Deep Fall

Knut is home again.  Well, at least he’s home around supper or so.  He’s busy catching up on chores non-stop when he is outside, so we don’t see him much more yet.  When he is home, he sits a lot and zones out, and then feels awful for not getting stuff done.  He has so much to get done at home.  I told him that one does not rest after harvest for just a day.  He needs a deeper rest than that.

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From my end of things, I’m still running everywhere.  Harvest, no harvest…either way I still have 5 kids to care for and educate.  Silje and David are both in this really beautiful spot where they can handle lots of responsibility, (with oversight and help) and I feel like at long last I can focus on doing some things with Elias.  Oh, the sorrows of the middle child, ever stuck in that middle ground of not being a little kid, and not being a big kid.  He’s in sore need of attention, and he’s just lapping it up.

Knut, Silje and David somehow have it in their minds to help me get back to writing my knitting patterns, and I’m even able to get some writing done for my Bible study too.  I feel so out of practice for knitting patterns, and it’s been slow turning my brain on to those equations again.  Silje is saving for a new iPod touch, too, that is new enough to allow her to use our wifi to text, so that could have something to do with her constantly asking if I need a babysitter, even if I just go back to my sewing room and let her take over.

(Apparently she is the only 11 year old on the planet without her own phone.  I know.  Poor thing.)

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Halloween was different this year, as Great-Grandma’s house was no longer our first stop for pictures and goodies.  We did visit Oldefar (Great-Grandpa) in his communal home in town.  He was looking so good, and loved the visit and activity.  It was the first holiday without Alice, and everything already felt off.


Solveig and Elias are playing “funeral” a lot lately.  Solveig will pretend she dies, and Elias will run the funeral service, where all the stuffed animals come to pay their respects.  Kids process death so uniquely, I can tell both of them are still trying to wrap their minds around their Great-Grandma’s recent death.

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David did so well with his gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free, peanut-free, coconut-free Halloween. (Sigh.) After we trick or treated at an elderly neighbor’s house, and then went through the nursing home circuit (the nursing homes are our kids’ favorite trick or treating places!)  The nurses bring out all the residents in their wheelchairs and line them up and stick a big bowl of candy in their laps.  The kids just go up and down the aisles of grandmas and grandpas who get all dressed up and look forward to this day when hundreds of kids come to visit them.  Then we went to a local church party where there are lots of games.

I had stuffed my purse with specialty candy I had bought that David could have, so that when the other kids were digging into their candy, he could dig into his.  He was just running around playing the games, though.  I kept checking on him and saying, “Hey bud!  You want some of your candy yet?”

“Mom!  Stop asking!  I’m playing a game here!”

Sometimes indifference is such a blessing.

With Knut being home, I see more bike riding, more roller skiing, and more getting out into nature in my kids’ future.  He’s constantly getting them active and getting them outside on adventures.  He took some of the older kids out on the farm with him for an afternoon here and there as well.  Both Silje and David learned how to weigh sample corn, and check the moisture content as the kernels go through the process of drying and storing in the bins.  They love being out on the farm with him.



Sorry I’ve been absent most of this week on the blog.  We’ve had a big loss in the family.  Knut’s grandmother passed away.  Knut grew up just a few miles from her, and Knut and I lived next to her and Knut’s “Bestafar” for the first 2 years that we lived on the farm until we moved out to this house that Knut grew up in.

She was my friend.

We all just loved her so much. Knut is having such a hard time with it, and we are still in the thick of harvest.  Of our kids, Elias is grieving more obviously.  After our dog, Missy passed away, and now his great-grandma, he’s asking a lot of questions about death, and is beginning to wonder if everyone he loves will start dying now.  She went fairly quickly.  She had some kind of episode last week, and was brought to the hospital, and then a nursing home to recover, or at least to see if she would recover.  She was 96 years old, and is survived by her 99 year old husband, Jorolf, to whom she had been married over 70 years, along with 5 children, 18 grandchildren, and 21 great-grandchildren.  (Silje is the oldest of the great-grandchildren at age 11, but the majority of them are age 6 and under.  So get togethers are very active in a very good way.)

There’s a little country church about a half mile from our house where she was baptized, where she was married, and where her funeral will be tomorrow.  I have a hard time even imagining what this family will look like without her.  I won’t get too much into sharing about her.  I just can’t right now.  It’s not in me.  But Knut’s cousin, Hannah, wrote a post that is just beautiful and perfectly captures who she was.  If you’d like to read it, it’s over here.

But really, since I’m not going to get into that much here, I wanted to share something happier with you. My sister in law took some new family pictures of us.  I didn’t get around to getting them done last year.  They just turned out fantastic, and I just got them back and I just want to put them everywhere.  I’d love to sit under her teaching and learn all her photography genius.  So today I’ll be updating my “About Us” page, but while I do that, I’ll share even more here, because they’re just so gorgeous.  If you want to go and “like” her Facebook page, you won’t regret it.  Her work is amazing.

On the day of the photo shoot, the boys especially had slumped shoulders, and were like, “Mom, do we really HAVE TO take pictures?  This is going to be so boring.”  I told them, “Have you ever been with Aunt Kristin and ever not have a blast?”  They paused and thought about it.  Nope, Aunt Kristin is a blast.  Her parties are the best.  Her hugs are for real.  Her love of wild children runs deep.  They can be themselves around her.  So it went really well.















There’s about 20 more I want to show you.  I’ll leave it with just some highlights.

Have a blessed weekend, friends.

20 Fall Date Ideas for Farmers

It’s that time of year again!  The leaves are changing color, there’s a chill in the air, and sweaters and all things cozy come out of the closet.


Coming up with fun date ideas can be tough, but I’m here to help.  First, let’s set some ground rules.  First, don’t worry about planning these dates.  In fact, try not to plan them.  It will jinx it.  These dates must be absolutely spontaneous and last minute.  If you plan the date, the combine will break down, or it will get stuck, they’ll have to change fields or there will be a line backing up the trucks at the grain elevator.  So have a babysitter on call, and ready to sweep in and watch the kids at a moment’s notice.  So the good news is that you likely won’t need all 20 of these ideas.  The stars of everything working, and in a big field, and weather cooperating, and a babysitting available, and no family activities bringing you to town will rarely align, but every once in awhile they do.  So be ready.  Just don’t plan on a specific time.  “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.” Matthew 25:13.


Are you ready?  20 Fall Date Ideas for Farming Couples

1. Bring a thermos of hot coffee out to the combine/tractor/semi-truck.

2. Bring some apple crisp out to the combine/tractor/semi-truck.

3. Bring some pumpkin pie out to the combine/tractor/semi-truck.

4. Bring some ice cream/milk shake out to the combine/tractor/semi-truck.

5. Listen to talk radio while out on the combine/tractor/semi-truck and get in a heated political debate.


6. Listen to a football game over the radio on the combine/tractor/semi-truck.  (Best to bring your knitting to this one.)

7. Talk about the futures of the grain market on the combine/tractor/semi-truck.

8. Have a parent/homeschool teacher conference on the combine/tractor/semi-truck.

9. Play “I spy” on the combine/tractor/semi-truck.  (I spy…something that looks like corn.)


10. Read out loud a book to him on the combine/tractor/semi-truck.  Try not to get combine-sick.

11. Scan the horizon looking for animals like deer running through the field while he drives the combine/tractor/semi-truck.

12. FaceTime family from around the world while on the combine/tractor/semi-truck.


13. Give him a juicy kiss while waiting for whatever contraption you are on to unload the corn into another contraption.

14. Plan the kids’ Christmas presents while on the combine/tractor/semi-truck.

15. Debate the pros and cons of getting a new type of animal for the kids while on the combine/tractor/semi-truck.  (Just a hint, whoever says “it would be great for 4H/the fair” wins the debate.)


16. Giggle at the banter going on between farmers over the hand radio of the combine/tractor/semi-truck.  Send a couple messages that make the older generation shake their head.

17. Bring him an ice-pack for his back while riding the combine/tractor/semi-truck.

18. Bring him an enormous bag of your homemade popcorn for him to snack on as they work through the night.  Tell him goodnight, and try not to rub it in too bad that you get to sleep 6-8 hours.


19. Turn off Netflix, pick up the phone and call him, and tell him all the details about your day as he’s driving the combine/tractor/semi-truck.

20. Discuss the new diet you will both go on after harvest, and the pros and cons of various diets in general.


How this Diet is Changing my Child

So.  We’ve done a little over a month with David on his new diet.  A lot of my friends have been asking me how he’s been doing.

He is fantastic.

I feel like I’m living a big, long sigh the last couple of weeks.  I’m doing a lot of reflecting, mostly on how life has been the last several years.  I’m relaxing again.  I don’t think I’ve been able to relax this much since…I have no idea.

This is going to sound awful.  I said it out loud a few days ago: it feels like Knut and I have been abuse victims.  It sounds harsh, but that’s the trauma attached to it.  It’s something I haven’t had the courage to say out loud before.  I mean, we always knew David’s heart underneath it all.  It always sounded like we were making excuses for him.  But life with David was scary.  On this side of his recovery, I feel like I’m honestly facing what it was.

Knut and I walked on eggs shells around him, mostly because if we asked him to do anything, or stop doing something, we had to be ready to go the the mat with him in enforcing it.  If we didn’t enforce what we said, he went absolutely crazy, as though he lost all security.  So we chose very carefully what we asked him to do for our own sanity.  It was like everything was a fight and if we were too lazy to fight, things got 100x worse.  The tantrums were physical.  There were times I had to call Knut home from work because I was scared of David he was so violent.

I haven’t told many people that before.

These are the stories that parents are afraid to tell.  But I know there are a lot of you out there with these stories.  Your emails have been flooding my inbox.

Though David loved us just as passionately.  We saw that too.  We saw how he was struggling to get himself together.  We saw him wrestling with himself.  We took him to a child psychologist.  I haven’t told many people that either.  We took him to other doctors.  He was extremely tender at times.  We got several prescriptions that were optional to fill, and we didn’t because none of the doctors answered our questions or concerns sufficiently.  Actually, most of them shared our questions and concerns, but had no other options to offer.  We took the prescriptions, and just prayed over it, never getting a peace about it.  The doctors used terms like “borderline” a lot and “optional” a lot.  My least favorite of all of these references were “David doesn’t need these medicines, but you can give them to him for your sake.”  I can only imagine what parents who deal with this full blown have to deal with.  We talked with occupational therapists, asked for prayer from several people, and just tried to make it through each day.

It was like our world centered around managing David.  But we had 4 other kids.

One of the biggest blessings of David’s alopecia on top of all his other issues, is that now our world recognizes that something is going on inside of David’s body that is not right.  I can’t tell you how many people just flat out didn’t believe us when we started sharing David’s issues, or assumed we had no idea what we were doing as parents.  People thought we just showed favoritism to David, or never disciplined him, even though disciplining him basically defined our relationship.  That’s the majority of what we did.  People said they understood, that all kids have tantrums.

People would tell us David wouldn’t have these issues if we didn’t homeschool him.  Oh, yes it often went there.  Even though he has been kicked out of every classroom setting we have ever put him in, and I strongly believe it would be unfair of us to put him in a traditional, all day classroom without medicating him (unfair to both David and the teacher). Getting to the bottom of how he learns and what’s going on inside his brain is just making up excuses.  So “people” said.

But now that David has no hair, people give him grace.  They acknowledge that maybe something isn’t right inside of him.  I’ve heard from many people close to us say “we had no idea it was that bad for you guys.”  I’m not sure if that’s due to lack of transparency on our part, or lack of understanding on theirs.

You see, before David had an invisible illness.  That invisible illness has gotten so bad that it’s now visible, and people now have sympathy.  I’ll admit, I struggle with some frustration in that, but mostly I feel relief.

I should state, that alopecia is not always connected up with ADHD and sensory processing disorder.  Those are not interchangeable.

But I really felt there was a core issue to all of David’s diagnoses.  The blood work showed that his body isn’t absorbing nutrients properly, which can effect multiple organs.  In David’s case it effected his nervous system and his immune system.  That is paired with a common gene mutation, that is easily treated, and his liver wasn’t functioning at full speed either so environmental toxins couldn’t be processed like other people.  That’s likely why he fell apart whenever he had synthetic foods like red dye (which is has a petroleum base).  While those are significant as well, he can take a pill for each of those.  It’s multiple things, but it’s all connected in the area of malnutrition.  This diet is centered around getting his body absorbing nutrients again, and I haven’t said much about that besides it’s hard.

But I have to tell you, I noticed a change in David’s nervous system the first week.  It was small.  It was more, “Hmm…that’s interesting.  He had a great week.  I wonder if that’s a coincidence?”

Week 2, he sat in church.  He sat in church people!!!  That is one thing that was especially bothersome to Knut before.  Knut wanted so badly for David to sit in church with the rest of us, and David’s sensory processing just went nuts in there.  He had to leave Sunday School pretty much every week for similar reasons.  He couldn’t handle it, and finally we discussed the idea of him sitting back in the fellowship hall, so he could listen, but his body would be able to move at will and it wouldn’t be so loud.  We made this change due to the psychologist’s recommendation months earlier.  It worked really well.  David could discuss the sermon and pay attention perfectly if he could pace in the quieter back room.

But on week 2 of his new diet, David came in to church, and sat down next to Knut, without any prompting.  And he sat the whole service.  No falling on the ground, sticking his feet in the air, rocking back and forth with his head in his hands, or needing any distraction.  He didn’t need his rescue remedy, or any of our go-to oils for calming him.

That made us take notice.  There may have been tears in my eyes.

On week 3 I found myself relaxing around David for the first time.  I started pushing him harder on issues, when he didn’t want to do something.  I started raising the bar so it was similar to what I expect from my other kids.  He fought me about as much as the other kids fight me.  But my fear of him freaking out was starting to melt.  Though all wasn’t perfect.

David did have a small meltdown during our family pictures a few weeks into his diet because the shirt I had picked out for him had the wrong feel.  When the pictures come out, only a keen eye may notice that most of the pictures have him wearing a brown shirt with stripes, and the rest of them have him wearing one of his black “ski shirts” as he calls them.  They are the athletic shirts that wick moisture, worn a size too small so it’s tight to his skin, and no seams.  They are basically sensory vests.  We had him change so he could make it through the photo shoot.  He was crying because he said he couldn’t make the itching stop, though we couldn’t find any source or rash of the itching.  The new shirt stopped it.

This hasn’t completely gone away, and maybe never will.  No answers here.  He’s gone from needing his calming serum 2-3 times a week to 1-2 times this month.  So that’s something.

My other kids are more willing to play with David now.  Their fear of him is melting too.  I see it in how they interact.

There’s been a lot of laughter in our house this last month.  

To not live in fear?  It’s worth this all.  Honestly, I was so in the thick of it I had no idea how bad it was.  It’s in the coming up for air that I realized how bad it was.

It’s taken longer for Knut to see this.  He’s deep into harvest season now.  He just isn’t around David as much.  But he does see him on Sunday, where David has been the last 3 weeks in church with us.  He sings alongside us, and stays in his seat the whole service, even when the option to go to the back of the church is there.  But we have been living with this for years.  I can tell Knut’s radar is still on high alert around David.  It may take him a bit longer to see it’s safe to relax.  He’s starting to recognize it, though.

It’s like David has been living with all of his nerve endings standing straight up like a porcupine, and for the first time in his life, these nerve endings are relaxed and laying flat.  That’s how it feels.

But his hair loss continues.  We haven’t shaved his head in 3 weeks now, and it hasn’t mattered.  There’s just a half dozen little hairs on each eyebrow left, but his eyelashes still remain intact.  The goal for this diet was that within 1-3 months we want to stop the hair loss.  Hair regrowth isn’t on the map yet.  So we know that this absorption issue isn’t resolved yet.  I can tell it’s slowing, though.  Before the diet/pills, the area of eyebrows would have been gone in a week once it started.  The hair loss moved so fast.  Now it’s been a slow loss over a month, that isn’t yet finished.

So how’s David doing?  I see his nervous system behaving in ways we have never seen before.  Man, that made me a believer of all this diet stuff.  Talking with his doctor, we see he still has a ways to go.  I’m just relieved that the first part of his recovery was his nervous system before his hair.  I’d take calm, sweet David who is bald over tantrum-ing, frustrated David with a full head of hair any day.