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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!

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Flippin' frustrating!

You guessed it... I am 37 weeks pregnant, officially full term, and the baby is still breeched (or at least that's what the professionals are guessing from outside palpitations).  I am being sent for a fetal assessment on Friday at 11:00 a.m. for further assessment and to discuss a course of action.

A course of action... Here are the options:

a) If baby is still breeched on Friday, the obstetrician on hand is one who is willing to attempt a Version (manually pushing on the baby to manipulate it into a head down position).  This is done in the Operating Room with ultrasound monitoring to assess the baby's well-being and to ensure that the flipping around does not cause any obstruction to the umbilical cord.  If so, an emergency C-section is performed.

b) If baby is still breeched on Friday, we can opt NOT to attempt the Version.  This means waiting until true labour kicks in where they would do a quick ultrasound to see WHAT position the baby is in.  There are three breeched positions and only one of them can be successfully delivered naturally.  If the baby is in the successfully breeched position, we head off to the OR and attempt a natural delivery ready for an emergency C-section, if needed.  The risk is to make sure the baby's chin does not get stuck in the birth canal while pushing... that the baby does not try to take his/her first breath in the birth canal, and that the umbilical cord is not prolapsed (caught somewhere in the feet).  If baby is in either of the other two breeched position, it is an automatic C-section.

c) If baby remains breeched, we can simply go straight to a scheduled C-section.

There are so many fears juggling around in my head and so many to surrender.  And one of them that I must face is the fact that the only obstetrician on hand immediately is the same one who handled my emergency c-section with Isabel.  While some would find comfort in the history connection, I have the most traumatizing time in my life associated with him.  He is extremely well-respected but I was left with uterine lining in my seal which meant excruciating endometriosis pain for several years before they discovered that's what it was.  Then he was the one to re-open me and remove it.  My only physical traumas in my life are associated with this well-respected obstetrician... is God calling me to finally heal and get over it?  Or is it a big slap in the face?

And then there is the whole dream just before I got pregnant with this one...

I know I've mentioned it before.  And at the end of the day, it's just a dream, but I've had enough of these "dreams" to know when there is a message in it, whether I comprehend it, interpret it correctly or not.  In this dream, an angel had appeared to me and said "You are about to conceive a child.  It will be a little boy.  But I will be back for you when you deliver him."  In my dream, I was sad but peaceful and surrendered to God's will.  For the nine months, I made the most of my time and cherished the life I had.  When I delivered in my dream, it was a natural delivery... or at least I recall holding my son in my arms but saw the angel waiting at the corner of the room.  Only then did I turn to Duane with tears flowing in my eyes to say "I have to go now.  But I love you with all of my heart and will ask God to watch over all of you."

When I woke from that dream, I was crying and woke Duane up.  I told him about it and he shrugged it off (as one can only do when one's wife has strange dreams on a regular basis) but something did not sit well with me.  Without our realizing it, our Little One would be conceived within 24 hrs of that dream...

So is it a boy?  Or is it a girl?  I have refused to find out in faith that God had revealed to me that this was our second son.  Have I been wrong in my interpretations before?  You bet!  I remember when I spent two years before my sixteenth birthday convinced I'd received the message that I would die right before I turned sixteen!  So much so that I wrote goodbye letters!  Three months before my sixteenth birthday, I discovered I was with child... the death I had interpreted did not end up being one in body, but one of my life as I had known it... a death of my childhood.  As it turns out, with all "deaths" so-to-speak comes new life.  And so it did!

What of this message of death?  Does it mean a new beginning?  Does it mean an ending to our lives as we know it right now?  Does it mean nothing at all?  Does it help when your three year old says to you "I think this baby is going to die."  Oh golly gee... where does one go with that one??

"Well, death is real and possible for all of us at any time.  But let's ask God to keep this Baby safe in His hands, ok?"

So here I am questioning the depth of my faith, the depth of my surrender and willingness to trust Him completely.  I come to this place so many times, it seems.  It's a hazy place and one of great weakness for me.  How easy it is to "cover my bases" thinking I can outsmart God's will and bend it to my desire.  But He has always known best even if it has not been made obvious to me for many years later.

I know He must love me.  I love Him with all that I am!  I don't understand this moment in my life but surely as He loves me, He is keeping me and this baby safe?  And if not, surely there is purpose even in that?

So everything could change this Friday, or nothing could change at all.  We could risk holding out hoping this baby will flip of its own accord, or hope that a natural breech delivery is possible.  At this stage, I am being signed off by my midwives into the care of qualified obstetricians as I am once again labelled "high risk".  A place that leaves me wondering where this delicate state will leave our family.  I am eager to know its outcome and afraid to face it at the same time.

Let us see where my faith will lead me, what the Lord has in store for my life and for this Little One whose entire being is wrapped around an enigma... puzzling anyone who has had to work with him/her! Whose soul I am madly in love with and connected to beyond my womb.  And whose precious little life reaches deep within me beyond my wildest dreams.

Keep Little One in your prayers... and may my own switch from asking the Lord to "hear my prayers" to "Lord, let me hear YOU."  May the Lord be with you all!

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Building Homes in Mexico

Melina left Thursday night with her grade eleven classmates on a  thirty-five hour bus ride down to Mexico for a Missions Trip.  Once down there, they will build two homes for two families who literally live in tents on dirt.  I can only imagine what the experience will entail, both physically and spiritually.

I had dropped her off not really worried or anything and hung around for a little while before the bus arrived.  We were poking fun at each other (as we tend to do) and I left with one real doozie.  We both laughed and hugged but as I walked away, my brain (being the over thinking and over-dramatic organ that it is) starting thinking "good grief, if that was the last moment we ever shared together, is THAT how I want either of us to remember my last words???"  I had already started driving off but turned around, ran back into the school and gave her a big hug.

"Mina... I couldn't leave on that note!  I want you to know how much I love you and I'm proud to be your mom."

To which she so lovingly replied "Are you CRYING?"


I was surprised at the tears that did flow on the drive home and to be quite frank and honest, I was relieved.  Sometimes, at this stage of their teenage life, it feels like we do nothing but bunt heads.  It's about what chores have been avoided or left undone, what homework has not been handed in, what social event she wants to attend for a third time that week, etc...  It's a more challenging time to stop and acknowledge all the wonderful things that ARE there... her beautiful smile, the fact that she's always ready with a song on her lips, that she can be level headed beyond her years (when she wants to) and many other attributes that really do make me proud to be her mom.

So the tears flowing on the drive home were a good affirmation that I DO love her more than whether or not she's avoided a chore or done it with a half-hearted effort.  She is here, she is my daughter and I love her very, very much.  At the end of the day, that's what's in my heart.

So prayers are forthcoming to you, Baby Girl.  And may you be blessed on this Missions Trip beyond your wildest dreams.  Looking forward to your safe return!  Much love... Mom.

Baby whose middle name shall be "Enigma"!

Yep... three midwives, a chiropractor, a naturopath, a fetal scope and a doppler machine and still no one can figure out for sure what this baby's position is.  The poor Little One has been poked and prodded so many times that I am convinced when he/she is born, the first thing he/she will do is shake his/her fist at the world and say "Would you QUIT it?!!"  Especially when one of these professionals finds a harder spot, starts bouncing it around and goes, "Oh... actually, I think THAT might be the head!"  Great, I'm sure my baby appreciates you bouncing it around like a basket ball!

So the general consensus is that this baby is still breeched... or it has two heads.  Neither is terribly comforting.

I have seen a chiropractor three times a week who has a 100% success rate with flipping breeched babies... I have had acupuncture done, I am taking a homeopathic med called Pulsatilla and feeling like an idiot when walking around on all fours (I am convinced the latter is just a practical joke on pregnant ladies!).  This baby is nuzzled in a breeched position as if laughing at our every attempt to flip him/her around.


I have to admit, it has been really neat to hear about a lot of other mom's stories regarding their breeched babies.  Some whose babies flipped literally in the birth room, some whose babies flipped, flipped again, then flipped once more!  Some whose babies were born successfully breeched and others who ended up with a C-section.

What I find truly fascinating in all of this is the fact that despite the millions and millions of births, not two of them are ever the same!  It's as though each one is as individual as our fingerprints!  To me, that just adds to the sacredness of the task at hand... playing a key role in the "beginning" of someone's life story whose very life will be as unique and individual as the process of bringing him/her into the world.

At the end of the day, my life and this Little One's life are nestled safely in God's hands... whatever the outcome.  I continue to pray for this one's safe arrival, a beautiful birth story with a happy ending.  Next week, I am considered full term and the promise of looking into my little one's face and seeing who has been growing within my womb all these months is even more exciting to me than the promise of Spring. Even the sun is shining with more fervour these days as if anticipating the same excitement!

This has been a wonderful pregnancy with very few pains and aches.  When pains and aches have visited, they have been short-lived and/or manageable.

Soon, we will "know" who this Little One is and embark on the journey of parenting to the best of our ability and shaping his/her character in preparation for life.  A life that honours our Creator and His love for us... An honoured task... one I can't wait to begin with our next Little One.

Thank you for keeping our baby in your prayers and may this find you all doing well out there... enjoying the Spring sunshine as we are.  May you feel renewed, energized and beautifully exhilarated by the promise of new life emerging all around you!  What a sacred time of year!  Much love to you all... and of course... God bless!

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Ethan's No-Bake Chocolate Cookies

I don't know if you're familiar with those traditional no-bake oatmeal chocolate cookies... they have so many different names for them including the one I grew up with which was, well, Bear-Turd Cookies.  Given how much my life revolves around other people's bodily "movements", I do not even bat an eye at the name of these cookies but I am aware that talking about this as I lead into a recipe may not be the best marketing approach!

Suffice it to say that they have been a family favourite and I modified the recipe using Ethan-Kosher-Ingredients and they turned out even better than the original recipe!  So here's hoping you can enjoy these as much as we did "sharing" them with Ethan! :)

Ethan's No-Bake Chocolate Cookies

1/4 cup Garden of Life Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
1/4 cup So Delicious Original Coconut Milk
1 cup Cane Sugar
1/2 tsp pure vanilla
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup Epicure Pure Cocoa
1/4 cup shredded coconut, sulfite free
1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds
1 1/2 cups Nature's Path gluten-free Corn Flakes (fruit-juice sweetened), partially crushed
1 Tbsp Organic Sunbutter

1. Melt coconut oil, coconut milk and sugar in small pot.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 2 minutes.  Remove from heat and add vanilla and sun butter.
2. Combine salt, cocoa, coconut, sunflower seeds and cornflakes until well blended.
3. Add hot mixture and mix thoroughly.
4. Drop by Tbsp full onto wax paper and let cool completely.
5. Refrigerate (and keep refrigerated or frozen... so yummy from frozen).

Makes 12 cookies

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Top 7 lies about home schooled kids

As most of you know, we are likely going to be home schooling our kids but you would not believe how much criticism we get for it.  Either huge support or huge criticism... there doesn't seem to be a middle ground.  But everyone is entitled to their opinion.  I do have to admit that some of the arguments AGAINST home schooling that I've heard are pretty weak!

Here is a priceless video from a home schooled kid tackling the top seven lies about being home schooled.  Enjoy!!

A chance to touch base!

Ah... The sun is shining bright and the house is buzzing with the sound of quiet!  Duane is pulling out of the driveway with our three little ones as I type this to go visit Grandma Vaags.  This is our first Sabbath in probably eight weeks where we have been able to all be together.  Well, almost all of us.  Melina has had things going on with her dad's side of the family for nearly four consecutive Sabbaths and today it is a meeting with her school about their Mission's Trip to Mexico in the next few weeks.

To say the least, between Duane working his shifts for the past eight weeks, Melina being away on Sabbaths nearly each of those, too, and poor Antoinette supposed to have her weekends off, it has been a long, long time since a "true" Sabbath has visited our household.

And it's amazing how much I have missed God.

It's a funny thought to me, really, because He didn't go anywhere.  He is with me every single step, every single thought but I have missed letting Him into each of those processes.  It makes me think of my Memere's (grandma's) old picture she used to have Jesus knocking on a door without a handle.  As a small child, I would stare at that image... a Jesus so gentle and loving... so unobtrusive... gently knocking on a door to let you know He is still there.  As a child, I remember being so touched that He was not hurt by the door remaining closed.  He looked happy to be there, plain and simple.  Happy at the constant opportunity that maybe, just maybe, that someone on the other side would let Him in someday... and He would be right there waiting the whole time.

When I think of my Father's mother, it is always with that picture in mind.  When she had passed away at the age of 91, they found her in her bed facing that picture (which happened to have a light bulb behind the frame) and the light had been left on.  In her old age, she would sometimes confess that she thought baby Jesus had forgotten about her!  I think she was ready to open that door and run through to the other side long before her "time" truly came.  But I have nothing but such fond memories of her!

(As a side note, I never know what I am going to type when I sit at the computer.  I say a prayer in my heart, open it up to the world and begin typing.  Sometimes I am surprised at what comes out.  I did not realize today I would visit my memories of my Memere.. it is a pleasant surprise to me.) :)

At any rate, all of that reminiscing to relate my feeling of missing God with that picture.  By no means have I meant to keep Him out!  But I have done nothing to deliberately keep that door open.  I suppose this is why I have found myself missing Him something fierce.

These last couple of months have been exhausting.  Quite frankly, had it not been for Antoinette's help, I would have burnt right out long before now.  I have not known how to share some of these details because they do involve another party and it's hard to ask for prayers while keeping details vague out of respect for someone else's privacy.

But I will say this... we have been dealing with Isabel's school placement for next year.  We have visited a school in my ex's school division, and thanks to the recommendations of Isabel's current clinician team (Occupational therapist & Physiotherapist, in particular), we actually got to visit a school in our rural division!  I was not even going to investigate this as an option as I did not think a rural school would be able to compare to a city one where Level III funded special needs kids were concerned.

We have driven 82,000 kms these last six years on a bi-weekly basis to bring Isabel to her current school which was unsurpassed by NONE (hence our willingness to take on the three to four hour daily commute).  But she is graduating from that school this year after they've already extended her stay one year and it seems that the next move will be a drop in quality of care, regardless.

We've been researching like crazy comparing each school division's resources, access to clinicians, expertise in dealing with kids like Isabel, policies on hiring Educational Assistants (who are the key players in whether Izzy does well or not as they are the ones implementing the care plans laid out by the Physiotherapists, Occupational Therapists and Speech Pathologists).  They are the ones sitting with Izzy one-on-one all day long so having a good one is key to a good year for Izzy.

Negotiations with my ex have been exhaustive as we have tried to think of middle ground solutions including a middle ground school.  That school, however, plainly said they would not take Izzy on as the $20,000 Level III government funding barely covers the Educational Assistant's salary, meaning the school's resources would then be exhausted to provide clinicians and any transportation... something no out-of-division school is willing to take on.

A really big bonus for us would be that Isabel would not need any daycare if she attended school here.  She would get picked up by a school bus and dropped off... that is such a "normal" kid thing that I cannot even tell you how exciting that is to me!  But better than that is that she would be home with her family RIGHT after school!  No highway driving... just straight home with family.

We've consulted lawyers and mediators for assistance in finding a middle ground solution and the feedback is not always consistent.  The stress level has been high especially given the deadline for both schools to have our answer passed by on Thursday!  We still have not reached an agreement.

We have prayed for wisdom, guidance... a clear cut answer on what is "right".  Somedays we think we know what that is, and other days it feels like we are lost again.  There are for more details but I think these will suffice as far as prayer requests go.  If I may, I would ask that you help both parties see clearly what is best for Isabel... no matter how humbling the answer, and hopefully that will also include what is best for each parties' respective families.  If we end up with a city school, than prayers that we be equipped to take on another eight years of driving four hours per day on a bi-weekly basis would be much appreciated.  If a resolution is not made soon, I fear this will end up in court.  So do we just give up for the sake of avoiding that or fight for what we believe is right?  How do we fight for what we believe is right, if we aren't perfectly clear on what that is?  Do you see our conundrum?


On a different note, the house has been very busy with trying to prepare for Baby Vaags #4.  With this many mouths to feed, we are needing a second fridge so renos are under way to move the main floor laundry machines into an actual main floor laundry room to make way for a full sized fridge!  We've been selling things on kijiji to help alleviate those costs.  We've been blessed by the hands of a dear family friend who oversees construction on a regular basis.  I cannot thank him enough for the peace of mind of having him in our home doing the work rather than strangers.  He is someone we can trust and we get to visit over lunch, too!  Truly a blessing at this time!

We have also expanded our family, and not just by my protruding abdomen!  Two lovely pregnant cows have joined us this past week and Duane has a renewed light in his eyes.  These last few months have been so exhaustive, that the two of us have barely had time to acknowledge each other's presence let alone nurture it!  I have watched him plug away each day on little sleep, working hard while feeling like everything is falling behind (I know this feeling very well as I stare at our 2011 farm books that have not been touched even once this year despite our fast approaching year end AND baby arrival!).  But since our two cows have arrived, he is cracking jokes again and he has life to his step again.

This morning, I watched out our kitchen window as he filled the water pails and carried them back to the animals.  Even from far away, I could tell he took delight in what he was doing.  When he came back in, I asked him "how are the ladies?"  And he answered, "I think I love those cows!"

Another aspect of this project is the fact that these are pure bred Vache Canadienne (Canadian Cows) which is a primitive breed.  There are very few breeds left that produce something called A2 milk, which is better tolerated than the common A1 milk.  Sadly, our dairy cows today are being bred strictly with production in mind but we are hoping to help preserve a breed whose heritage is known for its quality of milk... not quantity.

As for the children (I always save the best for last!), they are keeping us busy!  But they continue to be the purpose to our lives that drives us to move forward with the endless daily tasks.  From 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 pm (and sometimes later) every night... the pace is constant and unyielding!  But the reward is great, those smiles are priceless and the feeling in our hearts when we lay down at night and we know the house is filled with the presence of such blessed people whom we get to parent... it is a feeling that no words can encompass.

The small children have truly taken a liking to my big belly and often run up to me to kiss it and say hi to the Baby.  Even Sivana, at nearly eighteen months, walks up to me, rubs my tummy and says "Daaay-Dee" while doing the sign for "baby".  Her sign language is coming along so well and what a blessing because she is not speaking too clearly yet.  But she can tell us exactly what she wants thanks to those signs!  Even this morning, she squatted in the kitchen (I knew exactly what she was doing) and she came up to me and signed "dirty diaper".

Melina has been participating in Music Festival this past month and she has been one busy bee!  Rehearsals nearly every day for the past two weeks.  But the work she has put in was worth it as she won 1st place with her group choir, 2nd place for her duet, and 2nd place for her solo.  We are proud of how hard she has worked and happy to see her reap the rewards for her efforts!  She got her driver's license in January so she has been chauffeuring herself to school and to all of these voice lessons!  Thank you, God!  She is excited for her Missions Trip to Mexico on the 16th and we are just hopeful that she will be back before the baby comes!

Isabel has been on a ten-week weaning schedule off of her Keppra anticonvulsant medication.  We are still seeing a great deal of seizure activity and requiring her emergency medication a couple of times per month now.  This emergency med, Lorazepam, is administered when her seizure is lasting longer than three minutes and/or she is having clusters of them without proper recovery over the course of fifteen minutes.  Needless to say, these are scary... especially if one cannot sit with her 24/7.  It is very easy to miss small seizures, even with three supervising adults in the house!  We are actually looking into some technology that "watches" her movement and triggers an alarm should a seizure happen... just to make sure we don't miss ANY of them!

Anika and Ethan are busy as always.  They can be the best of friends or the worst of enemies (mostly it depends on Ethan's mood!).  But they make us laugh daily with their antics, with their imagination and their questions.  We have just refurnished their bedroom with a bunk bed, plus a loft bed as we will be attempting to place Sivana in the room with them, too, over the next week.  (This will be another prayer request as Sivana still wakes up in the night and starts her day at 6:00 a.m. or sooner... thank God almighty for the time change next week!).

As for Baby Vaags, he/she is in a breech position (silly baby).  In two weeks, if he/she still has not gone head down, they will send me for a fetal assessment.  This baby is quiet all day long and wiggles away most of the night!  Let's hope that schedule changes outside of the womb!  My body has been having Braxton hicks (practice contractions) a lot these last couple of weeks and some I actually have to stop and breath through!  I am thinking this one will be early but I may be eating my words come the end of April!!!

Antoinette continues to be an angel sent from God to help us manage our load.  She works so hard from sun up to sun down and does so with a loving heart for our family.  There is a willingness of servitude from her heart that makes me feel so undeserving of such help.  After all, what have I done to deserve it?  But I quiet those moments with a reassurance that Jesus himself declared that God would never give us more than we could handle.  And I guess by that, He also means that if ever it feels like too much, He will equip us to handle it... just as He promised.  And so He has.

As for me, I sound like a walrus anytime I try to change my position at night.  I have more of a relationship with the toilet due to my squished bladder than I do with anyone else in this house!  I limp now and again due to hip pain, so in a nutshell?  I am the image of sexy!  NOT!!!  For whatever reason, gravity seems extra cruel at this stage of pregnancy nd I am convinced there is a little invisible mischievous force that knocks EVERYTHING to the ground... even things IN my hand!  And then I stare at the item on the floor for a minute debating if it's worth the effort to try and pick it up... only to yell for Anika, or Ethan, Melina or Antoinette.  Every now and again, I brave it up and actually bend over but the whole house knows about it as it sounds like I am heaving huge straw bails up a hill!  Oh yeah, baby... I am woman hear me grunt!

On that note.. that very, very long note, I am so grateful for this opportunity to connect.  The house is still peaceful and even as I type those very words, I have watched Duane pull back into our driveway!  So I will bid you Adieu for now with the sincerest hope that these moments will present themselves more frequently.  I will do my best to open that door more regularly and invite Jesus in for tea to sit with me as I pray for all of you.  After all, what is the point of living if we are living only for ourselves?  May I meet with Him through my prayers for you and thank you for the gift of life that is to me!

Much love to you all out there... and, you guessed it... God bless!