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Monday, 25 April 2011

Some Ethan-friendly treats

My other sister, Diane, has also been on the lookout for wholesome treats that Ethan can partake of.  We were sooooo delighted when she found these amazing Yummy Earth Lollipops.  In fact, that company makes DELICIOUS gluten-free vegan treats of lollipops, gummies & candy drops.  My understanding is that all their lollipops and drops are kosher parve, certified organic & gluten-free; however, their gummies are only certified gluten-free.

You can typically find them at your local health food store but you may be surprised to see them popping up at your  local grocery store, too.  They are certainly gaining in popularity.  We order ours from

We love these treats that contain actual pure vegetable juices such as black carrots & pumpkin.  Yes, I know... you are likely making that funny face of "say what?  Vegetables??" but make sure you TRY these before you diss them!  You will be pleasantly surprised, I assure you!

We keep them on the counter and hand them out "like candy" to all of our guests.  Surprisingly, the parents look forward to them as much (if not more) than the kids!  Hee hee hee.  So be sure to "treat" yourselves to some of these guilty-free candies.  And thank you so much, Diane, for finding this AWESOME treat for Ethan.  I cannot describe the feeling in my heart when I see him looking at what every one else's eating and delights in knowing he can have some, too!

Linda's Rice Crepes Recipe

Once again, my sister Linda has come up with a DELICIOUS Ethan-friendly recipe.  This time, he gets to eat crepes.  I had found a few recipes online and tried them with little to no success.  Thankfully, my sister is more diligent than I am in finding a vegan/gluten-free recipe that MUST work.  Sure enough, she came by and made these for Ethan who ate seven of them... yes, SEVEN!  So for those of you living with dietary restrictions, here's a good one!

Linda's Rice Crepes

1 cup rice flour
2 Tbsp corn starch
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup water (or more)

Blend five first ingredients in blender.  Add water until right consistency.

We like frying these in Becel Vegan Margarine (lactose-free & gluten-free).  They actually stay in tact and taste great!  Hope you all enjoy them as much as Ethan did.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Just a spoon full of sugar!

In Anika's case, just a spoon full of sugar kept the medicine from going down!  But not just any sugar, D-Mannose... the glyconutrient that has kept her bladder infection free for six months now!!

Back in the fall, I had posted about our last attempts to heal Anika's recurring UTI's naturally before filling out the six month prescription of Septra antibiotics her urologist had prescribed.  Anika was suffering from high fevers, back pain, vomiting and other serious ramifications to bladder infections particularly late summer and early fall.  She'd had a few since she was a year old but they seemed to be getting worse.  Ultrasound showed no structural issues but a VCUG live x-ray did indicate the bladder's reflux towards her right kidney.

Hence the referral to a pediatric urologist in the fall.

Do you know what I wish?  I wish the dialogues I start with specialists about potential nutritional deficiencies, natural remedies, etc... could be met with a healthy dose of intrigue rather than the same old "oh... you're one of those parents."

Yes, we want to fuel our children's bodies to work as God designed them to work, using the very FOODS he gave us to fuel it and heal it with!  Argh... I am quickly making my way towards a rant...

Deep breath in... remember, Rita, these are people who genuinely believe what they are doing is right... they have spent years being trained that way... questioning that training content, whether founded or not, will never be a "fun" feeling for anyone.

Needless to say, we left that fall apointment holding a six month antibiotic prescription for Anika, no questions answered and a feeling of "is that it?  Long-term meds or surgery??"

Cue the classic Rita-Mom question... "but surely there's more to this than that??"

And God led me straight to the curious findings of D-Mannose powder.  So I thank you once again for joining us in prayers for Anika.  These have led us to some great findings which have also helped others whom we know and love.  Would you join with me in prayer that the medical community, responsible for the public's health, will begin to seek answers in what God provided for us naturally?

Below is a letter I just submitted to the Mayo Clinic in hopes of sparking more official research in this department:

Dear Sir or Madam,

I know it is not always welcomed to investigate natural remedies but I was truly hoping that my own experience could help others who suffer from chronic UTIs.

My four year old daughter has level three reflux from the bladder to her right kidney and has suffered severe UTIs (and we suspect kidney infections) since she was a year old.  Her urologist had prescribed a six month round of antibiotics and my hesitancy led me to try desperately to find an alternate method of treatment.

Yes, I know... there's that word... alternate treatment.  But bare with me as I truly hope this could spark some interest in official research.

What I found was the glyconutrient, D-Mannose.  I found hundreds of stories about this simple sugar floating in the bladder and e-coli letting go of the bladder wall to cling to this sugar.  Full blown UTI's were being cleared within two days (IF UTI was caused by e-coli).

Given that my daughters chronic bladder infections were consistently caused by that pathogen, and given that there are absolutely no issues with a "spoon full of sugar", I gave it one last shot before turning to Septra antibiotics.

If you are a parent, I know you can empathize the sheer relief, the tears of joy, when my daughter's suffering finally stopped!

She has been UTI-free for six months with routine urine analysis indicating NO abnormalities whatsoever!

Her urologist discharged her as a patient with no interest whatsoever in why this D-Mannose has worked.  

This powder is affordable to all families with no ramifications whatsoever... but where is the clinical research to support such findings?  Other than countless testimonies, I cannot find many actual articles.

I know natural remedies mean that patents cannot be made, profits cannot be had... but surely for the sake of our fellow man, woman and child, could there be motivation to research what is available by nature alone?

I hope this can spark an interest in one of your researchers as I know the Mayo Clinic is known for its ethical approach to healthcare.  More than anything, I just want others to benefit as our family has.  Blessings to you from our family!

And with that, my dears, I bid you adieu with thanksgiving in my heart for the healing that Anika has come to know now.  Bless you all out there!

Friday, 22 April 2011

A bicycle built for two... or three... or four!

We are now the proud owners of a Freedom Concepts adapted bicycle for Izzy!

We have a few minor fixes to make (pedals don't keep her feet in & handles are just a little too far away) but all in all, this bike is incredible!  I can hardly believe we can finally go on family bike rides!!

Duane watched eagerly from the window in anticipation of the bike's arrival.  His curious nature wanted to see what kind of vehicle would be used to deliver the bike to our farm.  We were delighted when the bright vehicle pulled in and Duane dashed out there as though the bike was for him and not Izzy!  Before long, he came back in the house somewhat winded saying "that thing can barely fit in the back of the truck but we can transport it with the cab down & strapped in... no trailer needed."

And I chuckled to myself as it dawned on me just how economical it will be for us to take TWO vehicles to our local provincial park for family bike rides... hee hee hee.

The next step was attaching the kids' trailer to the bike to see how well that could work (okay, and for additional comic relief).  Once again I laughed as Duane pedalled around with the toddlers in the back and Izzy in the front.  He had to take wide turns similarly to semi trucks on the road!  I think instead of a tiny little bicycle bell on the front of that thing, we're going to need an actual horn.

All that's needed now are some matching spandex cycling gear & helmets and we'll be the coolest cats in town!  (Don't worry, Melina, I AM kidding!)

This morning, we were honoured to host my family for a fantastic brunch and they blessed us with a collaborative monetary contribution towards the bike AND an incredible healing service for Isabel.

(Cue the tears... sheesh!)

We filled the room (nearly thirty of us) and surrounded Isabel who lay on her bed.  Healing hands, powerful prayers, tears shed and a collective cry out to God for a healing miracle for Isabel Faith... these and so much more united us in our love not only for Isabel, but also for each other.

I tell you all... I would not have been able to face my life journey had it not been for my family!!  I am child number five of six kids and those of you who come from a big family, you know what I am talking about.  We are our own little (or not so little) community and no matter what life flings at you, there is this timelessness... this underlying love that sees you through any differences and/or challenges.  When anyone needs help, we're all in there like dirty gloves helping each other out!

When we all lived within ten minutes of each other, we would do weekend blitzes at alternate homes tackling big household to-dos in one shot.  We'd end the day with a hearty meal together, prayers and laughter and maybe even a game of canasta.

My beloved family... your prayers, your support & presence have been the wind beneath my wings.  I love you so much.

And for those of you who cannot figure out why I sign up for the crazy life of having many children (hey, I can't blame you... sometimes even I need a reminder), well, there it is.  I want my children to have that same gift of communal support all the days of their lives.  I want them to have each other through thick and thin because at the end of the day, what other people think is not what matters... but knowing you share DNA with some pretty awesome people out there in the world, does.  Nothing can touch that.

Some people don't understand our big family motto and have had some questions about quality of time spent with each child.  Well, it's not as much as one-on-one but the kids seem to delight far more in collective time together than one-on-one (although individual cuddle times are sometimes requested... and not just by me!).  Duane and I won't always be here but the kids will always have each other.  And that's what we want for them... a sense of family... of belonging... always.

And that's why this bicycle is just an awesome tool to help foster that sense of togetherness.  I can hardly believe that we actually get to go for FAMILY BIKE RIDES now!  Oh Spring!  Hurry up and make your warmth and presence known that we can kick off the snow from winter and make haste towards the promise of fun-filled summer days as a family!

Thank you for your prayers and the ways that they bless our family.  I love you all so much and pray that you, too, can partake in our family's joys knowing that you played a part in it, too.  Thank you for YOUR presence and the sense of belonging I have every time you check in on our lives.

I am privileged.  I am honoured.

God bless you all!

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

A song for you today

Music is so unconditional... it comes from the heart (at least the really good music does) and it reaches past any barriers, conscious or unconscious, to reach you deep within.

A dear friend of mine shared this link with me and because I am a huge folk fan, it made me smile and tap my foot to the beat.  I closed my eyes and let the worries of the day slip away for just a moment.  Of course, once it was done, my desire was to "share that feeling" with all of you!

So here is a Manitoba band called, Red Moon Road, and their wonderful song, Frost.

Whether you are a folk fan or not, here's some good music to reach you wherever you're at in your day... from my moment of peace to yours...

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Izzy's spine update

Isabel had an appointment at spinal clinic yesterday...

If you recall, her last appointment was back in March of last year at which point x-rays indicated two major curvatures of her spine (scoliosis).  Thankfully, they were matched at 35 degrees out each which meant she had a "balanced" deformity.  The doctor at that time did not suggest putting Isabel in a brace given that the brace would merely keep her balanced, which was not necessary at this time.

"At this time..."

Oh those blasted words drive me nuts.  Why do we have to wait until something is ACTUALLY a problem rather than work to PREVENT it??

The doctor wanted to monitor her curvature with x-rays every six months.  Depending on how quickly her spine was worsening, he would:
a) prescribe a body brace, and/or
b) suggest a highly invasive surgery of inserting two rods alongside her spine and fusing them in proper alignment to her spine.

Naturally, we did not like the sound of this.  Hopefully with proper monitoring, more diligent position changes throughout the day and some desperate prayers, we could avoid any drastic measures.

Six months came and went and we were scheduled to see the spine doctor again.  And then he cancelled our appointment... rescheduled for the next month... and then he cancelled the day before... rescheduled for the following month... yep, you guessed it, cancelled.  This has gone on since the fall!

Needless to say, we were holding our breath all of last week anticipating that call again.  Meanwhile, I have been watching Isabel's spine worsen and worsen.  Or was it just me?  Surely I was just imagining it?  More positive thinking, imagery of her spine straightening, surely it was okay to ask for another miracle?  Right?  (Even as I type those words, my heart sinks at the selfishness of that request as we have already received more than our fair share of miracles!).

Finally, Isabel saw this doctor yesterday.  We were originally scheduled to get x-rays as we had not done any since the fall but because the doctor had not yet reviewed the fall x-rays, none were taken.  Which angers me... what good is a six month old x-ray??

Regardless... the six month old x-ray was already showing in increase in curvature by an additional 15 degrees!  Now instead of 35 and 35 degrees, these six month old x-rays showed 50 and 45 degrees curvatures!  What would recent x-rays show???  And why aren't we getting any to find out??

To look at her spine now makes me want to cry.  And in some cases, I do.  Her lower spine is so out placed that it is on the SIDE of her lower back!  Where she should have a lower spine, she has an indentation from lack of spine.  Even as I type this, my eyes are welling up.

What pain is she in?  Could I have done something different?  Can we do something now?

The course of action recommended by this doctor is a body brace for now and to prepare ourselves for the reality that Isabel is fast approaching the need for this surgery.  For any of you with a strong stomach, I have a video link to the surgery itself.  It is a high risk surgery...

High risk...

And for what?  Is this a case of high risk potential high gains?  Or is it high risk, high pain but corrected spine?  Or will it relieve her of pain she has now?  Oh what I wouldn't give to have her speak, even if just for a day!  The things I would ask her!!

"Do I scrub your face too hard?  Do you like the music we play for you at night?  Are you sick of little kids' movies?  Do you want me to read to you more?  Do you want your room a different colour?  Which position feels most comfortable for you?  Do you want to sit at the table with us at mealtimes or keep watching your movies?  Do any of your meds make you feel sick?  How much pain are you in?  Do you want to do this surgery?  And my dear precious child.... are you happy?  Do you know how much I love you?  "

Dear God almighty... if only for five minutes!  What I wouldn't give to HEAR her heart's desires!

I recall fighting her fundoplacation surgery (tying the base of her oesophagus to stop her constant vomiting) when she was five years old.  Some people I had talked to said it was horrible, painful, invasive.... these words scared me!  Was it necessary?  Would she survive?  But at only twenty pounds of skin and bones, we had no choice left.  And it turned out to be her LIFE SAVER!  She doubled her weight in one year!  And being bigger made her stronger to fight infections!  We went from visiting Emergency several times a month to almost never!  Why on earth did we fight this??

I struggle with that impending decision now, too.  Just a tiny bit of research can lead to various feedback... One young woman shares her story of undergoing the surgery on youtube.  Then there's another woman's story of how the surgery ruined her life!  ARGH!!  What is best for Isabel?

I am jumping the gun here... but I want to be ready to face that decision and I pray from the bottom of my heart that James and I will be on the same page about it, too.  Nothing seems worse than when we do not agree on treatments.  At least we are always open to discussion and surely we will face even this challenge with the love we share for our daughter.

Because Isabel's curvatures are less than 70 degrees, she is considered a moderate case.  Should she progress beyond 70 degrees, the severe twisting of the spine could cause the ribs to press against the lungs, restrict breathing and reduce oxygen levels.  The distortions could also cause dangerous changes in the heart.  Any curvature reaching 100 degrees is considered "severe" and both the lungs and the heart can be injured.  Not only that, but these patients are susceptible to lung infections and pneumonia.

So please... from the bottom of my heart... join me in a visualization process of healing for Isabel!  Look at her picture, of her spine, and join me in just imagining it healing.  Surely such powerful intentions could reach her as much as we have "felt" prayers?  What have we got to lose?  And pray that I "hear" her in whatever way she can communicate to us what she needs.

If nothing else, then prayers that her life be wrapped by the grace of God... that she continue to make those around her fall in love with her... that she be comforted by God's will for her purposeful life.... that she be as pain-free as possible, and that we cherish every moment she is with us.  Oh how I love our Isabel Faith.  Thank you for joining me in that.  God bless you all... from the bottom of my heart.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

A bike for Izzy!

I am pleased to inform you that we are in the process of getting Izzy a very special bike.  A very LARGE bike (we'll need to carry it using a flat deck trailer) but a bike nonetheless!

It is called a tandem bike by Freedom Concepts which essentially is one massive tricycle with a specialized seat for Isabel in the front.  Her feet will be strapped to the pedals which will move along with the cyclist enabling a good therapeutic repetitive motion for her otherwise immobile legs.  (Hmmm, say that sentence five times real fast...).

Izzy's in-school physiotherapist had written a letter of recommendation back in the fall to our Children's Special Services program along with the quote of $5,000 (plus taxes).  Yikes!  Yes, you read that right!  The good news came in this past week that CSS has agreed to fund $3,200!!!  Not only that, but when Freedom Concepts learned that the bike was not being fully funded, they agreed to lower their price to $4,000 (plus those lovely taxes).

This leaves our family with a bill for $1,023.20.  I'd say that's a lot more plausible than $5,000!!!

My dad has given each of his grandkids $100 each year on their birthdays since their births, so thanks to my dad's contributions over these last eleven years, we are able to fund the difference.  (Thank you so much, Dad!!!).

So watch out world!  No seriously, watch out for the extremely large tricycle with the little dinky ringer bell... cuz the Vaags family is going to dare some cycling adventures this summer.  Oh yeah!

Thanks again for your prayers, everyone.  Our blessings are certainly coming at us in abundance (I think to make up for the Florida trip!!) and I thank each of you for that.

Lovingly, respectfully and eternally grateful...


Sunday, 3 April 2011


Alright everyone... take in a deep breath... hold it... hold it... hooooold it... and now, let it all out.

Ahhhhhhhhhhhh.  Squeeze out just that last little breath and the next breath you take in will fill you with release, more oxygen and a feeling of intention that you have just taken a second to look out for "you".

And that is what Sabbath feels like for me!  Oh beloved Sabbath!  Do I dare imagine where my mental state would be without you?  Do you know what dawned on me not too long ago?  When God commanded us to rest on the seventh day (as He did), He sanctified that day... not for Him... but for US!  I did not quite understand that at first, but man o man, does it make sense to me now!

I have no doubt that you know the attempts at "rest" when your  body is crying out for it only to have the mental background noise kabosh any true rest due to the nagging haunting "to-do's" and "you should be doing..."  It's as though Sabbath is a commandment for our brains to stop, allowing us to commune more meaningfully with family and/or friends.  It's our PERMISSION to rest!

I did not realize how much noise my brain made until we started observing Sabbath (from sun down on Friday to sundown on Saturday).  The mental hubbub gets swept under the rug (or generally tossed out the window!) and I can literally feel the smile growing on my face, my shoulders dropping down (why on earth were they up to my ears in the first place) and peace settling into my soul like a welcomed visitor!

This is actually the first Sabbath our family has had in a couple of months!  Not by failure on our parts to TRY to observe it but just due to life in general.  With Duane's shift work, he worked for quite a few of those Saturdays and for about four of them, Melina was invited out to be with either family or friends.  With me at home alone with all the critters, Sabbath was not feeling "set a part" but just like any other day!

So today, I relish in this opportunity to simply "BE" together... (as I leave my family to stare at my computer screen... the irony is just hitting me now).  Duane is usually quite purposeful (taking kids outside) in giving me these chances to connect with you all.  You know, there really is something prayerful for me to open my heart and share my thoughts and life events.  It brings me great peace and I pray that it can give you something, too!

There is so much to catch up on!  For instance, there was my pathetic attempt at honouring Purim a few weeks ago...

Purim is not one of God's appointed times but it is a significant historical event for the Hebrew nation when one of their kind was taken in as Queen at a time when a royal decree was proclaimed to slay all Hebrews (men, women, children) on a certain day.  If you have the chance, read the book of Esther (it's a quick read) and be amazed at the "poetic justice" enforced upon the man whose heart served only himself.

Anyways, the holiday is celebrated by feasting (of course) and sharing meals with others, particularly neighbours, the poor, the shut-ins and the widows.

And this is a part where I reveal a weakness or shortcoming of mine.  Whether this "instinct" comes from having been a single mother living on very little income, I do not know, but it is one I am in the process of "shedding".  What is it, you wonder?  (Deep breath)  I struggle with GIVING things away to others.  Oh I can lend things out, but not without making a mental note of making sure I eventually get it back.

It sucks.  It feels selfish, untrusting and just so petty.  I literally have a mild panic attack wondering "but what if I will need it?"  How silly given the fact that it may be something I have not used in a long time and regardless of the fact that I MIGHT need it someday... the fact remains that someone could use it NOW.

Duane gives of anything and everything he has!  His vehicles, his time, his machinery, his tools... anything and everything... no questions asked, no hesitancy on his part.  It drove me nuts at first but now it just humbles the bejeebers out of me!  Besides, WHAT we have is not by a result of OUR own means!!!  Our provisions are just that... provisions!  All that we have is thanks to God so in essence, if it comes FROM Him, then it belongs TO Him!  If what I have came from Him, why would I ever adopt the notion that is is mine?  If someone asks for something, should it therefore not be giving out without a single expectation of having it returned?  Shouldn't it be given out as though passing on a GIFT from one to the next?

There are times where this can happen, no problemo.  But other times where I find myself making that mental note.  Quite frankly, I want to get rid of that reaction.  And Purim was presenting a fantastic opportunity to do just that!

One of our next door neighbours (about a five minute walk away), is 93 years old, near blind (yet still shovels her walkway as though no snow has ever fallen) and has been a widow for many, many years.  I have been her neighbour for over four years now and not once have I ever walked over to introduce myself, to bring her a meal, or just simply offer her the comfort of knowing I think of her and wish her well.  For days, this weighed heavily on my heart.  Like an answer to prayer, the weeks leading up to Purim, my readings delved further into its historical significance and hope began to flicker inside my heart as I imagined making a few pots of soup for our dear Mrs. Oliman (whose name I have changed for privacy's sake) and bring them to her in individual servings.  I could even make it a Sabbath tradition... bring her some soup and challah bread (when I'd finally get back to making it!).

Oh the feeling in my heart was incredible!  Finally, I could use our provisions (provided by God) and share them with those He has trusted in our care!

A few days went by and we suddenly received a call from Mrs. Oliman's grand-daughter.  She was rather upset asking us to please run over to make sure her grandmother was okay.  She had been trying to reach her since the night before with no luck.

And what does my guilt do?  "See?  If you had just been a present neighbour, this would not be happening!" 

"Duane!  I am going with you!  I want to make sure she's okay, too.  And I owe her an apology."

So off we went, nervous and scared at the moment that was impending.  Duane banged loudly on the door (as she is losing her hearing, too) and we heard shuffling within.  (sigh of relief).  She opened the door and I proclaimed "MRS OLIMAN!  I AM YOUR NEXT DOOR NEIGHBOUR, RITA, AND I WOULD LIKE TO APOLOGIZE FOR NOT COMING OVER TO MEET YOU BEFORE NOW."

Now I have heard some tales about this woman and I am sure you can imagine how "feisty" this woman must be given the fact that she is living fully independently (on a farmstead) at ninety-three years of age. I think part of the reason I had not come to meet her was because I was afraid!  (Boy, I am sure doing a fine job of painting a lovely image of my weaknesses today).

She looked at me (or slightly passed me as her eyes do not work) as we both stood there for a moment... my thoughts: did I say that loud enough?  Should I hug her?  Is she contemplating calling the cops?  Suddenly her stern look relaxed as she said "Oh... come, I give you coffee."

As we sat at her table, Duane looked over at me with a warning look and hand gesture of "do NOT drink the coffee!"  I looked angrily at him hoping he could read my mind of do NOT make gestures around a blind woman! And besides, I also wondered how much that "sixth sense" could come into play here, too!  Regardless, given the debt I felt towards this woman, I would have accepted a cup of fermented fish heads!  Thankfully, it was instant coffee instead.

It fascinated me to watch her manoeuvre around her kitchen so effortlessly despite being blind.  She called me over to the cutlery drawer and said "Here.  You put how much coffee you want in your cup"

I looked down at the fork she offered me and said "Okay, but I might be here for a while."

She grabbed it back, put it directly in front of her eyes and said "Oh... I get you a spoon."

Before long, we were sitting at her table with a package of cookies before us.  Would you believe she said that she was happy to finally meet me and that she had often debated walking over but was worried she would get hit by a vehicle?  (And cue the tears of guilt)

No, I did not actually start to cry but I did reach out to touch her shoulder and say, "I am glad you did not put yourself at risk... again, I should have been here sooner."

And then I asked "Mrs. Oliman, do you like noisy children?"

"Yes, I LOVE them."

"Good, because I happen to have a few of them and I would like to bring them to meet you."

"Yes, yes!!  I would LOVE that.  I will play with them!"

By then, her granddaughter had arrived proclaiming "GRANDMA!  You scared the crap out of me!!"  So I got to meet her granddaughter as well.  At Mrs. Oliman's previous comment of wanting the kids to come over, her granddaughter leaned over and said "Good luck with that one... it is a minefield around here!"

Sure enough, i finally began to look around and noticed the plethora of porcelain decorations everywhere.  Yikes, hopefully Mrs. Oliman is better at parting with earthly belongings than I am!!

(nervous laugh of shame)

We left and I was that much more determined to step out of my lovely world of intentions and step into the world of ACTION.  Oh trust me, in my pretty world of good intentions, I am such a wonderful person!  In the world of following through with action?  Not so good.  Okay, okay... I suck!

But along came Purim!  Finally, an opportunity to take out those brand new casserole dishes we got for our wedding nearly five years ago (yes, I really am aware at how ugly a picture of myself I am painting here but I vow to be honest with you all... and myself) and decided I would make a few casseroles and bring them to surrounding neighbours (two in particular who appear to be struggling with paying their bills).  It is time to let them know that I am here for them in any way that I can be, that I think of them and that I want nourishment for them... and a casserole dish!

(Cue Mega-Nice-Mom of grandiose - and unrealistic - dreams)

And then I can make a big pot of spaghetti sauce and bring a jar to ALL our neighbours on our road!  And Melina and I can bake two separate kinds of cookies and have a lovely plate of cookies, too!  Oh, and the kids can do craft time and make lovely "Happy Purim" cards!  Oh it will be a happy Purim for EVERYONE!  And the world will hold hands and sing Kumbaya... all will be good!

Told you my world of intentions was real perdy.

(Cue reality)

Purim was finally here and Duane was gone all day in a meeting and then off to work a night shift so it was me and the five kids.  For some reason, I thought it would be smart to start this whole "project Purim" when the kids would go down for nap in the afternoon.  Stupidly thinking that Anika might want to partake in the baking part, I let her stay up... which meant Ethan had to stay up (darn those puppy dog eyes and his pleading to stay up with Anika!).  Alright, so I figured I would put a movie on in the living room with pillows and blankets so that Ethan would eventually fall asleep.

Next, I told Melina to choose one of the two cookie recipes.  "Mina, keep it simple... something quick and easy but delicious."

I had chosen cowboy cookies and she opted for some strange "healthy" recipe out of my "healthy cooking book"... not a place I would have looked for a yummy cookie recipe... but hey, I gave her my criteria and I trusted her.

Next was "make a list of the ingredients we'll need for both recipes and I'll run to the store quick to get them."  Off I went into the nearest town.  It wasn't until I started grabbing plain yogurt that I started questioning the recipe Melina chose.  But there was no time for questions... we had to bake these cookies and make a spaghetti sauce in time to drive up and down our road to about ten families with a meal, desserts, homemade cards and a friendly introduction!

Got back, had to nurse Sivana, then it was change diapers (including Isabel's).. oops, forgot about getting Izzy her water and setting up her feeding... and did Ethan poop again?  Naps did NOT happen so we were ambushed by crying fits and meltdowns.  And shoot, how would we distribute all these things?  Do I just leave Isabel, Anika, Ethan and Sivana in the van still running while Melina and I run to these people's doors bearing gifts?  It takes about forty-five minutes to dress & load all the kids... we are quickly running out of time!  And will this be well received or am I just going to freak out the neighbours?

We got one batch of cookies made.. phew!  Spaghetti sauce was well on its way.  Then it was time to tackle "Melina's" cookie recipe.

Good grief!  I should have definitely doubled checked!!  Mix flour, cut in butter, add yogurt, form dough, roll into ball, REFRIGERATE FOR THIRTY MINUTES (are you kidding me?), then cut into sections, roll out each section.... oh and then it's create inner mixture via food processor, add to individually rolled out pieces, ROLL each piece, then CUT into 1/4 inch slices (which caused each piece to unravel... so in essense it was 'cut each piece, re-stuff it then re-roll it"... ARGH... lay on cookie sheet, bake for... get this... THIRTY MINUTES, turning over once half way through!!!  Cripes!!!  I doubled this blasted batch!!  We are not going to be done making these before nine o'clock at night!!!

The kids are screaming around us, I am barking orders at Melina who is now looking ready to pack her bags and hitch hike her way to "anywhere but here!" and the sauce burned to the bottom while I was trying to make these horrific nightmarish "cookies"!  The kitchen is an absolute battle zone of allergens, the kids are now colouring on themselves rather than the Happy Purim cards and someone is now knocking at the door....

Are you kidding me??  (And this is why I live happily in my world of good intentions!!)

By the end of the day, we finally ate our supper around 8:00 pm, the kids were fit to be tied (napless and hungry), Isabel was crying to have her movie restarted, Sivana was an hour past her bedtime, Melina was in tears feeling guilty for the horrific disaster that was "the cookies" and I was nearly crying myself from feeling like I cannot get anything right!!

Happy Purim, everybody!!!

So there you have it, folks, I have successfully revealed to you that I am a hoarder who struggles sharing unconditionally what is not even hers, I yell at my fifteen year old daughter for picking a cookie recipe that I should have double checked, I do not visit elderly neighbours or bring them soup until it is nearly too late, and I thrive cowardly in my world of intentions because I let the real world of action overwhelm me.  Any of you want to be my best friend??  (sad laugh)


Oh the work that is needed in my heart makes me sad some days.  But those are the humbling moments that remind me never to judge anyone else... to never point out the fleck in someone else's eye due to the monumental log in my own!  And as I struggle to be the person I WANT to be, it reminds me to love everyone else for being on that same journey.  None of us are perfect... and I think that's what I like most about it... I get to love you from the bottom of my heart (and all its own faults) for simply "being".

God bless you all out there.  May this find you laughing at the very challenges in your own life that stretch you and force you to grow... and may you love yourself unconditionally in that process... because SOMEBODY does!  And that in my perfect world of returning emails promptly (or at all!) and/or phone calls, I have sought each of you out to hug you and thank you for being here by the sheer will of God!  I humbly love you!!