Getting Ready for Christmas

This Saturday we put up our Christmas tree and decorated the house. It seems a bit early but the kids were eager to get the Christmas season started and I enjoy having the house all decorated too...even if there is no snow yet. My hubby was away for a few days moose hunting so we decided we would surprise Daddy with a clean and Christmasy house when he got home. I convinced the kids that in order to decorate ,the house must first be thoroughly cleaned. It has been a crazy and exhausting week with my broken up toddler so the house was in rough shape. Fortunatley I have kids who I have trained to clean :) I had the 5 year old emptying garbages and dusting while the 7 year old vacuumed and tidied up the shoes in the entry. By the time Daddy got home we had the house decorated , the tree up and all the bathrooms cleaned. For some reason its hard to appreciate the beauty of the decorations with a grungy house...not that it won't be grungy again before Christmas.

Silas woke up from his nap to a strange tree in his house. He was a little scared at first and didn't want to go near it but then he carefully examined all the ornaments and lights. He picked a black santa wearing a fire mans suit as his favorite and he frequently steals it to go drive his trucks.

Aili decided that our surprise for Dad wasn't enough and that we needed to make more of an event out of the "occasion". Aili does this by making shows...usually involving dancing. This occasion called for her prettiest dress and time dedicated to practicing her dancing. Here she is practicing her welcome home dance. What a lucky Daddy he is.

What a lucky mama I am!
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More Hospital Pictures

This is the second post about Silas crib accident. Skip ahead to the one below and then backtrack up to this one for it to make sense. I know not very efficient on my part. Here he is finally sucumbing to a short drug induced nap. He still has one foot on the rail in protest.

Unhooked and ready to go for a stroll around the the ward. Still not a very happy camper.

Waiting for our discharge Silas and I were able to get more comfortable than we had been for the past two days. I could have stayed there and napped with him, but getting out of the hospital was more appealing. They had thought we might stay another night but he was doing well after surgery so we were able to go home. Yippee no more chair bed.
The nurses were great and so sweet to Silas the whole time. We didn't have any bad experiences with grumpy old nurses. The Drs....when we were lucky enough to actually see one were really nice too. We will be going back once a week for the next few weeks to get his arm re x-rayed. Hopefully those trips will be less adventursome. The dr. seemed confident that his arm and elbow would heal properly and since he is so young , very quickly too.

Finally home in his "new" toddler bed. The one we finally just took Roman out of. I wish I could say we slept like rocks last night but I'm still sleep deprived and in need of a nap. This too will pass. Right now I need to focus on keeping my busy toddler from falling on his face and arm. He's adjusting to the added clumsiness and weight of the cast but he occasionally forgets he can't use that arm. I'm hoping to catch a nap while he sleeps this afternoon...and I won't be sleeping in a chair either. :)
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Silas' hospital adventure

Sunday evening after a busy day and a missed nap I decided to put Silas to bed early. Well early didn't exactly happen. He crawled out of his crib like he has been doing for the past week but that night he had his first fall. Unfortunately is was a fall bad enough that I heard the thud and the scream from the kitchen. Immediately I knew he had broken his arm so he and I headed out to the nearest small town hospital 40 km away. Turns out it was a busy night in hickville and we did a lot of waiting....about 4 hours. It was a challenge in patience to wait with a very tired, sore an bored toddler. Finally he got in for some x rays. They wouldn't let me in for some stupid reason and my phobic baby screamed for over half an hour as they tried to hold and tape him down to get the shots of his arm. By this time his arm was very swollen and misshapen. I paced outside as my baby screamed for mama. Loads of fun. We found out that he had a "significant injury" near his elbow that needed to see an orthopedic specialist in the city. We went home for what was left of the night. I swaddled him a bit so his arm wasn't dangling and we got a few hours of sleep. The next morning we had an "appointment" at 10am in the city 2 hours away. We waited in the pediatric ER for over 7 hours...not kidding. No "waiting room" , no toys, no tv...just a wooden rocking chair that didn't rock. We were surrounded by vomiting , screaming, and funky contagions all around us. I was aministering sanitizing hand gel constantly. My hubby and 5 year old came with us but they went out to do some shopping and get lunch part way through the day. No point in all of us trying to cram into our designated corner. I was glad my hubby was there to bring me a McDonalds sandwich and coffee at 2.30 or else I would have gone the entire 7 hours without food or drink...and I'm a grazer..I don't do hours without food well. I was afraid to venture out too far in case a dr actually came for us while we were out scouting nourishment. Finally they came and said we needed more x-rays, after last night I was horrified to do it again. This time was much faster and they actually let him sit on my lap while they snapped the pictures. He still screamed like they were trying to kill him of course. Even a dr. coming at him with a stethoscope causes him terror. Once back in the ER they gave him a temporary splint...pictured above. After 20 hours of his gimpy arm hanging limply by his side he finally had it splinted. We were told he needed surgery but that it couldn't be fit in that same day. We were transferred up to the pediatric ward and were admitted for the night. It was a drastic improvement from the ER.

I'm glad I had my stroller along for confinement purposes in the evening. He was drugged and both hands were out of commission so the thought of him trying to walk around was scary. He is watching "Clifford" and eating a dried mango in this photo. Its good to be able to just chill out for a while. This rocking chair had padding and it actually rocked so life was getting better. The Iv on his left hand took a few tries to put in down in the ER. It was traumatic for both of us. We had to restrain him by wrapping him like a cocoon and I held his face and head. He was bright red, sweating profusly and screaming so hard that I honestly thought he looked like he was having convulsions. He kept rolling his eyes back and jutting out his lower jaw. It was the end of the world as far as he was concerned. I had been a strong mommy and hadn't shed a tear yet, but the exhaustion and frustration of the whole day and night before started to come out as tears. We were both teary messes by the time the IV was situated. We quickly recovered though and were soon sitting upstairs watching cartoons.

Our new accomodations. Not bad ....in a Romanian orphanage sort of way. It actually appears larger than it was..the rocking chair which I was glad for didn't actually fit inside our curtains. We shared the room with six other baby beds. To take the picture I was standing in someone elses space. My lovely "bed" is the pink chair next to the crib. It did sort of fold out and it was almost glamorous sleeping on an antique chair....well I'm not sure 1960's vintage qualifies as an antique though. The crib was great , I wished I would have had one like that at home. Notice the high rails and the plastic guard all around the top. We managed to get a few more hours of sleep that night even though Silas wanted nothing to do with having to sleep in this strange place. "All done" was his mantra for the day. The rocking chair came in handy. First thing in the morning we were escorted down to the OR. I was surprised after so much waiting the day before that we were headed there so quickly. Fortunately I had slept in my clothes.
The surgery was easy for me. I know I wasn't the one with my arm getting drilled but it can be hard on a mama too. I didn't feel stressed at all this time, I was just glad it was getting done. They injected something into his IV port before they took him from me....which was a wonderful mercy. He wimpered but poor guy could barely hold up his head with in seconds of getting the wonder drug. That saved us a lot of drama and tears. Its hard enough to hand over my child to a green masked person and trust them with his life....with out him screaming and reaching back for me the whole time. I curled up on a comfy leather couch (where was this the day before?) and read a book while Silas had his arm set and pinned.

I was able to go into recovery with him and hold him while they monitered all his vitals. He was happy to see him mama come in for sure. He fell right back to sleep once I got there. Once his oxegen level was stable we were wheeled back up to our home in pediatrics. He had two "pins" put in his arm and a full cast from shoulder to hands. The break was though the bone just above his elbow.

We are back on the bottle. I had weaned him off two days before the accident but since the bottle had become his favorite "lovey" or comfort object we decided to back track for a few days. Here he is taking a little water after surgery. He protested strongly if I so much as put a blanket on him. I chose this photo because it shows the moniter on his foot. Both his hands were taken from him the day before so he had a huge problem with the red light and cord attached to his toes. He constantly complained and tried to kick it off. Of all my kids he is the most afraid of medical personel and hospitals and he is the most particular about things. He's the one who is concerned if he gets a little marker on his fingers or if a tag in his shirt is rubbing his neck . He is a mellow sweet natured boy but absolutely hates being messed with by a stranger...hair cuts, professional photos and dr. appointments are all traumatic. My other kids loved attention from strangers and being in the special chairs or up on the examining bed but Silas flips out if anyone comes near him to even look in his ear. Being with him in the hospital is certainly a different experience than it was with Roman (who had his tonsils and adnoids removed and had a hernia surgery...all by the age of 3) . Roman is such a stoic independant little fellow. I remember him just walking off with the surgeon without even a wave goodbye...talking his ear off I'm sure. Silas is a little more easily traumatized and looks at the world in a more suspicious way. I still can't beleive he was my first kid to have a broken bone. We had so many people ask us "are you sure it isn't Roman?...I had heard it was Silas but thought they must have the names wrong" We all would have lost money on that one. Roman is the risk taker and the fearless adventurer. Silas is the careful cautious one....but terribly unlucky. Its been one thing after another with poor Silas. No wonder he's afraid of stethoscopes.
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Daddy and his boy

I love the tiny feet sticking out of the blanket.
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In memory of my first born

As I sit down to write I don't know what words will come or even if I should try to put into words a story that has been kept only in my heart for so long.

May 26th of this year marked the birthday and passing of my first born, Samuel. He would have been 8 years old this year which in itself seems almost unbelievable. In some ways my life has come so far and changed so much since then that it seems like a lifetime away but on the other hand I can't believe it has been so long since I held him last.

On his birthday this year I got out the memory box I had neatly hid away for several years. I opened it, held the blankets that held him, looked through photographs, and read through my old journal. (I also read through each card I received and am amazed again at the outpouring of love from family, friends and two church families...thank you) We also have a home video of him being born and us meeting and holding our son. I had never watched it...in fact I had forgotten that I had it. I guess it took me 8 years to be able to 'go there'. It was amazing to once again see him, hear him and watch those tender first moments. Needless to say I bawled like a baby the whole time . It wasn't a bitter knawing sadness like it would have been years ago , it was a beautiful soft sadness of remembering a precious life. So after 8 years I revisited that time and I feel so blessed not only to have come through that and to have 3 beautiful children who call me mommy now...but to have been blessed with that special little boy too. I can honestly say now that I am thankful for that experience and wouldn't erase it from my life. With time comes a broader perspective and an appreciation for the things in life that have taken me out of the shallows and into something deeper.

I was one of those kids who dreamed of being a mommy, I mothered anything that would stay around long enough for me to mother. I waited my whole life until it would be my turn to have my own baby. I didn't wait long either. Nathanael and I were married very young , I was barely 19...I gasp now at the thought. Because we were so young and uneducated and broke we waited for over 3 years to start trying to have a baby. We got pregnant right away and were thrilled, it was the fall of '99.

Then Y2K happened. Actually Y2K turned out to be nothing as far as world wide catastrophe goes but the year 2000 meltdown seemed to happen only to us. In January, unexpectedly I lost my job..which was devastating to my pride and our pre-baby financial plan. Then, one thing after another seemed to pile up on top of the burden....engine done, transmission toast, medical bills, unexpected back taxes owed. I was so discouraged that I was afraid to start the car or open the mail. The financial rug was pulled out from under us leaving us struggling for the basics , but we still had what was important. We had each other and a baby growing inside of me. Then the other rug was pulled.

The next month I had an appointment with my midwife. I was just under 20 weeks when she discovered an irregular heartbeat, up until then it had sounded fine. We were reassured that it could be nothing but we were scheduled for a high resolution ultrasound just to make sure. I was nervous that day but naive enough to think that nothing could be wrong ,after all I was 22 yrs old and a picture of health. We looked forward to having an ultrasound and getting to see our baby again.

It wasn't very long into the ultrasound before the mood changed , the talking was hushed and more people were called in to view the screen. We learned that our baby had a severe heart defect and some possible other signs that could suggest a chromosomal abnormality. He explained that our baby "was not compatible with life" and that we could have an amnio if we wanted and that an abortion would be our best option. The next day we went for the amnio (a long needle stuck in my belly to extract amniotic fluid..not fun). The dr. we saw that day was much more hopeful and treated us like parents of a real baby with a really tough situation on our hands. He went over all the possibilities and the best and worse case scenarios with us...all of the scenarios sounded worst to me. We went home terrified but hoping that it would only be a heart defect or even Downs Syndrome with a heart defect ....something we could at least attempt to fix. We didn't care if our baby was "perfect" or faced surgery we just wanted him to have a chance to live. It was weird to be praying for something that most parents dread...and Iwould have dreaded too before my perspective was turned upsidedown.

After an eternity of waiting I got the phone call that made the room spin and shattered what was left of my dreams. She informed us that it was Trisomy 18 also known as Edwards syndrome. It is one extra 18th chromosome. Essentially the blueprints of DNA had an error that duplicated itself throughout his tiny forming body. The most obvious problem being the heart defect. The screaming going on in my head started to drown out the information she was giving me but I did hear the words 'a boy' and the words 'always fatal'. 90% of babies die before their first birthday. What was left of my world came crashing down in an instant. How could this be happening, what was I supposed to do now? It was suggested by our midwife, who knew better than to suggest a "dilation and extraction" (rip and kill procedure) that we "induce labor early" at 20 weeks gestation and just get the inevitable over with. If faced with the option of aborting a baby with a disability I would have turned it down flat but the idea of inducing early was such a grey area to me. The outcome would be the same either way. I was and am undeniably pro-life ...but for me there was no option of life . I had to choose between the horrible and the terrible....death now or death later. We took a couple weeks to think about our options and really just come to terms with the diagnosis. We decided that, even though we accepted that our sons life would be short , I would carry him and allow him to live as long as possible. We felt that it wasn't our call to make. I didn't create his life and I didn't want to decide when it would end. My husband was so supportive of me continuing the pregnancy and was totally in love with his son. We chose his name and started calling him by it. Since this was his life there would be no waiting to name him or find out his gender. He became Samuel to us instead of just a pregnancy gone horribly wrong.

That left me wondering how do I go on being pregnant when I am already grieving for this child?
Am I supposed to take my vitamins, go to prenatal appointments, and do all the things mommies do to have healthy babies? Am I supposed to take pride in my growing belly, take joy in the baby moving and growing inside me? One day when I was feeling particularly sorry for myself Samuel kicked me really hard as if to say "Hey , I'm still alive , I'm growing , this is my life...enjoy me". From that moment on I treasured every night I lay awake with him banging around inside me and took joy in watching him grow. His life would be inside me and I was going to celebrate and treasure that life.

I was carrying a baby I knew I could not keep even though I couldn't even dream of ever being separated from him. I didn't know what it was like to wait in giddy anticipation, to decorate a nursery , to shop for baby clothes. My body was preparing for a baby and I had all the desires to nest and prepare but instead I was making arrangements with a funeral home and and having burial clothes made for him. My husband put the cradle he was building on hold and started building a beautiful little urn. The best I could do for him was mother him in the only way I could by honoring his short life and honoring him in his death.

As my belly became enormous I was faced with all the attention , questions and advice a pregnant woman typically receives from strangers...that was really hard. I usually just gave them the answer they wanted to hear ( yes its my first, yes I'm excited and I'm expecting a boy)..unless I was feeling particularly cruel in which I would just tell them "actually my baby is going to die" and watch them squirm and run away. Some of the worst ones where the usual ...and most innocent.

"Labor is hard but once you hold that perfect baby in your arms its all worth it"...oh really,I guess I'll never know. I wonder what labor will be like for me?

or " It doesn't matter if its a boy or a girl as long as its healthy"....but what about the babies who aren't healthy? are they somehow of less value ..would you love him any less? How about "it doesn't matter if its a boy or a girl , or has ten fingers and toes, this baby is a gift from God ". Sometimes children who are considered less than perfect are the biggest blessings and teach us the most in life.

I wouldn't have cared if my baby was "normal and perfect" by the worlds standards I would have taken him home and loved him like the gift he was. But I didn't have that option. All we could hope and pray for was that he would be born alive and we would have a chance to love him a little before he left us.

One night I was laying awake with major anxiety and panic over the thought of my baby, who was nestled snuggly in my womb, being taken from me. In that strange place between sleeping and waking I dreamt I was holding my baby wrapped in a blanket. Then someone came for him. This person was magnificent, beautiful,and exuded such love as he stretched out his arms to receive my baby. I choose the word "receive" because it was voluntary on my part , there was no taking or snatching away from me...and I felt an overwhelming sense of peace. Such an obvious contrast to the anxiety attack I had been previously having. I handed over my baby as a mommy would hand her baby to loving doting grandparents or to his daddy. Perfect confidence and pride, no doubt that he was in good hands. I knew he was loved perfectly and completely by the one who now held him. Then as they turned and disappeared that feeling of peace remained instead of the panic expected. I held onto that peace throughout the night as I slept better than I had in weeks. It struck me the next day that this was not an ordinary dream. The feelings that came with it were too real and unusual. It was a gift. It was going to be OK , Samuel was going to be OK. Every other dream I had had up until that point involved terror , losing and searching....anything but confidence and peace.

The pregnancy was difficult physically as well as emotionally. I was carrying a lot of extra amniotic fluid due to the baby not swallowing properly. This translated into a lot of discomfort, constant contractions and a very big heavy belly. My body had had enough at 33 wks and I went into labor, by then I looked every bit of 40 wks pregnant. The labor was very long and very hard. Because the baby was surrounded by so much fluid, it wasn't forced down with each contraction like it typically would have been , also it was a first time labor for me which is often longer. I remember so vividly the sudden panic and terror that I felt when they said it was finally time to push. I knew that with each push I was bringing my baby closer to his death. I knew he could not survive without me oxygenating his blood for him. I knew that ,instead of it meaning the worst part was almost over ,that the pain was only just beginning. I wanted the labor to be over but my mind screamed NO, I need more time. I wanted to stop the train and go home. After 48 hours of labor , on May 26th 2000, we welcomed our first son into the world.

Samuel was born at 33wks weighing 2 lbs 10 ounces. He was born alive which was an answer to many prayers. I had never seen such a tiny baby. He had a cleft lip which can be common with trisomy 18. That really threw me off and my own lack of instant acceptance ended up being a major regret and source of guilt in the coming months. Of course internally was where the real problems were. We held him, kissed him , talked to him and looked in awe at every part of his body. His long legs, his light brown hair, his perfect little toes. We invited members of our family to come in and have a chance to hold him and be a part of his life. I felt very protective of him but I wanted him to be a part of the family that also loved him and I think in a way I thought it legitimized him to have witnesses to his short life. We had decided against anything but comfort measures before hand...not that we had a choice in the matter. Putting him on life support or something would have just been prolonging the inevitable and the hospital wouldn't likely have complied. I have reviewed those initial decisions so many times over the years...would something have made a difference? Could we have done something more for him to give him and us more time? Maybe, but if there was anything that we could have done at the time to save him we would have. The feeling of absolute helplessness as a parent was horrible. As our time with our son grew short we asked to be alone with him. The nurse kept checking his heart beat until she gave us the sad head shake and we knew it was over. I had previously worried what the end might be like for him ,and us, but he passed away very peacefully in our arms. We had prayed for him to be born alive and we were blessed with over an hour with him. It will never be enough time, but is was more than we had hoped for. I have never, even for a moment, regretted our decision to carry him and support his life until it was his ordained time to go. I can't help but think if I had chosen to end the pregnancy the "what ifs" and regret would still be nagging me and causing me pain. I'm so thankful that I am spared that. I am so thankful that I know without a doubt I did everything I could for my son. In his 8 months of life nestled under my heart and in the 1 hour of life in my arms of, he experienced his mothers love.

We dressed his body in a tiny gown and homemade sweater then wrapped him in the quilt his Grandma had made for him. The quilt had the words "Samuel is loved" sewn into it. We wanted the hospital and funeral home people to know this was our precious child, he had value, he was loved and would be missed. I think the hardest thing about that evening was changing rooms. We had to leave him laying quietly in the hospital bassinet and walk away. My arms ached to be holding him still, my heart broke and every instinct in my body screamed against what I had to do. We said our goodbyes and went to our room for the night, the room we should have been sharing with a new baby. The next morning I walked out of the hospital with empty arms and an empty womb. The world went on as if nothing had just happened and by all appearances the baby I had carried inside me for 8 months had never existed. I was a mother with no baby. There is no name for that.

In the days following, my body prepared to nourish a baby that was no longer there. I wasn't prepared for all the physical longing I would have for a baby. My arms literally ached to hold him...it was like a yawn that couldn't be satisfied or an itch I couldn't scratch. I knew my baby was gone but my body hadn't got the memo. As tears ran down my face, milk ran down my stomach, it was like my whole body was crying. The physical pain of engorgement was unbearable and the emotional reminder of what I was missing was constant. On top of the intense sadness I had a constant feeling of anxiety and panic...a feeling like I had misplaced something or that something very valuable was lost. I felt like I was going crazy. I remember at one point wandering from room to room in my house with panic rising, feeling like I was forgetting something....only to figure out the thing I was 'forgetting' was my baby and he wasn't coming back. Once again my mind had to remind the rest of me that there was no baby. The mothering instinct inside me just couldn't accept what my brain already knew. That feeling of unexplained anxiety followed me for several months.

We were assured, despite our fears otherwise, that Samuels problems were not genetic and that our chances of having another baby with Trisomy weren't higher than anyone else's. I then became obsessed with replacing that which had been taken from me and resuming the process that had been so unaturally cut short. If I could have popped down to the local store and bought myself a baby I would have. Month after month I hoped and obsessed that I would again be pregnant. I felt it was the only way to lessen the pain ..to fill the aching void. With each passing month I drifted deeper and deeper into depression and had I not been trying to get pregnant I would have done anything to numb the pain. I forced myself to eat only because if I didn't it I might not get pregnant. I was stuck in a dark hole and had no way out. I needed the pain to end, one way or another.

I was so sure that because I had remained faithful and had gone through loosing my baby that God would have rewarded me with another pregnancy right away..and probably even twins just to make up for it. How little I knew about how God works.

Throughout the year I could see God at work, the little miracles, the little blessings and the outpouring of his people. I had lost my job but God had replaced it with my dream job working at the World Vision US office , I was surrounded by people who loved the Lord and served him everyday. I had a couple close friends ,who had experienced their own losses ,come along side me in my grief. My son , according to the Drs. would not be born alive but he lived for over an hour. The Dr. who examined him after his death said that he had already gone into congestive heart failure in the womb and that he was amazed that he had lived at all. If I had not gone into labor when I did he would have died inside me instead of in my arms. A small mercy but a blessing just the same.

Over the next several months God took me on a journey of healing that included a lot of rage, questions and grief on my part, but He never turned away from me as I poured out my heart to Him....and I can't remember a time when I turned away from Him. After many months of wrestling, I discovered something completely unexpected...contentment. I can't explain the change other than it was from God. I came to the place where I could truly say that He was enough...and not in a begrudging way. I became so truly humbled and grateful for what He had already done for me, his gift of grace and salvation, that I could honestly say I was content. It was well with my soul. I allowed Him to fill that gaping hole in my heart. Yes, I longed for a child but His sovereignty gave me a confidence that whatever happened ,or didn't happen, I was in His loving arms. He had a plan for my life, even if I couldn't see it, and Samuel was part of that plan.

I felt a sustained peace and joy that I hadn't felt in almost a year. In contrast to the pain it was that much sweeter. What a welcome relief! There were still sad days or moments of anxiety when I would be reminded of what I was missing but with it also came comfort. My circumstances hadn't changed but my heart had. I felt in a way like Jacob who wrestled with God and when it was over he called the place Peniel, meaning I have seen God face to face.

In the process of my pride, my security, my purpose, and my plans being stripped away I found myself face to face with God - not in defiance but in brokeness. No distractions, nothing to hide behind, no delusion of self sufficiency, no illusions of control, no desire for stubborn independance...just my God and me.

I wrestled with everything I had in me and then when it was over I laid it down at his feet.

Then with my arms empty and my hands open, he picked me up and stood me back on my feet. Since I had opened my hands and released control of all I had been fiercly clinging to, my hands were open to receive the blessings he desired to give me.

He had allowed these things to come into my life for a purpose. I don't believe he causes disease and suffering but he can use them for His glory ....and bring beauty out of the ashes. I know that nothing comes to me but that which has already been through the filter of His love. God is more concerned with my growth and maturity than he is my immediate comfort. I realize now the difference between clinging and cherishing. I will cherish the blessings that come into my life but I will never cling to them and wrap my little fists around them and shout "Mine!". I will praise my God when he gives, and I will praise the same God when he takes away.

I allowed the Lord to truly heal my heart that Dec. 2000. That was my year 2000 from start to finish crammed into a blog post. What a year and what a way to start out the new millennium! Had I known what lay ahead that historic new years eve, I would have spent less time stockpiling food and I would have spent more time preparing myself spiritually for the road ahead. Unfortunately, the storms in life come without warning and often when we least expect them. That midnight phone call, that moment a lump is discovered, that bone-chilling diagnosis, an unfaithful spouse discovered....the world you've constructed comes crashing down around you leaving you rocked to your core. The storms will come at some point. How we withstand the gale has a large part to do with WHO are anchored to and how sturdy that anchor is before the waves start to pound.

God had a little surprise for me though as we entered a new year. ... my daughter was born nine months later on August 31st! 2001 was off to a much better start.

Samuel will always be my first born...my first son. There is a quiet natural awareness that our family is not quite complete and won't be until eternity. Although his brothers and sister have never met him they know who he is and where he is and I pray they will meet him someday. I know I will hold Samuel again. Sometimes my heart gets a little homesick for my eternal home when I think about it. I look forward to the day that my sweet Jesus will take me in His arms and say "well done, good and faithful servant...you have finished the race!" Then, I will see my first born. There will be no more missed birthdays , tender moments and milestones...only perfect fulfillment. I will see the eternal person he was created to be , without the intrapment of an imperfect body, just him flawless and whole. If he's anything like his little brothers ,he's probably climbing the highest tree and and calling to the angels to watch him as he shows off his new tricks. That makes me smile.

gone too soon

Our little family

Saying good bye

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mommy and baby

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totally bummed

Ok , I was playing around with the labelling thing and the archived posts and managed to delete several of my old posts. Oh well. No more "Dance Party, Roman goes to School, and In the midst of the mundane" and a bunch of others that were labeled "motherhood" Like it really matters but it does bother me when something I put creative energy into or poured my heart into just disapears into cyber nothingness. Computers suck sometimes. Well maybe thats my clue to get off the computer and do something else. Hint to anyone playing with the labels...don't click on delete a label because apparently it also means delete every post with that label...not just the label itself! grrr


Monkey boys

Here is Roman and Silas' new bunk bed. Roman can finally move out of his toddler bed (at the ridiculous age of 5) and Silas will soon be moving out of his crib now that he regularly climbs out of it anyway. Not thrilled for that bedtime battle to start but I'll have to teach him about bedtime and staying in bed eventually. It is hard not to laugh when a couple minutes after I put him to bed he comes walking out sheepishly and waves and announces "Hi". One of those moments I want to giggle but have to put on my tough mommy face. Having my "baby" climb out of his crib always throws me off a little and appears ridiculously funny for a while. Its kind of like when my "baby" first starts having real words come out of his mouth. Its too cute. Here is Silas having fun on a shelf that now happens to be directly above Romans bunk...while he is supposed to be napping. The next picture is his "hiding" which he is good at doing if he knows he's doing something he's not supposed to be doing. Cover my eyes and hold very still and maybe mom won't see me!

Here is Monkey boy number 1. Roman has to be climbing...all the time. That or standing on his head. He spends a large part of everyday upsidedown. He even watches tv upside down. I'm starting to worry a little about what this might do to his neck etc. And have reminded him that God made his bum for sitting on not his head.
You know when people say their kids are "climbing the walls" well mine actually does!

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For Your Birthday L.P.

I know you will appreciate my computer savvy in being able to find a picture on-line and actually put it on my blog! That effort is for you :)

I will be praying today that today's birthday brings a measure of peace, hope and even a glimpse of happiness.

As I was thinking about what "on-line" gift I wanted to send you...you know facebook flowers, virtual cups of coffee etc. I had the picture of an olive leaf in my mind. So this is the best picture I could find for you. And since my computer savviness limits how I can send this to you...I will dedicate this post to you. :)

This image of the dove carrying the olive leaf is often used as a symbol of peace but I also see it as a symbol of hope.

As I read through the account of Noah a few things stand out to me this morning so I thought I'd share them with you.

" Then the Lord shut them in. For forty days the flood kept coming on the earth and as the waters increased they lifted the ark high above the earth. The waters rose and increased greatly on the earth. and the ark floated on the surface of the water. ......"

"Only Noah was left, and those with him on the ark....But God remembered Noah."

It was dark, damp and smelly...the rain poured and the waters churned and heaved for 40 days and nights. Then after that they just drifted...and drifted and waited. The isolation, the grief for a world forever changed...nothing but the dark dank life they now knew. The fear that they had been forgotten or abandoned by the God they served, not knowing how or if life would ever return.

But "God remembered Noah" and those that were with him on the barge. God had not forgotten those who loved him. He had not abandoned them in that place. The word "remembered" isn't an "oh yeah ,I almost forgot about that dude in the boat" statement it refers to active concern for and showing loving kindness toward Noah. When God "remembers" his children he does so with "favor".

side note : Imagine the cabin fever Noah's wife would have had! :)

Then comes the olive leaf moment. After a couple failed attempts to send out a bird to find land.

"He waited seven more days ( which must have seemed like an eternity to his wife) and again sent out the dove from the ark. When the dove returned to him in the evening, there in its beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf! Then Noah knew that the water had receded from the earth."

After a very long year of being locked in a floating barn Noah and his family set their feet on dry ground.

The thing with Olive trees is that they do not grow in high altitudes, they are a plant that grows in low lying areas. So as they perched on top of Mt. Ararat it was proof of new life being restored out of the devastation ...beyond what they could see. It was a symbol of hope, the possibility that there was beauty and life ahead of them.

We can survive without a lot of things but hope is not one of them. Without hope our spirit will dry up and and we will be lost in our despair.

So my gift to you this birthday is the reminder the God has not forgotten you. The storm rages on and it seems there will be no end to the pain....but He will not abandon you there. The waters eventually will recede and with it new hope will emerge. Until then my friend hold onto that hope, take your next breath, survive another day...and wait on the Lord....wait for the Olive leaf. It will come.

"But God remembered him....."

even in his doubts
even in his isolation
even in his grief
he was not left to drift forever...God had a plan for him beyond the flood.

"...we have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm, and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain.." Hebrew 6: 19

Happy Birthday Leah.



Here are my dorky adorable kids dressed up warm and ready to head out begging for candy. It is fun seeing them excited about finding their costumes. I'm not into buying costumes..unless they are at the second hand store. They mostly dig through the "dress up clothes" and put together some sort of character. I resent spending money on Halloween. Which brings me to my next point. I have decided I really dislike Halloween...more and more each year. I am not legalistic about it or have banned it completely but I have drawn some lines and have redirected the focus as best I can. First rule is no dressing up as anything that makes light of or celebrates evil in some way. I know I might seem like a Halloween scrooge or am not "getting into the Halloween Spirit"...the spirit of which I have a problem with. I just have a huge problem with making something that is very real, very serious and very dark...into a funny childrens costume..or a "its all in fun "celebration. My children may dress up as pirates and superheros but it will literally be a cold day in Hell before I will dress my beautiful daughter up as a witch....aka someone who practices witchcraft. Or let my boys strut around dressed as Satan. Who ,by the way ,likely enjoys the fact that we have made him into a fairytale creature with a pointy tale....that way we can overlook the reality of what he is.

My daughter , the party planner and decorator extrodanaire, is quite disappointed that we have never decorated for Halloween. Once again my own personal protest. I will not spend money on this "holiday"....and I certainly won't have gouls and ghosts hanging about my home, my sanctuary. Aili asked why I don't like or celebrate Halloween and I explained that other special Holidays like Christmas and Easter actually have something to celebrate and stand for something good.....Halloween celebrates nothing but gore, witchcraft, greed, and all things dark. We can attempt to redirect the focus to family activity and dressing up but its still just Halloween. My kids do carve pumpkins ( into happy faces) and do go "trick or treating". Its hard in a small town when there are no other options to distract them from the fun their friends are having and in a small town it is also seen as being part of the community. I don't know if I have "drawn the lines " in the right places or not...but this is what we have done so far.

My next Bah Humbug about Halloween is the concept of "trick or treating" . Even the phrase we proudly teach and prompt or kids to say is something that rubs me the wrong way . We may as well prompt our kids to say " Give me candy or I'll vandalize your house!" It means the same thing. It just sounds so much cuter coming from a three year old in a pumpkin costume. The concept of giving my kids bags to go door to door begging (or demanding) and the greedy look in their eyes as they stockpile their loot also has me questioning the wisdom of this tradition. I work hard to teach my kids, even at Christmas time, that it is better to give than to recieve...especially better than recieving under threat of vandalism. This just goes against all my principles...even the candy. I take my kids immediate and long term health seriously so I don't keep candy in my house, my kids get "treats" on rare occasions...unfortunatley one of which is Halloween. So to have bags full of sugar, food coloring and all sorts of garbage looming over us definately goes against my principles of healthy eating. But because it is only once a year I allow them pork out on candy and potato chips. They even shared a can of pop at lunch yesterday (yes they get pop in their bags) which is definately a novelty. The sooner its gone the sooner they can stop begging for it.

Ok , I will concede that they are pretty darn cute in their costumes. Silas wasn't so sure about his costume but he got used to it and the people handing him candy took his mind off of the costume. It was a little tricky with his nut allergies. I had to confiscate the bags as soon as we got to the house and inspect all the labels and remove from the premises all the treats that contain peanuts....which was about half of what they recieved. The good part was that cut down on the amount of junk we have in our house. My older too were SO gracious and good about doing this for their brothers safety. They are very protective of him. I "re gifted" the reeces peanut butter cups and other bars back out to the trick or treaters. We kept the candy without nuts but Silas can only eat the ones clearly label with the "no peanuts" sign. I told my kids that next year we would be in Mexico and that we wouldnt be having Halloween there.....other countries just don't celebrate this kind of stuff....unless they actually believe in it and are involved in witchcraft, spirit worship etc. We are unique as a society in our unawareness of the reality and seriousness of this stuff. They were dissapointed but I told them that we will have other fun holidays there like Mexican independance day and Childrens day that we don't have in Canada....we will avoid going out on "dia de los muertos" (day of the dead)....which is a "holiday" that makes Halloween look pretty innocent....probably because it is done to appease the dead and is done out of superstition. Its a cultural tradition that doesn't make light of evil like we do...but tries to appease it out of fear. Both are wrong ways to deal with the reality of its exsistance.

By the way I am not afraid of Halloween, or anything it stands for. I don't dislike it because I fear the reality of evil spirits and the occult, however I know enough not to dabble in it and not to take it seriously. I am not shunning it out of fear but rather distaste and even disgust for the fact that no one celebrating is aware of the reality of the spiritual realm in which it represents. I know that in the spiritual realm that we do not usually see with human eyes....but can be understood and felt...that I am covered, freed and protected by the side that wins. Why would I fear the baying hyena when I have the fearsome and awesome Lion of Judah standing with me. In that, there is no room for fear or superstition....but it also gives me no desire to dress up as that hyena and start celebrating it.

Thats the end of my Halloween rant. The only positive thing about Halloween that I can think of is that it means we are that much closer to Christmas is actually something worth celebrating.
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