Saturday, October 27, 2012

Fun-Filled Birthday

For Faith's birthday this year, we decided to keep it pretty low-key. And even though we really didn't do a whole lot, Faith had a very fun-filled birthday. On Thursday, she took her favorite snack - goldfish crackers - to school to share with her classmates. Then after school she got to play her new Wheel of Fortune game on the PS3 with daddy. This is what I found when I came home from work that evening:

Of course Faith wanted to play her new game with me, which I very happily did. During all of this we took a little break to talk to Faith's Grandparents from Canada who called to wish her a Happy Birthday. We opened her presents from them while both Grandmother and Grandfather were on speaker phone.

Friday evening was another night of playing Wheel of Fortune then on Saturday, we finally had a chance to have birthday cake, for which Grandma came over. We also opened some cards from her aunties and their families. We've definitely had a great three days of celebrating Faith's 9th Birthday!

Faith loved blowing out her birthday candles!
Our birthday princess!
Faith and Grandma!
All tuckered out after all that celebrating

A song dedicated to Faith on her birthday because God has been so faithful:


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Parent Teacher Conference

It is so hard to believe that it is already that time of the year - time for parent-teacher conferences.  I don't know why but I always get a little emotional at these meetings. I think it might be due to the fact that as Faith gets older it becomes more apparent that Faith does not have the same skills as her classmates - and I become very aware of her disability. In fact, due to a new grading system, Faith is probably going to be graded as a first grader instead of a third grader. But at the same time I am so proud of Faith for how well she is doing.
Faith at school with her dad.
Those around her at school seem to be noticing a difference in her wanting to be at school rather than asking when she can go home. It seems to correspond to the time that I began staying home in the mornings to help her get ready for school.  I'm not exactly why this is because she still fights some mornings about not wanting to go to school but I'm glad to know that once she gets there, she does a great job. The other day after school I was sitting with her having her tell me about her day and she said, "And do you know what else I did today at school today mommy? I gave everyone my personal best!"
Faith getting wheeled to her classroom by her morning aide
Her speech pathologist told us how she goes over the class's vocabulary words with Faith and how she helps Faith to learn the words. Every week she learns three different words and going back, Faith has remembered every vocabulary word she has ever learned - except for one. She can't seem to grasp the word "downtown." Instead Faith keeps saying "boomtown." I guess she's thinking of western North Dakota!

Her teachers also noticed that when Faith is listening to someone who is speaking with the same tone of voice for a long period of time, Faith loses interest in listening. They notice that the more animation and the more inflections one is using, she remains more attentive. This can be a little problematic when she is trying to learn things on her computer by listening as a lot of the voices on the computer programs are somewhat monotonous. They also said every once in a while they have trouble getting her to do her tasks, including driving her powerchair. When her teacher said she can be a little stubborn sometimes, Rob replied, "She comes by it honestly!"

Faith with her special education teachers whom she's had since kindergarten
For the past couple of weeks Rob has been going to school on Tuesdays and Thursdays to pick her up early. We are trying to see if this helps to alleviate her fatigue during the week. We have also changed her two afternoon feedings to Pediasure with 1.5 times more the calories than she was getting in the past. We are hoping this will help her gain weight along with having more energy. We have seen a few digestive issues with this new formula but nothing major.  All in all, although there are still concerns with her energy level and some struggles in the morning, she seems to be doing well in third grade!

Here is a letter that her teacher shared with us today that was written by Faith with the help of one of her aides:

Dear Mom and Dad: 

Let me tell you about the first 30 days of third grade. My favorite thing about third grade is to learn. I also enjoy listening to Mrs. Ternes read to the whole class. We are reading Charlotte's Web. My favorite books to read are stories about Arthur. Reading is my favorite subject in school. Snack time is another favorite activity. I really like crackers the best. 

In gym, I like working with Judy. (Her physical therapist). I like to sing with Mrs. Hall in music class. I like third grade and all my friends here at school. 



Thursday, October 4, 2012

A Day I'll Never Forget

It's hard to believe that it was nine years ago today I was taken by air-ambulance from the hospital in Williston to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester Minnesota. Faith was very unexpectedly trying to make her way into the world 14 weeks early. The doctors and staff in Williston knew they did not have the expertise in dealing with a mom with a complex heart condition having a baby born so prematurely. I had been planning on having Faith in Rochester but not this soon! After all, my due date wasn't until January 6th.

After getting to Rochester, I was in the hospital for five days hooked up to a baby monitor. Faith seemed to be doing well and I was no longer going into preterm labor. Although I wanted to just go back home, the doctors thought it would be wise for me to stick around Rochester, just in case. The TravelLodge became my temporary home.
Faith in the NICU in Rochester, Minnesota where she was born
Rob had been going back and forth between Rochester and Watford City. And when we found out I was going to be staying in Rochester possibly until Faith was born, he brought me lots of books, movies, the VCR and even my desk top computer. Unfortunately he couldn't stay there with me because he was trying to keep our business afloat back home.

While in Rochester during that time, I mostly remember asking God why all of this was happening. I tried hard to focus on the scripture, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding" (Proverbs 3:5). But I still had so many questions. Should I have even gotten pregnant in the first place considering the high risk? Why would God allow me to get pregnant if it meant going through all of this?

There is another scripture that says, "the thief comes to steal, kill and destroy" (John 10:10). Now more than ever I believe that is exactly what the enemy was trying to do - to steal Faith from me, to kill her and to destroy mine and Rob's lives.

There are a lot of people who question why bad things happen to good people. They oftentimes forget we live in a fallen world where both good and evil exists and that "our enemy prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour" (1 Peter 5:8).
Thankfully, Faith stayed in my womb for another three weeks. And although she was born early with some damage to her brain, I praise God for the victory that she survived and that now nine years later she lives a blessed and abundant life - which is the second part of John 10:10 - "But I (Jesus) am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly."

And because of my daughter Faith, who tried to come so early nine years ago, my faith has been strengthened and I believe more than ever in God's amazing grace, His love for us, His faithfulness and His healing. Because we have experienced troubles and hardship, the joy is that much greater.

I have also come to understand that the words of James cannot be more true, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." (James 1:2-4).
Faith at about four years old - full of joy and love!
Soon our giggly girl will be celebrating nine years of life!