Wind in our hair and screams of delight but also unpredictable turns and unknown outcomes. We are a family of six; Dave, Susie, Nate, Jake, Sam, and Bella.
God has been faithful in our marriage and through the birth and blessings of our boys.
God has been faithful during our adoption journey and united Bella with us in May of 2008. We were privileged to visit with Bella's birth mother; therefore, Bella's family in Guatemala will always be dear to our hearts.
On October 16, 2008, Bella was diagnosed with ALL Leukemia. We are now battling the disease with 2 years and 3 months of treatment. We believe God will continue to be faithful!
Our family is committed to living life to the fullest...even on the hard days. Thank you for checking in and journeying with us!
We had Christmas at my parents tonight, and as you can see, Grandma came through with yet another year of home made jammies for all 13 grandchildren! She tells us this was the last year, I'm hoping it not so, but I certainly can appreciate the daunting task of making that many sleeves.
Bella continues to do well. She had chemo this past week and started her monthly steroids as well. They started her on a small dose of prozac to try and counter act some of the unpleasant personality side effects of steroids, and its working! Bella's personality has really bloomed in the last 2 months. She is very social, say's hi to everybody and we are amazed by her language. She uses complete sentences, uses spanish words often, can count to 10 in both spanish and english, say's her abc's and can completely communicate with us verbally. She loves to spin like a ballerina, sing songs, play her brothers electric guitar and drums, still totally love's Dora and Minnie Mouse and is a little unsure about Santa but loves that he is bringing presents....preferably a "new baby doll" and a "big Dora Kitchen". Bella is doing so well that we often forget that we have monthly treatments of chemo. We are now 1 year away from completing her 2 yr. 3 month treatment plan.
The boys are great, very busy, seems that Bella and I spend the majority of our day driving them around. I have told them at this point, when I pull up to their stop, they need to "tuck and roll" as I need to get to the next drop off. There adoration for Bella and hers for them lights up my heart. They never complain when asked to watch her which is daily and they often argue over who gets to play with her.
Merry Christmas to all, may each of you know the power in the eternal gift that was given to you so many years ago in Christ.
So the first picture is my Nikola, technically my nephew, but when get's home next week, he is all mine! Is he not the cutest little thing? I kid you not, I have the most beautiful 9 nieces and nephews in the world. Everyone of them gorgeous and uniquely perfect, I just love them.
Well, we had a bit of a rough week with Bella's chemo. A couple weeks ago when Bella had a flu bug, she had to have her blood drawn by a different nurse and it was not a happy experience for her. Bella is a child that requires earned trust. So this past week on Monday when they tried to access a vein, she was not thrilled even though it was her regular nurse. Her veins were week from the the flu bug and on top of that, she worked her self up in to a terrible fearful fit. So after 5 poke efforts, they stopped and rescheduled us to come back Thursday. We did, and went through the same thing again, only this time, after 4 pokes, her nurse threw everything done and said "that's it, were done, were putting in a port". Nurse Mary was broken hearted as Nurse John and they quickly made the executive decision that Bella needs a port. They love her dearly and they just don't want to see her suffer needlessly and either do we. So Tuesday afternoon Bella will have minor surgery to have an internal port installed in her chest that will allow the nurses and doctors easy access and no pain for Bella. So, with the benefits of no chemo and no steroids this week, I took Bella took the park and we had a great time playing together on the slides and swings in the 60 degree sunshine. God as always made good of an ugly situation and we have wasted no time enjoying our steroid free princess.
Our oldest Nate is in his high school musical "Cinderella", last night was opening night. We took Bella along and she really did enjoy it, however, every time the lights went out for a scene change she would yell "all done" and you could hear the entire auditorium chuckling. Every time Nate was on stage she would yell "See Nate, See Nate!". Sadly, he did not hear any of it.
We are absolutely loving this Indian Summer week we are having in November, so completely out of the ordinary. The heat has been off and the doors and windows have been open. We took the liberty to put up the Christmas lights as all to soon, the snow flakes will be flying, but oh how we love the snow.
Have a blessed week, again, we so appreciate all the prayers and warm thoughts. God is so faithful and we receive Bella's healing every day!
I thought I should post the remainder of the Halloween pictures. These photos are from Halloween. We had such a great day, we headed over to My Aunt Susie's in the morning and the kids got to see their Great Grandma and several of their second cousins (this is normal, we are so blessed to have this). We then had lunch and naps, visited with Grandparents and then headed over to my brothers for dinner and trick or treat with the cousins. At the end of the night, we piled the kids in one room with the tv, put the babies in bed and left Jake in charge and the four of us did a very amateur make up job, put on our Kiss Costumes and headed out to an adult neighborhood party. Dave and I have been married 18 years and we have dressed up for every Halloween, this years costumes were are absolute favorite. So a good late time was had by all.
Bella is just the most absolutely sweet little girl. She always has been, but with all her talking, she just gets sweeter. I love putting her to bed, she loves to be rocked like a baby and tells me "Night Mommy (not Mama but Mommy, so love that), I love you Mommy", and she say's it with a soft sweet voice. It makes it really hard to leave the room. When referring to herself she say's I and me every time, that amazes me, she is only 2, my boys never did that at this age. She can repeat almost any word you say to her, at least she always tries. She sings her abc's, twinkle twinkle little star, Barnie song (thanks Malae) and its bitsy spider. If you ask her who is in her family, she recites all our names including the dog and will do the same with all of her 12 cousins! Chemo has not stopped this child's development what so ever!
Monday is her once a month intervenious chemo and 5 days of steroids. The good news is, we are closer to being done with treatment. December 22, 2010 is her cutoff day for chemo. We have just a little over a year left and already 1 full year behind us. The majority of ALL Leukemia patients treatment is 2 years 3 months for girls and 3 years for boys. So much victory in such a short time. All Glory to God..."His living Word is alive and active", all we have had to do is speak it and believe it, regardless of current circumstance.
Lastly, my sweet husbands birthday was on Halloween, I have always said, "he's my treat not my trick".
This weekend we had our Annual Halloween Party, only this time, we had a new twist by conducting an adult scavenger hunt called a Road Rally. We had 10 teams made up of 4-5 people, all were in costume and we ended the 3 hour excursion with a celebration victory party complete with food, drinks, dj and dancing. What a great night and great costumes. Can you guess my costume? Bella loved wearing her Daddy's boots the day before the party.
The boys all had a fever and cold last week, the fever only last 24 hours and they only missed one day of school. Bella has had a cold and fever since Friday night, but her spirits are overall good and she is still eating an drinking well, so that doctor believes it is symptoms of one of the bugs going around and we are home.
I completed my first 10k Saturday morning and I was really happy with my results...I cant even believe sometimes that I can run 6 miles without stopping. 15k is my next goal, will I get ambitious enough for a 25k? It's going to require a warm sunny place to do that.
Kids are excited for Halloween this week, focus is all on them now.
I just had to quick post these two pics of Bella. Loving LIFE! We had a wonderful family day this past Sunday with the six of us at the apple orchard. Bella was completely in love with the pony's and delighted to ride them. I just love this little girls smile and joy.
Well, as you can see Halloween is in full force at our house! This is Jake's mask for his halloween costume, its almost as big as Bella! Bella had chemo and spinal tap today, she's doing great...steroids start tomorrow for 5 days, believing her personality will not be altered. All is well, were busy with football, Theatre and planning for our first Halloween Road Rally next weekend. Bella is talking up a storm, in fact, when in her own surroundings, she does not stop. Her personal favorite "please......" and ending it with Mama, Dada, etc. Makes it real hard to not give in. She loves playing with her dolls, doll house, Dora characters and playing "work" with Mommy's pens and paper. I reached my goal of running 6 miles and will be running a 10k next Saturday morning before our party. Believing all is gloriously wonderful in Him for all of you. Blessings!
This the newest member to my family, not only is He the 13th grandchild, but he was also the tie breaker! His name is Nikola Peter and he is PERFECT in every way. This is my sister Mary and her husband Dejan first baby. They live 15 hours away...its so hard not to be with them and too hold this precious bundle. Bella calls him "Nee-toe".
We have been so blessed with emails and calls of people who want to help us through this time of treatment for our daughter. Per suggestion of our social worker and friend, we are posting here what we feel will be most beneficial to our family at this time. Although the help is easy to give, its hard to receive, but we have been told by medical professionals an social workers that we will need it. Your love and support mean so very much to us, thank you.
1. Prayer, please see "Pray with Us" 2. Meals 3. Car Pooling from school 4. Continued emails and blog posts with encouraging words. (This means more to us than you can possibly know.) 5. Loving on our boys, this will be a time of sacrifice for them. 6. Child Care 7. GIVE BLOOD! Where ever you live, please give blood in honor of Bella. Save a life!
We want to personally recognize and thank all of you who have graciously helped us in one way or another. Whether its through meals, house cleaning, driving, errands, donations, gifts, etc. We so appreciate you and recognize the blessing from God in all of you. Every moment of every day we are privileged to see the face of Jesus in all of you. From our home to yours, thank you and "May God bless you and hold you in the palm of His hand." Please note, your emails and posts are greatly appreciated and needed just as much as any monetary blessing, please continue to do so as they lift us up daily.
The Stanley Family (Gretchen and Gillibean) Candy and Kya Blue Michelle and Abby Riggs Deb Vangorder All God's Children International http://www.allgodschildren.org/ Kentwood Community Church Kitty and Larry Jerard The VanderZwaag Family The Angerbauer Family The Infante Family Annie Bulthuis The Edwards Family The Ambrose Family The Claeys Family The Fabro Family The DeMarchis Family Peter Harmon Joe and Erin Harmon Mary and Dejan Vukic Keith and Daphne Edwards Susie Harmon Betty Harmon Courtney and Stella Sue Marvin Beth Hartlien Pam Sult Keller Williams Realty Grand Rapids KW Cares Grand Rapids Sue and Rob Harkema and Family Jenifer and Brian VanZanten and Family Action Chemical of Grand Rapids Celebration Entertainment-Brad Eley Trish Borgdorf-http://www.vangels.com/ John and Michelle Lawrence Larry and Kitty Girard Stacy and Bella Gail and Johanna Pam and Rick Foster Amy, Fred and Grace Nagel John and Tiffny Harmon Tom and Sandra Harmon Nancy and Don Harmon Ray and Linda Ferrick Helen Devos Childrens Hospital Dr. Deanna Mitchell Dr. Ron Hoffman Jenifer Gerwig and Family Jane and David Lautenbach Greg and Shannon Ferrick Karen and Chad Janney Cheri, Donnie and Malaena Harris
Our Home Address
Many of you have asked for our home address, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like this information. Again, we appreciate all the support and prayers. It has meant more to us than we are even able to put in to words.
Our Praise from Psalm 103
With all my heart, we Praise the Lord, And with all that we are, we Praise His Holy Name. With all our heart, we Praise the Lord, and we will never forget how kind he has been. His kindness and love are a crown on our heads. Each day that we live, He provides for our needs and gives us the strength of a young eagle. For all who are mistreated, the Lord brings justice. You oh Lord are merciful, kind and patient, your love never fails. How Great is our God! You are kind to all who worship you, You keep your promises to those who faithfully obey you All of you who serve and obey God, come and Praise your Lord! With all our hearts, We PRAISE the Lord!