Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Her Birthday Party

I just returned home from a week long vacation with TR and no children.  We traveled south, stayed in some wonderfully neat places, hiked in the mountains, ate some fabulous  (gluten free!) meals, woke up when we wanted and changed 0 diapers.  I came home to the sweetest hugs ever and a new resolve in my role as a Mom and homemaker.

But today I want to share with you a few pictures of Chloe's birthday party.  We celebrated with my family and it was a wonderful evening.  Chloe loved her cake and her gift (it was a princess dress up dress and she wore it for days afterward :)

p.s. In regards to her cake: I told you in this post how I was worried about how to make the "princess" cake she wanted without using artificial dyes. When I asked her about her cake again and inquired as to exactly what she meant I learned that she wanted a face of a girl.  Whew!  So much easier for this Mama! (Have you ever googled "princess cakes"?!)  I used the same cake and icing recipe as I did for Benjamin's cake.  The white is simply without cocoa, the brown has cocoa and I used some raspberry liquid (from thawed raspberries) to make the pink.  She absolutely loved it and it turned out to be easy.  A win win :)

Thursday, April 18, 2013

6 Years Ago - Remembering Another

6 years ago today I became a Mom for the first time!  My sweet Chloe was born around 5pm after over 30 hours of labour.  I used to remember the exact number of hours - maybe 36?  But somehow it just doesn't seem as important anymore.  So far it has been my hardest, longest labour, and if I knew then what I know now I would have done it all different!  I was induced 2 weeks early for high blood pressure, which actually went back to normal as soon as I was on bed rest.  I should have just stayed in bed for 2 more weeks (and eaten a much healthier diet!).  So she really wasn't ready yet.  If I had waited until she was ready I might have missed out on that first day of intense back pain from her being in the wrong position.  But our God is good and despite my ignorance, our girl was born healthy and strong with only minor jaundice that cleared on it's own.   She was my tiniest baby at 6 pounds 13 ounces.  

But she isn't the only one I remember on this day.  Chloe had a twin.  I have never met her twin, she died at about 10 weeks gestation.  I learned about her life on the day I learned about her death, and it's taken me a long time to talk about it.  So if you know me and are surprised because I've never mentioned this to you, it's because it has been painful for me and something that I have carried very close to my heart.

On the day of Chloe's birth when the doctor was examining the placenta he found physical proof of my other baby that has brought me great comfort - it was a large white spot that covered a large area. It kind of looked like dead skin compared to the rest of the placenta.  When my baby died I didn't experience any symptoms that normally occur with the loss of a baby (except maybe a reduction in extreme emotions, and maybe a lessening in nausea) and the doctor said the baby was reabsorbed by my body.  It was comforting to me that my body had a mark that showed my baby had lived.  It also told me that my baby was most likely an identical twin to Chloe, carried in the same sack.  Knowing this also makes it all the more amazing that I didn't have any complications from the death of one twin.

For a long time I looked at Chloe and wondered how our life would be if she had a sister.  She would've loved it!  She still would.  I watched her in the mirror and cried that the image wasn't real.  I wondered if her sister would have her same temperament and what she would have been like.

For me, the healing really began when I admitted that knowing my baby was dead brought me pain.  Part of me always thought it was silly to feel grief for someone I'd never met when I had a healthy baby with me.  I didn't miscarry a pregnancy, I didn't have to deal with no baby like so many women.  I wondered if I should even feel pain or loss at all, because I still carried Chloe full term and I still held her in my arms.  Once I could admit to myself that it hurt and it was okay to feel pain over my other baby that really helped in healing.   The birth of Benjamin healed me a lot too.  Maybe they weren't twins, but they bonded from day 1 and it was a balm to my heart.  I told Chloe about her twin about a year or so ago when we were looking at her baby pictures.  That also brought me much healing.  She took it so well and matter of factly, it made her a little sad, but she was so happy that her twin was in heaven and that she would get to meet her one day.  

I am so very blessed and thankful for the children God has given me - and I'm beyond thankful that this world is not my home!  My home is being prepared for me and my life here is but temporary.  My griefs and my burdens are just for a moment, and through all these trials God is "growing me up" as my Mom always told me.   (the picture to the right is when Chloe was 1 month old - she was still so tiny!)

It's interesting to look back on the day I became a Mom while another one is being knit within me.  I have never yet carried another baby the same way I carried Chloe - this one feels a lot more like when I carried Benjamin and Kara.  I had a doctor's appt. yesterday for some blood work results and the ultrasound result and everything looks very good and normal.  A lady I know at the clinic asked me how much longer and you know - I couldn't remember!  I had to think about how far along I was! This pregnancy is just zooming by so quickly and between my three kiddos and trying to get our house more "show" ready I find I don't have much time to think about this pregnancy.  It's when I lay down at night and the baby starts dancing that I reflect on this new life and wonder about him/her.   And boy does he/she dance!

What a wonderful gift it is to be a Mom.  When I started this journey 6 years ago I had no idea how much it would change me and my life.  I had no idea how much God would mold me through mothering them.   And I still don't - the ride has only begun!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Pictures of Ordinary Days

There is something so special about ordinary days :)  I love that a camera can capture things that my memory has a hard time retaining!

The other day Kara found a screwdriver and was very busy trying to figure out how it worked.  She was so intent and it gave me a chance to photograph some of her cute expressions. 

Benjamin was so excited to be able to play outside without his jacket on!  He is on top of our hill here.  What a huge blessing it was to have this hill in our front yard this year!   TR built it when he cleared the snow off of our driveway with a bobcat.  The kids played on it so much and enjoyed it.  I even heard Chloe bragging about this HUGE hill her Daddy had made for her.
It was very hard to take a picture next to this window - but I like how it turned out anyway.  TR had a day off and spent part of it adding shelves and lights onto a plant stand he built for me last year.  Now instead of 1 light, it has 3!  He truly puts wings to my dreams :)

Benjamin got this guitar for his birthday last month.  It is such a joy for me to listen to him playing and singing, making up his own songs.  One Sunday shortly after his birthday it was TR's turn to play with the music team and he had left early to practice.  Benjamin played his guitar for a while in between getting ready and when it was time to leave he brought his guitar to the door.  He was convinced that since he had practiced that morning that he would bring his guitar to Church and play up on stage too :) 

This horse was a gift from my Grandpa (mom's dad).  It had belonged to my Grandma who passed away when I was 1.  Years later he gave a lot of Grandma's things to his grandchildren and this horse was in my box.  My kids, especially Chloe, really enjoyed being able to play with it.  I found it broken a few weeks ago so we took a picture so we could remember.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Creams I Reach For Again and Again

Just wanted to share with you two creams that I find myself using a lot.  One of them I made myself and the other we bought. 

Of course I can't remember the exact recipe for how I made this cream.  I originally made the cream using yarrow and lemon balm oil that I infused myself (steeped the herbs in olive oil for several weeks and then strained the herbs out).  I took the infused olive oil and added some beeswax and probably some shea butter and coconut oil.  When I developed a a painful patch of eczema on my hand several months ago I started experimenting with how to soothe my skin.  I tried some other creams I had made and added lavender essential oil.  I tried using just lavender essential oil.  I had just gotten in some chamomile essential oil and decided to give it a try.  I took the cream I had already made and melted it, then added lavender and chamomile essential oils (the chamomile is what turned it into a green colour).  Relief.  Pure Relief.  I also used it on Ben's eczema patches and it healed his skin too. 

This cream has a Chinese name, Ching Wan Hung, but essentially it is a burn cream - and I can't even tell you how many times I've used it!  We first learned about it when TR's brother told us about it.  He had gotten severe burns on his back that should have received medical care.  He was in intense pain.  His girlfriend found this cream in a Chinatown shop and they began to use it.  He healed completely with hardly a scar.  TR and I decided this sounded great as it is completely natural and as TR is often welding with his job he gets lots of burns!  It is a brown cream that has a strong odour to it but does it ever work!  Just yesterday I touched a cast iron skillet that had been in a very hot oven and it really hurt. I was sure it was going to blister.  I applied this cream on several times that evening.  The pain wasn't gone right away and it was red - but this morning I can't even tell I burned myself. No pain and my skin looks normal.  I gave some of this cream to a friend and she had the same experience.  We bought it here.  This site also has a list of the ingredients.  Another good site with information about the cream is here.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Busy Busy

I have so much on my to do list it isn't even funny!  We're listing our house this week (with hopes of buying an acreage nearby) and I'm trying to get our house a little more "show" ready.  Not an easy task!  So perhaps when things are a little more caught up in the getting-house-ready-on-top-of-all-my-other-tasks department my brain will be able to focus on another blog post!

In the meantime I just want to be clear about something.

I'm not against doctors.  I understand that there is a great need for them and their knowledge.  I understand that they may help in saving my life, or the life of someone I love, one day.  I understand that vaccinations may have their place.  I understand (as best I can as someone who has never experienced it) that epidemics are scary and not worth repeating, that anything we can do to help prevent them is worth pursuing.

But there is more than one side to every story and vaccinations and the prescription drugs don't come without a price.  Doctors are not all knowing and they make mistakes.  The medical system as a whole is very short sighted when it comes to living healthy (they may tell you to stop smoking but they'll feed you a ton of dangerously unhealthy food in the hospital).  I have been in a place where I was told TR would always be on prescription drugs and even those would likely not be enough to help him fully.  I have been in a place where all my trust in their words was broken when changing our diet made it possible for TR to be off all prescription drugs and in a ton less pain than before (I wouldn't say his colitis is healed, but he doesn't experience the pain from flare ups like before). 

I say all that to say this.  I am very strongly opinionated when it comes to doctors and the health care system.  I have begun to question everything that they say.  I think that with that comes the likelihood that I may offend somebody.  I hope that if that is the case you will forgive me.                                    

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Vaccinations - What Should You Do?

I was a very good first time Mom.

I did everything that the Dr. said I should do.

That included vaccinating Chloe from the time she was 2 months old.

I was very dedicated and made sure that she was there on time.  2 months.  4 months.  6 months. until she had reached the end of those shots and we had a break.  Benjamin got all of his shots too, although some of them were a little late.  We were busier and remembering to go in was harder.

By the time Benjamin was a year old I had developed a few doubts about vaccinations.  But I did them anyway - more out of fear than anything.  After all if I didn't then he would get sick and it would be my fault.  And not only might Benjamin get sick, he might make other kids sick and then there will be this huge problem and it will be all my fault for not listening to those wise wise doctors who always give advice based on what is best for us.

I feel a whole lot differently now!  For one thing I understand that those wise doctors pockets are lined from the companies that profit off of us obeying their every command for shots and prescriptions.  Lines get a little blurry when money is involved.

I'm no longer willing to just take their word for it.

I want to know for myself.

And you know what?  I think that makes me a good Mom too.

So for now Kara has had no vaccinations.  And Chloe who "should" be getting her 5/6 year shots won't be.

Perhaps one day they will get their vaccinations.  But not until I have peace about it.  Not until I have learned more about it.

So what is there to learn you ask?  Maybe you are like me and have just taken your child in without giving any thought to it, just trusting that "they" know what's best?  Here's a place you might start:

I would recommend you borrow these books from your library.  It's free (minus your membership)!.   

Some concerns about vaccines:
  • they contain cells from an aborted baby
  • they contain high levels of toxic matter that could severely harm your child.  Mercury and Aluminum are two of those.  
  • They don't guarantee that your child is safe from those diseases.  No follow up is ever done to determine whether or not your child is now immune to them.  For example I have had the Rubella shot twice and I still show up as never having had it.  My body just hasn't "taken" to it.  I don't think it is as rare as the medical world wants you to believe.  Just because your child has the shot for chicken pox, doesn't mean they can't get chicken pox.
There are more concerns, but I highly recommend that you do the research yourself.  Read about it.  Ask questions.  Don't be willing to just do what the medical world assumes is best.  They have agendas too.  I have read that vaccines should not be a "one size fits all" because we are all different.  For some vaccines are totally fine - for others they may cost them way too much.  
It is very overwhelming to consider not vaccinating.  I don't have a medical degree and doing the research myself is not all that much fun.  I understand the desire to just do what the medical world thinks is best for my child.  But I challenge you to look deeper and to ask questions and to not just follow without first being sure.  I also encourage you to pray about it.  The Great Physician made us, after all. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Grand Turk

If you've never heard of the Turks and Caisos Islands then google it and you'll find that it's a tiny cluster of islands South East of Florida.  When TR and I flew there we flew over the States with a layover in Florida and then took a smaller plane to Providenciales.  Providenciales is the most populated Island of the T & C.  Our trip was mostly uneventful except for when we first boarded our flight in Calgary.  We had to leave very early.  I remember waking up around 4 in the morning to drive to the airport.  TR had a wonderful friend in Calgary who was willing to wake up super early to take us so we wouldn't have to leave our vehicle at the airport.  I had never been on a plane before and it was all very new and exciting.  TR and I decided that we would go in separate lines due to the fact that all my information was still in my maiden name.  While I was talking to the customs person I saw TR being led away by this very stern looking woman.  I had no idea where he was going or when he would be back!  He just looked at me and shrugged his shoulders.  After waiting and waiting for him he comes out.  I guess he hadn't remembered our exact itinerary and they thought it strange that he didn't have a carry on bag (I had it).  So they had questioned him for a while.  Thankfully he was able to board and we were off!

Stepping off the plane in Providenciales was intense.  The air was just thick with humidity and it was hot.  Hot to us Northern people anyway!  Customs here was very low key and it was interesting to see the difference.  When we arrived at our hotel we were in for a surprise!  TR's parents had just been to the Island a few years before and had told us that this was a great hotel and close to the airport.  Well.  It might have been close to the airport - but it was not great.  It was a 1 star hotel.  The ceiling fan over the bed seemed like it would fall at any moment.  The bathroom looked so gross I was hesitant to use it.  There was a bar nearby and I felt anything but safe.  Thankfully we only had one night there before we flew to our real destination - Grand Turk.

The flight to Grand Turk was in a small plane.  Maybe only about 30-50 seats on it.  It was really neat to fly over the Islands and see the ocean so close up.

Arriving at Grand Turk we entered what appeared to be a very new airport.  It seemed unlike any we'd ever been in before.  We looked around for someone to give us directions to our bed and breakfast - TR's parents had stayed there and highly recommended it.  They had told us that it was a short walk from the airport.   When we found someone to help us they laughed a little and said there's no way you can walk there!  She suggested a taxi instead.  She started calling "does anyone have a cell phone?" (this was someone who worked at the airport)  When someone produced a phone she called a taxi for us :)

When the taxi arrived we got in and then quickly realized that a second taxi had pulled up and they were now fighting over us!  When they finally came to an agreement over who was going to give us the ride we were off.   The taxi let us off in a back alley and told us that it was just up the alley a little ways.  So we took all our bags and started walking down this sanding back alley.  It took us a while but we finally found it thanks for another passerby who helped us.  It was tucked in a ways and the sign was anything but obvious.

The entrance to our B & B. Our room was up those stairs - the top level of their house.  It had a little deck, a bedroom with a small fridge and a bathroom.  We bought little juice boxes and froze them in the tiny fridge freezer to help cool off on those hot afternoons.   

Our hosts were really nice and they remembered TR's parents which was cool.  We were hungry so we didn't stay long.  Our host recommended a restaurant down the street a ways so we walked over.  It was in the backyard of someone's house.  We were the only people there.  There was a chicken running around and the table was dirty.  I wanted french toast and asked how many pieces it came with "Four".  Four turned out to be two pieces cut in half.  TR had a lemonade without any sweetener in it.  It wasn't exactly what we had been expecting.  We went back to inspect our room and learned that they hadn't had rain since Christmas.  The Island has no clean water supply as a hurricane had contaminated their fresh water many years earlier.  All they had was a holding tank for rain water, and that tank was almost dry.  They showed us how to handle the toilet (no flushing until absolutely necessary).  The water stank and was a yellowish colour.  Similar to what dugout water can become in the Spring.  Our room was nice but we were a little sad when we realized there was no air conditioning.  We had not realized it would be so hot!  Neither TR or I get excited about extreme heat!  By this point we were tired and a little unsure about this whole Island vacation! 

We went out to inspect the ocean and discovered a wonderful beach.  It was sandy and the waves just came pounding.  There was a big wall to hold the ocean back from the street and I just loved the way it pounded against it.  There was no one else on the beach and it was wonderful!  I had never been to the ocean before and I was amazed.  We would spend lots of time on that beach while we were there and we never had to share it with anyone.

 Our little slice of paradise on the Island

Our bed and breakfast was along this street just in a little. 

We had supper at this neat little restaurant by the ocean.  They had live band music and I remember they played the song "What about Breakfast at Tiffany's, as I recall we both kind of liked it".  The Island got dark very quickly and we enjoyed a sunset on the ocean over supper.  The walk back to the b & b was dark as most of their street lights were burned out.  But that supper and the evening with the music over the ocean was one of our favourite experiences from our trip. 

We started exploring a little and learned many wonderful things about the Island.  We met TR's Great Aunt who worked at a little grocery store.  She is the sister to his Grandpa Frith.  Grandpa Frith was born on the Island and left when he was 17.  TR's parents discovered all sorts of burried family history when they had visited there.  I guess Grandpa Frith's Dad had had a black mistress and had a daughter with her.   At that time most white men had black mistresses and everybody knew it but no one said anything about it.   The Friths were very well known well-to-do people back then and the family history was so neat.  We saw some of their graves in the Church graveyard.

Well, this is turning out to be a long post so I'll have to finish it later.  Stay tuned!