Saturday, December 20, 2014

Generations ~ A picture from the past...

A picture of FIVE generations from 90 years ago.

This picture was taken by the newspaper company and distributed throughout parts of Holland.

It read: "In the community of Zwaagwesteinde is a family where five generations are all present. This is really special."

*OLDEST - Grietje Klaver 1830-1927
*Tryntje VanderLand - 1852-1935
*Grietje deJong - 1875-1956
*Jacoba Postma - 1902-1962
*Grietje Spoelstra  - December 21, 1924 - to present

The baby in this picture, Grietje Spoelstra, is turning 90 tomorrow!

While I grew up this picture was framed at my grandparents home; the woman holding the baby was my great-grandmother. This picture of five generations is indeed special!

Thursday, December 4, 2014


This devotional has been written for the whole family to read together and grow in grace. Topics such as loneliness, failure, jealousy are addressed. We have finished reading it as a family and we highly recommend it. 

A great book using the alphabet to learn different verses from the Psalms. A story, questions, and a Bible verse goes along with each letter.

I ordered this book for our church library but after reading a few pages knew this book is one that should be owned as well. The author is loving, kind, and yet challenging writing about contentment in our relationships, circumstances, roles, appearance, and gifts. There is a twelve week study guide included with the book. I am not sure how the questions are but the book is an excellent read.

We are reading through this book during the weekends as a family. Bible stories are told with God's plan of redemption emphasized. 

After reading Kristen Welch's blog I was curious what her book would be like. I find her writing slightly dramatized but this was not the case in her book. She writes of their hard times in the early years of marriage, bringing up children, their family's desire to open up a pregnancy center in Kenya and how God put it all together.

This book had over 6,000 excellent reviews on amazon and it deserved every one. Exceptionally written, the author has woven stories of nine teenage American boys during the Great depression and their hard work to make the unthinkable happen. I had no idea that I would be interested in the sport of rowing but somehow the author captivates you, and before you know it, you find yourself cheering out loud for these boys! The reader is given pictures of what life was like during the Great Depression Era, and Germany leading up to World War II.  Both Adam and I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Back from another trip to the ER....

Early this afternoon Caleb jumped off the couch and got a nose bleed. Tyler wanted to act out what Caleb did and jumped hard onto the ground, causing his teeth to go through his tongue. Two crying boys and an incredible amount of blood. I packed Tyler up and off we went to the local ER - AGAIN.
The same nurse that assessed and helped with Caleb a few days ago, took care of Tyler. First we had to explain how the other scrapes and bruises happened to his face and then sat in the ER for 4 long hours. (Sitting there for that long gives you different ideas on how to revamp that ER and get the line of patients flying through there - sitting there with children is a trying experience!) 
Finally we were able to see a doctor and again went over the bumps and scrapes on Tyler's face. After that was settled he examined Tyler. Apparently the tongue can bleed for 4 hours straight. Thankfully  the cut was high enough that he didn't need stitches - something that we wanted to avoid. Tyler handled the experience like a pro and I hope to avoid the ER for a long, long time.

The Trouble Maker's Mission

*Stitches and Scrapes; bumps and bruises. The ER doctor wanted to teach me the signs and symptoms of concussions. I know them all...- God had prepared me for the life of five boys by leading me to be a nurse before becoming a mother.

**Every morning, these two little guys wake up raring to go. Together, they have a quick planning session and then happily perform their mission. That is to Search, Destroy, and Conquer and make as much mess as they can in a short time. Born without fear, these two boys leap from furniture to furniture (why use the floor?), move randomly from room to room and destroy. When they are not destroying they are hungry.
***A few weeks ago I told my sister that Caleb has figured out grandpa and grandma live down the road. I was relieved it was almost winter because that would deter him from taking off to their home. Fast forward a few hours later and Tyler runs into the house, "Caleb is on the road!, Caleb is on the road!" Sure enough, he was half way to grandpa and grandma's home moving at a quick clip-(he is not two years old yet). The brother who was supposed to be watching him told me repeatedly Caleb had been right beside him. Caleb is our quickest and fastest toddler yet. 
 Less than a week later, someone else who was on "Caleb watch", (this time the other adult in our home), noticed two cars stopped on the road. He ran to the road and saw Caleb booting it to the grandparents home; totally undeterred by the two strange cars. Caleb was brought inside and put into his crib for some disciplining. I expected to hear screaming and a loud commotion: instead it was strangely quiet. Slowly opening his bedroom door I was surprised to see Tyler in the crib with Caleb. He was rubbing Caleb's back and talking in a soothing voice. I think I heard. "I feel your pain brother. I have escaped many times to grandpa and grandma's but dad and mom always bring me back home!"

****During the past 11 years I have had 4 combinations of boys here at home with me. These last two have been the busiest and I think it is because there is also school work involved with the older three. When Tyler started preschool for three afternoons a week, I had great plans to work on projects and stay ahead of household duties. (Instead, I usually take a nap trying to recharge!) It has been good though. I have learned that these years are fleeting and to enjoy their funny dress- ups, lopsided forts, and hilarious questions.

 *****The combinations of boys at home with me over the years...
Nate & Liam

Liam & Andrew  

Andrew & Tyler


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

60 years ago!

It was a late Wednesday evening when 28 year old Jeltje felt her first labour pains. Throughout that night she tried to rest and prepare for the arrival of a new baby. With the horrid war behind them, and Henk's two years of service for the Dutch Navy in Indonesia completed, they were looking forward to this new stage of their lives. They had been married for two years and were excited to start a family.
  Henk worked in a warehouse store on 11 Pelsterstraat in Groningen and they lived in a tiny apartment on the store's third floor. The store owner lived on the second floor and together they shared a small bathroom on the main level. Living conditions were tight but Henk and Jeltje were thankful they could find accommodations.
Early in the morning on November 11, 1954, Jeltje woke her husband up and told him it was time to call a taxi and make their way to the clinic. Her discomfort was increasing and her labour pains were longer and harder. The women's clinic was south of their apartment- just a few kilometers away.
A nurse at the clinic helped Jeltje settle into her room and then assessed her. This was true labour and she hoped the baby would make his or her appearance by supper time. 
A few hours later, at 12:00pm Henk and Jeltje became parents . They were delighted to meet their sweet little baby. A baby boy.
However, Jeltje continued to feel intense pain and experience strong contractions. The nurse quickly assessed her again and announced that another baby was on its way! What a shock! What a surprise! They'd never considered the possibility of twins. The nurse told Jeltje to try to relax while a specialist was called in. At 12:20 another red-faced baby boy was born. Breeched.
Overwhelmed and shocked, Henk and Jeltje marveled at their babies. Their family had just doubled! As Jeltje lay in her hospital bed, cradling a baby, Henk stood beside her holding the other baby and they talked about their surprise and imagined what reaction their family and friends would have when they learned of this exciting news. They talked about buying another crib, a bigger baby buggy, another set of diapers. The money they had carefully saved during the pregnancy was suddenly gobbled up! They talked about a new baby boy name. During the pregnancy they had chosen a boy's name and decided their little boy would be named after Henk's father and his youngest brother. Taeke Johan. 
Now Henk and Jeltje decided the second baby would be called Jilt Gerard, named after Jeltje's father and her youngest brother.
Henk left Jeltje's bedside in search of a phone to share their wonderful news. He was able to reach his sister who was working near by.She refused to believe they had twins and Henk had to work hard to convince her. His sister took the train to their parents'  home to tell them they were grandparents again. Times two! 
Jeltje's parents had recently immigrated to Canada where they lived with their daughter, son-in-law, grandson, and three teenaged children in a small two bedroom home. They did not own a phone but Henk managed to call their neighbour who was willing to pass along their message. When Jeltje's family found out twins were born, there was so much upheaval that their dinner burned on the stove.
A normal hospital stay during those times was eight days, but because Jeltje  had twins she stayed there for ten days. Friends and family took the train to visit them and Henk would ride his bike to visit in the evenings.
Soon their tiny apartment became even fuller with baby diapers hanging across the living room in front of the coal stove, cradles and a wooden playpen. 

Ted is on the left and Garry on the right. The photographer blew this picture up and hung it on his store front window. My grandma always said she put the boys in suspenders so she could grab them quicker if they would run in different directions.

Ted & Garry were baptized on December 26 in the Christian Reformed Church of Groningen

Sitting with their great -grandmother.

Living in apartment was challenging without a yard to play in. Jeltje would pack the twins in a buggy and walk around their town, often stopping at a near by park.

The twins started to walk at ten months.

Henk would take the twins on Saturday afternoons giving Jeltje a break.

And I think Ted is on the left of this picture and Garry is on the right, but I am not sure!

~A special happy 60th birthday uncle Ted and Dad!~

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Thanksgiving Day

Thanksgiving day 
~A wonderful get together with the extended family~

It really is a blessing to have everyone come together. For me the highlight was watching my grandparents interact with their grandchildren and great-grandchildren. You could see that they loved, appreciated, and were very thankful that they could watch everyone enjoying one another.

                                                  My grandpa just turned 90! When he is in a middle of a good laugh he claps his hand together to create a joyful, contagious effect.


Friday, October 3, 2014

our journey through speech delays

~working with the speech therapist~

When our little guy turned three, his gibber gabbish talking was no longer cute. I tried to be the laid back parent and echoed others, "when he starts talking, it will be in complete sentences." 
But on the week that he turned three, it was time to make a trip to the doctors. The family doctor immediately recommend a visit to a hearing specialist and we were horrified to learn that our three year old had major hearing loss. When we were speaking- to him it sounded like we were talking under water. No wonder he wasn't speaking!
 A few weeks later tubes were put into his ears and after more testing we learned that he could hear perfectly well. We were thankful and hoped that this would be an end to his speech delay and help solve discipline problems. After all, before when we called his name and he would continue to walk away from us; it was because he couldn't hear us. Now we were sure when we called his name, he would instantly obey and come running...not so!

~in the recovery room after surgery~

After the surgery we expected great results and waited for the full sentences to tumble out of his mouth. Instead we waited and waited. The gibber gabbish continued along with pointing, yelling, and temper tantrums. He knew what he wanted but could not tell us. Our family was continually frustrated and we were loosing patience with the time that it took to guess what he wanted. 
We were able to get an assessment with a speech therapist and she relayed her concern with his speech delays. I told her that we were reaching the end of our rope, this was affecting the whole family and we would do anything to take care of this. I told her about our three year old's control issues and the screaming fits for silly things like cutting a piece of bread one way instead of another way. The speech therapist explained when a child cannot express himself he feels like he is spinning out of control. So when there is something he can control he will put all of his energy and effort into getting his way. This was exactly what we were experiencing at home.
 The waiting list to get into speech therapy was many months long. I called them repeatedly and told them that I felt like I was living with "curious George" listening to a lot of "ouh, ouh,- aah aahs." He was also getting into the same amount of trouble as curious George. His speech delay intertwined itself in every area of life. How do you toilet train when they can't tell you that they need to go to the bathroom?
After seven months on the waiting list we were able to have our first speech appointment. Our little guy would not let go of my leg when we reached the room and refused to look at the therapist. Week after week she coaxed and encouraged until she had his full attention. First we worked on the words that ended with "t." Hat, coat, mitt, goat, etc. Progress was slow and I was impatient wondering if this would ever come together.
As we headed into summer (almost a year later from when we saw our family doctor) I was able to talk to a neurodevelopment instructor. She told me that speech therapy had its place but the foundation of the problem needed to be addressed. She recommend taking him off of milk products and experimenting with that. She also recommended doing a therapy called "Auditory Integration Training" (AIT). Another name is "Filtered Sound Training" (FST).
AIT is meant to improve auditory discrimination and sound sensitivity. It improves language comprehension, speech, academic performance, and socialization skills. AIT helps children or adults who have ADD, auditory processing disorders, autism, depression, dyslexia, learning difficulties, and speech and language delay.
The instructor came to our home and taught me how to use the equipment. During the last two weeks of the summer break our now four year old would have to sit still with me for a half hour in the morning and a half hour in the afternoon while he listened to headphones. We broke every rule there was in order to get him to sit still during therapy. He ate, read, played, walked around, and I despaired thinking that this was time and money wasted. 

In the beginning of September we enrolled him into a Christian preschool for three afternoons a week. The speech therapist highly recommended this and it has turned out to be a good decision. He loves it there.

 God has answered our prayers.
 During the past month and a half everything has come together and we are able to understand our four year old. I am no longer translating to others what he is trying to say. We are having full conversations. He is asking the funniest questions and tries to absorb the happenings around him. He prays out loud and yesterday he threw his arms around me and told me that he loved me. What a gift! What relief! We are so thankful! 
Speech therapy may be part of his life for the next few years until he is totally caught up, but for now we will take our gabbing four year old. Pent up words are spilling out of him.

Working with the speech therapist.

It can be tiring!

For those who are reading this post and have the same struggles, I feel for you. I now realize that God was revealing my heart when I showed my impatience and frustrations.
 Looking back, I wish that I had made this more of a prayer priority instead of  my cries for help. I wish that I had totally believed that God cares for all areas of our life, even when we are struggling with a non-speaking three year old. Nothing is too small for Him. Not even speech delay. We are so thankful and stand amazed!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

up north - August

In August we were able to go back up north for a week and enjoy some relaxing times with family and friends. It was a week of extremes. Extreme laughter, extreme bonding, extreme sun, extreme rain and wind, extreme chill. About half way through the week I realized I sorely miscalculated the weather. We needed less sunscreen, sunglasses, bathing suits; and more raincoats, umbrellas, pants, sweaters and coats. BUT we still enjoyed the week and had fun inventing nature/photo scavenger hunts and having warm conversations by the wood stoves.

At the end of the week we gave the teenagers a round of applause. They were fantastic with the children; playing, reading, and including them with everything. What great examples they are and we really appreciated their selflessness.

Josh and Mark kept us entertained with their homemade water skies duct taped to rubber boots!

We haven't had a picture of the cousins and family for a long time. All of these boys!!! and Olivia
It is just astounding.

My parents took the family out for icecream and we celebrated their 37th wedding anniversary with them. We love how well they grandparent all of these boys (considering they only had daughters). They have embraced the rowdiness and at times even encouraged it. They understand how boys think and act and love them for it. I think that their example of has helped my sisters and I understand the world of boys. Olivia handles herself well with all of her boy cousins and never complains.

Intense games of kick-the can and relay races.

It is great fun to see your aunts every day for a week. When I come home I go through a "aunt" withdrawal.

Off for a time of fishing and talking.