another summer update

Must. touch. water.

Yes, Janneke was in her happy place this past Saturday when we visited a waterpark near my brother's place in Milford, MI.

Good times. Sweet memories.

It's been a bit scattered, trying to update the blog this summer.  It's been a good summer, but it is always busier than I anticipate.

And it makes me question (again) why I blog.  

It is cathartic, sorting through my emotions.  Welcoming through birth the unexpected - such as our two youngest in 2006 and 2009- shook the confidence and identity of whatever I thought I could do and whomever I thought I was.  For some reason still now, there seems to be more tension inside my heart when I am with people who knew me before the birth of Rachel.  It's as though there are two of me - the person I was prior to 2006 and the person I am now... and those two me's don't know each other very well.

When I talk with parents who share similar experiences, I suggest that it is like a season of post-tramatic stress.  The length of that season (and its reoccurrence) depends on the circumstance and person.  Sometimes, the posts on the blog let me step back and tell myself, "See, we are still living and finding joy. You're going to be okay."

Maybe I am afraid that if I don't share a bit of our story, people will forget.  From the moment Rachel was born in May of 2006, I was aware of how important -how essential- community was and still is for our family.  I remember a mom telling me that if I want support for the long journey ahead, I have to let go of some privacy and try to bring others into our life.  

I don't write the blog to draw unnecessary attention to our family or seek to invoke pity. There is no hierarchy in sorrow, and however we choose to live with our joys and sorrows depends on multiple reasons. Originally, we started the blog to keep our family and friends updated on the medical issues surrounding Janneke.... and then the story kept going.  

I guess that's ultimately what drives me: the hope and belief that our story keeps going.  We are all a part of God's story, and trusting Him through the twists and turns isn't easy.  At the heart of our stories (and in your comments and feedback) is the essence of belonging - to each other and to Him.  And we need to know that we belong - even with our abnormalities and idiosyncrasies.  

This past weekend, we celebrated belonging.  Because my brother Dave and his wife Jodi have the space in their backyard, many of my family (except Rhodes, Laura, and Callum out in Victoria, B.C.) set up camp for the weekend of fun.

My brother is quite creative in finding ways to make his place be memorable for the kids, and his enthusiasm rubs off on the rest of us.

Tarps were spread along the hill for a great water slide.  Add a little dish soap, and you've got a great ride.

The evenings ended with a Chinese lantern send-off.  After catching fireflies, the kids laid down on their backs to watch the light soar up and away... okay, so one lantern landed in the neighbour's tree, but Dave's got great neighbours.

The interaction between Sean and Janneke was a treat to see.  Once kids reach school-age, many are less inclined to spend time with Rachel and Janneke.  It is tricky for them to know what to do with the girls, so I understand.  That's why I take delight in the innocence of the early years, before the disabilities are recognized.

And speaking of delight, who wouldn't want to sit on a swing to discuss shipwrecks of the Great Lakes?

Yes, the water park was great fun.  Rachel wasn't so crazy about the water spraying everywhere, but she tolerated it - and put her fingers out every so often to feel the drops.  We are thankful her wheelchair is made with neoprene, so it dried in a matter of minutes with the sun!

The park was a highlight for the "big kids" too as they chased each other through the pad and raced down the slides.  They even convinced Grandpa and Grandma to go down the slides.

More memories made, and we are thankful for the family and friends that help us make it work.  More memories are in the making, and we work hard to choose joy on the tougher days.

Peace to your homes tonight,

And a special hello and photo to Sarah from Emily.  We hope you found a spot on the wall for your handiwork!