the story behind our land

Thursday, January 26, 2017

It began back in 2013, once we moved to California...

We were there for around 3 years total, and in that time, we were surrounded with an abundance of local, fresh produce, sparkling ocean views, and eternal sunshine. We were spoiled.

If you couple this with the fact that Marshall studied horticulture (a facet of agriculture which focuses upon the cultivation of plants) in college, it was quite an exciting experience. We lived smack dab in the middle of two quality farmer's markets, in Oceanside and Carlsbad. They were on different days of the week and generally Marshall was working on base, so I went many times... just to take it all in. It was a glimpse into our future..

Marshall knew he wanted to get land.. Somewhere in east Texas... And has been searching since the time we moved to the west coast. In actuality, it didn't take long to find what we wanted. We wanted to be close to a major city, but not too close. An hour commute is ideal. The county seat would be nice, too. Something just outside city limits, in case there would be any ordinances that would prevent anything we may want to do on the land. But something local, close to other businesses, small town feel...

Remember I mentioned we found the tiny house on Craigslist (of all places)? Marshall enjoys just searching the web for anything and everything, because we may in fact come upon an incredible deal for something we have been keeping an eye out for. Well, there's a website kind of like that.. Maybe a few, actually... for property. It may have been but beside the point, he was just keeping an eye out on that site to see if anything came up... And it did!

I don't even remember the listing, but it was exactly the property we were looking for. It was in the region of east Texas we really liked, really close to town but outside city limits, an hour from the big city, driving distance to many towns around it that have regular farmer's markets. And it was various, too - by this I mean wide open pasture, 3 ponds, a well, clusters of trees, sandy soil (ideal), beautiful property.. Right on a state highway.

That location - how ideal is that for a business?! This was it. 40 acres just outside of town... And the price? We wanted to snag it before anyone else realized the deal that it was. We were originally thinking we'd only be able to afford something with half of that acreage, but this came up as an estate, which means we got a deal, for sure.

It also means that it took 6 months to close on the property, because every individual in the owner's family had to sign off the property with a notary public. Looking through the paperwork, they lived all over the state, a few in other states, as well. Dozens and dozens! If even one of those people said no, we wouldn't have gotten the property. Isn't that alone just incredible!? No wonder it took so long to close! We put in an offer in the summer, and finally closed around November 2014.

So what did we do? We got on the next plane to Texas to see what we actually bought! Yep, that's right.. We never even saw the property ourselves before we closed on it. We knew enough - the price, acreage, location - and we had our parents go and check it out for us. We also had a survey- which is an absolute must for land. This was it! Finally, Marshall was able to secure leave, and we saw the land in February 2015. (Yes, that was the first time we saw it ourselves, in person!)

We loved it. We couldn't wait to move out. My mother in law draws house plans, so while we were still in California, she drew one up for us. I put it up on the wall in our office. We were so excited to move back to Texas and get going. We even considered starting to build the house before we moved... Because at that time, we had absolutely no idea when we would be moving back home... We just knew that we were going to eventually, and had the means to get the land, so since the perfect parcel came up, that was that.

Sometime around that, Marshall put in for the OVER (Officer Voluntary Early Release) program, in order to get out before his contract states. 8 years went down to 4 years, and with this, we left California behind after Marshall served in active duty 3.5 years, in July 2015. Can you believe we had the land in our possession for a year and a half before we moved back to Texas permanently?!

And even once we came back home... We didn't have a place to live. The third trimester just started with Taylor - he would be here in less than 3 months! We lived with Marshall's parents while house hunting. Because of the time constraint, lack of ready utilities there, and the time of year, we didn't want to build on our land yet. So we found a house 25 miles down the road from it, and bought that (the house we are trying to sell now). We moved in less than 2 weeks before Taylor was born. Can you imagine that?!

Once we were out here regularly, going to church and getting groceries in town, becoming a part of the community, we really just wanted & needed to get onto our land. And we saw what was around our land. We have 40 acres that have access to a state highway on one end. Behind that acreage, is another 6 acres, give or take, that have an old house on it, which gives access to the FM (farm to market) road. We've had our eye on that old place for a long, long, time. It finally came up for sale as a foreclosure, and we snagged it with cash, to ensure it was ours (there were multiple showings daily - - so we could not risk losing it). We closed on the old house and additional acreage in April 2016.

So when do we move out there?! We walked through the old house with an electrician and our parents.... And it didn't sound good. It needed at least 30k of electrical work alone done. All the appliances and wiring were stolen, and so were many fixtures. Not to mention the plumbing. And the plain condition of the drywall (or lack of), the carpet, the unusually low ceilings, the multiple rodents and bugs who have made homes there... There were too many things wrong with the house. But we didn't buy it for the house, remember? We needed access to our land on the other road, and how perfect is it to live behind our land and farm?! We also saw the value that this property had water (city water access AND wells!) and electrical on it at some point (the 40 acres didn't) so in that case it would be easier to get that extended out to our land when it comes time to farm. So yes, we see that house as.... essentially... trash. One day we are going to tear it down and build a new house in its place, and that will be a very happy day! It's just an ugly, sad place.

So we had the additional acreage.... We had to come up with a plan to move onto our land. But that is something we shelved for a while, because it just didn't feel like a good time. Yet with how much that happened to us in 2016, as I mentioned the other day, it was time to make a decision about what's next - and became now or never to move onto our land. This is where we got the tiny house on our property! (Also a Craigslist find! Can you believe the abundance that is the interwebs?!)

Fast forward quite a few months... And here we are. Living in our tiny house on our big chunk of land (46 acres in fact!) in east Texas. We are finally here! We started this process back in 2013.. bought the land in 2014... and finally moved out at the new year, 2017. Wow - look at how long it's taken to get where we wanted. FOUR WHOLE YEARS! Well... longer, if you consider the time leading up to it all since we met at A&M. But besides the point. We still have a few legal things to do with the land, get a new survey, and refinance, but we have it, and the time is nigh.

It's  here! This is where we will start Newsom Natural Farm... small beginnings, but big dreams, y'all. On this site I'll continue to share about the journey of farming + tiny living + small town life... And I may even visit some other local farms and farmers markets in east Texas and share about the experience...

A Tiny Tour

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

I've asked around on Facebook for any questions people may have on tiny living.... Here I've answered some of those questions. And in between all of that, there are pictures of the inside of our little home. I'm planning on going more in depth with a tour later - I'm thinking it may be better as a video tour (my first VLOG!) - what do y'all think?!! Also, looking at the pictures in order, they are taken one after the other, panoramic-like of the inside. It was also Taylor's naptime when I took them, hence the crib/blankets.

So here we start with a picture of the outside of our home.. Back when it snowed in Texas!
+Why did y'all decide to live tiny?
We really wanted/needed to be on our land! We have watched the show Tiny House Nation on HGTV for quite some time and were always intrigued. A few things happened last year that caused us to make a decision --- It was now or never, to move onto our land --- and tiny living was the quickest/most effective way to do so. (See past blog posts for details on 2016)
+Does it affect Taylor's sleep at all? Janelle @ Come Fly With Us
Taylor's sleep honestly depends on his day, from everything we can tell. When he is out, he is out. There is no use trying to be loud to wake him up (or too quiet to not wake him up?) for the first half of the night. We don't have to worry about volume on movies or even lights at that point. (Yes, we made sure when he was little we didn't try to be quiet around him sleeping... So that he would actually be able to fall asleep anywhere!) Yet, the days that he isn't just plain exhausted... which isn't often... It sure does. He can see us from his crib (on the opposite end of 24ft...Unlike the picture we usually have him "in the kitchen" at night) so he knows if we are trying to just "ignore him" and try to sleep. (We also put blankets over his crib to block out the light some. He is a really easy sleeper! Can't complain there)
+Where do your pets sleep?
During the day, Scruffy & Trouble get away with sleeping on our bed.. At night, Scruffy sleeps on a long Aggie pillow I had in my dorm room in college. She won't be just on the floor, unless she is in the corner underneath our bed. Trouble generally sleeps at the end of our bed. And we have a full size bed, so it's not like there is extra room... We are just small people and don't mind the tight space! Our pets are a bit spoiled.
+Where will Taylor sleep when he is out of the crib?

We have been looking into this lately!! It's only been a couple days of research, so we don't have a solid plan yet, but we have been looking into travel toddler beds on Amazon - to get a feel for what's out there. We've seen blow up mattresses - um, no - and we've seen cots - not sure about that. Our plan is to find a toddler bed that can just be folded up & moved underneath our bed during the day, out of the way. When we get to that point--- I'll be sure to mention something about it. It will be a BIG deal!
+How long do we plan on tiny living?
We will see how things go :) It will definitely be a couple years, 5 years, who knows. We have a list of things we need to do before we build a home: a few legal things, sell or rent our other house, get a new survey for our full 46 acres, refinance, pay off maybe a few things. But we are planning on building a house literally next door - which means in the place of the old house that's on the property ---- in 5-10 years likely. And we will take what we've learned from tiny living in designing the house, which means there will be absolutely no wasted space... And we will save money by having a purpose for every little inch! A purposeful home! At that point, this cabin will probably turn into an office/guest house. That is up for debate.
+Are we going to build a porch for outdoor eating?
I originally thought a porch would be a wonderful idea, but once we think more on it... We don't really need one. We have land! Grass, leaves, dirt... As long as we steer clear of ant piles (talking about Taylor here!), we don't see a need for a porch right now. It also makes more sense to have our fire pit, grill, etc, on the ground rather than on a porch.
+Does it feel claustrophobic?
That depends on the day! And also if we've put things away in their place. Generally, no. Even with Taylor's crib out, toys and shoes on the floor, and Trouble running around, we don't feel cramped at all. We think a lot of that is due to the corrugated metal on the roof. I absolutely love it! IT sure makes it feel tall, and bigger... Perhaps because it reflects light, and in turn doesn't feel like a ship by supplying a contrast to all the wood inside. And... we have 46 acres of land to wander around on. So we can always "escape" ! Being on our property is enough!
+What are you going to use the lofts for?
Right now we use one lofts for electronics and movie storage (and with all the wires attached, it takes up the entire space), and the other loft for Taylor's clothes to grow into and my craft/book storage. We also have Taylor's crib mattress in the loft, since it will do better inside than in the garage (bugs) for storing purposes. There's just a couple feet of space from the loft to the ceiling, so it's not practical to try and make a sitting space up there without extending them, and we just don't want to get into that. We like it how it is....Works great for storage right now, for things we don't want to trek the few yards into the packed-full garage for. (We really don't need that much stuff. I'm serious. Tiny living is freeing) It also works as a brilliant place to mount the TV.. Perfect angle for watching movies.
+Does it feel like you are back in a college dorm?
No it doesn't!! It feels bigger than a dorm, and much nicer. There was only one family that owned it before us, and they finished it out themselves. It was originally bought as a storage shed (well, I guess it is a 12x24 storage shed, even still) and was finished out as a house inside. It is absolutely solid. Insulation, paneling, corrugated metal, stained kitchen cabinets and full size kitchen appliances, full size shower and toilet, full size closet... It was done really well. We love the finishing, and don't mind having a curtain for the entire bathroom area. Plus our colorful curtains for the closet! Not to mention our storage cubes for toys/books/clothes as well. It doesn't really feel like a college dorm since it has everything you need - kitchen included, and we are sharing the space willingly! Ha!
So, what do y'all think? Could you live in a tiny home?! As I've mentioned many times before on Facebook... It is 288 square feet of LOVE!

Coming up soon:

+Downsizing process
  +Day to day life in 288 square feet
+First steps to the farm
+WHY we farm
+What the first month of tiny living has taught us
+The story behind our land

  ....and more!!


Moving Foward & Dreaming Ahead

Saturday, January 21, 2017

And here we are. Grieving and healing and looking forward in 2017. A new year.

2016 looked nothing like what I thought. Everything seemed to pile up at once... how I'd failed, lost a job, lost our home (well, not lost, but we are trying to sell or rent, we moved out to our new place + onto the land), lost two babies in May & December.. IT just wasn't my year. And contentment? It felt like a sick JOKE.

But we kept going. We keep going. We know there is a purpose to having our land, to moving out here to east Texas a year and a half ago, without any jobs, all the way to buying the tiny house on a whim. Even our land - 46 acres - we bought without even seeing it ourselves. It was meant to be, our new home in east Texas. So we move toward our goal.

The purpose is to start Newsom Natural Farm, as an organic farm servicing Wood County and beyond with dependable, natural produce... But how do we get there?

Little steps, here.

So the tiny house! Downsizing. Being on our land. This is the dream. After our losses, I put all I had into making our tiny house a tiny HOME.

Digging through our garage to separate need vs. not. Learning how much of a weight "stuff" really is.

We thought we were on our way to the farm when I started the job, but that changed. We know this tiny house would be a step into the right direction. Now I can see that organizing and sorting through this clutter in our hearts and mind and garage is the next step toward our dream.

And it's a process.

But doesn't tiny living fit so WELL with going back to the roots, starting a natural farm?!

I want our mission for the farm to be evident in every part of our lives. And I know Marshall will agree. This is our dream, out here, on our 46 acres just outside of city limits.

So making our tiny home on our land and simplifying shows the first fruits of that, and what is to come....

In the days and weeks to come, I'll get into the meat of this:
+Downsizing process
+Tiny home tour
+Day to day life in 288 square feet
+First steps to the farm
+WHY we farm
+What the first month of tiny living has taught us
....and more

Stay with me here & follow along as we embark on the adventure of a lifetime... sharing our vision + purpose for our family farm, tiny living, and beyond!


Days of Healing

Friday, January 20, 2017

As soon as I said no to the nurse, I knew I need to see our baby to find healing to some capacity. I absolutely had to. So I researched online to see what our child would look like, what to expect, when waiting for a miscarriage naturally...

I was looking into a natural birth, even a home birth, as soon as we found out about this baby. I didn't want to be in a hospital. I wouldn't be comfortable there. I didn't want 10 interruptions a day, waking up my sleeping newborn....well, at least how it was with Taylor in the hospital. I wanted to go home. So I researched and asked around. A birth in the comforts of home... But this isn't the kind of home birth I wanted.

But it happened.

Christmas was plagued with the knowledge of our unborn child lost to us, yet alive in heaven. And I mean plagued. I couldn't handle this. I felt lost. It was hard, unbearable. Days before Christmas, and we had to find out that our child was no longer there? I just couldn't. I slept a lot. But we made it through. And aside from reading Unwrapping the Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp with Taylor, I felt like I missed it. Again, I missed Christmas. I couldn't "do" it. I couldn't bear.

Why did our Christmas season have to happen this way? We were celebrating the birth of our Savior while mourning the death of our child. I can't. It felt like a cruel way to learn of my word for the year, Contentment...

So Christmas came and went. I felt pains, more like cramps, but they were brief. I knew my body was preparing for our child to physically leave its vessel, and I know it takes time to happen on its own. God designed us this way. Our bodies know. I wish it didn't happen. But our baby came on its own.

For New Year's Eve we went back to Dallas to be with family. I was there, but I wasn't. Not mentally. Just waiting, knowing, mourning. Lost. I felt small, when the cramps came. The signs that the baby was close. I had to heave over,  bear down, breathe deep, to feel and know the pain - all of it. Labor, but months and months before it should be so. Too much, but it was here. I went to bed exhausted on the last day of 2016.

The first day of 2017 I woke up, feeling defeated. We were off to my brother in laws new home for breakfast, with the whole family together.

I was worn.

I tried to be present as much as I could. I distracted myself, busied myself, by learning about their new home and plans and everything that entails. At least for a little bit, I tricked myself. But I couldn't handle the exhaustion anymore. I felt horrible for not "being there" since the whole family was together, and how often does this happen?! Yes, it was guilt. I couldn't be enough. But I didn't need to be, at that point. So I went to the futon in the other room and slept. Exhausted. Breathing heavy... I could feel it. I knew. Today was the day we would meet our child.

When it came time for everyone to part ways, we left for home. I could barely get off the couch, but somehow managed.

The two hour drive home was miserable.  I couldn't function, I couldn't bear sitting at that point.  Nothing sufficed. Talk radio was irritating. We couldn't get home fast enough.

It was supposed to be a good day - our first day and night in our new tiny house. New Years Day was the day we were planning on fully moving in and getting settled. Yet it was plagued by a death.

I could feel it... the contractions, the pain, the severe exhaustion ---- we nearly had our baby in the car. But we made it home. I couldn't get out of that seat fast enough. Marshall took Taylor, called our parents, and I went inside the house to wait, in agony.

30 forever minutes of hard, natural labor, our baby was born into Jesus' arms. I was at the toilet and am forever grateful I grabbed a bowl to catch our baby in, to catch the sac... I wouldn't have been able to handle it if I didn't. And almost instantly, the physical pain was gone. It's so weird how that happens. It was like when you are in the ocean and a wave crashes into you so fast and so hard.. You are off balance.. And then it's gone... Nearly instantly. It was immediate, and I could take a "normal breath."

So I cleaned up, put our baby in a bowl on the kitchen counter, and asked Marshall to come in with Taylor. Exhaustion set in. We waited, sat there. Occupied Taylor. I wasn't mentally ready to do anything at all. I mean, it was 2:30 in the afternoon on New Year's Day. This is nothing at all how we wanted to end 2016 and begin 2017. But our year began with death, in our new house

Our baby was born into heaven at 8 weeks and was born into our arms at 10 weeks, The size of a quarter, about. He or she had eyes on the sides of his head, and "nubs" as arms and legs, where they would grow fully if given the chance. Our child was clearly human, at 8 weeks when he was born in Jesus Christ, just a few weeks before we met him or her (I wonder if we had a boy or a girl?) at 10 weeks. This feels repetitive, but I can't wait to see our child one day in heaven. The truth of LIFE needs to be known. (If you want to see for yourself, feel free to email me)

So our baby lay in a bowl on the counter for a day, in the fridge for a couple days, and when I could compose myself just barely enough, we gave our child what every angel baby "deserves," proper recognition of the sanctity of a life lost by way of burial.

My mom came into town at my request to be there the few days after we lost our child. I needed it. She helped with Taylor, and helped us in getting this tiny house made into a home. Homemaking was a sort of distraction at this point from all of the trauma and loss. Yet I knew we needed to bury our child. I had to. Once it happened, Marshall found a spot to dig, on the other side of the pond. It needed to be by the water. I love our pond - there is a clarity that comes when I'm by a body of water that I don't find anywhere else. It needed to be there. So Marshall dug a heart shaped hole in the dirt by our pond for our child. Dust to dust.

Days later, I went with my mom to the store, armed with a list of what we needed to make the tiny house our tiny home. A box for the baby was on the top of my list. Something pretty. We looked in storage, crafts, even hardware, then made it to the kitchen section. I about felt defeated in it all, this step I knew I needed to take in my own journey grieving, because it seemed I would never find the holding I was looking for, for our child.

But we found the Tupperware. And I almost missed it, but out of the corner of my eye, I saw something pretty That's when the feeling hit me... Our lost child needed something pretty to be buried in. Not "just a box." I pictured a little girl dancing in heaven. I felt even more peace when I saw this pretty Tupperware was Pioneer Woman brand.. I've had my eye on her kitchenware for a while. It's beautiful, and functional. This was it. I chose a blue rectangle Tupperware box, with a clear lid. We thought about looking for a baby blanket, then realized one of Taylor's cut in half would work just fine.

This is what I need to begin to move forward - this was my grieving process. Everyone's is different. Just the same.

My mom left soon after, so that afternoon, I put everything together at Taylor's nap. I cut the baby blanket in half and placed it in the box. Took our baby from the bowl and put her in her resting place. But the next step... I couldn't do it quite yet.

So I wrote. I wrote her a letter. And this is when I knew I needed to write out this story. As my dad has said, writing is cathartic for me. With a year like 2016, I needed to write again. To write to show the humanity of the preborn. To share what really happens - the truth - of life, and what that really looks like. And to say that everyone grieves different.... this here, is my process. It's not the same for all.

So I wrote our child a letter. Pages. I cried over that letter. I imagined Jesus, her older sibling lost, and Granny all sitting around reading it themselves and crying together, sharing about how wonderful eternity will be when we are all together again. I wrote all sorts of things in that letter to our little one. I made the point that our child's short life has purpose. There is no such thing as a mistake when speaking of a heartbeat lost, the sanctity of life. Oh, I miss our babies. Tears flowed.

Taylor was still napping, and I knew I needed to do it then, so I wrapped the baby in the muslin cloth and placed the letter on top. Pioneer Woman Tupperware made me feel a slightly more at ease. There is purpose.

We made it around the pond to that heart shaped hole which Marshall dug. The heart was a surprise, and it was his way, too. We sat there for a while. Placed dirt upon our child. Dust to dust.

This is not how we wanted to start our new year, the first day in our new house on our property...

plans vs. reality

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

In the second half of 2016, we went through a LOT. And here is where more of the tragic which I mentioned a few writings ago, comes in. Some will say what happened at the school and with our house is tragic, but to me, this next piece of our story in 2016 is devastating. A lowest of lows.

I had "moved forward," a little too quickly to my comfort, from our baby in May.. Because, well, things needed to get done. But these things looked nothing like we thought (it didn't turn out as we had expected). Loss happened. And.. amenorrhea was still there. I know it will always be. It has been since I can remember. So again. I didn't think much... But I just had a feeling...

Isn't it funny how women always "have a feeling" about something? But it's true, isn't it? I read recently in the new release, Love Unending by Becky Thompson (of the Scissortail SILK blog - hello!) that its always the wives who sense a problem, or disconnect, before it shows its true colors.

Yet this showed itself in the way of nearly invisible symptoms. Enter amenorrhea, enter "starvation," enter "exhaustion" ... and enter our baby.

Yes, in 2016 we had two babies, and in 2016 we lost two babies. But let me explain this a little more, because our child deserves a voice.

It was traumatic. My symptoms were extreme this time. I could barely stay awake.  Very early with Taylor, all I could eat was spinach and toast. But unlike then, I could hardly look at spinach without throwing up.... This baby was different.

Yet we were expecting! Because of the timing, we decided to wait until Christmas to tell everyone. After all, that was sooner than with Taylor (8 weeks along vs. 12 weeks along). And after losing our second baby so suddenly, I needed this little soul to be seen, no matter what. This feeling of telling the world, or at least our family, sooner, was onto something...

When I went in for bloodwork at my first OB appointment, I was eager to learn when exactly in July our baby would be due. But I had no way to pinpoint how far along our baby was... A blood test with hormone levels would have to do, until an ultrasound could be done. I needed to know, I want to know and share early, after a loss. I just needed to. I asked repeatedly for that ultrasound. I had to see our baby as soon as I could... We had to know before Christmas, so we could tell everyone then. It was a perfect plan! It was what I wanted to do, when we first thought about children... years ago... I wanted to announce a blessing at Christmas. It was idyllic.  So an ultrasound was scheduled for December 22nd.

I went by myself, with Taylor in tow. At 14 months, he was behaving so well, and was so curious, as I lay there awaiting the moment of truth. And really, I didn't know what to think about this baby. I was exhausted, and starving, but I know for early pregnancy - to an extent - this was normal. Yet even so, I just wasn't sure.

A few days ago I mentioned my word of the year for 2016 was Contentment. I had a hard hard HARD time with this word. But there is a purpose for why the Lord put this word on my heart at the new year (speaking of 2016, here). I needed to know this lesson, and this entire year was a lesson on learning to be content... I was learning this word in ways that I never would have ever chosen for myself. What does that truly look like when.... life.... happens?

The ultrasound tech put the jelly on the probe, asked how far along I was... And said a few times that she didn't understand why I was getting an ultrasound before 12 weeks. She was confused. But she did her job. That kind of annoyed me. It felt RUDE. Just let me see our baby! I needed to see our baby to have peace over the season. I explained... I asked if they had an internal ultrasound, like what I had with Taylor at 7 weeks at Camp Pendleton, but no, they did not. You can get a better picture that way, early on. Oh, I wish.

But we saw enough. I was in disbelief, denial, shock, confusion.... everything, all at once. Oh, why. 2016 was a HARD hard year. Why was my word content - of all things, content - again?!

She showed me the baby on the screen, explained what we saw, explained what we should be seeing, what she knew. She left to get the nurse. It was a long, long wait. I asked for a picture, when she came back. I had to, needed to see our baby closer, in a tangible way. I was grateful and terrified all at once, that we had an ultrasound photo.. to love, mourn, look at every day for the next week and a half.

A baby's heart starts beating just 16 days after conception, which is the same time that the pregnancy hormone (HcG) is able to be detected in a home urine test. This means that our baby had life for around a month, give or take, before things took this turn.

Our baby was there, but there was no heartbeat, no bloodflow. I was carrying death in my womb. Based on my hormone levels I was around 8/9 weeks along...But what the nurse pointed out was a lifeless little body, that didn't make it. Our baby died in the womb at 7/8 weeks along, according on measurements at the time. And that's right on the dot, we found out later.

We lost another child. Two children in 2016. I could barely process this. Imagine this conversation while a one year old climbs all over you, as your nurse hands you the ultrasound and points at the lack of bloodflow, and explains what probably happened...

I don't know how much time I took, but they gave me all the time I needed in a room to process and leave at my own pace. I called Marshall, cried, took pictures of the ultrasounds. I searched online for indicators of a miscarriage, of life lost. I called him again. I stared into space. I tried to keep Taylor out of the magazines on the counter. I didn't know what to do.

2016, and my word was contentment? It all felt like a sick, twisted joke. Worse, way worse, than how foolish April 1st can be, because this is here now - not a memory - but NOW. Oh, I don't know how I made it to the door that day. But I did. We went to the hospital's cafeteria for lunch. I had no idea what to do. I composed myself until we got into the car, and I broke down.

Looking back, I can't believe I did all of this by myself, with Taylor in tow.

Off and on, the tears came. Any little thing could trigger it. Facebook was dangerous. I was silent.

So we wait.

The nurse gave us the option to schedule a D&C, to "move forward," but I could not imagine that. This year was too much. I said I'd call about what we wanted to do, and I researched.

At 7 weeks, a mere month after taking a positive pregnancy test.... What does our baby look like? What really happens at a D&C? And what I found, I couldn't bear it. That wasn't it. It sounded so... barbaric.

Our baby will come in his or her own time.

So we wait...

Tiny Beginnings

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Something had to be done.

Our plan financially with two incomes, overnight became a "dust in the wind," as our world as we knew it turned upside down. We needed a change financially. There we were, back to square one, waiting.

I was trying to ignore what happened with the miscarriage, then my job, and what I failed lead to this point. 2016 was a low, low year. I felt... worthless. The plan for me to contribute as more than a housewife and mother - with a salary! - had fallen flat. Yet deep down, I had some amount of peace knowing that isn't where I was meant to be. Too big, too old, not ready, whatever I wanted to chalk it up to --- I was still scared. We don't know the future. We just don't.

Marshall has this habit, if you will, of searching Craigslist and similar sale sites for anything and everything. It's where we found Scruffy when she ran away, much of our furniture, Taylor's crib - practically brand new! He even found two canoes which used to be a part of a Boy Scout camp here in east Texas. (Those were actually stolen from our property - whomever it was, clearly knew that no one was living there at the time, and took multiple opportunities to trespass and fish in our pond). Which altogether leads to the next part of our story...

We needed a change. Altogether, but especially financially. Some way to move forward - to take a huge (or tiny - ha!) step in the right direction... We put our house on the market. (It still hasn't sold, we are so close to renting, but yes, it's been months at this point) And we declared "now or never" to move onto our property!

Enter Craigslist. Marshall found the perfect - tiny - solution to our fairly big problem.

We bought a tiny house!

Have you ever watched the show Tiny House Nation on HGTV and wondered, "I wish I could do something like that!" Well, we were pushed to our limits in 2016, and that limit proposed a somewhat wild solution, and we made that decision. We had to, we wanted to, we thought about it for years (that show!) and even dreamed about it... And here was our opportunity.

We loved our cabin from the moment we saw the photo of it. And it was solid. Really well built. Nice finishings... And did I mention small? We had some help to buy a 12x24, 288 sq ft tiny house. It took some time to get it to our land. And just how we wanted it. But I'll get to that part in a minute.

We have a dream of living on our land and starting an organic farm, selling high quality natural produce, here in Wood County. And this --- all of this that has happened in 2016 --- was our catalyst to get this dream even closer to fruition. We know the first step of this is to move onto our property, 46 acrea of east Texas paradise. And with the tiny house, we did.

Oh, but it took time - TIME - for power and water and moving the building... I mean months to get this straightened out, and done the right way, with whatever slim finances we had at the moment. But we did it. And we had help, and we did it.

We moved into a 12x24, 288 square foot house on our 46 acres. Wow, right?!

My word of the year... Contentment... This was a huge step toward finding out what that truly meant for me, for us.

Soon I'll share more about our move from 1600 square feet into 288 square feet and all that entailed, our plans for the land and farm (And believe me, there will be a few stories of downsizing, decisions, tiny home tour, etc!!) , but next I really need to get back to the storyline of what else happened in 2016, what I was aiming toward. Because in the midst of all of this figuring out, something - or rather someone new - happened...

the lows in our year

Saturday, January 14, 2017

As I said, something happened. Or rather, someone. But, I'm getting ahead of myself, because to fully understand this part of our story, we have to go back further into 2016...

It was May. I knew it was coming. The time to leave being a mama at home... toward a working mama. I was dreading it. But it had to  be done. I felt nervous and not mentally ready to work, to have my first year in the classroom, but I knew it had to be done, and now was the time. I also know that all I learned in school and training the past 6 years was leading to this point - and this point had to happen at some point, right? So it was. I did my "best" to put on a façade for work. But it was hard. More on that in a minute.

I was 7 months postpartum with Taylor and loving with all my soul, being at home with him. Yes, even the sleepless nights.... We had our child, and he was enough of a blessing to be grateful for my time at home with him. I was still waiting for the day that things would go back to "normal" for me, at least as normal as they could be, post-baby....and with amenorrhea. So I had absolutely no indicator for the possibility that we could be expecting another blessing... Except for the symptoms. Nausea, excessive hunger, exhaustion. I didn't even notice this at first. Everything about this second child was different from the beginning...

Of course, having no indicator of the possibility of a child, a positive test was a surprise! But I knew. I was nervous, but overjoyed as I pictured two littles so close in age - I imagined our children close in age for a multitude of reasons. Birthdays a year and a half apart sounded perfect to me.

But this joy was short-lived. I took the test, waited a whole day to tell Marshall - did I mentioned I was so nervous? I knew this wasn't "our plan" financially, with the prospect of teaching and all. Yet we started to look for a way. A little sibling!

Since it was the weekend, we were going to wait until the next week to call the doctor. But as I said, everything about this child was different.

We knew our little blessing for only 3 days before things took a turn.

My pregnancy symptoms were different, than I remembered with Taylor. Cravings, mood changes, just that general feeling you get early on, when a woman just "knows" someone is coming.. Do you know what I mean? Yet it was not at all as smooth sailing as it was with Taylor. I was nervous.

Then it happened.

That feeling, the physical ache.. The "I can barely move I'm so exhausted --- where's that bucket??" My parents were in town visiting and Marshall was at work on their last day here, so we went out to lunch before they were on their way. That feeling was "there" the whole time. Naseous. Sick. Exhausted. Like I could pass out at any second. I nearly collapsed into my food. Starving. I knew I was hungry and tired with Taylor, but not like THIS. It was enough for my parents to take notice repeatedly, to ask if I'm okay, to question it... Did my mom ever feel like this... 6 months after having us?

Then I really felt it. I grabbed my purse, went to the bathroom, and there at a restaurant in downtown Mineola, we lost our second blessing, Taylor's little sibling, lost in the sewage...

I felt sick. Cramps. Clots. Pieces of our little one yet to be on this side of eternity... As I said, everything about this pregnancy was different. It was lost.

Two weeks later, I had my 6 month postpartum visit. The doctor "explained it off" and wouldn't answer my questions directly, simply because within those days of knowing - hormone levels tell all - there wasn't a blood test.. And having amonorrhea, there was no way to date the baby without a hormone check via bloodtest. My plan was to wait for this scheduled appointment with the doctor for that answer. But that wasn't God's plan. As I've said, things didn't go as planned in 2016.

I didn't really grieve, as I felt I should. I really didn't know what to do, what to think... I know that we will see our baby in heaven one day. And in May, that was enough for me. So I cried. Oh, the physical, not just mental, but physical pain.. But we kept moving forward. Not "moving on" but moving forward. What a huge difference in perspective. And we knew that the possibility for more babies was really and truly there, even with amenorrhea.

So I put all I had into applying to schools for the upcoming school year. I interviewed 4 times and took a job in 3rd grade. I was nervous from the start. I wasn't ready. And being only a month after we lost our baby, my first time leaving Taylor for more than a couple hours (other than overnight) since he was born..... Oh, I had so much trouble. There are so many reasons things went the way they did. And I will sum it up to say that mentally, physically, spiritually, I wasn't ready to teach. My heart was not in it. It wasn't right, and wasn't fair to the kids. Instead it was at home with Taylor and any future babies we have. I was still learning how to grieve someone I'd only just learned about, as well. Things did not go as planned in 2016.

I needed more time. For so many things, for so many reasons. Some mentioned here, many I just can't get back into. It was a lowest low of the year. So I resigned. And when I signed that paper, I immediately felt a weight lift. I had no idea that it truly put that much mental and physical stress on me. It was tearing me apart, and I was at my rope's end. I couldn't do it anymore. I didn't know how. I still had so much of the past year to process. How did all of this happen? But I needed to keep moving forward. This was just one step in that journey. And we figured something out.

So I went back home to Taylor full time, and took everything one day at a time.

This is where the tiny house comes in...

2016: a year of high highs and low lows

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

2016 didn't exactly go as planned. Well, parts of it, at least. Maybe that's why I haven't written since March, and the only two posts I've written early this year (wait a minute- last year) were Taylor's birth story, and thoughts on how foolish April 1st can truly be.

There was a lot of good, which is what I've shared here, but there is also some not-that-great-let's-be-honest-HARD stuff that's happened to us as well, which I'm not going to get into that much of right now. Some of it, maybe.

SO: with that very quick synopsis, here's a {very} quick review of our year (that I can remember! Ha!), the highs and the lows:

January: Taylor's first New Year! We also went on numerous walks down the quiet county roads...

February: We went on a Valentine's Day road trip to Duck Commander in Louisiana.... it was a Sunday, which means it was closed. Oh, and we also somehow found where the Robertsons live.... yep!

March: We went to Seabrook (where my parents live) for a marathon which Marshall ran in! Oh, and this ADORABLE picture of Taylor amidst bluebonnets happened.

April: We visited the Mineola Nature Preserve, the Mercy Ships HQ in Lindale, and the Compassion Experience tour in Hawkins. I can share more about these specifically in later writings and photos. So awesome. For now, a photo of the nature preserve:

May: Taylor made some beautiful Mother's Day paintings for G-ma and Sha-Nana, and really learned how to relax poolside... We had fun outside this month!

June: Taylor made some cool Father's Day cards,  we spent lots of time at the park...

July: Back to Seabrook again!! This time we saw my brother and his then-fiancé!! Taylor also went to his first First Monday in Canton, which could use a post all it's own... the ultimate once-a-month shopping destination in east Texas!

August:  I was busy all month getting ready for my first time teaching, which didn't entirely go as planned, but you know what - I've found peace in that. Other than the trainings and first couple weeks, its a blur! But this I do know: Marshall & I were married 5 years this past August! So of course, I snapped a picture of then vs. now...

September: We went on a road trip to Florida for my brother's wedding!!

October: We had Taylor's FIRST birthday party at our land!!

November: We went to Arkansas for Thanksgiving!!! Loads of fun!!!

December: We started the month back to Houston for a beautiful wedding.

Got our little place ready to move in (see above - more on that soon!)

And then something happened....
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