Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Packing and Purging

Within a week of finding our perfect rental, we received notification from the bank to get out.  We had been in an active short sale and not planning a foreclosure, so we *really* would rather not have an eviction on our credit as well.  The packing is in full force and so is the purging.  We are downsizing from over 2400 square feet to 802.  This means we have way too much furniture (and toys, and just plain ole stuff).

Barring other future surprises we also have 4 estimated large expenses that remain for our family needs.  We have decided that we will use our packing and purging abilities to try and raise some needed funds for that, since the funds are pretty restricted otherwise.

At this point in time we are saving for:

1- air purifier.   The rental house will have fresh paint, new floor, and new kitchen. The new kitchen is rather awesome since it will be free of anyone else's funk, including various forms of corn.  However, all of this will be very detrimental to Ellie's healing, and our overall health.  This need feels particularly urgent as we will be moving in a few short weeks.  We are going to be handling this in-home air quality issue in two ways.

I have been researching for weeks into the wee hours (what? so what's new? hey!) regarding air purifiers. What I found was that there is no fool proof, 100% effective system out there for cleaning the air in the home. The most interesting thing I found is that NASA has a BioHome that is maintained by plants.  They have done extensive studies and have found that the right, efficient household plants remove up to 87% of household toxins within 24 hours!  You need to have enough of them to do the job, and the recommendation is 15-18 plants, 6-8 inch in diameter at least for an 1800 square foot home.  Check out the list of recommended plants HERE.  Our first line of defense for our new home will be plants! We will be in 802 square feet, and my goal is 15 plants from this list.  My hope is that it will be cheaper to accomplish than purchasing the outrageously expensive, top of the line air purifiers.  Now I think I understand the tradition of bringing a plant as a housewarming gift.  Isn't that smart?

The second thing will be to purchase a lower cost, as efficient as we can find air filter for the main living area, as well as one for the girls' bedroom.  I believe I have two picked out, so overall we are looking at about $400 + plants.

2- lip tie surgery.  We have decided that the best fit for Ellie (and our second attempt at this surgery) will be with Dr. James Jesse in the Los Angeles area. We have found a local, fantastic functional orthodontist for Big Sis who will not need a repeat surgery after all (woot!). Our estimation is that we will need approximately $700 in funds to make this happen.  ($200 in gas, $150 for one night in a hotel w/kitchen, $350 for surgery)

3- natural organic mattresses.  Because of some fire retardant laws passed around 2007, conventional mattresses are one of the most toxic pieces of furniture in the home.  Mattresses out gas into the air polluting the entire house.  Since Ellie spends time sleeping in our bed, and we want a healthy environment for Big Sis, too, we are working to replace all three of our mattresses.  We have found an organic kid's twin mattress that will cost approximately $500, so we are working to save $500 x2 plus $1000 for a queen.  Total we need to save $2000.

4- a generator.  Due to black outs, brown outs, and living-in-the-country outs, we need something to power our Vitamix in the event of an outage or emergency.  Ellie still eats primarily from a bottle so without electricity to puree her food she would have no food.  I have no idea how much a generator like this would cost and have not had a chance to research it. Of course is she started chewing this might not be such a huge cause for panic. ($???)

Right now these costs seems incredibly out of reach, but God knows our needs and we know He will provide.  We are going to begin posting items from our home on craigslist and to our facebook friends to try and get things started.  Prayers would be appreciated for the sale of items we don't need in order to fund these things that we do.  We received word today that we will be able to be begin moving stuff into the garage of the rental next week!  Time to figure out how to move some chickens.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Let the Eating Begin

Sometimes it seems hard to update Ellie's progress, because "she get's 2 probiotic capsules instead of just 1" seems ridiculous to those who don't know her entire story.  In Ellie's life, these changes are huge and a sign of amazing progress. About 3 months ago we finally determined what remaining obstacles were keeping her from healing and now I can hardly believe her progress!

What were her obstacles?  Ellie had fluoride toxicity and chronic constipation.  We have worked hard to resolve both issues.  We believe her conventional mattress is still causing her problems and holding up some healing, and are saving up to replace it.

In the last 6-8 weeks Ellie has begun eating: broccoli, turnip, cabbage, egg yolk, and brussel sprouts. She drinks around 1 cup of fermented coconut water a day, has doubled her dosage of GutPro, and even enjoyed some homemade marshmallows.  Her eczema is almost gone, and she is resolving the pesky staph skin infections.  She has had lemon water and apple cider vinegar without incident, but declares it 'nasty' and does not drink it regularly.

Please note that she had an FPIES reaction to applesauce prior to starting GAPS, so I was very nervous about giving her apple cider vinegar.  She has also had no problem using various art products that gave her FPIES reactions previously.  We do limit her exposure to these chemicals still (as we would for any child), but are no longer fearful.  One example of this was a recent trip to the zoo with family friends.  While in the zoo cafe Ellie picked up and brought me a package of pink popcorn.  My sweet girlfriend freaked - WHAT! She touched popcorn! QUICK!... All while I had calmly said, 'Ellie please put that back'.  We laughed.  What a change from 2 years ago!

Ellie now has 5 vegetables she can safely eat, and averages 3 egg yolks per day.

What is next?

In the next few weeks we will be trying foods higher in starch that Ellie has not previously been able to tolerate.  If she is able to tolerate them, it will show that her disacharidase deficiency is healing.  On the list are onion, leek, spaghetti squash, cauliflower and carrots.  We will be starting fermented garlic.  Once I can find a goat, sheep or camel milk source, we will also be trialing ghee.

We are BEYOND ecstatic. The Lord is gracious and has been incredibly good.  My heart runs over with her signs of healing and continued hope!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Answered Prayers

Monday was a holiday, so Tuesday the girls and I hit the ground running.  Home school, household chores, packing, going to the park - I kept every minute planned and was determined to make it work.  We had still not heard from the bank regarding the house, and we confirmed our new rights as 'tenants'.  Our anxiety subsided somewhat.  I had given it all back to God. It was amazing how many more smiles I saw from my girls with time spent reading, learning, playing, exploring, and even cleaning with their mommy.  It made this mommy feel better, too.

We were waiting to hear if the 'perfect' rental would 'choose' us. This rental market is so insane that we have had to compete with other families.  The landlady of the 'perfect' house said she would most likely let us know by Friday.  We waited. And Wednesday we got a call saying the house was ours to rent if we wanted it.  Yesterday we dropped off the deposit. We are NO LONGER looking. We have a place to live.

It will be several weeks before the rental property is ready, and we are now in no hurry since we have a place secured and have *never* heard from the bank.  God is faithful.  If you have been following you will remember the lengthy list of things we were praying for in regards for a place to live. We said it didnt have to be big enough or fancy enough, just safe enough.  We asked for no new carpet or paint, well water, room for our chickens and roosters as a minimum, in a safe location not too far from Daddy's work.  It had to be a house and not a mobile home.  We said it might be nice to have some established fruit trees, a place to put a swing, and Big Sis would like a puppy if possible.  Here is what He provided:

- 2 bedroom 1 bath with a 2 car garage and fancy outdoor storage building for extra furniture on enough acreage to have our chickens, roosters, and grow our flock
- well water to remove the issue of fluoride entirely
- no carpet in the entire house.  New paint will be at least 4 weeks old by the time we move in.  Floors are hard wood except for new pergo in the bedrooms.  This will out-gas so we will get a hepa filter, but it is much less toxic than conventional carpet.
- the kitchen is new. NEW. It has been gutted and is getting entirely new cabinets along with (probably) Corian counter tops. For a rental?!  Again, this will out gas, but thanks to the new situation with the bank we are in no hurry and plan to use a hepa filter to help anyways.  This rental will be free of any previous rental funk corn in the room that matters the most!
- an additional 20 minutes added to Daddy's commute time making it a total of 40 minutes. Very reasonable.
- established trees and several fruit trees we have access to.
-no dogs allowed. But Big Sis is ok with that and the possibility of an outdoor cat later on.

In addition, we asked that we find something for no more than $1000 a month, and truly that was laughable. While we were panicking and trying to squeeze more out of our budget for a monthly rental amount, God had it all worked out.

Not only is this home $1000 a month, but being on a well eliminates water cost, and the landlords pay for garbage.  That means that we not only were blessed with the price range we prayed for and felt we could afford, but we were gifted less utility expenses!

Many times in the past 10 years I have been pummeled with the reality of unanswered prayers, and consoled myself with how God always has something better.  One year ago we felt God calling us to make a move that was uncomfortable, scary and entirely new.  We stepped out of the boat and said we would do what He called.  We outlined visions of farm animals and feeding Ellie and eventually feeding others in need.  With the help of friends praying us through we waited to see what God would do.  God was faithful (why did we doubt?).  He showed that He *is* taking care of us, and that He has an amazing plan ahead.  And we are EXCITED.

Every one of us is embracing the change.  Daddy and I know we will be walking the path we are called to walk and feel incredibly privileged.  Big Sis has been begging to live on a farm since she could talk.  And Ellie.......Ellie will probably have some typical 3 year old adjustments, and is too young to truly know what this move means.  I am excited that our new, slower, cleaner, healthier way of living will be the only thing she remembers.  That is truly God's grace.  And by the way, our new address? It will be on New Hope Road. :)

August of 2009 we started a journey that began with a very sick and vomiting infant.  The road has been steep, the climb has been hard, but the result is proving to be more than worth the effort.  Chicken farmer here I come!

Hanging On

On a Friday approximately three weeks ago we received word from our mortgage company that the approval process for the short sale of our home was complete, and that Monday would be the first day of escrow.  Monday morning we received another phone call confirming that escrow had started and that we were in contract with our buyer.  We had 30 days until the house would be sold.  Later that afternoon we received word from our real estate agent that there was a very serious potential problem.  The bank negotiator had contacted him to say he did not know what had happened, but another department in another branch of the bank had continued with foreclosure proceedings in spite of the short sale process and approval.  Someone had not just messed up paperwork.  The house had gone to the auction block that day and the negotiator did not know if the house had sold.  We could do nothing other than to wait and pray, and wonder what in the world God was doing.

Three days later our real estate agent contacted us to say that the news was in.  He was livid. The bank had informed us there was nothing that could be done. The house had indeed gone to the court steps and been auctioned, but no one had purchased it.  That was irrelevant for the case was closed and there was nothing they could do.  We had been accidentally foreclosed on while in an active short sale agreement. We completed the escrow cancellation paperwork for our buyer.  All parties involved were absolutely devastated and floored.  Everyone had lost something.  And I was sent into an absolute panic.

We were told to wait to be contacted by an agent of the bank regarding moving out, because we are no longer owners -now we are tenants. The expected time to hear something was from 1-7 days.  We had no where to go and no rental property found.  I sunk to an all time low.

Where was this house we were praying for? We have so many needs and it seemed so unrealistic to expect them all to be met. The only words I could hear were those of discouragement - good luck finding that, that really doesn't exist, no one is going to visit you in the boonies, hurry up and find a place before they show up and say get out, maybe you need to rethink what you are looking for, stop telling people you have a sick child, perhaps you should forget the chickens, you will have to increase your rental budget, just don't tell them you have chickens, etc., etc., etc.  We had several friends helping us look, and many offers for rentals that came in.  None met our needs and that was all I could see.  We must be doing something wrong.  The noise in my head was deafening to the hope that had been promised.

A week passed and we heard nothing from the bank.  Surely we were even more pressed for time now.  We decided to raise our price point in hopes of finding something anything.  What we found.....was nothing. It was as if someone had mysteriously wiped out all of the adds on craigslist we might even consider.  I threw up my hands. Seriously?! Finally we went and viewed a few properties that were way out of our price range, and couldn't bring ourselves to say yes.  We have had friends offer us their property for use. We would now consider an apartment and housing our chickens elsewhere if that is what we had to do.  God? Is that what You are wanting? Where did You go? The family stress showed in the faces of our girls.  I dug down deeper into a pit of doubt.  Things appeared dark.

Last Saturday we went and viewed two more houses.  One was an expensive option, and the other......seemed like it might be perfect.  But I had thought that before, so I didn't spend much time thinking about it.  Instead I spent the weekend making our household/homeschool schedule and decided that this week things would be different.  If I couldn't shake my depressing doom and gloom then I was going to make a go of 'fake it till you make it'.  This was not how I want my girls to remember this time. I want them to look back and see God's provision and the joy we had in it.  Even if I have to pretend my way through it.

Sunday we decided to take a family trip to the zoo.  Big Sis begged to bring her money and go to the zoo store.  "Can I please bring my money from my save or share (savings or church) jars?  I have nothing left in my spend."  No I am sorry. She was obedient, but hung her head.

While walking towards the zoo entrance Big Sis said "Mommy someone dropped one of those tigers over there and lost it."  If we can't return a lost item, or give it to a lost and found, our family policy is to leave it lying for the person to come back and find.  If we came looking for something we lost, we would hope to find it still there.  We try to do the same.  Because of this (and my always telling her to stop picking things up off the ground) she had not even picked it up.

Where? I asked. She showed me.  It was a tiny plastic tiger figurine from the zoo that she had eyed in the past.  Well, I told her.  This late in the day it is doubtful someone will come looking for it or even find such a small toy, so you may pick it up and keep it.  Her eyes sparkled and she grinned. OK! She fingered it.

I took her by the shoulders and found myself saying: See! God blessed you! He took care of you! You did not have the money for the store. You were obedient and did not take your money from saving or sharing, and He provided.  See how He did that? God is good for that. He provides.  He blesses us when we are obedient.

She grinned bigger and nodded.  And I heard my own words loud and clear.