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Friday, September 25, 2015

Where to Even Start...

It has been so long since I posted anything, I am not sure if anyone out there is still reading.  Regardless, I have so much to say, update, write, share...that I am not even sure where to start.  

First, I want to mention three big things...1) Bella's heart is absolutely PERFECT!!!  She had a great appointment in July and the doctor watched the entire echo procedure.  He said her murmur was completely normal.  2) Luke's eyes remain stable!!!  He goes back to Casey Eye at the end of November.  3) I am 19 weeks pregnant with a baby BOY!!!!  Total surprise for us.  I am calling him our bonus baby, because I feel so blessed that we are given one more little blessing.  He will be our last, as he is our completion for our family.  So life has been full of lots of appointments, blood work, ultrasounds.  But I am having a completely healthy, normal pregnancy.


The other big news (and you can tell from my photos) is that all my kiddos went back to school.  I'm three weeks into the school year and I miss them terribly.  Maybe it's the hormones, or that things haven't gone very smoothly for my kids transitioning back to school, but I have cried nearly every day for them.  The house is too quiet and I have spent far more time by myself in the last week (since Mark is working day shift) than I have in the last year. 

The biggest transition piece is that this little five year started all day kindergarten.  Bella and I have been connected at the hip since the day she was born.  We both miss each other, but probably me missing more of her.  She is one of those children that are such a joy to be around.  She has encountered some issues such a bullying, a child taking parts of her lunch, a child continually laughing at what she brings for share.  Bella keeps telling me, "we don't get to play toys class.  We work, work, work." This is upsetting because she is just five and play is such a developmental part of learning.  She is at school for almost seven hours...too long.  I have been beating myself up for not putting her in half day.  In the passing of a week, I feel like she has had to abandoned her childhood, creativity and imagination for a pencil and worksheets (it's really like first grade).  This is not the education I dreamed for her.
Luke and Grace have had their own fair share of struggles too.  At the VERY last minute, Grace's teacher moved to California and needed to be replaced.  Poor sweet girl has had very high anxiety and stress since and has had to adjust to new circumstances and a new teacher.  It's been difficult to say the least.  She has asked me to return to public school and to be homeschooled.

Luke began middle school and with it has come so much work and homework I cried every night for the first two weeks.  (Can you see crying is a theme with me?)  I often question my decisions for my children.  Honestly, there is a huge part of me that wishes to go back and do things differently.  I feel stuck now.  For two of my children with special needs, I wonder how hard to push them?  How much do I expect from them?  How outside the box do I need to think?  What is best?  Lately, I question have I pushed Luke too far.  In my quest to prove he is capable and he is able and he can, have I forgot that each of us has limitations.  I know hard work is good.  It molds us, it grows us.  But is he so stressed out that he isn't getting much.  Is he focusing too much on being behind to learn.  All things I wrestle with, and unfortunately there is no manual or guide for figuring this all out.  So I continue to struggle and question and process....

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Bella's Heart & Luke's Eyes

The month of June is almost in the books, and the month of July is arriving this week.  With the month of July, comes some pretty big medical appointments for several of the Dahl kiddos.  The first BIG appointment will happen on Wednesday.

In May, I took Bella for an ear re-check from an ear infection she had.  While her ear had improved, the doctor was concerned about the ever present heart murmur that she was hearing.  The doctor said it was common for 5 year olds to have murmurs because as the chest cavity becomes thinner it is easier to hear.  But the sound of the murmur was loud enough to cause the doctor to want to have Bella further evaluated.  So, on Wednesday we will venture to Legacy Emmanuel Pediatric Cardiology to have Dr. Chang perform a full exam and ECHO on her heart.

I've been doing pretty well emotionally regarding this situation (as it is not life threatening or an emergency); however, this same scenario played out with Luke when he was 3 years old.  I took him for a well child check and they doctor heard a murmur.  He was referred to Legacy Emmanuel Pediatric Cardiology for a exam.  They found Luke to have a hole in his heart causing one side to work harder than the other and his heart required surgery to fix the hole.  It is difficult for me to "not go there" in my mind with Bella's situation.  Watching your child go through heart surgery is difficult.  Thankfully, Luke is completely fine now.  I have found it encouraging that he is so caring to want to go and be with Bella during her appointment because he has done it before.  He takes the "helper" role very seriously.  So, if you think of us....around 8:45am on Wednesday, we would love your good thoughts and prayers.

The 7th of July, is Luke's Casey Eye glaucoma check.  He will be taking a new visual field test to track his peripheral vision,  I believe it is called the Humphrey.  This is the machine he has been working up to with the other visual fields.  The Humphrey will give more accurate information on his visual fields.  I am a bit nervous because his regular, fabulous doctor is on an extended leave, and he will be seeing someone else.  It is always reassuring when your children have chronic health issues that you connect with the doctor that has been monitoring them.  In Luke's case this has been the last 5 years.  He has some special notes and needs in his file and I am hoping that the new doctor doesn't freak me out with anything he/she might say.  Just nerve wracking for me.

We are officially on summer break and enjoying our time together.  The kiddos went to VBS last week at Grace Church and had a wonderful time.  We are preparing for 4-H at the Clark County Fair and I am super proud of Luke and Grace for the hard work they have put in to learning about their rabbits and projects they have done.  I am excited to see them earn ribbons and be rewarded for all their dedication and hard work.

Sunday, April 26, 2015


I've avoided my blog for awhile...there have been several attempts to sit down and write something meaningful, poetic or life changing and in the's all just crap.  Perhaps the reason I have found writing so difficult, is because it has been ME who is the one who has struggled the most.  I find it easy to write when the stories are about my kids.  Luke's newest need, or Grace's struggle or Bella's difficulty...but when the table turns and all eyes are me it has been difficult for me to be open and transparent.  I've held my cards close to my chest. 

So here is goes...honesty, transparency and openness from the one in our family who has struggled the most this past year...

A year ago, I almost had a breakdown.  Like really close.  I recall days of crying and crying and crying and just not being able to stop crying.  Bella would look at me and say, "mommy, it's ok...I love you." And then I would cry some more.  I would cry because she deserved a mommy that wasn't crying all the time, and her pure, simple, real love touched my heart.  I was under tremendous stress at work.  I had little to no control over the students in my classroom and it wasn't my first year teaching (it was my sixth).  Several students on behavior plans a few kiddos developmentally delayed, students being hurt on my watch, and there I was trying to manage it all by myself.  I had no aide, no helper and no one to relieve me when I needed to go to the bathroom.  I consider myself to be a very good teacher, with a strong skills set, and I was drowning in my classroom a slow painful, suffocating death.  I had been asking for help since October, begging for assistance in November and December.  By the time we had come back from spring break, I had lost the ability to tread water in my classroom.  I was just sinking. 

I finally swallowed my pride, and reached out to anyone that would listen.  I.WAS.A.MESS! I scared my mom and Mark as I teetered on the edge.  I called friends and cried, I talked to co-workers and cried, I found a therapist and cried and I prayed.  I counted down the days till school was out.  I had a dear friend that would text me everyday after school to check on me, and remind me that it was one day less.  I looked forward to her texts and the emotional support it brought me.  I got up each day and took a 1 mile walk.  I knew I had so much stress going through my system that I needed to do something with it.  It helped me focus.  By God's grace, I made it through that school year...barely.  I have never felt more relief than I did on that last day. 

Summer brought with it challenges.  Several horrible episodes of vertigo, left me again worrying about my health and dying.  I was afraid of the upcoming school year, as I would be returning to the classroom, and I was scared.  Everything inside of me told me not to do it, but it was the only way financially we could afford to pay for the kids to go to private school.  So as I geared up to go back to school in August, I began spiraling downward once again.  I felt the heaviness and darkness creep back up, and I wondered how I would be able to make through a week of school...let alone an entire year.  So I decided to visit my doctor and tell him EVERYTHING.  He said I had an anxiety/depression disorder and also was suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from my last two teaching positions.  I left the appointment armed with an incredibly understanding doctor and two prescriptions.  One for anxiety and one for depression.  As nervous as I was about starting Effexor it was one of the best decisions I ever made.  I continued with therapy.

I made it to Christmas and I had been enjoying my littles in my classroom, when Mark received a job placement change at work.  We decided I wasn't going to live in survival mode till June and I gave my resignation.  It was a difficult decision for me, but ultimately my own kiddos needed the structure of one parent available to them.  So I hung up my teaching hat.  It was the right decision.

I am still in therapy today.  It will be a year next month, and at this point still don't feel that I am ready to be dismissed.  It has helped in so many ways than just what I went to originally see her for.  I have learned so much about myself.  I continue to feel myself climbing out of what I believe was years of depression/anxiety disorder.  I am surrendering to the process and not rushing through (which is what I have a tendency to do).  I still struggle, but not everyday and not with constant anxiety.  My main struggle right now is not having an official "title" anywhere.  Being "teacher" defined me and gave me purpose.  I realize that I have the titles "mom" and "wife" but it is weird to have so much education and be on the sidelines.  I find it difficult some days, but I don't regret my decision. 

I also struggle with guilt.  I have learned that I sabotage my own happiness.  Not on purpose, but just something unique to the position of growing up a pastor's child.  We always had enough and a lot of our wants, but because my parents were pastors we were told to keep things "hush/hush" if we carpeted the house, or got new furniture.  The pastor's salary was always "fair game" in the world of it's parishioners.  We could be happy but not too happy.  It has led me to experience guilt/shame in my adult life when things are wonderful.  Just being real.  This battle has been a difficult one and it is sometimes hard to be open.  But I am in a better place now, and if by chance there is anyone left reading my blog you know where I have been and what journey I have taken.  :)
Blessings to you all~Carissa

Wednesday, March 11, 2015


Realizing I haven't posted in almost four months, I have found it difficult to think about how I would summarize all the events that have taken place.  So much has happened and so much transition has occurred to put everything into words in one blog post seems impossible.  I am not even going to attempt it.  But, I will pick up here with our story.  The Dahlhouse today...jump ahead almost four months from where we last left off, and you will find me home.
I am home full time.  A stay-at-home mom, yet I find myself more a taxi service than anything else at this moment.  I actually feel I am not home very much.  
 Mark's position changed at work, and I needed to be home to keep up with the kids and their schedules, so I gave my notice.  It was a bittersweet feeling for me.  I still miss my students.  They were a great bunch of kids.
 Life has continued on in full force.  Me...desperate to slow it down.  There have been school events, parties and sickness.  Two ear infections and bunch of colds.  It feels never ending right now. 
 I can finally say that I feel like I am adjusting to this crazy new normal.  It was more difficult than I thought at first having Mark travel again.  But I have found a new source of strength within myself that is both welcoming and confidence building. 
 There is so much to share, so much to report on that I am not sure how I will adequately catch up. 
 One thing is kids continue to impress me, surprise me and make me proud.  I can tell that they are growing both physically and developmentally. 
 One is almost reading.
 One has found her place and is beginning to branch out.
One continues to break through any barrier set in front of him.  All of it just makes me so thankful, humbled and blessed.  
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