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Saturday, 26 November 2011

Family update

Sometimes there just isn't a better feeling to be found than sitting comfortably on the couch with thick, happy, freshly fallen snow plumping out the world outside your window as you sip a hot coffee watching your children be who they are.

How does one describe that feeling in the heart when everything that is your whole world is right before your eyes... dancing a silly dance while the littlest one claps her hands and the other is trying to wrap himself up like a cocoon in his favourite blanket?  While the eldest is strumming away on the guitar and the second eldest coos with delight at the level of activity that surrounds her?

As I gaze from one beautiful face to the other, it still chokes me up to know I get to be their mom!  These little life stories, already written from beginning to end, unfolding before my very eyes!  What privilege to be witness to these lives!  Sometimes I get so lost in it all, I really do forget that there is a whole world outside my own door.  Some days, I am not even sure if the world outside my door even matters!

When we sit around a meal and thank God for our food, these past few weeks, an added note of thanks has crept into my heart like never before.  I have to swallow the lump in my throat when we thank YAWEH for the food from His bounty as it dawns on me the added level of deep gratitude I have that I do not have to watch my children starve.

And what of the families that do?  Here we are feeling like we are sitting in the lap of luxury, feeding our leftovers to the dog and cats, while there are parents out there whose hearts are aching as they watch their very own little ones go hungry.

How do we fix that?  How can I fully appreciate the sheer privilege of the bounty we know without taking it for granted?  This is something that has weighed heavily on my heart these days as I have watched my children... well-clothed, well-nourished, sheltered from the cold of winter and the chill of abandonment.  I write to you today with a great humility in my heart as I thank God for our freedom to raise and nourish our children without any fear.  It is good here for us... more than good.  Makes me mad that I still choose to complain about things at all!  Argh... why is the learning curve so pathetic??

Alas, let me share with you what I have been witness to lately where the children are concerned...

Little Baby Vaags is growing bigger and stronger every day.  We are officially twenty weeks along which brings us to the half way mark of this pregnancy!  Wow... half way there!  Before we know it, our newest addition will be right in there with the other ones with the silly dances, cuddles with mom and dad and all sorts of shenanigans!  We have our ultrasound on Monday so if we are able to get some pictures, I'll be sure to post them at this section of the update.  I do feel that God had told me before I was even pregnant with Sivana that we were meant to have a boy and a girl, yet.  We've had our Sivana and so I believe this is our little boy.  BUT, I have been wrong about these "feelings" before so we can all laugh at this posting if April comes and another little girl joins our family!  We are excited either way to receive the blessing of a new life as each one has brought more to our family than words can say.

Which is why I have been so puzzled by the varying degree of reactions we get from people when they see our whole crew or find out we're having a sixth child.  Some people literally look at us with disgust!  Can you believe that?  Where is new life ever a disgusting thing??  Where is the camaraderie of brethren ever a disgusting thing?  Where is having an entire network of family connection a bad thing?  As we watch the littlest ones play together, help each other, hug each other (and yes, even the moments they struggle with the concept of "sharing"), there is a sense of community and of serving more than one's own selfish needs and desires that is fostered here.  If we are to live in a world where we look out for one another, how on earth do we expect that to come about if all we ever do is live by the motto of "gotta look out for number one!"?  But I digress...

Sivana is a real hoot of a character!  I thought she was going to be our quiet one but she is more our STRONG but quiet one!  She is by far the most like Duane in character.... she will merely point at what she wants with such authority that you find yourself giving in to whatever she is "asking" (or is it "telling") you she wants!  At the first sign of affection, she will push you away and nearly right hook you!  She has already given our sixteen year old nephew a bleeding nose!  And she is so rough and tough that she herself has had about six bleeding noses!  I've had maybe two bleeding noses my whole life... two.  She's not even two years old yet and she has out roughed most of us in this household!  Things really do have to be on her terms or you'd might as well forget expecting anything from her.  In fact, if she knows you expect it, she'll deliberately withhold!  For months and months we kept trying to teach her to walk.  Finally on October 31st, after we'd finally stopped encouraging her, she just up and started walking.  By the second day, she was nearly running!  Then she decided to FINALLY pop those two top teeth AND grow some hair... it was a major week developmentally!!  We often jokingly call her a shark because she has to be constantly moving (just like her papa).  A shark apparently cannot stop moving and apparently, neither can Sivana!  Not even for one minute to drink her bottle!!

She took a nasty tumble from the top of the stairs last Friday... it was the most horrific thing to watch, especially because I was only a few steps above her and could NOT for the life of me catch up to her as she flipped and summersaulted down those steps!  And no amount of yelling "STOP!  MAKE HER STOP!" was doing a darn thing!  The worst was watching her jack knife the square pillar at the landing which knocked her down a few feet onto the corner of the bottom steps and onto her face!  It was so horrific!  She bled from her nose like crazy and I was terrified that jack knifing against her back like that would harm her kidneys!  To top things off, she has been very, very sick since Wednesday with fevers reaching as high as 105.6!  I feared a bladder infection but a trip to Children's Emergency and a catheter urine sample showed no signs of infection... thank the good Lord!  But it has been really tough to see such a highly active little girl become a very lethargic fragile little being these days.  All in all, I have to thank God that He gave her such a feisty and strong nature as I have no doubt this will bring her far in life and have her outfight many of life's obstacles.  We love our little "peanut" (she's the only "nut" allowed in our house!) and thank God almighty that our fear of having more children after Ethan was outshone by His desire to have her life be a part of ours!  We could not imagine a moment without her!

Speaking of Ethan, he probably has the most "character" in this house... yes, even more than this outlandish mama!  He is so strong in his personality that I struggle with wondering if I should be fighting it all the time or working with it!  His obsession (and I do NOT use this term loosely) is anything to do with firemen!  His aunts and Grandma bought him a firefighter's suit for his second birthday last year and that kid has practically LIVED in it ever since!  The basement has become his "firehall" where he proclaims after breakfast, "Okay, Mom... I've gotta go to my firehall now.  Have a good day!"  I give him a kiss, remind him to go potty first, and then tell him "Okay Firefighter Ethan, but don't forget to come back for lunch!"  He can play down there for hours!  I peeked in on him once only to see him sliding down the arm of my treadmill (which he knows is against the rules) so I said to him "Ethan, mommy told you not to climb the treadmill." to which he responded while still being wrapped around it, "Mommy, I'm NOT climbing it... I'm HUGGING it!"

Smart kid... he knows I'll never argue about hugs!

His imagination is downright impressive as he comes back from his "firehall" to tell us stories about HIS firefighter.  He has named him "My Firefighter Dad... the OTHER one" which has Duane looking at me a bit funny!! I reassure him as I point out that Ethan has told me that his other firefighter dad apparently has no teeth and sometimes poops his pants, too... just like Ethan.  Wow... what a catch!  But it has been quite helpful to find out how Ethan really feels about things as he often uses his firefighter to express similar experiences to his own...

We've been dealing with lots of "accidents" lately and sure enough, so has his firefighter!  It's been handy to use this to ask Ethan questions like "Your firefighter pooped his pants, too?  How did he feel when his mommy got frustrated with him and had to clean the toilet seat, and his pants... and the floor where he sat down to try putting his underwear back on?"  "Oh, he was very sad.  He didn't like making a mess everywhere.  And then his mom took the fire hose and cleaned his bum really good!"  Sure enough, I had put him in the shower and hosed him down with his last incident!  Which happened to coincide with a moment when Sivana had just vomitted all over the kitchen floor!  Man o man that was not a good night!

He is also strangely particular about his drinks of water.  They have to be "a TALL drink of water" (which means nearly to the rim) and it has to be "fresh" (which means really cold).  He's so picky that there have been times he has taken a sip and thrust it back at us and yelled "I said FRESH!"  Aye-yay-yay!

But one of his cutest moments is when he comes in from being outside with Duane, walks into the kitchen where I am preparing our meal, leans against the counter with his rosy cheeks and says "So, how's it going in here, Mom?"

On Thursday I took him with me to do a grocery shop and as we were stopped at a red light, I turned around and looked at him so cute and handsome in his car seat watching every aspect of the world outside the window.  I smiled and said "Guess what?  You're my FAVOURITE Ethan in the WHOLE WIDE WORLD!"  He looked at me, smiled and said "Thanks, Mom... and you're my favourite mommy in the whole wide world!"

Yes, I will buy you a pony now... if you weren't allergic!

Anika is our sweetheart... always looking out for those around her, always wanting to do things "right" and with as few errors as possible.  I laugh as I watch her because her personality is very, very similar to mine.  We both want to wrap our arms around the whole world, we both thank God for everything He's taken the time to create, we both get angry with ourselves when we don't do things perfectly and we both get upset with Duane when he tries to assemble something without reading the "map" (as she calls instruction manuals) first!  LOL!!!  This truly baffles Duane.  He is fearless when it comes to trying things he's never done before whereas I have to study it first and learn everything I can about it to minimize my mistakes.  My mentality is along the lines of "if you're going to do something, take the time to do it RIGHT!"  And Duane's mentality is "if you're going to do something, DO IT and do it NOW!"  (even if it means re-doing it cuz it wasn't done right).

Ah, the ways that God keeps balance in our lives!!  Hee hee hee!

I have been working with Anika on learning to read.  For all you other moms out there, is a phenomenal website for teaching!  Anika is doing very well so far reading some very simple stories.  She is an eager learner.  She is also adamant in writing her name "properly" but was having trouble writing her "K's".  You could still tell they were K's but she would cry and say "I can't do it perfect!!!  It's not working!"  Duane looked at me and said "This is YOUR fault, you know!" as I just laughed at how familiar these very words sounded to me!

She still astounds us with her unexpected wisdom at times.  She came up to me one morning and said "God told me why Ethan has allergies."  "Oh really?  What did He tell you?"  "God wanted to make Ethan special so He made him different... He doesn't want Ethan to eat the foods that the rest of people eat."


She also never stops to astound me with her shocking moments of humbling me!  Monday mornings Anika and Ethan have swim lessons and I have to be in the pool with Ethan as he is still not quite comfortable enough to be in the class unassisted.  When it came time to get dressed in the change rooms, I got Anika dressed first.  As I started to dress myself and held up my underwear to make sure I wasn't putting it on backwards, she exclaimed "WHOA!!"  I looked at her quick and said "What's wrong?"  "Mommy, those are big, big, BIG panties!"  Golly gee, thanks kid.  I could hear the woman in the next stall snickering.  "Mommy, my panties are small but yours are soooo, soooooo, sooooooo BIG!"  "Anika, maybe you should go look for daddy now.."

Ironically, I have not been back at the gym for my workouts, since!  That's right, after three months of working out three times a week for over an hour each time with NO results, I have decided that my time is better spent at home with my children!  Before leaving, I was always on the stationary bike at the same time as this seventy-year-old woman who could not even turn the bike on let alone add resistance!  She and I eventually started conversing and she started asking me about the weight training routine I always did after the bike.  I had shown her how to do them and there were quite a few machines she couldn't do.  She would tell me apologetically "I can't put any weight on it just now" and I would just say to her "Hey, what you're doing is better than nothing at all!"  So over the weeks, I kinda looked forward to seeing her there.  She pointed to the sit-up machine and told me "I tried that one day you weren't here and couldn't get out of it again!"  We both laughed and I said "at least you tried!"

Well after a few weeks of not going to the gym, I finally saw her this past Monday and there she was on all the machines, using weights!  I said to her "look at you!  Pretty soon I'll be asking YOU for advice!"  She laughed and said "AND now I can do five sit-ups on that machine!"

Pretty soon, ladies and gentlemen, my seventy year old workout buddy will have surpassed my physical stamina!  And I'll just be wearing big, big, BIG panties... sigh.  Where's the cheesecake... Moving right along!

Isabel continues to puzzle us with her seizure activity.  She is now on max dosage for Topamax, max tolerance of Keppra and now a recently increased dosage of Valproic Acid as well.  We have had to use her rescue medication (Lorazepam) several times these past couple of months... the scariest being a few weeks ago when seizures were lasting greater than three minutes!  These have happened while at school and it has been her Educational Assistant who has had to witness these and make the judgement call on giving her the Lorazepam.  This has been very difficult on her... she is also a mother and she has worked with Isabel for two years now... and loves her very much.  We have reassured her that we trust her judgement completely and appreciate how well she knows Isabel and looks out for her... and we support her when she has to make these calls.  They are not easy and can weigh very heavily on the heart, especially when you're making this call for someone else's child.  But she is phenomenal and we love who she is to Isabel and what Isabel is to her.

Izzy continues to LOVE her swim lessons and the adaptive programs the school fosters for those with special needs.  This will be Izzy's last year at that school (as they've already extended her stay by one year) so we will be very sorry to leave behind the most amazing school!  Prayers for this upcoming year and the quest to find a middle-ground school between James' and our home is most appreciated... and to find a school that can celebrate Isabel as she has been these last seven years would be a true gift.

Sivana and Isabel sure seem to have a special bond.  It reminds of when Anika was little and she would crawl to wherever Isabel was, sit beside her and just hold her hand.  This is where the gift of siblings is so evident to me.  I am so happy they have each other, and will continue to have each other long after I am gone.  This is such a comfort to me!

Our dear Melina continues to grow into a young adult and we are witness to that process of celebrating responsibility while letting go of childish ways... it is a painful process some days (hey, even I still have some of these to shed sometimes) and it's hard to know what is the best way to support that process.  Some days are met with communication attempts stopping short at her crossed arms and unwillingness to discuss anything while other days are met with her confident spirit and willingness to embrace whatever life has to offer.  It's as though we are watching her decide WHAT is her skin and if she is comfortable in it.  I think it is meant to be something truly beautiful, confident and independent... fearless of what others think and questing in the ways of Truth and integrity... but we shall see what she herself discovers and what she wants her roots to be.

It is a strange place watching your little one not be so little anymore, and yet you know that little one is still in there.  It's hard to say "I trust you" and to let them make their own mistakes without trying to "fix" them all the time.  It's hard to watch someone else's internal battle of looking out only for themselves, to being a part of a family unit... contributing through selflessness and willingness to look out for more than just yourself.

But I pray that this journey strengthen her beyond her wildest imagination.  I pray that God is shaping her to be the strong person I think He has always intended her to be.  It's kinda fun knowing it's all there and she has no clue yet!  Oh what joy when she discovers how endless that strength of hers is!  Without having to belong to anything but her own resolve to be the best she can be!

That is the joy of motherhood to me... being witness to those victories... watching your own flesh and blood discover the world and decide what to make of it... and now I anticipate the moment(s) they discover that they have been more than equipped to deal with anything and everything that is thrown their way!

I used to read the story in the bible of Abraham finally being blessed with Isaac through his very old wife, Sarah and how God had promised to bless a nation through Isaac's seed... only to have God tell Abraham that he is to offer up his son to Him on the altar... and Abraham goes WILLINGLY!  For years and years I could not understand his willingness and wondered if that was really faith or blind obedience?  Surely he knew that God never once asked for human sacrifices?  Abraham was the one who KNEW God's statues and laws BEFORE Moses ever brought them down on tablets!  But here he was, bringing his son to the altar ready to offer him up to God!

It has only been these past few weeks that I have been enlightened with WHAT Abraham's faith entailed in that submission...

It WAS true faith because he believed God's promise to bless Isaac's seed!  To Abraham, even if killing his son on the altar is what God asked of him, He knew that God would safeguard His promise whether through resurrection or any means outside Abraham's understanding!

He believed God's promise outside of his own understanding which allowed him to surrender to God's request in FAITH!  And then for the Ram to be caught in the thorns?  In fact, for the Ram's HEAD to be caught in the thorns because Abraham had explained to his son that God himself would provide the sacrifice when Isaac had asked him where it was... and sure enough, what did our Saviour wear as a crown on his head at the cross?  A crown of thorns... Indeed, God did provide the Ram!

This lesson has been a huge eye opener for me.  I have gone from questioning Abraham's sanity to actually grasping at the concept of how DEEP his faith truly was!

In a previous post, I had written about the helplessness of watching my own children suffer, whether Ethan with his allergies, Isabel with her scoliosis and many other physical ailments, to Anika and her bladder issues and Sivana with her multidysplastic kidney.  I wrote how it felt like I was outside of an arena with glass all around keeping me out as I watched my baby on the other side in a den of lions.  There I was banging on the glass yelling for God to let me in to protect my baby!  MY baby.

Therein lies the crutch...

These are not MY babies... these are God's children placed in my care and His will for their lives exceeds my ability to understand it, but I CHOOSE to have faith in His promise that He will never give us more than we can handle.

So if my babies are in the lion's den, it is because God has EQUIPPED them far beyond my ability to break through that glass to save them!  And while it has felt like absolute cruelty to be able to look into what SEEMS like their own doom, I realize He has allowed me to look in so as to witness their VICTORY.

I am not to fear their life story but rather to trust what will be their victory IF I equip them with the faith they will need to also believe in their own victory through God's promise and the salvation of our Saviour!

So as they dance in our living room and my heart swells with pride, the reality of the task at hand also sinks in and I gulp with a prayer in my heart that He equip me with the wisdom and tools I need to give these precious children everything they will need according to His word.  I pray that I can live a faith that can teach them and inspire them which means I need to get past that starting line!  It means letting go of the "self" and to be an example to them that "authority" IS beautiful, loving and life-giving!

As I type this, I wonder what your own parents thought as they watched you play or sleep... did they feel overwhelmed as if they could not live up to the task?  Did they feel scared?  Or did they lose themselves to the glorious feeling of pride that you, their flesh and blood, were living your own life story outside of anything they could ever offer you?  Did they get angry with your shortcomings because it reminded them of their own?  Or did they just want the best for you?

On that note, I pray this finds you celebrating your own life story and everything that has made it a life worth living (including those chapters you may think you wish you could omit!).  And may you celebrate with me the knowledge that children are not the shadows cast in our image, but rather the LIGHT casting our shadows!  Don't be afraid to see what needs to be worked on (even if it means trying to fit into smaller panties!) but rather WILLINGLY embrace the painful opportunity to SEE where you can really become the best YOU can be!

Much love to all of you out there... and may you rejoice at knowing that our Father in heaven looks upon you with even greater joy and love that we ourselves know with our children!

Friday, 11 November 2011

Squeak Squeaken!

I keep hoping that with having an extra set of hands around here, I would become a far more efficient person... if anything, I have been resting, catching up with many things that have been placed on the back burner for so long, etc... but mostly, my day seems to consist only of running around with errands, doctor's appointments, midwife appointments, school visits, Izzy's daily commute, and making meals!  Some days, it really just doesn't feel that different than being on a big mouse wheel running as hard as you get, getting no where fast!


But I know this is only a season in our lives.  All too quickly, we'll look back on these days and ache that we wasted any of it wondering when it would finally pass us by.  It's all about living in the "present" right?

I have missed sitting down at the computer to catch up via email and/or the blog.  I am lucky if I sit at this thing more than twice a week!  Alas, here is a quick update for those of you who have lovingly nudged me and suggested I get on this whole "blog update" thing! :)

Well, after over a month of nocturnal terrorism from our furry little friends, I am DELIGHTED to report that God has finally answered our prayers!  We have been a full week without scritch scatchings, nor with little presents of mouse dropping in my frying pans and cereal cupboard.  But this process was not without bringing the absolute worst out of me!

The night I blogged about nocturnal terrorists, I had a face off with the mouse that I finally discovered has been living in my Bose docking sound system on the kitchen counter... hence the mysterious bites out of my muffin now and again... (so gross that I shared my food with a mouse)!  I trapped him in the Bose system by taping the opening shut with duct tape, but not without dropping the whole roll on my foot, yelping in pain as it immediately began to fill half my foot in a bruise!  Seriously??  Well, that mouse was not happy about the enclosure and he squeaked and squeaked something fierce so I cut a small slit at the base, placed some sticky tape right at the opening and chuckled at the notion of finally capturing the little bugger.

Well, in the morning, he had scratched a big opening and had left a little "present" for me on the sticky tape.  Now this was starting to get personal!  I took that thing outside and started shaking the bejeebers out of it as I watched Tostitos crumbs and bread crumbs and mouse poop and speaker parts come flying out of the opening... but no mouse.  I knew he was still in there!  So I decided I would put the whole speaker system in a big clear container and put it right on my kitchen counter.  I placed a baited mouse trap and a bunch of poison in there and duct tape the whole thing shut.

Take that, you mean ol' mouse!

Well, day one and two passed without seeing him but he had set off the mouse trap and ate some of the poison.  We noticed he had chewed through any plastic pieces that were sticking out of the container... he was one determined mouse!  Eventually, without water and proper food, he started venturing out in broad daylight and he and I would stare at each other... well, mostly I would glare at him.  Several more days passed and sadly, I began observing his pattern of behaviour... out of the speaker at 9:50 a.m. where he would climb on top and try chewing through the plastic lid of the container again, then he'd stretch himself out with his sticky feet and try scaling the smooth walls only to fall down.  Then he would proceed to a specific corner where he would jump (scared the bejeebers out of me the first time I saw it... did NOT know mice could jump like that).  He would literally jump with such force that he was banging the lid of the container!  Then he'd go around the corner, climb up the top of the speaker then scale the side of it back into the hole with his tail only grazing the mouse trap tauntingly.

4:50 pm he would come out again and do the same thing... and then again at 10:00 pm.

I found myself making note at the grocery store, "oh look, it's ten in the morning.... I bet you squeakers is out and jumping right now."

Yep, after a week and half, this blasted arch nemesis suddenly acquired the name of Squeakers in my Speakers.  Good grief, this isn't good.  At this point, we invested in even more traps, ultrasonic devices and even YouTubed to find homemade mouse traps... and I had to watch a few videos on mice dying just to satisfy the raging within... so many mice, eight caught to-date but none being caught for over a week other than Squeakers!  Come on!

Eventually, another one earned its name... one decided to take up residence right underneath my pantry beside the fridge.  He knew that if he could just scratch his way through the base of that pantry, he would have hit the jack pot!  He was so bold he would even scratch in broad daylight with all our noise and hubbub around him!  He would even come out and poke his little head out beside the fridge and squeak away as if to tell us to turn it down!  Duane sat there with the broom one morning for a long period of time, just waiting for him to poke his head out one more time.  Duane doesn't sit for anything... I was starting to worry for him, too!

Well, that mouse scratched so loud that had we not already seen it was a mouse, I would have asked myself if it was a rat!!  He dug and dug diligently under that pantry despite my getting right down on all fours and roaring at him (yes, roaring like a wild lion) and banging on the baseboard yelling at him to get out because God gave me dominion over him and all his little friends!  Melina and Antoinette thought this was hilarious but I was short of ripping that baseboard off and killing that thing with my bare hands.  Even as I yelled at him, he'd resume scratching and then even dare to EEK EEK at me in the process!!!

Those YouTube videos of caught mice, dead mice, drowned mice were sadly (and alarmingly) therapeutic for me...

Because of his incessant digging, I named that one Alcatraz.  He literally dug away as if trying to escape Alcatraz!  He was like clock work throughout the day, too.  I knew when to count on his clawing noises.

After two weeks, Squeakers was finally starting to not look so good.  I was actually surprised at the slight remorse and guilt in knowing his days were finally numbered!  But as I looked at my destroyed $600 Bose sound system, the guilt quickly faded...

One morning, ten o'clock came and he did not come out.  Five o'clock came and he did not come out... gulp... I think we have a dead mouse.  Alcatraz also stopped digging for gold under my pantry.  Could it finally be???  I had told God "Hey, you SAID 'ask and it shall be given'... well I am ASKING you, as your servant and with these witnesses before us, PLEASE get rid of all these mice in the next five days and do NOT allow any more to return!"

By day four, it was very evident that we still had many of them around the house.  I felt defeated, down.. not understanding what on earth God could possibly want me to learn from this.  Sure enough, though, by the fifth day, it was my first quiet night with no mouse noises!  Squeakers and Alcatraz were still around but at least I had my first good night's sleep.  The next day, Alcatraz was no longer making noise but it would still be a whole week before Squeakers would die.

But none have returned, thus far!

I have pictures and video footage which I will try to add to this post when I can.  Yes, I have taken more video footage of a blasted mouse than of my own children lately!  Know that this process has been hugely humbling.  Even with Squeakers in the Speakers finally gone, Duane tried taking the whole system apart and STILL can't get the darn thing out of there!  He is burrowed deep within the components despite removing a majority of them!


Through all of this, I was beginning to think our outdoor cat was vegetarian... afterall, how were all of these mice getting past him and into our house?  Not only that, but every time I opened the door to throw more veggies into the compost bucket, there he was with his bum in the air and his hind legs shaking trying to hold on to the edge of the pail eating the veggies!  Great... we live on a farm with a vegetarian cat... so helpful.  But these last few days, he has been looking pretty fat and I am starting to think good 'ol Herman has stepped up "to plate" and has been feasting on the infestation of mice around the farm.

All in all, prayers have finally been answered and sleep is most welcomed without the slightest sound making me jump anymore.  I can pull out my frying pans without dread and I can open a cupboard without fearing a mouse will be chewing on some food, look up at me and say "what's up, doc?"

I thank you for the prayers and support.  I even appreciate the laughs that have been had.  And I am quite thankful to God that He took my sheer rage towards these vermin and allowed me a little bit of grace with Squeakers.  My sister Linda said it well... "you have to LOVE all things you are trying to let go of or they cannot truly leave you."  I certainly wouldn't say I loved Squeakers, but at least there was something resembling compassion for the little furry guy by the end... even if he did destroy a very, very expensive piece of equipment.

So here's hoping that wherever you are:
a) you are free of mice.
b) if you are not, that you also can find some measure of peace and/or grace as you confront the issue.
c) if you are free of mice, that you be able to face some other "pests" in your life with some measure of "love" as you let it go and free yourself of its burden(s) upon you.

May the Lord bless and keep you as you travel this life, as He watches and loves you just as you are (even if roaring at a mouse).  Take care, all of you... and God bless!