The Best laid Plans of Mice and Men

…”But Mousie, thou art no thy lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!

Still thou are blest, compared wi’ me!
The present only toucheth thee:
But och! I backward cast my e’e,
On prospects drear!
An’ forward, tho’ I canna see,
I guess an’ fear!”

Robert Burns 1785

Of course in more modern English we say, “The best-laid plans of mice and men / Often go awry”

And that about sums up January and the beginning of February in our house:

As January got darker and more cloudy, I worried about my son. He is one of the many who struggles with bipolar disorder with seasonal onset of depression. One great thing about buying the business last year, is that we could hire this adult son, knowing his struggle. Every day, I would ask Ray, “how is he?”…

and one day Ray’s response was, “He cannot stop crying, and he said …”I just don’t know…”” That has always been his code words for, I can’t go any more. I need help.

I love my family, I just cannot tell you what it meant to see my other sons spring into action when I told them about their brother needing them… I gave him vitamins and talked to him in the middle of the night during a particularly bad episode. The boys took him out to eat, stayed overnight… took him food and made him feel loved. And he did feel loved. The vitamins did their job: he long ago decided that the anti-depressants and mood stabilizers were not for him. But I make sure he had his Vitamin D3 3000 IU/day and his multivitamin.

And then there is Christine… not a child, the green behemoth van… it has decided to drive itself into things. No, I did not wreck, but that was not from lack of the van’s effort to do so. Something is up with the idle and accelerator. It throws me and pushes forward even with my foot on the break. So, I have been house bound. I cannot get another vehicle until the tractor is paid off in May, and I can’t drive the tractor around with car seats in it. It might be safer than the van at this point though!

So I have been dreaming of my new ride…only to find out that same son is in danger of the bank repossessing his vehicle that we cosigned on…so soon to arrive in our driveway, is a vehicle that I did not choose…The best laid plans of mice and men…

Speaking of wrecking, it has been bumper car city around here. The count for January: Ray three fender benders, Levi two, Micah’s car is still out of commission from his wreck in October that we have not fixed yet…

And therapies: nutrition, speech, and physical therapy for Eli and Josiah; the weather has been so bad the therapists have scheduled, cancelled and rescheduled multiple times.

Because of the bad roads and me not getting the paperwork from the shop early, I have been doing bookwork in the middle of the night and trying to nap, yeah right.

Shyloh has gone back to brick and mortar school.

Grandma hates being alone especially when the weather is bad, but doesn’t like being here with the confusion either…so, her choice I tell her; either worry about the weather at home or come here and hate the noise. Going there with all of the kids is just not an option and I would be taking the noise with me anyway.

She told me,” I guess I could always call the fire department. Everyone forgets how old I am.”

I know this blog sounds all disjointed, it is not you, it is me…I have been isolated from the world; inside these four walls now for six straight days and hoping to go to the grocery store tonight…hoping 🙂 If not, who knows what is in my cupboards…


Don’t Screech over Spilled Pediasure


That is good in theory, however…

The past few weeks have been more than hard.

Ray’s mom has gotten very unsure of herself and her ability to be alone. One of the children stay over every night or she stays here…and she camps out in the pink chair and folds clothes, bless her heart.

Not really sure what happened, we are thinking mini strokes, but, at 89 she has decided against having a cat scan to tell for sure. Her blood work came out fine.  She no longer drives, cooks, or cleans, but she still is able to do self-care tasks. Ray’s brother, Rudy came in for a visit since things have changed so rapidly and so dramatically.


Needless to say, my chore list has grown a notch, now counting out pills for “yaya”, making sure she is hydrated, keeping the bathroom empty of Benjamin showering constantly and the floors clear of residue from the children so she doesn’t trip…and  I am more home bound than ever. I tried to leave her with the kids and the sitter once in the past two weeks, but she felt too insecure…that is my next plan, get her able to stay with the sitter.


While all of this is happening, pruning is happening once again. Remember about a year and a half ago, we had to stop leading our 4-H group because Eli was in the hospital during sign-ups we could not go to the mandatory meetings and one thing after another shut the doors of that activity…


Well once again, through really no fault of our own we have to get rid of most of our herd. We just cannot do it anymore. Ray is working 80 plus hours a week, with all of our special children and now “Yaya”.

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 I can not and have not for about a year and a half taken charge of the medical health of the cows and calves… and something poisoned some of them over the last week, we think it was either a fungus or some kind of weed in their hay…we had some very sick and dying cows and lots of tears from our daughter who loves them so much. There was nothing we could do, so the funnel grew narrower… 

I have found that you can fight God’s direction, but if you are sincerely praying for God to direct your steps…you should not fight a nudge or shove from the rod of the Shepherd… 

So, Shyloh and I are picking a few to keep, four or five and letting the rest go… how does one choose??


Ouch, there goes another branch. Now all that is left is our family and our business, no 4-H, no dairy herd, no church… I am feeling quite bald here.

God give us strength… my prayer has been, “help me, give me strength…” and again…”help me, give me strength…”


Today I had a breakdown from all of the pressure: Eli has been a typical toddler pill; into everything, climbing everywhere and his new trick…unscrewing caps..and opening the refrigerator. I was feeding Josiah when I see a little imp running with a square bottle, orange liquid sloshing out of it… oh stink… yep pediasure, do you know how sticky that stuff is??


I lost it; yep I did… I took the almost empty bottle from his hands. Sobbing and crying I grabbed towels and sopped up the tacky liquid from the cracks in the hardwood floor, muttering and crying…the poor  child thought I had lost my mind… and maybe I did for a second…”help me, give me strength…” and I took Eli to bed and told him to stay there, I had him so confused, he did…


Gathering the remnants of my brain back together, I took a break, edited some pictures and wrote this blog…now onward!!

DSCN1950And I did not even tell you about the week where Ian got shot by a bee bee in the chin and they would not take it out in the office and he needed surgery. And after me being gone two days, Benjamin reverted for two weeks and smeared his poop and peed everywhere…nope did not even tell you that… so, pray with me…

“God help me, give me strength…”

John 15:2

Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.

– King James Bible “Authorized Version”, Cambridge Edition

Fair Days 2013

Fair Days

Daddy Clipping

Daddy Clipping

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The washing, the clipping, the loading, the picnic 🙂  Nice annual tradition of preparing our animals for the county fair, having a cookout sendoff, and loading them up! This is the first year that I did not even see the veal calf after it left the nursery in the cellar. We have an area in our ground floor basement for our newborn calves. We used to keep them outside in pens or in the barn, but had so many respiratory deaths, that the best place we could find was close to MOMMA as in, ME.

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We have not had one respiratory death since. So, although it is unconventional, it is very worth it.

strawberry blonde; underwear and barn boots; backyard ball

strawberry blonde; underwear and barn boots; backyard ball

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Normally, I am very involved with the children’s 4-H projects, but this year getting outside has been a strain to say the least. The compounding issues that I have not even written about much are : Screaming Mazie (she has taken a turn for the worse in her behavior and I have had to parent her just as if she was two years old and she is eight); Benjamin imitating Mazie along with my continuous vigilance to make sure he is in a safe location; Eli, don’t say much about him, but I have to watch him when he sleeps so Benjamin does not climb into the crib with him(Benjamin is not being mean, but just for a sleeping buddy, or to wake him since he misses him when he sleeps); Ian, now Ian is big, but he has been very edgy with being fifteen and everything gets on his nerves. If he is home, I have to make sure he keeps himself under control and does not lose his cool with the younger kids; Faith in combo with Mazie has been hard…they have been bickering like cats and dogs(since Mazie is screaming all the time, she gets on Faith’s last nerve and they get into it)

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rabbit show

rabbit show

So for all the above reasons, I have been pretty confined to the house. But, as with all things, this is just a small snapshot in time, and this soon will pass as my Gram used to say.  I must say, the veal calf looked too lean. I think there were some missed feedings there… or they had not increased the feed amounts enough over time. Usually I check the calf and if it starts to grow and look a bit lean, we increase the milk volume to match. There was a definite disconnect somewhere; his frame is nice, but that nice fat cover, just does not exist. Oh well, it is not that important. Diligence and attention to detail is the difference between a winner and a calf that just is so, so.

Spaz the Banty Rooster

Spaz the Banty Rooster

The heifer calves look nice, but it looks like they did not keep up with their bedding as well as could have been done… a few stains here and there. Unfortunately, I also forgot to tattoo one heifer. We know who she is with her metal ear tag, but that will get remedied as soon as she gets off the truck when we bring her home. And last, I did not get the paperwork done to register them. That costs about twenty dollars a calf or so, and I honestly did not have the extra money yet, but I will… So, it is what it is and Shyloh and Faith are very excited to at least participate this year. Last year was the swine flu at the fairs and we stayed home.

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They also took two molting rabbits. They are their pets and they love them, but they are not competitive and we all know it. But hey, love is love 🙂  And to them, their rabbits are maavaalous !! So, two days are complete, the animals were delivered, the rabbit show is concluded…and tomorrow they have two skillathon/stockman’s tests and the Dairy club milkshake sale, Tuesday the dairy show, Wednesday the veal show, Thursday the livestock auction and Friday and Saturday are mellow days but we still have to go up and feed/bed/scrub animals so they look great for fairgoers to pet and see. Our Brown Swiss babies are always an attraction in the Black and White or Red and White Holstein heavy fair barn…pictures there soon to follow!

decorating the dairy barn

decorating the dairy barn

Did I mention? Everybody needs a Josiah.



Mazie holding Josiah's hand

Mazie holding Josiah’s hand

I refused. I felt the stirrings of lovely joy in the moment. Joy watching the children smile. Joy in cool breath of air and bright skies; joy as I remembered friends who have reached out and loved my children. I remembered the friend who brought tons of baby formula, the one who took my clothes when we came home from Virginia and washed them. I remembered the friend who offered to bring a meal from an hour drive away and brought the best homemade bread ever (the kids are still talking about it). I remembered the family that did not know we were in crisis mode, but cut and round baled a whole field of hay for Ray at a time when he was so overwhelmed… I was full of this huge welling of love/hope/and joy and…

shopping train

shopping train


I got the mail. What a mistake that was!! I got two denials for medical care already given… The apnea monitor for Josiah was denied…the urologist appointment for Eli was denied and along with that one came a collection letter…wow they don’t mess around! I could feel it change me. The overwhelming feeling of the stack of medical bills is growing. Something has definitely changed in the health insurance industry. Who denies an apnea monitor for a baby that was hospitalized for apnea?? I refused to let it ruin my joy… I don’t know what the outcome of all of this will be. I know others that have adopted special children that struggle to pay for the needs of the child just because they do not qualify for medical assistance because they did not spend a day in foster care. What a crazy, crazy system.

Daddy and Eli and Josiah

Daddy and Eli and Josiah

But, I still have that friend over there that stopped with a basket from the ladies prayer group with clothes and a toy for Josiah. Grandma came with tons of carbohydrates for the kiddos. And there was that phone call from another friend just to check on us.


Josiah and I visiting Ian at football camp.

Josiah and I visiting Ian at football camp.

I am not alone, no matter how much “The Deceiver” tries to tell me. I know that even if it takes years, the medical bills will one day be settled a dollar at a time. I know “who holds the future.”

Ian really missed Josiah

Ian really missed Josiah

People think we are crazy, but there is always a cost to doing what you know you are to be doing. I got to thinking, when my family was touring and we got home at four am on a Monday morning and I had to go to school, study on the bus and try to fit all of my projects in around the schedule…that sure wasn’t easy for me. But, my dad worked many times 70 hours a week and still practiced and drove the bus for hours and sang then got back on the bus and yes got home at 4 am and got up for work at 6… that wasn’t easy either; but it was what he was sure he was supposed to be doing.


What is that about the apple not falling far from the tree…so who is surprised??­­

Henceforth and Forevermore!!

Henceforth and Forevermore…

Bright blue sky, clear day, crisp early May temperatures…a perfect day, for an adoption FINALIZATION!!

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What a road we have been on the past year and a half, but today, it was about celebration! The kiddos took off school, we got into our fifteen passenger “THE Behemoth” as Ian calls it and traipsed to the courthouse with a girlfriend and grandma in tow!!

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Caseworker was a bit late and round and round Eli and Benjamin ran…around and around the rotunda of the courthouse.

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The lawyer, caseworkers and the judge previewed the case before we were called into the chamber. And then… it became very interesting. Benjamin has taken a liking to microphones since he sings with the girls on the Wii. And when I was called to the stand first and right in front of me was…well.. a microphone.  He came up and sat on my lap and tried to be quiet, but it did not work. The judge asked him if he would try to be quiet and he said, “no.” So a minute or two went by like this: The lawyer,  “Can you spell your name”….Benjamin:”mommy that’s a microphone, Mommy can I talk to you…Get down here, mommy”  until Levi had mercy on the whole courtroom and took Benjamin out for a while.

The judge listened to testimony then spoke about how so many things he sees makes him feel like there is no good in the world anymore and how happy he was to preside over this case.

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Right when they were to declare the adoption decree…the door opens and in walks Officer Hunter and his wife. The proceedings were stalled as our caseworker acknowledged him before the judge and the courtroom. We were so glad they made it! Officer Hunter was Eli’s saviour…he delivered him and did CPR after which his birthmomma requested safe haven for him.

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And finally the decree…”henceforth and forevermore he shall be known as Eli Hunter Primel.”

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And then the reporters came in. The judge called them because he wanted the story to be known; something good in this cold, hard world. So I guess soon the story will be printed in the Tribune Review, Pittsburgh!

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Retreat: Susanna Wesley

Retreat: Susanna Wesley


It is in the quiet moments you draw your strength; the moments where you breathe deeply, refocus on what is important and move forward with confidence. One of my heroes of the early church is Susanna Wesley. Susanna was the youngest of twenty-five children. Susanna and Samuel Wesley had nineteen children, only ten lived past the age of two. Susanna spent a lot of time without Samuel, as he was in debtor’s prison a few times, and he and Susanna did not get along and they had a few separations. Her life was less than ideal any way you look at it. They had two fires, losing all of their material possessions. One of her children was smothered accidentally by a nursemaid. Can you imagine all of those things happening and still her legacy was her writings, her children and their accomplishments.


How did she do it? She had a routine she followed with the children, but when she needed to regroup in their little house, she would flip her apron over her head and pray. That is much better than putting the flat of my hands over my ears to think…same idea though.  She taught her children about God, family and duty. She lived what she believed. Many of her arguments with her husband were about politics and religion. If she felt she was right, she thought it a sin to say he was right just for peace in the house. She felt she would answer to God for her choices and her husband for his, a very unique thought at that time.  She spent individual time with her children: on Monday one child for an hour, on Tuesday another…She wanted to know them, who they were and what they were thinking. When they left home, she spent “their hour” writing a letter to them. Each of her living children made their own decisions as adults. One got pregnant out of wed lock and was forced to marry another man. A second daughter married a womanizer and ended up raising two of his children with other women, treating them as if they were her own. Another of her daughters married an abusive man that she ran from and refused to live with him again. She had three famous preacher sons: Samuel the younger, John and Charles. But, Susanna loved them all…

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 There is something fundamental in Susanna’s story. Hardship; yes, but there is an overwhelming sense of survival, refusing to be a victim and taking your life and making it a blessing, making it count, regardless of what everyone else does or what your circumstances are; you can do the next thing, do what is right and try your best. It was in the moments she had in quiet and concentration that she was able to refocus. Her apron over the head moments and her time after the children went to bed (bedtime was 8:00pm) that she was able to answer the big questions: Susanna Wesley, Her Collected Writings.

Do you see the shadow figures in the trees?

  Give yourself time to answer the big questions, and it will add focus to your day and a peace and calmness that carries over into the hectic/stressful times. The time is not wasted, it will help you leave a legacy…

Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the Everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary, and increases the power of the weak. Isaiah 40:28-29 NIV


When is it Enough?

When is it enough?

When should we stop our ministry? When God calls you to stand in the gap, when do you move on?

I have given so much thought to this over the years.


When we had three toddlers and I needed time just to regroup, the adults who were at a perfect place to lend an occasional hand were always too busy being without children. They liked being free and disliked the thought of spending time with my precious ones so I could just even go out with my husband for coffee… Ok maybe that was not their ministry.

But, as a young person, I saw people not only retire from their jobs, but retire from their calling… sometimes no one stood in the gap. Why? Because I cannot find anywhere in the Bible where we are done with our ministry… What prophet all of a sudden was no longer a prophet? When he died! When did the disciples stop spreading the word? Same answer. When did Moses stop leading the children of Israel? When did Miriam stop being a leader of the women? When did Mother Theresa stop laboring in India? When did Amy Carmichael stop her ministry? …

Who is your hero? I have found whomever you want to pattern your life after is who you become. Can you tell me when we are supposed to stop advocating and loving/parenting special children and being family to the ones who we find? Many people have given me their answers…but what does God say?

Mt 18:10 “Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.”

“But I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like a liquid offering to God, just like your faithful service is an offering to God. And I want all of you to share that joy.” Philippians 2:17 NIV


Galatians 6:9 King James Version (KJV) “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”


From our House to Yours

From our House to yours:

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Ray got laid off again, what else is new, but it is still Christmas!

We will be without our Amanda and Caleb, sharing them with in-laws and out-laws, but it is still Christmas!

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Levi is proud for the first time he was able to buy presents for his siblings, he is so glad it is Christmas!

Micah can’t eat with his expanders and ortho-jet, but it is still Christmas!

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Ian, Shyloh, Faith and Mazie are so excited, they are so glad it is Christmas!

We had to set our lights off of blink for Benjamin, the star cannot spin, but it is still Christmas!

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Eli won’t understand or know what is happening, but still it is Christmas!

I love our blessings, thank you God for them. Thank you for loving me enough to send your Son. I am so glad we have Christmas.

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And Mary said:

“My soul magnifies the Lord, And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Saviour. For He has regarded the lowly state of his maidservant.

For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed. For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and Holy is His Name. And His Mercy is on those who fear Him.

From generation to generation He has shown strength with His arm; He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent away empty. He has helped His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy. As He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his seed forever.” Luke 1:46-56 NKJV


“Running around with a chicken like your head is cut off.” The kids give me that puzzled look and erupt in laughter. I think perimenopause was made just for me to lighten up… somehow my words are so jumbled and I have trouble remembering things. But…hey ( I just typed yeh instead of hey) if laughter gets me through, I am so much for laughter.

The kids constantly use me as a joke…guess what mom said today…. Honestly I have no idea how some of these things come out of my mind unfiltered out my mouth and into the kids ears. I call their brother…come here girly…ugh I mean son…luckily I do it to everyone all the time so there is no insult taken.

What is worse is sometimes they will ask me… “WHAT??” and I will repeat the same nonsense I just said word for word.  What is wrong with me?? My mind has become little boxes. If the word is somehow filed in the box with another word, it is a crap shoot which one my mind will select to speak…So, if you hear me say something that makes no sense, just laugh and move on. Don’t worry, my kids are keeping tabs 🙂