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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Pain & Tragedy

At 7:30 Wednesday morning, Mark and I were deep in conversation with our two oldest.  We knew they would be going to school.  We knew that others would be "talking about it."  We just wanted them to hear it from us first.  "Remember the mall that has the Disney Store?  Remember the mall where we go to dad's favorite store REI? Remember where we get the yummy lemonade and the pretzels?  Something really awful happened there yesterday.  A man with a gun went into that mall, into the food court and started shooting his gun.  He killed 2 people and himself.  It is very sad.  I just wanted you to know because kids at school will be talking about it and we want you to know from mom and dad." 

Growing up...I never heard a conversation like that from my parents.  My kids are growing up in a completely different world than I did.  It is scary.  I worry.  There are more questions than I have answers to.  Days like today, I feel deflated and defeated.  I feel that once again the "world" has left an imprint on their hearts and I am unable to erase it. 

Tonight...after the kids were tucked in bed and the house was quiet, I plugged in my ipod and started washing dishes.  And.I.cried.  The tears came and I let them as I recounted my day, my week, my last couple of months.  I AM TIRED!  Physically, emotionally, mentally...TIRED.  5 therapy appointments this week!  5!  In my mind I see three pairs of eyes that are looking at me.  I sometimes feel no matter how hard I try, no matter how hard I fight, it.isn't.enough.  And I so wish it was!

Luke had a therapy appointment tonight, and at the end of the session he gave me a paper about how he is feeling.  He would read a statement and then circle how it related to him (not at all, sometimes, often and all the time.)  The honesty and realness of my little boys' heart is amazing.  I read it sitting in the therapists office and bit my lower lip.  It was all I could do to keep from crying.  But with 3 little pairs of eyes looking to me, I held it together.  Can anyone answer me this....why is the world so cruel?  Why are kids so mean?  Why do they constantly pick on those that are different? smaller?  less than them?  It PAINS me on the inside that Luke now realizes this.  He knows he is different.  He knows he is not like everyone else.  He KNOWS the very things I have tried to protect him from.  I FAILED.  I have seen his classmates in action and it is not nice.  There is little the school does these days.  Sure they have their little cute programs and rhymes about how to solve problems, but let's face it they are not holding students accountable for how they treat others. 

Grace feels the PAIN too.  She knows the things she struggles with.  She is already attempting to "fit in" so to speak.  She often will tell me everyone is mean to her at school.  She wants to wear her hair a certain way and her clothes a certain way and she is SEVEN!  I don't remember caring about anything like that at seven years old.  But the are constantly surrounded by it (TV, media, stores, the mall).  It is almost impossible to escape. 

Shortly after beginning this post, we heard of the shootings in Connecticut, at the elementary school.  Mark and I sat on the couch and cried.  This tragedy has moved me and has shook me to the core.  I told my mom it is like a double whammy for someone like me.  First as a mother of young children.  Some of the victims were seven years old.  Grace is 7.  It took everything in me not to go and pick them up from school on Friday.  Oh...and letting them go to school on Monday...that was even more difficult.  Then I am a teacher, at an elementary school.  I sobbed Sunday night to Mark that I was scared.  I am trusted with the precious lives of preschoolers.  It is an scary feeling to walk into the office or past the Principal's office or past the first grade classrooms without thinking about "what it must have been like."  It.is.horrible to have those thoughts in your place of work.  But I am reminded that we cannot live our lives in fear.  We cannot cower away from living our lives, of going to school, of shopping in a mall.  We must remember how precious this life is, to reach out more, to connect with others more, to hug our children a little tighter and a little longer and to pray for PEACE for those that have suffered such unexplainable loss.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Down Syndrome

Raising special needs kids is a whirlwind, a roller coaster, a journey.  I am learning more and more that it is an adventure that will most likely never have an ending point.  I will never come to a time where I say "this is it!  I have figured it out!"  This past week was no exception to that thought.  It was a ROLLER COASTER!  I am always "attempting" to find some sort of balance, peace, fairness,...unfortunately in a world that is not fair, or peaceful and at times very unbalanced. 

It was a typical Wednesday before Thanksgiving...last minute meal prep, a trip to Fred Meyer, a 2 year old that wanted nothing more than to be held.  A 7 year old that marches to the beat of her own drum, and a 9 year old that we attempt to keep on some sort of schedule during "non" school days. 

That afternoon I went out to the mailbox and was greeted by a letter from the Division of Developmental Disabilities.  As part of Bella's IFSP, they had me sign paperwork to apply for DDD services because she has a documented developmental delay.  I was shocked that the letter said that she was eligible because her delays are not that severe.  I read further into the letter and it said that she qualified based on the fact that she had Down Syndrome.  That is was documented by a physician.  It further stated that her syndrome was so severe that she couldn't participate in an evaluation and that she qualified for "Intensive Medical Home Care."  Basically nursing services.  Two thoughts ran through my head.  1) Some sweet baby with Down Syndrome got their paperwork mixed up with hers or 2) that the Infant Toddler Early Intervention is scamming a way to get more money.  I hope the first is correct.  Of course, on Wednesday before the holiday there was nothing I could do.  Even though I know that it is not true...to see her name at the top of this paperwork was really difficult for me.  I wanted nothing more than for it to reflect the truth.  I know in time it will all get sorted out, but in the meantime it was something that I just had to "let go". 

The next event that occurred was more personal for myself.  It reflects the challenges and struggles of being a mother of special needs children.  If you haven't read my honest thoughts on what it feels like to be a special needs mom read it here 5 Things About Being a Special Needs Mom

Church has been a difficult subject for me since my father passed away.  My entire life he was a pastor.  The Rev. Neal L. Nyhoff.  I imagined my entire life in his church.  My kids growing up, myself growing up.  But it was a dream that would never come to be.  Since 2005, we have been at Mountain View Christian Center.  It has been a good place to be.  My kids enjoy it and we have found a home.  I know though that it will never be what it once was in my dad's church. 

For two and half years, I have been with Bella at church.  She has been the only baby in nursery.  Her and I have spent almost every Sunday since she was born together in church.  One because the church is small, and two because of her social delays and intense fear of being left by me.  It has been a good time together, but especially lately, it would be nice to drop her off in the preschool class and be a grown up for an hour.  I have been sensitive to her needs though, and have not pushed her too far.  This has meant that aside from me teaching her class one time a month, I do not have a ministry in the church.  This is difficult for me because in the past I have been very involved. 

I had talked with Mark about seeing how he felt about me being involved with the music ministry at our church once a month.  I was really excited about the possibility of ministering through music and getting a break from nursery duty. I didn't even care in what avenue I was used...piano, additional singer, special number...it didn't matter.  I stepped out and put myself out there...only to be disappointed.  They didn't need any help currently.  

Things are planned and I understand that.  I can only imagine that I don't look very committed to anyone at church.  They rarely see me.  But I am there.  I am sitting on the floor in nursery or preschool playing ball, or dolls with a 2 year old that has social and sensory delays.  Or I am sitting in the van with one of my older children that refused to wear their shoes, or had a melt down previous to coming to church. 

I know that I am not punctual for church most of the time.  We often blow through the door 5 minutes after church begins.  And I can see how anyone can think "hey...if they can't make it to church on time...I can't count on them for ____________(insert anything here.)  What they don't see is the intense choreographed dance of getting my kiddos dressed, eating, hair combed and out the door.  Any of those 3 things can send them into a sensory break down. 

So...yes...I can see how I look...uncommitted, and unable to count on me.  I have to admit and be honest that I was disappointed not to be able to minister through music at our church currently.  As a mom of special needs kids...I could really use an outlet like that.  Something that doesn't involve kids at all...for an hour once a month. 

My wish is that people would see my unwavering commitment to my children.  They would watch me as I balance 5 therapies in a week, never missing a beat.  Cry with their therapists, strive for the next intervention, never giving up...never wavering.  They would view my stability as I manage a home, therapies, medical appointments, a family.  As I serve...day after day after day.  Looking inside our home to see that the very existence of our house is a place that meets the diverse needs of our children.  That our living room is now a therapy space.  That the blankets on my son's bed are special ordered to meet his needs.  My commit is unmovable.  My faith unshakable to the point that I raised 2000 dollars for a therapy intervention for my children.  To know that whatever happens... my children are my heart, my life.  They would watch as I never miss a medical appointment, advocate for financial help so that I don't have to work full time, and pray over my kids constantly.  So...you may not see me in the sanctuary at church, or singing or playing the piano with the music team, but I am there.  I am committed and I am ministering to the 3 little people God has given me. 

After the initial disappointment, Mark and I talked...my ministry is not confined to 1 hour a month, but my ministry is 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It is the ministry I took on, when I said "yes" to a 13 month old Luke, and a 13 month old Grace, and when I heard Bella cry for the first time.  I was thinking this weekend as I have been processing this news.  I was reminded of something my youth pastor, Luke Gillock taught me so many years ago.  He shared a quote that has stuck with me and comes to mind in times like these....

"It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.  The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly.  So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat." ~Theodore Roosevelt

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Blessing


An unexpected blessing found its way into my kitchen this weekend.  It was a happy surprise that has left me smiling all weekend.  Every once in awhile, on this crazy journey of "life" a blessing comes along that reminds me that God cares about the "little" things.  I am so thankful today for an ice maker!  I know....I know...that sounds crazy but for the past 5 years I have been either making ice or buying the bags and dumping it into the ice bin "pretending" that the ice maker really worked!  So this weekend, every time I heard the ice maker drop ice into the bin, or the water line fill up the ice cube trays I danced in the kitchen, much to my kiddos delight...who thought I was absolutely hysterical, laughed and then joined with me dancing in the kitchen.  Who would have thought ice would bring such JOY? 

Currently I have 2 refrigerators sitting in my kitchen.  Mark and I talked about what to do with our old Kitchenaid refrigerator.  We decided that we wanted to give it away to someone who needed a refrigerator.  Besides the broken ice maker, it works/runs great.  I took pictures of it and posted it on Facebook.  It lasted 2 minutes before there was a reply...actually there were several replies.  I was humbled by how many people could use a refrigerator and humbled by how unbelievable it seemed to others that we would give it away. 

Luke was sitting on my lap tonight and we were talking about the refrigerators.  I was saying what an awesome blessing it was to get the new refrigerator.  He wanted to know how much it cost.  I told him it was a gift so it cost no money.  He said "score!"  I told him the family that would be getting our white refrigerator (he knows them).  I told him that since we were blessed with a new refrigerator that mommy and daddy wanted to bless someone else.  We talked about how life sometimes is not about money or how much we have.  Sometimes the greater reward is in doing something generous or kind.  Luke then proceeded to tell me that we needed give money away to others.  He has incredibly kind heart!  It was a great conversation and a great weekend!  Thanksgiving can come in the shape of a refrigerator. 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Fight

Sometimes it feels like all I do is fight.  Me.against.the.world.  Fighting for Luke's needs to met in the classroom, fighting to make sure he has the meds he needs, fighting to make certain he experiences success, and me fighting against the insurance companies right now.  Ugh.  I hate that one little phone call from Luke's occupational therapy center can send my head spinning and my stomach turning.  I wish I did a better job of just not worrying about things.  Last Wednesday, after making sure the new referral for therapy was sent over from his primary care (so he could continue), they called to say that Luke's 30 annual visits for OT were expiring and that he had met his yearly max.  He has secondary insurance, but they went on to say that it has only been covering half of all clients lately and that we were "ultimately responsible" for paying for therapy sessions if they were no covered by anyone.  GREAT!  Like we have 350.00 per session just sitting around. 

Conversations like those leave me feeling 2 ways. First...upset that Luke would have to miss therapy because apparently having 2 health insurances are NOT enough.  And second...it makes me angry!  Angry that we are once again fighting tooth and nail for what Luke needs and deserves!   I work really hard to make sure that little boy gets what he needs.  I made a promise to get him the best medical care and I have full intentions of keeping my promise! 

After 2 phone calls and countless conversations, I was able to work it out with our primary insurance.  Pending their approval, they will accept or reject our petition for more therapy sessions. 

I was talking to Mark about how it is scary to think about a world that wouldn't include therapy for Luke. Not only does Luke count on the therapists in his life, I have come to rely on the support I receive that offer me an outlet (be that a minute or two) to discuss any questions or help.  I have realized I have come to count on "village" to help meet all of Luke's needs.  When and insurance company threatens to take that away...it becomes personal! 


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Here

I know...I know...I have been absent for awhile.  To be honest, I have been so incredibly busy that blogging has been low on the priority list.  Then, the times I have sat down to write, I have been experiencing a bit of writers block.  Life is still happening around here, but I haven't seemed to be able to find the right words. 

Last month was full of our traditional "fall" activities.  There were 2 visits to the pumpkin patch, school picture days, school conferences, Halloween fun and many therapies and appointments.

I have finally adjusted well to work.  It took a good 8 weeks.  I finally feel comfortable in my position and confident in the work I am doing with my students and families.  I was BLESSED to be able to rearrange my schedule to have Fridays off now.  I traded my hours on Friday for my hours on Monday.  It has made a BIG difference in my outlook and I get to have a whole day to just be mommy.  My heart is very HAPPY!
Mark excepted a "mentor" position at work.  He was chosen for his ability to teach, lead and relate to others.  I am very proud of him.  He is soooo HAPPY working a "normal" predictable schedule again.  So am I!

The 3 kiddos are doing well.  Luke is doing well in school.  He is still attending his therapies and his medical appointments at Casey Eye OHSU.  His eyes continue to be stable.  He will have a BIG appointment this coming January.  They will track his peripherally vision to see if he has lost anything in this past year.  Nervous.  Grace is doing well.  She has graduated from speech therapy and is still getting some help in reading.  She keeps me on my toes, but is a really great help to me around the house.   And she is funny!  Bella is doing therapy now in our home.  I am not too sure how I feel about it yet.  It is the new model that they just switched too.  I am so used to going somewhere so it is a bit weird to get used to having different people in and out of the house.  She is trying to exert her authority over our home with screeching and yelling.  She is hysterical these days too.  Right now her favorite thing to say is "so terrible mommy."  Cracks.me.up! 

More to come soon (including pictures from Halloween!)


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Fall at the Dahlhouse

I have a love/hate relationship with fall. Funny...I know. It is by FAR my
FAVORITE season of the year. I LOVE the change in weather, the color of the leaves as they fall, pumpkins, warm drinks, decorating the house, going to the pumpkin patch, Halloween, Thanksgiving, pumpkin spice lattes, long drives, warm cozy fires...

The other side of the relationship with fall is the "hate". Fall ushers in a LONG season of anniversary dates of loved ones that have died...especially my dad's passing. Our brains are AMAZING! And as I have been learning lately through my trainings through my school district, our brains look for PATTERNS and ways to organize all types of information. FALL is a time of year where the simplest of things can trigger strong memories of the past. Sights, the weather, smells can take me right back to memories I haven't thought about in years. For example, when Safeway began selling pumpkins, I remembered 9 years ago that I bought a pumpkin and took it to my dad in the hospital because I thought it would be a nice touch to all his flowers. The big yellow leaves falling remind me of driving to meet with family to plan my dad's funeral after he passed. It's the little things.

God was FAITHFUL in bringing me Luke right after my dad passed. Luke was my light in those dark times. So...bringing back the topic of decorating for fall...I purposed in my heart that if we were ever BLESSED to have children that fall and Halloween would be a BIG deal. Every September I get down the "fall boxes" and we start to decorate! I would like to share with you some of my favorite fall decor that we put out each year! This year was special because Grace helped me decorate this year. She was full of ideas and thoughts on where things should go. :) I think she will be a great decorator in the future (much like her Mama and Mimi!)
This is my grandma's piano and every calendar holiday I decorate the piano accordingly. It houses the nativity scene in December, snowmen in January, hearts in February, Easter fun in the spring and fourth of July in the summer. 
One of my favorite decorations in the Mickey Mouse ghost. He is special for 2 reasons...1) I bought him in Disneyland! 2) He was bought when we attended my brother and Katie's wedding in 2010. He was originally a popcorn holder, which if you know my family is quite fitting!
This area is fun. Bella plays with all this stuff and loves to talk about "rick or reat" (trick or treat). I don't think Bella will be anything for Halloween because she is so scared of the costumes. :)
I love to decorate the dinning room table. I was blessed to get my mom and dad's dinning table and china hutch. I grew up with them and now my kids get to grow up with them.
This was one of Grace's ideas! This is the window above the kitchen sink. They are just little jack-o-lantern candles and little Halloween buckets. That is Mickey Mouse as Jack Sparrow sticking out of one of the little tin buckets.

And finally my most prized piece of fall decor is a card that sat on the window seal of my dad's hospital bed for the entire month of October 2003. It is a card that has an incredible photograph of a pumpkin. I set it out each year and tell my kids about it. It was given to my dad by the real estate office he worked for. It reminds me of all the people that cared for him, prayed for him and supported him during that difficult time. He was truly LOVED by so many. He is still greatly MISSED by so many!

 

Saturday, September 29, 2012

10 and 9...

Today, September 29, mark the 10 and 9 year anniversaries of my babies who were on this earth but for a brief moment...tucked quietly away in the center of my being.  For in a single moment, a moment not known to anyone, they were whisked away and made whole and perfect. 

Some Septembers come and go, and I spend very little time thinking about them.  Other Septembers, like this September, I find myself remembering each detail of their pregnancies, and watching the days on the calendar, count down, one by one to their anniversaries.  Miscarriage has been VERY difficult, emotional and painful for me.  Over the years, I have learned it is something that is really not talked about, but so MANY women have experienced miscarriage.
My 3 miscarriages will be forever etched on my heart.  The first miscarriage awakened within me a deep desire to be a mother, and it left me feeling cheated, lied to, and despair.  We had spent 13 weeks planning a life, a hope and a future for our son, and in one moment...it was GONE. 

Mostly though...miscarriage left me desperate.  The emptiness that plagued me for the next six months was horrible.  I watched friend after friend get pregnant or give birth, and each time a friend would make a joyful announcement, it stung, like a sharp slap in the face.  I felt as though I was being picked on in a series of cruel jokes (even though I knew I wasn't).  My body refused to do the very thing it was designed to.  I was left feeling like a failure as a woman. 

The second miscarriage was defeating.  I was robbed again.  8 weeks went by this time.  Even though my heart had been more reserved, I had ordered maternity clothes, made announcements and even picked out a name...for a daughter this time.  I would walk the baby isles in Target, Walmart and Babies R Us, planning, waiting and dreaming.  In a moment, she too was GONE.  More announcements would come....more tears would fall.  I spent many nights laying on the floor sobbing, crying out to God.  The next months that followed the miscarriage were almost unbearable as I watched my father die of cancer.  More death.  More pain.  GONE.

Then my little light came....in the form of a foster baby needing a forever family.  He changed my life's course.  I began to see that perhaps God did know what He was doing. 
After Luke's adoption, my third miscarriage.  This one came as a complete shock, as everything was going so well.  I can still remember the day the doctor told us she was gone (down to the detail of what I was wearing).  Laying on the examine table, watching the doctor's face as he kept searching and searching for her heartbeat was agonizing.  GONE.

A few months later, we welcomed our princess Grace into our home as a foster-to-adopt baby.  She's still here!  God had a purpose.
Attempting another pregnancy after the 3 back-to-back miscarriages was agonizing.  It wasn't until the 3rd miscarriage that doctors began piecing together why this kept happening.  We were incredibly blessed to be given Isabella as a gift.  As I held her those first few months, I wondered how having her would effect the pain I hid in my heart surrounding my miscarriages.  Even though I gave birth, it did not erase the hurt.  In someways, it has intensified the pain.  I now have a full realization of what I missed out on.  Holding them as infants, smelling them, rocking them, feeding them.  I have spent many more hours wondering what they might have looked like.  More tears have been cried. 
You would think after finally having 3 baby showers of my own, I would be able to attend them without feelings of pain. Or that I would be able to go to church on Mother's day without feeling like the earth was caving in.  Neither of those are true, even with Isabella in my arms.  Baby showers still bring about feelings of loss for me.  It is difficult for me to explain why.  I also still do not attend church on Mother's day.  Mother's Day has wounded me so deeply in the past that I choose to celebrate it simply.

"He gives and takes away...blessed be the name of the Lord".  This is a famous song that we sing in church from time to time.  I heard that song for the first time right after my 3rd miscarriage in 2005.  I stood in church and sobbed.  I have to be honest and tell you that it took me several months to be able to sing that song "He gives and takes away, he gives and takes away, my heart will choose to say...Lord blessed be your name."   

My heart has been scarred and stretched with the grief of losing 3 littles too early.  It also has said good-bye to 11 other foster children that I was a "for awhile mommy" too.  Those are painful partings also.  You get attached, you love, you give yourself away to those babies, and then they move on.  It is the way it is supposed to work, but it doesn't stop the pain.  You grieve, you heal, you do it all over again, and become a part in a story of a child.  Most people don't know this...but I was an almost mommy to a sweet baby girl we were supposed to get from the hospital.  She is 5 years old now.  Not a day goes by where I don't pray for her. 
Today...I was driving home from the grocery store with tears rolling down my cheeks, thinking about each one of those babies, imagining what they looked like.  Letting myself feel and accepting the emotions.  Grief is such a mysterious thing, and I feel best described as a wave.  Waves can be small and gentle or fierce with fury.  They can be non-existent and then a storm can come in.  That is the way my grief has been.  Quiet at times and all encompassing at other times.  I like to think of my 3 babies hanging out with my dad, him watching over them, my grandma doting on them, my grandpa teasing them, my aunt enjoying them.  Someday....









Friday, September 7, 2012

Wall-Pops and Fish Oil

I am ashamed to admit, that even just 5 years ago, I didn't give any thought to organic vs non organic foods, chemicals, food dyes and allergies.  Those thoughts never even crossed my mind.  I wouldn't have understood the terms "gluten-free", "Feingold" or the "brain-gut connection".  Raising special needs children has RADICALLY changed how I view food, and has had a huge impact on how I plan and feed our little family.  I do not consider myself to be an "expert" by any means, but I have done quite a bit of research and reading to feel like I can provide our family with healthy choices.
During the summer, I ventured out of my "comfort zone" and decided to visit a naturopathic doctor.  Our primary care physician didn't give much thought or weight to the idea that diet has a impact on a child's overall health/attention span/or hyperactivity.  In my research as a teacher, and a mom, I disagreed.  I have seen the profound changes in students who would go on these specialized diets.  I knew that the "brain-gut connection" was a REAL thing.  The naturopathic doctor helped educate me further on the use of some supplements as well as what diet would be best for my son.  We eliminated artificial sugar, dyes and added fish oil, magnesium calm and digestive enzymes to his diet (and Grace's as well).  Bella is too young still for some of those supplements.   So it was needless to say that our diet shifted.

Each week I sit down with the ads in the newspaper and plan our menu.  I use an organizational planning menu that has a box for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.  I write all the meals/food in the boxes and then make my shopping list off of the menu planner.  It is a great system for me.  I then post the menu on the fridge so my husband knows the plan and he helps by sticking to it as much as possible too. 

Since my son Luke is a great reader and likes to be involved, I found these Wall-Pops (that are reusable giant stickers), that you can write on with a dry erase markers.  I have written down several low sugar (1g or less) snack ideas, so that he can be independent as possible.  It is also just a great visual for all of us and a reminder of what some excellent snack choices are. 

I also enjoy using my Crock-pot A LOT!  I love that I always feel so organized when I cook with the crock pot.  I really would like to purchase in the near future a recipe book written by Crockin' Girls.  It has tons of recipes that can cooked in the crock pot. 

I am happy to report I have noticed some improvements in attention/focus with Luke since eliminating food dyes and sugars and adding fish oil and the other supplements.  I didn't expect the new diet to be a cure (as it is nearly impossible for neurological issues to be corrected), but the diet is another "tool" that we use to help him be the best he can be.  He is really great about asking if there is food dye in something.  I am proud of him!

 
So that is just a little bit about my journey into healthier food, and how I plan to feed my family each week!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Delayed

"Delayed"...the word is heavy on my heart as my mind tries to process the latest news regarding our 3rd little one.  Even though I have existed in this "world" (special needs) since 2004, I feel as though I am in unfamiliar territory, almost a newbie again.  True...the state of Washington recognizes me as a "special education teacher".  Yes I am trained and capable to meet the educational, emotional and physical needs of special little people, but when I look at her it is with a "mama's" heart and not a "teacher's".  I step out of the "driver's seat" so to speak, and into the "parent role".  And.My.Heart.Breaks! 

My Bella has ALWAYS had a very SPECIAL personality.  From the minute she was born we have been EXTREMELY bonded. Perhaps it was the way she was created, perhaps I held on so much because I had waited so long to be pregnant and have a baby!  Perhaps I held on so much because I felt that in some way she was a connection to my 3 babies that I miscarried.  I would hold her as an infant and wonder if my others would have looked like her, if they would have smelled like her and made precious nosies like her.  I held on so much that I really didn't share her with anyone else.  I look back now and think I made a mistake holding on so much.  She doesn't willingly even go to her Mimi and Papa or Grandma and Grandpa.  And.it.breaks.my.heart!  And theirs too.  Forget strangers or saying hi to other adults and kids.  She just buries her face in my shoulder or gives you the "stink eye." 

I thought Miss B would outgrow it, but last month I began to notice some red flags.  We navigated through all the right channels.  Phone calls, screenings, and then evaluation.  Final results....social delay, adaptive delay, sensory processing disorder.  Her "team" feels that most all of the issues are interrelated with the sensory disorder.  So Bella B will join her brother on the occupational therapy schedule.  Although they will go to separate places.  When she gets closer to 3, we will see if she will go to the special education preschool that Luke went too.  Oh...goodness...the thought scares me. 

My brain is trying to process all this information.  What went wrong?  Did I do something?  Is there something I could have done?  What now?  My heart hurts for the fact she has had these delays and I haven't done anything about it.  But now that I know, I feel like more "grace" is given to her and patience knowing that these are her set of "special needs." 

I have cried A LOT of tears this week!  Transitions are difficult for me too.  I started back to work this week.  It has been going well, but I am adjusting to a new schedule.  And so is Bella.  Then I was given the results of her eval, and the kids met their new teachers...well sort of (another story).  Grace's new teacher was sick and not at the open house.  It was not the best situation for a girl that is very anxious about going back to school.  Nothing had been done to her classroom.  I tried to highlight the positives, but there were boxes laying around every where in the classroom.  Eeek.  I was disappointed.  So was she.


Despite the crazies in our life, we press onward, because really there is not much more to do.  Move forward, walk one foot in front of the other.  Somehow we will find our new "normal".  We will address what needs to be addressed and make sure each little person here in the DAHL house has their needs met. 

I must admit the task feels a bit daunting. Three kids, all special needs now. Who would have predicted that? I feel at times...am I capable of this? Little me...with a 7 special needs students and now 3 special needs kids. But...I trust that God will guide me, give me strength and patience. I know I am a mama to those kiddos for a reason, and a teacher to those students for a reason.
Please pray that WE would find PEACE in all these transitions.

Pray for STRENGTH as Mark and I together parent these little ones.

Pray for HEALING, for all my kids (Luke's eyes, Grace's anxiety, and Bella's physical delays) because I know OUR GOD is ABLE. 



Carissa :)

Friday, August 24, 2012

Summer Is....

The summer has seem to have flown by, like it usually does.  We have been incredibly blessed this year to take a few trips and visit with family.  Today is a special day because it is my dad's birthday.  He would have been 61 years old today.  I miss him so much it hurts!  He was a wonderful father and my greatest wish is that he could have met his grand kids.  Stupid cancer!  I hold on to the promise that one day we will all be reunited again!  My parents gave my brother and I many wonderful summers and I strive to pass on that gift to my children.
 
Summer is trips to the park with dad! Mark spent as much time with us as he could, despite his busy schedule.  He loves being a dad and it shows!  He took the kids to the park several times.  Oh how they love to play with him! 
 Summer is hanging around on the monkey bars!
 
Summer is relaxing in the grass.
 
 Summer is a ballet showcase!

 Summer is bowling with Auntie Katie!

Summer is Oak's Park with Uncle D!
 
 Summer is silly faces, silly kids and BBQ's with 14 other kiddos!

 Summer is splashing in the pool!

Summer is reuniting with family.
 
 Summer is exploration in matching dresses!

 Summer is for visiting with your sisters!

 Summer is a trip to California!

Summer is the Griffith Observatory and the Hollywood sign!
 
 Summer is Disneyland!!!

 Summer is brothers and sisters!

 Summer is the new Cars Land!

Summer is for riding roller coasters for the first time!
 
 Summer is for bonding with Auntie Katie!

 Summer is for picture taking and memory making!

Summer is for 3D glasses and Toy Story Mania!
 
 Summer is for sister LOVE!

 Summer is for kayaking with your friends!

Summer is for camping with good friends and roasting your first hot dog and smores! 

As summer comes to a close, I am thankful for the experiences, memory making and time spent together.  It is now time to look toward the fall season, schedules and school to make new memories and have new experiences. 

Praying your fall season is full of love and memories,
Carissa
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