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Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Ethan on IV antibiotics

I just wanted to let u all know I took Ethan to Children's emergency tonight. His eye has been oozing for a week but swelling since yesterday along with fevers.  You know it's not good when u walk into emerg and the waiting room is packed but they bring u straight in!  It appears to be a skin infection around the eye along with a red nasty left ear.  IV antibiotics for two days.  He was so brave despite being poked three times before finding cooperative vein.  And nothing makes things better than stopping at the firehall to tell dad all about his "adventure".

Sent from my iPhone

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Inner Ear and Inner Strength

As some of you know, I have been suspicious of Sivana's inner ears for quite some time, particularly since she was learning how to walk and struggling so much with balance.  I've also noticed her speech developing very differently than all the other kids.  We've been so thankful for sign language as this has been our best means of understanding her.  I've also noticed certain sounds that she does not seem to respond to such as the letter T, S and F... letters typically registered in the higher frequencies.  Even though I try to show her these sounds, she looks at my mouth with confusion and reaches her hand to my lips to "feel" the sound.  That's when I knew something was very different.

So we finally went to see the pediatrician and I asked for a referral to audiology.  Thankfully she took my concerns seriously and Sivana was seen today.

We spent an hour in tests and Sivana did brilliantly.  Different devices hooked to her ears, various speakers used around the room, probes behind and in her ears... she took it all and despite having just turned two, was able to use the methods of testing for age groups 3 and up (said the proud mama!).  Sure enough, by the end of all the tests, all methods showed consistent results that Sivana has mild/moderate hearing loss and will require hearing aids in both of her ears.  Because the hearing loss is in the inner ear, it is permanent. Thankfully, they had a device that showed WHAT Sivana hears so I was able to better understand the severity of her deafness.  

When the technician said mild/moderate, I figured it wasn't too bad, but when she showed me a regular conversation between a man and woman under normal hearing conditions and then under Sivana's conditions, I couldn't hold back the tears...  I could barely understand anything that was said and it was as if I had my hands over my ears.  All those times we thought she was being disobedient... she just couldn't hear us!

The other aspect to this is the fact that the inner ear develops in utero at the same time as kidneys and reproductive organs.  Whatever happened during that gestational stage, it clearly affected her kidney(s) (hence the multidysplastic kidney) and now also her inner ears... I am praying fervently that the Lord safeguards her womb.  

Sivana loves babies more than any other child I have seen!  She carries her own little baby with her just about everywhere she goes.  When I'm nursing, she sits on the couch and "nurses" her baby, too.  Anytime Avalyn is awake, Sivana giggles and stays near her and asks to hold her.  Even at the clinic today, a baby was in her car seat crying and Sivana gasped when she saw the baby and clasped her hands together in excitement and then looked concerned as she realized the baby was crying.

I don't know what the good Lord has in store for our Sivana, but please unite with me in prayer that He bless her womb, whatever that may look like.  Nephrology clinic warned that this was a possibility and that we would begin tests when she is a bit older.  Only time will tell.

The good news, my dear family and friends, is that the technician was greatly impressed with Sivana's ability to communicate given the severity of her hearing loss.  Thank you Signing Time!!!  We are back in four weeks for more tests and fittings for hearing aids.  We pray that the transition to hearing absolutely everything (particularly in this house) is not overwhelming for her.

Her heart murmur is also something the doctor wants to further investigate so we are also being referred to a heart specialist.  I asked the Lord for exceptional children and He gave me exactly that!

Thank you for your support and for uplifting our precious girl in your thoughts and prayers.  I love you all so much.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

The Blessed Arrival of Avalyn Hope

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God." Philippians 4:6

"... your Father knows what you need before you ask Him."
Matthew 6:8

These bible verses come to me as I reflect on the gift that was your prayers the day before and the day of my C-section on April 16th.  Like a multitude of prisms dangling before the light of God, your prayers refracted His light into my life and left me suspended in a state of rainbow prisms and resulting peace and serenity.

Because of this, would you believe that I smiled the entire time they were operating?  Fear had little to no room in my heart as I anticipated the imminent arrival of our precious child.  Only moments before, just sitting outside the Operating Room, after the nurse injected me with blood thinners did I shake briefly in anticipation of what was about to take place.

Once in the operating room, my midwife was able to come in with me while Duane had to wait just outside.  The room was buzzing with a handful of medical staff in blue scrubs and the operating table lay before me like a cross... arm rests out waiting to strap me down.  I looked at the faces of the people who would play a part in my baby's arrival and I simply said, "Thank you so much for helping me bring my baby into this world... every one of you."

The young Anesthetist asked me to sit on the edge of the operating table and I held my midwife's hands while I curled my back in anticipation of the needle.  My mind went back nearly thirteen years ago to a similar moment when a student tried to insert the needle in my spine but he kept missing.  The process was excruciating and after several minutes of painful pokes, I had yelled "would someone who knows what their doing please take over??!!"  With that memory flash, I turned to the young man about to poke my spine and confessed "I'm failing terribly at being brave about this part."

To my delightful surprise, he got it on the first try!  I turned to him with a big smile and said "That wasn't bad at all!  You're fantastic!  Oh... I'm starting to go numb..."

They laid me down quickly and they worked fast in strapping my arms and legs, raising a sheet across my chest, placing probes on my chest to monitor my heart, strapping a blood pressure machine to my arm and an oximeter on my finger... I felt my body shifting around as they began washing my belly down and the doctor walked in.  I lay there smiling... To lighten the mood, I piped up again and said "At least you guys have some really pretty lights in here!"

The Anesthetist stayed by my head and was an unexpected support!  Duane was finally let in and sat by my head with a slight look of unease.  He later told me that they let him in just as they had already started cutting me open.  For a firefighter and farmer who has seen his fair share of cuts, slices, and other gory details, I had not expected this unease.  But he admitted that it's very different when it's your wife being operated on.

Within ten minutes, we heard the cries of our precious baby and the announcement "It's a Girl!"  To which I turned to Duane as the tears just started to flow at the glorious and much anticipated sound of her beautiful presence and said "That little stinker!  "He" was a girl all along!  It's our Avalyn Hope!"

Another ten minutes came and went before Avalyn was brought to Duane and as he showed her to me and I soaked in her dark hair and dark eyes, I exclaimed that one finally looked like me!  She reminded me so much of my own baby pictures.  It took another twenty minutes before they were done sewing me back up and I was taken to the recovery room.  There I was able to hold Avalyn despite a bunch of wires inhibiting the real connection... IV, blood pressure monitor, and an overwhelming sense of nausea... not exactly the recipe for an amazing bonding moment.

But bonding we did and a successful attempt at nursing.  The very image I had focused on... holding my precious child while nursing... looking into her little eyes and seeing every little perfect detail God took the time to make... all of it was right there... finally.

It was finally real.

And so was the vomiting that ensued!  Ah yes, despite the moment being short lived, it was sacred nonetheless.  And so it is that you have played a special role in Avalyn's arrival through your prayers.  Gratitude spills forth in such measure that I cannot tell you in words what your prayers did to uplift me... to calm my every fear.  We are honoured to have you celebrate with us our precious Avalyn Hope... our "Beautiful Breath of Life".

123, ABC and Igneous Rock

At long last, I stopped debating on whether homeschooling was a good idea or not and finally decided to try.  I know my heart's desire was to do this, no questions asked, but my concern was finding the time to do it!  Particularly given HOW I like to do things... thoroughly!  Sometimes painfully thoroughly!  After some research and consulting with other respectable home-schooling families, we decided on Sonlight which is a Christian-based curriculum.  And with Ethan being quite advanced for his age, we were comfortable combining Ethan and Anika in the kindergarten program.

We are now five weeks in and I have had to double check and make sure I did in fact, buy the kindergarten curriculum!  We have covered numbers, alphabet, word families, continents, and now in science, we have covered weather, cloud formations, how air moves (both hot and cold) and two of the three main rock formations: igneous and sedimentary.

Duane has walked in from the fields on occasion, has glanced up at the white board and has shaken his head saying "The kids are going to be smarter than me by next week!"

I have to admit, I am LOVING this!  What a difference it makes to KNOW what the kids are learning and to make reference to it in everyday life.  It makes the whole day a learning experience, and fun.  I can't believe how much I am learning right along with them!  The trouble is not staying up too late by myself learning more about these topics because I become so fascinated by them.

But the best part is starting our day off with our bible stories.  The kids get small white boards and they draw key parts of the story as I read it to them.  Ethan particularly loves the story of Jacob and Esau because he loves drawing red hair all over Esau!  He also loves Jacob's dream with the ladder up to heaven because the ladder looks just like one at a firehall.

Sivana, having just turned two, has to be right in there with her own little white board and she randomly stands up on her chair and proclaims "I DID it!"  Too cute!

Although I ache for some "me" time and the opportunity to write, I have to smile in appreciation for the fact that while I cannot write as I long to, my true heart's desire is being fulfilled... to be a mom and a teacher.  If it wasn't for Antoinette's help, I don't think I could have tackled this so we thank God daily for her presence in our lives and her adamant support in the values of homeschooling.

I hope to at least have a chance to write a quick update on everyone in the family and post their beautiful fall pictures.  All in good time, right?  All in good time. 
For now, suffice it to say that while life is incredibly busy, we are celebrating it (most days) and loving the blessing of our "full" house.  Our cup runneth over, indeed!  Tonight, may this prayer reach out and find you all... that the Lord may bless you and pour forth His grace upon you... that you may feel relieved by His love, renewed by His presence, and in constant awe of His creation... right down to igneous rocks!  Much love and God bless!

Saturday, 1 September 2012

My Favourite Boys

What joy and peace in my heart this Sabbath sitting on the veranda and watching my two favourite boys chatting about firehalls, with Avalyn squealing with joy on my knee and Anika pushing a giggling Sivana on the swing. Melina's in the house playing guitar and Isabel lets out an occasional happy squeal from her room where she watches her favourite movies.

Life is good, my friends... Life is good.

My 1st Thumb Sucker!

Tea Time!

Friday, 31 August 2012

Dear God... Not Again!

Now before you think I am about to announce another pregnancy, let me remind you that my tubes are tied!  And while such news would be rather remarkable and miraculous, what I am about to blog has nothing to do with rejoicing in new life.

In fact, it is quite the opposite.  It is about a deep rooted loathing... a dreadful disgust... a wretched revulsion (hey, this is kinda fun thinking of some good words and it's making me not so mad anymore.  But I digress.).

Have you guessed it?  The mice are back.

It started a few weeks back already when Melina exclaimed from her bedroom in the attic "MOM??  I found a dead mouse!!"  Sure enough, there in the sticky tape we'd laid out under her dresser, there was a dead mouse.  My heart started pounding as I remembered last fall and the havoc those vermon wreaked!  How many did we catch again, fifteen?  And those were the ones CAUGHT!  Who knows how many more there were!  Surely the good Lord would not do this to us again???  Please, Father?  Pretty, pretty, pretty please?

Melina claimed to hear "baby mice" in her walls and sure enough when grabbing some spare toilet paper to restock the bathrooms, some of the rolls had been chewed through for nesting purposes.  Great.  We won't be reaching for any of THOSE rolls in our moments of need!

But my kitchen seemed to remain untouched.  The cereal cupboard was not full of mouse droppings nor were my cooking pans filled with them (oh I am literally shuddering re-living it all).  And so far, I have not "shared" a muffin with a mouse living on my counter!  (Hey, I'm pretty sure there's a kid's book about 'if you give a mouse a muffin').

But tonight... oh tonight, my dear friends, I returned from my large grocery shop at 11:00 pm and began unloading the groceries.  As I was walking back into the kitchen, I swear I saw the "tail end" of a mouse scurrying beneath my stove.  I stopped dead in my tracks and just whispered "Oh no!"  In that moment of brilliance, I grabbed my broom.  Yes, so cliche but I couldn't very wall grab my cooking utensils!  I stuck the broom handle under the stove and the little bugger came running right out.  I swung that broom and whacked with all my might only to watch him scurry under Avalyn's exercauser!

I picked up that thing and it scurried towards the living room with me whacking it in hot pursuit!  His little feet skidded on the floor as he tried turning the corner and the end of my broom went flying off leaving me only with a stick!  At the basement stairs, I poked him hard and he scurried under the door (which leads to suspended stairs).  He would have fallen the whole way... good!

I ran after him, but first I put on Melina's cowboy boots (sorry, Mina) ready to stomp him if needed!  I tiptoed in the basement... knowing that little bugger could be anywhere!  The kids toys were everywhere offering endless opportunity for refuge but I heard something by the door to the basement laundry room.  I poked a few toys with the stick just as he came running towards that door and I yelled!  I slammed the door and he squeaked but still slithered the rest of the way through.  All I could say was "Ew GROSS, EW GROSS, EW GROSS, GROSS, GROSS!!"

And now I am back to hearing every single creak and crack of this old house wondering if it's more mice.  We had a bee infestation (killed over thirty of them in one afternoon) in the main floor laundry room, we've got crickets making themselves at home in the basement and I've even found the occasional frog down there (although thankfully not for a few years).  Hmmm, anyone want to come over?

We have such a beautiful home and our heart's desire is for it to be inviting and welcoming to others.  Mice, crickets and frogs do NOT make it inviting!  Not even if it was a vest-wearing, conscience-telling cricket who could sing "when you wish upon a star"!!  Ok, well maybe we'd charge admission, but it still wouldn't make our home inviting!  :)

So if I may be so bold as to ask for your prayers, I really don't think I've got it in me to battle with mice again this fall.  I'm getting 3-5 hrs of sleep per night and going hard all day long.  I'm too tired to fight this battle, to clean everything thoroughly and constantly, of fretting over health risks and of just downright feeling ambushed in my own home.

And for Pete's sake, with someone having spent big bucks replacing my Bose sound system after Squeakers in the Speakers wrecked it last year (because I refused to spend that money to buy something I ALREADY HAD), if a mouse took up residence in this new one, I think I may very well go insane.  With all the cats around this farm, you'd think there would be fewer mice!

And why is it that all early reader books have to do with Mouse and House?  Really?  Is God just sitting up there and laughing at it all?  I bet you He is!  And I guess if He's laughing, I should be, too.  And I will, just not right now.

Goodnight, dear friends.  And may this find you pest-free.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Do Not Be Afraid

I read somewhere that God tells us not to be afraid 365 times throughout the bible... coincidence that it should be our daily reminder?  Fear is something I get so frustrated with!  I remember one day being greatly humbled reading 1 John 4:18 "There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.  For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love."

Not perfected in love...

Man, that sucks!  I want so much to be perfected in His love.  When I pray for humanity, for the babies of the world, for the mamas who are alone, for the sinners who keep themselves from being forgiven because they don't believe they deserve it... when I pray for our world, I feel nothing but love.  But how small is that love, no matter how big it feels in my heart, if I keep letting fear creep into my life?

Fear of Ethan getting stung by one of the bees from the hives out by our clover fields.  Fear of driving down the two-lane highway everyday at that one moment when someone isn't paying attention.  Fear of losing one of the children.  Fear of Isabel's suffering.  Fear of being the cause of any of their life traumatic experiences.  Fear.  Fear.  Fear.

How is His love supposed to shine through me if I don't allow Him to COMPLETELY fill me?  And if He completely fills me, there should be no presence of fear!

Yet in some aspects of my life, I do feel fearless.  I am fearless in the face of other people's opinions (my sister said it best when she said "what other people think of you is NONE of your business!").  I am fearless in being WHO I am.  I am fearless in loving those around me... their rejection does not scare me (it just makes me more determined to love them beyond their prickles... cuz those are usually the people who need the MOST love!).  Fearless in my honesty, even when it makes me look bad.

So how can I have such fear in some aspects of my life yet fearless in others?

1 John 4:12 assures us that "No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us."  So if God is in us, why should we fear one another?

Hmmm, some food for thought, n'est-ce pas?

As a young child, I slept on my father's bedroom floor for two years straight because I was convinced monsters would come to get me.  Even when Duane and I were married, I told him "You have to sleep closest to the door that way the monsters won't get me first!"  Ah yes, truly loving, I know.

But as I have had more children, I have been relieved to discover that the things I once feared have dissipated in the face of longing to be present to my children in their fears.  Ironically, my fears have shifted from self-preservation to preserving their precious lives at all cost.  Perhaps it will not be long before that apprehension shifts from preserving their life to simply giving thanks for each moment and trusting that God has their timing spaced perfectly according to His good and pleasing will.

Ethan has been struggling with fear of the dark and other things that are all too familiar to my childhood fears.  Duane has been greatly blessed by the fact that he never recalls feeling afraid of anything so he looks at me proclaiming "you'll have to explain this to me cuz I just don't get it!"

We've tried to help Ethan address his fears by reminding Him that God is always with Him, even though he can't see Him.  He's like love, or the wind... you can't put your finger on it, but you can just FEEL that it's there.  Eventually, we'll be able to teach him the ironic conundrum of those who do not believe BECAUSE they have not seen Him in their lives... the conundrum being that as long as one required PROOF, faith cannot be a component.  But when you believe in FAITH, suddenly His evidence and "proof" is all over the place!  Isn't that just how He works?

Veggie Tales has a great DVD with a song called "God is bigger than the Boogie Man" and Ethan has been especially appreciative of this song.

Well, our recent visit to the optometrist revealed that Ethan will be needing glasses.  I had to bring him back for special drops in his eyes that would dilate his pupils for a more accurate prescription.  I explained this process to Ethan so he knew what to anticipate.  But he was a little bit afraid.  Yesterday was that appointment.  The woman checked his eyes, put the drops in, waited and then we had to test his eyes again with a special scanning machine.  Ethan was obedient and not at all apprehensive.  The woman looked at him and said "Boy, are you ever a brave little guy!"  To which Ethan replied "that's because God lives inside of me" as he rested his chin on the device for further testing.

The woman stopped, looked at him with her jaw open, then she looked at me as tears welled up in her eyes, then looked back at Ethan and said "You're absolutely right... God lives inside of me, too."

Ethan experienced for himself that leading up to scary moments can be fearful but the truth of the matter is, when it comes right down to facing it, a fearlessness sets in and somehow we KNOW we are in the presence of our Father and the fulfilment of His promise that He would never leave our side.

So may this find you lifting up your own fears to a Father who longs to take them from you.  May your burdens be lightened and your joy abundant.  And may you rediscover again and again the glorious freedom of FAITH.  In this moment, I cast all my fears aside, surrender them to God and ask Him to fill my heart with His love... and I pour it forth right now through my fingers, through these words and into your minds and into your hearts where you can FEEL that which cannot be seen.  For God lives in me, and He lives in you.

Isn't it beautiful to know you and I shall always be united by that?  God bless you, dear ones...

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Humility & Servitude

The moon is round, bright and so full that it almost seems like God has turned on a flashlight and pointed it straight at us!  I just came in from sitting on the screened veranda with Duane only twenty minutes away from midnight and figured this might be as good a time as any to jot down some thoughts before a whole new day begins all too early with the screeching yells from Sivana at 6:00 a.m.

I miss writing... these days, the hubbub is so ongoing that any free moment is usually met with the option to either exercise, nap, shower, catch up on emails and/or administrative tasks, or blog.  That is usually the order in which the choice is won so it is very rare that blogging wins.  But tonight, I have already exercised, I've napped, I've showered and in an effort to avoid going through my 409 emails waiting for me in my inbox, I've decided to finally blog!

Sooooo many thoughts, so many funny moments... so many humbling ones, too.  I wish I could capture them in thought and send them out through the written word.  Today, the thought that visited the most was around the topic of humility and selflessness.

Antoinette and I often have really deep conversations about what it means to love God, what our challenges are, where we could be missing the boat and how we should aim to learn more.  There is a mentality out there that as Christians, we are to be humble, in fact, we are told to be... but what that humility is to look like varies considerably!

I have seen those who believe that self-punishment is a way of ensuring one never thinks highly of themselves.  I have seen those who believe that they must think themselves nothing... worthless... unworthy... as a form of servitude.

But then there is my understanding of humility, whether right or wrong, I cannot tell you for sure but it makes the most sense to me at this stage in my life and my understanding of Christ's living example.

If someone who thought themselves worthless was to serve me, their "service" would not mean much to me.  But someone who considered themselves a queen... and then CHOSE to SERVE me?  Well then, that servitude would humble me greatly!  It would be a great gift indeed!

Just like Jesus, the very son of God, God incarnate, our Saviour... got down on his knees and washed the feet of His apostles.  In my eyes, THAT is the image of humility and servitude!

It is not to think myself great, but to think of myself a Child of God!  That is why I say to each of you out there, He has breathed His very breath of life into you!  BECAUSE He CHOSE you!  Your worth in His eyes is beyond our ability to measure.  Our worthiness is small but our worth is great... so let us boast about our preciousness as children of God and in that greatness let us fall to our knees and love one another.

Let this be a reminder that we are to recognize our GREATNESS through the Father, but only for the purpose of understanding that there is nothing GREATER than loving someone MORE than ourselves.  But that MORE has to mean something!

So stand tall in knowing your worth through the eyes of God.  And know that I boast of His breath in you, my fellow siblings those known and unknown, and that I pray should the opportunity arise for me to serve you in any way, that I rise to the occasion with full conviction and fall to my knees honoured by the privilege!  What can I do from this computer chair?  From this hectic life tucked away in the country?  Well, I can love you with every ounce of my existence!  And in that love, I am given wings to soar on the winds of freedom... and I want nothing more than to find you all there.

God bless you my dear ones and allow this post to be my kiss on your forehead affirming that you are wanted, you are precious and you are loved.

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

We Choose Virtues

Thanks to my friend, Linsy, I have fallen in love with this We Choose Virtues teaching tools.  They are faith-based and teach the twelve virtues (diligent, helpful, perseverant, gentle, content, attentive, honest, kind, self-controlled, patient, obedient, and forgiving).

I have just ordered the entire home school curriculum and will keep you updated on how the lessons come along.  I have a humbling feeling I will likely learn more from this process than the kids will!  There is also a big part of me that fears not being able to do the home-schooling to the level I believe my children deserve.  Hopefully this little mini program can ease my way into a teaching routine and allow me to 'test the waters' in my ability to do this to the degree I long to.

They have wonderful posters that I think every family could benefit from having in their homes.  Be sure to check them out by clicking here.  I am so excited about this!

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Bowling Bawl!

With the kids registered for Kids Bowl Free, I thought I would surprise them by bringing them in for a game and meet up with my sister and her step-kids, too.  After the zoo incident, I was cautious about telling the kids what the plans were despite their queries as we began the long process of loading everyone into the extremely hot Suburban.  But this time I had called the bowling lanes to confirm their times and to confirm their participation in the Kids Bowl Free program.  We had an early supper and all was looking promising.

Duane was working a night shift and once again, Antoinette and Melina were my incredible helping hands!  The drive was excruciating particularly with temperatures being above 30 degrees in a non-airconditioned vehicle.  Fifty minutes into our drive and five minutes away from our destination, I thought it was safe to tell the kids what the plan was.  This was met with cheers and high fives in their car seats.  Literally moments after telling the kids, my cell phone rang and Melina answered for me.  It was my sister.

"Tell her we're less than five minutes away."  I said.

Melina, instead, is quiet and answers "No, I don't think Mom is aware of that."  It's amazing what can get the heart pumping as one's thoughts visit every possibility in the span of a split second.

"Okay, I'll let mom know... Um, Mom?  Did you know that the Kids Bowl Free is only on weekdays from 9:00 til 5:00 pm?"

You have got to be flippin' kidding me!!  Oh my goodness, do we pay $90 for all of us to bowl anyways?  No way!  The whole point of registering with Kids Bowl Free was to bowl... for FREE!  For this single income family, that was the reason for registering! We paid the $25 adult fee so that Duane, Antoinette, Melina and myself could be added to the list all summer long, too.

I grip the steering wheel hard between my slippery, sweaty hands and remember my husbands words in these moments "Just breathe."

"No.. I was NOT aware of the time restriction."

"Mom, Tante Linda says she might have a coupon for bowling"

"Okay, tell her we're driving to her place right now."

"Mommy?  Aren't we going bowling?"

"I don't know kids... it's not looking like tonight will be the best time after all.  Maybe we could try again really soon, ok?"  Even though my instincts said don't look in the rear view mirror, I couldn't help it and once again felt crushed by their sad looks.  Why on earth can't I get these outings right?  I'd phoned and asked questions but not the right ones!

We arrive at my sister's, peel out of our seats like one would flip a half cooked burger on the grill and drag our feet towards my sister's house as though we've just found an oasis within the desert!  All bags are dropped at the entrance and the cargo looks as if we're staying the week.  Thank God almighty for my sister's sense of humour and the fun we were all able to have despite another set of plans gone awry.  My sister's coupons had expired and one desperate call into the bowling lanes asking if they'd make the exception this one time was futile.  But the kids were well entertained by Uncle Gil and true to form, Avalyn unleashed in her diaper which leaked everywhere.  Much easier to manage in a home than a bowling alley!

But truly, why is it that a child's bowels are stimulated during outings??  Why o why?

A few days later I was brave enough to attempt bowling one more time.  Kids were up from nap early, got in a nursing, and we drove down to the bowling alley closest to Izzy's daycare.  It was our Friday pickup day so a quick game before picking her up could be nice for the kids.  Duane had to work in the fields and Melina was working her first shift at her new job (way to go Mina!).  So it was just Antoinette and me with the four little ones.  This time, I resolved not to say ANYTHING until we were throwing bowling balls down the lane!!

It was another scorcher of a day and the ride in the Suburban was "pleasant" as always.  The kids kept asking where we were going to which I kept replying "you'll see."  We were in the parking lot, I still wouldn't tell them what we were doing.  We were climbing the stairs with images of bowling pins and the kids exclaimed "BOWLING!!" but I still would neither confirm nor deny.  At the front desk, I said "We're here because we're part of the Kids Bowl Free program?"

The manager looked at me and said "Ok.. where's your coupons?"

"Coupons?  What do you mean, coupons?"

"You have to login to the website and print your daily coupons."

The all too familiar heart palpitations were felt but a quick solution came to mind.  "I didn't know I was supposed to print any coupons but could I borrow your computer and print them here?"

"No.. our computer's not working right now."

"Can I login from my iPHone and show you the coupons from there?"


"Listen, Sir... we just drove in from out of town for a SECOND time trying to do this whole Kids Bowl Free because you wouldn't make the exception the other day when I didn't know about the time restrictions of your program.  Are you seriously telling me there is NOTHING I can do to bowl with my children right now?"

"If I make the exception for you, I'll have to make the exception for everyone else."

Oh good grief, what is this, elementary school?  Sheesh!  The kids are watching with excitement the effects of the black lights lighting up the whites on their clothes and they're jumping up and down with the idea of bowling.  One last thought... my sister Linda lives three minutes away... she's home... maybe she'd be willing to print my coupons and meet us here.

A desperate phone call to her saying "So I'm trying this AGAIN and screwed up yet again.  Any way you could print my coupons and join us for a game?"

Tante Linda saved the day when she showed up ten minutes later with coupons.  Sivana had since unleashed in her diaper and thankfully Antoinette tackled that one as I waited for my sister.  She later told me the alley was NOT equipped with a change table!

When Linda arrived, I handed the manager my tickets as I asked Antoinette to get the kids leather Robbies on.  The day was saved!  Except the manager hands them back to me and says "These are for the other bowling alley."

Gulp... twitch, twitch... "Aren't you all part of the same program?"

"Yes, but you have to register with a specific participating bowling alley and you registered with a different one."

At this point, I'm short of yelling at the sky at the top of my lungs "WHAT ON EARTH HAVE YOU GOT AGAINST BOWLING????"  My brave sister said "Look why don't you use my coupons for my kids?"  The manager did not look pleased but he said he'd make the exception this one time.  Only... as he was looking at her coupons, they were for the wrong day.

I must have looked pretty pathetic (or scary) because the guy finally let us get some bowling shoes.  What should have been a good hour and a half window of opportunity to play was now down to forty minutes thanks only to the fact that my sister joined us and could help me while Antoinette went to pick up Isabel before the daycare closed.

"Antoinette?  Is it just me or do things seem to go wrong for me lots?"  She laughed and said "I can't help but think it's so you have something to blog about!"  To which I burst out laughing.  So at least the good Lord has ensured that the end of a chaotic attempt is met with some humour thanks to my helpers!

Our Torah portion that Sabbath was about the loyal donkey who kept veered off the path three times despite her owner's wrath.  The good Lord granted the donkey speech in that moment so she could tell her master that she veered off the path those times to spare his life from the angel of death she was able to see but that he could not.  The Lord then allowed him to see the angel of death and the master felt terrible for striking his donkey for what seemed like her disobedience.  The lesson being that when things don't go as we plan, it is likely because we are being lovingly spared by a worser fate!

Despite the lesson, I could not help the fact that my original hope of bowling on Mondays had dwindled considerably and the idea of just staying home (in an air-conditioned home) was sounding more and more pleasant to me!  But apparently not enough to talk me out of an attempt to the movie theatre the following week.  Stay tuned for that one!

Zoo-Zooming Around Town

Ah yes... that time of year when school is out and the pressure is on to organize summertime activities to keep the kids from getting cabin fever.

Early July always starts off as usual... the best of intentions.  Notions of visiting a different wading pool around the city every Wednesday, Library visit every other Tuesday, picnic at the park every other Thursday, free bowling (Kids Bowl Free program) every Monday, etc...  The occasional "big deal" trips such as a Tinkertown, water slides, Zoo, Children's Museum, so on and so forth.  The possibilities for making it a memorable summer are endless.  But the challenge lies in the timing between nursings, snacks, meals and naps.  But who isn't up for a challenge in this family, right?

Apparently I live in a world of ideas which seem to rarely transform into action.  And what good are the ideas if you cannot make them happen?  What is the old saying about the road paved with good intentions?  (Nervous laugh).  So I resolved to make these activities happen to the very best of my ability (singular here because at this stage of my life, I feel like I have only one ability left!).

I registered our children with the Kids Bowl Free program and was pleased to see that two more alleys had joined the program.  One, of which, was much more conveniently located than the one from last year.  Awesome!  We're set for some Monday fun (said my Good Intentions brain)!

First off, I figured a trip to the zoo would be great.  Izzy was at daycare so we'd have to drive into the city to pick her up anyways... why not make it a zoo-trip day?  The only vehicle we own that fits eight of us is the old Suburban, which has no working air conditioning.  Given the fact that air conditioning was a near pre-nup must-have for me, a vehicle without air conditioning is an eye-twitch factor for me.  Not to mention, it is rather challenging to get Izzy in and out of the Suburban particularly in comparison to our modified van with turn seat!!

But hey, at least we HAVE a vehicle that fits most of us!

I checked the weather and it was to be a high of 22 degrees.  Perfect.  By the time I finished nursing, changed some diapers, packed snacks for the kids, packed Izzy's stroller and the double stroller, filled water bottles and sippy cups, loaded Ethan's Emergency backpack (epipen & Benadryl), refilled the diaper bag and found a place for that, too, including hats and sunscreen... it was about an hour later and we were ready to load all the kids.  Antoinette and Melina were my helping hands which is the only reason I felt this task could be tackled in the first place.  Duane was working a day shift.

I had a chicken in the crockpot so that supper would be easily set out despite having to nurse upon our return, Izzy given her water and feeding bag setup, diapers changed and potty breaks enforced.  It would be hectic and there wouldn't be much time but hopefully it would all be worth it!

Alright kids, here we go!

Sweat was soon dripping down my face as we drove, particularly when we discovered major construction and traffic issues.  What should have been a fifty minute drive became nearly two hours!  Wiping the sweat off my face, I turned to Antoinette and asked "Good grief... what is the temperature??" to which a quick glance to her iPhone confirmed my fear... it was well passed 22 degrees and was now 28 and rising!!  Avalyn was crying in her car seat and a quick look in the rear view mirror revealed red-faced children looking exhausted before even arriving to the zoo!  Windows opened too much made poor Sivana look like she was having seizures trying to breathe!  I could feel the tick in my right eye...

Finally, we arrived at the zoo and so we commenced the unloading of the children.  Its description could rival a circus act, if you ask me!  Antoinette get's Isabel's stroller while I get the double stroller.  Diaper bag, Ethan backpack, purses, water bottles and hats while Izzy's backpack with emergency meds for seizures are loaded on her stroller.  Baby Avalyn next, then Sivana in double stroller while Antoinette loads Isabel in hers.  Melina is keeping Ethan and Anika entertained while the rest of us load up like pack mules!  Sometimes it feels like moving a small army!

What originally began as an aimed 3:30 pm arrival in reality became a 5:20 pm arrival.  My shirt is sticking to me from sweat and my left arm is already burned from the drive in.  The kids have nearly drained their water bottles and look as though they're fighting heat stroke!  The nervous tick in my right eye is threatening to turn into incessant blinking!  I send Duane a text "Won't be home when you arrive at 6:00 but chicken in crock pot for 6:30, potatoes & beans ready to go.  Eat without us."  We've got enough Ethan-safe snacks for his supper and the rest of us could just pick something up.

As we walk towards the zoo entrance, I notice the sign... "Zoo doors close at 5:30 pm and zoo closes at 6:00 pm."

We'd invested well over three hours into the excursion thus far and the idea of reloading the Suburban to turn around and tackle another two hour trek home in that heat was border line insanity.  But so was the tantrum I was imagining in my head... full blown rolling on the ground kicking and screaming "WHY?  WHY?"

The kids' eyes were so excited despite their overheated red faces as they asked "When are we going IN the zoo, Mom?"  "Mommy doesn't know if we CAN go into the zoo today."

Six kids.  Six kids and I still haven't figured out a more tactful way of breaking my children's hearts.  My general rule of thumb is "do NOT tell the kids where we are going, who is coming over, etc... UNTIL you are WHERE you aimed to be and/or the friends who were supposed to come over have actually ARRIVED."  For whatever reason, I had stupidly told the kids we were going to the zoo and anything other than going to the zoo was NOT going to go over well.  Their jaws dropped and tears glistened in their eyes as they looked at me as if I just cancelled summer itself!

So I paid the admission for our whole gang for a thirty minute zoo excursion.  And then paid the $5 fee for a wagon for Ethan & Anika so we could zip through the park randomly pointing at animals as we whiz by to maximize on the thirty minutes and ridiculous price of admission.

So began the whizzing around... first exhibit - empty.  Second exhibit - empty.  Third, fourth, fifth - empty.  "Mommy, when are we going to see animals?"

"Look kids!  It's a PEA-COCK!"  I attempted to say it with sheer excitement hoping it would rub off on the kids but instead it came out more threateningly through gritted teeth.  "Here, we'll go find the polar bears."

We whiz passed more exhibits that are empty and surprisingly come to the end of one part of the zoo... we ask how to get to the polar bears to which the staff answer "we haven't had polar bears here for a couple of years.  We're still constructing the exhibit."  Oh my goodness, some savage-based instinct could be felt bubbling through my veins threateningly close to the possibility of biting someone's head off.

"Okay kids, we'll go find the zebras and the camels."

Nope, they weren't out either.  And as we tried making our way towards the other end of the zoo for the last fifteen minutes, we were stopped by zoo staff on a little buggie saying "You can't come through here.  You're gonna have to start making your way towards the exit now."

"Why?  We still have fifteen minutes."

"The zoo closes in fifteen minutes so you need to start walking towards the exit."

Ladies and gentlemen, we just about had a polar bear exhibit at the zoo in that moment.  I remained dangerously quiet as we walked back towards the exit.  There must be an aura of caution that surrounds me in those moments because the kids tend to leave me alone.  Melina, however, pipes up and says "with the zoo's slogan being 'imagine a place', I guess they really mean it."

And like a nudging gift from Heaven, I burst out laughing and the choking grip of the heat-stroked-savage from within was let go.  To my surprise (and relief) the kids seemed happy about the zoo visit (thank goodness they had no previous memories of it to measure against) and things were looking promising for us to be home around 7:00 pm or shortly thereafter.  Hopefully Duane will have been able to get supper on the table and we could have a relatively smooth transition into a meal before 7:30 pm.

But the fact that it was now 6:30 pm and I still hadn't heard back from Duane... I was thinking it would be just our luck that he would be held up at a call.  Which he was.  We ate around 8:00 pm and then put the kids to bed.  And I vowed never to attempt a zoo trip without every last inch of zoo details memorized!  Or at the very least, not until the Polar bear exhibit is open.

Stay tuned for my attempt at bowling, and the movie theatre...

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Morning Song

I have a cup of coffee in my favourite fruit mug as I smile to myself listening to the sound in our home this morning.  I can actually enjoy it because no child has had a melt down as of yet so the noise is a comforting one of children's feet running around, toys clambering around in buckets downstairs (some getting dumped out yet again), the gentle sound of Anika's voice chatting with Daddy, cereal being poured into a bowl and best of all... Ethan singing a Korean theme song downstairs!

Yes, a Korean theme song for a show on YouTube he simply cannot get enough of.  I chuckle at the fact that he has song it so many times now, it will likely be some ingrained knowledge later in his life should he choose to learn Korean... somehow, someway, he'll be able to say perfectly something about a rescue engine and an ambulance.

Life is not dull around here.

Anika is asking Daddy what the word "important" really means.  And Sivana is quiet, which kind of worries me, to be honest.

Anyways, it's just a small glimpse but it's the morning sounds of my life that I know will pass by all too quickly some day.

I wonder what sounds surround you as you read this... what has become so familiar to you that it almost goes unnoticed?  And on that note, I hear Ethan yelling at Sivana for something and Duane's response "Sivana!  Why are you naked?"

This is my cue to go.

Much love out there!  And God bless!!!

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Six Years Ago...

I can hardly believe it's been another year, another anniversary.

With the busy hubbub of our lives, Duane and I were barely able to make time for an anniversary date on Sunday, but thanks to Antoinette and my Mom, we were able to escape for a dinner and walk around the Forks.  Avalyn tagged along and it was really nice to enjoy our baby daughter together.

This time of year is the hardest.  Farmers' wives become seasonal widows as our husbands tend to the fields, fixing machinery, seeding, harrowing, fixing machinery, cutting hay, fixing machinery and last but not least... fixing machinery!  With Duane working his full-time firefighting job in addition to working full time in the fields, moments together are very few and far between.  When too much time lapses without good connecting moments (a hug, a touch, kind words or a gentle smile) it's easy to feel a distance growing between you.

Thank God Almighty that the gap is always quickly closed in with eager hearts but the exhaustion and sleep deprivation can make the "reaching out" difficult at times.

Needless to say, our anniversary date was an absolute gift and I truly cherished our time together.  I cherish my husband, our life together, our children, our challenges and our triumphs.  I am in love with "our story" and the incredible fact that we have started a lineage of our own together... who knows what it will look like five generations from now!  We are a part of a future generation's history (God willing).  That is pretty darn cool!

But for tonight, I am just happy to be Rita.  A daughter to Claude and Jacqueline... a sister to Danny, David, Diane, Linda and Eric... an aunt, a cousin, a friend... but best of all, mother to Melina, Isabel, Anika, Ethan, Sivana and Avalyn... and wife to my favourite person in the world: Duane.

No matter what the distance that can grow in times of separation, it cannot change the simplicity of my joy which is my life.  In all its chaos, in all its upheaval, in all its glorious details (and boy are there details!).  Amen.

God bless you all out there and thank you for your patience as life settles down enough for me to find the time to write.  It's like an old friend waiting patiently to reconnect... and I eagerly anticipate the reconnection!

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Lots going on!

True to form, it is never a dull moment around here!  The rare occasion that a free moment pops up, I ask myself "should I update the blog?  Should I nap?  Or should I take a shower for the first time this week?"  Sadly, it is usually the nap that wins over until my kids start complaining of my "aroma!"  Okay, okay so it doesn't get that bad but it's amazing what you're willing to tolerate where personal looks go when you're stuck at home nearly 24/7!  I typically avoid mirrors at all cost!

Well, I'm sure you did not touch base with our family to find out about my personal hygiene so I will give a quick update on the "news" around here.

I'm hoping for a chance to update you quickly on a pending blog post called "Ewe Won't Believe It!" which entails, you guessed it... some sheep on the farm.

I also want to share some funny kids' moments but for now, I want to share with you some pictures I took of Avalyn yesterday.  She continues to be a precious presence and we all delight in her happy disposition.

There are many, many stories to tell (hey, it is ME after all) but for now, enjoy these pictures of our darling Beautiful Breath of Life.. Avalyn Hope.

May this find you all doing well out there and rejoicing in our impending summer and the joy of sunlight in your lives!

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Quick update

Yes, life is certainly hectic but know that a thorough update is in the works, that my healing process has been truly blessed thanks to the helping hands around me, and yes... We are madly in love with our darling Avalyn Hope.

I can hardly wait for the opportunity to connect again!! May my prayers find you in the midst of moments between moments and the sacredness that is timeless in prayer.

Much, much love, Dear Ones!!

Sunday, 15 April 2012

The Gift of Life

I have just tucked in the babies and gave them each a big kiss.  I told them that the next time they see me, it will be at the hospital to meet our new baby and they were very excited.  In fact, I am feeling very excited! Like answered prayer, all of that anxiousness is being washed away by the sheer excitement at knowing this time tomorrow, there will be a precious, precious little baby in our lives!

So I am watching the sun set not just on my last day of being pregnant, but also setting on what has been a sixteen year season of child-bearing years.  It has been a good "stretch" (pun intended!).  I really do love my life being a mom and watching the precious faces of each of my children is such a delight.  Even Melina today has been tired and bothered by a headache, but I love just looking at her when she doesn't know it, and smiling at my first "baby" who has grown so much.  Barely a year away from being an adult herself...

If this did happen to be the last night of my life, I would be peaceful.  The children made me laugh most of the day and meal time together was extra funny for whatever reason.  I am experiencing not just the gift of life within my womb, but the gift of my own life.  It doesn't always feel like it's been a life worth living... good grief I think I could do without a few chapters of significantly poor choices... and yet those chapters played key roles in the reasons why I choose to live an open life and why I believe that being honest with others is a good way to ensure you're being honest with yourself.

There's that part of me that wonders, should this BE the last night of my life, will I have loved my babies passionately enough to last them the rest of their lives?  Will all that talk about my love being with them always no matter what, live itself out?  I hope more than anything that what they remember most about "Mom" is the smile on her face, the delight in her heart and the sheer joy it has been for me to be their mom.

But tonight, I am not worried about that slim chance of facing my own death.  I think there is far too much living to do for the road to end here.  There are too many people to meet, too many people to love, too many people to feed (and I'm not just talking about my brood!), and just too much goodness to be shared!  Our provisions are abundant... the Lord's bounty in our lives is evident.

Although I do admit that I have been all over the map with my faith these last few weeks.  I thank God for His forgiveness, for His patience and for His tolerance.  My prayers have ranged from yelling at Him "If this is how you treat the people who LOVE you, then I'm not so sure I WANT to spend eternity with You!"  To being silent because I was too angry to even reach out to Him.  But yesterday, I broke down and wept and what escaped my lips through prayer released my fear and my need to feel any sense of control over all of this... "Father... I NEED you!  Yaweh... I NEED you more than ever!  I can't do this without You!"

In my anger, I reached out and found, once again, that He has loved me through each of these steps.  Even though it felt that everything I asked NOT to have happen, happened... (I was starting to think He was playing the opposite game with me), I knew in the back of my mind that nothing has ever crumbled in my life without there being a great purpose in it.  And it feels like a terrible crumbling because had I BEEN in control, I would have never chosen it for myself!

But this Little One has been more obedient to God than I have been!  Despite every instinct telling Baby to turn head down, despite all the efforts and all the prayers... This baby literally planted his/her feet firmly against my uterus, diligent in obeying what God would have been telling him/her is safest.  Because I tell you that had baby turned and been born naturally, the health issue that has arisen could very well have killed him/her.  Which in turn, would have "killed" me.

This was happening behind the scenes, outside of our full understanding, but God almighty answered the very prayer I had offered up to Him in the first place... "Please help this baby to be delivered in the safest way possible."

Poor Duane, who is as constant as the Sun, could not understand how I could doubt God being with me through all of this.  He must have a faith that could put mine to shame that he has not felt like he himself could cry out to God "Why have you forsaken me?"  Or lament with poor David in Psalms who knew all too well what it felt like to have God abandon him.  Instead, Duane is more like Job... "the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh."  Plain and simple.  Even in the face of losing his wife, his children, his home, land and livestock, Job did not stop praising God.  That, my dear friends, is my Duane, too.

Oh wouldn't it be blissful to never, ever doubt Him?  Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could hold strong to the first moment He revealed his love for us?  I suppose that will have to be my life-long journey.

But tonight, I delight in the release of that anger I was feeling and the peace He replaced it with.  I am not angry with Him but rather with myself for having doubted His purpose, His plan... His love.  Tonight, I rejoice in knowing that April 16th is my baby's birthday... that this time tomorrow, albeit in much pain, I will see his/her little face... I will nurse him/her with his/her provisions from God through my milk (let's hope it comes in pretty quick)... and I will begin this next chapter in our anything-but-dull lives.

Duane himself summed it up when I told him in a moment of fear that I wanted him to know that I would never want him to live the rest of his life alone... that I would ask God to bless him with a very special companion should I die... and with a mischievous smirk I added "just as long as she's uglier than me!"  (to which we chuckled).  But by the morning, he held me close and said "I just don't think I could live the rest of my life with anyone else... you're too much of an adventure!"

So let the adventure continue, the blessings abound and new life be welcomed in the arms of those who have been anxiously awaiting his/her arrival.

God bless you all for journeying this whole process with us.  We feel richly blessed by your prayers and your presence we feel through them.  Tonight, life is good... and I feel larger than life (and look it, too!). :)

As for the plan for tomorrow... we are to make our way to the hospital for 8:00 a.m. with the C-section scheduled for 9:30 a.m.  But the doctor said it was looking more like the surgery would happen around 11:00 a.m.  Baby will be out within twenty minutes but the remaining forty minutes will be spent sewing me back up.  Two hours in the recovery room and then finally moved to a regular room.  Melina and Antoinette will drive the kids out to see us sometime after supper, assuming that there were no complications.

Tomorrow... our family will be whole and complete.  What an adventure, indeed!

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Scheduled C-section

Due to an additional health concern, a C-section has been scheduled for Monday morning.  But if my water breaks or I go into labour prior to then, I am to make my way to the hospital ASAP for an emergency C-section.

By no means is this ideal but it's just the way God has it laid out for us.  I'm having a hard time sleeping at night, too.  The timing could not be worse...

Melina is starting up soccer and will be gone a couple of days per week after school plus she still has her voice lessons twice per week.  Throw in a busy semester and counting on her help is pretty pointless.

Duane is anxious to get the fields ready for seeding and to fix his machines.  Instead, he is pulled away from his duties (yet again) to tend to family stuff.

Thank God almighty for Antoinette and the incredible blessing she is to our household.  Today, I would like to ask for your prayers to come her way as there is much that will be left on her plate while I recover from surgery... making meals is no fun with three kids whining/fighting/crying/pooping, etc... nor are Isabel runs fun to fit in three hours per day.  Then there's weekly grocery shops, swim lessons, Ethan's special meals, Isabel's special care, etc... I'm just feeling anxious to heal up and not leave this all on Antoinette's shoulders!

I'd like Melina to feel like she can play soccer this year without feeling guilty for not being around to help and I'd like Duane to get the work he needs to get done without feeling like he is abandoning high demands in the house.

Needless to say, while they have me opened up, I will be asking that they tie my tubes.  We are richly blessed (beyond our wildest dreams) and it's time to start living life as a family moving forward.  We will trust that should there be more children in store for us, they will be brought to us by the grace of God through either foster care, adoption, etc...  If God wants us to love and nurture more children, I know He'll take care of those details.

For now, we feel blessed with our beautiful children and simply cannot face the notion of ever going through what we've endured this past month and a half again.  And this next month will not be easy, either.

So there you have it.  I just ask that the Lord keep the Baby and me safe during this surgery and post... that He guide the hands of those working on us... and that He be with Duane as he feels helpless in this whole process.  I am so incredibly blessed to have such a man at my side and I love bearing his children... but we give thanks for our four and dare not ask for more.

I have pre-recorded four nights worth of bedtime readings for my other "babies" as this has been a routine we have come to depend on (and truly love).  It will be hard to be away from them so long.  Anika this morning shed a few tears as she said "I'm scared that something bad will happen to you and the baby."  Which meant we had a good conversation about Love and how even though you can't see it, you can feel it and know that it is very real.  That even though we cannot see God with our eyes, we can see Him in His creation and feel Him in our hearts... and that should something "bad" happen to mommy and the baby, that my love would continue to be very real and present, no matter what.

Duane and I have too many wonderful visions of the future together to believe that God's plan would mean halting our togetherness at this time in our lives, but we surrender to His Will no matter what.  But if Abraham could plead with God about Sodom and Gomorrah to save Lot and his family's life, then I am hoping that I can argue a little with Him about wanting to watch my babies grow, teach them His ways, play with our own grand babies some day, sharing our knowledge of sustainable farming with anyone and everyone, of laughing lots together and simply rejoicing in the Lord.

With that plea and prayer in my heart, I am hopeful that all will go very well.

May this find you all doing well and God bless you all.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

The Waiting Game

I think perhaps one of the cruelest things a pregnant woman can do to herself is give into the mentality that the 37th week marks the "anytime now" phase.  I feel like I am three weeks overdue and I have not even seen my official due date yet!

I did this same thing when I was pregnant with Anika.  For whatever reason, I was convinced the baby was going to come early.  I told myself December 28th which was reasonable given my due date was January 7th.  By the time January 17th rolled around, I would sit on the floor in the middle of the night because I could no longer sleep, and I would cry and beg God "Why have you forgotten me?"

Ah.. the good 'ol days.  I swore after Anika that with any subsequent pregnancies, I would assume that my "due date" would be at least one week post the official due date.  So with Ethan, I was due October 19th... told myself probably October 25th and was surprised when my water broke and he was born October 13th!

With Sivana, we were just so darn busy all the time, that I flat out asked God that she be late!  It just felt like there wasn't enough time in the day to even prepare for another baby!  My due date was September 26th but my water broke on the 3rd!  Thankfully she wasn't born until the 5th which was my official 37 week cut off mark.... this meant that she was NOT considered premature!

With this pregnancy, I stupidly thought "hmmm, getting earlier and earlier... maybe this one will also be early."  And then with all the upheaval about the baby being breeched this past month and the "hope" that Baby comes sooner than later, it really has felt like I have been pregnant indefinitely.

But here we are... two days away from my official due date... my midwife back from her month of holidays today... and the hope that perhaps Little One has simply been waiting for our favourite midwife in the whole world.  There isn't anyone else we'd rather have at our side as we tackle a breech delivery than our midwife and if all of this "waiting" has meant having her there, it's been worth it.

But I am tired.  I feel like every minute is being subconsciously counted.  Too afraid to start any projects in case it gets interrupted, unable to sleep at night and wishing someone would finally invent the pregnancy-bed-spatula to facilitate turning from one side to the other... and longing for the day where my bladder can handle more than a few drops of urine!  Getting up in the night is a whole other ordeal and then I have to stand there for a minute until my hips stop screaming in pain... and then I have to hop... yes, big pregnant overweight lady hopping in the night... all the way to the washroom.  Hoping beyond all hope that no one else needs to get up in the night to pee only to be horrified at what appears like a limping walrus in the shadows making its way to the washroom!


This morning, I woke up to half my face being swollen.  I looked like I had two faces merged together.. and not terribly gracefully!  What on earth is that about?  Any aspect of feeling "desirable" or "womanly" have been replaced with feeling "overripe" and... well... just plain HUGE.

The good news?  No woman has ever been pregnant "forever" so there will be an end to this someday.  Each day brings us one day closer, right?  And while some are reminding me to savour these last few days as my last ones of being pregnant ever again... there is another part of me that is all done "savouring" and is just ready to move on with our next chapter!  At this point, I feel like I am MARINATING!

I struggled with whether or not to post anything after my lovely state of "peace"... after all, it was such a nice note to leave things on.  But the truth is, the peace came and the peace went but at least it visited at all!  Some of it remains... the surrender to God and the lifted burden of trying to turn this baby.... and even the aspect of trusting the outcome.  But the fear still visits now and again and the sense of feeling like this is never going to end.

All in good time, right?  Had I known what we were going to face with Ethan and discovering his many, many allergies, I would have likely welcomed the opportunity to keep him "brewing" a little longer!  Right now, my journey is to find peace with the moment and not look to the past, nor the future, but savour the gift of the present.

So here's hoping that wherever you're at with your own life, you are savouring the moment... even if you've been marinating in it for what may seem like forever!  That all things come and go... all things pass... and that perhaps we should welcome these moments while we have them BECAUSE they are part of our story.  A life story with a beginning and an end and whose details have been beautifully orchestrated.  May you enjoy your story and not doubt for one second that it is a life worth living!

Much love to you all out there!  I hope that the next time you hear from me, it will be with "THE news". God bless you all.

Saturday, 31 March 2012

The Present Moment

Today I have been given the most beautiful gift... Peace.

After what has felt like several weeks of angst, uncertainty, fear, panic and weakness, today I have received glorious answer to my prayers.  It began yesterday when I made a decision.  This baby has his/her purpose outside of any efforts on my part, and this baby seems to have chosen his/her position for birth.  Enough trying everything in MY power to change it.

So I have stopped lying on slopes for thirty minutes a day... I've stopped the pulsatilla and the mugwort... I've stopped walking on all fours (although my kitchen floor is finally clean!), I've stopped the acupuncture and hypnotherapy... well, the hypnotherapy is actually a great "fall asleep" track and seems to work better on Duane than it does me!  If he had a breech baby, that baby would have turned for sure!  Now we use it for the great sleep it induces.  I've refused the external Version and am finally, finally surrendering this completely to God.

Because at the end of the day, whatever the outcome, I want the glory to belong to God... not a doctor, not a hypnobaby track, and not me.

He has answered my prayers today.  I have been begging Him to "be" with me... to dissipate my fears and increase my faith in His Will.  I have asked that the wavering faith stop and that I be left with a steadfast peace.  And He has DELIVERED (all pun intended!).

So today, I have a huge smile on my face.  I feel like I could go into this with a laugh, even!  Even if it means facing my most feared outcome... I am cloaked in peace today as though nothing could touch what already feels like a victory!  If that is not God "being" with me, than what is?

Perhaps this peace means that this baby's arrival is imminent, or perhaps He is giving me a glimpse of the victory that is already His.  Either way, today is my gift from Him... It feels Holy and Alive.... is it truly my "present" moment.

Thank you for sharing it with me and for your prayers that have guided me to this very place.  If love could pour forth literally like a river from my soul to yours, it would be abundant right now.  And you would be flooded with my gratitude and love!  My brothers, my sisters... I am finally ready.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Breeching the Topic at Hand

Well, I've got mostly good news.  The meeting with the obstetrician went much better yesterday than I anticipated.  We reviewed a few more statistics, took another look at the baby and the internal ultrasound revealed that his/her little bum is nestled right against my cervix with no umbilical cord in between.  Little one is still in a Frank Breech and measuring within the 35th percentile.  So a smaller baby.... this is ideal!

The obstetrician looked me in the eyes and said, "If we were to choose the most ideal candidate for a natural breech delivery, you would be it."  Which offered me a huge sense of relief.  My labours have been around eight hours long with Sivana being the exception at three hours... and I push for fifteen minutes or less.  But I only start "counting" the start of my labours from the moment the contractions are difficult to manage (which I find are around the 4 cm dilation mark).  The days that I "labour" before don't count to me.  Sure enough, the obstetrician confirmed this same "starting point" and said that once my labour "starts" (at 4 cms dilation), he doesn't want to see me going more than eight hours.  If labour has exceeded the eight hours with little to no improvement on dilation, we are heading to the Operating Room for a C-section.

Fair enough.

If labour progresses well and I have reached 8 cms dilation, we will then be moved to the Operating Room for the remaining transition.  Once ready to push, if the baby is not out within thirty minutes, given my history with relatively easy deliveries, they will again assume something isn't quite right and do a C-section.

Fair enough.

My next concern was that Ethan, even at ten days early, had a head that measured 97th percentile.  Even with gravity working for him and contractions pushing down on him... and my midwife trying to push my cervix over his head, we had a great deal of difficulty delivering him.  What if this baby has a bigger head and it gets stuck??

Well, apparently what happens in that moment (which must be acted upon very quickly) is that I am put to sleep.  Within two minutes, they will have cut to my pelvic bone and severed the cartilage between the adjoining points to free the baby.  It means a month of pain and difficulty walking... but it means saving the baby's life.

I'm okay with that.

The OR was booked for 1:00 pm today for a Version but we turned it down.  There is only a 50% success rate (meaning the baby actually goes head down) and a 3% chance of complication occurring requiring an immediate C-section.  We decided we would give the baby a chance to turn of his/her own accord (last week the odds were 25%, this week they are at 17%, etc...) with the sincerest hope that God will guide this Little One into the right birthing position.

The chances of something going wrong birthing this baby naturally breech is 3-4% so we were facing the same risk percentile and opted to let nature try to do its thing.

We were also given the statistic that it takes 3,000 C-sections to save the one baby that would have died during a breech delivery.  So 2,999 C-section are done as a precautionary measure.  For every ten babies that would have been saved, one mother has been killed from the C-section.

I looked this doctor in the eyes and asked him flat out "If this was YOUR baby, YOUR body, YOUR decision, what would it be?"

He hesitated, hummed and hawed... and said "Depends on the week you ask me... for instance, we just about lost a mom this week.  She needed four quarts of blood to be saved.  This week, I look at your chart and see that you are as ideal a candidate as possible to deliver naturally... I say do it naturally.  But next week, if we have a close call with a breech delivery... I'd tell you to go with the C-section."

So as it stands, this baby and I are in the best possible position to do this well naturally and that's what we're going to aim for.  We understand fully that something could go wrong and we could end up with a C-section or the cutting of my pelvic bone... but we feel pretty good about bringing our Precious Little One into this world and are just anxious to get moving with the next stage in our lives.

We no longer need to panic about the possibility of a prolapsed cord should my water break.  We are still advised to come into Emerg immediately but not via EMS.  This is a HUGE relief to me.

Tonight, I've had some pretty good contractions.  Went on the treadmill and they were roaring every two minutes!  But once I got off the treadmill, they pretty much stopped completely.

The "waiting" game is the worst part and the surrender comes and goes.  I have prayed for steadfast faith.  As I was washing the kitchen floor, God reminded me of something very important... I love Him more than this Baby, that I love Him more than my husband, and that I love Him more than my life.  Whatever the outcome, it belongs to Him... willingly.

That is a peace in my heart I thank you all for.  I have no doubt your gracious prayers helped to soothe my thoughts and to remember the "bigger picture".  I am envisioning holding my baby in my arms and looking into those little blinky eyes right after birth... touching those little fingers and hearing the precious sound of his/her breath of life.  I cannot wait to see that little face and commit my heart and soul to this little one as his/her mother.  A commitment made eye to eye and blessed with a kiss on the top of the head.  It is a sacred moment I anticipate more than words can say!

God almighty, may this next phase belong to You and You alone.  I surrender, I accept, I am yours.  In Jesus' precious name... Amen.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Baby Vaags & His/Her Upcoming Arrival

Today was our fetal assessment.  The baby looks beautiful with his/her little face looking just like the other Vaags babies... little button nose and all!  And there were both feet right at his/her face.  Baby is currently in a Frank Breech position and looking about 6 to 6 1/2 lbs.  The heart is strong and everything looked beautiful.  This is a wonderful relief for us!

No sign of a prolapsed cord at this time but according to the midwife's palpitations on Wednesday, she believes that there is still ample room between the baby's bottom and my cervix which makes the possibility of a prolapsed cord quite risky.  The obstetrician today did not seem to address this fact.  In fact, in the ten minutes we attempted to discuss the situation and our options, he was paged several times and had to make about four or five phone calls!  It felt rushed and we were told to come back Monday afternoon for an internal ultrasound (doesn't that sound pleasant) to confirm that no umbilical cord is sitting between the baby and the birth canal.

But what if I go into labour before Monday?

This obstetrician just casually told us to come into Women's Clinic to assess the baby's position.  If baby is still breeched, we move to the Operating Room, get hooked up to IV and decide if we attempt a vaginal delivery or a C-section.  The way he put it was "If you care only about the baby's well being, a C-section is the way to go.  That's what's safest for the baby.  If you care only about what's best for Mama, then a vaginal delivery is the safest for Mama."  And even if we attempt a vaginal delivery, there is no guarantee complications won't arise during the birthing.  At this point, the way I am feeling, if baby is still breeched as I go into labour... we are going to go with the C-section.

But what if my water breaks, as it has with my last three babies?

Again, the obstetrician did not seem concerned.  He seemed to offer the same protocol as the onset of labour.  However, my midwife had a very different story and I'm just not sure where I am supposed to stand in all of this.  According to the midwife, because of the space left between the baby and my cervix, the risk of the cord prolapsing and cutting off blood circulation to the baby is too great.  I am to call 911 immediately and get into a position that has me on all fours with my bum in the air to keep the baby from dropping into the pelvis and cutting off that blood flow.  A prolapsed cord means we have as little as twenty minutes to get the baby out alive.  We live thirty minutes from the nearest hospital...

Short of tenting it by a hospital over the next five weeks, our plan of action will be as follows:

a) If my water breaks, we will call city EMS and ask them to meet us at the Perimeter Hwy.  This will ensure fastest response time.  I will climb into the backseat with my legs on one of the chairs and my head by the ground (in the most intense prayer of my life)!  To wait for EMS in our rural home could be too dangerous in our eyes.  If my water breaks while Duane is at work, my next door neighbour will be the one to drive me to the Perimeter and Duane will meet us at the Hospital.

b) If labour begins with no breaking of the membranes, we will simply make our way to the hospital to assess the baby's position and decide on our course of action.  According to the obstetrician, our baby has a 25% chance of turning into its correct position by the time labour sets in.

I am looking at my baby's little picture and I can't help the tears.  I am overwhelmed with the desire to do anything in my power to see his/her safe arrival.  So tiny, so precious... that little heart beating so strong with life.  And all could end up being perfectly fine and uneventful!  But all of this other stuff hovering overhead making this feel like it could end in doom and gloom is making my peace of heart feel like it is failing me!

For now, I am enjoying every wiggle and movement that celebrates his/her life... that makes it untouched by any of this right now.  These next five weeks are going to be among the most challenging as far as keeping fears at bay, keeping faith strong, and believing that all will be just fine.  It is a waiting game that has me both terrified and excited.  I have no idea what God's timing is in all of this, but I know He loves us and that regardless of the outcome, it is for His good and pleasing Will.

I love you all out there and thank you for not letting me feel like I am facing this time alone.  For helping me feel uplifted in the sanctity of prayer and nuzzled in the good will of all those who love us.  We are richly blessed.  To all of you out there... God bless you!