Tuesday, May 25, 2010

It's Tomato Time!

We had a couple of different varieties of heirloom tomato
seeds left over from last year, so Pete got them started
in my handy dandy Tupperware. To our delight they
all sprouted and after a couple weeks of soaking up the
sun in the windowsill they were ready to graduate into
their own individual peat pots.

Ready, set...


We were a little nervous about how these little
guys would fare after making the transition to
the peat pots, but we didn't lose a single one!
Phew! When you grow plants from seed, you
get kind of attached to them. I know it sounds
kind of crazy, and probably we are, but after
spending weeks watering them carefully with
Opa V.K.'s special method and moving them
from windowsill to windowsill chasing the sun
each day, you really hope they do well. We
spent several days hardening them off, and
then it was time for the big leagues...

Last week our little guys were finally ready
to make the big move to The Garden. We
babied them a bit still, giving them an
extra scoop of lovin' in each of their holes,
and then into their new home they went.

What happened next is difficult to type.
I don't have any pictures, because the
carnage was just too much to take.
Within their first hour, while we stopped
to take a quick lunch break, two of our
precious babies got their heads nipped right off!!
Seriously! To say I was ticked is putting it mildly.
We quickly set up my Opa's favorite method
of pest control - aluminum pie plates. Whirling,
twirling, banging away and reflecting the sun's rays
they will hopefully help keep some of the varmints
at bay. Thankfully we had a few backups left and
were able to replant our casualties.

It made me think about the parable of the sower,
having our precious little plants snatched up like
that. How often don't we loving plant something
of great worth, only to have it stolen away shortly
after. How often don't we do this ourselves?
After spending a special time together working
outside with the kids, teaching and instructing them
on the finer points of gardening , building
them up and encouraging them, don't I tear it
all away in a moment of impatience and frustration.
Snapping at someone for an accidental misstep or,
instead of a gentle correction, a comment laced with
annoyance. Like the birds snipping off the tops of
our tender plants, those icy words steal away the
joy of the moment.
How thankful I am for grace.
Just as we had a back-up of extra seedlings to re-plant
and undo the damage, we can offer healing if our hearts hold
the right pieces. But what are we storing up in the 'back-up'
of our hearts? Are we holding onto grudges, hanging onto our anger,
letting bitterness taint what we yield?

A good person produces good things
from the treasury of a good heart,
and an evil person produces evil things
from the treasury of an evil heart.
What you say flows from what is in your heart.
Luke 6:45

I pray that our hearts may be filled with the goodness
that comes only from His grace. Only then can our 'gardens' thrive.

May the Lord lead your hearts
into a full understanding and expression of the love of God
and the patient endurance that comes from Christ.

2 Thessalonians 3:5

Monday, May 24, 2010

Our sweet little Ju-Jube

Many of you have been asking about Jude lately,
so I figure we're long overdue for an update on our little man.
As I was putting together the pictures for this post,
I couldn't help but notice that in almost every single picture
we have of Jude, he's smiling. And not just a little grin,
but a huge, cheeky, ear-to-ear-split-your-face smile.
He really is one happy fellow.

He's almost 8 months old now.
I know it's horribly cliche, but where has the time gone?
I really can't believe it's been 8 months since Jude entered
our world. It seems like just yesterday that I was still
carrying him safely around in my belly...and yet, at the same
time, I don't think I even remember what life was like
before our family was a half dozen of lovin'!

For the sake of Jude's digestive system, we held
off introducing solids until a few weeks ago.
It didn't take long for him to figure out what
this 'food and spoon thing' was all about though and
he has quickly become a voracious eater.
He makes us Koobs' proud!
He loves sweet potatoes, carrots, pears and prunes.
And he eats his rice cereal in the morning like it's
going out of style. And his absolute favorite:
frozen apple puree. Don't try and give him a bite
of your freezee and then hope to get anymore yourself!
The only thing he hasn't really cared for:
Strangely enough, this is one of the only
pictures of have of him where he's not smiling.
Cracks me up.
You can tell he's thinking, "Really, Mother,
this is disgusting. The fact that you say it's
good for me is meaningless." Ha!!

If you look closely in that gaping smile,
you'll notice a sweet little pearly white tooth
at the bottom. He actually has two teeth now
and the funniest thing was, we had NO IDEA
he was teething!! I saw a 'little something' in his
mouth and, thinking it was a piece of carpet fluff
or something, went to sweep it out with my finger
only to feel his giant little chomper sticking through
his gums! When our other kids were teething, they
had fevers, ear infections, screaming and sleepless
nights. I guess after everything Jude's been through
cutting teeth is a piece of cake!
(Also a little note: That sleeper is our new favorite!
It came straight from the Motherland
compliments of a special uncle - thank you SO much!!)

On a medical note, things have been going
so well! Jude is finally all caught up on his
dilations and now has the same size bum as
every other 8 month old!! Woohoo!!
We now only dilate every other day, and Jude
just babbles away during the whole procedure.
What a change from a couple months ago!
Our trips to London have slowed down which
has given us a nice break, especially since things
are so busy on the farm right now. We will
start heading back to the hospital again in the
Fall when they'll reassess his 'bum progress'
and to begin surgery to correct his hand.
But, for now, we're enjoying life, minus the
trips to the city and killing time in waiting rooms!

About a month and a half ago, Jude started physiotherapy.
We go to Stratford every 3 weeks, and last time I took
my camera along to share one of our visits with you.

This is the 'old' Stratford hospital. It was built over
100 years ago, and I love it! Every time I walk through
the doors and take the rickety elevator to the second floor
I feel like I'm in a time machine. The hospital hasn't had a
major renovation for about 40 years and you really feel like
you've gone back in time when you visit there. Unfortunately,
there is talk of shutting this building down, permanently. If that
happens, all the programs that are run there will also be cut.
We're praying this doesn't happen, as we LOVE Jude's doctor
here, and we LOVE not having to drive all the way to London
for the specialized physio that Jude needs.

Here's Jude checking himself out in the 3-way mirror.

Doing a side-arm prop on the exercise ball.

(Side note: We have one of these balls at home for
Jude too. I thought, "Great! Now I can do some
exercising as well!" Ha! Wishful thinking if I ever
heard it! Oh well, maybe one of these days this baby
weight will just disappear on its own...!)

We're really working on developing Jude's upper arm
and shoulder strength. Because of his colostomy and prolapse
Jude didn't get any tummy-time for the first four months.
The combination of that with his itty-bitty right arm, hand,
and the extra rib by his collarbone, are proving to be a challenge
for Jude. But he is such a trooper! And Dr. S is so wonderful
with him...and us! The other week I was feeling a bit discouraged
because it seemed that everywhere I went, people were asking
if he was crawling yet, or sitting, or scooting around...and he's not.
I wondered if this was just a taste of what things would
be like when he got older - always explaining why he
doesn't...or can't...or won't. Dr. S said not to even worry about
that. She said Jude has an amazing tolerance and has been
making incredible progress. She was so proud of how
well he was doing and was very confident that, in good
time, he will develop the strength and manipulation
he needs to hit all those milestones. Thanks Dr. S, for
putting my mama's heart at ease!

Working of full-arm extensions.

Going for a ride on the swing!
So good for balance and upper body control.

Because he's having so much fun 'swinging',
Jude forgets how hard Dr. S is working him.
A very good trick for his tired days when he
doesn't feel like doing his exercises. Now,
if only I had one of those hanging from my ceiling!

All done! Happy and content, ready
for a big sleep on the drive home.

Of course we have our moments and, contrary
to all these smiley pictures, Jude does have
some cranky days. But, really, they're not
very often. Partly because he has two big
brothers and a big sister who absolutely
adore him. The dote on him all day long
and when Mommy is busy, there's always
someone willing to spend some time
snuggling or entertaining. Levi, especially
has a real soft spot for Jude. Often I'll find the
two of them tucked away in a corner playing
together or just sharing a quick snuggle.
So cute! I love how Jude has just settled right
into this crazy family of ours, coming under
the wings of his siblings, as we all grow
more and more in love with him each day.

And speaking of falling in love...
Talk about triple threat!
These Koobs boys just steal my heart.
And boy, oh boy, are they a handful!
Literally and figuratively.
I will admit, there are days when I'm glad
Jude's not crawling yet!
All in all, we have settled into a rhythm, albeit
a crazy one, that feels good. We're loving
getting to know this little guy outside of
hospital rooms and doctor's appointments.
And watching him grow and meet challenges
head on, conquering everything that stands
in his way, I can't help but be so thankful
for the Hands that have been carrying him
each step of the way. We've got a ways
to go still, but we know Who is leading the way.
And we couldn't hope for a better place to be.

In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song;
this Cornerstone, this solid Ground,
firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
when fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My Comforter, my All in All,
here in the love of Christ I stand.
~Keith Getty & Stuart Townend

And a big thank you to all of you, for sharing this
journey with us. If I could, I would just reach through
this computer screen and give each one of you a
ginormous hug! Your thoughts, your prayers,
your encouragement, your support and love
have meant so much to our family. You have played
such a big part in Jude's life and we can't imagine
what his story would look like apart from your prayers.
Thank you.
For storming heaven's gates on behalf of our sweet son.
For lifting him up to our Father and
placing him in His wonderful care.
We are so blessed.
And I can't wait to someday share this story
with Jude. To show him the comments you've
left here on the blog, the messages you've sent
to our inbox and to read to him each card we've received
in the mail. So that he will know, just as we do, how
loved and cherished he is. And how powerfully
your prayers have affected his life.

Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God.
They were filled with awe and said,
"We have seen remarkable things today."
Luke 5:26

Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

It's Tulip Time!

Drayton celebrated the 65th anniversary of the Liberation
of Holland at the Tulip Festival last weekend.
Oma and Opa were on hand for the festivities and the
kids and I had a most wonderful time -
Dank u voor een dag die met speciaal geheugen wordt gevuld!

Watching the parade with friends - so fun!!

Levi LOVED all the firetrucks.
(After the parade was over, we walked up to the arena and
Levi just kept on waving to everyone who had been sitting
in traffic behind the parade - so funny!)

We all loved having Oma and Opa there with us!

Well, hello Bosco!!

Miss Holly.
As Gracie Jo put it,
'the MOST BEAUTIFUL Tulip Queen EVER!'

"Y'know Mom, I felt like it was a real king,
with his arm and robe around me!!"
Gracie Jo with a very gracious Tulip King :)

Notice how Levi is technically still behind the rope
and yet is managing to get right in there with the trains...

The boys LOVED the trains. I think they
could have watched them for hours!

Dat is mijn meisje!
Zulk een liefje!

Beautiful bunches of blooms
(How's that for alliteration?)

I'm so thankful for our dutch heritage.
What a wonderful way to celebrate such
a special day. Thank you, Drayton!

Yes, I know it's a weed...

"I recall as a young child bringing bouquets of brilliant yellow flowers to my mother. It didn't matter that the stems felt sticky or that both my parents cursed the presence of these flowers in the lawn. I thought they were beautiful!

And there were so many of them! We spent hours picking the flowers and then popping the blossoms off with a snap of our fingers. But the supply of dandelions never ran out. My father or brothers would chop off all the heads with the lawn mower at least once a week, but that didn't stop these hardy wonders.

The soft, round puffs of a dandelion gone to seed caused endless giggles and squeals of delight as we unwittingly spread this flower across the yard.

...I marveled at the flower that some call a weed. And I thought, "If only I had the staying power of a dandelion." If only I could stretch my roots so deep and straight that something tugging on my stem couldn't separate me completely from the source that feeds me life. If only I could come back to face the world with a bright, sunshiny face after someone has run me over with a lawnmower or worse, purposely attacked me in an attempt to destroy me. If only I could spread love and encouragement as freely and fully as this flower spreads seeds of itself.

The lawns at my parents' home are now beautiful green blankets. The only patches of color come from well-placed, well-controlled flowerbeds. Chemicals have managed to kill what human persistence couldn't.I hope you and I can be different. I hope that we can stretch our roots deep enough that the strongest poison can't reach our souls.
I hope that we can see flowers in a world that sees weeds."

- Donna Doyon, Lessons from a Dandelion

Yes, I know they're a weed.
But something about their sunshiney faces
and persistent nature just make my insides smile.
Plus, when they're clutched in the dirty, sun-kissed
hand of my child, they really do make the
most beautiful and precious of bouquets.
Oh, the dandelion!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

An Ode to Rhubarb

My favorite springtime bounty.
I don't know how much of my love affair is with it's
tangy, fresh, earthy flavour or the way just the smell
of it reminds me of sitting around mom's kitchen table
eating bowls of yogurt topped with stewed rhubarb and
raisins. I can picture my dad, dirt and grease staining his
hands, his sweat-stained work shirt hanging open, leaning
on the table, tired after a day out planting in the fields. He
would be exhausted. But after at least two helpings of Mom's
hamburger and cabbage casserole, a staple during busy seasons
on the farm, his strength would return and when Mom doled
out the dessert, Dad would attack it with gusto. Ask anyone
in our family, Dad is capable of eating an entire helping in
the span of one breath - or so it seems .
Needless to say, we're big fans of rhubarb.

The first pie of the season.

Just looking at this picture makes my mouth water. Yum!!!

And a new discovery, to us, this year: rhubarb water.
Oh sweet, tangy nectar! How we love the way your
flavours explode in our mouth. Plus, you're just so
dang pretty! This last batch was made courtesy of a
delivery of rhubarb from some very special folks.
When I excitedly thanked her for sharing the bounty,
she said to me "Well, of course! That's just being part
of the family. We look out for each other and share what
we have." Thank you, Tante Sieny, for the reminder.

Sometimes, in the busyness of today's life, we forget
what being part of a church family is all about, why
it's so important, how it's meant to be. I know that
during the next few months, whenever we crack open
a jar of rhubarb water, I will be thanking God not
just for the bounty of the harvest, but for surrounding us
with family who love and care for us. We truly are blessed.

"Look after yourselves and everyone
the Holy Spirit has placed in your care.
Be like shepherds to God's church.
It is the flock that he bought with
the blood of his own Son."
~Acts 20:28~

It really made me wonder, "How can we
love and serve our church family?" Being involved
is hard right now, sometimes just getting this
crew out the door on Sunday morning seems
overwhelming! I think this is something else
I will ponder as we sip our rhubarb drinks...

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Spring - Volume One

Well, I've fallen a bit behind (understatement of the year)
here on the blog. A combination of slow internet and SPRING!
have definitely set back my computer time. We have so
much to catch y'all up on though, so hopefully I can find a
few minutes here and there to share our latest adventures
with you. These pictures were all taken in April...where
does the time go?...when we experienced a little pre-spring
spring. April played a nasty little trick, sending us lovely, warm,
growing, sunny days only to follow those with two weeks of
snow, rain, cloudy grey and dreary days. Booo!!That also may
have impacted the 'no post factor'. It was pretty depressing.
But I think it's safe to say that spring is back to stay!
So, without further ado, here's round one of our springtime fun:

If I had known a nice farmer boy who loved Jesus, I
would have gotten married straight out of highschool
because this is all I ever wanted. Memories of hours
spent in the cab of a John Deere tractor with snack packs
and my dad. It doesn't get much better than that. And now
seeing our sweet Silas boy sittin' pretty up there, makes
my heart ache with thankfulness for this family, this farm,
this life. Because, really, it doesn't get better than this.

And, as you can see, Silas completely agrees.
Tractor rides with Uncle Garry just can't be beat!

Levi meeting the tiller.
A love affair has begun.

Another 'helper' for Daddy.

Like father, like son.

While Levi and Daddy work hard getting the garden ready,
Gracie Jo works Silas hard in the fine art of soccer.

It's a good game, soccer.

Really, Silas doesn't care what's going on as long as
he gets to run and jump around outside. I'm not sure
how this boy survived the winter.

And what about our sweet little Ju-Jube you ask?
This is what he does while we're all outside
Such a happy little lark. Plus, he thinks
wind is hilarious. So that, and watching all of
our crazy antics, usually keeps him
occupied and happy for most of the time.

Oh, springtime, we do so love you!

"You heavens above,
rain down righteousness;
let the clouds shower it down.
Let the earth open wide,
let salvation SPRING up,
let righteousness grow with it;
I, the LORD, have created it."
~Isaiah 45:8~

What's your favorite thing about spring?

Monday, May 3, 2010

Mr.Meat...and a good day for a picnic

If dear farmer husband wasn't a farmer,
he would be a chef. Bet you didn't know that, eh?
His specialties - meat, meat and more meat.
I'm not sure what he enjoys more, cooking it or eating it.
Either way, he was pretty stoked when he picked up this
smoker last fall. He's been testing it out the last little
while and, with the beautiful weather we've been having, it
seemed prudent to have ourselves a dandy little picnic lunch.

Voila!! Lays amboogairs ay lays otdogs!
(That's me saying 'Look! The hamburgers and hotdogs' in french,
because the smoker transforms everything into classy cuisine, you know)

Sneaking in a little brotherly love while Daddy does the cookin'

Speaking of sneaking...
unfortunately for Levi, the cheese slices come
in tricky plastic wrappers.
Fortunately for Levi, he's so stinkin' cute we have a
hard time yelling at him for stealing said cheese slices.

Apparently, Silas thinks that going shirtless makes him
'man enough' to share Daddy's beverages...sorry buddy,
you're stuck with the juice box for now!

Hotdog? Yes, please!!

Levi finds a quiet spot to enjoy his meal.

Look what we found inside the pic-a-nic basket, BooBoo!
(My attempt at a Yogi Bear impersonation...for Mom and Will)

And yes, they tasted as delicious as they looked.

Thank you, Mr. Meat :)