Thursday, August 26, 2010

thoughts about the weeks ahead

It's a cool August evening, the kind that hints at the changing of seasons. Some of the trees in our neighbourhood are already turning red and orange, and the soccer seasons are over for Em and Soph -all part of saying good-bye to summer.

Rachel will be joining her sisters with starting school this fall. She has two assessments in early September, and she officially starts on September 20. Just this week, her OT (occupational therapist) was discussing with me how Rachel might do in circle time, part of the routine for her class.

Rachel's "school" is part of a daycare program, a two hour block each morning, Monday through Thursday, where several children with special needs learn alongside normal children. I will be driving her to school (within the building of Niagara Peninsula Children's Centre) for 9 A.M. and picking her up at 11 A.M.

I am not sure I've completely thought this idea through - that Rachel will be in a classroom. She thrives on being around her sisters and loves watching other children. Yet, she does not like to touch stuff -and she is still nonverbal, needs to be moved from chair to floor, and needs her diaper changed frequently, as well as her bibs. Is this all going to work? Time will tell.

The truth is, I wrestle with how to help Rachel and Janneke each day. What do they want to do? They don't cry for attention, and they don't play with toys like other children. It hurts to say it, to write it, but they are the kind of kids that can be neglected, left alone in their beds. We work very hard as a family to make sure they are a part of what is going on. I am so thankful we had two normal children before Rachel and Janneke; we try to anticipate what normal kids their age might want to do.

So, we go to the grocery store and chat with the old ladies who think I have very big babies. We go to the pet store to see the fish, birds, hamsters and kitties. We go for walks and talk about the leaves moving in the wind. We sit on the trampoline and watch our big sisters do tricks. We visit the Snoezelen Room at the children's centre and stare at their enormous lava lamp with floating plastic fish. (It's pretty cool!)

This is called Snoezelen Therapy - light and visual stimulation.

I guess going to school is another step of giving Rachel the stimulus she deserves, the love from new friends. This will also allow some special loving for Janneke, as some tail-enders in families miss out on the one-on-one time with Mom.

And so, the cool wind I feel tonight coming in through the screen seems to hint of not just the changing seasons but also of more change for our family, good changes that will widen our circle of friends.

There is no foot too small that it cannot leave an imprint on this world

Peace. And a special hello to our new niece Julia Neeltje Lynn DeJonge in Michigan.


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

new face

So, the blog has changed a bit. Welcome to our new face.

And, we like to share with you some new photos of old faces.

Elma Regnerus photographed our family recently as part of the Celebrating Life sessions of which she and other photographers are part. Click this link to see her perspective and her photos.

Seeing the photos of our girls was a reminder of God's blessings in both the hard and joy-filled times.

Thank you, Elma. So very much.



Sunday, August 15, 2010

Happy middle-of-August to all. I read in the NY paper that some kids in the US are already starting school. Wild.

We had another chance to race together - Janneke, Rachel and I. It was a hot, hilly, and windy race, but we finished.

The race was in and around several vineyards in the Beamsville area. About half-way through the race, I wondered why I chose to run- rather than sip the wine and watch. But, the finish line is a glorious place, and you can't beat the sight of both Rachel and Janneke's legs wiggling as the stroller moves. They loved the run.

I couldn't help but remember the text from John 15 - the vine and the branches- as I ran yesterday. I was comforted with the promise of Jesus "if we remain in Him" as I ran up the hills. Those hills are a challenge to run up while pushing the girls. Likewise, it is also a challenge to remain rooted in Christ when life takes unexpected turns.

And that's when I go back to one step at a time.

The last few days have been good here. Em and Soph had a great time learning to swim better at a friend's pool - thanks, Janae and the Prins family. Ralph continues to work at school, preparing for the new year, and Rachel and Janneke fill their time with their big sisters and the nurses. Yesterday, Ralph and I slipped out for one night away from the home. Much thanks to Ashley and nurses Bridget and Betty for the break!



Wednesday, August 4, 2010

sand, sun, and sleep

Here's a couple of photos...

Part of Rachel and Janneke's therapy is teaching them play. Recently, we propped them up in our little sandbox and gave them a tactile experience. (Yes, they can sit for a bit on their own; you just can't see our hands behind them, ready to catch them if they fall.) They loved the attention and didn't mind being covered with sand. I was thrilled to see Rachel lean over and put her hands in the sand all on her own. That is a big step for a little girl who used to cringe when we would make her touch things!

Emily and Sophia have loved the extra time with their sisters. Almost every morning, I find one of them in bed with Rachel, just hanging out while Rachel is fed. (Janneke is still in a crib, so they can't crawl in next to her!) My heart feels hugged when I see the love between the girls.

As mentioned before, our days are determined by a typed schedule. There are things that have to happen every day to keep our home sane and the girls healthy. Sometimes we find ourselves a slave to the routine, but the schedule reminds us of what we might forget in the busyness of being a family.

Each week, we visit the pharmacy for various prescriptions. We appreciate the staff over at Shoppers Drug Mart who know us to see us, and they have ordinary conversations with us. The last time Ralph went to pick up the formula, he needed the store dolly. We took 600 cans home that night; that should last for about three months. Wish it looked a little more like IKEA furniture and less like a stack of boxes.

Today, Cousin Caleb met Emily and Sophia at a friend's pool for a swim. It was so fun to spend time with him far away from the hospital. We are thankful for his return to health and for his return to laughter. We would have loved to take Rachel and Janneke along, but they are easily bothered by the humidity.

This is often how I find Rachel sleeping. Chillin'...

Hope all is well with you. Peace.