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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Father's Day Without My Dad...

Every June, when the Father's day cards fill the store shelves, like Target and Walmart and even Safeway, I purposefully find myself avoiding them.  I pick up the cards we need, but usually I use the kiddos as a buffer between me and the cards.  "Which one do you think grandpa will like?  What about daddy?" I find myself saying these things.  I try not to let my mind "go there" and remember that it is once again another father's day that I can't tell "mine" all the things I want to... or even just once more how much I loved him, appreciated him, and valued him. 
This year I found myself walking down the aisle of father's day cards by myself.  I was looking at all the titles and choices and decided that this year I was going to buy my father a card.  I stood there for a while trying to decide which would be the best for him, fully knowing I couldn't give it to him.  Yes, I stood there in the middle of Safeway with tears streaming down my cheeks thinking of another Father's Day without him.  Yep...I bought my father whose been dead for almost 10 years a father's day card filled it out and wrote his name across the top.  I have no grave to lay it at because his ashes are scattered off the shores of a Maui beach, so it is in my top drawer of my night stand where I keep some pictures of him. 
                                                                (Letting dad sunset off the
                                                                  beach at the Royal Lahina).

I miss him. Almost 10 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. 
I really miss what a good friend he was.  Not only to everyone he met, but to me and my brother David.  He always made time for us, loved to chat and talk to us on the phone and was always up for an adventure.  I loved that he appreciated our individual interests and supported us.  I know he would have done the same for his grandchildren.  I feel much of my grief is surrounded by the fact that my kiddos never knew him.  He had so much to offer and he gave to so many.  I know his legacy lives on in David and I. 
This year on Father's Day weekend, we were able to spend it with my family celebrating my grandfather's 80th birthday.  I was so happy to give my kids a family experience that reminded me of the ones that I had as child.  Aunts and uncles and cousins and grandma's and grandpa's.  It is truly a great legacy to have.  My only wish was that my father was there to share it too.  His shoes remain unfilled (as they will always be). 

                      (Papa and his great-grandkids at his 80th birthday)

So Happy Father's Day Dad!  Thank you for living an incredible life, for leaving a legacy and for loving me.  Thank you for loving people more than stuff, having a FAITH that was real, and encouraging me to follow the plan in life that God had for me.  I'm passing that on to my 3 babies here, while I know you are watching my 3 babies in heaven.  XOXO

Sunday, June 23, 2013

It's Game Day!

Today has been a rough day with the kids...nothing out of the ordinary, but just meltdowns, sensory issues, tantrums and potty accidents on the carpet and bathroom floor.  Just an exhausting day where patience is in short supply, kiddos are very needy and I feel there is NOT enough of me to go around.  But...I know not all days are like this, and tomorrow will be another day to fill up my little sponges that listen and watch everything that I do.

So today (in the midst of rough one), I wanted to share about a good/fun day I recently had with all three of the kids.


Last Saturday I knew Mark would be busy at the church interviewing two pastoral candidates, so I planned a fun, busy day with kids.  It started as "Game Day" at the baseball fields where Luke played on his team "The Red Sox".  Luke plays with the Miracle Team Baseball League.  It is a league designed so that special needs kids can play baseball without all the rules, outs and normal parameters of baseball.  Everyone bats, no one gets out, everyone runs all the bases.   It is an amazing program and has done incredible things for Luke and his love of baseball and playing sports.

You can read all about Luke's very first experience playing miracle league baseball here !  I was doing the big ugly mama cry at that first game!  The Miracle league baseball experience and the people have blessed me incredibly.
Luke loves to play EVERY position on the field (sometimes in the same inning)!  But it's all good :)  No one minds.  Here he was playing third base before switching over to short stop, second base and trying to talk his way into pitching a few balls!  
Here is my sweet Grace at the baseball field.  She has made several little friends and keeps herself busy picking flowers and entertaining Bella.

After the game we headed to downtown Vancouver to what my kids call "The BIG Library"!  They have fun things to play in and around.  Luke even ran into a friend from his class.
Grace was excited because she signed up and got her very OWN library card.  They all checked out books and DVDs and signed up for the summer reading program.

We headed to the Farmer's Market next for some fresh fruits and veggies and a little plate lunch we enjoyed in the park.  It was a beautiful day!

Finally I surprised the kids with a trip to the movies!  Not only was it a trip to the movies but a trip to a really fun old movie theater called Kiggins.  I remember watching movies here as a little girl.  The movie theater is in downtown Vancouver and right across the street from where Luke and Grace have their counseling appointments.  

We watched the movie the Croods.  It was a super cute movie about not letting fear keep you from living life and enjoying and loving the ones around us.  We were one of two families in the theater.  The kids picked out seats and they enjoyed popcorn and sprite.  Bella even sat through her first movie.  Well...she sat on me but she enjoyed it and watched the entire movie and I didn't need to take her out.  It was a win-win! 

Shortly after we met Mark at our favorite restaurant "The Original Taco House" and ate outside.  It was a perfect ending to a fun great day.  The kids were really well behaved and kind to each other.  I felt really blessed to spend a fun kids day with them :)  I love my babies!!!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Ants, Money and Choices...

I have a million different things to blog about.  Everything from our recent 4 day trip to California to celebrate my grandpa's 80th birthday, to how much I missed my dad on Father's day, to a fun kids day we had a couple weeks ago, to the awesomeness...yes I just used that word, of the Redwood National Park.  But the only thing on my mind this morning is "Ants, Money and Choices".  I need to process all the thoughts bouncing around in my head, so here I am typing away.  There aren't any cute pictures to go a long with this post because who really wants to see a bunch of dead ants? :) This is me, just being honest, just being real.

We have an ant problem.  They keep turning up everywhere and I am sick of killing them.  I think they are sugar ants and they are now my enemy.  Each morning I wake up wondering where they have traveled today.  This morning it was the inside of the food pantry.  Yep...hundreds of them.  Mark is currently at the store finding a solution as I type.  Yesterday it was the kitchen counter.  A few months ago it was the family room floor.  I think I might have even had a bad dream about ants last night.  Anyone know a good solution to rid my house of the ants? 

I will just start this section with a statement "I HATE money!"  There never seems to be enough of it.  I particularly hate it today (or lack there of) because it causing us (Mark and I) so much stress.  Mark had received a raise things evened out and were good.  Fast forward to now...Mark's raise was reduced and now we are short $500 dollars a month.  Fabulous...I could really just cry.  I've gone over our budget.  I've cut things out, I've weeded things down, I coupon, I've started staying home more certain days of the week to save on gas, I use programs set up to help with gas vouchers for medical/therapy appointments for my kids, I have recently applied for a medical premium program that would reimburse Mark his health insurance premium each month since two of our kiddos have Medicaid insurance.  Two of our three cars are paid off,  we are looking into refinancing our house to lower the monthly payment even more.  I've given up the dream for private Christian school for my kids because as much as I would like to think we can afford it, we can't  I'm holding off preschool for Bella for another year to save costs...and now I am really crying.  Reality sucks sometimes.  We need a new roof...badly, the dishwasher is barely holding on, Grace needs a new bed (thankfully not a mattress) but I know everyone understands life is just like that.  And money makes the world go round.

So...the money issues (or lack there of) lead to the choices.  This is where I have become a great big ball of stress.  You see...I feel responsible for the money issue we are in.  If I had a part time money worries.  At all.  So we sit down to look at our choices...they are bad and worse.  There really is no good choice.  Sucks being a grown-up. 

Choice #1: I find a job and work again.  I spent a week crying about this one because I love being at home.  My heart is here.  My kids are here.  If I have to work, I would pick to work two or three mornings a week at a church preschool, or a quiet office job one or two days a week would be ideal.  Honestly I am really open to anything that might fit, but who wants to hire a mom/teacher who has three special needs kids?

Choice#2: Mark goes and works the "road" again.  Working the "road" on the railroad is HELL.  There really is no other good word to describe it.  It means Mark has NO SCHEDULE.  It's like being "on call" 24 hours a day.  He is married to the computer so he can try and predict when he is going to work.  The phone rings at 3am, off to work he goes.  Stuck in Pasco, WA for 3 to be Mark.  Want to go to the movie with the family?  Not sure if I will be called while we are out, so better not go.  That schedule literally drove Luke to temper tantrums and tears ALL.THE.TIME.  He couldn't handle dad not having a schedule and knowing when he had days off.  He would cry when he woke up in the morning and found that dad wasn't here.

Choice#3: Mark gets a second job.  I don't like this idea either.  Mark already has a volunteer second/third job and I don't think we can handle a fourth.  Back in February our church began looking for another pastor.  Since Mark was the president of the church board all of the responsibilities of the church became his plus finding a new pastor (organizing, resumes, interviews, meetings etc).  20+ hours of church work each week volunteer plus the gas it takes to make 2 trips a week.  Its 35 miles round trip.  It has been this way since February.  In May, Mark and I began being the youth leaders again on one of the two evenings he has off.  The former leaders stepped down and there was no one else to step forward.  I feel so completely stretched right now.  Because of these situations I am able to look at my parents and their ministry in a new light.  I have a greater appreciation and understanding for my parents and their time served as pastors.  It has been a season of growth for us and we have walked sometimes one foot in front of the other.

I wish I had the magic solution to sum up the ending to this blog post.  I don't.  That has yet to be determined.  I've considered working from home, but I am uncertain.  There are options.  Do I sell things on ebay or etsy?  Do I open a preschool in our home?  Do I get licensed for daycare? I could tutor, but afternoons/evenings are not a good time due to Mark's work schedule.  All I know is there has to be an answer to all this and I know we will find it.  Meanwhile the stress is great and we are trying to look for the positive while we feel overwhelmed.  We appreciate anyone who would pray for us during this time. 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Thursday's Therapy Tool: Therapy Putty

This Thursday I would like to feature a therapy tool we use in our home on a daily basis...."therapy putty".  From the pictures you might notice it looks a lot like playdoh; however the texture and pliability are much different.  And not that playdoh is bad...we LOVE playdoh at the Dahl House...well...everyone except the carpet.  The carpet in the front room met a container of hot pink playdoh a few weeks ago, and it just hasn't been the same since.  No amount of scrubbing, combing or scratching has restored the carpet to it's original hot pink playdoh free self.  There may or may not have been a swear word spoken out loud. :)  Ok...playdoh rant over.
Therapy putty comes in a variety of colors and firmness.  The yellow putty pictured above is much softer than the green putty.  Therapy putty is an excellent fine motor tool.  It has this amazing power to calm my children!  They roll it into various shapes and sizes.  You can roll the putty into a ball that will bounce.  They enjoy pulling it apart over and over and over again (great way to build hand strength).  They have been know to try and hit each other with the pulled apart strands.  Someone small has even tried to put it up her nose.  She possibly succeeded.  No worries's non-toxic.  You can even hide small objects in the putty and have them find them and pull them out as a type of game. 
The consistency of therapy putty is much different than playdoh too.  It has a sheen.  Sometimes it seems to almost have a liquid consistency.  If I left the green ball of putty out (pictured above) it would eventually become a pancake on the table.  However, it does not leave a residue on hard surfaces or little hands.  My only caution would be never leave it out on the carpet for a long period of time (hours).  It will "melt" into the carpet making it difficult to remove.  But if it is dropped on the carpet it will not immediately stick...ahhhmmm unlike the playdoh. :)
Therapy putty can be purchased from various online retailers for less than $4 dollars per 2 oz container (the below containers are 2 oz.).  I purchased the yellow putty through Fun and Function .  The green we purchased from Luke's occupational therapist.  Also, Learning Palace sells putty in tin cases that my daughter has discovered.  Some of them are glow-in-the-dark and magnetic!  Such a fun, inexpensive, simple activity that has so many great benefits!
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