Photographs by Laurie @ Horizons Photography

December 31, 2012

Happy New Year!

Another Blog tradition, or just a tradition in general I guess is to look back at the year on New Years eve and count my blessings. This year I am so happy to announce that we have had no major traumas!! WOW!! That in itself is worthy of a Post or two!! Let me recap for a second...

2005 - I moved from Europe to Canada after some major life changes
           - Tim had some major life changes of his own to deal with
2006 - Tim and I met and became engaged!
2007 - We got married and discovered we were having our first child
           - This was also the year we found out about Joshua's diagnosis
2008 - We welcomed Joshua into our world!
           - Josh had his first open heart surgery, three catheterizations and a stroke
           - We made the trek as a family to Europe
2009 - we learned that we would welcome a new baby into our family
           - Kaleb was born after a problem filled pregnancy totally healthy!
2010 - We bought of first home, renovated from top to bottom and moved in two
              weeks later!
           - Joshua went into heart failure and had his second open heart surgery
2011 - Joshua rejected his new pulmonary valve and was again take to the OR for his
             third open heart
             -Kaleb was diagnosed with asthma & anephylactic allergies to nuts (found that
              one out post PB&J sandwich)
2012 - With only one scare with Kaleb, and one with Joshua we got through the year
             with NOTHING more than the average struggles, and setbacks. We even made
             it to Disney and Sanibel Island which the boys are still talking about!





2012 has been a year full or insurmountable blessings, answered prayers and dreams fulfilled. Tim was offered and accepted the position as Senior Pastor for Little Trinity which we eagerly anticipate in March 2013. We have watched our kids grow, develop and mature into two really cute and fun kids who simultaneously  entertain us and drive us around the bend. More important that any of that is that we have seen God work his healing hand through both our boys. Josh's new meds for his heart seem to be holding off heart failure, buying him precious time and his language, though slow, is making strides. Kaleb is now seeing a new doctor and his asthma has been more under control in the last few months than ever before. His new medications are a miracle for him and we are so thankful that we got the doctor that we did.

When I look back on 2012 it's not the struggles that stand out, not the times of worry or anxiety or stress. What stands out are the moments of joy, the laughter, the sweet things the boys have said or done, the times I have been able to enjoy with Tim growing in relationship, or just the moments when the house was quiet.

My wish for you for 2013, is that this time next year when you are staring 2014 in the face you will look back on 2013 and the stuff that stands out are the moments of joy and laughter, peace and contentment. My wish for you as you begin a new year is that you look forward not back, and when the struggles and pain come you find a way to look up and see how the hand of God is moving even in the storms.

Happy New Year!!

L
      

December 30, 2012

Happy now?


During lunch today the boys were being particularly cute, rare as usually they are picking at the food and arguing with me about how much they should or shouldn't eat. Today however we had pizza and so it went down without a hitch. Once the food was finished they got down and were headed down to play, Kaleb was the last to finish so with Josh already downstairs it was just Kaleb and I. He asked me if he could get down, and then hopped off his chair and headed down stairs, before he reached the top of the stairs I asked him for a kiss so he turned and raced back and planted a big wet one on my face, then promptly turned and headed back to the stairs, so I asked him for a hug too. This was met with a loud 'No' as he rounded the corner. As a joke I said 'Oh, Mummy is sad' and before I knew it he had come back around the corner and was throwing his arms open for a giant hug. Once given he again turned and raced around the corner to the top of the stairs but before he could descend he stopped and popped his head around the corner and said 'you happy now?'... (not in a sarcastic way but in a way that said he really cared that I was happy). I told him that I was very happy and he smiled and then stopped, again just to make sure and said 'you not sad anymore?'. When I told him that I was the happiest Mummy ever he smiled and ran down the stairs to join his brother in a game of pirates.

Sometimes I forget that being a Mum is the most rewarding job in the world, I take it for granted and often feel taken for granted. Most days are filled with demands, fights, he said vs. he said, messes to clean, diapers to change, food to make (and coax into them) and well... you get the idea. Most days when they go to bed I feel like I have fought a battle and am wearing the battle scars for all the world to see. I sit down on the couch at the end of the day and feel like I have merely 'survived' rather than enjoyed the latest day of mummyhood and I forget that it only takes a moment for them to remind me that I am the lady of their hearts right now.

Today, after lunch when I was sitting in the warm glow that is my son's desire to see me happy and loved I was reminded that it's the hardest things in life that are the most rewarding. I sat, had a coffee and acknowledged all the moments I take for granted and tried humility on for size.

December 27, 2012

Guys... guys...

The prefix 'guys, guys' has been added to a lot of new things that I say in this house lately... there is 'guys, guys.... wait' or 'guys, guys... stop' or of course 'guys, guys... be nice to each other'. There are many more, in fact, think of anything you might want to say to a kid and add 'guys, guys...' to the beginning of the sentence and you will be hearing what goes on in my home on a daily basis. I am not sure where the prefix came from, when it started or why I can't seem to stop but you get the idea. It's not the only prefix, there is always 'BOYS... (insert next words here). What is important here is not where it came from but what it means when I tell you this next little story.

Tonight Tim and I took the boys out for supper, we have been away for a few days of celebrating Christmas with my family and when we got home we were too tired to make supper so off to Swiss Chalet we went. As we were sitting there, Josh colouring his picture and Tim and Kaleb arguing over some silly thing Josh put up his hands and with an exasperated tone said 'guys, guys... stop!' Then when Tim and Kaleb stopped for a second out of shock he went back to his colouring and with a big sigh he said 'it's been a long day'. I have to admit that I nearly spit my coffee all over Tim because I was laughing so hard. He sounded so much like me that I had no choice but to giggle and I won't lie there was a part of me that wanted to jump up and down with joy because Josh is finally starting to use his words to communicate his feelings, share his thoughts, tell us what he's doing etc.

This past month Tim and I have been watching Josh and both of us have noticed huge gains in Josh\'s development. It\'s been incredible really, his sentences are clearer, his thoughts more easily understood and articulated. I don\'t know if we are doing something different or if Josh is just finally starting to heal. I don\'t necessarily care either. All I care about is that this week he was understood by people who don\'t really know him, he had conversations with people outside of his normal circle and he understood and he was understood. What a beautiful thing that is! It seems that God likes to give wonderful Christmas gifts to us, one year is was a happy smiling face just a few days post op, this year it\'s the dawning of a language for our son. We are so blessed.

So you see now why the 'guys, guys...' isn't so much about the sentence as it is about the meaning behind who said it that counts. I can't wait to see how the weeks and month progress!

I hope you all had a happy Christmas!

December 24, 2012

Merry Chrismas!



It has become a tradition of sorts on this Blog that on Christmas Eve when Tim is at work and the boys are sleeping I sit down and contemplate the meaning of Christmas. This year is no different.

A few week ago I heard someone say that while Christmas for us is full of joy, peace and love because of the birth of Christ, for him, it was the beginning of a humble human experience that would end in a torturous death. I have been thinking about that a lot. His birth, our salvation, came at a price for the God we love and serve. Yet, we have made this important day about Christmas trees, carols, gifts, mad shopping, baking and where we should be at peace more often than not it's a season filled with stress, and pain for too many of us. Instead of celebrating that amazing gift of love from God, a gift that allowed God to send his son to dwell among us we rarely take the time to think about those things.

My boys, sleeping now, are excited for Christmas, they are anticipating all the gifts like only children can, I am by no means denigrating the wonder of our traditions. I love that there is one day a year that holds the wonderful magic of Christmas, a day in the year that adults seek out the perfect gift for the little hands to unwrap, just for that moment when we can see their eyes pop open in awe and joy. I am a believer in traditions, I love Christmas and I love all the trappings of Christmas, and because I also have gifts as my love language I am like a kid myself on Christmas morning.

Having been so far from home for so many years, spending Christmas with friends but not family, and not with my traditions, I know how important they are and I missed them.  However, during those years in Austria, I learned that it's not about the mad rush to get stuff, to cook enough food, to get the right present. While there, I began to learn about the beauty of watching the Christmas walk through the grounds that ended at the stable, to hear the Christmas story repeated year after year. Now, though I am not able to physically go for those precious walks, I am instead blessed to have Christmas eve alone each year, and to look back 2000 years to the greatest love story of all time. Then, to look back through the last (I won't say how many years) to all the little love stories he's given me.

What a God we serve... one who would dare to humble himself to be born in an old wooden food trough knowing he would die on an old wooden cross.

My Christmas prayer for you is that as you celebrate these wonderful holidays and all the fun traditions, that you also take time to think about what the birth of Jesus meant for you. I pray you find peace if you are struggling this Christmas, if you are alone I pray he comforts you, and you have family around I pray that you put aside the arguments to remember that out there in the world this can be a season of great pain for others and say a prayer for them. I do believe in Christmas miracles, I believe God still gives Christmas gifts and blessings better than we could ever imagine!

Just yesterday Josh sang his first song... Twinkle Twinkle little star... if that's not a miracle then what is?

Merry Christmas friends, may the love of God fill you with joy, peace and love this holiday season.

L

December 11, 2012

New therapist


Last week I had the pleasure (and I do mean pleasure) of meeting our  new language therapist for the first time. I picked up Josh from school and we had a lunch date, then we headed to our new therapists office for our first appointment. I don't know what I was expecting really, more bad news, more hopeless theories on why Josh is the way he is and how he won't get better, or how this will always be an issue for him... I went into the office feeling like I needed to put on some boxing gloves and flex my shoulders a little. What happened in that office was not what I had expected. When she came out she sat down on the floor of the waiting room and began to play with Josh, not really talking to me though she did introduce herself to me, but rather all of her focus was on Josh. Josh, who is used to playing in the background while I talk to each therapist and give them a run down of his history, was surprised and pleased to be getting the attention and before I knew it he was chatting up a storm wit her. A normally very shy child with strangers, he doesn't talk to anyone he doesn't know well. Instead, by the end of the appointment she had four (count them - four) pages of notes of things that Josh had said. Everything Josh said, she wrote down word for word and because of this she was able to look back and see exactly what he is saying. The problem? He has a processing disorder, imagine information going into the ear, and the getting put through a food processor and being scattered about the brain. Then imagine a file system (yours and mine being very organized and orderly - animals in one file, food in another etc.) Josh's files are all out of order and disorganized. The plan? Reorganize the files and find a way around the food processor. My question of course is how?

During the session she did all kinds of games with Josh, and when she wanted him to say something she would say the sentence using different intonation in her voice, and to my amazement he would repeat her word for word, clearly, almost perfectly. Why? Well, it would seem that by using different intonation you can create new pathways in the brain, bypassing the damaged areas and making new paths for him. This astounds me. I have always heard of a 'plastic brain' but the longer I have watched Josh struggle the less I fully believed in it.

This therapy, (or as I call it... this God send) is going to take time. I will also need to learn how to use this form of therapy at home, and building these new paths will take time. However, the hour and half she had him on Thursday proved more useful, more powerful, more sucessful than I have ever seen in any of this therapies thus far! What will the outcome be? We don't know. It will take time and money and she can't promise a full recovery but is there hope? YES! She believes there really is hope, and though she says he may always have some problems communicating she joked that he's a male and will probably have that problem anyway :).

In other news... the MRI results are in and show that Josh has had no new strokes but he does have 'swollen mastoid cells' which may account for his balance and co-ordination issues that our Physio therapist was concerned about. As you can imagine this is a huge relief to us and we are so thankful to God for the positive results and for our new therapist! God is good... all the time.

December 5, 2012

A mighty hand

A mighty hand reaches out
touches the fear in my heart
a mighty hand touches my cheek
and wipes the tear that rests there.
A powerful arm pulls me closer,
it draws me up to his side,
embracing the hurting heart
and changing me, slowly.

A mighty hand holds my burdens
that I cannot bear the weight of
He lifts me up and carries me
when I have no strength to move.
A mighty fortress rises above me
offering a soft bed for rest.
A mighty arm pushing me forward
ever moving through this test.

A mighty hand encompasses mine,
one so large, mine so small.
A mighty pull towards freedom,
a mighty move towards peace.
A mighty hand opens and gifts rests there
peace, joy, hope. 
I move, grab that mighty hand and the gifts are mine.




December 3, 2012

Change





For some time now we as a family have been facing change, looking to the future to try and discover God's next move, if there was a move, where in the Kingdom he wants us, what plans he has for us. It has been a very long and sometimes difficult discernment process.

Yesterday it was announced that Tim (my hubby) will be leaving our St. Paul's community to take on the position of Rector (Senior Pastor) at Little Trinity in downtown Toronto. This is an exciting time in the life of our family but also I feel in the lives of the people we love so much at St. Paul's. The timing it seems is completely in God's hands and I am so excited to see what he has in store for the people of St. Paul's.

When Tim and I were dating he told me once that he had a real heart for the church of Little T, so it does not surprise me that God has called him up as their new leader. I am excited for Tim, for Little T and for the Kingdom as I see God making moves for change and growth.

This time of change is both exciting as well as a time for grieving. The St. Paul's community was my first church home in Toronto, my first real community after living in Austria, we were married there and started our family there. The people of St. Paul's have walked us through some difficult times, seen us through some of the toughest years of our lives and saying goodbye is difficult on many levels. My consolation is that we are remaining in Toronto and these people we love so much will remain a part of our lives.

As I have watched the St. Paul's community grow in numbers over the last 6 years I have been amazed at God's hand in their lives, but more than numbers I have been touched by the depth and growth in the lives of these wonderful people. I have no doubts that God is alive and working in this church family. They are so full of love for God's Kingdom and because I know this, I know that the changes they are about to undergo will bring them even deeper, even stronger in their faith and that the end result will be a more faithful, even more  beautiful work in the bigger picture. Saying goodbye to two of their leaders (Tim and Jenny) will be challenging but I also know that they are under the powerful and wonderful leadership of Barry Parker, a man who can lead them powerfully into their future, into God's plan for them. I have complete faith that God has a plan for them and I am excited for them.

Change is never easy, it's hard and it's at the times of change in our lives that we have to lean solely on God to see us through. We (Tim and I) will face challenges, as will all the people of both St. Paul's and Little T, but in the end it is God who is our leader. It is God who is our High Priest and with his as our ultimate hope we cannot lose. He will guide us all, He will see us through, and when it's all said and done His Kingdom will flourish if we choose to trust Him as we march forward into this new future awaiting us.

May we all find peace and hope. May the days and months ahead lead to fuller understanding of His mighty plans for us, may we all dare to find the strength he offers as we face these changes together, as brothers and sisters working for His glory.

L

November 30, 2012

Humbled...


Wednesday I wrote and told you about the frustration of Joshua's latest speech assessment, I told you how sad it made me and how I felt utterly helpless to help my son. Thursday I wrote and told you that his positive attitude was quickly making me change my own negative one.

Today, Friday, I realized something that I had to share.

As I have mentioned in another post about this subject, the Diocese of Toronto, specifically the Archbishop Colin Johnson, gave us some money from the Bishops discretionary fund to help us get Josh the much needed therapy he needs. Due to all the illness that this house has seen in the past month and a half since we recieved that money I haven't had time to track down a good therapist and with Christmas coming I had planned to wait until January to find that person.

After hearing from the speech pathologist on Wednesday that Josh needs a language therapist (not a speech therapist) I was given a name of a woman who has agreed to take Josh in for assessment and work with him, she's a private therapist so the money we received from the Bishop will be needed to access this help. Today, as I was going about my day it dawned on me that had I not had that frustrating and sad encounter with the Bloorview pathologist on Wednesday I would have spent all that money on a speech therapist and not a language therapist (there really is a difference), and Josh would not be getting the help he actually needs. As I contemplated this I was humbled, my doubts and fears were saying to God 'I don't trust you'. What I realized today, what humbled me, is that we needed that frustrating assessment to get a little closer to getting Josh the help he needs. The illness that set me back for the last month and a half, the fatigue that has made me put off finding Josh a good therapist, all of it was a small part of a bigger picture. Had I not been so ill, had we not had that assessment, we would be spending hours of time and hundreds of dollars on therapy Josh doesn't need and that won't help him. Instead, though it took some suffering, fear, hurt, anxiety, frustration and even some anger, Josh is now going to be getting the best possible care that we can afford. God indeed has a plan, even when we can't see the forest for the trees, he's got the path all mapped out for us and is taking us by the hand, through the thorns to meadow.

As I watched him tonight playing with Kaper I realized that if God loves him so much, to care that he gets the right therapy, going to great lengths to ensure that it happens, then his plan is a good one for Joshua.

Be strong and courageous indeed. He is a God who does the impossible and as I watch him answer my prayers in unexpected, sometimes painful ways I am given a deep and all encompassing peace and hope. I have said this before, and I say it again because once again I am humbled "God has this". We are not alone, despite how it may feel, no matter what comes, even if the journey becomes painful and difficult. "HE has this! HE has Josh in the palm of his hand, and he's loving him and building a strong man out of him!"

Thank you, for your prayers and encouraging emails and responses. Thank you to the Archbishop and all those who so generously give to the Bishops discretionary fund. Our family, Joshua, will be forever grateful that God has used to you to bless us in this profound way. My heart is at rest tonight. My son will get the help he needs and even as I have tears of joy and relief pouring down my face I have a smile and peace that comes from God alone.

November 29, 2012

I can't





What is amazing to me is this: Despite the set backs, despite the frustration, the tears, the anger, the doubts, the fear, the wretched feeling of hopelessness, despite all of that I can sit down with Josh and play a game with him and have him encourage me to do better, have him tell me 'you can do it Mummy, try again' and when I crash the car or lose the game he can flip to an easier race and say this one is 'easy' and then when he wants me to crash against the car in the race with me (to eliminate my fellow contender) and I say I can't he says 'you can Mummy, you good at crashing'. His sense of humour is fully in tact, he's funny and he's a tease, he's smart and caring and one of the best and most encouraging kids I know. If you say 'I can't' he pipes up with 'you can'.

Last night, in the depths of my frustration it dawned on me... I am saying "I can't" and Josh is saying "I can". Isn't that more important than anything science says about him? If he believes he CAN then maybe, just maybe he WILL.

I have been saying "I can't" and God is saying "I can"... so for all the 'deficits that they say Josh has, he's the one teaching me the power of will, the power of words, the power of God and the reality that with hard work, maybe hope isn't all lost yet. If Josh 'can' and if God 'can' then who am I to say 'I can't'?

November 28, 2012

Matthew 19:26



I have loved in this life more fully than I thought possible, I have two awesome parents, an amazing husband and two great kids, not to mention the blessings of a sister, friends and pretty great in-laws... what right do I have to more? Should I keep pressing God for more and more when he's already blessed me with so much? What right do I have to cry out and beg for more? The problem is that in my heart I have to believe that Josh should get a break sometime... he's just a kid you know? Why should he have to suffer so much, why does everything have to come at such a struggle for him? Why is everything for him more work, more pain, more suffering just to do what other kids do naturally? It's not that I am angry, nor do I feel he got ripped off in anyway, it's just that as his Mum I wanted more for him, I want to help him, I want others to see the beautiful child that I see and I want them to see the amazing brain that lies inside that cute little head... No, I am not angry, just very sad today.

Josh and I went for the much anticipated speech assessment today(this following a bad physio appointment last week) and though I won't get into the science and politics of it all I will say that there is not a lot of hope for him. They can't help him, she doubts anyone really can. This, from a specialists mouth breaks my heart. Yes, he may improve but there will always be a problem with his language, he will always struggle with saying and understanding things. In all probability it will always be a learning disability for him and affect his schooling, he may well always struggle to understand things or be able to articulate his thoughts... blah blah blah. You get the idea.

This, she said, is the long term results of the stroke, and when I asked if it would heal she said simply 'No'.  We still have one or two hopes left as far as help and I will be following up with them this week, one  of course will be to find a language therapist who specializes in brain injuries, my hope and prayer is that we are lead to the right one and that we can get some more answers. The second, the one that could really do wonders for Josh is a school that is actually in Bloorview Rehab hospital. There he would receive all the various therapies he needs (PT, OT, and it has a whole communications section). This is what you can pray for, that we get into that school regardless of how hard they say it is to get him in. Pray that God kicks the doors open for him.

Life isn't supposed to be easy, I know that. I have seen it in the lives of every single person that I know. Life is hard, it's painful and unfair and for all the good times there are an equal (sometimes more) amount of painful times. I know we have miracles heaped on miracles for Josh and the fact that he is here at all is something I should just say 'thank you' to God for, but the reality is I can't seem to stop myself for asking for more. Am I an ungrateful wretch? I feel it.

The bigger question lies in this... what if this lady is right, what if he is the way he is and is never healed? What if this is Josh's life? What if God doesn't heal him? Will I still be able to lift my hands at the end and praise God. I hope so, I believe so, but I would be lying to you if I didn't say that this is coming at a cost, and the fact that my son is paying only makes it harder to stomach. Will I love Josh less? No... I will likely just love him all that much more. Is he still my hero? Yes, the strongest one I know. Will I ever stop praying and hoping for healing... I am afraid the answer is no. I just can't settle with that and maybe that makes me an ungrateful, greedy soul... I just don't know.

What I do know... without doubt is that when Josh was still in my womb God spoke these words to me...


"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go" Joshua 1:9

and this

"Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26












November 17, 2012

Aslan


The past week Tim and I and the boys have been watching the Narnia series as a family, at first I was afraid that the boys would be scared, but quickly I learned that they are much braver than I would have been as a child, than I am even now sometimes. Kaleb in particular is in love with Aslan, and was particularly astute when Aslan sacrificed himself for the sins of Edmond. Quickly Aslan has become the hero, the one that Kaleb waits for, the one that he knows will come and save them and get them safely home. Today during quiet time we watched the Voyage of the Dawn Treader and at the end when Aslan comes to save the day and the evil is defeated He yelled out "YEAH" and clapped his hands, clearly excited to see Aslan again didn't fail them. At the end, when they are standing on the edge of Aslan's land Lucy asks him if she will see him again and he says that yes, and that she was brought to Narnia to learn about him, so that in her own world where he has a different name she will learn to know him. I was struck by that, I was touched by the way that our kids too will one day learn about God through the stories of their new hero Aslan. Kaleb has a toy lion, and he has been carrying that Lion around all week claiming him to be Aslan. Is it too young to introduce C.S. Lewis and the Chronicles of Narnia to two little boys? There are certainly scary bits but for these boys at least the scary bits were met with cuddles and assurances that Aslan would in the end reign victorious. Then, when indeed he did defeat whatever evil faced Narnia at the time the boys were thrilled. I still can't tell you if it's too young to share these stories with the boys but I will tell you this, and I have thought this through. The stories we tell our kids about God, the story of Noah and the arc, the story of Jesus and his courageous sacrifice on the cross, were stories of horrible suffering, scary truths and always victorious endings. Is it too young to introduce these two young ones to the truth of God's love? That love couldn't be real without the pain and the suffering that happened on the cross, just as Aslans' love couldn't be real with his sacrifice for Edmond, the blood of the traitor on that rock. His victory secured in the life that was breathed back into him. We ourselves live in Narnia, fighting battles and waiting for Aslan to come and rescue us. Is this the perfect time to start with the truth of that sacrifice, the truth of the love and the certain victory that we have secured if only we seek Him and wait for Him? I think so. Like Lucy, I await Aslan and continue to seek him and long to see him.

November 15, 2012

WOW


This past week, with a few days still remaining, our family has enjoyed holiday time. Time that for many reasons has been much needed and though I am still battling bronchitis it's been restful. We went to Great Wolf Lodge, and Niagara Falls, the Royal Winter fair and we have made tons of time for 'family' time between the boys school schedules. I have had alone time (wow?!) and Tim has managed to get in a movie, a golf game and tonight he's off to see the Bills play. Josh, who is (as I write, getting his MRI done) is once again my main reason for writing this post.

The last you heard from me the doctors were putting him on some new meds that they were hoping would buy us more time before the next surgery. She said that we would notice a change within ten days and that if we didn't notice a change that we should stop the meds. I have been watching him (as you can imagine) intensely. Ten days past and still I watched, unable to trust myself or my eyes.

Josh is a different child these days. He's happier (if that's possible?), he's full of beans, he's chattier, he's able to walk to and from school, he wants to play, he fights going to bed, he is almost at par with Kaleb's energy levels. It has been a beautiful, fun, exciting thing to see this change emerge in Josh.

Our Cardiologist gave us enough meds to see us through the two weeks, and after a few days I went to the pharmacist and said that I thought it might work and asked him how long I had to wait before ordering more. He told me to come in a few days before we ran out to be sure because they had to special order it, so when we were getting close I went back to the pharmacy and asked him to order more but just smiled and said 'I was hopeful it would work so I already ordered you more' and he poured it out for me. He smiled and said that he hoped it would buy time and though I didn't say it, my heart was screaming 'it will!!'

That realization, the knowledge that this medicine may actually forstall the next surgery is a warm balm to my soul. The more I read about the advances in heart medicine the more excited I get about Josh's future and the more time we can get means the better the chances he has. Did you know that they have already grown a heart from human tissue, put it into a rat and the rat survived?! Next steps are clinical trials and then maybe one day in Joshua's lifetime they can really cure this thing!! How exciting is that?! A cure for CHD?? Amazing! God is awesome!


November 5, 2012

just a thought

Sometimes all it takes is a moment to realize how incredible our lives are, what gifts they are, and how special it is that we are here at all. There are things in this world that are ugly, there is needless suffering like this latest tragic super storm that has left devastation in her wake. There is pain, there is sickness and there is death and war and violent crime. However, once and a while if you stop and look there is also a really beauty. Sometimes beauty is hiding in the ashes, sometimes it's hanging by a limb, leaves that are dying for the season. Sometimes, it's those moments of beauty are what remind me that God isn't just a big guy out there in the distance, he's daily giving us little gifts, treats for the eyes, smiles from Him.

Have you ever thought about the seasons? Spring with it's crocus's poking their purple pedals through the snow, the tulips in every colour of the rainbow, the soft smell of a spring shower, the summer warmth that heats the bones, the beaches, with soft sand and cool shorelines, the autumn that eases the heat with it's cool chill, that brightens every tree with reds, yellows and oranges that shine so bright in the early morning sun. Then of course there is the winter, the snow that falls softly, landing on the fir trees and show a stark contrast between the dark green and pure white. No painter, no matter how good can recreate the reality of the seasons.  Just as he created each leaf unique and beautiful, each snow flake with it's own stunning design, each sunset a different array of colour and designs so too he created us, and how much more time and effort went into us?

I had a lot of time to think the other day, wandering around High Park in Toronto while scouting shooting locations and with every step, every new treat for my eyes I was reminded how much He loves me, how special He thinks I am, and How beautiful He thinks I am.

Just some random thoughts I wanted to share.

L

October 30, 2012

on the mend...

 As you know from my last post, it's been a busy and exhausting week... I haven't had time to even think blog let alone actually sit down to write anything. With all that's going on in our own private world and then world outside our home it's been a full few weeks. So rather than write I thought to share with you the few pictures I took last week. The end result as you will see is that both boys are making a recovery from the colds/asthma and both are getting very excited for halloween!




This is a 3D scan showing Josh's Tricuspid valve... it was pretty cool.






October 25, 2012

A week in the Haughton House

The past week has been what I refer to as a 'gong show' only at least on the gong show when it get's to be too much, too awful or just stupid you can hit a gong and stop the craziness... this week no such gong could be found.

The last while Tim and I have been noticing a decline in Joshua's over all health, frequently Josh has told me that he's 'tired all the time' or needs 'a big sleep' or just plain old 'I tired a lot'. This past weekend I finally wrote to our cardiologist and filled her in, the plan was simple. An ECHO. So we set up an ECHO for the 31st of Halloween and would have to wait until the 14th for the results because our Doctor was away.

That was Monday morning. By Monday night Josh was so sick with a cold and cough and fever that we thought he had pneumonia, now we had already had Josh booked in for an MRI Tuesday morning, so we had babysitting already worked out for Kaleb, but come Tuesday morning the MRI lab called and reported a broken machine and I packed Josh into the car and headed to the ER instead. Once there we had a chest Xray and ECG and a battery of swab tests (none of which were pleasant for little man) but nothing was too far out of whack. He was wobbly and unsteady but was showing no serious signs of heart failure and his lungs were clear of pneumonia so were released and asked to follow up with both stroke team and his cardiologist. By the time I got him home that night his fever was back up to 104.

Now, at this time Kaleb began to cough (as one does when his  brother has been hacking all over him for a number of days) but as we know Kaleb's lungs are not stellar and his coughs always turn asthmatic in no time at all. On Wednesday morning I had an already planned clinic appointment for Kaleb in the respiratory clinic to have his asthma finally diagnosed. Between the parking garage and the hospital main lobby Kaleb had thrown up four times. Tiggy (for those of you who have not had the pleasure of meeting Tiggy... it's Kaper's security 'doll'... count your blessings.) Tiggy, became utterly useless to us as he was covered in vomit, as were his clothes, and his blanket. I found him a hospital gown, got his chest xray and headed to the clinic.

Briefly let me explain the layout of this clinic.... it's in 4A... which also happens to house the cardiac clinic. So while I was waiting for Kaleb's appointment I checked in with the clinic to double check the time on the ECHO so I could finalize babysitting for the day. We chatted a little bit and finally she said, if I had known you were going to be here today I could have gotten you in today and then you could have seen the doctor on the same day. (I have to admit here that I literally jumped all over that)... I said quickly (probably too quickly) 'if you can make that happen I can get Josh here'. So she smiled and said she would ask the doctor and come find me in the asthma clinic.

When I took Kaleb into see the doctor he was pretty ill, in fact, I should have just taken him to the ER, instead this expert in childhood asthma listened to him and ordered O2 and a ventillian mask. As the nurse game him the meds she began to explain asthma to me in a way I had never heard before. She made me understand the medicines and the purpose of those medicines, the symptoms and what symptoms are saying 'ER please'... by the time she stopped talking Kaleb had perked up a little and she sent us home without the ER visit this time, but with the ER medicine that would help him if we needed it, or if he got worse.

As we were leaving the clinic I was met by the Cardiac nurse who said that she had indeed managed to get us a spot for the afternoon so I quickly called Tim's parents and asked them to switch kids with me. Within 20 minutes we were at the main doors of Sick Kids trading kids and medicines.

Josh fell asleep as soon as the ECHO started, and didn't wake up until I was 90% of the way through my chat with the doctor. This in itself was an answer to prayer since I know how scary all these words and tests can be for him.

Basically, the ECHO is showing no crazy changes in his heart, but she isn't surprised that he's showing signs of decline, ('he has a bad heart') as she reminded me when I tried to pass it off. The reality is that as he grows, as more is demanded on his body, his heart is struggling to keep up. The options are limited. However, before we do anything drastic she is going to give him a medicine which will help take the fluid load of his body and give his heart an easier go of it. We will know quickly if that is something that is working, (this is something we need to pray hard for.... that it works and buys Josh lots more time). In January the doctor will see us again, if more decline has been noted then we move to discuss something called the Fontan procedure ( a shunt to help ease the load on his tricuspid valve). It's an open chest surgery, but she thinks it may be possible to do without bypass. This fix is not something that we can change, it will permanently change the make up of his heart, (which I suppose isn't a big deal given the damage already done to his heart) but it also has side effects, swelling, possible headaches... not to mention yet another open cavity surgery and possibly another by pass. The third option, the one no one wants to even talk about yet because the risks are too high, is that we just replace the tricuspid. This is not really an option right now, it's just too risky for him.

So, this is a lot of information for one blog post... I have some sick kids. I'm exhausted and I think in part I am emotionally numb. It's why those of you who have asked for an update are getting it via a blog post. With two sick kids and one really tired Mum this is the best I can do right now.

I do have to end with saying thank you for the prayers this week. I know there have been many said for our family and I have really truly felt those prayers being answered. From the broken MRI to the last minute ECHO. Thank you so much for remembering us, for caring and taking the time to pray.

L

October 19, 2012

rainbow in the mailbox



When the rain stops, and the sun comes out, that's when you find your rainbow. This week was tough, for a few reasons but today the sun came out, and in my mailbox I found a beautiful rainbow. It had every colour of joy in it, and I won't lie. I cried.

What was it? Today we received money from the Archbishops discretionary fund to get Josh into speech therapy! Even as I write this I have chills and tears, and so much relief that it can't be described!! My son will finally get what he needs! There are literally no words for how grateful I am to the Archbishop, to the diocese and the generous people who give money towards this fund.

My heart has been warmed by the kindness and love that we have recieved through this grant, a grant that just last year helped Josh attend a special school where he was able to get care that he needed. There will never be a way to say a proper thanks... to these people and to God who really did 'have it' in his hands and under his control.

This is a very appropriate time to say 'Praise God!'

L

October 16, 2012

The wall


Have you ever had one of those moments, when you are sitting outside, maybe the sun is warm on your shoulders, the air is crisp and clean and you close your eyes and your mind transports you to the past, to a place in time, where you were just happy, a place you loved, a memory that was precious?

Today, after dropping Josh at school I was walking home, the air was cool but the sun on my back was warm enough to ease the tension in my shoulders, the breeze brought that lovely fall scent that comes from falling leaves and a distant fire that is warming someone's home... I stopped, right on the sidewalk and I closed my eyes and immediately I was back in Austria, sitting on a wall I used to favorite. It was one of those moments in time that is both bitter sweet to look back on, sweet in that those were such fun times and bitter in that it's long since past. That home is no longer my home and on days like this, moments like the one I had on that sidewalk this morning, I miss it. I miss the mountains towering over me, always reminding me of God's majesty, the air so crisp and fresh and smelling like the countryside. No smog, no noise other than the cowbells on the cows in distant fields and the valley, spread before me covered in morning fog so thick it could be a lake made of pristine glass.

There was a glasshouse on the wall of the castle where I lived, it had a wall that we used to sit on and from there you could see the whole valley, and all the peaks in the distance. If you got up early enough, you could sit on that wall and watch the sunrise, the colours red, yellow, purple, orange and blue reflecting off the fog in the valley, the trees especially in the fall would all match the colour of the foggy sunrise and you couldn't help but see the hand of the God who created all of it. Always you could see the cows roaming the fields, the snow capping the tall mountains, and no matter what mood sent you to that wall, that view always managed to make you feel a little better and leave you feeling peaceful. I spent a lot of time on that wall in my years in Austria, a lot of prayers were whispered into the wind up there and found their way to Him. Some of the prayers  were just thoughts I had and I didn't even know they were prayers I had prayed until God answered them for me years later.

It was on that wall that I made friends that I still cherish today, it was on that wall that those friendships went deeper through deep conversations, lasting fun memories and sometimes, just through tears that were shared together. That wall, that castle, those mountains, that valley, those people were a hospital for the soul, the ER department in God's kingdom that saved my life.

On days like today, when I walk down the sidewalk and am so easily transported back there because of a sound, a smell, the warmth of the sun, I am reminded that God is not just sitting in a valley in a small Austrian town waiting for me to come to the wall, he's here, in Toronto, walking home with me on the way home from dropping Josh at school. My wall has changed, my God has not.

October 11, 2012

The appointment


For all the problems that we have had with Joshua's speech there are new signs of hope on the horizon. The doctor today has fought on Josh's behalf and we will now be offered an assessment through Bloorview. It is not a guarantee for therapy, but it's hope. The meeting went better than I thought;  I had thought I would go in and state my case and then go home to wait for any answers they might come up with. Instead they were ready for me and spoke with speech before I even got there. This is (I feel) a direct answer to your prayers. She is also hoping that they will back date his referral so that he won't be put on the wait list now, but rather back in July when she first put the referral in. She is also willing to make an attempt to refer him to CCAC early though admittedly it's a long shot.

Last night we talked in our small group about the concept of letting go of the control and just waiting, allowing God the space and time to move and do his work. This is a lesson that I am learning well these past few months. My instinct is to fight, to work, to DO something, anything, that might help Josh. What I am learning very quickly is that God does a better job of controlling things and instead of driving myself insane with the worry, the angst and the emotional energy spent, I could just be enjoying the time we have together and trust God. I am learning that as my options run out God is showing me that He wants to do this for us, He wants me to let go of the reigns and let him help us. It's his joy to take these burdens and take up our fight.

I do not know what the assessment will mean for us, they may still deny us therapy. The reality is that in the face of this new hope I have to praise God because just this morning I didn't even have that left. Hope is a funny thing, you need it to survive and it's so easily begotten yet too often lost. So for now, I will cling to that and pray that God's sovereignty will win this battle for us.

We have also been told about a school at Bloorview, one that the doctor feels will be a good fit for Josh for his SK year. It's another thing to hope for, another thing to pray about. Where the doors were slammed shut these past few months I am starting to see some cracks in some windows and I am praying that God sees fit to help me open them.

Thank you all so much for your prayers this past 30 some odd hours. I certainly felt the peace that passes all understanding as I walked into that appointment today; and I saw the softened heart beneath the surface of our doctor. Now it's time to wait, hope, trust and believe that God is indeed in control, no matter what the outcome.

L

October 10, 2012

Well Done



I look around me and everywhere I turn there are people with so many deep hurts, so much brokenness, so much suffering. It seems that this is a season of pain for so many people that I have come to know and love. Each situation unique, each one just as painful, just as big in the eyes of those who are walking that path. No one escapes it, but it seems these are the days when we have to gather together, hold tight to those near us and pray that the glory of our Father can be revealed in the suffering we all feel. That's the ultimate hope as a Christian isn't it? That we learn, grow, find more strength in our maker, find a deeper faith and be able to withstand the storms while praising God. Singing loudly into the rain, drowning out the thunder, being guided by the lightning that lights the dark sky. We are starting a new series in church on suffering, and I have to say it's one of the first times that I have eagerly anticipated a new series. Never have there been tougher times for so many people that commune within those walls.

Yet, even as I see the wounds, the scars and the tears of those around me; I also see a deeper, loving, growing and tighter community of people. People who strive to know God better, people who long to be known by not just the people around them, but by God himself. So while I hate the pain I see my friends walking through, while I hate the struggles we ourselves have walked through, I have to smile. God is working within the pain and it's nothing short of beautiful to see.

As I spend the day in prayer for Joshua I have also had the names and faces of friends in pain coming to me. Friends who have prayed so faithfully for us, friends who now need my prayer. What an honour it is to give back in this way. I have often wondered, late in the night, how I can possibly thank people for the way they have supported us as a family and now as I watch these same people, each with pain of their own that they now carry I am blessed to know that I can now pray on their behalf.

I was listening to a song today, yet again a song by Kutless. The song talks about suffering and how in the midst of suffering we will learn to know God in the midst of it, and that we will, in those terrible times remember who He is. We will look to his character and trust Him. That's my prayer for you, that's my prayer for my children, that is my prayer for my church and my prayer for myself.

Then one day, when we stand face to face with the King of Kings we will all hear those treasured words 'Well done, my good and faithful servant'.

L

30 Hours


This post is a call out to all of Josh's prayer warriors... We need you in the next 30hours. Let me explain.

As most of you know, In August we were denied an assessment with Bloorview for speech, on the grounds that he didn't quite fit into their category for care (he didn't have CP and his stroke was before 6 months of age). Bloorview denying him was a huge blow because it's the best, and only hope we had left for Josh to receive the therapy we need. We still do not understand the decision, and if I am honest I am still struggling with a  little anger and frustration over the issue.

In recent weeks one of my readers and a woman who attends our church has taken up our fight and managed to get in touch with the director of the ABI Clinic (Acquired Brain Injury Clinic) We were told to send a new referral directly to him, and believed that Josh would finally get the care he so desperately needs.

On Friday I heard that nothing would change. We would need to go through the same doctor we had seen before and try again. I can't tell you what it feels like, to hope beyond hope, praise God that you have an answer, and then find out that it wasn't actually going to happen. It rips your guts out, deflates you, and when I am totally honest with myself it allowed me to really question God. Why all the ups and downs? Why the false hope? Why all the road blocks.

Just yesterday morning I was thinking on these things, as I prepared to call Bloorview again (I called on Friday too) to try and get a new appointment. Instead I put the phone down and prayed and decided that I would leave it alone. I would let God do what he would do. Yesterday afternoon I got a call from Bloorview, his first doctor is willing to do a follow up appointment with him, it's my chance to talk to her again about the speech issue.

This is where you come in... as Josh's prayer warriors. I am going to try talking to these people again, I am going to plead for mercy on his behalf, I am going to beg, and I am going to need them to have open hearts, soft hearts, open minds in order for us to get any kind of positive response. Please, pray for these doctors, pray for Joshua, and pray for me as I try to remain strong while fighting this incredibly long fight. Pray that this time, they accept him and give him what he needs, and pray that it's not another false lead, but actual help.

Thank you so much, each and every one of you have meant the world to us. Some of you I do not even know and yet when I reach heaven I will see you, know you, and be able to say thank you for all the prayers, work, and help that you have given to Joshua. For now, a blanket thank you will need to do. I appreciate you all so much.

Joshua's appointment is set for 1:45 pm tomorrow afternoon. (Hence the 30 hours of prayer )

L

October 9, 2012

Happy Birthday Kaper!

 My little character is turning three years old today. Yesterday was his final day of being two and I told him that it's his last day for any terrible two mischief and he said okay... let's hope he fully understood me. I have wondered a lot this week about the change in this little guy over the last year. He has grown up in so many ways. Gone is the child who threw a fit over every little thing that emerged at the beginning of his second year, in his place is a child full of energy, fun and charming character. He is sensitive and sweet but can also wreak havoc on both his brother and the dog if he deems it necessary. He is the chatty child, the one who talks NON STOP and demands being heard, he's the one I have often heard Josh say 'Kaper, stop talking!' too in the late night hours, or during a longer car ride. He's the one who wants to know everything that's going on, and asks a hundred questions. He loves animals, especially his dog, whom he now hugs more than he stabs with the fork. Yes, this past year has brought progress. He is now fully child, no longer a baby (though he still insists we call him a baby). At school he is known as the fun loving co-operative one. At church, he has taken to wanting to sit with me in the big church, and at home; he is and will remain, always, my baby. Yesterday, after a morning of fun at the pumpkin patch and a good nap, he crawled into my bed with me for a little after nap snuggle and last night at dinner we each said what we were thankful for and while Josh was thankful for ice cream, Kaleb was thankful for church. He's a contradiction in many ways. Rebellious, sweet, quick to apologize if he didn't mean to do something, but long to forgive if he's angry. This son, my youngest is most like me and that thrills me, awes me and terrifies me all at the same time.

I still spend hours contemplating this little marvel, how he is so independent and yet so wanting the company of others. I still catch myself staring at him in wonder and thinking... we really made this beautiful boy? I wonder if that will ever go away, the awe that these children were born of the love Tim and I feel for each other, or if one day that will fade? I hope it remains, until the end.

To celebrate Kaper's birthday I am posting some pictures of this weekend. Enjoy!








Sweet Kaleb,

My wish for you this year is that you know you are loved more fully than you do even now. I prayer for you as a parent is that I can be the kind of mother you deserve and that I can teach and guide you into becoming the man you will one day become, while having some serious fun along the way. I love you so much Kaper, you have changed my world for the better because you are in it.

Happy birthday baby.
I love you,
Mummy,
xoxoxox

October 2, 2012

The all seeing eyes of a Mum.



I had the pleasure of showing up a little early to pick Josh up for school today and finding his class playing in the park outside the school. A perfect opportunity to watch unnoticed from the sidelines to see how he plays with others and who he plays with etc. I watched as he and a group ran back and forth, up and down, all with big smiles on their faces. Watching him play was quite fun but it was short lived as only a few minutes later the teacher rang her bell and almost all the kids ran back to the door and lined up beautifully. I say 'almost all' because Josh was not one of the group of listeners. Instead he and two other boys ran over to where the leaves were beginning to pile up and proceeded to throw them at each. While it was rather cute, I could see that the teacher was trying to get the class back into the school so I yelled out 'Josh! Listen to your teacher'. Now, the beauty of this was that he didn't see me, he stopped immediately and looked around for me but he couldn't see me but he quickly joined the line and continued to look for me.

I couldn't help but giggle about it, poor Josh must think I am omnipotent, that I have eyes everywhere, much like God. He hears my voice and obeys me but he can't find where I am hiding. I smile because I remember thinking that my mother was like that, she seemed to know all when I was a kid. I couldn't hide anything and she could hear every whisper between my sister and I.

Now, when I hear the boys plotting in 'whispers' that are louder than a mans voice, I tell them not to do whatever it is they are planning to do and they stare at me in awe. At night, when we put them to bed and we hear the sounds of the pitter patter of little feet running above our heads and tell them to get back in bed, I almost hear their thought 'how did they know we aren't in bed?'.

It has been both entertaining and a reality check from my own childhood. My mother is not God... took me long enough to figure it out eh?! :)

September 26, 2012

Unending Love



Once again I realize that having kids is an amazing lesson in God's unending love for us. No matter what he we do or don't do, no matter how mistakes, no matter how many times we try and fail, no matter what temper tantrums we throw, no matter how many good things, no matter how smart, how strong, how funny, how perfect we try to be or how imperfect we actually are. He loves us. Just as I love my kids no matter what they do.

Last night Tim and I were talking about the boys. Josh has been so angry with me lately and I was sharing with Tim how it breaks my heart that we aren't as close as we were this summer. My guess is that he's mad at me for sending him to school but it could just be a stage. He doesn't want to talk to me, and when I ask him questions he just says 'stop talking Mummy'. Hugs are few and far between these days too and where once, if I sat on the couch with him he would slide over for a snuggle, he is now telling me to go sit at the table and read.

Tim said. These kids will break our hearts one day. Then he said, 'it makes me realize how much God loves us, that he brought us into the world, knowing how much we would break his heart but loving us enough to do it anyway.'

How true is that? To bring a child into the world, knowing that at least a few times in their lives they will break your heart. Truly break your heart. They will say 'I hate you' in moments of anger, they will make bad decisions that hurt themselves and ultimately you and yet no matter what they do we will love them regardless and never regret bringing them into the world. We will always look at them through the eyes of love, through the eyes of wonder and joy.

Having kids is a lesson in love, not just the love of a parent or child but a real lesson in how much we ourselves are loved by the God who created us and seeks to have a relationship with us, regardless of what we have done. A God who would do anything and everything to see us in his thrown room enjoying his eternal rest, a God whose heart we break daily, who cries for us and rejoices with us. A God who despite being rejected by us continues to pursue us.

September 24, 2012

Live to Give

I am not sure if you are like me at all... some of you may be and some maybe not. However, if you are like me then you will understand when I say sometimes I think that I am just got 'gifted enough' or 'too small' (that's figurative not literal) to do much for God. I would like to think I have many HUGE gifts and talents that God is going to use in GIANT ways to work for the Kingdom, but in the daily grind I find that my heart doesn't really buy it. I of course want to make an impact on the people around me, but I have no special calling, I am not (for example) my husband, who has a gift of preaching and disciplining people. Rather I am sort of insignificant in my own eyes.

Before you all start emailing me... and I know some of you will. Let me say this.

I was asked to review a book called 'Live to Give', and when I read the outline I jumped at the opportunity. To discover what hidden talents I might have that God could use would benefit me greatly right?! So I set about reading the book. It's an easy read and totally relevant in every day life. As I read this book I discovered that I do have gifts, I do have talents, and God uses small people, doing small things, to make HUGE impacts all the time!

One particular story stood out to me as particularly relevant. It was about the boy with the loaves and fish... You know the one right? The feeding of the 5000. Have you thought about the boy in the story? I know that I never have. I have looked at Jesus and how he meets the needs of the people, I have studied the reactions of the disciples but I have never wondered about the boy. The faith it took for him to pack a meager meal and walk for who knows how long to hear about Jesus. A young boy who had no seemingly BIG talents but merely a loaf of bread and a few fish. Yet, he was used to feed a multitude. This book covers a lot more about that boy then I have, but in a small post I don't have the time, and then it would be a spoiler and not a review. Instead I will tell you that it's worth the read. Pick it up!

So, while I may not have seen talents worthy of HUGE impact... I have no idea what God is planning next, no way of knowing what loaf of bread mine that he might use to feed a multitude. The only thing I need to do... the only thing the boy had to do... was get up and walk, follow Jesus and obey.

L


Monday doesn't always suck.



Monday tend to really suck these days... Josh and Kaleb both take it upon themselves to make me feel like the worst mother in the world for leaving them to fend for themselves in school and generally by the time I walk home again I am emotionally worn out. Today however, God have me two gifts. The first was small by comparison to the second... You see, Kaper's birthday present arrived! I am so excited to open it, to set it up for him and see his sweet face get all excited about it... but alas I have to again show patience (for those of you who read regularly you know this is NOT my strong character suit). Two weeks tomorrow is the big day that my baby officially leaves the toddler years behind and joins the world of 'child'. I can't believe it... really can't believe it.

The biggest, best, more amazing gift I got today was to learn that one of my best friends from my Austrian days, the friend who cried with me when I needed it, the friend who laughed with me and snowboarded with me, who helped me when I needed it, traveled with me when we needed an escape, the friend I held so dear... today I learned that she is moving to Toronto! I can not contain my excitement about it... just to think of having her so close at hand makes me smile from the inside out.

Monday isn't sucking as badly now as it was a few hours ago...

God is good.


L

September 17, 2012

Perspective



I don't know why, but I am always amazed by how my whole perspective can change in such a short time. Motherhood is filled with high highs and low lows and as Mums we feel every bump in the ride with all the emotion we are capable of.

Josh made a friend at school and it's changed not just his outlook on the school and it's potential fun levels but it's changed how I feel about leaving my little guy there. Watching him enjoy himself on the playground on Thursday and Friday last week made my heart smile (seriously - that's not just a flowery way of putting things into writing).

As we settle into a new and very busy rhythm I have run the gamut of emotions but this week I have found that things are stabilizing. Kaleb loves his school, Josh is getting used to his and I find myself with two mornings a week with a quiet house and I can't say I am complaining.

My morning routine is shot, no more lounging in my PJ's till 10am reheating the same coffee between cleaning the kitchen from breakfast, breaking up fights, arguing over who had the toy first, or trying to track down my hair elastic so that I can once again throw my hair in a pony tail to hide the fact that I didn't get to wash and style it. No, my mornings are different. Now I hop out of bed, rush through a bowl of yogurt (usually shared with by Kaleb who can't seem to just let me eat my own breakfast), down a few sips of coffee to get me through an hour, pack snacks and backpacks with the necessary items of the day, put the dog out, grab the quickest and easiest thing to wear for me and track down something clean for the boys to wear and then comes the heinous (again... not just a flowery saying... it's actually heinous) task of getting shoes on. Get Kaleb out the door to the school cab, fighting him into his car seat, listening to the endless tears as he pulls away from the curb, running back into the house, getting Josh's backpack on, fighting him over all the cars he feels should be allowed to go into the backpack, getting his shoes on (slightly less heinous than the task of getting them on his brother) and then running out the door in order to get him into his class line in a timely manner so as not to get into trouble by the waiting teachers (who knew they could still bring on fear long after we have left school behind us?), peel Josh off my arm and force him into the school and then just stand there staring at a closed door.

When that door closes I could sit down right there and not move for two hours but alas, the playground is not equipped with a coffee truck (though it should be, I would buy shares). Instead I make my way home slowly, and when I open the door of the house and the quiet descends on me I smile. I have HOT coffee, listen to MY music, and clean those places that haven't seen a rag or cleaner since I had kids.

Yeah, perspective is relative.

L

September 13, 2012

he's not you Laurie



My little guy Kaper (Kaleb). The handsome little man who brings so much laughter to our lives dropped his big brother at school and then all the way home he said good morning to every bird, dog, cat, and person we passed by. He chatted away the whole walk, communing with nature by squawking at  the birds and barking at the dogs and when we finally got home he smiled at me and said 'Mummy, playtime now?'. I had to smile, this guy is so hard to resist, so we got down on the floor and played cars. As we played I had to take a moment to look at the mess in the kitchen left over from our rushed breakfast and hasty exit to school. I didn't have time to play... I didn't have time to be chasing Thomas around the train tracks, nor did I have time to crash my car into his school bus. Then I looked back at Kaper who was smiling with the warmth of the sun and I thought 'how can I not have time to do this?'. So, the kitchen was put off a few minutes I smashed another car into the bus. When Kaper was done playing with me he moved onto other toys and I was able to move on to things that needed to be done and I thought about last night, about the time Tim and I carved out to begin the Alpha parenting course. How FUN is important to kids, how playing with them teaches them how to play with other kids, how giving them attention and showing them they are loved is the most important job we have as parents. Something clicked last night as we moved our way through section one of this course. These two little guys are individuals. They are different as the sun and the moon. Josh, more like his Dad and Kaper more like me. Josh, shy and quiet and introspective, Kaper is loud, likes to meet new people, not often shy and always ready to greet  you with a big HI or Good morning!

When Kaper goes to school everyone is his friend, he makes sure of it. At church he's the same way. Josh, prefers to stay on the side lines and play with people he knows well. Last night, I realized that I am trying to make Josh more like me. The things I love about my husband, the quiet, steady and wise man that he is, is exactly who Josh is growing into and in my haste to push him to make friends at school maybe I am trying to carve him into someone he's not? He is the one who will make friends slowly, but as Tim says, the friends he makes will be friends that he keeps for years. He will more than likely make wise decisions when making friends as Tim has done his whole life. I was so quickly making friends with anyone and everyone that sometimes I made poor choices in friends. So why am I trying to make him more like me? Why am I trying to put my fears onto my sweet son?

My fears as a kid were that I wouldn't be accepted, in many ways that is still one of my deepest fears. I want people to like me. It's simple. What if, I were to just let Josh figure this out, without putting my fears onto him? What if I just allowed him to make his own choices?

Parenting... I am learning... is hardest, not when the baby isn't sleeping through the night, or demanding to be fed at awkward times but rather when the time comes when you need to ease up the grip and give them room to grow into their own person. The harder I want to cling, the more of a handicap I am giving him.

While I still pray that Josh will make friends, I am now praying that I will find the grace to let him choose who he wants to be his friend. I can help, I can guide, I can teach, but ultimately he is the one who has to spend the time with the kid. Today, as we walked to school, he ran ahead of me for the first time since day one (before he knew where he was going). He showed a little hesitation in the line going into the school but he went without too much complaint. Kaper, who was with me waved goodbye and Josh smiled. Josh might not know it now, or then maybe he does, but his best friend is sharing a bunk with him every night, playing with him everyday, and waiting for him to come home even now.

September 12, 2012

a handout



Today as I waited patiently outside Josh's school to pick him up I was randomly approached by a woman and given a flyer. My first inclination was to dismiss her and it, thinking it odd to be approached in a school yard and guessing it was either a sale of some kind for a local store or perhaps a handout about how the fire and brimstone will be my future if I do not repent. However, as I began to listen to her spiel I quickly heard some key words that got me very interested. This woman worked (s) for the City of Toronto, she is a Public Health nurse and there is a free screening clinic next week, they screen things like hearing, sight, speech and language... aha... now you see where I started to register what this woman was saying to me. As I tuned into what she was saying I told her a little about Josh, and my struggles to find him appropriate therapy. She told me that the school board should be the one to be taking on his care and that he was too old for the screening but as I reassured her that this would be the case, she said 'here's my card. call me. we will find something. We will get him some help'.

Isn't funny how dismissive we are of strangers sometimes, and if only we stopped for a moment and truly listened we might actually learn that they are little gifts from heaven wanting a moment of our time to bless us. How many of these moments have I missed because I have been too busy, distracted or caught up in my own 'stuff' to really pay too much attention, if any attention at all?

I don't know if this nurse can help, in fact my guess is that she probably won't be too much more help than we have already received and her advice will probably be things we have already tried or been denied. That isn't the point though is it? What I saw today is yet another display of how much God loves Josh, and how he longs to ease my fears. How he longs to talk to me and how sometimes I just need to shut up and listen. Instead of looking around for a way out I need to look these gifts in the eye and see them for what they are. Not a handout about my need to repent but rather one about His infinite love and grace.

L

September 11, 2012

a letter for my son

Dear Joshua,

I am SO proud of you, I am proud of the way you have come through adversity with a smile, I am proud of the way you laugh in the face of pain, there is no one who could be more proud of the gains you have made in your young life. You are stronger than anyone I know, braver than most people, and sweetheart you can't be brave if you are not afraid. There is nothing in this world that you can't do, don't say 'I can't', it limits what you can. You can't read this... not yet. I will read it to you, over and over again until you tell me to stop because I believe in you. I believe in your ability to rise up to any challenge. You CAN talk, maybe not as clearly as you would like right now but when you speak up you are a force to be reckoned with. You tell me everyday what you want, what you are saving your money for, what you need, and now in this past few weeks you have started to tell me how you feel. This is not a little thing luv, this is HUGE. Last year when you started school you wouldn't tell me your name, I worried that if you got lost you wouldn't be able to tell someone what your name is but look at you now! You can not only tell me your name but you can spell it too!

I know that starting a new school is difficult, I have done it myself. I know how hard it is to make new friends... that will never change. It will always be hard, especially when you are shy. Learn this now and it will serve you well in the years to come. As your Mum there is nothing I want more for you than your happiness, I will do all that I can to help you, not just now but always. You are my son and I love you. Change is hard, but it helps you to grow. School is hard but I KNOW you have the ability to nail this! You are smart, and funny, and open and warm. Show the kids in your school that side of you and you will be making friends in no time at all.

Think of the friends you already have, the ones who absolutely LOVE you. They don't love you for any other reason than you are Josh and that makes you so special. There is no one like you. You are my favorite older son! Not just because you're my son but because of who you are.

Know this. Your Daddy and I think you are awesome. We think you are smart. We think you are special. We think you are heading somewhere big in life. We think you have what it takes! We are so so proud of you!

We will also be there every step of the way to help when we can, to do all that we can to make this as painless as possible, but I am afraid that sometimes there is pain. Sometimes, and you know this well luv, there is a place for suffering, stretching, growing pains and patience. Face this new struggle the way you have faced every struggle you have ever faced... with a fist in the air and ready to fight.

I love you,
Mummy.
xoxox