Tuesday update.. Oh wait it's Wednesday.

Jem is doing better by the day. In fact there's a possibility of release this week. The physicians had discussed release tonight but upon listening to her swallow and the subsequent coughing and choking that ensued the Doctors decided she should be watched for another day at least. Because of this choking there's a risk of Aspiration Pneumonia. This is a common side effect of infantile botulism. I'm finding the days are running together. The solitude is odd and I am keenly aware of a 9 person shaped hole in my heart. I'm thankful it's filled every day by my 8 beautiful children at home and my best friend! I know the dear ones at home miss me too. It will be so immensely pleasing to me to be reunited with them all again. My heart swells as I type about it. We all have so very much to be thankful about. I see it as a great mercy of The Lord to be reminded of that fact. Hope to update again soon.


Jemimah's Botulism

What started as a long night up with a restless baby ended with an even longer week of watching my baby become paralyzed before my eyes. To see your flesh and blood become the victim of a life taking disease is beyond my ability to express in words. I will give a timeline trying to explain all the details from my mind and my heart.

Saturday November 23- Jem was up frequently through the night. I thought she might be teething.

Sunday November 24- I sleep in and skip Sunday school because of the long night before. When it's time to get ready for church, Jem has an unusual 30 minutes of painful crying. She must be teething. I consider skipping church altogether but think better of it and hand Jem to a daughter to be bounced a bit while I take a shower. Jemimah ends up sleeping through the ride to church and the entire sermon. Odd. We go home and eat a nice meal while baby girl sleeps again. She spent much of Sunday sleeping. She didn't nurse much. I'm starting to suspect she's ill not just merely teething.

Monday November 25- This was a difficult day to get out of bed. Jemimah didn't get a good nights sleep, therefore I didn't either. I'm tender to the chest because she just isn't nursing. By the evening she was so irritable and generally lethargic. I Checked her temperature and no fever. Before bed I tell myself that if sweet thing isn't better in the morning that I will call Doc Callahan.

Tuesday November 26- I awake and am worried for Mimah Bean. I check on her and she is definitely lethargic. I get dressed and ring the doc as soon as she's open. Give another temperature check and still no fever. Yet the lethargy has me alarmed. Within 5 minutes of scheduling the appt with the Docs receptionist, the Doc calls me. Directly. I go over the symptoms which include, not nursing, lethargy, and no fever. I'm told to go straight to the ER. At this point I could feel the shakes creeping through my bones. I had a fear that the day wouldn't end as I was hoping. Jake had been out of town for a few days so he could train. So, I leave kids in charge of the day. It's thanksgiving week so no school or big responsibilities. Colby and Jackie are glad I'm taking her in. They'd also seen her decline and my concern. 
    At the ER I'm brought back quickly, the doc had called ahead for me. I'm asked by a couple of people if she's my first. They hint that I have 'new mommy syndrome'. The doctor examines her and they run some tests including a urine sample. The sample reveals low blood sugar and ketones. The doctor is alarmed and rings the pediatrician who's on call for the day. The pediatrician enters the scene and notes that Jemimah is dehydrated. Well yes, of course she is dehydrated she hasn't eaten. They start an IV and get some fluids in her. I'm left alone with her for a bit. The doctor comes back and talks about admitting her so we can run some more tests. It's decided that the hospital in Fredericksburg isn't comfortable with her illness. Because of the ketones in her urine they are thinking she needs to be seen by genetic specialists. We jump through the transfer hoops and 4 hours later we are transferred north to the National Childrens Hospital in D.C.
   Upon our arrival she's given a big IV push to help with her dehydration. I'm asked again if this is my first. What frustrates me about this is the likelihood of new moms being turned away for the care their baby needs all in the name of 'new mommy syndrome.' What if I'd have said, yes? Botulism puts most infants on a respirator within the first week of exposure. I'm thankful for that feeling that something isn't right and I'm glad I've had enough children to know when to push and persist with doctors. So, Jem had an evening of IV fluids and a lot of suctioning. I was still trying to nurse her, but she just wouldn't latch on. It was as though she had forgotten how to nurse. It was a terrible feeling that was taking over me. I'd never heard of a two month old who wouldn't nurse. By the next morning I was having many visits from various doctors and med students. There was excitement in the air from them. I was growing more frightened. More blood was taken and various tests done. A CT scan was performed and some mild swelling of the brain was shown. We were then moved to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. At this point spinal tap is becoming a common theme, but because of the perceived swelling of the brain there could be risk of a 'vacuum' scenario where the brain could be forced downward and cause trauma or if there was too much fluid in the brain we could cause a leak from the puncture site. The next step is MRI. This showed what could be swelling or normality. In short, it was determined that the spinal tap would be safe as there was none to minimal swelling. The test needed to wait until the head of radiology confirmed the MRI reading. It was midnight so we waited until morning.

Wednesday November 27- This day proved to be challenging. Having your baby deteriorate before your eyes and grow into some queer paralysis was numbing. I was no longer allowed to try to feed her nor hold her. At this point she was sleeping and being tested for everything under the sun, except botulism, we needed a poo culture for that. She was prepped for her lumbar puncture and I headed for the showers. I came back to the room as the team was finishing her procedure. I saw her precious spinal fluid in delicate glass containers. The team was pleased that it was crystal clear. It was clear like water. I've never seen fluid from the body be so clear. This was a good indicator that there was no meningitis nor encephalitis. It was sent off to the lab.

Thursday November 28- We are waiting on test results and more urine and blood is drawn. Jemimah couldn't move her bowels. As a matter of fact she couldn't move at all. She deteriorated quickly that day. Her face grew flat and she was altogether a child I didn't recognize. Were it not for her name band I wouldn't know she was mine. My heart was heavy yet Somehow filled with an insurmountable thanks. Jake and I decided it would be best if he was with the kids and celebrate Thanksgiving without us. I stood by Jem's bed and watched her sleep. I was so thankful to spend the day with her. I thought that it may be the last Thursday with her. I felt privileged to be her mommy. I kissed her more times than I could count. I think she kept a moist place on her forehead for the day. After lunch Jake arrived and we started reading about botulism. We became increasingly concerned. It was as though we were reading about Jemimah. No fever, inability to nurse, floppy limbs, unable to hold her head up, constipated, dehydrated, she was not on a respirator. That was the only difference. Botulism could come from rivers.. We live near the rappahanock, construction sites.. We'd just had a fence put in and broke ground for a shed, honey ingestion.. We don't feed her honey, but we buy it by the gallon, and I drink it in my tea everyday. It was becoming apparent that she could really have this disease. The treatment was in California, it costs $50,000 it is only released through the authority of the state, we needed a stool sample! All of her previous tests came back perfect. We both slept not peacefully, he at home with our babies and me here with our Jem. We were both praying for the doctors to order the antidote to this disease on good faith. We were sure she was contaminated with the disease and was toxic. It was all too clear. The Doctors would be rounding in the morning I would plead our cause then.

Friday November 29- I had fallen asleep off and on through the night. 20 minutes here and there. Jemimah kept choking on her sputum. It was scary to wake up and hear her choking. I'd suction her little mouth and grab the nurse to tube suck her nose. I slept some more and then morning had come. 0530 brought the first doctor to look at her for the day. I stirred and slipped out of the recliner. Jem looked worse. How could it be possible? I was weepy. I'd told myself not to cry in front do the medical team. I needed to hold it together and communicate without a box of tissues. This effort failed as I looked at her. I told the neurologist I was convinced it was botulism. Somehow, somewhere, one toxic spore made its way to her gut. The Dr. assured me she would be okay. He said he would help her. It was time for the morning round in a couple of hours. Her team rounded outside the glass doors of her sick room. They agreed it was time to order the Baby BIG. This is the name of the medicine to treat her. We needed permission from the case workers at the hospital and the state lab in California had to approve its release. There's a short shelf life for the drug and because only 90 infants under the age of 1 will have botulism per year it's not handed out like Motrin. Big would be overnighted for Jemimah. Friday we watched and prayed and put it out there on the social networks for all of our Christ bearing friends to pray for her. I hoped and prayed she would make it through the day without being intubated. Jakes mom, Teresa, arrived to come help with increasing responsibilities at home. Praise God for her timing! We got the word that the drug was to arrive midnight. I was given updates where BIG was. It was in a van on a highway In California. It had missed the plane! The doctor was mad. It would make the next plane and arrive at 0230. It missed that one too.

Saturday November 30- BIG finally makes it to Dulles airport at 0830. By 0900 BIG was in the lab being reconstituted. I lay down next to Jem in my recliner. I consider how dangerous this life is we are all living and how I have no control over any of it! This frightens me and then assures me. I don't want the controls. I'm pleased God has them. I awoke an hour later as the nurse came in. She told me she had the BIG and She would administer it shortly. The nurses punched numbers and set up the first 15 minute interval. Jem was given Tylenol and Benadryl in case she were to have a reaction. The Big went in her veins, she cried because it burned. We wrapped a warm compress around the IV site. She took the first 15 minute interval well. The remaining BIG was administered. Everyone left the room. It was Jem and I. Jake soon arrived from home. He had to fly out for his last two weeks of training. He had tried to delay, and was told he could. However, he wouldn't be payed and all training to this point would be repeated. We prayed over our baby, kissed each other and away he went. It was a quiet and uneventful day.

Sunday December 1- Advent season begins. Jemimah is awake and looking around. She is very alert. She is smiling. Her eyelids are open all the way. The neurologist and I both agree she is improving. A few hours later she is pulled close and I am able to nurse her a bit. She still doesn't have her ability swallow back. But she can cough! She's working some mucus up and out to her mouth. I'm seeing a miracle unfold before my eyes. The last thing to return will be her reflexes. She's still unresponsive when we tap her knees. The neurologist assures me this is the last thing to return. Those nerves must mend and rebuild. We should be getting her botulism test results back in several days. It could take longer because all botulism labs are tested by disease control on a state level. We will be here for several days more under the watchful eye of several excellent doctors, disease specialists and nurses.


Contest Winner....

Jessica Growden won my blog contest. She guessed girl, 7 days late, and weighing in at 8 pound 5 ounces. Her guess of girl and 7 days late was the only guess to achieve 2 out of 3 without missing the sex. Great job, Jess! It will be a couple of weeks before I finish the prize for you. Email your mailing address to me when you're able. Thanks everyone for playing.


Jemimah Norma Stiles Reynolds

In the fullness of this pregnancy it seemed as though our little package wasn't going to arrive in our preset timeframe. We worked hard to instigate labor. Through laughter, walking, squatting, hiking the stairs 2 steps at a time, chasing kids, hard working around the house, etc., etc. our little bundle wouldn't budge. A scheduled induction found its place on the family calendar. Don't worry, this was after the guessing game was posted.  Jake has to be back to work next week, so in order to have the few days of downtime required for a new mom to recover we decided to give our bundle a week post date. We had to pass a fancy ultrasound test for labor and delivery to permit the pregnancy to go through the long weekend. That test was Friday. As it turns out my fluids were low but all else was perfect with the baby. We spent most of the day Friday deciphering this. So It goes with my post date pregnancy. Drama! Oh yes, then there's the abscessed tooth that reared its painful head Friday morning. Very funny timing to occur on Labor Day weekend. Jake contacted two ERs and two dentists. Nobody takes care of teeth on Labor Day weekend. Ouch. I was less than pleased at the thought of labor and delivery along with an abscessing tooth.

So, we coasted through the weekend. Nothing happened. Go figure. We had many people praying for us and particularly for the baby to arrive before the Tuesday induction. This didn't happen. I spent a couple of evenings crying as I brushed my teeth. Don't pity me. It's called a lack of faith and discontentment with Gods will. I knew it, but man, pity parties are fun when you seemingly have something to cry about.

 I had a rough evening Monday. Jake encouraged me and told me if I was still checked about the induction we could cancel. I woke Tuesday with a peace and calm shaken up with a shot of courage. We called labor and delivery. There was room for us at the inn. We checked in. Got my antibiotics going thanks to my GBS positive result. This turned out being such a blessing. The antibiotics had a two fold effect. They knocked out the risk of our baby being exposed to the positive result and after the third bag my abscess tooth was numb. Just enough to trick my dying nerves. We checked into our huge delivery room. The midwife came in at 7:30. She easily broke my bag of waters and we were now on the clock. She would give us until evening before introducing a chemical. We paced the halls and watched the L&D floor fill up. It filled up so much so that scheduled c-sections and other inductions were turned away. 15 babies were born. We were marveling at The Lords timing of having us arrive that early am. Had we come later we would have also been turned away.

In the early afternoon Jake read our daily lectionary to me and we prayed asking God to let this labor start. I kid you not, while he was praying I had a nice contraction. Not nice as in friendly but as in ouch. It took several minutes and another came. By 2:30 I started getting a bit more regular.. Every 5-8 minutes. By 3:00 we were up to 3-5 minutes. It's fascinating watching ones labor progress. The ebb and flow is much like watching waves roll onto a beach. By 3:15 I was in pain and was so thankful knowing I was going to make the deadline and wouldn't need any chemicals to get my labor going. We had a friend from church bring Jackie. She had asked to see the baby come into life. She arrived at 3:45. By this time things were serious and the midwife was just arriving. Thankfully Jake was there to articulate to the nurse that even though I was only dilated to a 4, the time being 3:30, the rest was going to go fast. He says its something with the way I breathe. He had the nurse check me 5 minutes later and I was to a 6. So, once Jackie arrived I had hit my transition. We told her she could leave the room if she got scared. After all, we want grandchildren.. She wasn't afraid and stood at the head of the bed near Jake. At 4:17 Jemimah arrived. We chuckled in surprise, a girl! I guess deep down we both thought boy. How delightful to be wrong in our instincts. In more ways than one...The induction was amazing... Our midwife was superb.... The antibiotics relieved my tooth... The baby came sweetly and quietly into a huge room bright with the light of day.... Our eldest daughter saw a child enter into life; new and fresh.... I didn't hemorrhage.... We were well looked after and some folks recognized us from 2 years ago.... This made recovery all the sweeter. Yes, an unexpectedly, awesome day despite my fears.

Jemimah weighed in at 8 lbs 14 oz. She's 19 inches long. She has black hair. We are so humbled by our Gods mercies to us. We are rejoicing over His intricate weaving of a new life.. Just for us and just for Him. What a gift. Life.


Getting there.

I'm so pleased to be so close to the end of the pregnancy. I'm feeling very full of extra life and joy and a wee bit of exhaustion. I'm very confused about who is coming, whether a son or daughter. There are days I'm convinced it's a boy and there are days I'm convinced it's a girl.. My due date is the 27th of this month and as usual I find myself playing games with my mind that I will go early. After all its been so busy and truly nonstop that maybe my body will just labor early because its so tired.. Then I game around with myself and think no way, I'll be induced again..

Jake has given Colby practice drives to the hospital just in case I start labor and he's not here to take me.. Poor Colby, I really hope that's not the case.

I was thinking we'd play another game and try guessing the gender, the birthdate and the weight of the baby. Just like last time if you guess the wrong gender it's an automatic DQ! Below are the previous stats to help in your guessing. Leave guesses in the comment box below. Not on FB. :)

Colby - 3 days late 7 lbs 3 oz.
Jackie - 2 days late 8 lbs 10 oz.
Benjamin - 12 days late 8 lbs 14 oz.
Louisa - 9 days late 9 lbs 4 oz.
Libby - 1 day late 7 lbs 8 oz.
Silas - 10 days late 8 lbs 8 oz.
Samuel - 15 days late 9 lbs 12 oz.
Hazel - 11 days late 8 lbs 13 oz.

Happy guessing. There will be a prize for the winner. Not so sure what it will be yet.. But it may have something to do with pentagons. 

Love to you all. Please pray for me. I still get scared about this whole birthing thing and the last time was a doozy. 


What's really going on...

The last week has been a whirlwind! We moved out of 4500 square feet and 4 acres to 2500 square feet and 1/16 of an acre. After a few trips to the dump, a few trips with a u-haul, one load of firewood, 12 saints scrubbing our old house and serving our family with their labors and backs. We can say that we are 95% moved in! We need only build a shed for Jake's Garage and our numerous bikes and then organize the basement. 

We closed on the house today and came away with a gift card and money. Super duper thankful. 

So, why all the hubbub? Why all the change, why the prayers and late nights? Why the sometimes anxious hearts? Why the raising of our voices in song and frustration??? 

It is because my beloved, my Marine, my hero, my life partner, my best friend, my Jacob is retiring next month! We are saying good bye to the Marine Corps. We are nervous and hopeful for the future. We are pleased with how God has tremendously provided for our family in the past and trust His mighty provision for the future. Jake will be taking a job with Air Wisconsin, building his pilot hour currency and from there we will see which major airline God leads us to.

Please pray for us during this time of transition. Please pray for our baby who is due in 2 and 1/2 weeks. Thank you all so much! 


The Final Dregs

It blows my mind how quickly my mind defeats me! Moving has got to be one of the tougher things in this crazy life. Not toughest, I'd put childbirth, losing someone you love, and fighting with a family member on the toughest list. Back to moving. We strive to find a home, finally land in one, get our stuff unpacked. Put 100 holes in the wall to display all the pictures that'll make it seem homey. We arrange and rearrange the furniture. We fill the fridge and pantry with the essentials. Flare up the oven and bake a familiar dish.  Then somewhere between week 4 and 10 the house is finally feeling like home.

It's so nice to be home. Isn't it?

But then, it's time to move. Again. I just happen to be pregnant again. Well, I'm frequently pregnant, but I happen to be largely pregnant and in my 3rd trimester again. This would be round 3 of this late pregnancy moving business. Oh yes, big, hot, round, freckled and hairy. Add those to the woes. Trying to take everything down from the walls, filling the holes with spackle, cursing myself for ever having put a thing up on the walls to begin with. Sanding the spackling, re-spackling, sanding. Digging through the dark places of the rental to find the paint that you're praying the owners have on hand. Finding the paint, applying it. Then digging up the glaze because one coat of one color just isn't enough. The glaze is all but gone. Get Acetone from the pedicure box and add a half a cap hoping this will dilute the thick sticky glaze into something workable. Crud! The paint doesn't look right. In fact it looks terrible!! That's because you've picked the wrong base color. Dig some more, despair a little, get rescued by a blonde haired, freckle faced, girl who happens to pick up the 15 gallon bucket and find the right base shade. Thank you Lord! Repaint, take a nap. Ahhhhhhh. Time to get that forsaken glaze back out and add another half cap of acetone. We are in business. Stop cursing yourself for putting holes in the wall. It's okay now. It's okay. It's ok.

Now for the game room downstairs. Where the kids ate pizza on Friday nights and occasionally smeared things on the wall. Gonna have to take down the posters, pennants, pictures, and puzzles. It'll be okay soon. It'll be okay. It will be ok!


B. J.

Maybe some folks are curious how the pregnancy is trekking along.. It's going fabulous! Baby B.J. is an active little soul. With lots of kicks and punches daily I arise and tuck myself in to the beating of this little drum. I am reminded again and again of the beauty of life in the womb. I am overcome with humbleness that I get to have another baby.

This pregnancy like all of them has had its phases. From the initial shock that we were expecting.. trust me, we know how this happens, to the hugging of the toilet bowl.. some things do grow old, to the cuteness of a little belly.. there's nothing like gazing down at ones mid-drift and knowing that bulge isn't a food baby, to the enormity of your tummy at the 3rd trimester.. I am overcome again!

I have scheduled an induction for little B.J. and that induction will take place on August 27th. I am both excited and of course, nervous. We are downsizing and are going to be moving into a new home in a couple of weeks. The location of our move will probably have us an hour from the hospital and we just can't risk another car baby. ;). Trust me, I love spontaneous labors. They are the best. However, God made me unique, as He did all his peoples and I labor unusually fast!

So there is a little update on me and B.J.


Samuel turned 4! (I'm so late in posting)

Samuel is 4 now. The little lad keeps me on my toes. He is a delight. He is talking a bit behind is peer group. He has broken more bones than most kids in his peer group and more than anyone else in the house. He's had 2 root canals, a record for the Reynolds household as far as the kids go. He's eyes are still electric blue. He vows that when the baby is born no bees will hurt the baby. If the bees do hurt the baby, he will kill the bees and then feed the baby ice-cream. He absolutely adores his mommy and daddy. He waits for Jake to come driving up our acreage and then hops in the car for a ride. He sits beside me in the quiet times of the day and pats my tummy and tells me how he loves me. He is an amazing little boy. 

Every bit of effort and labor to bring this little man into the world would be happily repeated over and over by his momma. It is such a privilege to know our Samuel. I'm so glad God fashioned him just the way He did and that Jake and I get the privilege of calling him son. 

Happy, happy birthday, Samuel. May you have many more feasting days of celebration in our home. May the Lord deal kindly with you. May you respond with fear, trembling, and joy before Him. We love you little man!

The dynamic duo charge the ram. Hazel insisted on being blind-folded. 

Cruzer is done and Samuel's just begun.

Absolutely cracked up at the responses of the kids when Colby whacked the ram their way!

Ahh, Jake.

The complete cowboy package for his gift.

Could his expression be any more priceless?

There was success!


Jackie's Spring Ballet Photos

Jackie trained hard through the Spring and participated in the End of Year Ballet performance of Cinderella. The show was wonderful. We all thoroughly enjoyed watching her as a, "Fall Fairy."

We set up a make-shift studio outback of our home before the performance and took some really fun pictures. 

For your enjoyment:


It's about.. ahem.. Love

I read a really good post about Love over at Femina this week. Not just about Love, but about Conjugal Love.

Yes, my kids read our family blog and the ones who linger over it's pages are learning to understand what Love is. It takes on many forms. From the sweeping of floors, disciplining of bottoms, massaging of tired feet, the marriage bed, to the most perfect act of Love demonstrated in dying for all people!

So, without further ado: Conjugal Love by Nancy Wilson

Glad to be able to share this link with such a mature audience. :)


Traditions, Failure, Trying to Make it Perfect, and oh yes, Love!

Look, the table is perfect. Except not a soul is there. 

I remember when my biggies; Colby, Jackie, Benjamin, and Louisa were little. I was fixated on traditions and trying to make each holiday, each Sunday, each day, perfect. I would stress about the things that I was sure they would remember. Every occasion where I didn't have things just perfect I viewed as a fail.

You see, I was busy changing diapers. I was preoccupied with figuring out who unrolled every single roll of toilet paper in the house. I couldn't decide who should be spanked first for the dozen cookies that were eaten after I had said 'all done.' I was unsure who took Jake's ______ (fill in the blank) and tried to flush it down the toilet. I spent my days picking up endless messes. Toiling over the floors because they weren't mopped right. Dusting off the few pieces of furniture we owned. I would scrub toilets endlessly because I never knew who was going to a have tea party with the toilet water next. Ahh, yes. I was busy mothering. Then of course there was the wifing. Wifing came first, well at least it was supposed to. I can remember knowing what I was supposed to do, going through the motions, but really failing all the time. Even my best efforts would be scrutinized by my number one judge at the end of the day (me).

It's actually a small miracle I made it through the beginning years of mothering and marriage in one piece and with a happy marriage. Thanks be to God. I know He was the glue that held it all together. The traditions would still catch me though. I read books and was desperately aiming to be sure that my Thanksgiving table looked just like Martha Stewarts. Yet, it was hard to make that happen. My plates were all chipped by this point. They'd been the cheap ones from Target off from my wedding registry. The silverware, you know the type, they had the plastic handles that were dried up and had the 'been through the dishwasher too many times' look about them. The serving platters weren't quite platters. They were mismatched pieces from here and there and often food was served right out of the pan, GASP! While I would sit at the table rather disgruntled my family never cared. The 'umm good, yummy momma' expression was always on their faces. My husbands adoring eyes were always filled with thankfulness. He knew I strived hard and appreciated all of my efforts.

I was my own worst enemy. I think many of us women are. We beat ourselves down and compare ourselves to our neighbor or worse.. to a picture in a magazine. I've come to realize that I spent much of my time grasping after the wind and missing the larger, greater picture. The picture of my littles and my man gathered around at table. Giggling, eating, kids falling out of their seats because of crazy growth spurts, eating, having mashed potatoes tossed my direction by a baby (who, mind you, is no longer a baby), eating, sipping wine, and eating. My table was perfect. My decorations were crooked and wrinkled by well loved hands.

I'm thankful to enjoy a prettier table now. But guess what? I don't get the glory from having set it. That glory would belong to one of my daughters. Daughters who used to be littles, but now have the extra moments to make the table just right and I can manage the dinner. Daughters who grew from diapers to bloomers to dresses and gowns way too fast. I think my table is just as lovely as it's ever been, but the spectator has changed. My eyes are starting to pick up wrinkles here and there and they're starting to see that perhaps they were way to scrutinizing of life at its' beginning familial stages.

When we sit at the table I see that perhaps the girls fret because everything isn't just perfect. But you know what? It is perfect. It's better than Martha Stewarts' latest spread. That's because it's home. That's because the Lord is there. That's because I'm surrounded by the people who I love the most and who love me the most.


Conquered by Love.

Since Easter, our life has been a whirlwind. We all ended up down with the flu, except Samuel. Something about being a grubby little boy keeps you from the real germs I suppose. The flu grabbed ahold of me in a nasty way. It'd been a while since I'd been so ill. Fever for days, terrible body aches, and coughing spasms that produced blood. Gag me! I'm ever so thankful to be well again. While I was down the loves loved me much. The kids cooked, looked after each other, drew me pictures, wrote sweet notes and kept my juice glass full. It was quite humbling.

Upon feeling better, my husband, the love conquering machine, took 7 days off work. His hard earned leave time to be sure and he sent me far South. It's the 2nd time I've made the journey to Mexico. This time I was traveling a la carte.. is that allowed off the menu? Anyway, I was solo, well almost solo. Last year Hazel came with me. This year the 9th baby, lovingly coined B.J., traveled with me. The two of us spent precious time with my dear mom down in Cabo San Lucas. We had so much fun. I relaxed and recovered from the lingering side effects of my flu. It was such a sweet time!

While I was away Jake ran the kids around and made the 15 scheduled appts. already in place on the family calendar. He cared for the wee-est of the bunch. He took apart Humpty Dumpty (our big red van). Then he put it back together again with some much needed new parts saving us more that $1000. He cooked, budgeted, did laundry, cleaned, etc., etc., etc. Need I say more? He was amazing.

I missed my connecting flight home from Houston (we had a problem..) to D.C. Sooooo, he arrived joyfully last Wednesday at the airport to retrieve me and my baggage. There's always a lot of baggage with me. From a sinful heart to a 25 pound molcajete. That night, Wednesday, my sweet family put together a wonderful birthday for me. Complete with lobster, corn on the cob, french fries, fine white wine,  homemade dinner rolls, pizzas, and an Ina Garten chocolatey coffee frosted cake. Go ahead, smack me through the screen. I am spoiled. I won't go into the gifts lest I seem like a complete brat.

I will just say that my heart was absolutely conquered by the love that my family smothered me with. I am theirs, they are mine. I am blessed beyond any measure. Not just because of the people God has put here with me, but because of God's great love for us!


Easter Sunday 2013 Pictures.

We didn't go to church, but we wore our fine clothes and celebrated in typical Reynolds Fashion.


It's not the kind you may think of when a Southerner pulls a mass of flaky golden goodness from the oven.. It's the kind I want you to envision a Northerner pulling from the oven on a cool, Spring Day. It's golden and flaky and puffy from the yeast. It's the kind the Mother tells her daughter about while the daughter of the daughter is in labor with her 3rd child. It's the kind of recipe that gets handwritten in the laboring daughters cherished family cookbook. She comes home from the hospital, heals up and when granted energy from God once again.. She opens her cookbook and there it is! Written by her mother; passed down from her Grandmother. A treasure.

From the kitchen of Nanny
Written on March 9, 2001 by my precious mother while she was caring for a 4 year old Colby and 2 year old Jackie. I was in labor. Jake was eating a whopper.

Proof Yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1 tsp. sugar
2 pkgs yeast or 4.5 tsp

In Mixer
1 and 1/2 cups lukewarm buttermilk. (do no overheat-it will separate)
1/4 cup oil
Add the yeast mixture from above
4 and 1/2 cups of flour- Level Measures
3 TBSP Sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda

Mix and let set for 10 minutes

Roll to 1 inch thickness then cut into biscuits, put on a tin. Brush tops with shortening and let rise for about 20 minutes.

Bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until they're golden brown.

Serve up with honey butter.


It's Saturday Evening. It is Finished.

Such a lovely week it's been. This Spring Break turned out not as I had expected. I truly saw myself achieving much in the garden; through weeding, clipping back our wild bushes, loosening up the compost bin, and planting. Instead I cooked yummy foods for my people who didn't feel well. I ran errands alone and had chick fil a twice. The flu left Jake sometime Thursday pm. Colby, Libby, Samuel, Silas, Benjamin, and Hazel all had mild variations of it compared to their poppa. We were thankful. The older boys took it harder than their siblings with fatigue being the biggest complaint. 

Unfortunately, I don't see church being an option in the morning. Frankly, there's too much snot to keep it all contained. That's okay though. Christ has Risen! He will come again and we will worship Him tomorrow. Missing church is not our habit, we think it's unhealthy to be left to our own devices, but this is an exception. We will glorify the King of Kings, He is our Lord of Lords. We live our life the way we do because of His mighty, forgiving, awesome work that's been done for us and all of mankind 2000 years ago. The tomb was left barren and Heaven is full!

We look to Christ's coming again. We look to being rid of our dead bodies and longingly await the new resurrected ones. We are so thankful for our Christ. For our first-fruit of what's to come! God bless you all, dearest family and friends. May your Easter Sunday be full of praise for the Risen King. May your afternoons overflow with full vats and crowded plates. May you laugh at the little joys in your life and thank the Risen Savior for all of it!



Spring Breaking (Monday edition.. No promises for any other updates, though my intent is to update)

We've only waited since last year this time for Spring Break to come again. Jake has taken the week off work. For months now I've been formulating in my mind all the wonderful things I'd accomplish. I'm here to inform you that's it's the end of our first Spring Break day, Monday.. Have I accomplished anything? No, no, and no! Have I cooked, read to my littles, made the bed, showered, spanked, and loved on my family? Yes, yes, and yes!

Jake is home, but with the flu. Not the stomach bug... people that's not the flu.. But with what seems to be the real deal. Instead of sunshine and warm weather I woke up to 5 inches of snow. Yippee. So, despite my best plans and my intentions they melt away. Praise be to God that I am to take joy in all things and delight in Him. God's plans never fail. So, though this Monday seems empty it was indeed quite full.



Jackie Lynn is 14. Seriously FOURTEEN!

With Benjamin turning 12 that meant the inevitable; Jackie was going to turn 14. I absolutely can't believe it. I remember feeling shocked when Colby hit that age, but Jackie? It was only yesterday...

Shopping for a girl comes easy to me, but when it's your daughter you don't want ease, no you want thoughtful and fitting and just right and something that's so her.. How to choose the right gift, without overdoing it and without spoiling, but yes, spoiling and making it perfect and making it worth remembering. Enter, Jake. The man is an amazing father. He knew just what to get and he found the perfect gift. A pair of earrings with her birthstone. Aquamarine suddenly became quite precious. How to choose a setting that best fits a girl with such a timelessness about her? Jake had no trouble. Somehow her earrings sum her up; classic, beautiful, lovely, and one of a kind. 

The party was a bit calmer than Benjamin's. We had to wait for her to finish her evening ballet class. A simple meal, but highly requested, Pasta Alla Amatriciana with a side of french bread. Of course the cake was Red Velvet with Magic Frosting. We celebrated and sang and hugged and kissed our birthday girl. We love her so much!



14 candles suddenly extinguished. 
Jackie, you never cease to amaze us. The Lord has worked so preciously in you. We delight in the young woman you are becoming. May you continue to flourish in the repenting of sin and the delighting of Spiritual things. May you continue to strike the balance between sports and school. May you grow ever more lovely and even more humble. We love you and praise God for your life. Happy 14th birthday darling!

Benjamin is 12 (A post complete with run-on Sentences!)

With the ushering in of the month and the great snowstorm we waited eagerly for, but didn't think would ever happen, but eventually did happen.. March 9th was here before we knew it. For some reason or another Benjamin's birthday tends to do that to me every year. We were super excited for his day. For one thing, the said snowstorm came 3 days prior and the 7 plus inches it brought with it eagerly melted away (for the most part). Our power which left us had returned and the Airsoft Party we'd all been super duper excited for was really going to happen. 

A week prior we'd taken in the pleasure of ordering an Airsoft Gun for the young man. It was only fitting that Benjamin should have a gun being that his party was an Airsoft Party and he would have been the only boy without the said party gun. So, the gun came, it was unwrapped, Colby was jealous and there were audible gasps of delight from the party-goers. We'd done good. I set out a table of requested snacks and the boys played hard all day long. From 1:30 to 5:00 I didn't see the young men much. Every now and again there were streaks of camouflage dashing across the front yard and there were bushes unusually swaying and some up and moving.. Now and again there'd be a plea, "Need more popcorn!" or "Any more oranges?" It was an easy day. 

For the young man's birthday dinner he'd requested Spaghetti and Meatballs. We went ahead and invited all the party-goers parents and families to come back for dinner since we live far in the country and with the party ending around dinner hour we didn't want people getting home too late with the dreaded Spring Ahead time change occurring the coming sleep cycle. Yes, all went well. Lemon cake with candied lemon slices was the cake choice and it was an easy fix. With the exception of a few slices of the cake; by the end of the day 9 quarts of sauce, 4 pounds of spaghetti, 2 loaves of sourdough, 2 loaves of french bread, one large salad, many gallons of water, 2 bottles of wine, and a sheet cake were gone. No one complained, everyone rejoiced, no one cried, everyone sang. It was a fabulous day of celebrating our fine, young man. 

The girls hid inside with me, where it was safe, dry, and comfortable and without the stinging of Airsoft Pellets.

The Competitors. (excluding Libby and Samuel.)

Our young man. 12 candles,  many friends, lots of family. Perfect.
We praise God for giving us the life of Benjamin James. We pray we'll continue to Shepherd and Steward this boy well. We are blessed to be your parents, Benjamin. We pray you'll continue to grow in godliness, in stature, in obedience to the Lord our God. We love you with all our hearts! Happy 12th year of life young man! 


Smell me, Smell me. It's about the Laundry.

A year ago November, that adds up to 16 months ago, I started making homemade laundry detergent. I read about it through a heap of emails a bunch of homeschool moms were throwing around. It sounded very intriguing to me because I had come to this place in my laundry life where I was sick of using FAB and had issue with TIDE. So, I tried out Meyers and few other organic laundry soaps. None of them really excited me and as a matter of fact the amount of laundry going through the laundry room and in and out of my hands and on and off the table was mind boggling.

So, I set out to conquer the laundry soap fiasco. I dug around and discovered the Duggar Family recipe for laundry soap. It's listed on their webpage. Anywhoo, the exciting thing about it is that I can scent the laundry soap with my essential oils making it smell just as I please. The other huge and extremely exciting thing is that by using the homemade soap vice the store bought soap I'd be saving a $1000+ in a 5 year period. I was very skeptical of the soap at first because I'd always heard stories that it wouldn't work and my clothes would stink and yadda yadda yadda. Whatever. As a mom to numerous children I've discovered that it only takes a couple months for a kid to destroy a once beautifully perfect, crafted article of clothing. Clothes are made for a purpose. To cover ones body and to protect from the elements. Be it the cold, the heat, the wet, the sun, etc. My mission as a mom is to be sure the drawers are full of clean clothes.

What did I have to lose? I gave it a go and the laundry soap has been working like a charm and we are all wearing very clean clothes. I have noticed that the only fabric that tends to have difficulty smelling right would be those polyester character pajamas that children wear to bed. Everything else is fine. Our clothes are clean and smell great. I've been very pleased with the soap; the labor involved is small and worth the savings and the feeling of having made it myself. I do pre-treat stains with resolve, but I always did that.

I also have been encouraged that our soap is effective even in the awful water we have at our home. We frequently have bouts of light brown water. We are on a well and there are times the water is tinged. It's normal for well users in these parts from what I've been told due to the bright red, clay-like dirt underneath us. The laundry soap is effective even still and this makes me quite pleased. If you're interested in the recipe it will be linked below. Much love and happy soaping!

Duggar Family Liquid Laundry Soap

So, I was just over at the Duggar website and they have recipes for fabric softener. I'm so excited! More savings in our pocket.


Sweet Pea

Hazel's been growing like a weed. I took the below pictures back in November. Since then her hair's grown much and her naughtiness is on full display. Her fondness of books has escalated and this makes me so glad to see. She's such a delight. 

Hazel has figured out the dinner routine as well. She sings with us with a sweet effort. None of the words she sings make any sense but she's trying. She's mastered her toast and heartily exclaims, "Cheers!" when it's time. She folds her little hands together in anticipation of prayers and tries to close her eyes. It's hard for me to not peek at her while I'm praying and take joy in her little eyelids fluttering open and close. 

We love Hazel. She's a delight and miracle to us; as each baby has been. I told her I had a baby in my belly just to see what she'd do. She pointed to her own belly button and qucikly ran off to grab, Sandy, her bitty baby. So sweet.


An Ode to My Husband who is 39 Today.

Happy Birthday my husband, my dear beloved!
The crown that covers my head.

My heart swells and how it overflows
With the joy of our Quiver you've stuffed with sharp arrows.
Our children adore you.
Yes, you are their Hero!

I rejoice in the treasure of your life.
How could it be you would choose me as wife?
May my own years have the continued glory
Of sharing in this; your life story.

And, lest I dare ere forget
With deepest thanks to the woman who bore you without regret.
You were born to sweet parents after Roe v. Wade
When feminists victoriously lusted in their dead parade.
May I never forget the future your precious mother gave
When she cast off the world and chose to be brave!

In a day where Godly men are few
I take strength knowing your faith is true.
Tonight when your cake is lit with fire
And we all sing to you, whom we admire.
We will thank our God for His Creating
And Christ, our Savior, Our Messiah forgaving.

Happy Birthday my husband, my dear beloved
The crown that covers my head.


Snow, Snow, Snow, Snow, Snow! and baby..

We had snow! Such a sweet time bundling up the littles. The driveway turned into a hard and fast ice patch. Jake donned his gear, grabbed the littles, and followed by everyone in between to include the fierce white creature named Salt, he charged the hill!

My family, how I love them all so much. Despite the fact they're a bunch of sinners! (Myself included.) I am seriously wondering who number 9 could possibly be. I'm befuddled by all of my symptoms. All the girl symptoms and boy symptoms I've ever had are in full bloom. Weird.

Hazel didn't understand the necessity of all the layers.

Sweet, hairy Lou!

Cool new sled on clearance from Target just in time.

Colby and Silas look alike here.

Seriously, Samuel. Enough with the eyes already!

Pretty girls waiting in line.

H e may appear to be so white, fluffy, and sweet in this picture. Don't be fooled! Somebody put him on the sleigh and sent him down the hill. He took it out on me. Poor Mom.


Crazy, Bountiful Life

We went to Maine this past weekend and gathered around with family, old friends, and kind strangers to celebrate and remember my Grandmother. It was a beautiful time together, though emotional. I came away from the Memorial Service loving my Grandmother even more. Hearing the tales of her long life and the ups and downs helped me to recognize and see first hand how God takes our worst things and turns them into His glorious things.

The kids held up well for the long drive there, 12 hours there on Friday, a down day on Saturday for the Memorial Service, and a 12 hour return drive Sunday. It was a super fast 3 days. The trip also served as a great distraction for me. I had a Dr. appt. Monday that I was nervous for, so being full of things one must do helped me to forget about my anxieties come Monday afternoon.

The Monday appt. went well and I walked away with an ultrasound picture of another little Reynolds. We are due with our 9th baby this coming August. If you see me in the summer I will be a tanned, rounded, busy mommy. WE are so excited. The news of this life arrived in December just in time for Christmas. We told the kids and they were more excited than we were. It was awesome seeing their genuine, joyful faces. No forced smiles!

In the meantime, if you're wondering why I haven't been blogging, it's because I rarely have use of my computer. So, sometimes I Facebook as that's able to be done via my phone. I just announced there and remembered my blog and felt convicted that I should come here too, because not everyone is on Facebook.

Thank you all for your prayers. We will need them. Life is busy and I'm thinking God is going to show me that my idea of busy isn't really his idea. He always stretches me for his glory. It's so that I will lean on my Christ more. For that I'm so thankful.


Psalm 116:15

"Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His Saints."

My dear Grandmother died on Friday, January 18. My time with her in Maine was more than precious. I was able to sit by her bedside and hold her frail hand. Her sister and I clipped hairs from her chin and massaged her with lotion. I dampened washcloths and cooled down her forehead. I kissed her tender face and prayed with her before I left her bedside for the final time.  I didn't tell her goodbye because I know I will see her again in eternity with our Lord and all the saints. My heart was greatly comforted. Though I miss her already my heart is full.

Grammie was looking forward to her death. She knew that with its' passing she would be with Christ the Lord, her husband, Ted, her parents, Lee and Louisa and her grandparents, Christopher and Blanche. Her heart was full of faith and her eyes were lit with hope. She was beautiful. I am so blessed to have been made her granddaughter. She and my Grandfather raised 6 children one of them being my earthly Father.  Though both my grandparents are now gone, their heritage remains. Through their children, numerous Grandchildren and Great-Grandchildren the stories of their lives and of their faith will be passed on until time ceases to remember and eternity is nigh.


My Grammie

Heading to Maine for a quick two night trip to visit my Grandmother. Her life is leaving her as she battles cancer. She suffers greatly from the pain of tumors. Please pray for her comfort. Please pray for God's mercies to me as I travel. My father's family will be there to give me shelter and take me to and fro. God bless the Higgins.



We have grown to love traditions in our home. As the kids have grown some of our traditions have evolved while others have stayed the same. One of our favorite traditions which hasn't changed at all and that has no spiritual significance, is cookie making.  Decorating cookies delights the kids and in a sense is a therapy to them. There's the mixing of the dough. Then there's the rolling of dough, cutting out of the cookies, and baking them. Then the fun of dyeing and mixing the frosting so we can smear the baked cutouts and sugar them. Such fun. From the smallest to the biggest heads are down in concentration. Creating delectable little masterpieces. Such fun.

The recipe we use is one from the More-With-Less cookbook. I'll write down the recipe for you. It's perfectly safe to eat raw too, as there is no egg product.

Oatmeal Cookies with a Purpose:

Purpose: Constructive fun for children
1.Cookie Dough
Cream Together:

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup dry milk solids
  • 1/2 cup water
Beat well. Sift together:

  • 2 1/4 - 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 3 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
Fold into creamed mixture and mix well. Divide into small portions and chill.
2. Clean kitchen table.
3. Pie plates and cookie pans.
4. Rolling pins from toy bake sets or small round bottles
5. Animal cookie cutters or christmas cutters
6. Aprons or old towels to protect clothing.
7. Children aged 2 and up.

Extra Requirements:
1. Patience
2. Loving kindness
3. Smiles
4. praise, given out liberally
5. Wisdom to help children share tools
6. pretend dark glasses, so you don't see the mess..

1. Sprinkle flour on table for each child.
2. Distribute dough.
3. Demonstrate how to roll pieces... or if you've been doing this long enough and the older kids know how, have them demonstrate.
4. Preheat oven to 325.
5. Put on those dark glasses and avoid seeing the trail of flour from table to flour or from table to mouth..
6. Pop pans in oven and bake 10-15 minutes.

Make icing. I use royal icing found on joyofbaking.com

Let the kids decorate their cookies and of course sprinkle with sugar and other pretty, christmasy toppings.

1. Sparkling eyes
2. Happy Faces
3. Grimy hands
4. Bulging cheeks
5. Sweet voices, saying "Mmmm, Good, yummy in my tummy."
6. Spontaneous hugs from flour-covered arms.
7. A few cookies.