Tuesday, December 22, 2020

2020

 What can be said about this year that hasn't already been said or thought? It hurts my head just to try to form coherent thoughts about this past year. But I'll try to share an update on life because I *do* still think of this wonderful community which was such a large part of my life for years.  At a time of year when we send out letters and Christmas cards- updating friends and family- I want to update you as well.  Here we go.

~ While MANY have suffered so many losses this year, we are thankful to have had consistent employment (for Jamey, I'm still home full time) and good health.  Thanks to masking and distancing, we haven't had as much as a cold.  This is a luxury (the ability to stay distanced and safe) and it is not lost on us.

~ My health has remained stable.  I still get regular scans to check for issues (dissections, aneurysms, etc.) and so far nothing is pressing enough to take action. I'm still on medication, carry emergency meds with me and I rarely (never?) stray out of cell phone range or too far from a hospital.  While this sounds tragic, I'm used to it and am not as fearful as I used to be.  I'm just thankful for every day.

~ We still have chickens- 11 to be exact. In the spring, we welcomed our first goats- two LaMancha does- Dixie and Gypsy.  We were going to breed them this fall but have decided to wait until next spring.  The girls are excited to milk them and make cheese.  They are beautiful, affectionate creatures.

~ We continue to garden.  In fact, this fall Jamey enlarged it in anticipation of stepping up our garden game again after a few years of growing less and supporting friends who have a CSA.  With my parents help (weeding and processing) and the potential for me to help more (as our youngest needs less constant supervision) we look forward to getting back into growing more ourselves.

~ What school looks like for our family continues to change.  Sam is attending his second year at a private school and has college plans for next fall- yes, he will be graduating spring of 2021.  My baby.  Don't get me started.  Sadie is still homeschooling (9th).  Miriam started 6th at the private school this fall.  Because of their small numbers and ability to distance, Sam and Miriam were able to attend in person for most of the fall.  David will head off to the same school for kindergarten next year.  He just turned five. How is that possible? 

This will leave me with only *one* child at home next year.  Tears are welling up as I type this.  It is for the best- for them and for me- and I am SO grateful for all the years of teaching them at home...AND knowing that we can homeschool again if we ever need to.  I am also so incredibly thankful for schooling options and for being able to listen to our kids and my health needs...again, not lost on us.


I have experienced a lot of guilt this year...guilt over so many others experiencing all manner of struggles and losses.  I often feel this but 2020 has bumped it up notch after notch. Don't get me wrong, I thank God for every good thing.  

But I grieve with and for those who have lost loved ones, lost jobs, worry about mortgages, rent, electricity, physical safety...those whose relationships are strained because of the stress of it all, the differences of opinion over politics and COVID precautions and the unknown...those who have been sick, have had to quarantine, are still suffering from symptoms months later...those who are doing online school with their children (and it's not going well), those who are home with their kids (some who may be much more challenging than others) all. the. time...the list goes on and on.  

One of the biggest lessons I learned after my heart attack was the importance of allowing myself to grieve.  We often try so hard to hold it all together- especially for our families.  We want them not to be scared or worried so we put on a brave face. But we forget to let it out and have a good cry in our closet or into our pillow at night.  We just shove it all in and down and this is not healthy.  We need to release it- cry it out, give it to God.  Be thankful in one breath and shed tears with the next. You are not alone. 

Thanks for re-connecting here in this little corner of the internet. I still think of you often and hope, for all our sakes, that this next year will bring a little more stability, less fear, more peace and more hope.

Merry Christmas, dear ones.

Blessings,

Jane














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Thursday, April 11, 2019

An Update: April 2019

(As shared on my blog facebook page...)

Hello, you dear ones who still follow this blogger who hasn't blogged in ages.

I think about writing so very often but I have no idea where to start. A short update here feels like a much more manageable way to share. I'm doing well. It was discovered this past year that my SCAD heart attack was caused by a condition called fibromuscular dysplasia (my arteries are wonky which has and may continue to cause problems). It's been a journey accepting my new reality but I am so thankful for where I am today...I have a brand new perspective on life. I am thankful for every day. Our family is well. We are LOVING having my parents live with us in their own (attached) apartment. Their support and presence has been such a gift. Because of my health issues, we've stopped fostering. This was very difficult for me at first but our family feels complete with four wonderful children who span between learning to drive and learning to use the potty. We still garden a little and enjoy small projects but we also take advantage of our friends' CSA as slowing down a bit is good for me. We're still homeschooling but next year will include our eldest going to private school and our youngest spending a few days a week at a local preschool. When I read back over blog posts I realize that that woman doesn't exist anymore. This is both oddly unsettling and comforting. So much has transpired and while it has included trials it has also been full of so many joys and gifts. I can honestly say that while life is very different now, I would not choose to go back. God is with me and I rest secure in Him. Blessings to each of you as you navigate your own challenges and celebrations. You will always be dear to me. 

Until next time and with love, 
Jane Pin It

Friday, February 2, 2018

A Life-Changing Year

Hi, friends.  I have no idea if any one is out there to read me anymore- I know I've been gone a long time. I've been wanting to share some things with you for quite some time now but before I could get settled in regarding one event, bang! another one would hit and so on.  I think I have it pretty much together (let's just say that I do, anyway) at this point so I'm going to share before the next thing comes along and re-rattles me:-).

This past year has altered my life in several major ways and while I could possibly write a book on each of the major ways, I will instead try to summarize things for you.   Here we go.

1) Remember that sweet little special needs foster baby we brought into our lives almost two years ago?  He's now ours.  The official adoption came through last month just in time for Christmas.  There are so many emotions wrapped up in adoption- I never knew...and I never imagined I'd be experiencing them!  God had other plans as did our hearts.  We are now a family of six.


2) In less than four months, my parents are moving in with us!  This plan has been in the works for years and we are finally in the process of having an addition put on our house that not only gives my parents a full living space but that gives our family some extra bedrooms as well.  We are currently squished into two bedrooms as the two houses are being combined but before long, we will spread out again.  And, boy, are we going to appreciate the extra space.  My parents are still young so we are looking forward to many years of living beside them and caring for them (as I am sure they will continue to care for us).


3) And, finally (and with much trepidation for some reason), I want to share with you that back in October I had a heart attack.  I can hardly believe it as I type it.  I experienced a Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection.  This is not your normal heart attack- in fact, it's quite rare.  Arteries have layers and the inner layer of one of my arteries tore allowing blood to seep into the wall of the artery causing a bulge and a 70% blockage which lead to the heart attack.  I thank God that it happened in the early hours of the morning (it woke me up) while Jamey was still home and did NOT happen in front of my children.

I HIGHLY recommend that everyone carry chewable 81mg baby aspirin with them.  Jamey fed me four of these as we ran red lights on the way to the ER and they greatly reduced the horrible chest pain/squeezing I was experiencing.

My recovery is ongoing but positive.  I'm now on medication and just finished cardiac rehab.  There isn't a lot known about SCAD so I've enrolled in a clinical study to help with research.  Why it happens isn't really known and there is a possibility of recurrence.  I am still wrapping my head around my new normal and would appreciate any prayers you're able to raise on my (and my family's) behalf.

For all of these reasons (and many more that have come into focus through all of this), I thought it time to officially bow out of this site for the time being.  I kind of already have but I wanted to share with you some of the why.  I'm leaving it all here for my own record, for a resource and just in case I one day come back.

Update: The paper copies of my cookbook have sold out. Thank you all for your orders! The digital copy is still available on Amazon.

Blessings to each of you this year.  Love your people and people that aren't your people and make time to take care of yourself.  Our bodies are AMAZING and deserve so much more care than we give them.

Love,
Jane

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Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Encapsulated

I think this is the right word.  If we were playing Taboo or Catch Phrase, I'd say, "It's that thing when you've thrown yourself so far into taking care of a baby or toddler that you kind of forget who you are and when you're apart for a spell you don't quite know how to think or act.  You know, it's when you know you're in there- you're not really lost- you're just surrounded by the you that takes care of the them?"

And you'd yell, "Encapsulated!" and we'd win the game because we're like sisters like that.

I'm not sure what age my youngest becomes when those encapsulating layers peel off, but since my kids are generally about three years apart, I know it happens close to or just about prior to age three.  Or maybe that last layer or two wasn't quite free before the next one came along.  Either way, the me starts to shine through the me-caring-for-them at some stage.  I know it does.  I've caught glimpses of her over the years.  Yes, I have.

It's just amazing how those layers pile back on. They form a nice, thick blanket of wondering if they're eating enough and if they might be teething and what was that thing they just put in their mouth and are they getting enough attention and are we spoiling them and...you know- the constant mom-mantra-thought-stream that runs through our heads.  You know it, right?

The thing is, I feel quite naked without those layers.  I don't think it's because I'm uncomfortable with the me underneath (although when we get get reacquainted each time it takes a bit to fall back in sync).  I think I'm just wired to nurture.  And I recognize that not everyone might be.  It's my experience that it's a gift...and it's a bit of a curse because it can be hard to take care of a person who is surrounded by cushion-y layers of baby-need-thought-sequences.  So, maybe I don't take care of myself as well as I should (eating well, exercising, time for quiet and prayer).  Maybe I don't write as often as I'd like.  Or call up friends as much as they'd like.

So, what do I do about all this?  I need to find a way to burrow a little hole through the layers and into the soft, squishy center inside.  A tiny laundry chute, let's say- where I can pass myself some raw carrots and a walk on the treadmill now and then.  Where I can reach out through to my keyboard and type a quick (likely, oddly written) post about who knows what.

I don't want to become de-encapsulated quite yet.  It's not time.  But that girl in there could sure use some fresh air now and again. Snorkel, anyone?
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Monday, August 7, 2017

Projects Galore


 selling sunflowers (again)- this time to help raise funds toward a short-term medical missions trip

Sadie has taken over chicken duty (all 15 made the photo)

 It worked! Two years after planting three vines, we're harvesting and eating red, seedless grapes (with no spray).

 settling in- the smoke house now has a porch, post and stone foundation, stone step and slide. Because what smoke house is not complete without a slide?

this year's garden- mostly weeds and a few vegetables (with a new gate)

preparing for new siding: tearing down an old, unused chimney 

 slowly turning a multi-use barn into a buggy shed (for cars)

assembled hand-me-down trampoline 

the last two weeks of summer- finally some time to start quilting it

constructing a "Children's Zoo"- very important work, indeed
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Monday, July 24, 2017

Outside Play

written this spring

blogger friend of mine recently shared this article from Huffington Post.  The author, a pediatric occupational therapist, recommends kids play outside at least three hours a day- and this shouldn't include organized sports.

I couldn't agree more but it's taken me more than a few years to get here.  When my older kids were pre-school and young school-age, I was kind-of a nervous mom (I can hear Jamey saying sarcastically, "Kind of?").  I didn't want them to eat too much dirt, fall on rusty nails, climb too high in the trees, etc.  Plus, I wasn't content to just be outside, so I'd start a project like weeding and then get frustrated when they'd wander out of my line of vision and I had to stop what I was doing and follow them.

Fast forward ten years.  My kids are older so they generally know how much dirt is okay to eat (wink) and they're the ones pounding in the rusty nails with hammers.  As far as climbing trees goes...well, that's a story for another time.

One aspect of this outside play that I wasn't willing to relinquish back then that I see so much value in now is our time apart.  As a homeschooling family, we're together a lot.  When they enter their own world of play outside while I'm inside, we all get a nice break from each other.  They're free to argue, discuss, make semi-unsafe plans (then rule them out on their own, hopefully) without a mother cringing (and maybe intervening) from the next room.  And for me, I get time to think.

Another thing I've learned?  Those weeds aren't the end of the world.  When the toddler who's with us now starts saying, "peep peep peep" inside, it's his way of asking to go outside.  He's giddy with excitement as I put on his socks and shoes and we head out the door.  He makes a bee-line for the chicks and pokes his little finger through the chicken wire of their cage, petting them with his finger tips until they scurry away.


Then he makes his way into the shed that houses the mower and climbs onto the seat, wrestling the ear protection off the steering wheel and placing them on his little head, grabbing the wheel and rocking, willing the mower to start (he's had a ride and now he's obsessed).  Following this little guy around outside is such a joy.  I (usually) don't notice the weeds and instead I can actually see the world through his wide eyes. For a while yet, he'll need a grown up to help him navigate it but hopefully one day, he'll relish spending time outdoors- away from grown-ups, creating his own pretend world of play, too.

"There’s so much value in kids creating play schemes on their own. Kids who are always told how to play have trouble thinking outside the box, and even answering freeform essay questions. Plus, true outdoor free play is like cross training, with the climbing, spinning, going upside down, and the like that adults don’t encourage but that are so valuable for their development." - from the author of the article, Angela Hanscon

So, nervous mamas out there, I feel you.  Take a deep breath and take just one or two steps back. There's the reward of freedom in it for both you and your kids if you're able to let go just a bit.  And there's joy in being given a tour of their newly fixed up hog-shed turned club house...complete with art on the walls, flowers, furniture they nailed together, a caterpillar habitat, a play-area for the toddler, and a floor that may or may not be swept cleaner than my kitchen floor inside.

Maybe four hours a day should be the new recommendation? Pin It

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Fits and Starts and Moving a Building

It's been months since I've written here.  I still think of things I want to share all the time but not having the time and brainpower to make it happen trips me up and my intentions are abandoned almost immediately.  But writing is good for me even if I can't share all that I hope to so I'm going to try to ease myself back into things.  Bear with me, please.

We have a couple big projects going on around here all in anticipation of an even bigger project which at some point I hope to share a little bit about.  One of our pre-project projects (got that?) required us to move our smoke house to another location on our property.  This used to be a hog farm many, many years ago and the smoke house was used to smoke the pork as well as other meats, I imagine.  When we moved here (about 13 years ago), we replaced the floor and turned it into our attic since there is not a good way to access our actual attic. Unfortunately, we've never used it as an smoke house.


In order to move it, Jamey used car jacks to raise the building and created a frame underneath it which the building was then attached to.  This frame extended out the front and additional braces were put in place to allow the smoke house to be pulled when rollers were placed underneath.


We hoped the smoke house wouldn't come apart in the process.  A friend and neighbor came over with his front end loader (I think that's what it's called) and with the help of another neighbor (who helped move rollers), the building was rolled halfway to its new home.  At this point, it came off its rollers but was able to be turned and pushed (bucket against frame) into position.




We think it looks awfully sweet in its new spot. Since then, Jamey has jacked it up again, set it on proper posts and laid a dry stone skirt with some of the stones from its original foundation.  He's also started on its front porch.  For now, it's still our attic but one day we hope to move the stuff out and add a couple windows.  Our girls have dreams of turning it into a one room school house.


Summer Activity Idea for Kids:  Move an old building on your property and let your kids dig underneath.  It provides hours of entertainment as they unearth broken pottery, a few coins, lots of broken glass (which, thankfully isn't very sharp any more), and old bottles.  We even found a porcelain doll leg and a round glass (ACME Nursing) baby bottle.  Summer boredom, be gone!  Well, at least for a few days until there's no more to dig up.


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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Giving of Ourselves: Nena

There is SO much about this story that I love- women working side by side, women lifting each other up, recycling, repurposing, and their beautiful handiwork puts the icing on the cake!

Let me introduce you to an inspiring woman named Nena. Nena is a reader of this blog who lovingly shared her story with me and now I want her to share it with you.  Here she is....

I was born and raised in Greece, graduating from Katerini High School. I moved to Boston, Massachusetts where I graduated from Emmanuel College with B.A in French Literature. I also attended Boston College where I did graduate studies in French Literature and University of Massachusetts, Boston where I completed a masters degree in ESL. I was a Boston Public School teacher for twenty one years and traveled in the United States which I love so much. 


Nena and her husband

Thirty years after living in Boston I moved back to Greece with my husband to help the area where we were born and raised. We got involved with economic and educational development projects. 




Living here I noticed how high the unemployment rate is for women and I decided to help single moms and unemployed women to create products they love to make and market them so they can help their families financially.My goal is to empower these women to feel confident about themselves and their products.


Nena's lovely sister

One of these women happens to be my unemployed sister. She had a very difficult time accepting her new condition and she was so stressed out that she became ill for some time. Through the company of some other women, getting together with them, she decided to use her creativity in a new way and began producing rugs and small bags out of discarded fabric and old clothes.The more her creativity increased the better she felt and her health improved tremendously. Her products became gifts for friends and their friends. When I saw the interest for her creations I developed a website where people can browse and enjoy her work as well as getting products for themselves. Creative people who like to hand make their own rugs are welcomed to follow the video where they can reproduce step by step the whole process.  I also include a blog where I post the latest news from Katerini. Greece.

Okay, friends.  Jane here again.  I can't wait for you to see more of what these women create.  AND, before the idea of purchasing items from Greece scares you off because of potential shipping costs, know that the prices on their website INCLUDE shipping to the U.S. and are beyond reasonable.  Click here to go visit.

Nena graciously sent me a few samples of their work as a gift.  I was so thrilled with their products that I placed an order of items to give away as gifts and I was equally pleased with the quality of what I purchased.  Below are some of these items and others are on their website.


Being the amazing readers that you are, I welcome you to shop from these beautiful women and leave them words of blessing and encouragement in the comments below.

Thank you, Nena, for introducing us to yourself, your friends and your beautiful products!
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Thursday, April 27, 2017

Free Bees

Did I tell you that all five of our colonies died this winter?  That seems to be our pattern- one year several overwinter and make it to spring and the next year, they're all wiped out.  This year, we think we know what happened.  Last spring, we were busy caring for a little baby so we didn't manage the hives as we should've.  They grew too crowded so they raised more queens and swarm after swarm left our bee yard.  We were able to catch a couple of those swarms but mostly this meant that their numbers were depleted so they didn't go into the fall and winter as strong as they should have.  That's our guess anyway.

It wasn't for lack of honey.  Out of those five hives we harvested over 8 gallons of honey in February (we sold most of it).


 



We were discouraged at the loss of bees and vowed to skip beekeeping for a year.  But then Jamey got the itch and put our name on a waiting list for a new package this spring (they run $130 a piece in our area).

But lo and behold, he got a call from a friend who had a swarm in one of his trees.  Jamey happened to be off work so he ran over and knocked the ball of bees into a small hive box (a nuc) and brought them home.  He then transferred them to one of our hives and we crossed our fingers hoping they'd like their new home and stay.

 unloading bees from the car (only a few escaped on the way home)

The bees had already started clinging to the bars of empty comb in the box so it was a matter of transferring them into the full size hive.


Instead of using smoke, he used a sugar syrup sprayed on the bees- this occupies them as they clean it off themselves and discourages flying off (as does plugging up the entrance with grass).

 Dumping in the remaining bees- if the queen is in the hive, they want to stay with her.

Not only did they stay but a couple days later when Jamey was checking on them, he noticed that another swarm (from who knows where) discovered one of our other empty hives and moved in!

Suffice to say, we didn't buy that package.  And now we're headed into the summer with two healthy colonies already filling their hives with nectar and brood.  What a gift.

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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Oh, How Far We've Come

I felt so much gratitude this morning in what might seem to be such a normal, routine event.  Our little foster boy was sitting, reclined on my lap drinking his first sippy cup of formula of the day.  We recently switched to a new spout and he was intrigued.  He'd take a few gulps, stop and breath due to a stuffy nose, look at the new spout and grin at it, then latch on for another few gulps.  Smiling at his milk is HUGE for this little guy and in that moment I was overwhelmed with how far we've come.

Almost 16 months ago, at about two in the afternoon, I received a call from social services.  There was a preemie baby boy in the hospital, ready for discharge who needed a home.  He was not eating well on his own so he had a gastronomy tube placed in his little tummy a few days before.  "We need you to get him well," is what the social worker said.

In the days and weeks and months that followed, we spent countless hours trying to encourage this little guy to eat.  He did not like his bottle at all- sometimes even putting himself to sleep (a defense mechanism) to avoid it- waking himself up minutes later after the bottle was put away.  So most of his formula went in via the feeding tube.  It took an hour.  Every three hours.  Even through the night.

It took months and months for me to release control of his eating.  I wanted to make him well. Right then.  It was not in his timing, however, so we had to learn patience and to let him lead.  Slowly (painfully slowly) he began to eat more and more- often in increments of milliliters.  Later than normal (due to his issues), we introduced solids and that went slowly as well (he easily gagged and choked).  It seemed as if we'd never "get him well".

Fast forward to today.  Not only is he smiling at his sippy cup, he rarely gags on his solids anymore.  In six days, we've been given permission by his specialist to stop the night-time tube feeds (we were able to drop the day-time feeds months ago).  If he does well and maintains (and gains) weight, we could be looking at removing the g-tube for good.  Tears come at the thought.

So my thankfulness overflows.  Not just from the fact that he's made such strides but in remembering all the people who've helped us- making it possible for us to take care of him.  I think of all the meals our church and close friends brought to us. I think of neighbors who came and held him daily so I could take a shower or do some laundry.  I think of other friends who drove us to the children's hospital weekly for months because I was worried that I was too sleep-deprived to stay awake behind the wheel.  I think of those who watched and cared for our three kids while I went to SO many doctors appointments and family visits.  I think of his home health nurse who came every week to check on him and encourage us.  I think of our two doctor friends who made house calls or let us run him over to their home when we had more urgent questions and concerns.  And all the prayers- so many people prayed for us.

Not everyone is called to foster but those of us who are can't do it alone.  Today I thank God for His protection, guidance and healing.  And I thank Him for prompting the hearts and minds of our friends and family who reached out to lend a hand, an ear and loving arms.

To God be the glory.


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Friday, February 24, 2017

Projects & Buried Treasure

Warm days have lured us outside.  What a gift! The girls have been very busy re-establishing their outdoor world of houses (in trees and on the ground), a bakery, play fire pit, hideout as well as new and improved baby transportation.













We've been working inside for some better mudroom organization.  Jamey built and I painted.  Using plywood for much of it kept costs down and cheap storage bins hide the hats, gloves and bike helmets.


For Christmas, we gave Sam a metal detector.  He can't go a couple feet on our property without finding metal but most of his finds have been nails, stakes, a few wheat pennies and plenty of canslaw (detector-speak for shredded cans and metal).  BUT a couple weeks ago, not a few yards from our back porch, he unearthed this:


Makes sense since it is thought that our house was built in the 1890's.  I've hinted that my birthday is coming up and I could really use an antique ruby necklace or some Confederate gold.  He said he'd see what he can do.
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