RedGateFarm is Moving!

I have decided to move my blog over to wordpress due to the added features available. So come on over, check it out, and let me know what you think! Be sure to bookmark it or become a follower to stay caught up, as I won't be posting here in blogspot anymore. See you at http://www.redgatefarm.wordpress.com/. Over and out!


What happens when little girls wearing skirts want to be like their brothers and play on the woodpile?

They wind up with little legs covered in red bumps and microscopic splinters that Mommy has to find a way to remove! I have to say, though, that, despite her tears, she did very well, sitting very still while I worked.

My Horse Fix

Isn't it funny how God arranges things for us? I decided to part with a few more horse things and placed an ad on craigslist. Long story, but the lady who wound up purchasing the equipment was trying to start a horse rescue. She had 7 horses at the time, including 3 pregnant mares. She was having some difficulty though, as a horse had kicked her in February and broken her leg. So she was still accepting rescues, but was unable to do any training with them. She was desperate for help, but had been unable to find anyone with any training experience. After we conversed for a while, she invited us to join her family for Easter lunch and get to know each other, which we did. Yesterday, my wonderful husband offered to take over my household tasks and to watch the kids while I went out to help her.

I couldn't believe how nervous I was. It has been 2 years since I trained a horse! It was somewhat hard to believe, but once I got to training some skittish, frightened mares she had, it all came back to me. I was embarrassed, however, to find how completely out of shape I was! I used to thoroughly groom 5 or 6 six horses in one shot, and after a basic grooming on my first mare yesterday, my arms felt like they were going to fall off! I am just thankful she had 20x20 stalls for me to work in instead of having to use her 80-foot pen. There is no way I would have had the endurance for that! Despite my workouts here at home, I re-discovered muscles I had forgotten existed! So humbling.

It turned out to be such a great situation, as, I was free to train the way I feel comfortable, using the gentle techniques I have found work best and fastest, and have the owner just trust me to do whatever I felt necessary. After doing some training with 2 of her horses and helping out with a few other tasks, I got to go play with this little 4-day old filly:

I cannot express to you how much fun I had yesterday! Today, my face and neck are sunburned, my back and arms are so sore I can hardly lift my babies, and I was so exhausted that I overslept this morning. But it is all so worth it! There are few things as thrilling to me as walking into a pen with a horse that is so scared of me that I can't even walk up and touch it, and, after working for a bit, being able to walk out of that same pen after not only approaching and petting the horse, but also being able to groom, lift her feet, have her follow me around without a halter or lead rope, and generally have her comfortable with my presence.


It was a wonderful experience and I thank God for the opportunity to refresh my skills. I look forward to returning in the future.


A Smile a Day...

I am thrilled to report we just completed our last post-placement visit with our social worker. Now we just get to await news of our finalization. This is a wonderful feeling that N is closer to becoming our son legally as well as physically. In celebration, I thought I would share little N's latest accomplishment:
N, 3 months
Since he has gotten over the RSV, he is just full of smiles and giggles. I didn't think he could be any cuter, but man, oh man, was I wrong! You should see him smile!



Yesterday, a good friend invited us over to her house to see her worms and "release butterflies." You see, a few weeks ago, she decided to attempt composting food waste in her back yard. So she ordered a little kit and 2000 red wigglers, and they set to work. Now she has one full tray of beautiful, rich soil. Around the same time, her daughter was given a butterfly kit, complete with caterpillars which formed chrysalises, and turned into butterflies. You can read more about the process on her blog. Anyway, so yesterday afternoon, we went over to her house, along with another friend and her kids.

The kids enjoyed watching the Painted Lady Butterflies flutter around their little net home, and eagerly anticipated releasing them.
My friend, K, decided to let them go one at a time. Surprisingly, the butterfly did not just fly away like we expected. Instead, it just sat on K's finger. So K transferred it to her daughter L's finger for a photo op. Of course, all the other kids wanted to join in the fun, so K continued taking them out one at a time, and giving one to each child (with instruction not to touch the butterfly, but just to let it sit on their finger until it decided to fly away).
JR getting "his" butterfly.
JR proudly holding and showing off his butterfly shortly before it took to the sky.
M got a great lesson on butterfly anatomy from Ms. K. She seemed fascinated.
M was a bit nervous at first, as she is really not to keen on holding creepy-crawlies. But, with encouragement, she accepted the butterfly. Her butterfly decided to hang around for a quite a while, so she had several minutes to enjoy it and get more comfortable holding it.
M showing her butterfly to A, while I try diligently to keep A from grabbing at it.

M trying to encourage her butterfly to fly away. It just wasn't interested. It was quite content just sitting on M's finger.

After all the other kids had their turn, and all the butterflies had been released, Ms. K took M's butterfly, and had L help her put it on a nearby rose.
The butterfly sat on the rose for another minute or two, and finally spread her wings and flew away, to the cheers of all the children.
This little event was so educational, it looks like I will be ordering us a butterfly kit soon, so the kids can watch them develop. Then we will have another butterfly releasing event at our house! I will likely wait until we get to the farm to do the composting, though. However, I am also considering trying an ant farm. What great science projects these will be!


Childhood Innocence

Have you ever just listened to your children? Have you ever sat around just watching them in their play? S and I love to do both. Our 2 and 4 yo say and do so many things that can only be described as sweet and innocent. Those same things, however, can be so humbling to a parent. It often leaves me wishing I still had some of that innocence.
For example, JR is learning so much lately, and not just that, but he is really putting concepts together in his little head. Recently, we have been learning about how God owns all things, and allows us to take care of things for Him. So the other day we had driven over to look at a house, and S was on the phone. JR asked who Daddy was talking to, and I replied that he was talking to the lady who owned the house. JR immediately said, "No, Mommy, GOD owns the house, so who is Daddy talking to?" I stood corrected.
On a more serious note, an area that really hits home for me lately is racial issues. Now that we are officially a transracial family, I am learning by leaps and bounds how society views race. Young children, of course, are totally unaware of racial issues, until a parent teaches them otherwise. Children in a transracial family are often referred to as "colorblind" because they see their siblings all the same, despite the color of their skin. However, I am learning that the kids are, in fact, well aware of color, they just don't view it with the stigmas that adults do. I got to thinking about this the other night when I was informing the kids that they would be having a new babysitter come watch them. JR asked, "What color is she?" Funny thing is, it totally didn't matter what color she was, he was simply curious. He is at the age where he likes to match colors and see who looks like who--JR has skin color like mommy, daddy, and M, A has blue eyes like JR and daddy, and N has brown eyes like mommy. Color is simply a means to help find an identity. Oh, if only the rest of society could have a bit of this innocence as well! What a wonderful place this world would be.
The reason I started contemplating these things tonight was actually something M did. As you know I am a Type 1 diabetic. I wear an insulin pump rather than taking shots. The pump is small pager-sized computer that holds and meters the insulin out as required throughout the day. It holds a little syringe full of insulin, which is connected to a long tube, which is connected to an infusion "site"--the part that actually sticks into my skin. That is held by tape. I have to change this set up every 3 days or so.

Last night was time to change. M is fascinated by this process and has been for some while. She doesn't grasp the concept of a disease at this point, but has no doubt reached the age where she wants to be like Mommy. In imitation of me, she will often say things, "May I have juice?..my sugar's low!" And if she is nearby when I change out my infusion set, she will often grab the old one and play with it while I finish up (don't worry, there is no needle attached!).

Last night was actually the first time she actually made the site stick to her belly. She was so proud to look just like Mommy. I just found such irony in her innocence. Here I have a disease I would give almost anything to not have. I pray frequently that God's protective hand would stay on my children, and that none of them would develop diabetes and have to go through years of needles, food calculations, finger sticks, and so on. Yet, my little girl, in all her innocence, just wants to be like Mommy, no matter what the cost.

It really humbles me and reinforces the hugeness of the responsibility Christ has given me as a mother. Everything I do will be imitated by our children, as it is only natural for them to want to be like their parents. They become mirror images in their behavior, and it is imperative that we always strive to model a good example, that they may mature according to the instruction of the Lord.


Our Little Birthday Boy

I can't believe A is a year old! One year ago this week, we were waiting impatiently for A's birthmom to agree to visit a doctor. We feared she was having complications, but she was refusing to go. We were praying for peace and strength, and relying on God to take care of our soon-to-be-son. Then we got the call that he was being delivered via an emergency c-section. The story of the call itself is an amazing one that God played a big part of. Then, due to complications, A spent a week in the NICU, connected to all sorts of tubes. I was separated from my family the whole time, as I stayed in a hospital room nearby, entertaining and getting to know his birthmother for a portion of that time. I saw her tears after she signed the adoption consent forms, and witnessed firsthand how a piece of her heart was left behind when she left the hospital, leaving A in my care. The following months were busy with post-placement visits, reports, doctor visits, and the joyous adoption finalization. There were some fears about his development, as he was delayed in many areas. We gradually became more confident she had used meth during her pregnancy, ultimately causing many of his problems. As a result, those months were also a time where I had to learn to love his birthmother for the simple fact that she chose to give him life, even if her time caring for him in utero was not ideal. Around the time of his finalization, she wrote that she had come to know Christ as her personal Saviour; news that we truly rejoiced at. We watched God's healing power as little A grew, eventually catching up developmentally. We have seen God work in so many ways over the past year. The simple fact that A is alive today is due only to God. His birthmother told us that she wanted to have an abortion before God re-directed her to adoption at the last moment.
Now, here we are, celebrating his first birthday. Those memories seem like yesterday on one hand, and simultaneously seem so distant. Grandma (S's mom) came for a visit to meet N for the first time and see the kids, so we decided to celebrate a couple days early so she could join us. Some friends also joined us, preparing a traditional Persian dinner for us to try. A absolutely loved it!

Daddy did M's hair for the occasion....his first ponytail! I was so proud of him!

I made my second attempt to bake a cake from scratch. My first was for JR's 1st birthday, and it flopped miserably. This one, an almond-raspberry cake with buttercream frosting, was at least edible, and actually pretty good (though I don't consider it worthy of passing on the recipe).

. Since A has RSV right now, we decided to put the candle only in A's piece of cake. Didn't want to risk him coughing, sneezing, or blowing that virus all over everybody else's cake! But, it didn't matter, as JR wound up having to blow out the candle anyway.

A looked around like, "Is this for real?", then dug right in!

. He couldn't eat that cake fast enough!

He definitely broke the record for being the cleanest baby after a first birthday cake. He liked it so much, he didn't spend any time playing in it, and just shoved the thing in his mouth.
Then we moved on to presents. We had to show him that he could pull the paper out of the bag, but once he figured it out, he found the present quickly (a little eager assistance from JR helped speed things along too!).

M had to make sure little N didn't feel left out of the activities.
We had a great time, and now, I guess technically I no longer have 2 babies, but 1 baby and 1 toddler (plus the 2 older kids).


Babies, babies!

Today has been a baby day!

First off, congrats to my brother and his wife who just delivered #2 this morning. So my whole family is pretty excited.

The other baby part of the day has not been so great. With all the colds going around this house over the last week, it was only natural that little N came down with something. Rather than improving though, over the last 4 days, he has gotten progressively worse. I was concerned by this morning, as I knew it was more than a cold, but didn't know what it was. After a 3 hour trip to the doctor, turns out he AND A have RSV. Thank the Lord, the doc said we were very in tune and caught it earlier than most. Therefore, he expects the virus can be easily treated here at home. But since A has had his cough for about a week now, he has to be treated as well. S and M likely had it, but are old enough that were able to fight it on their own. Nonetheless, it takes quite a bit to worry me with illness, and I have never dealt with a sick baby this young. So if you have a free moment today to say a little prayer for N, we would really appreciate it. He is on treatment now, so hopefully God's healing hand will touch him soon. Poor little guy is so heartbreakingly miserable!


Grocery Day Adventures

N, 2 months

One day a month, I drive about an hour to the nearest commissary, shop for all my non-perishables and whatever organic frozen goods I can find, and then I only have to buy my produce once a week. Today was that day. I should mention I have never done this trip with 4 little children in tow. 3, but not 4. So, since I require 2 grocery carts anyway--I mean I buy 20 boxes of cereal alone--I came up with this great plan for how to deal with the children. 30 minutes prior to leaving, my plan failed when my help called in sick.

But, I am a military mom, and flexibility is my middle name. So, I packed the diaper bag, prepared the bottles, and loaded all the kids. Everyone seemed to be over the colds except A, so I managed to get him to take an early nap to help him be happy for the trip. Sound good? Riiiigghht!

First, I get caught in a road construction in rush hour traffic. No problem, I packed plenty of snacks for the kids. Then, the construction sends me on a detour, right into the absolute worst part of a large city. So, by now, my blood pressure is increasing a little. Then, it happens.

I hear the horrendous "choke, gag, cough, cry" and know that I will turn my head to find vomit in the back of my van. Sure enough, M lost her breakfast. But, even in crisis like this, God provides. I immediately see a semi-safe looking gas station, pull in, and run around to tend to my screaming child. She caught most of it in her lap, which protected my freshly cleaned van upholstery. There "happened" to be 2 large bibs from a previous day sitting in front of her, so I grabbed those and started cleaning up. JR, meanwhile, is complaining of the obnoxious stench now permeating the back seat of the van. Then I remembered having given my portable wipes to JR the day before. They were sitting nearby, so I grabbed them and finished the clean up. M was pretty nasty, though. Thank God, I had had the foresight a while back to pack spare clothing in the van. So I grabbed her spare outfit and changed her, calmed her down, buckled her up, gave her a bag to hold (just in case), and off we went.

Now, any normal mother in her right mind would probably have turned around and gone home by now, but I am far too stubborn for that! I finally get back onto the freeway. About 10 minutes before arriving at the commissary, I hear the "gag, cough, choke, cry" once again. I yell at her to grab her bag! Once again, I pull into the nearest gas station, and clean her up. Wouldn't you know that my spare outfit I had already put on her was a windbreaker, meaning, very easy to just wipe off! (Thank you God, once again).

We finally arrived at our destination, and I am happy to report, we had a very successful grocery shopping trip, and returned home without further incident. I was reminded once again, however, that even at a time that could easily be frustrating and stressful beyond belief, God provides! I mean, there were no potty accidents or broken bones, right?! And, more importantly, I had all the supplies I needed, when I needed them.


Growing Up

Our kids are growing up all too quickly. As if I needed the reminder, JR walked up to me this afternoon and said, "Look, Mom, I'm getting hairs in my nose like Daddy! Can you see them?"


Mission Accomplished!

I must say, I have surprised even myself today! As you know (see previous post), we started out pretty rough this morning, but I have managed to update my budget, do school with JR, take the kids for a walk to the bank, help M work on her computer phonics, vacuum and mop, get my kitchen clean, do 3 loads of laundry, tidy up most areas of the house, have Bible reading time with the kids, read my Bible, and even taken a quick nap to make up for my lack of sleep last night! I cannot explain to you the sense of accomplishment I feel right now. I have accomplished everything on my list of daily chores, and most major items on my schedule. I would never have guessed today would have turned out so wonderfully. As tired as I was, I was dreading waking up tomorrow, far behind in my "to do list." But, today is a perfect example of and a testimony to God's rich blessing. He promises to give strength when we need it most, and He can always be counted on. Trivial as it may seem, any wife/mom knows the emotional relief felt by knowing you have accomplished tasks that will benefit your family, set an example for your children, and please your husband. Thanks to the strength and focus that God has provided me today, I know I will be able to go to bed tonight, fulfilled and encouraged, rather than dismayed and regretful.

Now, as scheduled, I am going to take the kids outside to check on our strawberries and water the other plants. Then I will come back in, start dinner, and bake my loving husband's favorite dessert....homemade cheesecake! What a treat for us all!

Long Night

I wrote about my schedule a while back. After a bit of tweaking, I am doing really well with it. I am accomplishing so much, and it is working out beautifully! My day typcially starts at 6 am (yes you read that right! I am actually up around 6) to feed N. By 7, I am dressed, tidied up my room, made the bed, generally gotten everything ready for the day, and even had some computer time in. On a great morning, I will even get a load of laundry going and have the kids' breakfast ready for them to get up. At 7, I go help all the littles get dressed and going. By 7:30 we are eating breakfast. Sound like smooth mornings? They are... I am loving the way every morning starts out with no rush or stress (even Sundays!)

Not this morning! Last night began on schedule for the most part. S happened to be gone last night, so it was just me. Just in case we were infected with the big "Conficker C" worm that's all over the news, I stayed up a little late backing up files and photos from the hard drive. By the time I got to bed around 10:30, M, who has a cold and doesn't feel well, was crying in her room. Hoping to make the night easier and prevent waking the other kids, I invited her to sleep with me. She was restless from discomfort at first, but I finally drifted off shortly after 11. Then she vomited. All over my bed (her side, fortunately). I learned an important lesson from this event--sick little girls should have their hair pulled back or you will have to wash it! Having long hair myself, you'd think I would know that already. So I cleaned everybody up (or so I thought) and we got back to bed after 12. Around 3, N woke up for his feeding. My up and down disturbed M's sleep, so of course she became restless again. When I got back to bed, I decided to turn off my 6am alarm. I didn't consider the fact that my kids really don't sleep in, despite what their night is like. So, of course, M was awake around 6:15, asking if she could go play. Fortunately, she is obedient, and on instruction, laid down and was surprisingly still until 7 when I could wait no longer to feed N, and the other kids were ready to get up. That is when I discovered that I had vomit on my PJ's still.

On one hand I am thankful I got the extra hour sleep. On the other hand, it was interesting having the comparison with my mornings over the last week. Between the slight rush to get back on schedule for the day, and the fact I am an easily irritated walking zombie, I think I will try to get up at 6 again tomorrow. I definitely prefer the peace and serenity of my morning hour now. One day I hope to be able to commit to my quiet times with the Lord during that hour, rather than later in the day like it currently is. But at this point, I am a bit sluggish during that hour to be ready to commit to it. One step at a time.

The story of the Proverbial Woman (Proverbs 31) is truly my goal on days like this. "She gets up while it is still dark;" (v. 15), "she can laugh at the days to come;" (v. 25), "she speaks with wisdom and faithful instruction on her tongue;" (v. 26), and "she watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness;" (v. 27).

So, lack of sleep or not, I guess it's time to start our day! And a few extra loads of laundry today.