We fostered two beautiful children for 18 months and they were adopted by friends of ours and are flourishing. We get to be a part of their life and could not be happier with how wonderful the situation turned out.
We had a baby! SURPRISE! Hattie Rose was born September 2014 and we can hardly believe she is almost four. That wish Maggie made at Cinderella's Castle in Disney World came true. She got a baby sister and Hattie is the prayer we never knew we needed answered.
(Maggie just after wishing for a baby sister).
Mommy and Hattie on the night she was born.
Two weeks after Hattie was born, Erik's hand got slammed between a gate and a metal latch when a cow kicked the trailer gate and it busted the knuckle in his left hand. He made it through the emergency room fine, but two days later when we met with the orthopedic surgeon, I knew things were dire when the surgeon looked at me and said, "Did he eat anything for breakfast today?" When I said, "No," he told us to go immediately to the hospital because Erik had to have surgery. Turns out he had compartment syndrome and the surgeon feared it was already too late and Erik was going to lose his hand. Dr. Pfaeffle is a miracle worker because not only did Erik not lose his hand, he made a full recovery! He has a small plate holding his knuckle in place, but he can do everything he did before the accident and doesn't even have any pain in his hand ever. I spent a good 4 months driving Erik to physical therapy appointments, sitting in the back of the van nursing a newborn, and praying that everything be OK. Most of that time is a blur to me, but I remember two things vividly from that time. The first is the drive to the hospital after the surgeon told us to get there fast. I remember rubbing my hand on Erik's leg telling him over and over it would be OK, knowing he was thinking there was a possibility he would lose his hand, while I sat there afraid I might lose my husband. The second vivid memory was after Erik was released from the hospital and he was on the couch with his hand in this swiss-cheese foam elevator/protector thing. I had just nursed Hattie and in the past, when I would nurse for the final time at night, Erik would burp the babies and hold them until they fell asleep. He was lying on his side on the couch and I had laid her next to him but she was squirmy and started to slip. I reached over and settled her and Erik got so emotional and looked at me and said, "What if I can never hold her again?" It broke my heart. Sometimes when I think back to that time, it seems unreal. I'm not sure how we managed it all like we did - and had it been any other time in our lives, it probably would have been much worse. Thankfully, Erik's employer was very generous with the workman's compensation program and all of our needs were met while he was off work.
That being said, just shy of a year after his accident, his employer "no longer needed" Erik's farming skills so he found himself without a job in the middle of summer when he had already let most of his landscaping clients go. I remember I was in the camper getting it cleaned up and stocked for the Farm Show that would start the following week, and Erik arrived home really early for a Thursday afternoon. He walked into the camper and said, "Well, the good news is you won't be alone next week for the Farm Show." But, losing the security of that job opened up a huge new opportunity for him and three years later, Erik is sourcing and producing meat products to sell to some of the best restaurants in Pittsburgh! It is really amazing how much his business has grown in three years.
Erik and our friend, Jeff, splitting a tiki drink at one of our favorite restaurants in Pittsburgh.
Things were finally going smoothly again until Will's birthday, 2015, when Whitaker's appendix ruptured and we spent 10 days in Children's Hospital Pittsburgh having surgery and recovering. Thankfully, we haven't had any more medical problems since.
Those have been our major life happenings in the past five years but life has been full of growing up, farming, camping and most importantly, love.
Hattie's Birthday 2017
Hattie swimming at the end of summer
The big kids camp out on the trampoline at the end of summer 2016.
Hattie gets a big girl bed 2017
Maggie was "Little Miss Butler Farm Show"
Hattie and Molly enjoy a camping trip in Westfield.
Walker played 7th grade football for one year.
The kids go camping every summer with Mimi and their cousins.
Mags and I get to have a special girls night out.
Hattie and Jingles become good friends
Walker takes wood shop and builds a tool box.
Hattie can't leave me alone and brings all her stuff into the bathroom to be with me.
Maggie got a horse in 2015 and has been training ever since. She even had the opportunity to have her horse give rides to special needs children to highlight the importance of equine therapy with children.
A family walk on the beach at our favorite camping spot in New York.
Celebrating my grandfather's 91st birthday
Handsome Willie J 2017
A split photo - Erik as a child on the left, Hattie on the right.
Whitaker's 7th birthday present, Duke, sleeping with Hattie at the Farm Show.
Walker got his first buck on our farm! We had it mounted and it hangs in his room.
Hattie started Children's Hour
The boys decided to play soccer and we've officially become a die hard soccer family. Erik coaches Whit's team and Will and Walker play for a traveling team. They will try out for a club team this month and Walker is trying out for the high school team in August.
Walker at the 4H leadership conference in 2018
Our first litter of "Jack-Auses" Whit's first puppy, Duke.
We had a "Everything but a pig roast" party in October. The kids created a haunted path and we literally cooked everything but pig. We even had squirrel that Walker shot.
Whitaker finally dressed up for the 100th day of school like he was 100 year old.
The cousins get together to pick out Nana's Christmas tree Thanksgiving weekend 2017
I captured Santa putting the presents under our tree 2017!
The Schwalmish must have been very, very good in 2017
Celebrating Walker's 14th birthday at Butler Brew Works where the chef created a special meal just for us!
Hattie at Christmas 2017
Her hair was getting too long and strangely so I finally cut it. Such a sweet little bob. 2018 - first haircut.
Hattie's first Easter Egg Hunt, 2018
Will plays indoor soccer through the winter months 2018
Whitaker had to play in the 3rd and 4th grade league in Basketball this year and excelled for a 2nd grader!
Walker decided to play rec soccer for KASA in Fall 2018. What he lacks in foot skills he makes up for in speed.
The teachers went on strike in March so we took advantage of a nice day and went to the zoo.
At the Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado 2018
Stretching Hattie across the "Four Corners" 2018
Erik and I at Colorado National Monument 2018
At Brynn's wedding 2018
Brynn's wedding 2018
Brynn's wedding 2018
Walker consoles Hattie after the Four Corners incident.
The Walker side of the family, Penrose Colorado 2018
Hattie's first time on an airplane.
Our Family over the last five years:
2013 -at Disney World
2014 - At Pymatuning camping just two weeks after Erik's first surgery! Erik had a pic line and I had to give him IV antibiotics two times a day!
2015 Thanksgiving in my hometown
2016 at my grandfather's 90th birthday
2017 the day of the solar eclipse we went to the Pittsburgh Zoo
2018 Our trip to Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico