Sunday, August 23, 2009


Well, yesterday's soccer tournament wasn't exactly the success we'd thought it would be. Sophia did get her goal in - two, in fact. She played two great games in the hot, sticky weather. We were so proud of her! Unfortunately, both of Emily's games began and then were cancelled due to lightning. There were some ferocious storms both on Thursday night and yesterday, preventing Emily from scoring her goal - or even playing. One sad soccer star.

An anticipated highlight was having both Rachel and Janneke along for soccer this week. Normally, we have care for the two of them, but this week, our caregiver decided to go help in another country (go, Kirsten!). I think taking the whole family would have worked better had the weather cooperated. And you think we would have learned from our experience the first time - but no, we tube-fed in two thunderstorms on two different days, starting along the sidelines of the soccer field and then racing to the van.

Despite the nutty weather, both Rachel and Janneke stayed awake for the parts of the games that happened, and every time we cheered out loud, Rachel would yell out with a huge smile on her face. I think seeing and hearing that was worth the soaking!

Friday, August 21, 2009


It's Friday night. The formula has been made, and I am about to give Janneke her last feed of the day. Rachel's sleeping through her feed... handy to sleep and eat at the same time. Em and Soph are storing up energy in their sleep for tomorrow's soccer tournament - each dreaming about the goals they are determined to score.

And then there's Ralph... He is back at school most days, preparing for the upcoming year. But, he has also been working hard in our basement, alongside the guys from Frory Construction (for a stellar cellar, call Frory). Our home improvements should result in more family space and a therapy room for Janneke and Rachel. Lawrence, I don't think Ralph took your advice on doning some protective costume before spraying.

Yesterday, I took Janneke into Mac to connect with the neurologist. Nothing earth-shattering was shared, and I waited for two hours to spend five minutes with a specialist. Sigh. Waiting rooms are an incredible test of character. There's a reality show for you. I am happy that there is nothing medically concerning with Janneke's brain at this time. They simply confirmed her developmental delay. Yup, nothing earth-shattering.

Next week, we hope to begin connecting with people who will volunteer some time in our home to help me in the mornings. For me, I am learning that I need to take care of myself so that I am a better mom, wife, person... and I need to put my kids in front of my guilt when it comes to accepting help and asking for assistance. : )

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


So, we are adjusting to life after a holiday. Mornings are nutty here, and the last couple of days reminded us that our kids, particularly Rachel do tire of all the coming and going as well as being outdoors so much. Rachel had it a bit rough the last few days, most likely due to dehydration. We have taken her swimming, but we forget that being outside, especially in the humidity, robs her of precious fluid.

Rachel dehydrates faster than the other three kids, and yet, because she doesn't ask for a drink, we forget to give her extra fluids. To be frank, this directly affects her bowels. And so we are reminded of her hurdles once again - not being able to stand or move around as well as not being able to tell us she is thirsty. She can light up a room with her smile, but she can break your heart with her cries. Sometimes I wonder if she is trying so hard to get our attention, and we are the ones slow to understand. We're still learning, Rachel!

On a different note, I think Janneke has figured out how to grin. I swear she was grinning at me after her late night feed - but I was too tired to make a party of it.

Monday, August 3, 2009

to Oma deWit

Another update? Well, not exactly. But, this morning, my Oma deWit (grandma) came to mind, and I felt the need to write. She is one tough cookie, currently living large in her nineties - okay, so she's actually small in stature. (Oma, I hope Aunt Jean or Aunt Marie can read this to you.) Oma is recovering from hip surgery right now. She happened to be walking through an doorway during a thunderstorm that caused the power to flicker - and the door to slam shut. The sudden shutting of the door caused Oma to fall and now she is recovering from hip surgery. What are the odds? Reminds me of a previous post....

I have two amazing grandmothers that survived WWII and immigration to Canada (more on Oma DeJonge later). Oma deWit was a young mom when the Germans invaded her town, and I will never forget the story of how she insisted everyone in her extended family eat a boiled egg before fleeing town. She covered her daughter, my aunt Alida, with blankets in a baby carriage and fled town on foot shortly after the meal. Talk about courage - and determination.

There's another story I will never forget from her either. Long ago, she gave birth to a baby boy with special needs. Uncle John currently lives in a Christian Horizons home, and though aged in body, he is very young in mind. Sometime after his birth, my aunt Alida asked her mom (Oma) if their family would ever be happy again. This question caused my oma to realize that living with joy is a conscious decision, one she (and the family) had to make. I am sure it wasn't always easy to choose joy as she cared for all her children, especially John. I took that lesson to heart, and we gave Rachel the middle name Joy.

Oma has buried her husband, one son-in-law, two grandsons and three children, including my own mom. How does she perservere? She always points to her faith in Christ. Her decision to boil eggs during an invasion gives glimpse of her stubbornness, a strong will that leans on God.

The picture in this post of her and Opa sits above our basement stairwell right now because that's where she posted it in her home. I only hope Ralph and I can enjoy many years of marriage as they did, and I hope we can also point to our faith in Christ, especially in the rougher moments.

I love you, Oma. You never cease to amaze me. We are choosing joy.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

family holiday

(Sara's version) Well, we did it. We holidayed, vacationed, got away.... whatever the term. We took the four girls, plus a caregiver (thanks, Katelyn!) and enjoyed the sun and sand of Lake Huron for eight wonderful days! We met with another family, Dwayne and Tracy, and their four kids at my parent's cottage in Point Clark. Tracy had been trained to care for Rachel before, so she was familiar with the tube-feedings. Between four trained adults, Janneke and Rachel were well-cared for. Not sure of the others since Dwayne was in charge of them.

Despite me locking both sets of keys in our van and having to call CAA for help, despite leaving both Janneke and Rachel's medicines at home, despite an odd bout of stomach illness for Janneke, despite leaving two bags of garbage on the front lawn for the skunks after we left today, and despite the fact that I never won a single game of Seafarers.... the holiday was enjoyable and fun for all of us. We were so thankful for the extra help with our family, making our time an actual family holiday.

We were excited to succeed at two day trips to the beach in Kincardine. Our best purchase for the whole family - particularly Rachel and Janneke - was the beach tent which allowed us to tube-feed at the beach free from blowing sand and curious onlookers. We will not forget the look and sound of sheer delight from Rachel when she heard and saw the waves. Emily and Sophia were our water rats this week, and Rachel was content to feel the sand between her toes at the water's edge. (Janneke often napped at the beach. She gave a cry of pure outrage when I dipped her feet in, so that was enough for her.)

So, now we are back. Back to loads of laundry, more visits to the hospital for check-ups with Janneke and Rachel, and time at home with Emily and Sophia before they start school. Sometimes, the busyness and the schedule that must be consistently followed gets tiring, emotionally tiring. Yet, being able to sit in the sand, catch some waves with my family, and see the sunset (midst a million bugs) with Ralph made this week a slice of peace and assurance... assurance that someday God will make things right again and we will savour the beauty of His creation for more than just a week.

Here's hoping we update this blog more often now that August has started... all the best with you and yours. Oh yes, and thanks, Jim and Grace, for the use of the utility trailer. We were quite the sight driving down the highway, but, no worries, your trailer is still in one piece.