Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Great Frosting Challenge

Despite all the great food we had over our nice, relaxing Thanksgiving, Faith and I felt the need today to bake a cake. And since we didn't have any store-bought frosting, I decided it would be so much fun to make our own homemade frosting. I looked on the Internet for a simple recipe and found the perfect one, or so I thought.

After Faith and I popped our cake into the oven, we prepared to make the frosting. I asked her what color the frosting should be.


The cream cheese frosting recipe called for three cups of  sugar. The problems began when I tried to mix the sugar with the cream cheese, water and vanilla extract the recipe had also called for. No matter how much stirring or mixing I did, it didn't turn creamy like it was supposed to. Instead, it looked like a big lump of mashed potatoes with lots and lots of sugar.
My very first attempt at homemade frosting
Faith soon got bored and decided she would like to do something else. I ran to the Internet to try to figure out what I was doing wrong. I realized the recipe called for confectioner's sugar which unbeknownst to me was not the same as the regular sugar, or granulated sugar, as I had used.

Since I had no confectioner's sugar or powdered sugar lying around, I found another frosting recipe that didn't need confectioner's sugar. As I read the reviews of the frosting from people who had made it, a few complained it turned out lumpy and a few had trouble with the consistency. I was bound and determined to get this cake frosted by the end of the night so I decided to go for it.

I asked Faith if she wanted to make some different frosting but I think she had had enough baking for the day. This buttercream frosting as it was called, was a little tricky as you had to cook part of it then mix it in with the creamed butter and sugar. It was a little on the lumpy side and it wasn't as thick as I would have liked but it still tasted okay so I added the blue food coloring and frosted the cake anyway.

If you haven't already guessed, I am not a baker. I'd much rather cook! But someday, if and when I ever have confectioner's sugar, I'd like to take another shot at the cream cheese frosting just to see if I can do it. And if it still doesn't turn out, I'll stick to store-bought frosting! In the meantime, all you inexperienced bakers, please beware that confectioner's sugar is not the same as regular sugar!

Our little cake topped with blue buttercream frosting
By the way, Happy Birthday to my brother-in-law, Don! If you were here, you could have a piece of our beautiful blue cake with our homemade buttercream frosting!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Bundle Up!

Fifteen below zero - that was the temperature this morning in Bismarck when I walked Faith to school. And you know, without the wind blowing, it didn't seem all that bad! Nevertheless, I really bundled Faith up so she would stay nice and warm on our 3-minute trek to school. I actually think she enjoys these little adventures! And as long as the sidewalks are clear, I don't mind them either.

Faith all bundled up on her way to school

On our way to school

Winter Wonderland

There will be no pumpkin pie from this pumpkin!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Some Good News and My Magic Mocha

Despite mine and Faith's major lack of sleep this past couple of days due to her bad cold, which became progressively worse on Wednesday night, we are relieved and happy because of the good news we recently received. In my last blog, I asked for prayers for Faith as she was going to be getting her hip x-rays taken. Just a day later we received a phone call saying that there has been "no significant change" in her left hip. Her last x-ray had been taken in May so in six months the hip has not come any further out of its socket. Thank You Lord, for answering our prayers!

Faith has stayed home these past couple of days due to her cold which I think is turning into a sinus infection so we picked up some antibiotics today. Hopefully she'll recover 100% by Monday so she can make it to school all three days next week. I haven't minded staying indoors as the temperature has gotten steadily colder. I don't think it even hit 20 degrees today.

With the onset of winter, I thought I would share one of my favorite drinks - I call it My Magic Mocha. Hope it helps you stay warm!

I use an extra large mug that holds about 12 oz for this mocha.

My Magic Mocha
Make two cups of coffee.

Spoon your favorite hot chocolate into a large mug
(measure how much hot chocolate that you would use with two cups of water.)

Poor the coffee into the mug so it's nearly full. Stir.

Add half and half or milk. Stir.

Add whip cream.

Drizzle chocolate syrup over the whip cream.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tuesday Tidbits

I must say, after the long weekend, I am feeling a bit guilty. We didn't have too much going on so we mainly stayed indoors and I let Faith watch way too many videos. When Sunday finally rolled around, she was bored and a bit cranky. Before having kids, I always told myself I would not be one of those moms who lets the TV babysit their kids. Things sure turn out differently when you actually have kids!

When Faith comes home from school, that is all she feels like doing. She is so tired from her long day, which not only includes classroom time but also working hard with her special education teacher, driving her power chair and any other therapies she might have for the day. By the time she gets home, she is spent. I don' feel as guilty letting her watch so many videos after school but over the Thanksgiving long weekend, I am going to try hard to limit her video-watching time and find other things for us to do.

Last Friday I took her to the doctor because her nose had been sort of stuffy for the last two weeks. Personally, I think its because all four of her molars coming in at the same time. But I've never known a pediatrician to say that teeth issues are the cause of anything but a little bit of discomfort. She ended up getting the flu mist and now she has a full blown cold. So now I'm wondering if she's reacting to the flue mist or if she caught a bug at the doctor's office or what. He did give us a prescription when we were there for some antibiotics in case her cold symptoms worsened into a fever, coughing, etc. Hopefully though, she'll be just fine and we won't need to fill it. Thankfully, she slept well last night despite her cold.

Before her appointment, we had time to go to pediatric therapy to visit one of the receptionists and we also saw her physical therapist, Jackie. She was so excited to hear how well Faith is driving her power chair at school! It was great to see her but she agreed we had made the right decision by taking Faith out of therapy at Medcenter to focus on things at school.

Tomorrow we're going to be getting Faith's hips x-rayed. We are really praying there hasn't been a lot of change in her left hip, which is starting to come out of its socket due to her high muscle tone pulling it out of place. If her hip looks worse than what her last x-ray showed, we will probably have to consider getting the baclofen pump sooner rather than later. I'm really nervous about getting the pump which is a device that allows medicine to be injected into her spine to help relax her muscles.

Until The Whole World HearsOther than all of that, I just listened to the newest Casting Crowns CD, Until the Whole World Hears. If you like worship music, I highly recommend getting this one!

Have a blessed week and please continue to keep Faith in your prayers.

Friday, November 12, 2010


One of Faith's favorite things to do is bake cookies. She really likes to surprise her dad with a plateful of cookies when he is home working in the office, which is exactly what we had fun doing yesterday.

Faith mixes up the batter while wearing her new, colorful apron.

Who can resist licking the spoon?

Yummy cookies!
Let's have one then bring them back to daddy!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Church Cheers

Admittedly, it has been tough to find the right church that works for our family. We have tried several in the Bismarck-Mandan area with each of them having their own pros and cons. And a pro for one person in our family can be a con for another. Take the praise and worship time, for instance. The louder and more exciting the better, for me anyways but not for Faith.

With her CP, Faith has something called a "startle reflex." It's something newborns have but they grow out of it. When a newborn baby is startled their whole body reacts with arms flailing and legs going because they can't control those movements yet. For Faith, she has never been able to control those movements. It used to be that when she startled many times in a short period she would get very upset and would start to cry.

Another issue she has is if she is somewhere loud and dark with the noise varying at different levels, she is very tense the whole time and her muscles just can't relax. Places like movie theaters are an example. And as we found out, charismatic church services are another example. One minute the pastor may be very quiet but then suddenly becomes very loud - this will cause Faith to startle. She'll be tense the whole time because she doesn't know when she will be surprised again.

Finding a church where Faith can relax and not be so tense has been a bit challenging, especially for me who really likes those very charismatic church services. Rob on the other hand can pretty much go to any church and be okay with it, as long as he is free to take part in communion and gets something out of the message.

At some churches we would try to sit in various spots - like the back row, sitting way back in the corner, sitting outside in the lobby area or sitting in the coffee shop. While sitting in these certain areas may have helped alleviate some of Faith's startling, it felt to us that we weren't really a part of the service or the fellowship.

After years of searching we have found a church for the three of us. Rob's friend from work invited us to their Saturday evening service at a church called Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church. The evening service is less traditional, the music more contemporary and Faith really seems to enjoy being there. We can sit way up front and not have to worry about Faith getting nervous or tense.

Another thing we discoverd is that some friends of ours from the CP support group go there as well. Faith really gets a kick out of their 21-year-old son, who is in a wheelchair too.  

This past Saturday was interesting and I sort of held my breath when the pastor announced what we were going to doing. He had a message on confession and forgiveness. He explained that there are four promises of forgiveness - for each promise, his wife had thought of a cheer for all of us to yell. One side of the room would yell the first line of the cheer and the other side would yell the second line. I did not know how Faith was going to react. Rob and I both looked at her and I quickly explained to her there was going to be a lot of yelling.

The pastor read the first promise of forgiveness: I promise I will think good thoughts about you and do good for you.

Then we yelled out the cheer: THINK GOOD THOUGHTS! DO GOOD THINGS!

Faith tensed up a little but she didn't startle. Instead, she began to laugh.

Promise: I promise I will not bring up this situation to use against you.


Faith continues to laugh.

Promise: I promise I will not talk to others about what you did.


More laughter.

Promise: I will be friends with you again.


After the last cheer, we had to try to get Faith to stop laughing and continue to listen to the pastor. After we visited for a little while, Faith said on the way home, "I had so much fun at church!"

It seems to me, we may have finally found a church home!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

School Days

Faith is doing so well in school and I am just so proud of her! When I take her to school in the mornings, she arrives with excitement, practically bursting at the seams to say good morning to both of her aides. Then she'll briefly turn toward me, blow me a kiss and we part our separate ways. I have no worries, no fears, no concerns...I know she'll do great.

Then, after the morning and early afternoon has quickly passed, I return to school to get her and she greets me with a big smile, yelling out, "Mommy!" She's had a good day but she is ready to go home and relax. As I begin to push her home in her chair, she usually exclaims, "I had such a fun day at school today!" She then proceeds to tell me some of the things she has done which includes: calendar, reading, math, snack, driving her chair and any other special activities of the day. She also tells me about some of her friends who have helped her throughout the day. When she's done she'll say, "So how was your day mommy? What did you do?"

I love that she is talking so much about school and all that she is learning. When I hear all about her day, it gives me comfort knowing that we made the right decision to pull her out of her afternoon therapy sessions at Medcenter. I really believe she has added energy and she can put forth all of her efforts at school.

She is doing excellent with full days, five days a week - another decision that we know is right. It gives her more time to socialize with the other kids and participate in everything a full school day has to offer. She is not left out of anything. It's amazing to us that she has only missed a couple days of school so far. We pray this trend continues throughout the year.

I really like to hear from her aides things that she says or does throughout the day - like deciding that she wants to participate in snack time. If the snack looks good, she'll ask her aide if she can have some too. She can't eat everything that is brought to school, so if she wants a snack, they'll come up with something else, like her new favorite - gogurt. They are always so willing at the school to allow her to participate, try some new things and make sure all of her needs are met.

I really get a kick out of listening to Faith when she's home. She repeats a lot what is said in school. Like the time she was telling me a story and I turned my head away for a brief second and she asked, "Mommy are you being an active listener?" And when she wants to play a game she says, "Mommy are you going to buddy up with me?"

Last night she said she wanted to do math before she went to bed. Her math problem revolved around four ducks and after one duck was gone, how many were left. She did give the right answer but I believe her answer came from memory more than from figuring it out on her own. Which is fine because I believe she is starting to understand the concepts of math and reading and one day she will be able to understand and comprehend and figure them out instead of relying on her memory.

I remember as a little girl, going home and playing teacher with my sisters and how much fun we had. That's what Faith is reminding me of. She wants to come home and play school and I just love that! Words cannot express how proud I am of her. These school days are some of the most treasured days of all.