Thursday, December 20, 2012

Through the eyes, and mouth, of a child

"My country is better than your country because we don't have snow and we can walk barefoot.  I'm from Africa right?"  from the mouth of a certain five year old Ethiopian.

Thanksgiving was four years in America for Sabrina.  Most of you know that four of us made the trip to Ethiopia this summer.  I LOVE that she feels like she is from Africa.  It makes me smile,  and feel like I have done something right in remembering the kid's other home.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Merry Christmas update

Santa and I are officially done Christmas shopping!  Can I just say...I love Christmas!  Everything about it.  I love that God sent Jesus to save us.  Boy do I need saving, every day.  And I love the music and the shopping and I LOVE my tree.  I have ornaments from when I was a child and ornaments I have bought each year for the kids.  Putting up my tree is like a walk down memory lane.

This year Christmas has been a welcome distraction to the everyday-ness of Lyme's.  Most days Noelle and I drive around and run a few Christmas errands.  Sometimes she stays in the car, sometimes we use the wheelchair but most days lately she is able to walk!  She has really struggled with mood lately but the last few days have been great!!  We are not sure of the reason for the improvement but we are so thankful.  We both agree that the physical issues are much easier to deal with than the emotional ones.

I hope each one of you is able to see the Joy of Noel.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Chronic Illness

I don't ever know what to post.  I don't want to make Noelle uncomfortable with what I share with the world.  This battle sucks.  Depression has hit very hard lately.  Please pray for my little girl.  That she will see a light, The Light.  That she will find motivation to face each day. Thank you.

Thursday, November 1, 2012


Batgirl and supergirl!
AKA Aerz and Sabrina
at a gymnastics Halloween party.

Halloween night we became Halloween Barbie!
Not sure if you can read the pumpkin to Sabrina's right.
It says Lymes and has a tick,
guess who carved that?

The jack-o-lantern with the earrings was my creation;)
Noelle and Teme hit a zombie party at church.
Noelle's makeup was killer!

The back of her wheelchair!
Please pray for my little zombie!
She is NOT having a good day:(

Are you ready for some football?

The last game of the season, Teme's team gets to play inside the dome!

Teme is pretty famous for sacking the quarterback.
Here he is flying across the field toward a receiver.
Teme is unable to play with his prosthetic because they
cannot figure out a way to cover his prosthetic knee that will 
make it safe for the other players.  He pretty much
wore through those pants:)

Monday, October 22, 2012

Stole this from Noelle's blog.

Two Worrisome W's

Nine days ago I rented Noelle a wheelchair.  Not because of a passing injury that will heal.  We have no time schedule.  Her pain is so intense and her fatigue so overwhelming that if we want to leave our home she needs a wheelchair.  Sometimes it is bad enough that I carry her up and down our stairs.  My heart breaks as she begs me to take her to watch her soccer team play.  I load she, her sister, the wheelchair, and blankets into the car.  I push her over grass and other obstacles and watch her, watch her friends run.  I don't understand, Lord.

Almost two weeks ago we met with Noelle's teachers.  We dropped three classes hoping she could manage four of them.  Since that day she has been to school once.  Yesterday I emailed her guidance counselor to withdraw her from classes.  This can't be happening.  She is the one with desire, a plan, study skills!!!  She wants to be a nurse.  She wants to get  a 4.0.  She is so social.  Now she cannot concentrate.  I mourn with her.  I pray that this delay in her plans, her dreams, is short.  Some days it is almost unbearable.  But I am supposed to be the strong one.  I pray her friends will take notice that she is missing from their circle and will love her, invite her, text her.  I don't understand, Lord.

Sometimes I think about the words "chronically ill".  Do I have a chronically ill child?

-continuing a long time or recurring frequently
-having long had a disease or weakness
-having long duration.

I guess four plus years of battling symptoms counts.  I guess spending the last month mostly in bed counts.  I don't understand, Lord.

I don't know how to mother a chronically ill child.  I love her so much.  Those of you without an ill child are saying that is enough.  Those of you with experience...any ideas?  How do I leave her to do things?  How do I encourage her without pressuring her?  How do I deal with seeing her in pain every day??  How do I have enough left for Scott, Jake, Teme and Sabrina?


Monday, October 8, 2012

My prayer

Psalm 25
(Paraphrase by me)

In You, Lord my God, I put my trust.  I trust in You; do not let me doubt, nor let my circumstances triumph over me.  No one who hopes in You will ever be alone.  Show me your ways, Lord, teach me Your paths.  Guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are God my Savior, and my hope is in You all day long.  Remember, Lord, Your great mercy and love, for they are from old.  Do not remember the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to Your love remember me, for You, Lord, are good.  Good and upright is the Lord; therefore He instructs sinners in His ways.  He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them His way.  All the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful toward those who keep the demands of His covenant.  For the sake of Your name, Lord, forgive my unbelief, though it is great.  Who then are those who fear the Lord?  He will instruct them in the ways they should choose.  They will spend their days in peace, and their descendants will inherit mercy.  The Lord confides in those who fear Him; He makes His presence known to them.  My eyes are ever on the Lord, for only He will release my body from pain.  Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted.  Relieve the troubles of my heart and free me from my anguish.  Look on my affliction and my distress and take away all my pain.  See how numerous my afflictions and how fiercely they attack me.  Guard my life and rescue me; do not let me be downhearted, for I take refuge in You.  May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope, Lord, is in You.  Deliver me, O God, from all my troubles.

Noelle had a rough weekend.  We are doing a study on spiritual disciplines at church and we are studying prayer this week. I am trying to figure out how that needs to look in my life.  I know I need more.  This paraphrase is for Noelle.  I am going to try and pray this for her, over her, frequently.  She had to come home early from homecoming, no bonfire for her.  She had to watch her soccer team laying on a blanket.  That was the only time she left her bed yesterday and she is there again today.  

We watched a documentary on Lyme's disease, "Under our Skin".  Scared me.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

First tooth!

First kindergarten, now this:) 


The gang's all here, well at Ali's house!
L to R
Dylan, Noelle, Krystal, Dakota, Kelli, Ali and Garland 

They are all headed out for pizza, dancing and a bonfire!
Have fun!

Saturday, September 15, 2012


Overwhelming...that is my word for the week.  Noelle's appointment was moved up.  We saw Dr.
Crist in Columbia, Missouri on Wednesday.  Great thing number one is that Dr. Crist is a Christian.  Number two is that his hope and desire is that Noelle will be symptom free.  The road there may be a little tough.  Her joint pain is very bad at this point.  She will be doing heavy duty antibiotics for at least four months.  She has started her first one.  We will be adding supplements as we proceed. We have heard that the pain is one of the first symptoms to go.  Please pray that for Noelle.   She has a lot of pain in her hands and feet as well as still having severe headaches.  Pray also for understanding teachers as she is still missing a lot of school.  She is a very good student so it is hard for her not to be stressed about missing school.

Scott's appointment is in January at this point.  Please pray that his appointment will be moved up as well.  Jake and my blood tests revealed that we also have markers for tick born infections.  Technically in the Midwest it is called Masters disease not Lyme's disease, different tick.  Who knew.  So he and I have appointments in February.  Our symptoms are not as severe so pray that we will have wisdom regarding treatment.   The appointments are not covered by insurance and neither are some of the treatments.

The first thing that they want us to do is start a gluten free, nightshade vegetable free diet.  This diet is anti inflammatory.  So if you have any ideas or recipes that are gluten free, without white potatoes, tomatoes or peppers...send them my way!  I tried to make Swedish pancakes this morning with gluten free flour...epic failure!

On a more fun note, we are ramping up for fall sports.  Teme is playing football, Sabrina has dance, gymnastics and soccer.  Noelle is hoping to feel well enough to play some soccer.  And...Jake got a job!  He is working at a call center fielding calls for Toro.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Lyme's Disease

Quick update on health in the Larson household.  Scott tested positive for Lyme's last summer, I believe.  Noelle has just tested positive.  It is likely that she has been suffering from the symptoms for about 4 years.  Jake and I will be tested tomorrow.  We have all had tick bites.  Sabrina also had one this summer but for now we will wait to test her.

Please pray for us as we pursue treatment.  The two doctors we are aware of are not local.  The one we are intending to go with is in Missouri.  Noelle has an appointment in November, Scott in January:(  Nothing is covered by insurance.  The materials that they sent were a little scary.  Lyme's disease and its treatment are controversial.  Please pray that we would be led to the right doctor, that he would have wisdom as he treats us, that the side effects of treatment would be minimal.  Please pray that Jake and I would not test positive.  It seems likely that Jake will.  Please pray that if we are to stay with this doctor that our appointments would be moved up.  We have told them that we will travel within 48 hours if there is a cancellation.

I considered including a picture of a tick/tick bite, but it was nasty.  Each of our stories with tick bites have been pretty funny.  Not so much now.  I found mine wiggling in my abdomen and FREAKED OUT!  We found Noelle and Jake's first bites as they got back to school hair cuts about 4 years ago. We had to leave Great Clips without finishing their hair cuts. Jake's came right out.  Noelle's was very stubborn.  So Scott "gently" slapped her to distract her as he removed it:)  Jake has had many since then.  Scott has also had numerous bites.  He is the only one we know to have the rash.  Though since Noelle and Jake's were on their heads that may have hidden the rash.

We appreciate your prayers!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Ritter boys

Our back door neighbors have three boys.
Without them Sabrina would be so bored.
Benjamin and Harrison are pictured here.
Layton is the oldest.
The other day they rang the door bell.
"I am playing barbies with my mom."
We close the door.
Door bell rings again.
"Can we play too?"
I think this is later the same day when they decided to dress up.

First days

Three different kids in three new schools.  Pretty sure that is a first for us!
Teme is in sixth grade, which is middle school in Waterloo.
This means a building change to Hoover Middle School.
Many moons ago I went there for eighth and ninth grade.
It was a Junior High then.
Noelle went there for parts of seventh and eighth grades.
Jake played football there when he attended private school.

Teme had orientation on the 15th, so he was first back to school.
He might look a little older than sixth grade:)

August 16th, official first day!
Noelle will be attending Cedar Falls High School this year.
She is a junior.  She is ecstatic not to have a uniform.

Sabrina is in kindergarten at Waterloo Christian School.
All I could think is, "She looks so little."  
Her good friend Aerz is pictured with her.
They are only about 2 weeks apart in age:)

With our new teacher, Miss Smits.
There are only 9 kids in her class!
I expected her to be exhausted, but she is reselient as ever!

Look out world, here we come!
And, yes, I did sob in the parking lot.  Kind of took me by surprise. 

Noelle and I had a big prayer request answered on the first day.  She was understandably nervous to attend a new high school as a junior.  As she arrived for orientation and received her schedule she learned that she did not have "B" lunch with all the kids she already knew that attend her new school.  Major crisis!  She called me and asked me to meet her to talk to the counselor.  When I pulled up she said, "Can I come cry in your car first?"  We drove around the block and she received a phone call from a good friend..."I have "A" lunch with you!"  


Sunday, July 29, 2012

The other women

The hardest part of missing the trip to Ethiopia was missing meeting the other women in my children's lives.  Though I had met Sabrina's grandma, I had not spent much time with her.  Scott said she is a spitfire and that Sabrina's personality is more like hers than her birth mom's.  He said she looks the most like her aunt Mona.  I did not get to meet her.  Scott has met her twice.  We did not realize that we would be able to meet Sabrina's birth mom.  Apparently Sabrina's family called her mom and said she should call Scott.  Near the end of their trip she did and they were able to meet her.

Sabrina's mom, Ada.  Apparently you pronounce it like S'ada.

This is Teme's mom.  
Scott was able to meet her on his previous trip to 
pick up Teme.  So she has now met Scott, Jake and Sabrina.
I have not yet met her.  I wonder what she 
thinks of Teme's American mom that cannot seem to make
it to meet her. 

Friday, June 8, 2012

Interrupted Plans

May 30th we drove to Minneapolis and boarded a plane to Washington, D.C.  During all our planning we know our biggest obstacle was Noelle.  Struggling with migraines, anxiety and a general lack of desire to travel made her travel very iffy.  Before the plane left the gate we had to rearrange so that I could sit by Noelle to comfort her.  She sobbed all the way to D.C.  In all my planning I truly thought our biggest struggle would be her migraines.  I never imagined the heights her anxiety would soar to.  After arriving in D.C. we had a planned overnight.  Noelle was able to sleep fine, probably aided by the medicines we tried on the plane.  The next morning we made it all the way to the gate...But she just could not board that plane.  So Noelle and I spent a week driving back to Iowa from D.C.  We tried to make it fun.  Meanwhile the rest of the family is experiencing momentous things in Ethiopia.  Here are a couple of pictures that they have sent.

This is Sabrina and her nanny from KVI.
If you notice the pictures in back they are from the
day Sabrina came to the orphanage at 9 months
weighing 8 pounds and then shortly before we
travelled to pick her up, at 17 months.
Sabrina was the first baby at the Nazaret KVI.

This is Sabrina and her grandmother.
Scott said she is a spitfire so now we
know where Sabrina gets it!
Apparently, they had the extensions put
in in Addis Abba.  Sabrina has longed for
long hair so I am sure that she is thoroughly
enjoying her new hair.

Teme and his siblings.  I am unsure if the baby is his niece
or his little sister.  Lots of babies have joined the families
since we last visited.  Sabrina has a brother and Teme
has a new sister and a niece.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Ode to Ann

Recently, my college roommate emailed me.
It has been fantastic to be in contact with her again.
It has been amazing and enthralling to see where our
lives are similar and where they are different.
I look forward to where our new relationship takes us!

Scott and I's wedding
the troop from Teen Missions Fiji

At my parents cabin, probably also 1987.
We are both still happily married.
Yeah us!!!!

The eighties called they want their hair back!
Roommates at the University of Northern Iowa.

High School youth trip to Estes Park, Colorado.
Do you think this was before or after we broke the bed??

Happy Mommy's Day

Wedding Day, 1987

Mother's Day, 2012
Same company, same driver, different carriage and horse:)

Best part of the weekend...

(Poem from Teme)

Mother's Day

Thanks mom for your help.

Thanks for washing my clothes.

Thanks for cleaning my room.

Thanks for taking me to tutoring because I like to learn
how to read and write.

I'm sorry for not listening sometimes.

Happy Mother's Day!

I Love You Mom!

From Temesgen

Second best part...
Someone at brunch on Sunday thought Jake was my little brother!


For Easter the six of us trekked to Lincoln to visit Grandma Lucy, my 98 year old Grandma.
These aren't the clearest pictures but we are all together and everyone but Scott 
is pretty happy.  I think he was battling some traveler's tummy:(

Rock Star Mama!

I get bored so easily:)
It probably won't last long,
the roots are horrible.


We are painting our family room and my (rarely, lately)
romantic husband left me a much appreciated message!

Still fighting migraines:(

The photo is actually from back in January when we were up at Mayo.
They had to use an ambulance to transport Noelle to the clinic from the hospital.
The past 29 hours we have been to the Emergency Room twice for migraines.
She has been battling this one for about 9 days.
With school ending in a week and a half, it would be fabulous to end this so she can finish up,
especially Geometry.  We have an appointment at Mayo on Thursday.
She is scheduled to receive Botox.  Please pray that we would have wisdom 
on whether to go ahead with that treatment.  Pray that if we chose to proceed
that she would have great results.  Pray that her headaches would be under
control as we travel to Ethiopia May 30-June 14th!!

Dance Class

Really hard to photograph a twirling almost 5 year old!!

Cute pic!

Sabrina and Teme have been like biological siblings from day one!
Teasing, hugging, annoying each other...

Everyday with Sabrina

Phelps Youth Pavilion, our favorite!

Mini golf at the Eiffel Tower

Daddy came at lunch time and did caricatures of us!

Barnes and Noble

Mommy's shoes