Simple Treasures

So, the second year in this house, our furnace went out on us. And since we were pretty broke (still are), we didn’t have it fixed right away because we had our fireplace. We thought we’d give the fireplace an honest shot at heating this big old house on it’s own. Quite honestly we thought it might buy us a few weeks to get some funds together before needing to have the furnace serviced. Well, we are going into our 4th winter in this house and the furnace is still down. That fireplace has kept us warm for going on 3 years now. Sure the house is drafty and the heat is not a balanced heat, but the house stays warm and we stay cozy through our -40 degree winters. We’ve gotten the talk from our parents. Understandably they are concerned about the cold…what about back-up heat? what about fire concerns? etc. First of all, we are very safe about burning wood. Our house is peppered with smoke alarms, fire blankets, and fire extinguishers. Our insurance agent has been out a couple times to reassess and the fireplace is most certainly up to code, functioning well, and still safe. With that said, our first winter here we were paying upwards of $300-$450 a month in propane expenses. That hurts! The first year with wood we paid out maybe $350 for a winter’s worth of wood. The next year our neighbors decided to knock down a wall of trees between their field and gave us the wood. This year is the same. We have paid nothing…let me repeat, NOTHING to heat our home all winter long for almost 3 years. Sure it takes a bit work to haul, split, and stack the wood. Not to mention the commitment to keep the fire burning during those long freezing nights (up every 3-4 hours to stoke it). But with kids we are up a couple times a night anyway – potty runs, bad dreams, etc. Nothing is lost really except the expense.

And so I take this opportunity to sing my husband’s praises (again). He’s quite wonderful to tackle such a task on his own…with everything else he does around here.

This is what the pile started out as (June 2011):

It grew to this about a month later (July 2011):

And there was still some more added towards the end of August.

And now this is what it looks like (November 2011):

With the help of John’s mom who came for 2 days with the sole intention of eliminating the wood pile completely, we are now completely ready for an entire winter. Wood stacked in the wood shed….

…and in a covered trailer on the side of the garage…

…and another trailer piled high in the garage for the dead of winter when the storms blow snow halfway up our garage door (it happens often)…

Sure piles of wood may not mean anything to you. But for us, it means warmth and security during the winter. It means another year of no heat expense. It means another winter of self-sufficiency. For us, the piles are a treasure.

Happy winter to you all. Stay warm.

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Wyatt’s Birth Story

Pregnancy with Wyatt was a breeze. With Hayden and Yvette I had to go through the summer. Not fun. But with Wyatt my pregnancy was from August until mid-April. It was fantastic.

I was due around the 3rd week of April. I say “around” because my dates don’t always correspond with the doctors. Which is okay. I know the date of conception with all my babes and based on that the due date is usually within 3-5 days of the doctor’s prediction. Since my previous labor/delivery ended in a c-section, the local hospital was not equipped to handle a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean). They are, they just not to do them because of how small of a hospital they are. I was okay with that. As much as we wanted to do a home birth, we wanted to make sure that a successful VBAC was going to work for me first. So that meant finding a doctor and hospital who would accommodate. Fargo has a fantastic facility and Dr. H had delivered many a VBAC babies successfully and was known for his openness for non-aggressive labors. We were happy.

Two weeks before my due date I began having bouts of labor……regular contractions for hours on end getting as close as 4 minutes apart. And then they’d stop. Just stop. It was weird. It was not fair. I’d get excited and make calls for my mom to be ready to come or call John home from work or whatever. And they’d just stop. This happened probably 4 times. One of my last appointments just days before my due date, Dr. H said I was about 3 centimeters and very thinned out. This was promising but not good enough. I was anxious. Dr. H stripped my membranes and sent me home. We had a c-section scheduled for 1 day after my due date (as was his preference). It was getting too close to that date and I really didn’t want to submit to surgery. One day before my due date I called Dr H’s office to cancel the surgery. I didn’t want it. I didn’t. He and I compromised and I ended up coming in early in the morning on my due date (April 21st) to be mildly induced. He promised it would be the lowest possible amount of pitocin they could administer and that it would be shut off as soon as labor was progressing. He told me that I had already begun labor with my little episodes of contractions and that I was dilated enough that it wouldn’t take much. I was okay with that.

We arrived around 7:30am and I was ready to go by 8:00. They hooked me up and quite honestly the pitocin was so mild that I was having regular contractions for 3 hours and was able to talk through them. All of a sudden things started really picking up. They shut off the pit and let me go on my own. I was about a 6 or 7 at that point. I walked a little bit, tried to sit up and labor but mostly I just laid on my side. That wasn’t too conducive to moving a baby down so John helped me up. There was a point of labor where I got distracted by the pain. I knew it was happening and before I could refocus, a hard contraction came that sent me into a tizzy. I lost it. I demanded drugs and of course the nurses complied. John was shaking his head trying to get me to refocus and telling me that I could do it. I didn’t care. I was frantic and the nurses came in with the paperwork. I signed. As soon as they left the room again I think I regretted it. And then another contraction came and with it a very strong sense of focus and will. After a couple more contractions the nurses came back in to inform us that the anesthesiologist was backed up with 2 people ahead of me for the epidural. They told me to prepare to not get one in time. A sense of relief came over me. I KNEW I could do this without the drugs. I KNEW that I had to find a strong focus or this last part would not be as utterly satisfying and beautiful as I’d looked forward to. John and I locked eyes and got back to work. The nurse suggested the tub. It sounded good. I made my way to the bathroom. The short walk from the bed to the bathroom seemed like a mountain. While standing in the bathroom waiting for the tub to fill a bit more I had a contraction that nearly dropped me to the floor. Thank goodness for my super strong husband. Finally I was able to lower myself into the tub. Oh my. That felt wonderful. For anyone who has had the opportunity to labor in water, you know what I mean. The ‘weight’ of the contractions seemed to feel less than half. Seriously. I went from a 6 ½ to almost a 10 in a matter of 15 or 20 minutes without hardly feeling any of the contractions. That warm water relaxed me enough to almost push. The nurse urged me to get out of the tub as quickly as possible in between contractions and get back to the bed for delivery. As soon as I stood up and out of the tub, again a contraction came that felt like …. Well….. It wasn’t a nice feeling. 😉 We shimmied back over to the bed and got situated.
The doc came in the check me and said I could push whenever I felt the need. Oh this pushing stage was tremendous. The relief to be able to push that baby out was freeing. I pushed and pushed and pushed. It felt like forever. Really it was about 30 minutes of pushing at that point. How some women do it in just minutes, I don’t know. Maybe the fact that I consistently have 9-10lb babies has something to do with it. Anyway, Dr. H told me to stop pushing for a couple contractions. Yeah. Not something a laboring woman wants to hear. Wyatt began to crown and not pushed would help prevent tearing and/or an episiotomy. Oh the burning!!!!! I remember screaming at that point. Yeah, I was one of those deep moaning/grunting/screaming laboring women. It helped. 😉 Then came the moment. Dr H looked up at me and “okay, give it one more slow steady push.” And I did. He slithered out and onto my tummy. He was beautiful!
I remember looking over at John, who was all teary eyed and smiling and he said to me, “You did it. You did it again.”

Wyatt Leonard was born at 1:26pm on April 21, 2009. He weighed in at 10lbs and measured 22.5 inches long.

**tearing/episiotomies are a nightmare for me. Haven’t received the episiotomy and have only torn slightly. With Hayden I got 3 stitches. And with Wyatt they put in 5. Not bad.

And so with 3 completely different birth experiences under my belt, with a successful vbac as the most recent, we are happy to be a candidate for another homebirth. We are fortunate enough to have a midwife/NP just 40 miles away (which is close considering our location) who is more than happy to deliver this babe. And we are very excited – YES, excited – to welcome him/her into our family and into our home from the very first breath of life he/she takes. Being home for a birth is so peaceful, warm, comforting, and convenient. We wouldn’t have it any other way.

Brotherly Love

Yesterday I was going through some old pictures and found a file with pictures of Stephen. Hayden came over and started asking question. He knows Stephen. He doesn’t remember him, but he recognizes him. He knows it’s Uncle Steve. And Uncle Steve is Isabell and Abby’s dad who died in a car crash. He also likes to remember a comment I made so long ago that I can’t even remember exactly when I said it. But he keeps saying, “And Uncle Steve was your best buddy when you were growing up? And he was your brother too?…” Whenever Steve comes into conversation that comment is always made. It makes me smile. It’s true. Stephen and I were very close….always.

And today Hayden has been especially attentive to Wyatt. I’d hear comments like, “Wyatt, your my little brother and we can be best friends, okay?” “Okay, Hayden.” Wyatt would respond. It melts my heart to hear that. They played so nicely today….all day.

And then there is Fiona. We’ve come to sincerely love this gigantic 110lbs+ brutish dog.

Merry Christmas!

My MIL sent me this in an email. How true it is!

Twas the Month before Christmas

Twas the month before Christmas

When all through our land,

Not a Christian was praying

Nor taking a stand.

See the PC Police had taken away

The reason for Christmas – no one could say.

The children were told by their schools not to sing

About Shepherds and Wise Men and Angels and things.

It might hurt people’s feelings, the teachers would say

December 25th is just a ‘ Holiday’.

Yet the shoppers were ready with cash, checks and credit

Pushing folks down to the floor just to get it!

CDs from Madonna, an X BOX, an I-Pod

Something was changing, something quite odd!

Retailers promoted Ramadan and Kwanzaa

In hopes to sell books by Franken & Fonda.

As Targets were hanging their trees upside down

At Lowe’s the word Christmas – was no where to be found.

At K-Mart and Staples and Penny’s and Sears

You won’t hear the word Christmas; it won’t touch your ears.

Inclusive, sensitive, Di-ver-si-ty

Are words that were used to intimidate me.

Now Daschle, Now Darden, Now Sharpton, Wolf Blitzen

On Boxer, on Rather, on Kerry, on Clinton!

At the top of the Senate, there arose such a clatter

To eliminate Jesus, in all public matter.

And we spoke not a word, as they took away our faith

Forbidden to speak of salvation and grace

The true Gift of Christmas was exchanged and discarded

The reason for the season, stopped before it started.

So as you celebrate ‘Winter Break’ under your ‘Dream Tree’

Sipping your Starbucks, listen to me.

Choose your words carefully, choose what you say

Shout MERRY CHRISTMAS,

not Happy Holiday!

Please, all Christians join together and

wish everyone you meet

MERRY CHRISTMAS

Christ is The Reason’ for the Christ-mas Season

My Namesake

People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway.
If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway.
For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.”

— Mother Teresa

Wedding Nostalgia

I’ve been in a nostalgic mooshi kind of mood lately. You see, on Saturday a young woman, whom I worked with years ago during my volunteer years, got married. I wanted to go so badly but unfortunately it was not possible for me to travel. And so I remained here with her and her husband constantly on my mind and in my prayers.

The nostalgia and moosh is obvious. I remember being 23 and eagerly waiting to wed my love. Every detail of our wedding day is etched into my memory. It was a wonderful small town wedding with great celebration! I dreamed of such a day for most of my life and felt so blessed to have been chosen by such a man as John. I waited and waited and waited for him. And finally I was to be his and he mine. I remember the weather, the conversations, the flutters in my stomach waiting for him to arrive at the church for pictures, the music, the smells, the blessings!!!!, the people!!!!. And the dancing. I remember it all. A few of my favorites…..

*walking up the isle with my dad and walked back down it with my husband

*celebrating with dear friends who traveled from Mexico, Ohio, California, BC, and Michigan

*watching my dad so proudly pass out fabulous cigars to John and his groomsmen and then put his out so he could come in and dance with me (Bob Seagar’s Old Time Rock and Roll)

*a Harley ride with my Uncle Dan (I wish I had a pic of this on the computer)

*a last dance to a song written and sung by a college friend

*and finally the drive to our final destination for the next 5 days

Perhaps the most awesome memory was a thought I had the next day. I was laying in bed with my sleeping husband and thought about the events of the previous day. All it took was a the declaration of a few vows, a blessing, and a night with my husband and we were joined body and soul for the rest of our days. It was the most peaceful, secure, satisfying moment. God’s ways are so awesome. And His blessings are even more.

And as I clicked through Miss E’s wedding pics that were gradually being posted by her guests, I saw a sparkle in her eye that made those memories come flooding back. The eagerness, anticipation, pure love, and utter happiness. She was a radiant, elegant, regal bride. And I am so happy for her and her new husband.

For those of you who are married, what was your most lasting memory of your wedding day?

A Successful October

We’ve been busy ‘round these parts. Really, when are we NOT busy? Just when I think we have a break coming up, something happens or I forget that living on a farm with animals, a huge garden/harvest, having 3 kids with 1 on the way, 2 kids in school, and a husband who works swing shifts doesn’t make any woman’s life just a bit insane. Well, anyway, life has been busy.

Last spring we decided to officially try to get rid of some produce for money. We sold tomatoes and potatoes that ended up paying for our canning and gardening season. A success. And just when we were cursing planting so many pumpkins, pumpkin sales far exceeded our expectations. It was a successful endeavor. By successful I mean we sold every last pumpkin that we pulled from our pumpkin patch. Every.single.one. It was fun. And people were asking about next year. So you can only guess what that means. Yup, we’re revamping our pumpkin patch and adding some perks. We are excited.

On a side note: Right in the middle of our pumpkin season, my washing machine decided to die on me. Literally die. One day it just stopped mid-cycle. The repair guy came over to see if it was fixable and determined that the motor was shot, the coupler was shot, and the pump was shot. Dead. The replacement parts plus the work would have cost almost a third of a new washer. Since John and I had just recently discussed replacing the washing machine, we were half expecting it would be now given it’s recent mishap. You can imagine the expense. It wasn’t expected though we were starting to save for the possibility. It hurt the checkbook. A lot. But I was happy with the new arrival. And when a mom is happy, usually everyone else is too. And guess where the money came from that replaced what the washing machine took from our checking account. Yup….you guessed it. PUMPKINS. Almost down to the dollar. God is so good. And you can count on pumpkin season happening here again next year. J

In light of my growing love of pumpkins, I am baking loads of pumpkin bread for neighbors, teachers, the principal, our priest, family, etc. Mostly it is to get rid of the pumpkin still in my freezer from last year to make room for 242lbs of beef coming soon. (Yeah, I know……insane amounts of meat!) But it is also to entice the local pallet to come back for more next year. When they see pumpkins, smell pumpkins, taste pumpkins I want them to think of the yummy-smelling good pumpkin bread that came from the Backowski’s and their pumpkin patch.

Perhaps next year my fridge or stove will decide to die during harvest. A woman can only hope, right?.

Here’s to happy fall seasons, welcoming winter and all the beauty that comes with it, and kitchens that smell oh.so.good.

Cheerio!