Thursday, March 31, 2016

Rabbits R' Us

We began our adventures with rabbits last year on Charity's birthday.  I convinced Techno to allow me to get a 'free' rabbit and cage for Charity for her gift. She'd be thrilled to have a bunny AND it could become her 4H project.

The day she opened her 'gift'.


A short time later, the same people who gave us Orchid (Charity's birthday present) texted and asked if we'd be interested in ANOTHER free rabbit and cage as they had one returned that needed a home.  Since Trinity wanted to ALSO show rabbits for 4H, Techno once again agreed -- (I don't think it hurt that the rabbits were coming from the daughter of his childhood friend, either.)
Charlie joined our family.  A min-lop.
Don't let the name fool ya.
She's anything but 'mini'.






So, now we had 2 does.



Orchid - a white New Zealand and Charlie - a black Mini-Lop.
Charlie and Orchid before we built the rabbit hutch
around their cages.

















Not long after, Orchid had ....................     babies.

11 of them.
The babies right after we gathered them all up
from around the cage.  We didn't have a nesting
box in her cage --
you know, b/c we didn't know
she was pregnant.





Unexpectedly.

As we didn't know she was bred.

After bringing them in and warming them up a couple nights.
Orchid was feeding them, but wouldn't keep them covered.















We managed to keep several of them alive for a few days, but ultimately, Orchid wasn't a great mama and she kept uncovering them and eventually froze them to death as a cold spurt hit right after they were born.

Sad.

The small amount of fur she pulled to warm them.










A short time later, ANOTHER 'free' rabbit came available.


We had realized that Orchid was not really a 'show rabbit' and therefore we were back to only 1 rabbit for 2 girls to use for 4H.

For those unfamiliar w/rules regarding showing animals -- that's not allowed.

So.... yes, he agreed to us getting yet another bunny.





This one was young.  Just 8 weeks old.  A male Holland Lop.

The night we picked him up.  So cute and tiny and calm.
She loves her little guy.





















A buck.  Simba (according to his pedigree) or Lucas according to our family.  The name chosen before we even picked him up.  (As newbies to rabbits, we didn't know the breeder named the rabbit and put said name on his pedigree paperwork. Go figure.)

Just look at that precious little face.
He was a cutie pie.  Too small to put outside in the outdoor rabbit hutch with the other 2 rabbits, so his cage was placed on the back porch until he got older and the weather got warmer.

He's still there.  LOL!

As many may have read, we lost Orchid in late February/early March while Techno was out of town. We had a little 'bunny burial' in our side yard. We are once again down to 2 rabbits.  Which works for 4H fair, but not so much for our plan to raise meat rabbits.

Orchid's final resting place.
Lucas is also proving to be a bit more 'difficult' than we expected.  He's not demonstrating a very 'show worthy' personality.

Sweet?  Yes.

Feisty?  Beyond measure.

We are continuing to try to work with him, but he's a little scary when  he bites and digs.  Guess time will tell if he's going to do well at fair or not.

Lucas now - he's quite a bit bigger and a whole lot more spirited than he was initially.
(Don't mind the messy cage - it was due for a cleaning)
In the meantime, I've been searching for a Silver Fox trio to purchase to re-start our endeavors in meat rabbit breeding.

I found 1 doe rabbit, but the seller was near Denver.  It would then be months before we could potentially get an unrelated buck to breed with her.  We decided to wait and see.  I found another breeder in Fort Collins, but they had a wait list till mid summer at the earliest.  Not so useful for fair THIS year.  But... I thought that's what we were going to have to do..........WAIT!

I continued to check Craigslist and the other 'farm animal' pages for rabbits and goats.

I found another breeder of Silver Fox rabbits.  Again, near Denver.

She had a trio available.  2 unrelated does and an unrelated buck.  The buck and 1 doe are proven breeders (meaning they've had kits before successfully). This breeder had high standards.  The rabbits are handled regularly by small children.  (Translated:  They might be successful for showing at fair).  AND.... they'd be available right away making them good prospects for rabbit projects THIS year.

A. Perfect. Match!

E-X-C-I-T-E-M-E-N-T!!!!!

Now.... to convince Techno we need THREE more rabbits to add to our growing mini-mountain-menagerie.

What are the odds I'll succeed?

Guess you'll have to come back and check future posts to see if we get this wonderful trio of Silver Fox Rabbits.

To Be Continued!








Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Growing Chicks

It's amazing how quickly the chicks are changing.

When we brought them home they were little puffs of fluff.

Now?

Well, they are still puffs of fluff, but they are growing their little wings.  Some even have the beginnings of their tail feathers.

You can see wings on these 2 in the front.
Stunning to watch how quickly they change.

They know to scratch and peck the ground as if foraging for food.  They know to 'gargle' their water and eat some grit to help digest their food.  They know to go to under the heat lamp when they get cold.  Or to move away from it if too hot.

Eating from their food bin.
(You can really see the wing on the one chick)
Pecking and scratching --
they LOVE the green door






















It's really quite astounding.

No mama hen teaching them.  Just instincts.

God given instincts of how to survive in this new world they were thrust into.











I love to watch the kids excitement as they spend time each day holding and loving on these cute little chickies.

They might be tiny, but they
are quick.  The girls get nervous
about dropping them.
She wants the chicks to love her --
she sure loves them.
We only have one like this.
A Columbian Wyondotte.
Special friends.  Special bond.
















Elijah has the touch with this little one.
My favorite right now - a Dark Brahma.

Silas continues to monitor their progress from the foosball table as well.  He consistently attempts to sneak into the back porch every chance he gets.  Once he actually managed to join us when the girls left their door ajar as we were 'visiting' with the chicks.

Fortunately, we were all there and we whisked him right back out almost immediately.  No harm, no foul.  (Pun again, intended)

Each day is fun and exciting so far. I hope the kids continue to feel this way as these little puffs turn into actual 'chickens'. From what I hear teenage chickens aren't so cute and cuddly.  LOL!

Hmmm... sounds similar to the human variety.  (Just kidding)

Still super cute and cuddly.
 A couple barely have their little wings - although most are getting a nice little wing span.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Chasing Highs, Treating Lows -- a LONG Night

Type 1 diabetes definitely keeps ya hopping.

Lately, overnight numbers for the girls have been pretty decent.  In the last several nights Trinity has had a few 'highs' that we were able to correct and get to a reasonable number easily and Selah's numbers and graphs have looked awesome.  Nice, steady, even for the most part.

Until....... last night.

Nothing new, nothing different in terms of foods and insulin/carb ratios and yet..... a HUGE difference in their numbers.

This..... this is diabetes.  This is why living with this disease is so challenging.  You just don't know from day to day what this beast will bring.

As they prepared for bed, we had them both check their BG - blood glucose level.  A normal occurrence.

Trinity was rising toward the 300's.  Sigh.  Why oh why?  We had dosed for all her dinner foods. They were foods she eats on a regular basis and the carbs easily accounted for - nothing new to throw us off.  We typed in the number in her pump and gave the correction it stated.  Since she still had insulin on board from her meal, the correction wasn't as big as it would be 'just' for the high blood sugar number.  Now, all we could do was wait and see if it did the trick.

When this happens you always wonder, is the pump site effective?  Is she actually getting the insulin we are dispensing? Is the insulin working?  Did it get too hot?  Unfortunately, there's no way to know except. to. wait.  Synthetic insulin works slower than the insulin our bodies make. So... it could be 2 hours before that insulin we gave her to correct that high blood sugar would peak and start having a real effect on her high number.

Then Selah.  A different scenario played out with her.  She was 55 at her bedtime check.  WAY TOO LOW!  That was AFTER she had had a juice 30+ minutes prior for an 107 double arrow down reading on her dexcom.  Again, same foods, same insulin/carb ratios and for some reason, her body decided to plummet whereas Trinity's decided to soar.

It can be maddening.

She had just finished eating a decent sized meal a short time earlier and then had a juice box to bring up the low we knew was coming on.  (Which, unfortunately, hadn't worked quite as well as planned.)

Her. Little. Belly. Was. Full!

She didn't want anything else to eat or drink.

As a type 1 diabetic, that wasn't an option. She needed fast acting carbs to bring that low blood sugar up to a reasonable range before she could go to bed.

She didn't want another juice; couldn't fathom eating candy.  We settled on a tablespoon of honey.  Yep, you read that right, "a spoonful of honey helps the medicine go down."  Oh wait, that's a little different.  Anyway, she ate the honey and then we waited................  again.

We snuggled her up on the couch and we set a timer.

Wait.

She looked ok.  She wasn't drooping.  She wasn't shaking.  She just sat, playing mom's phone, waiting for the honey to make it's way through her slight body to bring up that low blood sugar.

It was slow working, but... it did work.  She was coming up a tiny bit at each check.  Ten to fifteen minutes in - she was around 60.  Moving in the right direction.  Ten more minutes, 66.  Still heading up so we continued to wait.  No more carbs as we didn't want to then be chasing a rebound high from too many fast acting carbs from fighting the low.

Such is the tightrope walk of living with type 1 diabetes.

Finally, after a good 30+ minutes she was in the 90's with an arrow up.  Phew.

Now we could let her go to bed.  Off she went and we continued to watch her Dexcom from our phones.  107 - arrow straight up.  Would she slow down? Would we need to correct now with insulin to keep her from going too high?

Nights like this are hard.  Decisions are tough to make.  Make the wrong one and you fight blood sugars going the wrong way - either way.

Unfortunately, this wasn't the end of our blood sugar woes for the evening.

Techno and I went to bed but Trinity was still in the high 200's.  Yet, it hadn't been 3 hours since her correction.  The insulin could still be slowly working in her little body.  A little sleep then check again.

Her alarm went off a few times as her numbers were NOT coming down.  Finally, around midnight, I got up and gave her yet another correction.  This always makes me scared.  Do I do what the pump says?  Do I give a little less to prevent a low?  What if I give less and she doesn't come down? What if I give the full amount and she plummets to a severe low?  I really dislike these moments.  My heart pounds, my mind swirls, my palms sweat.  What IS the right decision?  I never really know.  Last night?  Last night I decided to err on the side of caution and gave a little less.  She still had some insulin on board from her dinner and correction earlier -- I was surprised to see that.  I think that's what made my decision to go with less.

Back to bed.  Fortunately, she didn't even know I had been there.  She snoozed right through it all.

A short time later, more alarms.  Trinity's phone had stopped connecting to her dexcom and we were no longer getting her blood glucose readings.  That's NOT good after giving a correction. We want to be sure she's not going too low, be sure the insulin is working and actually bringing her BG down.

So.......

Up again.  Padding down the hall, I hoped it was just her phone and not a gap with her dexcom. That DOES happen. Technology isn't perfect.  Fortunately, it was her phone.  A quick reset and a short time later -- numbers appeared on my phone once again.  Relief.

Back to bed.  Again, she didn't wake at all. Thankful for that.

A short time later, Techno's low blood sugar alarms chimed.  A shake of his shoulders and he's awake to deal with his own low.

Trinity's numbers didn't come down as much or as quickly as I'd hoped, but they were trending in the right direction or at least staying stable.  Fear often keeps me from giving more corrections even when I probably should.

Finally, around 3 or so, Trinity's numbers were falling below the 200 line.

Sleep - my sleep - finally came at that point.

Techno got up early for work and Trinity had bounced back above the 200 mark so he gave yet another correction.  I didn't even hear his alarm, her alarm, him get out of bed.  Tired.

Now, it's morning.  6:40 am.  I heard the kids moving about.  I realized Techno was up and gone.  I decided it was time for me to get up too.  Even though my body didn't feel rested.  My mind still foggy and groggy.  After 20 minutes of stirring, I finally got myself out of bed.  7am.

I see the jump in Trinity's graph. I figured Techno corrected as now she's ZOOMING downward.

She decided to make her siblings a 'special' breakfast so she hadn't eaten yet this morning.  I asked her what her dexcom read - 66.  To be certain, she did a finger stick and checked with her blood glucose meter.  56.

"Grab a juice."

You guessed it, now. we. wait.

Again.

It didn't take long and her blood sugars were coming up. She finished making her little meal for her sisters and herself. They ate.  We gave she and Selah insulin for the fruit salad.

And once again, we'll ..... WAIT.... and see how their numbers go today.

It's not easy being a pancreas.  We use scientific calculations to try to dose correctly,  to try to find the right balance in the carb to insulin ratio.  We rely on figures that tell us exactly how many carbs are in any given morsel of food.  We weigh, measure, and guess just how much they are eating of said food.  We attempt to figure out how much to correct for highs and lows, but.... we aren't the pancreas God created to manage these things.  We can only do what science has discovered -- which is by far inferior to the 'real deal' that God created.

Until a cure is found, however, we'll continue to strive to be the best pancreases we can be for our little girls.  Even when it means sleepless nights, tired mornings, spoonfuls of honey, correction after correction of insulin only to be followed by a juice box because we corrected a little too much.  I'm honored to be a substitute pancreas for our little girls.  I'll continue to strive to be a good surrogate for their non-working pancreases - relying on God's guidance as I do.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Baby Chicks

We picked up our chicks and brought them home to our 'fancy, smancy brooder.'  It was preheated and ready for their arrival.

Food?  Check.

Water?  Check.

Paper towels to cover the bottom?  Check.

Heat lamp?  Check.

Thermometer?  Check.

As we brought the chicks in, I checked the temp inside the brooder. Woa!  It was hovering around 120 degrees.  YIKES!  I took the lid off and moved the lamp while we set up the bar along the side of the brooder to raise the lamp just a touch.

Once we had the lamp a little higher and the temp a little lower, we plopped them gently into their new habitat through the little door we had made.  With each new chick, I dipped their tiny beaks into their waterer so they'd know right where it was located.  After releasing them, each chick immediately went to the light and huddled together.

Cute, cuddly, cold chicks.
I guess that made sense as they had been in a cool box the 45+ minute ride home. They needed to warm up.

We watched the as they shivered and huddled.

A short time later we returned to check on them. They were finally dispersing and drinking and even eating.  Eureka! We had successfully transferred our new baby chicks to their new chickie home.

Starting to disperse just a bit.
No longer huddled in one big heap.




Phew.

I checked their temperature a couple times before bed.  It was hovering around 90-95 and they all seemed happy.  Eating, drinking, sleeping. Not overly clumped as if too cold; not plastered against the sides as if trying desperately not to become roasted chicken.



Even venturing out to eat and drink a bit.
Perfect.


The Next morning I checked again.  All looked good.  Little chickie poo on the paper towels, temperature steady, chickens happily eating, drinking, sleeping.

By that night they continued to flourish in their new little habitat.  I had noted a couple had poo that looked like it was trying to 'stick' to their bum feathers.  But... otherwise.... all was well.

The next morning as I changed their paper towels, checked their food, and refreshed their water, I noticed the bums on several little chicks were looking crusty.  Like the poop wasn't dropping off, but sticking there and building up.  A little research showed this to be 'pasty butt'.  I texted my resident chicken expert friend and she told me to simply 'pull it off'.  Use a damp cloth if necessary, but get it off.  That's pretty much what I had read too, but... wanted to confirm b/c it all seemed pretty 'stuck on'. I didn't want to harm our little chicks.

However, if I left it, they'd no longer be able to excrete their waste. THAT wouldn't be good.

So.... that's just what I did.  I got warm, wet paper towels, picked up one chick at a time to determine if their little bums were effected and began washing their little tushes.

Yep, you read that right.  I was washing little chicken butts this morning.

I gently moistened and pulled off the dried on poo and placed them back under their heat lamp after dipping their little beaks back in the water dish.  They need to know where that water is so they can stay hydrated. Especially after being stressed by my 'handling and washing.'  Poor little things.

Upon finishing this tedious task, I walked out of the back porch to find Silas - our cat - perched on the foosball table in Elijah's room.  The perfect roost - pun intended.  This spot has a window behind it looking out into the back porch..... where the chicks are located.  I think this is going to become his favorite location in the house until these chicks are eventually moved outside.

The perfect view of the chicks! Fortunately, they are perfectly safe with the window b/w them and the cat.
Ironically, the chicks are right beside the bunny, Lucas but Silas has not found him quite so interesting.  He's actually been a bit afraid of him. LOL!  The chicks?  Not so scary.  Conversely, I think they look quite tasty to him.





Monday, March 21, 2016

Dishes and Bubbles

Striving to teach the girls responsibility, they have taken over the chore of morning dishes as well as cleaning of the table, chairs, and counters.

They have developed their own 'schedule' for splitting up these chores.  I don't intervene unless someone is choosing to not 'do their part'.

In general the girls enjoy this task.

You know... soap, bubbles, water.  What's not to like?

I can't say the chore is accomplished quickly.

I can't say the dishes are always spotless.

I can't say they are put in the drain in a fashion to actually dry.

But... I can say the girls generally tackle their task with gusto.

They usually collaborate on this chore in a positive manner.

Giggles and laughter are often heard.

Today was no exception.

Fun was being had as a new discovering was unearthed.

BUBBLES!

Big bubbles like you get when you 'blow bubbles'.

Strong bubbles that could be 'caught' in precious little hands.

Selah was so excited to show me the bubble she caught.





All caused by dipping a plastic cup into the soapy water and tilting it back up allowing the air to escape through the surface of the water, creating..... B-B-B-BUBBLES!!!!

Charity too wanted to show off her bubble.






(I'm certain there was also a Science lesson hid in there somewhere.)

Even more fun was catching said bubbles in your hand; carrying them to show mom; all while they stayed -- not popping.

What fun.

What joy.

What discovery.

All while doing..... dishes.

Friday, March 18, 2016

1 Year Diaversary Take 1

I had never heard of a 'diaversary'.  Celebrating the day someone was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Techno never celebrated such a day.  I don't even know the date he was diagnosed.  I know how old he was - but not the actual date.

It seemed odd.

Foreign.

Somewhat out of place.

Why would anyone CELEBRATE the day they were diagnosed with this relentless disease?

As I pondered that notion, I realized that without the diagnosis - we would have lost our precious little Selah.  Many families have experienced this devastation.  Misdiagnosis, leading to diabetic ketoacidosis, and eventually death.

So, there's that.

We can celebrate LIFE.

The night we took her to the ER with
blood glucose readings over 600.
Driving the next morning to Denver for our
day long crash course in everything diabetes.
The life we saved by discovering that her immune system had attacked her pancreas resulting in her body no longer producing insulin.  Without that insulin her body could not break down the foods she ate into usable energy.  She was literally starving to death as her blood sugars rose higher and higher.

I decided yes, we will celebrate 'Diaversaries' for that very reason.

There is much to celebrate.

As this first diaversary approached there were many mixed emotions.

It is still difficult to accept that my little girl will have to live with this disease every minute of every day for the rest of her life. There are no 'breaks'.  No remissions.  No vacations.  No time outs.  It's an all or nothing event.  She can't decide 'I don't feel like counting carbs today.'  Or, 'I'm tired of the pokes and pricks, I'll just sit this week out.'

Such decisions will have dire ramifications for her health.

I struggle with all the knowledge I have of the devastation type 1 diabetes can ravish upon it's victims.

At the same time, I am overjoyed that we knew the symptoms; we received the diagnosis; we began the daily regime of insulin that keeps her little body healthy, functioning, alive.

What a difference 6 months can make.
Insulin = life
On this day, we celebrate.
So much life.  So much laughter.  So much love.





We celebrate the victory over the death sentence that could have been.  We celebrate the improved health now that she has the energy she needs from the food she eats.  We celebrate her smile; her laugh; her growth.  We celebrate the triumphs we experience each day as we continue to strive toward keeping her little body healthy and alive.










We celebrate...... SELAH!!!
Pink, full cheeks.  LIFE!  Growth.  Health.


Thursday, March 17, 2016

Driving.... Miss Bethany

Having FINALLY gotten Jacob officially licensed, meant it was now time to start the process all over with Bethany.

Jacob's journey to get his license was a long and drawn out event.  At 15.5 he got his learner's permit and drove a total of ...... 3 times before his permit expired. Sigh.  Upon moving it took us a good year before we renewed his permit.  Once renewed we STILL didn't do a ton of driving with him.  It's just not as convenient when the main road we travel is a 65 mph route.  However, despite our mucked up approach, he did manage to get his license -- at 18 -- and so far is a pretty decent driver.

Did we do it the right way?  Well, not necessarily, but... he's still driving.

Fast forward a bit.

Now, it's Bethany's turn.  She too got her learner's permit when she was around 15.5.  She's now 16.5 and she's driven...... maybe...... 30 minutes total.

It's like deja vu all over again.

This past week she asked to drive on the trip to take her and Elijah to the library for their volunteer work.

I happily obliged.

I was nervous about her backing out of the garage -- you know -- mirrors, the side of the garage, not to mention the other vehicle in the garage parked beside us.

Breathe.

She did it.

Did I mention I always told Techno he should be the one to teach our kids to drive?  He's the patient one.  Me?  Not so much.

Here's several of the comments I made as she drove.  Granted lots of other conversation and dialogue took place; but these stayed with me as I smiled - yes, I did say smiled - upon returning from our driving adventure.

"Remember, our driveway isn't straight back."
"Watch for cars as you back out into the street."
"Yep, that wasn't QUITE the driveway, but now you are ready to go forward."
"It's muddy so move a little toward the center so we don't slide into the snow filled creek."
"As you approach the stop sign, you'll want to slow down."
"Not that much, that soon."
"Now ease up and look for cars."
"Go ahead and turn on to the highway, but remember the speed limit is much faster."
"Be sure to stay in your lane; we're not on the dirt road anymore."
"The speed limit lowers to 30 up ahead, you'll want to start slowing down."
"Not that much, that soon."
(Hmmmm, that sounds familiar.)
"Make sure you turn on the left turn signal to go into the Friendly Store parking lot."
"Yes, push the lever down."
"Ok, turn into the library drive then park in one of the spots."
"Well, that 'invisible' car that could have been parked in that spot is now smashed."
"Diagonal is not quite the same as vertical when it comes to parking."  ;-)
"Now, back out of the spot into the drive then move forward to the road."
"Yeah, putting it in drive after backing up usually helps."  :-)
"Ok, move a bit to center." 
"This is actually a parking berm.  Move to center."
 (as I grab the wheel to guide her over to the left just a bit.)
"What are you doing?  You can't stop in the middle of the road!"
(I guess trying to nudge the steering wheel for her, freaked her out a bit.)
"Now turn into the parking lot."
"Well, that's not quite the parking lot I meant."
(As she zoomed through the Friendly store parking lot and right into the Old Corral lot.)
"Back out, but be sure to watch the pole behind us."
"Good job slowing down and staying over for that truck."
"Ok, just because no cars are coming toward us, doesn't mean you have to go that fast.
This is a residential area, on a dirt road."
(As she zoomed toward 35 mph in our little subdivision)

We all survived.

Elijah expressed his nervousness with some running commentary about Bethany's driving abilities.

Bethany sniped, "Your commentary ISN'T helping."

She did good.

If you take into consideration that the only other times she'd driven was in a parking lot the day she got her permit for about 15-20 minutes and a time or two of driving from the fire dept to our house..... (an approximate 1 mile drive)..... She. Rocked. It.

This is why we TEACH kids to drive.  It's not automatic.

I may have a few more grey hairs, but I got plenty from Jacob as well.  I'll get even more from Elijah.  We won't even mention how many I'll have by the time Selah is ready to get behind the wheel.

So, we're at it again.  Working toward our second licensed teen in the house.

She'll get there.

No rush on our part.  

Even though she'd love to have her license yesterday, we still pretty much all go to the same places, at the same times, together.

I'm happy to hold on to her childhood a tiny bit longer.

This time won't last long.


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Grace in Grieving

As we approach March 19, the emotions of 2015 have been bubbling to the service even more.

It was a tough year -- 2015 -- a really tough year.

Mid-March, Selah was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.  That shook me to the core.  Three weeks later Trinity was also diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.  Numbness was the word I  used to describe my state initially.  My mom was hospitalized with pneumonia the same day Trinity was diagnosed but released 10 days later.  However, a week after that she was rehospitalized and within 2 weeks of that she passed away from end stages of COPD -- a fact none of us kids knew prior to this last hospitalization.

To say I was hit hard, knocked to the ground, and stomped on was an understatement.

As I dealt with the newness of our girls' diagnoses and the overwhelming fear and stress that comes with learning to manage diabetes, I was also thrust into decision maker mode for everything that transpired with my mom.

Her hospitalization, bringing in hospice, and ultimately her death definitely diverted the severe grief I had been harboring since the girls diagnosis.

At the time I thought it was good that I wasn't dwelling on the grief that life's circumstances had thrust upon me.  However, I've come to realize that I wasn't allowing myself to grieve openly.  For either the girls or my mom.  I was in 'action' mode.

Others not living our life couldn't understand the level of grief I was experiencing.  The girls were now 'fine' so what was wrong with me?

I now know I took those comments, those innuendoes to heart and I stifled my own grief.  At least to the outside world.  I did cry. I did recoil.  I tried to write about it, but I never felt loved through it. I tried to put on a 'strong face'.  I tried to push the emotions down when they'd surface.  I didn't know how much that impacted me until later.

Don't get me wrong, Techno loved me through it all.  Our children supported me and helped me cope. A few friends did in fact reach out and try to learn and understand. But, the masses?  I perceived that my grieving was 'out of the norm' from most.

About the same time as my mom's death, we learned Selah also had Hashimoto's Disease and Celiac.   Then by the end of the year we discovered Elijah has Celiac as well.  In addition, he now has to wear a back brace 23 hours a day for Scheurmann's Kyphosis; praying it will help prevent spinal fusion surgery.

I continued to grieve. Slowly. Bitterly.

I came to realize I was angry.

Angry at myself for grieving so much.  So hard.  So long.  When the tears would erupt out of nowhere, I'd lash out at myself wondering why they wouldn't stop.

Angry at others for making me feel like I was wrong to be grieving as much or as long as I was.

Angry that some didn't reach out; didn't lend a shoulder to cry on.

Angry that Techno seemed to be able to move past the grief and I wasn't.

Maybe even angry that it all happened when and how it did.  So fast. So close.

Recently I've learned to give myself grace in grieving.  My grief isn't going to be like someone else's. Just because people think I have cried and it's time to 'pull yourself up' and move on, doesn't mean that's where I was.  Where I am.  Even the experts can't predict how each individual will deal with grief.  How long it will last.  How difficult it will be.  Most people deal with one life altering event at a time and grieve for that ONE event.  I had 3 major life altering events From March 19 through May 15. That's a lot.  Then more life altering news through the remainder of the year trickled in.

Yes, diabetes is a 'manageable' disease.  Yes, the girls look healthy and fine now.  Yes, they are healthier than they were prior to getting them on insulin, but.... they now have a life threatening, incurable, terminal disease.  Each day we fight to keep them alive.  To beat down the beast that is diabetes from winning and stealing their very lives.

Yes, I have assurance I will one day see my mom again.  She is whole in Heaven.  That does give me peace.  It keeps me from being hopeless.  Yet, I miss her so very much NOW.

So, am I grieving still?  Yes, I am.  I'm not sure if I'll ever stop grieving for the girls until a cure is found.  Would someone with any other terminal disease stop grieving while dealing with their disease day in, day out?  Is the grief as raw?  No, not at all.  But... hard days bring that rawness up just a bit.

In realizing I needed to show myself grace in grieving, I realized I also need to strive toward giving grace to those around me who don't understand my grief.

Is that easy?  Not so much.  I struggle with it internally and externally often.

I'm hurt.  When I'm hurt I tend to lash out.

But... that's not helpful.  It's not productive.

I can't say "I'm there" yet. But... I am trying.

I'm trying to remember that those not living this disease have no idea the toil it brings.  They don't see the nightly blood sugar checks as we prick our little girls' fingers to bring forth a tiny drop of blood in the dark of night to be sure they are safe; the high and low alarms going off that bring such an adrenalin rush to a mom and dad's heart; the fear as you walk into their bedroom not sure if they are going to be responsive or not; the half asleep child sitting up and pursing their lips sucking at an invisible straw b/c they know you said, 'drink the juice', but their mouth hasn't actually made contact with said juice yet; they are tired, their blood sugar is low, they aren't 'quite themselves; the look on our little girls' faces as their blood sugar drops from a fun day of swimming; how their little bodies go limp even though their desire is to continue playing and frolicking in the cool water; the panic when a cold or virus hits our family and the girls' blood sugars rise and rise and ketones become present in their urine; the worry that ketoacidosis will ravage their bodies all because a simple cold was brought home from a class, church, or the playground.

I'm trying to show grace because if you don't live this life, you can't understand it.  If you don't live this life, you won't feel the heavy load of bricks resting upon your chest each night as you fall asleep, wondering what tonight will bring.  If you don't live this life, you can't understand how hearing of a new virus being spread around causes heart pounding fear in our minds.  If you don't live this life, you don't know what it's like to always carry 'emergency supplies' everywhere you go.  If you don't live this life, you haven't felt the agony of knowing you must painfully stick a needle into your child's body, just to save them.  If you don't live this life, you can't know that each day we are fighting to keep our girls alive.  A very REAL fight.  A very REAL struggle. But... if you don't live this life, you couldn't know that.

Because I know most don't understand, I'm trying to find ways to be graceful.  I didn't fully understand before our girls' were diagnosed.

I'm also giving myself grace when the tears come.  When the anxiety hits.  There's no time limit on grief.

All that transpired in 2015 hasn't just 'gone away' now that a new year is here.  It's ok if I cry.  It's ok if I hide.  It's ok if I fear.  It's ok if I miss my mom.

Grace.  Grace is helping me emerge from this grief.

God's grace has saved me.  God's grace can get me through this too.  He shows me grace, therefore it only makes sense I show myself that same sort of grace.  It only makes sense I strive to show it to others as well.

Grace.  Simply.... grace.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

DIY Chicken Brooder

We inherited 8 hens in the fall of 2014.  Doesn't seem possible it's been that long, but... I believe it has.  I was so excited when we began our journey with backyard chickens and having our own eggs.  The hens have done pretty well -- laying fairly regularly -- and appearing to be in good health overall.  We did have a couple times of horrible molt -- right as we got them and again this past late summer; lasting well into the late fall.

We've lost 3 of those hens in that time.  The hens escaped the run once when our neighbor was 'chicken sitting' while we were out of town.  He wrangled them up and thought he had secured all of them  back in the run.  When we returned we noticed we only had 7 chickens.  We later found the remains of that 8th chicken near our wooded creek bed.  Yeah, I'm certain she was eaten by a fox or coyote or some other critter.  Then, this past fall, while Techno was away for work in Ohio, raccoons infiltrated our chicken run.  We had gotten 'lazy' in our chicken keeping practices.  Up to that point we had no problems with predators.  The coons dug under our run and killed 2 more of our hens over the course of a couple days as we were trying to shore up the holes they made.

Yes, we learned our lesson and now close up the coop EVERY night AND we made further adaptations to our chicken run to prevent critters from getting in.  So far, it's working, but we're still not taking chances.

So, here we are, current day.  We are down 3 hens. We're only getting 2-3 eggs a day and the kids and I have wanted to get our own chicks for some time. Since we moved here, actually.  :-)

Techno finally agreed. We can replace the hens we lost plus a few extra for good measure.  (Not sure those were his exact words, but....)

To raise these baby chicks, we needed a brooder. Store bought ones can be pricey and the only ones I found nearby were simple cardboard 'rings' of sorts.

I began my search for DIY brooders.

Pinterest is my friend.  (Techno's?  Not so much.)

I found several ideas; read several opinions; went back and forth from a big 'kiddie pool' set up to a rubbermaid bin set up.

I settled on the Rubber Maid bin idea simply because it's more storable for future use and would take up a bit less room than a big 'ol kiddie pool on the back porch while the chicks grow.

Once I had my 'plan' I quickly decided this would make a GREAT 4H project and asked the kids who wanted to help and have it be their poultry project.  Since Trinity didn't yet have a plan for poultry, she won the prize.

First, we started our search for bins.  We wanted clear, but it had to be decent sized.  Finally, at Walmart, we found something we decided we could live with.  We really wanted something bigger so the chicks could 'grow' in it, but ended up just buying two in case we needed to expand over time.

Next, hardware wire.  Easy to pick up at Ace Hardware.

Then the heating lamp.   (We already have the red bulbs from our chickens and rabbits.)

Finally a thermometer.

The rest of the components for constructing our chicken brooder we had at home.  Stapler, wire cutter, a hook and wire to make a latch for our 'door'.  We also picked up a feeder and waterer to add when the brooder is complete.  Paper towels are almost always on hand.
The bin, lid, lamp, wire, thermometer, knife, zip ties (because you just never know), and hooks.  The supplies we bought for our DIY chicken brooder box.

Before we could begin, we needed to clean the bin.  Trinity got right to work on that.

She was so excited about making the brooder, she didn't even mind cleaning.

At last.... We can start construction!!


First we cut a squarish 'hole' out of half of the lid to the container.  This was a bit harder than expected, but not doable.  Simply required a whole lot of elbow grease and time.



The hole and the piece we cut.
Trinity helped with the cutting












Then we cut the hardware wire slightly bigger than said hole.  The easiest step so far.  Just had to watch those sharp edges.
Trinity cutting the hardware wire.


A pretty good fit.












Finally, we stapled taped the wire over the hole in the lid.  (Although I had a stapler, I had NO staples.)  We improvised.  Fortunately I'm the queen of duct tape.  I even had some green on hand to match the lid.  Sorta.  (Not a perfect match, but better than pink polka dots or something.  Maybe that would have been cute???)





Adding the duct tape to secure the wire.




As you can see -- not a 'pretty' opening.  Duct tape added
to keep the chicks from being scraped on the ragged edges.
Next, we cut (or maybe I should say, gauged and tore) 3 sides of a rectangle out of the front of the bin. (A near impossible task that resulted in a less than aesthetic look to our brooder).  Once we had FINALLY managed to cut through the three sides, I began to try to 'bend' the bottom to make a 'hinge' of sorts.  Yeah, it snapped like a twig.  Improvisation to the rescue once again.  Remember that green piece from the lid?  Well, THAT became our new 'door'.  With a little duct tape strategically placed and cut along the bottom, we were able to make a hinged door that opens down.  This will be our avenue for picking up the chicks.  A little research showed that chicks raised where they were picked up from above remained more 'skid-dish' as a hand descending down upon them mimicked that of a large bird of prey swooping down to snatch them up.  We want our chicks to like being handled.  So, a bit more research revealed making a brooder with a door in the front where you reach in from the chicks 'eye level' helps them become more trusting and not fearful.  We decided we had nothing to lose, so we'd give it a shot.  To complete the door, we added a small 'hook' above on the lid.  We covered the inside with a little extra duct tape to keep the chicks from potentially getting poked by the protruding 'screw' from the hook as they get bigger.  Then we duct taped wire to the top two corners of the door; forming an inverted 'V' - almost as if hanging a picture frame.  This wire 'V' then reached up and 'hooked onto' the latch on top of the bin.  Voila - a door that falls down to open, yet is latched closed in it's upright position.

Not perfect, but......
Our door!
Looks better closed than open, but... either way, it works.
We lined the bottom of the bin with shelf paper to keep it from being too slippery.  (Don't want the chicks to get 'spradle foot'.)  Then we added paper towels on top until they get a little bit older and we can replace with pine shavings or other appropriate bedding.

The food tray was put inside along with the waterer - both elevated slightly to keep them fresher and cleaner longer.  We'll add some small decorative glass rocks in the bottom of the waterer to keep those little chicks from drowning.  The thermometer was fastened to the side wall near where the heat lamp will be mounted to monitor the temperature inside the brooder.

It looks so small once everything is put inside.  Guess it's a good thing we bought 2 bins.
Me thinks we'll be making another one of these in the near future.
We'll add a pole on the side of the bin to enable us to raise the lamp as the chicks grow and the temperature inside the brooder needs to be lowered.

We're considering also adding some branch 'roosting' bars along the width of the bin on one side just so those little babies can practice that all important task of roosting.  To do so, we'll cut a couple branches to size then screw them in from the outside or the bin directly into the ends of the branches - securing them nicely.  We'll stagger the heights so the chicks can hop and choose where to roost.

The girls think it would be fun to add a feather duster under the wire opening to mimic that of a mama hen.  If I can find one, I'm game.  We'll simply fasten it to the wire top and hang it down just above the floor of the bin.  Wouldn't it be adorable to see the chicks huddled under a feather duster, keeping warm as they sleep?

The final product, in all it's green glory.

Now all we have to do is wait for our chicks.  Hopefully later this week we'll add them to our little brooder.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Dress-up and Tea Parties

In the last few days the girls have been quite enamored with their dress-up outfits and having tea parties.

Sometimes I heat up water on the stove and they have a 'real mug' of tea.

Other times... they choose to get their little tea sets out; they get hot water from the sink; put a tea bag in their little tea pot; cream in their little creamer container; and splenda and sugar in little sugar bowls.  They sit around the dining room table and serve each other tea.

Precious.

The conversations I hear as they have this little 'tea time' makes me smile.  British accents abound.

Darling

As I glance into their little world I see sweet pinkies outstretched as they lift their tiny tea cups to their lips.

Charming.

Smiles exude as they sip and chat and make up their pretend lives.  Sharing stories and antics as they enjoy their afternoon treat.

Adorable.

Sparkly dresses, shiny shoes, floppy hats, flowing capes, and feathered boas adorn their slight frames.

Delightful.

Even at 7, 8, and 10 they still enjoy this wonderful time of make-believe.  I love that.  They are growing up so fast.  Seeing this innocent act of childhood still present in their lives, makes my momma heart flutter.

I pray they hold on to these precious moments of sharing time with their siblings.

As they grow, it may turn into 'coffee chats' at the local coffee shop, but I hope they still dress up, share stories, laugh, giggle, and even protrude their little fingers as they talk with British accents and share life together.

What memories they are making.

What traditions they are forming.

May they keep them close to their hearts as the years pass.  May they continue to want to spend such time together.  May they always want to chat and giggle with their sisters.

One day, may their own children dress up and have tea parties with their cousins, bringing tears of joy to both their mammas and their grand-mamma.



Friday, March 11, 2016

Calls from Adult Children

As I sat in my chair after lunch, the phone rang.  I expected it to be a telemarketer or maybe a friend who occasionally calls mid-afternoons.

Much to my surprise, the caller ID read "Jacob".

Whenever he calls unexpectedly, I get a little excited and a little anxious at the same time.  I always wonder if he has some exciting news to share or if something tragic has happened.  Funny how our minds work. Once a mom, always a mom - I guess.

The call today was a little different.  He was calling for advice.  Not that he's never done that before, but every time it happens it makes my heart swell.

He had talked to Techno and I over the weekend about possibly changing one of his majors.  He's currently a Chemistry and Chemical Engineering dual major.  But.... as the semesters have rolled along, he's grown less intrigued with the engineering side of things and more enamored with mathematics and statistics.  His love of Chemistry has remained constant.  He's recognized he enjoys the research, the discovery (Chemistry) aspect of it and not as much the tool usage (engineering) aspect of his chosen fields.  He's also ascertained he's got quite a knack and love of numbers (not that we didn't already know that, but thought engineering would apply that love with chemistry to make a perfect marriage).

Not so much.

So, today, he called because he had met with a professor in statistics and mathematics as well as chemistry and a general engineering professor.  Through all the counseling, he had come to the conclusion that maybe chemical engineering wasn't quite 'up his alley'.

However, he knew I was very proud of him for going into Chemical Engineering and he didn't want to disappoint me.

Hence, the call.

As soon as he started talking, I knew he just needed my reassurance that I was still proud of him. That I still supported him 110 percent.  Which... I did.  I do.  I always will.

I affirmed what I'm sure he already knew.  He had thought long and hard about this.  He had researched and sought council.  He had given engineering a shot and it just wasn't measuring up to what he wanted to do in life.  He knew his heart, his desires.  He had calculated how chemistry and engineering differed and what it was about chemistry - the love of discovery - that he so enjoyed.  He. Had. Done. His. Homework.

I gave him my blessing.

I could sense the relief as I told him I thought he was doing the right thing.

Now, he'll begin the process of dropping one of his engineering classes; formally changing his second major from chemical engineering to statistics and adding a third in the math sciences; as well as formulating a new plan for the rest of his college career.

This change may result in a 5th year at UW, but he's already prepared for that.  He would be able to not only accomplish a second and third major in statistics and math, but he'll have the opportunity to fulfill some master's degree level courses in Chemistry as he does so.  He could also - at any time - decide he just wants to get a minor in the math and stats areas and finish on time.  He can do however much or little as he wants.  He could even ditch the whole idea of a second and third major and graduate..... next Spring.

AAAKCKK!!  A part of me - ok a HUGE part of me - really hopes he does NOT lean toward that option.  It's already hard enough to know I only get 5 weeks a year (on the high end) of him being under our roof.  He's applying for summer research internships that will be taking him out of state most summers from here on out.  Sigh.  So... graduating early?  Not on my top 10 list of things I want.

However, I fully recognize, it's not about ME.  It's not about what I want. It's about Jacob -- what he wants, what's best for him.  He'll have to decide what that looks like as he moves along in this journey of life and college.  I trust his judgement -- he's done well so far.

So, we'll wait and see what he decides.

If he chooses to get those extra degrees?  A bonus for Techno and I!!!  We'll have him nearby for a year longer than expected AND he'll be on campus as his younger sister and brother begin their college endeavors.

All around -- WIN -- in my book.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Fried Bologna

At one time, very few people in our household liked bologna as a sandwich meat.  Bethany and I and occasionally Trinity were the only ones.  Jacob would eat it if served, but I think he preferred other options.  Techno, Elijah, Charity, and Selah were downright opposed to the stuff.

I'm not going to get into the healthy or not so healthy benefits of bologna.  People can have their own opinions on that matter and we'll just leave it at that.  LOL!

Recently, on one of our 'outings', we decided to get 'lunch' at Walmart.  That meant picking up Lunchables or other 'finger type foods' to eat in the car rather than stopping at McDonald's for McNuggets and fries. (When you have 2 with Celiac disease, such a stop is no longer practical.)  Lunchable options are also limited for the celiac bunch which led us to look at lunch meat options everyone could share.

Bethany of course chose bologna.   Elijah chose turkey.  We also grabbed string cheese and some crackers - regular and gluten free varieties.  I let the littles pick out the mini-lunchables that only cost a dollar.  Charity and Trinity chose pizza pitas and Selah chose nachos and cheese (one of the few gluten free options).  Bethany and Elijah both opted out on the Lunchable front.

Out we went to the car.  At this point, Selah was NOT filled up after eating her tiny serving of chips so she asked if she could 'try' the round meat.  AKA: Bologna.  Bethany abliged and passed her a piece of the round sandwich meat.    Charity followed suit and tried the 'strange new food' as well.

Upon finishing their first pieces, they asked for another.  And another.  And another.  I was sitting in the front smiling at how many pieces they ended up eating.

The next day they finished off the package for a snack mid-morning.  (This is a bonus as it's a no-carb, free snack for the T1D's in the house.)

Selah then asked me to 'buy more round meat' next time I was at the store.  I happily complied and did so.

Fast forward to today.  It was time for lunch. I wasn't really in the mood to be very creative. I was hungry but didn't know for what.  As I meandered into the kitchen, I saw the 'snack items' the kids had left on the counter.  (Eye roll at the fact it was left on the counter, but.... I digress, that's not the point of this post.)

Bologna.

It sat there staring at me and the memories flooded in.

I knew what I'd make.  I had made it in the past - but not for a long time.  Not even sure the littles have experienced this little gem of a treat.

Fried bologna.

I recall quite vividly my own mom making fried bologna sandwiches. It wasn't a frequent meal, but every once in awhile, she'd break out the frying pan; get the bologna out; plop several pieces in the pan; slice an X down the middle of each piece; turn up the heat; and sizzle away.  After a short while, she'd flip each piece till the other side was nice and brown.  While that was taking place, she'd slather up several pieces of bread with mayonnaise to make our 'fried bologna sandwiches'.  Usually a slice of cheese was added as soon as the bologna hit the bread so the heat from the fresh 'fried' meat could melt it - just a little bit.  I called to mind making a fried bologna sandwich for the first time in my first apartment in college.  Even then, the act of making them brought back those fond childhood memories of mom standing at the stove, frying up this simple, but comforting meal for us kids.

It was always fun to watch as the bologna would 'bubble up' in the middle as it heated up.  Hence the X in the middle to prevent it from bubbling too far and not cooking evenly.

I did the same.  I pulled down one of my large frying pans and plopped several perfect, round pieces of bologna inside. I cut slices down the middle of each - forming an X - and began frying it up; wondering how my own children would respond to this unique meal.

I decided not to make sandwiches which lowered the overall carb count of the dish, but instead sprinkled shredded cheese atop each piece, offered the mayo on the side, and gave each kiddo a handful of crackers (saltines for some and gluten free bagel chips for those who couldn't have the saltines).

It's funny how something so simple as a container of bologna could bring back such memories and cause one to try out an old tradition on a new generation.

I can't say they 'loved' fried bologna quite as much as I remembered loving it as a child. But... I was  able to share a memory snippet of my mom with them.  A bit of my childhood that brought a smile to my face.

Next time I'll make sandwiches and see if it goes over any better.  :-)

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Insulin Pump Change Day

Today is pump change day.  That means we have to insert a new inset/cannula and fill the girls' insulin pumps with new insulin.

Since starting on insulin pumps in October of 2015, the girls are thrilled to not have 4 - 6 shots via a pen needle or syringe each day.  However, the 'big poke' every 3 days is still painful and challenging.

We use a numbing cream to help offset the pain, but sometimes it still hurts.  We've learned that putting the cream on before breakfast and letting it sit while the girls eat results in much less pain for them both.

Today, as we prepare for Selah's inset she quietly speaks, "I really don't like the big pokes."  Following a short pause, she continues, "But I'm sure glad it gives me insulin to live."

I fight back tears but quickly agree with her.  "I'm glad it gives you insulin too, baby.  I'm sorry the pokes hurt, though."

We proceed to change her pump site.  She rewinds her cartridge.  I fill the new cartridge with insulin.  She takes out the old and inserts the new bottle into her pump.  She hits load cartridge.  Once it is done setting up, we prime her pump.  This fills the tubing that connects the pump to her body with insulin.  She likes to watch the insulin as it travels the curls and swirls of the tubing - chanting, "It's going, going, going, NOW!"  When she yells now, I know the insulin should be coming out the needle at the end of the tubing. I stop pushing the button to make the insulin flow.  Now she's ready for 'THE BIG POKE'.

We remove the tape that is over the numbing cream. Wipe off any excess.  Swab the area with alcohol to make sure it's sterile.  Then, get her inset ready to be inserted.

I line up the inset where the numbing cream was applied.  She takes a few deep breaths.  "Ok," she mutters quietly.  With a quick squeeze of the inset case, the needle strikes; imbedding the cannula under her skin to enable it to deliver the life saving insulin for the next 3 days.

Her inset after I squeeze to inset the needle.
The cough drop is for size comparison.
It's not exactly a tiny needle.
Her inset before I squeeze to inset the needle













Now she's ready to reconnect her pump and fill the cannula.  She's set.  Her insulin pump should deliver whenever programmed or prompted until it's time for another change -- as long as no complications arise.  (Thankfully, we've not experienced too many difficulties with the girls' pumps thus far.)

It's become our routine.  Every three days we go through this little ritual.  Gather the supplies, apply the cream, disconnect the pumps, fill the canisters, prime the pumps, insert the needles, re-connect the pumps, fill the cannulas, and away they go.

I can't say it's mundane because the anxiety it provokes in our little girls is anything but.  The internal fight of knowing this is for their good, yet knowing I am causing them physical pain is daunting.  But... it is becoming our norm.  I personally no longer get heart palpitations at the very thought of filling a canister by drawing out insulin from a vial with a syringe; fearing I may leave bubbles that could cause high blood glucose levels if not fettered out.  I also no longer cry each time I have to give the girls a shot or another inset.  They no longer cry either.

Guess we're learning that we are tough.  They much more so than me.

I'm so very thankful for the many advancements we have today to help us manage the girls' type 1 diabetes.  We have a lot of tools at our finger tips that help us monitor and cope with this disease.  Yet, none of them are full proof.  None of them are simple.

It will continue to be my prayer that a cure will be found soon.  That our little girls will no longer have to have 'THE BIG POKE". That their pancreases will be rejuvenated and produce it's own insulin again.

Until that day, however, I will be the best pancreas I can be.  I will do pump changes every 3 days.  I will advocate and educate.  I will monitor highs and lows.  I will give fast acting carbs to bring up a low and give more insulin to bring down a high.  I will strive to help our girls live a fulfilling life.





Friday, March 4, 2016

A Bunny Funeral

Part of choosing to have animals - and a lot of them - is the knowledge that they will, in fact, die.

Last fall, when Techno went on a work trip to Ohio, raccoons managed to infiltrate our chicken coop and killed two of our hens.  The ensuing adventure was just that -- quite an adventure.  Staring down raccoons with a flashlight; trying to scare them away by banging on the run walls; tossing rocks at the raccoon that refused to jump off the coop roof; setting traps; catching coons; needing to dispose of said raccoons.  All while Doug was out of town.  I declared we were official 'farm, mountain folk' after that escapade.

Now, here we are.  A new year.  Techno in Ohio for work again.  A friend reminded me of our mishaps that occurred the last time Techno traveled.  I thanked her for her happy memories.  :-)

Monday morning, little Miss Charity decided to go pet her bunny that she received as a gift on her Birthday last fall.  A few minutes later she returned with tear stained cheeks.  "I think Orchid is dead," she sniffled.  Upon further inspection by her big sister, it was confirmed.  Our very first rabbit had passed away in the night.  Tears fell.  Words of comfort were spoken.

Orchid being loved on by the girls
Although losing a beloved pet is difficult; sad; heartbreaking, I'm glad our children get to experience this life event.  It's not easy, but it teaches them a great deal.

The circle of life.

It helps them appreciate what they have and realize we never know when our time is going to be up.  When something we love dearly is no longer going to be with us.

Following the tears and sharing memories and thoughts of Orchid, the older children dug a hole so we could bury her the next day.

Elijah found a 'soft' spot to dig
It always amazes me to see how resilient little ones are.  Sure, Charity remained sad about her first bunny pet, but she accepted the reality that she was now gone and moved on.  She mentioned her throughout the day, but with fondness rather than severe sadness.  She planned the 'funeral' and asked often when we'd be able to complete her burial.

The next morning, we went outside and had a little 'funeral' for Orchid the New Zealand rabbit.  It was sweet.  It was short.  It was closure.

Making the hole bigger







The hole wasn't quite big enough so a bit more digging was in order.  






Team work to find rocks














Looking for rocks, or just running.  Either way, joy was exuded


It's still snowy and cold here, not to mention we live on a mountain, so the soil is mostly rocks.  We knew the hole wasn't necessarily deep enough to prevent predators from digging up our pet bunny's body.  The search began for large rocks to roll over her gravesite.  The joy the girls experienced as they ran around our property finding rocks; carrying them to the graveside; rolling them along the plain; filled my heart with joy and loads of memories for years to come.





Orchid's 'headstone' of sorts



As we finished digging the hole and gathering up rocks and a large pallet to cover it, the girls produced a large brick to write an inscription upon to memorialize Orchid and her resting place.  It was touching.










A few words were shared.  A prayer spoken.  Our little funeral was complete.


Yep, this is life living in the country.

Owning land and animals.

Life.

Death.

They go hand in hand.


What a wonderful time of bonding together as we celebrated the joy this rabbit brought to our family - even if for a short time, and the teamwork that her burial produced.

Charity and Selah spending one last moment with Orchid