Sunday, October 25, 2015

Faith Celebrates Turning 12 with the "Best Birthday Party Ever"

For the past couple of weeks I've been asking Faith what she has wanted to do for her birthday. The only two things she requested was a cake with dinosaurs and a party with family only. When I asked if she was sure she didn't want cupcakes, she said, "I want a cake with Buddy, Tiny, and Shiny on it." (Characters from the show Dinosaur Train). The only way I could get those particular characters was to order an edible image from Amazon. Because this was like five days before her birthday, I had to get expedited shipping. I prayed it would arrive in time.

In keeping with the train theme, I thought it would be neat to have her party at the zoo so we could ride the train on her birthday. It took some coaxing but I did manage to talk her into the zoo idea. Unfortunately, the forecast looked a little chilly so I decided to try to reserve a space at the zoo's Discovery Center so we could be indoors for the actual party. If it ended up being nice enough, we could still do a train ride. I thought I had come up with a perfect plan.

I hit my first roadblock when the zoo said the Discovery Center had already been reserved. I decided to go with my backup plan of having the party either at my mom and dad's or downstairs in our lobby. If the weather cooperated, we could still make it to the zoo.

Another part of her day was going to be church. She loves going to church and I was so happy she could go there on her actual birthday. I had even offered to bring pumpkin muffins as treats. But on Friday when her respite care provider came over, all birthday plans came to a screeching halt. She told me she had to take the stairs because the elevator was out of order. I knew there would be no way they would fix it before Sunday. (The last time this happened, it took about 5 days to get repaired).

The good news was that when I went downstairs to get the mail, the cake image had arrived so I was able to drop it off at the bakery. I messaged my mom who told me there was only going to be five out of the nine family members we had invited that would be able to make it to Faith's party due to conflicting work schedules. This made things easier and it would work out to have the party in our apartment.

Faith ended up sleeping in since she wasn't able to get to church. Rob went solo taking the pumpkin muffins with him. Around noon, Grandma and Grandpa arrived with auntie Lisa. Uncle Todd and auntie Barbara showed up shortly afterward. Faith was a little anxious at first about having so many people in her space. She was pretty tense in her chair but as soon as we took her out and I sat on the couch with her to open presents, she began to relax.

Even though our original plans had fallen flat, we had all that really mattered right here in our small third floor apartment, broken elevator and all. Faith echoed this sentiment by declaring, "that was the best birthday party ever," after everyone had left.

Her special day continued when her Canadian grandparents called. She had been waiting all week to talk to them. Auntie Joh called too and Faith was especially happy to hear Joh's cat, Ruby purr over the phone. It was a great 12th birthday and I am already bracing myself for having a teenager this time next year! 

Grandma and Daddy help Faith blow out her candles
A close up of Faith's cool cake
Faith was blessed with many gifts (especially clothes from Grandma!)
Fun with 12 birthday balloons!
Our little family
Faith takes a quick pic with Todd and Barbara before they leave
Auntie Lisa and I being photo bombed by Grandpa

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Times of Transition

To me, the cooler months of fall seem more like a season of newness than do the cold winter months of January. Maybe it's because that's when school, Bible studies, and small groups all start up again and we have to transition from our lax summer schedules to busier days that are filled with a flurry of activities. (I also realize that part of the busyness is that we have so much to get in before the snow flies).

Another reason fall is a great time to get a fresh start is because according to God's calendar, the New Year actually takes place in either September or October during the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah. Whether it's on purpose or not, it seems as though our family always experiences major transitions in the fall with this year being no exception.

Spending a perfect fall day at the park
Burning documents - it's much faster than shredding plus this way we get S'mores!
Hanging out in our crowded apartment/office
We kicked off September by moving our office into our apartment. (And yes, it is a little crowded in here). We did this for a few different reasons all which seemed like a good idea at the time. Now, however, my husband is really missing having an office. He's discovered he is not a work-from-home kind of guy. While I can work from home, I have discovered that not having an office is a really good excuse to go to a coffee shop. The library works well too, which by the way, has a coffee shop inside so it is a win-win.

Another transition we have made is that my husband has decided to join my brother's tree crew. This means when my husband is out all day doing tree work, I am the sole caretaker for Faith, not to mention her homeschooling teacher. Thankfully, we get respite care three or four afternoons a week which is when I try to get my work done and run errands. (Or get some rest if we've had a particularly rough night).

Faith's first day of school at home (she seems happy about it!)
Last week, Faith and I began a new adventure called Inspired Collective where we meet with other homeschooling families once a week at a local church. Together, we learn Spanish, science, history, and practice for an upcoming Christmas program.

This group is a huge blessing as homeschooling an only child can get a little lonely for both of us. While she gets to interact with other kids, I get to socialize with other moms. One of the best parts is that all the parents are there with their kids and I get to wheel Faith from room to room and help her with writing, eating, etc. As Rob says, "Faith has the best aide ever this year!"

Our impromptu field trip to Papa's Pumpkin Patch
She certainly is getting taller!
Fall fun with Grandma and Grandpa
Just being silly!
I am still doing some freelance writing but I have also become a published author! My book, Having Faith is finally available for purchase. So far, most of the feedback has been very positive. This is definitely a new season for me and I hope and pray that my book can be a source of encouragement to others.

Because of so much going on, I made the tough decision to step down from serving as JOY International's Java JOY coordinator. I still enjoy getting together every month with my fellow JOY bloggers all of whom have been such a blessing to me. These ladies are true prayer warriors and are always ready to offer advice, friendship, and the love of Christ. 

As you can tell from the pictures, Faith is blossoming into a beautiful young lady. She is definitely a preteen and has the emotions to prove it! We've certainly had some challenges with some of these changes but God gives us the grace and the strength to get through them.

Through it all, I am thankful to God for new opportunities and family and friends who have encouraged me along the way. I look forward to all that He has in store during this New Season!