Thursday, August 27, 2015

The summer of the pregnant Goat

When we decided to buy a goat, I started looking for a pregnant goat so we could have the experience of watching little kid(s) being born and raising them. I found a lady on kijiji who assured me that the goat she was selling was pregnant and so we bought Mabel, a skittish sort of goat but we had high hopes she would make a great mother.
The goat- lady told me Mabel was probably due during the first week of July, the week we would be up north. My sister and her family kindly moved into our home while we were away to help when the goat went into labour. ( Helping, as in calling my dad and asking for his help with the birth!)
I spent hours watching youtube videos on goats giving birth, I consulted and marked up my go-to book, "Barnyard In Your Backyard", I even kept my fingernails short on the advice of the goat-lady in case I would have to "go in."
A birthing kit was thoughtfully put together and now it would just be a matter of waiting until the labour started.
Mabel continued to grow larger and larger and we wondered how large a goat could get. We came home from the cottage and still no babies.
Every morning I would peer through our windows, hoping to see a little kid.
Summer plans were tentative in case the goat went into labour.
I carefully watched for any signs of labour... louder bleating, rubbing along the fence, and noted the physical changes in the goat even though I had no idea what I was looking for.
I was obsessed with this goat, distressed with how long the pregnancy was taking, and defending the fact that she was indeed pregnant because some suggested that it probably wasn't so.
Finally I contacted the goat- lady and she told me that the first buck probably didn't work so it must of been the second buck.
The goat-lady gave me new due dates. I was disheartened to see we would be up north again during the new due date. Because my whole family would be away with us at the cottage, this time I found a wonderful teenage girl to take care of our animals and felt encouraged by her confidence.
Every day while we were away, I waited for the text sharing the exciting news. As the week went on and we passed the goat's due date by ten days, I started wondering if this could be a phantom pregnancy. I read that this is not uncommon among goats so I thought we should consider this.
We came home at the end of the week to a goat that was bigger than ever. Was this a phantom pregnancy? Were there twins in there? How big does a goat get anyways? These were all questions with no answers. Frustrating.
On Saturday I kept a careful eye on Mabel and near the end of the afternoon I decided to go for some groceries.(Six starving males in a household is no fun!)
 I took a look at the goat before leaving, (no signs of labour) and headed off to the grocery store taking my jolly old time because I was by myself. Groceries can be fun and relaxing with no kids around.
Meanwhile at home, our kids were watching kids be born!
 I wasn't even at the end of the road when Liam noticed something happening. He ran and got Adam and the rest of the boys and within minutes they all watched the first kid being born. The second kid was born 15 minutes later.
 I came home a little while later to excitement and flurry. I had missed the whole thing. The birthing kit wasn't used - the birth was a text book birth, much to Adam's relief, and there was no need for me to do anything.

Meet Mandy and Miller

Minutes after Miller was born.

Within 15 minutes this little guy was standing. Doesn't he look just like his mom?

Liam takes care of the animals at our home. This picture suits him perfectly!

This experience of having baby goats is better than I thought it could be. They are adorable. Within days they were climbing, leaping, and when they run it looks like a prance. You could spend hours watching them in action.

Monday, August 10, 2015

the first kiss

It was the summer of  '95. Adam and I were 14 years old but that was the only thing we had in common. We had attended school together and were even in a split class. He was good looking, smart, a natural athlete. I, on the other hand avoided gym class and tried hard to blend into the background.
Somehow our families ended up at the same cottages that summer. I don't remember much about that week except for the evening when a group of us new teenagers gathered around the campfire way up on top of a hill by the old farmhouse; far away from the parents. As we sat there roasting marshmallows someone suggested the game "truth, dare, double-dare, promise to repeat." Everyone was having fun, laughing and enjoying the starry evening. Suddenly my ears perked up when I heard my name. I listened closely and gasped. Silently, I was having a fit. My cousin/friend, Leanne, dared Adam to kiss me. What! I questioned whether she could be a friend...who would do something so dreadful and embarrassing?! This cool guy giving me, the one with big awkward glasses and shinny braces, a kiss. This was more than humiliating. With a racing heart, I tried to think of a quick way to get out of this mess.
Before I could analyze the situation any further, I felt a quick peck on my cheek. Thankfully it was dark outside and no one could see me blushing. I just got my first kiss, from Adam and Adam gave his first me.

Fast forward two years. I was working in the greenhouse when the boss announced Adam would be a new employee. Even though the greenhouse was a small operation, I avoided Adam at work. I was shy around guys and thought of him as an over-confident guy- a nice way for saying a tad cocky. A few months past and I noticed a change in Adam. He was kind, caring, and there was a true humbleness about him. Through conversations I learned the Lord had worked in his heart while he was at Camp Tamarac, a Christian camp for young people. The Lord had such an impact in his life, Adam wanted to share what He had done. "His cry for help was turned to praise, and He had set him free." (ps. 66)

We started to show interest in each other and it became really obvious. At night we would sit for long hours at the computer and email over the slow dial-up all our deepest thoughts and feelings and then during the day at work or at school, we would totally ignore one another! We were so shy! This went on for a few agonizing months.
 One beautiful spring day, we were at a youth event together when a guy, Adam's spiritual mentor, stopped us and congratulated us on our relationship. He then gave me a book "Let Me Be a Woman" and Adam a book, "The Mark of a Man" both by Elisabeth Elliot. We thanked him for his thoughtfulness. Not only did he give us two well written books, but he helped us seal our relationship.

Four years later we were married on a warm summer day, August 10.

Last year we had the honour of being in the wedding party for our brother and sister-in law. Their wedding pictures were taken on the same porch where we had our wedding pictures.

***If there are any young people reading this story please take your time in your relationships, especially if you start dating at a young age. Our relationship was slow, but we never regretted it.
 Go to Christian young peoples camps and events. Enjoy this season that God has given you. When we were dating, if felt like forever before we could get married, but now looking back, it is a big blur, we can hardly remember those dating years.
We are still thankful to the young man who helped Adam through the beginnings of his spiritual journey. He took it upon himself to be available for Adam's questions and encouraged him. Perhaps you are that young man or woman that could help someone who is struggling. Your listening ears and prayers go a long ways.

"O let the Lord, our gracious God, Forever blessed be...Who safely holds our soul in life, and steadfast makes our ways" (ps. 66)

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Cesar - our fresh air kid

This year our family decided to look into the Fresh Air Fund, an organization that takes kids from New York and places them with families throughout Ontario during the summer. This allows kids to experience life outside of the city and in many cases, get relief from the pressures in their family life.
This is something that my family did while I was growing up and was something I looked forward to doing with our own family.
When you sign up with the program there is a interview, you supply three reference people and you also tell the organization if you would like a boy or a girl, and the age range your family is looking for. We knew we needed a boy. We also asked for a younger boy in hopes that he could come year after year and we could build a relationship. 

Cesar, age 7, from the Bronx

 We were worried how Cesar would do with animals but the worrying was all for nothing. When we brought Cesar to our home, he jumped out of the van and gave our dog the biggest hug.

After giving the dog a hug, he chased chickens and within fifteen minutes of arriving, Cesar had already caught a chicken! For the next two weeks he chased chickens and loved every minute of it.

On Cesar's first morning in our home, he ran down the stairs after waking up. He ran past Adam and I eating breakfast, and he ran and ran in the grass. He climbed up the playground slide, slid down, ran to the trampoline and jumped, he ran back to the slide and just kept on running. He did this running with the hugest grin. It reminded us of animals being let out of their stalls in the spring time after a long winter. 
Cesar and Tyler hit it off immediately. They played hours of LEGO when Cesar wasn't chasing chickens.

We spent our afternoons in the pool which Cesar loved. You could see him swimming better every day.

The Fresh Air Fund emphasizes that simple, home-made fun is good for the kids. When it is their first time leaving home, it is already overwhelming to them. Most of the kids live in apartments and never get the chance to play outside and even if they live near a park, there are safety issues.

Cesar was fearless. He wanted to try everything. He fit right in with our boys.

I had brought the boys to a park and while we were eating our picnic lunch, Cesar asked me why we had grass all over the place. Suddenly I found myself explaining the purpose of grass. I laughed at our conversation but it gave me a glimpse into his life. 

We went to see the fireworks over the falls.

Cesar joined the kid's reading program at church and read 10 church library books in record timing. 


When we signed up for the program we started praying for whomever would be joining our family. Cesar was an answer to those prayers. We loved having him over; we delighted watching him see and try new things for the first time. I especially realized how spoiled I was. His mom works many hours everyday. We can watch our kids head out the back door many times a day to play and run around outside. How many parents are trying to occupy their kids in apartments?
The Fresh Air Fund keeps in contact with your family to see how things are going while you have your child, they organize activities, and they offer support if you should need any.

It was a real pleasure to have Cesar in our home. We fell in love with our little guy.

So if you think I am trying to convince you to have a fresh air kid -  I am!!