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Saturday, 27 October 2007

Gobble this up!

Our family is expanding yet again… New additions consist of wild turkeys raised by a family nearby over the summer. Apparently these things played with their kids and are quite friendly. Duane brought Mina and me out to meet them on October 23rd. The intro went something like this: “Ladies, this is Road Runner & Angel. Daisy is still up in a tree but will be joining us when the previous owner catches her.”

In a tree?? I didn’t know these things could fly! Or perhaps it is more of a propelled leap? The goats were rather curious about their new pen-mates. There hasn’t been any incessant gobbling (is that a word?) so I’m trusting that peace is maintained amidst the animals.

My previous experience with wild turkeys was back in St-Norbert. There was a flock of them roaming about the outskirts of the city. I would notice them (from a distance) now and again on my walks down the dirt road. One day I drove by and stopped to view them across the street. My window was down and I decided to “communicate” with them. I began my interpretation of “gobble, gobble” only to discover one turning around and racing towards my door. My eyes widened in panic as the turkey seemed to be outpacing my electric window. Luckily the window went up enough to deter the sudden pecking attempts. I have no clue what I said to them, but clearly it was not well received.

So far, Road Runner, Angel and Daisy seem to have far better temperaments! I introduced Anika to them this morning and they didn’t attack me when I attempted a “gobble-gobble”. Phew. Duane thinks we will be “gobbling” them up by next Thanksgiving… sigh.

Until then, we are enjoying their unusual presence and funny awkward walking motions. Never a dull moment here on the Vaags Funny Farm!

Friday, 26 October 2007

"I see" said the blind man to the deaf man on the phone

Hee hee hee… okay, so I’m still chuckling about this despite the fact the incident occurred nearly a month ago. Duane and I were driving the girls to school in the morning and rush hour was crawling by painfully. It was one of those days where a snail could pass by on the sidewalk, then traffic would move and you’d pass the snail, then traffic stops and you sigh to see the snail pass you yet again… you know what I’m talking about, right?

Well, we’re being rather patient and Mina is in the far back seat of the van when suddenly this guy in full body spandex on rollerblades goes whipping past us with ski poles… there was that moment of stunned silence and I asked, “what the heck was that? And what is up with the ski poles?”

And Mina being her ever compassionate and wise self suggested:

“Mom, I think that was a blind person.”

Duane and I looked at each other and burst out laughing. So there you have it, beware the blind man in spandex rollerblading at dangerously high speeds with only his ski poles to guide him… LOL!!!! Mina Bina, you are too funny!

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

My pot of gold

Driving home with the girls from school was delightful despite the ominous clouds far East in the distance. Where we were, the sky was a gorgeous blue. I love those moments where it seems as though two worlds are colliding: happy blue vs lurking doom. As we got closer to home, a rainbow appeared and would you believe that it looked like it ended right on our farm?? Wow! This of course reminded me of a childhood memory which tickled my thoughts and left me smiling...

I remember a rainy day on the farm in Ste-Anne and the sun's pathetic attempt at shining through the clouds now and again. I must have been about five years old. I had looked out the back window and saw a rainbow. It looked so close that I asked my father if we could go in the blue truck and find the end of it.

Without hesitation, he stepped away from his farm work and off we went in search of the pot of gold I was sure we would find. "Go this way… no that way. Okay, keep going this way..." On and on we went and I couldn't understand why it seemed like the rainbow kept running away from me.

I don't remember how long we drove around, but my father never once shattered the hope in my eyes by explaining the reality of rainbows. He let me dream and believe in something that reached beyond reality to discover within myself that I should always chase the never lose sight of that pot of gold.

I was discouraged when we got back home, but the impression I was left with was that I could try harder next time. And the importance was that I had tried at all.

I am grateful to my father for having let me be me. I am grateful to rainbows for representing so many things in my life. And I am grateful to have discovered that it has always ended within me, that my pot of gold is my dreams and hopes for this world. But most of all, I am grateful for the Son for knowing just how to light up this world to bring out the true colors of life.

Sunday, 21 October 2007

"I love you forever" moments

Anika was scooting around in her walker this afternoon and found herself mostly near Izzy. I was working in the kitchen and would peak around the corner now and again to make sure she hadn’t pulled all the cd’s down nor the books from the bookshelf and to make sure she wasn’t trying to pull off Izzy’s glasses again. She is always bright eyed and happy to explore her surroundings.

At one point, I heard her saying “hi, hi, hi” and one peek showed she was next to Izzy who was smiling right back at her. I chuckled to myself and continued working. Several minutes passed and I hadn’t heard Anika’s walker squeaking around so I checked yet again.

My heart caught in my throat…

There was Anika next to Isabel, the two of them watching Izzy’s movie… and they were holding hands! Several minutes passed and I had to fight back the tears. It felt like the most sacred little moment between two sisters who could not speak and yet seemed to understand each other in their silence.

It was breathtakingly beautiful and I will never forget that image.

The rest of the day was busy and while Mina was watching Anika, she yelled out “Mom! She’s crawling!” Sure enough, our baby girl could shuffle a few steps on her own.

To top it off, last week she started saying “ma-ma-ma-ma”. I tell you, with every monthly birthday, she suddenly reaches several hurdles seemingly overnight! She is incredibly bright… such as her problem solving skills with the fridge magnets!

In hopes of keeping her somewhat occupied (and not ruffling thru the garbage again) I placed some animal fridge magnets within her reach. Luckily they are difficult to grasp and therefore believed to remain on the fridge and not in Anika’s mouth (which is where everything else goes!). Would you believe the little stinker slid them down and over to the edge of the fridge with enough force that they stuck a little off the side… just enough for her fingers to grab hold and… you guessed it… place in her mouth. She’s nearly destroyed all of them!

That does it, I am no longer going to take Cod Liver Oil to feed her developing brain! She’s too smart already!! Pray for guidance (and patience) that I may guide these gifts and talents appropriately. I don’t ever want to “snuff out” the light of her gifts because they mean more work for me. I want to embrace this as she grows and becomes the brilliant woman I know she will be one day. Oh my baby darling Anika… where does the time go?

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Summer come and gone!

I am finding myself shaking off the remnants of another summer come and gone to welcome all too soon the crackling of fallen autumn leaves and a sudden crispness in the air. The weather itself seems undecided between these two worlds of seasons… one day is warm enough for a T-shirt while the next requires a sweater along with the welcomed goodness of a hot beverage in your hands. It seemed like yesterday when I was looking out our kitchen window watching the trees burgeon with new leaves. Then one morning I awoke to the trees masquerading in yellow majestic gowns to discover the next morning that they were now humble and bare. Witnessing time escape can certainly make one feel insignificant in the grand scheme of things!

Another harvest has also come and gone. We lost a majority of our oats due to excess moisture so Duane has been busy this fall with ditching the fields in preparation for proper drainage in the next few years to come. I am amazed at his uncle’s innovative contraption which reminds me of a massive snow blower… but for mud! Sometimes I think men get to play with cool machines! But then I see Duane spend a majority of his time fixing them and I think “maybe it’s not so fun afterall.”

Among the harvests this year was our little garden that Duane’s father so graciously tended to on our behalf. (He is still recovering from his stroke so continued prayer on your part is much appreciated.) Duane and I had never planted zucchini, spaghetti squash nor pumpkins before so we figured several plants of each would be a good way to start… No one warned us these creeping vines would take over the garden and multiply like crazy! We have an abundance of pumpkins and now I am on the mad hunt for pumpkin pie, cookies, muffins, bread, pudding and soup recipes. Any suggestions send them my way! If any of you would like some, come on over! Mélina and Duane plugged away at collecting our ample supply.

This was my first year having my very own garden and I couldn’t help jumping up and down and giggling like crazy every time I’d walk into the garden to see an abundance of vegetables growing right before my eyes! My very own produce store… within walking distance, too! The beets are so beautiful when you’ve peeled them to uncover a rich burgundy that could put any king’s most luxurious cloak to shame. And Duane’s open pollinated purple corn revealed intricate detail and colour in each and every kernel. How breathtaking!

Farm life continues to be just as ample in life lessons as it is in its harvests. Sometimes I think even more so! The art of attachment to cute fuzzy little animals is slowly being flushed down the drain as I’ve watched nature be all too cruel in its saying “survival of the fittest.”

Mama duck abandoned the rest of her eggs after four hatched. Only one is left alive. Consequently, “Duckie” remains the only duckling name to be used.

Of all the kittens born (7 litters of 4-5 kittens each), only a few are left. I have learned to be careful what I pray for because I had prayed that God help us “take care” of all the extra cats without having to “dispose” of any of them… a rampant feline disease answered that prayer… (sigh). Next time I will be more specific and ask that we find homes for all of them!

Caring for the chickens was fun, for the most part. Watching them pool near the door when I would greet them in the morning and then spill over each other in a clucking frenzy to get outside was always amusing. Collecting the eggs in random hidden spots made it feel like an Easter egg hunt every day. Even the shapes were unique: one hen always laid some warped egg that never fit in any cartons (that must hurt on a daily basis!) while another always laid a long narrow one, another was pointy and another had a very bumpy texture. Who knew they could differ so much? Our brown hens stopped laying despite my threats to make soup out of them. Chicken à la King, here we come! At one point, I would sing to them every morning and sure enough within weeks, they went from laying 15-18 eggs to 23-25! Then they dropped down to 8-10 eggs a day when things got cold (or my singing got worse?). At least my children don’t complain!

Speaking of children, Anika has developed by leaps and bounds (almost literally) these last couple of months. As I type this, she is roaming about in her walker (yes, I know they are outlawed) pulling down my cds because she’s already taken down every book from the bookcase… now I hear her ruffling through the bathroom… (sigh). Perhaps I should be thanking the Lord that she cannot walk yet?

On October 5th, she decided to master the art of sitting up from lying on her tummy and then back on all fours. She cannot crawl yet but instead manoeuvres her way around using a move similar to “the worm”.

On September 22nd as Melina and Duane were heading out the door to Mina’s gymnastics, Anika decided to wave bye-bye from my hip. I guess she’s seen me do it countless times and finally decided to join in. This has been followed this past week by her saying “Hi” and waving to nearly everyone and everything she sees. And when she’s quite enthusiastic about seeing you, she waves with BOTH hands.

Those busy hands have figured out yet a few more signs including “all done”, “diaper”, “eat” and “more”. I routinely get her to either turn the light on when entering a room or turning it off when leaving so she has that down to an art. Her little hand will pull back and reposition until she’s got it right and then she pushes the switch accordingly. Too smart!

I continue to delight in witnessing her grow and discover the world. Cuddles are becoming more frequent as are kisses. Last night, she actually said Ma-ma… but we’ll see if that was coincidence or if we’re finally on to something here. The weather was nice enough these last couple of weeks to enjoy daily walks together (which she lived for!). Outdoors continues to be her favourite place. She can spot the quad from a mile away particularly since I took her on a very slow little ride to find Papa one day. Her little hair blowing in the breeze and her little legs kicking in sheer excitement.

It amazes me what can be understood between two people without any words. Her love and fascination for her big sisters continues to grow. Despite my silly attempts to dance and goof around for her, I do not get nearly the giggles Mélina gets when she’s simply walked into the room! Every time we walk passed Isabel, Anika waves and says “Hi”. When sitting together, she goes straight for Izzy’s glasses. Izzy is rather tolerant of Anika’s pokes and grabs.

My other silent in words but loud in presence daughter, Isabel, is also growing like crazy. She is now in an integrated grade 3 program and continues to delight the children and staff around her. She loves the weekly swim program but still cries at the sound of her physiotherapist’s voice.

She’s lost four teeth in the last month! This fall we got her new fancy fairy dust glasses along with new AFO’s for her legs and feet and orthopaedic shoes. She has grown so much that I can no longer pull her onto my lap for cuddles without something hurting during or afterwards. This is somewhat challenging to accept. But life has to keep going and children keep growing. It makes me think of “I’ll Love You Forever” by Robert Munsch… only I wish I could be strong like the son and still rock Isabel back and forth as she ages.

Mélina continues to remind me that she is a Pre-Teen and not a child anymore. So, naturally, I have allocated non-child-related chores and correlating allowance. She fills out her daily chart and gets paid on Fridays. She is becoming quite money savvy and gladly, the more she saves, the more reluctant she is to spend it! (I’m so proud!). I took her clothes shopping this fall. My deal was that I would match whatever she earned and saved over the summer so off we went to the mall. She brought her gift cards and added up some practical outfits to discover they exceeded her gift cards by nearly forty dollars. She went thru the clothes and narrowed it down to an extra ten bucks out of her own pocket. Another proud moment.

She has handled getting braces rather well although every now and again she freaks me out by greeting us early in the morning with a protruding lip full of Kleenex to prevent the metal from scraping her lips. Most unexpected! She is loving being in grade 7, particularly the musical theatre class.

She is a calm presence and her wisdom can catch me off guard at times. And yet, that playful side to her that longs for an old fashioned doll house reminds me that she is still my little girl. She is so helpful around the house and not always because of her allowance. She is working hard at school and takes pride in the increase of marks she is getting over the years. We’re still working on getting past the fear of asking questions in class (I remind her how she NEVER hesitated when she was little). The weeks back and forth between here and her dad’s can be rough on her at times. Being the wise soul that she is, Mélina points out that there are pros and cons to each location but appreciates the time spent at either place. I love that she describes our home here as “wind in the grass”.

She spent the summer chasing and taming kittens. She made posters to help find homes for them. She rescued a bird that flew into our kitchen window (among many). Forts made of straw bales remain hidden treasures in the hay shed and now there is a secret hideout in the forest someplace. I delight in having her around.

As for me, I have found a new passion… making homemade bread. This is not helping me whatsoever in my battle of losing the pregnancy weight. But nothing beats a hot piece of fresh bread with melting butter. Finding time to write or even to relax in a bath is a luxury I have stopped hoping for. Duane is phenomenal in helping when he can but with summer being his busiest time of year, I dare not expect anything more from him! Soon the season will settle with the first blanket of snow and my husband will no longer be a figment of my imagination… I’m just teasing. He has been amazing!

Duane fills my heart with laughter and sometimes frustration, but I can never stay mad at him for more than a few minutes. My family always laughs and asks me to retell the story of our pregnancy scare shortly after Anika’s birth and the fear in Duane’s eyes followed by the most unexpected comment: “But you’re not remineralized yet!” Only Duane would be concerned about the state of my health and my ability to sustain another life. I love that about him. He gave me one of those “looks” when I was cutting my nails with great difficulty the other day and said “oh honey, looks like you’re remineralized!”


He is my odd duck and I’m a strange nut… somehow together we work. My heart always skips when I see him pull into the yard or walking towards the house. I thank God for him every day, except the moments when he walks in at the end of the day and I’m exhausted from cooking meals and tending to a very wrangy Anika and he says “Um, what did you do all day?” Yeah, not so fond of him in those moments. He learned quickly, though.

I think the best part is our constant quest for Truth sought out thru scripture. I love debating him and neither of us back down from challenging several points of view on a certain passage. I can look at the sunset and say “Isn’t God amazing that He could create something so beautifully repetitive without ever making it the same?” without Duane looking at me funny. Instead, he’s got that same look on his face that sings “How Great Thou Art”. I LOVE that! I can finally be me without someone thinking I’m completely nuts!

Well, I started this off somewhat poetic and now I’m ending it with a silly grin. I’ve lost the eloquence I was aiming to have and am left with a giggle in my heart instead. I wish all of you the greatest joys of life along with the reminder that intricate details are abundant around us without our awareness. Perhaps we can take note of that when we feel the world is crashing down on us… there is so much more to life that just ourselves. In fact, we are but mere specks in the grand scheme of things in this universe. But I love each of you little specks just as you are and the BIG presences you are in my heart!

God bless!