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January 31, 2014

2,190 gifts

If every day is a gift, which I really believe it is then our family has been blessed with 2,190 gifts. Each gift wrapped up in one incredible little boy whose smile has brought warmth and joy to our hearts from day one. 6 years. 6 Years of blessings, 6 years of love, 6 years of learning, 6 years of hope, 6 years of laughter, 6 years of tears, 6 years of miracles, 6 years of life. 2,190 days of Joshua.

I look at his smile and I cannot believe how blessed we are to know this little man, his heart is beautiful, his laughter is truly infectious, and his compassion is overwhelming. Sometimes in life you meet someone who is special, you can't name what it is that makes them special, you just feel it. It's in the way they talk and listen, move and live, it's in the way they love. It's a rare gift. Josh is my rare gift.

It's not often that you can look at someone and see all the things that their life has added to yours, but when I look at Josh I see how much his life has taught me. I see the depth of faith his life has brought to mine, I see how he has taught me about patience, hope, joy, and this incredible love that I had no idea could exist until I laid eyes on his 6 years ago. He is my miracle in so many more ways than I ever thought or imagined. His heart (both his literal heart and his figurative heart) have brought me healing and hope. That smile melts me and there is nothing sweeter in the world to me than listening to his singing around the house or laughing with happiness.

Once, a long time ago, on a castle on a hill; I prayed for a miracle in my life. I look at Josh, at Kaleb and my Tim and I am astounded that God didn't just give me the base of what I asked for, instead he heaped a pile of miracles on me and filled my life to overflowing with love and miracles and blessings.

2,190 blessings, 2,190 gifts, 2,190 miracles.

Happy Birthday Joshua. I love you immeasurably!

Mummy xxx

January 28, 2014

learning to cling

I was looking at Facebook the other day and I saw a post from Tim's colleague, she's been in NYC for holidays and last Sunday she went to Tim Keller's church. She posted something that he had said during his sermon. He was talking about the man who goes to Jesus for healing for his son and one of the points he made about this passage was this 'It's not the quality of your faith, but your ability to cling to Jesus'.

That has stuck with me all week (well, at least the last three days since she posted it.). I have always felt a sense of guilt (yes, I did say guilt) over the fact that no matter how hard I pray for complete healing for Josh, for his heart, his stroke recovery and even his fear and anxiety, there is still no healing. I have often visualized the woman who reaches out to touch Jesus' robe knowing that he could heal her, how she was healed by her faith, and I have always wondered... do I not have enough faith? Am I doubting? Is my doubt the reason that Josh still suffers anxiety? Still can't use language like other kids his age? Still has a broken heart?

The last few days I have been sitting with this line from a sermon I didn't even hear the extent of, just that one line. It's not the quality of my faith, it's my ability to cling to Jesus. It's rolling around my head, a softly spoken reminder of a few things. If faith the size of a mustard seed can move a mountain then I have enough faith. That's just the truth. I can't expect God to heal Josh on my time schedule, and yet no matter how many times I have that realization I still fall back into thinking that I need to pray harder, do more, that I have control over this situation. I am not clinging to Jesus, I am clinging to my own power to change the ending of this story; and the truth is... I don't have that power. So, who cares if I have enough faith, when I am not actually clinging to Jesus in the midst of the waiting?

The other night, in a desperate attempt to ease his fears and anxiety, we signed Josh with the sign of the cross, we touched oil to his head and we prayed for total healing for his health, both physical as well as mental. Then I gave him a cross made of olive wood that came as a gift for him straight from Isreal. He looked it over and immediately turned it upside down and announced it was a sword. It was a typical boy move, but it's not far from the truth really. When we cling to Jesus, when we cling to what he did for us on the cross, then it is a sword and the battle has already been won.

So here I sit. Once more trying to let go of the reigns and allow God to do what he deems best, in his time, not mine. It's probably the hardest of all lessons in life. 'Thy will be done.' At the end of the day I have to keep reminding myself to not worry about trying to fix things, but to hold on and cling to Jesus.

January 26, 2014

Phases of the moon

I have just spent the last hour going through my posts regarding sleep loss with kids... or, let's really be honest and say sleep loss with Josh, because for all the antics that the Kaper gets into, it's Josh who sleeps like crap, it's Josh who wakes up three or four times a night and it's Josh who has the bad dreams that plague him, the fears that creep up in the night, it's him who sees monsters in the shadows and hears hissing in the pipes.

We go through phases with him. He will go weeks and sometimes months when he will wake up every few hours all night long, waking the house with blood curdling screams, terror in his eyes and no words to describe the horror he has just experienced. He walks down the stairs to go to the washroom but monsters lurk in the hallway so you wake to find him screaming outside the bathroom door, to scared to do more than stand there and cry. After a point it becomes a cycle or pattern and he wakes himself up because that's just his new body clock, which of course sets a new body clock for me. Every time we go through a phase like this we pull out all the tricks and usually at some point we find the golden ticket and a new trick that works. There are only so many golden tickets though and I am running short on new ideas.

Here's the thing. I think part of his problem is genuine fear, he wakes up a few times with horrifying dreams (the terror is real, I see it with my own eyes). Usually those first few nights he comes to my bed, snuggles in as tightly against me as possible and grips my hand turning my fingertips white. I hold him and can actually feel the tension ease from body (as blood flow returns to my extremities). As a Mom, there is something so instinctual about being the person who can bring that kind of peace to her child. Comforting him, easing his fear, being the person he comes to when he's afraid; it fills a need in me. That's the cold hard truth. So, I let him snuggle closer, I run my hand through his hair, I whisper words of comfort in his ear, and soon I listen to his soft snores. As the nights continue I start to notice that he's coming to my bed A LOT. I start to feel the lack of sleep catching up to me and I complain to my husband about it; and I get the look. You know that look, the one that says 'you did this to yourself'. He points out that if I just sent him back to bed all would be well, we would all get some sleep.

The next phase of these 'wakeful times' with Josh is when I realize my husband is right, and that I am my own worst enemy. So, when I feel Josh snuggle in beside me I resist the urge to snuggle and I take his hand and bring him back to bed. We chat, he usually asks me for a prayer and a song (have you ever tried to sing when you are barely awake and just woken?? - that noise alone should bring nightmares). I kiss him goodnight and he goes back to sleep.... for like, an hour! Then he's back beside my bed saying he's had a bad dream, or that he can't sleep. I get up, take him back to bed, kiss him, say a prayer, croak out a song... and there you go, that 's the routine for the next number of nights. Now, I am getting really frustrated because the reality is that I actually get much less sleep getting up and putting back to bed than I did by just allowing him to crawl in beside me. I have to wake up enough to stumble to his room, sing a song, pray, stumble back to my room, wait and listen to see if he will stay there, lie awake for a few minutes while I try to sleep again, only to have it all begin again in an hour. You get to the point where you know you are actually being terrorized because if  he's sleeping, you aren't, you are lying in your bed thinking... 'when's he going to wake up?', 'was that a cry?', when is he coming back?'...

Phase two is I think the worst, and the longest phase, but next comes the third phase. In this phase I have generally become bitchy and sleep deprived. I put Josh to bed at night and promise him the world if he would just sleep through the night, this is the phase when I also have come to the realization that it's no longer nightmares that are waking him (most of the time) but rather he just wants me to keep him company while he can't sleep. He wants snuggles and songs and prayers and Mummy love. I am being manipulated. I use bribery with zero remorse, I beg, I plead, I have even caught myself (without even bothering to stop myself) using manipulation tactics myself. When I myself lie down to sleep I lie there begging God for one good night. Then I lie there listening to every little sound wondering & waiting. I get to sleep... and then bam! Screaming, crying, that blood rush that happens to you when you are woken in the night by the sounds of your child calling you, the adrenaline surges through you, and you get to his room and he says 'I can't sleep, I need a prayer, I need a song, I need....' and all I want to do with my whole heart is scream 'what about what I need???' This phase is what I call the guilt phase because now I am so tired, so frustrated and so bitchy that anger mixes with the adrenaline and I am no longer the Mummy who snuggles her scared child, I am no longer attempting to croak out a horrible little tune in the dead of night, now I am the Mum who stands beside his bed saying 'it's the middle of the night, go back to sleep'. Most of the time he does, to be fair, by the time we have reached this phase he has usually moved fully into 'habitual wake ups, rather than nightmare wake ups' so going back to sleep isn't a problem for him. However, as I crawl back to bed I have the weight of guilt, anger, frustration, hopelessness and it's all mixing into the adrenaline. It's no longer Josh who can't sleep... it's me.   This phase is usually shorter than the second stage but has been known still to last weeks.

The next phase (four I think we are on). Is when Josh actually sleeps through a night... and I wake every hour on the hour wondering when he's coming...

Stage five. I go to bed wondering will he sleep all the way through tonight and generally wake a few times to check the clock and listen for distant screams.

At some point, (weeks or months later depending...) we move back into our normal, our whole family is sleeping and it's amazing and we all love each other so much, everything is beautiful and life is grand phase. That is a wonderful phase... I think about those times often, dream about them even (when I actually do sleep).

I am not sure why I started this post... about this particular topic (other than the fact that it's seven AM and I am already finished my third cup of coffee...) However, it's been therapeutic to see it written out... the phases move, they ebb and flow, and even though all seems hopeless right now, I will live to sleep again.

January 21, 2014

Baby K

It's funny how one minute the world is so small, it revolves only around you and those close to you and then you get an email, or a phone call and suddenly the world shifts and you see how much bigger it really is, how small you really are.

On Sunday we received word about a little boy, just 18 months old. He lives in a very remote village in Nicaragua and not too long ago some doctors/missionaries found him almost dead from a severe heart defect. He was rushed to the closest hospital (4-5 hours away) and is under medical care. He needs surgery, and he needs it quickly.

Through an organization called Corner of Love this little baby boy is being offered a chance at a life saving surgery here in Toronto at Sick Kids. Using the Herby foundation he will have a surgery that will quite literally save his life, one that he has no hope for in his home country.

How does this fit in with my family?

I can't count the times I have sat staring at Josh and thanking God we live in Canada, in a city with one of the best Pediatric Heart Centers in the world. It floors me how blessed we are. I hear stories every week about kids in countries who can't even get an ECHO done, parents are just told 'he/she has a heart defect, they need surgery' but no one knows what the defects are, and no one knows what surgery is needed, let alone actually getting an ECHO to get a diagnosis in order to get the needed surgery. Kids are dying all over the world, kids just like my son.

When you go through something like we have. When you see your child being wheeled away into an OR and you know the statistics, know the risks, when you see them swollen, unable to breathe, cut from throat to belly, you can't see beyond that room, that hallway, that child. The world is incredibly small. Then, one day you get an email, and you see that you are one of the very few lucky ones. You realize that being cut from throat to belly is actually the best thing to have happen, because the alternative is to see him lying blue and lifeless and barely able to breathe, unable to gather enough energy to walk let alone run and play. You see that there is so much more to this world than what you have been looking at for so long.

So, back to baby K from Nicaragua. He is coming to Canada, by the grace of God alone he has been found in a tiny, remote village, seen just the right people, who happen to know the right people and somehow managed to get all the right paper work in order. As a family we are honored to say that he and his Mum will be staying with us, pre-op through to his departure back to his home country.

I ask you to please pray for this precious little life as they make the final plans to bring him to Toronto, pray for the doctors who will be doing his surgery, for the many people who are involved in making this happen. Pray for his mother as she makes this huge trip alone, for the family that are waiting for news at home. Please, pray for him, that through his journey up to surgery and beyond he will feel the presence of his maker and know peace and comfort.

We are going to be in need of a crib during their stay with us so if you live close by and have a spare crib please contact me in the comments box or email me @

January 6, 2014

While they are away... it's time to play

Today was the first day back to school post Christmas/New Year holidays and I have to admit I totally enjoyed it! Unlike normal I was on the ball and managed to make the lunches yesterday so the morning was fairly smooth. Josh went off in his cab without fuss but the Kaper had become accustomed to being with me so getting him into his classroom was a little more difficult. Once the boys were in place I went home and began to clean... but again I have to admit I also began to play! I played all day with the camera on my phone and the new little additions to our family (Minion Dave and Minion Tim). We had a great time, though they did try very hard to get into trouble. They played with the boys new puzzle, tried to get into my bananas (until the evil purple minion scared them off that is), they managed to get very close to Tim's wine collection and then somehow got into my coffee. They even found a book all about themselves and spent an hour or so just reading... the boys came home from school and heard all about the antics of Dave and Tim and Kaleb gave them a time out.

Today it seems was one of those days that just flowed... if only all days could be so calm and fun! Here is a collection of the shots I got today to prove to the boys that the minions had a busy day.

This is how they started today... waiting patiently for the boys to return.

They quickly became bored watching me clean... and broke out the new puzzle!
After finishing the puzzle... both got hungry and sniffed out the bananas...
...but then the evil purple minion attacked!
at which point they got thirsty and tried to raid our wine collection... :0
once the wine was threatened I thought it might be time for quiet reading... while I went to get Kaleb from school.
BUT... what happened next was a breach of epic proportions. The other stuff was cute, touching the coffee is just down right cruel!
So there you go... this is life in the Haughton House while the boys are at school. We will see what happens tomorrow with my two new little friends... (Oh, I mean... Josh and Kaleb's two new little friends)

January 5, 2014

We have two new boys adopted into our family...

When I was a kid the dream was to get a Cabbage Patch doll for Christmas (I can't remember what year it was... but I remember the desperate ache to own one). When I had boys I figured it would much simpler around Christmas, there would be no 'doll' that could ever win the hearts of my boys so much that I would have to hunt it down.

Of course, I was wrong! Thankfully it was something I discovered in the post Christmas rush and not before hand. Let's start at the beginning...

In the summer before Josh's surgery my Dad took Josh out for a fun day. They ended up in a toy store where Josh saw his first Millennium Falcon. He told us about it when he got home but we didn't hear much about it until in November when Tim and I were heading out for our trip. We always pick the boys up something fun while we are away, and so Josh announced that he wanted the 'star wars ship' and Kaleb wanted to bat-mobile. of course, we couldn't find what they wanted so I emailed them and told them that they would get a special toy but not the toys they requested because we could find them. Josh's response was to tell him Grandma that we had better look again. So, we decided that it would be something he got for Christmas. The search (in our budget) was extensive but my sister in Winnipeg finally found one! The batmobile was much easier to find. Christmas we figured would go off without a hitch. That is of course until Josh saw the rather large R2D2 (the one that brings you drinks etc.), the same one that costs $200 bucks! He asked Santa for him and told everyone who asked that he wanted the 'Starwars robot'... when asked about the ship he would say 'that can come next Christmas... ARGH!

We had a long talk with Josh about the robot, and that it was just too much money for Santa. If Santa had to buy a $200 toy for every kid in the world he would be bankrupt for next Christmas... So, we set up a way for him to earn the money for him to buy it himself. He began to save, and work (hard too) for this robot.

Christmas morning came and Josh was thrilled with his ship, not so thrilled with the tiny R2D2 that he got in his stocking from Santa... declaring 'oh, it's small'. I explained that he hadn't told Santa what size R2 should be and that for the moment was the end of the discussion. We went to the cottage and by some miracle (right before we left) my Mom found an old alarm clock that was actually an R2D2! It was larger and Josh was thrilled with it! I asked him the following day to do his chores to get his money and he said 'I don't want to' so I asked him how he would get his daily sticker to earn money for his robot, and he informed me that he already had a robot clock and didn't need to keep saving. So we talked about saving for something else and eventually he just did the job because I made him.

Then on Friday he saw his first 'talking minion'... and he wanted it. As it turns out, all that saving of his earned money and some from Christmas meant that both he and Kaleb had enough money to buy their own talking minion! They were of course thrilled. On Saturday I began to call stores to find out if they had any. (Josh wanted Dave, and Kaper wanted Tim). I finally got a guy on the phone at one of the Toys R Us locations and he said he only had two left. I asked which ones and he said he had one Dave and one Tim. However, he wasn't allowed to hold them because they were doing inventory... I have to admit. I begged and pleaded, swearing I was in the car and headed to his store to buy them... please hold them! Thankfully the guy took pity on me and put them on hold if I got there within the hour. So, end of story. I walked out of Toys R Us yesterday morning with two talking minions. Dave and Tim have very happily been adopted into our family and I am now a parent to two crazy boys and two even crazier minions! Josh kindly translates 'minion' talk for me and Kaleb hasn't let his go from the second he held him for the first time.

What is Josh saving for now? A talking Gru or Stewart... he hasn't decided yet. :S

UPDATE: After careful thinking on his part Josh has decided that he is in fact saving his money for a fart gun... the bliss of parenting boys ;)

January 2, 2014

Raising men

I had one of those moments today when I looked at Kaper and realized he is getting so big... gone is my baby and in his place is a little boy who is funny, charming and sweet, a little boy who will grow up to be a good man with the proper guidance. Then I had a moment of panic at the responsibility that lies in that. As his Mum it lies with me (and his Daddy of course) to raise him to be the man I can see in him. I have no earthly idea how to raise a man... each day is an adventure, and each day there are failures and successes. I watched a video the other day that talked about boys and how they are forced to 'be men' who are tough, or can't cry, and the anger that it breeds. I still don't know how I feel about all the things I heard in that video. I am wrestling with it even now. I want them to know how to show and share emotion, but I don't want emasculate them by telling them they can't be tough when it's important to be. It's made me look at what I see in the men I respect around me, what is it that makes a man?

A man, in my way of thinking, is strong, dependable, committed, faithful, powerful, a leader, he is loving and wise, he is able to show love and allow himself to be loved by being vulnerable when necessary. He is someone who can stand beside a woman in her times of need and yet lean on her when he finds he is the one who needs help. A man is able to show emotion, he's someone who can cry when his heart is breaking and not be ashamed of aches and pains of life.  A man can be gentle, he can and will stand beside a friend in the hard times, he can be counted on, relied upon, depended on. He is someone who will make tough decisions and lead through hard times. He is someone who will work 2 or 3 jobs to provide for the family he has created. He is someone who stays, who works, who loves.

I don't want my guys to be afraid to cry, I don't want them to feel they need to be tough, and fight, in order to prove they are in fact 'real men'. I want them to know the difference between what is real, and what is a societal lie. The question remains though, how do I raise men like this? Now you see where the panic comes from... there are so many books, articles and blog posts about how to raise men, and all give contradictory advice. I have read that raising our boys to be men who are told to feel, to cry openly or to walk away from fights is actually failing them and emasculating them, that it's trying to make them into women. Yet at the same time I have read that teaching our boys to not cry, not feel, teaching them to fight, is damaging them and making them suffer in silence, statistics apparently showing a higher amount of men with depression and anger issues as a result. What's the right answer? What is the right way forward? Is there not a balance in there somewhere?

I don't have the answers... this is an editorial of sorts. I know that the men I want them to be, I know the person I want them to be, but getting them there is at the moment a mystery to me. I think it may be time to stop reading the books about raising men, and just start living. I think I need to stop trusting in articles and books and youtube videos about how to raise a 'good man' and just start raising them, start trusting that I am not doing this alone, that God has a hand in it as well. I need to realize that I will make mistakes along the way but I will also do the right thing from time to time.

Parenting is harder than I ever imagined it could be...

January 1, 2014

A clean slate.

It's a new year! A fresh start, a clean slate. I wrote yesterday about saying goodbye to the year just past and today I would like to say hello to a new beginning, a new year and a new journey. Life is never what we expect it to be, it's never what we dreamed of but often when we look back at all the little things that have happened, all the choices we have made and even the mistakes we can see that the path was actually straighter than we believed, the destination better than the dreams we had originally dreamed and in some cases the mistakes  we made were redeemed by changing us into better people.

I see where I have been, who I was 10 years ago and who I am today and I can see all of those realities have unfolded into this dream I am living. If someone had told me all those years ago that I would be sitting here today with the family I have now, I would not have believed it. I dreamed of things back then that truly pale in comparison to the life I have found through my shattered dreams, rocky paths and yes, even my mistakes.

Labels had a large part to play in the person I have been and the person I have become. I was told who I was in the past and I lived the way I was labelled. A man I respect changed that label for me many years ago in a castle on a hill and I saw that I had a choice in who I was going to be. That day so many years ago changed me, I chose to be the person he believed me to be. You see, once upon a time that same man told me that I was a girl who 'colored outside the lines' and I don't believe he was saying it in a positive way. So when years later that same man called me a 'Godly woman' I was able to, for the first time believe it. I didn't need to be the troubled, angry, troubled girl I had been; the girl he once believed just a rebellious youth. Instead I could strive to be the new person he was beginning to see as someone of faith, a woman worthy of being called a 'Godly woman'. His name, this man whose label changed my life, is Carl Armerding. I miss his guidance is in my life. I hope one day he can know how important his words were to me.

So as I sit looking into a new year, wondering what will unfold tomorrow, I think about words, about life, about labels and I realize how important they are. I see my boys and I realize I want the labels I give them to be labels of love and empowerment, I want them to see themselves as I see them, as God sees them. I wish the same for you, my readers, to see yourselves through the same eyes. To leave 2013 behind and shed the labels that have brought you into 2014; I want you to re-brand yourselves and see who you are and realize that you have the power to change not only the perspective that others have of you, but to see yourself through a new lens. With the new year comes a chance for a new direction, a new view of your life. I know that I will be looking at my own life more carefully this year, looking at who I am, who I want to be, and then making it happen.

May you each be richly blessed in 2014, and may you see the blessings each and every day and not just when you look back at life.