Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year

So as we reach the end of another year we tend to reflect on all that’s happened in the past year. For us I think the biggest thing is how hard it is to believe that another year has gone by so quickly. We all get that sense at the end of a year so I suppose that is just a normal feeling. It just so hard to believe that James has been gone for so long already. It used to be that we would think “Last year at this time …”, but now when I think that it hits me each time again that last year at this time he was already gone and we were grieving intensely. But at the same time it’s a reminder how far we have come over the past year. It often leaves a feeling of guilt to know that we have continued with our lives. It’s not that we will ever be the same as before, but as we return to normal we will slowly have to get over the heartache of leaving James “behind” (we know he’s really not behind us but ahead). Although that heartache is no longer as intense now, we still miss our boy an awful lot.

We are so very thankful for the three children the Lord has given us. Like all children they bring some not so joyful moments at times, but in general it is a great joy to raise them. And I can end off the year at bit more lighthearted after seeing such a drastic change in our little boy. We still have not gotten over the amazement and joy of having such a happy boy who eats and plays so nicely. Not a day goes by that we don't comment on how wonderful it is. We realize we're going to have ups and downs yet as we try to figure out his diet in more detail, but having gotten to the route of the problem and having a decently stable boy right now is enough for us to rejoice!! We pray that we can soon have the same joy for Rebecca, that an answer may be found and relief for her as well. And how thankful we are that at least one of our children does not have any health issues (at this point).

And of course I am extremely thankful for the husband I have who stands by my side and is my soulmate ... I cannot imagine where I would be without him to help me through each day again. What a blessing it is to be able to work together as a team through all the ups and downs that life brings.

So I end off this year by wishing you all a very blessed and happy new year. No matter what happens may you look to our Lord and Saviour throughout the coming years to guide you, strenghten you, comfort you and grant you all you stand in need of each day again.

I leave off with the words of the text from our sermon this evening:
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come" II Corinthians 5:17

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Rebecca Again

I thought I’d just do a follow up on Rebecca. After I last wrote we had our follow-up visit with the hollistic allergist. I explained that she was not any better, if anything she is worse, even though we had adjusted her diet to what he had told us last time. I must admit he lifted himself a bit in my books by his answer. Since she is not any better it is his opinion that her problems are not food related. Since part of his treatment is iridology he spent some time reviewing what he sees by looking in her eyes.

Iridologists look at a persons eyes and from what they see they believe they an tell you more about the condition of a persons body. They use a iris chart to determine what the eye is telling them. Although the majority of my research says that iridology is not very reliable or accurate, I suppose it doesn't hurt to listen and see what they have to say (especially if it's covered in the cost anyways) ... who knows it could give leads to a correct idea.

While we were there he showed me her eye and what he believes her eyes are saying. I had a chance to look also and compare her eye to the charts he had. I wrote down the name of the conditions her eye says she has in order to further look it up ... but for the life of me I can't find the info back ... grrrr. According to what he saw in her eye he claims that her problems are anxiety related. He says that her colon is as tight and tense as can be and it shows it is this way due to stress or anxiety. So ... he could be right, he could be guessing ... just like we are right now ... guess we'll have to wait and see what time tells us.

We also found out a few weeks ago that Rebecca has a parasite. I do not know the name of the parasite, I will have to ask next time I’m in. Our pediatrician said that it’s not a serious parasite and often they would not bother treating it if there were no symptoms, but since Rebecca has symptoms of something it is worth treating.

Treating this has snowballed a few other issues. Since Rebecca has Fructose Malabsorption we have the check her medications first to see if they are FM friendly. The doctor ended up putting her on a pill form because of the ingredients of the liquid form. So three times a day we had to crush this pill and give it to Rebecca. Well to say that this stuff tastes disgusting would be putting it extremely mild. We tried several different ways of feeding it to her before we settled on the theory “a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down”. Of course with her we shouldn’t be using excessive sugar so it’s really a mixture of stevia, aspartame and a bit of sugar. Although this was working it was causing some severe anxiety. It didn’t take us long to realize that she was not doing well. She would not eat much, she always had stomach pain, she dreaded taking her medication, although she did so very faithfully and would remind us if we forgot.

Since Rebecca had to take the medication three times a day we taught her how to take it herself so that she could bring it with to school. Come Monday morning though it became obvious this wasn’t going to work and once again we are very thankful for living so close to the school. I promised her we would come and help her at lunch time. She was only at school about an hour when we got a call to pick her up as she wasn’t doing so well. Upon coming home she was fine though and so we were sure that she was so anxious about taking the medication. I called to have it switched to a liquid form … I much rather give her some extra fructose then deal with such an uptight basketcase. Changing the medication brought on a totally new child again. She began eating again, was happy, and no more tummy aches. Another sign to us that we are dealing with an anxiety/stress/emotional problem.

With the holidays and all the good eating we decided to give Rebecca a holiday from her strict diet as we still are leaning towards the fact that her Fructose Malabsorption is not a very severe version. We have enjoyed two weeks of a pretty easy going kid with only a couple short-term tummy issues. We have kept her off the major fructose problem foods and try to not go to extreme on the sugar intake (okay, a few except there as well) and we’re all enjoying the less restrictive diet. There past two weeks have confirmed our belief that FM is not really Rebecca's problem. If it were the problem she would have been severally ill from all that she has intaken during the past weeks.

So now we do the waiting game again. We have tried to minimize all attention regarding her tummy with hopes we will hear less if she is not gaining extra affection. This has not been successful, but at least we have the comfort that we know she is not just complaining for special attention or privileges. (This does not mean we do not give her any sympathy or love, but it does mean she does not get to stay up late, sleep in the lazy boy, watch video, etc). We have seen improvement since the parasite medication so time will tell whether this was playing a factor or whether she’s just going through a less emotional/anxious time. There is also the fact that we are during holiday season now, so she is not in school and we do not know how much school stresses her. She does not appear stressed and loves school, so we've never thought it any issue, but she may not realize herself that she gets over anxious or stressed ... still playing guessing games here. Given the success of the past week with her diet change it supports our theory that FM is not her major problem as she should have had immediate bad effects if it truly were.

Although it hasn’t been fun we have thanked Rebecca several times for being diagnosed with FM (as well as being so good at following her diet and trying each new change that's come up) … if Rebecca had not been we would never have figured out what was bothering Matthew!!

Rebecca wanted to make lunch the other day. We had a snacky lunch of Triscuits with toppings. She was quite proud that she could do it almost all by herself and requested I take pictures of her ... I'm assuming with the intent she wanted it to go on the blog just like Marietta.

So here she is prepping the triscuits ... and with the finished product.

Salsa Triscuits -top triscuits with salsa and cheddar cheese

Pizza Triscuits -top triscuits with pizza sauce, piece of pepperoni, mozzerella cheese and a sprinkle of basil

Microwave or place in oven until cheese has melted. Enjoy!!

Snow Day

On December 19 the kids had there first snow day of the school year 2008/2009 and their last snow day of the year 2008.

The kids were thrilled and disappointed when their last school day for 2008 was cancelled. With the threat of a major storm about to hit the area the next day the school sent a note home already on Thursday letting us know that school was cancelled for the following day and we would be informed in the morning if there would go ahead with the Christmas Program or postpone it. Although the kids were glad to have a day off school they weren’t so excited about the idea of waiting for the Christmas Program.

I woke at in the middle of the night with Matthew and there was no snow, at 7:30 I again had a peek and still nothing … we slept in and by time we woke up there was snow … and it kept coming. It was blowing and swirling and then in the afternoon the winds really picked up. The girls got a bit of the concept of what they mean by a blizzard in the Little House on the Prairie books.

It was kind of neat to not only have Rob home but to have him out of the books. We had a nice relaxing cozy day together at home … you know, one of those days where you curl up in front of the fireplace sipping a cup of hot chocolate and reading a good book. Okay, it wasn’t quite that laid back, instead we curled up with our lunch, a cup of hot tea and a watched a video. We took some time out to watch one of the DVD’s of Little House on the Prairie that the girls got from Santa. After they ate their lunch the girls wanted rollers in their hair. Originally they wanted it for their Christmas Program, then they thought it would be neat to just try it out regardless since I wasn’t so sure I could do much with their short hair. We were sucessful in making curls and it even stayed in for four days … won't say it looked the greatest by day four, but at least the effort paid off. So this is suppose to be about a snow day, but since I didn’t actually make it outside to take any pictures I guess hair pictures will have to do.

Here's a picture of Matthew outside the following day while the girls were playing and Rob was fixing the snowblower (yet again). This is the first time he has ever really been out in snow to play. I'm not sure how much he played and one look at the pictures says he wasn't all too happy ... but that could be because his hat was too small and rather annoying to see anything out of it ... it has now been packed away and we'll try something a bit bigger next time :)


On December 22nd the ladies of my family got together for our annual croquette making day. It would be better classified to called them bitterballen, as we make the smaller round/ball version that are nice for parties and snacks. Since this is becoming an annual event we paid close attention to detail this time, making note of all that we used and needed so that we will be even more efficient next year. After a long day of work (10:30am ~ 10pm) the end result was 770 bitterballen ... 150 each.

The dough and some ready-to-deepfry bitterballen. (Marietta took these pictures, she spent some time angling the camera different ways to come up with creative pictures ... she has a few of her mothers genes!?!?)

Dipping and rolling time. Two of us would shape the balls and roll them in breadcrumbs for their first roll. We then passed them along to the other "team" who would dip them in beaten egg and roll them again in breadcrumbs.

Since our hands were rather sticky/yukky, a straw was in order for tea time.
Hanging out waiting for the oil and deep friers to heat up (beautiful smile Jess).

Deep frying and packing them up. After making the balls we put them all through the deep friers. Then allow them to cool before we pack them into our buckets to take home and put in our freezers. By deepfrying them in advance it allows us to just take a few croquettes whenever we want and pop them in the oven or microwave ... and if we really miss the crispy outside then just a minute or so in the deep fryer again and their nice and crisp but not burnt.

So if you want to try them out you're gonna have to book a evening visit with us. Come on down for a night of visiting, chatting or playing a game.

Busy December

December tends to be a busy month for most of us, and this year was no except to the rule. It was a little too busy the first couple weeks, with a few too many appointments, some visiting, book club and society, and a few extra social events/parties, etc. I didn't take my camera to most things ... so you're in luck I won't get too long winded.

With the business of "the season" my mind often turns to thinking of those with chronic illnesses. Those who can't partake in the business because there health or that of a loved one won't allow them and especially those who are in the hospital. My mind often turns to those in the hospital throughout the year, not just at this time of year. It often crosses my mind that while I'm busy doing this or that, or enjoying and outting, holiday, beautiful day ... just going about life ... there are those stuck in the hospital where time stands still and the reality of what is going on outside stops. There are those who spends weeks there as the world keeps ticking like nothings wrong. When I spent long-term time in hospital with James I would go into "stand-still mode". I seemed to forget that time kept ticking and when we would finally arrive home again it would take me some time to realize that two weeks, six weeks, eight weeks ...etc had just passed and we were in a different season. If I look at my calendar now and count back six weeks I can't believe all that I've done in those past six week that would not have happened if we spent them in hospital ... the world outside stops when you are dealing a sickness. It didn't bother me then, I didn't care that I missed out on the things going on, I didn't care that it was suddenly the middle of summer when I still thought it was spring ... we just kept ticking and adjusting.

One thing I remember about our hospital stays was how it irritated me that during the month of December people suddenly feel this great desire to show their love and affection, to get into the "spirit of giving" ... and so the children at the hospital get showered DAILY with gifts as well as DAILY people coming in to entertain the kids, do crafts, put on shows, singing, along with more gifts, etc. We could have started a gift shop from all the items we received during our December stay. This is wonderful that people desire to do these things ... but are the kids who stay there in February or May or July any less sick or in need of attention?? We received items/gifts at other times of the year at the hospital but they were few and far inbetween and usually came from the nurses, staff, child life specialist as a reward or encouragement toy. There were shows and craft times throughout the year, but not near as much as in December and most certainly not daily. I cannot even begin to imagine what the place must be like the days before Christmas Day and Christmas Day itself.

I often think about those times now and can well imagine how busy the hospital is now ... but by the end of the week all will die down and go back to "normal". So for all of you out there who love to give/donate, or as a group want to take your time to do crafts, singing, shows, etc for the children ... think of them at the end of January, at the middle of March, at the beginning of May, during the summer ...etc. When a child is hospitalize long-term the days become very long, with the same drawn out routine each day ... the days in December are no longer then those during the rest of the year, a teddy or gift brightens a childs face any time of year.

So I think I got a bit sidetracked from what I intended to blog about ... just releasing some thought there :) Back the the not-so-regular scheduled program.

Just a couple pics of a couple December joys.

We got together one evening for a bake exhange. We each baked 5 dozen of an item and then we divided it up between all those who were partaking so that in the end we could each take home a variety of baking to enjoy.

The before goodies ... and the after variety to take home

Afterwards we did some chatting and singing of Christmas Carols ... and Laura took just a few pictures :)

On another evening we enjoyed our gift exchange with my side of the family. The kids have finally come to realize/accept/acknowledge that Santa is not really. They have been very doubtful the past year, but have been afraid to take the step to declare him false ... so we finally helped them out on their indecisiveness.

Matthew had great fun that night. At 10:30pm I finally decided to put him down to bed, even though he didnt' appear the least bit tired ... he was just having so much fun.

Marietta received a few items for her rabbit, Thumper. Some chewable toys that Thumper can crawl in and on. She was quite happy about this. As well she was thrilled to receive a collection/variety of items for making cards. Although Marietta says she likes to do crafts she does not spend very much time at home doing them. If she does get something out, or if I encourage them to get it out then she has a lot of fun, but never has the incentive on her own. The one thing she does do on her own often is make cards. She uses old cards to make new cards as well as gets ideas from other peoples cards. We had run out of old cards to use and so a collection of craft stuff, stickers, cards and envelopes, etc was very much what she needed.

Rebecca's favourite present. Rebecca has been begging for a pet for some time and has finally decided she wanted a fish. After seeing how much work it took Marietta to feed, clean, and train Thumper Rebecca decided to stick to an easier to maintain type of pet. Since Marietta had to wait until she was eight to get a pet we told Rebecca she could not have a fish(s) until her 7th birthday, but that she could request fish stuff from Santa if she was sure that's what she wanted. She was very thrilled with this present, especially since it wasn't just a large fish bowl but an actual small fish tank/aquarium. She keeps begging to get her fish but we keep reminding her that her birthday is still three months away.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Very Miscelleanous Long Overdue GENERAL Update

As I skim back through the blog I realize how sad it is that all I ever talk about is health issues. What a sad way to remember life ... I really had to try find time to write about other things as well. For whatever reason I just don't ever seem to find time at my computer anymore, so I tend to update on the things we gets asked about most often so I don't have to repeat the same thing over and over ... and then just never get around to the general life stuff that create the memories of our year. Really ... we're not obssessed with health issues and there are other things going on in our lives. So hey ... the years almost done, I better get some non-health stuff written (I'm afraid there will still be plenty more health ones too :( )

So I think I'll just back-track in picture form and fill in here and there as I think of things ... in other words ... babble and well ... this could get pretty long-winded.

Sorry Helen, I didn't mean to ignore your question from long ago after my Harvest post. You asked if there was a special way to do canning, etc. And about whether there is a seperate place we put it all. Yes there are special ways of canning and freezing. I suppose when you grow up eating it and doing it you don't think much of it and just go about doing it, but yes each thing is done a certain way ... although many the same. With canning fruits you add a sugar syrup. The norm would be to have 1 part sugar for every 4 parts water, but as time goes I have trialed out which fruits you can get away with using less sugar and how much less and still have it sweet (yes I'm a sweet tooth) and yummy. You boil the sugar mixture to melt the sugar and pour it over the fruit in the jars. The jars then go through the canner, the amount of time depends on what you are canning. I like freezing better because it's less messy and work as you don't have to go through the whole canning process. Even freezing is done different depending on what you freeze. Some foods should be blanched first (I suppose tehnically all should be), while others you can get away with just chopping and freezing raw. With time I have trialed and figured out which foods I can get away with just freezing and still maintaining the flavour and which ones turn bitter and blah without the blanching ... I must say I don't really blanch that much of my stuff. So I suppose there is a bit of learning process in the same thing... as Laura mentioned, she's just going to follow me around and learn ... the best way to learn is probably by asking someone who does it already, they'll give quick and easy tips. I'm sure there's plenty of info on the internet too. Oh, and the above picture is of pumpkin seeds, a well enjoyed treat here in the fall (for the others, I can't say I like them, but they're not hard to make).

Next are pictures from way back on Reformation Day (October 31). On this day the focus is on Halloween around here and so there is a Fun Night organized which focuses on the meaning of Reformation Day. The kid's enjoy a speech and some singing and then play games and have supper together. They look forward to this night and have a ton of fun. This year there were some different games as well which they really enjoyed. Above, Marietta is playing ring toss, she has to toss the rings on the pumpkin stems. They always have an apple bobbing contests after which they get to eat the apple for their snack. And the best part is the relay race at the end, this year we managed to find some burlap sacks so they could have a "potato sack" race at the end of the relay. Guess there were no good pics of Rebecca for this day.

Although we don't get out as often as we would like for walks, we love to go out in the fall when the leaves are changing colour and falling. It's so beautiful to see.

These pictures are from a walk at Albion Falls, one of the girls favourite place to do.

Next we have a picture of Marietta on Book Character Day. Each year they have a day where the kids dress up as a character from a book for school and then they do book centered things that day (and that entire week) at school. Last year Marietta wore this outfit and was Laura Ingalls from Little House on the Prairie (which I also wore when I was in Grade 6 for Book Character Day). This year she wore the same outfit but went as Cassie from Sarah, Plain and Tall, which had become her favourite book over the summer.

Unfortunately in our scurry to get out the door on time in the morning I did not get a picture of Rebecca, who is always on time and was already dressed and ready to go by time I remembered the camera. Rebecca borrowed a caterpillar costume and was the caterpillar from the story The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle.

We still go skating every now and then. The girls aren't as thrilled about the idea anymore, but we still go occasionally and they rather do that then stay home and do nothing :) We've gotten our moneys worth out of the annual pass anyways. The girls much rather go swimming, Rob and I much rather go skating. Matthew has gotten past the age where we can get away with strapping him in the stroller and letting him watch us while we're there. So now we bundle him up and take him out on the ice. Although the staff likes to tell us that it's really not wise to carry him on our back, so far they have never cared so much as to tell us we had to take him off

Rob loves to crash out on the floor after lunch (on Saturdays) or supper and get a quick "cat-nap" in order to rejuvenate him for a few more hours of book work before the next meal or bedtime. Somewhere along the line Matthew grew into the habit of climbing all over Rob when he lays down ... something that would totally annoy me, but Rob actually likes it. He says it's like getting a massage while he rests ... I beg to differ, but hey, they're both happy so I won't complain. I'm not sure how they got sidetracked this time but somehow the girls ended up getting involved on this particular day but they all had quite the fun. Matthew thought it was absolutely great. I would have to actually put him on top of the pile, but he had no real intent to stay on the pile. In the first picture he's leaning over getting ready to roll off and the second he's laughing away as he hits the ground again. He was quite content to do this over and over, no fear in this boy and the best place to land would be on his head ... doesn't fizzle him at all.

On November 14 my mom and sister-in-law (with her kids) took the girls to the Royal Winter Fair. I had planned to go along as well and leave Matthew at a sitter, but he was sick and so I stayed home and snuggled with him for the day while they went off to have some fun. They did a lot of walking and looking and were quite tired at the end of the day ... but they had fun.

Riding horse and trying to lasoo a calf.

Well that's all my picture remind me of for now. I have more to catch up on ... but right now I'm going to go catch up on some sleep :)

Thursday, December 25, 2008

From our family to yours ...

We wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year.
Rob and Steph
Marietta, Rebecca, Matthew

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Meet Matthew

Matthew is a 16 month old boy who loves to eat and play. Matthew loves to nibble throughout the day and thoroughly enjoys his meals. He can be found in his chair eagerly awaiting food to be spooned into his mouth. He loves to close his eyes, opening his mouth as wide as possible and lean into whereever he thinks the spoon may be coming from. Matthew enjoys eating regular amounts of food at meals times with several small snacks inbetween meals. This cute loveable little boy can be found playing very energetically throughout the day. He is full of bounce and spunk and is a typical boy who loves to climb, make a mess and get into trouble. Inbetween all this fun time Matthew enjoys a nice two hour nap to refresh himself and be ready for more fun and eating. To learn more about Matthew and his loveable character you can talk to his parents, Rob and Stephanie, who have expressed their great joy and unbeief in this totally changed child and pray that this new child is here to stay.

Yes … we have a new Matthew and to say we are enjoying him is an extreme understatement.

When our milk trial failed we had to go back to Matthew’s old formula for about 3 weeks before we saw him return to “normal” with regards to his stools and rashes. After this settled we moved forward with a challenge on soy milk. Because soy "milk" is not as well fortified as homo milk we had to put him on soy formula. This posed it’s own problems as formulas are all made from corn syrup or corn syrup solids, or other types of sugars that are no-no’s for those with Frucoste Malabsorptions. There is one soy formula, Alsoy, that’s main ingredient is corn maltodextrin (dextrose) and so this is good for those with FM. It’s third ingredient is sucrose, which could still pose problems for those with FM if they are quite sensitive. With our options limited we decided we would have to give this a try. I found a unsweetened vitamin fortified soy milk (Natura) and did some calculating in order to mix the Alsoy formula with the Nutura to make it equivilent to homo milk and therefore further reduce Matthew’s sucrose intake. We would prefer his bottles be completely free of non-friendly FM sugar so that we can better focus on his foods, but for now this will have to do.

And it is doing. It took a bit, but what an amazing change. For the first couple weeks we seen Matthew react to the soy milk in the same manner as he did with the milk, but milder. We held his bottles at ½ new formula and ½ old formula for some time with the hopes his body would be able to settle and adjust. We were very discourage at one point but so thankful for not giving up too quickly for his body did settle and after three weeks we seen his symptoms all leave. Every now and then we get this little flare up on his face, but it being winter we can’t say for sure if it’s food related or weather related. While we were holding Matthew on ½ and ½ he began to nibble all day long. He would go into his food cupboard and bring us his cereals, Baby Mum-Mum’s, rice cakes, rice crackers, GF cookies, etc.

We decided to try decrease his formula intake again and this time it went much better (our last attempt was a diaster). We have brought him from 50oz a day to 30oz a day. He still drinking more then he should be for his age (20-24oz is more in line with his age) but we’re happy with this level right now. The combination of his change in formula and his decreased formula intake has been amazing and I think not a day goes by that we don’t comment on how different he is, how much we love this new kid(not that we didn’t love him before), how we can’t believe the change, etc.

The above already describes the new boy we have. He is eating about 10 times what he used to. I don’t know if it the amount a normal child his age would eat but either way it’s plenty for him. And now I must start being more deligent on making food for him. He still likes his plain dry rice and rice noodles, but when he’s eating this much he can’t survive on that. So all in all an exciting change in our house. It has been two weeks and we still realize it could be temporary, but he’s never done this well for this long before (especially considering he has a molar coming in right now too) and so we have reason to rejoice and we pray each day that this is the answer and this is all it has been all this time and he may continue to be happy, content, healthy and growing.

When Matthew figured out how to carry the stool we had to pack it away in the closet so that he could no longer get it and reach the things on the counter. But true Matthew style ... it didn't take him long to figure out another way to get what he wanted. Not only could he now reach things, this is easier to carry as it has a handle and it's even higher then the stool, so now he can also attempt to get up onto the counter. Yes, our dear boy is full of energy and has no fear.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

He Survived

Congratulation go to my hubby who survived his first semester at The College. I won’t lie and say it was easy. It sure had it’s stressful moments, especially the second week of exams, but he handled it all very well and made it through. He does not have all his marks yet to know where he sits right now … but for now he’s just relaxing and enjoying the fact that he physically survived one semester.

The kids are thrilled to have their daddy back for a few weeks … and I’m trying to adjust my thoughts so that neverending backgrounds message (“don’t bug him now, he’s too busy”) stops running for a few weeks. It’s a weird but lovely feeling to have him around more, to be able to chat more, to see him spending more time with the kids and the family and not to always think that he has to get back to his books. Mind you that does not mean he has left his books behind. He is still busy studying, but at a more relaxing pace with more interruptions, sidetracks and little chores inbetween. We had to enforce that he must take one week completely and entirely away from his books so that his poor mind can relax. He plans to do this from Christmas to New Years. It’s even great that right now he is driving while I’m “working” on his computer … quite backwards from normal where his head is usually buried in the books or flashcards while I drive.

To start of the celebration of the end of exams the students, faculty and their spouses had a potluck luncheon, a time to sit back, relax, eat and do some singing. During the past semester each Tuesday afternoon a group of guys would get together to stretch their voices a bit and put together some sounds in order to relax their minds and take some time away from those books. In keeping with all the funky odd Astrix and Obelix style subject names the student choir is better known as Cacofonix. They sounded lovely and were a nice start to some singing fellowship. And in case we hadn't eaten enough or seen enough of each other the majority of the students and their wives got together again in the evening to relax, chat, play games, socialize and just kick back. Although the guys all go to the same small school they are usually so buried in their work that they don't get the opportunity to really get to know each other, and so these opportunities provide a chance to see the more relaxed side of their collegues. As wives we get together at various times to socialize, study, do crafts, etc and this also helps us to get to know each other and support each other during these years. Oh ... and in case you're wondering .... as a farewell gesture to the guest lecturer from Holland, many students wore orange. Otherwise you would not see Rob in orange, nor in a T-shirt at the college

And the above picture is just to say that as of November 21st Rob has officially graduated from McMaster University ... he now has the piece of paper to go with all the hard work it took to get through that leg of the journey.

We have no big plans for the holidays … just to relax and enjoy our time together, with various visiting etc. … this is big enough plans for us. We hope you all (especially his fellow colleagues) enjoy this holiday season. As we relax and enjoy these festive times let us not forget the true meaning of the season, the Saviour who was born for us, that He may free us from our sins.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Four years ago we welcomed into our lives our second son, James Robert. While we no longer celebrate this day as a birthday in the normal sense this does not mean that the day does not go by without remembering the birth that did occur. So much has happened in the past four years that it seem like a lifetime ago, but as I look through the photo albums it all comes back like it was yesterday. I have to fold some wash today and while I fold wash I often pop in a video ... I look forward to watching some of James' life again today

On November 23 we took some time as family to celebrate the life of James. We set aside the day to remember the special boy who touched our lives so drastically. It was also a blessing that this day was a Sunday and so we had to opportunity to be uplifted by the preaching of the word also during this day.

Between church services we went to visit the grave site. I had been previously to see the stone but the rest of the family had not. When James passed away the girls each bought a rose in their favourite colour (blue for Mareitta, red for Rebecca) and placed them in the coffin with James. So this year the girls each bought a rose again and layed them by his stone. They already talk about how they're going to do the same next year. We wanted to add something special to the stone to say "James" and so we also placed James' favourite truck, a Leon's delivery truck on the foundation of his stone. Much thanks goes to the Leon's Customer Service Rep who took the extra effort to track down one of these little trucks for us that were used for a promotion a couple years ago.

In the evening we took some time to watch the movie Babe. James watched this movie endlessly for his last couple weeks of life. He could not talk to tell us what he found so special about it, but he only want to watch this movie and so we watched it pretty much around the clock for those two weeks and it holds a very special place in our hearts. We also took some time to look through James' memory box and talk about some of the things in there. Although the day had it's sad moments it was a nice day overall.

Many have asked how thing went during the month of November and overall I can say quite well. As the montage we posted says "not a day goes by that I don't think of you". This remains true. During the month of November this may have been more so then normal but it was not any harder then normal. And while we cried a bit extra especially on the 23rd it was not overwhelming and it was nice to take some time out to specifically remember a life that meant so much to us.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all those who did remember us on this day by sending us cards, emails, notes, etc. We especially loved the little notes/stories that told of peoples memories of James. It's always to special to hear other peoples perspective or memories, sometimes reminding us of things we had forgotten about and sometimes telling us things we had never heard before.

There are many, many things we learned for James. For such a small child he sure taught us a lot, but if there is one thing that we really learned it is to cherish each day we have. To slow down and take as much time as we can to enjoy our family and the treasures we have around us. What a gift and blessing our little James has been in our lives!!