Search This Blog

Saturday, 5 April 2008

Mooooving news!

Well, I am officially a farmer's wife...

A couple of weeks ago, we purchased a pregnant Dexter cow. Dexters are one of the smallest cattle breeds and they are known for being hearty (good considering our climate), grazing similarly to goats on fewer acres and for having a docile temperament. All good for this family!

My dad and Duane picked up Minnie-Moo (Mina's name choice) and we were quite excited to greet her, although she didn't think the "moooove" was so much fun. She is cute as can be but there is one dilemma... she has rather pointy horns. Hmmm, I'd better establish a good relationship with her before I attempt milking her. Speaking of which, would you believe my father found us a device called "Udderly EZ Milking maching"? How awesome is that?? Well, for this pun queen, I found it very amoooozing.

As the past couple of weeks have progressed, Minnie has become increasingly more at ease on the Vaags farm. Even the goats peek over their pen to greet her now and again... that is, if Maggie isn't too busy butting poor little Libby around in there!

Tonight, Duane left to work his night shift and he warned us that he thought Minnie was going into labour... great. I've never seen a cow in labour before. What if she needs help? What do I do? Shall I offer to hold her horn?

Mina and I ventured out at 9:00 pm to check on her and as we walked into the pen, it appeared that her water was breaking. Great timing, eh? Next she was arching her back and was clearly not having a fun time. We stuck around for about twenty minutes then finally let her be. I called a family friend who manages cattle and he advised that if I didn't see a little nose and feet within the hour, to reach in and check if a nose and feet could be felt nearby... and if needed, to pull the poor calf out.

Pardon? Wouldn't it be my luck that as my arm is half way in there, Minnie would turn around and hoof me with her horns?? Then where, pretell, would I land with one arm stuck in the cow? The image in my head was not pretty... but I was willing for the sake of the cow and that calf.

So twenty minutes ago, I changed into some "I don't care if this gets cow poop and discharge all over it" clothes (mostly Duane's stuff) and headed out with Mina to see if our Minnie needed some help.

Thank God almighty we walked in to find her licking her baby calf!!!

So I didn't have to stick my arm anywhere undesirable, but surely the fact that I was WILLING makes me a good farmer's wife, n'est-ce pas??

In passing, am I ever glad that we as humans don't have to lick our own babies clean after birthing... how's that for leaving you with a disturbing thought? God bless everyone! And man o man is nature ever fascinating!

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Some cute video clips

View this montage created at One True Media
Anika the magnet sleuth

View this montage created at One True Media
Sisterly Love

View this montage created at One True Media
Anika's jolly monkey feet

View this montage created at One True Media
Anika & the change pad dilemma

The attack of the killer turkeys

Springtime air is making its presence known and Duane thought it a good time to let the turkeys run loose amidst the yard.

Over the winter, we discovered that Daisy was infact Daisy “Duke”. We were wondering why one turkey kept getting bigger and puffier and uglier!! He never posed much of a problem; however, you could tell he was becoming a little territorial when we’d come into the coop to feed the goats and the chickens in the morning. He would just slowly walk towards you, excect when you turned your back… that thing could creep up behind you eerily fast! Every now and again, I would puff myself up with my big winter jacket and let him know who was boss.

The three turkeys have been enjoying their new found freedom these last two days; however, when I walked into my kitchen to look out the window yesterday, I let out a little scream when perched right there were our massive turkeys pecking at the window… and admist them, the big ugly Daisy Duke himself looking at me with some sort of new found power… can you say “creeeeeepy”? Tapping on the window showed an eager-to-peck-my-fingers-off side of the turkeys I had never seen before. Once again… creeeeeepy!

Just now, Anika and I were looking out the window and noticed them grazing just below near the bushes. Anika couldn’t quite see them so I decided to wrap her in my jacket and take her out for a quick peek. As soon as we got out there, Daisy Duke came barrelling towards us puffed up like a peacock or some war-adorned warrior. Normally, just pretending to kick at him would ward off any uncomfortable approaches, but he barely flinched as he continued to come right at us. I started running for the steps and sure enough was stuck having to turn my back to go up the stairs with Anika. The stinking crazy bird flew up and tried attacking my back!! Our poor neighbours… I screamed bloody murder! Sadly, no one has come to see if everything is fine yet… how reassuring. Gotta love country life!

This is worse than having guard dogs! I don’t even feel safe trying to get out of my house. I have to see my midwife this afternoon so I’ll have to get the van armed with my frying pan. Home sweet home…

So I just phoned Duane at work quite shaken up and we may be having Turkey for dinner sometime in the next few days. Anyone up for a feast?

Tuesday, 11 March 2008


Ever since we have introduced solid food to Anika’s diet, the routine has been: placing her in her chair, putting on her bib, pulling the highchair up close and then holding her little hand as we say, “Thank you God, for this food. In Jesus’ name… AAaaaaaaamen!”

Every now and again when we are all sitting together and we bow our heads, Duane will lead us in prayer and Anika will wait anxiously to hear Duane say “…in Jesus’ name…” because we all chime in together and say, “AAAAaaaaaamen!” It has been a couple of months now that she joins in but the priceless thing is her little voice yelling “MEN!”

So I chuckle because I think us women can relate to yelling this in exasperation at times… and perhaps more prayerfully than we realize! LOL!

The best part was when I was in a hurry one day and I sat Anika down for her lunch. I scooped a spoonful and started it towards her hungry mouth when she looked at me and said “MEN!” Woops! Even my baby is humbly reminding me to give thanks to God for the abundance and nourishment we know in our lives.

For those who believe adults are the ones to teach children clearly have never had their own!

Imagine That!

Last week, Anika and I were playing with her tea party set and I pretended to pick at some food on my little plate and ate it. “Mmmmm” I said to Anika as she looked at my fingers and then my plate. I did it again and she smiled. I picked at my plate once more and started to bring the imaginary piece of yumminess to Anika’s mouth. To my delight, she opened her mouth, pretended to chew and said “mmmmm”. Next, she picked at her own plate and shared with me!!

It’s so much fun to be witness to someone else discovering pieces of our world, both the tangible and the intangible. It’s one thing when they discover grass or their reflection in the mirror. But it’s a whole other feeling when you witness them discovering thought, memory and make belief. The mind is so powerful… thoughts direct our actions and reactions… I pray that I can nurture Anika’s discovery of this in the most life-giving way. God almighty, give me the wisdom to shed Your light upon my children’s discoveries… that they may see you in all things. Amen.

Sunday, 2 March 2008

And TRUTH shall set you free

I think I can safely say that I have spent my whole life living a willingness to share very deeply and openly with anyone and everyone. Why is that?

Afterall, there is incredible risk in being misunderstood and judged.

There is incredible risk in being written off as flaky.

There is incredible risk in someone assuming there is an ulterior motive at play.

And while these risks can leave me scared enough to just keep my mouth shut, I continue to believe that in scattering the seeds of truth, even if only my own, with faith there can be growth in places I didn’t know to anticipate.

Someone asked me once, “what do you benefit in sharing your intimate life details with others?”

Benefit? If I did it strictly for my own sake, what would be the benefit considering the risks I mentioned above? When I share, it is with the deepest HOPE that others will not feel alone. It is with the deepest HOPE that others will feel invited to open up and shed their burdens that prevent their own growth. It is with the deepest HOPE that someone will recognize that I risked my heart in trust… and that must make them special. And with the deepest HOPE that in sharing, they will allow me (and others) to LOVE them.

I suppose there is a part of me that believes that if I confess my sins openly, that I am accepting accountability. It’s one thing to confess to God who is already all-knowing. I am not telling Him something He doesn’t already know. I never worry about being misunderstood by Him because I know He journeyed in my heart, trying to guide me despite my ignorance while making mistakes. I can recount my steps with Him and identify where I chose not to listen. I know that while there is fair judgment, there is always unconditional love.

But it’s so scary when you share your mistakes with others who do not know what you contemplated in your mind before choosing wrongly. All you are showing them is the end result of your mistake and that can leave many to believe nothing had been learned at all, or that heartlessness is prevalent in my heart… and that’s what makes me ache in taking the risks I do.

But without fail, every time I have risked, someone has approached me and shared deeply in return. Is it not worth the risk, then, that among a hundred people with whom I share, ninety-nine may judge me and write me off while only one’s heart may be moved to shed their own burdens and be freed?

I have just opened my bible for guidance and lo and behold I came across the parable in Matthew 18 about the lost sheep. I am struck by the same choice in numbers that I used above:
“What do you think a man does who has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost? He will leave the other ninety-nine grazing on the hillside and go and look for the lost sheep. When he finds it, I tell you, he feels far happier over this one sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not get lost. In just the same way your Father in heaven does not want any of these little ones to be lost.”

Does this not affirm taking that risk? And earlier on, I came across:
“I assure you that unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the Kingdom of heaven. The greatest in the Kingdom of heaven is the one who humbles himself and becomes like this child. And whoever welcomes in my name one such child as this, welcomes me.”

I am most humbled when I share openly. Should not my brethren rejoice rather than take offence or become uncomfortable? Should not my brethren welcome me in my vulnerability rather than judge? But if my sharing makes anyone uncomfortable, my HOPE again is that their boundaries be challenged… challenged so as to either welcome growth in their existing faith or else solidify what is already there. Perhaps making others uncomfortable is not so bad afterall? Not everyone is ready to hear or welcome truth… but truth does not live in convenience. Truth always challenges. How else could Jesus use the simplest sentence of truth yet cause incredible uproar?

So I will continue to be who I am and be fearless in my prayer and hope that TRUTH will challenge others… yet through that challenge, they will discover freedom.

Perhaps it is similar to my “bad dancer” theory. Anytime I have been to a social or dance of some sort and the dance floor is empty, I gather up my courage and go on the dance floor and dance like an idiot. Why? Others will laugh and think I’m a loser! But you know what? Within five minutes, the dance floor is full. I am guessing that some believe “hmm, no matter how badly I dance, I won’t look as bad as that poor girl.”

Maybe if I confess and share openly, others will feel they can, too.

“and they would turn to me, says God, and I would heal them.”

Tell me, then... is that not worth the risk?

Friday, 8 February 2008

Whale of a time

Oh me oh my!!! Mina and I ventured out on a guided tour to do some whale watching yesterday. The boat was one of those inflatable tubes… I was just hoping no sharks thought it to be a meal on rubber! We learned so much about whales, particularly the humped back, particularly how the mother keeps her 1 tonne baby over her pectoral fin (her wing) so she can lift him up for air. Not to mention, there is always a third whale that glides below the mama and baby called, the escort. This is essentially their protector. Sure enough, we came across a mama and her little baby… well, I’m not sure that the term “little” can be used for something that weighs more than a tonne! Up we see the little spout and back followed by the bigger mama. Oh it was just incredible! Eventually, after we followed them for a while, the little one decided to get rambunctious and started jumping out of the water for a splashing good time. Oh he was soooo cute! I could just picture the mama sighing as her little one jumps about… I bet you she was trying to get him to go down for a nap!

The lessons learned on the trip were much appreciated for today…

Duane hired someone to transport Mina, Anika, himself and me by motor boat across the Banderas Bay to the other side where Mina and I would be swimming with dolphins. On that boat ride, I saw a shark jump out of the water only feet away as we whizzed by… much to Mina’s distress… poor girl… it was only two years ago that she couldn’t go swimming in a pool without getting her cousins to make sure there were no sharks in it.

Moments later, the boat came to a stop not even fifty feet away from a huge whale tale flapping against the water… OH MY GOODNESS!!! I grabbed the video camera and captured the incredible display! I’ll try to convert the video and upload it because I find it truly phenomenal… a highlight of the trip for me. He smacked the water over and over as Anika watched with fascination. We all were! Eventually, his back came up and he made an incredible noise from his spout. Oh you guys… it was unbelievable!

We followed this with our dolphin swim, Mina’s favourite animal. This, too, was an unforgettable experience as we swam with our own dolphin per group of five people. She was so rubbery to the touch and super duper fast! She would disappear and then suddenly pop up right beside you! Good thing we were in water… Mina certainly seemed to be in her glory and I hope this is something she'll cherish for the rest of her days. I know I will!

When we jumped out, we all got a chance to get a “kiss” from a huge sea lion! Man o man, this huge head came whipping around and placed its whiskers and fishy mouth on my cheek while some guy snapped a picture… this thing could swallow my head whole! But she was sure cute! Stinky, but cute!

Jeepers, I think that was the best day EVER!

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

The Advil Liquigels Bus

Ah yes, riding the buses of Mexico… I call it a ride because the only other place you’d experience anything like this is at an amusement park. I’ve never been bounced around so ferociously in my life! Poor Anika, I held on to her so tightly… although she LOVED the bus and almost always falls asleep on it. Mina has accepted it as the way to travel around here.

To my dismay, I watched as the bus driver barely stopped to pick up a young mother who was nursing her baby. She hopped on, paid the bus driver as he continued to pick up speed and round corners, and she found a seat without batting an eye. Her baby didn’t even stir!!! I can barely carry that much grace IN my chair holding on for dear life!

I think those buses should carry sponsored logos by any headache or nausea remedy!

Yesterday, we got to visit with Duane’s uncle Jack and his wife Nancy and her parents, Doug & Florence. It was a delightful visit. We ventured into Mismaloya where we dined in a restaurant that literally had free-ranging chickens running around and a pitiful looking dog wandering about our feet. Hmmm, who mentioned the sanitary issues here?? It was challenging trying to let Anika walk around yet steering her away from chicken poop and stray dog germs. But the openness is something I absolutely fell in love with here. There are no doors or glass windows, just wide open space into shops, stores, vendors, restaurants… just wide open.

Trying to picture Winnipeg attempting that kind of openness during summer months… no one would leave their homes due to mosquito human massacres!

Monday, 4 February 2008

Leaping Lizards!

My fever lasted three days but with every passing day, the beauty of Mexico took over all uneasiness and began to fill me with awe. Sunday we walked through Mismaloya to the local zoo. We laughed at the many different animals and the freak out sessions when we’d feed them zoo treats. I nearly had a heart attack when I saw an ostrich… I had no clue those things were so massive!!!

By far the best part was playing with the tiger and leopard cubs! Mina and I went into the pen and held tuckered out little cubs. They were surprisingly heavy for their size and their huge paws reminded me of what these “cuties” would eventually become.

Later that evening, we rode the bus to town (a story in and of itself) and walked the Melecon (boardwalk). Sundays are when all the locals come out and it is one big fiesta along the ocean… performers, musicians, vendors, lots of food, etc… The waves were crashing along the shore and the mood was certainly captivating. Quite a cultural experience.

Monday, as I was walking out of our internet café at the hotel, I noticed a lizard scurrying by. Of course, I giggled because they look so funny. I followed it to the edge of the pool (which by this point was quite nice and warm much to Mina’s delight). Thinking I had cornered the little stinker, I inched closer to him. To my dismay, he got up on his hind legs and RAN ACROSS THE WATER!!! Even the lizards are religious!!! LOL! I nearly bust a gut laughing my head off! You should have seen him. He looked like he was leaning back and his feet were running like the road runner. Man o man, if only I’d caught that on video.

So far, Mexico is certainly starting to grow on me… just like these strange bug bites.

Friday, 1 February 2008

Feverishly Hot

The drive to Minneapolis on the 30th went off without a glitch. I think I even did ok as a back seat driver (although perhaps Duane would attest to that differently). We arrived around 5:30 pm and welcomed the opportunity to stretch our legs, particularly poor Anika who managed phenomenally well in a van for nearly eight hours! Mélina didn’t even ask “are we there yet” once! It really was a good drive out.

The next morning, however, would not prove to be quite so non-glitchy. I woke up feeling positively wretched… feverish, dizzy, nauseous… Dear Lord, help this pass QUICKLY! We were shuttled to the airport and were airborne later that morning. Mina and I were cramped with Anika on my lap and Duane sitting a few rows ahead. There were no videos to watch and Anika hadn’t napped yet in the morning. Finally, thirty minutes from landing, she falls asleep. Mina and Duane switch spots and I am left looking up at Duane with dizzy eyes and an increasing fever. I thought we were supposed to get sick IN Mexico not on our way there!.

To top it off, our layover in Denver left us with only thirty minutes to board the next plane. We got off at gate 70 or some ridiculously high number and we had to boogie to gate 26 lugging three fifty pound carry-on bags… yeah, good luck! By the grace of God, there was a motorized vehicle at our arrival gate and they shuttled us the several miles to our next gate where I shoved some lunch down Anika’s throat and boarded yet again.

At this point, I’m trying not to faint.

Finally all three of us get to sit together on this next plane and we each have tv screens right in front of our faces. Anika tolerated the flight quite well considering her cold.

At painfully long last, we arrive in Mexico. At this point, I am convinced they will take one look at me and send me back home. Luckily, we pass through customs without a glitch. We make our way to collect our five hugorama pieces of luggage where we come across a nice Mexican man offering to help us with his trolley. Duane is relieved and proceeds in loading it up. The Mexican makes conversation and walks us to his buddy who is a cab driver… oh, well isn’t this nice? Duane proceeds to pay the guy five American dollars at which point he stares blankly at the bill in his hand. I ask him (again, trying not to faint or slur my words) “do you need pesos instead?” only to have his “buddy” say “give him more!” Oh really? For walking with us for five minutes? So Duane gives him ten… still not enough… we give the guy 15 flippin’ bucks for doing diddly squat!!!

Welcome to Mexico!

Now I am convinced that the cab driver is going to take us to the middle of nowhere and demand that we give him all our money or he’ll leave us stranded. I think I’m going to throw up…

After many silent prayers, and sixty dollars later, we arrive to Casa Iguana. At long last, our vacation can finally begin!!! Oh, apparently we are NOT getting a suite on the main floor… great. Up we go with stroller and luggage to the second floor. We open the door and…. Yikes, this is not at all what we were expecting! It’s quaint and cute but quite small. Upon closer inspection, it is infested with tiny ants crawling everywhere, our fridge was barely working and our two element stove top only had one element working… great. I can barely walk straight and I tell Duane and Mina I’ve got to go lie down. I nearly got a concussion from lying on our bed which was as hard as plywood! Mina, who had been waiting anxiously all these weeks to go swimming (because she is secretly a fish) wasted no time. As I began to pass out, she was already in her swimsuit ready to “test the waters”. When I awoke later that evening, Duane let me know that Mélina had cried herself to sleep.

WHAT?? Now what?

Casa Iguana had just refinished the pool and filled it with water that day so it was freezing cold.

Okay… what have I done??? I am ready to go home NOW! My fever was well over 103… I was scared to fall asleep and find out ants had been crawling in my mouth and ears… I thought my hips were going to break off from the firmness of our bed… I didn’t know where to put any of our groceries down without ants laying claim to it… and now my poor Mina couldn’t do the one thing she wanted to do the most. What have I done?
So folks, we started off the trip feeling positively miserable and desperate for a miracle that would change our hearts. And as always, the Lord delivered…

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

I think I can, I think I can…

At long last the time had finally come to prepare to leave for Mexico. We were less than 24 hrs away from driving out to Minneapolis where we would fly out to Puerto Vallarta… the very place I have been dreaming of visiting since I was fourteen. As fate would have it, a blizzard warning came into effect. I drove the girls out to school that morning and had to make a bit of a revving start through a snow drift that was making its presence known at the end of our driveway. Thought of encouragement? This time tomorrow, we’ll be headed for warmer weather.

A windchill warning was in effect plummeting temperatures to -46 degrees Celsius. After ploughing through several snow drifts throughout the morning drive, I finally made my way back to our driveway. The snow drift had become rather mountainous… but I was determined to get my overtired one-year-old into the house for a nap. I gained some speed and gave it my best shot… only to end up royally stuck in the drift. I ran to the house to grab a shovel and began a humble attempt at digging myself out. It hurt to breath and within seconds, my nose and ears felt like they were going to burn off from frost bite. Jumped back into the van where Anika was now sleeping peacefully. Took a deep breath and called Duane at work. In a meek voice, I explained my dilemma. Suddenly, the engine light chimes… great. What else can go wrong?

Once again, humility took over when our poor neighbour (and cousin to Duane) Roger came over to dig me out of my mess. I felt so bad sitting in the warm van watching him get redder and redder in the face as he was digging me out of my own not-so-smartness. Finally it came time to push so he moves over behind the van. One, two, three! SMASH! I think humility visited Roger as he looked at me and said, “I just pulled a Duane… I pushed on your rear tail light and busted it!” See folks? Whenever you ask “what else can go wrong?” you ALWAYS get an answer! The van still wouldn’t budge and now it was missing a tail light and we still needed to inspect the engine light issue… and this is the vehicle that is supposed to carry us safely through to Minneapolis? Sigh. Mexico was looking further and further away.

After a few more shovels of snow and a switch in position, I managed to help push the van out while Roger steered (clear of the other tail light… just kidding, Roger! Hee hee hee!). Now we needed to get the van in quick for an inspection, plus get the tail light fixed and still pick up the kids in town by 3:30 pm.

Luckily, our mechanic is phenomenal and he hoisted up the van and chipped away all the ice that had wedged its way into the mechanics and belts of the engine. Duane’s captain managed to locate a tail light for us and was willing to let Duane install it at the fire hall assuming the gong didn’t go off and they had to attend a call. I was late picking up the girls but at all was forgiven when we picked up some Tim Hortons. Off we went to Duane’s hall to fix the last problem… the tail light.

Once there, the van needed some serious thawing before the boys could remove any screws and other mechanics. Finally, they managed to get the broken tail light off and began wiring the new one. I was standing back with Anika in my arms when I pointed out… “um, you guys? Why does the one in your hand look exactly the same as the right tail light?” Sure enough, they picked up the wrong tail light!!! Off goes the ever-so gracious captain to fix our problem. An hour and a half later, we finally finish fixing the tail light and off I go with all three girls to get home to my no-doubt-burned-lasagna at this point.

Final packing details are taken care of and finally it feels real that we are going to Mexico… but what a journey to get there!!! The Lord does not hesitate to prepare our hearts of true appreciation!