Friday, May 27, 2011

Fighting the Flood

It is the last day of school for kids here in Bismarck but all of the excitement for summer is being drowned out by flooding from the Missouri River. Residents of Bismarck/Mandan have been fighting hard all week to keep the waters at bay. Today, the Bismarck mayor called for even more volunteers because over two million sandbags are still needed. While it looks grim for some, they continue to hold out hope.

man-made dikes are becoming a common site in Bismarck-Mandan

Yesterday, the public was told of a plan to help save most of south Bismarck and others who live near the river from severe flooding. There are many residents though who live outside of their proposed plan. Some of them have already gotten water in their homes, others are packing up and leaving while others still continue to sandbag. This weekend it is supposed to rain and on Monday, the Army Core of Engineers will be releasing more water from Garrison Dam. It's hard to know what will happen after that.

I'm thankful we are here in North Bismarck where we don't have to worry about flooding. But we are worried about our friends and loved ones who are fighting to save their homes and who are looking elsewhere for a place to live. It also saddens me they had to close the zoo and evacuate all of the animals. That may seem minor but I know how much Faith was looking forward to going there for many visits this summer.

My husband who drives around making deliveries sees the anxiety in people's faces. Residents are constantly being told not to panic. Despite peoples fears, the community has pulled together to help those in need. Yesterday on the news, a National Guardsman said when he got the call to duty, he was so excited to help that he had his boots on before he even got off the phone. Last night, people met together at a local church to pray. It is amazing that the best in people is brought out in the worst situations.

Please continue to volunteer and do what you can. If you have physical limitations, make food for sandbagging crews, watch people's kids for them and most of all pray. For some it may seem like a lost cause but with God all things are possible.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Summer Fun and Crazy Day

Earlier this week, Faith, along with the rest of the first graders at Centennial went on a field trip for what is normally called "Summer Fun and Safety Day" but to me and probably many others it was a "Not So Summery Crazy Day." The whole event was supposed to take place outdoors at Sertoma Park, where the students could visit about 25 different booths and learn about having fun while staying safe.

Due to the rainy weather, however, all of the kids (about 1,500 first and third graders from different schools), teachers, chaperons, booths, games, prizes, informational handouts and even a live DJ all got crammed into one church building -with mostly everything in their gymnasium. It was a little crazy, especially since I was trying to be super safe and maneuver Faith's wheelchair through the crowd without running over any feet. Thank goodness Faith's afternoon aide was there to help!

Though a little crazy, there were still some good moments - like me getting to be the chaperon of Faith and two of her "girlfriends" as her teacher called them - both very sweet girls. They wanted to be the ones to push Faith but after finding it all but impossible for them to get Faith through the crowd of people, they happily handed the "reins" over to me.

The first stop for the girls was face painting.
Faith with her girlfriends, Chloe and Anja
It was sort of comical 'cause every time I saw another chaperon that I knew we just looked at each and rolled our eyes like, "can you believe this?" I noticed the live DJ was playing songs that the adults knew more than the kids - you know classics like Summer of '69 , Thunderstruck, the Macarena, Cotton-Eyed Joe and many more. I think this was intentional on his part so that he could sort of distract us from the craziness ensuing around us!

Thank goodness it had stopped raining outside so we could go out and get a breath of fresh air. An ambulance was there and the kids got to climb in and learn what some of the EMT's equipment was for. Some firemen were also there. They had a house with three fake fires burning in each of the windows. The kids got to hold on to the fire hose, aim at the fires and put them out.

The line for this activity was incredibly long, but one of the girls I was with was bound and determined to do it. As soon as she was done, it was time for her to join her class and get back on the bus. While we had been waiting in line, Faith was in a safe spot with her aide giving her a feeding.

Before leaving the event,  I asked Faith is she wanted to try the fire hose. She excitedly said, "Yes!" By this time most of the students had to get on their buses so the line was really short. I helped her reach for the hose and the fireman helped us get out the fires. After she was done, Faith yelled, "I did it! I want to do that again!" (Kimberly and her husband Matt are going to be especially proud of her as he is a fireman)!

Put all the fires out!

The fireman was great with  Faith!
Looking back on the field trip, I am really proud of Faith. I know at one time in her life that would all have been way too much for her and she might have only been able to stay for a little while. As it turns out, she was there for the whole three hours along with about 1,499 other kids!

I've also been noticing that she is not startling as much as she used to. At one time, that initial spray of water coming out of the fire hose would have caused her to nearly jump out of her skin but she was more excited than anything.

She has definitely grown and matured since she started first grade and I know she will continue to do so and will also continue to experience so much more!

Faith enjoying her experience just as much as the other kids!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Tuesday Tidbits - A New Do and Trip to the Zoo

Finally last week, Faith got her hair cut! Her thick hair was getting too long and unmanageable so I had Julie cut it pretty short - perfect timing for the warmer summer months. It is really cute and she has gotten lots of compliments.

We are also finally looking at purchasing an accessible van. Our disability case manager e-mailed us some specs of a van that is here in Bismarck. On Sunday we went to look at it and we think it would work well for us. It does have some door issues but we think we'll be able to work around them. It also has an in-floor ramp that can come out and go back in either automatically or manually. We rolled Faith into the van and she was pretty excited about it!

Yesterday Faith had her class field trip to the zoo. Even though it rained for about 20 minutes, we still had lots of fun and were thankful the weather was good for the most part. Since I drove Faith out there, we were able to stay a little longer while her classmates headed back to school.

I'm so glad we did because we got to see a baby moose that was only a day old. The mama moose chased the dad away when he got too close. It will be fun to see how the baby moose grows throughout the summer during our future visits.

This morning I took Faith to school and we met the aide who is going to be working with her during summer school. I felt bad for the aide because there is so much to learn and it can be so overwhelming. She was shown how to get Faith in her stander, how to switch her seating system from her manual base to her power base, how to hook up her tray and her buttons and how do work her feeding pump - all in the first half hour!

We kept telling her not to worry because Mrs. Sharp (one of Faith's current aides) will be at the school in the office if she needed help and that she could always call me too! I told her she will probably just be getting it all down pat and then the six weeks will be over!

As for me, I know Faith will do just fine because there will be people around her this summer at school who know her and knows her needs and how to meet them. I feel so blessed having such reliable, loving people working with Faith when she's away from home. It's also an added bonus that Faith is verbal and that she herself can tell the aide what she wants or needs and even knows some of the instructions like how to get her feeding going.

It looks like we'll be having a great summer and hopefully my dream of becoming an accessible mini-van mama will be coming true!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A Real Pain in the Arm

Last Wednesday I had my yearly doctor exam and when she said I should get my tetanus shot updated, I didn't think twice about it. The nurse said my arm would be sore for a couple of days, gave me a handout and stuck the needle in my arm. The next day my arm was sore and although I found it a little harder to pick up and carry Faith, I was glad the pain wasn't going to last long.
Boy was I wrong! But not only was my arm sore, my whole body was. I felt achy and extremely tired. According to a medical site on the Internet, these were mild side effects of the Tetanus shot. If these were only mild side effects, I would really hate to have them at a moderate or severe level.

On Friday, two days after getting the shot I felt so tired that I took a four hour nap after getting Faith off to school. Then on Saturday I took a three hour nap up until 7 o'clock but still felt tired and was able to go back to sleep around 10. On Sunday, finally the fatigue started wearing off and I didn't feel so achy but my arm still hurt and later that night I noticed it was red and puffy.
On Monday my arm looked and felt about the same but on Tuesday it seemed worse. And along with being puffy, sore and red it was also starting to itch. I finally called my doctor's nurse and she said I should come in so they could take a look at it.

From what my doctor could tell, it looked like some form of cellulitis or a staph infection. She wondered, though, how I might have gotten an infection. She assured me they always use sterile equipment. She asked if something happened to my arm after getting the shot, like scratching it on something. In the end, she put me on antibiotics and also steroids to help the swelling go down.

I have never had any sort of reaction or anything out of the ordinary happen to me after getting a shot, that I can remember anyway. (And I've had lots of them!) It's just such a crazy situation and the only thing I can think of is that one of the nurses that saw me the day I went in for my exam, touched my arm to take my blood pressure. Maybe she hadn't washed her hands? But then wouldn't the alcohol swipe before the shot have taken care of that? My doctor washed her hands in front of me before touching me and the nurse who actually gave me the shot was wearing rubber gloves.

So I'm a little stumped as to how I got an infection from getting my tetanus shot. I hope this ordeal is coming to an end but I honestly don't know if I will ever get one again!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Faith's Recycling Project

In school, the students are learning about three important R words - Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. But not only did the first graders at Centennial Elementary learn about these words, they put them to action.

All three first grade classrooms were asked to take empty cartons, cans, containers and other materials; save them and remake them into something else. This afternoon they were able to share their recycled projects. I must say, some of them got quite creative!

The parents were able to go around their child's classroom and look at the projects one by one. When someone came up to their table, the student said their name, described their project and then asked if there were any questions. The kids seemed to have a good time telling their audience about their reused and recycled products.

There were trains made from pop bottles and empty soup cans, robots made from several different boxes, plant containers made out of egg cartons, a few birdhouses and even a black unicorn made out of lots of different things. One boy even made a basketball hoop and another made his very own aluminum can recycling box.

As for Faith, we made picture frames made out of an empty frozen dinner container and a piece of cardboard from an empty box. We put tissue paper around them and then cut letters from magazines to stick on the frames. With a little help from her aide, she did really well telling people about her project.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

A Spring Blizzard and an Amazing Worship Experience

All day yesterday, my friend Sandy (fellow Christian concert junkie) and I kept anxiously looking out the window hoping the weather was going to cooperate for us to get to our concert. I was on KFYR's website all day keeping tabs on the weather and really couldn't believe some of the photos I was seeing.

Western North Dakota was getting hit with a major blizzard - some parts had 12 inches of snow with 60 mph winds. Trees were uprooted, falling on vehicles and houses, cattle were lost out in the pastures, power was out and even the Bakken Oilfield was shut down due to power outages.

Blizzard hits Watford City, downs trees on April 30, 2011. Photo by Cindy Kummer Wollan
The concert started at 7:30 p.m. and at around 2:00 p.m. things did not look so good. The rain had turned to snow which was really coming down and the wind was blowing hard. Many roads, including the Interstate were closed.

Me and Sandy held out hope that things would clear up. And they did! Although the wind came and went in strong gusts, the snow was no longer coming down. We arrived at the Belle Mehus to find a packed house. The weather had not seemed to deter anyone who had a ticket to see Shaun Groves, Aaron Shust and Selah.

The concert was amazing! It was like a glorified church service with 800 people. Not only did we hear great music from the artists, we heard mini-sermons, testimonies and their passion for the organization, Compassion International in which you can sponsor a child for $38/month.

They also shared a heartbreaking story of their bus driver who lost three close friends in the tornadoes in Alabama. One of the victims was a soldier who had just finished his tour in Iraq and he, his wife and child were all killed. The bus driver also had other friends who were still missing.

But on the other side, we also heard many funny stories and the audience laughed when Shaun Groves was razzin' a guy in the front row for being on his cell phone. Aaron Shust brought the house down with his "rap" he had just written that night for Bismarck and the fact that snow is just not cool in May! After singing his newly written song, he reached down and gave his note cards to a girl in the first row.

Aaron Shust, 2007 GMA Songwriter of the Year, New Artist of the Year

Amy from the band Selah, received a standing ovation after singing a song she wrote about the emotional and spiritual healing she had recently experienced. Even though she was not feeling well and was getting over a sinus infection and problems with her vocal cords, she sounded absolutely amazing.

Some of my favorite songs the artists on stage sang included Welcome Home by Shaun Groves, My Savior, My God by Aaron Shust - also his new song Take Over was absolutely beautiful.

Shaun Groves brought tears to my eyes when he sang "Welcome Home"

Selah did a rockin' version of the old hymn, There is Power in the Blood. They also sang It is Well. They said they had sung some of these hymns to a crowd of highschoolers and someone actually came up to them and said, "Wow that song It is Well is pretty cool, did you write that?!" (The hymn was written in 1873). Selah also sang an awesome new song Shelter Me and for a grand finale, all of the artists came back on stage together to sing one of my all time favorites - Mighty to Save.

Selah sings their classic "You Raise Me Up"

Aaron Shust, Shaun Groves and Selah all singing "Mighty to Save"
Even though it was 27 degrees outside and the wind made it feel well below zero, I was feeling all warm and fuzzy after such an amazing worship experience. Thank you weather, for not standing in our way! 

Another fun moment was when Todd from Selah taught us an African praise song and had the two ladies on stage sing parts of it into the microphone. The ladies were leading a caravan from Glen Ullin to St. Paul for the Women of Faith event.

It was especially great to see the young people worship the Lord