How to Boycott the Boycott

We love Israel.

As Joshua and Caleb reported thousands of years, it is a good land!

As you may have heard in the news, there is a boycott out against Israeli goods, particularly those from Judea and Samaria, or what is politically known as the “West Bank”. Judea and Samaria is the heartland of Israel. It is where most of our Bible stories took place. This is where the patriarchs lived, and where the Tabernacle stood in Shiloh. In fact, if you visit Shiloh today, as some of my extended family has, you can still see millions of little pieces of pottery shards everywhere that go back to the time of the Tabernacle.

 

Sadly, the European Union has chosen to label products coming from Israel’s heartland with a yellow boycott sticker. (Didn’t we see Jewish people labelled with a yellow star in Europe in the past? It’s sickly familiar).yellow boycott sticker

If you also feel strong feelings for Israel, you may be wondering, what one can do about this boycott.

During Nazi Germany, before the horrors of the concentration camps began, there was a slow gradual increase in anti-Jewish laws and regulations. In fact, at the beginning there was a boycott against Jewish businesses in Germany.

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I would like to think that if I lived in Germany during those terrible times and there was a boycott on Jewish businesses, that I would have gone out of my way to purposely support these Jewish businesses even if it would be inconvenient.

Well, there is a wonderful organization that has created a way for people in other countries to help support businesses in the heartland of Israel, defying the current boycott. This is a project that our family has recently signed up for and I’d like to share about it with you!

This organization is called Lev HaOlam. What they do is this: every month they put together a box of Israeli products from Judea and Samaria and send them out. You can sign up to pay a monthly payment to receive each month this “surprise” box of Israeli goods. ¬†Here is a lovely video explaining how it works:

 

We heard about Lev HaOlam through some friends of ours and finally we decided to sign up a month ago. This month, we received our first mystery package!

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I had been waiting in anticipation for this package to arrive and was so excited when it came! Malachi was excited too, when I told him this special box came all the way from Israel! We decided to wait until Daddy got home for lunch to open it together.

And here is what was inside our box this month. Another neat thing about this box is that it also comes with a sheet of paper explaining who made the products, so it feels more personal that way.

Inside there was…

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A bag of halvah pieces. These are like candies made from sesame. This bag had three flavours: chocolate, vanilla and pistachio. The packaging was all in Hebrew, but we were able to figure that out.ūüôā

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Next, was a jar of honey from the land of milk and honey…This honey is specifically from the Golan Heights.The Golan Heights is one of Israel’s last wilderness areas. The bees made this honey from the wild flowers growing in that region.

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An assortment of dried fruits and nuts from Israel, just in time for Tu B’shvat.

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A set of bookmarks with Bible verses on them in Hebrew and English. These are made by a lady who lives in Shiloh. She and her husband made Aliyah to Israel from Australia.

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A pair of pretty earrings. These earrings were made by a lady in Judea whose family members (the Fogel family)  were brutally murdered in a terrorist attack 5 years ago. I remember reading about this sad story in the news. She helps take care of the surviving children and also makes jewellery such as these earrings.

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And a pretty scarf. I already wore this one as a tichel on Shabbat.

It was so much fun opening our box. I can’t wait to find out what next month’s box will bring! A lot of these items also make lovely gifts and we want to be able to use some of them that way.

Now, you may be wondering about the price for this endeavour. It is on the costly side, and you can find that on Lev HaOlam’s website. However, we see it as an opportunity to support families in Israel, and we get blessed in return with these lovely items. I know of some families who split the cost of the box in half and then split the products between them.

Altogether, I think this is a productive and fun way to take action against the boycott of Israel.

What do you think of this idea? What are some other ways that you try to support Israel against the boycott? I also like to notice if there are Israeli products in the grocery stores where we shop. This week I found grapefruit at Costco that was a product of Israel. The special aspect of Lev HaOlam is that it specifically supports the heartland. Although of course, it is good to support Israel in any way we can.

 

 

 

Our Trip Out West

In mid June, our family took a trip to Spokane, WA. We were going there for the UMJA conference. It was a bit of an adventure for us because it included driving through the mountains and spending lots of time in the car with our 4 month old and 3 year old. Ben’s parents let us borrow their minivan for the trip which was a huge blessing!

How did the boys do on the road trip? They did really well! Better than I had thought! I think that they’re both at the perfect age for road trips. Zac isn’t mobile yet, so keeping him in a car seat wasn’t so bad. It’s not like he was restless to get out and move around. Since we were in the minivan, I usually sat in the middle row next to Zac and Mali sat in the back row. This way Zac could see my face while travelling, I could sing or talk to him and hand him toys or his soother. He was pretty happy most of the time. Mali was in the back and I could hand him some toys or put on a movie with the portable DVD player that we borrowed from some friends. Mali doesn’t get a lot of screen time normally so watching movies on the trip was a real treat and kept him occupied. He was happy most of the time as well. We took frequent stops as can be expected. Zac needed to nurse, and Mali needed to run around a little bit. The scenery along the way was quite epic and we all enjoyed our trip.

As we left home, we first drove through our flat prairies. It really is flat out here. I remember when Ben and I were friends, he would tell me that the prairies are so flat that if your dog runs away, you can still see him running away for three days…

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But you know, the prairies have beauty of their own. Standing out by a flat field, looking out at the vast open space around you makes you feel really small. With nothing obstructing the view, it makes me feel closer to God.

Our first day we drove about 6 hours and then spent the night at Ben’s uncle and aunt’s house.

The next morning, as we continued to head west, we started to see some hills and distant mountains.

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Then we came to a town and saw the world’s largest truck! It really was quite big and Malachi was fascinated by it.

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The weather was overcast that day and then turned to rain. We were planning to go hiking when we would reach Fernie, BC, so we prayed for clear skies. And indeed, when we reached Fernie it became nice and sunny!IMG_8234

We stopped by a nice mountain trail for an hour long hike. It felt so good to get out of the car and start walking. ¬†The mountains are so amazingly gorgeous. I mean, I’ve always heard people say that ¬†mountains are amazing, but you really don’t know it until you’ve been there and seen them. They are so huge and majestic and tower over you. Wow, it just makes you feel so in awe of God to know that He created them in just one word.

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It makes you feel small, like on the prairies, but in a different way.

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One of the first things that I noticed when walking into the woods was the smell. My first thought was that I must smell someone’s perfume that had just walked past. But there was no one else there and I realised that what I smelled was the forest itself. The plants literally perfumed the air.

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Someone got a little tired…

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We saw this interesting sign:

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And these footprints:

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The second day we spent about 12 hours to get to our destination in Spokane. It should have taken only about 7 hours, but we took our time and enjoyed the ride.

In Spokane, we attended the UMJA conference. Ben was excited about meeting some of his friends from Torah Resource Institute (TRI), as well as meeting new people. TRI is a really great organization. It’s an online Messianic school and it’s very well balanced. The courses are scholarly and prepare the students to not only have a good knowledge of theology, but also how to discern between proper and improper scholarship. Ben has really enjoyed his studies at TRI. While at the conference we also were able to meet other people invovled in UMJA and/or TRI. Ben had the opportunity to talk about Messianic mission and promote Messiah to the Nations.

The conference was quite teaching-intensive. In the mornings the boys stayed with us and played quietly with some toys that I packed for this conference and trip. I packed a little suitcase with toys, stickers, crafts and colouring activities that would be new to Malachi and that would keep him quietly busy. In the afternoon, there was a children’s program available. Malachi was extremely shy and didn’t want to participate in any organized children’s activity, even if I stayed by him the whole time. So, instead we tried our own different things. There was a playground near by as well as a big nature reserve area and some stores. I was nervous about trying to drive around there…I don’t really like driving in the states and there were a lot of one-way streets in that area, plus we had my in-laws minivan so I chose not to venture very far.

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We also went swimming as a family at the hotel where we stayed and on Shabbat afternoon we went to a park that had a playground and a rose garden.

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Malachi was a little sleep deprived on this trip and as such got cranky at times. While we were at the rose garden was one of those times. He was unavailable for pictures.

On our way home we got to drive through the mountains again! Our first night we stayed with some friends in BC and Mali enjoyed playing with his friend whom he had not seen for a long time.

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Don’t they look like they’re having a jolly time?

The next day we continued on our journey home and stopped at a place called Frank Slide in Alberta. This is known as “Canada’s deadliest rockslide”. A huge avalanche of rocks fell down over a town called Frank in 1903 and tragically killed many people. There is an interpretive centre there as well as a trail through the rocks. It’s a very eerie looking place as there are rocks and rocks everywhere.

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We spent another night with Ben’s aunt and uncle on our way home. We don’t get to see them very often so it was nice to visit. ¬†We also visited for a little bit with Ben’s cousin who lives along the way too.

Finally we arrived home.

At first when we were talking about the possibility of going on such a road trip, I thought it might not be a good idea to travel so long in a car with a baby and a three year old. But it turned out to go really well! The boys enjoyed it and we made some good memories together as a family.

One of the best gifts ever. (Or, some musings on siblings and fertility)

What is one of the best gifts your child can receive? It’s not a toy that stimulates imagination or creativity. It’s not a game or a bike or even music or sports lessons. I believe that one of the best gifts a child can receive is a sibling. And this is not a gift that a parent can always choose to give…as secondary infertility is on the rise.

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This. This was why I so badly wanted another baby.

I grew up as an only child for most of my childhood. When my parents first had me, they were happy with just having one child. They were nominal Catholics at the time in Poland. When I was about 5 or 6 years old, they were saved and saw children as a blessing from God. They decided they wanted more. But, it didn’t happen. My mom had unexplained secondary infertility and she was never able to conceive again. She was only 18 when I was born, so she still had many childbearing years ahead of her, but for some unexplained reason, her womb was closed.

I have a lot of good memories from childhood, but I also remember feeling lonely and wanting another sibling. Preferably a sister. Preferably close to my age. Even better, a twin. Sometimes in my imagination, I pretended that I had a twin sister. We had some good family friends and a wonderful home fellowship that I attended with many children and I enjoyed playing with them. But much of the time, at home, I was lonely. I played with Lego and made crafts…by myself. I remember seeing ads for¬†sponsoring children. They showed all these African children and I so badly wanted one. I was disappointed when I found out that sponsoring doesn’t mean you get to bring one of those children home.

Many of my friends were homeschoolers and came from larger families. I wished so much to have siblings and as I got older I dreamed of one day getting married, having lots of children and homeschooling them.

When I was 12 years old my parents became foster parents. We started having children in our home. It was challenging and fun in different ways although most of the children we had stayed for shorter periods of time. Then, one day when I was 16 years old we received these little fellows:


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And they stayed. In fact, my parents adopted them.

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So then I acquired 3 brothers.  Receiving 3 brothers at once as a teenager is different than growing up with siblings close in age all your childhood.

So anyways, moving ahead I ended up getting married to my wonderful husband. Knowing about my own mother’s struggle with fertility, I wondered if I would have struggles in that area. I hoped not.

Looking back we didn’t have much trouble getting pregnant with Malachi. However, at the time I was already getting worried when it didn’t happen in the first few months that we wanted it to. We were so happy to have a baby! Becoming a mother truly changed my life and I was overjoyed with the love that comes with having a baby. When Malachi was 9 months old we got pregnant again! I was a bit surprised at how quickly that came about, and figured that I wouldn’t have the same struggles with fertility as my mom experienced. However, at 12 weeks into that pregnancy, we lost our precious baby. It happened while we were on our trip in Poland. It was a terrible experience. For some time after we lost the baby I just felt in a state of shock. I couldn’t believe that it really happened. It all happened at the end of our trip to Poland. There was a whirlwind of activity. We lost the baby and we still had a few days left to visit with family there. It all felt so unreal. But then the sorrow sunk in and I had to deal with all the emotions that came with it. There was sadness and anger and thinking of all the things that I could have done differently that maybe could have prevented it. Maybe if I had not flown on a plane while in my first trimester…maybe if I hadn’t pushed myself to stay up late every night and visit and walk around everywhere so much….maybe if I hadn’t changed my diet drastically from being (at the time) gluten-free at home to eating gluten every day in Poland….maybe if…And so I wondered about the maybe’s and of course blamed myself for not being more this or more that to prevent the miscarriage. But anyways, it happened and there was no undoing of it. At least I had my very supportive and caring husband with me through this as well as my parents who were with us on this trip.

Now, before this miscarriage happened I remembered reading an article in a women’s magazine about how right after a miscarriage you are the most fertile you can be because of all the pregnancy hormones still running through your body. I had told this fact to some of my friends who had miscarried and they all got pregnant right away again. I was pretty sure that this would happen to us too, that we would just get pregnant again right away. I wasn’t prepared for the year-long wait that lay ahead.

We came back to Canada and I didn’t get pregnant right away. Or soon after. The months went by.I started to worry and panic on the inside. I was so scared of having secondary infertility. I really desired for Malachi to have siblings. In my worrying I would pray. I took fertility-friendly supplements and tried to eat a healthy diet. I would also do google searches for “secondary infertility” and read other people’s stories of not being able to conceive again. This wasn’t an encouraging activity. I also read articles online about parenting an only child. They suggested things such as: ¬†you’ll need to organize more playdates with friends because ¬†your child won’t have siblings to play with. You’ll need to play with your child a lot more, because they’ll be lonely. It made me sad. I would go to the park with Malachi and notice all the moms of 1 and 2 year old toddlers who were pregnant with their second. Meanwhile, a lot of my close friends were getting pregnant or having babies during that year. My Facebook news feed was flooded with pregnancy updates, birth announcements and baby photos. Every month that went by where I found out that I wasn’t pregnant I would cry. ¬†I wanted another baby oh, so badly.

Finally, I had to release my fears of infertility to the Lord.

And then, we conceived! We were so overjoyed to see the two pink lines on the pregnancy test. Finally, after all the tears, all the prayers and that long year of waiting I was blessed with the desire of my heart!

Looking back, I know that a year isn’t really that long to wait. But it seemed terribly long at the time. Looking back, I wish I hadn’t been so distressed about it. But hindsight is 20/20.

I have some friends who struggle with fertility, a lot more than I ever did. Although I didn’t struggle with it as long as they have, I feel like I can empathise with the struggle. It’s real. And saying ¬†trifling comments about it doesn’t help.

Children truly are a blessing from the Lord. I love seeing the large families around here who are blessed with many children. I love seeing the siblings being best friends with each other, encouraging each other and being like “iron that sharpens iron”. I love how large families work together and play together within the varying age ranges of the siblings. We want to home school our children, so my hope is that my children will be best friends with each rather than needing others to be their best friends.

In the public-school mentality, siblings are seen as annoying. You have friends with kids that are your age and in your classroom. My hope and prayer is that our home will be a centre for friendship and security for our family, and that our children can learn and grow together, spurning each other on to do great things for God’s glory.

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Being a single-income family in a dual-income world.

I was raised in a dual-income home.  My dad had a successful flooring business and my mom worked for the government. I was an only child most of my life until my parents started fostering children when I was 12 years old and ended up adopting my three brothers when I was a young adult. My husband came from a single-income family. While his dad worked for the government, his mom stayed home and home-schooled the four children.

Growing up, I had a lot of home-schooled friends and it had been a dream of mine to one day get married, have children and be able to stay at home and home-school my children.

I quit my teaching job when we had our first child and have been blessed to be able to stay home with our children. Now, before I go on, I just want clarify that it is God who has provided for our family. He has blessed my husband with enough work in his own business to be able to afford paying our bills. If my husband’s business hadn’t grow like it did, then we probably wouldn’t be able to be single-income.

However, having said that, I think  that living off of a single income as a family is a lot more possible than our society thinks.

Sometimes when I run into people that I don’t see often and they ask me about my work, they are surprised that I’m not going back to teaching and sometimes comment “well it must be nice to be able to stay at home if you can do that.”

I think that staying at home can mean having different expectations in life style than having both parents working.

Having a parent stay home might mean having a smaller house, or only one car, or simple family vacations instead of extravagant ones.

In the book, The Flipside of Feminism by Suzanne Venker, she writes about the difference in standard of living between American families before the 1970 (when more mothers stayed home) and after 1970 (when more mothers went to work.)

“Before then (1970), American families lived differently. They owned one car, one television, and one stereo. Their houses averaged two thousand square feet; their children shared bedrooms; and a typical vacation might include camping. Then American women joined the workforce, and their incomes slowly created a ‘new norm.’ Today, the average home has 38 percent more square footage; kids have their own rooms; each member of the family owns his own cell phone and iPod; televisions are in many rooms; toys abound; and a trip to Disney World is considered a rite of passage. How did this happen? Employed mothers¬†caused¬†a dramatic change in lifestyle. Families can afford posh lifestyles¬†because both parents are producing and income…Therefore, to say dual income families are a necessity is misleading. Parents are working to support the lifestyle to which they’ve become accustomed.” pg. 110-111

We are pressured by our society to keep up with the proverbial Jones. Own a bigger house, buy newer cars, go on lavish vacations, keep up to date with the latest electronics. ¬†But it seems that most of the Jones’ families have both parents working…and maybe they don’t have more than two children.

It is possible to stay home. But you might have to change your expectations.

At on point in our married life we were renting an apartment near the edge of the city that was close to wealthy suburban neighbourhood. During the day, I liked taking our baby for walks through that neighbourhood in a stroller. It looked so beautiful and perfect. The houses were all new and sat on nice big lots with meticulously manicured lawns. But I noticed that the neighbourhood was very empty. I hardly saw anyone there during the day. They were all at work so they could afford this.

There certainly are some very well-off homeschooling families who are on one income and have lots of kids. However, sometimes letting go of an income can equate with having different expectations for standard of living. It has its costs and its benefits. Those benefits are usually not in material things, but most stay-at-home parents would say they far outweigh the costs.

What do you think? Are you a stay-at-home mom? How has that decision affected your family’s standard of living?

A testimony about Zechariah’s name

I realize that it’s probably mostly my family and friends who read this blog. So I’m going to make it more personal. I’ve already switched to using my children’s actual first names in my last post. I think this blog will be a bit more random. More about our family is up to, but things that are too long to post on Facebook.ūüôā

So, I’d like to share a testimony about how we picked a name for our second son: Zechariah Israel.

When I was pregnant with this baby, I was reading the Bible one day and felt an impression that we should name our baby Zechariah. At the time, I didn’t know if we were having a boy or a girl. Zechariah means “The Lord remembers”. To me, this was meaningful in two ways. One was more personal, in that I felt that God answered my prayers and remembered me in my longing for more children. But I also felt strong feelings for Israel, the land and the people. Lately Israel has had a lot of negativity from the media. A lot of people have been turning against Israel -even some churches. Yet, if we believe in the Scriptures, we can see that God has not forgotten Israel. The Bible prophecies that in the end times, many nations will come to war against Israel and it will not be a good outcome for them. Right now it seems like it wouldn’t take much for the nations to turn against Israel. And when that happens…we don’t want to be in that crowd that goes against Israel. So I thought “Zechariah Israel”, “The Lord remembers Israel” would be a fitting name for a time like this.

Well, the time came to give birth and we had our baby boy. After he was born Ben and I were discussing a name for him. I told Ben about the impression I had for the name Zechariah. However, there was another boy’s name that I really liked too. So we were trying to decide between Zechariah and the other name. Ben also really liked the other name (which I don’t want to give away, in case we have another son and decide to name him that name). We decided we would make a final decision about the name when the baby would be 8 days old. After a couple days, Ben surprised me when he told me that he too was reading his Bible and also felt impressed to name the baby Zechariah. Then, on Friday, the day before we had to make a final decision, Ben’s sister Jessie came over to take newborn/family photos. She was curious about what we would name our baby. I told her we have a couple names in mind but haven’t made a decision yet but we would by tomorrow. Then, just for fun, I asked her “look at him and tell me what name he looks like”. She said “Old testament or New?” I said “Old”. Then she looked at him and said “Zechariah”. I was so surprised that she said that! It was like more confirmation.

Meanwhile, my mom had told me earlier that she thought she knew what we would name our baby, but wouldn’t tell us until after we had chosen a name. Well, by Friday night we decided we would name him Zechariah. It was time to tell our family that. I picked up the phone and called my parents and told them our baby’s name. My mom was ecstatic when she heard that we picked Zechariah because she said that that’s the name she told my dad that we would pick. By then the confirmation was overwhelming and we felt very confident that his name is supposed to be Zechariah.

Afterwards, I decided to read through the book of Zechariah in the Bible.

I was amazed at how this book is full of God’s promises to Israel, and affirmation that He remembers her…

Beautiful verses, such as:

“Proclaim, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts:’ I am zealous for Jerusalem and for Zion with great zeal.” – Zechariah 1:14

“…My cities shall again spread out through prosperity; the LORD will again comfort Zion, and will again choose Jerusalem.” – 1:17

“…I will return to Zion, and dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. Jerusalem shall be called the city of truth, and the mountain of the LORD of hosts, the holy mountain.” – 8:3

“…old men and old women shall again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each one with his staff in his hand because of great age. The streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in its streets. ” -8:4,5

“…they shall be as though I had not cast them aside; for I am the LORD their God…” – 10:6

And there’s many more.

My hope and prayer for our son Zechariah is that he will take part in the restoration of Israel. May he see Messiah reigning from Jerusalem and her streets full of happy boys and girls.

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My Birth Story: Zechariah Israel

Announcement: We have a baby boy!

On February 7th, at 7:23am our family was blessed with a new member: Another baby boy! We decided not to find out the gender of our baby during the pregnancy so it was a surprise when he was born. The labour and delivery took only 4.5 hours and it was a much better experience than with our first son, Malachi.

I was 40 weeks and 4 days pregnant when I woke up at quarter to three in the morning and noticed that I had some abdominal pain. I was very groggy and it took me a little while to realize that the pain was a contraction. It left and another one came. I told Ben “I’m having contractions”. I still wasn’t sure if it would lead into labour or not, but then the next contraction that came was more painful. Then I knew that this probably was, indeed, much-anticipated labour. I then told Ben that I’m pretty sure I’m in labour and we should start setting things up.

Since we had planned a home water birth, my midwife had given me a list of things that we needed to prepare for the birth. This included inflating and filling the birth pool, setting up a crockpot on low with water and wash cloths in it for hot compresses and some other things. Ben started setting up the birth pool and I started preparing some other things. I also wanted to diffuse some calming lavender essential oil in the kitchen, so I went about that. I had to stop every few minutes however, due to the contractions which now needed my full concentration. Ben told me not to bother setting anything up, just to focus on breathing through my contractions.

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The birth pool

 

We also called both sets of parents at the onset of labour. They were all happy to hear that our baby was coming soon. Ben’s parents were on call to take Malachi if needed. At this time, Malachi was sleeping in his room and we didn’t know if we should wake him up and send him off or just let him keep sleeping. We decided to let him keep sleeping. Ben’s parents live close by and his mom said that if he wakes up we should just call them again and someone would be here in five minutes to take him.

So, Ben continued setting things up and I continued labouring. I found that I liked using my birth ball. I would get on all fours and lean over the birth ball. That was one of my favorite positions for labour. For breathing, Ben encouraged me to let out a long breath while making a low “oooooh” sound and to stretch it out as far as I could. It really helped me to relax. Ben and I had talked a lot about what we wanted the labour to be like and what kind of strategies could help me cope with the pain. Ben was really good at encouraging the low singing kind of breathing. As he continued setting up the birth pool, whenever he heard me go “ooooh” as a contraction came on, he would come behind me and hold my hips together, which really helped too. During this labour I had a weird sensation like if my pelvis was splitting apart and it felt good when Ben would apply pressure to my hips.

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A very unflattering picture…but this is one of the positions that worked best for me.

 

Next I decided I wanted to try labouring in the bathtub. The pool wasn’t ready yet, so Ben prepared the tub. I went in and Ben sat beside the bathtub. When a contraction would come, I’d make the low “ooooh” sound and lean over Ben’s lap. As I laboured in the tub, the song “Yeshua all for Yeshua”, or “Jesus, all for Jesus” (Robin Mark) was playing through my head so I asked Ben to sing it. He sang it and I continued labouring. Somehow, as Ben was singing “all for Yeshua”, I felt like I was labouring for Yeshua. As I was bringing this child into the world, it wasn’t just to have more children, but to have more children who love Yeshua and walk in His ways. It also made me think of Yeshua’s painful death on the cross for us. I knew my labour was so much less than what He went through to give us life. As I continued having contractions, I kept thinking about my Saviour and alternated between moaning and calling to Him for strength.

I actually found the bathtub to be less comfortable than anticipated and decided to get out and back on the birth ball. The contractions were coming every 6 minutes or so and lasting almost a minute. They were getting very painful. I dreaded each one and just focused on the low “oooooh” breathing as each contraction came. I also told myself that they’re only about a minute long so just make it through that minute and then I’ll get a little break again.

I also found that standing and leaning on Ben was a good position too. Both this position and the birth ball position had me leaning my weight on something. And for some reason that felt more comfortable than other positions. Although the contractions were getting terribly painful, I still felt like they were doable. I didn’t like them, but focusing on the breathing and focusing my eyes on something small made them survive-able.

When the contractions reached a minute long and were about 5 minutes apart, we decided to call my midwife. She came shortly after and started setting up her things.¬†Soon after the second midwife arrived. I really like the team of midwives I had. My main midwife is the same one who delivered Malachi. She is a sweet older African lady who has a motherly kind of presence. The second midwife is probably around my age and very kind and friendly. Having her there was kind of like having a friend. They’re both very supportive and encouraging.

To my surprise, I had a break of about 20 minutes or so with no contractions. I started to worry that maybe I wasn’t very far along. ¬†So far, the contractions were manageable, and it was strange to get a break. I figured maybe this will be a long labour and started having doubts about a home birth. I suggested going to the hospital. I was scared of being at home and facing a long labour without pian relief. Suddenly I felt like I couldn’t do this anymore and really wanted to go to the hospital. (I didn’t know it, but I was in transition already, and it is typical at this point to feel like you can’t do it anymore). I was also shaking all over and my teeth were chattering uncontrollably even though I didn’t feel cold. I remember asking “why am I shaking like this?” and a midwife told me “your body is going through some hard work.”

My midwife decided to check how far along I was. I had to lie down on the bed for this which wasn’t as comfortable. She found that I was 9cm dilated. I couldn’t believe it. That meant I was already in transition. And here I thought I wasn’t very far along. My midwife told me the baby’s just about ready to come out. She encouraged me to get up and walk a little bit to bring back the contractions. I thought to myself “but I don’t want more contractions”. However, I definitely wanted the baby to be born, so I got up.

Around this moment the second midwife had finished filling up the birth pool and making sure it was the right temperature. It was finally ready for me to go into it. This was my last chance to go into the birth pool if I wanted it. I stood up to walk but realised I wouldn’t be able to make it into the pool. Another strong contraction came on, and standing up, I leaned onto Ben and clung onto him while breathing low. And then, I felt the urge to push. I don’t even remember really trying, just that suddenly I felt my baby sliding down the birth canal. I pushed, and the midwives got ready to catch the baby. I remember Ben saying “the head is out”. I felt the “ring of fire” and a couple more pushes and the baby came out and someone put him in my arms. I looked at the wet, squirmy baby and couldn’t believe that the labour was over and that I had my long awaited baby. It was such a wonderful happy moment. I looked at the baby and saw that it was a boy! I had suspected a boy all along, so I wasn’t very surprised to see that. Then I got to lie down on the bed and cuddle with my baby on my chest while the placenta came out. We waited for the cord to stop pulsating and then Ben got to cut it. I got some good quality time then with just the baby on my chest and Ben beside me. My midwife said I only had a small tear, so that was good. I wonder if it helped to push standing up, since then gravity worked in my favour too. We were very thankful and happy for a good experience. We also called the grandparents and let them know about their new grandson!

baby Z with privacy

He was 8 lbs and 2 oz.

The baby was alert and started suckling. He actually had a good latch right away, too, which was nice to see. Overall we were just so happy to have a healthy baby, a peaceful labour, less tearing and that we were at home and were able to just stay in our bedroom and relax as a family. We had prayed for a peaceful, short labour and a healthy baby. I had been praying that God would give me the strength to cope with the contractions and to be able to breathe through them well. Praise the Lord!

And it was about then that we heard another little noise – Malachi had finally woken up from sleeping at night. We couldn’t believe that he slept through all that! This was also an answer to prayer because we specifically prayed that Malachi wouldn’t be away from us overnight for the birth. Not only was he there for the night, but he didn’t have to be away at all! Definitely an answer to prayer that he slept through it all.

Ben went over to his room and brought him out to meet his little brother. Malachi has been adjusting amazingly well to being a big brother. He loves the baby and likes to give him toys and touch his hands and head. He asks us to let him hold the baby, so we let him partially hold him while sitting down as one of us supports the baby’s head.

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Brothers…the day that Zechariah was born.

 

Ben is home for two weeks now from work and he’s being a wonderful husband and daddy, taking care of the house and Malachi while I get to mostly focus on nursing the baby and resting. Later my mom is flying in from Ontario and staying for a couple weeks to help as well.

We feel very grateful for God’s blessings and mercies, and are so excited to get to know this new little person and watch our sons grow up together as friends.

Simple Winter Crafts with a Toddler

Here are some of the crafts Mr. Monkey has done this winter. I recently hung up a string in our dining room where I can hang his crafts for display using clothes pins. I like the idea of keeping to a theme with our crafts, especially a seasonal theme. Especially in winter. It makes it a little more cheery.

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From left to right:

A snowman painting using a sponge.

Mittens cutout from construction paper and decorated with markers and glitter. (This we made after reading the story “The Mitten” by Jan Brett).

Foam/felt sticker art. I like buying the foam and felt stickers at Michaels especially when they’re on sale at the end of the season. Mr. Monkey gets excited when I pull them out. He likes peeling off the backs and sticking them on paper.

A foam dreidel that we did at Hanukkah.

Foam snowmen (There was a big container of foam sticker snowmen parts at Michaels. You can put together the snowmen with the stickers and learn to put the snowmen together).

A cotton ball snowflake. I just drew a basic snowflake shape with liquid glue and Mr. Monkey would put the cotton balls on the glue.

I also found these cute little foam gingerbread men at Michaels:

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Mr. Monkey had so much fun decorating them with beads, sequins and glitter glue.

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I think I have a weakness for kids craft supplies, especially when they’re on sale. But seriously, they don’t get all used up in one season and can be stored for next year!