Sunday, September 28, 2014

A Season of Change

It seems the only time I've been updating my blog lately is when the seasons change! This time, though besides the season changing from summer to fall, there are some changes happening with us as well.
Faith in her new chair - another recent change for us!
Many of you know I quit my full time job in the spring. My last day of work as a customer service representative for a health insurance company coincided with Faith's last day of school. I have been focusing on freelance writing full time. It has certainly been a time of depending on God to continue to supply for our every need!

As a new school year approached, we decided not to send Faith back to school. After praying about it all summer, we made the decision to home school her instead. As I dropped off our paperwork to inform the school district of our intention, I felt an incredible amount of peace. To me, this is a sure sign that we made the right decision.

Faith and friends at a library event
Faith with Clifford the Big Red Dog! She asked where Emily Elizabeth was!
We have gotten so much support as there is a Bismarck Mandan Area Home Educators group, which is a Christian organization. There is also the North Dakota Home School Association. We have taken advantage of being a part of both and have found people who knew all the answers to our many questions.

It has also helped to have many good friends who home school and also members of our church. I have a very good friend who is a special education teacher who we have gotten input from as well.

Faith and her new teacher!
Currently, Rob is doing most of the teaching. We are really trying to focus on teaching her to read. We truly believe she'll be able to do it, it's just a matter of finding what works. A few people recommended the book. Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons . So far, it is going well and I am happy to say Faith is making progress.

What about you? Have you ever prayed about making a major change in your life? How did God help you know you were making the right decision? I would love to hear about it!

Changing leaves - a sure sign of Fall and a new season

Thursday, August 28, 2014

There Goes Summer!

Once again everyone in North Dakota is lamenting the near-end to another busy summer that is quickly fading away along with the hot summer sun. A couple of days ago we had an unusually cool late August day and I actually had to put a sweatshirt on Faith before going outdoors. I was reminded this would soon be the norm everyday and it wouldn't be long before we are digging around in the closet to find hats and mittens.

Where DID summer go? This seems to be the question everyone asks each year as if there might be just one summer that lasts forever. I think most North Dakotans would relish at least one year-round summer considering winter weather lasts over half the year. But alas, it's never going to happen so we can either move to Arizona or grin and bear our near-approaching cold weather.

Spending time with family - me, my sisters and dad at Perkins
For us, we had a summer of transition as I quit working my full-time job at the health insurance company. Both my husband and I are now full time writers. These last three months have consisted of lots of prayer, trust and being completely dependent on God to meet all of our needs. And of course, as always, He has come through.

Besides focusing on our business, we have had some great visits with friends and family. While I didn't make it to Watford City for their Centennial Celebration, I did get to see my sister who came up from Lincoln to join in on the festivities. We even had a visit from Rob's cousin and her husband who flew here from Vancouver on their way back home to Waterloo, Ontario. It was the first time they had ever been to North Dakota. Someone else Faith had lots of fun seeing was our friend from Kansas who used to do respite care for us.

Faith and Kimberly
Faith and I have made a point to go to the library at least once a week. Her favorite books to check out are Arthur and Franklin and of course we have to get a few DVDs too. I've enjoyed having a much more flexible schedule and it's been fun to spend more time with her. We even have fun going to our weekly chiropractic appointments together!

Between me and Michelle, Faith also enjoyed going to several parks in town where various churches held special events. We discovered that face-painting is a pretty popular attraction and she never failed to get something colored on her face. Another very special time she had was going to a tea party for our friend JoAnn's birthday.
Faith getting her arm painted at the park
Faith having fun with friends and a kitty cat at a tea party
All in all it was a good summer and as the leaves get ready to change color, we too anticipate some changes taking place this fall. Stay tuned!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Five of Faith's All Time Favorite Books

We've been reading books to Faith ever since she was a baby.When she was little, she had to wear an eye patch for 30 minutes a day in the hopes it would help strengthen her eye muscles so they would no longer turn inward. Reading a book to her while she was wearing the patch was a great way to keep her distracted from having to wear it. Even after she no longer had to wear the patch, she continued to love being read to.
Reading to Faith when she was little
As Faith got older, we had hopes she would learn to read on her own. She is ten and that still hasn't happened. We continue to pray and try to find ways to help her be able to read. Her music therapist is trying to do all she can to help us with this endeavor. We know her vision is fine but we think her eye muscles might not be working properly to enable her to focus on seeing a word long enough to read it.

Instead of reading, she spends a lot of time memorizing. For this reason, she likes shorter books and even though I've tried to read chapter books to her, she quickly loses interest. She even memorizes the name of the author and the illustrator which is handy when we go to the library to look for books!

Daddy reading one of Faith's favorite books to her
Through the years, she has especially liked these five books:

Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish - Even though there is a younger and more modern Amelia Bedelia, Faith still likes the old-fashioned funny housekeeper who works for Mr. and Mrs. Rogers and has a habit of taking things way too literally. There are a lot of times I roll my eyes at Amelia Bedelia's silly antics but I must admit, she is pretty hilarious.

The Monster at the End of This Book by Jon Stone - I was amazed to see that this Sesame Street book featuring Grover was first published in 1973. That means the story is older than me! One of Faith's former respite care workers loved this book as a child and I'm glad she recommended it to us. Ever since Kimberly came for a visit last month, Faith has been wanting to read this book again almost every night.

We're Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen - This modern classic is not only a book but a video as well. There are a ton of videos on YouTube where kids do their own rendition of this popular book. (Check out one of our favorites below). I must admit when I first read it to Faith I wasn't overly impressed but she absolutely loved it. It started to grow on me though and for as many times as we've read it, I'm still not tired of it.

Curious George's First Day of School by H.A. Rey - Curious George is a cute little monkey "who's also very curious." Faith loves the most of the Curious George books but the one where he goes to school to be a helper is one of her favorites. She also likes to watch Curious George on DVD and Netflix. It's also on PBS at 7:00 a.m. but that's a little too early for us!

Franklin Makes a Deal by Paulette Bourgeois - Franklin is a cute little turtle who has lots of animal friends. There are lots of Franklin books but this one is Faith's favorite. I think it's because we're always saying to her, "OK Faith, here's the deal..." She also likes to watch Franklin on DVD.

I'm curious to know what some of your child's favorite books are. Also if your child has special needs, what are some things you are doing to help them learn to read? 

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Reflecting on These Past Ten Years

As all of the Fourth of July celebrations are coming to a close, I am still thinking about that one Fourth of July that happened ten years ago.

It was around this time back in 2004 that we made the move from our home in Watford City to the Bismarck-Mandan area. I will never forget our first Fourth of July in Mandan. Due to getting moved in to our apartment, we didn't take in any of the celebrations. As we were still putting stuff away late into the night, I opened up the curtains and to my pleasant surprise, saw fireworks going off in the sky. 

“Look!” I exclaimed to my husband, “We can see the fireworks from here!” He picked up Faith and lifted her to the window so she could see too. We couldn't have known it then but in our next ten years here, we would be experiencing fireworks of many kinds - some bright and beautiful and others complete duds!
Faith playing in our first apartment
After living in Mandan and driving Faith back and forth into Bismarck for all of her appointments, we found another apartment right on seventh street close to where she needed to go several times throughout the week. This made things so much easier for us as Rob could simply walk Faith to all of her appointments, even in the colder weather.

Faith depended on a KidKart for her mobility at that time and it was relatively easy getting her and the Kart up and down the stairs. First, we would take Faith out, bring her upstairs then take apart her Kid Kart and bring up the base and then the seating system, although Rob could get it up and down the stairs in one trip.
Faith playing in her Kid Kart in Bismarck
When she graduated to her first “real” wheelchair, even though the seat came off the base, it was quite cumbersome to get up and down the stairs. Not to mention, carrying her up and down was getting difficult for me, the more she grew. God provided for us once again and the spring before starting kindergarten, we found an accessible place to live right next door to an elementary school.

In reflecting back on these past ten years, while we have faced many challenges and difficult situations, we have also been abundantly blessed. God has brought so many wonderful people into our lives these past ten years and it has been these connections that have helped us through some of the storms of life. 
Faith hanging out on the balcony
We will forever be grateful for the prayer warriors at the Healing Rooms, which is also one of the reasons we felt God was making a way for us to move here. A group of ladies I am especially thankful for are all the women in JOY who have provided companionship, prayer, encouragement and a wonderful ministry for which to involve myself.

These past couple of years, we have also been extremely thankful for our church family at New Life. What a huge blessing Pastor Marc and his family have been to us along with our wonderful church friends. We have grown especially close to our little group at the Redefinition service or the "quiet" service as Faith calls it. We have learned so much about God’s word in just these past couple of years and Faith has grown spiritually as well.
Faith hanging out with some pretty incredible people at a church picnic
Besides the spiritual family we have gained, most of my “real” family now lives in Bismarck too. I would have never thought when we made the move ten years ago, my brother and his wife would follow three years later. And then just a couple of years ago, my sister and her kids and my parents all moved here too!

As the fireworks, the parades, the barbecues and all of the excitement of the Fourth begins to fizzle out, I am grateful for the Lord’s provision and am looking forward to all He has in store the next ten years!
We are so thankful to have this amazing lady in our life who has been
helping us with Faith since we lived in Mandan

Faith and her auntie having fun together  this year on the 4th

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Best Dad Ever - 10 Years in a Row

It seems to me that God really knew what He was doing when He made Rob Faith's daddy. Ever since Rob first met his tiny little girl in the NICU over ten years ago in Rochester, Minnesota, it was love at first sight. But his love and prayers for her didn't start there - it all started when we first saw the picture of her in my womb and we heard her heartbeat for the first time. He has loved her and prayed fervently for her ever since.
Kangaroo Cares
One of the most wonderful fruits of his prayers for her is her love for Jesus and for others. She truly does love people and makes a point to remember people's names and ask them all sorts of questions about their life because she really is interested. She loves to see photos of people's spouses, babies and even pets. Something else she has a result of her daddy's prayers is her own faith that keeps her strong and keeps her going through the difficult times.
Story Time
Play Time
I love that Faith has an inkling of how much her Heavenly Father loves her because she knows without a doubt how much her earthly father does. I really don't think one day has gone by in her 10 1/2 years when he hasn't told her he loves her. If that weren't enough, he is always showering her with affection and she goes many times throughout her day asking him for a kiss.Yes, of course there are days they push each other's buttons and they might get upset with each other but at the end of the day, Faith can remain confident knowing how much she's loved.
One thing Rob always says he is thankful for is that he has a daughter who laughs a lot and is filled with so much joy. And I am thankful Faith has a daddy who makes us both laugh. Thank you Rob for all you do for both me and Faith. She definitely has had the best dad ever 10 years in a row!
Father's Day 2009
Father's Day 2014

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Alternative Therapies for Faith

For most of Faith's life, we have focused on doing some of the more traditional therapies such as occupational and physical therapy in order to help her reach her fullest potential. More recently, though we have been trying some alternative forms of therapy such as chiropractic care and music integration sessions. Honestly, we have seen more progress this past year in trying these different therapies than we had been seeing with years of following traditional methods. You can read HERE to see how Chiropractic Care has benefited Faith and HERE for music therapy. 
Chiropractic care has benefitted Faith immensely
Unfortunately, most insurance companies, including Medicaid does not cover these different types of therapies as they are still considered experimental. One of the local fundraisers does not allocate funds for these alternative therapies for the same reasons. This means we have been paying out of our pockets and it is now getting to the point that we have to decide to quit doing the therapy or keep going with it.

So it is with a humble heart that I am asking for help from the readers of this blog and from those family and friends of Faith to help us in continuing these types of therapy for Faith. If you don't have the funds at this time, can I ask you to pray for us and that God would continue to guide us and give us wisdom on which types of therapies to try, which types might be beneficial and which ones we may need to discontinue? 
Integrative music sessions has helped with Faith's fine motor skills and other areas
Any help you can give in either of these areas would be greatly appreciated. If you do want to help us in our efforts to raise funds for Faith and you would like to do so online please click on the PayPal link on the top right. You will also be able to donate using a credit card. If you don't want to donate online, please feel free to e-mail me. You can find my e-mail address by clicking on 'view my complete profile' and it is listed under my contact into. Thank you so much for any help you can provide and I pray that God blesses you abundantly in return!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Forget Spring, It's Summer!

I think North Dakota forgot all about spring this year and just went right into summer. As our pastor said in church last week, "I guess North Dakota likes quick transitions!" It seriously seemed like one day the ground was still brown, the trees still bare and there wasn't a robin in sight then the next it was like the exact opposite. While everyone was certainly getting tired of old man winter, we sure weren't ready for 90 degrees!
Faith enjoying being outside at Michelle's with her ducks!
Besides it feeling like summer, I am thankful that it really is summer vacation and that Faith is done with school this year! She did so well the first half of fourth grade and somewhere along the way around Christmas vacation she seemed to really be struggling. We chalked it up to her high muscle tone protesting the frigid temperatures.

When it started warming up a little, though there were days she still struggled to get to school. In February she came down with a sinus infection then in May the kids were getting a little more rambunctious than usual so it was harder for her to be around them.
Fun in the sun!
Her last day of school was supposed to be Thursday, May 22nd but due to a snow day in April, the year got extended one more day. On Thursday, she didn't seem to feel well and was protesting going to school but we sent her anyway. That night she came down with a fever of 100.7 degrees and had a very sleepless night. She wanted to go to school on her last day because they were going to the park. Right after watching Wheel of Fortune she said, "Maybe if I go to bed early, I'll wake up and feel all better."

The next morning she still had a pretty high temperature but she still wanted to go to school. When we told her she couldn't go, she started crying. It was pretty sad. I felt bad all day about her missing her last day. We have since gotten over it though and she is very much enjoying her first week of summer vacation!