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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Leg Surgery, Hawaiian Food and Roller Skating

LEG SURGERY!!! Yes...my sweetie had to have a leg procedure done last Wednesday.  He has had a bad vein in his left leg that has been bothering him for months.  It goes numb, falls asleep and causes him a lot of PAIN.  So he had an outpatient procedure to fix it.  He told me that he thought it was "ironic" that in order to cure the pain he has been having,  he has to go through so much pain to get there.  Poor guy.  Fortunately he has to be up and around walking for the leg to heal properly, so he isn't stuck lying down.

HOWEVER....I think the most PAINFUL part of the leg surgery was NOT being able to climb Mt. Adams this year.  Right now...his best buddy Luke Gillock and his son Daniel are up climbing the mountain.  Mark really wanted to be there the first time Daniel climbed Mt. Adams.  There is something about the "mountain top" experience that is indescribable according to Mark.  So... I have been praying for his recovery and his loss of not being able to do something he really LOVES.  

Mark at the summit of Mt. Adams

 Luke, Jordan and Mark at the Summit

Oh how Mark LOVES all of his climbing gear.   So it looks like the summit was 12,280 ft.



The last couple of days have been a blast hanging out with the kids and entertaining them while daddy has been recovering.  Friday, my mom took us out to lunch at the Bamboo Grille (Hawaiian Food).  It was really yummy.  Then we had our annual "Baseball Park" day.  Luke is getting quite good at hitting the ball.  It does this mommy's heart good to know that he can still SEE well enough to hit a baseball.  He REALLY wants to play baseball next year.  I am hoping that he can too!  Grace enjoyed running the bases and picking flowers.  Miss B was out an about this year and even hit a couple tennis balls with the bat (with mommy's help).  She is miss independence (let me tell you).  
Mimi helping Grace bat...Luke catching...

Miss Bella watching the "action" with her Minnie Mouse Hat and sunscreen in hand. :)

After we were done at the "Baseball Park" we took the kids to Oaks Park (amusement park) for even more fun (Cause we are CRAZY like that).  It was Fred Meyer Fridays so we took advantage of their great deal.  I rode the rides with the kids (cause of Mark's leg).  

Part of our admission was getting to go Roller Skating.  Mark looked at me funny when I told we were going roller skating.  Yes, I knew the kids had never been roller skating before, but we were there, it was already paid for, so we were having this EXPERIENCE.  It was the FUNNIEST thing...Poor Gracie couldn't even stand up.  She spent more time on the floor.  Her exact words were "I HATE THIS".  Luke was actually much better, but they still didn't get off the carpet.  I took a couple of laps out on the roller rink and WOW it has been 15 years since I last roller skated.  It was kind of fun.  I vowed that BOTH kids were getting roller skates and they were going to learn.  They were less than thrilled.  They were quite happy to be rid of the skates, and that their roller skating careers were short. ;)  After and ice cream and a few laps around on the go-carts we were exhausted. 

 This is how the kids looked much of the time :)

 Grace bravely hanging onto the bench while attempting to stand for a picture :)

I really enjoyed that for a few days I was able to let the stress of everything go...and focus on the little family I LOVE so much!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

"Titles"


I have to admit...I am struggling a bit.  I know mostly I write about the kids (or in particular Luke), but today my mind has been consumed by me (selfish I know).  Not consumed by what can I buy for myself, or time by myself, but really wondering what am I supposed to be doing?  I know it sounds like a silly question...duh..your a wife and mom...etc...etc... But what am I suppose to be doing for this next school year?  My mind works in teacher years (so this fall will be the beginning of a new year).  I DON'T have a class or a classroom for the fall. I don't even have any prospects.  I have been trying, and even went on a disastrous interview, but let's be honest...there isn't much out there right now.  Then I start to think....should I even have a classroom next year?  What is it that I should be doing this next school year? Usually nearing the beginning of fall I know exactly the path I am going down....

for awhile it was teacher....



or foster mom....or foster parent mentor...



then it was teacher again...


last year surivival mode....but what about this year?

I am struggling to find what I am supposed to be doing.  Sometimes I feel a lot of pressure to use my education since I worked so long and hard for it.  It is true...I feel a lot of pressure to teach...but maybe it isn't the season for teaching.  I had thought I was going to home school the kids, but that wasn't the right decision either for this year.  Maybe I am just looking too hard.  Maybe right now I just need to invest in my kids and let go of my other titles (which I have to admit is difficult for me).  I think (and I am just being honest here) that I find a lot of my self-worth in my titles, and when I don't have a title..ahhhmmm (like "teacher") I am not really sure what to do with myself.  I know that God is trying to teach me something in all this.  I know that I should look to HIM for my value and not find value based on what "title" I have.  But I have to admit...that is difficult for me.  I am not really a "fly by the seat of your pants" kind of girl.  I like to know the plan...I NEED to know the plan.

But somewhere I keep hearing "maybe this is the season for not having a plan."  Yep...surrendering to the unknown and having FAITH that God, who sees the whole picture, will direct my path.  My dad used to preach an illustrated message about how we only see a very limited view of our lives and how God has the view of the entire picture.  That sort of reminds me of what I am feeling now.

Oh...how I MISS my dad.  Church has never been the same without him.  Sunday's continue to be the most difficult day of the week for me.  How do you change something that you did for 22 years of your life.  I admit it has been a struggle.  Sometimes during worship time in church currently, we will sing a song that my dad sang all those years leading worship, and I close my eyes and just listen.  And in my mind I can picture my dad in his gray suit playing his guitar.  I miss the simplicity of how he ran church.  He had such a love for people for his family....

Anyway... Psalms 46:10 says "Be still and know that I am God."  And while I am in the midst of figuring out what path I should be going down, I will pray for direction and that I will find my value based on who I am rather than "my title".  I think more than anything else...I just want to use my time doing something that matters.  There are so many people doing incredible things in service to others...like my cousin Shauna who started "Pantry Packs" to feed students in the school she works out over the weekends.  How simple and important is that?  She saw a need and she did something about it.  I am inspired.  Or others that advocate for Orphans and Widows or others that advocate for children in Foster Care..etc.  I just want to do something that changes the world.      

Monday, July 25, 2011

Our Magical Miracle Trip

In late June, our family took a magical, miracle trip to the Happiest Place On Earth!  Disneyland is always magical (no matter your age), and this trip was a MIRACLE, because some incredible, generous people decided to give the entire trip to our FAMILY as a GIFT!  They wanted Luke to see Disneyland NOW, and they wanted our family to have a much needed break.  So, we packed up the kids and headed on down to Anaheim via the Long Beach Airport courtesy of Jet Blue Airways!  This post is packed with pictures :) Enjoy

 Mark and Bella waiting at the gate C6 for our plane to arrive.  She was the busy toddler this trip, and I could tell that the others waiting at the gate were hoping they were not going to sit next to us!

Luke and Grace waiting for our plane.  It was late, but that didn't stop the pilot from making up the time in the air.  We flew 600 miles per hour to make it only 15 minutes late.


 Luke and Bella cruising at 39,000 feet.  I must say I am one BLESSED mama to have such incredibly good traveling children.  Bella may have been a bit loud at the terminal but she was an angel in flight.


Here is how dad enjoyed the flight (with ear phones and the next row over).  I on the other hand was in the middle with Grace on one side, Luke on the other and Bella on my lap.  I LOVE how serious Grace looks watching her TV.  Such the seasoned traveler.


Our airplane.


Our sweet little Long Beach Airport.  Seriously...if you are considering going to LA try Long Beach.  It is little and easy and Jet Blue flies in directly.

Our FAVORITE lunch spot IN N OUT burger.  YUMMY!  Uncle D even met us for lunch too.  Part of going down to Anaheim was to visit David and Katie (my brother and sister in law).  They were so incredible by keeping up with us at Disneyland and blessing our entire family with love and lots of fun stuff.  We love you guys!

Swimming was another highlight of our trip.  My kids are to the age where they really love to swim and Miss Bella was no exception.  She LOVED her some swimming time!

 Our hotel...the Sheraton Park Hotel.  


 Dinner at our favorite restaurant DUKE's (Huntington Beach).

 The Happiest Place on Earth!

 Alice and Wonderland!

 Dumbo with Daddy!


 Miss B and mommy.


 Rockin the 3-D glasses at California Adventure!
 This little girl waited sooooo long for this NEW Ariel ride.  She was THRILLED to ride it twice.  It was a cross between Haunted Mansion (you ride in a clam shell that resembles the chair in haunted mansion) and its a Small World because of the music.

 Our family of 5...notice Bella's missing shoe :)

 Miss B!!!


 The three amigos.  


 The train.


 Grace got her face painted at the Princess Fantasy Fair.  WOW!  This was the best thing you could have done for her.  She LOVED it!


Even better was dancing with the REAL Sleeping Beauty during the show!  She could barely move because she was so in awe of Sleeping Beauty.  It was the cutest thing.


Aunt Katie gave the kids this incredible "Very Merry Unbirthday Party". She took the kids to Chuck E Cheese followed by a birthday party at their place.  She even got each of the kids their own birthday cake.  WE were ALL incredibly BLESSED!

 Bella's Cake
 Luke's Cake
 Grace's Cake


Checking out their place!



Here is Uncle D and Aunt Katie...thank you again for everything you did for us.  We felt sooo LOVED.  We miss you guys so much.

And to the people who gave us this incredible GIFT, I pray that God blesses you for your generous, kindness an selflessness.  Thank you for the MEMORIES and for the OPPORTUNITY to give Luke this experience right NOW.  I am so thankful more than I can express in words.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Our Comical Day!

Seriously....I should have stayed in bed this morning!!!! Do you ever have one of those days where everything goes wrong?  Where you feel the universe is just trying to test your patience to see if you will break?  WELL....today I had ONE of those DAYS!

It started out ok.  Kids were arguing with each other about something of little importance (like who looked at who the WRONG way) or (so-in-so touched my baby toe, etc.) Yes... real earth shattering stuff, but normal for our home.

In an attempt to help Miss B find a milk product that doesn't make her sick, I have tried many different milk products.  She has had a difficult time adjusting to whole milk.  Well...I guess "difficult" would be the wrong word since she has "not" adjusted yet.  We (or should I say "I") have been dealing with Miss B's stomach issues when it comes to milk.  I had no sooner gotten out of the shower and put on fresh clothes from the dryer when...yes..you can guess it...she promptly threw-up all over me (somehow missing herself completely)..talent that girl has :)  So... she shall remain on toddler formula since it is the only thing that is not making her sick.

While somehow managing to grab a towel while holding a baby and trying to save the carpet from demise, Grace walks through the front door (the older 2 were out helping daddy) and announces "I have cat poop on my leg."  FAB-U-LOUS.  I am screaming for Mark who is happily working out in the garage.  The combination of the vomit and the cat poop is almost enough to send me over the edge.  When I mange to hobble over to inspect Grace she not only has cat poop on her leg, but also on her dress, shoes and now the floor.  Again FABULOUS! What is one to do?  Unable to throw in the towel (because it was covered with vomit) I did what any good mom would do...set the screaming baby in the pack-in-play, quickly change my clothes in the laundry room and disinfect the 6 year old.  Then clean and disinfect the floor.  And yes...we don't have cats.  Doesn't seem quite fair?

The day continues...baby naps, kids eat lunch and fight over who gets the blue spoon (normal).  Daddy goes off to work.  He is gone 5 minutes before I hear the words that no mother ever wants to hear when daddy is not at home, "Mom...the bathroom floor is wet...there is water all over the floor."  WHAT? I scream.  Yes water shooting out of the top of the toilet.  FABULOUS.  I call Mr. Dahl at work and explain the situation in hysterics.  "There is water shooting out of the top part of the toilet".  His advice...put a "Do Not Use" sign on the toilet.  What?  That is it?  No help?  He says he will fix it when he comes home and instructs me how to turn off the water to the toilet.  Great.  I clean up 3 towels full of water off the floor and instruct the children to  "Do Not Use" the toilet.  :)

I announce to the kids we are getting out of the house...going somewhere, anywhere to see what is going on in the world outside our doors.  We load up in the van and 5 minutes into a trip to the park 2 of my 3 children are sleeping.  Great!  We return home.  I make dinner, put kids to bed, and promptly CALL MY MOM!

The "STAR WARS" Room

My sister-in-law Jenn, featured Luke's new STAR WARS room in her blog "All Dahled Up".  You should go and check it out.  She helped me come up with some great ideas and helped create all the neat vinyl lettering, characters and the piggy bank.  He LOVES it!!!  It still is a work in progress.  I need to sew or find some Star Wars curtains and Luke has already informed me of what "characters" we are missing :)  I also would like to get some glow in the dark stars for the ceiling.  Thanks Jenn for making my boy happy!

Losing Sight

Sometimes...the routine of the day is exhausting.  There is never a dull moment with the crew I have.  Everything I thought I knew about parenting before we adopted became useless when we welcomed the kids home.  Luke has challenged me in so many ways, and it is because of his challenges that he has caused me to grow up, to be more, to do more, to push myself harder and farther than I would have.

I thought I had already gone through so much with Luke before the beginning of 2011.  There have been the ear tubes and adenoid surgery times 3, heart surgery, more therapies that I can remember at 4 different therapy centers, ADHD, micocephaly and sensory processing disorder.  He was on IEP and I thought I had been doing a pretty good job advocating for him.  Then came the challenge from the Lord.  To really get to the heart of the issues.  To dive into and really explore the issues that Luke was having.  That led to a diagnosis of Tourette's in January, Glaucoma in February, a new IEP in April, and Auditory Processing Disorder in May.  By the time school got out, I was EXHAUSTED.  I felt like I was just bracing myself to keep upright.  "Was this it?"  NOPE...Luke's glaucoma doctor was concerned by the amount of vision loss there was and sent us to another specialist.  A traumatizing test for Luke, and finally we have settled into a routine of therapy on Tuesdays and iLs therapy during the week at home.

Sometimes after a long day of parenting, after I sometimes feel defeated or that maybe I could have handled something different, I reminded about the path that God choose for my kids.  Luke is exactly where God wants him to be.  He placed him with us.  Sometimes I question my ability to parent a child that is losing their SIGHT.  How do you do that?  I know that it is not fun to think about.  But it must be thought about.  This past May I actually called the School for the Blind.  I had to face reality that their services were going to be needed by son at some point.  They have advocates that come into the schools that provided services to kids like Luke.

The TRUTH is I believe that God has the ability to HEAL Luke completely, but also know that sometimes God teaches us things through trials.  As Luke and I were walking hand in hand one night in Disneyland this past June, we talked about making a "mental picture" or "movie" of what we were seeing. I described the lights and people and the smell of waffle cones and popcorn.  I told him that we needed to remember this time at home. I think the more "mental pictures" Luke has the more he will be able to draw from in the future.  Took everything in me not to melt into a puddle right in the middle of the Happiest Place on Earth.  The tears rolled down my cheeks at the thought of him losing is vision and not being able to see things.  How many times do we take for granite that we can see, or hear or taste, etc?  I know I do.  But because of Luke I am able to realize now the gift of SIGHT.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Blogs of Note

While reading one of my favorite blogs weloveourlucy.blogspot.com I came across another blog that touched my heart.  It is called Storing Up Treasures.  If you would like your blog to be featured on Storing Up Treasures in the Blogs of Note go ahead and visit the site by clicking the above link and then "Blogs of Note" in her bar at the top.  She has some incredible blogs in that list that will touch your heart.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

OUT with the OLD....and IN with the NEW


So....we bought a new van! (Well new to us...used by the car world standards).  It is...surprise, surprise...another Honda Odyssey.  This time it is a 2006.  I have to admit I was quite attached to the "green" van (pictured on left).  It held everyone of my foster kids and brought home Bella from the hospital.  It kept us safe when we were re-ended by a reckless driver on I-5.  It took a lot for me to get used to the idea of "another van".  It wasn't the van we set out to by, but it is a van that God brought to us and it feels RIGHT.  So we will bid farewell to the "green" van when it finally sells (still waiting for Mr. Dahl to put new brakes on it before we sell it).  It will be a bitter-sweet moment.

 The new van is AWESOME.  I am so thankful to God for providing us just what we needed.  The kids are excited and everyone is separated (which is a good thing).  Luke has his own little "secret agent" seat, as I call  it in the 3rd row and the girls are in captains chairs in the 2nd row.  Grace is in heaven because the new van has windows that roll down in the 2nd row.  She thinks that is absolutely the best feature!
This is also a van that technically seats 8.  This is a picture of the 2nd row and it has a special quad seat between the two captains chairs.  It is a cool little feature.

Decisions..Decisions...

The last couple of years, making any type of "major" decision has been very difficult for me.  I think I spend too much time making pro/con lists and trying to think of every issue or hiccup that could come up.  Because of that I talk myself into and out of things because I am afraid of "making a mistake."  No more has this ever been more true when it comes to decisions that revolve around "MY CHILDREN".  I often feel a HUGE amount of pressure to not make any mistakes with them because of their history/past and all the issues they are dealing with.  You have seen examples of my indecisiveness  in my posts especially regarding school choices for Luke and Grace.

Mark and I have finally come to a very long and difficult DECISION regarding the school placement for the kids for next year.  Both Luke and Grace will be attending our neighborhood public school.  It pains me to write it.  It means that I will turn down a $3600 dollar scholarship for them to attend private Christian School.  We were blessed to be given this scholarship through "His Helping Hands Foundation".  Even after the scholarship it will cost us almost $1000 dollars a month to have them attend Christian School (rest of tuition, gas, hot lunch, extras like photos or book orders).  The truth is....the DIFFICULT truth is....admitting we DO NOT have that money.

More TRUTH....it leaves me feeling like a FAILURE.  In my mind I think..."what is wrong with me that I can't give a Christian school education for my children? They deserve it.  They've been through so much...etc.  My parents provided a Christian Education for me."  The facts are really 2 things.   First, we just can't afford it. Second most private Christian Schools do not accept kids like Luke that have special needs.  Not because they are wrong...they just do not have the ability to meet their needs.

So...it's time to move FORWARD and to LET IT GO.  I have to accept now that this is our path, that GOD, the creator the universe, knows my children and their needs and will protect them and uphold them and put the right people in their paths that will help them in school.

I am reminded in the midst of our school decision, in the midst of unknowns about Luke's eyes and sight loss, in the midst of Grace's speech difficulties and every other issue running around in my head...that God is LEADING me..He hasn't FORGOTTEN me and HE  has me on his mind.

"Yet I will not forget you.  See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands." Isaiah 49
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