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Monday, December 12, 2011

Lost and Found

When we returned from Hawaii, we hit the ground running.  It was like a week of catch-up and Christmas traditions all rolled into one.  Luke had 3 appointments, I had 2, plus add in Christmas tree set up, lights-up, shopping, Christmas cards, karate get the idea....

Amidst all of the busyness...I LOST my WEDDING RING!!!!!  I was devastated...silly I know.  A ring is just a thing, but the symbolization to me was so much more.  We were very young when we got married.  I was 19 and he was 20.  A few years ago...Mark bought me my DREAM ring.  It was a total surprise.  It is absolutely PERFECT to me.  Losing it and the thought of never seeing it again was enough to almost send me over the edge.  I laid on my bedroom floor and sobbed.  We tore the house apart, re-arranged the bedroom, I went through the outside garbage can with gloves on twice, Mark took apart the vacuum, I disconnected the pipes in the bathroom and kitchen, cleaned out the junk drawer, under the stove and refrigerator....the ring was NO WHERE to be found.  Last night I was gathering up my mentoring paper work to turn in today and I saw my Maui guides and magazines from our trip.  I decided to look through them and there in between 2 magazines was my beautiful, PERFECT ring!!!! I did the happy dance and squealed with delight.  After 5 long days, my ring is now on my finger, and Mark will be calling our insurance agent to add this piece of jewelery to our home owners policy. 

I couldn't help but be reminded about the parable in the bible about the women who loses a silver coin.  She lights a lamp and searches carefully until she finds it.  And when she finally finds she calls all her neighbors and shares her good news and says rejoice with me because what was lost was now found.  I tell you that is exactly how I felt.  I texted my mom and friends even though it was late.  My ring was lost and now it was found!!! I love how the parable talks about how there is rejoicing in the presence of angels and God when ONE person repents.  I can't imagine what it is like to rejoice with angels, but I was sure rejoicing over my found ring.  It makes you stop and think about the fact that God cares about things that are seemingly small.  How does my lost ring really rate in the whole scheme of things. But I know I serve a God that cares to know how many hairs are on my head and the things that make me sad and how many tears I cry.  I am thankful that He hears my prayers even when they are over a hunk of metal, and that He gives guidance to me, peace and comfort. 

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Boy and the Boogie Board (Must Watch!)

My brother, David, put together this video of Luke.  I can't help but laugh out loud every time I watch it. Enjoy~!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


This is the view from my mom's is perfect.  She has this adorable out door furniture with comfy pillows that is perfect for sitting and relaxing. 

Sunday evening we scattered my dad's ashes and it was perfect.  It was meaningful, beautiful and of course emotional.  The sun's rays kissed the water as my mom, brother and I sent him out into the waves of the ocean.  Most appropriate as it was his very FAVORITE spot.  We celebrated with a dinner at Lelani's.  Although, I missed most of it and my dinner had to be boxed because miss Isabella was not in a cooperative mood.  She actually ran a very high fever for the first 3 days we were here.  She finally has been fever free for the last 24 hours and back to her old self.  She even touched the ocean today without trantruming. 

The kids go 100 miles an hour until the crash.  Grace is trying to collect any and every flower that she comes across (which means we have so many brown withering flowers around our condo).  I know sooner dispose of the old ones and a whole new crop of flowers appears!  She is so happy to be wearing make-up (which consists of lip gloss and a little pink eye shadow).  Hawaii is the only place I allow make-up right now :) 

Well...I would love to post more pictures but the connection is soooo slow.  Many pictures when we get home.  Mark spent the morning snorkeling off Molokini on a cruise.  He LOVED it. to dinner.  

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Jet Setters

We made it!!! Currently, all 3 children are napping and I am sitting on the lanai with gecko's running underfoot, listening to the sound of tropical birds singing in the trees.  It is warm...83 degrees.  The smell of the nearby restaurant is wafting into the condo.  Fabulous.

It is weird to think that it is cold, and rainy and the holiday season is in full swing at home.  It is if we have been transported back to the lazy days of summer.  The sun sets at nearly 6pm and we are wearing shorts, tank tops and sun dresses.  My cheeks feel sun kissed and I spent nearly an hour snorkeling on the beach in front of our condo this morning.  I am bound and determined to see these turtles everyone talks about...but I haven't yet.  Lots of Dory and Nemo fish though :) 

Luke and Grace are fish...they would swim nearly non-stop if we let them.  The water is warm and it takes no time for your body to adjust to the temperature.  A little piece of heaven on earth.  Bella enjoys the beach as long as she has her aqua socks on so she can't feel the the sand, and she wants nothing to do with the big blue ocean. 

Family has been arriving and our group continues growing larger and larger and louder and louder (which most of it is Luke trying to be heard.)  It is so fun!

Tonight we are going to up to the Royal Lahina where we will spread my dads ashes.  I know it is going to be emotional for me so I am trying to prepare myself.  After that we are going out to dinner at Lalanis. 

Sorry I couldn't post more pictures but the connection is slow.  You can visit me on facebook and see more. 

Aloha!  Carissa

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

With a Heart of Thanksgiving...

A year has come and gone since these pictures were taken, and later this week the 5 of us will once again board a plane and fly 2500 miles to one of the most beautiful places in the world.  To say how THANKFUL I am for this opportunity AGAIN is an understatement.  I know I have done NOTHING to deserve to go again.  This is indeed a most extraordinary blessing, not only to share with our family of 5, but to share with our extended family of 18!...mimi and papa, uncle D and auntie Katie, my aunt's, uncle's and cousins and my sister-in-law's parents....I am truly BLESSED... My HEART is full of gratitude and thanksgiving during this time of year, for the blessings God has given to my family...

(Maui sunset)
This trip is a culmination of a year's worth of planning, organizing and dreaming.  It is a time to get together with those that we is a time to REMEMBER as we scatter my dad's ashes a long the shores of the Royal is a time to CELEBRATE life, joy and happiness...TOGETHER.     

(Luke (7) and Grace (5) last year at the Maui Ocean Center)

The kids will once again enjoy warm afternoon's swimming in the ocean, building sand castles or "making pies" as Grace and I did last year.  If a dip in the condo's pool is desired, it is only feet away from our patio.  Mark, Roger (my mom's husband) and Uncle D will be zipping down the lines of Haleakala through Skyline Eco Adventures.  Mark and Uncle D will be boarding a boat through Trilogy cruises and snorkeling one morning at the little island of Molokini.  I will be FRANTICALLY trying to keep up with the kids (ages 8, 6 and 1 years old) with my camera glued to me to try and capture each moment.  As the moments go to quickly and kids grow too fast....I got a new camera recently a Nikon digital SLR.  I am in LOVE!
(Beach in front of the condo...looking towards Wailea and the Grand Wailea).

I am thankful this year I will have the opportunity to have our laptop with us and I will be able to blog and share pictures as the trip happens.  I am very excited about that!

So my friends...we are mostly packed and ready...join us this next week via my blog to share this most magical and fun time as we discover Maui again in a new way...such as Bella trying to eat sand for the first time, Grace looking for coconuts every where we go, Luke eating 2nd breakfast at Mimi's condo, trying to find an excellent Hawaiian shave ice, watching my mom and Roger trying to BBQ on the beach...and more seriously to find closure and lay my dad to rest in a place he LOVED as much as me! 

See ya on the Islands...ALOHA!

Friday, November 18, 2011

What the World Needs...

...LESS worry about health care product safety....and MORE babies shampooing with cereal and applesauce...

Friday, November 11, 2011

Black Belt Training

He's back.....and he's in black!!!! Luke has officially upgraded to "Black Belt Training."  After having about 2 months off, Mark and I noticed that Luke was more "bouncy" at home, and tending to be hyper more often.  I wondered if there was a connection between more hyperactivity and karate.  So I did what I always do....I Googled!  After several hours of extensive google research (insert a giggle here), I did find that YES there is a connection.  In fact, karate, or martial arts, is the number one activity for children who have ADHD.  They are more successful in martial arts, than say baseball.  Mainly because it requires them to focus and allows them channel their punching, kicking, and oh yes..yelling in a positive appropriate manner.  Swimming is also another great activity for children with ADHD.  The resistance of the water and full body involvement including sensory systems is an excellent activity for kiddos like Luke.  Baseball would be more difficult...per say...for Luke, because there is so much "down" time in the game.  I can see him out in left field day dreaming or doing his own thing only to miss the game.  Not to say we won't try, but there is a definite therapeutic benefit to Luke by participating in karate.  I told Mark that I want to approach karate like we approach therapy.  Because I honestly believe that is what it is for Luke.  It helps him to be calmer, motivated, greater self control and focus.  He also sleeps better.  Plus...his karate is sooooo positive.  They learn character traits and participate in character building activities.  The instructors are awesome and are super sensitive to Luke's special needs (as in ordering him a special helmet because of his microcephaly). 

So HE'S BACK!!! And LOVING being in the BLACK BELT TRAINING class.  We are proud Luke!!!!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


8 years ago I said one final good-bye to my dad.  He hugged me at the bottom of the stairs, told me he loved me and kissed me on my cheek.  As he ascended the stair case, I watched unknowingly the last time I would ever see my dad. He was young, at the age of 52, still a lifetime to live, places to go, babies to hold...but it was not meant to be. 

After he passed, my mom told me that while he was in the ICU, the sun shone bright through the windows and onto his face.  She went to close the blinds, but he stopped her.  He wanted to feel the warmth on his face.  He loved the sun.

Yesterday, while I was driving the kids up to our church, the sun was so bright and warm on my face, I couldn't help but think of my dad somehow reaching out in the only way he can.  And of course I had to stifle the tears.  The older I get...the more I miss him, the more I realize what he is missing, and how much I still need him.  The hole left from his passing will always remain void.  There is no substitution. 

The end of this month, my dad will finally make it to his final resting place.  His ashes will be scattered in the waters off of the beach at the Royal Lahina, Maui.  My grandmother's ashes were scattered in the same place several years ago.  There is no better place for my dad to be.  He loved Hawaii, he loved the sun. There is no other magical place like Hawaii.  It is captivating, beautiful, peaceful, serene. 

I could go and on and on about my dad, but I am already a blubbering mess and the font is blurry.  I will leave you with this song a sweet friend sent me today.  I love the band MercyMe. 

So...farewell dad...another year.  You are truly missed by so many.  Your time cut short, but your influence will forever shape the lives of the individuals you touched.  Love to you always...ME

"You're in a better place, I've heard a thousand times
And at least a thousand times I've rejoiced for you
But the reason why I'm broken, the reason why I cry
Is how long must I wait to be with you

I close my eyes and I see your face
If home's where my heart is then I'm out of place
Lord, won't you give me strength to make it through somehow
I've never been more homesick than now

Help me Lord cause I don't understand your ways
The reason why I wonder if I'll ever know
But, even if you showed me, the hurt would be the same
Cause I'm still here so far away from home

I close my eyes and I see your face
If home's where my heart is then I'm out of place
Lord, won't you give me strength to make it through somehow
I've never been more homesick than now

In Christ, there are no goodbye
And in Christ, there is no end
So I'll hold onto Jesus with all that I have
To see you again
To see you again

And I close my eyes and I see your face
If home's where my heart is then I'm out of place
Lord, won't you give me strength to make it through somehow
Won't you give me strength to make it through somehow
Won't you give me strength to make it through somehow

I've never been more homesick than now"

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Girls Room Budget Makeover

(Before)  Misc. pictures, clutter in shelf and on dresser.

(After) I bought the photo frames at IKEA (9.99 each) and each girl has 3 of their own pictures in them.  I purchased the wooden letters to their names at Jo Ann's with coupons (under 10 dollars).  My sister-in-law gave me ribbon so that was free.  I staple gunned the ribbon to the back of the letters and then hung them up under their pictures.  I purchased two white shelves at IKEA (9.99) each and Mark hung them up for me.  I put cute decor that we already had on each shelf.  I cleaned out the shelf and the dresser.  Grace got a new comforter given to her by my cousin Shauna and the cute fairy pictures also came from my cousin.  Bella's purple bedding set I purchased at Target on clearance for 14.99.  It will also work when she transitions to a toddler bed. 
(After).  Not much change, but I did hang up my favorite clock, clean out the bins, organize the green cart and move the baby monitor.  I also took down some wall stickies from over the door way.

(After) This just shows a better view of the girls names and pictures.  I reduced down to one lamp and sadly packed my classic Winnie the pooh lamp away. Sniff, sniff.  I reduced the clutter and I am happy with how the names and pictures turned out.  I would like to add some vinyl when I get a chance to visit with my sister in law.  That will be the finishing touch I think.
(Before) The curtains matched but really gave the room a dark feeling.
(After)  I purchased these curtains at IKEA (14.99) and I LOVE the way they make the room feel.  It feels airy and light and more open.  You can see both the fairy pictures in this picture (thanks again Shauna).  I also purchased a butterfly curtain rod (white) to hang these adorable curtains on. I got it at Target (17.99).  I decluttered the shelf unit and I am quite happy with the way the room feels.  I purchased some butterflies at the dollar store I would like to use as accents on the curtains and wall.  Aside from the vinyl touches, I am finished with the room.  Grace especially LOVES it!  So for about 80 dollars the room got a face lift, and really good cleaning :)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Discouraged...but still fighting

Sometimes when it pours.  This was true this past week.  The week started typical...Monday morning errands and such.  What the rest of the week would entail, would be absolutely unbelievable.  Through the process of researching Luke's most current IEP, I discovered that the school district was not providing services listed on Luke's IEP.  He had been missing 45 minutes of services per week.  Not only was this a HUGE oversight by the school district, it is illegal.  Luke is entitled to a free and appropriate education and they failed to provide that.  The director of special education is involved now and I am seeking restitution for the missed services and service time for Luke. 

This situation leaves such a bad tasted in my mouth.  I entrusted my son into their care.  I even spent time talking with the staff at the school before I enrolled him to let them know my concerns, thoughts and apprehensions.  They broke that trust and now I feel that I have to check and double check just to make sure Luke is getting his services and they are doing their jobs. I just always feel like I am fighting and fighting and fighting. If I let my guard down for one minute, I feel that something horrible might happen.

This situation has caused me to question everything.  Education, special education, IEP's, what really is important in the education of a child.  I am left feeling empty, confused and sad.  It even makes me wonder why we have special education when staff doesn't care to read or follow the IEP (Individualized Education Plan).  It is absolutely disappointing.  I think was is the most frustrating for me is that the school district and teachers were cheating my son, Luke, out of what was legally and rightfully his.  Really!!! They are messing with my baby.  He has been through so much, and to now to have those that are supposed to be protecting, educating him and helping him, not even follow through makes this mama MAD (to say the very least).

On the home front...I am really missing Mark.  He is gone a lot and I am left to ease the feelings and actions of 3 little people who miss him dearly.  When Mark was home this week, it seemed everything and everybody was just pulling him away from spending a few minutes together.  His phone would ring (a friend), his phone would ring (friend from work)...van had a leaky tire, the neighbor needed his help, the neighbor needed advice, the church needed him to go down to the bank to sign some papers for something, etc, etc...

To top it off, the one night we had together with him home this week Bella got sick.  Of course, Friday night, she would not be feeling well.  She wouldn't go to sleep and had difficulty staying asleep. Up at 11pm, up at 2am, up for the day at 4am.  I knew right away she had an ear infection.  Got up Saturday (well waited for Urgent Care to open) and took her to the doctor.  DOUBLE EAR INFECTIONS.  The doctor said her ears were bright red and bulging.  This is her 4th ear infection in less than a year.  I think we have ear tubes in her future.  It might be time to call Dr. Wilson.  Ughh.  My poor baby.  Mark's train was called when Bella and I were still at the doctors, so we missed spending time with him again.  Thankful for both Grandma and Mimi, who stopped by today. 

Tonight I was supposed to get to go to a girl's night...a night off.  I had a babysitter and was really looking forward to grown-up conversation and a time to vent, laugh and not have responsibility for a couple of hours.  But..due to the ear infections it didn't happen.  I really needed that break too.  Oh well..Bella needs me and I am where I am supposed to be...but I can feel disappointed.  Another time.

So that is my fantastic week in a nutshell.  I am believing next week will be better.  Despite all the difficulties I am thankful for so many things...a home, my children, my husband, a place where I can access medical care for my child on a Saturday, friends that care and grandmas and Mimi's that stop in and help out.  Tonight I am thankful to the doctor who prescribed numbing ear drops for my baby, so that for the first time in 4 nights I will be able to get some sleep in my bed and not sitting in a rocking chair.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Latest On Luke

Everyone is so great about checking up on Luke and asking how he is.  I really love that so many people care about this little guy!  I thought I would share a little update about how he is doing medically.

Luke had an appointment in early September at Casey Eye.  I didn't blog about it at the time because I felt I had been writing so much about Casey Eye that we all just needed a break.  That day in September I had to go up there by myself (Mark was working the new schedule) and it is always anxiety inducing for me to go without a support person.  The news was good from the appointment.  Luke's latest visual field test was much better than the previous two.  The doctor did emphasize that his vision field tests were still NOT normal, but much better than what we saw earlier this year.  It still does not explain the million dollar question about what is causing these issues?  Luke still takes his eye drops faithfully each night, and we again got a referral to a specialist (but one that we have seen before).  We are going back to Legacy Emmanuel to the genetics department.  Off to see Dr. Antiodiotis.  The doctors are curious if there is a genetic connection between all of Luke's medical issues.  In fact, Dr. Edmunds (Luke's glaucoma doctor) said she began thinking of the genetic component after something I had said.  "ME", I said something that made a doctor think.  It really is true what they say "Mother's know their children best." 

Now Dr. Edmunds is talking about CAT scans and MRI's which I am NOT eager to jump on that boat with her.  Every doctor we encounter is always curious about Luke's microcephaly.  They are curious to take a look inside the head/brain.  CURIOSITY my friends is not a valid reason in my book to have Luke undergo another procedure.  Give me a medical issue/reason why they think it is necessary and we can talk, but for the sake of just looking....come on...I DON'T think so. And it is not like it will change his course of treatment. 

Luke got a new pair of blue glasses that he picked out all by himself.  He was so proud about it!  We are still using the iLs to help with the auditory processing issues and also attending OT weekly.  He is making great strides with his handwriting, and is doing well in school. 

Luke seems to be doing a bit better with Mark's weird schedule.  At times it is more difficult than at others.  I just keep reminding him that it won't be forever.  He is a big help around the house when he wants to be.  Other times....well...not so much.  He is a big help with Isabella and will mostly do what I ask of him.

Overall, I feel things are going well with Luke.  I have moved past the frantic feelings of needing to know everything that is wrong with him.   I have PEACE.  And even though I still don't have all of the answers to his eyes, I am daily "letting go" of my expectations and worries for the future and thanking God that Luke is doing so well, that he is an awesome reader, good speller and has made some friends at school this year.  

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

What the World Needs....

What the world needs....less talk about the economic crisis and more commitment to good oral hygiene.  (How many kids can we get brushing their teeth at once?!?) :)

Monday, October 10, 2011

My Life with Coupons...

Someone asked me today if I was an "extreme couponer."  I had to laugh and say "no".  While I do not coupon to the extremes of some, I do enjoy saving money on products my family uses daily.  It has been nearly a year since I was bitten by the coupon bug.  They say it only takes one money saving transaction and you will get hooked.  Well...that was true for me ;)  My first experience with coupons regarded saving money on diapers.  After I scored a package of diapers for free....I was hooked!  With all the publicity regarding the TLC show "Extreme Couponing", I thought I would share what "Extreme Couponing" looks like in the Dahl House. 

Can anyone say FREE??? Yes, today I scored all this for FREE.  These are on products that we use.  And to be honest....I really didn't do anything that special.  Between the stores Rite Aid and Safeway I got these items free.  Each week I buy the Sunday papers, file them in my system, and watch my favorite 3 blogs for the deal match-ups.  I find what I want, cut the coupons and shop.  :)

I have no special rooms to store my stockpile.  Just some space in the garage (thank you Mark), and chest freezer.  And by "Extreme Couponing" standards, my stockpile isn't really one at all.  I am proud of it though.  It is perfect for us.  I really enjoy couponing because it is something I can do to contribute to the family and help with finances even thought I am not working.  It leaves me feeling frugal, happy, and prepared.

 This is my one white cupboard...I keep it stocked with soup, boxes of pasta, peanut butter, salad dressing and other fun stuff.

 The bottom part is filled with health and beauty items and cleaning supplies, shampoo and body wash.  I will never pay for dental floss again.  I enjoying knowing I have plenty of toothpaste, razors, hand sanitizer and deodorant.  It is convenient for Mark who is traveling a lot to just go out to the laundry room storage and pick out what he needs.  It is even better to know it was purchased at a stock up price!

 This is my laundry soap collection.  As you can see we like Tide!  It's not a lot but was purchased cheaply and we have plenty. 

 This is my one shelf crammed between the wall and the water heater :) The top shelf contains paper products, the next one has all my cereal.  I have stocked up on 20 boxes of cereal the kids like.  Each box was purchased for 1.25 or less.  This shelf  also contains boxes of oatmeal.  The next shelf is the baby shelf (formula, diapers, wipes, bottle liners, toddler food).  The bottom shelf has all the bottled drinks (water, poweraid, juice, pop, etc.)

Finally my chest freezer that is stocked with all sorts of things that were purchased at rock bottom prices.  Bread, pizzas, strawberry puree from June to make jam when it is winter, hot dogs, meat, Popsicles, etc.

So there you have it..... a little example of one stay-at-home mama's way to contribute to her family, use coupons, be prepared and provide for her munchkins.  I heart couponing!!!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Change has come...

My days are filled with activities that revolve around those 3 precious blessings shown above. 

Luke has settled into the school routine...finally...and I am happy to report that he is enjoying school and even has been making friends.  He comes home from school eager to do his homework (which is usually a fun activity that the teacher sends like bingo, or word scrambles).  We continue to be impressed with his teachers' knowledge and instruction for kids with special needs like Luke.  Thursdays are still therapy days at Legacy Salmon Creek.  He enjoys the one-on-one time with his therapist, Joy.  I enjoy the support she gives me as Luke's mom.  It is truly a partnership...a partnership, a delicate balance, a well choreographed dance, between therapists, teachers, doctors and specialists that help Luke excel.  I can report I honestly feel settled and have made PEACE with his health diagnosis'.  I continue to advocate for him, making sure that the school is doing all they can for Luke and that he is receiving the services noted.  He is also in level 2 for swimming lessons (which we all attend once per week).  He is more confident in the water, and truly seems like he belongs in that class.

Princess Grace is happy at school.  She has a gazillion friends, enjoys music, library and hot lunch... and oh yes...the MONKEY BARS.  She comes home each day and reports to me her monkey bar successes and failures.  "Mom today I did the monkey bars backwards."  "Mom, today I couldn't do the monkey bars." :) It is so funny to me that EVERY book she has brought home from the school library has been mainly pink in color, Barbie or Hannah Montana.  Too funny.  She cracks me up.  Her teacher adores her, and the feeling is reciprocated by Grace.  Although she is struggling in reading, I have chosen not to take on the guilt, and be grateful and thankful that a reading program is available to her each day and that it just a FREE service they are offering to her.  She has been begging me to return to dance class.  I am thinking on that one.  I want to support her interests, but at the same time have to make sure that we can commit fully to the activity.  Grace is taking swimming lessons once a week too.  She is in level 1.

Isabella is growing up.  She is witty and independent and has a temper!  She is saying more words daily like "poon" (for spoon) and "g-g" (grace) and "woo-woo" (for Luke). She is obsessed with her shoes, feeding herself independently and brushing her teeth (as long as you run the water for her and she can play in it!)  Sometimes I look at her and she just warms my heart so much.  What a daily blessing and reminder of God's incredible love!  She too is in swimming lessons with me (parent and tot level).  Yes, I am that crazy.

I am surprised how content and happy.  I am filling my days with activities that revolve around the kids.  I am not stressed with the daily happenings of work, or caught up in drama that can be consuming.  I have time to cook, clean, organize and coupon.  Sometimes my only worries for the day are finding new (or slightly used) shoes for Bella, or running a juice box up to one of my children at school for their lunches.  After my summer of worry and stress about working, I am happy...I am at peace...I am doing exactly what it is I am supposed to be doing. 

While this happiness is so wonderful, it hasn't come with out CHANGE.  Mark is now working what the railroad refers to as "THE ROAD".  He is traveling with the trains.  If you want a good idea about what it is that Mark does watch the movie Unstoppable with Denzel Washington.  Mark is a conductor and when he travels with the trains it is consider "his train."  He rides with an Engineer (who drives the train), but Mark is responsible for the communication to dispatch, and all the stops and moves the train makes.  More specifically...he is traveling to Pasco, Washington and back.  I am not going to lie...the money is good.  The schedule on the other hand STINKS.  Mark's schedule is basically...he doesn't have one.  It has been an adjustment...most difficult for Luke (who thrives on schedules).  It bothers him to not know when dad is coming or going.  I have tried my best to ease this transition, but in the world of special needs, sometimes you can't and you just have to deal.  That is kind of where we are.  I let the waves of sadness wash over him, and then I pick him back up (so-to-speak) and we move on.  We do whatever we had planned for the day, all while validating his feelings and thoughts about how much he doesn't like dad going to Pasco (which he will voice often).  Pray for him if you have the chance.  We all would appreciate it.  

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

And the winner IS...... sweet cousin Sarah Rufener!!!! Your Fall Bag will be on the way to you tomorrow when me and Miss B take a trip to the post office.

Sorry it took me awhile to around the DAHL house has been crazy to say the least as we all adjust to Mark's new work schedule (which is really no schedule at all). :)

Much to share and many pictures to put up.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Where did the 18 months go?

Miss Isabella Mary-Ann is 18 months today.  Makes me feel like crying :( Seriously, it seems like just yesterday she was born.  Sometimes I look back or I look at her and doesn't seem real that it really happened...that I REALLY had a baby!  What an incredible miracle she is.  She continues to challenge me in so many ways.  You think, since she is baby number 14 for me (yes...we have had 13 foster kids all aged 3 and under come through our home since 2004) that I would have it all figured out.  NOPE...not even close :)  Currently we are dealing with seperation anxiety (well she hasn't wanted to seperate from me since she was born).  She cries if someone looks at her wrong and she won't willingly go to a grandma (which really is difficult for me).  Despite that I am still leaving her once a week, and she is dealing with it ok.  She cries for 10 to 20 minutes and then she stops.  Her new favorite trick is screaming at the top of her lungs until someone gives her her way.  I find it difficult not to laugh at her, because she is so darn cute!  Not the best parenting technique.  I remember how hyper vigilant I was with Luke (him being my first) now I find myself laughing more and letting more things go (like yogurt messes because I am fostering her independence with the spoon, or letting her color with markers). 

So without further are her favorite things at 18 months:

Favorite words: Mama or MAAAA, dada, mimi, papa, g-g (grace), lu-lu (luke) baba (all the time), uh-oh, baby, ooooo (followed by) wow, meow, up, hot, please, (she makes the sound for dog), she signs "more" but it really can mean so many things like "please."  She also signs "water" which is kind of a game because you have to figure out if she wants to drink water, she hears water or she sees water.  She will sign the same for all 3.  Too funny.

Favorite Show: Still Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.  I am trying to introduce her to some classics like Beverly Hills 90210, The Waltons, Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman, oh and we have watched the classic movie "Clueless" at least 3 times. 

Favorite Song: "If your happy and you know it," Patty-cake

Favorite Sporting Activity: Swimming lessons (although it is joke). Bella has a mind of her Bella decides what she is learning in swimming lessons.  :)  Also riding around the track in the gym while mom works out.  She loves entertaining the grandmas and grandpas at the gym. 

Sleeping Patterns:  She sleeps around 11 hours at night and takes a 2 hour nap during the day.

Favorite Article of Clothing: Her shoes and any type of purse!  She is my girl!

Favorite Food:  The girl loves her some chocolate! mama.

Not sure how much she weighs and how long she is.  Going to have her well child check soon.  So very grateful for Isabella and the joy that she is to our family and the wonderful blessing she is from God.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Reading Troubles

Monday afternoon Grace came home and proudly handed me a white envelope.  I thought it was a note from the school PTO that I had recently joined. was NOT from the was a letter from Grace's teacher, the reading specialist and the principal, describing that Grace was extremely low in reading and qualified for a program called Title 1/LAP.  Understanding that it was to help catch up a "at risk" students in reading was all that I knew about this program.  My heart sank as I read the letter.  Feelings of guilt, sadness and anger flooded my mind.  WHY??? I was deligent to read with her this summer and I felt shame that she was struggling so badly and here I am a TEACHER!!!

I signed the note, because they needed my permission for her to recieve services, and then I emailed her teacher (Mrs. B) my questions regarding the LAP program.  A day later, I recieved one of the nicest e-mails from her teacher.  She explained that Grace was testing at the beginning of kindergarten reading level.  (I nearly cried).  Poor Grace....I had no idea....and I still have no idea what type of assessment tool was used to determine this reading level.  I may be a teacher, but most of my expertise is in special education preschool.  I can answer questions about preschool assessment tools like thde Battelle Inventory 2 and sensory profiles, but elementary assessnments are foreign to me. 

So for the school year, Grace will be pulled out of the classroom for 30 minutes a day to work on reading with a specialist and then have reading instruction from her teacher (Mrs. B) as well.  Hopefully we will learn more about what type of help they have in mind for Grace.  In the meantime its back to our phonics work, reading books, and iLs therapy.  There is a program setting for reading and memory. 

It has been difficult for me not to pick up this guilt and stress and add to the load I carry.  I keep thinking, "what if?"  which isn't good.  What if I have done more?  Why didn't I see the signs?  How did I let this happen?  BUT, I have to "let it go".  I have to focus on moving forward, focus on my blessings and focus on my children's successes.  Like Luke having a great test score, Grace being a huge help with house chores and her excellent artistic abilities and Bella being so funny and smart.  Indeed I have a house full of blessings to count and be thankful for.  It's all about getting up every morning and moving in the direction I want to go, and not letting the stresses of my life effect me in a negative way.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Our First Fabulous Fall Giveaway

On Friday Luke came home from school, bouncing as he got off the bus.  He promptly came in and ripped open his backpack, dug out his folder, and handed me a small slip of paper.....his spelling test.  Right in the top corner boasted the news he could hardly wait to tell me....he got a 100% on his spelling test!!!! This is the first 100% that he has ever recieved in his school career.  To say he could hardly contain himself would be an understatement.  So...we decided that we needed to celebrate and I thought a Fabulous Fall Giveway would be an appropriate way to celebrate this most awesome news.  My kids and I created "A Few of Our Fall Favorite Things." 

If you know me, you know that fall is probably my favoritie season.  My kids and I decorated for fall already. The wreath is hung, the scarecrow out, and the pumpkin decore can be found in various places throughout the house. 

I continue to be amazed by the amount of readers that come and visit this blog and in an effort to get to know you better and say thanks for your prayers and support for Luke, we wanted to give back. 

We made a "Fall Blessings" Bag, filled with some of our "favorite goodies".  If you would like to be entered into the giveaway you can enter 2 different ways.

1) Leave a comment and let me know that you want your name entered (it's that simple).

2) Become a follower of my blog.

You can do both and be entered twice.  If you already are a follower I will enter you automatically.

Then on September 29 (a very special day for me), we will put all the names together and Mr. Luke will pick the winner.  The package will get shipped out to you and you will have it to enjoy the month of October!

Here is what is included in our "A Few of Our Fall Favorite Things"
  • All You Fall Magazine
  • Fall sticky notes
  • 2 Fall pencils
  • Apple Cinnamon Candle
  • Fall Starbucks gift card (couldn't fit a Pumpkin Spice Latte inside)
  • Fall Nail Art (Grace's contribution)
  • Cinnamon sented pinecone with Halloween hanger
  • Fall Poem (written by Luke)
  • Perry Pez (My kids contribution) :)
  • Various fall candy

 Luke's Fall Poem : "Fall"
I like fall because it's halloween.  You get candy.  I got 100% on my test.  Happy.  Luke :)

All wrapped and packed up ready to be sent to our WINNER!!!

My kids are very excited about this...they love to see themselves on the blog and are excited to give this to someone. 

Happy Fall Everyone!!!!!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Life, as usual, has been moving forward with great speed.  These past weeks we have been adjusting to our "new" routines of school, and being home with Miss B during the day.  The adjustment is going well (very well in fact).  There is such a sense of PEACE I have these days (that I have not experienced in so long).  And yet, sometimes it doesn't all make sense to me, but I am more relaxed than I have been in several years.  I wish I could have told myself 3 months ago to SURRENDER and LET IT GO.... but everyone always says that hindsight is 20/20.  So true.

I feel a FREEDOM I haven't felt in a LONG time.  For the first time, since I can remember I am taking care of myself.  I am going to the gym, riding my new bike, swimming lessons with the kids, taking supplements and drinking lots of water.  Bella and I go to the library play group and I have time for a project or two.  The house is cleaner, the laundry is mostly done and the dishes are not overflowing in the sink.  I have had time to read a book, go out to lunch with my husband and just breathe.

This new FREEDOM hasn't come without letting some things go.  AND some of those things were DIFFICULT to let go of.... I had to come to a place of SURRENDER.  I think a light switch went off for me somewhere between the CAT scan and being pumped full of Benadryl (after I had the allergic reaction).  I realized many things that day, but one of them was how badly STRESS was effecting my health and life.  After a DIFFICULT conversation with my doctor, it was time to face the music.  I had to start investing in myself and STOP putting my needs last.  I know...but that is how it just is for moms.  We put our children first and ourselves last (if at all).  This past 18 months, since Bella was born, I have been going at full force trying to make sure that everything was good for everyone....well, everyone except myself.  After not sleeping for 5 months (after B was born), trying to do everything myself, nearly having a breakdown, all of Luke's new health issues that came up, change in schools, change in jobs, a tonsillectomy for myself and now all this new health stuff, it has been a difficult year.  Add to that the stress of not having a job and feeling an incredible amount of guilt for not having one and that is a recipe for disaster.

So...I decided it was time to let go of the things of ME (no job, stress, no private school for the kids, Luke's health issues, Mark having to work a new schedule, guilt, guilt and more guilt).  Instead...I would get up every morning and walk in the direction of my new goals, my new role, and the blessings that lay before me).  I pray over Luke and Grace each morning, always thanking the Lord for their AWESOME teachers.  I put them on the bus (which stops in front of our house).  I give thanks to God for the money we are saving in gas.  When I kiss Bella everyday, I quietly thank God for the opportunity I have to spend time one-on-one with her.  To pour into her life.  To discover the beauty in the simplicity of the world through the eyes of a toddler.  Where the  "Ooooo's" and the "Wow's" of life are bubbles, books and swinging.  I am blessed to be reconnected with my youth pastor, Luke Gillock, from whom our son is named, who has taken time (once again) to pour into my life some spiritual things, nutritional things, and health things that I NEEDED to hear.  Luke is the owner and trainer at the gym he owns in Portland called ReInvent.

Even though we still have NO answers for what is going on with my son's EYES.  I too have SURRENDERED the outcome, process and have ACCEPTED the fact that we might never know what is wrong with them.  With another specialist coming into our future (well and old specialist revisited), we will once again walk one foot in front of the other on this path called "Luke's Incredible Journey."

God continues to be so incredibly FAITHFUL to me.  And all HE asks is that I just SURRENDER.

I am reminded of this song,
It's time for healing time to move on
It's time to fix what's been broken too long
Time make right what has been wrong
It's time to find my way to where I belong
There's a wave that's crashing over me 
All I can do is surrender

Whatever you're doing inside of me
It feels like chaos somehow there's peace
It's hard to surrender to what I can't see
but I'm giving in to something heavenly

Time for a milestone
Time to begin again
Revaluate who I really am
Am I doing everything to follow your will
or just climbing aimlessly over these hills
So show me what it is you want from me
I give everything I surrender...

Whatever you're doing inside of me
It feels like chaos somehow there's peace

It's hard to surrender to what I can't see
but I'm giving in to something heavenly

Time to face up
Clean this old house
Time to breathe in and let everything out
That I've wanted to say for so many years
Time to to release all my held back tears

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Back To School Blessings!

Last Wednesday, the kids headed back to school.  I think I was more nervous than anyone else.  This has been truly a battle of my heart (the kids going to public school and me being ok with it).  Through all the uncertainty these past couple of months, one thing was always constant, that Mark and I had peace about them attending public school.  We couldn't explain it...and didn't know why...but it was PEACE.  
Wednesday morning, when we dropped them off, we began to get a glimpse of the picture that God saw the entire time.  Luke's teacher, Ms. Kari, is a general education teacher with a special education endorsement.  The school formed her classroom to serve students like Luke who are on IEP's.  Not only will Ms. Kari be with them the entire day, but usually a special education teacher will be in the classroom providing instruction as well.  This is moving from the pull-out model for services to the push-in model for services.  I am very excited about this prospect.  I also LOVE the way she is designing her classroom to fit the students and her homework policy is to help form her instruction and not for perfection.  I am excited for what this year holds for him.  

Grace's teacher is a jewel too.  Her name is Mrs. B.  She is cute and calm and organized, and basically if I could have cloned myself as a would be Mrs. B.  It is a comfort to know that each day Grace is being taught by a teacher that has a lot of my teaching traits.  Grace already has lots of friends and was the "Star Student" on Friday.  I got some information on the PTO and I am thinking about joining to be involved with the school.

In other news...Miss Bella is eager to begin her school education and I found her one morning (after the kids had gone to school) up on Grace's bed reading her a book!  She is soooo funny these days and expressing herself with screeches, screams and grunts :) oh and a few words too!  She's been my work out buddy these days at the gym on the track...conversing with grandmas and grandpas walking the track too.  We also started her playgroup at the library this week.  She love the other "babies" and checked out her first book from the library.  I am enjoying spending some time with her.  I am really starting to this as a "gift" and an incredible one at that!!!!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Our New TV Star, Goggles and Ketchup

Last Thursday, Grace was on TV!!!! It doesn't get much more exciting than this around here!  My Aunt is regular on AM Northwest and needed a child model for the face paint kit she was promoting so she asked Grace.  My aunt and uncle even got her a little cheer leading outfit (and yes we will reuse it for Halloween)!  Thank you for providing this GREAT opportunity for her Aunt Shirley!  It is always nice to have a special one-on-one time with your children.  

 Grace outside the TV studio at KATU.

 Grace right before her segment with Aunt Shirley.

 Grace in the "Green" room watching AM northwest.

 Pre-show face paint.

 Just hanging around the set :)

Grace on the set of AM Northwest.

If you want to see the segment Grace modeled for click Grace on AM Northwest.

And now just for fun a little update on the rest of our life (post TV debut.)   After watching Grace on TV about 100 times, Luke found some goggles he really liked and in fact wore them to bed and fell asleep :)  AMAZING how that kid can fall asleep sometimes!  He spent the weekend at Mimi and Papa's which proved to be so much fun!

Grace never ceases to amaze me with her fabulous funny faces!  

And Miss B is taking lessons from her big sister in the funny face department!  I LOVE the scrunched nose.

And finally a "tribute to Uncle D".  This baby girl LOVES her some KETCHUP.  No french fry is required....whole hand dipping is preferred.  She has NYHOFF in her!!!!
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