Photographs by Laurie @ Horizons Photography

January 31, 2012

The day he was born



The day Josh was born I woke feeling 'not right', Tim went to work and I went back to bed to lie down. By 1:00 pm I couldn't feel normal movement, by 3 pm I was in a panic because I could feel him at all and I was cramping, though I tried all the tricks the doctor had told me to get the baby to move. I was terrified but I had been in the doctors office just the day before and had my weekly ultra sound so I thought I was just being emotional. I finally called Tim at work and told him I was scared, he told me to get a cab and meet him at the hospital. When I arrived at the hospital at 5:00 pm Tim was waiting in admitting for me, and I fell into safe arms and as he got me admitted I also felt a large amount of stupid because the cramps had stopped, I was sure they would think I was a paranoid pregnant woman. We got to the seventh floor (which leads me briefly to the querry about why on earth they make a pregnant - usually in labor woman go seven floors?) I was given a bed and they hooked me up to the oxy-moron 'non-stress' test. Josh's heart rate was all over the place, and he wasn't moving. They pulled in a portable ultra-sound machine and took a look. The nurse poked and prodded and finally called in the doctor, a man we have come to call friend over the years as he now attends our church. He took me to another room where the Ultra-sound machine was better, and from there he told us that Joshua was literally starving, because the flow from placenta to baby was showing back flow. In no uncertain terms he told us the baby would have to come that night. His due date was March 7th, and just three weeks before we were told that if born early with his heart condition his chances were not very good. They prepped me for surgery and had a pediatrician come in to talk with us about his chances. He told Tim that we would most likely lose the baby, that we needed to be prepared. As they were leading me out of the room Tim asked for a moment to pray with me, and then before any more time was given to adjust to this new reality they led me out of the room and off to the OR, Tim was left to sign the consent forms. Once in the OR I had a student give me the epidural (an already painful procedure made worse with her less than stellar skill and three attempts before the doctor finally took over.). They had already begun the surgery when Tim was brought in to sit beside me. The night is a fuzzy memory, but I remember the feel of Josh 'popping' out of me, and then all the nurses and doctors started to yell, get a camera, and out came a bunch of camera phones. Tim and the anesthesiologist were so caught up in the moment that neither remember that I had a screen blocking my view. I kept asking what was happening, did he have three legs, two heads? What was causing all the fuss?? Finally, the nurse beside me turned to me and explained that Josh had not been starving, rather he had wrapped the cord around his leg 8 times, a number that no one in that OR had seen. In fact, those pictures have been submitted to medical journals because of how rare it was. When they finally untangled him and took him away from the operating table I got my first glimpse at my little boy. He was blue, and not crying, but his eyes were open, we looked at each other. Then he was taken to another room while they sewed me up. I was taken to recovery, where my blood pressure was all over the place and the nurse kept telling me that I was to 'calm down'. I remember thinking she was crazy, how could I be calm when my baby was fighting for his life down the hall? If he was even still alive? I kept asking to see him, the nurse kept telling me that he was alive and they were working on him, and she kept telling me that I had done the right thing to come in when I did. She told me that I had saved his life, and I told her that God had done that. Had I not started to cramp up I probably would not have come in, and yet the moment I arrived at the hospital the cramps had stopped. I still thank God for telling me to go, for making it impossible to ignore those symptoms of impending trouble. She just smiled and tapped my hand (her face told me that she thought I had been given my limit of morphine and was clearly delusional). Finally, I still don't know what time it was, they wheeled me down the hall to see my son for the second time. He was naked save for a diaper (one so small I didn't think they made them that small). He had tubes and wires coming out of every single part of his body. The only place you could touch on him was just above his nose. His head even had an IV line (where he bears a scar to this day in the form of white hair). He looked painfully small, and all I wanted in that moment was to wrap him in a blanket and hold him close to me. Instead, they took me away from him again and then put him in an incubator and wheeled him through the tunnel under the hospital towards Sick Kids. The child who had hours before been safe in my womb was now in a totally different building, and Tim had to go with him to again sign consent and get him admitted. I cried all night long, desperate to see him, to hold him, to do something, anything for him. For the next two days I spent every minute I could with Josh at Sick Kids, until finally Mt. Sinai had to call me back to be discharged, it seems they had given up on me and figured I could be an outpatient. I immediately set up camp in the CCCU waiting room. Josh was two weeks before I could hold him and I ached for him the entire time, trying to find spots on his body to touch, to hold, desperately missing the connection we had shared while he was inside me. I remember one night Tim and the nurses convinced me to go home and get some rest, and before bed that night Tim and I prayed. Both of us just wanted two things, we wanted to see his eyes opened, and we wanted a sign of life, we still had not heard him cry. The following morning we arrived in Josh's room and asked the nurse how his night had been, as soon as we spoke Josh opened his eyes, we rushed to his side, Tim on one side of the bed and me on the other, we each took a tiny hand in ours and at the same time he squeezed both of our hands. I still remember looking up at Tim, both of us with tears streaming down our cheeks. We knew two things that morning, our son had fight in him, and God was here with us and answering prayers. On February 17th Josh was allowed to come home to the nursery no one but Tim and I thought he would ever spend a night in. He weighed 4 lbs and 4 oz.

This is Joshua's birth story. A painful look at what should be and in some ways was a beautiful memory. Every year on Joshua's birthday I think back to this story, every year the memory gets less painful, and every year, despite all that he has overcome, I see him grow  happier, I see him develop more, I see him fight, and I have no words to express how incredible it is that he's with us now, fighting his brother, eating spider-man cake, throwing snowballs at his Mummy, thanking God for 'loving the world'  and being excited about his birthday. When I was a little girl I used to ask my Mom why God didn't still do miracles like he did in the Bible, and in the past four years I have seen that he does, and he is overwhelmingly generous with them.

Today, when Joshua woke up, he jumped out of bed saying 'happy birthday' and then proceeded to rip through his birthday present. This boy who should not have lived an hour, the boy we were told to bring a camera to his birth so as not to miss getting a picture of him to keep after he's gone, the boy they wanted us to decide if we wanted an autopsy for, this boy that we were told would get no miracles. This boy, Joshua, is four years old today!

Happy Birthday Joshua, my heart is smiling with love for you. My prayer for you as you grow is that you discover for yourself how very much God loves you, and that these memories will one day not bring you pain, or feelings of being 'bad' but that you instead really see what a gift you are, how loved you are, how very special you are, and how strong and courageous you are.

I love you little man, more than you can ever know.


January 30, 2012

Content much?



Yesterday I heard a great sermon (yes, he's my husband but who cares I still think it was a great sermon!) and I thought I would share it. Tim is a gifted speaker and this particular rendering of the paralytic being lowered through the roof spoke volumes to me about being content and discovering peace in the now. I hope you enjoy it!

From the mouths of babes



I received this email today and it was too good to just forward to all the Moms I know so I am posting it here. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.  


 (I don't think I would want to see the answers Josh and Kaleb come up with)

WHY GOD MADE MOMS:
    Answers given by 2nd grade school children to the following questions:


Why did God make mothers?
1.  She's the only one who knows where the scotch tape is.
2.  Mostly to clean the house.
3.       To help us out of there when we were getting born.


How did God make mothers?
     1.  He used dirt, just like for the rest of us.
     2.  Magic plus super powers and a lot of stirring.
     3.  God made my mom just the same like he made me.  He just used bigger parts.

 What ingredients are mothers made of?
      1.  God makes mothers out of clouds and angel hair and everything nice in the world
           and one dab of mean.
      2.     They had to get their start from men's bones.  Then they mostly use string, I think.

 Why did God give you your mother and not some other mom?
      1.  We're related.
      2.  God knew she likes me a lot more than other people's mom like me.

 What kind of a little girl was your mom?
      1.  My mom has always been my mom and none of that other stuff.
      2.  I don't know because I wasn't there, but my guess would be pretty bossy.
      3.  They say she used to be nice.

 What did mom need to know about dad before she married him?
     1.  His last name.
     2.  She had to know his background.  Like is he a crook?  Does he get drunk on beer? 
     3.     Does he make at least $800 a year?  Did he say NO to drugs and YES to chores?

 Why did your mom marry your dad?
    1.  My dad makes the best spaghetti in the world.  And my mom eats a lot .
    2.  She got too old to do anything else with him.
    3.  My grandma says that mom didn't have her thinking cap on.

 Who's the boss at your house?
   1..  Mom doesn't want to be boss, but she has to because dad's such a goof ball.
    2.  Mom.  You can tell by room inspection.  She sees the stuff under the bed.
    4.     I guess mom is, but only because she has a lot more to do than dad.

 What's the difference between moms and dads?
    1. Moms work at work and work at home and dads just go to work at work.
    2. Moms know how to talk to teachers without scaring them.
    3. Dads are taller and stronger, but moms have all the real power 'cause that's who
       you got to ask if you want to sleep over at your friends.
4.       Moms have magic, they make you feel better without medicine.


What does your mom do in her spare time?
   1.  Mothers don't do spare time.
    2.  To hear her tell it, she pays bills all day long.


What would it take to make your mom perfect?
    1.  On the inside she's already perfect  Outside, I think some kind of plastic surgery.
    2.  Diet.  You know, her hair.  I'd diet, maybe blue.

 If you could change one thing about your mom, what would it be?
    1.  She has this weird thing about me keeping my room clean.  I'd get rid of that.
    2.  I'd make my mom smarter.  Then she would know it was my sister who did it not me.
    3.     I would like for her to get rid of those invisible eyes in the back of her head.

January 27, 2012

'bad baby, baby bad'


In a few days Josh will turn four years old, a celebration that fills me with joy. As I prepare for his birthday party tomorrow I can't help but look back at the pictures of the past four years. Josh, who wanted to see the pictures too, quickly joined me on my lap as we looked back through the years. We can't look back though without seeing pictures of him in the hospital, tubes and machines attached to him. I tried to make it light, saying it was the day he was born and that all babies are born in the hospital, but his face said that he was upset so I asked if he was okay and he said 'no'. I quickly moved past the hospital pictures and moved in the happier times after we had taken him home. The picture above is when he was 6 weeks old. I showed him the picture and said 'see, that's baby Joshua and Mummy', he looked up at me, then back at the picture with an describable look on his face and said 'bad baby, baby bad'. My heart fell, how could he see this and think that this baby was bad. Then I remembered what one of the specialists told me before his second surgery, that often kids who have ongoing health issues, or repeat surgeries, think that they are 'bad' and are being 'punished'. I was shocked when she told me this, I had no idea that a child would think this way, though after thought it made sense to me coming from a child's perspective. I did my best to combat those feelings, telling him before each and every procedure and surgery that he was a 'good boy' and how much we love him. Tonight, hearing those words coming from my his little mouth I could have cried. Now that he is finding his voice I am learning how deeply this illness and the path he's been on to get healthy have left more than the numerous scars. He sees something as beautiful as this picture and he sees a 'bad boy'. My heart aches with this knowledge and I am left wondering how to change his thinking of it? How do I reassure him? How do I make him see that he's wrong?

Is it possible that he is only now able to verbalize his feelings and so he's only now working out his past? Does he really believe he is bad? As a mother, how do I change this way of thinking? Do I never show him those pictures again, or do I continue to show them to him and talk to him about it? I have no answers, just questions. I am on new and shaky ground here and I don't want to lose footing.

STR

This past week I was asked to write Joshua's story for a fund raising campaign for Cardiac Kids and the Stroke team at Sick Kids hospital. As I wrote the story I was taken back to two days after a procedure done on Josh to repair his heart (Saturday April 26th 2008) when during lunch Josh started to have seizures. We took him to the ER and after a battery of tests including an MRI we were told that Josh had suffered a massive stroke at the back of his brain and several deep tissue minor strokes. The neurologist on call told us that had this stroke occurred in someone older, the effects would have been devastating and most likely deadly. Thankfully Joshua was a baby and the brain is still plastic enough to build new pathways, and discover new 'routes' to get what needs to be done, done. Yes, we are dealing with delays and there is still residual side effects of the stroke (depth perception issues, weakness on his right side etc.) However, he's here. He's alive, but only because he was so young. Now, imagine that stroke occurring in an older person, your friend, your mother or father, sibling or Grandparent. Would you know the signs in time? I didn't. This has been floating around on Facebook and I had to post it because it's so important. So easy, and yet it can save someone you love.

STROKE: Remember The 1st Three Letters... S.T..R ...
My friend sent this to me ...and encouraged me to post it and spread the word. I agree. If everyone can remember something this simple, we could save some folks.

STROKE IDENTIFICATION:
During a party, a friend stumbled and took a little fall - she assured everyone that she was fine and just tripped over a brick because of her new shoes. (they offered to call ambulance)

They got her cleaned up and got her a new plate of food - while she appeared a bit shaken up, Ingrid went about enjoying herself the rest of the evening. Ingrid's husband called later telling everyone that his wife had been taken to the hospital - (at 6:00pm , Ingrid passed away.)
She had suffered a stroke at the party . Had they known how to identify the signs of a stroke, perhaps Ingrid would be with us today.

Some don't die. They end up in a helpless, hopeless condition instead. It only takes a minute to read this...

STROKE IDENTIFICATION:

A neurologist says that if he can get to a stroke victim within 3 hours he can totally reverse the effects of a stroke...totally. He said the trick was getting a stroke recognized, diagnosed, and then getting the patient medically cared for within 3 hours, which is tough.

RECOGNIZING A STROKE

Remember the '3' steps, STR . Read and Learn!
Sometimes symptoms of a stroke are difficult to identify. Unfortunately, the lack of awareness spells disaster.
The stroke victim may suffer severe brain damage when people nearby fail to recognize the symptoms of a stroke.
Now doctors say a bystander can recognize a stroke by asking three simple questions :

S * Ask the individual to SMILE ..
T * = TALK. Ask the person to SPEAK A SIMPLE SENTENCE (Coherently) (eg 'It is sunny out today').
R * Ask him or her to RAISE BOTH ARMS .

If he or she has trouble with ANY ONE of these tasks, call the ambulance and describe the symptoms to the dispatcher.

NOTE : Another 'sign' of a stroke is
1. Ask the person to 'stick' out their tongue.
2. If the tongue is 'crooked', if it goes to one side or the other that is also an indication of a stroke.


A prominent cardiologist says if everyone who gets this status shares it; you can bet that at least one life will be saved.......

The Emancipation of Robert Sadler

I am white, Caucasian, pale... whatever you want to call me, that is the colour I was born. I never took anything for granted more than I have taken that ONE fact for granted. Born into a loving home, in an affluent country, with hope, prospects, peace. I have thanked God for each and every one of those things, but being white? Not once.

I have been reading a book, called 'The emancipation of Robert Sadler' and I have to do put it down countless times because I can't bear to hear some of the things this man had to endure as a child. If only he had had that option too, to put the book down, to stop reading when the story got too tough.

Born in 1911 to a Mother who loved him, but a drunken father who couldn't have cared less. He had many older siblings but only one younger, his baby sister Ella, his self described best friend. His world shifted on it's axis at age five after a series of heart breaking tragedies, just when you think it can't get worse, it does, and his father sell him into slavery with his two older sisters. Life for him would never be the same. He worked from sun up to sundown, treated as nothing better than a dog, beaten, shamed, given no education, no hope, and told that he had no soul so heaven was not waiting for him. I don't want to ruin this story for you, I think it's one you will want to journey with Robert on yourself, and you will find yourself as I was; amazed at both human cruelty and human spirit.

What struck me, what touched me most was that once Robert found freedom, he still felt a disconnect, a missing piece. His journey will take you through his search for 'freedom' and what it really looks like. This man, in his honest and ugly yet beautiful tale will take you on a journey you will not soon forget. I am still processing all the things that made Robert the man he was. I wish I had known him.

I have been struggling with how to review this book, it's got so many topics, so many things to rave about and yet I don't want to be your spoiler, so what do I say? Then tonight, as I was heading to bed something dawned on me.

We have a home here, however temporary, and it's not a fair world. We hear daily on the news of the horrors that humans can do to one another, we see it in the faces of the survivors years later, the same pain, the same agony in the depth of their eyes. This man, this amazing man was touched by God, made humble before him, was able to forgive, was able to survive.

This book begins in 1970 with him feeding, giving up his bed, nursing, a drunken man, a man who must have at every turn reminded him of the father who sold him for enough cash to buy whiskey, it would have reminded him of his 'master' who in a drunken stagger would make him dance by poking him with the red hot fire poker. How do you stare in the face, and love that face when it must be so painful and instill so much anger and resentment, if not for forgiveness; if not for a heart truly given over to the love God calls us to. What a beautiful example of what we should aim to be in our lives.

Robert Sadler died at the age of 75 saying 'Yes Lord! Thank you Jesus!' This book is a testament to his life, a testament to the lives of slaves the world over, and a testament to the beautiful redeeming love of God.

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

January 24, 2012

Where do we begin?


Last night was date night at the Haughton House... we were to go see another National Geographic live event at the Roy Thompson Hall thanks to a good friend of ours who gave us her tickets. I had thought we were going to see another Photographer like we had last time, but we didn't. Last night we heard from a geneticist Dr. Spencer Wells. He is the founder of the The Genographic Project. 

The talk, while mostly scientific was though interesting in it's information was definitely based in belief. He lost me from the beginning because it began with the premise that we all began as apes or chimps. Starting on a basis of belief that I don't hold to be true is like trying to teach someone about Jesus from a Bible that they don't believe in. I struggled with this question through out the talk, and found that he took something that is true (DNA) as his hypothesis and made all the rest of his facts fit into his theory. He came up with question after question, and yet still left us with questions and somehow managed to not answer even one. This of course is not his fault, you can't explain some things. The part I found particulary interesting was a skull they found in Chad, North Africa, the oldest skull to date, and when studied it showed that the man had stood upright, at which point he moved quickly on to his next bit of information without explaining how this fits into the theory of evolution. When he outlined our family tree he had 'Adam and Eve' in hyphens, just as I did there, questioning the validity of that belief with a mere hyphen.

It is a quandary isn't it? Where did we originate? Where was the garden of Eden? Is the Genesis of our humanity account in the first book of the Bible something literal or is it poetic. I have heard talks by Christians and non-Chrisians regarding this subject and it would seem that all seem to have a theory and then make the facts fit that theory. It leads me to wonder if we will ever get a real answer on this side of heaven? Does it matter? Will it change my faith? If someone could absolutely prove that evolution took place will it make me see my faith differently, ultimately I guess the answer is No. It would however change my view of being made in God's image. It would make me rethink a lot of things but my faith is secure. How God chose to create us is for him to know and us to find out one day after this life is passed. However, it led Tim and I in a very interesting discussion on the way home about the beauty of creation, the string of DNA that is so infinitely beautiful, can trace our ancestors and their migration patterns, how we can know today where we came from originally is something that I find uber cool! One woman, did the test, and though from Hungary she discovered that her origins began in Siberia. On study, this proved to be true, there were a group that did in fact migrate from Siberia into Hungary. Thousands of people have the same genetic markers as Genghis Khan, which given his character can easily be explained as he raped and pillaged his way through his world, building a large concubine and raising sons just like him. His Y chromosome being passed along from generation to generation and showing up in the present day. It's all very fascinating.

No, my origins don't matter, they are interesting and would be cool to know, but they don't matter in the end. What matters is the why, why are we here? What is our purpose? Those questions cannot be answered by Science, not in my mind at least. If you are a scientist I would love to hear your opinion. The why, if ever answered, is what matters most and though the talk was interesting I have to say I would have been more impressed if he'd started on a basis of the 'I don't know' belief, because let's be honest, we all have theories, even creationists have only 'theories' ranging from seven day to millions of years. No one knows the answers to our origins, no one can tell us exactly with absolute proof where we began, or when or how (ape or dust and water?). So, while we all have beliefs, to skew science to fit a theory is to me a kin to taking truth (in this case DNA) and making it fit your belief, not just simply seeing it for what it is.

I feel like I am getting confusing here... so I will try to be clear. I enjoyed this talk, I found it highly interesting and I value the information that science is giving us about our past, about migration, about how climate and culture have moved the human race around the world. My only issue comes when that information is given to prove something that isn't necessarily true. Had the good Dr. Spencer Wells simply given his talk without adding his definitive opinion about his beliefs I would have had a much easier time hearing what he had to say.

Which then leads me to more questions about how as Christians we approach evangelism. Are we starting with our beliefs and trying to explain it through a filter of belief that others don't yet have? Or, alternatively should we start at the beginning and explain that we don't have all the answers but this is what we do know... if someone doesn't believe that scripture is inspired by God, how can you use the Bible as your tool to convince them there is a God?

Just food for thought...

January 23, 2012

Decisions



It would seem that just when life is settling into a comfortable routine, parenting takes a new turn. On Friday we had our first (of many I am sure) parent/teacher interviews. It was fun, Tim and I went for a quick lunch and then headed in feeling somewhat nostalgic, knowing that his was a big first for us. The teachers were so encouraging, Josh is doing really well and in many ways is ahead of his class and other 'normal' kids his age. His biggest delay is of course his speech, and second is his fine motor skills. Things that can be worked with, things that can sort themselves in time. The next step they said is JK, at a normal school which they feel he's ready for. We have choices of course, we can keep him in his placement where he is, we can send him to JK in the fall and remove him from CICC or we can do both, have him in JK in the morning and then at CICC in the afternoon. Decisions?!! It's all a little overwhelming because it's suddenly hit me how important this decision is. What if we put him up to the challenge and he loses the self confidence he has gained this year? What if we put him in our public school (not a really great one from what I am reading and hearing) and it sets him back in the future? What if we put him Catholic school? All of these things weigh in on the future, and all of them will weigh in on Kaleb's future, because where Josh goes so too will Kaleb. To say my brain is reeling is an understatement! I never got it when I was in school, I never understood the importance of a school on a kids life. The kids that go to the school, who will become friends with my kids, will have a life altering affect on my kids, will they be kids who respect their folks for the most part, or will they be kids whose parents are working overtime and not home to watch what they get into? Will the teachers be good role models and challenge them to work harder, or will they be undervalued teachers who have lost their original desire to make a difference?

Then of course there is the whole concept of my own kids, will they be leaders or followers? Will they seek friends who will bring them up or will they follow kids who bring them down? Will the boys desire to learn, will they be good influences, or trouble makers? In Josh's case, will his speech cause him to be ridiculed? Will his heart cause him to miss valuable school time? Will his newly gained self confidence be lost in the sea of kids who can rhyme off a hundred sentences a minute?

I thought the baby years were tough... I am learning that every stage is going to be filled with unsteady ground that only prayer can make solid.

January 21, 2012

They should be here


This post will probably offend some of you, and I am prepared to hear feedback, I want that said up front. I do not by any means mean to offend you, but the topic I am approaching today is offensive and is unavoidable on both sides of the story. So, you should know that I have heard some pretty offensive things on the same topic.

Sunday, (tomorrow) is the 39th anniversary of the controversial decision made for a woman's right to have an abortion. This topic saddens me to no end, it grieves my heart at some of the things I have heard so many times. Doctors talking clinically about reducing multiple's to a single, or disposing of the 'medical waste'. I have seen horrific pictures, clearly showing a growing baby, babies that were ripped out of their mothers womb before they had a chance to defend themselves. I have seen the after affects of the desperate aching hole left not only in the woman, who never forgets the day her child would have been born, how old they would be, or wonder time and again what they might have looked like or been good at, or enjoyed. I have seen it devastate the men, the Fathers who had no rights, no choices in the matter, no say because though biologically his, he's not blessed enough to carry him/her in his body.

There are lots of arguments, I have heard them, and both sides grieve me, it's not cut and dried. Pain is pain and it's messy. However, life is life and it's beautiful!

I won't forget the first time (of many) we were told to terminate Joshua, to wait and try again for a healthy baby. Bile rises to me throat as I think about it. What kind of world do we live in that I should want anything less than the baby that already is?! He's my son, and those doctors were talking about killing a child we had already named, bonded with and loved. We finally had to beg them to stop, as it continued until just weeks before he was born, and after he was already at an age when were not for his healthy problems he would have been viable. *side note* Did you know in Canada you can abort your child at any time, provided that baby has not yet taken a breath outside of his or hers mothers womb. So, I could kill him today but if he's born tomorrow I am the worst kind of killer, I am a baby killer?

The day we went for a pregnancy test to confirm Kaleb was on the way, we were advised by our family doctor that we had had a stressful year and should consider termination... there was nothing wrong with Kaleb, but we had had a tough year so maybe we should kill him? (we switched doctors quickly)

I ache for the thousands of women and men who face this decision, to make the choices to end the pregnancy and I pray for them that one day they will find peace. There is no easy road once that little test shows positive. Parenting is tough, I struggle every day to know what is right, what is wrong, what damage am I doing to my child? How do I respond to certain situations... and let's be honest, it's a tiring, thankless job for most of the day.

Those kids though, the two kids asleep as I write this, the ones the doctors would have killed if I had agreed, they are the most amazing little guys, full of life, wisdom, strength and heart. They teach me every day about compassion, generosity of spirit, hope, strength, courage, determination and drive. They deserved a chance to live, and I thank God we were strong enough to make the right choice.

As I said, I know this is going to go against the grain for many of you. Abortion is so commonplace now that it's me who is now being offensive, it's me who is narrow minded and non feminist; but let's be clear. I am okay with that. If one person, just one, reads this, reads this whole Blog for that matter, and sees what a gift a child can be (even unhealthy 'defective' ones) and chooses life for her child... then I thank God! I won't take back my words. Today life groups around the world are protesting, and I am not taking part in that. I don't believe that scaring and horrifying a woman who is already terrified and unsure is a great way to begin a tough conversation. Instead, my 'protest' if you will is to simply commit to pray for these unborn children, and for their mothers and fathers, that they try to make the best decision possible for the child, not just their convenience.

January 18, 2012

I am so excited that coming soon to DVD is the Courageous movie... you can pre-order it at christianbooks!! Can't wait!

January 17, 2012

The Outcome

The plan of attack last night, for those of you who did not read the previous post, was to give Joshua my bear and promise him a treat in the morning if he slept through the night.

The outcome:

Mummy's bear
Last night before bed Josh and I had a little talk about how Mummy's bear is really good at protecting Mummy and that Mummy was going to give Josh Mummy's bear so that if he woke up in the night and needed comfort and kisses then her bear would be there for him. He practiced kissing the bear, Mummy kissed the bear, and then I tucked him up safe and sound with the bear. We said our prayers with an extra prayer that 'Bear' would keep him safe and offer him comfort if necessary. I also filled him in on the treat I had for him if he slept through the night without waking Mummy...

I then made my way to bed (though later obviously than Josh)

This morning I woke up after a full night sleep, with no interruptions...


I came downstairs, filled with kisses for the little man, and he got to partake in his treat... please notice the missing Oreo cakester...

So, I don't know what worked, if it was the promise of a treat, if it was the bear or if it was desperate prayers for a peaceful night; possibly it was a combination of all three. Really, it doesn't matter. Last night I slept!

January 16, 2012

The Plan of attack




This kid might keep me up every night... and drive me crazy with exhaustion, but then he he's just so cute, and such a big boy that he ends up melting my heart again and all is forgiven.

In a bid for 'village life' I turned to facebook today for some much needed advice on getting this little munchkin to sleep through the night for me. I was first, surprised by how many people suffer the same fate, and I have to publicly thank all those who took a time out to write out their advice for how to proceed. 

I have decided to use two methods tonight, one modified from today's advice and one directly from the advice column that started as a facebook status... I will update you in the morning.

Method One - Give him your (my) shirt to take to bed with him so that he can smell me and gain comfort from that. This is the one I have modified slightly... I have a bear that still manages to make it's way to my bed each night. I bought it for Kaleb and he snubbed it, so I assumed responsibility for the poor bear and he ends up getting snuggles each night from me. This bear, will now be giving back those snuggles to Josh, who will hopefully feel the love and not wake me up.

Method Two - This is simple, easy, and direct. BRIBERY. If he sleeps through, or more importantly if he doesn't wake his Mummy up, then he will get a special treat in the morning... (I have yet to decide on said treat but I have to say I hope I have to think fast in order to get it for the morning)

So, there it is, that's the plan....

My daily whine...


It used to be that a village raised a child, no parent was alone in the struggle to raise their children up to be good men and women. No parent had to sit and wonder and play the guessing games of what will or will not work for their child. They had mothers, Grandmothers and neighbours that were all on hand to help to raise that child, to watch them if the parents were sick, or needing a break. The kids could be sent out to play with all the other village kids to play and a parent knew that there were always a set of adult eyes watching them, keeping them safe, and making sure that they were not doing something that could bring harm to themselves or the other kids with them.

Somehow that age has ended and we have become single family units, trying our best figure out what being a parent means, trying to be full time entertainers, full time referees, nurses, comforters and educators. Sure, there are programs for the kids, they can take lessons and go to play groups, but it's not the same is it? It doesn't come cheap.Then we send them into the world and we pray they don't get bullied, or become bully's, that they learn the essentials to survive in a world that prizes certain qualities and not others. Praying that any differences in our children will be embraced and not shunned.

So the question remains... raising kids? How do we do this, in an exhausted state, how do we remain calm, patient, loving, even when getting no sleep, no breaks from the constant demands of our children. The day Kaleb learned to say Mummy, the demands began "mummy, mummy, mummy" until I answer, and then two seconds later there is something else he wants to either show me or have and the 'Mummy's' start all over again. Josh, who doesn't sleep well anymore is cranky all day, refusing naps but still expecting me to be the patient, fair, loving Mum during the day. Both, could care less how I feel and only care that their needs are being met, and if I fail? If by chance I miss out on a teaching moment there is always someone there to point out my failings, always someone who makes sure I know that I am not doing my job.

It doesn't matter what Josh can do, how much I have taught him, how far he has come, it doesn't even matter that I have almost got him to a stage where he can read, that he can spell, count and quantify numbers. There is always someone else there, willing to take the credit, and assume I am less than...

I am clearly tired, this is clearly a whiny post but I also feel the need to express these thoughts because I have a feeling I am not alone and maybe a part of me needs people to know that I am doing my best, though admittedly I fail at times. Every day I play with the kids, try to teach them new things, with Josh I have spent hours teaching him to speak, to count, to understand his letters, what they sounds like and their names and the order that they come in, and now we are working on reading and potty training. All this while tired with a house to keep somewhat clean and a younger child who has things he needs to learn... I just want people to know I am trying. I am trying to make people understand that I don't have a village, that not many parents do anymore, I don't have help, but I am doing my best.


I don't about the other parents out there, but neither of my kids came with an owners manual, I wasn't educated as a parent or even a teacher... I have no real experience with kids and quite honestly I don't count myself as gifted with a heart for children in general. I love my own, but I am not a fan of huge amounts of kids, I can't imagine being a teacher or early child hood educator.  I have my kids, and my friends kids and I love them but I don't know what to do all the time. I fail, I lose patience, I even yell at times in pure frustration. I am not the perfect mother and hopefully I have never come across as being one. I am simply a Mom trying her best to raise the two most wonderful boys I know.

January 15, 2012

The hat


There has never been a sweeter, more handsome youngest son in my life than this particular one. (I word this carefully due to the other sweet and handsome son in my life)... I bought this hat for Josh today with a gift card from Christmas, and before long, the child who won't wear a hat suddenly took great interest in the hat... this is one of a number of shots I got of him wearing the hat, and I had to share... he's just that cute!

January 14, 2012

Brotherhood

I have spoken before about the mysteries that hide behind the male bonding that is the brotherhood. Today I hear crying from the basement, I went to investigate... and though the room was a terrible mess with all the toys stacked high on the couch, Kaleb and his tearful bids for help were not to be found...

That is... until we began to clear away the mounds of toys on the couch... first we spotted a toe, and as the distant tears became louder we found an arm... and then, with relief... we dug out of the rubble a survivor...

The big question of course... is why is it that the younger siblings seems like it's their due to put up with whatever crap the oldest puts them through... ?? Time to teach the kid to defend himself! :D

January 13, 2012

Real Marriage

Bloggers all over the world are talking about the new book by Mark and Grace Driscoll entitled 'Real Marriage', most centered solely on the 10th chapter which talks sex in marriage. Some evangelicals going so far as to call this book a sex manual because of what amounts to 2 chapters. This shouldn't surprise me really, sex it always a hot topic, add Mark Driscoll and you have a book waiting for critics to critique. However, if you are looking for a blow by blow review on chapter 10 then you will need to look elsewhere because there is so much more to say about this book than the the last few chapters.

When asked to read and review this book my first gut response was 'no way', however then I thought about it and decided that I needed to hear from Grace. You see, I have always had the image of a yelly Mark, a Mark who seemed angry and quite honestly chauvinistic; the Mark who always manages to makes someone unhappy with something he has said.  I wanted to hear what Grace had to say, and I wanted to know if she was just as outdated as I have heard her hubby is. Oh how I was wrong about them and right to read this book!

This book is written with honesty and refreshing directness and it touches on some very tough and sensitive issues within marriage. Sex of course being one of those issues; but this book is more than that, they talk about building your partner up, respecting and loving them and learning how to love them unselfishly but most importantly how to build a loving friendship with each other that will stand the test of time. It also talks about how to find healing from the past, to forgive and to move beyond bitterness to blessings. I believe my favorite chapter was the first, in which we learn about Mark and Grace, and how they came to be together, all their faults and strengths and the dark sins that led them to an unhealthy start in marriage, but also how that marriage was redeemed.

The most important part of this book for me was how very Biblical it is. I didn't feel like I was being fed a line, there were no pat answers, it was gritty and real because that is what life is, and it repeatedly pointed us back to the Bible for answers, not to Mark Driscoll and not to Grace. The answers come from God and God alone, yes, even chapter 10.

I have to say, and this is important, that I think this book has quality written all over it, and that it would be beneficial to singles, newly weds and or people who have been married for years. It is packed with valuable information and asks you to want more from your marriage, and more from yourself as a part of a couple but also as an individual.

buy book here

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

Food fit for gods...


I never Blog about food or restaurants, that is not why I Blog and quite honestly I really have no interest in it and certainly no time to indulge in trying different restaurants. However, in this case I am making a big exception...

Tim and I were blessed with a night away between Thursday and Friday. We went to Niagara Falls where we had a fantastic time of building our marriage and enjoying some much needed (especially for me) time away from potty training and terrible two blues.

Today we stopped on the way home to have lunch, we decided to hit a spot on the Danforth, a place that I had been to before and enjoyed. It is called Mezes (as seen in the picture). This place has the BEST Greek food I have tasted, even better than anything I had partaken in Greece. I would even go so far as to say that this was one of the best meal I have ever eaten ever! I would be wrong to keep it secret... if you are ever near the Danforth, I promise you it's worth the stop for a meal!! Check it out!

January 9, 2012

Forgive?


This is not a review... but I have been asked to review Mark and Grace Driscoll's new book and I am in the process of reading it... it's about marriage, in fact it's title is 'Real Marriage' but this particular portion of the book stood out on a different level and I thought to share it with you...

It is important to note what forgiveness is NOT:

Forgiveness is not denying, approving or diminishing sin that has been committed against us. - We cannot say we are fine, that's it is no big deal or that since it's in the past that we have moved on. We must be honest about the reality of the sin if we want the forgiveness to be equally earnest. In forgiving we are, in fact, saying they were wrong, we don't approve of their sin and that it really is a big deal and not a trivial matter to us.

Forgiveness is not naivety - Naive people are prone to live as if the world were not filled with depraved sinners capable of evil; they often become naive by not really looking at the sinfulness of sin, including their own. Such people are not forgiving sin so much as they are ignoring it.

Forgiveness is not enabling sin - To forgive people is not to remain stuck in the cycle of sin, thus being complicit and enabling their continued transgression.

Forgiveness is not forgetting about sin committed against us - It is actually impossible to completely forget such things. This is why when God says' 'Their sin I will remember no more' it does not mean that he has no memory, but rather that He continually chooses to not bring it up or keep it in the forefront of this thinking. Indeed, because God is omniscient (all knowing) it is, in fact, impossible for him to actually forget something.

Forgiveness is not a one time event - Those who have been sinned against commonly have seasons when they feel afresh the pain of past hurts and have to forgive their transgressors yet again

Forgiveness is not reconciliation - It takes one sinner to repent, and one victim to forgive, but it takes both to reconcile. Therefore, unless there is both repentance by the sinner and forgiveness by the victim, reconciliation cannot occur, which means the relationship remains continually broken until reconciliation does occur. Forgiveness is the beginning of potential reconciliation but it is not in and of itself reconciliation. Forgiveness takes a moment,. The trust reconciliation requires is gained slowly and lost quickly.

Forgiveness is not neglecting justice - in fact, if a crime has been committed we can simultaneously forgive someone and call the police to arrest him or her. God will deal with every sin of every human being justly. For those who repent of sin and come to faith in Christ, justice cam on at the cross of Jesus, when our savior suffered and died in our place for our sins. For those who do not repent of sin and come to faith in Christ their justice will come in the punishment that is assigned to them in the eternal torments of hell. By not seeking vengeance, we are not neglecting justice but rather trusting God for perfect justice and getting yourself out of the middle between sinner and God (Romans 123:19)

Forgiveness is : Loving despite sin

I can think of all the ways that I have gotten confused about forgiveness and reconciliation and how many times I have skipped the forgiveness step in general and lived with the bitterness that replaced the original hurt. This was a check for me, a way to look at what exactly is forgiving someone, and what repentance should really look like.

So, while this is not yet the book review... I can so far say that I have been very pleasantly surprised to find myself enjoying it.

what's going on?!

Have you ever stopped during the day, looked around you and wondered what on earth is going on? Have you watched the news and had your heart broken by a story? One that has haunted you for days? Have you wondered what it's all for? Have you cried over a situation that you have heard about? Have you looked on with disgust at something going on right in your own backyard?

At times I sit back and hope that it all ends soon, surely the world can't continue breaking hearts the way it does and not have an end in sight? Children being killed by parents, or traded into slavery for a loan, children suffering untold physical, emotional, sexual abuses by those they trust. Kids being stolen from the homes they know and love and either held captive for the sick pleasure of their perverted captor or to end up the victim of their violent hands. Women, killed in their own homes by men who claim to love them, or raped in the street by a stranger bent on proving he's powerful. Men, bullied and beaten by Fathers who don't understand them, forced to commit violence by 'friends' in a search for belonging...

oh how this world breaks my heart.

So many people are suffering untold pain, hidden struggles, secrets and hurts. So many people soldier on through life, putting on armor meant to protect but all it does is restrict their movement. This world hurts, it aches and bleeds and we watch with distance, we hurt and feel but we remain apart. Afraid to feel too deeply, afraid to care because by caring we must take action.

I can't tell you how many times I have had to turn off the news because some story is just too painful for me to hear, too close to home for me to allow myself to relate. Yet, how can change be made if we remain blind? I am sad today by the things I am hearing, from friends and strangers, who are suffering loss, illness, hurts, anger, and violence. I am sad for the brokenness I see all around me and I feel helpless as to what to do about it. I have no words for the hurting people in my own life, nor for those strangers who have written their desperate cries for prayers, I am simply at a loss for words.

Just yesterday I had an email and the writer said 'I am at a loss for words, I am undone' and then she told her story of pain and suffering and her hope in the midst of it that God would work everything to His glory.

How grateful I am for hope, how grateful I am for a God who is so close at hand that the moment I need him I need only call out his name, how grateful I am for belief that this world and all her brokenness will be overcome and made whole again and how grateful I am that I can wait in a state of prayer and thanksgiving and hope.

January 8, 2012

my bad


It was said that for a Blog title of 'The biggest smile" that Josh wasn't smiling in the pic... and that is a glaring mistake on my part... so here is Josh this morning smiling. I should mention that this is really not a LARGE smile like we saw at McDonald's on Saturday but I was so busy being happy that I didn't get a picture of that so you will have to have this one instead. This was taken at around eight in the morning and he's not a morning person so the fact that he is smiling at all is a huge plus!

Thanks Doug for pointing out my lack of a smiling Josh in the last Blog post... won't happen again!

biggest smile

This week has been full of low lows and high highs... let's start with the lows...

Josh and Kaleb have been cooped up in this house for almost 2 weeks now, as we try to potty train Josh, and it's starting to wear thin for both boys. The week began with no sleep, serious attitude from both boys and then hit it's peak on Wednesday when a water mane outside our home broke and left us for more than 30 hours with no water. Have you tried potty training with no water? Let me tell you while still sparing you the dirty details... it's not a fun job, especially when an accident occurs. With crying, whining and no sleep to be had reached it's peak on Thursday night I was at my end. Josh woke me so many times this week that I can't think straight still, and it's Sunday! On Friday morning Tim told me to go back to bed and try to get some sleep, Josh too was still sleeping so Tim went out with Kaleb. Josh and I managed somehow to sleep in until a record 10:45 am!! I haven't slept in like that since I was single and certainly Josh hasn't done it in his lifetime. We both woke feeling refreshed, and it lasted. Friday was a fantastic day, Josh and I spent the afternoon on a date, we had his haircut, painted ceramics, then had a coffee/apple juice date before heading home. That night we discovered that his soother had broken, and we realized that it was probably to blame for the many wake ups, and that his sleeplessness started when we began training him. Friday night, after getting a new soother, which he beamed over and being put into a diaper with assurances that it was okay to pee in the diaper at night, he slept through without waking! The joy that proceeds is something only a sleep deprived person can fully understand... it's like I died and woke up in heaven!

We are, as you can tell, moving in the highest of highs now...  On Saturday I took the boys on a play-date with a friend to the McDonald's play place. Kaleb and his friend were playing at the bottom where I could clearly see them, my friend was getting the food and Josh was climbing around at the top of the apparatus but I had lost sight of him, I began to call him but got no response. The more I called the quieter the room became, as if the other parents and kids knew that I needed it to be quiet. Soon, the other kids began joining me in my almost frantic calls for 'JOSHUA' but no response came. Finally, I asked a woman to watch the two other boys while I went up the jungle gym (thankfully not nearly as large or scary as the last time I had to do this... )*see Blog post terror in the tubes for clarity on that*I reached the top and called again, then turned a corner and there was Josh, sitting happily with two little girls, when he saw me he had a huge beaming grin that spread from ear to ear and he pointed to me and told the girls that I was his Mummy. It happened again when we went to leave, I was calling him and when I found him he had made friends with three little boys and they were sitting up in the top of the play place, Josh with a big smile on his face.

Now, for you readers who follow me you will know how long I have worried about him, how long I have dreaded his encounters with other kids at the park, his speech causing a huge barrier for him. He has always shied away from social situations because his communication is so limited. To see him, smiling, with kids his age that he had only just met made my knees weak with joy, and though I suppressed them, there were tears begging to be cried out of sheer exuberance and happiness! My son, for the first time, made friends with his peers, not friends at church, or at school but with kids he didn't know, where there was no comfort zone or safety net set up. On his own, using his language and his skills, he had the confidence to make friends and his face was lit up all day because of it.

I read a book not too long ago (I reviewed it here on this site) called A good and precious gift, in it the Father says to the Mother, 'our highs will be higher and our lows will be lower' when they were first told about their daughter having Downs syndrome. When I read it I could understand him perfectly. With Josh we have terrifying lows, and then incredible highs. His achievements are worked for, and so we celebrate them with sheer joy and wonder. This was one of those moments, and as I sat in the car ride home, marveling at the gift Josh had just been given, my heart was so full of peace and joy and hope that I could do nothing else but thank God for that gift, and say a little prayer of thanksgiving and praise that he loves Josh so much.

There is nothing better, nothing sweeter, nothing more pure and beautiful than seeing your child happy, truly happy. Seeing his face, eyes lit up, grin plastered from ear to ear made all the sleepless nights, all the potty accidents, all the whining and crying vanish in the mist of a distant memory.

January 3, 2012

Happy Haughton House


Is there anything better than playing with your kids in the morning? When everyone is happy, no tears, no whining, just giggles and smiles...

It has been that kind of morning here in the Haughton House, and it makes me happy.

January 1, 2012

A fresh start



I have been thinking today about fresh starts... this morning was not such a fresh  start to a new year, Josh had been up a number of times in the night, making for a grumpy Mummy and Daddy this morning, especially when we were in a rush to get to church (Tim was preaching at the early service) and Josh didn't feel like getting out of bed; you can probably imagine the sympathy I felt for the poor little man and his sad plight.

By the time we got to church things had settled down, caffeine had been ingested, apologies made between Josh and I and soon we were happily playing in the nursery waiting for the caregivers to come. This afternoon I saw a marked change in the boys, both were in a reasonable mood, both wanted love and attention, both wanted to play, and both were fairly good (given the insanity of the last few weeks). While yesterday we had a dismal potty training day, today we had quite a few successes and as I prepare to get them into bed I am forced to think over 'fresh starts'.

We all have fresh starts, we all want fresh starts and somewhere between January 1st and January 5th we have forgotten the new year resolution we made and have reverted to our normal selves and nothing has changed... I am so bad at making and keeping resolutions that I tend not to make them so that I won't have to say I failed.

Today though, as I have been thinking on the concept of fresh starts I have been forced to think about clean slates, and that has led me back to the cross and it's purpose. Just a few days ago we celebrated the birth of Christ, and today in church we heard from Tim about how Christ was pronounced as the 'rescuer' by Simeon to Mary and Joseph when Jesus was only one month old, and it led to think about how dirty and sinful I am, and how desperate I am to be rescued. I left church thinking about how thankful I am that God sent his son, not just so we could celebrate every year on the 25th of December, but so that we might know a truly 'fresh start', a new year, a new life.

As I begin this new year of 2012 I feel renewed. No, I probably will not get my stuff all sorted out this year, my resolutions will probably be broken, but in the end, my slate has been wiped clean, my start is fresh every morning, and my death will lead to life in abundance and for that, and that alone I can relax the pressure I put on myself to find the 'peace' that I have been searching for through works, acts and deeds, and allow the spirit to fill me with joy and His peace. That is truly a fresh start!

happy new year

photo

spending the first day in a new year with one of my favorite people in the world... nothing better!

happy new year

photo

the only way to greet the new year!