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Saturday, December 17, 2016

The Missing Mom


I'm that mom...the one who is missing from the majority of family pictures.  I'm either behind the camera, or I politely decline to be in the pictures when others have offered to take them.  I have nearly a gazillion pictures of my kids (who are my joy!).  The ones that chronical their lives both individually and corporately. 
 The pictures that show how much they change and grow.
 The pictures that tell the story of conquering fears and triumphal victories.
The pictures that celebrate school events: concerts, plays, presentations.
 The pictures that make us laugh, and we want them documented to remember.
The pictures that celebrate new beginnings and another year passing. 

I cherish my pictures!  They are so precious to me, and I understand the importance of the gift they give by allowing you to capture a moment in time.  For everything to stand still, and to forever be able to look back and see how we were at that second.  Time goes by entirely too fast. 

Newborns grow into babies who grow in to toddlers, who grow into children who grow into teenagers.  Seriously I have lived that whole sequence in this past year.  And I look back and notice that while my children's lives are documented...mine is not. Oh I am there...in the thick and thin and the long nights, and the cleaning and the cleaning and the cleaning (so much cleaning these days).  I'm crying tears as they go off to kindergarten, standing close as they use a locker combination for the first time, encouraging them as they play the flute and clap their hands.  I'm just behind the camera (or on the sidelines).
It's vulnerable for me to be in front of the camera these days.  I used to enjoy having my picture taken (back in my teens and early 20s).  Not now.  I have a mama body and no where near my "goal weight" (whatever that is now!).  I've birthed two children, and labored years for my other two to be officially my babies.  I've battled PCOS, anxiety, depression, exhausted, fear.  I'm tired and carry the weariness of having adjusted to life as a mama of four and a new baby again.  The last thing I am wanting to do is get in front of a camera for everyone to see. 
My sweet friend, and amazing photographer, encouraged me to have my picture taken.  She has been taking pictures of my kids for almost a year.  I am so glad to have met her.  I signed my kids up for a Christmas PJ and cookies session.  My first thought was the kids would be so cute.  But then I started thinking of what a gift it would be to have my picture taken with them.  I want my kids to remember that I lived life with them and have something to look back on.  Not just in "selfies".  To remember that I was the mama that played Yahtzee, and dolls and colored...the mom that played the Wii, danced in the kitchen and sang in the car.  I want them to remember that I lived.  I want them to know that it is ok to not "have it all together" and to "look perfect".  We all have flaws.  And there is a beauty in that...in the mess.  So thank you Brienne for not only capturing us all beautifully, but for encouraging me...and for the gift of making time stand still.


Thursday, December 8, 2016

5 Things About Being A Speical Needs Mom Revisited

Out of every 5 households, 1 child will have special needs, which can be a physical, cognitive or medical disability.  That's about 10 million children in the US.

Luke is one of those kids.  Grace is one of those kids.
Luke has several disorders.  Early childhood onset glaucoma, microcephaly, ADHD, Tourette Syndrome, sensory integration difficulties and visual and auditory processing needs.  After many, many doctor's visits they have determined that there is no syndrome that links anything together, but that Luke kind of hit the lottery, so to speak, of congenital issues.

His disorders (or special needs) have caused medical and developmental problems.  He has been in physical, occupational and social therapies.  He has had 3 ear surgeries and heart surgery to close a hole in his heart, CAT scans to look at his small head, eye procedures, music therapies, and behavioral therapies.  He has been through more doctor specialists than I can count or remember.

Grace has obsessive compulsive disorder.  We have been through a lot of testing to rule out certain things.  She struggles with academics but gives her best effort.  At the onset of her diagnosis we went through two and half years of therapy to help her with the anxiety. 
Raising a special needs child, is a blessing and a challenge.  It is rewarding and trying.  It is inspiring and defeating.  It is like you can't have one without the other.  You take the good and the not so good.  I sometimes long to feel "normal" but have accepted that my "normal" is "not normal" and I am ok with that.  Many people will tell me what an excellent job I do with Luke and Grace, and how blessed they are to have parents "like us" but I often feel I am just so blessed to have them in my life.  I don't feel like I am anything special, and most days I feel that I am just "not good enough".  I yelled when I shouldn't have or didn't do enough activities with them.  I fail on so many levels, but I am human.  I am a mom.  A special needs mom.  Mainly though I just like to be known as...Luke's mom and Grace's mom and Bella's mom and Matthew's mom.  As a mom of children with special needs, I often feel a myriad of emotions.  I wrote a post like this one four years ago and I wanted to update where I am at now and share MY "real" honest thoughts about how I feel as a special needs mom.  Maybe you can gain some insight into how it is to be a special needs mom. :)

1.  I am tired...just being a mom is exhausting.  Especially to little ones.  However, parenting special needs children takes things to another level of being tired.  On top of the "normal" parenting things you do with your kiddos, you add therapies into your schedule.  While they may attend formal therapy once a week, there is practice and things to do at home several times a week.  We may visit doctors and specialists several times a month.  Sometimes I feel I live at the orthodontists office, especially now that Luke has braces.  As a kiddo with sensory issues, Luke often has a difficult time with all the weird stuff in his mouth.  Last month, we had a big check up on Luke's eyes at OHSU.  Matthew had a 9 month check up, and there were a slew of other doctor appointments including chest x-ray's for Bella.  If its not the medical needs it is the educational needs.  I have been fighting (what seems like a very long time) to re-instate Luke's IEP (Individual Educational Plan).  I finally have a meeting to begin the evaluation process on Monday.  I keep emailing, I keep advocating, I keep fighting even when there seems to be no fight left in me.  I am ALWAYS advocating for him and Grace and Bella in all realms of life and making sure each child receives what they deserve and need.  The NEW news is that Matthew is about to undergo a full developmental evaluation due to the fact he has some issues that have concerned me (I've only told Mark and my mom).  I took him to a screening and he is being referred on to the Infant Toddler Early Intervention Program.  And while I am thankful we live in a place that has such programs, I am concerned about the thought of added therapies.  The emotional toll of all I carry, causes me to be tired.  I am a worrier by nature and I spend many hours thinking about my kids and trying to come up with possible solutions, new therapies, researching, praying.  Some of my recent thoughts include: what new foods can I give Matthew to help with his sensory issues, what can I do to encourage him to try saying new sounds, how can I help Grace and Luke be more organized...(just to name a couple). 
 2.  I am jealous...I almost didn't put this one down...again.  You can read my post four years ago about what I was struggling with here.  I thought about this again, and sadly it is still SO true.  I don't want to admit that I am jealous, and I thought perhaps in the last four years I have grown and this no longer applies.  But I am being HONEST here.  I feel jealous of moms whose kids can play on typical sports teams, school sports teams or have children that don't always finish last with physical activity.  I feel jealous of moms who don't have sit beside there children and coax them to try their homework, and then don't have to email all their teachers to let them know what they didn't complete.   I feel jealous of moms that can go away for a weekend.  I tried to go away for two nights to an adoption retreat.  Oh how I needed it.  But, I made it one night before one of my children ended up in the ER and I came home.  I was so glad they were ok, but I cried for a couple days because I felt so disappointed that something I looked forward to for so long (the retreat) was over for another year.  I am jealous of moms that have a dozen babysitters on speed dial (or even one).  I get that we have four kids and it is a lot, but having a babysitter that was available would be amazing.  I keep praying about this.  My kids are so wonderful, but they can be difficult.  My mom has been very helpful watching the kids and offering to watch the kids (which I appreciate more than I can express), but she works full time and is tired and sometimes we need someone last minute.  In the last four years, I have also experienced jealousy of moms who still have there fathers.  I miss mine everyday.  Anytime I watch a father hug his daughter, it's there...jealousy.  I just plain miss mine.  He was always full of great insight, help and support.  I grieve still that he isn't here to have a relationship with his grandbabies.  He would have been and amazing grandpa.
3.  I feel alone...  Most days I spend completely alone (with my kids).  I am more comfortable in this role than I was four years ago, but I would still echo as a special needs mom I feel alone.  Mark works a weird schedule these days, so when he goes to work in the morning I don't have much contact with anyone who isn't a therapist, a school teacher, a doctor or specialist.  I try and visit a friend once a week, but it doesn't always happen.  I could use the support of other moms with children who have the same type of issues.  That is why the Called to Love Retreat has been so wonderful for me.  I can physically see that I am NOT the ONLY one who is walking this path.  We recently began attending a new church, and I am happy to report that there is another mama who is walking my same path at church. Which is an amazing blessing! I am hopeful that perhaps we can connect more because I could sure use her friendship.   
4. I am human...I am not a saint, even though well meaning people do try and tell me I am.  I have bad days, off days, days I feel like I am failing and think I am not doing a good job.  Being a special needs mom has really re-shaped my life in many, many good ways.  Luke and Grace have helped me discover who I really am.  I have realized that I am a lot stronger than what I thought.  I have learned to be pushy, confrontational when I need to be, how to fight, speak and advocate for those who cannot.  In the past four years, I have also learned that I have limitations, and it is ok to admit when you need help.  I am in therapy currently for anxiety/depression, and I sought out the help of a doctor and I am on medication.  I am human.  And I am ok with it.  Both therapy and medication have helped me in a huge way.  I no longer spend everyday crying, I don't feel like I am the verge of a breakdown, I am not in a constant state of worry, and I am not over analyzing every weird twinge or symptom in my body.  I still have dreams of things I would like to accomplish, but for now I would settle for reading a book, painting or going to the spa. (A mom can dream right?)
5. I am scared...This one is difficult to admit too...still.  While I don't dwell on this thought too often, it is part of raising children with special needs.  I am scared that I won't do something or find the right therapy for them.  I am scared Luke is going to be blind someday due to his glaucoma.  I am scared I won't know the right things to say when we talk about their adoptions or know how to answers their questions?  I am scared I am not doing enough or that I am doing too much?  I am scared when Luke goes to school that other kids are mean to him, or he doesn't eat his lunch cause he talks too much, or that he isn't following the rules.  I worry Grace isn't turning her work in or she is distracted.   I am scared that time is going by too quickly...moments are passing I won't ever get back.  Have I been enough? done enough? loved enough? advocated enough? taught enough? played enough?
My life is forever changed (for the better) by raising Luke and Grace (and Bella and Matthew too).  They bless me in ways that I can't explain.  When I look into Luke and Grace's eyes, and I see how happy they are, and then I think of the alternative (which I can't describe), I am blessed....a hundred times blessed...to call them all mine.  Every time I break up an argument, model appropriate behavior, remind him "he is not the parent", ask her to "finish the job," tell them "no" or the million other things I do, I remember that God according to His plan choose us for them.  I don't take that lightly.  I was called to this "position"...to take up my weapon and fight for those who cannot.  I know that the mere existence of Luke and Grace is a promise that God has a BIG plan for their lives.  I really believe it.  So even though it may not look so pretty in the trenches, I am there, I am fighting.  I am real.  I am THEIR mom. 

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Parenting Children From Hard Places and Staying Connected

During my time at the Adoption Mom's retreat, I had the opportunity to attend several breakout sessions.  All of the sessions were very beneficial in many ways; however, the session I attended titled, "Parenting the Connected Child" was AMAZING!  I was challenged to look at my parenting in a different way.   The two speakers presented information that inspired me and left me wishing the session was a few more hours.  There was so much information presented that applied to parenting children who have come from trauma, kiddos with special needs, and kiddos that are adopted.

Here are 10 takeaways from the session "Parenting the Connected Child". 

  • As parents, we have to know our stuff. We need to know our baggage. We need to know where we came from, and what our triggers are.  Our kiddos know how to trigger us.  They don't wake up each morning and say, "I think I am going to push everyone of mom or dad's button's today."  However, they have a way of doing that!  We can't go to certain places (hard places) with our children, if we are not willing to go there ourselves.  KNOW OUR STUFF.
  • Flip Your Lid.  I am a visual learner, so any type of picture or visual cue is extremely helpful for me.  Think of your brain (and your child's brain) as your hand.  You have the upstairs brain and the downstairs brain and the part in the middle is the amygdala.  The amygdala is responsible for the our "animal brain" or the "Fight, flight, freeze" instinct.  For the whole brain to funcition optimially the entire brain needs to be connected (think of your hand as a fist).  When your child "Flips their lid" (think of your hand completely opened), your child's brain is not connected and they are operating out of their animal or primal brain.  If our kids brains are flipped, talking and reasoning will do nothing.  Also as parents, our brains need to be connected to parent.  It is impossible to parent out of the "fight, flight, freeze" part of the brain. 
  • We need to connect with our children through our parenting.  Connection disarms fear.  Disarming the fear leads to connection which leads to trust.  
  • Kids from hard places have brains that have been rewired due to trauma.  The brain has memories of trauma and the body has memories as well. 
  • Two Strategies that help you connect to your children are "Mindfulness" and "Engagement".
  • Mindfulness is being aware of you (the parent).  By asking yourself "What do I bring from my past?  Where did I come from? What kind of parenting did I have? We need to know our own "stuff" and then choose what we will and will not bring into our parenting.  What can you let go of?  How does your child perceives you?  What is your voice?  What is your tone?  Human brains are wired to take in 80% tone and 20% words.  Often when children from hard places hear a certain tone they have negative body memories and then they respond irrational.  Body Memory is how a body remembers in certain situations.  The body will remember negative memories but it will also remember positive safe ones too.  When the body has a positive memory it creates new neuro pathways.  When a child is safe it equals connection. 
  • Engagement is to give them a voice.  Much of what has happened in our kids' lives has been things that have been out of their control.  We can help give them a voice by giving them choices.  I find choices can be really difficult sometimes.  I know when I give choices I have to be ok with either choice.  But by giving a choice we give them control and share the power.  Sharing power is compromise and giving them a compromise is huge.  It isn't manipulation but negotiation.  Being present and being connected to our kids is more important than being right. 
  • When teaching or correcting my kids, calmly asking them, "I need you to say that again with respect," is a good strategy.  Even if they just dial it down a little, take it! 
  • Don't ask questions you already know the answer to.  I am so guilty of this one!!!  Instead of saying, "have you brushed your teeth yet?" (when you know they haven't), say, "I need you to go brush your teeth." 
  • Give support until they don't need it.  This was a big "ah-ha" for me.  How many times have I said, "you are _______  years old, you should be doing this on your own."  Mostly said out of frustration.  But if I had reframed and shifted my thinking to this little person needing more support instead of what they should be doing at a certain age I would be less frustrated.  It's my job to support them until they don't need it anymore regardless of their age. 
There is so much more I could share about Parenting kids from hard places, parenting kids that have experienced trauma, adopted kiddos and kiddos with special needs.  Here are a few resources I have found helpful including the book I am referencing from the break out session at the retreat.   
Our children are blessings!  I am so honored to be their mama, and will continue to strive to provide them a safe and connected environment. 

Psalm 127:3~"Children are a blessing and a gift from the Lord."

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Hold On To Hope: Called to Love Retreat

I recently returned from a weekend retreat.  The retreat is "Called to Love" and it is designed as a retreat for moms that have adopted and/or foster kids.  This was my second year attending.  The theme for the weekend was "Hold on To Hope".  There is something so amazing and uplifting and refreshing to attend the retreat with 200 other mamas that "get it".  Moms that understand the struggles that you go through, the path you walk, and the thoughts you think when you are all alone.


There were so many great break out sessions and main speakers.  I took as many notes as I could possibly write.  I had the opportunity to paint a canvas and get a manicure and walk in the gardens at the Oregon Garden Resort.  I was really having an amazing time.  And.then.came.the.phone.call...at 5pm on Saturday.  My husband was taking our youngest (8 months) to the ER.  He choked on something or inhaled something.  There is nothing more debilitating to a mother than to be an hour and half away from her baby that needs her.  So many different thoughts flooded through my mind from (you shouldn't have left your baby...you are so selfish, to why couldn't your husband watch the baby closer, to I am never going to be able to let the baby out of my sight again).  All of those thoughts, of course, are irrational but in the moment of having absolutely no control that is unfortunately where my mind went.  I wish my first reaction would have been trust, faith and prayer.  I have a long ways to go. 

Fast forward...Man cub was just fine.  They determined whatever he choked on was swallowed and he was just fine.  I made it to him in Room 202 at Legacy Hospital.  He was babbling away..."ba-ba-ba-ba-ba" (his favorite and ONLY word) and being his usual busy self.   The only thing we had to wait for was for him to eat two jars of baby food to make sure he was using all his muscles in the throat and esophagus.  He flew through both jars and we were released.  I was relieved.  Children will you on your toes.  ALWAYS!

Man Cub's choking episode has got me thinking.  I realized that he has been struggling with tolerating different textures.  I think back to my other kiddos, and foster kiddos and realize many of them were eating crackers, soft green beans and noodles.  Most were able to use the pincer grasp (index and thumb) to pick up small items like Cheerios and small Puff snacks (We keep trying these Happy Baby Puffs)  I like them because Man cub seems to want to eat them and they smell great.  BUT Man Cub...not so much.  So this week...in an effort to help him taste some new people food without worrying about the risk of choking I bought him these Baby Fresh Food Feeders.  I bought the boy colors but they come in girly colors too.  I also spoke with his pediatrician this week.  Side note...the Dahl kids' doctor is AMAZING!  I cannot say enough wonderful things about him.  He is gentle, kind and really listens to me.  He LOVES babies too.  Dr. Miller recommended putting soft food into his cheek so that he really has to gum it before he swallows it.  Here is hoping that Man cub figures it all out, because for as much as this kid LOVES to eat (hello six jars of baby food a day) you think he would be stealing food off our plates.  LOL. 
Super cute Winnie the Pooh Walker.  Baby walkers at a good price were very difficult to find.  We love that this one has a tray and plays music.  Super easy fold down for traveling (like when you go to Mimi and Papa's house for a party!)
(Note: The links in this post are affiliate links.)

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Rest In Peace Sweet Dad of Mine

Thirteen years ago...you breathed your last breath and let go.  How is it possible that it has been 13 years already!  Seems like forever and a minute all at the same time.  I have been anticipating this year's anniversary for awhile...at least my subconscious has been preparing.  You've appeared in my dreams, memories and I've noticed I have been extra emotional this past month.  Some years the anniversary of your death comes and I remember the day (as always) and miss you, think of you and move on, but some anniversaries come and they tear at my heart, and the grief feels raw for a moment and I cry at all you've missed these past 13 years.   This year's anniversary is the later. 

Recently I've thought a lot about the type of father you were.  You were involved in my life and you included me in yours.  You showed up and participated.  You drove me to school, piano lessons, chaperoned field trips, took my shopping, cheered me on at sporting events, listened to endless choir concerts.  You welcomed my friends into our home and I always thought of you and mom as the "cool" parents.  Even though you were a pastor and we were a Christian family, we were allowed to dress up and go trick-or-treating on Halloween, go to school dances, hang out at friends houses.  You took me on vacations and bought me a first car.  You loved mom.  Some of my best memories I have of you and her, is dancing in the living room on Christmas Eves to Kenny G.  Christmas was always magical at our home.  Try as I might, there is no replicating it for my kids.  We have wonderful Christmases but they are different now.  Different now that you are gone.

We sold our first home this past year.  It was very hard for me to decide to move.  Partially because you helped us buy our first home.  You helped us through the process and renovating it.  Selling it felt like losing a part of you.  However, with our ever growing family, it became necessary to let it go.  So after thinking a long time about how to include you in our new home, I finally came up with an idea.  At the end of the hallway, I hung your picture up.  The one I have had since your memorial service 13 years ago.  Above your picture is a quote from your favorite passage of scripture on a canvas (Psalm 27:1).  I thought you would like it here.  I joke that you have a great vantage point to watch the kids come and go and grow up.  You watched Matthew crawl down that hallway for the first time a few months ago, and you watch the kids enter and exit the bathroom everyday while brushing their teeth for school.  You've watched a myriad of kids go in and out and in and out the garage door with bike helmets, scooters and skinned knees, and you've seen me carry the central vac hose in and out probably a gazillion times.  Every time I pass by your picture, I smile.  I thought it might bring me sadness, but I actually enjoy knowing where I can see your smiling face.  So there you are on the wall watching all the craziness that is the Dahlhouse!

Rest in peace my sweet dad...I love you more than any words could ever say...xoxoxoxo

Sunday, August 28, 2016

What Happened to the American Church?

Mark travels a lot for work.  He works for the railroad.  He conducts trains.  He always says it sounds more interesting than it really is.  In his pursuit to provide for our family, it leaves me alone on many Sunday mornings singly parenting our energetic children.  The way I see it...I have two choices.  I can stay home, or I can round up my bunch and go to church.  Some Sundays, the prospect of herding them into a place of worship seems daunting to me and we stay home.  Other Sundays, I feel brave and ready to embrace whatever kayos the four of them can dish up.  Today was one of "those brave" Sundays.  Even though I was at church on time this morning, and prepared with bottles, snacks, polly pockets, and colors, NOTHING could have prepared me for my experience at our neighborhood church.    
Before I describe to you my experience at church this morning...here is a little background.  I was raised in church from the front row.  In fact...I was even born on a Sunday in a little town called Woodland in California.  My dad and mom were pastors at a small little Foursquare church.  What few memories I have are good memories. In fact, my parents were pastors for over 25 years.  When I thought of raising children in church, it was always a given that we would be going to my parent's church.  They would dedicate their grandbabies, my dad would baptize his grandkids...But...life has a way of changing your plans.  Cancer came and took my dad almost 13 years ago, and took my dreams and plans as well.  Their church is gone.  The entry front empty. 
Mark and I pressed on and became involved in another church.  He served on the church board for over 6 years and youth pastored for five years as a volunteer.  I served as a children's worker, and worship leader.  Since our youngest was born, we have taken a break from ministry to focus on our family.  So on those Sundays, the ones I find myself parenting solo and I feel brave enough to venture to church with four kids in tow, I often attend the church one block from our home. 
So...today I felt exceptionally brave.  I arrived a few minutes early and looked for a good seat.  Most of the time my kids can't see.  So we sat down in the front row way off to the left hand side (on the side of the stage).  The kids had a great view of the singers and instruments.  I got a sleepy baby out of his car seat.  My kids stood and sang and the baby was mesmerized by the giant screens.  About half way through the worship service, I was told that I couldn't sit in the front row with the baby because they are recording the service (with the 4 video cameras that they have).  I thought this woman was joking.  Nope. Serious.  My kids were quiet and well behaved, and the baby hadn't even made a peep. But I didn't argue, instead, I packed up my kids (car seat, diaper bag, purse, kids) and walked to the back section.  There wasn't enough seats to be found for my large brood.  So I decided to take the girls to their class.  They enjoy the music, so I let them stay in the main service for the songs.  I walked down the long staircase to their classroom to be greeted by a large sign posted across the door that read, "No children are excepted into class after 20 minutes of the start of service.  They need to remain with you."  I checked the clock on my phone.  It was 22 minutes after the start of service.  SERIOUSLY!!!  I had no idea!  So I walked back up the stairs and stood stupidly in the hallway.  I had no idea what to do.  I was ready to go home but I really wanted Luke to go to youth group.  He adores the youth group. 
A woman (I had never met before), saw me in the hall and asked if I was ok.  And the tears just came.  And.I.couldn't.stop.  I was doing the ugly cry in the middle of a tiny hallway at church.  Let's recall...I sat in the wrong spot, my girls couldn't attend class and I had no where to sit or go.  I felt like a fool in front of this woman.  After speaking to an usher, their solution for me was to go into the Mother's lounge where I could watch the service through the live feed on the TV.  Great.  Except for the part where my 13 year old son couldn't come in.  I arranged for him to sit in the main service next to the woman who asked if she could help me until it was time for his class to start.  I took the girls and baby into the mother's lounge, sat down in a rocking chair and cried and cried.  I even had my older daughter get me more tissue (twice). 

I started asking myself, "what happened to the American church?"  How can a church make me (ME) feel so unwelcome!  I've been going to church my whole life!  I get this church thing.   Or I thought I did.  It's not like I was a newbie.  I couldn't help but think of my dad.  He loved kids!  He didn't even mind crying babies in service.  He could preach right through.  Years ago I was a children's church pastor and I never turned away children!!!  I would go find them and invite the kids in the sanctuary to class.  The door was always open.  How did we get to this place?  When did church become more about recording the service, capturing the right shot, and less about people?  When did church become a performance or concert?  As I recall Jesus WELCOMED the little children to him.  He didn't turn them away because they were 22 minutes late to the start of class, or ask them to take the baby out of the front row! 

I drove away from church today feeling like I had done something wrong.  I told my oldest son that church shouldn't make you feel that way.  You shouldn't leave church feeling like you broke every rule, ruined the camera recording and failed to get your children to class on time.  I should have left church feeling encouraged, loved, challenged, inspired, uplifted, cared for, built up.  But all church did to me today was communicate I was unwelcome, my children unwelcome and I had broken the rule by not sitting in the appropriate section.  I was broken, hurt, upset, lonely, unvalued and shamed when I walked out of that church today.  It's pretty safe to say, I won't be going back.  What is happening to churches these days?  In the past, I've often wondered where all the people are that are our age.   After my experience this morning, it is less of mystery. 



"But Jesus said, "Let the children come to me. Don't stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children." And he placed his hands on their heads and blessed them before he left. ~ Matthew 19:14-15

   

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Six Months Old

Six months ago TODAY, Mark took this picture of us in the parking garage at Legacy Salmon Creek.  This special morning six months ago, we were walking in to have our fourth baby!
Here I am only a few minutes away from being brought into the O.R. for my planned C-Section.  I was contracting a lot while hooked up to all the monitors.  I was 39 weeks and 3 days.  Matthew was letting us know that he was ready for his arrival.

Mark watched the entire C-section.  He did that with Bella also.  I love this photo of the moment of his birth.  His head outside in the world, and his torso still within.

Try as Dr. Saner might, Matthew was a VERY large baby.  We weren't expecting that.  His shoulders were caught, and she had to use a vacuum to help deliver him.  He came out 9 pounds 9 ounces!


Matthew gave us a bit of scare.  It seemed like forever before he began crying.  I have to admit I was freaking out!  But he pinked up and began screaming.  Music to a mama's ears. 

Mr. M just minutes old!

We found out later that he had a true knot in his chord.  The doctor sent it for testing so she could learn more about it (as they are rare).  Since I had a C-section it wasn't as risky with a knot. 
I love Matthew's Oscar the grouch diaper...they had to go find size 1 diapers because he was too big for the newborns.  :)

My first picture with my son.

I will never take being a mom lightly.  I know what a blessing it is to have adopted and to have had biological children.  I have become a mom in both a courtroom and an operating room.  Both are sacred and beautiful. 

Matthew continues to be the biggest blessing.  He has been everything I dreamed of and hoped for and didn't know I even wanted.

Our family is complete.  I always wondered what it would feel like, and how would I know when we were done having children.  All I can say is your heart just knows. 

It was special my mom was there.  I love all her thoughtfulness that she pours into the grandbabies and I.  I will never forget the box of See's chocolates she gave to me six months ago.  Those candies were amazing!  Especially after 3 months of having gestational diabetes. 

Matthew William Neal...

It is these moments that I believe that my dad is allowed to see down from the glory of heaven to watch these milestones of the ones he loves.  I know he would have been there with my mom drinking coffee and waiting and talking on his cell phone.  He would have kept me company after all the others had gone home.  He would have loved his grandbabies.  Although I take comfort in the fact that he is with my other three babies...the ones that past from this world to the next.  The ones I have never seen but only held from within.  He's watching over them. 

And then there were four.  I am so blessed and thankful for them.  I remember the times I wondered if I would ever become a mom.  I recall the sobbing and pleading and begging with God for a child.  And somehow I was blessed beyond what I could think or dream.  I am so grateful.

What an amazing beginning...I wouldn't trade it for the world.
You've already done so much in your first six months, two beach trips, movies, restaurants, dates :), a vacation to California, baseball games, concerts, 4-H at the fair, doctors appointments, shots, baby dedication, and surviving with 3 other siblings who think you are pretty much the greatest thing EVER!

So welcome to the world Matthew!  Again.  Six months has flown by and you have left an imprint on my heart and soul.  I can't imagine life without you my beautiful brown eyed baby.  XOXO

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