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Saturday, 3 March 2012

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!

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