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Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Light Shines Through

It keeps coming back, this sense of being "bright" this year. This word that we chose as a family to help define us and our lives in 2015. How ironic that the year would hold such grief. Yet the light shines through.

As we started to look "normal" straight in the eyes, Daniel and I started to feel like now might be a good time for me to go back to work. As I thought about it I started to get overwhelmed and wanted to "hurry up and find a job" but every time I felt the anxiety creeping in I stopped and took a deep breath. God will provide. God always provides. God's timing is perfect. I updated my resume and began applying...and much more quickly than expected I had an interview! Here is what is amazing, after the interview the director of nursing emailed me. She referred to me as a "bright light." What an unusual thing to say after an interview. It felt like direct affirmation that God is continuing to use our lives to shine.

Friday, June 12, 2015


On the day when many of my friends celebrated their child's last day of kindergarten...on the day when she would have smiled proudly at everyone during kindergarten graduation...on this day of milestones, I too celebrated one last time. I celebrated one last trip to Seattle Children's Hospital. One last appointment for Medical Record number 984839 (Oakland) or 1136875 (Seattle). Yes I have them memorized, yes we spent a lot of time in hospitals and a lot of time on the phone when I needed those numbers. This day of milestones, this day when I sat down and reviewed the autopsy results with her doctor...confirming what we had hypothesized and affirming that we made the right decision.

I know a lot of Moms out there feel ambivalent today: happy their son or daughter completed such an instrumental year in school but sad to see him or her grow up so quickly. I feel ambivalent too. I am happy knowing it's unlikely I will frequent children's hospitals again. Happy that my daughter was a fighter but when she and her body decided it was tired, the process happened quickly. Happy that my daughter is celebrating in heaven. And of course I am sad, I am sad that we didn't get to celebrate her kindergarten graduation together and sad that there are a MILLION things we never got to do that I'd envisioned. I am even a bit sad to know I won't be going to Children's hospitals anymore because there can be such camaraderie there.

So when I got home and the blood mobile was still parked in the center of town I walked in. And I gave blood, joyfully. Thankful that my pint of blood will be able to make a difference in someone's life when they need it most. Every time Anellah received a transfusion I thought of the people whose very body it had come from. And I silently thanked them. Today I hope my contribution will be as instrumental as the many units that we received over the years.

Thursday, June 11, 2015


I guess "Summer Break" is kind of arbitrary now. We don't have a school year to adhere to right now, but nonetheless, I get excited about summer. I get excited about a change of pace. I get excited about our annual summer bucket list. Here's what's on it this year:

Assemble a Puzzle
Attend Swimming Lessons
Bake Bread
Bake Cookies
Boat at Lake Marcel
Bug for a Day
Camp at the Forest Theater
Catch Bugs
Celebrate Evelyn’s Birthday
Chip Apart A Giant Ice Cube
Climb at Preston Park
Color with Sidewalk Chalk
Create an Obstacle Course
Cushion Surf
Do Dot Art
Draw in Shaving Cream
Dress up
Eat at Chik Fil A
Eat Frozen Yogurt
Eat Homegrown Strawberries
Eat Peas from the Garden
Experience Tinted Vinegar and Soda*
Explode a Water Pinata
Explode Popsicle Stick Bombs
Explore Pike’s Place Market
Explore Volunteer Park
Fill and Toss Water Balloons
Finish the Library Summer Reading Program
Fish with Grandpa A
Get Family Photos
Go Bowling
Go on a Bike Ride
Go on a Hike
Go On A Rainbow Scavenger Hunt
Go to Camp Cov
Go to Fall City Days
Go to Hawk Creek
Go to Remlinger Farm
Go to the Library
Go to the Space Needle
Grow Pumpkins
Have a Backyard Campout
Have a Dance Party
Have a Family Movie Night
Have a Mom and Kids Camping Trip
Have a Park Picnic
Have a Pillow Fight
Have Dinner After Work With Daddy
Jump on the Trampoline
Light Fireworks
Make a Cereal Necklace
Make a Fort
Make Champion Ice Cream
Make Firestarters
Make Footprint Art
Make Fruit Roll Ups
Make Glowstick Lanterns
Make Homemade Ice Cream
Make Jam
Make Paper Airplanes
Make Pizza
Make Popsicles
Make Root Beer Floats
Master somersaults
Meet the Fremont Troll
Paint Egg Carton Caterpillars
Pick Apples
Pick Blueberries
Pick Cherries
Pick Flower for a Bouquet
Pick Peaches
Pick Plums
Pick Raspberries
Pick Strawberries
Play Ames Lake
Play at Crossroads Splash Park
Play at Enatai Beach
Play at the Seattle Center Splash Park
Play Cars Monopoly
Put Pasta in Playdoh
Rest in the Hammock
Ride a Horse
Ride the Monorail
Run Through the Sprinkler
Scatter Anellah’s Ashes
Shop at the Carnation Farmers Market
Shop at the Issaquah Farmers Market
Shop at the North Bend Farmers Market
Slip N Slide
Splash at the River
Splash in Wallingford Wading Pool
Stay in Pajamas All Day
Stick Pipecleaners in a Colander
Take a Ferry
Visit Discovery Park and Lighthouse
Visit Snoqualmie Falls
Visit the “Secret Beach” in W. Seattle
Visit the Gum Wall (in Honor of Anellah)
Visit West Linn, OR
Watch a $1 Movie

Watch a Movie at the North Bend Cinema

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Anniversary Day

The day she came home, I didn't even know how to put a onesie on frontwards!
Five years ago today Daniel and I drove to UCSF, walked in as a boring couple, and walked out as a blended family. Until the MOMENT we walked out the nurses kept asking, "are you really going to take her!?!" they had had so many potential foster parents back out at the last minute. We didn't understand the big fuss, "Yes! Why would we show up if we weren't?" Looking back I understand now, we had never been parents before. We knew she would require more than your average baby but we had nothing to compare her to. To us she was a baby who needed a home and a bit of medical care, we could provide both. Oh how gracious God was in keeping our vision so narrow! If we had known all the factors, seen all the ways that commitment would change our lives, known we would fall in love with her, adopt her, raise her as our own, and say goodbye all within 5 short years I am doubtful we would have accepted the challenge.

Five years later I sit here thinking of the many ways she rocked my world. Thinking of how powerful a single interaction with her could be. Thinking of how God used her to open my mind to different cultures, different values, different personalities. I am thinking of how I learned more about medicine from parenting her than I did in hours of studying for nursing school exams. I am thinking of all the lasting relationships that grew from parenting her, relationships with social workers, therapists, doctors, and teachers. I am thinking about how she saved me from insanity when Capper was a fussy baby and she was the only one who could make him smile. I am thinking of how she challenged my creativity every day and challenged me to find peace amidst chaos rather than organization. I am thinking of how I admired the fact that she had more patience than plenty of adults!

Looking forward, I wonder what the next 5 years will hold. Two months ago we thought we knew what direction our lives were headed. We had finally achieved our 4 year goal of moving back to Washington, we were "done" having babies, we were moving into a season of school-age children rather than babies and preschoolers, we were at peace with knowing we'd never travel with our children far from a major city, we'd never travel without our children far from them, and we'd never live out of the country. The next 5 years might be easy, they might be hard, they might have some unexpected surprises, they might be kind of boring, but based on past experience I am sure I will be able to look back 5 years from now and say, "WOW!" God had a plan for our lives and I'm glad we went with it.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Back to Reality

We had a great time in California at Anellah's second service. It was a special weekend of catching up with good friends and celebrating Anellah's life. Anellah's biological family was able to attend too. The event was so powerful and peaceful. As with her service in Washington, it was perfect.

Of course, another bounce house!
Anellah's Moms
After the service we spent Memorial Day weekend at a family camp with our former church family. It was an event we've attended every year since before Anellah came to live with us so it was such a blessing to be able to attend again! We thoroughly enjoyed being with friends and allowing the kids to play ALL DAY with their California buddies.

Last week we started to find our new groove. All services for Anellah are over and now we're settling in to our new normal. It's interesting because I feel like a "real" stay at home Mom now, just focused on our two kids and living life. No doctors appointments to coordinate and follow up, no prescriptions to refill, no insurance to deal with. So much of what I spent my time doing is no longer necessary. In some ways I feel like I have less time since Capper's playmate is no longer around but I'm trying to make sure he has time with other kids so I don't get burned out being a "playmate." Of course, we're still staying plenty busy but I think we are settling in well. The last two months have really helped us to focus on the importance of family and spending quality time together.