Epilepsy

Did you know that early this fall I was diagnosed with epilepsy?

Prior to our trip to China to bring Callie home, I began sleeping poorly with vivid and excessive dreaming and I was having frequent headaches, but I passed it off as stress related to the adoption process. In all likelihood, this was probably stress related, and as any adoptive parent can tell you, the last few weeks before meeting your child are full of stressful moments.

After returning from China I began to have some additional symptoms. Randomly I would have a strong sense of deja vu, but more intense than the fleeting sense of having been here or done that. It was like a dream state in my brain that felt very familiar and made me feel distant. It would be accompanied by a sense that I may lose consciousness, so I would usually sit or lay down, just in case. I did remain conscious and though I could hear and see what was happening around me, I was slow to respond and had a distant look in my eyes. I also became nauseous and had a strange pressure in my abdomen. As the feelings would subside; usually about a minute or two after they began, I would get a headache or a worsened headache and feel exhausted (even more so), like I needed to go right to sleep.

Eventually I became more bothered by these episodes and more curious about what might be happening, so I did what every person who wants to scare their socks off does, I googled my symptoms.

What I found surprised me. When I typed in my symptoms; deja vu, headaches, strange level of consciousness, etc. I found repeated websites describing epilepsy; focal seizures specifically of the temporal lobe. I even found some threads on an epilepsy website where people with Temporal Lobe Epilepsy detailed exactly what I was experiencing.

Ultimately I did go to see my doctor about these symptoms, mostly because the constant headache I’d been experiencing for nearly two months and the poor sleep was making my life a challenge. She was concerned and consulted a neurologist who recommended a brain MRI; it came back normal, which I am incredibly grateful for, since I know the doctors were looking for a possible brain tumor or other structural abnormalities in my brain.

A couple weeks went by and my symptoms seemed to resolve, until one morning, coincidentally the morning of my sister’s wedding, I walked outside to the car in the driveway and opened the back hatch to place some extra clothing and items for the kids in the back. I felt a super strong sense of deja vu come on; much stronger than ever before only this time I didn’t sit or lay down. It had been a few weeks since my last episode but I knew the routine so I leaned into the back of our SUV and figured I would wait until it passed. Only this time it was different. I remember thinking that my symptoms felt really intense and the next thing I knew I was waking up on the concrete of the driveway with a bloodied elbow and a bruised head. I’d lost consciousness and slumped out of the car onto the concrete (at least I am guessing that’s what happened); my fancy updo and my elbow broke my fall.

Surprisingly I felt okay afterwards, so I got up and walked into the house and announced to Andy what had happened (he was getting Callie ready for the wedding and unaware that anything was amiss). Then I called the on-call doctor who instructed me not to drive that day, told me I should probably get an EEG and if it happened again to call 911 or head straight to the ER, but otherwise to enjoy my sister’s wedding. So I did. We had a great time celebrating Kristin and Brian and I just kept that little loss of consciousness a secret from my sister so she wouldn’t have more on her mind that day.

I visited my doctor again the following week and as luck would have it, I had another episode right in her office. This time I maintained consciousness and was able to communicate a bit about what was happening . She was able to see what I was experiencing and set up an EEG; she was also able to get me into see the neurologist a month and a half earlier than their “next available appointment”.

After a bit of an emotional roller coaster (we think you might be having seizures, no we aren’t sure what is going on but think you are okay, oh wait…turns out you are having seizures!) my neurologist called me at home to inform me that my EEG did indicate that I was having seizures in my left temporal lobe, which was consistent with my symptoms. He diagnosed me with  Temporal Lobe Epilepsy. He explained his concerns: continued seizures, increasing in frequency and intensity, likelihood of loss of consciousness and risk of serious injury or death. We also discussed the course of action moving forward; medication and no driving for at least 6 months – per Washington State law.

By this point I’d had 50 or more seizures that I was aware of; and possibly more while I had been sleeping; waking me throughout the night.

Ultimately it is good to have a diagnosis (even though not the one I’d hoped for) and to be on medication that is addressing the problem. Epilepsy is a chronic disorder and likely something I will deal with for life; I haven’t quite wrapped my mind around that yet. For now I feel inconvenienced by not being able to drive anywhere. It takes a fair amount of coordination to plan for appointments and activities outside of the house.

I am very thankful for the way that it unfolded and that I was protected from serious injury when I lost consciousness in my driveway. I am thankful that I didn’t lose consciousness while I was driving, standing at the top of my stairs, alone at home, etc. I am thankful that these partial seizures didn’t inhibit my ability to care for my kids (they weren’t even aware anything was going on) and that the kids weren’t put into a difficult situation in the event I did lose consciousness when no other adult was home.

I am also thankful for the timing; which was clearly well planned by God. I think about the timing often. If I had been diagnosed with epilepsy prior to our adoption of Callie, would I have changed my thoughts on adding another child to the family? Would China’s Center for Children’s Welfare and Adoption have accepted us as adoptive parents since their requirements read, “Both the husband and wife must be physically and mentally fit and must not have any of the following conditions … h. Severe diseases that require long-term treatment and that affect life expectancy, including malignant tumors, lupus, nephrosis, epilepsy…”?  What if I began having seizures while we were in process for Callie, would that have changed the outcome, could we have missed our daughter? What if I had begun having seizures while we were in China away from familiar medical care? All of these questions lead me to believe, even more so, that God was holding me in the palm of His hand, protecting me and that Callie was meant to be our daughter and us her parents. And I am so thankful that the timing worked out the way it did.

For now the kids and I will be walking to our destinations around town in the coming months; to the library, to the donut shop, to school, to the park, to shops and stores downtown so please wave hello if you see us.

 

6 Months with Us!

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It has been 6 months since we first held Callie in our arms. Tomorrow will mark 6 months of her officially being a Koehn. We are so thankful that she is in our family. She is a spunky little ball of sunshine. She is full of joy and life and she laughs and giggles A LOT (even when she is being a stinker).

We are continually impressed with how well she has transitioned to life in our family; she has made it very easy on us. She has also made incredible growth in development. She has grown from size 12 month to 2T in 6 months too!

We’ve learned she loves bunnies and kitties. She is an excellent helper and always wants to help me put away laundry, dishes, shoes, coats, etc. and she readily helps me clean up toys. (Which is a HUGE difference from her brothers at this age!) She gets so excited to help me put things away and she is actually a help; she remembers where everything goes in the kitchen and what clothes go in which drawers, the only hinderance to her being when she cannot reach to put it away. She also loves to draw and color. She has learned that books aren’t for throwing and ripping(most of the time) and now will sit and look at pictures; her current favorite is Old MacDonald Had a Farm (the horse page is a hit). She loves to be outside and will run around squealing and giggling or ride along on her little scoot bike while her brothers zoom on their bikes. If she could she would spend much of her time at the park swinging on the swing.

She has powered through a bunch of developmental milestones since she has been home too and now behaves a lot like you’d expect a 2 year old might – temper tantrums and all. I never thought I would actually rejoice when my child started throwing fits about not getting their way; but this is so sweet because it means she is on track and that she is comfortable with us enough to show us how she really feels. She is working as hard as she can to learn to speak (which is pretty difficult when your palate hasn’t been repaired and you have significant hearing loss). She calls me “Mama” along with the sign for “Mom” and she calls Andy “Gaga”(we love that one) with the sign for “Dad”. She also says the boys names; Eli is “E-la” and Luke is the “k” sound.  She has also learned many signs and to recognize even more that we sign to her. We love to watch her run and jump and climb. She readily gives us hugs and kisses too; watching her pucker her lips is down right adorable.

She has attached well to us and us to her as well. I remember well the days when she would easily have gone into anyone’s arms; she waved and smiled at anyone and everyone and she did not have a grasp on the fact that we were mom and dad; but not anymore. Recently while we swung into the post office to pick up some stamps another customer in line was being friendly and talking to Callie; but Callie stayed close and leaned away into my shoulder instead of reaching her arms out to be picked up by this stranger; it was a sweet reminder that she is learning I am her mom.

We are so thankful that God led us to Callie and that he made it clear to us that we were supposed to welcome her into our forever family; one look at the picture below and we knew. We are so thankful that she is our daughter! Happy 6 months home sweet girl!

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The first photo we saw of Callie. August 2015
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Family Day in Xi’an – May 15
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Our beautiful girl waiting to meet us, her forever parents.

 

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Callie at home, now 6 months later. 

 

 

 

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October in Review

We hope you all had a wonderful October. Ours was certainly mixed; we’ve spent much of the month with sickness in our house and we’ve had a few particularly disappointing occurrences. We are looking forward to November and December and celebrating a few exciting things; successful surgery for Callie (we hope!), Thanksgiving, Callie’s 3rd birthday (first with us) and Christmas. We may have to hold of on a few of these celebrations if Callie’s surgery goes forward as scheduled on November 22nd. Initially I was trying to avoid this time of year so that Callie could have a proper 3rd birthday rather than spend it recovering, but things may not work out that way.

Andy took the boys to the Model Railroad Show here in town at the beginning of the month. It is a yearly event that they enjoy attending. Callie and I sat this one out so she could nap and I could enjoy some quiet time.

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Have I ever told you that Andy is a fantastic cook? He makes all of our dinners and he does the grocery shopping. He even brings me flowers every Friday when he comes home from grocery shopping! This first week of October he brought me red roses for my birthday and made me a special dinner of crab cakes, steak (not pictured) and a delicious salad with homemade dressing and homemade hollandaise sauce. It was really amazing and I am kind of wishing for more crab cakes as I type this.

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I am glad we squeezed a little birthday celebrating in because the stomach flu hit our family hard and for the next five days we all took turns being very very ill. First Luke, then me, then Eli and finally Andy. Somehow Callie managed to escape the sickness; something we are so thankful for since she cannot communicate her illness to us well and she is so itty bitty.

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Luke in the basement feeling crummy and watching TV for a distraction from the misery.
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Eli in bed with me (both of us sick) after a long night of being very ill.
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After Eli recovered he drew this picture. That is him, so sad, with big tears coming out his eyes because he was sick.
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Our three cuties! All feeling well!
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Fairy Princess

We took the kids to a pumpkin patch just outside of our town, called Willetta Farms. We had a wonderful time. There was so much for the kids to do! We had fun racing rubber ducks, making our way through the corn maze, picking out pumpkins, exploring the blackberry thicket, eating pumpkin loaf and cider, going on a wagon ride pulled by beautiful draft horses, riding a horse, petting the bunnies, feeding the goats, etc. etc. The kids had a blast and it was so fun to play with them and to see them so happy!

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Willetta Farms

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Luke was brave enough to go on a horse ride!

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Callie loved petting the bunny. When it was time for the bunny to go back into the hutch she threw a little bitty fit.

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Andy and I had a lovely evening out celebrating our friends Erik and Jane. It was such a beautiful wedding and it was fun to be dressed up and out for the evening. We had great company at our table for dinner and it was a lot of fun!

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Andy and I at our friends’ wedding.

My sister Kristin works in town and so she joins us for lunch usually once a week. We love having her company. One day she came dressed in the same exact outfit I had put Callie in that morning; of course we had to take a photo. Now whenever Kristin comes Callie runs to her closet to get her boots out!

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Aunt Kristin and Callie accidentally matching – identically!

Eli has been playing soccer this fall and Andy has been his coach. Their last game had some lousy weather; pouring rain and wind but he still came home smiling!

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Eli after his last soccer game – soaked to the bone!
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This picture is misleading – I did most of the work as Eli and Luke declared the pumpkins to be too slimy.

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Ready to explore space.

Callie has been waiting a long time to have surgery to repair her palate and put tubes in her ears and we were so eager to help her move past this surgery. Unfortunately following the stomach flu we were hit by a bad head cold. Eli first, then Luke and the day of surgery I started feeling terrible. We’ve all had symptoms of varying degrees; Eli has had it the worst with a terrible persistent cough for almost two weeks. Luke had a mild version with a long lasting runny nose but not much coughing and I had a terrible two days of cold symptoms but then recovered with no cough at all.

Callie was not showing any signs of sickness and we’d been working really hard to keep the kids separated, sanitize the house, and wear masks when necessary in order to keep Callie healthy. The day of surgery we drove 3 long hours (traffic was lousy) to Seattle Children’s hospital. Callie woke up and wasn’t showing symptoms of sickness but as the morning went on she started to sound slightly congested. The anesthesiologist thought she might have heard some congestion in her lungs and so she cancelled surgery. It was disappointing to have to cancel but we don’t want Callie to be at risk during surgery or after while she is recovering so we will try again in a month and hope that she is completely healthy then!

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Ready for surgery! Oh wait, no, last minute cancellation!

Callie never really did get very sick, a few sniffles and a rare cough to clear some drainage, but nothing slowing her down. We went for a little bike ride around the neighborhood to enjoy the sunshine and fall color.

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Neighborhood Biking
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Beautiful Fall Color

The kids helped us rake the leaves that had fallen from the large maple tree across the alley. They did such a great job and were so hard working. Then they had a wonderful time jumping, tossing and playing in the leaves.

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Leaf Raking and Jumping!
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Fall Fun!

Another totally awesome surprise this month was that as Luke has become proficient in potty use Callie decided that she is going to potty train too! She is non-verbal but still knows how to get her point across very well and now with some key ASL signs in her vocabulary we can communicate together about going potty.  She is doing so well! Of course she had already realized that I give out M&Ms for motivation (Luke really needed motivation) so she quickly signs “all done”, then “more” “eat” “candy” when she is finished in the bathroom. Smart girl!  Then she runs to the kitchen while squealing with joy!  I could really squeal with the same joy about being done with diapers! Can you imagine???

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Happy Halloween!

On Halloween the kids and I, along with Aunt Sara, went downtown for some trick-or-treating. It was a lot of fun. The kids had a blast and the weather stayed dry. It was really nice to have this option to trick-or-treat at local businesses (all of whom were so friendly and welcoming) during the afternoon hours. This allowed us to stick with our evening routine and have kiddos in bed at their normal time – which is pretty important for their success the following day.

Hope you all had a wonderful October. We are looking forward to a (hopefully) healthier November and praying that Callie will be 100% healthy and ready for surgery on the 22nd. Thanks for following along!

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September in Review

We started the month of September the way many of you did; heading to school. Eli began Kindergarten this year and so far the transition has been about how we’d expected it to be. Eli has been so excited to go to Kindergarten and is ready to be in a classroom environment; although I will admit that full-time kindergarten (all day, every day) does seem like overkill for this age. He is still very positive about school and loves it every day, but as we expected, he is also very worn out. We are thankful for a positive school environment, friendly teachers and staff, welcoming families and that his teachers are a great match for him.

We’ve been walking each day to and from school since we are just a few blocks away and I am very thankful that we have the opportunity to spend this time together. The littles (Luke and Callie) ride in the double stroller and Eli and I walk together; often with one of our neighbors along too!

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Walking to school to meet the teachers on September 1st.

 

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This girl loves to try on everyone’s shoes!
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Sitting on Grandpa Irwin’s Tractor
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Finger Painting

On Labor Day Andy and Eli spent the day together hiking on Sauk Mountain. They had an awesome time together and it was a perfect outing for Eli before he headed off to school for the year. They didn’t have spectacular weather, but were able to see some views when the fog lifted as they were hiking back to the trailhead.

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Eli summiting Sauk Mountain on Labor Day

What it is like to try to take a picture of two toddlers

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Excited for his first day!
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Worn out but happy after a first half day!

We celebrated Luke’s 3rd Birthday at the beginning of September too! Luke was thrilled to see that he had been gifted a pedal tractor for his birthday(the one thing he desperately wanted); now he is busy pretending to farm the back yard. We had a busy week with school beginning, soccer beginning, Luke’s birthday, a wedding rehearsal and Kristin’s wedding all packed into 5 days! The kids were awesome through it all and did much better than we anticipated.

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Wearing the cake boxes as boots. She’s pretty silly.
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Luke is 3!

My sister was married on September 10th in a beautiful outdoor wedding ceremony at Axton Events. It was such a lovely day and a lot of fun celebrating her and Brian. My favorite part was getting to spend time with family that we don’t see often because of distance; I wish we’d had more time together.

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My sister Kristin is wed to Brian.
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Fun to dress up a bit.
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Entertainment to keep them clean.
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The wedding party
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My Dad and Kristin before walking down the aisle
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To Kristin and Brian!

With Eli off at school, Luke and Callie and I headed to Hovander Park for the morning to visit the animals, play on the playground and explore. It was strange to be out and about without Eli, but we had a nice time together.

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Hovander Park

Eli started playing soccer on a Kindergarten League through the YMCA. Andy has been coaching so the two of them have been heading to Bender Fields every Tuesday and Thursday. Luke, Callie and I have been tagging along on evenings when no one needs an early bedtime. I haven’t had a chance to watch too much soccer though since these two cuties can’t seem to stay away from the playground.

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Bender Fields

Callie has been growing rapidly; which is wonderful for her and so important; this means that we got to purchase an entirely new Fall wardrobe! She was quite the shopper; I wish I had it video taped for you to see. She was delighted to run through the aisles squealing with joy and she made it very clear that she did not care for many of the items that I chose for her by the rapid fire shaking of her head, while repeatedly say “me-me-me-me”! (“me” is how she says “no” – translation “no-no-no-no-no!”)

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New Clothes for Fall
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So Big!
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New Coat for Fall!
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So thankful for this guy!

On September 19th, Callie had a very important day of appointments at Seattle Children’s Hospital. We’d been awaiting this series of clinic appointments for several months. We saw a variety of different providers that are on the Cranifacial Team at Children’s and in total spent 5-6 hours in a doctor’s office room at the hospital while the providers all came to us. Callie was awesome but we were all exhausted by the time it was over; and we still had to drive home. During these appointments we were most anxious to see the audiologist so that we could get some answers about Callie’s hearing.

Callie had a hearing test and it immediately became clear that she has a significant amount of fluid built up in her ears. This is very common for children with a cleft palate and we anticipated this may be the case for Callie since we’ve noticed that she doesn’t hear well at all. According to her audiology test, she has severe hearing loss due to the fluid build up. Interestingly, Andy and I both agreed before hand that she seemed to be having a “good” day; we assume that since she had severe hearing loss on a “good” day for her that on a “bad hearing day” she is hearing VERY little.

During her upcoming palate surgery she will have tubes placed in her ears to help the fluid drain properly; which will should allow her to have hearing in the “normal” range. We are so excited for this change for her and it will be life changing; specifically giving her the ability to learn language. This will be a huge change for her and we anticipate there will be a period of adjustment as she becomes accustomed to new noises and sounds and just how ridiculously loud her brothers actually are! Callie is one smart little cookie and she is doing so well considering the challenges she is facing. We are continually blown away with her positive attitude and her ability to learn new things.

During this appointment we also met with the Speech and Language Therapist, the  Craniofacial surgeon, the anesthesia nurse, the Ear Nose and Throat doctor, and a variety of other team members that were present to go over Pre-Operation information for Callie’s upcoming surgery. We were so thankful to get some answers regarding Callie’s hearing and it was great to know that what we were seeing at home matched up with her test results.  It is also awesome that this hearing loss has a fix; what a blessing for her and for us!

Luke also had a doctor’s appointment; this time Andy took him for his three year well visit. We learned that he is huge (we already knew that), and that all is well. He chose these lovely monster teeth as his prize.

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On September 30th, Andy joined Eli’s kindergarten class on a field trip to the apple orchard at Bellewood Acres. They had beautiful weather and a great time!

 

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Eli and Dad at Bellewood Acres

That’s a wrap for us this month. See ya next month – which is ending in no time. :o)

 

 

 

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August in Review

September is more than halfway over already and I haven’t yet posted about August. But the wait is over folks!

I know we were busy; but what were we up to?

We spent much of August enjoying the summer weather; which usually included daily trips to various parks around the county. We also had a variety of medical appointments; well checks, follow ups, dentist appointments, eye appointments and even a brain MRI for myself (thankfully that checked out normal)! We were also preparing for Kristin and Brian’s wedding, buying Callie an entire new wardrobe (this little lady is growing!), getting Eli’s back to school supplies and school clothes, prepping and throwing Kristin a bridal shower, mourning the loss of our beloved pup Lola, enjoying a weekend trip with friends to San Juan Island and trying not to cry about our oldest going off to Kindergarten! It was a month of fun, and to be honest, it also held a fair amount of stress and sadness.

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Callie’s glasses arrived.

Callie’s glasses arrived and we were so excited to pick them up so she could start to enjoy the benefits of better vision. She has been great about keeping them on and keeping them in good shape. We’ve had to make adjustments to them with the help of the optical staff so that they sit better on her nose and don’t slip down while she is playing. I do wish that I was able to communicate with her about her vision so I could know if her prescription was correct or if there was more we could do to assist her in this area. We follow up with her ophthalmologist at the beginning of October.

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Luke watering in our new tree.

After losing our big, old rock pine this June we hemmed and hawed about what to do with our now bare-looking backyard. Ultimately we decided to buy a new tree; this time a baby Northern Red Oak. It should grow quickly in this climate and we are hopeful that someday we will have some great backyard shade again. In the meantime I may need to relocate some very sad shade plants that spent the summer in full sun! We replanted grass where the old tree stood and decided to wait on leveling the lawn until we make some bigger decisions about our home and property.

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Sticky S’mores!

It is no exaggeration when I say that Eli and Luke look forward to the Antique Tractor Show all year long! This year Andy took them to enjoy the fun and Callie and I spent some quality time together. This event is a highlight of the summer for the boys! They’ve learned so much about the different models of tractors, steam engines, threshers, etc.

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Luke and Eli at the highly anticipated Antique Tractor Show
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Watching the saw mill.
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One of our last photos of Lola; with her buddy Wiley.
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Sharing a book
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Beach Day at Semiahmoo
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Beach Day at Semiahmoo
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Beach Day at Semiahmoo

We don’t get out to hike much these days because of the logistics of hiking with three little ones. In reality, Eli is an excellent hiker and he is very capable. Luke is three and doesn’t really want to walk if he doesn’t have to, even on a flat sidewalk. He also gets car sick (so we discovered). And Callie isn’t quite ready to navigate the trails; though I am sure she would attempt it happily. So, I carried Luke and Andy carried Callie and our gear. It was exhausting! Luke weighs 40lbs and climbing hills with him on my back was a huge feat for me. We made it, we enjoyed it (mostly), we avoided major injury and avoided vomit in the car…so I would call it a win! But we might not try it again until next summer. Here’s to hoping Luke starts to like walking again.

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Hiking the Dock Butte Trail
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Callie, Eli, Luke and a very muddy but happy Lola keeping watch on the Dock Butte Trail
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Andy and I and Mt. Baker from the Dock Butte Trail

Each year Andy checks the schedule of the Abbotsford Airshow and drives the boys north to the Canadian border to catch a glimpse of the jets flying. The boys love it! He captured this photo of them watching together.

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Watching the Abbotsford Airshow from afar

Callie had a follow up doctor appointment at UW Medical this month and of course she just charmed everyone’s socks off! Most people just can’t handle her cuteness; personality, pigtails and tiny glasses seem to do the trick! She was an awesome travel buddy; playing happily in her carseat and napping on the way home. She is doing fantastic; making strides in her growth and development! She continually amazes us at her joyful attitude despite the difficulties she’s encountered in life!

Another very popular event around here is the NW Washington Fair. It, too, is highly anticipated. And of course, one of the best parts is that there are so many tractors to look at, sit on and pretend to drive. We also love the animals, ice cream and rides. Eli saved his allowance and birthday money so that he could go on rides this year and Luke joined him for a few. They had a blast! Callie loved to see all the animals and we were busy learning the sign language to teach her the names of each of the animals. She now knows and uses accurately, Dog, Cat, Cow, Horse, Sheep, Pig, Bird and more!

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Checking out the Tractors at the NW Washington Fair
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Callie on a Tractor at the NW Washington Fair
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Petting Zoo at the NW Washington Fair
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Luke and Eli on a roller coaster ride at the NW Washington Fair
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Andy and Eli attended the noon time Demolition Derby at the NW Washington Fair
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Apples are nearly ripe

The Blaine Library hosted a “Roadeo” with all the awesome trucks from Blaine Public Works. The boys and I headed over to check out the backhoes, lift truck, street sweeper, fire truck, ambulance, police car and more! The Sugar Shack Ice Cream Truck even made an appearance so we indulged in some delicious treats.

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Blaine Library for their “Roadeo”
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Blaine Library for the “Roadeo”

On August 20th I hosted a Bridal Shower for my beautiful sister. It was a lovely morning celebrating her upcoming wedding with her friends and family. Somehow after putting it all together, I didn’t manage to get a single picture!

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The next morning, on August 21st, we said goodbye to our sweet dog Lola.  It was an incredibly sad time for us. Lola was ten years old, so we knew that she was reaching an elderly age, but she hadn’t been showing many signs of slowing down. We, of course, had hoped to have many more years with her.

On Saturday evening, the night before Lola died, I encouraged Andy to take Lola with him to our friend’s home and I am so thankful that he did. Andy was walking over to help our friend move some equipment and I thought Lola might enjoy the outing. Andy rode his bike and Lola ran along side him. She loved visiting our friend’s house because they live along the creek where she can swim, and their home backs up to a large field where she can run. She had a great time playing while Andy worked; then rested at his feet on the patio when the work was done. She walked home that night with Andy, he gave her a treat, then we said goodnight and headed upstairs while she remained downstairs. She had a perfect evening and nothing seemed amiss.

When we woke in the morning to get ready for church, Andy headed downstairs before me to let Lola outside to use the restroom. I came downstairs a few minutes later. Andy mentioned that Lola didn’t seem to be feeling well and when I looked in the yard I couldn’t immediately see her so we went to find her. She came to us when we called, but laid down right away and I could tell when I looked at her that she was very sick. Her eyes looked sad and fearful, her tail was down, her ears sagging and she seemed miserable.

I said to Andy, through a broken voice while trying to push away my fear, “I know I tend to exaggerate sometimes but I think she is dying”. We encouraged her to come with us and she was able to walk into the house where, just as she did every day, she went into the kitchen to her food bowl. Only this time she didn’t eat, but plopped down uncomfortably on her tummy, legs splayed to each side. Andy quickly began frying her an egg to see if she’d show any interest and I tried not to panic. After a short debate of whether I should call my Aunt, also Lola’s veterinarian, at 6:50 in the morning on a Sunday, I decided it couldn’t wait. Trying to hold back tears I explained what was happening with Lola. She asked me to look at the color of her gums; they were grey. Things looked grim. My Aunt instructed us to get her to the emergency veterinary clinic as soon as we were able. We hung up.

Andy called the emergency clinic to let them know he’d be on his way and while he was on the phone and I sat with Lola she lost the contents of her stomach, let out a soft sad and sudden yelp, fell to the side and had what we believe was a heart failure. It was unbearable to witness! I comforted her as much as possible, reminding her what a good dog she was and how much we loved her; she hadn’t completely passed yet. Andy carried her to the truck and loaded her into the passenger seat. We said goodbye. Lola didn’t make it to the veterinary clinic but breathed her last breath in the truck with Andy.

It has been lonely without our sweet dog Lola. She was truly the greatest dog and we know that we will likely never have another dog as loyal, friendly, safe and well behaved as her. She leaves a pretty big dog shaped hole in our hearts and its been a huge change in my day to day routine without her by my side. I really realize, now, how much I had relied on her for comfort when I was sad, stressed or worried. I also feel very strange going for walks without her on my left side trotting along next to the stroller. We miss the click clack of her nails on the cement when running up to the house, or the jingle of her collar. My feet are cold when I read books to the kids in the evening because there isn’t a dog laying on them any longer. There isn’t anyone waiting for us when we leave the library, or the bakery, or when the kids are done swinging at the park. We miss the joy that she brought us and we long for her to still be around.

I had really hoped that Lola would live a longer life so that we’d be able to enjoy more years with her but I also selfishly thought, “wouldn’t it be nice if she lived a few more years so that when she did pass we would be in a better place to raise a puppy?”; knowing that it would be difficult to no longer have a dog in the house.  At this point in our life, with a 5 year old, 3 year old and 2 year old we do not have the time or energy to train up a puppy; but someday I do look forward to having another doggie companion. In the meantime we will live with the many many happy memories we had with her.

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Lynden Library with a play Clifford dog Luke named “Lola”

At the end of August we were blessed to take a weekend trip to San Juan Island with our good friends, Zach and Ashia. On our way we stopped in Anacortes to visit my Grandma Faye. It was my grandma and Callie’s first meeting! It was so nice to see her and I really cherish the time we have with her. I have many lovely memories of the days spent visiting her and my Grandpa Lars as a child and I look back fondly on those visits. I do wish I was able to get down to Anacortes to see her more often. The kids were good sports and posed for many pictures!

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The kids with Great Grandma Faye

We loved our time on San Juan Island. It was relaxing and so enjoyable to be with friends!

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South Beach on San Juan Island
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Family Trip with Friends to San Juan Island
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Luke at South Beach
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Eli at South Beach
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Eli and his drawing of a jelly fish

Since we are already more than halfway through September, maybe there will be another blog post in just a few weeks time; no guarantees though. There should be some exclusive information on Eli’s first day of school, my sister Kristin’s wedding (spoiler alert: it was beautiful), and maybe definitely even more medical appointments! Thanks for following along. See ya next month!

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July in Review

Another month is behind us already! I am having a difficult time remembering what happened this month to be honest. Thankfully I have some pictures to help.

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Cultivating a reader
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Fresh handpicked blueberries!

We love to pick berries together as a family each summer. We get enough to munch on and some to freeze for the winter. Some of the prices at the local berry fields are fantastic. With Callie on my back and the boys “helping” us pick we were able to go a few times this year, resulting in plenty for blueberry muffins, pancakes, scones and smoothies this year. Eli and Luke stayed up a bit later and had some S’mores as a treat. Eli then camped with Dad in the backyard and Luke got to have some special time with Mom and sleep upstairs. Luke is loving having  a new sister most of the time, but it has been a big transition for him and he was in need of some special attention.

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S’mores!
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Bonfire!
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Campout with Dad
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Swinging in style.
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Rocket Donuts for a treat
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Rocket donuts for a treat
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Sharing her donut with me.
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Biking through the trails at Berthusen
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Walking the trails in the rain
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Homemade blueberry scones
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Happy 4th of July!

Eli turned 5 this July and he asked to spend a day at the Everett Children’s Museum instead of having a party. We had a great time as a family. The kids loved it. By far their favorite area was the water play area.

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Celebrating Eli’s 5th Birthday at the Everett Children’s Museum
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Celebrating Eli’s 5th Birthday at La Fiamma for Dinner
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Celebrating 10 years of Marriage at Drizzle
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Luke “driving” a truck at the Car Show during the Raspberry Festival
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Callie posing for a picture post church

We met some friends at the beach to play on a beautiful summer day this month. The weather was perfect and the kids LOVED looking under rocks for small crab, sand dollars, and other creatures. It was a lovely day.

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Beach Day
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At Semiahmoo Beach
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Eli at the dentist for a check up

Callie didn’t fall asleep at nap one day this month and so she fell asleep hard at bedtime. Isn’t she so cute? You’ll notice that I have to put her sleep sack on backwards, otherwise she will undress herself as much as possible. She can actually unzip her sleep sack and get her feet out even with the zipper backwards.

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Sleepy girl
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Two cute boys with great big imaginations

This month we took Callie to a pediatric eye doctor to have an eye exam. Her UW Medicine Pediatrician recommended we do so. Going into the appointment I imagined they would find her eye sight to be normal and healthy, but that wasn’t the case at all.  Now that I am more educated on the subject and know what signs to look for it doesn’t surprise me one bit that she cannot see well and it explains many things. Her glasses are being ordered and we hope they will arrive next week. She will need to wear them 100% of the time and we are hopeful that they will help her see a great deal better. I have posted a picture from the internet below that attempts to show what her vision may be like without glasses based on her prescription. It probably isn’t totally accurate but it helps me to have a better idea of what she is facing so that I can parent her better.

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Trying on the Mr. Potato Head toy glasses.
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Safety goggles for fun!

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Callie’s left eye has worse vision than her right eye, but as you can see both aren’t great. Without a prescription you or I would see what is shown to the right (Left and Right Eye with good vision); Callie would see something similar to what is on the left (Left and Right Eye). It is easier for her to see things at a distance (20/200) but very difficult for her to see things at a close range (20/20).

Finding out that Callie has trouble seeing was not what I expected and it was hard for me to hear; not simply because it was unexpected but because I feel so sad that she has to deal with one more thing. She has been through SOOO much in her short life so far and I feel sad that she has one more challenge. Ultimately I am incredibly thankful that there are ways we can help her with her vision and I am glad that we will be able to walk through all these challenges with her one step at at time

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Playdoh
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Twinning with Aunt Kristin
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Ice cream with Dad

We are looking forward to the month of August. The Antique Tractor Show and the NW Washington Fair are big highlights for the kids, so they excitedly look forward to this time of year. We’ve had a lot of medical appointments for everyone lately and we have many more to come so we are going to work diligently to sprinkle in some intentional family fun too this month; especially because Eli begins school this Fall!! Have a wonderful August.

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10th Wedding Anniversary

 

Andy and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary this past week. It has been a wonderful 10 years and I am so thankful that he is my husband. It is a great feeling to be married to your best friend and Andy is just that. He is an incredible husband and father.

Andy and I have known each other for a long time; since we were kids. I still remember the first time that I ever saw him – though I don’t remember it because of romantic reasons at all, since I was maybe 10 years old. I was visiting Central Elementary School to watch their yearly musical production. My neighbor was giving me a tour of the school and while we stood at the entrance to the library she pointed out some of her friends in the distance; one of them was Andy. He was in the library with some other cast members loudly goofing around. I can still picture it in my minds eye.

A few years later my family started attending the same church that Andy and his family attended. And while I still didn’t get to know Andy well at this point, my older brother Adam and him became good friends. Andy would spend time at our house often and quite frankly I couldn’t stand it. They were in middle school and early high school at this point and since I was the younger (likely annoying) sibling I was often teased and picked on.

Fast forward another few years; I am now 16 and Andy is nearly 18. We are both in high school youth group together and attend Ferndale High School together as well. My brother Adam is now off to college. I am noticing that Andy is funny, smart, hard working and a great friend. We have a lot of fun together and even though I am not supposed to be dating anyone I ask if I can go to grub tolo with Andy; my parents say, “With Andy? Of course!” or something along those lines. We went to the dance together; didn’t dance much – skipped out for some Ben and Jerry’s and drove around to look at houses before heading back to my house! (I really like going for drives to look at houses; still to this day) And the rest is history.

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Our first official date.
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Andy graduates. June 2002
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Jess graduates. June 2004

Of course Andy still went away to Seattle University for 4 years of college before we were married and I had two years at Western under my belt by then as well.

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Lake Pearrygin Youth Group Camping Trip. Summer 2002

I am so thankful for Andy every single day. I know that when I was 16 I was in love with him and that I dreamed about what our life would be like together; and I feel like I lucked out big time with this man! He is unbelievable to do life with and he makes my days so much easier. He is still so smart and so hardworking. He makes his family his number one priority every single day. He provides well for us. He sacrifices daily and never turns his nose up at a chore. Did you know he cooks dinner every night (he’s an amazing cook) and grocery shops each week and that is just the start of all that he does around here?!! He is genuinely concerned about my well being, my happiness and my struggles. He listens to me and cares for me. And he loves the Lord.

Of course we drive each other nuts sometimes and we get on each other’s nerves, but it never lasts long because he knows exactly how to make me laugh and how to talk it through with me. And we disagree about things from time to time, but he is easy to communicate with because he is patient and kind. He treats me as his partner in life and I love him for that. I may still not be able to tell when he is being sarcastic or serious; but that usually works to his advantage (“No, really, honestly…I was just kidding, I was just being sarcastic”). Uh huh..sure.

I love him so much and I am so thankful that he has been by my side through all of it; the good, the bad and the ugly.

Right now our life is busy with little kids and work and we don’t have as much time for one another in the same ways as we used to. We miss getting out to play, explore, hike, bike, and eat out together as much as we used to, so we continue to remind ourselves that this is a season; that there will be more time for that with our family as the kids grow a bit older and everyone settles into this new family that we’ve God’s created. And that someday our kids will be out of the house and how weird will that be, and surely we will miss it!? We are looking forward to the next 10 years of our life together, and the next 20 and 30 and 40 and so on.

I had a lot of fun and some sorrow too as I looked back on photos of our life together so far. We have many pictures of the fun we had together before kids and precious moments with our children too. There were lots of selfies too; who knew we were so hip back in the day before smart phones?

Here is a glimpse at just a few of the memories we’ve made in life together so far.

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Hiking the Scott Paul Trail
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Wedding Day July 2006

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 Tofino, BC for our Honeymoon

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Our only piece of furniture when we got married!
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Rocky and Gingersnap
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I tried snowboarding. Guess how many times I’ve been since? (Hint: ZERO)
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Backpacking the Washington Coast
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Climbing the Great Wall in 2008
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Snowshoeing (it is slower than snowboarding)
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Purchased our Home. Summer 2009

Yellowstone National Park. Summer 2009

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Biked across the Golden Gate Bridge. Summer 2009
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Hugged a Tree in Redwood National Forest. Summer 2009
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Visited Banff. Summer 2010
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Welcomed Eli into our Family. Summer 2011
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Welcomed Luke into our Family. Summer 2013
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Eli and Luke together at home.
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Luke and Momma
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Stop in Nehalem on our way to Winthrop to Camp

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Andy and Lola
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The first photo we received of Callie. In our hearts we knew she was meant to be in our family. August 2015

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In China to bring home Callie. May 2016

 

 

 

 

 

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Looking through these photos it is so easy to see that we are immensely blessed in this life together! Thanks for following along.