Where things are at

Monday Jason and I spent a long day in Toronto.  It was a very long and full day,  but thankfully there wasn’t much waiting time between appointments so the day itself seem to fly by…  except for the drive home.    We hit rain and traffic and together proved a very long and frustrating combination, but we made it home safely.

We left here at 6:15 am to make it to Sick Kids for our first appointment at 9:30 and actually made it there nice and early.   I think Remembrance Day day had something to do with that as there seemed to be hardly any traffic downtown.   All those bankers and Government offices taking the day off, lucky them.    But it was nice to have the streets clear for a change.

So just after we registered for our echocardiogram – our first appointment of the day – our contact there, Nathalie,   asked if I would mind having an MRI before the echocardiogram.   She had talked to me before about having one for research purposes, but the timing just hadn’t worked out.   So since there was an opening right then I said OK.

And it is a for a good cause.   They are doing research right now on baby’s with Congenital heart defects to see how these baby’s are managing their blood flow  in utero and the only way to really see that is with an MRI.    The information they will glean from it won’t help our baby specifically, but just knowing that the information might help other baby’s down the road makes it worth it.

I’ve never had an MRI before, but as I’m one tired momma I was just hoping it would be a place where I could have a nap.  Those of you who have had one just thought, “ha ha, yeah right”.   But I was hopeful and they did make me very comfortable on my side with pillows and foam until I felt quite tucked in.  But what I did not know that those crazy contraptions make the weirdest  loudest noises one has ever heard.   But I just relaxed, prayed that God would keep me still and let me sleep,  and truthfully I did drift in and out in spite of the noise, so I actually felt pretty rested when I was done.  I also felt rather tousled and sported a great bed-head for the rest of the day, but now I can say I’ve done my part for research.  And the Cardiologist who was over-seeing the MRI showed me some cool pics of the baby after, so that was a neat bonus.

Next it was the echocardiogram and that turned into a bit of an adventure too because Birdy is very comfortable in a position that is NOT helpful for getting clear pictures of her heart.  So our Cardiologist fellow (cardiologist in training) had to call in an experienced tech to help who then in turn just handed it over to Dr. Jaeggi our Cardiologist himself so he could try to get some clear pictures.

The baby’s heart hasn’t improved, but that was to be expected.  He doesn’t think her aortic arch is constricted, which is good, but they will get a better view in three weeks when she is born.  So thankfully the right side of her heart still looks good and she is still a good candidate for surgery afterwards.  Awesome.

So then we met a Dr and nurse practitioner from the newly formed ‘Single Ventricle’ team that will be caring for Birdy after she is born.  We are definitely in good hands!  But they did stress again just how serious of a heart condition she has, but I was comforted in knowing that they have no expectations and just will just track with her at her own pace, even when it comes to things like nursing.   But talking to them was a huge reality check – things are not going to be easy at all.    She is going to have a long recovery time and they basically told us we wouldn’t be home for Christmas.  I already knew that, but it’s not nice to hear it.   It all seems so daunting, but I’m so thankful for a God that keeps renewing my strength when my strength is gone.

And then it was over to the High Risk Pregnancy clinic to meet our OB and see what he had to say.  And the good news is that Birdy is now 6 lbs 7 ounces!  Woo hoo.    She is going to be a good size baby like her siblings, I wouldn’t be surprised if she was over 8 lbs even at two weeks early.  And our OB, Dr. Ryan is wonderful.  He is the man who did the intervention on Birdy’s heart back in August and is quite the miracle worker over at Mt. Sinai with unborn babies.   And since I know that when I’m induced, I’ll be seeing whatever OB is on call that day,  I mentioned to him that I might not see him again, but he said, “You’ll see me again”… and then proceeded to change our induction date to the 3rd instead of the 4th.    Jason and I think he did that so that he will be there for the birth, which would be wonderful.

So now we don’t go back to Toronto until December 2nd where we will stay the night before heading to the hospital in the morning… Lord willing.  We will call on the Sunday to make sure the induction is still a go, and if it is, that means it’s less than 3 weeks away… AUGGGG!!!

I still am having a hard time wrapping my heart around the fact that I have to leave my other kids.   But my brain (and other people)  assure that the kids will be fine.  They are resilient  they will be well cared for and loved,  and they can come and visit, and who knows, maybe even I can come home from time to time.    It’s just my heart that still cries whenever I think of leaving my precious baby’s.  Oh this is not going to be easy.

So please pray for us, we have so many hurdles to jump through, still so much to get prepared for in the next three weeks and pray that even through this time, we can still Glorify God who has a plan for us and knows exactly what He is doing.

So that is where things are at.

Never a dull moment…

So we all know that there is a ton of crap on the internet…  and by crap I mean all things horrible and filthy and stuff you wouldn’t want your precious children to go near with a 10 foot pole.   Well I’ve known this and known that I should do something about it for ages…. but apparently I wasn’t that worried about it because  I was pretty sure that my kids were sticking to safe sites and I knew that Google filters our searches and everything had been fine up until then.

Until last week that is.    That’s when one of our children had a close call when they tried to type in a web address instead of Googling something and ended up on a less than appropriate site.   And by less appropriate, I mean a site intended for adult eyes only, thankfully though with NO pictures of people.     I think Jason and I pretty much had heart-attacks and prayed that our child would not be traumatized and would forget the whole thing and praise the Lord I’m  pretty He answered our prayers and all is forgotten.

So that was a huge motivator to protect our computer with an internet filter and I’m happy to say it’s done.   I’m sure there are a ton of good programs out there but we choose a program called K9 by Blue Coat protection because it was recommended to us by a friend and it’s free and easily adjustable and makes a barking sound when you stumble on a site that you shouldn’t be on which I think is a nice touch.   And I can block out words you can’t even search on our computer… whew…. it feels good to be in a state of total lock-down.   I would highly recommend it.

But what I couldn’t clamp down on this week was Sophia in the grocery store on Monday.   Here it is the month of June and for some freakish reason she’s trying to sing “Jingle Bells” at the top of her lungs.  And then she says to me that she can’t remember the words and wants me to sing it.    Now a little info on shopping with Sophia.  She is a great shopper, a happy shopper, but to keep her happy she does need to be humored occasionally.  And since she gets dragged around shopping a lot I don’t mind the odd humouring of her.

So, did I humour her by singing ‘Jingle Bells’ to her in the crowed grocery store?   You bet I did… quietly of course, to her chagrin.   She kept telling me to sing it louder.    Thankfully we only met with smiles, but before I felt completely ridiculous I was able to distract her and we moved on other things.  Phew…

So I have to say of all the things we seems to deal with here on a weekly basis, some things are huge and some are small, some makes us laugh and some make us cry, but there is certainly never a dull moment with our little crew!

Parenting Challenge #1 for me…

Happy New Year!   A whole new year of blogging, I’m excited to see what it brings.  I got some stats back from Word-Press on New Years and apparently I’ve had readers from around the globe, including Switzerland and Hong Kong, which kinda makes me wonder how these people ever stumbled onto my blog or if it was just some sort of  honest mistake.  Word Press also reminded me that I had only pumped out 90 posts in 2011… which spread over 365 days might be considered a little lame.  I’ll try to do better this year.  But that is NOT a resolution!    I think that as I get older, I find it harder to resolve to do things because I know myself and how I don’t like to be bossed around – by me.    I’m trying to get myself to do something right now for 21 days, I’m on day 2 and having a serious power struggle.  So I guess I can’t even tell you about it in case I can’t follow through, but if I complete it, you’ll be the first to know.

However, I will accept challenges over resolutions.  Challenges just sounds, well, I guess more challenging.  Like, “Are you up for the challenge?”    So… I am challenged to make some little changes to parenting… and here’s  how it started.

Right before Christmas we got together with some neighbours and had us a wonderful time… Jason and I wondered why on earth we hadn’t thought ourselves of getting together before,  it’s a shame.   Anyway,  while we were there, one of my neighbours mentioned that when her and her husband  embarked on their parenting journey, the first thing they decided was that when they made a parenting decision, they weren’t going to back down, they were always going to follow through with decisions they made.

Wow, that really spoke to me because that is one area where I’m not so great.     The kids ask me a question, I give an answer… they start to bug me and cajole and bug some more and what do I do?  Well I start questioning myself, I start thinking, “Oh, am I really being fair?”  Or worse, I start thinking, do I really want to follow up with what I just said, and then I cave… AHHHHHH!!!!!   Not all the time, but there have been too many times.   It’s not good, it’s not good!  In fact, the experts will tend to tell you that in doing so you are actually TRAINING your child to NOT believe you!    To never take you at your word.    Scary.

OK – so I have challenged myself to always say what I mean and stick with it  and be consistent when it comes to the kids.   This way they will start to know that when I say yes, it’s yes and no means no and stop means STOP!!!!   But there are obstacles in my way.

The first obstacle  is that I often speak too soon…  the kids ask me a question and I just blurt out an answer – the first thing that I think of.  “No” is a good one when I’m busy, or perhaps a “don’t do that” when I’m distracted, both randomly given just to provide an answer and both not good enough if I’m intent on following through.

So, clearly I need to take a minute and think of an answer even if that means telling them to wait while I think about it or even call Dad to weigh his opinion.  But then once I do speak… BAM!!    My word is law!  hahaha… don’t worry, I’m not a dictator here.    But what I mean is,  now that I’ve thought of something, now I have to follow-up on that.  As in, “Sarah, if you lick that batter with your finger one more time you are not helping mommy put the cookies on the trays”…   if I say it, I HAVE to follow through with it.    If I don’t, then my words become meaningless and vacant and then why bother speaking at all?     Idle threats do bug me, I always think, why bother?  The kids and you know you don’t mean it, so you would be better off just ignoring their behaviour and saying nothing at all instead of having them think you aren’t trustworthy.    And if I say “No TV right now” then I guess I mean no TV right now and if that means I need get out some paints or play-dough or play with them for a bit,  that would probably be better anyway.

You see… I have a duty to my kids, not only to parent them wisely, but to train them to obey, not only because I say so, but because it’s what the Bible says.    It says very clearly in Ephesians 6:1 “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.”  It’s not my law, it’s God’s law.    And when you think of it, it’s so incredibly important for so many reasons, no wonder God included it!   First off, I want my kids to see me as trustworthy – to know that I am going to follow through with what I say.     And then, just think –  obedience could  save my kids lives one day.  That is huge for me, what if someday I see a danger they don’t, and I can yell at them to stop and they stop?    I can’t imagine how I would feel if I if were in a situation where I needed my child to come back to me and they didn’t…   it makes me shudder.

I forgot to tell my neighbour this that night before Christmas, but when I first saw her husband years ago at school,  he had their son with him and he was about 5 at the time.   For whatever reason this little guy starting to run away from his dad across the field to another group of kids, and his dad called out at him to stop and….  he stopped.   He actually stopped and came back.    I remember thinking at that exact point that this child I didn’t know could play with my kids.    Why?   Because I knew that he was a well-trained child.   Cool eh?   This is the proof!   Following through has worked for them and it’s definitely why I’ve challenged myself to always means what I say and always follow through.    I’ll keep you posted!

May the force be with you…

William has loved StarWars for a while now.  We weren’t quite sure where he was first introduced to StarWars but I think the influence is all around him, from Jason’s old StarWars sleeping bag that Erik’s been using for a few years to friends that have figurines to the Lego StarWars sets they’ve received as gifts and even Lego StarWars games on the computer.     But Jason was getting quite concerned that the boys were getting a wrong view of StarWars because they have never seen the movies.  And by ‘the movies’ he meant of course the original trilogy, none of this episodes 1,2 & 3 stuff.  Jason refuses to see them or even acknowledge them as real StarWars.  

So this weekend we decided that the boys were now old enough to watch the movies and on Sunday afternoon when Sophia went down for a nap, we broke out the DVD’s and watched Episode IV – a New Hope.  They were mesmerized… it was a huge hit and of course they loved it.  And what’s not to love?   Luke – the petulant, pouty jedi-in-training, Hans Solo, the bad-boy and of course bossy and beautiful Princess Leia.   So now the boys are well versed in the ways of the force.   *Disclaimer –  I did skip the part where Luke sees the bodies of his aunt and uncle, I still find that scene disturbing.  I think we will view Jason’s favourite, ‘The Empire Strikes Back’  next weekend, but I don’t know about return of the Jedi.. I think the content might be a bit too mature… we’ll see.

You know what’s funny though, is that we waited to show the boys the movie until they were old enough – but Sarah saw it too and she’s 4!   Isn’t that just the way it is with subsequent kids?  The first one has to follow all the rules and they all get broken for the younger kids.    I had many high ideals when I first had Erik, for instance we never let Erik drink pop until he was 4 or 5 – but Sophy get a tiny bit when we eat pizza because everyone else is having it.    Erik didn’t watch TV until he was two – as per the recommendation of the Pediatric Society – but then William watched it with Erik and he was not 2 – neither Sarah or Sophia for that matter.    It’s funny how our attitudes change…  and we relax a little when we get more comfortable with parenting. 

But now all the kids have lots of costume ideas for next Halloween – Sarah wants to be “Chabaca” – Chewbacca and William and Erik are fluctuating between stormtroopers and Hans Solo and I think I’ll dress Sophia up as a tiny princess Leia… I can hardly wait.   

William was in heaven again yesterday when he received an early present from his aunt Daila from out East – she couldn’t have sent a better present…

More Star Wars – thanks Aunt Daila!    And it even came complete with a Yoda birthday card that plays the StarWars theme when opened… I’ll just hide it before it gets annoying.  

So as I said before we are now well versed in the ways of the force and if the kids start hitting each other with sticks to mimic light sabers, at least we will know we brought it on ourselves.

Job Jar and marbles…

I have four children.    I know,  it’s quite the shocker.   And typically the first thing that people say to me when they find out how many times I’ve reproduced is, “Oh, you must be busy”.  And I am busy, most of the time.  (Sometimes I’m very busy sitting on the couch reading and eating chocolate.)   Now 4 kids and 1 husband do generate quite a bit of work, you know…  a little bit of laundry,  a few dishes and a TON of things left lying all over the floor.   And for ages I was doing most of this on my own, slaving away and then getting just a tiny bit frustrated that I do everything myself.  

But then one day I said, “Enough is enough!  It is time these children started to help!”  So I started to think about motivation.    I had tried to motivate them to help before, usually with charts, but I’m the queen of printing off charts and then filling them in for 2 days and then forgetting about them as the kids lose interest.    But I just didn’t want to just harass them about doing chores,  I like things to be fun.    So I reached into my past and remembered how I loved it when my mom would  write out jobs on slips of paper and put them in a jar and we could go and  pull out a random job, do it and come back for another one until the jobs were done. 

So I created our own ‘job jar’ that we use Saturday mornings.  We’ve been doing it for months and the kids still think it’s fun and it’s just become our Saturday morning routine after pancakes.   The jobs are very age appropriate and can be easily done by Erik, Will and Sarah….

They really love flinging that duster around!    And the whole point really is getting them doing stuff and I don’t worry too much about the end result, although I have been surprised about how great a job can do if they put their mind to it.

So that’s Saturdays, but I needed motivation for them during the week that wouldn’t involve a chart.  So when Sarah was at her speech therapy in January, I found this idea in a magazine and I wish I could remember what magazine or who the author was to give credit where credit is due, but I don’t remember.  Sorry!   But basically, you get a jar (any container would do) for each child, and as they do chores they get a marble to put in the jar.  I’ve actually made a list of chores with their marble equivalent to keep things fair.  

Sorry – very uninspiring jar of marbles pic,  but it works.   When the jar is full they either get $2 or 4 Lego bucks – which they can put towards a new Lego set and then we start over again.     This should be a great marble week because the boys want to earn more money… for a good cause.    The kids at our church are raising money for our sister church in Nepal and they trying to raise enough money to cover the tuition costs for 5 children and my boys are excited.  And it warmed the cockles of my heart tonight to hear Erik explain how it costs $250 a year per child for tuition in Nepal and they’ve already raised $150 and so they need more money to give!  They are taking this very seriously.  In fact, I had a hard time to restrain William this morning from emptying his piggy bank, he wanted to give it all.   So I can only see this as a win-win situation.  More chores equals more marbles, more marbles equals more pay-outs, more pay-outs equals more money for Nepal…   how wonderful. 

So that’s how I share the load here and even if I am still busy, it doesn’t matter, it’s for a good cause too.  Any other thoughts on how to keep kids motivated to do chores?

Foolish Tenderness

My mom came across this the other day while she was reading her Matthew Henry Commentary on Proverbs 19:18.  The verse reads in the King James, “Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not they soul spare for his crying.”

Here’s what Matthew Henry says about this verse,  “Parents are cautioned against foolish indulgence of their children, that discover an ill temper of mind, not likely to be cured by kindness.  Check it before it is hardened into a habit; especially if it be in itself sinful, as lying, stealing, or the like; in such a case, put on resolution.  When we repress foolish tenderness, we do our best to render our children a comfort to us, and happy in themselves.” 

Foolish tenderness!  Wow, I see how often I’m guilty of that.  Like when I try to pacify and comfort an angry or disobedient child.  For instance,  sometimes when Sarah gets mad at me and hits me and I just try to calm her rather than dealing with that sinful nature.  Or when one of my kids whine or complain and I feel sorry for them instead of matter of factly dealing with it.      

What he’s saying makes sense and I believe it – an ill-temper of mind is not going to be cured by kindness.  I guess it’s that tough love thing.  They are so many times to be tender, when a child is hurt or sad or scared, but I need to remember that when dealing with the sinful nature, I need resolution, I need to be tough!

And the result…  a child who is a comfort to me  and a child who is happy in THEMSELVES.  Our own hearts condemn us when we’ve done wrong and a child’s heart does the same.  If we deal with their sin appropriately,  we are able to free them from their guilt and then they can feel the freedom in their hearts.  Free heart = happy heart.   

Thanks mom for sharing this with me!