Sunday, December 5, 2010

Off the Grid

Okay, I'm probably not going to say anything here that those who read here haven't already figured out. Off the grid; off line; taking a sabbatical...I'm just not hanging out in cyberspace lately. Having a 6mos old baby and a grade six student in one house pretty well keeps me busy. I haven't been able to shake the 'baby brain' just yet when it comes to keeping my days organized - some days are better than others.

However, there is more to it. In times past when my days were too busy for writing my thoughts down I still found time to sit and read other blogs for fun and for encouragement as a christian, homeschooling mom. That isn't happening much these days. The interest for the 'computer zone' just isn't there.

I'm sure it will return. Even as I write this, I'm thinking about all the things in my life right now that I should be writing down. This blog was started so that I could think through my issues in life in order to help me become the woman God would want me to be in this life. I have always found writing out my personal studies, personal problems and even personal successes to be helpful in my learning process - I can be quite slow in that. Not to mention all the pictures we have to share!

Life will go on without my blog updates, I know. One day soon the need to express myself here will return! Hopefully the time to do it will come as well. Stay tuned!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Working with Discretion

Since Hoss is a breast feeder it makes things alot easier for travel. As long as he and I are together and we can find a place to sit, we're all set. This has been great for our camping trips, shopping trips and, of course, our trip to Niagara Falls. Even for everyday activities it has proven to be convenient for any schedule we may be trying to keep - including Sundays for church.

Hoss is still wanting to eat every 2-3 hours during the day, and I had started out trying to adjust the schedule if we had plans to leave the house. Just a little 'tweaking' of the timeline to be able to go out of the house and not need to feed him while we were out. This could cause quite a bit of frustration for him and myself - not to mention my husband who would be sitting outside waiting for us to finish nursing and come dashing to the car. I could not remember ever doing this with Duck, who was also breastfed. Finally I came to the conclusion that I had not done this with Duck because it was better to let her eat when she wanted and not interfere with that natural scheduling. So now, that is what Hoss and I do. We nurse everywhere.

Let's see...McDonald's, parking lots, beaches, campgrounds and church. The only place that has given me pause to reconsider this practice is church.

Now, I am very discreet. In the sanctuary of our church, there is a back corner fireplace with a love seat beside it. If Hoss needs to eat, we sit back there and no one needs to know it. It helps that our pastor preaches without his glasses and therefore can't see the front row of the congregation, never Hoss and I at the back! (There was that church we visited while camping where the pastor was caught a little off guard when looking at the back row and seeing me sitting alone with a poncho draped over myself and two little feet kicking out - quite the look crossed his face)

So what has given me reason to reconsider this whole set up? Hoss has yet to learn discretion in the process.

Hoss loves to nurse. Hoss loves to eat, period. His love of eating is easily understood by the yummy noises he makes (breathe, mmmmm, breathe, mmmmm, breathe, mmmmm, etc.) Several people in the back row of the congregation can be seen with their shoulders shaking as they laugh silently about the sounds emanating from the back corner.

All in all, everyone has been generous in seeing Hoss' habit as cute rather than annoying. A little blessing in belonging to a small church where everyone knows each other well enough to be open about such things.

Of course, how could anyone be annoyed at this:

Friday, October 15, 2010

Autumn Vacation

Our recent, generally annual trip to Niagara Falls was wonderful. Just like camping, we went on the trip with the understanding that if Hoss didn't manage well, we would head for home. Just like camping, Hoss enjoyed the trip as well as the rest of us. Travelling this far south in the fall means the flowers in Niagara are still blooming beautifully. This the town clock in Niagara on the Lake:Part of our tradition is to stop by a particular market that has jams, jellies, salsas, etc. made from their home grown produce. It is ridiculously exspensive, but they have free samples. We make our way around the store and try everything. Generally I buy some salt water taffy from them, but this year they decided not to make it! Very disappointing, but the samples were still good:For the first time, we visited Fort George on the Niagara River. The replication of the fort is pretty cool. The history behind the war of 1812 is all over Niagara, of course, but the fort (and the tour inside) makes it come alive to see how soldiers and their families lived during that time. The old guns and armoury is neat to see, too: You've heard the phrase, 'go soak your head' - seriously, at this point Duck and her dad were alone with the camera. I have no idea what they are doing:
For country bumpkins like us the hotel is just as much part of the vacation as visiting outside the city. Duck was quite the pool shark after a few games. We always pick a hotel with a good pool area and free breakfast - those are essentials:
Even though we have a video of Hoss in the pool for his first time, we don't have a picture. This however, is what he looks like after a day of heavy 'partying' with his big sister:

We are very thankful that God gave a baby that will travel with us to our usual haunts. How relaxed is that?

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Summary of Summer

It has truly passed by in a flash! Here we are enjoying our usual vacation time in September/October and I don't remember much of summer - I guess that can be expected when it was spent in so many hospitals. So here is a quick picture summary of our activities of late:
First day of rice cerealA birthday party IN Algonquin Park. The family throwing the party works in the provincial park for the summer (dad is a bush pilot) and most of the festivities were held in the plane hanger - cool! The kids had face painting done.Hoss is known as of late as 'the pickle', so that strange thing on his forhead is...a pickle!Even after the party was over, we camped at the homestead of the host family for a couple of nights. Well...OK, we stayed in a trailer with full kitchen and indoor plumbing. Not really ruffin' it for first time camper Hoss.We took a semi-school trip to Sainte-Marie Among the Hurons, in Midland, Ontario. Long drive, but neat day. Here is my husband with a fox hat.Taking Hoss means having to find places to breastfeed. We're hiding in one of the display houses here - and take a few people by surprise when they realize what I'm doing!Here's the real camping trip. We spent three nights in a tent, but had good weather and a good portable heater!Don't let the smiles fool you...these two puberty queens can be really scary!
An autumn wedding. Two young people from our church who actually did it God's way! They met in the fall of 2009 and followed through on their convictions in courtship/purity. A real blessing to finally see it done right!Two beautiful children standing in the receiving line. OK, I'm biased.

And there you have it. Our summer in a nutshell. I have several other posts that are half written - sooner or later I'll finish them and get them out. Hope your summer and autumn has been a good to you, too!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The 'P' Word

Many years ago, when my husband and I were DINKS (double income, no kids) we did some unusual things. One particular event involved housing a raccoon in our home. My husband worked for a wildlife rehab and sanctuary at the time, and when they were overrun with raccoons at one point we decided to take one home and care for it. It was a baby raccoon, but she was She was given the name of Beatrice, because we thought she needed a moniker that provided some lady-like character to her. It would prove to be the only thing about her that was lady-like.

She was greedy, selfish, gluttonous and could be very nasty during her play. Oh, but she was adorable! The two dogs we had at the time did not agree with this assessment. My doberman/shepherd was a senior in age and did her best to simply ignore the intruder. This proved difficult when Beatrice would 'hunt' her in the living room. The raccoon would sneak up behind the dog, grab her backside and run away. The old dog would move to a new spot and sigh as she laid down again. This was before we owned a video camera otherwise we could have easily won the America's funniest video with this daily occurrence.

The other dog was only about 5 years old and did not have any patience for the wild rodent that had invaded her home. She was a black lab cross so these creatures were for hunting and killing as far as she was concerned. After some training, she came to realize that she was not allowed to harm this raccoon and it was a very confusing set up for her. So she came up with a solution. She moved into the closet. As soon as the racoon's cage door was opened, the Lab went to the bedroom and settled into the closet. A place of refuge and safety from the creature that she wanted to kill.

We often remember this situation when we talk about trying to avoid unpleasant things now. Laughing about how much better it would be if we could just move into the closet and ignore the unpleasantness, whatever it may be.

Well, the unpleasantness at the moment is the 'P' word. Our beautiful, almost 11 year old girl has been transformed by the 'P' word. Puberty. Lord help us!

All of a sudden there is drama everywhere. Anxiety is oozing out of her daily routine.

"What if I'm not really sorry for my sins?"; "How do I really know that God loves me?"; "How do I really know that I love Him or you?"; "Do you think boys notice me?"; "If I don't clean my room perfectly every time, is that disobedience?"

Every topic from God to boys to personal hygiene to daily chores is being questioned to death. If her father and I try to talk about anything in depth the tears start to fall. At one point, I sent her to her room for a full afternoon because I needed to breath for awhile.

I know, I know, this too shall pass. In the mean time pray for me! My patience is hanging on by a thread. My husband has moved into the closet.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A Decisive Man

As I mentioned in the previous posts about Hoss, he came home from hospital with a feeding tube in his nose(NG tube). I have hated that tube from the first week it was inserted. It was necessary in the beginning simply because Hoss did not have the 'natural' skill to suck, swallow, breath - in that order. For the first 2 1/2 weeks since he was born, Hoss received all his nutrition from an IV line. Once he started to wake up more, we needed to get his gastric system moving - so, tube in and he started taking 2ml of breast milk. Seriously, just 2ml (30ml = 1 ounce) to test out his digestion and elimination. It did increase quickly, and before too long he was receiving 80ml of breast milk through the tube every three hours.

Here is where the problem arose. The tube enters through Hoss' nose and goes down his esophagus and into his stomach. The tube is there constantly, so his stomach entry cannot close completely. This causes regurgitation and acid reflux. The tube can irritate the esophagus and cause increased mucous build up - this happens in the nose, too. Therefore, whether he took 2ml or 80ml of milk something always came back up. The smell of acid was prevalent in his burps and the coughing and sneezing could make him mad.

How is this tube a good thing?

Adding to the trouble with the presence of the tube, the hospital staff insisted on following a chart about the amount of intake rather than looking at Hoss as an individual. Remember, policy and procedure comes before common sense. Eventually, the hospital was increasing his intake to 115ml every four hours (I had to request that it be 4 hours apart vs. 3h) and immediately after the machine stopped pumping the milk into him, he would throw up at least 1/3 of it. The gurgle from his stomach was audible from a good distance and was quickly followed by a huge amount of spit up (change that, it wasn't a 'spit up' it was a throw up!)

All this I put up with in order to just get him home! I knew once I had him in my own house I could start adjusting his care to suit his needs. And that is exactly what I did. From the moment we walked in the door, Hoss' eating schedule was changed to every two hours at a total of 2 oz - I would work with him to take a whole ounce from a bottle and the remainder came through the tube. It was hard work and could be very frustrating. Really, a baby is supposed to know how to eat, right!?

The spit up still happened, but it was only small amounts - like any baby can have. However, Hoss was not progressing on the bottle very quickly. Part of his therapy was to encourage him to take a pacifier (to improve his suck), he did not like the 'doe-doe' as we call it. So the question remained, 'how are we ever going to get rid of the tube if Hoss won't take a bottle?'

I have found a few ladies on-line who had been through the experience. This brought mixed encouragement as some of their children have taken to the bottle after a few weeks of working on it, but some children are still on the tube after their 1st birthday! "Please God I don't want this tube here that long!"

One week to the day that we arrived home from hospital, Hoss was literally spitting out the nipple from his bottle each time it was offered to him. He was getting mad at me for sticking back in his mouth and I was getting frustrated with him for constantly turning his face into my chest.

Wait a minute...duh! Hoss was looking for the breast. So, I offered it to him half-heartily - not really expecting much. Then he nursed for 25 minutes in total. Go figure. All this time the experts were insisting the therapy with the bottle was the only way - and I was listening. Even an anti-socialist like me can get caught in the trap of ignorance. It took an infant to point it out to me!

From that point on, Hoss has chosen the breast over bottle. He is taking a doe-doe now, which is something I am most grateful for at 4 a.m. To top it all off, three days after he decided he would be a breast fed boy, he also pulled out the NG tube by himself. Which is good, because I might have received some prying questions from doctors if I had removed it. Did I mention how much I hated it?

Meet the tubeless wonder boy: First day at the beach!So there you have it...a little child shall lead them.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Policy and Procedure

Living in an institution can really bring the characteristics of a society to light. While Hoss was in different hospitals during his first 6 weeks of life, I was living in and around those hospitals, too. As both Hoss and I started to come out of our respective comas (his drug induced, mine emotionally induced), I started questioning different events that were directly affecting our situation - much to the chagrin of some of the medical staff.

The first incident involved the use of morphine on my little guy. Yes, I understand he would have a heck of a headache from the brain hemorrhage, but morphine is not a drug that I have ever appreciated. I have seen it do some nasty things to people and had some loopy moments myself on the one occasion that it was prescribed to me. So I asked for the plan to reduce it in Hoss' medication regime. The standard answer, "that's up to the doctor."

Well then...let's get hold of the doctor. I patiently listened to the doctor's explanation as to why the drug was implemented. Then asked again..."what is the plan to reduce it?"

Slowly the staff realizes I am not going to nod my head up and down at their 'expert' opinion and then they actually set a plan to reduce, then remove the drug from the medications that Hoss is taking. Excellent decision.

Keep in mind that I truly see SickKids hospital as a place that does incredible work with some amazing success stories. The staff are gentle and kind to parents as well as the patients. However, even the staff can become institutionalized in the way they operate. That means they stop thinking in individualized cases and stick to policies and procedure (or protocol is another word they like to use). Where I ran into the most difficulty with this lack of common sense in favour of policy and procedure was at the second, smaller hospital after leaving SickKids.

When an infant is born in hospital and has never been discharged to home, that infant is always placed in the hospital nursery rather than a general paediatric unit. So it was for us when transferred out of SickKids. The second hospital booked us right into their nursery that was set up to hold 6 infants at one time. However, during our two week stay that nursery held up to 10 babies because of sudden admissions from OB. It was tight quarters!

As Hoss began to improve, I found the situation inappropriate for his needs. Because of the many parents, visitors and staff coming and going through the nursery it was difficult for Hoss to concentrate on learning to take a bottle (I had given up on breastfeeding earlier and started expressing the milk due to the lack of privacy). The high number of babies in the nursery also made it nearly impossible for the staff to work with Hoss on his bottle when I was not there. It was much easier for the nurses to just plug him into the machine on his feeding tube. Therefore, I would spend four days at 12 - 14 hours in the nursery in the hospital working with Hoss to improve his feeding skills only to leave for two days at home and he would not have any practice at all.

(BTW this same problem occurs for the elderly that I have generally worked with in my former career. Therapy of any kind simply does not happen with hospital staffing levels. It isn't the nurses to blame, they simply do not have the time to put into therapy exercises. If a senior has a hip replaced, the exercises and walking practice simply do not occur with hospital staff. Which leads to the adage 'people do not get better in the hospital' - at least not where the extra time is needed.)

This gave rise to my approaching the staff about Hoss being moved out of the nursery to a general paediatric room where parents are expected to stay 24hours to provide the extra care. Once again I ran into the policy and procedure wall.

Doctor, with patient look of condescension, "it isn't the general practice to move an infant out of the nursery when they have never been discharged to home before"

Me: "I understand that, however, for Hoss it would beneficial to improving his feeding skills - which is the only thing left to work on before his discharge"

Doctor: "well, general paeds is considered to be more infectious because of the people being admitted from home. Hoss would be vulnerable to several new viruses. Now, if he doesn't progress on his intake at the bottle we may look at sending him home with the feeding tube in place. But, that would be in the future and isn't generally done either."

Me, with patience and polite tone: "Are you telling me that the nursery is less likely to have viruses enter it? This nursery that has 4 babies more than it is supposed to have, therefore 4 families more sharing the room all together. Plus all the visitors that come into the open nursery to visit all 10 babies and, because of the extra babies, the nurses that are currently working on both general paeds and in the nursery - when Hoss would have a private room in general paeds with just his own family visiting. How is this a better set up?"

Doctor, with stunned look replacing look of condescension, "well, I guess that does sound unreasonable when looked at it in that way...but, policy and procedure have been set up this way."

Me, working really hard not to be condescending: "Tell me who to talk to about changing policy and procedure for Hoss' best interests. He needs his mom here around the clock in order to provide his direct care. Unless anyone can guarantee that his occupational therapy will be completed properly even when I am not here."

Doctor, with look of resignation, "I'll see what we can do."

One day later, Hoss was moved to general paediatrics. The room had a pull out bed for me and was private - no roommates. The nurse on duty that day looked at me with an amused smile, "I do not know how you managed this, but I know that alot of moms in the nursery have asked before and have been told it does not happen. After all,..."

I finished her sentence for her, "I know...policy and procedure."

Hoss and I were in the hospital for four more days. We did get discharged home with the feeding because I pulled out the secret weapon that the 'experts' find hard to ignore.

"I am a nurse, after all." Never mind that I am an experienced mom that is confident in the care I provide to my child. Never mind that no one cares more about my son's health than myself and my husband. That would not have convinced the 'experts' to discharge us with what is considered a complex medical concern. However, being a nurse hits the right button and everyone breaths a big sigh of understanding.

After all, as a nurse I totally understand policy and procedure.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Though He Slay Me... (part 2)

I was so angry with God, but afraid to say it out loud. Is it okay to angry with God? Will He strike me down if I admit it to anyone? The bible tells me in several places to 'pour out my heart', but my heart didn't have anything nice to say to Him. Why is He putting my family through this trauma? Why is my newborn son's life hanging in the balance after waiting ten years for another child?


My son was born on June 13th and I was having this conversation with myself in my first full shower on June 15th in the parent's room at SickKids hospital in Toronto. The neonatologist had visited us this same evening to discuss the findings of his assessments and tests so far. The doctor's best guess was that our son had suffered a stroke during birth - because he was big and came fast. The only test remaining to complete was an MRI, which would be completed that night. We would have confirmation on a diagnosis within 24 hours, but we needed to be prepared for the possibility that our baby would not breath on his own, may never walk or come out of a constant seizure state.

How does a parent sleep after a conversation such as this? I can tell you, there is no sleeping.

We could visit our boy anytime we wanted, 24hours a day. He was on such heavy medications, including three seizure drugs, that he was unconscious. The many tubes and wires that were attached to him made it difficult to touch him and he was very swollen from many needle pricks and fluids he had received. All this, and the machine doing the breathing for him, he looked more like a robot than a baby.

The next 24hour wait is very much a blur in my mind. I know I ate, because my dad and his wife came and brought food to us. I know I walked around the hospital, because I remember feeling great resentment about how cheery they had made the environment (I wanted my surroundings to be just as black as I felt). I know my husband was at my side the entire time, because I remember holding his hand almost constantly. What I don't remember is talking, or thinking, or acknowledging anything. Both my husband and I were living in a fog.

For as much as we, as parents, were being drawn through the 'valley of death', our little Duck was having a hard time, too. In some ways it was harder for her because she was not at the hospital with us. She was seperated from her entire family and had little information other than her new baby brother was very sick. We were trying to protect her from the worst, but she is far more intelligent than we were giving her credit for being - she already had started praying for a miracle.

We finally reached the next evening and the neonatologist returned to our room, bringing the social worker and the duty nurse with him. This, to me, was a sign that he wanted extra support for the negative news he was about to deliver. He drew a picture of a brain to show us what had been discovered from the tests. Our son had suffered a brain bleed in the left ventricle of his brain. The blood that had collected in the ventricle had caused the seizures and some brain damage could be seen on the wall of the ventricle.

He raised his head to look at us and said, "this is far better news than a diagnosis of stroke".

What? This is good news?

The doctor continued to explain that the bleed had stopped on it's own and the blood would also reabsorb on it's own - our bodies are made to work that way. The damage was a small area on the wall of the ventricle that may affect our boy's right sided motor skills and his vision (they know this because the brain is mapped out very well). However, because he is just newborn, there may not be any noticeable affect. As he grows and learns to grab and walk and use his right side, he may simply adapt to any weaknesses and develop normally.

Yes...this was much better news than a stroke, which would have damaged a much larger portion of his brain. The doctor smiled at us and said, "I'm glad my initial assessment was wrong."

At this point, my nurse brain snapped back on - I started asking about care plans, future therapy, reductions in medications, etc. It didn't take me long to move past the dark world that I had been living in and move to a place of hope again.

It took a little longer to reconcile my feelings toward the Lord. The prayer of thanks was immediate, but I didn't have the answer to my 'why?' question. In the end, I have concluded that we are 'vessels of clay' and He will 'have mercy on whom He will have mercy.' I serve a soveriegn God and although I don't understand the purpose in this event, I simply accept that He had a purpose - and I may never know what it was.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than you thoughts. Isaiah 55:8&9

To make the final part of the story short, our little man spent three weeks in SickKids before being transferred back to the first NICU where his seizures started. He stayed in that hospital for another two weeks and then CAME HOME! He came home with a feeding tube in place, but he was bright eyed and active. That activity has shown that his right arm and leg are strong and moving just as much as his left side!

I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. Psalm 139:14

I will expound on some of the details that I've skipped over here (including a commentary about why I still don't support socialized medicine). However, with a newborn boy keeping me busy at home - the posts may be slow in getting out.

Meet 'Hoss':

And the best babysitter I could ever have:

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Though He Slay Me... (part one)

When expecting a child, most women daydream of the time they hold their new little one in their arms. To be able to gaze into your newborn's eyes, count ten fingers and ten toes. These anticipations are the thoughts that come at the end of a pregnancy - at least, that's where my thoughts were before June 13th of this year. My son was born that day. Just five days overdue.

I woke up at 1:30 a.m. in labour and woke the rest of my family by 2:30 a.m. to get ready to go to the hospital. After phoning the OB nurse at that same time, my water broke and we quickly headed out the door. Only a short labour period past and my son was born at 3:57 a.m. - that's only 2 1/2 hours from beginning to end. Some women with long labours may be impressed, even jealous at this expediency. Don't be, it was not a good thing.

Our handsome boy weighed in at 9lbs and 6 1/2 oz, 22 inches long. He was very bruised about his head because of the speed he came through the birth canal. Immediately, the medical staff noted that his blood sugar was too low and started the process to raise it. Their efforts did not improve the situation and within 5 hours of delivery we were transferred from our small town hospital to a more technologically advanced Neonatal Intensive Care Unit about an hour south of us. Little did we know the events that were to come.

Because my boy was in the care of a NICU with 24hour monitors and high ratio of staff to patient it was noted that he started to have seizures. In fact, the seizures became continuous to the point that he would stop breathing and require resuscitation. This is only day two of his life. Before this day was over, my son was intubated onto a full time respirator and we were being transferred to The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto with no idea why the seizures were happening or if they could get them under control. More seriously, would our son ever breath on his own again. We had only held him for a short time after his birth and I had not been able to nurse him yet.

When we arrived at SickKids hospital, we were presented with the some of the initial test results and physical assessments. They did not know why the seizures were occurring. They did not know why this baby boy would not breath on his own. They only knew that we should be prepared for the possibility of having to say 'goodbye' to our boy after only saying 'hello' a few short hours before.

This isn't how it is supposed to happen. Not only did I start sending desperate cries to God, I had so many questions as to 'why' He would allow this to happen to my family. While I am questioning Him, I'm also trying to answer my 10 year old daughter's questions that are the same as mine. 'Why, Lord, why?' I didn't have an answer for her. All we could do was cry together as a family...and wait.

I was drawn to the book of Job - here was a man who had suffered much and maintained his faith:

What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? Job 2:10b
Though he slay me, yet will I trust him: Job 13:15
Obviously, I wanted a positive ending to our trauma. I did not want to share in Job's strengths by losing my child. I did not want to say goodbye.
(more to come as I am able to write it)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Making It Official

Let me start by saying 'thank you' to the lovely ladies who have emailed me to ask about my extended absence on the blog. I am fine, the baby is fine. The e-notes just brought forward the need to sign off the web world...albeit temporarily.

It isn't that I haven't had post ideas on my mind, in fact I have several notes jotted down. I just haven't got the energy to stay awake for my usual blogging time, which is after Duck and Dad are in bed. Somewhere between 10 p.m. and midnight I still enjoy visiting and reading other blogs, but pulling out the keyboard and concentrating on my spelling and grammar is just beyond my brain (baby brain!) at this point in my pregnancy.

So, I am signing off for a blogging sabbatical. At least for a few months until my life has returned to a normal energy level and some semblance of routine. If you want an announcement when the baby arrives, just email me and I will be sure to keep you in the loop.

You will see me around the web world visiting though - I need the encouragement that is always found at my favourite sites!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Slippery Slope

Not too long ago, my husband became acquainted with a man who has only been a Canadian in the last ten years. Originally from Czechoslovakia, he is a little older than we are (mid 50's) and therefore he grew up in a communist regime.

He describes his childhood as pleasant and family oriented, with strong connections to community. He remembers that although there was limited choices for manufactured goods, everyone had enough -very little differences between classes of people. Owning a home or land was set up by 'promising' to work within a factory for a certain number of years - but it was a great possibility for people. Life as a young man in this arena meant learning many trades through hands-on work, i.e. if you wanted fresh vegetables, you learned to farm or traded with someone who farmed. Admittedly, there were strict political rules, but he does not recall feeling 'oppressed'.

Why did he leave and come to Canada? Communism fell and socialism moved in. He describes his old country as going from relatively crime free to a place that was unsafe to raise children. The change from an entrepreneurial and neighbourly spirit among people to a 'what's in it for me' state.

This man is very gracious in his comparisons with Canada. Not actually saying things were better under communism, but gently questioning whether socialism is better. And Canada is certainly socialist. Over time, Canadians have gotten exactly what they asked for and more. A nanny state.

In this country, there are drastic differences in the social classes. I do believe that the opportunity to be overtly wealthy is still out there for the hard working, entrepreneurial type. However, it is less likely with the apathetic laziness that increases with each generation raised by the state agencies.

The United States has little sprouts of socialism, too. The other day I was following some links on the story of a young girl who died at the hands of her adoptive parents. These parents claim the the death occurred because they were following the child training program from the Pearl's ministry.

Now, anytime the secular world can criticize those who call themselves christian, they do so with gusto! However, reading a lot of the comment threads of these stories, the Christians are hopping on the bandwagon of criticism. too. So many people wrote about their dislike of the Pearl's ministries and agreeing that they are to blame for this child's death (and apparently other's). A call to "someone needs to stop people like this", again referring to the Pearl's ministries.

Whoa...Hold on there, partner. I smell socialism.

If "someone" is going to want the Pearls stopped, then it will likely be an agency to govern free speech. A blessing that the U.S. citizens have at this time. The Pearl's can preach, teach, write about anything they want - no one has to listen to them.

"But what about the poor, unlearned and susceptible people who get taken in by these dangerous ministries?"

Then those 'poor, unlearned and susceptible people' are responsible for their own choices and actions. I don't agree with the Pearl's doctrine or their teachings on a whole, either. I have read several of their books and even ordered their newsletter, No Greater Joy, for a short period. I am still responsible for discerning between wisdom and foolishness - we all are.

When God tells us to 'study and show yourselves approved' (2 Timothy 2:15), He isn't talking about algebra! As Christ's representatives on earth, we are wholly responsible to know how God would have us live - not any earthly ministry. Even my own pastor preaches things I do not agree with and have had to study the scriptures to confirm my own convictions on the given subject.

Let's stop making excuses for our own lack of biblical understanding and keep our eyes open for anyone who would lead us astray from God's true word.

If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. James 1:5

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Family Friendly

These title words used to hold a lot of value when making decisions for a family. A family friendly restaurant or movie would generally get business from families looking for certain level of service or entertainment. Over the years this term has changed in meaning as the family has changed. If the family is made up of unmarried, teen aged parents with little to no visible self respect in the way they dress, behave or speak...what exactly does family friendly mean?

The 'golden arches' used to be considered a family friendly place to sit and eat with the kids. I don't see it this way as of late. The music being piped into the dining room can be anything from too loud to too crude - or both. There has been one occasion where I spoke directly to the manager to point out the crude lyrics of the song being played (I won't even repeat it here) and had the music turned off. Oddly enough, no one complained about the lack of music.

Another occasion at this same food place, I stood in line waiting for our order only to be confronted with one young female staff member bending over to reveal her pink thong and at least half of her backside! This time it was one of the managers!

The same lack of value can be placed on movies deemed to be family friendly. Several years ago we learned the hard way that a G movie does not mean it is appropriate for kids. The movie was about a spelling bee for public school kids (and was actually very entertaining) when out of no where someone decided to add profanity to the show. You could have knocked me over when it happened. Even christian movie reviewers seem to have lost the concept of 'acceptable' entertainment when they are recommending movies with comments like: "there are only a few incidents of sexual innuendo", "the message in the story outweighs the fact that profanity is used a couple of times". Yes, those are actual comments by christian movie reviewers.

We can never forget the wisdom that God lays out for us about allowing evil to become even a small part of our lives.

Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? 1Cor. 5:6b

Simple, straightforward and plain as day for the christian to follow. It only takes a little bit of apathy toward sinful ways to give a good foothold for Satan to get into our lives - or the lives of our children. Don't be fooled...Satan wishes to sift us as wheat and will use any means to do it. It was Francis Schaeffer who said: "Show me what the world is saying today and I'll show you what the church will be saying in seven years." So true when we rely on the world to set a standard for our families.

Never be afraid to speak up about music invading your senses in public places - generally, the response is positive. Even if a request to silence the music is denied, it is an opportunity to teach our children about God's standards...and to find a new place to eat.

Thursday, April 1, 2010


This time of year the north brings some ugly sights. Yes, the grass is visible and buds are just starting to show on the branches, but the remainder of winter leaves an irrefutable 'yuck' in the last piles of snow that can be found on corners or just under clumps of trees. The problem is that this snow does not look like snow - the fresh, white, sparkling snow that we have had renewed each week since last November. It is dirty and a real eyesore to the landscape now. Each time I pass a pile of this leftover snow, I reminisce a little about the previous beauty of winter.

If I can be a little philosophical for a moment, it does remind me of how easily we can cover the filth in our lives with a good facade. This dirty snow was part of the winter landscape the whole time - it was just hidden under the surface of the fresh, clean snow. There are many times I am disappointed when someone's real character ends up being less than the sparkling snow I was presented with when I met them. You know, when the dirt in their life becomes more obvious after getting to know them better.

Our first impressions mean alot, that's true. However, if that first impression is just a thin layer of sparkle over some real dirt, two things are possible. First, eventually that dirt will be visible to those who become close to us. Second, we are so aware of our dirt that we refuse to let anyone get close to us in order to keep hiding it. Neither choice is a real glory to God.

There is no denying that we all have this lower layer of dirt. Thankfully the Lord has a much better way to cover it in a much more permanent way than the freshly driven snow!
Thou has forgiven the iniquity of thy people, thou hast covered all their sins. Selah.
Psalm 85:2

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Tightwad Tuesday

Hey! Look at me, I finally have something to add to Mary's weekly event! I lurk over at Tightwad Tuesday regularly, however, even though I am very cheap I don't often have anything original to offer. In fact, this idea may be a re-hashed one for frugal experts - but it is one that I have had to go back to using recently.

The price of milk has threatened on many occasions to bulge my budget and I really do not like powdered milk. Yes, I know the use of powdered milk is extolled by many a frugal housewife. It has been tried in my house and failed miserably. Lately, with the price of milk going up (yet again!), I have gone back to using a old method to skimp and save. Water.

No, not replace the milk with water. I buy 2% milk (in Canada in comes in bags, each bag holding 1 and 1/3 litres), then pour one bag into a 2 litre jug. The remainder of the jug is filled with water - i.e. giving me 2 litres of milk from 1 and 1/3 litres. The taste is similar, if not the same, as the 1% milk I usually buy. This is a method in which my family has not noticed any difference whether drinking the milk straight or in use for cooking and baking.

Just as a side note, the watered down milk also works with my kefir grains, too. If I could get my family to drink kefir alone - well, I won't hold my breath for that one!

More Tightwad Tuesday is over at Mary's site. Hopefully there will be other ideas that I can share in the future weeks.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

I'm still here - I barely make it behind the steering wheel, so where would I go? OK, so far it's only 16lbs added - much better than when I carried Duck 10 years ago! My husband take a little too much pleasure in snapping these side shots.

I do like being pregnant. Please excuse me while I search out something,, maybe salty...hmmmm

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A Pep Talk

Over the last few months Duck has been attending singing lessons with a young SAHM who lives just a few blocks from us. We had known this young lady previously from the church circle in town - that was before she was married with kids. Being a homeschooling grad herself, and a SAHM, we were glad to give her some business when Duck expressed an interest in singing.

After a few singing sessions, this teacher started talking about homeschooling. I have heard the story before, "I wanted to homeschool my kids, but didn't think I could manage with two girls of school age and a baby boy, too." It's a widely held fallacy (or sometimes just an excuse) that public school is better for the older kids if mom has an infant to care for, as well. Her husband was not homeschooled, so when she had doubts about it, he encouraged public school.

Our short conversations about how we homeschool seemed to be polite exchange only - maybe a little curiosity, but not real interest in changing her situation. So, I answered her questions and expressed how much our family has benefited from homeschool. With no intention of changing to public school now that we have a baby on the way. She would smile and nod and the conversation ended. Very typical of conversations I have had in the past with curiosity seekers. Little did I know what God was doing.

Soon the conversations became more probing and she told me she had been speaking with other homeschooling parents from her church. Again, I am cautious about 'pushing' homeschool on anyone. Too many times I have seen people jump on the band wagon without really having a conviction from the Lord to train up their children in a homeschooling atmosphere - something that I see as crucial for success. So, I continued to talk positively to this young mom and I gave her Voddie Baucham's video 'Children of Caesar' with a preliminary warning that he is staunch in his homeschooling beliefs.

Well she watched the video - three times in two weeks. She watched it with friends, with her husband and with her parents. She told me about the behaviours she has seen in her public school daughters that disturb her and her husband - and they are only in grade 1 & 2. She wanted more information. I had to be careful not to spoil things for her and not to build her up for a fall either.

Homeschool is hard. Some days it is impossible! Anyone wanting to get into homeschool needs to know this and be prepared. I told her about my experience and how the responsibility falls on me for each day to happen with contentment even when things go awry. I talked about the benefits of my close relationship with Duck and how when things are tense/stressed at home, it is usually me that's responsible for letting it get that far. I told her I wouldn't change it for anything! That my husband and I are committed and convicted to the successful raising of a 'person' - not just emulating public school and creating another clone for society.

Then I held my tongue, 'you take it from here, Lord.'

She has continued to move toward bringing her kids home. I'm glad to see the slow steps she and her husband are taking, because it shows she is taking the whole process seriously. She has borrowed our old grade 1 & 2 school books to look through. She has ordered curriculum catalogues and visited other homeschooling families to see how the day goes. It also appears she will take some of my other advice and attend a homeschooling conference this spring.

It is exciting to see a young family taking the step to be full time parents. It also brings anxiety - 'have I given good counsel? do I pose a good role model? Am I presenting a balanced view of benefits and challenges that will come? have I given a good testimony for the life God has provided by following His will?'

Only God knows - I'm sure He will show me the answers to these questions in time. Until then...

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
1 Peter 3:15

Monday, February 22, 2010

Who Are You?

Something new has happened in our house. Actually, it's happening outside of the house twice a day. Duck has a job.

A few weeks back, we were receiving strange messages on our voicemail. We all just assumed that the voice of the senior lady was calling the wrong number and we would have to be home to catch the call to tell her. The messages were generally the same, "hi, it's Barb. I'll try to catch you later or you can reach me at home." We don't know a 'Barb' and certainly didn't know how to get her at home. Even after three messages, she never left her number.

Finally, my husband was home to receive the call from her. This time she asked for me by name - ? So, he took her message, complete with phone number, so that I could call her back. Turns out she and I have never met (I always enjoy proof that I'm not crazy), but she had been given my name as someone who may be able to walk her dog for her. We talked over the details and arranged to visit her the following day.

'Barb' is a senior living independently in condo with only her little dog as regular company. For those of you who have never dealt with seniors on a regular basis, this scenario means the dog is spoiled rotten!

Anyway, she needed someone to take the dog, Missy, out twice a day for short walks. With her condo only a five minute drive away, my husband and I decided Duck could take on this responsibility until the end of April (that is the estimated time of when I will not fit behind the steering wheel of the car). Barb and Missy were happy with our suggestion and the deal was done.

Now, just before lunch and again before supper, we drive over and take Missy out to accomplish her duties. Sounds pretty simple, right? Don't forget, this dog is spoiled. First, we have to put on her outdoor clothes. Then, the walk needs to be at least 20 minutes, generally in the direction that Missy wants to go. When we return, she must be towelled off thoroughly because the snow clumps in her fur. Finally, we enter the kitchen and brush her teeth - because the vet prescribed this treatment.

It is a great lesson as part of homeschool and we may continue for a couple of days per week after April. Just not the full 7 days per week, which is a real drain on our daily scheduling.

All in all, Duck is learning a great deal about fulfilling a job well and taking care of her money. Get's ten dollars per day! That's $60 a week, because we volunteer our time on Sunday, and then she gets an extra $5 for teeth brushing. At this point, even though most of the paycheque is banked, Duck has more cash in her wallet than I do.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Living in the Fast Lane

Wanna know a fast way to feel really stupid? Try to program your computer. Yep, that's what we have been doing for a week now. The computer guy put a new operating system on for us, but we decided to program all the hardware ourselves (because we are cheap). How hard can it be, we asked ourselves. Unbelievably hard!

What we have realized through the process is that these computer guys got together and created their own language with back slashes, colons and short forms that make absolutely no sense to the common person. We could not have had a harder time if we had removed our brains before we started - actually, that may have helped!

In the end, the computer is running well. A new system has us on high speed for internet that also delivers our phone line, as well - no more Bell bills! The high speed is great for accomplishing tasks quickly and even listening to speakers/sermons on line. We have lost our program for watching/recording tv, though. The old operating system (Vista) had the program built in, and we used it alot. We did manage to put on a much simpler tv program, but there is no remote control (gasp!) and we haven't quite figured out how to work it, yet. So we'll still be roughing it in that area.

I have several posts ideas written out to share with the blog world. Now to find the time to do it...

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I'll Be Back

Right now we are having our computer rebuilt - to be better, faster...and more expensive. I have spent the last few days copying everything important onto CD because the computer guy is wiping the system clean and putting on a new operating system, as well as some new hardware.

Call it an impromptu internet fast, ala Jennifer at Conversion Diary. Kind of a forced fast, really. I think of things to share here on the blog several times daily and then remember it has to wait. Knowing my memory these days, I've had to implement the old fashion blog - pen and paper!

Hopefully, the technology will cooperate (HA!) and I will have my computer back soon. Think of me!

Friday, January 29, 2010

You Just Never Know

So much of this pregnancy has been the same as my first. I very rarely felt nauseous; I never throw up; and have similar cravings (tomatoes and pineapples - not together). So I have convinced myself that this was another girl. I know...not very scientific, but really, with only one pregnancy to go by it seems logical.

A little over a week ago, I had my first ultrasound. My friend, Lesley and Duck and I drove to the hospital with anticipation of seeing the baby for the first time. My husband and I had already chosen her name...Topanga Grace. The first name means 'unexpected' - get it? Unexpected grace! Which we thought was pretty cool. The ultrasound was just giving us confirmation to call her by name starting now.

Well, I was on that table for 45 minutes. The baby would not hold still for pictures (in fact, I have to go for a follow up u/s next week to try for better measurements). After about half way through, I had to ask to change position and the technician started talking about what she was seeing. At that point, I mentioned that we did want to confirm the gender if she could see that.

"Oh, I already know that.", she says with a grin.

"Can you tell me, or do I have to wait.", I ask as I bite my tongue to be patient with her.

"Sure, definitely a boy."


I was wrong. Something so rare I was speechless for a moment ;o)

So now the dilemma. We had no boy names prepared. Oh sure, we had tossed a few around in a casual manner early on...and there were some names we had considered in previous times. However, to officially be having a boy brings out the serious discussions! So here is a list of some of the top contenders. For the sake of being fair, I won't tell you which are mine, which are my husband's, or which are Duck's choices.

Comments and suggestions are encouraged!





Makobe (ma - KO - bee) - it means river, but mostly it is a combination of Mack and Jacob


We certainly talk about alot of others, but these are the ones that keep coming forward.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Still Cute After All These Years

Many years ago, probably when Duck was about 3 years old, she was famous for singing songs with her version of words. For instance, one that is always remembered fondly by my husband and I:
"it's amazing what praising can do...halla-lube-ya, halla-lube-ya!"
Now, at the great old age of 10, she is such a little lady. Well spoken, generally articulate and a good sense of humour. Also, still a real singer. The other day she was humming in the back seat of the car as we were headed for home:
"in the meadow we can build a snowman, and pretend that he is possum Brown..."
I guess she's unfamiliar with the word parson. Just a reminder that she is still a kid, and just as cute as when she was three.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Growing Apart

It happens in every marriage, I can't admit to being really surprised it is happening to mine. Some might think I should be more saddened by my husband and I growing apart, except I'm not talking about an emotional situation.

No. This is a physical thing that we have both noticed in the last couple of weeks. You see, I am taller than my husband by a small amount, but we have always managed to compromise about the position of the driver's seat in the car. Not anymore.

Either he is getting shorter or...OK, it's me. I'm the problem. At 20 weeks pregnant, I no longer can fit behind the wheel of the car without adjusting the seat. Everytime my husband gets into the driver's seat after I have been using the car, he can't reach to push in the clutch.

Actually, my repositioning of the seat is a bench mark for when I won't be able to work anymore. When I was pregnant with Duck all those years ago, I remember the day there was no posibility of driving anymore. That point is still awhile away - but that is when I need help to grocery shop, visit friends and go to work.

Never mind tying my own shoes, Duck is here for that when I need her, but soliciting for chauffeurs is another case altogether! I'll let you know when I get there!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Living on 'Time'

I'm not really a fan of Oprah. She certainly seems to be a nice woman with her heart set on helping people. Just helping in a temporal, worldy sense vs. an eternal and biblical sense. It's just that the few times I catch parts of her talk show, I'm left with a feeling of frustration in the 'help' she does offer.

The other day I was folding laundry and clicked on the TV for a little side entertainment - and there she was with her concerned expression for her guest. The woman sitting with her was describing how she had been living a fairytale life on Park Avenue with her investment banker husband and 3 kids with gala dinner parties among their affluent friends. Until one day she found her husband preparing a noose for himself in the middle of the night. She stated that it was only at that moment that her husband confessed that he had been indicted by the feds for fraud and was going to jail that very morning. Up to that point, as they talked over the noose, the guest stated that she had had no idea that there was anything wrong (oh, except her suspicions of her husband's marital affairs that she chose to ignore to keep the peace in their marriage).

Oprah: "So, how did you become so oblivious to these events with your husband?"

HMMM...because she chose to ignore those signs of trouble, just like she chose to ignore the affairs?

Or, because she was completely wrapped up in the parties and shopping and didn't really care to know any details?


Apparently, the reason she was taken so much by surprise was because she was "in the fog of motherhood".


Did she just say motherhood makes you stupid?

In fact, that was exactly what she was saying.

As she continued to talk, I stopped folding laundry. It seems because she had her 3 kids so close together, she ended up "surrendering" her independent, educated self to become "foolishly" dependent on her husband.

I don't want to shock anyone, but I have a different theory on what happened in this situation. Let's call it the credit vs. cash theory for marriage and life.

We have all heard how people have sunk in debt because they chose to live on credit. All the "experts" have taken up news time to explain the benefits of only using cash for purchases - getting rid of credit and debit cards in order to live on actual income, rather than borrowed. It's amazing to me that these experts spent so much time in school to learn this radical way of thinking. (Matthew 18:25)

This same cash vs. credit theory works for marriage and life, too. If we look at this woman's life, she enjoyed the perks of her Park Avenue lifestyle, however talked of nothing as far as a relationship with her husband (outside of the suspected affars). She like living on 'credit' - the image of having it all and the outside appearance of being affluent, whether she was actually affluent or not. She never really wanted to live on 'cash' for her life and marriage. Looking at the 'cash' - the reality - would mess up her image of herself. It isn't that she "surrendered" her independence to her husband in a loving, trusting marriage. She surrendered any wisdom she may have had for folly. (Proverbs 1:7 & 22)

Admitting that fact would be accepting true fault in the situation. Blaming the "fog of motherhood" removes personal blame a step away - "if only I wasn't a mother, I would have known what was happening". Certainly true motherhood takes up your day - and there are times when a mother may feel disorganized & disconnected. However, not to the extent of ending an active relationship with our husbands.

Of course, Oprah explained all this to her guest. NOT. Their discussion ended with how the woman got her life back by rejoining the workforce. Oh, yeah and dumping that awful husband.

Motherhood on the backburner. Marriage forgotten. A perfect life for an independent educated self - at least in the "fog of Oprahland".

Oh, the Pressure!

I am not spending alot time on the computer as of late and I turn it on this morning to find 10 messages! My apologies to those of you who asked questions, I will spend time this evening updating things. Thank you all for your encouragement - and the fact that you share some my trials (and laughter) is always a good feeling.

With this growing belly, I am having a hard time sitting at the keyboard, but I would love for each of you to visit when you can. Sometimes...occasionally...well, every now and then I have good ideas for posts.

I also look forward to visiting any sites that my visitors, I may be lurking!

A thank you to Jennifer for linking some of you!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A Quick Link

Jasmine, over at Joyfully Home, is running a giveaway - and I want to win! She has written a short review about 'Homeschool Dropouts', a new video from Western Conservatory. If you are interested in entering to win one of these videos, just click the link - here.

Thursday, January 7, 2010


We all do it. When we look at a stranger in a crowd that is dressed in an unusual manner, or speaking loudly, or is just plain...well, weird.

I know I do it even with those around who aren't really strangers - just acquaintances. Then I think I know all I need to know about them to set my opinion. However, if I'm being truthful, my opinions are based on assumptions. Then my interaction with these people is affected by my assumptive opinion. Not alot of love in that habit. Especially when compared to how the Lord chose to interact with me without any assumptions - He already knew everything about me!

That admission to a bad habit generally isn't enough to change it. Unfortunately my bad habits stick with me until God gets tired of waiting for me to improve. This is an example of becoming the victim of my own habit.

Without a doubt there are those in my small community who are making great assumptions about me right now. There are groups who assume this pregnancy was an 'accident' and, therefore, unwanted. There are groups who assume that after years of disappointment, I must have used special medical intervention to become pregnant. There are still others who assume that my Pastor (who is known to stand firm on God's sovereignty of the womb, and has encouraged other couples to seek this out scripturally) has talked my husband and I into this pregnancy - you know, convinced us to be more 'righteous'.

All these groups include both Christians and non. All assuming they know the 'why' of this pregnancy. They do not know me very well. They do not discuss their assumptions with me face-to-face. Just like me and my assumption habit.

Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.
Psalm 139: 5&6
No, I shouldn't make my opinions based on my assumptions of someone's outward appearance. I have no idea what is in their heart. Will I be able to change this bad habit? Well, I'm working on it - with God's help!
Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
Psalm 139: 23 & 24

Monday, January 4, 2010

A Vacation in Pictures

Obviously, after so many celebrations and a vacation away there are well over a hundred pictures of the events. I had a hard time choosing which ones to share here, but have a look anyway - our first part of Christmas came when we visited my dad...One of the favourite activities at Grampa and Gramma's house is using the burn barrel!Christmas morning and the Duck just opened her first 'real' camera. A real hit for a present...and the reason we will have more pictures like this:And this...We joined our friends for a Christmas dinner and ate far too much - of course.These are the leftovers (and the mess!)Every year we put together a gift basket for the whole family - trying to get something for everyone. What would a gift basket be without some crazy string?The crazy string was everywhere and stuck on everyone. My husband and I were innocent bystanders!The end of the evening was saved for games. We played Settlers of Catan and the men enjoyed Extreme Jenga.

Then, on the 27th, we all headed for Niagara Falls. The whole vacation was relaxing and fun! For the kids it's all about the pool:There was a sun room in the hotel that we used as a personal buffet room for our group. Bringing the groceries cuts down on the expenses.Christmas in Niagara Falls means the Festival of Lights. There were hundreds of displays like the one below. It was cold for walking, but we bared it for one night to see the many displays. There was a blessing in the mix, too. The pool at the hotel was closed down for maintenance one day, so the manager offered us an extra night FREE! The kids were thrilled - OK, so were the adults.

Now, we are home and happy to be in our own beds. The dogs missed us. It is hard to imagine getting back into the routine of school tomorrow, but all vacations must come to an end. (Sigh)

Happy New Year!