Thursday, August 29, 2013

Getting Used to Our New School Schedule

Today marks Faith's 8th day of school and we are all adjusting to a new schedule. Faith has made huge strides this past summer in sleeping better and having more energy so we decided to have her go to school from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. 5 days a week. This is a change as last year she did not go Tuesday and Thursday afternoons due to how tired and worn out she would get.
Faith's first day of 4th grade
School starts at 8:30 a.m. but we asked if it would be okay for us to get her there at 9:00 instead. This allows us to more time to get her first feeding into her before she even gets to school. Her aides noticed last year that when we brought her to school without any food in her tummy, she was pretty sluggish and tired upon arrival. Sometimes, after getting her to school she wouldn't start getting her feeding until after 9:00 a.m. which meant, that because she gets a feeding every 3 hours, her last feeding of the day didn't end until 10:00 p.m.

Another advantage to the new school schedule is she has more time to wake up and not have to rush to get out the door. Our mornings are much more relaxed and stress-free than they used to be. It also gives us a chance to change her diaper right before she gets to school. Last year, they had to wait until after her feeding to get her changed and there were times her diaper would be so wet it would soak through onto her chair. This of course was pretty embarrassing for her and she didn't even want to go back to school the next day after having one of these unfortunate episodes.
Me and Faith right before taking her inside for her first day of school
There are a few things we are attributing to Faith sleeping better and having more energy to get through the day. One is the ABM we have been doing with her and another is her chiropractic care and the adjustments she has been receiving all summer long.  Because of both of these new types of treatment, we are noticing her behavior has improved as well.

In the past, when getting ready for school and not wanting to go, she would scream and cry (at the top of her lungs) for at least half an hour sometimes. It took both me and Rob and all of our energy just to get her dressed, put in her chair and out the door.

She still has some mornings where she's not too thrilled about having to get her feeding done before going to school (it's probably because she doesn't get to spend as much time with one of her favorite people - the school nurse who sets up her feedings). Her crying episodes are now usually less than 10 minutes long (sometimes even only a few minutes) before she is able to settle down. And even better is the fact that she no longer screams at the top of her longs - which I'm sure the neighbors are glad about!
Daddy rolls Faith into her new classroom
Besides a new morning schedule, we're also getting used to a new evening schedule. After Faith comes home from school, she is due for a feeding. When I come home from work, I get supper going, we watch Wheel of Fortune and then it is off to her bath. She starts her last feeding between 7:30-8:00 which is a huge improvement from starting at 9:00 p.m.

She's usually in her bed at 9:00 and after reading a bedtime story, she tries to fall asleep. Sometimes this takes a while for her. We often hear her in her room laughing or talking to herself or kicking her legs around. This can last up to 30 minutes before she finally falls asleep. She usually wakes up only once at night and Rob will go in and turn her on her side but again, a huge improvement from waking up several times during the night.
Faith at her desk
We put a lot of prayer into her school schedule for the year and it seems it is working very well for us. It's definitely been a nice and somewhat surprising stress-free transition from summer to school!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Not Quite Ready to Say Goodbye to Summer

All of us North Dakotans know that summer always goes by way too fast. While winter can last six long months, summer comes and goes before we know it. Normally, I don't mind when summer is over because I look forward to the fall and all the busyness that the new season brings. Not to mention the cooler weather, the changing leaves, and celebrating Faith's  birthday. But this year is different - I'm not quite ready to say goodbye to summer.

Maybe I'm not quite ready because it has been unseasonably cool with temps in the 70s and low 80s - to me those are perfect temperatures! Or maybe I'm just not quite mentally prepared for Faith to go back to school where she'll be a 4th grader. Or it just might simply be this summer has a great one for our family and I'm sad to see it end. 
Faith and I enjoyed hanging out on the patio at our apartment complex this summer
Faith, on the other hand is all gung-ho to start school again. In fact, ever since it ended last year she has been asking when she gets to go back. On Thursday, we went to her open house where she met her teacher and we found out her instructional aids will be the same wonderful ladies she had last year.

Faith has been so excited ever since we went to the school that at night she has had a hard time falling asleep. She'll just be lying on her bed laughing and squealing with excitement and waking up early in the morning because she's still so excited. 
I loved the weather this summer - lots of rain, beautiful greenery and cooler temperatures
I hope all this positive energy continues when she actually starts school and has to wake up early five days a week! Last year we had some battles getting her to school in the mornings but this year we might try to do a few things differently. I'll be sure to post again next week to let you all know how her first days of school went!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Special Times with Special Friends

Over the last week, we have had a chance to see and visit with some very special friends. Our string of visits started last weekend when we traveled to Hazen to visit with some friends that Rob and I have both known since before we were married. While living in Watford City, there was just Tuck, Greta and their son Kaden but since then, their amazing family has expanded to three more boys and a girl.

It was a beautiful drive and it was great seeing the haying season in full swing with lots of golden hay bales dotting the thousands of acres of farmland.

While visiting and seeing their new home (they just moved there from Washburn), we found out that they are now attending church at New Life in Beulah, which means we are all part of the same church family! (The New Life church in Bismarck is an extension of the church in Beulah.) It was great hearing about their Junior Bible Quiz adventures including driving all the way to Texas for the national competition. It was obvious that Aubryn loved having another little girl around as she got out all of her necklaces, bracelets and princess crowns to show Faith.
The Bousfields with the Sago kids
My next visit was seeing some friends I had roomed with in college. Both of them are agricultural education teachers - Keri in Powers Lake and Mary in Bowman. Me and Mary were randomly thrown together as roommates in Dinan Hall at NDSU in 1992. Keri lived just down the hall and in our sophomore years, we all got an apartment together. They have annual ag ed workshops in Bismarck so I get to see them at least once a year!

We had a great supper at Texas Roadhouse then enjoyed the beautiful evening by taking a walk down by the river. We had lots of fun reminiscing about our college years and talking about our current jobs, family life and how much things have changed in the last 20 years!
A great time with college roomies!
Faith with Mary and Keri
We also had a great visit with our friends, Kimberly and Matt who now have a little baby boy! We met Kimberly about six years ago when she did respite care for an agency here in Bismarck. She helped us with Faith for about three years before she got married and they moved to her home state of Kansas.

Faith was quiet all morning before Kimberly and her family came over. She had a lot of mixed emotions - she was so excited to see Kimberly but a little apprehensive about the baby. But as soon as Faith saw Kimberly, she was all smiles and excitedly yelled, "Kimberly!" Faith was so excited she could hardly contain herself, she was literally shaking. 
Look who's visiting from Kansas!
After the initial excitement Faith turned her attention towards the baby. She said she wanted to try to hold the baby but we needed her to calm down a little first. Eventually, I sat on the couch with Faith and Kimberly put the baby on her lap. Gunnar was very curious about Faith and reached up to touch her face - Faith didn't know quite what to think of that or about the baby noises he was making. She really, truly is not used to having a baby around.

The visit went very well and Gunnar even ended up taking a nap in Faith's bed while the rest of us had lunch. We are so thankful that even though Kimberly, Matt and the baby are three states away, we can still keep in touch and see them when they come to North Dakota. Of course someday we would love to visit them in Kansas too!
Faith liked Gunnar but it's obvious she sill loves Kimberly!
We are so blessed with such wonderful friends and are glad for our chance to see each and every one of them when the opportunity arises! 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

A Plethora of Appointments

Upon reflecting about the month of July, I have come to the conclusion that Faith has never had more appointments in one month than she did last month. She had over a dozen chiropractic appointments, eight ABM lessons, two visits from the Easter Seals coordinator, one occupational therapy consult, one optometrist appointment (and a partridge in a pear tree!).

The Easter Seals visits were merely a formality as Faith has a new case worker and we needed to update some paperwork. Her disability case manager came along on one of the visits. Her optometrist appointment was her annual routine eye exam and we are glad to report that Faith's eyes continue to remain the same and she still isn't needing glasses. We are thrilled about this as Faith had glasses at one time and we also had to do patching on her eyes but her vision and her eye muscles continue to function normally! (Praise the Lord!)
Faith getting a chance to relax!
In June, Rob took Faith to see a chiropractor for a consult to see how chiropractic care might be able to help her - especially with her sensory processing. He was confident he could help her and at the end of that month, Rob and I attended an informational seminar given by the chiropractor, Dr. Steve Nagel. Needless to say, we learned A LOT about how chiropractic care could help Faith and about nutrition in general.

Faith had her first chiropractic appointment in July and he did a thorough exam, including a scan called an EMG (electromyography) Amplitude. Technically, an electromyograph detects the electrical potential generated by muscle cells when the cells are electrically or neurologically activated. It gives a total output of energy going through the nervous system. A normal energy rate is 100%. Faith's numbers, at 235%, proved to be much higher. No wonder she is so sensitive to loud, sudden noises and she continues to battle her startle reflex!

Dr. Nagel felt that adjustments to her upper spine, what he calls neural integration, would help decrease the high rate of energy. We are happy to say that the adjustments to her spine are making a difference - her re-evaluation showed her energy rate had gone down to 195%!

In the midst of her chiropractic appointments, Pati was here from Wisconsin for Faith's ABM lessons. With Faith being out of school, we wanted to try to get in as many lessons as possible so we scheduled for eight. It was a lot for Faith and there were times we were wondering if it was too much. At one lesson in particular, Faith seemed to come completely unglued.
Pati working very gently and slowly with Faith
The problem she was having was that at the session prior, before strapping Faith into her chair, Pati allowed Faith to fall to the side without catching her. In doing this, Pati was trying to get Faith to learn what she needed to do in order to get herself back into an upright position in her chair. Faith did not like this because she felt like she was falling. She ended up being mad at Pati and was sure to tell her!

It occurred to me and Rob that Faith has never had the experience most babies have when learning to walk and that it's okay to fall because they quickly learn to get right back up again, completely unscathed. In Faith's case, she has never had this experience and when she falls to the side in her chair, someone is always there to catch her. She has never learned or never had the experience of learning to get back up on her own.

ABM is truly a whole new world for all three of us and we are all learning together. Pati knows this and she didn't mind that Faith was mad at her. She said, "Faith is in the 'Making the Impossible - Possible' phase right now, and this brings up a lot of emotion." We are thankfulf or Pati's patience and her dedication to both the children she works with and with their parents!

Faith also had a visit with the occupational therapist she has been seeing and had a consult for some testing and re-evaluations. Faith really loves her OT, Geri who works at Hope Therapy Center. She graciously allows Pati access to her office to do the ABM lessons. Geri is familiar with ABM and tries to incorporate some of it into her OT sessions with Faith. 
Faith gives Geri her best effort
With all of Faith's latest treatments and lessons, Rob and I are noticing that Faith seems to be understanding and comprehending things better and that she is asking appropriate questions when trying to find the answer to something. It's like her brain is a puzzle and all of the pieces are very slowly coming together.

Her respite care provider is noticing things as well like how Faith is more easily able to pick up food with her hands and bring it to her mouth. Even my dad noticed that her hands seem more relaxed and opened up instead of being in a clenched position. We are truly excited about the progress Faith is making and thank God for bringing some more amazing people into our lives for the next stages of Faith's development. Although she has had a lot of appointments lately, it has definitely been worth it!