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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Nature Vs. Nurture

I remember during my early college days, there were many cases and examples of "nature vs. nurture" in my human development classes.  Never in my wildest imagination would I have predicted that I would live out a case study of "nature vs. nurture."

You see...this past Thursday Luke had an appointment....a BIG appointment at Legacy Emmanuel Children's Hospital "pediatric genetics."  To Luke this was just ANOTHER appointment in a hospital he is all to familiar with.  His biggest worry was " I going to have to get my heart surgery today?"  Poor baby is worried they are going to operate on him.  Right hospital...wrong office.  But to his credit, pediatric cardiology is only 2 doors away.

After checking in we waited to be called back.  The nurse came out and called Luke.  Mark and I followed him back to the room where they weighed, measured and took vitals on him.  Then into "exam room 5" we went.  I sat down and it ALL came flooding back.  7 years ago almost to the day, I sat in the same chair, with an almost 2 year old "Eugene" and his birth parents.  We sat for nearly an hour as they recounted their entire genetic history and I wished I had a notebook to write everything down.  You see the Department of Children and Family Services wanted this appointment conducted before we moved forward with the adoption.  It was an eye opening experience to be flooded with information about your child's history.  That day I met Dr. Anidiotis, and this past Thursday we met again...only under different circumstances. 

It had been recommended to me by 2 doctors to go and see our geneticist again.  They wanted to know if they could find a link between all of Luke's health issues.  More specifically, was there a genetic link between microcephaly and glaucoma. 

So we sat and I recounted to Dr. Anidiotis Luke's recent health history, his diagnosis' and IEP goals and plans.  After a thorough examination of Luke, the doctor looked at me square in the eye and said, "I CAN'T believe how WELL he is doing!  To be honest, seeing the parents and seeing the genetic make-up, I never thought Luke would be doing as well as he is doing."  He went on to tell us that Luke is the very heart of NATURE VS. NURTURE.  The doctor said that given the "nature" of his genetic make-up it is a MIRACLE that Luke is doing "grade level" work and reading at grade level.  The doctor said that he just can't believe he is functioning so well. 

Luke with his bio sisters (Alysha and Jenna)

Of course, as I have worked with so many different doctors over the years, they always give you the good with the bad.  They are always quick to remind you of the negative and the things that bring you right back down to earth.  The doctor was quick to say that Luke's next year in school would determine how well he will do in understanding "abstract" concepts.  Apparently in the fourth grade learning concepts switch from concrete to more abstract, and the key to Luke being able to live on his own will be how he can handle the abstract concept of money.  Great...the last thing I want to think about right now is Luke living on his own, money, and abstract concepts.  Whatever... Luke has proved his predictions wrong so far...I think I will just side with Luke and his ability to achieve the impossible. 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Snow Day, Car Accident and Crafts

We had a bit of winter weather this past week and the kids had a "snow day".  It was a perfect snow day...snow was out in the morning and gone by the afternoon.  We had fun visiting with some friends at their house and hanging out that afternoon.  Bella had her first experience out in the snow.  She thought the best part of the snow was scooting around in her boots.  The snow was really wet, so it created a big mess and she really didn't want to have anything to do with it.

The same day as the snow, Mark got into a car accident.  We are SO thankful that no one was hurt (except the car). Currently, the car is in the shop getting repaired.  We are also thankful that we have the truck to drive so that we don't need to have a rental.  I know Mark felt really bad about the accident, but stuff happens and that is why we have insurance.  Cars are just things but people are important.

Mark is getting ready to head back out to the road on the railroad and I am gearing up to take on the kiddos while he works a crazy schedule.  We are thinking about upgrading our 1992 TV this month. :)  We have the oldest TV and is must weigh 300 pounds.  This was my parents TV and back in the day it was awesome!  Now...not so much.  I honestly would just like to see the whole picture now that everything is formatted in wide screen.  We often miss words because we don't have a wide screen.  Oh well...not in a rush, but this purchase is definitely on our minds.  When we do replace it my mother will be so relieved.  She calls our TV "the death trap."  Hehehe.  It has worked well and blessed us all these years.  We are slowly coming into the electronics era.  My brother Dave, is the electronics guy.  He has every gadget you can think of.  Me...not so much.  This year we finally purchased our first laptop (which I LOVE)!  And I got a new digital camera (Nikon SLR).  Yesterday, a NOOK Simple Touch joined our family.  While my son has used it more than me...I can't wait to enjoy the technology of this new ereader.  Luke already has it figured out!  This coming from a gal that didn't have her first e-mail account until I was out of high school (1997).  So I am enjoying some of the new gadgets we have in this electronics world.

Lastly...I have been having some fun doing a few crafts these days.  Today I created Valentine Felt Fortune Cookies for my kiddos.  The suspense is killing them and they can't wait to dive in.  It is a count down to Valentine's Day.  The RED fortune cookies are for Luke and the PINK ones are for Grace.  When Bella gets bigger I will add WHITE one's for her.  Starting February 1, they will pick one "cookie" a day and open it up and read the "fortune" or scripture that tells them about Jesus' love for them or an attribute/blessing that we (Mark and I) love about them.  All 28 of the cookies are different so they can share with each other and the plan is that it will lead to some good conversations.  I am really trying to get the kids to open up and really start talking about the important things.  If you are interested in getting some felt valentine's cookies for yourself or someone you LOVE....visit my ETSY shop Dahlhouse Design.  Or it you want to know how to make them yourself they are super fun!  I would LOVE to let you know how.

Friday, January 13, 2012


Wednesday was one of those days where nothing seemed to go right.  I should have known that my 4:15am wake-up call from Bella would lead to a long, difficult day.  AND that was exactly what happened.  The kids dragged their feet and nearly missed the bus, I took my client to WIC (Women Infants and Children) and took me 30 minutes to find a place to park, Grace has been going through a tough time lately.  School is challenging for her, and this challenge can often lead to frustration.  Took Grace to ballet, and one of her classmates was handing out cupcakes at the end of class.  So you can picture it...Grace had a giant, white, fluffy cupcake with sprinkles and Bella had NONE!  "Pease, pease mommy...mine...mine..pease, pease, mama...more, more."  When said cupcake was not handed over to B she proceeded to shriek and scream while everyone was starring at us.  Yes...I am that mom!!! The crazy mom who proceeded to "fail" at everything.   Luke was upset about the cupcake too.  Ugh..I can't win.  Luke told me about something upsetting that happened to him at school, and Grace refused to do her reading homework.  I finally lay the baby down at 9:00pm and she screams and cries.  Oh, happy day.

I admit it...I cried...more than once.  Maybe it was the lack of sleep, or the loneliness I sometimes feel or the fact I haven't had a minute to myself this week, but I think the weight of the issues and the needs my kids have, left me feeling heavy, tired and weak.  The burden I carry for them, the angst I feel for them as I "let go" of them little by little, the understanding I have over there history, adoption and special needs, left me reeling.  That little voice, the one that creeps in the midst of weakness, the one that can overpower all reason and logic, that says you are not good enough. You will never be able to meet all their needs.  It is too much for one person.  What makes you think you can raise them well? The voice that says you are a failure. I felt like a failure.  Sometimes they need so much, and my two arms are stretched out as far as I can reach, and I often come up short.

I question..."am I doing everything I can for them?"  "Do they need more?"  "How can I help Grace read better?" "Is Luke doing his homework?" "Did Bella put something in her mouth she can choke on?  Where is Bella?"  "Does Grace need to be evaluated for special services at school? Do I wait, do I proceed?  How best do I advocate for their needs?"  It is never ending. 

It leaves my head spinning, and me sitting here re-evaluating everything in my life.  Do I take on too much?  Is there things I can give up?  What do I really want for my kids?

And then...before the realm of panic sets in.... that voice, the voice that speaks peace, calms fears and quiets the soul becomes clear.  "YOU are the one I choose for these children.  YOU are the mama I had in mind when I created each one of them.  YOU are MORE than enough.  YOU need to rest in MY STRENGTH not your human strength.  This is MY plan for you.  YOU are NOT a FAILURE."  And then...I CAN breathe.  I can dry my tears and start back in where I left off.  Picking up toys...oh the toys...washing laundry, washing dishes, washing faces, washing away the world and building back up 3 precious babes so they can go back out into the WORLD and the process can start all over again.  And I am reminded that despite the trial and the days I feel as though I failed...I wouldn't trade any of it.  The journey is challenging but the rewards are I face difficulties it challenges me, inspires me and changes me...for the better.

 "My life is being poured out as a part of the sacrifice and service [I offer to God] for your faith. Yet, I am filled with joy, and I share that joy with all of you." Philippians 2:17

1 Corinthians 1:27 ..."and God has chosen the weak things of the world to  put to shame the things which are mighty."

Monday, January 9, 2012

Ok...time for Updates...

It's been awhile since I have given any updates on I was thinking it was about time!  When we returned from Hawaii we hit the ground running with Christmas around the corner...well not much time for blogging about things. 

Overall, life is going very well.  We are happy and healthy and the kids have returned to there normal routine of school and after school activities.   Bella and I have resumed our days hanging out with each other.

Mark is working in the BNSF yard currently.  He is working RCO (which means he is running the trains with remote controls).  Mark will be moving back out to the road here shortly and begin making his trips to Pasco, WA and back.  Mark is still serving as a deacon board member at our church.  He always finds time to play with his kids...they become more and more of his free time.  He is always willing to give me a break and we have even found time for a couple of dates as of recently!  Yay for movie gift cards!

Luke is doing really well.  We are happy to report that his eyes have stabilized and we are back to 3 month appointments at Casey Eye instead of every 6 weeks.  It is still a watch and wait game, but I am at PEACE, and I am ready to accept whatever God might have for Luke regarding his eyes.  The end of this month will see Luke having another genetic appointment at Legacy and an Ortho appointment.  Luke is busy with Karate...We have a new purple belt and he advanced to the intermediate class!  He continues to do iLs and it has helped him so tremendously.  He is reading and writing at grade level!

Grace is hysterical...she is doing well.  However she did not want to return to school after Christmas break.  She told me that she wanted to stay home and watch TV "as a family" she added.  Grace had a great report card this past trimester.  She continues to improve in reading and she is doing the iLs as well.  Grace is dancing every Wednesday afternoon.  She is dancing ballet and tapping away!  She will have a big Showcase in June.  Grace enjoys playing well Bella more and more these days.  I often find Grace "mothering" her.  It is so cute!

Bella is talking and blabbering a lot!  I can hardly believe that my little baby is going to be 2 in March!  Oh hurt my heart that she is growing up so quickly.  Bella is so funny and keeps me laughing.  She absolutely hates the vacuum and whenever she sees it or passes by it she says, "no, no, no".  Bella loves to play the copy cat game with you.  She has all these funny little faces and moves that she does so that you will copy her.  The girl is obsessed with the bus and ELMO.  All my kiddos went through the ELMO phase and Bella is no exception.  She has a little stuffed Elmo that she got for Christmas and she sleeps with it every night.

I am doing well.  I am about ready to close up on a mentoring case that I have had since August.  I have had a couple of substitute jobs which have been fun little days out in the "real world".  The kids keep me hopping with all the activities and such.  I also am trying to start a little small bow making business.  Thanks to my great sis Katie for the encouragement, I am selling my handmade girls bows.  I will share more about that in the coming days.  God has also been doing a work in my heart, and I continue to seek His will and direction for all He is speaking and showing to me. Blessings in the new year!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy 2012!

Today is our 13th wedding anniversary!  Can't believe it was 13 years ago that I said "I do" to Mark.  It has been a ride and the most incredible journey I have ever been on.  I think the highlights have been the adoption of Luke and Grace and the birth of Bella, followed by all the wonderful traveling we have been able to do with the kids and the memories that we will have forever.  Some of the low points include losing those that we loved so much, saying goodbye to babies before we ever knew them, and medical issues with Luke.  Through it all...the highs and the lows, I can see how God has been glorified in those times.  The difficult times were allowed and through them God taught us so much about ourselves and led us in the direction He wanted us to go.  Without losing our babies, we would have never met Luke and Grace and would have never known what syndrome I had so that eventually we would have Isabella.  God is good...even in the midst of trial.  God is the midst of blessing.  How amazing that He could take a 16 year old girl and a 17 year old boy and knit their hearts together even at that young of an age!  That He would be glorified through our lives and that He would give us this incredible story to share with others.  Here's to another 13 years and beyond!
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