Sunday, August 30, 2015

Summer Recap

It's almost the last day of August and I think pretty much everyone I know is asking, "What in the world happened to summer?" It seems like summer whizzes by faster and faster every year. And at the end of every summer, I find myself feeling sad about not doing the things I had wanted to do once the warmer weather approached. But now as I think about it, there were some very hot days that I was content to stay inside! I think on our hottest day it reached 106 degrees.

Meanwhile, as summer passes us by and my favorite season quickly approaches, here are some fun things we did over the short summer. 

We kicked off the summer celebrating my niece Justine's graduation from high school
We saw an unusual number of rainbows this summer after some very crazy storms
While we didn't go on the Riverboat this year, we at least made it to the river to enjoy the scenery!
Faith was so happy to go to the 4th of July parade this year in Mandan with Grandpa!
Having fun with my friend Kristi and her kids at the parade
We of course made our weekly trips to one of our favorite places - the library
We were so happy to discover our swing was back at Magical Moments playground!
Faith couldn't wait to show Grandma - who we had a lot of fun hanging out with this summer!
That about sums up our summer. One more thing my husband and I have been working hard on all summer long is completing my book, Having Faith. I'm happy to say it will be coming out next month! I invite you to follow my book's Facebook page or follow me on Twitter.

We hope you got a chance to relax during this season and were able to get out and enjoy the summer weather. Here in North Dakota, it's not something we take for granted!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

A Stormy Father's Day Weekend

This Father's Day weekend here in North Dakota started off a little rough with a major storm that swept across the state on Friday night. Faith and I were home alone when it reached Bismarck around 9:00 p.m. Rob was still at the office working and I was on the computer finishing up a few articles.

I decided to check Facebook and the first thing I saw was a picture my aunt in Arnegard (8 miles west of Watford City) had posted. Her garage had just gotten demolished in a storm that had passed through. The storm was quickly heading east towards Bismarck. One weather warning I saw stated a possibility of wind gusts up to 80 mph.

This tree went down a block from our office in downtown Bismarck

It's hard to see but this is a traffic light that also went down
I figured Rob wasn't paying attention to the weather so I called him at the office to warn him. I'm thankful he didn't try to come home because the storm hit very quickly. One minute it was still light outside then the next it had gone completely black and torrential rains were pouring down from the sky. The trees around our apartment building were bowed over like I had never seen before. I could even feel our apartment shaking from the intensity of the wind. Faith was completely oblivious until our power started blinking on and off and the show she had been watching was interrupted by a black television screen.

Rob didn't get home until close to midnight because he wanted to wait for the water on the streets to recede before setting out. (We had gotten a couple of inches of rain in a matter of minutes causing flash flooding.) He said driving home was a bit scary because all the street lights were out, none of the traffic lights worked, and trees were down everywhere blocking both lanes of some streets. There was a firetruck on one street which was completely blocked off due to downed power lines.


The next day was beautiful and peaceful so Faith and I went to the library, and then to the park where tree branches were scattered everywhere. The park we went to no longer had its wheelchair swing so I decided to try something different. I took Faith out of her chair and set her next to me on one of the bench swings in the park. She loved it! She lauged and giggled and kept saying, "Faster mommy!"

Faith having fun swinging with me

Faith swinging with the best daddy in the world!
Today, on Father's Day, the three of us went to church. After a brunch of French toast and bacon, Faith wanted to take her dad to the park to show him the swing. We made a pit stop on the way at Tutti Frutti where dads got a free treat! (Rob also scored ice cream at church where all the dads were given a coupon for a free "Love It" at Stone Cold Creamery). After gobbling up our frozen yogurt topped with fruit, candy and even a mini scotcheroo, we headed to the park so Faith could swing with her daddy.

We had a wonderful Father's Day! I just hope the weather forecast for tonight is wrong and that we won't be getting another severe storm!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Happy Birthday Grandma!

Since they moved to Bismarck three years ago, Faith has gotten to spend more time than ever with her grandparents and has especially enjoyed the times she gets to spend with her Grandma. She loves her Grandpa too but he can be a little unpredictable with his sudden sneezes or coughs. Plus, he tends to talk a little loudly due to his slight loss of hearing from being around so many trucks and machinery throughout the years! Grandma is much more predictable and quiet!

Faith with one of her favorite people in the world - Grandma!
Faith really likes having Grandma come over on Saturday afternoons to hang out with us. Usually Grandma will bring a pizza and we'll have lunch (although Faith has already said this weekend when we see Grandma she wants to go to Perkins instead). Then we'll hop in the van and take Grandma to the library with us then hit Target or the grocery store. Once, Grandma even stayed with Faith for about 20 minutes while I went to get Rob at the office. 

Faith likes the comfort of being in her own place so it's a little harder getting her to go over to Grandma's. We're taking baby steps. Last weekend when Grandma was here, Faith decided we should go somewhere and get some pie. Grandma said she had some pumpkin pie at her house so we drove to her place to get it. Grandpa happened to be outside tooling around in the yard when we arrived.

Grandma and Grandpa's place
Faith with Grandma and Grandpa
I rolled down the window and he had this squirt bottle of soap and water and he squirted me with it. Faith didn't know what to think about that and afterwards kept asking why Grandpa had squirted me. I tried to tell her it was just Grandpa teasing me. (See, he can be quite unpredictable!) Needless to say, Grandma grabbed the pumpkin pie and Cool Whip and we high-tailed it out of there back to safer quarters!

We're hoping this summer to have many more adventures with both of them but for now we'd just like to say:

Happy Birthday Grandma we hope your day is as special as you are to us!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Our Super Spring Weekend!

Normally around this time of year, North Dakotans are nearly dying for spring to come. This was the case early last week when the temperature dipped to six degrees below zero. But then a small miracle took place - temperatures soared to over 70 degrees! My only complaint was that our apartment, which is warm anyway, became a heat box. There was even one day I came home and my husband had turned on the air conditioner - in March!

The nice weather was the answer to many prayers though, as many ladies involved in JOY International had been praying for weeks that the weather would cooperate for their annual event, the JOY Breakfast.

Jennifer Beckham
This year's speaker, Jennifer Beckham had come to Bismarck from her home in Jacksonville, Florida. She said she had been amazed to find when flying into Bismarck there was absolutely no snow on the ground.

She wondered if the two states had swapped climates because when she left Florida it was only 30 degrees. Seriously, this is the first JOY Breakfast I can recall where the weather wasn't cold, windy or snowy.

I had so much fun spending the morning with my mom, niece, sister-in-law, one of my aunts and a couple of friends who sat at the table I hosted. I also loved seeing and being able to hug all the amazing and beautiful women I have met by being involved in JOY International through the years.

I really loved everything about the JOY Breakfast this year, from laughing during the skit, to crying during a local mom's testimony to feeling encouraged and empowered by the keynote speaker. The wonderful weather was icing on the cake!

Me with my aunt Gail, Mom, niece Justine and sister-in-law Barbara
This morning after church, I asked Faith if she wanted to go curling again today which she did last week. I was a little relieved when she said she would rather do something else. If she had wanted to go I would have taken her but honestly I didn't really want to be inside a building where it was 32 degrees when we could be outside in 70-degree weather!

Faith on the ice last weekend 
She opted to go to the park and I joyfully drove her to the park with the accessible swing. I was so disappointed to see it was no longer there. I had to try to hold back the tears. All I could think was that my daughter simply wanted to go to the park on a beautiful sunny day and swing like all the other kids but she couldn't.

We decided to take a walk by the river instead. As we walked down the cemented path, she called out, "Hi!" to everyone we passed. It seemed the weather had made everyone in a good mood because people cheerily called out back to her, "HI!" Some even gave a little wave and one couple stopped to talk to us. Needless to say, my disappointment didn't last long because she was obviously having a great time!

It's hard to believe we're hanging out by river in March in North Dakota!
We did find some ice still lurking around!
While the weather the rest of the week is going to be a little cooler, it is still going to remain above average with temperatures in the 40s and 50s. But I, like many North Dakotans, know better than to hope that Spring is here to stay. It's not uncommon to have a blizzard in April or snow in May. This weekend, though, we are all rejoicing and thanking God for the beautiful weather He gave us!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Faith the Soccer Star

Faith was so excited last weekend when I told her they were having wheelchair soccer again. Her first question was, "Can Adam push me again?" I told her I had no idea if he even went to school at the University of Mary anymore. When we got out there, she was disappointed to learn he had another obligation that day. Everyone assured us Adam would be there next time. She still had fun with a few other guys from the college soccer team who pushed her around to help her play.

In wheelchair soccer, they don't use a normal soccer ball, instead it's more like a beach ball. Normally, the soccer players who are pushing the kids around throw the ball to each other then help the kid they are pushing hold onto it as they try to get into the net. She had so much fun and the faster they pushed her, the bigger the smile on her face.

Ramsey helps Faith with the ball
Faith making friends
Faith having fun with Garrett the goalie
This weekend, despite the fact she was suffering with a terrible cold and hadn't gotten a lot of sleep, she still wanted to play. She was thrilled to be reunited with Adam, who I found out was a junior in college and had come to Bismarck all the way from Ireland.

Although the organization, Dreams in Motion, has other adaptive sports throughout the year for those in wheelchairs and other mobility challenges, I can't convince Faith to try them. (Although, she did try curling once.) They also have basketball, tennis, skiing, sled hockey and dance. Soccer is her favorite and unfortunately they only have it a couple of Saturdays a year, although they might try to get an outdoor game going in the Spring. We also told Adam we would love to see him play when his soccer season starts at school in late summer.

Faith taking a break
Faith and her all-time favorite soccer player
Everyone's a winner!
Dreams in Motion is a great organization for planning these events. I was also impressed with the dedication of the soccer players from the University of Mary who took time out of their Saturdays to help out and spend time with the kids. You can click on the video below to see everyone in action!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Saturday Outings

Taking Faith to church on Sunday mornings is my favorite activity of the week but something else I love are our Saturday outings. We normally go to the library and sometimes go shopping at Target (her favorite store). One Saturday we even went to the pet store because she wanted to look at the hamsters. She has made it known that she would like to have a hamster but since I'm not much of a rodent person I'm not too excited about it. Rob and I wondered if we could talk her into a guinea pig instead. For some reason a guinea pig seems less "rodenty"!

Faith is bundled up and ready to roll!
Yesterday, even though the temperature was only in the single digits, she wanted to go to the The Big Event Carnival. It's held every year at the Bismarck Civic Center and is hosted by the area Child Evangelism Fellowship.

We have never gone before because I was never sure if Faith would be able to tolerate so many noisy, crazy kids under one roof. Also, one of the main attractions are those inflatable bouncy things that Faith can't do. But since it was a Saturday and we weren't doing much else, I decided we would check it out. A major bonus was instead of an admission charge, carnival goers were asked to bring a food donation to help those in need.

Faith and D'Ette from the Healing Rooms
There were lots of booths with different games for the kids to play. After they played, the carnival workers (people from local churches and ministries) gave the kids tickets they could redeem for prizes. Everyone was very gracious and cheered for Faith when I helped her shoot a duck or toss a beanie through a hole. She wanted to get her face painted but the line was much too long.

Her favorite part was visiting the Healing Room's "blessing tent." We went inside one of the little tents they had set up and pray with a few volunteers from the team. I think it's great the Healing Rooms was there to pray over and bless the children, some of whom might not go to church. I also thought it was great that as the kids exited the event, they were given a New Testament Bible and a DVD about the story of Jesus.

Faith is excited to find Lola and the Healing Rooms blessing tent!
It was fun and of course now she's asking when we can go again! Hopefully as Spring approaches, there will be many more fun things for us to partake during our Saturday outings!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

2014 Year in Review

This year has been an amazing year of blessings and lots of changes for our family. As you can see by the photos, 2014 was a fun year in which we truly enjoyed life, being with family and friends and having new adventures. 

JANUARY - We rung in the New Year by going out for Chinese with members of our New Life church family. I also celebrated by cheering on the NDSU Bison football team as they won their 3rd National Championship in a row and will be going for their 4th in 2015!

Fun with friends at China Star
FEBRUARY - As with every February, Rob and I both celebrated birthdays but this year I reached a milestone when I turned 40! I can honestly say I feel truly blessed making it to the 40-year mark considering at one time doctors didn't think I would live past my 20s. My mom made my day extra special by taking me shopping, going for lunch and relaxing while getting pedicures. I kept trying to tell her she was doing too much to which she responded, "You only turn 40 once!" Alas, moms are always right!

Fun Birthday Celebrations!
MARCH - We had the opportunity to take my parents out for dinner to celebrate Dad's birthday. It's great having my parents in Bismarck! I also took part in one of my favorite events of the year - JOY International's JOY Breakfast at the Ramkota where over 600 ladies gather together and enjoy a morning of food, fellowship and fun. Once again my sister, niece, sister-in-law and her sister and niece were all able to sit at the table I hosted.

Fun at the JOY Breakfast
APRIL - We celebrated Resurrection Sunday by first attending church then later going out to my parent's place for dinner. Faith continues to enjoy her integrative music sessions with a music therapist who comes to our home twice a month and also going to the Healing Rooms for prayer.

Fun at the Healing Rooms!
MAY - We welcomed the warmer weather and enjoyed finally getting out and about. It seemed we actually skipped spring and jumped right into summer! Unbeknownst to us at the time, it ended up being Faith's last year at Centennial Elementary when she finished 4th grade. I also wrapped up my career as a customer service representative at Coventry/Aetna as we began our venture of becoming self-employed freelance writers.

Fun in the sun with ducks!
JUNE - I enjoyed a couple of visits with my sister who lives in Nebraska as she traveled through Bismarck on her way to Watford City to celebrate our hometown's centennial celebration. I also discovered it's nice having a more flexible schedule which allows me to spend more time with Faith and take her to various activities. It has become our ritual to hit the library at least once a week.

Fun with family!
JULY - Faith, Grandpa and I were all disappointed the 4th of July parade in Mandan was canceled due to rain and lightning in the area. Instead, we had fun hanging out with auntie Barbara and playing in her water fountain. We enjoyed a visit from our friend Kimberly who was visiting from Kansas then at the end of the month we had a surprise visit from Rob's cousin Susie and her husband Steve who live in Waterloo, Ontario. They were flying their plane back home from Vancouver and flew into Bismarck for an overnight stay.

Fun surprise visits!
AUGUST - I enjoyed attending my first women's conference hosted by Century Baptist Church where I heard speaker and author Carol Kent give her astounding testimony. I also enjoyed reminiscing with my college roomies Keri and Mary who are both Ag teachers and were in town for their annual agricultural education sessions. We found a new respite care worker through Easter Seals who Faith really likes (she's picky about who gets to take care of her). We are grateful at how well she is working out for us.

Fun meeting new people! (Me with Gwen from KNDR and Carol Kent)
SEPTEMBER -School started after Labor Day in Bismarck this year but we didn't send Faith back to school along with rest of the kids. Instead, after much prayer and deliberation we decided to home school her this year. We are thankful for all the support we have received and it is nice to know many other Christian homeschooling families. Our primary goal is to teach Faith how to read. I have also been blessed to serve as Java JOY Coordinator for another season and Rob and I celebrated our 12th wedding anniversary.

Fun with Clifford the Big Red Dog
OCTOBER - This proved to be a monumental month for us! At the beginning of the month we attended the Love Unleashed Healing Conference hosted by the Healing Rooms of the Northern Plains. We were blessed to meet the director of IAHR, Cal Pierce and his wife Michelle. This month we also journeyed by van to Toronto, Ontario. We enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner with Rob's family, celebrating David and Jean's 50th wedding anniversary and a small baptism ceremony for Faith. After our busy month, Faith wanted to celebrate her 11th birthday by having a quiet day at home with her parents.

Fun anniversary celebration!
NOVEMBER - It wasn't even winter yet but the temperatures dropped to well below zero during November. We were especially thankful during the frigid cold snap we didn't have to get Faith to school and back home as her high tone kicks into overdrive when it's that cold! I had a nice time with family over Thanksgiving and got to see my nephews, Donnie and Preston who traveled up with their parents from Lincoln, NE. We had a blast playing a game called Loaded Questions that I actually won!

Fun with siblings at mom and dad's!
DECEMBER - Every year I resolve not to get too wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season so we can stay focused on the reason - the Birth of our Savior. Instead of being stressed and over committed, we have had lots of fun. Rob and I went to our first Christian concert together - the Newsboys. As a family, we attended New Life's Christmas Open House where we consumed lots of goodies made by Pastor Marc's wife. Faith and I had fun baking our annual treat - Happy Birthday Jesus cupcakes. Then on Christmas Eve I went to my parent's house for our  traditional meal of homemade pizza. The three of us spent Christmas day together opening gifts, laughing and relaxing.

Christmas fun with my most precious gift of all
All in all it has been a wonderful year in which the Lord has BLESSED us abundantly. We look forward to all that God has in store for us, our family and our friends in the coming New Year!