Holiday Book Sale

THE MAGIC SNOW GLOBE
In this vintage Christmas adventure, the twins, Willow and Wendell Potter journey to three magical lands. With each travel, they learn the secret to true Christmas magic.

This book is now on sale on Amazon!

Giving Tuesday and Making An Impact

Giving Tuesday is a global generosity movement unleashing the power of people and organizations to transform their communities and the world…24-hours of giving!

On this day, please consider supporting Family Hope Foundation and our Therapy Scholarship Program. What better gift can be given than Ability? Your donation this Giving Tuesday, in any amount, will be a priceless gift to families in need.

Here is a story one child we were able to help…

Like a little baby bird—skinny and cute—Aidan Wood said hello to the world. The only thing large on his tiny frame was his head, but since big brother had a good-sized noggin, no one was the wiser. It wasn’t until much later that the Wood’s discovered that Aidan’s head circumference at birth was in the hundredth percentile…for three year olds.

The baby years progressed with joyous bliss. Aidan slept great and rarely cried. He didn’t need to be held constantly, in fact, he preferred his swing. This too was an early indicator of things to come. Nearing nine months of age, the babyhood simplicity began to fade.

Delayed milestones weren’t near the forefront of the Wood’s minds until bronchitis became Aidan’s frequent, unwanted friend. An allergist surmised that he was likely aspirating on his formula, causing the respiratory distress. At the same time, she asked if his head size and disjunctive gaze had ever been discussed. Those questions led to CT scans, swallow studies, feeding therapy, thickened liquids, patching eyes, and then two eye surgeries. The Wood’s now knew they were in the elite club of being special needs parents.

Early-on services and Ken-O-Sha schooling helped Aidan move forward in his learning and development. While this season of schooling had it’s huge victories, it also came with its harsh challenges. Aidan’s behavior became more reactive and aggressive. His ability to control his bowel movements (Encopresis) caused bad episodes of soiling in his diapers. On top of that, he was still non-verbal, so he couldn’t communicate his needs.

Around age five, the Woods decided to try a different facility for Aidan’s PT and speech therapy. This is when they met their miracle worker René Manker at BRAINS. She used some of her Feldenkreis training with him in physical therapy, and his coordination and balance improved; and so did his toileting skills. However, when René left, they were worried. What would they do without her?

The following years brought more tests and evaluations. The diagnoses added up—Dysphagia and Reflux, malformation of cortical development, Strabismus (which led to the eye surgeries), Hypotonia/Hypotonic Cerebral Palsy (low or diminished muscle tone), Dysarthria (delayed or poor motor planning in the speech and articulation process), chronic constipation and Encopresis, Mood Regulation Disorder, and then at age seven came a new diagnosis—Sensory Processing Disorder, which was considered the culprit for Aidan’s up and down behaviors. Thankfully with help of occupational therapy, Aidan had more tools and coping skills.

By age ten, Aidan’s therapy services were being limited by insurance. The Woods were no longer seeing increasing results with therapies. Aidan’s behavior was growing more volatile at school and at home. Remembering how much progress they saw with René, Aidan’s mother, Amy, decided to try Google. And yes, Google proved helpful. Amy discovered Senses In Motion, a company in which René owned! Unfortunately, she noted that insurance wasn’t accepted there. She knew they couldn’t afford to pay out of pocket.

At this time, Amy had been volunteering for Family Hope Foundation for a couple of years at the Celebration Cinema sensory show times. She hadn’t applied for a scholarship before, but figured it was time to try. The Woods were thrilled when Aidan was awarded funds for ABM (Anat Baniel Method of Neuromovement) therapy with René. This form of therapy has been pivotal in helping Aidan with Dyspraxia. Aidan’s brain struggles to organize the information needed for his body to carry out even simple tasks. With his brain struggling to appropriate information, he finds himself oftentimes frustrated, triggering emotionally reactive behavior. But with ABM therapy, he is making strides in both conceptual and sensory processing and behavioral responses.

After one full year of ABM, Aidan has fewer meltdowns, aggressive behaviors are on the decline, his processing speed is growing, and he is able to learn easier. But most importantly, his silly personality is returning.

Through all the trials, hardships, and diagnoses, Aidan has pressed on. It hasn’t been easy for him or his family, but they have all chosen to see the glass full and not empty. They count their blessings, not misfortunes. If the Woods could be summed up in a word it would be—optimistic. It is because of this that Aidan is blooming, and his hilarious nature is shining once more.

 

Aidan is one of the amazing kids we have been able to support. Join with us in giving the Gift of Ability to more children.

http://bit.ly/GivingTuesdayFHF

 

Our Contact Information

Family Hope Foundation

7086 8th Avenue
Jenison, MI, 49428

616-729-8833

www.familyhopefoundation.org

my journey through miscarriage

No one ever expects to walk the road of loss. In our minds and hearts, we hope for better things, happier things, but sometimes life sets us on a detour.

My detour came in 2011 when my husband and I lost our first child, and then it happened again in 2012, when we lost a second baby. Heartbreak doesn’t begin to fully encompass the pain. It doesn’t describe the complete let down, ripped open, barrenness of dream, time, and life. I have wept and still weep many tears. It’s hard to describe the great depths of emptiness and grief. It’s a messy thing, this grieving. It rolls in and out. It is never once and done. Sometimes, it will catch you off-guard when something triggers a memory. Suddenly, I’m standing in an aisle at Meijer wanting to weep.

One thing I have learned about grief—it’s oftentimes lonely. I rested in a space of unyielding pain, feeling lost. The world continued to go on around me but I was cemented in place.

Every year, I encounter more and more friends that have grieved the loss of a child. It’s like a secret club that you only discover once you yourself have suffered loss. It’s a sad thing that most women don’t talk about, and yet, it’s so very common. So many women have suffered the death of a child. Many of us are in the club.

That’s why I decided to share my full story in a book form. Standing Lost is a collection of my journal entries, my pleas to God, and my grasping for ways to somehow go on. This small book is a way of saying- “You’re not alone. I’ve been there too.”


The book is currently available as an eBook on amazon
CLICK HERE: https://amzn.to/2HjjTPm

The paperback copy will be available on May 24th

 

A Magical Christmas Adventure

Looking for gift ideas for your kids, nieces or nephews, or co-workers children? Look no further. Give a book. Not just any book–a Christmas story filled with awe, wonder, and adventure. What book is this? THE MAGIC SNOW GLOBE.

In this story, you will join twins, Willow and Wendell Potter, on an exploration of magical worlds, transported through none other than an antique snow globe.

In each new land, the twins will discover secrets to real Christmas magic and the joy that fills the holiday season.

Here’s a few pictures from the book.

Fairy Forest

Toy Town
Mermaid Reef

Superhero Levi: A Book About Celebrating Differences and Disabilities

Superhero Levi teaches children about special needs and disabilities, emphasizing that all children are gifted and special no matter what their differences might be.

I wrote this children’s book based on my nephew, Levi Slenk. Superhero Levi is his story, told through his voice. Though Levi is actually non-verbal, his actions show his personality and through his mannerisms and noises, I hear his words. And so, I wrote them down, unfolding his world.

Now, I can share his story with you.

 

Hello, step closer, don’t be shy.
I’ll introduce myself; I’m Levi.
There is a secret you might not know.
I’m actually a superhero.

I climb mountains Mom calls the stairs.
It’s hard work getting way up there.
I reach the top feeling quite proud.
Mom claps her hands, cheering real loud.

Clearing my plate is no big feat.
I eat like a sturdy athlete.
But give me beans, I’ll put up a fight.
Every hero has a kryptonite.


Whenever I travel to various places,
I wear special shoes and ankle braces.
They help me stay strong and tall.
Because sometimes even heroes fall.

My hair cuts a wave like a surfing pro.
Adoring fans want to snap my photo.
I’m an expert with poses to strike.
My posts receive plenty of Likes.

 I grow my powers through exploration.
It helps me use my imagination.
Lickety-split, this bowl is a hat.
Only a hero could do that.

 
I brighten the house with toilet paper,
And destroy a book like a bold crusader.
From the fridge, I make water pour out.
Mom arrives with an impressed shout.

Bars or boards cannot hold me back.
I open my bed with a Judo attack.
Dad tries to fix it in a hustle.
But nothing restrains me and my muscles.

 
When it’s school time, I wait for the bus.
A lift scoops me up without any fuss.
It’s a short drive with pals at my side.
We’d rather not stop; come on let’s ride!

I trek the halls with my sweet set of wheels.
My school friends follow, hot on my heels.
Our teacher directs us as we go.
She helps us to learn; I love her so.

Superheroes have archenemies.
Mine is called Physical Therapy.
I escape it through devious schemes.
Feet dragging, tears, and pretending daydreams.

To read the rest of the story visit: Superhero Levi

Superhero Levi: A Children’s Book About Disabilities and Differences

It is important for all children to be taught at an early age about the beauty of differences. When we look around at our highly diverse world, we see many differences: differences in appearance, differences in language, differences in physical movement, differences in customs. These differences are wonderful. However, when children are not taught how to receive and celebrate differences, they might respond in a shy or negative manner when they encounter someone unlike them. I find this to be true when children encounter another child or adult with disabilities. Instead of engaging in a conversation, they might simply stare or avoid eye contact. By teaching our children about special needs and disabilities, we promote a healthy and beautiful interpretation of the word “different” for all people are wonderfully made and gifted.

Superhero Levi is a story based on my nephew, Levi Slenk, who has MECP2 duplication syndrome. In a first-person narrative, the reader joins Levi in his struggles and victories that are different from those another child his age might face. Though he has to work hard, he never gives up. No matter what life may throw, he knows he can take it because he’s a superhero.

This book teaches children about special needs and disabilities through a viewpoint that they can comprehend: a superhero that embarks on a life adventure, encountering obstacles and triumphs. This story can be used in a home or classroom to teach children about disabilities and to encourage all children to press on no matter what difficulties they might face in school or in life.

Superhero Levi is now officially available for purchase on amazon.com as a paperback and Kindle book.

On Release Weekend (July 20-22) 10% of each book sale will be given to Heartwood School, in Lansing, MI. Levi attends this school. Heartwood School badly needs a new playground that will better accommodate their students with special needs.

SHOP NOW

Monday Memories: A Journey of Pictures

The mission trip in 2003 where I met, my would-become-husband, Jonathan for the first time.
Visiting a reservation in Escanaba to work with the children. They blessed me more than I ever could have blessed them.
The day I married my best friend.
Our first real Christmas tree.
Hosting our First Halloween Party
Touring England for the second time with my British sister, Joanna.
My first baby, Isabella Joy.
Experiencing Seattle, Washington with family, Connie and Christian.
Attending my first Murder Mystery Party in character.
Our first two chickens we adopted, Tiffany and Lily. The coop wasn’t finished so they lived in our downstairs bathroom for two days.
Yearly camping trips with the family in a tent!
Dressing up and trick-or-treating with my sister, Carmen, and our kiddos.
Remembering my two babies in Heaven, Shiloh and Selah, born after Isabella.
A healthy boy, Gabriel Jonathan born in 2010.
First time to Pentwater and touring Storybook Village.
My first interactive story lesson where I taught children how to use their imaginations and write a story with me.
The first performance I have done with my husband. We were Lucy and Ricky Ricardo.
The release party for my first published book, The Magic Snow Globe.

So many fond memories and many more pictures I couldn’t show today. These are simply highlights of the many blessed years God has given me so far.

The Magic Snow Globe: A Children’s Book

I’ve dreamed of this day since I was 10. I’m not fibbing. I have wanted to publish a book for that long! And today, that dream is a reality.

The Magic Snow Globe is my debut. It’s a children’s book about twins, Willow and Wendell Potter, who purchase a special snow globe from an antique store. At night, the globe lights up and transports them to magical lands where they learn the real secret to Christmas magic.

Not only did I write the book, but I also illustrated it. I worked hard to capture the scenes that were in my mind. Each drawing was painted using watercolor and acrylic. My mother, Cindy Overbeek, an experienced painter, helped me with the painting so that each image would pop.

I desire for this book is to inspire wonder and imagination. Oh that we would set down our iPhones and get lost in a book again. Let the pictures speak to us and the words whisk us away.

I hope The Magic Snow Globe would help you dream up your own magical lands and the wonders of Christmas.

If you would like to purchase this book, it is available on amazon.com as a paperback and Ebook. (Click the highlighted text to be taken to the page)

MERRY CHRISTMAS

Family Fun Nights

 

Nothing screams family fun like nerf guns.

In our family nerf wars, there are plenty of laughs and squeals. Those darts can really sting, and I’m an easy target. Probably need to amp up my cardio.

Each week, we strive to have at least one family fun night, but oftentimes we have more than that. With media and technology trying to replace personal contact, my husband and I strive to set up boundaries and have dedicated family time. Children need to know they matter to us. We communicate their importance by having regular time together. Oftentimes our designated family fun night is Friday. Generally, it consists of pizza, games, and a movie. Our game of choice is typically Connect4. It might seem like a simple game but trust me, we have serious tournaments. After the blood, sweat, and tears shed during Connect4, we switch gears and eat pizza. We set up a table by the couch and watch a movie, while we eat. We look for a family movie that we can all enjoy. Oftentimes, we’ll rent something online or find a release on Netflix. There’s also another great Christian movies site called, Pure Flix. They offer a wide range of good family films too.

So what about you? What do your family fun nights look like? Do they consist of games, movies, or maybe even nerf guns?

 

11 Creative Activities to Combat Summer Boredom

Parents, Grandparents, Babysitters, etc: Summer Break is Around the Corner. Kids will be looking to you to help fill their days. So before boredom hits, here’s ELEVEN creative activities/ ideas to combat a pout fest.

#1 Dress a Cat Up Like a Woman

Tigger Is Looking Quite Fashionable in His Spunky Beret and Gown

#2 Take a Flower Smelling Tour

#3 Glue Googly Eyes on Pictures of Bugs, Then Cut Them out as Paper Dolls

You Can Draw the Bugs or Print Them From a Computer

# 4 Create Prehistoric Scenes Surrounding a Pet

Henry Whiskers Never Saw This Coming

# 5 Make Potato People

#6 Catch and Play with Frogs

 

# 7 Make a Starship Out of a Box

 

#8 Visit a Farm and Pet Animals
There are several farms that you can visit for free in Michigan. A couple we like the best are: Orchard Hill Farm and Critter Barn.

 

#9 Make an Animal Home out of a Shoe Box

#10 Develop a Runway Show With Your Own Clothing Line

We Call This Line: The Wanna Be Flappers

#11 Teach a Guinea Pig to Walk on a Leash