Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Faith's Integrative Music Sessions

This past Sunday at church I noticed Faith singing along to the chorus with a little more gusto than she has in the past. She seemed a little more confident and really projected her voice once she caught on to the words that were being sung.

I must admit, listening to her sweet voice singing the words, "He is faithful, He is glorious, He is Jesus, all my hope is in Him. He is freedom, He is healing right now" was enough to cause tears to stream down my face. Later after thinking about it, I realized that part of her new-found confidence in singing probably has something to do with the integrative music sessions she has been doing with a music therapist.
Faith playing the xylophone
fun with shakers
Every couple of weeks, Jonnica comes into our home and spends about 30 minutes with Faith singing songs and playing instruments. I know how much Faith likes music so I was pretty sure she would enjoy doing this but an added bonus is that the music therapist also does worship at her church so she and Faith like the same kind of music! While Jonnica does fun songs with Faith like The Popcorn Song, Ravioli and The Shaker Song, they also sing songs like "This Little Light of Mine" and "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands."

The great part about this music therapy is that while it is super fun for Faith, it also helps her work on things like motor skills, cognition, communication, visual and auditory skills. Besides bringing instruments like shakers, bells and the xylophone for Faith to play, Jonnica also brings flashcards with letters, numbers, words and colors. One of Faith's favorite parts though is getting to play Jonnica's pretty red guitar.
working on more than just music
Of all the cool instruments, this is Faith's favorite!
We've only really begun the integrative music sessions this year but I am already noticing differences in Faith and how it is helping her. I'm just as excited as Faith is about this type of therapy and who knows maybe she'll be helping to lead worship one day at church!

Click on the video below to hear Faith and Jonnica's good-bye song.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Catching Up

This is my first post of the new year and it is already March - I guess I have some catching up to do! As you can tell by my new blog header, I am ready for spring. It has been a very cold winter here in North Dakota with several days below zero since December. I know though that much of the country has had a tough winter too so I know we are not alone in being anxious for spring and the warmer weather that comes along with it.

Faith especially seems to be struggling with the colder temps - it most likely affects her already high tone. It hasn't helped that it is more difficult to transport her since we can't use our van's ramp due to our door needing to be replaced. Rob has had to get her into the other side of our van which entails him sort of lifting her chair up into the van. We are looking forward to finally getting it fixed this week. 

Now that I've gotten our weather-related issues out of the way, here is an update on what the rest of this New Year has been like for us: 

We kicked off the year getting together with friends at China Star – a place we haven’t been for a while. We used to go there so much that all of the staff knew us by name and loved visiting with Faith. They seemed glad to see us and couldn’t believe how much Faith has grown. Over Christmas break she had a growth spurt and she is up to 48 inches tall! We haven’t weighed her recently but her last weight was around 55 pounds. 

After eating at China Star, our friend, Bob came over to watch Monsters University with us. His wife Lola was in California with her sister and got to go the Rose Bowl Parade.
Happy New Year!

We snuck in eating at the China Star right before our church fast began. The fast lasted 21 days and as part of my goal this year to eat better and get healthier, I bought a juicer. During our fast, I didn’t eat any processed foods or refined sugars and my supper consisted of a glass of fresh vegetable juice. Part of the reason I wanted to try juicing was to get some of those micronutrients into Faith via her feeding tube.   

We recently got a Vitamix blender and I have made some delicious green smoothies and even broccoli cheese soup! We are also going to try to get Faith started on a blenderized diet so she can start “eating” healthier too. 
Getting green goodness into Faith's tummy

Besides eating better, I have started going to the chiropractor which has helped immensely with my headaches. Faith is down to one visit a week but she’s currently trying something new with a lady who comes to our home twice a month for music integration. Faith absolutely loves it and I will be writing more about it in another post. 

Speaking of music, Faith just had her music program at school last week. In the middle of the program, Faith’s music teacher wheeled her to center stage with a group of kids. I wasn’t quite sure what was going on and before I knew it, her teacher was putting a recorder in her hand and then Faith blew some notes! It happened so fast that I didn’t have time to get in place to get a good picture. We were so proud of her! 
Faith working with Jonnica on the xylophone
Last month Rob and I both celebrated our birthdays. I turned the big 4-0 and although I didn’t have the actual day of my birthday off from work (too many people had already requested it off since it was the day after the Super Bowl) I did take the next day off and got to spend it with my mom. 

We went to the East 40 for lunch, went shopping and then relaxed at the spa getting pedicures. We both agreed we needed to do that together more often – we had so much fun! For Rob’s birthday, we went out to eat together and while we were out and about, Michelle and Faith surprised him with a birthday cake.  
Me and mom and my birthday
Happy Birthday to our favorite guy!
That about sums up 2014 for us so far. We are looking forward to what the rest of the year has for us and are believing for great things this year! By the way, besides updating my blog header and layout, I have updated "Our Faith Story" so click on the tab and be sure to check it out. I have also added a list of resources that have greatly benefited our family. Thanks for reading and have a blessed rest of the year! THINK SPRING!

Monday, December 30, 2013

2013: A Year in Review

This past year has held many challenges, many changes and some breakthroughs as well. We have met some new people who have helped Faith make forward progress but have been discouraged as certain prayers continue to go unanswered. Through it all though, there is one truth that remains - God has been with us and He has been faithful.

He has placed many people in our lives who have kept us encouraged and who continue to inspire us each and every day to to "walk by faith not by sight." As I think about our past year, I can't help but feel hopeful that the New Year will be better than the last!

JANUARY - Me and Faith spent the tail-end of last year and the beginning of 2013 recovering from the flu. In fact, she was at the walk-in clinic on New Year's Eve. We recovered just in time to celebrate the NDSU Bison winning their second straight national championship. This year they are once again headed to Frisco, Texas to defend their title as they take on Towson University on January 4th.

In other news, we were without an elevator for almost a week in our building which made our lives very interesting getting Faith and her chair up and down the stairs.

FEBRUARY - Both me and Rob celebrated our birthdays this month - we had fun celebrating with our friends from church at Bruno's Pizza. At work, we had an old-school Valentines Day party and my Valentine pizza box even won a prize!

Speaking of hearts, I had one of the longest pacemaker appointments ever that included being hooked up to a 24-hour holter monitor just to make sure it was functioning as it should. I also received the exciting news that my heart is not pacemaker dependent.

MARCH -  We celebrated the resurrection of our Savior with some friends at their home for Easter dinner. Unfortunately, the snow, cold and wind kept us from our tradition of flying kites.

Faith had her first lessons with Pati Holman who is an Anat Baniel Practitioner. Pati comes to Bismarck about every 2 months from Wisconsin to work with children in our area. Faith had lessons in the summer and fall as well and we are currently in prayer about continuing with the lessons as we have also found some other kinds of treatment that are beneficial.

APRIL - Bismarck broke their record for the most snowfall in one day as over 17 inches fell on the city. School was canceled and even I got a snow day from work. It is a rare occasion for any town in North Dakota to shut down on account of the weather! Besides North Dakota making news because of unprecedented snow fall, we also continued to make news throughout April due to a pro-life piece of legislation signed by our governor in which North Dakota became the first state to ban abortions based on gender and/or genetics defects.

MAY - Spring finally sprung and with the warmer weather, Faith ended her school year as a third-grader. We all loved having Mrs. Ternes as her teacher and were a bit sad to find out she would be retiring. We are glad though that Faith had her during her final year of teaching.

While Faith was finishing up school, Cari finished up another season of Java JOY for which she volunteers as coordinator. Sadly during a season we celebrate new life, we lost a precious person to our family - Rob's Aunt Audrey. How wonderful though is the assurance that she is resting peacefully in her eternal home!

JUNE - Our long awaited summer vacation was finally here! We were so thrilled to be able to go to Winnipeg, Manitoba to meet Rob's parents - David and Jean who flew there from Toronto. We had so much fun at the Holiday Inn, visiting, watching hockey, drinking Tim Horton's coffee, eating, laughing and just enjoying being together.

We also went to the zoo where the highlight was Hudson the Polar Bear. The time went by way too fast but we promised we would not let another two years go by without seeing one another and are looking forward getting together again in 2014.

JULY - My dad had officially retired from the oilfield in March and he and my mom made the move to Bismarck. They found the perfect retirement home north of Bismarck, close to my brother Todd's. We had a fun family get-together in July to celebrate dad's retirement and their  new home.

Faith and I also enjoyed a lot of time outside on the patio downstairs of our apartment which also ended up being a great place for others to come visit her.

August - The last month of summer vacation was full of fun visits with friends including a trip to Hazen to see our friends, the Sagos. Kimberly, Matt and their baby, Gunnar came up from Kansas and I reunited with two of my college roomies when they were in Bismarck for a conference. The month went by too fast and before we knew it, Faith was starting 4th grade at Centennial Elementary!

September - This month we were especially aware of the benefits of the chiropractic care Faith had been getting over the summer with Dr. Steve. She sleeps much better and her startle is not as severe. She has more energy and instead of needing to take two afternoons off a week from school, she goes five days a week, six hours a day. In September, she went on a few field trips for school and all three of us went to the International PowWow.

The last weekend of the month was a little chaotic as we moved to a different apartment and my job transferred locations. I also took a trip to Brookings, South Dakota with my dad where we met my sister, Tesa for the NDSU Bison game - which of course they won! 

October - Faith turned 10 years old this month and celebrated by having not one but two parties! Unplanned by me, one of them ended up being an all girls party which we had downstairs in our lobby. Faith got to share her day with her grandma, her aunts, cousin, friends and neighbors. The next day we had another get together with some of our church family.

November - Faith had a few fun visits at her grandparents in November but unfortunately towards the end of the month she came down with a fever and not feeling well. She ended up missing Thanksgiving dinner at her aunts but we had our own little Thanksgiving celebration writing letters and little thank you notes to people. Faith certainly has much to be thankful for and is especially thankful for all the wonderful people in her life.

December - Faith is enjoying her break from school and she and her Daddy have been having fun just hanging out at home. Bismarck is experiencing one of the coldest Decembers ever so we have all been content spending time indoors. This month she had her first music therapy session which she absolutely loved and can't wait to do more of.

We had a nice relaxing Christmas and are gearing up for an uneventful New Year's Eve!

We look forward to what the New Year holds 
and pray you have a blessed New Year too!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Enjoying our Stress-Free Christmas

It's easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of Christmas and it can easily become a stressful time of the year instead of a joyful one. In our family, we know that Faith does best when her normal routines are kept and the fewer surprises the better. We really tried our best this year to keep everything as low-key as possible and do less for Christmas than we have in the past. This included less shopping, less baking, and less activities in general.
Instead of baking Happy Birthday Jesus cupcakes this year for Faith's teachers and caretakers, I found these cute cupcake Christmas tree ornaments and I wrote on the bottom of each one "Happy Birthday Jesus 2013"
In the end, all I really wanted for Christmas was for the three of us to go our Christmas Eve service at church and while Faith wasn't willing at first, eventually she relented. The next day since opening Christmas gifts is outside of her normal routine, we had to actually coax her to open the gifts. Hard to believe for a 10-year-old, I know. Going to church and opening gifts was enough Christmas for her.

Me and Faith and our matching "Bison Nation" T-shirts

Daddy and Faith opening gifts on Christmas morning
Although I tried to coax her into going to our family gathering at Grandma and Grandpa's, she had simply had enough of doing things outside of her routine and did not want to go. Instead of the battle escalating to an all-out screaming fit, I just let it go. Of course I was disappointed but I ended up having a great time with my family!

My sisters bought everyone these funky holiday shirts and we all put them on for our family photos. It was a lot of fun to see what kind of shirt everyone got. Both my parents got Duck Dynasty shirts that say, "Duck the Halls" and they got my brother a sweater that we all thought was ugly but decided it actually looked pretty good on him! We also ate lots of yummy food and played a hilarious board game called "Loaded Questions." There was certainly no shortage of fun and laughter!
Having fun with the family in our awesome holiday shirts!
This year, I learned that by doing less and having less stress makes for a much Merrier Christmas. Not only that but it also allows us to focus on the real reason for the season - the birth of our Savior.