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Saturday, 30 January 2010

The crap bucket... literally!

I know not every mother would proudly post anything to do with their child's bowel movements, but I am (and here is the special moment of pause) "special". And mostly because this just down right puzzled us!

It was the usual bathtime bedtime routine... Anika and Ethan playing with toys in the tub... quirting animals, little pots and pans, an old 500 ml yogurt container (used mostly to keep water flowing over Ethan's skin). Nothing too special but it keeps the kids happy in the tub.

Ethan decided he would stand up (nothing out of the ordinary) but this time, he looked up at Duane and got "that look" on his face. Duane paused for a moment thinking, what's wrong? Only to hear Anika exclaim "Essan's POOPING!"

Duane leaps up to see that the little yogurt container that had been floating behind Ethan was on the receiving end of two big droppings!

Seriously? What are the odds of that? Now do you see why I just had to post something about this? I know, I know... most grown ups would probably keep their kids' poop stories to themselves. But where is the fun in that?? I think someone should write a book with collective funny kid poo stories! Perfect coffee table material, I tell ya!

Don't worry, mom and dad, that won't be the book that I end up publishing and dedicating to you! Hee hee hee!

Now that I am done laughing and hoping that you are smirking (or groaning) at this entry, I will bid you adieu hoping that this post finds each of you delighting in your day, maybe even reflecting on your own "funny" moments and asking yourself "hmmm, would I buy a poop story book?" Don't worry, there would be no images!

Ok, ok... enough poo talk. Enjoy your day, everyone!

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Heaven Trees

You should have seen the trees around here yesterday! I call them "heaven trees" because when I was a little girl, I imagined that the trees in heaven would look just like this! (Oh the joys of assuming that earthly elements are also in Heaven... I love a child's mind).

The sky was a sparkling blue as though a crisp ocean of blue frost had fallen into the sky. You can imagine the breathtaking contrast of the white frost-dipped tree tops gracing us with inspiring beauty... one of those days where you could just stop the vehicle dead in its tracks and just LOOK.

Even the air has a different "feel" to it on those days... sound travels as though on the back of ice itself! Almost as though the atmosphere was an optical illusion of fragmented diamonds... you can almost hear crystals in the air!

Can you imagine the infinite beauty of a Creator who can conjure up such spectacular scenic visual indulgence? It's like cheesecake for the eyes! An optical paradise! And a photographers DREAM!

It was also one of those moments where you stop dead in your tracks soaking in the immense beauty for miles and miles around and think, "and God knows such tiny details as the amount of hairs on MY head???"

Doesn't that just take your breath away? When you are a painter, you know EVERY brush stroke, every memory and thought that played a part in the masterpiece for EVERY PAINTING... and God is no exception! He created each and every individual one of us with such detail that He knows precisely how many hairs are on each of our heads. (As a friend of mine pointed out once, it's not that she is losing any of her eye lashes, it's that they have begun migrating to random spots on her body!) So even with every baby-hair-grabbing moment, God knows exactly how few hairs you have left!

And yet this very artist, this Creator of all things conjured up the stellar beauty of our universe, the infinite poetic flow of neutrons and solar systems...

And this guy cares about the hairs on my head??? (and for all you bald people, at least He knows the hairs in your ears or nostrils or on your toes and knuckles so don't feel left out... hee hee hee).

Sigh... one of those humbling moments that reminds me I cannot even begin to fathom His love for us that He grants us such magnificent beauty all around us... that He sent Jesus to die for our sins so that nothing could keep us from being with Him ever again... He wants our hearts to mirror His beautiful creation so that those who have not come to KNOW Him yet may stop dead in their tracks and gasp at the beauty of what they see... stray hairs and all!

I want so much to be like those Heaven Trees. I want my heart to be PURE as the snow and ice that covers their every limb. I want to uplift people's hearts when I am privileged to be in their presence! I want the beauty of God's love within me to offer hope and gratitude.

The journey is life-long but in the end, I pray that my roots will be strong as they grow in their faith that I may one day be one of God's many, many Heaven Trees.

God bless you all out there, for the beauty in your hearts. I am sorry for those who do not see it but rejoice at the ones who do! I am especially glad that God knows your beauty as He looks upon you, His child, with the same tenderness He had in mind when creating all that is beautiful. Thank you for your life! Thanks for being here... a part of His creation.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Praise item AND prayer request

Two things to address today:

One being that today was our appointment with the allergy specialist. They could not believe how BEAUTIFUL Ethan looks! That's right, his skin is the most clear it has ever been! Granted he had a little flare up when we brought some dairy into the house but two days of discomfort is a far cry from the months of pain the poor kid knew!

He is now over twenty-four pounds and I forget how many inches long... way to go motherhood brain... but at least he is in the fiftieth percentile! :) We tested him for a few more things NONE of which came back positive! Granted, he has only been off his hydroxizine (sp?) or rather, antihistamine for three days (supposed to be five for more accurate allergy results). So beet greens, here we come! And seal oil as a source of omega three!!! FINALLY a non-allergen source of omega-3!! Chia seed also came back negative... I know, I know... you're probably looking at the computer screen going "wha?? beet greens? Chia seed? What the heck is chia seed?" We get the very funny looks when we bring in our own "stuff" for allergy testing. You can tell they are holding back the question: "are you serious?"

But give me all the coo-coo looks ya want... we found a source of omega-3! PRAISE GOD! So there you have it. Ethan is nothing short of a walking miracle... an answer to prayer... YOUR prayers! Ok, OUR prayers! Together we united our heart's intention of healing and LOVE for this little boy, and he is doing the best EVER.

Have I mentioned that he is sleeping through the night????? Cue the hallelujah chorus...

Which leads me to my new prayer request. Last week, we brought yogurt back into our home and Anika has been DELIGHTED to have her beloved dairy again. Duane and I had noticed a significant change in her behaviour last year when we removed dairy and gluten from our diets. She stopped getting bladder infections, any behavioural concerns (which were quite minimal) just about ceased altogether, her BM's were finally normal (and there is the poo entry of the day... wait, that is terrible phrasing... there is the poo COMMENT of the day). We have noticed setbacks with any gatherings where she has had dairy and gluten. It's like a whole other Anika for a few days... not fun.

I figured yogurt would be the least harmful of all dairy products... the stuff is half digested already for crying out loud! A couple of days ago, she started doing the sign for "sick" and she said "mommy, I getting sick." I just comforted her and really didn't do anything about it thinking this was just a comment for the sake of conversation. Then a couple of days ago, she passed something in her stool (yes, I am seriously going there right now... for those with weak stomachs skip to the next paragraph...)

Got ya...

Seriously, skip this paragraph if you've got a weak stomach... Ok, she passed something in her stool that seriously looked like intestinal lining. You know that thin wrapper/lining they have on sausages? )Yes, I will have ruined all future sausage-eating moments for you from now on). Well, it looked like that! I called Duane quite concerned but Anika was not bothered by it and Duane didn't seem to think it was a big deal so I felt like I was overreacting.

Welcome back, those of you who were wise and skipped the previous paragraph and can therefore still enjoy sausage. Yesterday, it was very evident that something was not right with her. Sure enough, by bedtime, she was burning up. She didn't sleep all night and Duane and I had to take two hour shifts of lying down in her bed with her. Her stomach was making the same strange gurgling/churning/twisting sounds they would make when she was on the verge of a bladder infection. She swallows lots of air in those moments for some strange reason which just compounds the issue. She told me her stomach and back were hurting. But by this morning, she seemed much better. Still not herself, but much better. Tonight, she is still waking up crying out loud for me. She is in pain but I don't know WHAT is going on.

Is it the gluten she's had? Could she be celiac? My celiac friends out there, can you describe the pains of an attack? Could it be the dairy? She always behaved very strangely if ever we gave her probiotics... could she have an issue with certain bacteria? Or does she have a structural renal issue? There is some renal health history concerns on Duane's side... should we be looking into this?

Or is it just the flu?

Either way, it sucks. I am going off of four hours of sleep in two days and I have no clue how to fix Anika's health issue because I do not know what it is exactly.

So considering the power of your prayers, if I may be so selfish as to ask that you pray for Anika's body to heal and rectify whatever issue has arisen, that would be fantastic. And if we can be made AWARE of what it is so as to make sure it doesn't happen again, that would also be super duper awesome.

Therefore, praise God for the health that we each know, for the healing we have all experienced, the gift of breath, of rest and of hope. For loved ones who look out for us and wish us well and for the goodness of wholesome living. Here's praying that you all have your fair share of all that good stuff! God bless you.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Coming along

The addition is really coming along and we are only a couple more weeks away from delighting in our new space... of FINALLY having Isabel up on the main floor with us again!!! I am so excited about this next phase!

We are still waiting to hear back from Children's Special Services about funding the lift system, the wheelchair ramp and the extra costs involved in customizing the HUGE shower... but the request was put in back in August so we are hopeful that we'll get SOME news very soon. (Time frames in our rural area are VERY different than the time frames I was used to in dealing with the special services program in the city!)

We have DOUBLED our initial budget and Duane is quite down about his dream of farming full time instead of balancing it with his city of Winnipeg job. There is a great deal of guilt here that I am learning to sort through... I cannot help but wonder what dreams he could have accomplished if I had not come into the picture. Not a pleasant thought but my mind has a mind of its own sometimes... hee hee, that just does not sound right.

But such is the way it goes when raising a family. My peace of mind comes from knowing I came into this relationship debt-free and with a very nice amount of equity from selling my home. So perhaps it all balances out in the end? I can always pray that is the case.

This past year has certainly been a challenging one. Duane and I went on our first date in nearly a year on the 7th (yes, our four year anniversary from the first day we met and "knew"). It was the most perfect date! We went to see the movie Avatar which is officially my favourite movie! It was positively BRILLIANT, breathtakingly beautiful, truly a piece of art. But enough on that tangent... it was just a real gift to reconnect with the love of my life.

He has been so present this past year as we have worked diligently together in caring for Ethan (and the other kids, too). But this meant that the farm was put on the back burner... a painful experience for Duane.

You have got to see the way his eyes light up when he talks about his days of farming with his dad. Those two were two peas in a pod. From the age of three onwards, Duane was pretty much Harry's second skin! He recounts getting off the school bus in grade three, drinking a cup of milk and eating a few fudgeos, putting on his coveralls and finding dad out in the field so he could help him work. He says the two of them seldom had to speak... a quiet understanding between them (unless they got into an argument... look out! The Vaags voice would carry right through to the neighbours!). Duane even tried convincing his father that he could quit school and work all the time... when he was in GRADE 5! Harry in all his wisdom told Duane that if he really wanted to farm for the love of it, he would need a full-time job. To this day, Duane thanks his father for that advice and for his cousin who got him interested in becoming a firefighter.

When I ask Duane what he did for fun or as playtime, he replies quite simply "working with my dad was ALL the fun I needed."

Duane has often said about his own honour and integrity "I can only hope to ride on the coat tails of my father's honour. He was always just and fair with anyone we ever dealt with."

It's fathers like these that make the transition of believing in a heavenly father quite effortless. Sometimes I wonder if my own faith in God is somewhat shallow because I have not had to overcome a horrific experience with an abusive or absent father in order to TRUST a heavenly one. How many of you reading out there have been deeply harmed by your supposed earthly father? I ache for you! I wish I could have shared mine with you or Duane's!

But how precious your faith must be to God! Your faith would have far greater depth than mine could hope to reach! Bless you for the journey of healing you have embarked upon or maybe you are on the verge of embarking upon it! Know this, that I could only aspire to have as meaningful a faith as yours! And know that my prayers will find you, whoever you are, that you may journey this UNALONE! (I know, it's not a word but it fits here).

Sheesh, what began as one entry has turned out to be another! See what I mean by "coherent thoughts?"

On that note, have a blessed day! I am called to be your servant. So let me pray for you until it is revealed to me how I can better serve you. God bless... from the bottom of my heart!

The DAZE of my life

If you are anything like me, you are probably snorting with laughter at the pun in that header (proudly brought to you by my father... whom I get the pun-disease from). He read my blog recently (as he is attempting to take on "advanced technology"... proud of you, dad!). He came over yesterday and said, "It's like reading the beginning of a book! You should really write a book and call it THE DAZE OF MY LIFE AS A MOTHER.

So, a little promise in my heart to my father (and my mother, too, who has always been a passionate writer) that someday, I will attempt the humble process of writing a book and its many, many anticipated rejections with the hopes that I will actually have the privilege of dedicating it to my two biggest fans: mom and dad!

One can always dream...

And the dream does not end there! Then I think about all of you who have been joining me, witnessing my life journey, being a part of it through prayer and through YOUR time of checking in... some of you I know personally, some I know indirectly and some of you I do not know at all (in person, that is). But I like to think that I KNOW you as one knows the wind... or warmth. It is not measured or tangible and yet you cannot deny its presence. So how do you dedicate a book to ALL the people who have been a part of it?

Let's just hope that IF/WHEN that day comes, I will know exactly what to write.

In the meantime, I will just continue to blabber and stumble clumsily along my life path, spewing forth whatever comprehensible words I can (assuming I have had any form of coherent thought) and hope that they reach you. Maybe I could even make you smile!

Oh the gift of making someone smile... is there anything more rewarding? Ok, maybe birthing a child, conquering that first PERFECT roast chicken, feeding a small army of people called your family... ok, so maybe there really are some highly rewarding things in life, but making someone smile is definitely up there!

So wherever you are at this moment (hmmm, I guess it is safe to assume you are in front of your computer?) just do me the honour of giving the screen one great big grin! That's it, let's see those pearly whites (hopefully no one has just entered the room and wondered why you are showing your teeth to the computer screen).

Send out that smile, feel it lift your own spirit, let it invite goodness into your heart and its resulting freedom! Do me the honour of being a part of this little moment in YOUR life as I often wonder what I could possibly do for you that you have done for me...

And with that, I bid you adieu knowing we have shared in this little moment. And nothing could EVER touch that. Isn't life just beautiful?

God bless you... the read and the unread... every single one of you!

Monday, 4 January 2010

Gut wrenching experience

Sheesh... this whole "tasting all the stuff I have missed" isn't turning out to be so much fun afterall! I had cream in a cup of Mate yesterday and my stomach went into instant knots with strange gurgling sounds followed by intense abdominal pain within the hour! What the heck???

Then being the not-so-bright person that I am, I tried cream in my hot drink AGAIN today only to experience the pain even more intensely.

Wow, so glad I waited a whole year for this. That pretty much confirms the research I did that stated we are actually not designed to consume dairy beyond the age of two. My gut would certainly agree with that statement about now.

Not only that but Ethan has been sleeping through the night for the last couple of weeks (I didn't want to say anything to jinks it in any way). Tonight, as I type this, he is screaming bloody murder. I tried going in to comfort him but he was clawing at his face and ears. Did my handling dairy do this? Did I have some remnants on me while handling him? What went wrong?

Conclusion? I think we are going to just stick with the NO DAIRY policy. And judging by the screaming child, anticipated sleepless night and my gurgling/complaining gut, I think it's safe to say it won't be too difficult to stick to that policy.

Wish me luck... and for goodness sakes, pray for Ethan to be free of his current discomfort. Thank you so much.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Big step for little feet

This is huge for me...

Yesterday morning was the last time I nursed Ethan. Fourteen and a half months of intense reality wrapped around this simple life-giving act. I will never forget this time last year when Ethan began to exhibit serious health issues that only seemed to worsen. I remember the fear as I watched helplessly not knowing WHY or HOW to fix what was rapidly unfolding before my eyes. The dread of feeling like the knowledge and answers were out there SOMEWHERE and the race to find it.

The guilt of feeling as though it was MY milk causing him the intense physical pain, the oozing eczema skin reaction and writhing pain.

I remember when he stopped having wet diapers... the weight he lost... Duane, my rock of all rocks breaking down when he admitted he feared having to find a small coffin. The tears we shed together when we lathered him in silica gel and he stopped screaming for the first time in weeks and actually opened his eyes! Oh that memory...

Duane yelled for me as it dawned on me that there was suddenly the absence of a screaming child. We had just grown so accustomed to his constant pain. Duane had just bathed him and was lathering him in the silica gel (one of our many, many trials to ease the little guy's burden). I ran upstairs because I feared the worst... I have never heard Duane yell for me like that before and the fact that the crying had ceased gripped me so tightly in the chest. My feet could not move fast enough!

There was our son, sores all over his little naked body, but quiet, calm and starring back up at us. We wept and wept and praised God for the first ray of hope we'd had in what felt like forever!

These are the moments I will never forget!

And the allergy specialist meetings and the search for a formula that he would not be allergic to thinking he needed to be off my milk. But the endless challenge of getting him to take a bottle.

Even now, I see how God played His "fate" card here, too. But at the time, I felt CURSED that I couldn't be free of nursing and the challenge of eliminating (and discovering) all of his allergens. This changed our family's life! For the better.

All of those family gatherings with delicious-looking meals that I could not partake in, the little containers of plain Ethan-friendly food. The countless conversations of "when I am done nursing, I will eat..."

And here I am. I feel like I am holding my breath... like something isn't quite right. But my breasts have already deflated like withered balloons (I know, I know... always too much information but I just gotta be me). Perhaps a more medical term would be "pendulous breasts"... yes, this is actually a term they use for women who want to get a breast lift. Pendulous breasts... phhhft! They've just had the life sucked out of them, that's all!


But here I am... suddenly free of the allergens that have bound Ethan and I together on this long journey to-date. I thought I would be a the Tim Horton's drive-thru by now getting my large double-double and blueberry fritter. Instead, I am contemplating sticking to these countless restrictions for the sake of still being bound to Ethan through them. So he doesn't go through this alone.

I really don't know how we are going to proceed from this point onwards. One thing I DO know... I am eating Sushi for my birthday at the end of this month!!! Sweet glorious sushi from Wasabe on Broadway! But even then, my brain kicks in (as it has been well-trained) and I think "oh the egg in the mayo simply won't do and the fish is too serious an allergen to even be near."

So I will chug a gallon of listerine when I am done!!!

Hunh. Freedom. I thought there would be trumpets sounding or something. That simple, eh? Just... freedom? But I praise God for sustaining Ethan's life through the foods he CAN eat. For the freedom from the fear of me dying unexpectedly and the consequences that would have on Ethan's life. Everything really IS going to be okay.

And THAT is probably the feeling that is gripping me the most at this moment. Now it's time for Ethan to truly start his life... and it really is going to be okay. Thank you, God!! Thank you all for your prayers that have carried us through this journey. We love you so much!

Saturday, 2 January 2010

All over again

Finally, after three and a half years, I am putting together our wedding album through a program on our iMac (loooooove our iMac). I was hoping to add a copy of our vows and went searching through all my saved writings to see if I had a copy of them somewhere. I type this with a smile on my face from the many "treasures" I found and remembered. It makes me wonder if there will come a time (God-willing far down the road) when my loved ones will go through my things when I have passed and smile at the little drawings and poems I have scattered across my life story... God only knows.

I am also somewhat disappointed at the things I had forgotten! If I can share any advice at this moment, it is to WRITE! Get those thoughts down on paper even if it results only in fuel for a little fire. It is incredibly healing and releasing... and should you come across it years down the road, it can be delightful to see how you have changed and grown... or have remained exactly the same!

The treasures I unfolded were the emails Duane and I first shared with each other when we met on lavalife. I had a profile picture that I will post when I can find it again... simple and encompassing WHO I believe I am... happy with who God continues to make me and unafraid of what anyone thinks.

And Duane found this, was drawn to it and reached out... somewhat aggressively (as is Duane's style) but I truly loved him for it. He was straight to the point addressing my then-hyphenated name, asking about my faith and my children. As you have probably guessed from my blog, I am adamant about being honest and open with people. It is my way of respecting others. So when I saw that he was honest and upfront, I dished out the truth without boundaries fearing I would never hear from this poor guy ever again.

His response was of awe! I knew right then and there he was someone special!

The spiritual debates flew from there as we challenged each other, respected each other and GREW from what the other had to offer. He kept asking for my phone number so we could cease the long emailing and get straight to the talking and I refused. It wasn't until I met him and saw his HUGE hands and fingers that I actually felt very bad for all the typing he had to do... on a tiny laptop keyboard!!

When we finally decided to meet on January 7, 2006 (it was a Saturday) it was as though time stood still. To this day, we still cannot understand how we covered so much ground in just a few short hours. Up until that point, we had not spoken on the phone and we agreed that the very first time we would hear each others' voice would be when we met in person. I was falling madly in love with him as he shared himself with me through the written word... a man of deep faith, a relentless desire to learn more of what God asks of us so we can better serve Him, a man of integrity which results in his desire to farm nutrient-dense food as his way of loving humanity. Even as I type this, tears are filling my eyes as my heart swells with love for this man I have believed in since I was a little girl.

And so the very first time he heard my voice, it was to speak his name "Duane?" And he got up from the bench at King's Park and looked at me as though I had something hanging out of my nose. He spoke my name and we hugged and he pushed me back and looked at me again. I was makeup-less and wearing a toque... not exactly my idea of "sexy" but making a conscious point of being "just plain old me."

I later learned that he looked at me with such surprise (and if you know Duane, you know that NOTHING surprises the man) because when he saw me, he KNEW I was the one. My heart knew it, too, but the rest of it didn't kick in for me until he came over the next day. This big man was pouring over my teenie tiny bible as he read me a passage with such passion and love for God... I had to resist from kissing the top of his head and yell "you're the one!"

Instead, Melina said it for me when I first brought the kids out to the farm... sigh. She got out of the car, looked around at the beautiful homestead and said "wow... when do we get to move in?"


Duane just smiled sweetly and said "only time will tell." Bless his steady heart... because mine just about jumped out of my chest in that moment!

So this is the treasure I have uncovered tonight. And I wanted to share it with you. I have married my soul mate. And while we butt heads and challenge each other (and some of us get insane amounts of speeding tickets) we are gloriously and fearfully made for each other. I delight in our union, of our foundation in God and our desire to have that deepen and grow stronger.

So tonight, my prayer is for my Beloved:
To you, my love, that you may KNOW that I love you without condition. That your prayers for me still feel like warmth in my tummy and yes I feel you praying for me when we are in the middle of an argument... you darling, darling man! That I love you more today than yesterday and that you inspire me in many ways. Thank you for finding me and may God bless you forever my love. In Jesus' precious name.