Photographs by Laurie @ Horizons Photography

December 31, 2011

another year past...


we are staring down our noses at 2012... sometimes I can't believe it, I still remember the millennium like it was yesterday and here we are 12 years later!? I guess I am getting older.

Last year I wrote a poetic tale of our lives over the last 5 years, and I spoke about the wonders that the suffering has given us. Now as I sit here, thinking over 2011 I realize that what I thought was blessings last year has paled with comparison to the year we have just traveled. Tim and I joked last year that 2011 would be a year to rest, and this year I know better than to say the same. 2011 we walked our son through yet another open heart, we cared for our youngest through some scary asthma attacks and allergy troubles, but more importantly we fell more in love with eachother and our kids, we continued to build a home together and make it both safe and comfortable for the boys. We made new friends, we were blessed by old friendships and saw those friendships grow deeper. We laughed, a lot. We cried, but we knew joy despite circumstance, and we felt God closer to us than ever before. We have seen miracles in our lives, and in the lives of our friends, we have seen God's face, known his comfort, presence and peace and we have come to know a deeper, more meaningful faith. We have heard our youngest speak his first words, and we have discovered that our oldest has a voice too, and we have enjoyed listening to his thoughts. We have spent quiet nights reflecting on life, love and hope and we have begun to learn what prayer really is, what it means, what it's purpose is and through it we have begun to know a fuller life.

2011 is over, in a few hours it will be the past and we will begin to look once again into the face of the future and as we do we will do it knowing that whatever happens this year, good or bad, we will sit down in one year and know that we are blessed, loved and tucked safely in our Father's arms.

May you each find the blessings of 2011 and move with hope and peace into 2012! Happy New Year!

December 29, 2011

On loan


one day you are sitting holding your baby, feeding him, changing him, loving him and cuddling him. He's chubby, cherub like, his round cheeks rosy and his smell uniquely baby. Then one day you look up and see a little boy, he's skinny, he's running around the house wreaking havoc on anything in his path, he's chasing the dog with a treat, teasing him and laughing, he's driving trucks over your toes, one day you look up and see he's grown up on  you. That has happened this week with Kaleb, all of a sudden he's taller, he's skinnier, he's less baby and more boy.

I was okay with Josh getting older, seeing him progress has been fun and exciting and such a blessed relief that I almost long to see how he'll grow, who he will become, what God has in mind for him. Kaleb though, he's my baby and as I watch him sprout into boyhood I can't help but lament the loss of our 'baby' years. (That is until I think about the sleepless nights, the cluster feeds and the crying that seems to never end).

Watching these boys grow, and having just left Christmas behind I am looking forward and realizing a few things that I need to start praying about now in order to be prepared. These boys are on loan, one day they will leave me and they will love another woman, they will become men and I will no longer be the one and only woman in their lives. One day I will have to let them go or risk losing them completely. One day I will miss all the insanity that these years will offer me, I will look back at pictures and miss them as they were, I will want to go back in time. Men leave and cleave, that's the way it is. I know it in my head, but I need to start to prepare my heart for that reality today, I need to pray that I will have the grace to let them go when the time comes. I need to pray that on the day they leave, the day they choose another woman, I can accept her as my own so that I don't lose him. I have to pray now that I will be strong enough to allow them to become men, to trust their judgment, hear their advice, let go of control and allow them to spread their wings as God intended them to do. As I watch them grow, I will need to enjoy every hug, every kiss, every 'I love you', every parenting opportunity and one day when they are grown and gone from my home, I will know I have served them well,  my heart will rejoice in the knowledge that I have raised them to be good men, but it will also ache for the days gone by, it's how motherhood is I guess, always a mix of bittersweet, but as most of you know, with bittersweet chocolate you can make chocolate chip cookies!

December 28, 2011

The broken tree

Today the Christmas tree came down... It's always been a let down to take out the ornament boxes and pack up the tree but this year I had Josh doing everything in his power to stop me. I would take an ornament down and he would try to put it back on saying 'tree pretty mummy' and I would try to explain that Christmas is over for the year and it's time to put the tree away. Then he started hugging my legs so that I couldn't move around the tree to get the tinsel off, then the same with the lights. All the while smiling and saying 'tree pretty mummy'. Then, when the tinsel, lights, angel and ornaments were put away and the only thing left to do was to drag the tree out to the street (for which we needed Daddy) I attempted to sweep up needles, which Josh quickly messed up again. When Kaleb woke from his nap and came downstairs Josh had a sad little face and pointed to the tree and said 'Kaper (that's what he calls Kaleb) tree broken'. My poor little guy, he enjoyed his first Christmas this year, finally understanding the holiday and the joy of the season and now he too is feeling the after Christmas blues. We then went upstairs to play with his new air hockey table and cars and the tree and it's brokeness was quickly forgotten, until he spoke to his Grandma on the phone tonight and told her that Christmas was gone...

December 24, 2011

Christmas Prayer


Tonight, as the lights go out on another day and you prepare to greet the tree in the morning I pray for you that you also prepare to open your hearts and minds to the true meaning of Christmas. I pray you find peace this season, that you meet Jesus in a new and exciting way and that no matter what tomorrow or the new year bring; that you find joy in unexpected places. Tonight, as we think back to Christmas's gone by I pray you can let go of old hurts, heal old wounds and enjoy the peace that Christmas represents. Christ was born and died so that we might know life to it's fullest and it started on Christmas. This is not just a season of gifts, not just about getting together as family but it's a time when we are to open our hearts to the Savior of the world and know him personally.

Merry Christmas fellow travelers, may you find the peace he longs to give you.

December 23, 2011

A good and Perfect gift

I am sitting here, having just finished (I literally just put it down) a book that I was asked to review. It has transformed me, taught me, encouraged me and at the same time it has called me to account. The book 'A good and Perfect Gift' by Amy Julia Becker is the story of how Amy Julia learned upon the birth of her daughter Penny, that she was a baby born with Down Syndrome. This is a story that needs to be read, a story that needs to be understood because it doesn't matter who your child is, if they are born with health issues, complicated syndromes, or perfectly healthy, your child is a unique gift from God and they are remarkable works of love from their maker, knit together in the palm of his hand with his signature upon their hearts, each one with a special plan laid out for them.

Reading this book took me a longer time than usual, the emotional pull that I felt while reading about those first few months of Penny's life, the frustrations, the anger and ultimately the hiding were areas that I too waded through, with tears I shared her ups and downs, remembering not too long ago I was sitting in the hospital, staring down at a little boy classified 'abnormal'. Hearing about Penny's life, hearing about how Penny has touched the life of those who love her has taught me about what I hold dear, it has put a spot light on my own idols surrounding motherhood, and it has held me to account. As we read about Amy Julia's struggle to break the idols in her own life it's nearly impossible not the see the idols in our own.

What do we expect of our children? What is perfect? What is normal? What does it look like to love without condition? These are some of the questions that are answered in this book, but it's only a small part. As you journey through the first two years of Penny's life you are also wading through the swamps with Amy Julia and her struggle with faith, doubt and understanding. Her honesty about her faith journey allowed me to see openly into mine, she asked questions I have at times asked myself, and she has humbled me with her acceptance of the answers so quickly when it's taken me so much longer in so many ways.

It doesn't matter who you, who is in your life, if you have a child or not, this is a book that I would recommend for anyone to read, it will lead you on a journey of self discovery, and in the end you may just find that an idol has been smashed, or at the very least cracked.

'Everyday it becomes more and more clear that Penny is not a 'Down's kid'. Penny is  a child with wonderful and fascinating aspects to her personality. Penny is a child who knows and loves her family, who has a big vocabulary and loves books, who blows kisses to anyone who says hello, who is learning to climb stairs, and, oh, yes, Penny is also a child who has Down syndrome"  Amy Julia Becker


"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group". 
 

December 19, 2011

I am sorry

when Josh was born there was both celebration at the birth of our first child, and the first Grandchild in the family, the first nephew, the first boy on our side since my Dad. Along with that joy though there was also grief, that he was born with such struggle, that he was so ill, that he was born with so many unknowns. We all struggled with trying to deal and understand what his birth meant for our family. We all walked through a journey of questions and we all wanted answers, control, some semblance of  normalcy. We would sit beside his bed in the CCCU and wondered what would happen next. Everytime the doctors came by for rounds we had hundreds of questions, and not one doctor could give concrete answers. Tim and I had to learn not just how to be parents to a new born baby boy but how to take care of such an ill child, how to love a child who may or may not live through the weeks ahead. We questioned God's sovereignty, we questioned the where God's love came from, where his plan was taking us.

I listened to people say 'I'm sorry' and in my heart I grew angry, because I wanted people to celebrate his birth, celebrate his life. I selfishly only centered on my own pain, my own hurt and worry and I was angry because I wanted more from the people around me. I wanted, needed, to feel what every new mother feels when they hold their baby for the first time. Instead I sat for hours in my room alone every night, my son in the hospital across the street fighting for his life. As the days and weeks progressed I found ways to suppress my frustrations, my emotions and my anger, and I learned how to love my son the best way that I knew how in that moment. The first time I held my baby (two weeks after his birth) I cried because it was that moment that I knew I would never be the same, I was forever changed. He was something I had been missing without even knowing it, he was a part of the love that Tim and I share and now that he was here our lives would never be the same again. Even if we lost him, even if we knew him for only days.

I talk a lot about Josh in this Blog, it's both a testament to the love that I have for him and the hope that I have for him, and it's also a way to work through the struggles I have faced, the feelings I have found myself sorting through in regards to his life and his illness. I have for a long time held onto some of the anger and frustrations surrounding his birth, and it's time to let it go. It wasn't what I would have wanted, it wasn't ideal, it wasn't what I felt I deserved, and yet as I look at this little one who we now know so well I have to seriously ask myself... what did I deserve? What does that mean? As I sit here contemplating advent I find myself needing to apologize for my selfish refusal to see others pain, to see that Josh's illness grieved others as well. He is my son yes, but he's loved by many. He is not mine, he is God's and he was born into a community which means he is loved by them, which means that they too grieve him. They each dealt with that grief differently, and sometimes that seemed hurtful to me, but ultimately this is not about  me is it? This is about Josh, and my anger, though repressed is uncalled for, and it's time to let go and allow the Spirit to free me of it's hold. It's time to ask for forgiveness, and it's time for me to forgive.

Josh has taught me about love, he has taught me about hope, prayers, faith, and he has taught me about joy. He has given me courage and taught me strength, and as I look at his precious face this advent season I have to admit that he is so much more than I ever 'deserved', he was an answered prayer before he was even born. He's not something I should feel regret over what didn't happen at his birth, he's not something I should be angry about. He is a beautiful, happy little boy who has taught a lot of people about appreciating life. His life has answered prayers I asked years before I knew Tim, let alone Joshua.

I prayed once for God to bring me closer to him, for God to reveal his love for me. His answer was to give me the gift of Joshua. Joshua's life, and yes even his suffering has taught me about the unconditional love of God, and his life has brought me so much closer to God. My prayers for miracles, for healing, are being answered not in a direct way, not the way I had wanted, but with each step towards healing that Joshua makes I am realizing that sometimes God says' wait, but always he answers. Is it possible that in all my thoughts of what I thought I wanted were wrong?

I think of Mary, when she was expecting and anticipating the birth of Christ and I wonder what she thought, I wonder how she felt. The birth of Jesus was not I am sure what she had thought it would be. I am sure she imagined she would marry Joseph, love him the way a wife does, and give him a son born in wedlock, celebrated and loved. Did she expect him to be born in a stable, with her fiance at her side, having never shown his her physical love? Did she lament her situation? No, she bore him with joy, with hope and expectation and faith. As we move through the advent, as we prepare our hearts for Christ I am awed that God saw me fit to mother children as special as Joshua and Kaleb. That he saw me as suitable to parent them and that he has given me the strength I needed, the courage I needed and the faith I needed to love these extraordinary children.

As I continue to move through the process of loving these kids, and dealing with the past and the feelings I have left hidden I am sure of one thing now more than ever. I would not change a thing. I would not make Joshua or Kaleb any different, even with their separate struggles, I wouldn't change the journey we have been on, I would only change my response to the situation.

For those who have felt my anger, my frustrations, for those who have felt my unforgiving spirit I pray now that you can find it in your hearts to forgive me. I pray that you will know my heart longs for wholeness and will continue to seek it. I pray that you know that I forgive you, and that I seek your forgiveness.

December 17, 2011

I am in here

I was asked to review this book, and at once was intrigued by the story of a young girl made silent by Autism, a girl who longs to speak with such passion that she refers to it as 'agony'. My heart and soul have been touched by this young woman who is so full of love and courage when most would crumple under the weight of 'hopelessness'. More, I was touched by the mother, I was encouraged to keep fighting, keep praying, keep hoping, keep believing and never stop searching for answers.

Before she had even seen her second birthday Elizabeth was forced in a world of silence, a strange and mysterious world called Autism. A place that has so many unknowns for both the parents and the doctors but also the person who is afflicted with this disease. 'I am in here' takes you into the world of a family living with Autism, in a both clinical, easy to read but also hopeful and emotional way, Elizabeth's Mom describes the ups and downs, the hopes and the fears and the successes and failures of this disease. She also looks at the way that her faith has strengthened her, stretched her and allowed her to keep fighting on behalf of her daughter.

As a Mother I was moved, not only because of our struggles with our son's health problems, but also because I was reminded that I am not alone. There are so many families suffering, so many children who are suffering, and not one of us is alone. To hear Virginia talk about things that so closely echo my own feelings offers me comfort, hope, peace and ultimately a feeling of being understood.

'I have been praying for the children for so long and it seems like nothing happens'  Virginia Breen

No, we are not alone. This book is one that you should read, if not for you or a family member or friend who faces struggles, then at the very least to understand Elizabeth, and ultimately others who are trapped in the world of Autism. To see that they are in fact 'In there' and that they want only to be heard, understood and loved just as we all do.

"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group". 

something south of angels

There is a phenomenon in our family and I believe it's not unique to us, I would love to hear from you if you too have this happen in your home. Tim takes the morning shift to allow me to sleep in, a side benefit to me taking all the night shifts during the insane years and even those that come these days due to bad dreams etc. The house is always quiet (well, maybe not always but almost always) when I wake up. The boys either happily playing together or eating breakfast or watching a show or movie. However, (this is the phenomenon that I am talking about), the minute I show my face, (once I get the hugs) there is a switch in the kids, the boys who moments before were sitting nicely and playing together are now jumping on top of each other and pile driving each other, tears, punches, kicks, cries of "Mummy". It happens every morning, or every time I am out and come home. Either Tim or the sitter will report 'angels' and I walk in the door to see something south of angels... what is the problem here?? A friend of mine and I talked about this and it happens in her home as well. Her husband (as with mine) report that all is well and then we show up.

So, is this something that the men and babysitters all gang up on mothers about? Is this just me? Is this some rare situation for my friend and I? Is this a giant lie, are the kids actually heinous nightmares before we arrive and we are just told how good they were?

Why is it neccesary to pick on your brother, stealing his favorite toy, until he cries, or jumping on him until he finally punches you in return and then come running to Mum for comfort... all during Mummy's first hot cup of coffee in the morning? Do they not yet have common sense? Is this the real problem? If this is indeed the main problem, then for those of you with older kids let me ask this... when does common sense kick in? At what magic age do children start to respect coffee time in the morning? When do they stop thumping each other and crying for Mummy's kisses to make it better?(not that I really mind the kisses part...). At what point do you become a Mum and not a slave who there to do their bidding? The demands of 'more_____' fill in blank with 'milk, juice, fishy's, cookies, yogurt, banana's...'

I talk a lot about the sweetness of these two boys, and they are, they are incredible gifts that I wouldn't trade for the world but there are moments, when they won't stop beating each other up, when they are driving each other (and me) crazy that I wonder if this is punishment of some kind? Why don't they do this for their Dad? Why don't they do this for their Grandparents? Why do they do this to the one person who does pretty much everything for them?

This is of course all said with some satire, I do realize that boys will be boys, and along wtih that comes a few fights and injuries, I just wish they would let me have ONE hot cup of coffee before they start in on each other, and maybe a coffee break later in the morning... and one before dinner... and one after dinner... :)

December 15, 2011

unexpected answers

This week has been a week full of unexpected answers to prayers and beautiful moments that just last week I thought wouldn't happen, or at least not for a long time anyway. It started on Tuesday, when Josh decided that the battle for potty training wasn't worth fighting anymore, and though we have had many accidents we have had more successes than failures and hope is renewed that my child won't be the only one in kindergarten wearing diapers. I can't really express to you the weight that it's lifted, the fighting that is now over was wearing me down, and the joy I feel when I see him trying so hard without yelling 'NO' at me eases a burden that I have been carrying for some time now. I was joking last night with some friends that I have no one to share my excitement about this with, that every time we have pee in the potty and yes even poo in the potty I want to call someone and let them know, and yet who would care? So, I bbm Tim, and let him know... 'pee' or 'poo' and I know that it's received with a great amount of relief and maybe also with a touch of 'do you really need to bbm me at work for this?'. This I suppose is the life of a stay at home mother.  (and yes, I do realize you probably don't care to hear about his potty issues either so I won't continue on with it.) :D

The other unexpected answer to prayer has come with Josh's communication. I see him every day, I hear all his words and I rarely see the great strides he is making. It often falls on other people who haven't seen him in awhile to mention 'he's doing really well' for me to see it. However, this week as we were driving to school and I sat listening to Josh in the back seat of the car I realized he's had an explosion of language in the last week. He's using feeling words, he's telling me about his day when I ask instead of just repeating back to me what I ask him. The other night he told me 'Josh eat popcorn' when I asked what he did at school, and sure enough when I asked his teacher the following day, he had indeed eaten popcorn. I was thrilled with this new development because finally I am hearing from him, I am able to communicate with him on a new level. He walks around the house spelling his name constantly, and counting everything he can (he can get to thirteen now without difficulty).

Suddenly I am seeing the fruits of so much labor and my heart is light, my shoulders less tight, my hope renewed. With Christmas so close I can't help but think that maybe God isn't giving me a Christmas present of the best kind; a chance to talk with my son.

December 13, 2011

Surrounded by angels

Josh - surrounded by angels

My Aunt pointed out that in this shot, Josh is surrounded by angels, and I couldn't help but see it as so much more than a Christmas pageant but rather a metaphor for his life up to this point and beyond. He, we are surrounded by angels this Christmas and always.

December 10, 2011

The King's Own


Every once and awhile you see something, hear something or remember something that changes your life as you know it. It either touches some deep emotional longing, ignites a passion you didn't know you had or it brings a part of you back to life that maybe you hadn't realized was dozing for so long.

That has happened to me this week, a few moments, but it's woken up a part of me that has been sleeping, it's reminded me of days that were different, it's touched a part of my soul that has been longing and it's ignited a passion that I want back.

What happened? It started at the Baptism when my husband signed me with the cross, and called me Christ's own. That moment I heard a whisper that reminded me that I was indeed Christ's daughter, something that not so long ago was so clear to me, so alive inside of my heart, but on Sunday I realized it has been sleeping. That knowledge was deep deep in my subconscious mind and on Sunday it was woken, a seed of memory planted again. For a time in my life I refereed to myself as the Warrior Princess, a daughter of the King and warrior for Him. Now, at times I have lived more like an embatttled knight, tired, worn, beaten, and forgotten by the King while I have been away at battle. I was reminded on Sunday that I am the King's own, he won't, cannot forget me, I am His daughter, He is my Father.

The second moment this week happened on Wednesday, during our weekly Bible study. We were talking about the Holy Spirit, and Tim read a quote by J.I.Packer that went something like this...
"The Holy Spirit is the divine match maker who is so in love with Jesus that he wants you to fall in love with Him as well." (this is probably not an exact quote because I didn't write it down)
This was followed up with something that a woman at our church (SK) told Tim that again is a paraphrase, she said 'The Spirit whispers sweet nothings in your ear'. I listened to this and I was reminded of a passion that I had not so long ago, a love so deep that I knew I would forever follow Him, a love so deep and real that I actually longed for Him, and would do anything he asked of me, regardless of where it would lead me.

That passion and love for Him lead me on a path to where you find me today, with all these blessings that I am surrounded by in life. Somehow, over the past few years I have spent so much time in battle, fighting, hoping, dreaming, wishing, praying for things to go my way, that I have forgotten that sometimes we are called to a different path that we planned, to travel a road we hadn't thought we would travel, and sometimes that path has thorns, sometimes it hurts. I have been so busy cutting a path for my boys and I, watching the path ahead for danger, keeping my eyes on the ground to make sure we keep our footing, that I have forgotten to look up and see the wonder of the roses at the top of those bushes, to see the love that has lead me to this beautiful place.

My heart has been reminded that it was love, divine love, that brought me here, that keeps me here, and has a destination in mind for us. I don't have a map, I don't know where we are going, but I have been reminded that I am following him with faith, and that He loves me and won't lead me astray as long as I keep my eyes on Him. My heart has been touched by the Spirit who loves Jesus so much that he wants me to love him just as much, that he is whispering sweet nothings in my ear and reminding me that he is not a King sitting on His thrown but rather, He is in battle with me, that each time this warrior princess lifts her sword it is with the King at her side giving her strength and energy to fight another day. I am Christ's own, a beloved princess of the King and I will not now or ever be forgotten.

December 7, 2011

a world of discovery

Photograph taken by Brian Skerry
Last night, as most of you know from my post yesterday I was able to enjoy an evening with Tim. We had a nice dinner at the Elephant & Castle and then made our way to Roy Thompson Hall where we had the chance to hear from Brian Skerry, an Oceanic Photographer with National Geographic. I was going to hear about the photographic side of things, to hear how he captures those moments with very little light and so much detail. I was going to learn something, and Tim was going to make me happy.

I left having learned something, but it's not what I expected, though I did learn a great deal about under water photography ( a subject that I would love to explore one day ). I have always been amazed at the things of the Ocean, I am not a fan of eating it, though I have tried to a few times in my life, but also, there is a small amount (okay, large) of fear of the unknown. I remember snorkeling with Tim on our honeymoon and I met up with a barracuda , a touch scary, but just as I was getting over that I dove down deep and shooting out of the muddy ground came a huge set of teeth, I choked on water as I raced to the surface and away from the teeth that I was sure were chasing me. I was barely able to tell Tim what I had seen but in the end it had been a Moray eel. So you see, when it comes to things of the ocean I am a wimp. However, there is also that part of me who is absolutely fascinated by the thought of so many things left to discover, and I love the larger animals, whales, sharks, dolphins. On the same trip where I met with the creepy side of the ocean I also went snorkeling with sharks and sting rays and though aware of my nerves there was also a very deep sense of God, of knowing that I am one tiny part of this HUGE world. There is a whole other universe down there and it's actually larger than ours up here, and yet we are bent on destroying it, as the photographer said last night, 'the Ocean is not a grocery store'.

At the end of the talk Brian took some questions, and one of them adressed the idea of eating seafood. His response, was to ask questions, made wise decisions. He himself will eat seafood, but he won't eat shrimp gathered up in nets that also kill numerous other creatures just for a few pounds of shrimp that will be devoured in minutes. He asked us to think ethically about our food. This is not the first call to ethical consumerism I have heard recently. A small group of friends and I have been talking about Coffee, Chocolate and this month will be clothing, we have been discussing the ethical approach or non approach to buying our food/clothes and how to ask the right questions to get the answers we need so that we aren't a part in a chain that is keeping a child in a factory, a man unable to earn enough to feed his family or a woman or girl who works from dawn to dusk for a couple of bucks to make you that favorite pair of jeans. We are beginning to ask questions of the companies, to learn more, to show interest and hopefully show them that we care about buying products that care about the ethical treatment of their workers.

Last nights talk reminded me that if I care about a child working in a factory, or a man chained hours a day to a farm that earns little if any money, then I would be a hypocrite to not care about the ethics involved in the fishing industry. If I care about the Jungle, or the animals in Africa, then I too must think about and care about the Ocean and the issues that she faces. The boys these days are all into the Lion King, and as I heard the talk last night I couldn't help but hear the song Circle of Life floating around my head. There is a delicate balance, take out a layer and  it topples the remaining layers, and lets face it, there is more Ocean than Land so if that topples I think we would be in trouble.

Take a moment to listen to this guy speak,  an look at those photos! WOW!

December 6, 2011

Light


So, I have been a mother for going on four years now and I love it, I do. However, I would be lying to you if I said there were things I didn't miss, things I envy in childless couples. Weekends spent sleeping in (I used to be really good at that), trips together to warm places (I am cold, really cold right now), evenings spent with friends in the pub or eating yummy treats at cool new restaurants downtown, or even just drinking HOT coffee and reading an actual newspaper without Diego playing in the background. The freedom of not having a datebook, or phone beeping appointments at me but rather just flying by the seat of my pants and doing whatever I feel like doing... surly there is a middle ground?

For the first time in four years I see a light, the tunnel has been long but I see a light. My in-laws have moved to Toronto and last night for the first time in a long time I went out with my husband, and tonight we are going out again! WOW!

Now don't get me wrong, first off, we have no intention of taking advantage of these two wonderful people who gave up a lot to move here, simply to help us. We don't intend to drastically modify our lives, or become the latest couple to join the social scene in Toronto. We are happy to be home with our kids, I take great pleasure in snuggling them into their beds, and with kisses send them off to dream land. However, that there is now an option that for us is affordable is so exciting that I just had to Blog about it. (The price of babysitting these days is incredible and if you ask me prohibitive in most cases)

I should also mention that we have been greatly blessed by friends in the last four years, the amount of times my friends have stepped up and watched the kids so that I could take one or the other to a doctor's appointment, or came to look after them just so I could have a break. No, my life has not been spent at home for four years, and thanks to parents on both sides we have even had holidays in there. No, I have definitely not been home bound for four years, all thanks to friends and family, and I have appreciated every chance, every outing, every moment to breathe in air not filled with diaper fumes or vomit vapors, every minute of those times I have known deep in my heart that I was blessed.

No, the light I am talking about is that I know these two people are invested in my kids, and they are invested in Tim and I, which means that they really want to help (Not that my friends don't, just that I don't feel bad asking for that help). It means that I can see myself getting adult time out of the house a little more often, it means that I can see my breaks spreading beyond my two hour window while they are in the nursery on Sundays, it means that even if only once a month, I will have a date! WOW!

It's surprising really, because I didn't know what I was missing and I was happy with how things were (though certainly tired) but I feel a weight is gone. The constant worry of what I will do if one of the kids needs to go to the doctor, or if I get sick, the feeling of being alone when an emergency happens (as they have). Up until now, every single time I have needed help, God has placed friends in my path at the right moment to help. The day I had to rush Kaleb to the ER I happened to have a friend for coffee (something I don't often do in the morning), she was able to help me by watching Josh until Tim could get to us. The countless Tim's someone has come to help while Josh is in the hospital with various appointments and meetings. No, I do realize that I have been blessed. It's that which I am speaking of, it's the 'what if' worry that is gone now. I don't need to wonder, 'what happens if Josh gets sick while Tim is at work?' or 'What if Kaleb has an attack?' or 'how will I cope if I get sick?'... the worry is gone and for the first time in years I can feel my shoulders begin to loosen.

December 4, 2011

A special day...


Today, I finally made the leap that I have wanted to make for years but have for various reasons never been able to arrange. I was finally baptized! It was a beautiful service with a small group of my family and a few friends and it was made extra special because it was lead by the Priest who married us and the actual baptism was preformed by my husband and the two people who have taught me from the start about God and his amazing love and grace, my parents, were my sponsors. All the more important was that both my sons were there, neither were sick. God worked a miracle for me today because as you know Josh was only a few days ago so sick that he was in the ER. I am blessed, and today of all days I felt God's presence and blessings literally poured out on me.

The wonder boy makes his comeback!



Kaleb decides to taste the Holy water



December 3, 2011

What a night!

At 11 o'clock yesterday morning, out of the blue Josh became ill with vomiting, shaking, and he turned blue, he also became very lethargic. He vomited more than we could count and by the time I got home (it had been girls day at the One of a Kind show until this). When I got home he was asleep, and only waking up to vomit again. Then almost immediately he would fall back to sleep. He was weak, more tired than I have ever seen him without drugs, the only thing he was able to say to me wast that his head hurt, which a friend pointed out to me is huge steps of improvement from even three months ago when he couldn't articulate hurts in such a clear way. I took him to the ER at 7, where he gave a lovely 'I'm here' by puking all over the floor of the triage desk. We were given a room where he again feel right back to sleep, unfortunately it was a sleep so deep that the nurse couldn't wake him up, was checking signs of life and calling for the doctor. I have had some scares with Josh, lots of them, but this was horrifying. Finally after poking and yelling and shaking and eventually pinching he began to stir, we were moved to the resuscitation room and kept under observation and Josh was given an IV and blood taken to test. He then fell back asleep and didn't wake up for any of the other tests which included an xray that he had to sit through.

With friends who love me and my family I was not alone for the end of the night, they came and brought tea and company. One of them, a nurse, was there to speed up the process and talk with the doctor when I didn't understand something.  The doctor, the same doctor who treated Kaleb when he had impetigo was wonderful, and finally when Josh was more full of fluids be began to stir and wake up. His little body still weak but he was talking. The doctor, believing it to be Norwalk Virus then released us after doping Josh up with anti-nauseate and loads of fluids. As he left he lifted his his head off my shoulder to say bye and thank you to the nurse. He is now drinking on his own and watching Lion King... the vomit so far has stopped.

For reasons I can't get into yet, Sunday is important to me, to have both boys healthy, Tim and I healthy, it's so important to me. Please, don't forget us in your prayers this weekend.

When my friend drove Josh and I home last night he saw the house and said 'home, happy' and this morning, though still with fever he told us again that he was happy, and to be sure we and he understood, we asked him if he was sad and he said 'no, happy'.

There is just nothing better than home sometimes I guess, and nothing better than seeing how far your child has come verbally, though it was a difficult and scary night, it had it's blessings too. I have amazing friends who care deeply, and I have a son who is improving daily with his delays. Now to get him healthy without spreading his germs to the family!

November 23, 2011

Love story

I think I should have saved yesterdays' post for today... my amazing husband whom you have heard so much about turns 35 today!

I remember when I met Tim, it was not your ordinary meeting, or at least it wasn't how I had imagined meeting my husband when I was a young girl dreaming of those things. These days I suppose it's more common than I realize. All that said, it's a great story and in celebration of his birthday I will take you back 5 years and share with you the wonderful story of us.

I was living in Austria, I was in a state of flux having only months before ended an engagement and changed the direction of my life entirely. No longer planning on moving to the UK I felt God call my home to Canada (not where I wanted to be). I reluctantly followed the call, being in a place spiritually that was so incredibly real and beautiful that it was the first time I had really understood that joy goes beyond circumstance, and that it's possible to really love God. (Getting off track... sorry). So, I didn't want to move back to my old city, I wanted a fresh start and I didn't want to move to the small town where my parents lived but I didn't want to be far either since I would be working for my Dad. It was my Mom who lovingly went out and found me an apartment, then filled it with my things, decorating it the way that I would love, so that on the day I came home it was exactly that... coming home.

The problem of course was that I had chosen a city where I knew no one really. I had grown up in the neighboring city so I was close to my old church and went there and because of that I did know a couple of people. Sadly none were my age and the next 6 months were both some of the loneliest and most meaningful in learning how to be content.

One day, in May of that year, I was driving over the Burlington skyway I felt clearly that God was telling me that he had a Pastor in mind for me, that I would be a Pastor's wife. I can't say how I knew this, it was not a voice, but a knowledge. I also remember cringing... I would not make a good pastor's wife, and even if I could do it, what Pastor out there was single and yet someone I could be attracted too? I decided that it would take a miracle and so I stopped dating and told God he would have to figure it out.

In late July I got three free days given to me from a Christian dating site, and a friend of mine and I were online to check out a guy she was going to go on a date with. As we perused the profiles in what I called the catalog of men, I came across a smile that I was so intrigued by that I gave up my 'not dating or trying' thing and wrote a quick hi. Since I had only three days before my membership was revoked for not paying I figured I wouldn't hear from him. However, that night he was online and he wrote back right away.

We didn't stop talking all week, there was so much to talk about, it wasn't until the third day of talking all day that I discovered he was a Pastor... you can imagine my horror... :)

We met 5 days after meeting online, and I won't lie to you it was pretty much love at first site for both of us. 10 days into the relationship we knew that we were meant for each other and it has been confirmed every day since then. He was the miracle that God called me home for. He was the wonder and magic that love defines. He is the one who holds my heart and will do so for as long we both shall live. I am so glad he was born.

Happy Birthday Tim!

November 22, 2011

Ode to Pottery Road



Ode to Pottery Road

Oh how I miss thee
my sweet Pottery Road
all your sleek curves;
& short trip to ease my nerves.
Oh what bliss
to travel your tar
to drive five minutes
and get fairly far.
Oh how I miss thee
my fair Pottery Road
come back to me soon
lighten my load...

L

whispers

Sometimes all it takes is a whisper to see what you have been taking for granted for too long. Last night Tim and I actually had an entire evening with no work to do and no kids to clean up after (they were in bed but had been so good all evening that we had the house in perfect shape before bed). So we had some time together. We got out some wine and we sat together just talking, about life, faith, prayer and our questions. It was nothing to do with us, nothing to do with the kids, but exactly the way we talked when we met, were dating and discovering this love we found. I saw him again through the eyes of the woman I was when I said 'I do' for the first time in too long. We have been parents, partners, friends and lovers, my love for him has grown immensely over the past 4.5 years but it was so beautiful to go back to the beginning and be reminded of the man I fell in love with.

When we went to bed, long after he was sleeping I was able to whisper to God my thank you for giving me this man, for loving me enough to guide me the my husband, and I had no choice but to thank him for helping me wait for him. When I was finished whispering to God I turned to Tim and whispered 'Thank you for loving me' and fell into the most restful sleep I have had in a while.

November 21, 2011

Angel?

I remember growing up with a story of my Mom, Sister and Gran driving down the road when my sister (young at the time) started screaming hysterically to stop the car. My Mom stopped immediately and turned to my sister to see what could possibly be wrong with her. My sister, asked her 'didn't you see the man?' and when my Mom probed it would seem that my sister had seen a man standing in the road. My Mom and Gran never saw the man, but they always believed it had been an angel standing in the road that day. (This is a story I haven't heard in a while, I may have gotten a few details wrong but the gist of the story is the same as what happened).

Yesterday I was feeling pretty low, as you can see from my post yesterday. I spent time in prayer during the afternoon, praying for comfort, praying for hope, praying for something that I can't even name. In a sense I guess I was just doing what David would do in the Psalms and pouring my heart out in a hope that he would hear me.

When bed time came, as I was tucking Josh in and giving him his night time kiss he sat up in bed and pointed to the end of the bed and said 'man', not once but repeatedly. 'Man', over and over. Chills ran through me as I realized that this was not a word he had used before. Could it be that God had sent an angel to watch over my son? Could it be that he had given Josh the words to tell me about it to comfort me? Could it be that Josh saw an angel last night?

I don't know. I don't know what Josh saw or didn't see. I am unclear on angels and my belief in them but I can tell you this... the story from my sisters past came to mind and it eased my heart, the constriction that was holding it so tightly eased and I was able to breathe again. I tucked Josh in tight and said, 'if there is a man there Josh then it's your angel that God has sent to keep watch over you tonight, someone who will keep you safe and offer you rest.' After that Josh lay down, gave me a kiss and we didn't hear from him for the rest of the night.

Did he see an angel last night? Who knows, but whatever it was it was enough that I felt the comfort I was seeking yesterday. I still have no answers, I am still frustrated and sad, but I have been reminded that we are not alone. This is not a journey I need to walk without help, he is walking beside me and helping me. Maybe I don't need all the answers.

One of the comments yesterday came from a woman named Hope, and she reminded me that Job didn't know what the plan was, he didn't have the benefit of knowing the whole story. He knew only the suffering, he knew only the pain and the questions and yet he remained faithful, trusting and loving. I am not as strong and faithful as Job but I can strive to be. I can do my best to imitate him during these cloudy times.

November 20, 2011

Tell my heart!

I look back at the past few years and I can't believe we have made it... this sounds depressing but I am so tired, and really just frustrated today. I know that the news at Josh's last ECHO wasn't terrible, I understand that there is hope, but yet here I am, a few days later and it's begun to sink in that here we are yet again 'waiting and seeing' and I am tired of it. I know that God's hand is working, that he has blessed us and Josh, and I know I sound like a spoiled brat as I write this, but honestly I can't help but ask why they didn't just replace the valve if this was going to continue to be a problem... my brain says that there is a reason, it was dangerous and risky and the bigger he is the better... but let's be honest, repeat surgeries can't be much safer can they?

This being a new problem is another source of frustration for me. I can't help but asking 'what next?'. We are always given a new set of symptoms to look for, a new thing to worry over, a new problem with his heart and it leaves me wondering. What if they fix this and something else goes wrong? At what point is it unfixable? I mention this to someone and they feel the need to ease my mind, tell me not to worry about what if's, not to lose faith, not to doubt. They try to make me feel better, but the reality is that I need to say what's on my heart, I need to share my fears, speak them out loud because if not, then all those fears creep up like monsters under the bed in the dead of night.

My head knows the that I am blessed, my head knows there is hope, my head knows that God can do anything, my head knows that he's got a plan and that he is in control, my head knows that the doctors we are dealing with are some of the best, my head knows that surgery is not necessarily a sure thing, that Josh may well tolerate this new development for years to come, my head knows that when and if we have to deal with this surgically then we will find the strength, and the courage. My head knows that every day of 'waiting and seeing' is a day that Josh knows no suffering, that he can have as normal a child hood as possible. My head knows a lot it would seem, but my heart is not listening today. My heart is afraid and angry and frustrated and just plain exhausted today. My head needs to speak up and tell my heart what it knows...

This journey is such a day to day thing... I can be full of hopes and possibility today and then crushed in defeat the tomorrow. I look back at the miracles we have seen so far, and I try to hang onto them, hold them close for moments like these when I have nothing to hold onto, but today I find no comfort in them. Today I look at them and I am forced to ask myself what the purpose was? Why were they able to fix the tricuspid last time in what we believed was a miracle when three months later it would again be causing grief because of that fix? Was God listening to all the voices that I know were praying for Josh? Did he not here the begging of masses to heal this little boy? Does he not listen to my daily cries for his healing? This again is not me trying to get you to answer me with pat answers, I don't need to be told 'yes he hears you...' because I do KNOW that he hears me... I just need to share honestly in the yucky thoughts too and not just always the positive faithful thoughts.

Tim preached today about the Holy Spirit (worth a listen if you have the time - go to St. Paul's website in a couple days to hear it). My only thought through the whole sermon is how desperately I miss feeling loved by my Father and Creator, how much I need his comfort and to hear him tell me that he is indeed in control of this. That he knows' what he's doing and not just playing with my son's heart.

November 17, 2011

what they do for me



In all my mothering moments, I have to admit that some of my favorites are the hugs, or the kisses that I receive from my youngest. He speaks my language and is sensitive to my moods. When I need love I can count on any number of un asked for hugs. He simply gives because he loves it, and me. The kisses that he gives are some of the sweetest kisses I have every received. Today, and yesterday I have been inundated with those shows of affection and I am feeling so incredibly loved.

Sometimes, in the midst of a busy week, when I am running all over the place trying to accomplish all the things that are required in a day, changing diapers, feeding the kids, cleaning up after them, keeping them from killing each other, kissing boo boos, doing their laundry or any of the other thousand tasks they require, I feel like it's one sided. I do a lot for them, and sometimes I forget how much they do for me.

Josh's smile makes my heart actually warm up 10 degrees, Kaleb's affection can swiftly change a mood. It's nice to take a moment to remember how much they actually do for me.

November 16, 2011

who knew it was a prayer?

From the old journals

I want to be needed, wanted, protected
I want to feel passion.
I want to love with my whole heart.
I want to know without doubt
that there is someone out there
who things I am the sunshine to all his rainy days.
I want to be held in safe arms
when it's dark and I am afraid.
I want strong fingers 
to wipe my tears when they fall.
When I am cold I want his heat,
When I am hurt I want his worry
When I laugh I want his joy
When I dream I want his faith.
I want his gentle fingers
to touch my cheek in the morning
with a smile in his eyes
I want him to wake me.
I want to be free
to be myself and to be loved anyway.
I want to know that despite it all
he will not leave.

I looked back on this particular poem and I can remember exactly where I was, what I was thinking about and how I was feeling. It's actually quite a beautiful memory. I was sitting in the glasshouse, high up on the castle wall, looking out over the Austrian Alps with snow capped mountains, a fire was going so I was nice and warm and I had a glass of nice red wine. I didn't know it then, but this poem was being heard as I wrote it. As it turns out, God heard me and he gave me everything I wanted, everything I dreamed of in this poem. I didn't know it then, but this was a prayer and he answered it. I serve a God who hears me even when I am not talking directly to him... :)

November 15, 2011

ECHO day

The word ECHO is now an every day part of our vocabulary. I hate the word, I hate the fear that it instills and I hate the days that mark ECHO on my calendar. Today was one such day. All the way to Sick Kids this morning I talked to Josh about the upcoming ECHO, and he said 'No' a number of times. When I told him 'no one will hurt you' he said (clearly) 'Sick Kids hurts'... my heart sank as I tried to explain that yes, sometimes it hurts to go there, sometimes it hurts to heal, but this time would be different, this time they wouldn't hurt him. After a little conversation he settled and seemed to understand that it was inevitable and he needed to 'man up'. When we got there and they tried to take his shirt off he lost it, showing his scar is not something he wants to do yet, and he fought hard against all the stickers and wires for the ECG and the ECHO. It was less than enjoyable, though if I were honest, it's never enjoyable and yet still better than when they would need to sedate him for the ECHO.

The results it would seem are both a blessings another huge question mark. The blessings, the valves seem to be holding well, there is no sign of rejection! This is good news! There will be no need for a shunt, this too is good news! The not so great news was that there is a narrowing in the inflow/outflow (of this I am still confirming details with the doctor) tract, which is not good. Though he is not 'acute' she worded it in such a way that made it clear that it would at some point become acute.

This is a new problem, I have no research for it, I don't know what it all means... I can only tell you what she told me which wasn't much this time as it wasn't a proper clinic appointment but rather a quick 'favor' so that I didn't have to wait for the results. I am sure an email is forthcoming.

When we came out of surgery in September the doctor said '6 months to 7 years'... it's been three months, and by the time of the next ECHO appointment it will have been 9 months. This is something to be pleased about. The longer we have between surgeries the better for Josh, and for us.

So for now, we have to carefully monitor, make sure he isn't tiring to quickly during exercise and pray to God that it doesn't become even narrower!

(as an update to this post - the narrowing is happening in the inflow tract to the right ventricle, we have been given signs to look for to show that it's getting worse and the only way to fix this would be to finally replace that Tricuspid Valve...)

November 13, 2011

Share Ourselves



Pray for me
not just when I ask you
but everytime you think of me.
I will pray for you,
not just when you ask,
but everytime I think of you.
As me from time to time
in what way I need prayer
and then listen to what I have to say.
I will ask you from time to time
how I can pray for you,
and I will listen to what you have to say.
Let's grow together,
in good times and bad.
We are family, friends, community
we share one God,
one faith,
we share love,
now let's share ourselves.

November 12, 2011

What a woman!

This was to be posted on November 12th but for some reason there was a mistake and it's only being posted now... sorry.

I haven't really ever told you about my best friend, the woman who has helped shape me by being such a wonderful example of what being a Mother should look like, what being a wife means, and what being a friend is all about. This woman is strong, she has compassion and courage, she works hard and serves those around her with a cheerful heart. She is as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside. More importantly she is there whenever I have needed her, she has prayed for me when I was lost, she has wept with me, travelled thousands of miles to be by my side when my heart was hurting, she encouraged me, loved me, hoped for me, spoiled me, and has done her best to never let me down.

She has shown me great affection, she has allowed me to walk alone when I know it went against everything she believed in. She gave me the freedom to make the mistakes, she offered the grace to accept me home, she forgave me when I hurt her, sometimes I am sure at great cost to herself.

She has given, always given, everything she could if it meant more comfort for me, if it meant less pain for me and I have a feeling that if it were needed she would lay down her life for me. She has stood by me no matter what, whatever mistake I made, or choice that she wouldn't have made, she still stood beside me and either cheered me on or prayed me through.

When I have made her proud she has never been shy to say it, she has never let me go one day without knowing that I am loved by her, that she has loved being a part of my life.

One day it dawned on me, there is no other person in the world who knows me the way that she does, and she loves me still. There is such a pure intimacy to our friendship, that this post simply can't convey to you how much I love this woman. In every way, with all my heart, she is my best friend. She is my mentor, my role model and my Mother.

Happy Birthday Mom!

November 11, 2011

Remember

Here we are again, remembering the sacrifice of so many, over a broad amount of time. Blood shed for our freedom, for the freedom of the oppressed people in other countries. We wear our poppy, we stand in silence for a minute, we post pictures of soldiers on facebook, we share quotes... then on the 12th we go back to our normal lives and we don't think about it until the following November 11th. (Or at least not often).

As a mother of sons I can't help but think about them when I think of war... what would I do if I had to say goodbye to my husband, not knowing if he would return? What if one of my boys or worse both, came home and said to me 'we have signed up' or 'Im shipping out'. How do you do tolerate this? How do you wake up every day not knowing if this is the day your son or husband or daughter will die?

How do you live within the war itself, seeing the horrific things these men and women at arms have seen, friends blown apart, injured, dead? How do you live with this?

The sacrifice is so much more than we can ever know, and it's not just the soldiers but the ones left behind. I will not forget, I refuse to forget and I won't stop remembering tomorrow... We have men and women fighting even now, putting their lives on the line even as I write this, they need to be remembered in prayer daily.

November 10, 2011

treasures under the bed...

Last night I cleaned out under my bed... (without my Mum telling me to do it) and I found a few interesting things. Turns out that a whole bunch of purses were there, purses that I had thought were lost and gone forever in the move had actually been hiding under my bed in 'storage' for God knows how long. The whole thing started when I went through my bookshelf and found some cards and memories that were meant for my memory box which is also stored under the bed. So, I dug out the box and there hiding behind the box was the purses, and a pile of old journals. This is the purpose of the Blog post, not the purses, I was just so happy about my 'new' purses that I just had to share it!

The one journal I found was from my second stint in Austria, it contained mostly poetry that I had written while there, though I suppose they are more like short prayers and thoughts written into a book and made to look like poems. I would like to share some of them with you, they meant so much to me when I wrote them and as I look back on them I am touched once again by them, and reminded of where I was yes, but also where I am now. So if every once and a while you see a poem pop up, it's because I have been going through the journals and thought it one that would be good to share with you.


I can be weak
Sometimes I am strong,
I have dreams,
and some won't be realized.
I am a daughter,
I am a sister,
I am a friend,
I am loved.
I sometimes cry,
though quite often I laugh,
I can be fearless,
and sometimes I am afraid.
I am independant,
but at times I need someone.
I have been hurt,
but I have also inflicted pain.
My heart has been broken
but it's only because I have loved.
There have been times when I was proud,
and times that I cowered in shame.
I have cried,
I have laughed,
I have loved,
I have lived.


November 9, 2011

because of a little girl named 'S'...

There is nothing better than watching a smile light the face of the kids you love, because of something you have planned for them to do, a vacation, a holiday, a day out. To know that it's the time they are spending with you that matters, that they are enjoying your company, that they want to see you, want to have your full attention.

This weekend we had the pleasure of the boys' smiles as they discovered Niagara Falls, a magic show, play houses, a hot tub and meals out. They were so tired that they couldn't stand up, or walk straight but the smiles didn't let up.

When we arrived home yesterday Josh fell asleep on the couch, and stayed that way until it was time for school. Waking him was a treat let me tell you, that kid is worse than I am with no sleep and no coffee... he fell back asleep in the car and was again needing to be awakened when we arrived at school. I took him upstairs and he was okay until the teacher said hello, then he went into meltdown mode.

We were in a corner of the room and a little girl named 'S'(who has downs) came over to us, she looked me in the eye with such compassion, more than is right for her age, and she said 'Josh is crying', when I agreed with her she smiled and then slowly reached out and rubbed her hand along Josh's shoulder in the gentlest and sweetest way. Josh must have felt the love flowing through too because though he wouldn't turn away from my shoulder (where he was pressed tightly) he did stop crying and made the smallest of movements towards 'S's hand, towards her comfort. I had a lump in my throat to witness such sweet comfort from two kids who are so young. It was beautiful.

It didn't take much longer than that for Josh to calm down enough to go and find his seat and though it took me much longer to leave than normal I was happy to stay and watch him interact with his new friends. My heart now so much softer because of a little girl named 'S'.

November 5, 2011

no sick days

One of the worst parts of motherhood is when you fall sick and still need to report for duty in the morning, still need to find a way to gather everything you have to feed, snuggle, play referee, clean and appease your children.

This week I was totally taken out by strep throat, every ounce of energy I had was quickly used up before I had finished breakfast and there were moments of tears at the thought of making it through the day. It was so bad that I actually went two days without coffee simply because I couldn't swallow... now for those of you who follow this Blog you will know how serious that is! My amazing husband tried valiantly to help, but work calls too. As soon as the kids were in bed and sometimes thanks to Tim even before they were in bed I too had hit the pillow and buried myself under a mountain of blankets to ward off the chill. Whispering words of pray the entire time that tomorrow would be better, that somehow I would have enough energy to get through tomorrow.

The strange thing is, that I did find the energy I needed when I needed it, at one point I was so tired I needed to lie down, Josh was playing so I lay on the couch, a little while later I woke up (I had never intended to sleep) I was in a panic, had I really just slept while Josh was alone in the house?? What had he gotten into? Where was he? I jumped up and found him sitting quietly on the kitchen floor playing with the ipad. I breathed a sigh of relief and thanks. The next day while Josh was at school it was Kaleb and I alone in the house, I sat us both down on the couch and we snuggled and watched Curious George, both of us resting for the entire time that Josh was in school. They were small blessings, but real blessings.

Today, life resumes as normal and I thank God that I am now fully on the mend and I thank God for Tim and his help, and the boys and their compassion this week.

October 27, 2011

Extraordinary

“The hard part is trying to answer the questions Walker raises in my mind every time I pick him up, What is the value of a life like his — a life lived in the twilight and often in pain? What is the cost of his life to those around him? … If Walker is so insubstantial, why does he feel so important? What is he trying to show me?”  -excerpt from Ian Brown’s Memoir “ The Boy in the Moon: A Father’s Journey to Understand His Extraordinary Son“



Wouldn't it be easy if we could read minds? If we could see the inner spirit of the person standing in front of us? Maybe we would see that they have trouble with their knee, that it causes sleepless nights, painful mornings and the occasional missed walk with friends. We might look and see someone who is hurting, someone who wants something, anything to fill a void in their lives. We might look past the normal exterior and see a personal locked inside themselves, 'disabled', 'abnormal', 'challenged'? It is so frustrating to see how mean people can be. It is so hard to look at someone 'able bodied' and see with cruel irony that they are actually the 'abnormal', 'disabled' and 'challenged' ones. How can you look with anything but wonder at the miracles that make up special needs kids. Each one has fought the odds, at great cost and often pain, to be here today. They have faced so much more than we can imagine or would want to take on personally, they have the strength to continue on when it seems hopeless and to work harder than anyone else to achieve even the most basic things.

I watch the kids and Josh and I feel a lump growing in my throat because once upon a time I would have missed the wonder that these kids represent, I would have seen only the awkwardness, I would have struggled with what to say, I would have been the challenged one. My heart aches that I have to admit that, that it takes my own son to teach me such a valuable lesson on life. 

I can see the strange glances Josh gets, the ones that people don't think anyone can see but always follow after Josh has struggled with a word, or when that word has come out sounding funny. When he won't answer them, or when he only repeats what they have said. The look that says 'how old is that child?' or worse 'poor thing'. 

As the Mum of a special kid who happens to struggle can I tell you... we see the looks, we have a keen eye for anything negative towards our children and one small act of thoughtlessness causes us pain. I can only hope that I can teach my kids to love a person for who they are, how they treat you and not by the level of 'ability' or 'normalcy' they may or may not have.



While on the subject - my son is normal, and so are the kids he goes to school with, and so are all the other 'special needs kids' in the world, they are ALL normal, in fact, they are extraordinary, and miracles who have climbed higher, cried harder and felt more and still manage to smile. We could all do to take some lessons from those 'abnormal' kids.

powerful hug

Given recent posts... this video particularly spoke to my heart and brought a lump to my throat... so touching.

inside the shell

"If you have to judge people, judge them based on what they can do, not on what they cannot.  Judge them based on who they are, not who they aren't.  Otherwise, you're judging based on your own shortcomings."
-- Anonymous



I have been reading a lot this week about disabilities in kids, and one common theme... no matter the 'disability' there is a mind beneath the shell that understands, feels and hopes and dreams. The more we move into the digital age the more we are learning about the inner workings of the mind and the amazing things that are happening there. On 60 minutes this past Sunday they did a show about Steve Jobs and as a segment to the show they talked about how the ipad is now being used to help kids speak using apps. They are discovering a whole variety of talents and feelings and thoughts that have for years been locked behind the wall of autism or other 'disabilities'.

The whole discussion has made me think really hard about the concept of communicating, and how those who cannot put words to their thoughts are thought of as 'less' or 'stupid'. If a person from China comes to Canada for the first time with no english and cannot speak english people tend to talk loudly to them, or assume that they are stupid because they can't communicate to them. As 'communicators' we think of ourselves as above those who cannot communicate.

I remember the fear I felt when I arrived in Austria, the terror that someone would try to speak to me in German, knowing that I couldn't understand them, or talk to them. It got worse when I did understand them and still couldn't put together a grammatically correct sentence to save my life. I knew what I wanted to say, I had opinions and sometimes words of advice, but because I could not properly communicate I was disregarded. Is it not the same thing for a child who cannot talk?

I have been guilty of this myself, I assume Josh won't know something because he can't speak, I tend to do more for him because he can't communicate to me that he can do it. I am shocked when he says something that makes me realize that he remembers something or knows something that I wouldn't have dreamed he knew. At times I have actually asked Tim 'how did he know that?', as if in some way he is stupid because he can't put words to his thoughts.

Do I wish with all my heart that Josh could talk to me the way that other kids talk to their parents? Do I wish he could go to the play ground and play with the other kids normally without fear that they might try to talk to him? Do I wish he didn't struggle so much with forming words and certainly sentences? Of course, but have I overlooked his mind? Have I overlooked his thoughts and feelings, subconsciously thinking he was 'less'? God forgive me but I have.

Plant a seed

A group of friends and I have started a project of sorts where we ask tough questions of the companies whose products we consume. Coffee for example, the farmers who grow the beans and do all the hard work are often the poorest and yet the companies like Tim Hortons and Starbucks are making millions off of those same beans. So, we ask the companies about their practices, we don't yell and scream or rant and demand, we simply ask 'how will you change things to make it better?'.

I wrote to Tim Hortons and got a standard response that is seen on the website which speaks about a wonderful sounding partnership with the farmers and a new plan to implement a new strategy about fair payment of farmers, better health care etc, but when I delved further into when they plan to actually implement that plan I did not receive a reply. Second Cup offers fair trade, but not all the coffee they sell is actually fair trade, in fact only one brand is and it's not often brewed. We took October to take a look at the coffee industry, and now that November is approaching we are going to delve into the world of chocolate.

So far, in my reading, the chocolate world is much worse than the coffee world and not a whole lot is being done to change that. Nestle for example is not fair trade at all, and cadbury's sells dairy milk bars that are fair trade but they have not yet hit the stands in Canada and a date has not yet been set (or at least that I have been able to discover). I would love to stand corrected here if you know better?

As the year progresses we will look at all different companies, writing emails (really easy in this high tech age) and asking simple questions. Some write back, some don't. Some respond with rhetoric written by their PR department and others sound more like politicians trying to circle the actual questions. However, by asking the questions we are putting it on their radar that people care, and maybe if enough people care then one day the companies will care more too.

What do we do with the information we gather? I don't know yet, I still get a coffee from Tim Hortons on Sunday mornings, but I will also continue to question them about that new 'plan' they have yet to implement and maybe one day soon they will actually do something about it. As consumers of their products we have the right to know what it is we are buying and how our purchase is affecting the people at ground level, the farmers or pickers or sewers. In some cases they are simply children being paid well under the legal limit and should be in school not a factory.

We can't change the world with a question, but we can plant a seed. 

October 26, 2011

Smiles

Christmas smiles



Don't forget to write to me if you are interested in joining me in collecting toys for the Starlight foundation this Christmas! They will pick them up from the location of my choosing so depending on how many we can get we will either find a larger space or simply have them come here. They have also said that any toy over $20 with a receipt will get a tax deductible credit.
This is a really worthy cause, do think about it.


a letter to Josh



Dear Josh,

I wanted to write to you and tell you how incredibly proud I am of you, of the steps you have been making and the effort you are making. I love you so much! The sound of your voice brings a smile to my heart and a fresh joy fills me with me hope. The gains you have made over the past month of school have been impressive, and you seem so happy with the way your life is going right now. Seeing you happy makes me happy in a way you won't understand until you have your own children. I didn't understand it until I had you and your brother.

When you snuggle up to me for a hug it has the power to make my day brighter, your smile offers me sunshine and warmth on a cloudy day. There is no one in the world like you. You are so incredibly strong and wonderful and the more time I spend with you the further I fall in love with you.

Even the antics you get up to, the trouble, the artistic work you leave in our home, the temper tantrums, the fights with Kaleb... it is fun knowing you. It is fun to watch you grow and mature and make the steps of being kind and compassionate.

I look forward to many many years of loving you and getting to know you better. You are a fantastic young boy and I have no doubts that you will grow into an amazing young man.

I love you JaJa,
Mummy