SAL-VA-TION: by grace

E-LEV-EN: children from 1984 to 2006

HOME-SCHOOL-ING: since 1990

DOWN-SYN-DROME: susie and gabe

GRAND-CHILD-REN: since 2010

FAITH-FUL-NESS: my steadfast rock, my biggest supporter, my leader, my friend, my love, my husband

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Sad Heart

Yesterday was the last day we had Light and Mendo with us. Troy, Shane, and I drove the boys (and Nat from Ghana) down to the AFS gathering spot. We were supposed have them there by 2:00 and be on our way by 2:15. We didn't get there until 2:30. We had some last minute delays--Light's box of hockey equipment had to be repackaged at the post office (look for him on the 2010 Thailand Olympic hockey team), Mendo's laundry wasn't quite dry, twenty yards away from our driveway Mendo turned us around with, "Oh wait! I forgot my passport!", we stopped to pick up some lunch, and finally got into some backed up traffic. I knew the plan was for the students to spend the day at the indoor water park meeting spot while they began the "readjustment to going home" process and the bus taking them to Chicago wouldn't be leaving until after 10:00 pm. When someone wondered if we should take the time to stop for something to eat I asked, "What's going to happen if we're late? Are they going to send you home?" Normally I play strictly by the rules, but I was not looking forward to leaving my boys!

Sure enough, the last minute hugs were tearful and I had to go back to the van while Troy and Shane said their own good-byes. They joined me a few minutes later and laughed at my tears. I laughed with them. Troy said, "I just don't get it." I said, "You're not a mother."

For the rest of the day I couldn't even say "Light and Mendo" without welling up with tears. It happened when I looked at the ceramic Portuguese fellow that Mendo made, and when Gabe looked out the window and yelled, "Enno, Enno, Enno!", and when I counted out the plates for supper, and when I opened the empty dresser drawers, and when I saw the half full green water bottle on Light's dresser, and now while I type these words.

I am reminded of something Missionary Jack Manley, the first white man into some of the tribes in Papua, New Guinea forty years ago, told us. He was trying to explain the love of God to a cannibalistic tribe that had no word for love. During all of his years with them he couldn't find a way to tell them about love. Then, as he was leaving them a tribal man said to him, "My throat aches for you." And that became his definition for love.

Today, my throat aches for my two boys.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Do you know what happens when you have to send out graduation/going away party invitations, bridal shower invitations, and wedding invitations (featuring four different people) in one week?

You pass off the duty to the four people, not having a clue who ends up on the invite lists.

Then, do you know what happens when invited guests randomly stop you and say, "Oh, I haven't gotten back to (name one of the four) yet about (name the event). Let them know I will/will not be able to make it."?

The information makes it into your brain but gets lost in between "The nurse will call tomorrow to schedule open heart surgery" and "Mom, did you see me tag that kid out at home?!" and you are left clueless as to who will be where and when and you resort to guessing about numbers and praying those who got left off the lists you didn't check will still be your friends when the dust settles.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Family Traditions

Como Park Zoo in St. Paul was, and still is, a special place for Keith and me. We spent many hours there getting to know one another during our courting/dating months. When we learned that the conservatory there could be used for weddings we reserved it for ours. The sunken gardens are still meaningful to us, and our children appreciate its significance as well.

On June 14, 2009, exactly twenty-five years, two months, and twenty-nine days after we were married on the platform at the end of the reflecting pool, Chet chose that exact spot to ask Priscilla Thomas to be his wife. She said, "Of course."

We are thrilled to be welcoming this lovely young woman into our family!

Pictures will be added or linked shortly.

Mental Block

I made Banana Poppyseed Bread this morning. For some reason, with this recipe I have a major mental block. 75% of the time it comes out as plain Banana Bread and I have to put away the unused poppyseeds sitting on the counter for another day.

This morning I had my bread in the oven and was cleaning up the counter when I saw it, the bowl of bananas! It was early enough to fix--dump, stir, fill new pan, back in oven, whew. It reminded me of the time I made Caramel Apple Cake without the apples. You'd just assume that the name would be the memory trigger for such things.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Disappointing News

This is Dana just to let you all know...

My mom just came down to inform me that Gabe is out...and there's bad news. No surgery has been performed today. The doctors discovered through the internal eco (I know it had a WAY fancier name then that but what it is, you'd have to ask my mom) that Gabe has 4-5 holes in his if he'd been "blasted by a shotgun" in the words of Mom.
So, thank you all for your prayers, and PLEASE continue to pray as we go about rescheduling for open heart surgery.

I praise God that He has given me and my family the assurance that He does ALL THINGS WELL and for the good of those who love Him.


Gabe made it through round one of his ordeal yesterday. We started with an ultrasound exam that was to last about 45 minutes. The technician greeted us, set things up, and after assessing Gabe for a brief 2 minutes announced, "I'll start the tests but I'm probably going to have to bail."

After 15 minutes he admitted, "He sits much better than I thought he would."

Ten minutes later, "You must have the gift" (of keeping him still--but no, Gabe has the gift).

Another ten minutes passed, "He's really high functioning, isn't he." I don't know, but he sits pretty well.

After the ultrasound we met with the surgeon who explained the procedure in detail with drawings and showed me the actual device that would be used.

Big news to me--Gabe has more than one hole in his heart. Besides the ASD (atrium septal defect) between the two upper chambers (measuring 11-12 mm in diameter) he has a PDA (patent ductus arteriosus) which mixes blood from the aorta and pulmonary artery (oxygenated with unoxygenated). There will be two repairs done today. The doctor was amazed that with all of that blood mixing he doesn't have any respiratory problems or problems of any kind with his circulation. He estimated that only about 1/3 of the oxygenated blood is making it through his system.

AND--there's a 20% chance that there is a third hole--a second ASD. It is unclear from the ultrasound pictures and they won't know until they begin the procedure today with a transesophogeal ultrasound (doing an ultrasound internally from his esophogus). If the third hole is present the surgeon said he would "bail"--that word again--and we'd have to schedule open heart surgery at a later date.

We are praying that the third hole is just what they call "residual ultrasound" something and they will be able to complete the repairs today.

The good news for Gabe. I was able to keep him up until 11:30 last night and he had a pretty substantial snack at 11. He can't eat and doesn't have the surgery until 11:30 am today! Also, at Denny's last night I drew a circle on his coloring sheet and he copied it!!! It was the first time he didn't just scribble or eat the crayons. I also drew straight lines--both vertical and horizontal--and he copied them. Then, to top it off, when he was in the tub this morning (at 6 because he couldn't sleep--should help him rest this afternoon) he poured water from one cup to another with each of his hands!! We've been working on scooping and pouring for many months and he's shown no interest. He just splashes and flings. He was SO proud of himself.

I'm off to eat and then keep Gabe while Dana has her breakfast. I'll let you know what we learn this afternoon.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Please Pray for Gabe

Tomorrow morning Dana and I are going to Milwaukee with Gabe for his heart repair. He will have doctor visits and tests on Wednesday and the catheterization is scheduled for 11 AM on Thursday. I will post the results Thursday night, Lord willing.


Light headed out yesterday morning to go shopping. As he left he told me, "Mom, I'll be home about....later."
I asked, "Will that be more like a quarter to later or later-thirty?"
He chuckled and I told him to go and have a good time.
As he walked away I added,
"See you later!"

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Where in the World

As we bike past Lisa's friend's house:

Lisa: Look Mom, there's Jamaica's house!

Me: No, Lisa. Her name is Paris.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Hand Me Down Mentality

Troy showed me his worn out wallet and asked, "What do you think? Do I need a new one?"
Before I could say anything Owen immediately replied, "YES! I want a new wallet!"
To younger siblings especially "one man's trash is another man's treasure."

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Vacation Photos

Here are some favorites from our trip to the east coast (South Carolina up to Washington, DC).

Dana had a lot to do with the planning of the trip since it was her senior year. These pictures show how she spent much of her time.....

Other activities...
A very familiar vacation site, Dad and Gabe hand in hand.

Lisa couldn't quite brave the surf.

Hardier souls enjoyed challenging the waves.

Mendo, Dana, and Light

The flowers at Magnolia Gardens were beautiful.

Seeing actual slave quarters was educational and a little eerie.

Why did the chicken cross the road?
To get away from Gabe.

We found a park in Charleston, SC for the young ones and the older boys joined in a pickup basketball game. Troy left the park with some surprising information. He said, "One of those guys told me I was 'one good niggah'. So much for "the 'n' word"."

While Keith was one a business call the rest of us spent some time in a mall--enjoyed by the teens, boring for the younger guys. Bryce wanted a quarter to play an arcade game and I wouldn't give him one. I told him to "do what you usually do, look under the machines for a dropped quarter." He came back with almost $4.00! Instead of playing the arcade game he decided to take Gabe on the little mall rides, and spent ALL of his money on him. Bryce didn't regret it for a minute, he had so much fun watching Gabe enjoy himself....or was Bryce the one enjoying the rides!?

This waterfall was our destination on a hike in the Virginia Applachians.

We took a quick tour up the mall in DC, seeing the major monuments and a brief look through one of the Smithsonian museums.