a cousin's speech and our Sprinter shuttle

We found some fish.  The aquarium channel provides low-maintenance pets - friends for Janneke to holler at as she moves around in her walker.  Here she is, eyeing her blue and yellow buddy, complete with a whale spout ponytail on her own head.

Makes us think about getting a high-definition TV someday just so we can see the anemones clearer.  That, and maybe the occasional hockey game.

These past few weeks have been filled with stuff.  It seems these last few months have been busier than I anticipated.  It's been challenging to find time to journal and blog.

Not long ago, our family had a chance to hear cousin Chantal Huinink speak and the Momentum Choir sing.  The event celebrated Christian Horizons, an organization that serves adults with exceptional needs.  For my mom's family, CH provided a place in a home in Woodstock for my uncle John when the Oxford Regional Centre closed.  When I attended my uncle's funeral, I was overwhelmed by the love John's CH family gave to him.  It was a beautiful extension of family and community that my oma, opa, aunts and uncles desired.

I loved listening to Chantal articulate living with disability.  She was serious and funny - reminding all of us of our own inadequacies and encouraging us to live in community with each other.  During my high school and university years, my parents used be caregivers for Chantal (respite), and I couldn't help but think my mom would have been mighty proud to hear Chantal speak.  Chantal continues to study, having already accomplished a Master's Degree.  The three letters of "dis" fade when she talks - showing us her ability to do so much more...

And the choir? It is always a treat to hear Momentum Choir sing.  You can see Janneke's ponytails in the foreground here, but when the choir started with "Born This Way" - yes, that's Lady Gaga music, Janneke was spinning around and around in her walker, anxious to move right in front of the choir.  I had to pull her to the side to prevent her from stealing the show.

Talking to Mendelt (choir director) later, we agreed that high compliments of the night were found in both the tears of a woman listening to Cohen's "Hallelujah" and the jubilant swaying/clapping of a young man sitting cross-legged on the floor right behind Mendelt as he directed through the songs.  A choir of exceptional needs singing for an audience of exceptional needs is a rare and beautiful moment.

Yep, Rachel loved the music too, while also battling some muscle spasms -poor kid.  By the way, if you want to hear the choir, come November 20 to their fundraising gala... click here.

This past weekend, I had a chance to catch my breath and take three days away... two in Minneapolis and one day flying.  A chance to sleep through the night uninterrupted and a chance to do some reflecting.  More on that later.

Tonight, it is the kids, laundry, and typical night stuff.  Rachel and Janneke are both dealing with colds - and Rachel is still bothered by muscle pain.  They have both missed school and are spending more time in their beds.  It is never easy trying to decipher what helps a kid feel better, but tonight, Rachel was rubbing my hand and arm while I read to the two of them.  For a kid who isn't able to verbalize her feelings, I will take that as an indication of comfort.  Very sweet.

Janneke seems to be feeling a bit better - evidenced in more hollering at the fish; today's nurse concluded there were clear chest sounds when she examined the girls with the stethoscope. (Did I mention before how much I appreciate the help of nurses each day?)  Here's hoping they can both be back in the saddle by Thursday.

For the next couple of weeks, we are going to try serial casting with Rachel's feet. She's been casted before, and she's had surgery before - all to correct her club feet.  We are going to try one more time with the casting, and we hope to straighten her feet enough to encourage her to bear weight on her feet. The expectations are low, but we are still optimistic she has the desire to stand.  Time will tell.

Though I am still mulling over the days I spent away from home, I can at the very least say that returning from a respite can be overwhelming.  When you have the time to step away, coming back reminds you that the busy routine hasn't changed.  Ordinarily, I am consumed by my daily routine; stepping away is emotional because I see beyond my little life for a brief moment - and realize that there may not be a choice in the life I have, but there is a choice in how I live it.  Lots of thinking to do...

Wait.  Funny moment to share: Ralph came to pick me up from the airport with the girls in the Sprinter. As I prepared to step into the van, a man and his daughter also proceeded to come along.  They mistook our family Sprinter for an airport shuttle.  He was very apologetic when we said there wasn't any more room in the family.

Hmmm, maybe we could visit the airport more often and make a little cash on the side....

Peace for your days.