our holiday weekend

So, I took Princess Janneke for a walk this morning before her physio appointment. Next to NPCC is the Glenridge Quarry, a nice, quiet place to walk instead of alongside the busy roads. Sure, it used to be the dump, but it's been redeemed. Now it's a sanctuary for birds and other small wild lives.

Not that it's safe for all animals. This was a lucky snail; around this time of year, there is a constant crunch sound of snail shells being, well, crunched by feet and wheelchairs. I try not to think about Franklin's friend, Snail.

I encouraged Janneke to touch different things, but she was content to look only. She loved the sound of the birds, and she made her own chirpy sounds - rare for her and music to my ears.

Speaking of the nature of things, the nest outside our back door grew from three eggs to four... and then, the next day, the nest was no more. Some squirrel pillaged and stormed the nest. A sad day for my Sophia who was hoping to see the baby birds.

This past weekend, we enjoyed the holiday (Victoria Day) and warm weather in the hills of North Effingham, here in Niagara. A busy place in the summer, complete with water park and trailer park, in the off-season weeks like last weekend, it is a nice, quiet spot close to home.

Ralph had Emily and Sophia for two nights with six other families in cosy rustic cabins. Both Emily and Sophia loved playing with the all the kids (I lost count after 20), making Narnia-esque forts, playing Capture the Flag, and staying up late to watch fireworks. I took Rachel and Janneke for an afternoon visit, and Ashley (respite worker) stayed with Rachel and Janneke at our home for one night, so I could enjoy a night in the cabin too.

Photo from the weekend: Rachel is more apt to give her serious look these days.

Doing the split-family holiday thing is not preferred, but it works. Taking the entire family away from the house is a big deal, no matter how far or close we travel. Feed pumps, chairs, meds, and everything else take up space and energy. So, a visit for a couple of hours is manageable.

When we are away with just the four of us - Ralph and I with Emily and Sophia, there are complicated feelings that surface. This past weekend, I was caught off-guard by my emotions as we were eating supper (without Rachel and Janneke). I found myself emotional because I was enjoying my time - instead of watching the time. It's not as if I don't get a break from our home and the girls on a regular basis, but when we physically step away with the four of us, it is remarkable how relaxed we can be when we are not hung by the care plan.

We are also aware of the differences between our kids and other kids. This is where I know our older girls miss having friends who have siblings with special needs. Thankfully, the children of our friends are aware of Rachel and Janneke, and they don't hesitate to talk to them - or ask me blunt questions.

I prefer that to ignorance. I loved watching our friends' kids randomly wipe Rachel and Janneke's spit. I loved watching the kids talk to Rachel and Janneke, causing smiles.

Yes, I secretly complained a bit about all the work involved with packing the girls up to visit the cabins, but I knew it would be worth it in the end. If I were to take the easy way out and keep Rachel and Janneke at home all the time, our friends would not have a chance to interact with and remember our girls.

We gotta keep showing up.

It's part of persevering in this life. Giving thanks and choosing joy in the circumstance, even when we feel like complaining about the work involved - or how envious we might be of families whose kids all walk and eat.

Now we are into another week here. Track and Field Day is tomorrow at school, and the weather looks promising.

Oh - something that was missed: Rachel has been accepted for SK in the fall at the Niagara Peninsula Children's Centre School! She will be part of the afternoon ELP program, and, as crazy as this seems to me, a bus will pick her up and bring her home. Gulp.

We are very thankful for this news. We were really hoping she would attend NPCC School, for that seems to be the best option, given her strengths and abilities. As much as I am nervous about the bus, apparently, that is the favourite part of the students' day.

Hope your week goes well. We keep on striving, knowing that God has the future in His hands.