crumbly loaf of bread came out of the oven early this evening. Just in time for dessert. Yup. Homemade bread for dessert. And the kids loved it! I’d share a picture but…the camera has disappeared. (Yvette likes to roam around when she is supposed to be napping and I’m certain she was playing around with it and won’t fess up because it was next to the computer before naptime and after naptime it was gone. Hmmm….) I’m sure it will turn up soon.

And when it does, I will share a pick. IF of course I can do this again. Big IF…

All In A Day’s Work

Remember those corn fields I posted just the other day? Well, this is what they look like now…

What my husband spent the day driving…

The kids love a visit to the tractor…

Wyatt is in heaven when he is near the tractors. I thought Hayden had a tractor obsession!…nothing compared to Wyatt

And of course the combine not too far away…

And you wanna know what makes me melt?….
seeing this man…..with our kids……

*sigh* how can I resist him?! He works harder than anyone I know. He knows how to drive heavy machinery. He can split almost an entire winter’s worth of wood with just a splitting maul (and not mind!). He absolutely loves being a dad! He’s extraordinarily easy on the eyes. And he loves me to pieces. I could go on and on and on……..but I won’t (today). How the heck did I get so lucky?! God knows I don’t deserve him. But I thank Him for such a man every single day!